Tuesday, 19 May 2015

You Can't Sit With Us: Art is exclusive.

                                                    Image via

I could write you a very long list of recently made films about young, privileged but artistically challenged women finding their feet in the Big City and in Life as well as dipping into a romantic escapade or two along the way. Truthfully, I adore these films. They are beautiful depictions of what it feels like to be young and female in our new world and like a cup of tea for the soul they console me when the path ahead is foggy (which is more often than not). Films like Frances Ha and Obvious Child are non-pretentious explorations of the current trials and tribulations young women face; timeless in sentiment yet with an urgency to their topics. Funny, profound and artistic these films inspire my own creativity. I feel deeply connected to their characters and any existential concerns they happen to come across. But, whilst I feel this generation of women is well represented and documented both in the indie film scene and by female comedians in sitcoms, stand up routines, autobiographies and twitter accounts I feel, perhaps, that somebody has been left out.

The one thing all these women, fiction and non fiction,  have in common is their social class. They either sit comfortably in the educated middle, or teeter at the top amongst the rich and almost famous. Correct me if I may be wrong, but wherever this subculture of female coming of age and glorious depiction of womanhood there seems to be a very great lack of women who do not fall into the middle of the social construct but below it completely.

I can see little art, little film, little literature on what it means to be a woman living on a council estate or having to live mainly off benefits. Because whilst womanhood is essentially universal, it will vary widely depending on where you have come from and where you are now. And so an entire class of women have been underrepresented in culture as it is once again dominated by the middle class to the satisfaction of the pretentious and the smug, even if the content is not itself pretentious or smug. As someone who finds great comfort in films, books and art I find it impossible that not one working class woman feels lost or uncertain in a world where all other women depicted lead totally different lives to the one they actually experience.

Caitlin Moran has written a novel in a memoir like fashion of her childhood in a working class and has made a TV show along similar themes. But, so far, that's all I can find in terms of allowing girls who didn't go to grammar school, or have ambition and confidence spoon fed to them by society as a child to feel heard and understood by film and literature.

Of course it is easy for everyone to relate to teen movies like Mean Girls because they give the general gist of what it is like to be in school, and 99% of us go/went to school, but there lacks specificity to each walk of life and the only specifics given are for those living somewhat privileged lifestyles.

Music may be the only place not utterly dominated by pretentious ideals of perfect living for those who can afford it, but music is simply not enough.

I may be naive, in fact, I am extremely naive because I subconsciously surround myself with a culture that relates to my life and everything in it and so cannot find the representation of working class women and girls as I get as a middle class girl but if I am right I feel deeply concerned. The comfort and joy I get from watching good films and reading good books that reflect entirely the happenings of my life is something I would not wish to deprive of anyone. For me this culture of modern femininity and womanhood is essential to my growing up, and so for those lost without an anchor of likeminded content to relieve teen angst I hope you have something, something unique and relevant to your daily existence. For otherwise I feel there has been a great injustice and, if this clumsy post has not fully expressed what I mean, I'll endeavour to change whatever might be stopping anyone from being truly represented in art in my own tiny way.