Thursday, October 12, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha- movie review


I thought I heard poor reviews of this movie, but we liked it. It's a little over two hours, I know that's long for some people, but it kept my attention. I don't really know anything about geishas, but the portrayal is stark and far different in many ways from the image we have of beautiful, talented, alluring women. Here are some major images that were altered in my mind.

Misconception #1- a career choice

Geishas were sold into slavery by their own families. If the geisha house didn't want them, they became prostitutes. If the geisha house decided they weren't good enough, they became servants.

Misconception #2- virgins

A maiko could not become a full geisha until she sold her virginity to the highest bidder. After that, she wasn't supposed to have sex again.

If the story is true, then it is full of all the ugliness that women can be to each other. Lies and backstabbing and setting each other up in a cruel competitive dance that could sometimes mean surviving or not for the geisha house. Sadly, is a dance that is put on for men. Yet this dynamic goes on every day in the school, the workplace, the home, and the public for many American women.

Although we have the freedom in this country to choose a life and a career, what are the factors that enslave American women? We are constantly reminded by ScienceWoman how hard it is for a woman to pursue a professional career in science, and of the fierce competition and bias toward men in the field. Although, I was lucky not to experience this, many women in the Christian circles that I grew up in are taught that their only acceptable role is wife and mother. That said, I believe Father censures Robin for her choice to go back to nursing school with a husband and child to care for. If you look at the media at all, you'll receive only a few images of powerful women. Most of the images there are the American version of geisha: how to make yourself up and play the patriarchal game in which women are pawns.

What about sex? We've got a corner on the virgin/whore dichotomy. It's popular wisdom that if a girl doesn't "put out" by the third date, a man will move on to someone else. So does that mean a girl has to have sex on the third date if she doesn't want to lose the guy? And of course she's supposed to sleep with her date to the high school prom. All the while, she should maintain the snowy white purity that will allow her to wear white on her wedding day.

On the other hand, consider the chastity movement. Girls (and presumably boys) are wearing bracelets inscribed with TLW (True Love Waits) to remind them to save it for the wedding night. This is considered "safe sex". Can't get any diseases if you don't "do it", right? No further sex ed necessary. Sorry, abstinence crowd, it doesn't work. What it does accomplish is, when she finally decides to do it in a moment of passion, she doesn't know what a condom is, much less to ask for one. Or maybe she'll just fool around. Oral sex isn't sex, right? Wrong.

Well, everyone knew we have this problem in America and it didn't have much to do with the movie. But that's what I'm alll about, saying what I think while I'm thinking it.


1 comment:

jaypee said...

read my take on 'memoirs of giesha'