A Night at the Movies, Part I: Cinderella, Feminism, and Me

I grew up on fairy tales. For years I believed that I too could instantly know a guy was “the one” without getting to know him first and hoped that someone might sweep in one day and—just like that, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo—my life would become what I needed it to be. Since then, I’ve (thankfully) woken up to the reality that no one—man, woman, or fairy anyone—is coming to save me. I’m the one who’s always had the power.

Cinderella (2015) Wikipedia/Disney http://tinyurl.com/q68br8o

Cinderella (2015)
Wikipedia/Disney http://tinyurl.com/q68br8o

So when I went with a friend to see the movie Cinderella, I was absolutely expecting to hate this live version of the classic animated film. High heel glass slippers that are bad for your feet, finding true love based off several hours of eye gazing, magic-wand type solutions to hard problems, and the heroine staying stuck in a bad situation rather than taking empowered action. What could there possibly be to like?

Well, I just loved the film. I was just as enchanted by the story as I was when I saw it the first time as a girl. The special effects, including Cinderella’s worn and torn dress transforming into an exquisite ball gown as she turns around and round, made it seem as if the cartoon had come to life. It didn’t hurt that the actor playing the Prince was so easy on the eyes or that he seemed like a very good man.

Does this make me a bad feminist because I loved it? The thought, for a moment, crossed my mind. A few years back, I would have said yes and been wracked with guilt.

In her Bad Feminist manifesto, author Roxane Gay writes about how you can be a feminist and still be into things that may not exactly fall under the supposed umbrella of “feminist-like.” She gives many examples, including her desire to be both independent and taken care of or how she still enjoys rap music even though some of the lyrics are degrading to women. Still, as she points out, none of these personal preferences make her any less committed to the issues that are integral to the feminist cause.

Like Gay and other feminists, I believe that men and women are equal and should be treated as such. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t room for me to appreciate when my boyfriend takes charge in certain situations, opt to sometimes keep my mouth shut rather than speak out, or enjoy the results that come from working out several times a week while knowing that my worth has nothing to do with the size of my waist. None of these have any bearing upon my 100% dedication to calling out misogyny when I see it and supporting other women in owning their power and loving their bodies.

But when I first began coming out as a feminist I worried that some of my preferences might. Shouldn’t I, as a feminist, get offended when a date opens the door for me or refuse when he offers to pay for dinner? Shouldn’t I, as a feminist, stop watching movies like Love, Actually, with its unflattering portrayal of women? (For more on that read here.) Would a “real” feminist enjoy wearing tank tops that show off her cleavage? (The answer to that is yes).

Being a feminist began to feel restrictive and limiting—the opposite of liberating. And for a while, I went back into my “I’m not a Feminist” closet because I didn’t feel like I could hold on to the many contradictions that make up me and be a good feminist too.

In her manifesto, Gay also writes, “I bought into grossly inaccurate myths about who feminists are—militant, perfect in their politics and person, man-hating and humorless.” And like her, “I don’t want to buy into these myths anymore.” I have a feeling some of the myths were made up by those seeking to shut the movement down via negative spin tactics.

It wasn’t until I realized that I had been trying (and failing) to fulfill some ridiculous stereotype rather than being myself—a person who happens to believe in equality for all—that I finally became comfortable not just owning that I was a feminist but embodying that in ways that are specific to me.

Just as being myself doesn’t take anything away from feminism, being a feminist takes nothing away from me. If anything, feminism has given me more choices that allow me to be who I am in my personal life and out in the world.

As for Cinderella, I think of my appreciation for the movie as not unlike my relationship to certain foods. I know that potato chips or fried pork rinds aren’t the healthiest but that doesn’t mean I won’t indulge in them occasionally and relish every bite. (And to paraphrase Georgia Platts, the author of BroadBlogs who posted a thought-provoking comment below, not every story about a woman has to be a feminist one.)

Then again, at the end of the day, a love story that involves two people, excited to have found each other, and brave enough to make a go at creating a happy life together—what’s anti-feminist about that? Besides, I’ve always been a sucker for a happy ending.

62 Comments on “A Night at the Movies, Part I: Cinderella, Feminism, and Me”

  1. BroadBlogs says:

    I’m a feminist and I haven’t seen this movie. Based on the reviews I’ve read (including yours) I don’t have a problem with it, though.

    I don’t think it’s a problem to have stories like this, so long as there are other stories around, too, with a variety of ideas about how one can live one’s life. The guilty pleasure, as you put it.

    But also, Bell Hooks is a feminist who says that love can redeem us all, and perhaps this story works symbolically that way — for everyone, regardless of gender. Love is certainly part of the feminist repertoire.

    Cultural feminism talks about valuing traits that have traditionally been associated with women. And one movie review says this:

    “There is a message in this film — one that may disappoint anyone looking for a new feminist heroine to emerge from the cinders. It’s about kindness and forgiveness and sticking to your values no matter what confronts you.”

    I don’t see how that isn’t feminist. It works with cultural feminism in terms of valuing kindness. Everyone benefits from sticking to your values — certainly feminists do. And forgiveness is good for us all, as well. Because if we don’t forgive we end up feeling miserable all the time. (forgiveness benefits us more than our so-called “enemies.”)

    So whoever wrote the review I just quoted seems to have bought into some myths about feminism, too.

    Thanks for your thoughts on all of this. As usual, a thought-provoking read.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Really good points, Georgia. (I paraphrased you up top in the post). I remember that article as well and remember being confused about how those values contradict feminism but not unpacking it much at the time so thanks for doing that. Your comments make me think about your post as well regarding how some Jesus lovers think that he wouldn’t accept gays or want equality for all. What you said about how not all stories need to be feminist ones really really resonated.

    • Alice says:

      I don’t see how that isn’t feminist either?? Unless one subscribes to the very narrow caricatures of what a “feminist” is — nothing like simplifying someone into a straw(wo)man version of themselves to make ridiculing them easy!

  2. aqilaqamar says:

    I think men wouldn’t really have to revalute themselves as much on women on this. A man can be liberitarian (as Gay wrote in her book and seriously Diahann I was reading it before reading your post) but may be conservative about many things and he isn’t really made to justify those beliefs with or against his liberatarian or even conservative construct as much as women are. That’s because it is a given, a right for a man to be independent in many things but still want the care of a woman, be it mother, lover, wife, daughter or sister. I think it is intrinsically human to be both a balance between independence and interdependence. Men too want to taken care of. Men too want others to dominate them in the bedroom. They can be vocal about it without being emasculated, without feeling less masculine, even if he is into “she-males porn” there’s always something that makes sense about his masculinity as a profile.

    About feminism: modern day feminism is a mess to be frank especially geographically in some areas more than one. Misandry and misogyny are parts of today’s feminism and patriarchy may have started it but it is not really the only factor exacerbating it. For example, the way we quantify and qualify other women into feminist territory. Feminism has different arcs and grooves such as the masculinist constructs. When Mary Wollstonecraft was writing she was obviously talking and taking into consideration certain observations about her era. Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir Toni Morrison, Cora Kaplan and also Judith Butler take into other constructs and things that are both historical, ahistorical and of their era. Radical feminism is also a response of severe circumstances but as most things in live we make shock or extremism the norm forgetting most other things a certain discipline had catered.

    Watching Cinderella is not anti-feminism nor is it a slap-on label all the time for anyone’s mindset about feminism or even gender equality. Cinderella’s core principle is about hope for a better life if you are a good person you are rewarded. That is something pretty timeless and well incorporated into most fairy tales. I liked “Ever After” better than this adaptation for many of its feminist and realistic portrayals about Cinderella. They made a good setting that wasn’t really magical and they also made it as Christopher Nolan made his “Batman” trilogy: rooted on real life philosophies and personalities. The prince and Cinderella (Danielle in this movie) have good chemistry and are pretty nice with each other.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughtful insight and perspective here, which adds depth to a conversation that requires. I agree that it’s not about “slapping-on” a label, I love how you put it that way- and there are plenty of nuances to this issue, which can make it complex to discuss yet there is that temptation to simplify. I vaguely remember Ever After but also remember enjoying that one as well.

      It’s interesting that this one word can cause consternation and confusion about what it means and whether to be one/not. I believe it does speak to the misogyny and conditioning that still exist.

  3. Tony Single says:

    I’ve been agonising over my response to this, but nothing I compose quite captures what I want to say. It’s all a bit incoherent and vague really. Gah. Whatever. I’ll just get this down and perhaps you’ll make sense of it anyway. 😛

    So, okay, I don’t think I’ve ever been entirely comfortable with labels, and – like anybody – I’ve been slapped with a few in my time. Some were unkind (but sometimes accurate), some were kind (sometimes inaccurate), and some made no sense whatsoever. In principle, the importance of labels to those who choose to adopt them is not lost on me, and even the necessity for them is something that makes sense. Movements such as feminism need a name to rally around after all.

    But still, something niggles, and I think your post has touched on that…

    I shouldn’t care what others think of me, but I do. I should mind the language I use about others, but I don’t. You could call me a white, agnostic, middle class, privileged male, and the label would be accurate, but does that get to the heart of who I am as a unique individual? Look, I’m nothing special, but like anyone else I want to be known and to be valued. People can be dismissed because of labels, and they can often feel the pressure to conform in ways that are constricting because of them (which I believe is what you’re saying here).

    I think this may be why I never willingly wear a label. I don’t want to be told how to behave, what to do, how to feel or what even to think. Those things are my responsibility. As a (hopefully functional) adult, it’s completely on me to deal humanely with those around me (to delegate that would be cheating). This includes taking ownership of my mistakes and failings, and yes… to care about the rights and needs of other people whatever walk of life they’re from.

    I have begun to branch out into somewhat erotic art of late. If I were to call myself a feminist, would doing this be considered at all compatible with that label? Would it not be presumptuous of me to side with the cause (at least in name) when a legitimate argument can be made that my rude drawings are not helping said cause? Let’s be clear here: I am objectifying women when I draw the nude female form, and I am producing this art because I love said nude female form. Is this a moral quandary? It may very well be.

    Do I care about equality and fairness for all (regardless of gender)? Absolutely. But shouldn’t we be caring about this anyway? And in spite of me stating this, does engaging in certain activities automatically make me a misogynist? While context can be everything, certain activities do if I choose to engage in them (like physical abuse, slut shaming, etc). Drawing boobies though? This is a murky area, and it’s one reason why I choose to live according to the spirit of feminism yet not presume to call myself one.

    Labels are a necessary evil, but they can also be used destructively. They can be a party popper used for celebration or a loaded gun aimed at the core of someone’s being. As such, I’ll always be a nervous around them. The potential for misuse and outright harm is something that cannot and must not be so easily dismissed.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Tony, thanks for naming all of that here- and pointing out the need for naming/labels and also the danger that lurks in them becoming restrictive and destructive.Especially when it becomes about blindly following dogma/playing into a part rather than having it serve the purpose of freeing us up to be our authentic selves.

      I think your point to make erotic art also speaks to how society has turned eroticism of any kind into a blanket negative – when that isn’t necessarily the case. And I appreciate you naming how the charge around all that might also cause one to ask the questions you bring up…. again speaking to the dual nature of labels and definitions.

      I always appreciate the point of view you bring and your willingness to unpack and be honest about your perspective and experiences here.

      • aqilaqamar says:

        I think art erotic by itself is not hegemonic nor misogynistic; it is the audience receptions and the authorial/artist intentions via a medium that make it so. Like for example many forms of objectifications comes across in the design industry of even metallic beasts like cars even of shampoo bottles and so on and so forth. You can be objectifying even in your language. It is the passivity of today’s erotic art that makes it objectification. This is something also Jules Howard talked about in his book “Sex on Earth:A celebration of animal reproduction” where in an article he read he saw a T. Rex was “demionically” looking at a female T. Rex as he got on her and the female T Rex takes the “brunt” and is somewhat accepting her lot in life. Howard questioned the “misogyny” of dinosaurs as in implying that human scope/art can entail sexist cultural biases within drawings. Now many erotic art today is solely like that be it porn or otherwise. So, yes, there is an angle/angles there as well. That must be examined and also well questioned.

        • Tony Single says:

          I would very much have to agree with your assessment of this, aqilaqamar. I certainly finding myself questioning what I put out there for public consumption, and what does it reveal about my biases? I’m sure to have a few that even I’m not aware of because they’ve been so culturally ingrained.

  4. herheadache says:

    I felt the same about Cinderella and then was surprised when I wanted to see this film and liked it.
    Feminism, equality, whatever the label or the goal…I don’t like any extreme view. I think that is the way to go, at least for me. I am passionate on many feminist issues of equality, but I still have that childhood, born of innocence view, that finding true love would be a wonderful thing.
    I wrote a review of the movie, where I touched on issues of forgiveness and kindness.
    This is an excellent post on these issues and on the film itself.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Your point above about “extreme views” brings to mind how extremism of any kind is seldom good. And for sure finding true love – nothing anti-feminist or anti-anything about that. I’d like to read your review. If you feel compelled, please share the link (I scrolled a bit on your man page but couldn’t find it.

  5. Bull Dyker says:

    I went in with the same hesitations and loved the movie. I have to say that even though I never wanted the ball gown or the handsome prince so much, I always related to cinderella because she was nice and so gentle to her animals even in the face of abuse. I don’t think feminism needs to do away with fables like cinderella, it just needs to embrace more variety of female characters. I hate being pressured into being more aggressive than I actually am as though being my inherent self is too passive and weak for a feminist. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be for other people to receive the message to hold back and stifle themselves to be more ladylike. Feminism isn’t like a finite space, there’s supposed to be room for everyone so I think it’s kind of counterproductive when we measure feminism on a single scale. There’s no reason people can’t find qualities they admire in both ciderella and ella. I also really appreciated the touch of having a prince who’s father died and we saw him cry and breakdown without then picking up a sword and killing people or becoming suddenly abusive. That scene immediately made me think bell hooks because she points out that men inflict violence on themselves when they force themselves to become detached from emotion. I thought this movie actually did a great job of undermining patriarchy from several different angles.

    • diahannreyes says:

      “feminism isn’t like a finite space, there’s supposed to be room for everyone so I think it’s kind of counterproductive when we measure feminism on a single scale” – well said, thank you. and agree that it’s not about throwing out the baby with the bathwater and making something all bad- or all good. And thanks for pointing out that this prince had more dimension and humanity and vulnerability to him.

      While it’s important that feminism and it’s relationship to empowering women with equal choice is very important- what doesn’t get brought up as often, and which you point out above, is that it’s for the men too- that they don’t have to be forced to live within the confines of gender stereotypes, which have wrought their own destruction and played a part in perpetuating patriarchy and misogny.

      Reading everyone’s thoughtful comments to this post, I am very much appreciating how many layers and nuances there are to this conversation. Thanks for fleshing out some of them.

  6. uckepuck says:

    Reblogged this on Baby bump fashion.

  7. livelytwist says:

    Watched it and thought it was okay. In the movie, life deals her a bad hand leaving her an orphan with bossy cruel stepmother and stepsisters. It didn’t seem as though she was waiting for a man to rescue her from her predicament. When one of the former servants asked her why she wouldn’t leave, she said that it was because she promised her father she would take care of the house or something to that effect.

    Her meeting the prince is a chance affair, where she surprisingly holds her own for a girl who’s led what I consider a shielded life. She falls for him… well who wouldn’t 😉

    I liked the special effects too. And the ‘funky’ fairy godmother 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Yes- not only was the prince gorgeous but he seemed like a kind, thoughtful person. And if they seemed to bring out the best in each other in this movie. I remember years ago watching Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Jane Grey and love how she has given herself permission to be fully herself without confirming to anyone’s standards even though she well good have – in her appearance, life choices, and the parts she has chosen to play. Enjoyed her fairy godmother also.

  8. katherinejlegry says:

    Hi Diahann, This might sound preachy, but it’s not intended to be at all…
    I didn’t actively start calling myself a feminist until I realized people thought we should forget feminism as a label and were therefore about to remove one of the most important parts of women’s liberation and history. The attacks (including the “how to” books or shame for a lack of militant perfection) on what feminism is, are not what feminism is. Those are just elements to the overall story when you don’t accept the role you’re assigned to and then that creates natural resistances in life, so we explore what we are further. Feminism is a relationship to ourselves that creates room for us to grow and explore without permission from our male counterparts. The definitions of feminism are evolving with each individual so we all want to understand as a “collective” what is the thing we “pledged” ourselves to…and how do we come together as women for our betterment. On the most basic level, It’s about equity and our full rights being protected under the law. So the rest is personal.
    Feminism is what reminds you that one time cinderella had no choice in the matter. Feminism reminds you that cinderella was written by a man. Cinderella reminds you, that you like fairy tales and that you know they aren’t real. Feminism reminds you, you can be whom you want to be and that you are safe to imagine and dream. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the poofy dress unless you are being “required” due to an assigned gender role to wear it. In the history of fashion, (which Oscar de la renta capitalized on) those dresses didn’t allow women to sit down and women were really nothing more than ornaments. Feminism allows you to put the dress on when you want and then to take it off when you want. It simply opened the box of possibilities.
    I don’t listen to feminists who tell everyone else how to be, although I acknowledge their views and can understand them.
    But so yesterday while I was writing in my creative zone, my husband did the shopping, mowed the lawn, brought me tulips, washed the dishes, and rubbed my feet. I had zero problems being taken care of. We trade off with work and respect each others personal creative space and it’s a pleasure to “pamper” each other.
    It sounds like you have a wonderful partner too. 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Katherine, reading your thoughts here made me (selfishly) wish you were still blogging. Beautiful job of naming and unpacking why there is so much confusion and conflict about what feminism is and ultimately what it is really about. And thank you for adding to the Cinderella story by having in what Feminism brings in to seeing and understanding the story.

      It’s been so important to emphasize that women are equal to men as part of the movement for sure. What doesn’t get as much play is that it hopefully allows men that same freedom. (I know men on many levels have had more rights than women but I do feel that they’ve been stifled and hurt (with some causing hurt) by myth that men and women aren’t equal.)

      Your wonderful examples from your relationship speaks to that. Both of you are free to relate beyond what used to be traditionally enforced roles and to both your benefit. (And yes, my partner and I have a similar dynamic- and that is one reason this relationship has lasted and not my others.)

      • katherinejlegry says:

        Aw, thanks for that Diahann. I don’t miss my own blogging yet, but I miss you! So I’m glad you are writing. You always inspire me.

        I’m going with the word “equity” rather than “equality” btw as I don’t need to be able to do everything “equally” unless in fact I am “equal” to the ability. For example someone who is blind doesn’t have “equal” eyesight to mine, but they should be guaranteed “equity” through the fairness of a justice system-judicial system which assures rights and ownership-rights regardless of gender or race or sexual preference, or health…
        If a woman is equal to a man in strength, that shouldn’t be surprising anymore. But if she is not that doesn’t make her an inferior or even typical. It means she has other abilities that can compensate or replace her deficits. Like instead of lifting the weight, she designs the cart that carries four times the weight. The equity is property rights, and rights to her own body. Equality is subtly different in my view and we don’t have to be evenly matched to balance. I hope this makes sense and I’m not just rambling here. Others have explained this far better than I am doing.
        In terms of feminism allowing men more freedom of expression too or allowing them into the movement, I think feminism is a natural invitation to do just that, but that the misunderstandings, fear, & backlash has prevented a lot of men from understanding how it benefits them. The LGBTQ communities has broadened gender roles/fluidity as well as they have influenced feminism to be more open and accepting and flexible, so I see cis-men having just as many opportunities, if they allow themselves to take them. There is an enormous societal push for hyper-masculinity that conditions boys and men to force each other back into stereotypical roles, so it’s really up to them and not the women to convince each other. We are forging the way to compassion and openness and self acceptance. They don’t have to fight that. That’s a choice. There is no real Fem-nazi or fem-bot plot they can truly accuse of taking over the world or ruing the family unit/tradition. That’s the myth. We are evolving as humans and feminism is just one of the layered ongoing revolutions that makes human evolution wonderful and challenging and what being human is about. Boys are scientifically proven to be more emotional than girls and yet we eventually train them to stuff it all inside until it’s just anger they are allowed to express. So boys are very hurt and I think they deserve equal respect and compassion and love too as we learn about empowering ourselves.
        Thanks for allowing my long winded ideas. I think your sensitivity to the subject and to those around you puts us all on the right track. Keep up the great writing! 🙂

        • diahannreyes says:

          Thank you for so generously sharing your thoughts and wisdom here, Katherine. I think that aliveness and that fluidity is what keeps things authentic and free, rather than compressed into two sentence definitions of what it means to be a a feminist, gay, straight, Democrat, Republicans, anything really! I agree that boys deserve the same. The younger me would not have appreciated when a man showed vulnerability or softness- and now when I do get to be witness to that I am very grateful and consider it a privilege because it still isn’t the norm. Hope your creative projects are going well!

          • katherinejlegry says:

            Thanks you too Diahann… your wisdom “tempers” me. I can easily tip towards a not so gentle approach towards hyper-masculine men or anyone for that matter and as much as I have said positively about my husband, I can honestly say, some days we fight like polar opposites… and it can be troubling and disturbing and I can often wonder why a woman would choose marriage. That being said, I’m also partial to poofy cinderella dresses from time to time… and don’t feel like I want to bother with excuses why that’s NOT being sexist against myself. Despite, that when I was observing princesses growing up, Star Wars had made one to be mouthy and capable but still in need of being rescued and eventually the actress, Carrie Fischer was entirely objectified by George Lucas… who always had a fetish-lust for her and as he helped create and capitalize on the princess myths, so was Princess Diana being eaten alive by the press, and the prom queens in movies or real life never seemed to have as much fun as Drag Queens… so… it gets confusing. I was lucky to always grow up around someone in the LGBTQ communities and so I just thought of people as artists. And I always wanted to be an artist so they made sense to me. They weren’t large in numbers and were surrounded by homophobia and bigotry so I was aware of the prejudices but I never quite understood the problems that straight people felt other than coming to realize religions and traditions had largely conditioned them. I didn’t come out as bisexual until college because of my own homophobia and being afraid of the response. I still haven’t told my parents. I tried to to keep it private most of my life, but never felt like I was authentic. Most people think bisexuals are confused or can’t be monogamous, but that’s a myth. My marriage is proof of that as I’ve been with the same man for 17 years. Not married that long, but still… with him. But so bisexuality means I am simply capable of falling in love with a person’s spirit without the body parts being a barrier to my attraction. I don’t mean for this to be a tangent… from your article…

            Thanks for allowing me to express my opinions and feelings.

            My projects are going very well (thank you for asking) and when I can fit them in around my work schedule… so all in all it’s busy and constantly changing. I want to do more in terms of art therapy in some capacity… for myself to be sure but so others can benefit also… so not sure what’ll happen on that path. 🙂 Peace to you.

            • diahannreyes says:

              Katherine, I grew up too around all the brouhaha around Diana and loved the Star Wars movie- at the time I didn’t quite understand what was going on underneath all the Diana and Leah attention if anything being so publicly objectified seemed like what to aspire for- thank goodness a lot of us have disabused ourselves of that idea since then. I think we are in exciting times and changes. It’s interesting the bias you mentioned about bi-sexuals and people under the misconception that they can’t be monogamous. Fear perhaps? I’ve also often found it interesting that I will hear men talk about how they aren’t bothered/worried/find it attractive even if their partners are bi-sexual- but with women there seems to be more discomfort/worry around partnering with a bisexual man.

              • katherinejlegry says:

                I hope a lot of us have disabused ourselves from the idea (love how you said that btw) but as Kate Middleton has been rising and shining to the Princess occasion… and all traditions that accompany her station, I find we’re living along side (or with) just as much pressure to regress. Nevertheless I agree, very interesting times and changes!!! 🙂
                And yes seems most guys are turned on by the notion of women on women… and they act stupid about it. It’s even more objectifying of women, but they think they are being “tolerant”… until you throw the thought of another man into the bed to see what they say… and then they are not so tolerant… or sharing. LOL. Oh well.

                Women are probably statistically more uncomfortable with the thought of a bisexual man because we seem wired more towards the monogamy… and perhaps the thought of added competition is threatening? I have a male bisexual friend who is married to a woman with no issues… so trust is personal and depends on the people involved.

                The trouble with any of this is that it reduces the point of view of being LGBTQ to being about sex. (Not that you are doing this. I know you aren’t and I am speaking in general here.) And I actually don’t think being LGBTQ is about sex… even though sexual preferences/liberation have defined many of the conversations and movements.

                Really good to talk to you Diahann. 🙂

                • diahannreyes says:

                  Thanks for all this- I feel like we are having better conversations about issues and ideas that used to be just one or the other- when there are so many nuances involved- going to show again that labels serve a purpose but musn’t confine- as Tony of Crumble Cult commented so beautifully above. Good talking to you too, Katherine.

  9. The old definition where being a feminist meant putting aside our femininity and hating men is passe or never really was what feminism was meant to be.
    Many of the comments on this post give a clear picture of the evolved feminist. I particularly liked this comment by katherinejlegry’s : “Feminism is a relationship to ourselves that creates room for us to grow and explore without permission from our male counterparts. The definitions of feminism are evolving with each individual so we all want to understand as a “collective” what is the thing we “pledged” ourselves to…and how do we come together as women for our betterment. On the most basic level, It’s about equity and our full rights being protected under the law. So the rest is personal.”
    Another enlightening post, Diahann. 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Hi Carol, I have been thinking that some of the myths may have been made up to try to shut the movement down to scare people off it. Not unlike back in the day when healers and lesbians were burned at the stake because they were “witches”- that term itself getting a rap made from negative myths that were totally untrue.

      Loved and resonated with Katherine’s thoughts as well!

  10. Jean says:

    I am a feminist and would be a fool to say I wasn’t since I’ve clearly made some major life choices that are based on my own values that can’t be stamped out by another person.

    You said : ” But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t room for me to appreciate when my boyfriend takes charge in certain situations, opt to sometimes keep my mouth shut rather than speak out, or enjoy the results that come from working out several times a week while knowing that my worth has nothing to do with the size of my waist.”

    Since I’ve been in engineering organizations in chunks of my career where I’ve worked with both male and female engineers, plus I have close female (Chinese-Canadian born) woman friends who are mechanically inclined (they can take apart and put together a bike, deal with electrical drills,etc.) AND a mother who herself tends to be technical in her mindset (vs. artistic which was my father), I don’t see my partner looking after simple bike repairs, as a “man” thing.

    It’s just an area he can troubleshoot faster than I. At the same time, he cooks and bakes very well (courtesy of his mother), so yes, we look after each other well on the daily meals side.

    What is important that doing chores, works best if each partner does something naturally well AND doesn’t mind doing it. What becomes a serious pain-in-the-ass, is survival daily skills for housecleaning and cooking, every partner should become good, not excellent, just good …because…one of you will become ill/injured in a major way.

    It happened to me. My partner did 90% of meal prep., buying groceries and 80% of housecleaning for nearly 3 solid months. I was too dizzy from my injury and had to rest in bed for many hrs. He did it willingly and cheerfully. Of course, I had no deadlines for him. I just slept. 🙂 When I dragged myself to blog slowly, he thought it was a good thing. It kept me from being depressed.

    this is my advice for any couple if you love each other forever. We all become weak, frail. We all do.

    In sickness and health, will you still love each other? How will you want to show this day after day when s/he looks like hell, feels like hell? All the flowers and candies will not help. (And I got some little gourmet cake slice or 2. Bless his heart.)

    I don’t need to see Cinderella. I think I have my Prince Charming.

    Feminism is to liberate both men and women to give each other daily and in lifes’ crises in the most nurturing, healthy way to one another.

    • diahannreyes says:

      I love your last sentence Jean. I have never heard Feminism put quite that way before yet it is so true. And your Prince Charming sounds like the real deal. It sounds like you and your partner have a living, breathing partnership that allows for you both to be fully yourselves.

      I’m finding in my own relationship that all that you mentioned above is so key- that you have each others’ back and can step up for each other, and not just during the happy times- and you are right- feminism gives plenty of space for that. (I’m also am grateful that my partner loves to cook because I don’t at all.)

      • Jean says:

        Ah you don’t cook? It wouldn’t hurt to learn or relearn. A survival skill. Unless you’re saying you used to cook when you were single.

        He and I have 2 homes to look after. Each person has to look after the whole home when the other person is gone for days/weeks. No choice.

        He is naturally neater than I. So he finds my housekeeping kinda of subpar, but I clean anyway at times. So does he.

        • diahannreyes says:

          Not that I don’t- I just don’t enjoy it as much as he does. Also, he is vegan I’m not plus I’m gluten-free- I’m more likely to eat his food than he eat mine. I’m trying to add more vegan to my repertoire.

  11. SirenaTales says:

    Considering how often and much I think about this issue, Diahann, you would think I would have had a clear, concise and ready response to your thought-provoking post. Nope.

    You and a number of readers have eloquently zeroed in on the crux of the issue for me: that feminism is inherently and primarily about equity and equality in living our possibilities as we choose, whether they be financial, emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual. Thanks to your honest, insightful delving into this landscape, I have more clarity now, after having wrestled with my personal choices on innumerable occasions when they have seemed at odds with my feminist beliefs.

    I especially appreciate the discussion about the danger of labels, which by their nature are static, while we, ideally, are always moving, changing, growing. I am reminded of the need for the term “feminism” to continue to breathe and evolve for it to stay alive and vibrant–something that each of us contributes to with our living out mindfully our choices.

    Thanks so much for the philosophical/mental/ political workout! Looking forward to seeing “Cinderella,” a favorite of mine. xxo

    p.s. Will this area be handled in your book? I feel as if there is a lot to be mined here by your deft pen…..

    • diahannreyes says:

      Chloe, thank you for this. So beautifully put: “I especially appreciate the discussion about the danger of labels, which by their nature are static, while we, ideally, are always moving, changing, growing. I am reminded of the need for the term “feminism” to continue to breathe and evolve for it to stay alive and vibrant–something that each of us contributes to with our living out mindfully our choices.” (I feel the same could be said for marriage, who we are as artists, etc. everything that matters where we can squeeze the life out of things if we stay static). I paraphrased a bit of your wisdom in my response to Katherine above. It’s interesting that the whole charge around what feminism is has created that inner struggle for a number of us and I think that is significant and worth examining. I definitely will bring in this struggle in the book as it applies to my journey. (Thanks for asking~ 🙂 been stuck in between drafts but thankfully snapping out of that).

      • SirenaTales says:

        So pleased for you that you are moving forward with your book and have eluded “stuckness” :). I agree–so intriguing to witness (and experience) the enormous charge around feminism. Thought of you and this discussion as I’ve been reading (late to the party) Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” Have you read it? Rock on with your book, my friend. xxo

        • diahannreyes says:

          Thank you, Chloe! I read through most of it and definitely appreciate what she adds to the conversation. She’s an inspiring woman. Do you like the book?

          • SirenaTales says:

            Yes, I like and am intrigued by what I have read so far–looking forward to getting deeper into the book. Yes, she is definitely inspiring. Hope you have a wonderful week!

  12. herheadache says:

    Lots of excellent and varied thoughts here. Love it.
    You are right Katherine. I may not have sight like other people, but I have it in other ways. I know life isn’t fair or equal all the time, most of the time actually, but we make it work and discover our strengths.
    Equity rather than equality.
    Here is my review of the film Diahann

  13. vnp1210 says:

    I didn’t even know this movie was out! I watched the Disney version a million times as a young girl. I think there are other themes like justice in that her evil stepmother and stepsisters end up losing what they were trying to wrongfully gain. And she ended up with a better life than what they had put her through for so long (even if it was because of a man). Plus she wasn’t out looking for love, if just happened upon her. I don’t think you’re a non-feminist for liking it, just a good person!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you! Yeah- the movie definitely has some empowering themes. Blogger Her Headache, whose comments are above yours writes a great review focusing on the positive themes in this latest version.

  14. amkuska says:

    Wow…I’m not sure which I liked more. The article, or the deep and thoughtful comments that came along with it. I’m not deep, but I sure appreciated reading your thoughts. I kinda want to see this movie now. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Balance, right? *grin* (even if it’s not the conventional zero on the scale. Balance for ourselves).

    “Being a feminist began to feel restrictive and limiting—the opposite of liberating. ”
    I really appreciate this. Because you touch on something everyone can relate to in all manner of convictions, from food fascism to faith. Basically that alarm bells should go off when we start to get religious about anything to the point of forgetting what it was supposed to be about and forgetting our SELF. We are adopting an -ism. It shouldn’t enslave us. I’m so glad that you not only enjoyed the simple pleasure and beauty of a classic fairy love story but that your response reveals an evolution in your thinking and self-awareness.

    • diahannreyes says:

      “Basically that alarm bells should go off when we start to get religious about anything to the point of forgetting what it was supposed to be about and forgetting our SELF. We are adopting an -ism. It shouldn’t enslave us.” Appreciate this Diana, that extremism can happen with any -ism,a s you said- and while there are points in time/history when that -ism may feel necessary or warranted, ultimately there must be a shift for sustenance and fluidity. Thanks for always reading so deeply into, D. And yes- it’s been an evolution for sure! (Btw- on an aside- I’ve tried accessing your latest post and the link in the email isn’t working- and I couldn’t access it through the link on your blog, too.)

  16. Jay says:

    Feminism is supposed to be about freedom and choice. I despise anyone who tells me how to think or what to do – on either side of the fence.

  17. Jenn Berney says:

    I confess that I clicked on the Love, Actually link and just spent the last twenty minutes reading that–hilarious! I love what Roxane Gay has to say about feminism, and I love this conversation about how to make feminism more inclusive. Great post!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thanks, Jenn. Yeah- I’m sure similar themes could be identified in Bridges of Madison County but oh how I love that movie. I burst into tears at the same four scenes every time. Love Gay and her wisdom.

  18. Like so much in life (and something I need to learn) black and white and “all or nothing” is rarely a good stance. Moderation is the key. But definitely not my middle name! Also as an aside, I loved the movie and for me the best part was when she said “I forgive you” at the end. Without an apology! Great post, as always.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Yes- she was never reactive and stayed true to herself. That’s empowerment right there 🙂 (Also, she’s a better person than me, I doubt I could have forgiven that quickly esp. without an apology- lol).

  19. […] A Night at the Movies, Part I: Cinderella, Feminism, and Me → […]

  20. Alice says:

    I haven’t seen the movie (tho’ as a general rule, I am always up for fairy tales remakes!), but I want to offer up a thought to go with Roxane-ILOVEHERFOREVER-Gay’s “we are all bad feminists” idea. Which is that if feminists (and most everyone else too) don’t let ourselves enjoy problematic media, we’d have nothing left to watch at all! I don’t need my entertainment to be dogmatically perfect anymore than I need myself to be that way.

    Thanks for the recommendation! Will def. be putting this one on my list.

    (My contribution to your files, if you haven’t seen already: http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2011/09/how-to-be-a-fan-of-problematic-things/)

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