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“The dangerous transphobia of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”

(36 Posts)
Rainfallrainbow Sun 20-May-18 10:03:30

I went to see Matilda and was googling reviews. I thought it wa excellent! Came across this article:

https://www.salon.com/2013/10/27/the_dangerous_transphobia_of_roald_dahls_matilda/

Thoughts? I just don’t see it myself.

Battleax Sun 20-May-18 10:07:55

Clicky link (hopefully);

www.salon.com/2013/10/27/the_dangerous_transphobia_of_roald_dahls_matilda/

NotTerfNorCis Sun 20-May-18 10:11:56

Reinforcing gender stereotypes is what TRAs do. E.g. a woman who 'acts like a man' must be a man.

Palavra Sun 20-May-18 10:17:51

I do agree with it in the sense of the traditionally feminine Miss honey v. masculine Trunchbull. However id have assumed that this was an example of sexism? WITh that said there are so many examples of sexism in good books, musicals etc that avoiding it on that basis alone is not sensible.

QuentinSummers Sun 20-May-18 10:20:43

The article in some ways highlights Dahls misogyny, but that's not surprising as he did have sexist views and also he was a child at the start of the 20th century and the culture was very different.
However to say transphobia is just rubbish. It's sexism, not transphobia.

Ereshkigal Sun 20-May-18 10:21:11

Agree that you could point out sexism. Don't understand why it would be "transphobia".

QuentinSummers Sun 20-May-18 10:21:17

X post palavra

Offred Sun 20-May-18 10:21:22

WTAF? All the main characters are female. This levels the playing field and the rest is therefore able to be a commentary on characteristics. Miss Honey IMO reads as annoying and did when I was a child. The whole story is about Matilda and all the adults let her down in various ways, including Miss Honey when she is passive.

I read the book when i was young as recognising important things about the humanity of children as people that the adults, who are all flawed but ultimately are dictating her life, don’t really see. Until the end when miss honey finally gets it and stands up for Matilda.

Ereshkigal Sun 20-May-18 10:21:32

Cross post

BiologyMatters Sun 20-May-18 10:22:00

I guess it depends whether you accept that Agatha Trunchbull is a TIM. It would seem so that she's an olympic hammer thrower and women weren't allowed to compete in the olympics according to the article so would suggest maybe she's trans. I don't read the story that way, to me she's a woman albeit not a stereotypical one and i think the character is stronger for that.

I would have said there's a sexist element to it, except that matilda's mother who is traditionally feminine and "chooses looks" is also a horrible person. As is her father, who is vain and crooked. I think the message isn't that trunchbull is hated because of her masculine appearance. Shes hated because she's a bully who uses her physical strength to terrorise children. Miss honey is a hero because she's kind, treats other people well and with consideration, is clever and appreciates the value of knowledge. Her character would work just as well if she were ugly.

I think as the author is only looking at the stage shows they will see men playing the role and assume that its transphobic. But isn't it sexist to assume a large masculine woman is really a man? isn't it sexist to cast a man in a female role? Pam ferris was probably the most perfectly cast actor in the film version and she's a woman. Personally I don't think female roles should be played by men, just as white actors shouldn't play parts that are written for black actors. The stage show turned the trunchbull into a pantomime dame and you didn't get any sense of menace because she was a figure of ridicule. It changed the slant of the story and not for the better in my view.

Moonkissedlegs Sun 20-May-18 10:22:25

Yes, what the fuck has it got to do with 'transphobia'? Miss Trunchbull is a woman with 'masculine' features, what is the writer of this article actually saying, that she is a trans man?

QuentinSummers Sun 20-May-18 10:22:39

Much better analysis offred

QuentinSummers Sun 20-May-18 10:25:55

So I am learning from this thread the women of Mumsnet are much cleverer than the person who wrote the stupid article! star

Offred Sun 20-May-18 10:28:24

Dahl IMO is important, and was important to me as a child (in an abusive home) because his books are about children being people and adults having flaws.

reallybadidea Sun 20-May-18 10:33:41

I think the irony of the article is that it is criticising both gender stereotyping and that in the story a woman acting outside of her gender stereotype is associated with being a villain. And yet their (implied) conclusion is that Miss Trunchball is a trans woman and the story is transphosphorylation, rather than that the story is sexist and reinforces gender stereotypes <face palm>

Freespeecher Sun 20-May-18 10:43:20

Salon, the home of the questionable article:

www.thecut.com/2017/02/salon-shouldnt-have-unpublished-its-pedophilia-article.html

NotTerfNorCis Sun 20-May-18 10:47:24

their (implied) conclusion is that Miss Trunchball is a trans woman

Certainly not what Dahl would have intended. I can see the logic in that Trunchball is played by a man, though. If she was played by a very masculine woman, that would be more straightforward sexism.

R0wantrees Sun 20-May-18 10:55:22

Transgender ideology and literary criticism discussed in this thread with following complaints in an article about Margaret Atwood's, 'The Handmaid's Tale'.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/3245322-Transwoman-complains-that-The-Handmaids-Tale-should-include-them

reallybadidea Sun 20-May-18 10:58:21

Transphosphorylation wtf? Transphobia obviously, lol.

UpstartCrow Sun 20-May-18 11:00:52

Thats a fantabulous new word, lets keep it grin

BiologyMatters Sun 20-May-18 11:09:30

If she was played by a very masculine woman, that would be more straightforward sexism.

Would it? Or does having her played by a man simply reinforce that masculine women are unacceptable?

Offred Sun 20-May-18 11:12:15

I think the whole point of dahls books is the children are people and the adults are caricatures....

That’s the whole point. That’s why honey and Trunchbull are extremes.

If you’ve read Matilda thinking that miss honey is perfect I think you’ve failed to understand the critique of passivity that I saw in it as a child. You’ve failed to understand that her character is the ‘good person who does nothing’ while trunchbull’s evil triumphs and that everything changes for Matilda when honey eventually takes a stand, having drawn strength from matilda’s example <- this is so powerful as a message to a child.

Roomba Sun 20-May-18 11:13:28

I'm reading Matilda to DS2 at the moment. Transphobic? confused

So... because The Trunchbull displays characteristics which are traditionally considered more 'masculine', she must therefore be Trans? WTF!

Surely that is just reinforcing the old gender stereotypes and is therefore extremely misogynistic and possibly homophobic (are all butch women now actually trans? Jesus)?

The irony of protesting long and loud about how gender is all in the mind, it's a spectrum, it's fine to not confirm, etc etc - and then imposing the view that obviously anyone nonconforming MUST therefore be the opposite gender to their physical body! Seems to me that many TRAs are the most rigid thinking, repressed homophobes of all.

Offred Sun 20-May-18 11:15:32

And yes, I dislike the idea of Trunchbull being played by a man because of all I’ve said.

Stranger things is my modern day Matilda.

NotTerfNorCis Sun 20-May-18 11:27:49

Or does having her played by a man simply reinforce that masculine women are unacceptable?

Normally, but as we've seen, TRAs then latch onto the idea that this is a transwoman.

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