One of my best friends used to tell me, "You're a sweet loving girl -- until you get angry, then you sprout devil horns."
I took it as a compliment.
In fact, I used to warn my partner about how complex women can really be.
“Beware of bitches without boundaries,” is what I used to tell my husband in the days long before he became my ex. Then I’d send him on his merry way, “Mwah!”
You see, I felt I could trust him, but being around other women, having them as friends, co-workers and even employees, I knew there was a probability he would come across some sociopaths from time to time. And they wouldn’t have any problem adding my husband to their dessert menu by flattering him and incessantly brushing against him enough to wear down his resolve to remain true.
And that’s why I’m thrilled by Gillian Flynn’s thrilling psychodrama “Gone Girl,” which topped the charts at No. 1 movie last weekend. At $38 million, the movie features the actorly actors like Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck and Kim Dickens. The movie has drawn criticism for painting an effective portrait of women behaving badly.
As long as we’re working earnestly for women’s equality of opportunity, we’ve got to be true to a diversity of narratives about women. I’m not any more interested in reading or viewing a string of good-girl stories than I am a series of narratives that depict women through a purely evil lens, either.
Latinas are not only the Sofia Vergara sexy stereotype on "Modern Family." As a black woman, I’m not walking and Negro spiritual singing about how I got over any more than my white girlfriends are obsessed about men, shoes and penis-size, common renderings female types. That means strong antiheroes who are complex and brilliant even in the service of messed up value systems, as character Amy Dunn is in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” adaptation.
While Amy, played by Pike, is a Grade-A psycho bitch from hell, she and other more complex women on the big and small screens are to be celebrated.
Gabrielle Union’s “Being Mary Jane,” made me squirm last season as she proceeded headlong into a relationship with a married man. Sure she didn’t know he was married at first, but she let the guy move in and reveled in the mind-blowing sex, both traditional and oral, letting herself get comfortable with the idea they could one day be the real thing.
I wanted to change the channel, week after week, but I looked anyway. Because she’s real. She’s great at her job. She’s got her family’s back. She’s the go-to for her girlfriends. And she so desperately wanted a relationship she tucked her values away in the deep freeze, along with that one dude’s sperm sample.
Viola Davis’ Annalise on “How to Get Away With Murder,” is a piece of work, too. We don’t know her full story, but did you get load of her boyfriend (played by Billy Brown) in the buff. To quote erotic guru Zane, “Dayum!” And did you see how she got all instantly weepy and rubbed all over her student, “The Puppy” when he realized early signs of moral corruption realizing she has a husband and a boyfriend?
I don’t know about you, but every time Lena Dunham’s Hannah expresses a thought, I’m in disbelief over the character’s lack of self-awareness. Her navel-gazing selfishness takes the cake, until you realize the essence of being single or being young is to be self-absorbed because you’re figuring out what the heck to do about yourself, with yourself all the damn time. It’s not until others enter the picture, through spouses or relationships or children, we lose the ability to fold inside ourselves, taking inventory on all our anxieties and insecurities. I know; single again, I navel gaze. All. Day. Long.
Before you go all, “It’s just TV, Deb,” like my ex, I’ll tell you what I told him. “Media depictions are microcosms of real life!”
I really believe that because when we repeat a story, the truth or a lie, it becomes more real until it just is. Have you ever told a lie so many times, you came to believe it? That’s why telling the truth, the whole nasty, complicated tale about women and all our ways entertains and matters.