Ari Aster and “Womanhood”

Abby Jaquint
3 min readDec 27, 2019

A mini-essay.

Photo from Midsommar (2019)

I will say three things: I loved Midsommar, I loved Hereditary, and Ari Aster should not be seen as some all-powerful feminist icon.

I think people (specifically film Tumblr) like to paint this picture that Ari Aster is this great, understanding feminist that fully understands the experience of womanhood and anger.

Well, this just isn’t true.

He’s a man. He can try and try, he can sympathize and nod along, but he will never understand the inherent struggle of being a woman.

Now that I’ve said this, let’s dig a little deeper into why people say he’s this passionate feminist that can somehow “get it.”

Ari Aster does well with showing emotion. I’ll give him that. And this is all going to sound like one big hate letter to the man himself, but I can guarantee you that isn’t true, and I genuinely love his films, as well as what he tries to get at within them.

However!

While Aster portrays anger and grief the most, this cannot be described as him understanding the feminine experience.

Let’s take the, dare I say, iconic, scene in Midsommar where Dani screams with a group of other women. This scene has been praised, even by me, as being an iconic and relatable moment, showcasing the feminine experience as it is often layered over extreme amounts of emotion like pain and guilt and anger and sadness.

Dani and these women portray this incredibly well, and having this emotion let out with a group of women could be seen as a portrayal of the female experience, but, really, is this something we can give Ari Aster credit for?

I highly doubt that when writing that scene, he sat down and said, “Ah, yes, let’s make this all about womanhood and the female experience as well as the inherent anger and grief that comes with it!”

I think what happened is that he was writing a scene where Dani let out her grief and she just happened to be with a group of women because they were doing all sorts of “womanly” things after having crowned Dani the may queen, which the men in the community were not allowed to be a part of.

--

--

Abby Jaquint

Novelist. 23. I write about writing and mental health. Check me out on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!