Monthly Archives: June 2009

Movie Review: Easy Virtue

It was hubby’s birthday yesterday and to celebrate we drove to Sydney to have dinner and watch a movie at Govinda’s in Darlinghurst. It’s a funky little place with a vegetarian buffet and a cosy cinema upstairs that, instead of traditional cinema seating, has cushions and couchlike things on the ground. It’s a really nice night out – delicious food and such a comfy movie theatre (with hardly anyone there!)

Anyway, the movie was called ‘Easy Virtue’. I wasn’t really fussed when I booked us in. I thought, ‘I’ll see what movie is on Thursday night, and if it isn’t too objectionable (ie T4 or Transformers or something stupid like that), we’ll go on Thursday because that’s his birthday’. So I read the synopsis and thought it didn’t sound too bad. The good points as far as I could tell at that stage were: the central characters were women; it was English (as opposed to American); Kristin Scott Thomas was in it and I think she’s fab.

The movie wasn’t great. It wasn’t dreadful,  but a feminist reading of it left me sighing in disappointment. The main character, Larita, played by Jessica Biel, was an American race-car driver living in Paris when she met, fell in love with and married the son of Kristen Scott Thomas, who was off galivanting in Europe when he should have been at home helping his mum manage their property. It is set in the 1930s. Anyway, the prodigal (and only) son returns home with his new bride and, would you believe it, Larita and Kristen Scott Thomas don’t get on. So we have the cliched mother-in-law vs daughter-in-law feud compounded by the fact that Larita represents hedonistic American values compared to English values steeped in tradition, snobbery and modesty. Larita causes a stir in the town and finds it all too hard to bear and begs whatshisname (the son) to go to London with her to live. Kristen Scott Thomas also has 2 daughters living at home and her husband is played by Colin Firth. Their marriage is empty and they live their lives dodging questions about Colin Firth’s disappearance after WWI when he cavorted around French sleeping with prostitutes until his wife came after him and ordered him home.

Anyway, I was happy initially to be going to see a movie where the central characters were women – yay. Most movies that have main characters as women are derided as ‘ chick flicks’ and ‘serious’, mainstream films are too often littered with male main characters and peripheral women. On reflection of  ‘Easy virtue’, however, I have no alternative but to suspect the director/producer hates women. Kristen Scott Thomas and her daughters were horrible characters. They despised Larita because she was beautiful and modern and rallied against her because they were jealous of her stealing whatshisname. Larita, who the audience were clearly supposed to sympathise with, despised all the women in the family and allied herself with Colin Firth and the male butler. She identified with men by being a racing car driver and loving engines. The sisters were single and desperate while Larita was brazen, and completely objectified by both male and female characters for her beauty.

And for some reason it seemed like we were supposed to like Colin Firth more than Kristen Scott Thomas. Colin Firth had lost his identity and pride in the war and seemed to not be engaged in living anymore. Ah, poor Colin Firth….go around France cavorting with prositutes and ignore your family with no intention to come home, we’ll forgive you. We’ll demonise your stupid jealous wife instead.

And the feud between the women was just so pathetic. It’d be nice to see some more movies with central female characters who like each other. ‘Women hating women’ movies are just tiresome.


something in between 21 and 42 kms

Ok, this is completely unrelated to feminism, but that doesn’t matter.

I am training for the City 2 Surf, which, for those of you who don’t live anywhere near Sydney, is a 14 km run from a Hyde Park in the middle of Sydney to Bondi Beach. I have heard that tens of thousands of people enter this race. This is my first time . It is not, however, my first ‘fun’ run. When I was in my late teens / early 20s I did a few runs, including two half-marathons, both on the Gold Coast. I have also done several shorter ones, the most recent (a few months ago) being the ‘Fitness Five’ here in Wollongong, which is a comparatively breezy 5k run. So, in a nutshell, I run a bit, and have been for years.

The thing is, I have a love/hate relationship with running. Most of the time I hate it, and I never run just for the heck of it. I only run if I am training for something specifically. I’m not sure why I choose to run. I do know that I like the challenge, and I also like how my appetite increases during the few months before a race when I up my exercise regime. Because I love eating…especially cakes and biscuits. In fact, I would prefer to bake a cake and then eat a piece then go for a run. Another benefit is that I tend to sleep better if I am physically tired.

Anyway, as I was running aimlessly yesterday (Sunday is my so-called ‘recovery’ run – some recovery!) I wondered why I had never heard of any running events of, say, 32 kms. The half-marathon and the marathon are the main long-distance races. But that seems to be a huge leap – from 21kms to 42kms. I could conceivably imagine running 21kms again if I prepared properly. But the thought of 42 is just nasty.

today’s heckler – the stupidity of unnecessary cosmetic surgery

Today’s Heckler from the SMH is really great. Basically, the very sensible and down-to-earth message is: If you’ve got four limbs, all your senses and a generally functioning body, you should count your lucky stars instead of wasting time trying to ‘improve’ your looks.



Don’t complain: Surviving in a hyper-masculinised industry

There’s an article in today’s Sunday Life magazine liftout of the Sun Herald newspaper about women chefs. I always find it ironic that ‘women chefs’ are anomalies in the male-dominated industry of cooking, when in most societies, women spend much more time cooking than men….in non-commercial settings thus recieving little kudos and no money.

Anyway, Karen Martini and some other female chefs were interviewed for the article and a couple of comments they made, as well as the general tone of the actual article, caught my attention for their implication of ‘oh well, I chose to enter a masculinised industry and that’s my problem’ attitude. For example, Martini related a series of sexual harrassment incidents she encountered at the beginning of her career – including being ‘fondled’, which the article called a ‘sneaky trick’ (a sneaky trick? how about an abuse of power and down right sexual harrassment?). Immediately after this recounting of silly pesky behaviour from male colleagues, the article commented that Martini’s female colleague Sibley, had ‘never felt repressed by her sex’. This is then followed by more accounts of incidents, such as a senior chef taking his penis out and placing it on her shoulder or someone putting a plateful of maggots down her top. Not repressed by her sex? I don’t get it.

I really wish that women in hyper-masculinised industries would call a spade a spade. And also that their voices were heard more frequently. We always hear about the women who have ‘broken through the glass ceiling’ and the sacrifices they have had to make to survive, but where are the voices of the women who don’t survive? Where are their stories- the stories from women who decide it’s not worth it. The sexually discriminatory culture within those industries will never change unless the people who speak out against them are heard.

Here is another doublespeak excerpt from the same article:

But Sibley was always clear in her ambition to excel. ‘I’ve always been one of the lads’, she says. ‘It’s about character, not whether you’re a boy or a girl. If you’re sooky or pouty, you’re not going to do well. I’ve seen boys in tears as much as girls’

Hang, on Sibley….you just said you were always ‘one of the lads’. Clearly then, it does matter whether you are boy or a girl – you have to be a boy. A lad, specifically.

This is what post-feminism is all about. It’s about saying that sexual discrimination and harrassment doesn’t happen anymore because we (as a post-modern society) are past all of that –  ‘sexual harrassment is unacceptable’ as a policy in an organisation suddenly means it just doesn’t happen! It’s about turning a blind eye to what has been happening for centuries because we mistakenly believe that now, as women have  ‘equal rights’ with men everything is hunkydory. That’s why post-feminism is no good for women. It denies the reality women’s continued oppression.

Combination of alcohol, sports and gang rape not unique to Australia

Students held in gang rape | The Japan Times Online

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