Things have changed a lot since the 1950s. But have things really? Probably not much from a female’s perspective. In our modern cultural moment of equality issues still being fought for, looking back at the Fifties would probably make you scream and indeed this little gem of a film has its moments. And I really don’t know how to feel about those moments.
This is a story about scientists on a rocketship to the moon, but because of faulty calculations after and emergency, they end up on Mars…well, it happens, right? Anyway, after the emergency, both the head scientist and the female scientist make their calculations and they come up with differing answers. So being the open minded (NOT) men of equality…they decide that hers are wrong, and they go with the man’s. Only come to find out it’s the man’s that were inaccurate and they end up on Mars.
It’s subtle things like that in this film that bug me. I mean for many years Science was considered a boy’s club; we all know that even if it wasn’t true. Also Dr. Lisa, once in the rocket with the other four men, seems to be the only one working. The guys are just, you know, hanging out until they get to the moon. Dr. Lisa is constantly looking at dials and switches. In fact, Lloyd Bridges who plays the pilot, hits on Dr. Lisa more than a Chinese Olympic ping-pong player hits the damned ball. It’s really disgusting. He not only distracts her from work, he kind of bullies her, shames her into chilling out….maybe that’s why the ending is so bleak.
Have things really changed, though? Female CEOs are only at 4%. Chief financial officers – slightly more than 10%. Women today make an average of .77 cents to every man’s dollar when it comes to pay. A Congressional economic fact sheet says that women straight out of college make about $7,600 a year less than men. Women in the workplace still fight stereotypes like “They don’t need as much money because they’re not the primary bread winners.” And “They’re not committed to t heir jobs because they are primary caregivers at home.” A U.S. Department of Commerce report in 2011 found that only one in seven engineers is female and that there’s been no growth for women in STEM jobs since 2000. Stereotypes from very early on of STEM fields being for “Boys” and not for girls is a consideration for sure. Where are the programs encouraging females to study tech at an early age? Do men unconsciously do this to their own daughters? Do Mothers/??? There is research now proving that limited expectations can actually lead to low performance. If a girl hears, “Girls are just bad at science and math” enough…they believe it of themselves.
But like most American films, leave it to the last few seconds for the NASA boys to spin it so it’s really a happy ending! So for a great example of good old fashioned Sexism…look no further than this film. Add to that a great big phallic-looking spaceship and you’ve got… Rocketship X-M!