Who is the Man in Blue is the Warmest Color?

So this was originally meant to be a comment on Mini Saxena’s review of the movie “Blue is the Warmest Color”, but because it ran so long I was asked to turn it into a separate piece.

One thing that I found problematic in the movie was its hetero normative tone. Although Adele was the highlight of the movie and her relationship with Emma was a major part of the story, there was always this underlying hetero normative touch to the story.

Adele was shown as the quiet, not so outspoken, young, slightly immature, not so ambitious person, while Emma was shown as the bold, ambitious, mature and smart one. Emma was shown as having a life of her own and after a while not being able to give much attention to her partner while Adele was shown as always waiting on her until she finally decided to cheat on her with a man. At one point, Adele also mentions that her happiness and fulfillment lies in being with Emma. Emma was also the one that had short hair and did not “dress like a woman” or “behave like a woman”. And after that she was shown to be the one who had a separate life of her own with friends coming over for parties etc while Adele cooked for her friends in her (Emma’s) parties. Adele was also seen crying and literally begging Emma when she hit her and threw her out of her house.

Hetero norm

Adele could still be shown as the immature and shy one without being shown as the one who cooks for her partner. She could still have been shown as the shy one without being shown as the one begging per partner even after being hit by her. The movie was very much on the lines of “Who is the “woman”/ “man” in the relationship” which gave a hetero normative tone to it. Believing and supporting gay rights includes letting go of hetero sexist stereotypes. It’s like celebrating women as daughters, wives and mothers but not as individuals themselves. In a way the movie can be seen as perpetuating stereotypes about lesbians / bisexual women.

This movie would be absolutely flawless if certain notions of “masculinity” and “femininity” did not prevail in our society. In an ideal, patriarchy-free world, this movie would be perfect as it is obvious that a woman can be the way Emma was and a woman can also be the way Adele was. However, unfortunate as it is, we live in a world of gender stereotypes and notions of “femininity” and “masculinity”. The movie would have a much different flavor if both women were shown as fitting the gender stereotype of “femininity”. In that case, portraying the gender stereotype of “femininity” would actually work to our advantage as feminists and supporters of homosexual rights. How often do you see a gay couple in which both men are shown as fitting the gender stereotype of “masculinity”. You also rarely see a gay couple in which both men do not fit the societal notions of “masculinity”. It is always that one man is “like a man”( fits the societal notions of “masculinity”) while the other is “like a woman” (fits the societal notions of “femininity”) therefore reinforcing hetero normative notions of romance and sexuality. But a refreshing change was seen in  the popular TV series “Glee” where both Kurt and his boyfriend Blaine were shown as not fitting the gender and hetero normative stereotype of “masculinity”.

Feminism is not about saying that a woman is cool if she wears black instead of the pink that she actually and genuinely likes to wear. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating any of that ” a real woman loves pink” bullshit, but feminism is not about saying that yes women too can be cool but only if they shed some of that “femininity”. Why is the color pink scorned at and made fun of? Because society associates it with women. The association is deeply problematic but the scorn directed at the color pink merely because of its societal linking with women is just as bad. Feminism is not about the image of a “strong woman showing off her muscles”. That is a very distorted and “masculinity oriented” perception of feminism. Because some lifestyles /characteristics are traditionally attributed to “masculinity”, it is often perceived that women must satisfy that criteria in order to be called “strong”. All that feminism says is that it is irrelevant if I do not have muscles or the inclination to wear black, I am as strong and as sensible as anybody else, when even if I am bold and rude and ambitious it is okay for me to like pink. It is sort of like calling a woman strong and independent when she is “manly / not like other women”, while calling a woman weak just because she loves the color pink and speaks in a nasal voice. It is also sort of like telling a woman who is ambitious and arrogant that she “doesn’t look like the kind who would like pink”. It is exactly this same problem that I have with the popular “We can do it” poster which a lot of you must be familiar with.
Recalling what some dude once said – Art is not a mirror of the society but rather a hammer to shape it with.

Overall the movie was a good one and the best part of the movie was its ending where Adele remained single and continued being a teacher.

P.S- please do not lose focus by correcting grammatical errors!


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