I’m fortunate to go to such a wonderful university that challenges me the way it does. Today, in my writing class, my teacher discussed with us a short essay entitled “Virtually Getting It On: ‘Sex’ in Film and Television Narratives, 1992-2012” by Jennifer Brayton, which explores the ways in which virtual reality exploit society as a male-dominated, heteronormative society.
Now, when I hear the words “virtual reality”, I think of the line in the play Rent- “Actual reality, act up, fight AIDS!” However, this is as far as my knowledge of virtual reality extends. In reality, I knew virtually nothing going into this essay, but words like “sex” and “film” enticed me. I read the essay with an open mind, but quickly I felt myself closing off to the ideas presented by Brayton, a self-proclaimed feminist and professor of Sociology at Ryerson University. As a young woman with big dreams, I do not see myself as a self-hating female, but I also felt the ideas presented in this essay were a huge stretch and highlighted a bigger issue in our society- at what point does feminism become whining, plain and simple?
Brayton’s essay complained about the male-dominated film world and the misogynistic world of virtual reality, but what solutions does she recommend? A common pattern in feminists’ arguments are that they offer no alternatives, no solutions for the problems they present. And think about how far we’ve come as women in the United States. We’re not stuck in the kitchen anymore, waiting for our husbands to come home for dinner. According to the Huffington Post, women are expected to account for 59 percent of total undergraduate enrollment and 61 percent of all post-baccalaureates by 2019. While we still fight the battle to be paid equally in the office, we are fighting a downhill battle, and at this day in age the fight for women’s rights isn’t the most pressing issue.
Who is Brayton fighting for when she argues that women are exploited in representations of virtual reality? Perhaps the film industry does often paint a picture of women that is sexual and demeaning, but this is not the reality of how we are typically treated. Most of my role models are women who are CEOs of my favorite magazines, and I can name dozens off of the top of my head. Let’s face it- sex sells. Pop culture is fantasy, and as Marie Antoinette said, let them eat cake.