Every single human being in this world sees from different perspective. Men have always had the power to create films freely because it is a suited role for them. From the beginning of the women and media course, we have been speaking about mass media being controlled by men and television and advertisements are created from a male’s perspective. Often in mass media, we view women in the perspective of male directors or creators. There is little room for the female perspective because even if a women director successfully execute a project, she will still be targeted for being a women. It is wrong to criticize a piece of work base on the gender of the director. After reading about Catherine Saalfield and Debra Zimmerman, it reinforced the importance of women’s role in making films for others to reason from the female perspective. Catherine Saalfield represents female empowerment through her openness of her sexuality and her films. She focus on films involving activism and art. Saalfield is determined to show people the truth and demolish any stereotypes or assumptions people make at first thought–for example, her work on the HIV community. Often media shows one side of a story, but Saalfield displays the other side—not a negative side but a positive side by accommodating the HIV segments with dance, music, and digital art. Saalfield says, “the targets need to stop being so single-issue focused.”
Women Makes Movies is the world’s largest nonprofit organization that encourages women to create films. Debra Zimmerman points out that the content of the films women make are far more imperative than the art or graphics put in the video. These films are more personal than Saalfield’s films because she represents a whole group of people rather than a single idea of an individual. After I read about films by women, I connected the readings on publications that allow the public to post videos—such as YouTube and Vimeo. There are very few female directors that get credit for their work and are barely recognized in media. Representations of women by female directors should be the more accurate than by male directors. It is important for female to continue to make films for the public because we need perspectives from both the male and the female.
I watched an English version of the French short film, Oppressed Majority (Majorité Opprimée) on YouTube created by Eléonore Pourriat. Eléonore Pourriat is a French female filmmaker that received a lot of attention for her film, Oppressed Majority (Majorité Opprimée). Opressed Majority represents a matriarchal society, where society’s standard roles of men and women are switched. Men experience sexism, sexual violence, and treated with negligence. Some everyday situations that females deal with are reciprocated to males in the film–cat calling, doing “maternal” chores like taking care of children, victim blaming, gang raping.
Pierre is the male protagonist that deals with harassment in the matriarchal society. His wife Marion jogs bare chested, while Pierre was taking care of their child. Pierre brought the child to the daycare. The teacher was a male named Nissar, and like the other men shown in the film, he wears a balaclava and clothing that covers them up. Pierre does not wear not a balaclava and he is wearing bermuda shorts and button-down tee-shirt. Feeling liberal, he unbuttons a couple of buttons on his tee-shirt. From then, he is verbally harassed by a gypsy woman sitting on the sidewalk. He then walks into a tight street with an alley. A gang of women sexually harasses him by touching his genitals and grabbing his breasts. At the police station, the female officer filing his reports show little concern as she is seducing one of the male colleagues. Marion victim blames Pierre for dressing like he is and showing skin after he was showing his pain and emotions. As Marion walks to the car that was parked far from the police station, Pourriat transitions the matriarchal society to the patriarchal society when Marion hears voices of men cat calling her.
Pourriat did represent the power dynamics between living in a matriarchal and patriarchal society, however I find she included representation of oppressed Muslim women. Pourriat displays a religious connotation when Nissar wore a balaclava because his wife ordered him to wear it. She represented Muslim women who are oppressed and are ruled by men with little to no freedom. It is Pourriat’s vision that she felt the need to portray Muslim women and the dominance of Muslim men, although I don’t think it was necessary to target a specific culture because her message of inequality between women and men. There are some hidden power dynamics between the French and their ethnic descents.The main characters, Pierre and Marion are both blonde, while the women that harassed Pierre were of darker features—dark hair. It is Pourriat’s vision that she felt the need to portray Muslim women and the dominance of Muslim men.
Eléonor Pourriat’s approach to this film, she says, “It is the complex of castration. The worst fright of men. I wanted it to be not so realistic but frightening.” The short film is based in a feminist French society where a man, Pierre is sexually assaulted, harassed, gang raped—touched in places he didn’t want to be touched by a group of women. Pourriat wanted Pierre’s wife to “not imagine, not to sympathies, not to be able to feel what he feels. So often when women get assaulted, people say it’s their own fault. Even close people.” Men often don’t know what it’s like or understand how women feel when they are cat called or assaulted. Situations of inequality are more understanding when the opposite sexes switch roles and when they are displayed visually, in this case Pourriat did. I never understood how authority and media can make a decision to victim blame the female of the way she is dressed for her sexual assault by the male. Why are women always the gender that is expected to morph into patriarchal society? Men need to learn to control their raging hormones and understand equality. Pourriat’s work displays the most horrific events that women deal with men on a daily basis to show the public of how women are humiliated and objectified.
Eléonore Pourriat’s Oppressed Majority:
Eléonore Pourriat’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/eleonorepourriat1
Cocozza, Paula. “Oppressed Majority: the film about a world run by women that went viral.” The Guardian: The Women’s Blog. A List Apart Mag., 11 Feb. 2014. Web.
Redding, Judith M., and Victoria A. Brownworth. “Film Fatales.” 24 Nov. 1997: 67-70 and 262-265. Web.