We just saw Inside Out, the newest Pixar movie. I thought it was quite lovely in so many ways! Having the chance to look at, talk about, and examine emotion in a tangible way? Exploring the battle of a brain, and (very primitively) regarding mental health journeys as real and valid? Yes please. Count me in.
Ooh but wait. Let's talk about gender!
The personified emotions in the dad's brain were all masculine-presenting (let's call them "men"). And the emotions in the mom's brain were all female-presenting (let's call them "women"). Meanwhile, some of the emotions in Riley's brain were women, but others were men. WHYYYYYY?! Would it really be the worst thing to have a scene with no male voices in it*? Would it be so terrible for a group of women to process a girl's thoughts on their own? Is Riley's brain not strong enough, that she needs masculine back-up to help her make decisions?!
I have worked out many ways that it could make sense. That I can explain the presence of male emotions in Riley's brain. These explanations involve intricate theories about puberty and growth and exploration and gender fluidity. I want that to be the case, to think that maybe we are seeing a major motion picture explore the idea of a brain not being entirely male or female - acknowledging that the gender binary is a myth. Though if that was their intention, what a missed opportunity to say something brave and bold.
OR, maybe, once again, my brain is working extra hard to explain away the patriarchal overtones present in everything we are exposed to.
Thoughts, my dear friends? Did you notice this? Did it bother you? I want to believe in the potential of story -- but sometimes my heart hurts thinking about all the work there is still yet to do.
(SPOILER I think? Maybe?) *even the scenes with Joy and Sadness were "saved" by an imaginary elephant dolphin cotton candy puff ball, which was ... wait for it: MALE. Womp womp.