169. The Treatment of Women [Why did people like *Kate and Leopold*?]

"Edamame?" image from tumblr.com - powerandpotential

image from tumblr.com – powerandpotential

Blogging is unchartered territory for me (as is RecoveryLand in general).   I just started typing on my computer bc it’s good motor skill practice and I wanted to remember the funny things that happen at home and at Rehab.  Eventually, the lists and journal I started turned into my “Memoirs” and when stuff kept on falling out of my head and onto my hard drive, it turned into this blog.  I have recently learned about “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization).  I’d like to do it, and do try to do what I can to make my online presence easy to find and attractive to search engines, but the thing is that the search engine referrals I do get are on topics so varied in nature that I’m not sure what I’m trying to “optimize.”  An AVM rupture impacts only a tiny subsectionof the population, so few people search for What is an AVM?” and find me.  If they do search for AVM information, they are actually more likely to be directed to the Stroke Association or AVMSurvivors.org.

But if you want to know about parting the wild horse’s mane in tai chi, or the Jackie Chan and the fiery cup thing in the Karate Kid, apparently Google thinks I’m your girl.  It’s funny, actually, since I write about what interests me, and it’s vindicating to see that other people wonder about the same things.  So today I’m going to write about another  random movie thing and we’ll see if I get any resulting search engine hits.

A couple weeks ago I was having a (serious and edifying, I’m sure) conversation with a dear friend and then I interrupted with, Okay – I’ve been wanting to talk to you about this for like, 10 years.  What do you think of Kate & Leopold [the movie]?  K&L was released in 2001 and starred Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman – remember?  I’ve been mulling over it for more than a decade since I was so struck by the storyline:  Modern career woman Kate falls for late 19th c Duke Leopold and gives up everything to travel back in time to marry him and live happily ever after.

Let’s ignore the time travel concept at present and just assume it works.  What gripped me was Kate’s words to Leopold when they’re having an argument before she decides to take a leap of faith and join him in 1876.  I’m tired, she says, and I need a rest.  She spits out those words with incredible force, to the point that we see just how much work it has taken to reach the level of success she has attained, and be on the cusp of another promotion.

When I finally remembered to consult my friend on why our culture made K&L a marketable film when the premise is that the only “rest” the modern career woman could find was to turn her back on her hard won success and don a corset instead, I believed her reasoning as soon as she verbalized it.

“I think the answer is in how women are treated,” she told me.  My eyes got big with understanding because at that moment I remembered the icky character played by Bradley Whitford (Josh from the West Wing) – not her ex boyfriend, Liev Schreiber, but her boss – let’s call him “Josh” bc I can’t remember his name, just that he is icky in that movie.  So the movie essentially sets up two romantic alternatives for Kate:  Icky Josh, or Gentlemanly Leopold.  Let me assure you – Josh is very icky indeed – I don’t recall details, just that he keeps a dish of soy beans on his desk, and during a meeting with Kate he pushes them over to her saying silkily, “Edamame?”  Ugh.  It was enough to make me never want to eat edamame again.  Except I do.  A lot.  The choice is clear – although being with Leopold comes with a huge step backward regarding Kate’s independence etc., the film never addresses this – and people enjoyed the escapism of it and just let the story take them in.

I think this is probably one of the reasons I’ve always liked Jane Austen – I’ve been fascinated by what she wrote about women who had very few options for independence.  E.g. Miss Bates in Emma is a woman who never married and has fallen on hard times.  Given that she has no source of income, she will only sink deeper into poverty as her life progresses.  And in the film version of Sense and Sensibility Elinor points out to Edward, “You will inherit your fortune.  We [her mother and sisters] cannot even earn ours.”

Having no options is pretty awful.  For Kate, option A (Icky Josh), was so repellant that we all supported her moving to another century and forgoing a life of independence to be with Gentlemanly Leopold. I’ve been mulling over what my friend said about  “how women are treated” made all the difference.  She didn’t even have to say anything else – I instinctively recognized her statement as true.  No justifying argument was necessary – the lack of a viable alternative made the value of Kate’s choice self-evident.

The Lord’s interactions with women during His earthly ministry are all interesting, but the one I kept coming back to as I thought about “how women are treated,” was the lady with the 12 year issue of blood who just hoped to touch the hem of His garment to be healed.  Talk about lack of options!  And if anyone could say she was tired and needed a rest, it was her.  This poor woman was excluded from the community’s ceremonial life because of her illness, it was the sort of condition you couldn’t talk about (women’s issues!) and she had been to every doctor she could think of to no avail.  She must have been desperate as she elbowed her way through the crowd, got on her knees and touched the hem of His robe.

In an instant there was elation – she was healed!  She could tell.  And then there was horror – it was her worst nightmare come to life.  All eyes were on her as the Savior stopped traffic to call her to account.  She explained what she had done, and then He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8.48).

She approached Him in a way that would not require Him to touch or even acknowledge her – no one would ever know she had touched his garment and she would not risk making him ceremonially unclean.  But He knew that power had gone out from Him and the moment is captured forever in scripture.  She was out of options and reached out in pure desperation.  He could have passed on quietly, keeping her secret – part of me wishes He had done so, letting her fade into oblivion now that she was healed.  But no, His way was ultimately better– she verbalized her reasoning and the source of her shame, and then the Lord silenced any controversy that might have stemmed from this incident by making it 100% clear to everyone present and all future generations that she had done well, believed with a true heart, received healing at the feet of the Master, and was being sent forth to go enjoy her new life.

Matthew 11.28  Come to me all who  labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  

4 thoughts on “169. The Treatment of Women [Why did people like *Kate and Leopold*?]

  1. Those last three paragraphs need to be sent to Sandy McEachern to put in next year’s Choice Gleanings!! 🙂 Thanks for the encouraging thoughts! 🙂

  2. I like this posting.

    One of the things that struck me in your description of it was how un-faith-healing-esque the whole situation was. It wasn’t on a stage. There was no palm smack to the forehead. There were no raised hands and hallelujahs. There was just a woman desperately crawling through a crowd, sneaking a touch to the edge of a garment, and an attempt at sneaking away. I’m picturing the actions of an impoverished thief … which is what she essentially was, I guess.

  3. I watched Kate & Leopold recently (as in, sometime in the past four years), and of course afterward had to go look up the history of Otis elevators to see if that part was true. Somehow I don’t remember the creepy boss though… must have totally blocked him out!

    I love your thoughts about the woman with the issue of blood. Desperation often does lead to drastic measures, which in her case were rewarded with healing and perhaps a little more public recognition than she wanted… but you’re right, ultimately, it is better that way.

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