People come into your life for a reason

A friend of mine posted the following incredible poem on Facebook today. It’s by an unknown author and I couldn’t find out much about it, except that it’s included in a short film on Youtube called “People come into your life for a reason” (included at the end of the post).

People come into your path for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you know which one it is, you will know what to do with that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a dificulty…

To provide you with guidance and support…

To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually…

They may seem like they are a godsend, and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die…

Sometimes they walk away…

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand….

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled…

Their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has now been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON.

Because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons.

Things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life…

Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime

~ unknown author

So where are the women?

Have you heard of the Bechdel Test or the Mo Movie Measure?

It originated from Allison Bechdel’s comic “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 1985 and is a sort of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies.

To pass the test a movie has to get a “yes” for all three of the following three questions.

1) Are there two or more women in it who have names?
2) Do they talk to each other?
3) Do they talk to each other about something other then a man?

It’s truly amazing (and more than a little depressing) just how many films don’t pass the test.
For example

Avatar
Star Wars (Episodes 1-6)
The Lord of the Rings Triliogy
The Dark Knight
Shrek
Watchmen
Transformers
Bruno
Ghostbusters
The Big Lebowski
Wall-E
Clerks
Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 and 3
Austin Powers 1, 2 and 3
Men in Black
Fight Club
The Fifth Element
The Princess Bride
The Wedding Singer
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Truman Show
From Dusk till Dawn
Trainspotting
Mission Impossible
Toy Story
Gladiator
X Men
When Harry Met Sally
Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3
Tomb Raider
Pulp Fiction
Interview with the Vampire
Home Alone
Up

There are 3378 movies in the Bechdel Test database, 1809 (53.6%) of which pass all three tests, 377 (11.2%) pass two tests, 835 (24.7%) pass one test and 357 (10.6%) pass no tests at all.

In an article that appeared in the Huffington Post (22.11.2012) “Women Are Underrepresented, Oversexualized In Top Films: Study“, Amy Lee writes

A study released by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism took a survey of the 4,342 speaking characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2009 and compared it to results from the top 100 films of 2007 and 2008. For women, nothing much has changed — in these top films, 32.8 percent of actors are female and 67.2 are male — 2.05 males to every one female. This means that less than 17 percent of films are gender balanced, even though females make up half of the ticket-buying population.

Perhaps more disturbing is the finding that women are much more frequently sexualized when they appear on screen. They’re more likely to be seen in sexy clothing (25.8 percent to men at 4.7 percent) and more likely to be partially naked (23.6 percent to 7.4 percent).

Women are also more likely to feel the effect of their age on their career. Though teen girls (12-20 year olds) are more likely than adult women, 21-39, to be shown as sexy, or partially naked — 21.5 percent to 13.8. But older women, aged 40-64, are not only less likely to be shown as attractive (3.8 percent), but less likely to be shown at all. Only 24 percent of all characters aged 40 to 64 are female.

Earlier in the year, there was an uproar over the lack of female presence of amongst directors in competition for the Palme d’Or (award) at the Cannes Film Festival.

Melanie Goodfellow wrote in article for screendaily.com called “Cannes sexism debate explodes on eve of festival” (14/5/2012)

A fierce debate over whether the Cannes Film Festival is sexist or not has exploded on the eve of its opening this Wednesday, following a high-profile opinion piece in the Le Monde accusing the event of sexism.

The article published on Saturday and signed by Baise Moi director Virginie Despentes, filmmaker Coline Serreau and actress Fanny Cottonçon attacked the festival over the lack of women in competition this year.

Feminist group La Barbe (the beard), which was behind the initiative, simultaneously launched an online petition. By Monday morning, more than 1,000 people, mainly women involved in the French film world, had signed up.

“The directors of the 22 films in competition this year are all, by happy coincidence, men. For the 63rd time in its existence, the festival will crown one of its own, defending without fail the virile values which are the nobility of the seventh art.” Despentes, Serreau and Cottonçon wrote.

“Once in 1993, the Golden Palm was awarded to a female director, Jane Campion. And in 2011, probably due to a lack of vigilance, four women featured among the 20 nominees in competition,” it continued.

“This year, gentlemen you’ve come to your senses and we are overjoyed. The Cannes Film Festival will allow Wes, Jacques, Leos, David, Lee, Andrew, Matteo, Michael, John, Hong, Im, Abbas, Ken, Sergei, Cristian, Yousry, Jeff, Alain, Carlos, Walter, Ulrich and Thomas to show one more time that “men like depth in women, but only in their cleavage.”

And in a article called “Where are the women in film?” for The Guardian (18/5/2012) Amelia Hill interviewed Producer Trudie Styler and director Lucy Walker

Each of them had the following things to say

Lucy Walker : There is a remarkable problem. In Hollywood last year, just 5% of the 250 biggest films were directed by women. That’s down from 9% a few years ago. What’s going on? It’s not that women don’t want to do it: in film school, 50% of students are women. There is something going on between women wanting to do it, and getting to do it. It’s absolutely remarkable.

…When a man directs a turkey, he’ll typically be hired much quicker again than a woman who has had a film bomb. But what’s most heartbreaking as a director are the success stories; the films directed by women that do fantastically well. Look at what happens to those women. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight film – a hit that came out of nowhere – was not hired to make the next one, but was described as too difficult to work with. Her next film had a budget twice as big as Twilight, but she couldn’t get the same fee. In Hollywood, when a guy directs a hit, his fee goes up, no questions asked. She was very upset about that.

Amelia Hill: Why is the film business allowed – and why does it feel it’s OK – to openly treat women so differently?

Trudie Styler: We let it go on and on, and none of us have answers. It just is. That’s not acceptable. There’s a very powerful woman in Sony [Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures], but look at her slate: she’s obviously being dictated to by a strong pool because she’s producing bad boy, action movies. Everyone is concerned in these lean times to show a profit, but while only 7% of directors in Hollywood are women, 23% of producers are women. It behoves those to be inviting women directors to step up and say: “We’ll develop your product. Bring it to us.”

Respecting the Tone

How often do you see this pattern emerge in some kind of online discussion?

Somebody offers up a topic.
People respond.
At first there’s a little bit of respectful disagreement back and forth.
Then somebody weighs in with a more heated comment on a certain point of the discussion.
And somebody else perceives disrespect and takes them to task for it.
And then a fight breaks out.
And the whole dialogue descends into a nasty little fight fraught with name calling and accusations and copious use of the word “troll” on both sides.

Perhaps these kinds of communications might be less problematic if they were held face to face. If each participant could see a person in front of them instead of words on a screen. Able to read the body language and expression involved in delivery of the message, not just the text.

Words are the tip of the iceberg in the ways human beings communicate with each other. Big chunks of the message can get lost (or misinterpreted) without all other aspects of our communication. Like, for instance, our tone.

Tone can make a lot of difference to the way people engage with one another, regardless of what they are discussing.

My brother works for Centrelink (which handles social security payments in Australia). He isn’t anymore, but he used to be on their phone line. People would ring in with their concerns and problems relating to their social security payments and allowances, and he would be the first port of call to help them sort it out.

He told me that a lot of people would ring up swearing and ranting and sounding very aggressive. And Centrelink has a policy that allows their staff to hang up on callers who swear and abuse them. So many of his colleagues did this when confronted with abusive callers. My brother had a lot of the most “difficult” calls/callers redirected to him because he didn’t hang up on them.

He said that even though it could be pretty confronting to have somebody ranting and swearing in his ear, he learned to tune it out. Because he could still hear the distress beneath it. And that he knew what they were really saying to him was “Help me! I have a big scary problem that’s stressing me out! I don’t know what to do about it and I feel like nobody’s listening to me!!!”

So he would simply try and get the facts from them. And get to the bottom of the situation, to figure out what was needed to resolve the problem. Ignoring all the rest.

He said as soon as they had a sense that he was listening to them they would immediately calm down. And their tone would change, and they would usually be very apologetic about the way they had initially behaved towards him. All they wanted was to be heard.

I really admire my brother for being able to do that, and wish I was a lot better at doing the same thing sometimes. I mean to be, but it can be very hard.

We can probably all find ourselves carrying around our share of stuff about the way the world has treated us at times. And nobody should really have permission to be abusive towards us, not even because they have been abused themselves.

But on the other hand, there are times when people really do just need our compassion and understanding.

It’s a tough one.

Because when someone is fighting to be heard, and has the baggage of a long history of what they feel are attempts to silence their voice, their voice can tend to have a lot of fight in it. It can sound hostile and aggressive and angry.

But that can also be understandably hard for people to engage with. Somebody may well know they have every right to be angry about what they’re talking about, but it’s just a fact of life that using an angry tone may well alienate the person they’re trying to talk to. And be counterproductive to their effort to get them to listen.

Respectful communication is paramount to that. Because if either party feels disrespected by the other, the most likely outcome is that they will shut down communication, stop listening and disengage from the the conversation altogether. Which gets nobody anywhere.

A conversation is a two-way dialogue. It you want to talk and be heard in any meaningful way, and engage in productive discussion, you have to put every bit as much energy into listening as talking. Even if you don’t always like what you end up hearing.

I guess finding your voice can often be about finding a balance between communicating respectfully with your audience and yet adopting a tone that is strong enough to make yourself heard.

And I think that’s really the same challenge whether we’re talking about writing a song, a novel, a film, a blog, or even a message or comment as part of a discussion on a forum of some kind, or Facebook or Twitter.

Our tone is a big factor for people in deciding whether or not they will listen to us, and engage on any level with what we have to say.

So, if that’s what we really want from them, it requires our most careful consideration.