So the idea came to me in the shower, the morning after yet another disappointing cinematic experience.
I was living in Ho Chi Minh city and my favourite thing to do at the time was to go and watch films in 4DX. (If you haven’t seen a film in 4DX I recommend you do so as quickly as possible. Arrange it for your birthday and you wouldn’t regret it – it’s that good!) But I was getting tired, tired of the moment that the company I was keeping turned to me with hopeful expectance in the dimly lit aisles as we trundled out of the cinemas and said, ‘What did you think?!’. And while I probably did love the shaking seats, blasts of water and smoke machines – the actual content, what’s in a giant proportion of film, it was rubbing me raw. But how many times can you say, ‘the gender stereotypes made the film practically unbearable for me to sit through’ – again!
The evening proceeding this thought provoking shower, I’d been to the cinema with my then wonderful and sympathetic boyfriend (he is still wonderful and sympathetic as far as I’m aware – he’s just not mine). He listened and I tried to explain that the woman presented to me in the film didn’t feel as though she was made for me or by somebody who understood being a woman at all. ‘She was made for you’, I said. This was followed by my long, unintentionally dramatic, sigh and then a slightly paranoid, defensive, ‘I’m not completely incapable of enjoying life, it just looks that way!’.
But, the truth was, I was slightly incapable of enjoying life and 4DX cinema was really just the cherry atop the trifle! I wasn’t enjoying the jelly, cream, custard or sherry soaked sponge at the bottom either. A greater number of things: TV, music, podcasts, art – were becoming more of a problem for me. I was finding myself, and still am, frustrated. I was tired of the image of a woman that I didn’t recognise in myself – nor did I see in the wonderful women who surrounded me each day.
But this wasn’t all the time. Sometimes, not frequently enough, I became a monkey who’d found bushels of bananas – jumping, yelping, fascinated and engaged. Unsurprisingly, these episodes occurred predominantly when the creator of the novel/music/tv show/film was a woman.
Was it happening enough – no. Shockingly, or not, I realised there simply wasn’t enough of it ANYwhere.
It occurred to me then, in that shower, that there are so many incredible women out there writing, directing, creating – women I know nothing about.
So for myself, and for those around me that have to suffer me, I’ll be starting a Year of Women.
My year to learn, my year to discover and my year to escape.