Here’s the Thing: All Vaginas Are Not the Same

If you were anywhere near my Twitter feed this past Monday around lunchtime, you probably got a real-time depiction of my head doing this:


And it was all because I went against my better judgment and stopped to read this article: Women help Spider-Man net Sony $341 million and counting

Given who the publisher of this article is, I should have known not to go read it, but so help me when it comes to nerd stuff, I just can’t help myself. And in the course of my reading, I found this analysis of why so many women went to go see Spider-Man:

The story of young love helped lure female viewers, who made up 42 percent of the audience, according to Sony. Seventy-three percent of reviews compiled on website Rotten Tomatoes recommended the movie.

“This is a film that had something for women,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Emphasis mine. Already I was irritated enough to post my thoughts on Twitter, but when I read on, I found something else – another searing analysis of why the movie TED attracted an audience of 44 percent women:

“I know its about a drug using, foul-mouthed bear, but when all is said and done it’s a romance with a lot of heart,” said Nikki Rocco, UniversalPictures’ president of domestic distribution. “I don’t know too many women who didn’t feel something when that bear was lying dead on that coffee table with the stuffing pulled out of it.”

Allow me to take one second here to make a disclaimer: I don’t have a problem with romance. You don’t choose to buy the collected works of Jane Austen if you hate romance. I quite like it, actually.

What I have a problem with here is the ridiculous and automatic assumption that women are going to see these movies only because there is romance included. Because romance, obviously, is silly girl stuff. And action and adult humor is for boys.

I find this quite shocking. I thought all the women I knew were going to Spider-Man because it looked like a good adaptation of a superhero origin story paired with some bad ass special effects, not because Andrew Garfield swaps spit with Emma Stone.

And I thought I bought Bridesmaids and Role Models the day they came out on DVD because I thought they were hilarious, not because Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd make a cute couple or Paul Rudd sings to Elizabeth Banks.

I thought Die Hard was one of my favorite movies EVER because I like snarky heroes who blow shit up.

According to Sony and Universal, though, that’s not the case. Maybe they know something I don’t. Maybe I’m not a woman. (I’d better go break the news to The Man…)


In all seriousness, though, assumptions like these are just symptoms of ridiculous his-and-hers cultural generalizations we already have in place. We color-code toys so that girls and boys know what they “ought” to be playing with. Boys get green dinosaurs; girls get pink dolls. Boys get blocks; girls get kitchen sets. And we’re not supposed to let them swap.

It doesn’t stop when we’re older, either. We stick big, hot pink labels on the “girl stuff” so that boys know to avoid it so they don’t get cooties. We have “chick flicks” and “chick lit” that is now slightly less derogatory “women’s fiction.” But we still feel the need to create a whole separate category for female writers who write stories about women dealing with non-paranormal issues. If a dude had written it or if a man was the main character, then it would just be “fiction.” But add an extra vagina to the mix, and all of the sudden it goes over there…y’know…where the women sit. It’s a practice that subtly undermines and devalues the lives, interests and issues of half the fucking population.

Why exactly does a book or story by and/or featuring women need to be cordoned off? Because, like it or not, the moment we do that, those generalizations come into play. This movie, this book, is only for girls. If you’re a boy who reads or watches it, you will be subject to speculation and possibly ridicule.

It’s preposterous. And infuriating. So allow me to stand on my soapbox and make a declaration.

Dear Hollywood – actually, dear Media Everywhere:

I am a woman. You see me as a simple sum of my parts – boobs, vagina, hair – and want to distill me down to a common denominator, but you do not define me. I have a Master Chief action figure on my desk next to Bath & Body Works lotion. I like to bake as much as I like to mow the lawn. I watch HGTV and Bravo about the same amount that I watch the ScyFy Channel and sports. I have a wide variety of interests that cross all of your imaginary gender and age boundaries, and I am ashamed of none of them. I choose what I like and what I don’t like based on my own, individual interests and desires. You do not know me. And I would be pleased as punch if you would stop pretending that you did.

All the best,

25 thoughts on “Here’s the Thing: All Vaginas Are Not the Same

  1. This. Sooo this. My definition of a good movie? One where shit blows up. I don’t care, in the least, if there’s romance in it! Sometimes, sure, I’ll watch movies where the main focus is romance, but that usually involves margaritas with my BFF, and is just background noise while we chatter. ❤ Hollywood is predicated on grouping people by the stupidest things. It's why I think movies have become so trite and predictable.

  2. I love this post. I couldn’t agree more, but you already knew that. I never have a problem with romance, except for when there’s nothing else to go on. Life isn’t just about romance, nothing is just about romance, so just about romance doesn’t interest me, and I’d also like it very much if conglomerates out there would stop assuming it does.

    I stand with you about Die Hard. LOVE that movie – although I’m very partial to Event Horizon as my favourite 😉

    Also – I’m buying my daughter a dump truck. Everyone deserves a dump truck and legos/duplos. Screw the norm.

    Anyhu – well said, and where do I sign?

  3. *applauds* As a woman who’s a bigger NFL fan than most of the guys in my family, who can’t go a Christmas, hell, a month, without watching Diehard (not because of the relationship between McClane and what’s-her-face, but because he’s a certified badass who kills terrorists/thieves barefoot, and frankly, that’s pretty damn inspiring), whose favorite movies include HotRod, Anchorman, and 3:10 to Yuma (So much romance!) and who’s writing this comment wearing a Captain America tee that I had to buy from the guy’s section, I am in love with this post.

    This is why I love YA. We’re all lumped together in the store. Guy writers, girl writers. And protagonists like Bella Swan seem to be the exception not the rule. It gives me hope for the future, you know?

  4. Agreed. I’ve seen every single Spider Man and Bat Man movie (yes, even the silly Adam West one from the 60’s). Why? Because comic book heroes rock. That’s it. No other reason. Although, when I was a little girl I loved the way Cat Woman always outsmarted Bat Man.

  5. Wonderful post! For what it’s worth, some guys get stuck with stereotypes too. As a guy, I’m supposed to play and watch sports, and spend my time doing manly things like hunting and fishing. Guess what? I’m a geek. I like comic books, sci-fi movies, and reruns of Firefly. But I also like watching HGTV, the Travel channel, and the Food network. I enjoy broadway musicals (and singing along with them in my car). I love Disney movies, and I will no matter how old I get.

    Not everyone fits his or her ascribed gender role. Some of us break stereotypes because we’re awesome that way. So, keep it up! Shout it from the rooftops. Refuse to be defined by Hollywood, the media, or anyone else!

    1. excellent point! my hubs swears he’s the woman in the relationship, but i know it’s really only sometimes. he does love to cook (thank god or i’d starve!) but he has many other interests – none of which should define him because of his gender either.

  6. me and my vagina approve this message!

    sometimes you just want watch heroes kick some ass – and sometimes it’s a female hero. i love watching salt just because angelina jolie’s character doesn’t have one ounce of foofoo-ness in her body. she shouldn’t. she’s a hardcore russian sleeper agent, trained to kill. i don’t think she had a teddy bear or easybake oven in her barracks growing up.

    now, i still love jane austen and a good romantic comedy, don’t get me wrong, but my hubs cries more at the rom-coms we watch together than i do. my daughter has her own xbox live account so she can kick ass at halo reach and call of duty just like the other males in the family – me, i have no hand-eye coordination, but i sure cheer her on.

    just like many women out there, i refuse to be defined by my sex organs. EXCELLENT POST!

  7. WHOO! *slow clap*

    I’m one of those “boy movie” lovers too, and I have to say, it pisses me off when people are all O_O because I’m a girl who likes ass-kicking and explosions.

    Well said, Becks!

  8. Coincidentally – I like snarky heroes who blow shit up too. I have the Halo Reach collectors figures, I have a stuffed alien climbing my bedroom shelves and dragons all over my house … oh and I have boobs too.

    Your post says just what I was thinking when some Hollywood ass-hat said that they had to include a lot of gratuitous sex in the Game of Thrones or women would not watch it. It says what I think every time someone tells me I would love X movie because it’s a “chick flit” it encompasses many of my thoughts when a guy eyes my reading material and comments “There’s really not a lot of romance in that.”

    No Frellin’ Duh!

    Can I just say I love you and this post – but not in the Hollywood romance way 😉


  9. Okay, so this is an old post, but I just found it, and I agree with everything you said. It’s infuriating that we’re told from a young age that girls are “supposed” to do one set of things and boys are supposed to do another. One of my professors last semester was shocked that I, being female, knew who Stan Lee was. Whenever someone made a sexual joke of some sort, he apologized to the females in the class. One of my professors this semester told us a car story and said, “The guys will appreciate this more.”

    It’s so annoying. I didn’t go see Ted because it had a romance. I went to see it because it looked funny. And, yes, I did think that the scene at the end was sad, but my father thought it was just as sad. We need to stop assigning gender roles to people.

    It’s the most annoying when they say something like “men are just naturally better at that using tools,” when it’s like, um, no, they’re better because they’ve been given toy tool sets from the time they’re born, so they’re brought up using that stuff. Women could do the same thing if we gave them tools from a young age.

    Sorry for the long rant – I just thought this was a great post and wanted to say how much I agreed with you. 🙂

    1. Rant away! This is definitely the place to do it, and I agree with everything you’re saying. We work these limitations into our culture from day one with children and then act like, “Oh, well, it’s only natural he likes numbers instead of reading. He’s a BOY.”

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