Pelham 123

Sometimes the most revealing statements about gender come when people don’t think they’re talking about gender.

Witness this quote from a NYTimes review of the Denzel Washington/John Travolta movie “The Taking of Pelham 123”

Women are decidedly marginal in this urban gallery. Garber’s wife (Aunjanue Ellis) answers the phone every now and then back home in Queens, and the girlfriend of a hostage appears by online video chat. But romance and domesticity have never figured very prominently in Mr. [Tony] Scott’s imagination.

So apparently (as is well known by Tony Scott), women do not actually exist in New York City. And the ones that do are apparently all wives/girlfriends of Real New Yorkers (who are inherently male).

Okay, clearly the director has some issues, though he’s not exactly the only one confused on the people=men issue. But look again at what the reviewer, A.O. Scott (probably no relation) says: But romance and domesticity have never figured very prominently in Mr. Scott’s imagination.


Okay, I get that this is not a romance. But surely you can have a female character or three without it being a romance? Do women not exist apart from romance or domesticity?

Sure, the reviewer seems to be saying, if this were some sort of film dealing with the home, there would be girls in it.  But they’re not needed here.  This film is set outside, where women do not go.   Also, this film is not about romantic relationships, so there is no need for females.  Because females only exist in the context of romance.  They do not have jobs or hopes and dreams or, y’know, commute to frikkin’ work.  On the subway.

This is the power of careless, invisible sexism.   If you asked A.O. Scott, they would probably say they are not a sexist.  They are probably a nice, average person who writes reviews for the NYTimes.  But in the above statement… those lines, and those ideas… those are sexist ideas.  They are reducing women to a very small, small place where we can exist.

And they’re a couple of casual lines in an unrelated review in a big paper on an average day.


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