Words Gaby Smith
Sex and the City star, Cynthia Nixon, has been praised for fronting a powerful video about the intense societal pressures women face every day.
The poignant video was produced by Girls Girls Girls Magazine, with the tv star-turned politician reciting a compelling poem by writings of a furious woman, Camille Rainville in 2017, ‘Be a Lady, They Said’. The video was lauded online for conveying the conflicting demands women face. Many were touched by the disturbingly powerful message, with the video going viral globally online — amassing over 3 million views on Vimeo along with over nearly 2 million likes/shares on social media.
The shortened narration saw Nixon embody female rage, addressing a litany of conflicting messages women are bombarded with everyday, covering everything from the way women speak, dress and behave. The commentary is complemented by ominous, accelerating music along with arresting images from movies, tabloids, news broadcasts, advertisements and the magazine’s own photography.
Following the tragic passing of British TV presenter, Caroline Flack, the video touched the hearts of many. Shining a light on the how the media profits and harnesses from the way women feel scrutinised for not living up to society’s impossible standards. With the majority of British press belonging to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (ISPO), or belonging to no regulator at all, many news publishers self-regulate both print and online press. News stories, as we have noticed, are often published without any proven facts or first-hand quotes. As Caroline’s death put the media at the forefront, is it time for the press to stand accountable? ‘Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain.’
Posted in the wake of sexual predetor and disgraced movie mogual, Harvey Weinstein’s guilty conviction for third degree rape and comitting a criminal sex act, the timing was impactful for many of the women watching the clip. Touching on victim-blaming culture, Nixon’s tone grew progressively resentful as she described the pressures women face living for the service of men, blaming women for their own abuse. ‘Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it.’ With Weinstein’s guilty verdict in NY, is his minimum sentence of 5 years really justification for the many women affected by his crimes?
With women from every walk of life often criticised and punished for not performing womanhood to society’s standards, Nixon reads countless contradictions emphasising the impossible nature women face to appease all. These messages are sadly not uncommon for women to hear in their everyday lives. We are damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t. As many empathise with the stark and sombre video, it is no surprise the original three-year old poem went viral. The poignant message delivered by Cynthia Nixon has vastly reached a global audience.
Nixon herself tweeted a link to the video on Tuesday, writing: ‘Proud to be involved with this powerful film that has struck a chord with so many people around the world.’
Read the original poem by Camille Rainville here.