Women are only allowed to like movies about women, because apparently, it’s all we can understand, according to film critic Kyle Smith.
Kyle Smith’s rant about how women can’t understand the movie Goodfellas in the New York Post last week is eye-roll inducing to say the least.
Yes, I think it is a great film, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t want to bust his balls or anything, but guess what Kyle? I don’t, nor should other women, give a crap if we do or do not understand Goodfellas. The fact that women, including myself, saw that headline and immediately felt defensive is ridiculous. We do not need to “man up” to try to understand a film that exudes patriarchy. We do not need to prove that we get it because we are able to have discussions about it.
Rather, I argue that men “can’t understand” Thelma and Louise, or other feminist films. But do men even care to? For some reason, this argument will be easily dismissed because men have that privilege. Men don’t feel the need to be defensive or attempt to understand those films, yet for some reason women are apparently being challenged to understand films that already enforce the realities we live in.
Here are some reasons I have no f*cks to give about Goodfellas:
1. Misogyny is everywhere. The misogyny in Goodfellas isn’t to be understood. It is blatantly everywhere, not just within the world of Italian gangsters. This past weekend, I experienced such misogyny as several cars in the street beeped at me as I walked home. No, I do not need to explain what I was wearing, how I look, or how I was walking. Because that just bolsters patriarchy. And what about the emotional and physical abuse women experience on an everyday basis at the hands of patriarchy? So you’re telling me that if women watch this movie, they can’t understand it? Au contraire, we don’t need a visual representation of men asserting their dominance to “understand” that it exists.
2. Women can see more perspectives. The self-proclaimed jerk of an author states that his girlfriend watched the movie and called it a “boy movie.” Maybe she didn’t get it how he wanted her to (read: sexism), maybe she did. As I mentioned, who cares?! Maybe she saw the male camaraderie, and it made her want to vomit. Maybe it made her want to screw Ray Liotta just like I want to. Either way, because of our oppressed position in a hetero-male-dominant society, women actually have narratives to which the cis-hetero-white-dude author is blind. And, if you add in the intersectionality of race, sexuality, gender identity, and disability, Smith’s perspective is looking pretty myopic.
3. “Strength” isn’t admirable. Smith declares that all men want to be “lazy but powerful, deadly but funny, tough, unsentimental and devoted above all to their brothers.” He also says, “The rule is, be a man, be tough, and always keep the party going.” These aren’t exactly qualities that define strength, as the author aspires. Maybe I’m just proving Smith’s summary at the end of the article, but it simply reeks of psychological issues that scream a lack of emotional intelligence. If men need to watch a movie to validate their emotional deficiencies (and please, don’t “all men” me here), that speaks to their own issues. Why do women need to coddle the masculine perspective of brotherhood and “toughing it out” when we are often negatively affected by its collateral damage? Perhaps Kyle needs to understand that exalting these characteristics as strengths harms women.
4. Stop leaning! As much as Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In has been touted as the ultimate feminist ideology as of late, I argue that it is riddled with hypocrisy. Sandberg addresses the difficulties of having a work-life balance, how women should push to share household responsibilities with their partner, and alludes to the fact that we need more women CEO’s to cure the stalled feminist revolution. Am I against these ideas in theory? No. But they ultimately enforce the idea that we need to climb a ladder to meet men. Why can’t they meet us? Why is there a ladder in the first place? This philosophy does nothing to dismantle the male-dominated capitalistic ideals which fundamentally undermine feminism. For this same reason, women should not feel the need to have to lean into this movie or other chest-bumping forms of entertainment.
5. We have better things to do. Whether it is choosing to get a mani/pedi, masturbate, bask in our collection of Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, fight for equal pay, or watch an episode of “Broad City,” women have plenty of better things to do other than watch Goodfellas.
Nisha Mody is a writer living in Chicago. Her writing has been featured in Chicago Literati. She also works as a speech-language pathologist in a public school. When she isn’t writing or running after children, she is scrambling eggs, eating avocados, looking at bunny pictures, and reading. You can follow her on Twitter @cuttingthecheez and read more of her writing at http://cuttingthecheez.