A personal account of #WheresRey

I hated Avengers: Age of Ultron. Anyone who brings it up gets an earful. Joe only just watched it recently, which made some rants in his presence more difficult. As an aside, a coworker of his, knowing that I hated it, suggested it was because Natasha is unable to have children. Omg, that isn’t even why and I’m even more frustrated that it wasn’t clear to someone else. So, to make it clear, here is why Age of Ultron is the worst: they take the one female character that they’ve actually allowed into the franchise (save Elizabeth Olsen, who I love, obvi) and instead of being a badass Black Widow superhero, she gets kidnapped. And needs to be rescued. By a man. Who she has a crush on. SERIOUSLY MARVEL? Think of how much better the movie would have been if the Hulk would have been kidnapped instead. Natasha to the rescue! Because women can save others too. Women need not only be victims, MARVEL. I’ll save the anger of the absence of her from the cover and toys for later.

Going into Star Wars, I felt there was no hope for Disney. I assumed that unless a woman was a princess, she didn’t matter. I honestly didn’t even want to go but I’m a good fiancé and stuff so I did. Enter Rey! Wow, I loved Star Wars The Force Awakens so much. I couldn’t even stay awake for Return of the Jedi, and now I want to see The Force over and over again.

I left absolutely in love with Rey. Holy crap, talk about a fantastic character. She has the mommy/daddy issues that I can relate to, and then is powerful in response. What a great role model. Further, Finn. How many people of color have even been in any Star Wars, and now one stars in it? I love it. Also, he is that great mix of naive and sweet. He wants to be a gentleman and offer Rey a hand, but boy, she’s got it. Ahh, love the chemistry so much.

After the movie, I couldn’t wait to buy my little brother the Rey action figure. She’s clearly the star, and I love to encourage the feminist I know is in him. So guess how many Rey action figures were available at Target on December 20th. Spoiler: the answer is zero. “Were they totally sold out?” you ask? No, my friends, they were not. Finn, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroppers were fully stocked. So I looked to the app! It told me Rey was in stock the next store over. We made the trek. They were not. Turns out, Target didn’t differentiate the SKUs and it read all of the Star Wars Black Series figures as the same. Fail. Well, at least they exist, right?

I then wondered: was the Rey outage a result of supply or demand issues? My gut told me supply, Joe suggested demand. Twitter had the truth. #WheresRey surfaced all of my frustrations and more. Why the fuck isn’t Rey the dominant character within the products for The Force Awakens? Why isn’t she one of the pawns available in Monopoly? Why isn’t she include in the 6 figure sets currently on shelves?

Turns out, Disney’s answer is “spoilers.” What fucking bullshit, excuse my language. How is the existence of Rey a spoiler? How can Finn be included and have this not be a spoiler but Rey’s inclusion would be? And, if the mere existence of Rey would be a spoiler, how does that reflect on Hollywood that we can’t even have a woman be a character without it being a spoiler. Ugh, it seriously doesn’t make sense.

Because this doesn’t make sense, and because I was on my MBA Entertainment Career Trek last week, I asked. Specifically, I asked Disney’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Products why Rey didn’t have a more dominant role in their products.

I can’t say that his answer satisfied me, because I am angry and I’m not sure anything could. He basically said it was 50% Hasbro making the decision and 50% them not wanting spoilers. Mmmkay… but then how come Black Widow wasn’t featured on the cover of the DVD? As this lovely fivethirtyeight article points out, this is also the case with Gamora from Guardians. Caroline Framkie also agrees in Vox that this isn’t a “spoiler” problem, but an ongoing sexist theme in toys.

A lot has been written on this topic and I’m not necessarily trying to add anything to the conversation other than my own anger. I care about the messages the entertainment industry sends to women and I want them to change. I want to have my Rey action figures and strong female characters and less sexism too. Some day soon I hope to be able to do more than just talk about it.

Advertisements

Finding a purpose

So I wrote this post over a week ago, but was sitting on it because it felt so unresolved. Now it might be resolved and I’m relieved. 

I’m at a fork in the road. An impasse. Basically I’m stuck. I’ve always had a purpose and right now I feel like I don’t. None other than to graduate from MIT, but that’s nearly done.

In high school, I wanted to do well in class and stay busy so that I wasn’t around home. Between my parents splitting up and my mom starting to drink, I liked to stay away as much as possible. I volunteered and took college classes and did all the National Honor Society stuff that a good student does.

In college, all my focus went towards Program Board and Student Government. I loved having an impact on the student body and contributing to the overall experience of my classmates. Student Government in particular gave me a great glimpse into the bureaucracy of business and I loved it.

After graduating, I remember going through a struggle similar to the one I am now. It was the first time I was embarking on a time of my life that wasn’t pre-determined. What I did after college was a blank canvas and I was nervous about that. It wasn’t a terribly long struggle though, because I had my job lined up before I graduated and started my corporate gig that summer.

Even then I found more ways to be involved. First, I started this blog. Second, I joined Girls in Tech and started giving a lot of my time to volunteering. It was a great experience and something I miss dearly. I tried getting involved with similar organizations while in Boston, but nothing has been the right fit.

Starting at MIT was a tad overwhelming. The classes were a lot of work and I got involved with a few groups, but I never felt like I was making an impact. Even when I was all in on the Its on Us campaign, the Women’s Advisory Group, and the Title IX Working Group, I didn’t feel like my efforts mattered. I’ve come to the realization that I have no idea where I’ll be living in a few months or what I’ll be doing and that’s hard. It’s also difficult to get out of bed every day when I’m not actively contributing to something I’m crazy excited about. I’m excited to find that next thing again soon. 

The next day though, I made a trip to NYC to meet with people in the entertainment industry. I ended up landing an opportunity to work with a small entertainment advisory firm. I’m going to be doing some really neat analytics work for identifying successful content before it airs. If it ends up being a perfect fit and I like the company and the company likes me, maybe it turns into a job. Even if it just working on extremely awesome analytics that focuses on content featuring strong females and meetings some really great people in the industry, that sounds just awesome too.

Slow and steady week

I’m half way through week one and I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll be working on. Monday was a long day of orientation. Because I’ve only gone through orientation once before (directly after undergrad at Target), it is hard to determine whether this is how all orientations are, or just orientations that are catering towards first time full-time employees. Specifically, I don’t feel I needed to be told how to conduct myself in a meeting, but I’m also in the 1% of folks who have worked in the corporate atmosphere before. Everyone else is my program is an undergraduate intern and coming from a very different perspective. So I just went along with the program and tried to learn a few things. I paid special attention to what I’m able to disclose and what I’m not – that’s going to be difficult. I also learned what to do in the event of an earthquake… something I never had to think about in Minnesota!

A wrench was thrown into my week though, my supervisor is out of the country. He was pulled away last minute and therefore I only have a brief email of direction to go off of. The week has been a little boring because of that. I have taken advantage of all that the campus has to offer though. Monday I went to the free screening of Avengers Age of Ultron in 3D. It really pissed off the feminist in me. Seriously, the one female superhero had to fall in love and needed to be rescued? What the crap is that? Black Widow doesn’t need a man saving her, she is bad ass all on her own and wouldn’t even get kidnapped in the first place. Seriously. — End rant —

Yesterday I went to yoga, which is offered every Tuesday and Thursday. It was outside alongside the koi pond. It was even more beautiful than it sounds. The weather was perfect, which makes me concerned for a month or two from now when the weather will make me want to die. I probably will quit yoga at that point. Temporarily of course.

After work this evening there was a screening of Jaws. It was a part of the “movies you have not seen but should” series. This is perfect because I actually hadn’t seen it. And honestly, I couldn’t even really tell it was a movie from the 70’s. It really holds up really well. I enjoyed it and maybe will watch it again some day with my kids when I want to scare the crap out of them. I’m going to be such a good mom.