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The Female Perspective: Dinosaurs and Feminism: Can The Two Exist?

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

Jurassic World = Awesome
Jurassic World = Awesome

Last week I went to see Jurassic World (with a few million other people it seems) and I want to state up front two things.

1. I am a HUGE Jurassic Park fan though the sequels left me pretty cold, I won’t lie about that. None of them had the magic of the first one. That first sight of those dang dinosaurs blew my teenage mind 20+ years ago. It was a feat of movie making that made me feel excited and joyful at what I was seeing. It was an adventure story and it was about dinosaurs! Not to mention, I loved the book as well.

2. I loved Jurassic World, it evoked the feelings of the first movie and it managed to stay true to the roots of its source while also being its own fun romp through dino-land. I had a great time watching this movie.

That being said let’s delve into something I read after seeing the movie that made me roll my eyes a bit because it seems that every movie these days is being searched throughly for its feminist identity.



Claire Dearing played by Bryce Dallas Howard.
Claire Dearing played by Bryce Dallas Howard.

I read an article about how the main female character, Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, wears her high heels throughout the entire film and how that, along with her perfect ensemble, make her less than feminist.

Seriously? Do you hear yourself? We’re judging a fictional character on her outfit and saying that she is left wanting.

Claire’s outfit isn’t a sign of fierceness; it’s a crime of lazy filmmaking — a patronizing shorthand for her cluelessness and stubborn need for control. See how out-of-touch she is with her environment? Silly girl!

I see, okay, well that’s one opinion. My thoughts as I watched the film is that Claire doesn’t have the time to run off and change her clothing into something more “acceptable” and it’s more than reasonable for a professional working in a professional environment (even a dinosaur park) to dress the part. It’s quickly clear that Claire is rigid in her thinking and is a workaholic. In a funny exchange with ex-Navy, Raptor Wrangler Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) we learn that Claire is the type of woman who prints out an itinerary for her dates. Sure, there are people like that, good on them. Makes sense for that type of personality to be in charge of a potential death park.

The one part of Jurassic World that stuck out for me as annoying? Not Claire’s outfit or her high heels (I’ll get to the heels in a moment) it was when she was talking to her sister and the conversation falls to the boring idea that one day Claire will understand how her sister feels because you have to be a mother to understand kids…or some such bull-crap. It was an annoying and trite line spoken in a way that rang untrue to me. Perhaps it’s because I’m tired of the stereotypical mother types or maybe it’s because it’s a quick and stupid way to pigeon-hole women into their “proper” roles. To me, that was a lazy bit of writing that the movie could have easily done without.

Howard and Pratt as they begin their Jurassic World adventures.
Howard and Pratt as they begin their Jurassic World adventures.

Moving on…

As many know, all hell breaks loose in the park as the new, genetically engineered dino, the Indominous-Rex, gets free of its enclosure and begins to destroy its way through the park. During that time Claire’s two young nephews get lost in the shuffle and she enlists Owen to help her find them. To do this they must venture into the park and Claire jumps right in, high heels and white suit be damned. I actually kind of loved her for this. She didn’t run off to change (she frankly didn’t have the time) and she didn’t kick off her shoes, instead, she RAN in her heels and let me tell you, she ran like the wind. It was actually impressive enough that I noticed it at one point. I later read that Howard actually trained for her heel running like it was an Olympic competition and she never switched her heels to flats or special wedges, she did all that running herself.

By the way, for those of you who think that a woman can’t run in heels like that I can tell you with 100% certainty that they can. Not from my personal experience but I have a good friend who can run in heels so it does happen folks. Believe it! For me, I didn’t think Claire’s outfit signaled lazy filmmaking, her running in heels didn’t seem ludicrous, it’s what happens when all hell breaks loose and you are trying to keep yourself safe and your loved ones safe. You don’t have the time to think about what you’re wearing, you don’t have the time to care, all you have the time for is surviving. To me, in a movie like Jurassic World it rang true and I didn’t even stop to ponder that it might be a sign of anti-feminism.

To say that the characters are all “types” would be a truth and it’s not a slight against the movie. It’s the kind of movie that doesn’t have the time to spend developing deep and subtle characters. Character development has to be quick and it has to be easy. Dressing Claire in head to toe white with beige heels and perfect hair is a great way to show the audience right away who she is. Dressing Owen in a leather vest and tight jeans is the best way to show us who he is. Clothes do make a difference a film and in this case, they do it very effectively.

As for feminism in a dinosaur movie? Yeah, it’s there, it’s quiet but it’s there. It’s when Claire saves Owen, even though her nephews then prefer the supposed safety of Owen’s company to hers. It’s when she doesn’t hesitate to release the T-Rex and have it chase her to save her loved ones. It’s there when she protects them from danger and it’s there when she goes after her nephews. One of my favorite small scenes is when Claire and Owen are running from the I-Rex and he stops to give her a hand, she buzzes right past him, a quick little f-you to being a gentlemen during a fight or flight scenario. She was going to keep going, chivalry be damned!

Remember how badass Laura Dern was in that movie? She played world-renowned paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, the intellectual equal to her partner, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and a tough, resourceful heroine in the mold of Alien‘s Ellen Ripley or Terminator‘s Sarah Connor. She was able to identify extinct poisonous plants on sight, went toe-to-toe with Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm on chaos theory (with that great line: “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the Earth”), and got elbow-deep in a mountain of dung to diagnose an ailing triceratops. When it came time for her to fight off a velociraptor while taking the initiative to restart a power grid, we had faith she would prevail. In fact, the entire movie was quietly feminist in the way it depicted the downfall of male hubris, from Wayne Knight’s botched attempt to steal dino embryos to the exile of man from the island by an entirely female dinosaur population. Women did inherit the Earth after all.

Laura Dern's Ellie Sattler was pretty darn bad-ass.
Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler was pretty darn bad-ass.

To compare Claire to Sattler is ridiculous in my opinion because while they aren’t the same woman, they share similar qualities, namely in terms of being able to battle dinosaurs when called upon. Sattler and Grant were equals, yes, and she was a bad-ass character in a lot of ways but so is Claire. I think to simply dismiss Claire’s strength because of her outfit and frigid behavior is to not give her credit for who she is. Simply put, it’s judging a book by its cover. Claire does a lot in this movie and to me, she is resourceful, smart and brave and she should be given credit for being so instead of put down because her outfit and hair are “impeccable” (which isn’t even true, she’s a hot mess by the end of the movie). I think articles like the one is part of the problem with people trying to “defend” feminism everywhere they go. The fact is, not every movie is going to be full of feminist fun like Mad Max: Fury Road was but I feel like when we get a character like Claire, who can be both feminine AND strong it’s a win-win situation. People need to reframe their perceptions of what feminism should look like and realize that it can take all shapes and sizes. From a tough, post-apocalyptic bad-ass to a modern, professional woman in heels. Let’s all open our minds and broaden our feminist horizons.

But then again, so was Claire...I mean, she lured the T-Rex to the I-Rex...not something for the faint of heart.
But then again, so was Claire…I mean, she lured the T-Rex to the I-Rex…not something for the faint of heart.

What do YOU think? Did you see Jurassic World? Did you love it, hate it?

What did you think of Claire and her heels?

Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Ageism AND Sexism Rears It’s Ugly Head in Hollywood…Again

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

Recently, in an interview with TheWrap magazine, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal discussed ageism and sexism in Tinseltown, revealing that she was turned down for the part of being a love interest to a 55-year old man- Gyllenhaal herself is 37. Oh yes, clearly she is a hag at this point.

Maggie Gyllenhaal arrives at the 40th Anniversary Gracies Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Maggie Gyllenhaal arrives at the 40th Anniversary Gracies Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

It’s no surprise that Hollywood treats female actresses differently than males. It’s been happening since any of us can remember. In fact, a study conducted recently stated:

A study of the top 265 earning actresses and actors in Hollywood films between 1968 and 2008 released last year by the Journal Of Management Inquiry revealed actresses are paid less as they get older, with wages increasing steadily through their 20s and dropping rapidly after 34. Meanwhile, actors’ salaries do not peak until 51 years old and do not decrease with age. ~Huffington Post

Basically, if you are an actress over the age of 34 you are out of luck in terms of getting paid the same as your male counterparts (unless you are Meryl Streep, that woman is unstoppable!). So why is this a badly kept secret that the actresses themselves seem to do nothing about? Sure, they speak out about it in magazines, but are they doing something about it to make studio’s pay them what they are worth? Or, are they fearful that by taking a stand against a studio, they may never work again? I’ll never pretend to understand Hollywood and the weirdness that goes on there (why they keep “rebooting” films is beyond me, don’t people have new ideas anymore?) so I’ll keep this brief, my confusion is about the fact that a woman like Gyllenhaal, a talented actress, who is at 37, too old to be the lover of a 55 year old man. If anything, she might be too young! It’s a bizarre situation and I give her a lot of credit for being able to discuss it gracefully.

“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” Gyllenhaal said. “I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

Good for you!

As I read more about the study I mentioned earlier regarding the pay rates of women actresses versus men, I couldn’t get angry, anger is the wrong emotion to feel here. What I feel here is sadness. Sadness that this is what Hollywood has become. This is why getting a Superhero movie starring either Wonder Woman or Black Widow is nearly impossible, this is why we can’t have nice things!

According to the study, “Men’s well-worn faces are thought to convey maturity, character and experience. A woman’s face, on the other hand, is valued for appearing young.”

No wonder young girls starve themselves to death or try to surgically enhance themselves to the point of danger (the Kardashian lip situation rings a bell here), Hollywood rarely takes responsibility for what young girls (or even boys) do to themselves in order to look “right” for the movies. The fact is, when you look back on the “good ole days” of movies, people looked NORMAL, women had curves for pete’s sakes, they had all different hair colors and cuts. Nowadays we see a lot of the same thing, straight hair and skinny ladies. Now, I’m not hating on the skinny gals (or straight hair), I love them just as much as my curvy ladies, but what I’m saying here is that we need INDIVIDUALITY these days, not a bunch of Stepford Wives.

Apparently these lips are worth disfiguring yourself for. Go figure.
Apparently these lips are worth disfiguring yourself for. Go figure.

I feel that even as I type this it’s a waste of my time. Hollywood isn’t changing- well, not entirely.

Maybe I’m actually wrong about that, the recent Mad Max: Fury Road film is a good example of how an action movie has become something more, something feminist. Maybe those are the little changes that will eventually effect BIG change?

Only time will tell for sure on this one and even though I sound hopeless, I do actually have some hope for the future of women in film. Maybe at some point Hollywood will see that it’s okay to show an “older” woman on screen and no one will die. People won’t turn from the theater in fear or disgust. Maybe I have to be patient and wait this out.

Even the 70s Stepford Wives were more individual than some ladies today!
Even the 70s Stepford Wives were more individual than some ladies today!

What do YOU think? Will Hollywood every change? Are older actresses appealing? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: That Darn Wonder Woman Movie

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!


I’ve talked a few times now about the worlds need for a Wonder Woman movie and here I am again, talking about Wonder Woman. The movie is slated to be released in 2017 but it continues to have issues. The film lost its director, producer and “Game of Thrones” director Michelle MacLaren. The studio quickly filled the spot (more on that in a moment) but before they did they decided to make clear that “creative differences” (the reason given as to why MacLaren split) actually means that MacLaren was unqualified to helm a film of the epic scale she was looking to direct. They have now tapped Monster director, Patty Jenkins – who, by all accounts, is equally as “unqualified” to helm such a project (if we are going by the Warner Brothers standards of qualifications, that is).

Here’s my issue, and it’s illustrated by Joseph Phillip Illidge in this article. When Joss Whedon was tapped to direct The Avengers, he was equally as unqualified and yet, the movie was a success. Same goes for  Anthony and Joe Russo, who directed Captain America: The Winter Solider (which was awesome). I guess what it boils down to is that I’m confused, why was MacLaren thrown under the bus? Because she wanted to do an epic movie about an EPIC AMAZONIAN by the name of Wonder Woman? Eee gads, imagine the nerve of her to want to make the story of Wonder Woman EPIC. Scandalous.

No, I think it runs much deeper than that, I think that they disliked her story ideas, decided to split and then they decided that since she’s a woman, they can crap all over her without issue (merely an opinion, not fact). Even though that makes them hypocrites. Experience does not immediately equal success (Ridley Scotts disaster of a movie Exodus: Gods and Kings should prove that point nicely), sometimes a lack of experience can be a plus! You aren’t jaded by Hollywood, you have fresh ideas and can take a character that is universally known, like Wonder Woman, and really do something new and fresh with her. I mean, MacLaren works on Game of Thrones for pete’s sake! There are a whole plethora of strong female characters on that show!

Can anyone be better than Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman?
Can anyone be better than Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman?

No, I think this isn’t a case of MacLaren being inexperienced, I think it’s a case of honest to goodness “creative differences” along with a wee bit of the sexism thrown in for good measure. Mix all of that with the fact that the menfolk at Warner Bros clearly disagreed with her ideas and you have “creative differences”.

This leaves me feeling worried about the Wonder Woman movie. I mean, Monster was a good movie, Jenkins did a great job making Charlize Theron’s murderer both brutal and sympathetic, but at the same time, will Warner Bros. allow Jenkins to take Wonder Woman where she needs to be able to go? Will Jenkins be allowed to treat Wonder Woman like all the other heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and give her a bad-ass back story (oh yeah, she already has one!) along with a fantastic plot that keeps viewers engaged and excited?

Only time will tell really. I know that I, for one, will be very interested to see what happens with the Wonder Woman movie. I am also breathlessly awaiting some footage of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in  Batman versus Superman: Dawn of Justice. 

I need more than this! I want to see Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman fighting, jumping, kicking butt!
I need more than this! I want to see Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman fighting, jumping, kicking butt!

Wonder Woman may just be another superhero to many, but to me (and I’m not ashamed to admit this), as a feminist, Wonder Woman is much more than that. She is a feminist icon, one of the most popular heroes to date. She is a strong powerful woman hero who stands for feminism in the best possible ways. While she has been treated well in the past, I am nervous about how she’ll treated in today’s over-sexualized world.

My ideal Wonder Woman stands toe-to-toe with Batman, Superman or any other male superhero.
My ideal Wonder Woman stands toe-to-toe with Batman, Superman or any other male superhero.

Again, only time will tell…I for one, have my fingers crossed for the best!

What do YOU think? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Lady Thor and Gender Roles

Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

While it’s not news that Thor is now a lady, I think it IS newsworthy to discuss the fact that Lady Thor is outselling Man Thor by 30% – that’s a pretty staggering number considering the news of a lady Thor was met with mixed reviews. According to the Telegraph;

According to distributor DC Comics, the first five issues of the new female Thor series have outsold the same issues from the previous ‘God of Thunder’ series in 2012, featuring a more conventional male Thor – some by up to 36 per cent. And those figures don’t include digital copies.

Lady Thor is outselling her Male counterpart by 30%!
Lady Thor is outselling her Male counterpart by 30%!

This brings joy to my feminist heart because there were so many traditional comic book fans who though that making Thor a woman would be a terrible idea and there were those who openly opposed it. Well, I guess this proves something…women do buy comics and that a controversy CAN improve sales. We’ll have to see if Lady Thor continues to rock the market but for now, she has a pretty comfortable lead in terms of sales.

That being said, I came across a meme the other day that both amused the holy heck out of me and annoyed me. Below is the meme in question:


Here’s my issue with it, why is this supposed Mom poo-poo’ing her daughters wishes because Thor is male? Why can’t young girls be whatever the heck they want for Halloween (or any day)? Who cares if it is a traditionally male or female role? Why can’t a young boy decide he wants to be Wonder Woman or a girl wants to be Thor? What are these pre-ordained gender roles that we all have to fit into? Shouldn’t that be the stuff of the past?

Now, I am not a parent, but I have been around my friends (and lived with) kids quite a bit, I have watched my friends parent their children (both male and female) with equal parts distress and ease. I have watched one of my friends young sons want to wear a one-piece bathing suit and read princess books and not once did his mother tell him that that was for girls. She allowed him to express who he was without shame. That is how it should be, kids should be allowed to experiment with different gender roles in order to figure out who they are! That shouldn’t be squashed simply because someone eons ago decided some stuff was for boys and some for girls! Who made that decision? It needs to end, boys should be able to do boy or girl stuff and girls should be able to do boy or girl stuff. Simple as that (and, by the way, I feel that this holds true for adults as well).

A funny example is the 80’s movie Adventures in Babysitting – a great movie, by the way. One of the lead characters, a young girl of about 10 or so was obsessed with Thor! She dressed like him and wanted to be him and I remember thinking, what a cool chick! Let’s face it, Thor is not only a pretty face, he’s a pretty awesome character,

From "Adventures in Babysitting"
From “Adventures in Babysitting”

Here’s the thing, we need to stop boxing people into specified roles. People are malleable, wonderfully complex human beings and if they want to defy the “rules” then I say go for it! I used to love the male characters in the films I saw and I would actually try to emulate them in certain ways. It’s both sad that there were so few female role models that I identified with and pretty funny that I much preferred the male characters. Why did I prefer them? Because they were tough, they were never the damsel in distress and they always came out on top. Today, the choice of female role models is wider and more diverse – look at characters like Agent Carter, Black Widow, even Michelle Rodriguez in the Fast & Furious movies. These are all strong, powerful women who go toe-to-toe with their male counterparts. It’s really awesome and I’m glad to see it!

The simple fact is, we need to let go of stereotypes. They’re boring and without merit. We need to instead embrace the unusual, the unique and let people be who they want. Don’t tell a little boy he can’t dress as a lady if he wants to, it might be a phase or it might truly be who he is. Don’t tell your little girl that she can’t be Thor because, as we’ve seen, Thor is a pretty mighty hero, whether Thor is a he or a she.

What do you think? Do you have kids and would you allow them to cross-dress (for lack of a better term) if they wanted? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: A Non-Gamers Thoughts on Gamergate

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

Here’s the thing, from what I can tell in reading various articles on Gamergate, it’s a big ole mess. It started because people (aka a bunch of angry internet folks/gamers) were angry that an indie gamer released a game to great success. Then, her ex-boyfriend began spouting lies about her using her feminine wiles to get good reviews. He has since retracted what he said, saying that Quinn did not sleep with the journalist for reviews but the damage has already been done. The information was out there and people began to choose sides. Things began to quickly spiral out of control (which is what often happens on the internet) when Quinn became the recipient of death threats and multiple hacks to her various social media accounts.

I admit that, as a woman, I might be a bit biased on this subject.
I admit that, as a woman, I might be a bit biased on this subject.

What Gamergate reveals is the rampant and violent misogyny that runs throughout the gamer community. In industries such as video games and even comics, women are simply not given a fair shake. Women are treated differently and are often treated badly. And by badly, I mean, women are in fear for their lives. Let me repeat the fact that Quinn had to leave her home because she was in danger of being attacked. One of the many problems with Gamergate is that there was no organization to it, no clear leader. Therefore, the attacks ranged from condemning the lack of ethics in journalism to outright hatred against women in the gaming industry. So what was the “real” issue here?

Carolyn Cox from The Mary Sue puts it well when she says,

“This ongoing uproar in the gaming community is not about journalistic ethics, it’s about systematic misogyny and abuse, the ease with which harassment occurs online, and the fact that publishing an article calling for empathy could engender enough hate to make you want to quit writing forever.”

Technology is great but one of the downfalls is that hate is spewed towards women (amongst others) every day on the internet. Being able to hide behind a computer screen/keyboard makes people (aka trolls, bullies, bigots, sexists, etc) feel invincible and untouchable. The fact is, they mostly are. The video game world has seen the rise of females in their male dominated world for years now, in a blog from 2011 I found that women made up 12% of the people working in creating games, not to mention, women have been influential in some of the biggest games around such as “Gears of War 3” and “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”.


According to an article in The Washington Post,

“America’s 190 million gamers, 48 percent of whom are women, still play in a harsh frontier. About 70 percent of female gamers said they played as male characters online in hopes of sidestepping sexual harassment, according to a study cited by “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” author and law professor Danielle Keats Citron.”

Intermingled with this feeling of technological invincibility is the gamer world. It is a male dominated one and if anything is clear from Gamergate, it is an industry that is unwilling to accept women into the fold. (I want to make it clear that I, by no means,  speak of the entire gaming industry. I am well aware that there are many who support women). To try and keep women out, the men establish a culture of hatred, violence, sexism and threats. I know that even though I am not a gamer, I see the commercials for games like “Grand Theft Auto”, I am often horrified at the way women are portrayed in those games. I have read numerous stories about how the female characters are often sex workers who are attacked and murdered for fun. Yeah, for FUN. If you’ll allow me an “old lady” moment,  I honestly don’t know when video games became this way. I remember a time when you very simply had to get Link through various trials to rescue Zelda or you bounced Mario along some toadstools to rescue Princess Peach. Maybe I’m old but it saddens me that there are now video games that are all about killing and assault.

As of 2011, about 18 million women were playing video games.

As of 2014, that number rose to 70%!

When journalist Anita Sarkeesian (no stranger to online harassment for her feminist views) mentioned that maybe in video games women don’t have to be nameless sex workers nor do they need to be murdered and/or attacked in every video game, she received so many threats she had to leave her home for a safer location.

Let me say this pretty clearly so everyone understands, no one should have to leave their homes for fear of their safety for speaking their mind. Last time I checked, we lived in a country founded on the principles of free speech. When did that change to ‘free speech, except when it’s women denouncing female abuse in video games and/or receiving praise for a well-done video game?’ For sure, I am a bit confused that the only argument being made is to try and frighten the women who are speaking their minds. Where is the logical, open discourse? Where is the intelligence? We live in a culture of bullies and I, for one, want it to stop.

What has come out of Gamergate for many is a need to address the misogyny and violence against women (and their supporters) in the gaming industry. For something like this to reach a level of violence where women are fearing for their own well-being means that there is a huge flaw in the system. Actually, it means the system is broken. Everyone should be able to do what they love. Everyone should be able to speak their mind (unless, obviously, it’s harmful).

I realize that this may sound somewhat unclear, but here’s the thing. The people making threats or hacking accounts to “get back at” these women are the problem. They are abusing the right of free speech by trying to shut down those who are fighting for it. By abusing it to this degree they no longer deserve that right (in my humble opinion) because once we descend to threats of bodily harm, who are we? Barbarians? Monsters?

I, for one, want to live in a world where I can speak my mind without fear of being harmed or threatened.

There is an upside. There are organizations like WIGI (Women In Games International) that is made up of both male and female members whose sole purpose is to work to include women in the gaming industry as both players and developers. Make sure to check them out!

Tell me, did I miss something about Gamergate? 

Not being a gamer, I would love to hear some feedback!

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The Female Perspective: Extreme Corseting: Dangerous or a Show of Individuality?

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

I was recently made aware of a woman named Kelly Lee Dekay, she has managed to corset herself into a 16 inch waist. Yeah, you’re reading that correctly, a SIXTEEN INCH WAIST. In looking at her I can’t help but be slightly repulsed. I don’t say this to put her down or make her seem like anything other than what she is, a woman searching for her path to stardom.

Kelly Lee Dekay as Jessica Rabbit
Kelly Lee Dekay as Jessica Rabbit

I have to admit to liking her attitude about it all, she states (on her website),

“I know for sure I’m going to get a lot of heat for [saying I’m a feminist] given corsets’ dark history,” she told “I started tight-lacing for me. I enjoy it. I wear my personality on the outside. But is it for everyone? No, absolutely not. But it’s my body and my decision. Telling someone to conform to your idea of feminism is still oppression. People have this sense of entitlement over a woman’s body. I reject that entitlement and choose to do the things that make me happy. That’s feminist. My body, my choice.”


She is 100% correct, it’s her body and it’s her choice. I also like where she says it’s not for everyone to follow her path. My problem comes down to the fact that teenage girls will see her and miss that part. Because, let’s face it, a lot of teenage girls aren’t paying attention to reason. They’re thinking about what will make them stand out, be sexy and get all the attention. I may be in my thirties but I still remember what it was like to be a teenage girl. It was horrible. I was the nerdy, chubby girl with braces. On top of that, I was shy as hell and only had a few (equally nerdy) friends. I was never very outgoing, even well into my teens. I was uncomfortable in my body and in who I was.  It took me long into my twenties to get comfortable.

The reason I tell you all this is because I can imagine a young girl seeing this woman and thinking, ‘Hmmm…I could totally do that!’ Corsets are easy to procure in these days of internet shopping and voila! We have a young girl trying to do something that could potentially injure her permanently and that alters her body in an extremely dramatic fashion.

Part of what turns me off from Kelly Lee’s corseting is the reason she did it, she wanted to look more like some of her favorite comic book characters (and, of course, like Jessica Rabbit) and that only frustrates me. How are we, as women, going to be able to make men understand that women are not to be looked at as comic book damsels, but as real-life women with people like Kelly Lee walking around, epitomizing the classic comic book lady shape? What I mean is that, there are battles being fought at Comic Conventions and Online by women trying to be treated as human beings and not simply as sexual objects. Someone like Kelly Lee (and others like her) potentially sets that back because she becomes a real-life fantasy for young men. She raises expectations that woman could look like the comic book women, if they wanted to. It’s frustrating and it’s not entirely Kelly Lee’s fault, she is simply doing what she wants to do with her body. The thing is, being a celebrity means that you are automatically being looked at, appraised, judged and treated as a role model (whether they want to be one or not). What kind of role model is she?

Corsets have a long and sordid history. They have been used in the past to determine what class you belong to (the higher classes of course wearing the best corsets) along with being a tool for enhancing posture and slimming the waist to a culturally dictated size that was deemed “appropriate”. Nowadays, they are primarily used as fashion accessories. I even have one myself that I was fitted for. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy wearing a fully laced up corset. You can’t sit comfortably, you certainly can’t eat as much as you normally do and you have to be careful about any strenuous activities because a corset does hamper your ability to breathe full breaths.

An old Corset advertisement. A child wearing a corset? Crazy!
An old Corset advertisement. A child wearing a corset? Crazy!

Health Concerns that Arise from Wearing a Corset

  • Although doctors advised women to abandon corsets in favor of their health, most women continued wearing them while taking prescriptions and concoctions to cure their ailments.
  • The ideal size was 16-17 inches so women would attain this measurement through tight-lacing to the point where their rib cage became deformed.
  • Lung capacity was reduced (only the top of the lungs could be filled with air) which was the primary reason for fainting (shallow salts were invented).
  • Reduced lung capacity: led to persistent coughing because shallow breathing allowed the bottom of the lungs to fill up with mucus. Doctors believed this was the cause of tuberculosis.
  • Organ deformation: severely compressed several organs such as the liver, stomach, bladder, and intestines which caused indigestion, heartburn, and constipation.
  • Women who wore corsets as children developed atrophy in their back muscles. Consequently, they couldn’t pick up heavy objects

Basically, what I’m saying is that corsets = female repression. That may sound ridiculous to some but it isn’t as ridiculous as you may think. Corsets were a way for women to look “more feminine”, not to mention they are painful and rather uncomfortable. I’ll never understand the mindset of someone like Kelly Lee DeKay, I have some respect for her for making a point of saying that she is proud of her body, proud of who she is and she does not recommend that everyone should do this. At the same time, isn’t there some degree of self-doubt involved when you want to modify your body so severely? I mean, I love comic books too but I have never looked at the women and thought, “Gee Whiz, I want to look like her!”, I have always been aware that those women are drawn to in-human specifications and should not be emulated.

My biggest worry is that other young girls will try to emulate her with disastrous results. Not to mention, it is a frustrating display of feminism. It is a slippery slope saying you are feminist, DeKay says all the right things, that’s she is proud of herself and does not expect others to duplicate what she has done, but at the same time, by doing it and by making money off of it, she is showing young girls who are hungry for fame and fortune, an “easy” way to make a name for themselves.

The dangers to the internal organs when corseting can be extremely unhealthy.
The dangers to the internal organs when corseting can be extremely unhealthy.

No matter what you think of corseting, my point here is that this type of extreme body modification doesn’t necessarily forward the female cause in the comic book world. I don’t think it drags it backwards, but it causes the cause to simply stand still. To me, standing still is pretty futile. We want to be seen as equals in the comic book world and to stop being seen as sexual objects or angry feminists.

What do YOU think about corseting? Good or Bad? Tell me in your comments!