Through all the talk about how women are objectified by men during my experience in WMNS 225, my Sex, Gender & Popular Culture course, I’ve come to the realization that women, feminists, are expected to be strong and somewhat dominant, especially in their relationships with men – at least that is the stereotype I have noticed.
As I’m coming to the end of this course, I remembered another course I took this year, a Women & Politics class. During this, we were able to watch a movie called Secretary, starring Maggie Gyllenhall. Although her character is initially a depressed self-mutilator, she finds solace in a submissive/dominant relationship with her boss where she follows his every command and allows him to perform crude acts with her. Would this sort of relationship be OK with a feminist? Would a feminist see this kind of relationship as oppressive or empowering?
I, personally, see Maggie’s character to be empowering. Why should a submissive role be oppressive if it’s what makes the person happy? If anything, being a feminist means believing a woman can fulfill whatever role empowers her as an individual, even if other feminists rally against it as oppressive.
Further, I believe that such acceptance of a submissive role allows one to embrace the different aspects of a woman’s sexuality.
I think it’s important not to judge women for being in submissive relationships – maybe, in their minds, it’s their way of surviving, of being a feminist.