Thought Catalog
March 18, 2011

The Celebrated Misogyny of Jersey Shore

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What is the issue?

It’s interesting to see what viewers will turn a blind eye towards in order to enjoy some fist pumping, GTL, and drunken antics. Since entering its third season, Jersey Shore has remained as popular as ever with sky high ratings and plans to shoot next season in Italy already underway. But am I the only one getting tired of the bullshit? Sammi and Ronnie’s insufferable relationship aside, the boys’ misogynistic behavior has reached new {Seaside} heights this season.

When The Situation, Pauly D, Vinny and Ronnie first coined the term “grenade” to describe an unattractive female, I was pretty disgusted but like many others, I shoved it in the back of my mind so I could enjoy the mindless entertainment. Things crossed the line, however, when MTV began to use the phrase in advertisements for the show, celebrating the boys’ sexist behavior. In recent episodes, it appears that the boys are more interested in humiliating women than actually getting laid. They’ll bring women home and behave as if they don’t even want them there, saying things like,  “Oh my god, she’s a grenade. How do I get rid of her?” This comes off as more of an opportunity for the boys to be funny and get airtime than anything else. They’ve seen how “grenade” has taken off with the general public, and they want to give the audience what they want. On last night’s episode for example, Pauly D and Vinny brought girls home from a club that was, according to them, crawling with grenades. At one point, Pauly D screamed “Help!” when an overweight older woman tried to dance with him. When they returned home, Pauly D decided he didn’t want to sleep with this girl he had met at the club and told her to leave. She responded with, “You’re a dick!” which caused the whole house to rally with Pauly D and remove her from the house.

Disturbingly, JWoww, Deena, Sammi and Snooki seem to delight in the humiliation of the girls they bring home. When Pauly D kicked out his “grenade”, Deena explained in an interview that the girl embarrassed herself. How? For coming back to the house and then being harshly dismissed? It’s like the girls enjoy being separate from the boys’ conquests. They live here so they have the men’s respect. Well, most of the time. Sometimes the boys even treat them like shit.

On last week’s episode, it was revealed that Sammi was texting a guy friend while she was at home—a move that seemed harmless considering that a] Ronnie and Sammi were on one of their breaks and b] Ronnie’s cokedick tried to fuck every girl in Miami last season while they were still dating—but Sammi’s harmless interaction actually received a vitriolic response from the entire house. The Situation especially was quick to slut-shame Sammi and paint her as a two-timing slut. Meanwhile, everyone gathered around poor suffering Ronnie even though he had done much worse to her in the past. What’s perhaps the saddest part of the whole thing is that the girls didn’t even rush to Sammi’s defense. In the past, Jersey Shore has done a good job with presenting the strong bonds between women. JWoww and Snooki, in particular, introduced the world to a beautiful sex-positive friendship. They aren’t competitive with each other when it comes to guys, they talk openly about sex, and cherish their time together. When they failed to recognize the double standard with Sammi and Ronnie and come to her aid, I was surprised. After all, they were the girls who wrote Sammi a note detailing Ronnie’s infidelities. Why couldn’t they recognize that the men were being sexist and unfair?

Life’s a fun-filled, wasted, silly, beach for the cast of Jersey Shore. I doubt they even realize the harmful ideas they’re perpetuating about gender. If they did, maybe millions of viewers wouldn’t tune in to the show each week. Their success is largely dependent upon their ignorance. They don’t have to take responsibility for their actions because they were just bein’ The Situation. If that works as a valid excuse for misogyny then maybe it’s time to break up with the gang for good and return to a place where  calling women “grenades” is a big bummer and a girl isn’t made to feel like a dirty whore for something as insignificant as a text message. TC mark