Thursday, March 01, 2007

Women's History Month

Happy Women’s History Month, Gentle Reader! I find these celebratory moments—Women’s History Month, Black History Month, and yes, even National Poetry Month (April)—to be excellent times to revel in exactly what makes us, as a society, so very interesting. Further, I think it’s a time to express gratitude for Those Who Fought Before, and always, Those Who Fight Now. Thoughts like this come at an interesting time for me, as I work on my Suffrage and New Woman chapter of my dissertation. It makes me question, just for a moment, what it means to Fight for Women’s Rights.

And what exactly does it mean, Friends? Well, for me, it means calling attention to the struggle, to the gender inequalities that still, even now, even after All This Time, face us across the board. To point towards those media through which I do some of my feminist, academic, and academic-feminist work: popular culture.

I’ve said it before, and I suspect I will say it again, many, many times, that That Which Entertains Us always, always Will Challenge Us. To say otherwise, to say that “it’s just a comic book,” or “it’s just a television show” is to completely and utterly discount the possibility of entertainment as a reflection of current society. Even further, it completely discounts the work that authors, artists, actors, and readers put into entertainment. It is an idea that rejects symbolism and the power of fiction. It is, to put it Rather Bluntly, a tired and worn-out excuse.

They are not “just comic books,” or “just television shows,” the same as Austen is not “just a romance novelist” and Dickens is not “just a whiny pro-children’s-rights author.” Let us all, for a moment, realize the extent to which our pop culture media entertain us, challenge us, reflect us, and most importantly, entrance us. We write about comics, or television, or movies because we *care*, so very deeply. Whether we care that the A on Cap’s mask stands for America or whether Willow was a more interesting character pre- or post-Tara, the specifics don’t matter. What matters is, ultimately, that we care enough to discuss, to debate, to post, to applaud, to lament, to challenge, to hope, to despair.

To this end, in honor of something I care deeply about, both professionally and personally—although as a feminist, I know, deep down, that there is no separation since the personal is political, and the political is personal—I will offer you a month of celebration of Women In Popular Culture. Each “Amy Reads the Week” column for the month of March will celebrate a different aspect of women’s roles in popular culture media, and there will be several other posts peppered throughout the month to the same end. Let us revel together, Friends, in the accomplishments women have made throughout history, and throughout popular culture!

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