A younger friend invited me to join her group of friends to see Pitch Perfect 2 in theater. Having recently moved across the country, and in desperate need of new friends, I happily accepted. As she explained to me how each of the six other women were connected after the film, it occurred to me that movies like Pitch Perfect and its sequel might very well be just as important for us (as women) to watch as Woman in Gold, The Help, The Color Purple, or Vera Drake.
This realization came on the heels of a conversation I’d had recently with a massage therapist friend. He mentioned that his male clients are always more physically sensitive, while his femme clients will silently endure what he knows must feel like torture at his hands. We agreed that biology might explain part of this, as cisgender women may have evolved to endure higher pain thresholds (hello childbirth) despite having more nerve receptors than cisgender men. I then hypothesized that there may also be a social element to women’s tolerance for pain:
We (women) are constantly told we have to be ‘tough’ if we want to compete in business—or any other field where men have traditionally dominated (so, all of them). We’ve been taught not to show weakness, never to admit that we’ve taken enough muscle relaxers and pain meds to knock down an elephant because we have cramps, but also a meeting at 2 p.m. How could we not internalize this façade of constant strength and impermeability? It makes sense that we would carry this same determination not to show weakness even into a safe, relaxing situation like a massage.
How does this relate to films? Sometimes I find myself in discussions about films or books with other like-minded femmes and women (ie: feminist, independent, involved in at least one womxn-centric cause) and realize we’ve only discussed pieces that “mean” something.
Why? Have we somehow created a silent code that if we are this type of woman, we surround ourselves only with entertainment and reading that means something?
Pitch Perfect and its sequel are fairly ridiculous. They are also hilarious and center on a group of women who are flawed, under pressure, and conflicted—in other words, they are perfectly normal. Beyond that, the films themselves have created a cult following. If I hear you quoting Fat Amy or say “Acca-scuse me?” I know we have something in common.
I think it’s important we remember not only that we all always have something in common: we are womxn, but also that we need to give ourselves and other womxn permission and grace not to be serious all the time. So encourage your friends to read A Thousand Sisters, to watch Woman in Gold, but remember to pick up a fun book or watch a silly film, too.
Original Publication: The Flame, 2016