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Women, Sport, and Film - Spring 2005
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Movie Proposal: Shooting for Ivy

Catherine Barrett

Title (working): Shooting for Ivy

Characters: The protagonists are Our Heroine (she and the others would have names, of course, but I am bad at names), a Bryn Mawr graduate living in Suffolk Hills, Connecticut. She works for a bank as a financial advisor. Then there is the President, who is the son of the founders of the country club, a graduate of Yale, and the President of the club, though that does not become clear until later. There is also the Sister, a butch taxidermist who works at Border's on the side and is related to one of the hunters. She is very definitely working-class. Supporting cast are the Old Boys' Network, the graduates of the Ivy League, and the Hunters, working to middle class members of the community and the club. Neither group calls themselves these things, but it is what they call each other.

Storyline summary: Our heroine fondly remembers her college days of archery when she finds an arrow from then in a trunk. She does some research and finds a country club, which is characterized by "co-ed archery". She tries to join and encounters opposition from the leading members, because she's female. They are the Old Boys, all graduates of the Ivy League, and all rich, with the old money attitude. She gets in though, through the encouragement of a nice member whom she starts seeing, and is befriended by the Hunters, the lower members whom she helps along (displaying some upper-class mentality while she's at it). They are all members of this upper-class community, but are more in a middle to lower class mindset. They are here mostly to learn archery so they can hunt in the nearby State Forests, which only allow bow and arrow hunting. Emboldened by her example, our heroine is joined by the sister of one of the hunters, who is instantly ridiculed by many of the men as a lesbian, and an ugly one at that. Our heroine stands up for the woman and they become fast friends. When the North Eastern Tournament comes up, our heroine expects to go, since she regularly shoots better than all the hunters, and many of the Old Boys. They inform her that she's not going, though, since the President picks who goes, and he's one of us. The President turns out to be the guy who stood up for her, whom she's been seeing. Stung, she demands a test so that only the best can go. She pulls her background, her schooling, and a hint of legal threat, which is laughed at. He is not pleased that she stood up to him in front of his peers, but enough of the younger Old Boys agree that he has to as well. Then things start to get nasty. The Old Boys ambush Hunters whenever possible, and slash tires. Our heroine and her female friend get jumped and beat up, though they do their own share of beating too. However, both women beat out many of the Old Boys to go, though the Old Boys really are good. This provides opportunity for a discussion on gender roles and breaking down old boys' networks between the two ladies. Heroine wants to show them that she can beat them, but she does not want to fall into the trap of putting down men as much as they have put down women in the past. The sister understands, but tells her that she has to win. "It's not fair, since if you win they'll call you a hard-assed, femi-nazi dyke. But if you lose, they'll say it's because you're a woman. So better to take the crap they spew than to play into their idea that women aren't women unless they lose to men." Our heroine agrees. Later, the President meets with our heroine, and, since he likes his women assertive, asks her out again. She refuses, since not only does she have a tournament to go to, but she can see he's still very burdened by the baggage of old boys. If he can get rid of that, maybe she'll do lunch with him again. Laughing at his expression, she leaves. The ending is documentary-style, that the sister placed 8th and our heroine placed second, beating the closest old boy by two places. Who was first? A woman from her old team at college.

Rationale: The idea is to confront both class and gender struggles in the same movie. Archery is also a sport that hasn't been "done", like softball and soccer, so it has the advantage of novelty. The conflict between the Old Boys and our heroine is reminiscent of the documentary Hero for Daisy, where the men's rowing team was unwilling to give any concession to the women. In the ending, a reversal of many things has occurred. Not only has our heroine succeeded where the men thought she would not, and should not be competing, but the one person who beat our heroine was a fellow classmate, and thus the Old Boys network, and their domination of the competition, is overturned by the female version. Also, our heroine did not need a man's help to get where she is: her greatest support came from her female friend. I wanted, however, not to give them a romantic relationship. The issue of sexuality comes up with the men's insults of the sister, but it is never really resolved. I wanted that to be open, since a "butch" woman does not have to be lesbian, and neither does a strong, assertive Bryn Mawr graduate. Two women can be close friends and support each other against the patriarchy without being sexually involved, and I wanted to show that in the film. However, the sister's sexuality was to remain unclear, since I did not want either to fall into the other category of having to prove one's "straightness" in sports, lest the woman be assumed lesbian. Her sexuality is not at issue here, it is her gender and her class. Basically, I wanted to fight some of the extreme views of feminism, while at the same time showing how class can also enter into the women, sport, and film arena.

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