Public Displays of Misogyny
Warning: adult content and serious hub on sexism in modern media
Please don't be offended with the use of derogatory terms in this hub, they are used purely to help my argument and do not mean to be offensive.
The Blurred Lines of Sexism
Helene Cixous’ essay (The Newly Born Woman) on the duality of hierarchical oppositions portrays how everything comes down to couples, the oppositions of male and female. The male, inevitably seen as powerful, in control and dominant, gains the upper hand while the female is left with being powerless, passive and dominated. Feminism fought to change this perception and also the rights of women, it gained them the right to vote, to be viewed as human and to be respected, as something beyond what the male gaze expected, as something other than an instrument for male desire and satisfaction. However, woman is yet again seen as lower, as dominated, as passive, and this is wholly due to pop culture and mass media illustrating public displays of misogyny (PDM). Is society steeped so much in hatred for women that casual sexism on live television, or in number one hits, or in twitter feeds is deemed acceptable? And if not, the ‘move on’ attitude they are expected to take perpetuates this opinion, as if being active against it is intolerable. When women argue against this open, unconcealed misogyny they are met with the usual ‘Oh you’re a feminist’, snort of derision, mocking laugh. This is just another way for people (mostly men) to make women feel they are fighting a non-existent battle. Cixous wrote “woman is either passive or she does not exist”, in our case however, it reads more like ‘woman is either passive or she is feminist’, either way she is not acknowledged . Feminism has come under fire in the past few years for being overtly female, against males and seen as a way for women to gain supremacy over men. This is not what feminism is about.
The feminist Poll
Do you feel that PDM (public displays of misogyny) is still a problem??
Portrayals of the female...
Strong, sexually aware women are seen as sluts, whores and tarts, we are literally spoiled for choice in degrading, demeaning words suggestive of sexually open women, each word saturated in male misogyny, each one suggesting that women should not be having sex, nor should they be enjoying it. Where is the male equivalent to this? God knows there are men out there who love nothing more than having meaningless sexual encounters with as many women as possible, and what words do we use to describe these men? Casanova, playboy, whore hopper and player; these are not humiliating words, they are congratulatory expressions that offer admiration at the ‘conquests’. Looking deeper into these ‘male’ words though shows a different meaning. Player, a word used to describe a man who has had sex with many women, but doesn’t it also suggest that the women were played? Manipulated? Or just another play in the game of sexual conquests? Whorehopper, another word for a sexually adventurous male, but what it actually says is that the man literally hopped from one whore to another, again bringing this back to the female and her issue of having sex. If man has sex, great, if woman has sex, whore. The list goes on, douche- a man who is unkind, but isn’t a douche a female device? Playboy; a boy who, yet again, plays women. These male words don’t convey any sense of moral contempt towards the man, yet it does for the female, insinuating, not so cleverly, that the women are in the wrong for having these sexual relations.
Men are congratulated for their conquests, while women are praised for fighting them off. And why? Because if woman gains dominance over her own sex life, some man get worried and so, use words that make these women feel disgusting and ‘dirty’ to stop that behaviour.
MacFarlane and women
MacFarlane against women?
The Oscars this year proved that this type of misogyny is rampant in media culture. Seth Macfarlane presented the awards but was met with outrage at his overtly sexist and inappropriate ‘humour’ that encompassed the entire show. Usually seen as a glamorous and stylish affair, the Oscars present the best of the film industry with awards for achievements. Whether 30 men and only 9 women received awards is considered sexism or not, that’s not at all the issue here. Rather, it was the expressive opinions Macfarlane had on women. Attacking first, female actors who have shown their breasts in film by singing ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ and pointing out those actresses, it appears his assault on women in the workplace was supposed to be ‘banter’ and ‘harmless fun’, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t sexist. In fact, nobody has denied that it was, saying instead that it was just ‘innocent fun’. The song itself, as degrading as it was for the actresses involved, made it worse for women. The ‘Everyone loves boobs’ attitude that surrounded the song dominated women everywhere, and why? Because it lowered women to be mere objects, something pretty and naked to stick on the TV screen for some men to enjoy. It’s also excluding for women, as the ‘You’re not like us’ attitude, yet again, raised its ugly head.
This wasn’t the only case of his public misogyny. Throughout the entire evening MacFarlane joked about women, he sexualized a nine year old girl, he teased about domestic violence and made fun of actresses that use the flu to lose weight. Two points; one-not only women deal with eating disorders, two-isn’t it that eating disorders are so aggressive because the media, film and music industry maintain the idea that skinny is beautiful? It appears that no matter the topic, Macfarlane found a way to bring it back to the woman! People have said that comedy pushes the limit, that’s why it’s so funny, it’s controversial. Well, comedy shouldn’t push sexism, it shouldn’t make fun of domestic violence and sexual abuse, it should be funny, and every woman who watched the show did not find it so. As one commenter said “it wasn’t an awards ceremony, it was a celebration of the ‘white male gaze’
Defined Lines against Thicke's sexist song.
Thicke's not so clever with the ladies!
Another shining example of male sexism and a total misunderstanding of women, is the Robin Thicke ‘Blurred Lines’ chart topper; a summer hit that addresses what is considered to be a grey area between consensual sex and sexual assault. Much like Tinie Tempah’s song ‘Frisky’ which speaks about the male sexual encounter, “Don’t even want to kiss her, honey, I won’t miss her when I’m done with her” totally disregarding the woman’s needs, Thicke’s song has too offended some women. Not only are the lyrics similar to what actual rapists say “I know you want it”, as shown by Project Unbreakable, an organisation set up to help victims of sexual abuse, but they are also demeaning without that ‘rape culture’ stigma. One: he describes the girl as a ‘good girl’, suggestive of a girl who hides her desire for sex by looking disinterested in his, obviously irresistible, approach. But to women everywhere, looking disinterested means they are not interested, but no, because we’re women our opinions aren’t taken seriously when it comes to sex. Two: another example of the total misunderstanding of women comes with the line “Do it like it hurt” indicative that women enjoy pain during sex. Combine these two points, a good girl that actually ‘wants it’ even though she pretends she doesn’t, and a girl who wants to be hurt during sex. That screams sexual assault. He says “Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you, he don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that”. Spot on Thicke! All women want is for a male to come along, smack them around and ‘liberate’ them.
The video to the song perpetuates this idea of female sexuality, as it shows women, yet again, through a male gaze. It portrays how the woman doesn’t want a ‘square’ who will treat her with respect and like a human being but instead seeks someone who will objectify her, stick a collar on her neck and degrade her for the amusement and gratification of men. It is ultimately a song about the males dominance over women when it comes to sex. He sings about getting a girl drunk in order to have sex with her, because so far she has denied his pursuit. By getting her intoxicated, he gains control and finally gets what he wants but has to tell himself that she really wants it by repeating the phrase “I know you want it”. Although Thicke has denied that the song is based on rape culture, he added “Even very good girls have a little bad side, you just have to know how to pull it out of them”. Oh I see, it’s not about controlling women, it’s about liberating them from themselves by getting them drunk enough to actually have sex with a man! Yet again, the younger generations are being given disturbingly inaccurate accounts of what women want. What’s worse? The video was originally made with the girls in the nude, with balloons spelling 'Robin Thicke has a big Dick.... Hmm, What else could we expect from a massive dildo.
So to those of you who feel feminism is something that isn’t needed in today’s society, I beg to differ. This is all happening in the open, unconcealed, I am not taking issue with something that was hidden, or obscured. Instead these instances of sexism and public displays of misogyny are being seen worldwide, with no repercussions. The duality of opposition (male/female) will always be the way the world works, but if we make it less of a patriarchal and hierarchical duality, we may just gain the same respect men do. As Gayle Rubin, a feminist anthropologist who became a figure of the feminist argument in the 70’s, says “ Men and women are, of course, different. But they are not as different as day and night, earth and sky, yin and yang”. Therefore, we are more alike than not, comparing man and woman to the sea and earth, is for all intents and purposes, completely irrelevant. Both the sea and the earth are separate systems that hold little similarities. It is the same as saying female cats are different to male cats, but they are both cats, and they differ in very small ways. We are not opposites, we don't represent two opposing factors, we are the same. Man and woman does not equal earth and sea. We are simply two sides of the same coin, and we all know that coins cannot exist as one sided!!
Gayle Rubin, in the essay ‘The Traffic in Women’ wrote ‘If innate male aggression and dominance are at the root of female oppression, then, logically, the feminine programme would either require the extermination of the offending sex or a eugenics programme to modify its character.’ Obviously, this is a seriously hard outlook on the fate of female oppression, either all men die, or they change! I disagree however, I don't think that these are the females only options. If we fight hard enough in a civilized and respectful fashion for what we believe (as women did for voting, equal pay etc) then it has to be acknowledged and no longer ignored. We are not opposites, we don't represent two opposing factors, we are the same. Man and woman does not equal earth and sea.