Thanks for your Ask a Geek Feminist questions. There are many many questions left, and selected questions will be appearing twice a week for quite a while for our commenters to have input into. Here’s the first one:
I’m currently working on an animated short film project with several other people (mostly guys), and I feel on fairly equal footing with everyone else (i.e. just because someone is a “director” or whatnot doesn’t make me feel like I can’t speak my mind). The main character of our short is female.
So here’s the problem.
I fear that the visual design of her character is sexualized. She’s not wearing bikini armor or anything like that, but she’s clearly designed to be particularly sexually attractive. I also feel like the story exploits the stereotype of women being maternal in not-so-sane ways.
I’ve been vocal on both of these points. I fought to keep the character design more down-to-earth. And during development of the story I pointed out things that I felt were problematic (though I was a bit timid on this point because the writer is a woman). And I continue to speak up about these things with the team when it seems reasonably relevant, and I’ve made it clear that I’m not happy about this.
I know I’ve made real impacts here, and particularly the director has said that the things I’ve talked about have really made him start looking at things differently. But I wonder if there’s more that I should do? Or should have done? At this point we can’t change the character design or story, because we’re too far into production, and deadlines are looming fast.
A feminist friend of mine believes really strongly that I should drop out of the project entirely, and is really upset with me for staying on. But dropping out is a really difficult proposition for me for a variety of reasons, including the typical “hurting relationships” and “endangering future employment” reasons. But I would also feel really bad abandoning people working long hours to meet deadlines when the team is so small.
I could really use some outside perspective on this.
How have other people dealt with working on projects where they’ve had feminist concerns about aspects of it but for other reasons haven’t walked away entirely?