So how does the Low Patriarchy Diet work?
When I started the Ladyist, the core proposition was pretty straightforward: everything I watched, read, played or listened to had to feature women. The focus was on representation, and seeing women's stories told. That was also a practical choice; I initially considered focusing exclusively on women as creators, but that's difficult in a few ways. In a creator-centric medium like music, or literature, it's easy to see who has the creative influence just by looking at the spine. But how do you decide that a TV show is a woman's work? What about a movie, or a game, or comics? Determining the power relationships in collaborative media is much trickier. Not to mention, of course, the power structures that keep women out of key roles, even as they dominate underrecognised roles like editing.
Another of the Ladyist's many lessons, though, was to highlight the differences between the ways men represent women and how women represent themselves. There's a nuance and insight that comes with personal experience that isn't /impossible/ to replicate, but it's extraordinarily rare to see men write women with the same kind of depth and precision a woman might bring.
Imagine for a moment that you're a chef by trade, and you've been working in kitchens for years. Your hands are riddled with burns and scars you don't even notice it anymore, and you know the innermost workings of restaurant life. One night, you're watching TV, and there's a scene set in the kitchen. You find yourself bristling at the knife technique of a junior chef, and sneering at the undisciplined way the sous chef is making out with a kitchenhand on a freshly cleaned bench. It's distracting, isn't it? Infuriating, even, to see your life rendered in cliches by someone who's definitely never done a 22 hour shift on Mother's Day.
Now imagine that you can't stop being a chef, and that you have to wear your whites everywhere, and everyone treats you like you were that stereotype you saw on TV.
That sucks, right? In an ideal world, chefs would be able to tell their own stories, or at least be asked to contribute, and have their contributions respected.
That's why I'm going to put a greater focus on creators this time around. I'll still be looking for on-camera representation more, given all the complications I mentioned before, but the impact of a creator can't be underestimated. Especially when figures suggests that women are actually getting less roles behind the camera (even as on-screen representation grows), it's more important than ever to critically analyse the credits.
One other big change from the Ladyist to the LPD is the time frame. Where the Ladyist was a year-long project, the Low Patriarchy Diet is intended to be a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle change. The Ladyist was great for the headfirst-dive-into-icy-water shock of realising how few things in my collection were Ladyist-friendly, but that shock soon wore off as the search became second nature.
Having an end date also prompted a lot of people to ask what I was looking forward to "after I finished". I understand the logic there, but focusing on the end made the Ladyist feel more like a pub bet than a constructive change. Rather than keep talking about it, I've already started on the Low Patriarchy Diet, and plan to keep it up for as long as I can.