beccavox: (quizzical girl)
[personal profile] beccavox
Annie and I went to see Thelma and Louise tonight. Same place we saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid back in January. Apparently, we can only go to that theater to see buddy movies where the anti-heroes die and we cry at the end.

I hadn't seen the movie since it was in the theater in 1991. I saw it once with Annie and once with Brenda Pascall. I saw it with Brenda because she hadn't seen it; she was a middle-aged graduate student in the English department (I was a traditional age student) and we were in Wyoming at a writing conference. I loved the movie then, Annie loved it, and Brenda (I think) was empowered enough by it and her new education that she left her husband a year later.

Here's what hit me about this movie, twenty-five years after its original release. Louis shoots the would-be rapist, and the two women run, knowing that the police wouldn't believe them because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with him throughout the night. And, unfortunately, the story would more than likely be the same if the movie was released today. Women don't report rape or most sexual assaults. Because they were asking for it. Because they should have known better. Because they said 'yes' earlier in the evening.

It was all bullshit then, and it's still bullshit now.

Twenty-five years later, there are still major debates about birth control, abortion, taxes on sanitary napkins and tampons, and gender equality. There is finally a woman running for the Presidency, and instead of debating her ideas on policy, she is dismissed by a broad part of the population as 'shrill' and 'unable to do the job' because of silent sexism--very much like the same silent racism that Obama has faced for the last eight years.

I wrote an essay about Thelma and Louise years ago. My thesis was simple: the women become more masculine as the movie goes on. They abandon their own lives and ties to men, Thelma tells her husband to 'fuck off' and Louise leaves Jimmy, knowing that it was a failing relationship after all. Thelma takes the shirt from the hitchhiker who she has sex with, and who ultimately forces Thelma to turn to robbery. Louise trades her jewelry for an old man's cowboy hat, and after they blow up the asshole truckers big rig, Thelma grabs his hat. Literally, they're taking souvenirs from the men, and metaphorically, they're gaining their own Independence.

Their last decision, to not get caught, breaks my heart. Thelma tells Louise, "Let's keep goin'", and the last shot of them holding hands as the Thunderbird roars ahead hits hard. But like Butch and Sundance, they went out on their terms. They didn't have to answer to more men who wouldn't listen.

I was pretty independent when I saw the movie back in '91, and I've become more independent as life has gone on. I broke up with my fiance less than a year after I saw the movie, and I never looked back. Annie is the closest thing I'll ever have to a spouse, and she's as fiercely independent as I am. I think if we were in the same situation, we'd drive that Thunderbird as fast as it would go.
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August 2016


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