I kept a few papers from undergraduate and graduate school – the ones with an A+ or comments that made me happy and affirmed.
Sometime in the early 90s, I had a Film and Society class – one of those “requirements.” We watched a short, 10 minute film and had to write a reflection paper on it. Here it is, complete with serial commas and two spaces after the periods.
A Brief Discussion on Slap
This short film, Slap, is 10 minutes of an unidentifiable woman slapping the face of an easily recognizable man. Initially, the man and the audience react with idle amusement, laughter, and ridicule. The silly woman, who does she think she is slapping this man? And who is this moronic man, taking this abuse and defending himself? Who the hell does she think she is? Why does she continue to hit him?
The audience watches the reaction of this peculiar victim. He starts with amusement. He takes it.
His obvious disdain transforms to irritation; he begins to sweat, and his face begins to tense in anticipation of each slap. He is unable to determine the direction of the slap; his eyes dart side to side, trying to catch the hand before it hits.
He becomes enraged. His face becomes hardened, intense. His eyes remain open, closing only on contact, penetrating, hating his perpetrator. He is rigid, unyielding to the onslaught of the continuous abuse.
As his face fades from the screen, the sound of the slap continues. The audience is deathly silent, grateful to the end of the painful and awkward position for this poor victim.
Who is the slapper?
Quite possibly, she is the hand, the voice, the woman of all women who have no hand or no voice. She is the woman who survives, not because of but in spite of male oppressors.
She is the hand of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony. She is the beginning and the continuation of the good fight.
She is the hand of every woman who lives every day in fear and in violence at the hand of an abusive man. She is the hand of every woman who has been denied a job, a promotion, a position because of anatomy.
Her slap is the response to the witless men who ask the inane question, “What do women really want?”
Her hand, her slap and her anonymity give each oppressed female viewer the permission to stand in her place and repay the discrimination, the harassment and the violence.
This woman needs no script. The voices of all oppressed, battered and victimized women can simply fill in the dialogue.
I wondered how long I should keep this paper. When working for a national company in the late 90s, I was at a regional meeting. I overheard one of the company partners talking to another colleague and his comment sent chills down my spine. He said, “Los Angeles is too big a market to entrust to a woman. We need to keep looking.”
This paper is still relevant.
Picture by Deirdre Honner