2017 was the year of
Wonder Woman, Big Little Lies, and the Women's March. It was also the year of President "Grab 'em by the P*ssy," Daddy's Home 2, and Harvey Weinstein. Needless to say, 2017 was both a success for feminism in Hollywood and a crushing disappointment. In the latter category are some horrifyingly sexist lines from 2017 movies. Granted, some of the lines were sexist on purpose — not every movie character is for equal rights for women — but a lot of thee painful quotes aren't meant to be sexist. And that's what makes them so horrifying in the first place.
If the recent unending news
cycle of sexual misconduct and harassment and assault in Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that the movie business is one big boys' club. Yes, there's Patty Jenkins ( and Ava DuVernay ( Wonder Woman) Selma), but for every awesomely talented female director and writer there are dozens of white, male filmmakers. And it's impossible not to see that reflected back on-screen. Furthermore, sexism is so ingrained in society that female creators might bring it to the big screen without even realizing it. (Internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug.) Even movies that attempt to create full, three-dimensional female characters sometimes fall into sexist trappings. In fact, some of the most sexist lines spoken on film are spoken by female characters, as shown by these examples.
"[Humans] are all so predictable." — Doghan-Dagul "Clearly, you have never met a woman." — Laureline, 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets'
OK, this quote from Luc Besson's
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets doesn't sound so bad. But it's also far from original. It's long been time to retire the whole "women being complicated is actually an advantage in battle" thing, firstly because it's been done before, but most importantly because it is rooted in the deeply misogynistic stereotype that all women are crazy. Men might be simple and predictable, but women are insane, and thus unpredictable — get it?
"Belle is the most beautiful girl in the village. That makes her the best." — Gaston, 'Beauty and the Beast'
Cue massive eye roll. Gaston is truly the literal worst in
Beauty and the Beast, but that's not what makes this line so sigh-worthy. That honor goes to the fact that Gaston insists on pitting women against each other. Yes, it is also gross that he is only attracted to Belle because she's "beautiful," but that's almost expected. What isn't is his insistence that her beauty makes her better than all the other women in town. Gaston may be the villain, but this line is still another example of Hollywood telling young girls that they should definitely judge their beauty against each other's. (Beauty is the one who gets the guy in the end, even though that guy is not Gaston.)
"People usually want cute pets. Why would Ego want such a hideous one?" — Drax, 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'
Pretty much everything about how Drax interacted with Mantis in
and horribly offensive to women, but the worst thing about it was how Drax kept calling her ugly. The running "joke" was persistent and unrelenting in its cruelty. Not only did it send the message to viewers that Mantis, one of only a handful of female heroes in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), was to be judged by her looks as the butt of a joke, it also sent the message to Asian women that they are not attractive. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was sexist
"Quiet, now. I've been inside you. Not so much there as you think." — Mariette, 'Blade Runner 2049'
The female characters in
Blade Runner 2049 are particularly unsavory because — spoiler alert — all but one are not human, and thus are directly created by white men. And yet, this line is spoken by a woman, Mariette, after she has helped the AI character of Joi get a physical body for the night to be with K. The entire sequence is a complicated sexual mess, but what makes this line exceptionally disappointing is the dismissiveness of the film's biggest female character. Just because Blade Runner 2049 explores the intersection between humanity and technology doesn't mean they have to dismiss their female characters in such a cruel way, especially in the same breath as creating a petty jealousy conflict.
"You ran away for hundred years because your boyfriend died!" — Bruce Wayne, 'Justice League'
Granted, these words were uttered by Bruce Wayne in
Justice League as a way to provoke Wonder Woman and convince her to lead the team, but they are still completely unnecessary. It's also sexist on multiple levels. It reduces the love Diana had for Steve Trevor to a cliché — the girl who lives and dies with her love life — and belittles her in front of the entire group of superheroes he supposedly wants her to lead. (It's also ridiculous to think that Bruce has to manipulate Wonder Woman into taking ownership of her power and the League, but that's an entirely different problem.)
"She is beautiful, guileless, kind, and pure of heart. You are brilliant, ferocious, hilarious, and a grade A bitch. Together, you are the perfect woman." — William Moulton Marston, 'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women'
This quote from
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is, on the one hand, a perfect explanation of why he wants to be in a polyamorous relationship. On the other hand, it's just an illustration of the patriarchal society that tells women they are never enough, and that every man wants the perfect woman. These would just be the sexist ramblings of a man eager to cheat on his wife if the two women he wanted didn't agree. Granted, their relationship is more complicated than that, but even if the two women involved have nothing but respect and love for each other, this quote clearly illustrates that Marston does not.
"He wants what's mine." — Christian Grey, 'Fifty Shades Darker'
There have been innumerable think pieces written on how and why Christian Grey is an extraordinarily problematic romantic hero, but for all his faults, his most glaring has been his insistence on owning his romantic partner. Sometimes depicted as problematic, other times as hot, Christian's constant need to call Ana his in
Fifty Shades Darker walks a line between sexist and borderline dangerous. No matter how you feel about the Fifty Shades franchise, I think we can all agree that Christian's obsession with ownership is problematic AF.
Hollywood did a lot for women this year. But it also did a lot
to women by creating a sexist and dangerous atmosphere. As long as there's dialogue like this in front of the screen, you can bet there will be some behind the scenes too, and that needs to change — fast.