Damsels in Distress

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Damsels in Distress

Why are all the women in our movies projected as damsels in distress whereas the men get to be superheroes?

The poor heroine has to run away from goondas who chase her in the middle of the night (and she runs right into the arms of the hero who of course knew this was going to happen),
… she screams and pleads and cries all the time – except when she is unreasonably angry and shouting at the good-natured, funny, absolutely lovable hero who takes it all in his stride or gives a fitting reply (which all changes the moment she realises what a great, kind, incredibly wonderful guy he is),
… she is easily forced into marriage against her wish (until the hero comes to save her),
… she is bossy and foolish and loud and arrogant at first until the hero turns her into butter (after which she is totally wagging her tail for the rest of the movie),
… she makes foolish mistakes that no one in the world would make (until the hero gently and firmly and mockingly sets her right),
… if by mistake she is a policewoman, she is the most ruthless and unkind and unreasonable one (until of course… ah, you get the drift).

The hero is as super as Superman, as spidey (creepy??) as Spiderman, as bat… err, fantastic as Batman, as magical as Mandrake, as firm as the Phantom, and all that. He is kind to those who need his kindness, and he can survive the most impossible situations with his wit and cleverness and wisdom, beat the strongest villains, walk around effortlessly after getting shot a hundred times, perform all the tricks in the world, and – we’re quite okay with it.

Whereas all the heroine can do is flop down and cry when someone says “BOO!”. I wish someone would introduce her to Taekwondo and be done with it. Or at least teach her to outrun those overweight goondas. Because if the hero can be fantastic beyond all logic, why can’t the heroine?

Very rarely in a few films, the heroine gets the upper hand, but she would inevitably have misunderstood the gentle, kind, well-meaning hero at first and would end up apologising profusely to him.

No wonder we have this feeling somewhere deep inside that women are weak cry-babies, who just want to run away from (and who can be easily made to run away from) trouble (though they can’t even run away properly), whereas men are strong beings, who do not know what cowardice means, who always win no matter what the battle is, who are made of something other than flesh and bones. Moreover, when there is a big trouble, like the hero goes bankrupt or losses someone dear or is wrongly put in jail or something, he never tells his wife, because she would freak out (and possibly scream and howl the house down) and he doesn’t want her to be upset. Isn’t that noble or what? Puts a trifle more pressure on ordinary men to perform, don’t you think?

Imagine a movie like Renaissance Man (and many others), in which the woman private says All Men are Dogs and actually gets away with it. No one bothers to knock some sense into her, no one takes it upon himself to snip off the tails of her arrogance, no one thinks it his duty to humiliate the woman until she wriggles on the floor and apologises for uttering those criminal words and promises never to utter another sound again.

By |2018-12-10T11:15:35+00:00June 20th, 2013|As I see it, Attitudes, Movies|9 Comments

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  1. Anita Jeyan Sandeep June 20, 2013 at 6:37 am - Reply

    All this translates into a movie called Cocktail that was released last year. People should actually stop making movies with such badly written female roles.

  2. Krishna Rao June 20, 2013 at 6:58 am - Reply

    I guess movies are made with the intentions of making profits. Everyone watches for the eyeballs and cash registers. Unfortunately distributors will not buy the film if there are no super selling heroes, top class heroines or doctored story lines. Take the case of the recent Superman movie. It was first sold to the clergy. There are too many things associated with Jesus in that so the distributors first got the priests to watch it. Its all about selling. Sleaze sells, so does poverty and decrepitude and all other stuff that you can put in. Money talks!

  3. Anonymous June 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    It's what we are programmed to be that we end up becoming. Growing up in a society that thrives on this logic is what drives these scripts as well. If a girl is taught to do, be and act the way a boy is expected to, we would probably see the same results.

  4. Jeena R. Papaadi June 21, 2013 at 6:20 am - Reply

    Haven't seen that one.
    I recently saw a Mammukka movie and was disappointed in the way the women in the movie were portrayed. The comedy was good, though.

  5. Jeena R. Papaadi June 21, 2013 at 6:25 am - Reply

    Definitely, profit is the intention (and I won't say that's wrong). But surely, realistic story-lines can also make profit?

  6. Jeena R. Papaadi June 21, 2013 at 6:28 am - Reply

    Don't a lot of girls do what boys do (heck, I recently read about women climbing coconut trees for a living!!) but apparently people don't enjoy watching women's success stories, perhaps, as much as they enjoy watching the guys do it.

  7. Anonymous June 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Well to be honest, from my background as I child, I am pretty sure a boy and a girl are not treated in equal terms right from childhood. The boys get the freedom and a feeling of confidence to develop as an individual with a larger space to experiment their repertoire of interests. The girls are tied down to a much smaller space in comparison leading to a restricted platform right from the beginning. The tendency to grow out of that space seems like unchartered territory merely cause the boy grows up thinking that the girl needs to remain in that space and anything beyond that is just not normal.
    Instead, if both are offered the same space to develop, if womanhood was not considered to be as sanct as it is revered, if both manhood and womanhood are at par, there would not be such an issue at all.

    Unfortunately we are not in that sort of an environment. Physically we are not similar. The male physique is built to take more of the brunt whilst the female is proven to be the better one when it comes to holding a straight head.

    We need unlike poles to attract and that does not mean making one pole more and more negative to make sure the attraction increases.

  8. Anonymous June 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    As for movies, I think it has got something to do with power. You always give thumbs up to a man over woman when it comes to power and movies themed over it thrive because it is reflecting life. The new generation movies are not accepted because the new generation is openly receiving it. It is purely because it IS the new generation. 🙂

  9. Jeena R. Papaadi June 23, 2013 at 6:24 am - Reply

    Reading your comments, Doc, two things come to mind.
    1. As a child I grew up believing that it is better to be safe than sorry – I did not try to be extraordinarily brave, or do something exceptional. I kept out of trouble as much as I could, did not look at strangers and went home before it was dark. We girls also said among ourselves that 'boys have such a great life.'
    2. I see the little girls in our apartment approach things in a different way than boys. When my son or his friends fall down & get hurt, they come back to play as soon as their pain is gone. Apparently a little girl recently said to her mom, "I don't want to play with boys. Last week I fell down and hurt myself."
    So maybe there is a grain of truth. But all women are not like that, some like to fight the odds and win. I love to watch bold, smart, courageous and intelligent women in movies. I like to be reminded that such women do exist, and they do survive in a man's world.

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