It’s a peculiar feature of our culture that men who behave in predictably masculine ways find themselves chastised and scolded for not being more feminine. This brings me to Little Women, which is not exactly packing in male ticket buyers. Why would it? No one expected women to turn up for Rambo: Last Blood, and no one seemed particularly interested in the male-female breakdown of the ticket sales for that one.
Yet op-ed writers keep pitching versions of the same strange thesis, which is that we should be cross with men for not buying tickets to Little Women. “Dear men who are afraid to see Little Women: you can do this,” says an op-ed in the Washington Post. I think the writer is here confusing the concept of fear with lack of interest or boredom. (I blanch at the prospect of going through my Aetna paperwork, but my guiding emotion is not fear.) “For the love of Marmee,” writes Monica Hesse of the WaPo, “won’t someone please organize a Meetup so these men can watch Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson go to the ball and lose their gloves?” I am sorry to inform Ms. Hesse that the United States is a signatory to the Geneva Convention and hence no American man can be forced to submit to this variant of the Ludovico Technique from A Clockwork Orange.
Really, though, who cares? The movie wasn’t made for men. It wasn’t made for little women, either; it was made pretty much exclusively for women over 25 (it’s a “one-quadrant movie,” in industry parlance). And it’s doing fine. Because guess what? There are a lot of women over 25 in this country. The movie has grossed $38 million since its Christmas Day opening and looks like it’ll gross close to $100 million domestically. It’s a great big country. People of all tastes can find something to their liking. It’s not necessary for men to become women.