Back From MagicCon With Feminism On My Mind

Being all fired up about women’s right and gender inequality and feminism might not be the usual reaction after spending a weekend on a TV/Movie Fantasy Convention. But that’s how I felt today on my way back home from MagicCon and I just really want to jot down my thoughts real quick. These past few months I’ve been thinking about writing more about political – in the broadest sense – issues here anyway and maybe this post is a start, before I tackle something like the lack of gender neutrality in everyday speech in Germany.

MagicCon made think about feminism a lot, mainly because of the wonderful Louise Brealey, who plays Molly Hooper on Sherlock. There will be a long appreciative fangirling post about her in the next couple of days. For now I just state that she is a feminist and during her panel she spoke very passionately about feminism and her experiences as a woman in this industry and I loved her for it. Because hearing someone else very eloquently be very passionate about the same issues I deeply care about, always reinforces my passion and my drive to work on changing things for the better. I used the autograph session to thank Louise for all the wonderful things she said and we talked about it all some more and it was truly wonderful (more about that in the post I announced to write a few lines above).

The second instance which made me think about gender inequality – especially in language – but also think about my own bias regarding gender roles was a question from a fan for the two “Once Upon A Time” actresses. The fan praised the costumes and inquired if the actresses at any point of the process have any input on the costume design. She asked the question in English and when she talked about the costume designer she used male pronouns, which felt quite wrong to me. And then I caught myself wondering: WHY? I didn’t have the same reaction all weekend when someone used mainly male pronouns in regards to directors, writers and such. Which, I guess, sadly illustrates my own bias regarding the TV/film industry subconsciously assuming that these jobs are held by men. Let’s disregard the fact that indeed the industry is a male dominated one, at least when it comes to core positions like studio executives, producers, directors, directors of photography and so on.

But obviously I consider costume design a female enterprise. Which as next thought  made me examine, why I think it’s a “woman’s job”. Was it, because I still subconsciously considers every activity regarding clothing (buying, cleaning, mending) a female thing, even though I try my best to overcome gender stereotypes? Luckily for me I then realized that this time it might just be due to the fact that the only costume designer I know by name and whose work I know anything about happens to be a woman. The wonderful Terry Dresbach, costume designer on my favourite TV show Outlander. Terry shared quite a lot about her work process online and in the past few years I have learned so much about the art and craft of costume design from her. Terry is also is very passionate about some of the issues I also care about and I love her for it. In short: she very positively represents costume design in my mind and thus I maybe just needed a moment to realign my view of the TV production world.

All in all, this small moment was a good reminder for me to keep paying closer attention to my own bias regarding gender roles. But also a reminder how much small words like gender-specific nouns and pronouns influence our view of the world and that we still have a lot of work to do to overcome the inequality that comes with that. In languages with a grammatical gender – like German – anyway. But that definitely is a topic for another post.

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