Movie Review: Romeo Must Die

Being bedridden most of the day yesterday due to ongoing illness, my husband stayed with me and we watched a couple of movies. One in particular is called Romeo Must Die (2000) and it stars Jet Li and the late R&B singer Aaliyah (curiously we were watching this movie on the seventeenth anniversary of the late singer/actress’ death). My heart itself smiled when the movie started playing and immediate nostalgia overwhelmed me a bit at the old-school rap and R&B that is so reminiscent of my childhood. Not having seen the movie in forever, there were quite a few things refreshing about it. Looking at it through a different lens (for one who can see and understand it), there are several things to be noted.

The first thing to be noted about the movie from my view is that it, in essence, portrays a man’s game. Only men are to be found doing business and playing the key roles in any decision making in the entire movie. In fact, aside from the main character Trish (Aaliyah) there aren’t even any women to be found hardly at all in the movie. Even in the background when business dealings are going on there isn’t a single woman in sight. But in no manner is there even the slightest insinuation that women are somehow inferior. In fact, just the opposite is true.

The movie is rated R as there is language, violence (murder, fighting), and some brief drug use and brief slight nudity, but in no way is there to be seen in the movie any level of unnecessary crudeness or vulgarity that is so common in modern movies. There is no promiscuity, nor is there any offensive language or slurs against women. In fact, neither are there any racial slurs in the movie either- even amongst members of the same race (an unusual finding in a movie centering around two separate racial clans at war with one another).

One of the things that stirs my heart as well is the protective paternalistic nature of a lot of the movie. Trish’s father, brother and Jet Li (Han, whom Trish has a romance with in the movie) are all very protective of Trish. Trish is “independent” in the movie, but never in the sense that the typical modern woman today is. She has her own apartment and a small shop but she’s not a career woman nor is there any talk of her being one nor any push made upon her to be independent or assertive in any manner. Female empowerment is not a theme in the movie on any level.

Trish portrays a sweet, gentle and nurturing- yet brave- character in the movie. In the first scene where Trish comes into the movie, she walks out of her shop only to find one of the men who works for her father waiting for her. Since a member of the opposite warring clan was murdered, her father fears for her safety (the clan might retaliate) and sends protection. Trish is assertive in the sense that she stands up for herself and has strong moral values, but not assertive as one would expect the modern woman to be. She gives Maurice (the man her father sent to her) absolute Hell as she evades him, leading to her chance encounter with Han (a very comical encounter as he has just arrived in America and stolen a taxi car that Trish jumps into while attempting to hide from Maurice).

Trish has a close relationship with her slightly older brother. She berates her brother a bit whenever she finds him at her shop using the phone. Trish has children who hang around her shop and in the movie she seems to be a role model to the kids in a couple of different scenes (I find this notable for the overall way it portrays her character in the movie). She goes off on her brother a bit, telling him that she had asked him not to do his business there at her shop for the very reason that she has kids hanging around all the time. Afterwards though she does apologize and embraces her brother, telling him that she only worries about him.

Masculinity isn’t demonized in any manner in the movie. There is a lot of emphasis on knowing how to fight, being competent, doing business, honor, chivalry… Trish’s brother is murdered in the movie and one of the last things he was talking about was “being his own man” and breaking away out of his father’s shadow in order to prove himself.

After her brother’s murder and a few other events, Trish is sleeping (presumably in her own apartment) whenever her father comes and wakes her up, tapping her on the shoulder and attempting to immediately calm her so she wouldn’t worry, letting her know it was only him (as opposed to some stranger entering her room). He then tells her that she needs to come with him, and takes her back home with him to the house she grew up in. Trish doesn’t really protest and goes with her father, staying in her childhood bedroom at the house. Her father takes care of her, protects her and sees to her well-being. Her father then leaves for a minute to take a call, at which point Han (who has followed Trish to her father’s house) taps on Trish’s window.

Trish opens the window asking Han if he had lost his mind, informing him in a low voice that her father was just on the other side of the door. Trish then hides Han behind the door as she speaks there at the doorway with her father. Her father informs her that he has to go out, but that she’d be safe and provided for there in the house. After he leaves she then sneaks out of the house with Han like a teenager and the two go exploring a list of addresses Han has.

Running from and then finally being cornered by their assailant after finding a warehouse of slaughtered victims, Han gets out and faces their attacker in hand to hand combat while Trish is yet still in the car. After a brief time of fighting, the assailant’s helmet is removed to reveal a beautiful woman (the only time a woman is ever seen fighting in the entire movie). Han then ceases attacking, merely shielding himself from the woman’s blows. Trish is confused, at which point Han tells her “I can’t hit a girl”- and he never does.

Trish shoves open the passenger seat of the car door, slamming it into the other woman then exclaims to Han that “I don’t know how they do things in China but in America when a girl is kicking your ass you don’t have to be a gentleman.” Still unable to bring himself to hit a woman, Han instead uses Trish, swinging her around and directing her moves so that it is technically her, and not him, that is fighting the woman. In a world where it is seen as socially acceptable to purposely and deliberately place females in harm’s way (such as military combat), where entertainment is full of men and women fighting each other to the death and where modern men don’t even think twice about becoming aggressive against women or even physically attacking them at the slightest provocation, this is noteworthy. Even faced with a woman obviously trained to fight, Han’s moral values simply would not allow him to ever use force against a woman.

Though Romeo Must Die was never meant to be a children’s movie or even a family movie at all, a closer look at this movie (made in a world yet not that far gone in time) reveals (as odd as it may seem) that the moral values it portrays far exceed even the children and family movies of today’s era. This is always important as entertainment and the media often wield a profound influence over society/culture.

Beyond the moral aspects, of course, the movie is pretty bad-ass, filled with drama, action, comedy and a slight bit of innocent romance thrown into the mix. It gets a full five-stars in my book.

Sleeping Beauty, Feminist Style

Sleeping Beauty gets a 21st century update in the 2014 movie Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. The entire backstory of Sleeping Beauty is given. Maleficent was once in love with Stefan and they were close friends, but in order to become king he betrays her. He comes back to Maleficent making her believe that they will begin anew where they left off, only to drug her, cut off her wings and leave her. She wakes up to find he has betrayed her and taken her wings. Later, when King Stefan and his queen have a baby girl she shows up to put a curse on her, following the original Sleeping Beauty story.

This time, however, the story takes a bit of a different twist. Instead of not knowing where Aurora, the beautiful princess, is hiding she instead assumes the role of fairy godmother to her. She actually watches out for the child as she is growing up and then presumably comes to love her very much. She tries to revoke the curse that she put on the girl but it cannot be revoked. Of course, Aurora does meat Prince Phillip in the woods and Maleficent brings the Prince to the castle when Aurora does prick her finger on a spindle on her sixteenth birthday, as was her curse. However, the Prince’s kiss does not wake Aurora up from her sleep but instead it is a kiss by Maleficent herself, upon the girl’s forehead, that wakes up the beautiful Princess. Aurora then wants to go and live with Maleficent. But by this time King Stefan (who apparently is so consumed with revenge upon Maleficent that he doesn’t even care about his daughter any longer nor his dying wife) and his men have already laid a trap for Maleficent and are waiting for her inside of the castle and surround her whenever her and Aurora attempt to leave. The attempt to kill Maleficent fails, however. Her wings sense her presence in the castle and are returned to her (with the help of Aurora) and King Stefan ends up falling to his death. Aurora becomes queen and her and Maleficent unite their kingdoms and the walls Maleficent put up are brought down forever. We see Prince Phillip show up at the end presumably to get to know Aurora and start a relationship with her.

This film had great special effects and the twist on the story was interesting. I will admit it was pretty neat but there is just something that screams out about this story. There seems to be this very strong “girl power” theme about the story. Men are evil and powerless in the story. The Prince does not fight to save Aurora as he did in the original 1950s version of Sleeping Beauty. His kiss cannot wake her up as his kiss is impotent. He does not fight his way to the castle and battle to save the Princess. Instead he is carried, unconscious, to the castle by Maleficent. It is Maleficent, a woman, that does all the fighting to save the Princess. Prince Phillip doesn’t seem very confident nor masculine. He seems more instead like a typical 21st century androgynous male living in a female dominated world. In fact, after his kiss doesn’t work he just leaves and isn’t even seen again until the very end of the story. He does no fighting nor does he stick around to try to save Aurora or help her in any way. He doesn’t try to rescue her, find some cure or antidote for the spell nor help her out of the castle to safety. Apparently this is woman’s work.

King Stefan did Maleficent wrong. He not only led her on but he did physical harm to her by cutting off her wings, a part of her body (possibly an euphemism for rape or female circumcision?). He is deserving of punishment in the story and Maleficent, in my opinion, deserved to be compensated in some way for the harm he inflicted upon her but there is just something very wrong with the story in that the King did not even seem to care about his daughter and, likewise, she didn’t seem to care very much about him. Yes, he got what he deserved you could say but the entire storyline just seems to be bordering on feminist man-hating and lesbianism to some extent.

We can no longer have a story where a man rescues, protects or fights for a woman. Apparently that is “sexist” and just can’t be done! Disney Princesses these days have to be strong and independent, such as Princess Merida from Brave. She is competent, independent, rebels against the way a “proper” woman should act and can shoot better than any man. No man comes to save her. All the princes that show up to battle for her hand are all incompetent drooling idiots who probably couldn’t navigate their way across the street without assistance. Many modern television and movies degrade women, but they also degrade men by assaulting traditional masculinity.

Most women would swoon and crumple to the floor by seeing a man being truly masculine, in charge and fighting to save a helpless damsel in distress (hmm, maybe that’s why masculinity must be degraded and discouraged, because it would turn women helpless and dependent on men).

I was reading this article a few months back where someone was posing the question of why anyone would want to be the powerless Aurora when instead they could be the all-powerful Maleficent. What they apparently didn’t understand is that the original Aurora is powerful, only not in the masculine realm the way Maleficent was powerful but instead she was powerful in the feminine realm. Yes Aurora was helpless to save herself and completely dependent upon a man to save her. Yet she was very powerful. She was loved by many mainly due to her sweet innocent disposition and traditional femininity. For her Prince Phillip would do anything. There is no battle that he wouldn’t fight for her. In the original Sleeping Beauty he risks everything to come for her and will stop at nothing to save her. He is strong, chivalrous, masculine and confident- in contrast to Aurora’s delicate beauty and helplessness. When they meet in the woods he seems protective and willing to take the lead. There is also a beautiful scene where they are leaning against a tree and you can tell he stands much taller than she is. He exudes masculinity, and she femininity.

In the new version Prince Phillip doesn’t do anything for Aurora- she and Maleficent do everything for themselves. The new Prince Phillip instead seems quite soft and unsure of himself. There is not even the tiniest sign of any man being in charge at all. The new Prince Phillip is like a clueless teenage boy. It is complete 21st century gender-role reversal.

My Review of “The Female Eunuch”

This book is not new to me and I’ve quoted it many times over the years but I thought I would post it here as it is a landmark book in the women’s “liberation” movement and is a wonderful example of feminism’s assault on femininity, the traditional family unit and the role of the housewife. Feminists love to tell us they stand for our “choices” and that they’ve never in all their feminist studies seen feminists degrade the role of the housewife, but those of us who are educated know this movement has been an assault on the traditional family unit and the rights of the traditional woman from the start. My review here consists of quotes taken directly from the book. We must understand feminism and teach the next generation against it. We must educate men and women alike on the truth of this movement. Please read, understand and share with others the truth of this movement and its assault on our families and our security within our families.

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer

“On these grounds we can, indeed we must reject femininity as meaning without libido, and therefore incomplete, subhuman, a cultural reduction of human possibilities, and rely upon the indefinite term female, which retains the possibility of female libido. In order to understand how a female is castrated and becomes feminine we must consider the pressures to which she is subjected from the cradle.” (79)

“So what is the beef? Maybe i couldn’t make it. Maybe I don’t have a pretty smile, good teeth, nice tits, long legs, a cheeky arse, a sexy voice. Maybe I don’t know how to handle men and increase my market value, so that the rewards due to the feminine will accrue to me. Then again, maybe I’m sick of the masquerade. I’m sick of pretending eternal youth. I’m sick of belying my own intelligence, my own will, my own sex. I’m sick of peering at the world through false eyelashes, so everything I see is mixed with a shadow of bought hairs; I’m sick off weighting my head with a dead mane, unable to move my neck freely, terrified of rain, of wind, of dancing too vigorously in case I sweat into my lacquered curls. I’m sick of the Powder Room. I’m sick of pretending that some fatuous male’s self-important pronouncements are the objects of my undivided attention, I’m sick of going to films and plays when someone else wants to, and sick of having no opinions of my own about either. I’m sick of being a transvestite. I refuse to be a female impersonator. I am a woman, not a castrate.” (70)

“April Ashley was born male. All the information supplied by genes, chromosomes, internal and external sexual organs added up to the same thing. April was a man. But he longed to be a woman. He longed for the stereotype, not to embrace, but to be…He tried to die, became a female impersonator, but eventually found a doctor in Casablanca who came up with a more acceptable alternative. He was to be castrated, and his penis used as the lining of a surgically constructed cleft, which would be a vagina…He became a model, and began to illustrate the feminine stereotype as he was perfectly qualified to do, for he was elegant, voluptuous, beautifully groomed, and in love with his own image…April’s incompetence as a woman is what we must exect from a castrate, but it is not so very different after all from the impotence of feminine women, who submit to sex without desire, with only the infantile pleasure of cuddling and affection, which is their favourite reward. As long as the feminine stereotype remains the definition of the female sex, April Ashley is a woman, regardless of the legal decision ensuing from her divorce. She is as much a casualty of the polarity of the sexes as we all are. Disgraced, unsexed Ashley is our sister and our symbol.” (71-72)

“Women do have sexual desires and it is a function of normal mental health development and good breeding to destroy it, let us try some abnormal mental development, rejecting our breeding. If marriage and family depend upon the castration of women let them change or disappear. The alternative is not a brothel, for brothels depend upon marriage and family for their existence. If we are to escape from the treadmill of sexual fantasy, voracious need of love, and obsessiveness in all its forms we will have to reinstate our libido in its rightful function. Only then will women be capable of loving.” (111)

“Womanpower means the self-determination of women, and that means that all the baggage of paternalist society will have to be thrown overboard.” (130)

“There was even mention of setting up nurseries to be run by management and unions cooperatively at factories. The intrusion of sex and children adds a tinge of frivolty to the arguments: in fact, an employer who faces problems of organizing his employees’ children as well as themselves might well be inclined to discriminate more and more…” (135)

“A secretary is a boss’s status symbol, like his wife” the more her duties are limited to his requirements the more her value.” (141)

“Feminine women chained to men in our society are in this situation. They are formed to be artificially different and fascinating to men and end by being merely different, isolated in the house of a bored and antagonistic being.” (158)

“When heredity has decayed and bureaucracy is the rule, so that the only riches are earning power and mobility, it is absurd that the family should persist in the patter of patriliny. It is absurd that people should live more densely than ever before while pretending that they are still in a cottage with a garden. It is absurd that peole should pledge themselves for life when divorce is always possible.” (266)

“If women would reject their roles in this pattern, recognizing insecurity as freedom, they would not be perceptibly worse off for it.” (274)

“Women have very little idea of how much men hate them. Any boy who has grown up in an English industrial town can describe how the boys used to go to the local dance halls and stand around all night until the pressure of the simplest kind of sexual urge prompted them to score a chick. The easier this was the more they loathed them and identified them with the guilt that their squalid sexual release left them.” (300)

“They must not scurry about from bed to bed in a self-deluding and pitiable search for love, but must do what they do deliberately, without false modesty, shame or emotional blackmail.” (300)

“A housewife’s work has no results: it simply has to be done again. Bringing up children is not a real occupation, because children come up just the same, brought or not. ” (312)

“Men argue that alimony laws can cripple them, and this is obviously true, but they have only themselves to blame for the fact that alimony is necessary, largely because of the pattern of granting custody of the children to the mother. The alimonized wife bringing up the children without father is no more free than she ever was…If independence is a necessary concomitant of freedom, women must not marry.” (358-359)

“Even though there are more problems attendant upon bringing up an illegitimate child, and even friendly cohabitation can meet with outrage and prosecution from more orthodox citizens, marrying to avoid these inconveniences is a meaningless evasion.” (359)

“In many cases, the husband is consoled by being allowed to retain the children and can afford to treat them better with less anxiety than a woman could. he is more likely to be able to pay a housekeeper or a nanny than a woman is. And so forth. Behind the divorced woman struggling to keep her children there always looms the threate of ‘taking the children into care’ which is the worst of alternatives. A woman who leaves her husband and children could offer them alimony, if society would grant her the means.” (362)

“Only by experimentation can we open up new possibilities which will indicate lines of development in which the status quo is a given term. Women’s revolution is necessarily situationist: we cannot argue that all will be well when the socialists have succeeded in abolishing private property and restoring public ownership of the means of production. We cannot wait that long. Women’s liberation, if it abolishes the patriarchal family, will abolish a necessary substructure of the authoritarian state, and once that withers away Marx will have come true willy-nilly, so let’s get on with it.” (368-369)

“…But man made one grave mistake: in answer to vaguely reformist and humanitarian agitation he admitted women to politics and the professions. The conservatives who saw this as the undermining of our civilization and the end of the state and marriage were right after all; it is time for the demolition to begin…” (369)

“The first significant discovery we shall make as we racket along our female road to freedom is that men are not free, and they will seek to make this an argument why nobody should be free. We can only reply that slaves enslave their masters, and by securing our own manumission we may show men the way that they could follow when they have jumped off their own treadmill.” (371)

A Personal Reflection on “I Love Lucy”

Practically everyone’s heard of I Love Lucy, a 1950s TV show about a crazy red-headed housewife (played by Lucille Ball) who is married to a Cuban band leader (played by Desi Arnaz). I personally never watched the TV show until here recently when, disgusted by even the family TV shows of today’s era and exhausting historical romance books with feminist heroines, my good friend Sanne over at Adventures in Keeping House suggested the show to me. I have to say that I love it and it will forever on be a favorite show of mine.

For the first season and half of the second season Lucy is a childless housewife, as is her best friend Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance). There is never any shame in the fact that they are housewives who have never had children. Women in those days were not “stay at home moms,” they were simply housewives. The ethic that men were to support their wives (as well as the legal obligation upon them to do so) still existed whether there were children in the marital union or not. Of course, halfway through the second season we find that Lucy is expecting. In the episode “Lucy is Enceinte” we see Lucy getting ready to go to the doctor. Ethel asks her what’s wrong, to which Lucy responds that she has gained some weight and has been feeling real tired here lately. Ethel thinks for a minute and then her eyes light up and she tells Lucy that maybe she’s going to have a baby. Of course, Lucy waves that aside and says “oh Ethel don’t be ridiculous I’ve been married for eleven years!” But when she comes back from the doctor she has a dreamy look on her face and exclaims that she’s going to have a baby. Lucy talks of how she’s always dreamed of how she would tell her husband the good news. She finally gets a chance to tell him by coming down to the club where Ricky works. Ricky receives a note on stage from a woman that she and her husband are going to have a “blessed event.” Ricky passes by all the couples and when he gets to Lucy she has a dreamy look and a smile on her face and nods her head. Ricky, of course, doesn’t get it right away and passes on to the next couple until it finally hits him and he realizes that him and his wife are the lucky couple! He then sings to her and for the audience “we’re having a baby, my baby and me.” The next few episodes continue on where Lucy is expecting but a big deal is not really made over her pregnancy. On the episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” Little Ricky is finally born and the next few episodes are pretty much memories and events that happened in the past, presumably so mother and child are not shown on TV too soon after the event of birth.

Not even family movies and shows in today’s era are as respectful as what I Love Lucy was regarding Lucy’s pregnancy and the birth of Little Ricky. The word “pregnant” is never even used. The term “expecting” is used instead. There is no talk in the show about childbirth or about pregnancy or the female body. I did think the episode “Ricky Has Labor Pains” bordered a bit on the obscene side with Lucy’s “cravings” that Ricky then gets too and also the one scene where Lucy couldn’t get out of the chair without assistance but it was still nowhere near what today’s shows are like. Today even family movies that conservative parents watch with their children have indecent talk and showing of birth and pregnancy. One that comes to mind is Cheaper by the Dozen 2 in which one of Kate and Tom’s (I believe that was their names) older daughters is very heavily pregnant. Her “water” ends up breaking when she is in a canoe competing in the competition between families and it becomes some immediate emergency that, of course, requires multiple people to help (including children). Then of course she’s shown having contractions and everything in the movie as well. Another Disney show I watched a bit was Good Luck Charlie. We watched a few episodes until the mother was pregnant with a fifth child and the family started talking about “how she gets” when she’s in her third trimester. Also in one episode the mother played sick because she was exhausted from working at work and working at home even though they had a young child at home. Even Disney these days shows nothing but the career wife and mother and children being raised by nannies. The disgusting and offensive movie Knocked Up shows the perfect example of how far things have come since the days of I Love Lucy. High powered career woman decides to go out and celebrate one night, picks up man for one-night stand, discovers she’s pregnant a few weeks later (you know by puking in a trash can, because that’s how all women discover they are pregnant, you know, by getting sick then thinking they must have the flu or something) then goes and finds the lucky guy to try to explain she’s pregnant (this is a very smart move ladies, if you get pregnant by some random guy you don’t know you should probably find him and inform him about it that way he and his family can sue you for custodial rights later). Of course, dude can’t even comprehend what on earth she’s even talking about. Pregnant? What on earth do you mean? Pregnant with and idea? Oh, a baby? Huh? Seriously, man? Of course, dude has no real job except for trying to find shots of female private parts from movies until he discovers that someone else has already had that idea. Bummer! Well, that’s ok the two get together and try to make it work. She’s a career woman who doesn’t need his money anyways (so I guess that would make him the “third wheel”). Later on of course she’s heavily pregnant and highly emotional and decides to kick his broke self out of her car on the side of the road on the way to her gynecologist appointment because she’s so crazy emotional (get out you bum and find your own ride!) then when she gives birth he brings all his perverted guy friends to the hospital to crack jokes and talk about her private parts and how gynecology is their favorite hobby and shots are shown of her privates while she’s giving birth. But, it’s Ok, the story has a happy ending because they make a *relationship*. I guess us women are supposed to feel empowered and respected because society now openly talks of and displays our bodies. And, hey, even the older generations are now cool with it. I’m sure shoving childbirth, period sex and private rituals we women do in the bathroom in men’s faces will make them respect us! (Here’s the gory details boys, now give me respect!)

In Lucy there is none of this. Ricky was not by her side and holding her hand through labor. He was out being a real man and working to support his family. Lucy was never even shown in the hospital room at all. There was no “oh honey I told you antibiotics knocked out the pill” or talk of maternity leave or shots of her peeing on a stick in the bathroom or throwing up in a trashcan or talks of “so who’s the father?” There was nothing but joy and love. Mother and child were secure in a home that Ricky had provided for them. There was never any pressure on Lucy to work even when she was childless, much less so after the arrival of Little Ricky. A baby was seen as nothing but a blessing, as was pregnancy.

As a married woman Lucy’s job was to take care of the home and a child being introduced into the union didn’t pose any threats to the ordering of their daily lives. Children being born out of wedlock wasn’t acceptable and there are no showings of unwed fathers or mothers on the show, nor was there divorce or illegitimacy. All the women she comes into contact with and all the women she is friends with are housewives who care for their homes and children. Of course, Lucy is always begging Ricky to let her into show-business to which Ricky responds that he wants a wife who will take care of the home and be a mother to his children.

Of course, even in those days society was still feminist in many ways. Lucy is often in the show doing things that put Ricky’s career in jeopardy either because she is jealous of one of the showgirls and is scared Ricky is unfaithful or because she wants in the show so badly she is willing to do anything. Even after Little Ricky is born she worms her way into one of his shows with Little Ricky on her back. In the episode “Equal Rights” Ricky is tired of her being late and declares that he is going to run the home like they do in Cuba, with the man as master of the home. Lucy obediently goes to the bedroom to get her coat then comes back out and “stands up for herself” (with Ethel cheering her on from across the room) and the girls declare they want to be treated just like men. Ricky says fine and treats her just the same as he would another man. Lucy and Ethel end up washing dishes in the restaurant because they had no money to pay for the food (they were expecting their husbands to pay), Ricky and Fred end up pushing the girls out of the way to sit down first and talking over them to order their food first and Ricky even commits an unforgivable breech of etiquette and shaves at the table! Of course, the difference between then and now is that their husbands never did abandon them, as Ricky and Fred were waiting to pick them up and bring them home when they were done. Also Lucy was able in the show to go out and buy a business in more than one episode without her husband’s knowledge or consent. Of course, she always fails at it when she tries to go into business. In one episode the men tell Lucy and Ethel that housework is easy and the women respond by telling Fred and Ricky that being the breadwinner is easy. They switch jobs and Lucy and Ethel find they are no good at bringing home the bacon and Fred and Ricky find they are no good at frying it up. So, all in all, traditional gender roles are still promoted in the show.

Often times Lucy (who can’t ever be on time, keep up with anything, manage money, display much logical thinking in various arenas nor sing, act or dance) will get herself into trouble. Instead of going to her husband and telling him the truth or getting his help she instead messes things up even worse by taking things into her own hands. A few times her schemes even land her right across Ricky’s knee, an obviously politically incorrect display of male dominance now completely written out of all TV shows, movies and even historical novels. (Just something as simple as Disney prettying up Princess Merida from the movie “Brave” these days causes boycotts from parents today who want their girls to be independent). A couple of times in the show she even manages to get Ricky fired due to her interference in his affairs. Even though she is only trying to help her husband, her interference still undermines his career and often makes things worse. Of course, she often does find a way to make everything better in the end and sometimes her schemes to insert herself into show-business actually work out for the good of Ricky’s career. When they travel to Hollywood Lucy is offered a one-year contract. It is what she has always wanted yet in the end she turns it down so that she can go back home and be with her family. She does still attempt at times to get into show-business afterwards, but not nearly so severe as in the early days of I Love Lucy.

Of course, it is Lucy’s illogical thinking and ridiculous schemes that propel the show forward and make it so hilarious and entertaining. I haven’t seen the comedies that Desi and Lucille put out after the show ended, but I Love Lucy definitely gets an A+ rating in my book. Much has changed in our culture and most of it has not been for the better. Though some things were worse in the 1950s, in the area of gender relations there is no comparison between now and then. In the show Lucy never does get a career. Another thing to note is how sexually exploited women are today compared to then. Lucille Ball was already forty years old whenever I Love Lucy began (of course she is portrayed as being in her 30s, although she claims to have stopped having birthdays at 29). Today women in movies are mere sex objects whose youth is sucked up and young women are considered old hags by about the time they hit the ripe age of 25. There is such a cult of youth in our culture today that is reflected in the media.

Interesting as well is how advanced society was even in the 1950s. Even in those days the middle class housewives had many of the conveniences we do today. In one episode Lucy and Ethel didn’t even have a clue how to make bread or churn butter.

Also, Lucy and the other housewives always tried to look pretty everyday. Sure, there were some scenes were Lucy still had her nightclothes on looking half out of it in the morning, but for the most part women strived to look good and act like ladies. In one episode Ricky even commented that Lucy thinks she’s naked (or was it niked) without lipstick on and in one episode Ethel was saying how she couldn’t get on the subway wearing jeans. Of course, Lucy belonged to the middle class. The amount of money that she threw around on the show for clothes, redecorating the house, going to get her hair done every couple of weeks, and fixing all the problems she caused with her schemes would be considered outrageous by most even in 2014 dollars. But it is nice to see a time when women actually strove to look good and take care of themselves and a time when men were in charge. Also nice is that Ricky most often wears a suit.

By now all of the main characters of the show (save for, I believe, the man who played Little Ricky) are all deceased. In fact, many were deceased before I was ever even born. Also deceased are the old ways. The saddest thing of all is the thought that the prosperity and much stabler gender relations of the past depicted in the shows and movies of yesteryear may never come back. But at least we may catch a glimpse of better times through the entertainment of old.

The Wicked Loving Lies of Feminism

Feminist heroines. They irritate me very badly. They are all so stuck on “independence,” disguising themselves as boys, chopping off their hair, not bathing and constantly complaining that “marriage is slavery.” You’ve read about one of them then you’ve pretty much read about them all. However, every once in a while comes a heroine that embodies the very persona of feminism to such an extent that it causes her so many untold miseries throughout the entire story- so much that you could write an entire article about it. One such character is Marisa (Marisa Antonia Catalina de Castellanos y Gallardo) from Rosemary Roger’s 1976 novel Wicked Loving Lies. I think there is a real life lesson to be learned from such a feminist character. For those ladies who haven’t read the book but were thinking about it, be forewarned that I’m fixing to spoil the whole thing for you.

After the Prologue the novel starts out with Marisa in a convent. Her exact age is never stated, but it is clear that she is very young, say no older than about 17 or 18. She is content to live her life right where she is, certain she will never marry. However, her father sends word to the convent that she is to marry a Don Pedro Arteaga. However, Marisa will have none of it. She is scared of marriage and scared of men because of some things she witnessed when she was younger. So, she takes off with her friend Blanca and joins with her family-gypsies. But, alas, from there who should she run into but a group containing Arteaga himself as well as his friend, now identified as Dominic. Out of anger or some quest for revenge she picks his pocket and somehow gets free away from the little group. It doesn’t last long, however, as the little group has friends in high places and Dominic catches back up with her. Of course, he believes her to be a gypsy and a whore. Out of fear of having to marry Arteaga she stays silent about her real and true identity even though it means being dragged off by Dominic to his ship so he can make use of her “services” in exchange for not turning her over to the authorities. She stays silent, he rapes her and only then figures out she is actually a virgin. If she would have only told him who she was this would have never happened. But, oh well, deed done. He offers her a sizable amount of money (which she refuses because she doesn’t want payment for something she never sold in the first place). She gets frustrated, chops off her pretty long hair, hides away with a little help from a kind member of the crew on his ship and makes her way to France.

She then escapes him and his crew, runs into Phillip Sinclair (who we later learn is Dominic’s cousin and the two are bitter enemies) who then takes her back to her aunt and her godparents. Her aunt knows what has happened but says it’s ok. All the fashionable ladies take lovers, her aunt says. She gives her a few potions-which don’t work for her- to make sure she doesn’t conceive and life goes on. She contemplates making Phillip her lover. That, however, is short lived as Dominic (who her aunt herself had had an affair with, apparently because he has a savage wild side to him) comes back into the picture. Word of what he did to her gets out and the two are forced into marriage. Marisa hates him and he starts to believe her a liar plotting against him somehow. They seem to be happy for one day after their marriage where they talk together and picnic. However, the next night Dominic gets violent and rapes her and the next morning she wakes up to find him already gone and setting sail to God only knows where. Meanwhile, she nearly dies from a miscarriage. Phillip stays with her and brings her flowers everyday. After this is over she decides to go back to England. She agrees to be a spy and her aunt accompanies her back home to England. While she’s there she enjoys freedom and independence and all her friends exclaim how envious they are of her because she doesn’t have a husband breathing down her neck dictating her life. She refuses to be faithful to her marriage vows and hates Dominic even more after finding out he was the one responsible for her father’s death. Well, time passes and her spying ways get her in trouble. She panics when she hears the death of another supposed spy (or whatever) by this assassin and hears that the assassin marks his victims, but how or where she doesn’t know. She becomes terrified, realizing she has gotten in way over her head and wants out. So her and Phillip decide to leave. But on the way their stage is held up and Marisa is grabbed, branded on her thigh and raped by a masked man (she later learns that the masked man is her husband, Dominic, who was set on her as a “warning” by a vengeful Madame De L’Aigle, who she learns is the real assassin).

After the event she returns home to find her home filled with people and lit up brightly. She then learns Dominic has returned. She gets angry that he has barged in on her independence, makes no secret that she hates him and plots to run away with Phillip. She does, and when they arrive at Phillip’s Uncle (the duke of Royse’s) estate she finds that Dominic is there and has dueled with the Duke and killed him. Phillip attempts to shoot Dominic but instead accidentally kills himself with the gun. Dominic then takes Marisa and leaves. They board a ship (not his own) and pirates siege them. The captain surrenders because he does not have the men nor arms to fight them off. Marisa is separated, along with two other women, away from the men. Dominic had told her, in an attempt to protect her, to not reveal she was his wife and tell them who her family was and that she was worth a lot of ransom money so they wouldn’t harm her. She tells the story and Dominic backs it up as well.

She is held captive (albeit in luxury) in the Middle East and soon after a Kamil Hasan Rais takes an interest in her (despite his vows of celibacy). The first time he drugs her and has her sent to him but after that Marisa (now renamed Leila) becomes his willing lover to the point that she embraces Islam and agrees to become his wife once Kamil’s term of service is up. Soon, however Marisa tells him that she is pregnant and confesses that she had a husband. Kamil tells her it’s ok, he’ll give her some herbs and get rid of the problem but she simply can’t abort the child because of the loneliness and emptiness she remembered from her first miscarriage. So he says it’s ok and promises the child won’t be harmed. However, Kamil’s vengeful sister has other plans. She hates Marisa so she finds out some info and brings Dominic to where he can see her. Marisa walks into the stables and sees Dominic. What does she do? She tells him she hates him, that she’s pregnant, the child might be his or might not, tells him she doesn’t want the child, tells him she’s in a position of authority now and will have him punished and then nearly gets him crucified. Marisa has her child some time later but is drugged unconscious and when she wakes up is told she had a girl and the child died. She never questions that she had been lied to at all. The truth of the matter is that the child lived and was a boy (since the child was a boy Kamil arranged to get rid of it while still keeping the child safe as he promised, because he couldn’t allow the child to be his heir and shame himself). Marisa forgets all and becomes a complete hedonist.

War breaks out and she is ransomed back to her people and taken back to France. Dominic fights with a group of soldiers then comes back and kills Kamil and takes the boy (who was unmistakably his child). He heads to America believing she hates the child and willingly abandoned it. Marisa goes to Cuba and her Uncle (a powerful political figure) takes her to America and, neither of them knowing there was a child from the union, obtains an annulment for her . Events happen and she stays with her vengeful stepmother and meets back up with Arteaga and later Dominic. She finds out her child is still alive but Dominic, never thinking to see her again, has gotten engaged to another woman and Marisa agrees it’s best to leave. Her stepmother takes her to New Orleans to the plantation she inherited when her stepmother brings evidence that she is really a slave. She is sold and soon Dominic finds out and spends all his savings to rescue her. To make money back he takes her as well as Marisa’s friend (a former slave) and a large group of rough men on a trip to capture wild horses. Many weeks pass and she spends more time with Dominic, all the while complaining to her friend about men and mad that she’s stuck doing women’s work. Her friend tries to explain to her about the way men act (you know all prideful and stuff) and that she might try actually being sweet to Dominic for once. She doesn’t listen. Dominic tells her a few weeks later that she is in the way and tells her he’s leaving her with a local tribe and she’ll be safe. She doesn’t understand what he’s about and thinks he hates her when the truth is he actually has loved her for a long time and wants to protect her because Dominic is a spy and knows there’s fixing to be a battle and wants her out of danger. She protests but really doesn’t have much choice in the matter.

Eventually she is given back to the spanish and finds herself come full circle back to a convent. She stays there for a while until she hears from officer Fernando Higuera that colonel Arteaga (Don Pedro again) has executed Dominic. She decides she loves Dominic and thinks to take matters into her own hands (because that’s work so well for her in the past, you know) and comes to Higuera trading her body in exchange for him taking her to see Arteaga. They travel and when they get where the men are she starts having more affairs, even with the governor himself, she finds out Dominic is still alive (barely). She finds out she’s pregnant again as well. She tries to take matters into her own hands again and makes a big public scene until Higuera stops her. She never listens to reason. Eventually Arteaga says if she’ll marry him he’ll help Dominic escape. She agrees. Arteaga is on a quest for vengeance (the entire situation is never completely explained) then decides he wants to get back at Dominic and the best way to do that is to consummate the marriage with Marisa on the floor in front of Dominic’s jail cell. He rips her clothes and proceeds to do just that until Higuera intervenes. They spar with words until Arteaga pulls out a pistol. He never gets to use it as Dominic kicks him and he falls in a nearby well to his death. Marisa is hysterical and Higuera has to get a little rough with her to get control over her and yanks her to her feet. She’s naked as her clothes were torn by Arteaga so he tries to cover her with his cloak. He attempts to lead her away and take care of her (he even offers her marriage to take care of her as Dominic was to be executed) but he doesn’t get far before she pushes him away and starts off on a women’s lib rant that would make Steinem herself proud. She throws it all out there: that her body belongs to her, that she has a mind of her own and can take care of herself and she doesn’t need a man to take care of her and treat her as weak or helpless (because her way had done such wonders for her life so far). Well, her Uncle shows back up, her marriage to Arteaga and her annulment weren’t even legal because she had a child with Dominic already. Dominic is declared dead and escapes with Marisa. Marisa has the new baby shortly thereafter and everyone lives happily ever after. The End.

I think the real lesson to be learned from fictional character Marisa is that her feminist mindset is what caused pretty much every problem she ever encountered. Her father picked her out a husband to protect her. He was only looking out for her best interests even though at the time she didn’t understand it. Yes, she was scared because she had been through traumatic events when she was young but if she would have obeyed her father in the first place she would have been safer. She might never have been raped, kidnapped, forced into slavery, lost her child or any of the numerous problems she got herself entangled up in. And even after she did run away she had chance after chance to change. She could have identified herself to Arteaga and Dominic’s party that night but she didn’t. After her marriage to Dominic she could have been truthful to him. True, she wasn’t hateful at this point but she had done nothing but lie since he knew her. In his mind, how could he trust her? She could have been faithful to her husband but she wasn’t. She didn’t want to accept her marriage vows but instead wanted to run her own estate, be independent and still sleep with who she wanted. She is raped several times by several different men in the book and has willing affairs with just as many. When Dominic did show back up she could have been civil to him. Even if she didn’t want the marriage and even if she didn’t love him she could have been honest with him, she could have been respectful to him and done right by him but she never did. Instead she declares she hates him and runs off with another man. When she met him again in the Middle East she could have made up with him. She could have been truthful. Even if she couldn’t say she loved him she could have told him she wanted their child, could have told him she wanted to return to him. She could have refused to have an affair with Kamil, or if she was forced, she could have at least stayed faithful in her heart. Maybe if she would have he would have came for her and took care of her. But as it was she pushed him away from her and made him distrust her time and time again. She gets involved with affairs that should be left to the men. She wants to get in Dominic’s personal business several times thinking she has a right to, even though he is involved in things he is trying to protect her from. She believes it is her business to know everything he’s involved in, such as his spying, and she nearly gets him discovered at one point.

Dominic doesn’t win husband of the year in my opinion. His character is a man with a dark past, a “legitimate bastard” as he calls himself (since his father preferred the company of other men to women and his mother had an unfaithful heart). He’s been in the British navy, he’s been in prison, he’s been done wrong over and over as many times as he’s done others wrong. He shouldn’t have abandoned her or did things he did. But he did feed, clothe, shelter and protect Marisa. He still fulfilled those duties as a husband at least. Even if it was just a marriage of convenience forced upon the two Marisa could have accepted it and fulfilled her duties as a wife. She could have made the best of it.

Throughout the entire story she refuses to listen to the men who are trying to genuinely help her. Instead of staying out of a man’s business she wants to get involved in it, with disastrous consequences every time. Fernando Higuera was trying to help her but she didn’t like being ordered around and couldn’t understand the situation she was putting herself and others in so she ranted at him about not needing his help or protection. It was her feminist mindset that caused her all of her troubles. She wanted to enter into the man’s world of politics only to find she didn’t know what she got herself into and ended up getting herself hurt (she could at least be thankful it was her own husband and not another who hurt her as her own husband didn’t truly harm her, only as much as needed to protect her). She wanted to be independent and sexually liberated which drove away her husband and drove her into the arms of men who ended up really hurting her in one way or another. She listened to her aunt and the other ladies who told her to take lovers and that it was just fine. She listened to others who encouraged her to express her individuality and independence to the detriment of her marriage and ultimately even her own happiness.

Another thing to note is that she did get a taste of what second-class citizenship really looks like for women when staying with one of the tribes. The men would strut around in beads and feathers all day while the women did all the drudgery work. The men spent all day polishing their weapons while the women worked. They contributed practically nothing. The women cropped their hair short, never bathed, and did all the hard labor. The men would always eat first, leaving the leftovers to the women and children. If there wasn’t enough food the women and children would starve. She sees this yet she still doesn’t make the connection that men in her own society work to protect and support women and give them a much better life than what women in many primitive societies had. She can’t really see the connection there between patriarchy (which threatens her independence) and the high status of women in her own society. She doesn’t see that the men take charge to protect her and lift her up out of the old-world system of matriarchy where the women do all the work. It is the societies such as those Marisa saw where women do all the drudgery work and are sexually free that feminists praise because these women prove they can do what men in her own Western society believe not suited to a woman and the women are sexually liberated. Yet she still rants and raves and salutes women’s lib values even to the end of the book.

The sad part is she doesn’t ever have appeared to have learned her lesson really. She is with Dominic in the end but how long will it last? What happens when he tries to tell her to do something she doesn’t like to protect her? 10 pages from the end of the book she was still ranting off feminist dogma so what happens next when her free will is threatened by her husband or possibly even her children keeping her from being independent?

I guess we’ll never know for sure as it is a fictional book. But even in fiction there are sometimes life lessons to be learned. Marisa exemplifies everything women should not do and showcases exactly the kind of misery that feminism leads women to.