kate-winsletso i recently dragged t-bone and my lovely friend L. to revolutionary road (*spoiler alert*) which stars my amazing and wonderific girlfriend kate winslet. hubba hubba. my life, it appears, seems to be at the crossroads of some kind of feminist revolution. i know. heavy dude.

it is a little like teaching my students about feminism. it is a pretty eye-opening experience. the stuff about feminism is familiar – it is theory i have been immersed in since i began my post-secondary schooling. rather, the eye-opening bit is about young women’s (and men’s) reactions to feminism. i have been grappling with why feminism is such a difficult topic since i began teaching and feel as though i might have gotten a smidge of insight after watching revolutionary road.

you have to understand that i was completely and utterly vibratingly excited about revolutionary road. after seeing kate winslet win for best actress on the golden globes, i vowed to see it as.soon.as.possible. and i did. but i didn’t have the reaction to it that i expected. it left me a little cold. even though it was a beautifully written and acted film, i was untouched. perhaps because it was  familiar tale. suburban couple. hate lives. disaffected from social roles. gendered complications. the end. i simplify, but this is ultimately the jist. kate was powerful as april. leo was beautifully weak in his role as frank. but their lives and their constraints seemed so far away. another lifetime when divorce was unthinkable and choice had yet to be fully fought for. don’t get me wrong. t-bone and L. thought there were resonances to he present day – questions like: what is truth and what is the truth of your life? are you living your truth? is your (gendered) role your truth? and it fundamentally asks you to question beliefs about the past. who was strong and who was weak. what weakness can turn people into. what the social constraints on lives can lead people to do. to be.

but resonate? not for me. at first i was angry. i really wanted the film to speak to me. to bring a larger truth to bear on the realities of the everyday. and then i wondered, isn’t this the problem that students have with feminism? aren’t they waiting for the punchline, the relate-ability, the way in to what once was? i mean yes, it is hard to understand our lives in terms of the past, but it isn’t impossible. nor should we think it is self-evident. we need to dig into the past to find answers to our present. and if we think those answers – or questions – will be easy to formulate then we’ll be left a little cold. a little distanced. perhaps it is the nature of our society. our individualism. that makes us want without giving. take without asking. and maybe, just maybe, revolutions don’t start with having all the answers. or having readily available all the ways something relates exactly to our individual experiences. sometimes we need to dig a little deeper. and not demand that the surface deliver our truths.

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