The Missing Voice in the Diversity Conversation

I’m not sure if I’m going to back to a regular blogging soon (I’m in my last term of college!) but I am bringing this up because it’s a serious issue that effects me personally and persists even today.

When people on social media talk about the need for diversity, there is a huge focus on three groups: people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, and women. And it is true, we absolutely need to talk about the need to represent these groups in a meaningful and positive way. But in these discussions on diversity, there is a huge problem: the focus is ONLY on these groups. You know who gets left out almost all the time?

Disabled people. Autistic people. People who have mental health problems other than anxiety and depression. People who have developmental disorders. In other words, people like me, and the people I work with as a social service worker.

It bothered me for awhile, but after coming across a particular Disney critical blog, I finally pinpointed why this is a big issue. When we talk about how damaging it is to have an all white, all male, or all straight cast (and it is), no one talks about how having absolutely no positive disabled and neurodivergent people can be just as bad. When you go on lengths on why representation for neurotypical and able bodied marginalized groups is important and that there needs to be outrage when none exists, it gives me the unfortunate implication (intentional or not) that disabled people are just supposed to shut up and take it when there are no autistic characters, no characters in wheelchairs, no characters who can’t see or hear very well, etc. Where’s the outrage for people like me when every character is allistic and the only canon autistic characters tend to be stereotypes?

In many discussions about diversity and inclusiveness online people need to be reminded that disabled and neurodivergent people exist and are just as important. They need to be pointed out when a show or movie is ableist. They only add in the need for disabled characters as an afterthought. I have actually seen some people call bigotry a “disease” or “mental illness” a few times. Sometimes if a character is clearly coded to be mentally ill they’ll either completely ignore it or jump over hoops to say they aren’t in order to justify their hatred for them.

The point is, even in places that are supposed to be inclusive, and even when people claim they respect diversity and want representation for all people, disabled and neurodivergent people (again, people like me and the population I serve) typically get left behind, and are only brought up in the most extreme cases or when it is convenient.

This needs to stop. We live in a world where mental illness and disability are depicted inaccurately, as villains and monsters, or as stereotypes. Accurate and positive representation is still incredibly rare, and there isn’t as strong a push for it. Systemic bigotry against women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color are very real and present in the media, and must be addressed and dismantled. But you need to remember that systemic ableism is also very real and present and needs to consistently be part of the conversation.


The Problem With Princesses

If you’ve read my thoughts on Moana and Frozen, you know that I am done with new Disney Princess movies. I find that Disney is too focused on making their princess features as marketable and politically correct as possible, at the detriment of telling original, interesting stories and complex characters. But lately I realized that my disdain of new Disney Princesses is a symptom of a larger problem I’ve noticed: the overabundance of princess characters in media.

Princess Peach. Princess Zelda. Xena, Warrior Princess. Princess Serenity. Princess Sally Acorn. Princess Allura. Princess Diana of Themyscira. Princess Leia. Princess Bubblegum (and all the countless princesses in the land of Ooo). Even the great Miyazaki has some of his female characters be princesses when they could easily be ordinary girls. This is just a small sampling of the many, many, MANY princess characters in media aimed at kids. You can find a (possibly incomplete) list HERE. After looking at that list, what did you notice they all seem to have in common?

That, if they are in media aimed at boys, the princess is sometimes the ONLY prominent female character, and if they’re in media aimed at girls, it’s the princess who is the most important character out of all the other girls.

This is a problem for a few reasons. The biggest reason to me being the sheer lack of other roles female characters in kids media get. Boys can be soldiers, knights, kings, pilots, scientists, adventurers, speedsters, plumbers, and even complete average joes and still be important and heroes. Girls by and large still tend to only get the role of princesses, especially if they’re the main female character. Obviously, not ALL kid’s media shoehorns their female protagonists into the role of the princess, but it goes to show that, in a lot of instances, the first instinct is to make her a princess and not, well, anything else.

Let’s go back to Disney for a bit. Take a look at all the Disney Animated Canon films that center on human female characters: Snow White, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Mulan, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Frozen and Moana (Aladdin doesn’t count because Jasmine is not the focus on the film, and I hesitate to include Lilo & Stitch because Stitch gets all the marketing focus and he carries the central plot). Out of 56 films released so far, only 12 films have female characters as the central protagonist, and with one exception, they’re all princess films. Meanwhile, Disney male heroes get a much wider range of roles like it’s no big deal. (No surprise: most of my most fave Disney movies are male-led because of this.)

There are two other problems with the princess trope. One of them being the sheer lack of positive QUEEN roles. Queens in media are either nonexistent, villains, or only provide a tiny supportive role. In either case, it’s the princess’s father who is more important. There are also situations where the princess is the only person in charge and her parents are either dead or out of commission, but she still doesn’t go by the title of queen. This is still apparently a problem today; in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Luna and Celestia were supposed to be queens, but the marketing team intervened to have them be called princesses instead. The princess role isn’t really that empowering the more you think of it (it’s a role you are assigned at since birth and you’re expected to look and act a certain way as you find a husband) but at least as a queen you get some real power. Apparently that’s too much for some people.

And finally, my big problem with the princess trope is that it kind of reinforces that only princesses get to be beautiful and important. In some cases, the princess character can be harder to sympathize with because they come from a place of immense privilege. Why should I care if you want more when you have everything you could possibly want? But more than anything, any other female character in the princess’s respective media gets left out in the cold so the audience and other characters can coo over her.

I feel like now is the time to introduce girls to other types of female characters. Show them that the they can be more than just princesses. Give us female knights, pilots, explorers, scientists and blue collar workers. Give ordinary, everyday girls the fantasy that they can save the world.

And of course, let’s have more female rulers and leaders that aren’t princesses. In a world where women still struggle to be in positions of power, I think it’s about time we show girls that it’s better to be a president than a princess.

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Compare and Contrast: Elsa and Cinderella

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Cinderella gets a really bad rap nowadays. I think a lot of it is due to how she’s marketed, where there’s more of a focus on her being pretty and feminine over any actual personality or talent she has. When people, particularly feminists, bring up everything wrong with Disney, she is usually the character they refer to.

When people bring up a Disney princess who they think is ‘feminist’, for the longest time they turned to Elsa from Frozen (and I’m guessing they still do, since Moana hasn’t nearly gotten the amount of praise Elsa has).

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I think it’s getting to the point where Elsa might be ousting Cinderella’s place as the most iconic Disney Princess. To a lot of people, Elsa is the modern woman, whereas Cinderella is the outdated doormat.

After looking at more analyses of Cinderella’s character, I can’t help but want to compare/contrast the two. In some ways, Elsa feels like a reboot of Cinderella, down to the similar palette and glitter. But, for me at least, it doesn’t work out too well.

So, with all that said, let’s take a look.


Take a closer look at the above designs. You can tell that Cinderella is a young woman, but also physically mature. She has a face and body appropriate for a woman in her late teens or early twenties. She may be skinny, sure, but for the most part she’s realistically proportioned (her eyes don’t take up half of her face).

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And this is Elsa:

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Does this look like someone who’s 21 to you? Let alone a character who’s supposed to have the title of Queen? The body is about right, but the huge eyes and large, rounded face make her look really babyish.

Why does this matter? Well, at each point in their movies, Cinderella and Elsa get to wear their iconic dresses that represent their freedoms.

When Cinderella puts on her dress, she looks well and truly like a princess: stunning, serene, elegant, mature, respectable. Her outfit flatters her shape without being too sexualized, which is appropriate, since Cinderella is not very sexual. When she wears this outfit, it shows that Cinderella now looks and feels beautiful and important. It’s also appropriate for the occasion: she’s going to a royal ball where she’ll meet her true love. She has the appearance of a mature woman who is finally going to have a good time.

Now take a look at Elsa’s ice dress. Does that really look like the dress a youthful looking 21 year old who has been depressed all her life, is not sexual, and never really indicated that she liked the queenly life would wear if she wanted to be totally free and live in the mountains? That outfit looks more like something an older woman would wear at a very formal event, given how narrow and impractical it is. I get you want to show that Elsa is now a Snow Queen instead of an Arendelle Queen, but wouldn’t loose, flowing robes and bare feet make more sense? Show that she’s now comfortable and free? It’s pretty obvious the dress was designed more for audience appeal than to show Elsa’s character development.


Both characters suffer from this. Cinderella’s parents died at an early age, and she was forced to live under the control of her Evil Stepmother, and only had animals for help and companionship. Elsa was raised to be scared of her powers (and herself) by her parents. They’re both pretty much cut off from the outside world. This is where most feminists would claim that Elsa is more feminist because while Elsa seeks to change her situation, Cinderella “waits around for a man to save her” (their words, not mine). But…that’s not accurate.

See, Cinderella is cut off because she’s a young, unmarried woman with no real status and no money. If she tried to run away…where do you think she’s going to go? Beg on the streets? Work as a maid somewhere else? Sure, Elsa runs away, but she ends up going all the way to the mountains, with no food or resources (and the movie shows that if someone wants to go after her, they can and will). For all the praise Elsa gets for being Strong and Independent, she spends most of the movie scared and crying. Which…yeah, is a valid reaction after being isolated for so long, but the problem is that she really makes no means to save herself or try to be a better person. She freezes her sister’s heart and makes no attempt to help her or ask if she’s okay, doesn’t even try to unfreeze the kingdom, and ends up deferring to her sister (who pushed her to run away in the first place).

Like, I wouldn’t mind if people were saying that Elsa proves it’s okay for people to need help, but people are saying Elsa is oh so badass and powerful and strong but she’s really not.

Oh, but you say, how is Cinderella any better?

Well, the thing about Cinderella is that even though she’s abused and alone, she does her best to not let it get to her. She may be sassy and sarcastic, but she’s never mean and doesn’t hurt people or animals, not even those that may wrong her. She is soft, kind hearted and optimistic, knowing that she will be free from her abusive situation (NOT that a man will come save her) if her patience and goodness pays off. She ultimately gets rewarded this with a trip to the ball. She has her moments of weakness, but at the end, she is able to save herself: she works together with her animal friends to escape the locked room and proves she is the girl the Prince danced with by showing the other glass slipper. She PERSEVERES despite all odds. Whereas Elsa melts down at the slightest form of adversity.

For those who still need convincing, please watch this excellent and informative video by ScreenPrism below:


At the risk of gaining the ire at other feminists, I would much rather have little girls look up to Cinderella than to Elsa. Cinderella is better designed, is a kinder person, and shows girls that they can make it through even the worst situations and that they’re not totally helpless. While Elsa, on the surface, looks like she’s meant to correct Cinderella’s supposed wrongs by being more active, she ends up being less strong because she gives up easily, ends up putting all her support on her sister, and ends up (intentionally or not) hurting others without properly making up for it.

While I admit that I’m not a HUGE fan of Cinderella, she really is so much better than people give her credit for. She’s not perfect, of course, but for people to dismiss her as a weak doormat while turning around to praise Elsa even though she can also be weak is unfair.

Is there a Disney Princess that is perfectly feminist? No, of course not. But just because Cinderella has a Prince Charming and no fighting skills doesn’t make her any lesser than someone who gets a lot of hype mostly for being single.


Popularity Does Not Mean Progress

For the longest time, Steven Universe and Frozen were on top of the world.  One of the main reasons being that, allegedly, they were very ‘progressive’. Frozen got praised for being about two sisters, for showing that girls don’t need men to save them, that romance wasn’t the center of the plot, etc. Steven Universe got praised for showing LGBT couples, having lots of women with diverse body shapes and kicking ass, for having an unconventional lead, etc. Recently, Zootopia has gotten a lot of praise for delivering a ‘timely’ and ‘important’ message on prejudice. Yes, it seemed that media for children and families had finally grown up.

But let’s take a closer look at each of these pieces of media, shall we?

For a movie who gets lots of praise for not being about romance and being about two sisters, Anna and Elsa sure don’t spend a lot of time together in Frozen, let alone together being sisterly to each other. Anna spends more time with Kristoff, who condescends to her repeatedly but she still ends up together with him. Elsa barely gets any screen time and doesn’t get a chance to really grow and develop. She gets one moment to be confident with her powers (the “Let It Go” sequence), but the rest of the movie she’s constantly scared and unable (or unwilling) to fix her mistakes and is awkwardly put into a sexualized outfit even though she’s not sexual whatsoever. You can actually read a breakdown of Frozen‘s problems HERE, with this being my fave part:

What else does Anna have going for her? She isn’t intelligent, no matter how many words she can spit out per minute. If she were, she wouldn’t rush into an engagement with Hans, nor — for that matter — leave a man she barely knows in charge of her kingdom while she rides out in the snow without a coat. She’s certainly self-absorbed, using the first opportunity to make Elsa’s coronation all about her; and she’s vain, believing absolutely in her ability to talk some sense into Elsa despite having had no relationship with her sister for what looks like roughly ten years. She has no awareness of her surroundings (riding out in the snow without a coat), no awareness of her own limitations (the cringe-inducing mountain climbing episode), and no awareness of the consequences of her actions (provoking Elsa not once, but twice). She’s outspoken, yes, but she’s also rude; she’s condescending towards Kristoff and belligerent towards her sister; and she has no ambition beyond finding her one true love.

(As you can imagine, this is EXACTLY why Anna is one of my least fave characters of all time).

For Steven Universe, while I will admit it started off pretty strong, it began to unravel after awhile. Ruby and Sapphire are a positive queer couple, but they’re barely onscreen. Garnet (who is queer and black-coded) used to be a strong, caring, and supportive character, but now has almost no character of her own (just there to talk about fusion and give pithy wisdom to Steven at convenient moments). Pearl, who is supposed to be a mentally ill lesbian, is a HORRIBLE character, constantly endangering Steven and Connie without apologizing for it, acting territorial of Rose, actively resents Greg (to the point  where he’s not allowed to live with his own son), and manipulated Garnet into fusing with her, violating Garnet’s boundaries. Every butch character (Jasper, Bismuth, Eyeball Ruby) get demonized and put on the shelf while the more feminine characters (Lapis and the Diamonds) get sympathized with and even redeemed despite also doing bad things. All the women of the show (the Gems and Connie) revolve entirely around Steven, who has pretty much taken up the leader position of the Crystal Gems (yes, go to Homeworld and expect to be executed without consulting the Gems first) despite being so much younger.

Zootopia, to its credit, isn’t really that harmful (to an extent). But there’s nothing in it about it’s message about prejudice (which is pretty much meant to be a metaphor on racial issues) that hadn’t been done before, and done BETTER, by The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That movie candidly and uncompromisingly takes a look at genocide, ableism, misogyny/rape culture and religious hypocrisy and makes a very clear statement: don’t just TRY to make a world a better place, DO IT, or these things will happen. But what happened?

The Hunchback of Notre Dame still tends to get shunned for being too dark, while Zootopia is constantly adored and is much more successful.

This brings me to my main point.

If something is popular (like VERY popular, not just well received), it can never be truly progressive. Why? Because, by and large, society will accept liberal messages up to a point. Then it starts to make us uncomfortable, and we’ll dismiss it as being “too PC” or “too heavy handed”.

Keep in mind, we still live in a world where inserting women and non-white people in any major role still causes controversy. My favorite example is the 2016 version of Ghostbusters. It’s a movie that features not one, but FOUR older women as main characters, are not sexualized whatsoever, are allowed to be unconventionally attractive, do not depend on men at ANY POINT, support each other, and are shown to be confident and skilled in science and history. And of course it bombed and is scorned by audiences. While I will admit it’s not necessarily a masterpiece, the amount of bile it gets is really unwarranted (it’s not like the original movie is going away forever), but it doesn’t surprise me that it got the reaction it did.

I’m not saying that everything that is a huge hit is regressive, or that you can’t find any empowerment from the above media. I’m saying that, in order for something to really be revolutionary in terms of how different groups are represented and how important messages are conveyed, it needs to CHALLENGE the audiences. Make them think. Not just pat themselves on the back and feel better because what they watched wasn’t just another show or man revolving around a white straight man. (And just because something features a white man doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be progressive, just read my posts on Wreck-It Ralph.)

Will such media reach great success? Probably not. But maybe they’ll inspire enough conversations to get an individual to start looking at things from a different perspective and make positive changes in their life and community.


Masculinity and the Disney Revival Era

The older I get, the less I feel attached to/need to defend the Disney Princesses. The only time I’ll get defensive is when a critic gets their characters completely wrong (Belle is not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome or pretentious), or claim they’re sexist by…making sexist statements (the original three Disney princesses are not ‘weak’ for being ultrafeminine and passive, it’s because they don’t get enough character development and screen time). They princesses I grew up with will forever hold a place in my heart, but I don’t worship them now like I did when I was a kid, basically.

So I guess that partially explains why I’m hyper critical of the new Disney Princess movies (The Princess and the Frog and onwards). I’ve talked in length on my issues with the new princesses themselves (Tiana should not have been a frog for most of the movie, Moana needed more character flaws, and Anna is literally just a quirky ‘relatable’ character that isn’t interesting at all), but for now let’s talk about the male roles in the Princess films compared to those of the non-Princess films.

Quick quiz: what do Naveen, Flynn Rider, Kristoff, and Maui all have in common, besides being the male leads of the recent Disney Princess films?

And at the beginning of their movies they are all extraordinarily rude and condescending to the female leads. While it is true that they all get better, the only one who’s character development feels the most believable is Flynn’s because he stops being rude to Rapunzel very quickly (after they escape from the Snuggly Duckling) and naturally grows more caring and concerned for her (and thus they grow an attraction to one another). By contrast, Naveen, Kristoff, and Maui are assholes to their respective female counterparts for almost the entire movie, and only stop when the girls either prove themselves to him or after a contrived moment. Kristoff falls in love with Anna right the hell out of nowhere, and Maui is suddenly all better right in time for the climax.

By contrast, look at Wreck-It Ralph. He has his flaws, but it is established at the very beginning that he had a hard life and wants to be loved and appreciated for who he is. When he meets Vanellope and Calhoun, he does NOT act like a jerk to them for no reason or behave like a sexist prick, even when they yank his chain. While he doesn’t think Vanellope is capable of being a racer at first, she doesn’t need to prove himself to him in order to make him sympathize with her; once he sees how bad her situation is he is willing to help out no matter what.

Why the huge difference?

Because, again, the Disney Princess movies have to have a contrived “Look how Feminist TM we are!” message hammered into the audiences heads after all the criticisms their predecessors got. The male characters feel less like characters and more like audience/critic surrogates. Oh, you think our Princesses are ‘weak’? Well fuck you, here’s our Princess doing something reckless to show how brave and strong she is!

This sucks because it makes it harder for me to get invested in their respective relationships. I love Belle and the Beast together because despite a rough start they find comfort and joy in one another. I love Aladdin and Jasmine together because they mutually respect and like each other and he’s willing to expand her horizon. I love Mulan and Shang together because they work efficiently as a team. And, ultimately, I do love Rapunzel and Flynn (or perhaps more appropriately, Eugene) together because they organically grow closer and will do anything for each other. By contrast…I’m supposed to like Kristoff and Anna together despite Kristoff being an absolute prick to her because they survived escaping Elsa’s palace and suddenly like each other? I’m supposed to like Maui and Moana as a friendship even though he demonstratively does not see her as an equal?

But what bothers me is that this is only happening with the Princess movies. Look at Calhoun and Felix, Ralph and Vanellope, or even Nick and Judy. Felix adores Calhoun from the moment he meets her, respects her boundaries, and helps her move on from her traumatic past. Ralph and Vanellope bond over being outcasts in their own games, enrich each other, and would die for one another.

And oh my god, Nick and Judy have some of the greatest chemistry between a male and female lead. They just work so well together, even when they don’t get along at first. Keep in mind, when Nick acts like a jerk to Judy at the beginning, she is always able to get her own back at him. We also understand WHY Nick acts like a jerk at first, and he is able to get better. And it’s not JUST him being a jerk to her; Judy also does something pretty shitty to him, and they BOTH have to make up to each other. In between that they make an excellent and engaging pair.

And of course I have to mention Big Hero 6. What makes that movie even more remarkable is that NO ONE is a jerk to anyone, AT ALL. Hiro, Aunt Cass, Gogo, Honey, Wasabi and Fred (and Baymax) all love and respect each other. No one needs to prove themselves to another. No one acts like a jerk to a woman because they perceive her as weaker. Everybody is equal.

In short, the insistence of making the male and female leads in Princess movies act antagonistically towards each other is just unnecessary and exhausting, and a half-assed attempt of making themselves look ‘progressive’ and ‘feminist’. So I’ll say this:

Women having to prove themselves to antagonistic men is NOT progressive.

Women and men having mutual respect for each other, seeing each other as equals, and working as a team? THAT is progressive.

And why Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 are my fave movies of all time.


The Worst DC Animated Sex Scene Ever


If you look at my Compare and Contrast tag, you’ll see that I have…issues with the way recent DC animated films have handled sex and sexuality. For the longest time, I thought the sex scene between Batman and Batgirl in The Killing Joke was the worst sex scene in movie history because it came right the fuck out of nowhere, does nothing for Barbara’s character (it actually adds more problems to the overall story) and is the least sexy scene imaginable.

But I was wrong. Oh, I was very wrong. Because I was not prepared for Batman and Harley Quinn.

Just so you know what we’re in for.

Full disclosure: this is a godawful movie. It is sexist, the plot makes no sense, there’s a prolonged farting sequence that adds nothing to the story, the animation is cheap and stiff, the ending is bullshittingly anticlimactic, and there’s a pointless and distasteful post credits scene. But that’s not even the worst part. Oh, no.

At the start of the movie, Nightwing has to find Harley Quinn to get some information on Poison Ivy, who is planning to save the Earth in the worst way possible. In the scene pictured above, Harley has captured Nightwing and tied him to her bed. After ranting to Nightwing about how she can’t get a good job due to her past, she undresses in front of him and looks for something else to wear. The sight of Harley’s half naked body gives Nightwing an implied boner, and when she sees it, she gives him a mischievous grin.

This is how the scene plays out:

N: “Okay now. Don’t be getting any funny ideas” (I don’t want to have sex with you).

HQ: “Too late” *turns off the lights, crawls into bed with him*

N: *visibly uncomfortable in the situation* “Look, Harley, I, uh…”

HQ: *ignores him, makes it clear she wants to have sex with him*

N: *I’m not saying I don’t want to, cuz, that could be nice, all sorts of wrong, but nice…right now, I just really need to find Poison Ivy…” (I do not want to have sex with you right now)

HQ: *makes it clear that she will only give him information about Poison Ivy if he agrees to have sex with her*

N: “The things I do for Gotham”.

HQ: “I’m taking that as a yes”.

Like…this is basically a rape scene. Nighwting is tied up, unable to fight back, and is in a situation where he is forced to consent to sex with someone in the hope she’ll help him. Harley Quinn, a VICTIM OF ABUSE, is manipulating someone to get what she wants.

And what’s worse? The movie completely brushes it aside. The scene is portrayed as sexy and comedic!

This is a very disturbing trend in media. There are tons of movies and shows (mostly comedies) where a man gets raped or forced or tricked into sex by a woman, and it is seen as funny or even sexy. Any implications of trauma or assault get shrugged off like it’s no big deal.

Well, guess what. MALE RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. I can’t believe I have to say it, but it’s not. There’s a serious problem in real life of male rape victims not being believed in or getting the help they need because they were “lucky” for getting laid. And for a Harley Quinn and Nightwing relationship (that absolutely no one wanted) to happen under these circumstances is disgusting.

Like…it would have been very easy to make this a scene of enthusiastic consent. It wouldn’t have been GOOD necessarily, but there was absolutely no way Nightwing couldn’t have said “let’s do it, Harley!” even while tied up. But for some ungodly reason, the writers thought it was okay to write the scene as creepily as possible. That is HORRIBLE.

This is the only DC animated movie so far that I’ve seriously hated. I feel like I’ve wasted an hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back.

Please do not watch this movie. There are better DC offerings that deserve your support. Male rape and sexual assault victims deserve your support instead of this piece of shit movie.


The Mother of All Psychological Horrors Is All Too Familiar

Hmm, it’s Mother’s Day and I haven’t written in awhile. I know! I’ll talk about Rosemary’s Baby!

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What have you done to it? What have you done to its eyes?

A dark parallel to the story of the Virgin Birth, what makes this film scary is that it lulls you into a false sense of security. The first two acts or so aren’t very scary so much as weird and off-putting. But as the movie progresses you realize how horrifying and hopeless the situation is and in the end you’re on the verge of tears over the plight of Rosemary.

The movie is several decades old but is hailed as a master of horror. It has very little blood and gore and no jump scares; instead, it gets under your skin by building up the feeling of dread and paranoia with ominous music and shots, culminating in a pretty shocking twist. But because the twist isn’t explicitly shown, it leaves room for some interpretations.

To me, though, what makes it scary even now is that it’s still pretty relevant. It presents the all too real plight of the lack of reproductive rights and justice.

When Rosemary is not pregnant, her husband dotes on her and she is quick to make friends and acquaintances. When she states her desire to become pregnant, though, attitudes towards her start to change. By the time she actually is pregnant, she is not treated the same. She is essentially treated as a brood mare, being withheld important information about her body, being manipulated by her neighbors, and being verbally abused and controlled by her husband. The one person she can trust, her old doctor, doesn’t believe her when she says what’s going on and immediately turns her over to her husband. When the baby is born she isn’t even initially allowed to see him, and does not receive a warm welcome when she comes to the congregation. Almost all the members of the coven disrespect or even outright show contempt for the mother of their savior.

Hmm…does that sound familiar?

What struck me right away is that the only people who are on Rosemary’s side are young women. Literally all the men (with one exception) and the older women see Rosemary as a walking incubator that has to be carefully controlled.

Rosemary herself is a really great character. Initially submissive and docile, her fierce love for her unborn child drives her to take action, seeking a safe place to give birth and get away from the coven. She is one of the few female horror movie protagonists to actually have character development, albeit development that is too late to save her.

The climax is especially horrifying. Imagine the baby you worked so hard to protect turned out to be an unholy demon, the product of a brutal violation. In the end, her motherly instincts kick in, but her smile seems a little halfhearted. Ultimately the viewer will have to decide the fate of her and her child.

This movie has a wide range of interpretations, ranging from calling it feminist to misogynist. I lean more to the feminist interpretation for a few reasons. The first reason is just how frank the movie is when it talks about periods, abortions, and childbirth, all topics that a lot of movies shy away from. Secondly, the whole situation, from the moment of conception to Rosemary’s acceptance of the baby, is seen as genuinely HORRIFYING, not as a cheap shock or drama.

Ultimately, this is a horror movie of something all too familiar and relevant: being a pregnant person having your bodily autonomy, rights, and dignity taken away from you. And that is something that will always scare you on a psychological and personal level.