author: elisabeth sahlmueller | contributor

Leslie Jones

credit: David Holt

This movie shows that women are quite capable of being the “heroine” in times of trouble and can deal with problems without reliance on a man…


One of the saddest things about today’s society is that although women may have powerful positions within their community, they are often portrayed stereotypically in the media as someone who needs to be rescued, or are considerably less intelligent than their male counterparts. This is unfair and complete bullshit, and once again this issue has gained significant attention with the latest Ghostbusters movie.

[pullquote]Inclusion is not the same thing as acceptance.”[/pullquote]

At first, this movie received huge criticism because of its four female protagonists who make up the Ghostbusters team. Leslie Jones, a black woman who plays Patty, has also experienced horrific backlash based on her colour and race in regards to her role. Even though some people may feel that women are being better represented in the media, I disagree, especially in terms of coloured women because inclusion is not the same thing as acceptance.

When I first heard about a new Ghostbusters movie with a full female team, I was ecstatic. Not only was it completely different, but also it would showcase women in strong roles. These four female Ghostbusters are the ones who save the city from the supernatural, instead of being the stereotypical “damsels in distress;” however, some people didn’t accept a female Ghostbusters team and were quick to criticize the idea and the movie itself. Whether this was based on nostalgia from the original films, or an inability to race the reality of the world today, I’m not sure.

This movie shows that women are quite capable of being the “heroine” in times of trouble and can deal with problems without reliance on a man, especially not Kevin, who found time to get a sandwich in the middle of a crisis.

It’s great to see women in leading roles in any movie, but this is simply not enough and until people learn to change their attitudes and drop their stereotypical views of women, this will likely not change.

After hearing about how one cast member, Leslie Jones, was singled out and severely harassed because of her involvement in this movie, I was furious. I have always believed that when an individual puts their heart and soul into something, they should be shown some damn respect and not have to put up with harassment or bullying. A few weeks ago, this talented actress and comedian left Twitter as a result of it being the main source of her bullying, where she felt like she was living in “a personal hell.”  She has been called an ape; compared to Harambe (a gorilla shot dead in May in a zoo in Cincinnati); sent pornography; and had a fake Twitter account set up, which showed her spitting out hate speech. With this recent example, it’s clear that while black/coloured women may be included in the media and in leading roles, this still isn’t largely accepted by everyone.

In the past, black women were shown in roles that were considered weak, or low status; they played the role of housekeeper, factory worker, or in some line of domestic service. While this has drastically changed over the last few decades, some people are still unfortunately stuck in this old view. When this is the case, it provides the unfair justification that it’s okay for black women to be mistreated. No one should ever have to deal with such horrible bullying, harassment, or negativity. Even though this example is directly related to coloured women, the same type of views are also associated with other minority groups in the media, including a variety of ethnic and religious groups, and people of different sexual orientations. They too are often poorly represented and harshly judged in their roles.

The new Ghostbusters movie does an excellent job showing women in powerful positions and it should be supported, not criticized or knocked down because of people’s negative and stereotypical views. It is fine to not like someone in a movie; that is an individual’s personal opinion. However, no one has the right to publicly humiliate someone based on their role in relation to their gender, race, or sex. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that these stereotypical views associated with women’s roles in the media will change any time soon, but it is clear that a major change is definitely needed. People say progress comes with two steps forward and one step back, so let’s try and keep it that way, instead of taking ten steps back and no steps forward.


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