Tag Archives: Film

I am a girl – Marking International Women’s Day, 3 of 3 personal reflections

Standard

This week I watched, for the first time, Rebecca Barry’s 2013 feature documentary, I Am A Girl, which tells the stories of six young women from around the world. Through their personal stories, the film shows what it means to grow up as a girl in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, the US and Australia. For the filmmaker, the film is an attempt to put “a human face” to the disadvantage and discrimination still faced by women around the world. In telling this story, Barry has chosen to focus on certain issues facing young women today, including access to education, early marriage, childbirth and maternal health, sex work, the role of social media, and mental health.

This film is certainly quite challenging and heart-breaking at times. Take the story of Kimsey, a young 14-year old Cambodian girl, who must work as a sex worker in order to provide for her family and young child. Hers is unfortunately a very common story for poor women in Cambodia – desperation, poverty, domestic violence, hopelessness. Through her face, you can see that Kimsey sees little hope for the future.

Yet the film is also inspiring and deeply moving. In Afghanistan, the filmmakers explore the story of 17-year old Aziza, who is deeply passionate about her own education as well as education for women in Afghanistan. Closer to home, the story of 17-year old Australian girl, Katie, gives a frank, intimate and honest account of her battles with depression and self-harm, as well as the positive and tentative steps she is making in managing her condition.

Through all six stories, the film depicts the vastly different experiences and challenges facing young women across the globe. Yet, by doing so, the film also explores universal themes such as hope, despair, family, sex, future aspirations etc. Most tellingly, the stories of I Am A Girl make another and more powerful statement – gender inequality occurs no matter what the circumstance or cultural context.

This International Women’s Day, I will be thinking about the many challenges still facing girls and young women in today’s world, as well as their inestimable courage, honesty and hope.  If you can, I Am A Girl is well worth watching.

Clips of the film can be seen here:

Rebecca Barry’s Homepage

Advertisements

Marking International Women’s Day – 1 of 3 personal reflections

Standard

I have become increasingly frustrated lately with the music industry, with the shallow, vacuous lyrics and the way women are reduced to mere sexual and emotional objects. I find them patronising and insulting rather than flattering. Don’t get me wrong, I am a hopeless romantic too. But my life is not reduced to how many hearts I break or not, whether I want to run to a man’s arms or not, or if the man of my dreams has decided to go with another woman. My life is rich with plenty of other experiences that also define me.

The way women are depicted in the media or in movies (and Hollywood is not unique, Bollywood does its share of women misrepresentation!) is also something that increasingly bothers me. And with the explosion of senseless and ridiculous real-life TV type of shows, it hurts to see how many women have become proud victims of a gendered vision of society that reduces them to mere objects that serve no other purpose than to meet the needs of men. Even female singers sound like broken whingeing records. I get that love is an ever lasting source of inspiration. But is that all women are for? Make men happy and live lives that are fulfilled by the mere presence of a man who loves us? Me thinks definitely not!

Gender is a hopelessly misunderstood issue. Even some good intentioned, so-called feminists get it wrong. And many of the awareness raising efforts that pitch women as the answer to all of the world’s problems are wrong and simply, miss the point. I have news for you: there are good women, and there are not so good women, just like there are good and bad men. The reactions to the death of Lady Margaret Thatcher a case in point – was she a feminist or the antithesis to feminism? Neither, she was a person with a vision, and unfortunately her vision was not a very nice one (nor for women or for the poor and disenfranchised for that matter), but that is another question. You see, I do not necessarily consider myself a feminist, I simply think that women are not deserving of equality and rights and worth investing in because they are women, but because they are people! ‘Human beings’ is the defining character of both women and men.

So this International Women’s Day I would like to pay tribute to two ladies that have inspired and educated me through their work and actions to change the way women and girls are portrayed in the media and in films: Gina Davis and Cate Blanchet. I leave you with a couple of clips that say it all. Happy International Women’s Day, may it be one that gets us closer to gender justice and to everyone being treated like an equally deserving human being.

Cate Blanchet Oscars Speech via Huffington Post