Colette, The Wife and Shining Your Light
With the Oscars coming up and the Golden Globes behind us, we're looking back at the films of 2018.
Several films highlighted how common it has been for woman (wives and partners especially) to deny their gifts or bury their aspirations in the context of an unwelcoming culture. In Colette, for example, Keira Knightly is the brilliant turn-of-the-century writer whose amazing novels—like “Claudine”—were published under her husband’s name. A similar narrative was told in The Wife, brilliantly acted by Oscar-nominated Glenn Close. Close has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress, playing the wife of an author who wins the Nobel Prize for literature—when it was she, in fact, who wrote his celebrated books. Where else is "the woman behind the man" - far beyond the lovely idea of equal helpmates- shadowed from full participation in the world? Domestically and in our work lives, it's more common than we might think.
We know that a lot has been written about women in the movies: their relatively very small speaking parts, two-dimensionality, and validity only when their status is tied to men (check out First Man, last year’s film about moon-landing astronaut Neil Armstrong, with Claire Foy as his marginalized wife). Activist actresses like Geena Davis, Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon, and Amy Poehler are highlighting such issues. Another organization you should know about, if this topic resonates with you, is The Representation Project. Founded by filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom in 2011, its mission is to use film and media as tools for cultural transformation, and to inspire individuals and communities “to challenge limiting gender stereotypes and shift norms.”
This matters to me because imagery can teach us to have more self love and acceptance, or shame and denial. Media is normative: what we see on screen we begin to accept into our experience as possible.
So fly your flag! Shine for all of us to see! Let us be inspired by YOU! And please, fly the flag of other women doing great work in the world. They are just other faces of you. May we embrace the creative genius in all beings, and celebrate it in each other.