By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood November 9, 2011 at 4:45PM
The Brett Ratner Oscar debacle does not exist in a vacuum. Think about it. What's the biggest news in politics? Herman Cain trying to wriggle his campaign out of the fact that he is a serial sexual harrasser. I am sadly surprised that the tone of his denials remind me of the conversation started by Anita Hill when she spoke out against Clarence Thomas 20 years ago. Did we not learn anything from that experience?
It's true that sexual harrassment and sexist comments are two different things. One is illegal and one is unacceptable. But these men in power give us an opportunity to remind ourselves that these things happen each and every day to many women. Sexist comments breed a hostile work environment. Anyone who has experienced it knows that it is a slippery and not very far slope from the talk to the actual harassment.
Mr. Ratner got caught and fired because he made a homophobic comment. But he also spent his last days as the Oscar co-producer extolling a litany of sexist remarks that I am quite sure would not have gotten him fired because it is OK to be a sexist ass in Hollywood but it's not OK to be a homophobic ass. So I shouldn't be surprised that no one called for his ouster over his attitude toward women.
He's about to go on an apology tour with GLAAD (but he has already set up his next movie -- which ironcially will be a remake of The Last American Virgin -- but I want to see him in a room with feminists getting schooled on his sexist attitude. I'm not exaggerating how offensive this guy is. Some of his remarks (on TV and radio) include: talking about "banging" Lindsay Lohan and Olivia Munn; talking about the motility of his sperm and how a doctor told him that his sperm were so powerful that it is a wonder he didn't get a woman pregnant; talking about his "huge balls." And that's just the start.
I'm glad he resigned because he got caught saying something the Academy, the bloggers and the public wouldn't tolerate. What I want is for people to be as outraged at his attitude towards women as they are about his attitude towards gays.