While we once so desperately wanted to be like Carrie when Sex and the City reigned supreme in the noughties – we now know that we need to be more like Miranda.
Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda in the long-running HBO series, has just narrated an inspiring video that dissects the conflicting, degrading and damaging social environment faced by all women today.
In the video, produced by Girls Girls Girls magazine, Nixon recites a piece of poetry titled “Be a lady, they said,” which was written in 2017 by University of Vermont student, Camille Rainville from her ‘Writings of a Furious Woman,’ blog.
The video, aptly released in time for International Women’s’ Day this weekend, uses Nixon’s narration combined with video imagery to show the immense pressure experienced by women in everyday life.
Throughout the video, women’s’ bodies, sexualities, appearances and actions are examined through the male-gaze, unpacking how men seemingly control a woman’s life, for the benefit of men.
“Be a lady, they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Don’t show so much skin. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination,” Nixon, a prominent LGBTQI and women’s rights activist, says while staring directly at the viewer.
“Don’t be a temptress, men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it.”
The video has amassed over 8 million views on Vimeo since its debut in late February. It is cut with clips of models and fashion shoots, cutaways to ‘Mean Girls’ star and pop-feminism icon, Rachel McAdams, and video clips of Donald Trump smirking.
Fifty-three year-old Nixon, who identifies as bisexual, has established herself not just as an actress but as a stark political activist. Her most well-known socio-political activist efforts include championing for same-sex marriage in the United States in 2015, as well as running for Governor of New York in 2018.
During her 2018 political campaign, Nixon also pushed back at issues of immigration and racism, calling the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency a “terrorist organisation,” for its treatment of immigrant women and families.
During the video, Nixon also talks about sexuality, rape, consent and misogynistic attitudes – problems that are particularly poignant in the current #MeToo era. Harvey Weinstein was formally convicted of sexual assault a day after the video’s release.
“Save yourself. Be pure. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so uptight. Smile more… Be a lady, they said,” Nixon continues.
“Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry, don’t yell. Don’t swear.
“Endure the pain, don’t complain, fold his clothes, cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job… Don’t get raped. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that, don’t get drunk, don’t smile at strangers.
“Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes, don’t say no, just be a lady, they said.”
The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual. It goes hand-in-hand with Nixon and Rainville’s powerful message of analysing patriarchal behaviour and calling upon everyone to have a hand in creating a gender-equal world.
Equality, for the betterment of our community as well as our economy, is also achieved through recognising privilege, self-correcting stereotypes and acknowledging ingrained biases. Everyone is responsible when everyone is #EachforEqual.
International Women’s Day is March 8.