Oppressed Majority
February 8, 2014 4:21 AM   Subscribe

On what seems to be just another ordinary day, a man is exposed to sexism and sexual violence in a society ruled by women. [SLYT; NSFW; Nudity; Sexual violence]
posted by gucci mane (154 comments total) 108 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry, I should have thrown a trigger warning in there too because there's sexual violence (albeit with the roles reversed, but still).
posted by gucci mane at 4:26 AM on February 8


Wow, didn't expect this to have the impact it did. It's all very horrible and more so because how accepted it all is.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:47 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


[Added the warnings ]
posted by taz at 4:49 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Well done. The premise could have been taken much farther and deeper. I loved the shirtless runners, would have loved more of that kind of pervasive, little-noticed privilege and dominance in the public sphere. This is a little broad-brush and PSA-esque (although yeah, I guess it needs to be to penetrate, so to speak ...) but good effort.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:47 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


I saw this other day and didn't know whether to throw up or hug the people that made it.

I felt like my experiences and fears as a woman had been completely validated and that finally, someone understood and believed enough to make this thing which almost sick to watch because it was just so damn TRUE and i wasn't expecting it.
posted by sio42 at 5:53 AM on February 8 [28 favorites]


Started out chuckling, which morphed rather quickly into crying, which turned into crying A LOT. That really shook me up, in the best possible way. It's so rare to see such a visceral, undeniable recreation of how so many of us are made to experience the world, and how microaggressions that are seemingly hopelessly imperceptible to others will pile up to create a spirit-stifling and often downright frightening atmosphere.

The shirtless runners were a wonderful touch -- the first thought that popped into my head when I saw them was, "Goddamn, I wish I could do that!"
posted by divined by radio at 6:05 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Uh, I could have gone without the anti-islamist headscarf bit.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:22 AM on February 8 [30 favorites]


I thought this was great, really thought provoking -- except for, as just noted, the headscarf bit, which is just ugh. Definitely heavy handed and a PSA, but that's what it's for. The best moments were the small things, like the runners, more than the big reversals, and at the end where the meaning of her walking down the road shifts.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:39 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


The best moments were the small things, like the runners, more than the big reversals

Agreed. My heart started pounding when he was on the bike with the homeless woman screaming at him -- oh, Lord, have I lived that moment.

It's rare that I click on a SLYT and watch all ten minutes -- but this was very compelling, if heavy-handed. I would have loved to have seen this guy's "normal, full day" in this world, as opposed to the day he was gang-raped in an alley; I think microaggressions are a valid and worthy topic even when they don't end in worst-case-land (an actual physical attack.)
posted by polly_dactyl at 7:00 AM on February 8 [22 favorites]


I don't know.... to me, the Islamic headscarf bit make a good contrast with the bit near the end where the woman tells him it's his fault because of the way he dresses, with those shorts and flipflops. In the headscarf section, he's saying that men have a right to dress as they choose; in the ending, he's accused of inciting the attack because of his 'sexy' clothing.
posted by easily confused at 7:04 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


The general idea is there. I liked the part where the police officer was taking his account. "Broad daylight... and no witnesses, huh?"
posted by gemutlichkeit at 7:08 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I thought that the headscarf bit was trying to point out a moment where the oppressed minority attacks itself because members are trapped inside of that worldview, too? Like, he honestly didn't see what was wrong with being concerned, and the devout man didn't have the tools to explain why, and that's just another way that the "matriarchy" hurts everything. I didn't see it as preachy (in comparison to the film as a whole, which was definitely preachy, but in an effective way) so much as something that's a big deal in France, currently.
posted by Mizu at 7:11 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


That was very well done, and I think did a great job of communicating a wide range of domestic issues on a visceral level of systemic unfairness and oppression.

Except for the end, when she walked across a seemingly infinite stretch of highway to get to her parked car. Park closer!
posted by oceanjesse at 7:15 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I understand the reservations about the headscarf bit (especially since it's French), but on the other hand it's not like the white people are represented as better, right? Les aggreseuses: white. Cops: white. Wife: white.

I think Mizu's take has some merit too.

Stated differently: just because a character in a work says something doesn't mean that the work as a whole agrees or advocates that thing.
posted by kavasa at 7:16 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


For those who might be unaware, a little context on the headscarf bit.
posted by googly at 7:17 AM on February 8


In the headscarf section, he's saying that men have a right to dress as they choose

Except he's assuming that it's not the other man's choice to wear the headscarf as a symbol of his faith - that someone is oppressing him and making him do it. And that assumption is something that happens to women in hijab all the time, in the US and in France.

I think that Mizu has more faith in the director than I do, but between the context and the lack of refutation in the text (and considering how non-subtle the rest of the film was) makes me really uncomfortable with it.

Excepting that part, I did like the film - the microaggressions section was really effective.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:25 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Except for the end, when she walked across a seemingly infinite stretch of highway to get to her parked car. Park closer!

Given the change in the yelling, she was obviously just walking over to the Real World Parking Garage.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:26 AM on February 8 [15 favorites]


Gotta love the French, masters of subtlety. Even his wife/girlfriend was an asshole!
posted by ReeMonster at 7:26 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


I could have gone without the anti-islamist headscarf bit.

I think if you're making a PSA about gender-based oppression it's not totally out of line to note that Islam might possibly have some problems in that area
posted by ook at 7:36 AM on February 8 [43 favorites]


Except he's assuming that it's not the other man's choice to wear the headscarf as a symbol of his faith - that someone is oppressing him and making him do it.

Exactly. I have scores of students who wear hijabs and have had many frank conversations with many of them and not one -- not one -- has said her father or any male figure forces her to wear one or says "it's the law." Maybe some are deluded, I don't know, but every one I've had this conversation with is adamant that it's her choice. More than once a woman says that she's the only woman in her family to wear one. One told me she wasn't even religious.

Of course, this is Calgary, not France, but still, the scene really rubbed me the wrong way.

I've been harassed by a homeless woman just like what happened in this film btw. In this world. She disappeared eventually, but it was so similar it almost made me sick. For months I took a different walking route and then she'd pop up and say these horrible things to me. She also used to pee in the alley right next to our house.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:44 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I think it's really important to remember that not all women treat men this way.

The portrayals of women were really shallow and one-sided and I'm sorry but that's the definition of sexism. We should be encouraging positive behavior and equality. Stuff like this just perpetuates the recriminations and doesn't move us forward. Masculinism needs women too, and they're not going to listen if they are portrayed this way.

I think what we should really be talking about is the very racist and classist portrayal of those women in the alleyway. And yeah, the headscarf thing. I know this video is popular in the SJW circles, but it's really sloppy and problematic. Maybe there's a good film to be made about this issue, but this one isn't it.

Also, [tedious explanation of legal procedures as if you were an idiot], that's just how the system works. What if the boy was just stressed out and made it all up? That happens a lot. We can't base our justice system on 100% trusting everyone's account about everything.
posted by bleep-blop at 7:48 AM on February 8 [167 favorites]


Really, really good.
posted by odinsdream at 7:55 AM on February 8


I think if you're making a PSA about gender-based oppression it's not totally out of line to note that Islam might possibly have some problems in that area.

This, exactly. There's a way to talk about these issues without being anti-religious.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I wonder who Aurelie B. is, the person to whom the video was dedicated.
posted by rcraniac at 8:04 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


If ever you wanted an example of patriarchal oppression, you need look no further than at religious institutions.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:09 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


I think if you're making a PSA about gender-based oppression it's not totally out of line to note that Islam might possibly have some problems in that area.

Yes, because Christianity is just a bastion of gender equality. But no, let's call out negative aspects of Islam so we can wag our finger in disapproval, while not thinking about negative aspects of Christianity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:11 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I think it's really important to remember that not all women treat men this way.

And besides, it's not like women have it easy. They have fallen way behind in college enrollment and have very few female role models as teachers. They work the most dangerous jobs and make up most workplace injuries and fatalities and most of the people in the military. Men do not have to even register for selective service. Women are more likely to fall into a life of crime. They successfully commit suicide much more often than men. The majority of the homeless population is female. We should really try and focus on egalitarianism rather than Masculinism.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:14 AM on February 8 [23 favorites]


Yeah, the headscarf part was a bit wtf. It's not out of line to suggest religious standards for women's dress might have issues - because, well, obviously - but the idea that Muslim women would only cover their hair because their husbands and fathers insist on it is kind of unpleasant and ignoring the voices of an awful lot of Muslim women who say otherwise, particularly wrt the debates in France.

Other parts of the video handled the idea of dress standards much more effectively, though. The topless runners was great, and the part in the police station where he tugs his shorts down to cover more of his legs. Women's dress is always Making A Statement, whether we like it or not - shorts can't just be shorts.

I also liked the way it captured the impossible position street harassment puts you in. Don't respond, more yelling and more threatening behaviour - respond negatively, more yelling and more threatening behaviour. And what are the police going to do, when more serious issues like the physical attack get treated so dismissively?
posted by Catseye at 8:15 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Yes, because Christianity is just a bastion of gender equality. But no, let's call out negative aspects of Islam so we can wag our finger in disapproval, while not thinking about negative aspects of Christianity.

PSA's can't necessarily tackle all of the problems. Suggesting that because one isn't addressed that it therefore isn't a problem is a bit disingenuous.
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Or, to put it another way: the social acceptability of men vs. women going topless is a sexist double standard, but that doesn't mean I wear a running top because my husband makes me.
posted by Catseye at 8:24 AM on February 8 [16 favorites]


Except for the end, when she walked across a seemingly infinite stretch of highway to get to her parked car. Park closer!

That's the thing - in that reality, she didn't have to worry about parking closer for safety's sake.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


Wow. I expected just a kind of role-reversal, but the background stuff (the topless runners, the fact that all the police officers were women, etc.) hit the point home more than anything. And then the reversal at the end...just reminds you of how awful it actually is out there.
posted by xingcat at 8:30 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I think what we should really be talking about is the very racist and classist portrayal of those women in the alleyway. And yeah, the headscarf thing. I know this video is popular in the SJW circles, but it's really sloppy and problematic. Maybe there's a good film to be made about this issue, but this one isn't it.

I think we should talk about why every single time someone tries to explain what things feel like from the women's perspective, someone always jumps in to nitpick it to death and explain why it's wrong and why we shouldn't listen after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


PSA's can't necessarily tackle all of the problems. Suggesting that because one isn't addressed that it therefore isn't a problem is a bit disingenuous.

Didn't suggest there wasn't a problem, just noted the one sidedness of a particular aspect. That's it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 AM on February 8


EmpressCallippygos, I was under the impression that that was exactly the point bleep-blop was trying to make, because that entire comment was satirical. I... think. Good satire nudges right up to the line sometimes. Ow, my brain hurts.
posted by Mizu at 8:35 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Satire, shmatire, bleep-bloop's comment is just more womansplaining.
posted by namespan at 8:38 AM on February 8 [17 favorites]


Hrm, if it isn't clear I was riffing along with that satire too not attempting to make some meta MRA point. Probably should have skipped it.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:40 AM on February 8


Femsplaining. Matronizing.
posted by Mizu at 8:41 AM on February 8 [41 favorites]


because that entire comment was satirical

Not just satire, but a pitch perfect parody of some members of this community.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:41 AM on February 8 [26 favorites]


It can't be satire. Ironic isms are not allowed.
posted by 0 at 8:45 AM on February 8


Yes, because Christianity is just a bastion of gender equality. But no, let's call out negative aspects of Islam so we can wag our finger in disapproval, while not thinking about negative aspects of Christianity.

Yes, because noting a problem in one area automatically implies complete acceptance of and agreement with all other areas you didn't mention

You really nailed it
posted by ook at 8:46 AM on February 8 [16 favorites]


I think the headscarf thing is a particularly hot issue in France, which is probably why they picked on that and not Christianity. Anyhow, isn't it possible that scene was a critique of the main character, and not headscarf-guy? That's how I took it at first.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:50 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I took the headscarf scene as a critique of modern white mainstream feminism, and quite specifically targeted at things said by feminists in France who have joined in on attacking women who wear hijab. He goes on and on about how the daycare worker's wife is oppressing him, but as we can see later, it's not like his wife treats him all that great.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:55 AM on February 8 [21 favorites]


"I think we should talk about why every single time someone tries to explain what things feel like from the women's perspective, someone always jumps in to nitpick it to death and explain why it's wrong and why we shouldn't listen after all."

Feminist models are not the one true fix for all of our social justice problems, Feminism is about more than just the narrow and pretty idiosyncratically French casual racism portrayed in that portion of the film, and bigotry should be pointed out and shamed - even when it supposes to be Feminist. It is not ok to whitesplain over and openly mock the clear voices of hundreds of millions of Muslim women who see the Hijab/Niqāb/veil from their own perspectives, use it as a tool of libration in their own way, and need no white savior.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:57 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


You really nailed it

Thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:01 AM on February 8


Also, if it confuses anyone, I am not being sarcastic. If only because the shit religiously Muslim women, and especially girls, in France go through as the French government tries to police their bodies to stave off the "Islamist threat" is no fucking joke.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:04 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


The women should have been staring at his crotch or his chest instead of looking him in the eyes when they spoke to him.
posted by goethean at 9:07 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


This reminded me of John Travolta coping with the black supremacist world of "White Man's Burden."
posted by steinsaltz at 9:11 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


For an excellent literary, scifi take on this subject, I highly recommend Ursula Le Guin's novella "The Matter of Seggri". I liked this PSA very much, but the minute the attack began I had to stop, for the same reason I couldn't watch it if genders were reversed.
posted by emjaybee at 9:29 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


It would map more realistically if the women were averaging half again as large as the men.
posted by tspae at 9:32 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Hey, we may dress provocatively in Bermuda shorts and thongs, but at least we don't ruin your day with tits.
posted by flabdablet at 9:38 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if a hobbit cam shrinking the men would have improved the message, but yeah it requires some suspension of disbelief when the main character could have picked up any of his attackers with one arm.
posted by benzenedream at 9:40 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


oceanjesse: Except for the end, when she walked across a seemingly infinite stretch of highway to get to her parked car. Park closer!

It gave a moment for that transition to the real world, and it also provided another example of the Matriarchy Just Not Getting It. The guy got assaulted and his S/O knew that, but didn't think or try to make his day any easier by trying to park closer, completely in keeping with the role reversals.


emjaybee: For an excellent literary, scifi take on this subject, I highly recommend Ursula Le Guin's novella "The Matter of Seggri".

tspae: It would map more realistically if the women were averaging half again as large as the men.

For a novella with the role-reversal plus females in the dominant scale, check out Mamma Come Home (semi-descent scanned version; review with [possible triggering] spoilers of the story), one of the first stories written by James Tiptree Jr./Alice Bradley Sheldon.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


As a man, watching that really didn't have the impact intended. Or did it?

[Don't take me out of context here, read the whole thing]

On a superficial level -

I'm having a hard time thinking how to explain it, but the guy just seems like a big whiner. I didn't get the landlady(?) part, was it that she was implying he was a man, he wouldn't understand? People do that to me all the time. Oh, you're just X, I'll talk to someone more important. *

The crazy person on the corner - clearly he was bigger than her. He was intimidated by someone shouting obscenities at him? What a pansy. *

The gang rape thing could happen and would be equally scary for anyone, man or woman. And some woman put your penis in her mouth? That's what you're complaining about? *

It wasn't until the scene of her walking down the road at night by herself that I had the automatic "oh that's a bad idea" reaction and then I thought about that. Why? Because she's a woman, something might happen. And then I got the point of the video - in this world, she's perfectly safe doing that - because she's a woman.

The problem is, the physical size thing is still just like the real world, so it doesn't quite work right. Maybe all the women in the video should have been big and muscular and he just a skinny little guy.

Because I felt the point that didn't quite get across is that the things I starred above wouldn't be one-off occurrences in this world. They'd be constant, relentless, every day problems and there wouldn't be a damn thing he could do about it, and very few people would even care.
posted by ctmf at 9:49 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


On not previewing, what benzenedream said.
posted by ctmf at 9:51 AM on February 8


There's a lot to love here but my favourite bit was him calling her a bitch (salope!) at the end, it's so pathetic and powerless, showing neatly that the reason why bitch as an insult is a problem is not the word itself (not the collection of syllables or even the insult) but the society it implies.

It's not like for like: this is the first in a lond time that I've heard someone call a woman a bitch and not been icked out by it, because you know where that insult is coming from.
posted by litleozy at 9:52 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


ctmf, I thought that was one of the most interesting things about watching this - that it's so ingrained that women are physically vulnerable and men aren't (or, aren't in the same way), it's hard to generate the feeling in the viewer that he is really being threatened. That by itself made me reflect more on how ever-present the background feeling of threat is.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:54 AM on February 8 [16 favorites]


Thanks for posting this video -- it was quite good. This morning I just started in with this month's Harper's magazine, and the video makes an interesting contrast with two of the statistics from the Harper's Index:
Portion of Democratic women who think it would be a good thing if more women were elected to Congress : 7/10

Portion of Republican women who do : 1/4
posted by Houstonian at 9:56 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


yeah it requires some suspension of disbelief when the main character could have picked up any of his attackers with one arm

People get mugged by groups of children because there are more children and the children have weapons, so it's not that insane.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:56 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


People get mugged by groups of children because there are more children and the children have weapons, so it's not that insane.

I think men have a harder time viewing themselves as victims (for all sorts of reasons), so its hard for many to even imagine it, particularly when men are usually larger and physically stronger than women.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:02 AM on February 8


it's hard to generate the feeling in the viewer that he is really being threatened.

Yeah, that's what that video left me thinking about. How would I do that better (in a short piece)?

I mean, you need the physical threat, but there's more to it. I think in the real world there's an objectification of women; people say that all the time. But just objectifying men just as much (i.e., sexy ads, etc.) doesn't even it out. I think there's also a perceived scarcity of the women-as-object. And then they become the subject of not just "I want that object," but "I'm not going to ever get to have that object." Which leads to a certain amount of "I'll just take the object" that women have to be afraid of.

This, I think is part of what makes it different for women and men. There just isn't as much of a (false) sense that, for women, getting sex is a difficult thing like it is for men.

So how would I project that in reverse in a video? I don't know. The physical size mismatch is only part of it.
posted by ctmf at 10:12 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


In *this* world, there's a significant number of men who don't particularly like violence and aren't mentally/emotionally prepared for it. Even though testosterone is a hell of a drug, even they're practically socialized to -- even when it finds them (as it tends to, particularly for young men, who statistically find themselves assaulted at a higher rate than women). Even if they have height or weight on others.

In the world of the film where presumably men are *not* socially predisposed to violence and where threats and confidence sappers are often going on in the background, an aversion to acting violently would likely be magnified, as I suspect it often is for women.

Given that, if there were *one* unarmed attacker (but notably aggressive) it could still go either way (as it can even in this world). But there were four, and weapons.

I didn't need a lot of suspension of disbelief.

Since we're talking about our problems with the film, though, my biggest one is the idea that we need identity-focused role reversal in order to care about the problems. Though apparently that's a problem with the world at large rather than the film specifically.
posted by namespan at 10:13 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


While I can see why people loved the shirtless running - it's a visual jolt to show the reverse society - all I could do was hold on to my chest because ouch.

I think it was OK that he was cast as a very regular guy physically. He's a "soft" guy, so he looks vulnerable despite being a fair bit larger than the women. It wouldn't have worked had been larger or more fit.

The turn at the end as she walks to the real world was very nicely done. My favorite part. Walking back to real world™.
posted by dabitch at 10:14 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, a box-cutter to the throat/face seems like a marvelous equalizer with respect to size.

Powerful stuff on a bunch of levels. Thanks for posting this.
posted by jquinby at 10:16 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


The guy should have been played by Vin Diesel and the rape chicks should've been played by the cast of Girls.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:19 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


But the physical size of the man isn't important in the face of a "matriarchy". I could imagine it was even a deliberate casting detail, to encourage people to read between the lines. I know plenty of very physically imposing, athletic women - but even so, there's something to be said about having grown up internalizing messages of disempowerment by a sexist culture; about being steeped in body-shame and shame about using their bodies; and about a system that sets itself up to punish and shame them should they even notice their taught-and-internalized sexism, and deviate as a means to throw off internalized misogyny.

The psychological toll is far greater than the physical differences. And I don't know, simplifying it just to physical strength sets up a very weird double-standard for women. On one hand, it opens them up to victim-blaming - why didn't you resist hard enough, why didn't you take a self-defence class, why didn't you scratch and bite and kick? But on the other hand, it falsely paints and disempowers women as fragile and meek physical specimens that must be protected - when in reality, I think we grossly over-estimate the strength differences between even the average man and the average woman to twist human biology into a just-world fallacy when confronted with rape statistics.
posted by Conspire at 10:35 AM on February 8 [39 favorites]


ctmf, I really can't tell if I'm missing metacommentary here in your language choice and questions: are these things supposed to be something someone else would say, or something you're saying? I did read your whole comment.

"I'm having a hard time thinking how to explain it, but the guy just seems like a big whiner. I didn't get the landlady(?) part, was it that she was implying he was a man, he wouldn't understand? People do that to me all the time. Oh, you're just X, I'll talk to someone more important. *" Dude wasn't whining at all, there was no response really that he gave to this at all. I also don't think the point was that someone "more important" needed to be addressed, though I think that was part of it; just the assumption that there is men's work and women's work and he wouldn't know anything about women's work.


"The crazy person on the corner - clearly he was bigger than her. He was intimidated by someone shouting obscenities at him? What a pansy. *" 'Pansy' is a terribly loaded word to use here, a term based in homophobic, anti-queer, anti-woman assumptions. More to the point, crazy yelling people of any gender or size are already breaking the social contract by yelling obscenities. There's increased threat if they look bigger or stronger than you, sure, but also there's threat in the fact that they're not playing by the rules of society: they are hard to predict and scary because violence may unpredictably erupt. I (a woman) may be taller or stronger or heavier than some given man on the street, but if they're spoiling for a fight or an assault, that's intimidating.

"The gang rape thing could happen and would be equally scary for anyone, man or woman. And some woman put your penis in her mouth? That's what you're complaining about? *" If some woman beating you and biting your genitalia is not worth complaining about, what is? That's like saying "Someone wanted to be close to your balls? That's what you're complaining about?" about being kicked in the testicles. This also reinforces the idea that women are inherently sex objects and thus any contact must be pleasurable.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:49 AM on February 8 [40 favorites]


I agree with Conspire totally. Having the guy be large and physically strong was the absolute right thing to do. By the end of the film I pretty much saw the guy as weak, and as powerless...not because he lacked physical strength, but because that was the position he was in in society. The psychological effects of that must be huge, and this is probably the first thing I've seen that gets that across in an effective and visceral way.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:49 AM on February 8 [15 favorites]


c'mon sea legs:

Yes, that was intentional, including the word pansy. This being metafilter, and me being the poor writer I am, I almost skipped making the comment, because I knew someone would take my comment the way you did.

But what I meant, and I hope I can get this across but I'm not sure I know how, is that some of the audience is going to be people that think this way. For all the remarks about the video being heavy handed, I don't think it succeeded *enough* in combating those knee-jerk reactions.

I gave it some thought after watching, and the metafilter demographic is pretty good at doing that, but the general population? Probably needed a bigger whack on the head.

That's all I'm saying. I'm nitpicking. I liked it, and it achieved the goal of making *me* think, but that's somewhat preaching to the choir, isn't it?
posted by ctmf at 10:57 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Gotcha.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:57 AM on February 8


This put me in mind of Charles Beaumont's 1955 short story "The Crooked Man", which performs a similar straight/gay role reversal.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 11:02 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Excellent, visceral reaction. I think, though, the second viewing was much more powerful for me. Things I glossed over or almost laughed at in the beginning of the first viewing became horrific on the second viewing. I don't think I can watch it a third time.
posted by Freen at 11:23 AM on February 8


I think the headscarf thing is a particularly hot issue in France, which is probably why they picked on that and not Christianity.

Right now, the guys who are going on demonstrations against equal marriage or legal abortion in France are the Catholic right, so let's not point only one finger at religious fundamentalists.
posted by sukeban at 11:30 AM on February 8


The crazy person on the corner - clearly he was bigger than her. He was intimidated by someone shouting obscenities at him?

I have been shouted at by a guy who was shorter and scrawnier than me, and most people who harass me on the street are senior citizens that I could beat up without breaking a sweat. So yeah, that happens. A lot. It's just that when you're a woman you can't get medieval on a nice respectably-attired octogenarian's ass, no matter what obscenities he's telling you, because real life and police officers ensue.
posted by sukeban at 11:39 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


But what I meant, and I hope I can get this across but I'm not sure I know how, is that some of the audience is going to be people that think this way.
It works really well to say this sort of thing up-front. "I liked this, but I think a lot of people would react by saying [blah]."
posted by kavasa at 11:43 AM on February 8


You're right, and I usually would have, but I was having a lot of thoughts at once. So in that sense the video was a success!

I guess my criticism boils down to: there wasn't enough groundwork for the viewer to feel the threatening aspect of all this. Because I actually did catch myself thinking these things even though I immediately then think of the reasons those reactions are stupid.

I'm sure for a woman that lives in this society every f'ing day, or for someone into thinking about these things frequently, it was more obvious and easy to catch on the the premise. What I'm saying is that as a man it isn't as obvious what the implications are that the men and women are role switched. I didn't get the sense right away that just going about his business every day involved danger and fear everywhere. It seems at first like he's having a crappy day. When the point is, that it would be a crappy entire life for him, and that's what women deal with now.

And then, when I watch PSA-type things, I can't help imagining what if I weren't me? What would the "Average Person (TM)" get out of this?

I don't know what they could have done though, without a feature-length film.
posted by ctmf at 12:01 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


yeah it requires some suspension of disbelief when the main character could have picked up any of his attackers with one arm
&
People get mugged by groups of children because there are more children and the children have weapons, so it's not that insane


I think that helps point it up. Children in particular are vicious fighters (as soldiers) because they have none of the social inhibitors adults react with.

And a great deal of the size difference thing is just a construct. Intimidation and implicit threat.
If that breaks down - for example, if you have a crazy person breaching that unstated agreement, and you're made to call, it becomes a lot more complex and problematic.

If you're willing to fight back hard, and they get hurt - now what? It's, at the very least, a legal thing. If you're not willing to fight back hard enough, they hurt you - now your socially constructed manhood is impugned.

I agree with Conspire, but I think size is important as a factor, so it can be shown what a fairly useless thing it is in contrast to the (often self-contradictory) social expectation of roles.
(although I think setting it in France lessened the impact of seeing bare chested women. In Iowa, it'd be more of a shock)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:06 PM on February 8


they probably set it in france rather than iowa because it's french
posted by titus n. owl at 12:13 PM on February 8 [16 favorites]


Gotta love the French, masters of subtlety. Even his wife/girlfriend was an asshole!

To be honest, I thought that was one of the most searing and honest pieces of the whole thing. He's in the hospital and has just been attacked. So what does his SO do? She asks one question about what happened in a vague way and then starts talking about her day. Because in that world, she is the real person, not him. I was just amazed from my experience and hearing other women's experience of sexual assault that it took her that long to figure out how to blame him for it.

The worst part about being a woman in this world is not bring safe from those attitudes, even with people you love.
posted by winna at 12:28 PM on February 8 [50 favorites]


The worst part about being a woman in this world is not bring safe from those attitudes, even with people you love.

Agreed.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:34 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


These comments, they have not surprised me. Here we have a clever piece of art with demonstrably great educational value and we have a third of the comments talking about the faux religious angle, a third spoiling the opportunity and preaching to the choir and a third using some bizarre rhetorical jujitsu to flip the topic to demonstrate that men are equally discriminated against.

I suppose it went better than it did on Reddit.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:35 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. It's eye-opening, not because I didn't believe the world is like this for women, but this underlines it in a way that helps me understand it a lot better, at something other than an intellectual level. Even sitting here a few minutes later, I have a feeling of helplessness imagining myself in that world. The best analogy as a guy is the dread I sometimes felt going to middle school when I thought I was going to be the target of a bully that day, and how all day the only thing I could think of was "is it going to be during this next break? After school? On the bus?" Just a constant low-level dread which saps the joy out of everything else. (And I should note I was rarely bullied, certainly not in a constant ongoing way.)

I cannot decide if having all of the women characters being conventionally attractive makes this more or less powerful. On one hand, I think that will be a way a lot of men dismiss this ("she could totally give me a blowjob"). On the other hand, it is an interesting statement about how men perceive themselves in the world vs. how women perceive themselves in the world.

The casual sexism and repellent atmosphere of the police station was sickening and rage inducing. (On a professional note, the actress there nailed that, I think.) That actual humans are subject to that kind of aggression and insult makes my blood boil.
posted by maxwelton at 12:42 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


a third using some bizarre rhetorical jujitsu to flip the topic to demonstrate that men are equally discriminated against.

Where's that? Also, feel free to join the conversation, not just complain about it.
posted by ctmf at 12:50 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Probably that's a failed reading of bleep-blops amazing comment.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:01 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Sure, when the film repeats in various ways how men's bodies are thought to be for public consumption, except that if they are in public view, that means they are responsible for being harassed and assaulted, then a wife insisting† that a husband cover his body almost completely, for modesty, really has nothing at all to do with the theme of the film and can only be some sort of egregious bigotry. I mean, it's totally out of left field and has nothing to do with anything.

"Since we're talking about our problems with the film, though, my biggest one is the idea that we need identity-focused role reversal in order to care about the problems. Though apparently that's a problem with the world at large rather than the film specifically."

My experience has been that men are, absent some kind of eye-opening epiphany, completely oblivious to all the various ways in which women live in a very different world than men do. Such as that last scene — any significance of the wife parking a long way away, down a dark street, was clearly lost on a lot of the audience and, in general, men are utterly ignorant that women live with these sorts of concerns 24/7. And that's just one example. I think the bit at the beginning was another example and was well done — the subtle bigotry of people expecting to talk to the "man of the house". Being constantly aware of how any given clothing choice is perceived as sending a message about sexual availability, or at the very least, an invitation to ogle (or not). That someone noticing your child becomes an opportunity to tell you how attractive you are. And that you should "keep smiling". (Because that's so attractive!)

We shouldn't need an "identity-focused" message to get us to care. But the reality is that men and women do, in fact, live in very different worlds and most men probably would care a great deal about these problems if they saw them. But most don't. I think that many might, and may begin to, but then shy away from it once they get the first inkling of what it really implies. After that, they're willfully blind. Others just refuse to look, period. But most, I think, need something like this, or someone who can (probably over time) influence them and get them to open their eyes and look. Absent that influence, they don't.

Anyway, I think there's a lot the filmmakers could have done with the wife when she meets her husband at the hospital (or police station?). Working as a rape crisis advocate, you see a lot of unfortunate stuff happen with husbands/partners. And the things that they do wrong are very revealing of the underlying problem. It's not just victim blaming, though there is some of that. More than maybe you'd expect if you're not a survivor. Less, at least in my experience, from husbands and boyfriends, and more from parents or siblings, other relatives, or friends. But from partners, too. But, again, it's not just that. It's also not listening (as we see in this film), it's making it All About Them. It's making it all about how they want to exact revenge. It's about how the survivor often ends up comforting their partner. It's about "taking charge" and telling the survivor what to do, how to act, what to say, how to feel. It's about, alternatively, pretending that nothing happened. The common theme, though, is the All About Them thing.

You see some of that in this film, but it happens so often, and manifests in so many ways, that it is something that definitely could bear more examination. And it has everything to do with the topic of the film. Because survivors are often victimized in various ways after the assault. They suffer further at people who disbelieve them, who blame them, who treat them as if they are damaged, who further damage their agency in the name of protecting them or helping them, who expect them to "get over it", who don't understand why they're afraid of men.

"...a third using some bizarre rhetorical jujitsu to flip the topic to demonstrate that men are equally discriminated against."

This demonstrates the pitfalls of ironic isms, which are generally frowned upon here. But the comments you're referring to are genuinely ironic, mirroring MRA-style comments that so often appear in these threads, from which great disruption follows.

† The protagonist asks the husband if the hijab is at the insistence of his wife, and he's answered "yes".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 PM on February 8 [19 favorites]


Bleep-blops comment is satire in the same world as the movie, not ironic sexism. If you watched the movie, you can't fail to see the extremely astute point of that comment (and Drinky Dies)--the absurdity and unfairness of statements like theirs become much clearer when you reverse the genders.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:07 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I like how his clothes would be completely unremarkable and boring in our world, but in the film the women are reacting as if he chose that outfit for them. He even becomes self-conscious about his shorts in the police station. It's like how women can wear baggy t-shirts and sweats and still get catcalled, can still get blamed for other people's reactions to what we wear. They're JUST NORMAL CLOTHES. There's no way to win.
posted by desjardins at 1:16 PM on February 8 [40 favorites]


I think this is excellent and works very well, but it is a straightforward transposition which puts men in roles women currently have and vice-versa.

But in an actual society where women were on top and had been on top for quite a few generations starting from where we are right at this moment, I think men would be much more valued than women now are partly because there would be relatively fewer of us, and despite the fact that we men wouldn't be as smart on the average as women.
posted by jamjam at 1:16 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


But we'd be crafty and conniving, and able to trick women into committing crimes and stuff, just with our masculine wiles.
posted by ctmf at 1:20 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


why do you think there would be relatively fewer men? male infanticide? why isn't the opposite true in almost all of the real world (excepting a few cultures who practice sex-selective infanticide/abortion)?
posted by desjardins at 1:21 PM on February 8


...but all the weapons would look seriously different.
posted by jquinby at 1:22 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


"But in an actual society where women were on top and had been on top for quite a few generations starting from where we are right at this moment, I think men would be much more valued than women now are partly because there would be relatively fewer of us, and despite the fact that we men wouldn't be as smart on the average as women."

I don't even.

I'll leave it to others to try to disentangle the weird ideas implicit in your comment, but I'd like to forcefully point out that "valuing" women and an oppressive patriarchy are not contradictory. I suggest that you consider what it means to "value women".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:24 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]


I would be interested to see how currently male-dominated professions would be devalued. How cute, the architect's building a model! I guess he likes playing with tinkertoys!

I'm guessing that teachers would make a lot more money in a female-dominated world.
posted by desjardins at 1:31 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing there would be more male teachers.
posted by Houstonian at 1:50 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I would be interested to see how currently male-dominated professions would be devalued.

Well, look at the history of programming - mid 20th century, it was an acceptable profession for women, and the repetitive and 'detail oriented' nature of the job was emphasized over everything else. As the field became more and more dominated by men, salaries skyrocketed, the prestige of the job greatly increased, and women suddenly became bad at programming.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:57 PM on February 8 [25 favorites]


I thought the hijab scene was intended to be ironic: there he is talking to his child minder about being pressurized to wear what the wife wants him to wear and at the end we have his wife/partner blaming him for being assaulted and clearly wanting him to dress differently and modestly also.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:59 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


An English forerunner?
posted by Monkeymoo at 2:04 PM on February 8


Such as that last scene — any significance of the wife parking a long way away, down a dark street, was clearly lost on a lot of the audience

I didn't pick up on it earlier when I made a non-sequitur comment about it. Discussions like this are important!
posted by oceanjesse at 2:06 PM on February 8


I thought the hijab scene was intended to be ironic

It also had the irony of a shaved guy saying that the hijab guy's wife wanting her husband shaved is a form of oppression. I'm starting to think that the scene is more nuanced than I saw at first glance, and is critiquing the shallow "hijabs are sexist" shit that said all the time.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:18 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Yes, because Christianity is just a bastion of gender equality. But no, let's call out negative aspects of Islam so we can wag our finger in disapproval, while not thinking about negative aspects of Christianity.


This piece is mostly calling out and criticising the negative aspects of mainstream (Christian) culture.
It blows my mind that anyone could apply "people who call out other cultures, without seeing the faults in their own" to feminists.
posted by Catch at 2:21 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


It blows my mind that anyone could apply "people who call out other cultures, without seeing the faults in their own" to feminists.

Are you being serious, or have you have you actually not been exposed to the volumes of criticisms of mainstream feminism launched by intersectional groups - particularly from women of color, queer women and non-abled bodied women? I mean ideologically, feminism is supposed to oppose kyriarchy - but when you get a movement that has been so heavily dominated by the voices and theories of women who occupy privileged spaces in every other axis, you get end up getting a movement that reaffirms every single other power hierarchy regardless of whether it purports to abolish patriarchy or not. That's not dismantling of power structures - that's just mirroring kyriarchial domination and abuse widened one step to accommodate one extra identity as oppressor.

I mean, cool - you challenge the mainstream in terms of gender equity. That doesn't automatically mean you're challenging racism just because you're yelling at the mainstream. And that would be innocent enough because yes, I get that movements and groups can't always encompass all issues - except white cishet able-bodied feminists go beyond that in either throwing other marginalizations under the bus or erasing their unique challenges by inappropriately trying to assimilate all forms of oppression as patriarchal.

So I don't know whether the hijab scene is satire or not either. But it certainly evokes issues of privilege amongst other axises in mainstream feminism. The stuff that works for white cishet able-bodied feminists doesn't always work for women under intersectional pressures - and it would be really nice if it could make some space without painting, say, women in hijabs as completely disempowered and brainwashed and claiming that racism and Islamophobia is subservient to misogyny under a hierarchy of oppressions.
posted by Conspire at 2:55 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


It also had the irony of a shaved guy saying that the hijab guy's wife wanting her husband shaved is a form of oppression.

That was when I knew it was satirizing the anti-hijab arguments too. I read the childcare man's weak rebuttal as not wanting to argue with a customer, too, in a nice piece of intersectionality.
posted by winna at 3:00 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


On second thought, the hijab scene probably wasn't satire. It would have been really easy to have made the man in the hijab a "masculinist" also instead of characterizing him as being bull-dozed by his wife and incapable of critical thought. But I don't know, maybe that would have made things too difficult for white mainstream feminists, to dare suggest that there's multiple equally valid ways to perform feminism.
posted by Conspire at 3:01 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


"But I don't know, maybe that would have made things too difficult for white mainstream feminists, to dare suggest that there's multiple equally valid ways to perform feminism."

Yeah, those white mainstream feminists, they're pretty simpleminded. Maybe if you use small words?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:17 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


On second thought, the hijab scene probably wasn't satire.

Because in an 11 minute satirical film, you would certainly include a scene that wasn't satire.
posted by misfish at 3:18 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Are you being serious, or have you have you actually not been exposed to the volumes of criticisms of mainstream feminism launched by intersectional groups - particularly from women of color, queer women and non-abled bodied women?

I am, and I have.
I have read some fantastic critical work by intersectionalists, thoughtful, passionate, groundbreaking and valuable stuff.
I shouldn't have to clarify that it is bandwagonners turning that work into one-line, tu quoque, dismissals that riles me up.
In fact, it makes me *head* desk* *head* desk* *head* desk* so, I'll just go take a walk now.
posted by Catch at 3:22 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


By which I mean, I don't think we can take the protagonist's view on the situation as utterly clear-eyed. I think that hijab scene was more about him than the man he was talking to, and I think the film is critiquing his reaction.
posted by misfish at 3:22 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Well, yeah, but the satire is stated to be on gender axises and not on racial axises, so I think it's still appropriate to consider the satire on other axises as well? I think it was the "It's the law you know" and the "God is protecting me" lines that pushed it from possibly intersectional (portraying the protagonist as good-intentioned but somewhat obtuse) to kind of weird from a racism/islamophobia angle. I think you agree with me on how the film can still be feminist without minimizing the viewpoints of Islamic feminists, but I would have appreciated a head-nod to the complex nature of their arguments instead of a blunt "well an authority figure says so and thus I must listen because I'm a weak man."
posted by Conspire at 3:31 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


In *this* world, there's a significant number of men who don't particularly like violence

But the message, reinforced throughout our (in the US) school years, is: tough. The message is delivered in the hallways, outside afterwards, and in the heavily financed and glorified sports programs for boys who beat up the boys of other schools.

young men, who statistically find themselves assaulted at a higher rate than women

Oh yeah! that's part of their education. Daily. Completely reinforced by the reactions of many/most teachers and school administrators. "Toughen up, ..." you hear growled,followed by your surname. Every time.

So why this conditioning? War, of course. Military or financial. And many ladies condone these things as well. You want solutions, you'll have to dig very deep.
posted by Twang at 3:40 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


hydropsyche: Yeah, I took the headscarf scene as a critique of modern white mainstream feminism, and quite specifically targeted at things said by feminists in France who have joined in on attacking women who wear hijab. He goes on and on about how the daycare worker's wife is oppressing him, but as we can see later, it's not like his wife treats him all that great.

This is the explanation that someone else gave when I saw first saw the video too. It's a critique on white feminism.
posted by gucci mane at 3:40 PM on February 8


OK, I watched it again, and I think you might be more right than me, Conspire. It's an ambiguous scene, it definitely could have been handled better.

The image of a man in a hijab was quite effectively startling for me, though.
posted by misfish at 3:43 PM on February 8


I thought this was very interesting, and yet, problematic. It seems like they set out to highlight extremes, which is fine, but there are plenty of men who treat women respectfully, and plenty of women who never feel slighted or taken advantage of. I'm not saying the things in this video aren't real. They are. They are pervasive. But like others, the most interesting thing to me (and most nuanced) was the shirtless runners. Aside from the fact that most women cannot run shirtless (because, OW), the reversal was extremely enlightening. As well as the woman telling him that she'd better talk to his wife about the apartment building meeting.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:46 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


This is one of the most fucked up, disturbing things I've ever seen.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 4:22 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


It seems like they set out to highlight extremes, which is fine, but there are plenty of men who treat women respectfully, and plenty of women who never feel slighted or taken advantage of.

I counted a number of women in the video who weren't saying anything to the man who was the subject of the movie.

So you may safely watch this ficticious "what-if" video without pausing to consider whether it is accurately reflecting a perfect mirror-image of the reality in which you believe you live, if that's what's getting in the way of your reflecting upon the message which it seems people are trying to avoid considering.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


So you may safely watch this ficticious "what-if" video without pausing to consider whether it is accurately reflecting a perfect mirror-image of the reality in which you believe you live, if that's what's getting in the way of your reflecting upon the message which it seems people are trying to avoid considering.

I didn't say anything was getting in the way. All of the points made in this video are real and frightening. For me, it was hammering over the head. That's it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:33 PM on February 8


The crazy person on the corner - clearly he was bigger than her. He was intimidated by someone shouting obscenities at him?

I am also afraid of people who are comfortable breaching the social niceties that usually govern our behavior because by shouting obscenities and behaving aggressively, even when I might be bigger or stronger than they are. This is a pretty rational reaction to someone who ignores the social contract so blatantly, especially when that someone belongs to a group that exerts (or believes it is entitled to exert) social and sexual dominance over me and people like me.

I was a big, tall, strong young woman, taller and stronger than lots of men. But that doesn't mean that the shorter or weaker men who have harassed or assaulted me over my lifetime were harmless. Some of them were willing to be violent; more than a few appeared to be mentally ill or uninhibited by drugs or drink; some were traveling in groups of like-minded harassers; some were even egged on by friends or companions. All of them were, to some extent, indoctrinated with the cultural vocabulary that cast me as a sexual object and them as aggressors, both physically and sexually.

For me, it was hammering over the head. That's it.

For me, it pretty realistically reflected an average day in my teens or 20s, when just trying to get the mail or ride my bike or walk down the street or take the bus or cut through an alleyway to work was likely to be interrupted by men expressing some sexualized interest in me. Sometimes it was to grab me or corner me, sometimes it was to jokingly (or not-so-jokingly) suggest I blow them, sometimes it was to ask me for a date or a phone number or whether I had a boyfriend, sometimes it was to tell me I was pretty (note: I was not remarkably pretty, not that it matters), sometimes it was to tell me I should smile more.

Those vaguely threatening come-ons happened all the time, and by "all the time," I mean there was never a time or place when I could reasonably expect to be free from it. Being modestly dressed didn't stop it, getting fat didn't stop it, looking like hell didn't stop it, walking faster didn't stop it, talking back certainly didn't stop it. Even getting older and fatter hasn't stopped it completely.

Were there plenty of men who didn't do that? Sure, but they passed by in the background, like the non-harassing women in this video.
posted by Elsa at 5:31 PM on February 8 [41 favorites]


I thought his body language was quite effective - the way he held his shoulders and arms in, and worked close to his body. Nice observing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:08 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Having just watched it, the part with the headscarf seemed to me to be intentionally targeted at white feminists who lecture Muslim women (who may or may not identify as "feminists", in part because of this kind of thing) about why they shouldn't wear headscarves.

The filmmaker was thoughtful and insightful about enough other aspects in the film, I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and not assume she's unthinkingly reifying the common belief that "hijab = oppression".
posted by Lexica at 7:54 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


And a great deal of the size difference thing is just a construct. Intimidation and implicit threat.

Yes, but a lot of it isn't. A good amount of time, the threat is explicit.

I too thought the film was a worthy effort, but as a simple reversal relying on mimicry, it rang a little hollow to me without more precise mimicry, which to me would need to involve a more pervasive sense of physical danger -- more ubiquitous and casual than e.g. the alley scene. I do think the threat of actual, flesh-compromising violence is at the bottom of most kinds of oppression, and for oppression to work, there's got to be a show of it (and then its constant suggestion).

(It's true that some men are smaller than some women, but your average smaller, non-athlete, wiry guy, sufficiently motivated -- and this state, yes, is grounded in constructions -- and fuelled by testosterone, has a good chance of overwhelming your average larger, non-athlete woman, no switch blade or gang required.)

It's tricky because the point was to call out the specific expressions of domination women face, so, in that way the flip concept makes sense. Using other imagined forms of material power (I don't know what -- batons, etc) might have been hokey or dismissable as merely fantastic. Although, agree that establishing a history of all that beforehand might have helped.

The women actors still held themselves as women. In actuality, men not only take up more physical space but take it. Same for communicative space -- I didn't hear too many of the female dominators simply interrupting or talking over the victim, who, as was noted, was honoured by having his eyes met in every interaction, and was never just straight up ignored.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:30 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


In some ways, men have been cowed by physically weaker oppressors throughout history. Then those men oppressed the weaker men, and everybody joined in and oppressed the women. Numbers and physical strength have often not been a match for pervasive systems of oppression that divide and conquer the people with the physical strength to fight. You don't have to look too far to find examples of groups of physically strong men bent down under the will of evil systems.

So, in important ways that rings true, that under a matriarchy these men could be just as weak and vulnerable as the video makes out and being personally stronger or working more on things like self defense can never change that.

At the same time, one of the most terrifying descriptions of this sort of reversal scenario I've ever heard that helped me gain some perspective on this (I think posted in the comments here somewhere by someone more eloquent than me) urged me to consider what it would be like to live in a world where there were constantly people much bigger than me I would be forced to both interact with and fear on a daily basis. People hopped up on hormones that can make them angry and difficult or impossible to predict if they lack self control. Since that was enlightening to me, I assume it might be a better way to hit the right points with other men. I don't find the idea that the strong can be oppressed by the weak as enlightening as that point, but I may just be weird. It is clear a lot of people don't get that point so maybe that is the case.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:21 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I completely missed the shirtless runners on my first viewing, I suppose because they were presented matter-of-factly and not woo-woo-check-this-out. This intersects oddly with the headscarf business; I can understand that many women might feel more free if they didn't have to deal with the whole do-men-find-me-attractive problem. Perhaps this video is just the start of the conversation, and not the end.
posted by SPrintF at 10:22 PM on February 8


Well, as long as you saw the gorilla running across the frame you got the main points.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:23 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I can't think of an evil system that didn't/doesn't ultimately use weapons or imprisonment or torture (in an organized manner, yes), at least selectively, to enforce its power (but am open to hearing examples).

urged me to consider what it would be like to live in a world where there were constantly people much bigger than me I would be forced to both interact with and fear on a daily basis. People hopped up on hormones that can make them angry and difficult or impossible to predict if they lack self control.

I think you've pretty much got it, actually, this is what it's like (I [a woman] feel).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:39 PM on February 8


Yeah, I wish I could remember who posted it here (or if it was somewhere else) so I could give them a thank you. I don't think I did at the time because it took a couple of days of reflection to sink in.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:10 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


this comment?
posted by benzenedream at 11:55 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I don't think it was that one, but that one may have been just as likely to do it if it was the one I had seen. So, I guess my thanks should at this point be aimed at everybody who works to educate folks who need it even though that isn't something people should need to ask of them.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:01 AM on February 9


Count me in as someone who was really bothered by the headscarf scene on first viewing, but now my take on it has changed so much that it's actually the most thought-provoking scene in the film. I urge everyone to watch that scene a few more times to appreciate it. The body language, the condescending explaining how someone else feels to their face ("I'm afraid you look like a child.... Don't you feel trapped?... You don't belong to anyone, do you understand?"), everything - what's happening on screen is undeniably what we understand as mansplaining, but after removing the role-reversal universe, it actually leads to some interesting parallel insights for white feminists doing something similar with respect to people outside of their cultures (I like Mizu's neologism femsplaining.) And it's more than just about the hijab issue, it illustrates a specific shitty attitude in a better way than I've seen done before. In a film that somewhat preaches to the feminist blogosphere choir, that scene has unexpected bite.
posted by naju at 1:06 AM on February 9 [20 favorites]


I don't find the reversal of gender roles makes the film any more or less "shocking" or "enlightening" than it would have otherwise been: Gang rape is a terrible crime. The police not taking it seriously is awful. The unsympathetic partner is deplorable.

Fortunately in the real world, gang rape at knife-point is a very rare crime; the police tend to take it very seriously, and most loving partners would be very supportive.

I'm not sure what the film-maker hoped to achieve by taking this unrepresentative scenario, and presenting it with roles reversed. It simply reinforces some women's tragic, largely groundless fear of everyday situations.

Surely, it would be more constructive to take the subtle discrimination that most women really do face every day, and use role-reversal to present that in a way that would help men to better understand it. The earlier part of the film did attempt that, but the effect was overshadowed by the later drama.
posted by mr. strange at 4:43 AM on February 9


About this notion that size difference is the immediate source of male intimidation of females - I'm 5'2" tall, and I've always been shorter than my peers. Yet I am not afraid of most adults - I am concerned for my safety in specific situations I've learned are potentially hazardous. I read a piece about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where the writer explained that he freed Black people by teaching them to live with their wholly reasonable fear of whites, a fear engendered by the knowledge that any given white man might at any time decide to murder them. (White women were to be feared, too, but the people doing the murdering were pretty exclusively men.) Black people weren't afraid of whites because of their size or their wealth -they were afraid because whites had such power they could literally get away with murder.
Any fear I might have of men, as a class, is born of the knowledge they can get away with rape and violence because the law is written and enforced by them. It's much less clear-cut than with the plight of Black people in that place and time (or this one), and I'm not doing that tiresome thing where a member of a marginalized group appropriates the experience of a still more marginalized group. But the notion that a guy might take it into his head to hurt me, and there's nothing I could do to stop him or to be guaranteed redress, because of the power structures we live in, that I understand, and it would make no difference if I were six feet of pure muscle.
posted by gingerest at 5:19 AM on February 9 [12 favorites]


nothing I could do to stop him or to be guaranteed redress, because of the power structures we live in

Be smart from the very beginning.
posted by flabdablet at 6:20 AM on February 9


I'm not sure what the film-maker hoped to achieve by taking this unrepresentative scenario, and presenting it with roles reversed. It simply reinforces some women's tragic, largely groundless fear of everyday situations.

I'm going to say this as politely and patiently as I can: You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.
posted by divined by radio at 6:39 AM on February 9 [25 favorites]


I'm going to say this as politely and patiently as I can: You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

Nah, they just have an opinion different than yours about the film.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


No, it's a tone argument: If only you said it this way instead of that way, men would listen, but because you didn't they won't.

There are of course times when that's true, when the way something is said drastically impedes its reception. In the case of this deliberate and well thought out film, not so much.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:15 AM on February 9


Pretty sure divined_by_radio was speaking in reference to "some women's tragic, largely groundless fear of everyday situations" rather than the other stuff.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:16 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm just not too impressed by any man who feels the need to share his opinion specifically in order to summarily dismiss any woman's fear of a given situation as "tragic" or "largely groundless."

As a matter of course, it's easiest to wave it off with a 'forgive them, for they know not...' &c., but the same damn thing plays out so damn often -- a man is moved to speak up and let the ladies know what we should and shouldn't be afraid of, then remind us that if we're going to insist upon being afraid of whatever the man has decided is not worth fearing, well, that's just tragic -- that it feels like background radiation. That constant lack of trust in our worldview, the inquisition of our decision-making skills, calling into question the inherent validity of our instincts? It's toxic. So I wanted to call it out for what it was: Nonsense born from ignorance.

It's hardly a matter of differing opinions on a piece of art; rather, it's a specific, purposeful invalidation of bona fide lived experience, inspired by a fundamental lack of understanding regarding what it could possibly be like to actually walk in the world while daring to be female. Bear in mind that women are constantly taken to task for feeling afraid or uneasy, and just as constantly taken to task whenever we're not careful or cautious enough to prevent ourselves from being harassed, assaulted, raped, or killed. Which is a point that is actually discussed very explicitly in the film.

We're adults, too -- please trust that we know very well whether or not our fears are well-founded.
posted by divined by radio at 7:39 AM on February 9 [28 favorites]


I'm not sure what the film-maker hoped to achieve by taking this unrepresentative scenario, and presenting it with roles reversed.

As the film is brief, the filmmaker may have been concerned about their opportunity (or lack thereof) "to take the subtle discrimination that most women really do face every day, and use role-reversal to present that in a way that would help men to better understand it."

Subtlety generally requires context.
posted by mr. digits at 7:55 AM on February 9


Something thing that would have made this better (while still keeping it this short) would be advertising all around the mans bike-route showing younger, slimmer men, dressed like him in bermuda shorts and flip-flops, looking coy and flirting with the camera.
posted by dabitch at 7:56 AM on February 9 [14 favorites]


I agree with everybody who says the subtle stuff is more effective than the out-and-out rape scene, or more to the point is more meaningful; everyone knows rape at knifepoint is bad, but fewer men think about what privilege means just in terms of casual discrimination. I also find the rape scene, in the common internet parlance of the day, problematic because of the racial disparity between victim and attackers -- this is akin to the headscarf issue, where it's unclear to me whether a subtler point is being made than I realize, or whether the filmmakers are applying a less critical lens to issues of race than to issues of gender. Overall, though, I think this is a film that men should see. I am glad that I saw it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:10 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Nonsense born from ignorance.

There's a lot of it about.
posted by flabdablet at 8:13 AM on February 9


The point in a form easily digestible by men from a man hugely skilled in explaining how people actually work.
posted by flabdablet at 8:23 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Mrs Fleebnork and I have been watching a lot of Trek lately, so naturally I am reminded of the episode Angel One, in which the role reversal is examined, including physical size.

Not to derail the discussion, just sort of a "See Also" thought.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:27 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Fortunately in the real world, gang rape at knife-point is a very rare crime; the police tend to take it very seriously, and most loving partners would be very supportive.

It's an interesting point about the realism of the film, because, in my watching, that was one part where the protagonist used this-world male behaviour. He batted back the insult in a way a man would get away with 99% of the time in the non-film world, and in a way that would be extremely risky for a woman to do. Risky enough that there would be a fairly high chance of this kind of attack happening.

In the real world it's trivially easy to get yourself attacked by a group of young men who have already started behaving badly. I know because I did it yesterday by mildly rebuking a group of 4 of them for some deliberately antisocial behaviour. I had them walking away within a minute or so (shouting abuse to save face), but no woman on that street would have been able to, even if they'd used the exact same body language and words that I did.
posted by ambrosen at 8:51 AM on February 9 [17 favorites]


l'm not sure how you would do this (thought bubbles?), but I'd love a film about all the things women don't say to men because they're afraid of the man's reaction. (Or because they think the man won't listen to them.)
posted by desjardins at 9:34 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Surely, it would be more constructive to take the subtle discrimination that most women really do face every day, and use role-reversal to present that in a way that would help men to better understand it. The earlier part of the film did attempt that, but the effect was overshadowed by the later drama.

Based solely on the comments in this thread (I haven't watched the video yet), I'm not seeing where people have felt that scene overshadowed everything else, as there are many, many comments that note the little, subtle stuff (like pulling his shorts legs down, and the body language).

I'm always struck by how difficult it is to present this issue - there's no way to discuss it where someone doesn't say "Yahbut...." If we only talk about the death-by-a-thousand-papercuts stuff, we're making a big deal out of not much, and if we mention gang rape, we're making a big deal out of something that happens really rarely and therefore...shouldn't be feared, or thought about, or something.
posted by rtha at 9:40 AM on February 9 [14 favorites]


gingerest: Oh yes, agree. I don’t mean to pretend at all that naked and literal violence is the single or most important cause of oppression generally (to the degree we can discuss it in general terms), although I do think it’s woven through its ideological ground and justification. I can’t help but feel physicality is important with regard to gender dynamics – it’s just so proximal, so felt, it inflects everything else.

ambrosen: yes exactly. In that bit he's seemingly surprised by the response -- although, maybe he's meant to stand for the targeted male viewer, in that moment.

I did think that other than when he's tugging at his shorts in the police station, the guy just moves with a more this-worldly confidence and freedom than I think I wanted to see. But maybe that was a choice too.

Naju: I had the same reaction to that scene; the crudeness of the white dude’s attempt to ‘raise consciousness’, the seeming blitheness of the daycare worker’s explanation (it’s the religion) initially struck me as an unsound misstep. But on a second viewing it does appear to have been played ironically.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:08 AM on February 9


At the end, when he and his partner were walking, I thought he was walking very strangely, like he was in pain. This made my stomach drop.
Since the attack was fairly brief and his partner had mentioned a medical examination, my interpretation was that there was another, unshown, violation by the medical authorities.

His pained walk, his brusque partner, the fact that it was night and his attack had seemingly eaten up his entire day, and then he finally broke down, because he had been holding back for so long. Oh, my heart.
posted by MsDaniB at 11:34 AM on February 9 [6 favorites]


they probably set it in france rather than iowa because it's french

That does explain the lack of hayseeds tucked into mouth corners.

and if we mention gang rape, we're making a big deal out of something that happens really rarely and therefore...shouldn't be feared, or thought about, or something.


I don't know, I don't think there's any question the two behaviors are linked. Just a matter of degree.
I'm closer to Hannibal Lecter than Brown & Levinson in terms of politeness, not just in serious consequences for infractions (although forcing someone to eat their own brain is a bit harsh) but in terms of asking: what needs are served by doing what they do?

Clearly, power and objectification.

So taking the subtle discrimination that women face and showing a gang rape in the film shows the links between the two.
And it's extremely easy for men to not make this connection. Myself included since I rarely feel threatened by anything. I do step in, but I tend to challenge people by rote anyway and dominance or threat of force isn't going to change the environment.
Need an oar, not a straw.
From the men's side this means bystander intervention, social pressure, etc. and more importantly addressing how objectification creates an atmosphere that diffuses responsibility. (Think Kitty Geovese - yah, I know, the event itself is contested, but the idea is real and why people say "You, in the sweater, call an ambulance" rather than "somebody call and ambulance" in an emergency).

The fact that that distance is created, sets up a feeling of separation. So too - the idea that there's a difference in kind between mere social abuse and gang rape.

When, then, does one involve oneself? As far as I'm concerned it's easier to get involved at the outset, as early as possible, before the situation becomes a moving train.
"Matters of small concern should be treated seriously." - If one commits oneself to thinking about things well before the time comes to act, it becomes easy to act.

In this case, I think many men just haven't thought about it, so there has been little action.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:28 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Since the attack was fairly brief and his partner had mentioned a medical examination, my interpretation was that there was another, unshown, violation by the medical authorities.

The attack concluded with being bitten on the penis.

After watching it a few times I think the neighbor complaining about the compound may be insinuating that he should be taking care of the situation. That first jogger's casualness kills.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:43 PM on February 10


A guardian interview with Eléonore Pourriat about Oppressed Majority

Pourriat realised that the film had gone viral only when she started seeing activity on Facebook. Her YouTube mailbox filled up, but the messages were so aggressive she deleted them. "I kept one though because really, you can't believe it. Someone said: 'More patronising feminist bullshit. Keep whining, bitches!' When I read that, I was more convinced than ever that I have to continue to make films."
posted by dng at 9:12 AM on February 11 [8 favorites]


More patronising feminist bullshit. Keep whining, bitches!

That has to win an award of some sort.
posted by maxwelton at 10:32 AM on February 11


She is already working on her next project – a mockumentary about the removal of pubic hair.

I look forward to this.
posted by desjardins at 12:31 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Holy shit - that was amazing. Thanks for finding/posting.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:58 PM on February 11


"Feminism can save France from Islam: that's the real message of Majorité Opprimée
The gender role reversal video purports to target sexism and homophobia. But its essence is class bigotry, racism and misogyny"

  — Richard Seymour, Guardian, 2014-02-13
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:19 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Has the director herself clarified what her intent for the hijab scene was?
posted by naju at 5:09 PM on February 14


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