Posted by Muskan Tibrewala
The second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones released on Netflix last month. The first season was a much-required female-centric Marvel show and was a hit with fans. The show deals with mental health issues like rape and psychological trauma. We see protagonist Jessica Jones constantly trying to live her life as normally as possible while dealing with them.
We see her failure to cope using self-medication and her attempts at therapy, that finally enable her to figure out a way of coping with PTSD. The show explores themes of drug and alcohol abuse, internal conflict, identity crisis, womanhood, survival and is much more human than simply the story of a superhero.
This show has a powerful female protagonist, a female showrunner and female directors. The showrunner Melissa Rosenberg says that this shouldn’t be unique. The production of Jessica Jones attempts to normalise the presence of women at heads of tables by deliberate female inclusion.
All thirteen episodes of the second season have female directors. This all-female selection was on purpose and has received blowback from media and fans for being discriminatory. The argument is that given a male director of superior skill, a female director of inferior skill would be chosen over him because she is female and that is gender discrimination.
Rosenberg however, has attributed this to be an attempt to look at a balanced perspective as opposed to a female perspective. The production crew boasts a 50/50 split of men and women. It is this idea of female inclusion – not for a female perspective but for a balanced perspective is what I shall explore in the article. I do this while simultaneously making an argument for why the deliberate selection of female directors is not discriminatory.
The production of Jessica Jones attempts to normalise the presence of women at heads of tables by deliberate female inclusion.
Over the centuries, a decision had been made to look at women as lesser beings. Biology and science have been appropriated to give legitimacy to such thought. It’s still used for example, to explain why the domination of men in the IT industry is legitimate and not attributable to gender discrimination.
A man can always do better than what a woman can, by virtue of being a man. This has become subconscious now. Subconsciously, men are seen to be more competent. A study on hiring for orchestras is representative of how one can discriminate on the basis of gender without deliberately making a distinction on gender-based terms.
Even in discussions about the wage gap, for example – people who hire don’t always make a conscious decision to choose the man over the woman. Skills matter and capitalism will not let people who aren’t useful to the system survive. However, this is how the world is. Men are the winners. They’re the ones at the top. This is why representation is important. It affects how our mind works. Studies on hiring practices have proved this.
Because of this, to even the playing field, it’s important to make a conscious decision to choose female directors. The field is pre-dominantly male owing to a history of seeing men as better. Therefore, a conscious decision has to be made to balance it out.
Superheroes have always been defined in masculine terms, especially in visual media. This is not to say that there haven’t been superheroes who are women. But that superheroes are overwhelmingly in visual media – non-feminine. This is better explained through this analysis of masculinity in superhero movies. Thus, the argument for a balanced perspective.
The question now can be, where do we draw the line? How long do you choose women over men until it becomes unfair to men because the selection is, after all, being done on the basis of gender? Given all else is equal, now a woman is being chosen over a man. Not only that, who decides when the line is drawn?
to even the playing field, it’s important to make a conscious decision to choose female directors.
As most anti-feminists say, this drops feminism into the ball pit of the same fallacy it’s striving to come out of. In my opinion, no one is making people like Rosenberg choose females over males because of an unequal industry, they have observed inequality in the industry and have chosen to fight it.
Once it balances out, a conscious decision to choose one gender identity over the other will not have to be made. This argument is not hinged on its future impact even though that is the consideration one must make.
The same will not happen in reverse for obvious reasons. Centuries of socialization and oppression of women have led to women being made the ‘weaker sex’. Men are never going to be the weaker sex. Hegemonic masculinity and patriarchy are much too powerful for that.
Featured Image Credit: Forbes