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I went to a theater to see the movie, Blood Pressure, the other day. The theater was full. I don’t usually read the film reviews prior to seeing a movie; I read them after; just for comparing my thoughts with other interpretations …

It is an intriguing and beautifully filmed movie.  It is about a woman, named Nicole (played by Michelle Giroux), who lives with her husband (Mike), who has no time for vacation, and her two children who boss her around. Nicole receives letters from an anonymous person who encourages her to enjoy her life and taking care of herself.  This new relationship has some positive impact on Nicole. She gains confidence and becomes more participant in her home/ work life. Other people in Nicole’s life notice and get surprised by the positive change in her life.

As a result of the positive changes in her life, her husband (played by Judah Katz) becomes more interested in repairing their marital relationship and her children become more interested in learning and respecting more about their mother. The movie continues and takes you to a very unexpected pathway…

The movie got me thinking about the way ’empowerment’ is defined and portrayed in the movie and in our society; it seems violence and aggression are signs of ’empowerment’. It felt as if women need to become violent and aggressive to be known as a strong person.

There is a social discourse that ‘women are not strong unless they practice violence and aggression’. This makes me wonder why violence and aggression has been glorified in our society?  Why do you think ‘being strong’ is equivalent with the practice of violence or aggression in relationship with others?  Why is it that other forms of strengths are overlooked, unrecognized and deliberately denied in our society?

When we look at the history of humankind, there were many strong women who didn’t need to learn any methods of violence and aggression to be called and known as ‘strong women’.  Why is it that practice of violence and guns are promoted so greatly? Who do you think defines ‘strength’ and ’empowerment’ for men and women?

What would happen if our definitions of ‘strengths and empowerment’ for women and men change? Would our next generations become peacemakers/ negotiators or soldiers/ fighters? What would we want to see our sons and daughters doing in years to come?

It seems that ‘culture of guns and violence’ is promoted globally. We need to revise our definitions of ‘strengths, empowerment and power’ and step out of individualistic definitions of these concepts.

Happy Possibilities!

Tahereh Barati, M.A, RMFT

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