Last week I wrote a piece called “If We Talked About Men Like We Talked About Women,” that highlighted the gender discourse of criticism in our country. I used media politics as an avenue to explore the everyday realities that women must navigate. Most of the feedback was positive, but a number of commenters felt that the ways in which we shittalk men and women were equal. “Men get criticized, too!” rang the dissenting opinion. Someone even posted in an anti-feminism Reddit about it. It’s called “Anti-Feminism.” Clever, y’all.
I felt that the dissension was worth engaging, because I feel like men do get criticized, but in a very different way. Whereas we look to take down women and invalidate their perspectives, we often make excuses for men or let them off the hook. Although one mistake or flaw can ruin an actress’ career (see: aging), men get an infinite number of chances. We couldn’t kill Nicolas Cage’s career if we tried. I know a number of people who have tried.
With that in mind, I wanted to show the discrepancies in our public discourse on gender. You might think this is simplistic, and it’s supposed to be. I don’t mean to shame anyone, but to heighten the rhetoric in order to make us all think about what we say and how we say it. Because it’s not just the media that’s the problem: it’s all of us.
“This person threw a lamp at his ex-wife, endangered his children, assaulted and kidnapped a hooker, but it’s not that bad because he’s funny. He’s fucked up, but he’s one of the people. He called Chuck Lorre anti-semitic things. Bigotry is funny! He’s an anti-hero!”
“Wow, this person has a body type that I’m not used to seeing on television. That’s weird!”
“Chris Brown publicly beat the shit out of his girlfriend and can’t seem to understand why America is upset about it. He’s been an unrepentant dick since the incident, but the real question is WHY WOULD RIHANNA GET BACK WITH HIM? Girl, what can you be thinking? Stupid. She sends a bad message to women.”
Sarah Jessica Parker
“Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t pretty and has aged ungracefully. She looks like a horse!”
“Mel Gibson is on public record for being a bigot and a creep. On top of having an anti-Semitic meltdown, saying multiple homophobic things throughout his career and being overall bonkers, he threatened to murder his wife on almost every news channel in the country. Isn’t it weird that we took almost three decades to care?”
“Kristen Stewart doesn’t smile, because she doesn’t care. If you don’t want to smile, why are you famous, K-Stew? She’s just an ungrateful jerk, and she doesn’t deserve someone as sexily aloof as Robert Pattinson. I hated her way before it was cool.”
“James Franco is a ubiquitous douchenozzle who doesn’t try in any of his movies, even when they’re better than he deserves (see: Rise of the Planet of the Apes). He’s getting, like, three PhDs for no reason and sleeping through class, just to push some other candidate out of their spot. He’s just too cool for life, and he smirks through it or texts while Anne Hathaway does all the work. Awesome! And he’s soo hott.”
“I don’t personally like Anne Hathaway and disagree with the way she gives speeches. And she has big teeth on top of it! How dare she! Burn her at the stake!”
“Michael Fassbender probably beat the shit out of his girlfriend, but he’s got such a big penis. I bet he can go golfing with that thing.”
“Wow, this person has a body type that I’m not used to seeing on television. She must be encouraging other women to be fat! What a humungous jerk.”
“Sean Penn tied his ex-girlfriend to a chair and beat her with a baseball bat. Isn’t he a great actor? And isn’t Madonna such a bitch? She doesn’t like hydrangeas.”
“Wow, this person has a body type I’m not used to seeing onscreen. Look at her Gollum arms! Why can’t she dress more appropriately for her age? She’s like…50!”
“Bill Clinton cheated on his wife with an employee in the highest office of the land, but you know how men are! They just can’t control themselves. The real question is: Why would Hillary go back to him?”
“Jessica Chastain acted in a film with other women, and I bet they all fought with each other, because women can’t get along with each other. Let’s ask her a bunch of questions about that!”
“The question isn’t ‘Did Brad Pitt cheat on his wife?’ but ‘Why is Jennifer Aniston so sad? What’s wrong with her? Why didn’t Brad love her? Why can’t she find love? Will she die sad and alone, half eaten by wild dogs?’”
“Willow Smith got an unfortunate haircut! How will she ever be able to internalize the norms of partiarchy if she has short hair? Everyone knows hair is a woman’s crowning subjugation.”
“Christian Bale verbally assaulted a co-worker and hit his mother. But I bet that rage is what makes him such a good actor! Let’s never bring this up again!”
“Wow, Jennifer Lawrence has a body type that I’m not used to seeing on television. She’s hot, but not uber-skinny hot. And she “hates” Meryl Streep! Let’s make a strangely big deal about all of this and pit her against Anne Hathaway, for having moderately different personalities! Hey, aren’t we still at war or something?”