Monday, November 16, 2009

Warning: This Post May Not Be Suitable for Children

This is a response to a discussion on Filmspotting Forum concerning the use of the term "bitch" in the movie Dear Zachary, which a nice, older man is using to describe the female killer of his son. The discussion begins with a woman who said she was sympathetic with the man until he said that and it made her question his gender politics. Others said that the use didn't have anything to do with gender politics, but with the emotional experience. I pipe in:

Everyone has gender politics, whether they admit it or not. Nevertheless, I don't know that him using that term reflects his gender politics.

His use of that term is certainly uncomfortable, even as his rare uses of CINECAST! are. From his internal perspective, I would hazard to guess that he is using strong language to express his strong emotion. I don't think he usually uses that language, especially in front of his wife, but the situation, he feels, merits it. And that, I think, we can all agree with.

And he is not using the term "bitch" to speak of any other woman than this woman who was so evil. If it were a man, he might use the term "bastard" or something else that was stronger. Would he ever use this term about his wife? We don't know. If he would, then perhaps we could say that he is expressing something about women in general. Instead, all we see is the use of the term against the most evil person he knew, and so he pulled out the strongest language. Could he have been gender neutral in the term he used? I don't know. Could we think of strong language about another evil person that was gender neutral? In the emotional situation? I doubt it.

I think that the instant reaction against the term "bitch" comes from having it used against women in a more casual way. When Kirk Russell uses it in Death Proof, he is clearly indicating his gender politics (as well as his actions). So we relate the use of the term with this kind of sexist pig, who uses the term casually, to indicate all women. But with this tragic figure of a grandfather, I don't think it reflects on him that same way.

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