Gender Relations to Film… I Like to Pretend I Know What I’m Talking About

Let me preface this with, this is what I’ve seemed to notice. I don’t claim to be all knowing or anything so if anybody thinks I’m over-generalizing with this, be sure to sound off, I’d love to hear it. That being said, here it goes. From a young age, I’ve always heard the expression “men are from Mars, women are from Venus”. I never really understood the expression as a kid. I mean, I got that it was about the fundamental differences, but I never understood the choices of planets until i had to take mythology. Mars being the God of war and Venus being the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Alas, I digress. The important part is that for the longest time, that was the only reference I had for the differences between men and women.

However, as I grew older, I began to notice the differences more and more. It became a sort of fascination for me. The notion of gender roles, which is still so heavily presented in our society, was something I could never quite wrap my mind around. I couldn’t understand for the life of me why it was expected that a man go out and work, while the woman stayed at home and cleaned or cooked. These differences, while completely illogical, became a subject of fascination. I could see the differences everywhere. As sad as it may be, and while we may like to think we’ve evolved, many of these differences remain the same.

However, there is one difference that I’ve always been a little jealous of. It’s the way that women tend to view movies. It’s been my experience that women have this profound ability to relate to the characters on screen. Not in the sense that they see it and they just blindly follow it, but they are able to attach some fragment of self to the images on screen. It’s always been a joke when people say “Oh, are you a Carrie?” referring to the Sex and the City character but, and correct me if I’m wrong, there are women out there who do believe that they are the Carries of the world. Not in some crazy, delusional way, but in their ability to find some sense of self or self-worth in the characters on screen. They see these characters’ lives and they say “Oh, I am that” in some small way, providing a much more visceral experience.

Men on the other hand, and I can speak from personal experience, whether we like to admit it or not, we like being told what to do. Rather than relate to the character, we’d much rather watch the character. We’re eager to be complicit in viewing, but still emotionally distant. More specifically, as men we are more inclined towards hero worship. We like to see men that we long to be. Granted, the men onscreen are given the advantage of special effects and other “movie magic” but that does not deter from the fact that as men, when we watch a movie, we watch for a male figure that we wish we could be. While women find a way to relate, or become, the figures they see in film, as men, we enjoy the safety of our gazer. We are confined to the world outside the movie looking in, wishing that we could be the action heroes we see in the movies.

Granted, of course there are more differences, but in watching movies, this is one of the most basic and one of the most important. Women, whose brains tend to respond with their whole body to emotional and visual stimuli, usually watch movies with more investment in the characters. Men tend to look for some sort of hero to worship or to emulate. It sounds odd, but is something worth checking out next time you go to the movies or watch movies with some friends.


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