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Misogyny hits the cinema

After not seeing a movie in the theater in what felt like forever (my wife and I are movie buffs), we finally saw two in one weekend—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Hot Tub Time Machine. Both movies surprised me. The former surprised me with how serious, disturbing, and graphic it was. I knew it was a murder mystery, but I was thinking more Jane Marple. I guess in this age of Saw and Hostel, that was a bad assumption on my part. The latter surprised me for just being a terrible movie. It had gotten a lot of good reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

I also had no idea how much misogyny was in both films. Later, I learned the original Swedish title for the book Dragon Tattoo was based on literally translates to men who hate women. And, after watching the movie (which I hear is pretty accurate to the book, except for leaving out whole plotlines that wouldn’t fit in a 2 1/2–hour time frame), I think that’s a far more fitting title. I guess the big difference between Tattoo and Hot Tub (apart from one being good, the other bad; and one being serious and the other intended to be funny) is that Tattoo makes it clear that misogyny is a bad thing. Hot Tub, on the other hand, celebrates it. Even though Tattoo is a bit too graphic in its depiction of rape and violence, it sends a clear message of “Men who hate women are bad people and should be punished.”

Hot Tub also sends a clear message—women are there to satisfy men sexually and… pretty much nothing else. In one scene, two men make bets with each other involving both money and sexual flavors. If one man wins, he says the other man’s wife needs to give him a blowjob. If the other man wins, he says the other man needs to give the other man’s male friend a blowjob. The wife says nothing. All she does is lick her lollipop suggestively. The male friend, however, protests furiously that he doesn’t like having his dick gambled with. So her mouth is okay to gamble with without consulting her… his dick, not so much? And, worse yet, the Black friend (whom we initially think is one of three best buddies, but it later turns out only the two White friends are best friends with each other…?) gets constantly ridiculed for hyphenating his name, as if that emasculates him. The only way to set it “right” is for him to keep his name. I’d love to see one of these raunch comedies make fun of woman for taking her husband’s name and then having everything be “right” when she goes back to her maiden name or, better yet, he takes her surname.

Categories
Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality

Handling unwanted advances

In high school, college, and beyond, I’ve had many conversations with female friends about street harassment, and the conversations have almost always been disheartening. It usually goes something like this:

  • Woman is minding her own business on the street, on the bus, in a coffee shop, in a store.
  • Random man makes a lewd sexual remark or gesture or begins talking to her when she clearly does not want to talk with him, and then he begins staring at her cleavage or otherwise making her physically uncomfortable.
  • Woman’s only instinct is to be polite even though she really does not want to deal with this man. She wants to say something clever to get him to piss off but she freezes up in the moment.
  • Woman is pissed the rest of the day that that guy intruded on her space and she had no foolproof way of dealing with it.

I don’t really know what exactly can be done about this. Of course, sometimes it happens that you think up a witty retort that evening or the next day, but by then it’s too late, and you can’t really know if it would have worked to drive the guy away or if it would have just provoked him more (perhaps someone like him, who is not able to pick up on basic social cues, may take your ingenious way of shooing him away as some kind of twisted flirtation?).

What’s the solution? If you try to ignore the guy, you appear rude and/or you still feel violated. If you try to tell the guy to go away, he may feel egged on anyway.

I’m not a woman, so it’s easy for me to say this, but I think in this situation it’s best to avoid wit or politeness and just say something firm and, well, “bitchy”:

“I don’t want to talk to you. Quit staring at my breasts or face the consequences.” If that doesn’t shut up him, yell loudly, “I said ‘Leave me alone,’ asshole!” so that others nearby can hear you. If he still doesn’t, kick him in the nuts—hard.

I guess you could argue the guy was just in a pathetic way looking for attention, so that would just feed into his game. Can a woman in this situation win? Any strategies to share?