Sometimes It Sucks To Be A Feminist

the sound of music

I’m not generally a big fan of musicals – which is good as a lot of them – especially the older ones of course – tend to be pretty anti-feminist and anti-progressive in general.  However, a few musicals from my childhood have slipped through the cracks and remained good memories for me – Grease 2, A Chorus Line, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, West Side Story – I know it’s an unusual group – but gimme a break.  Anyway, The Sound of Music has always been one of those fairly pristine happy musical memories.

No longer.

And man do I wish I could go back in time and NOT catch it again on television this past weekend. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

I mean, we all know those ‘I Am Sixteen Going On Seventeen‘ lyrics are a feminist nightmare, but the choreography in that scene has always belied the true nature of Liesel and Rolfe’s relationship – a far more interesting and intelligent girl hoping to seduce a rather dense and shy boy.  And so I was always able to pretty well rationalize away the ramifications of that song – in my own mind at least.

However, I had completely forgotten (or deliberately blocked out?) the fact that ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria‘ – a somewhat lighthearted and silly song sung by the nuns early on, is also played while Maria walks down the aisle dressed in shockingly virginal white.

Really movie people?  REALLY?!

So I mean, I’m not exactly making a big leap here when I say you’re suggesting that you solve a problem like Maria by marrying her off?  Considering this movie was made in 1965…ugh.  The insult is then further exasperated by including a shot of the nuns looking on almost hungrily from behind the gates (bars?) of the abbey as Maria gets married.  SO, not ONLY do you solve a problem like Maria by marrying her off – but we want to make sure to further reinforce that women are nothing if not married – either to a man or to God (and by the wistful looks on the nuns faces – preferably a man) by showing seemingly desperate nuns looking longingly into the ceremony?

As if that was not enough, one of the only scenes with Maria (that isn’t singing) post wedding, is when she tentatively tries to advocate for the children singing in the Salzburg Music Festival – at which time she is immediately shut down by her husband.  And unlike the brash outspoken ‘fight the good fight’ woman she was as a single governess – a woman who would never step down from what she believes in – as a “happily” married wife she literally steps back, puts her hands behind her back, and lightly bows her head in acquiescence to Captain VonTrapp’s orders.  Shortly thereafter she sings a bit of ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen‘ with Liesel in which they both longingly sing about ‘belonging to a man’ – good role modeling Maria, good role modeling.

All this to say DAMN YOU FEMINISM FOR RUINING THE SOUND OF MUSIC FOR ME!  Damnit!  I’m never going to be able to watch this shit with a clear conscience again.

And here’s the real question – if I have kids someday – do I put them in front of it?  I mean, certainly once they’re old enough they can choose what they want to watch – but when they’re young enough that I’m choosing for them – do I want to corrupt their little minds with these antiquated ideas – that they may not even realize are ridiculous and antiquated until far too late?  Damnit I say again.

Completely Unrelated Sidenote: I cannot believe how gorgeous Austria is and it has now shot up to the top of my travel wish list.


  1. mcarteratthemovies’s avatar

    I hear that! I felt the same way when I watched “Gone with the Wind” for the first time about a month ago. Everyone kept telling me it was this sweeping epic, some kind of moving tale about star-crossed lovers Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. Then I watched the blasted thing and couldn’t have agreed LESS! I thought Scarlett was a simpering wet rag who abused her femininity to get what she wanted only to change her mind 10 seconds later. It was like watching a one-woman show of every stereotype about women in general and Southern women in particular. So, yes, you are not alone — feminism ruined this movie for me. I suspect it will ruin others the more older movies I watch.

    M. Carter at the Movies

  2. Peteski’s avatar

    Talk about ruining things … have you heard Zizek’s take on TSOM being anti-Semitic and only nominally anti-fascist?

  3. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    mcarteratthemovies: Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I hear you on Gone With The Wind, but I’m conflicted about it (keep in mind that I have not read the book). I think that while Scarlett O’Hara is a terrible role model in most of the ways that count, for the time period, she WAS a pretty badass feminist. I mean she comes off as whiny and she absolutely uses her feminine wiles to help her get what she wants – but at the end of the day, she was a get it done kind of girl – and damn the man (or the men) who got in her way. I tend to think of Scarlett as a tragic and misinformed feminist heroine…but a terrible role model.

    And that’s the rationalization my feminist mind uses for that one! :) Not saying it’s a great argument, just what I’ve got to do to get through the day.

  4. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    Peteski – hmm. I wasn’t familiar with that argument until today. I checked it out on youtube. I feel conflicted about it.

    I think I’m either A) Not smart enough to fully grasp his thesis here (and thus not able to decide whether I agree or not) or B) Just not familiar enough with the culture of those nations (namely Austria/Germany) and also the time period in question.

    What he’s talking about seems completely obvious to him – but without a familiarity with those specifics – I have to admit that I can’t really see it in the film. Doesn’t mean it’s not there…just that I can’t see it, perhaps because I have a lack of information/experience.

  5. TK42ONE’s avatar

    You forgot to mention that all those Nazis were men, you know, because we’re evil pigs?

    Personally, The Sound of Music is an okay movie for me that is often ruined by my singing wife. I’d rather watch Lawrence of Arabia or the Great Escape. That’s more my style (as in no singing allowed).

  6. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    TK42ONE: You make a good point – most Nazis ARE men…confirming the evilness I’ve believed about you men all along! 😉

    You know, I should love Lawrence of Arabia considering what a film buff I am (well, in comparison to some) but I really don’t love it. I don’t know why…it just moves me, well, not at all. Some beautiful landscapes and cinematography though.

    By the by – where the hell have you been!? I thought I’d lost you.

  7. TK42ONE’s avatar

    No, you can’t lose me that easily. I’m like a bad penny, I always turn up but often forgotten. Just been lurking lately since I’ve been working more on my other blogs (mostly the Library Dad blog, but I’ve also restarted my UFO blog). And I just finished class #7 of 10 for my Master degree. And of course the last few weeks have been crazy with my son’s 2nd birthday and my daughter’s first day of school (yesterday). And, well, you get the idea.

    But I’m still here. Maybe I’d comment more if you posted more artwork? Or blurbs from your upcoming novel? Or more nude Anna Paquin?

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