Last night I took my daughters to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, & they were dressed as Captain America and Director Fury. After the film my husband and I were discussing how, of the 6 main “good guys” in the film, only one was a Caucasian male (Captain America), and the remaining 5 were 2 African American men (Nick Fury, Falcon), and 3 women (Black Widow, Maria Hill, and Sharon/Agent 13 - who were, granted, all Caucasian).
My youngest daughter (dressed as Director Fury) turned to me and said “Come on, Mom, why are you always noticing stuff like that? It’s ok, everything is OK. We don’t have to worry about stuff like that anymore.” (by “stuff like that” she meant diversity & representation in media, the workplace, and society in general).
I just smiled at her, feeling both happy and sad at the same time.
I was happy because my daughter, who, until she was 9, grew up in a society in Mozambique that taught her that men rule, and a woman’s only value/purpose in life was to produce and care for children. The fact that she now, at the age of 14 thinks that women and men have equal footing & representation in this world truly speaks to all the wonderful women AND men in her life. From my husband/ her father, (who runs a publishing company from home so that he can also be a SAHD for her & treats me as not just an equal, but a partner in absolutely everything & supports me wholeheartedly in my chosen career path of United States Marine officer), to my close friends/her “aunties” who are all intelligent, sucessful, amazing women (among them a scientist, artist/expert costume designer, astronomer, SAHM, engineer, and so many others - some single, some married, some with kids, some without, but all living their lives to the fullest) who all take the time to be there for her & mentor her.
But I was sad because, as I told her in answer to her original question “why do I always notice ‘stuff like that’?” - well, once you see it, you can’t UN-SEE it. “It” being subersive gender and race discrimination (subversive because it’s generally not purposeful - it just is “generally accepted” - ie, with Divergent being so popular everyone’s calling it the “New Hunger Games” and how Shailene Woodley is going to be the new “it girl” because heaven forbid both she & Jennifer Lawrence are BOTH “it women.” Apparently there’s only room for ONE of them in Hollywood).
Does that mean I can’t enjoy my life or something as simple as a movie? Not at all! I adored Captain America. Do I think it would be nice to maybe see some more POC in leading roles in film? YES! So, that brings me back to my first point, I loved that among 6 leading good guys, 3 of them were women, BUT next time it would be pretty awesome if maybe one or two of those women were Hispanic, or Asian, or some other race. “But Sharon Carter is white in the comics!” Yeah, so was Nick Fury.
A few minutes after this conversation my girls were discussing how awesome Black Widow was, and I told them “They’re making a Black Widow movie!” Again, my youngest looked at me in askanse “What?! I thought there already was one!”
I shook my head. “No, not yet. The film industry apparently doesn’t think a film led by a woman will do well.”
Given that the last 3 films she saw in the theatre were Catching Fire, Frozen, and Divergent, this threw my daughter for a loop. “Well that’s just dumb.”
Yes, yes it is.