It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the classic movie Splendor in the Grass, so when TCM offered it up recently, it seemed like a good choice.
It opens with characters played by Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty as teens, making out in a car in a scenic locale. She’s clearly into it but resists his further advances. Frustrated, he gets out of the car and exclaims he might as well take her home.
What, no conversation? A milkshake, maybe?
He walks her to her door and they kiss again. Her mother is inside, listening. Conversation ensues about the date once she goes in. She asks her mother if she’s ever had these “feelings.” Her mother says no, nice girls don’t. Not even when married. Women just go along with sex to have children.
And that’s where I shut it off.
Like I said, I’ve seen this movie before. I’m aware it was released in 1961 and that as the story progresses, both characters’ lives were blown up by those sexual mores. I’m well versed in the gender roles we were raised with.
But I’m in a place where I can’t tolerate the brainwash any longer. And I put the blame squarely on the Supreme Court essentially relegating women to second class citizens and allowing all these bonkers laws regulating our reproductive rights to rise to the surface in individual states. We already know they are doing real harm to women.
These movies used to be quaint viewing. We could watch and think, wow, we’ve come so far. Praise be.
We had Dirty Dancing – a favorite of mine — on at our recent family vacation. I had never been so acutely aware of Penny’s illegal abortion until seeing it with an anti-abortion family member. I said nothing because we have a “no politics” rule in place, but to me there was an invisible banner hanging over the TV: Dirty Knife, We’re Back There.
Even a Seinfeld rerun hit me hard recently. Elaine is dating the ever-so-cute moving man and declares it could be “Looooooove.” But earlier in the episode she’d caused a scene at a restaurant by talking about being pro-choice. Later, Jerry poses the looming question – How does your new boyfriend feel about abortion? It doesn’t end well.
Comedy not so funny.
It’s not just about being triggered by the topic of abortion. It’s the whole package, how women are perceived, socialized, and, yes, brainwashed about our sexuality.
I was channel surfing the other day and caught the last half hour of Saturday Night Fever, another favorite. The music, the dancing, Tony Manero – so intoxicating. But wait, how did I not notice this before? After the dance contest, Tony tries to force himself on Stephanie. It’s not a sweet, romantic scene; it’s a flat no from her. She extricates herself and gets out of the car, visibly upset.
The next day Tony shows up at her door. She jokingly wonders if she should let him in. By the end of the scene, she’s extending the idea of friendship. What the ever loving heck?
Keep in mind this movie came out when I was in high school and it was so the rage it spawned us having hustle lessons in gym class. We exalted in the headiness of this cultural phenomenon.
Now I watch and marvel at how we glossed over the other themes – rape culture; the perpetuation of the madonna/whore image of women; and the mental anguish of a young man who’d gotten his girlfriend pregnant, desperately needed counsel about it, and wound up dying when he fell off the Verrazano Bridge trying to get attention from his friends.
Sure, they’d all been dancing just hours before, ruling the floor and making themselves feel invincible in a way only the young can do. Then it’s attempted rape, gang bang, Bobby plunging into the Hudson River, in that order.
Is it any wonder that I just heralded the timing of the return of The Handmaid’s Tale? Someone on Twitter called it trauma porn, which is about right. At least I know it’s going to therapeutically feed my outrage and not provide escape.
Because of course what preceded my recent viewing of Gilead was Lindsey Graham announcing the real intention of the GOP to ban abortion across the land. This is where we are now – a Republican tells the truth and the rest of them freak out because of his too-close-to-the-midterms timing. Come on, Senator, let the sucker females think we’re still going to give them a semblance of freedom if we win.
They’ve fallen for it all before.