Sunday, April 01, 2018

This One Scene

So I'm halfway through the second season of Jessica Jones, and I probably won't finish it, unless I'm really bored this summer (ha!). It lacks the coherence and energy of the first season, plus this whole addiction subplot is tired.

But! There's one scene I really liked, and I wanted to talk about it.

This guy, Griffin, who is Trish's lover/boyfriend. They've been serious for a bit, it seems. So one day he arranges this huge event, in which he invites all her friends and flies in all her family members -- so that he can propose marriage to her in front of all of them.

The same sort of thing happens in Love, Simon (a movie I highly recommend): this guy who has a crush on a girl asks her to be his boyfriend at a football game, in front of the entire school.

This sort of thing -- a man proposing to a woman in public, in front of a huge crowd, or in front of her entire family and all her friends -- is often played in our culture as being so romantic (squee!).

In fact, it's a terrible thing to do.

The pressure on the woman to say yes, in order to make everyone happy is enormous. Given how women in our culture are socialized from infancy in the expectation that their role in life is to make everyone happy, it will be difficult for any woman to say no.

In Love, Simon, the girl does say no. Because the guy who asks her out, Martin, has been played as an idiot and a semi-villain all through the movie, the school community attacks him instead of her. I didn't really like the character of Martin, because "funny-looking fat guy is evil" is a trope I don't much like. But I did like that the movie both had the young woman, Abby, say no, and did not penalize her for it.

In Jessica Jones, Trish more or less says yes to Griffin during the proposal scene, acquiesing to her social role as a woman who must make people happy; but later in private she rejects the proposal, and all through the scene we as the audience know she doesn't want to marry him.

The show lets us see, in other words, what a terrible idea this proposal was, and what an unconscionable burden it places on the woman in the situation.

And it is a terrible idea. I've never enjoyed those viral videos where some guy does this to a woman. Unless he absolutely knows that she wants this to happen, this is both manipulative and emotionally abusive. He is stripping away her power, replacing it with the force of social convention. Yes, some women will be tough enough to say no; but many, many are far too socialized to refuse him under that kind of pressure.

So I liked that this scene was played, in both these shows, for the terrible thing it is.

More of this, please, and far less of this.

No comments: