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Misogyny Run Rampant

by Melissa Silverstein
March 16, 2012 12:15 PM
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I'm feeling a bit depressed this morning.  It's March and we are supposed to be celebrating the strides that women have made, yet, right now it feels like things suck.  I'm hearing some horrific stories of how women are being treated in the entertainment business.  I see crazy stuff happening on the campaign trail where candidates say they want to get rid of Planned Parenthood and roll back other advances made for women.  And don't get me started on the Sandra Fluke/Rush Limbaugh stuff.  That makes my head want to explode.

I woke up this morning to a couple of more misogynistic comments on my site.  I didn't delete them (I have deleted ones in the past) because, hopefully, some of you will decide to talk back to these trolls.  I've had trolls before and I am used to it, but it still stings.  It takes a real effort to comment on a post.  And these guys usually never use their names.  I know I should have a tougher skin -- and my skin has become calloused -- but the comments are never about the writing (or my grammatical errors) they are always about women and how women want to take over the world and how we should just shut up.  And today's brilliant genius compared feminism to Nazism.  That's never fun.

And I also woke up this morning to some really vicious tweets and comments directed at the English writer Allison Pearson (I Don't Know How She Does It and I Think I Love Him) in response to a piece she wrote in the Telegraph on gentleman who has "locked-in" syndrome and wants to die.  Many people disagreed with Ms. Pearson's position which is legitimate, but she was called a c**t by comedian Doug Stanhope.  He decided that disagreeing with her point of view made her a c**t.  And his vitriol has unleashed widespread vitriol in the comments.  Disagree like adults.  Shaming and demeaning women is dangerous.

We are in deeply troubled times where women are in trouble and hated and treated poorly just for being women.  I saw a work in progress documentary last night A Quiet Inquistition about abortion laws in Central America.  The movie was terrifying.  Women sentenced for 25 years in jail for a miscarriage because there is no trust in women.  Women allowed to die from septic shock because the laws are so strict that there are no exceptions to save the life of a mother.

And the scary part is that there are laws like that coming to the US.

So I plead for civility.  I ask that we all think before calling people names -- women and men.   Calling a woman a bitch or a c**t is unacceptable even when women do it.  We all get caught up in it, but it really is up to us to break this cycle.  I just can't even begin to imagine what kids are processing when they see adults acting like jerks all the time. 

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  • JENNIFER | March 29, 2012 3:16 AMReply

    I agree 100% with this post. Sadly, there are a lot of girls out there that think there is no longer any need for Feminism and want nothing to do with it. They are even embarrassed to be associated with that word.

    Gender studies needs to be a REQUIREMENT in all public schools and public universities and colleges. Because the youth of today is clueless.

  • Lisa | March 23, 2012 2:00 PMReply

    Oops. I meant to type "go to men" not "go to me." Wishful thinking I guess.

  • Lisa | March 23, 2012 1:59 PMReply

    What drives me nuts is when men on industry blogs whine about how quotas are taking away their jobs. Look, guys: 85 percent of writing gigs and nearly 95 percent of directing gigs to to me. So if you can't get hired, that means AT BEST you're in the bottom 5 - 15 percent. And many of you are simply not good enough.

  • Shannon | March 20, 2012 5:17 PMReply

    I hear you, sister! I think these "men" need to shut up! It's not just men being jerks though, a WOMAN told me I should have my uterus removed (rather than take hormonal birth control) if I wanted to prevent pregnancy... OMG My husband's jaw went to the floor. We need more public and loud support from our pro-choice men. #sexstrike4choice Tell them if you won't stand up for my reproductive health choices, than you can go F*CK yourself! Evil men who wage war on women should remember: Caesar had his Brutus. Charles the First his Cromwell, but Osama bin Laden was betrayed by his wife.

  • Eleanor | March 19, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    We get so much out of your blog, I am so sorry that some people are not civilized enough to read the posts, digest them and apply them to their life, whether they agree or disagree. Thanks for the work you do. I hope you won't waste much time on the Trolls, and will just keep turning out thought-provoking commentary. By the way, thanks for the information about that documentary, "A Quiet Inquisition", I will endeavor to see that it is shown in my town.

  • Bigger Brother | March 17, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    Thanks for the compliment but I am no genius ........ oh, apart from when I'm making films of course when people have complimented me on my brilliance. I've never been complimented on my modesty though. Awe, shucks!

    My comment was not the first time that feminism has been mentioned in close proximity to Nazism. But you knew that, hence the rider >. And I'm sure that you're aware of the omnipresent term "femiNazi" too. This association with Nazism hasn't caught on for no reason. I mean, how else would you describe female supremacists who want to take and keep things they have no right to, to claim the rewards without putting in the effort, people who blame their lack of achievement on others, who are so burnt up by a sense of entitlement that they strive to bring down those who are too busy achieving great things to be looking over their shoulders at the evil stalking them, people who are intent on marginalising half of the population. FemiNazis are people who use deception, distortion, exaggeration, misrepresentation and lies to further their cause. Some even advocate the mutilation of men. Yes, THIS is 21st century feminism as it is seen by the majority of people with an IQ bigger than their shoe size.

    I work with some wonderfully capable and talented women, and none to my knowledge have any empathy with feminism. And why should they when they have achieved what they have on their own ability, just as the men have. Result: mutual respect.

    That's all the "misogyny" I have for you for now.

  • Bigger Brother | March 19, 2012 9:04 PM

    Linn, you have stated that I cannot have respect for my coworkers unless I agree with feminism. I would respectfully suggest that that is ludicrous! Mutual respect between men and women does not necessarily come from a belief in equality, it is more likely to be the other way around. Furthermore, I could write another thesis on why feminism has very little to do with equality or respect, but not here.

  • Linn | March 19, 2012 12:15 PM

    Dear Mr. Bigger Brother - in response to your post at 1:59pm on 3/17/12. 1) Re: "fluffy version portrayed in a dictionary." I would respectfully suggest that what you are saying is you disagree with the dictionary. Since you didn't seem to disagree with that particular dictionary definition I'm going to interpret that to mean you do agree the definition is correct, you just experience something different. Well then, perhaps use a better word(s). Perhaps "extremist" or "extreme feminism." At which point I think we can both agree that "extremists" often go so far away from their base even the main believers do not agree with their extremists. This happens in religion, politics, etc. 2) Re: "to make such a presumption about what my coworkers and I believe in is the height of audacity. And how arrogant..." Please note, I used the word "if" in my post two (2) times, in an effort to acknowledge that I was about to make a statement that may be incorrect. 3) Again, I go back to the definition of "feminism." IF you agree the definition of feminism is that the rights of women and men are equal - and you agree that you have female coworkers (with body parts that are female) then while there can be many reasons why you all have respect for each other, by virtual fact, one of those reasons is you believe women are equal to men. Because IF you did not believe that, you would not be able to have respect for them. No matter the other reasons you did have respect, if you disagreed with the very definition of feminism, then that would have to cancel out all your other reasons for respecting your female coworkers. Thank you. Have a lovely day.

  • Bigger Brother | March 17, 2012 1:59 PM

    I have the same definition of feminism as a great many other people and it is based on experience and evidence, not the fluffy version portrayed in a dictionary. I would hardly expect a feminist to accept that somene could have an opinion contrary to her own, but to make such a presumption about what my coworkers and I believe in is the height of audacity. And how arrogant of you to suggest that a belief in feminism is the only reason that coworkers could possibly have any repect for each other. A rather 'female supremacist' sort of attitude on your behalf. Is the fog clearing a little? Can you now see why so many people hold feminism in such contempt? Are you now beginning to get some understanding as to why feminism becoming irrelevant and is so despised by men AND women?

  • Linn | March 17, 2012 11:14 AM

    Mr. Bigger Brother, I believe you have a different definition of "feminism" than many people. Per 1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. 2. ( sometimes with initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
    If you have female coworkers who you respect and you believe deserve what they have because they are equal to you, then both you and them believe in feminism... Otherwise they would not be working in public, they would believe they are not suitable for such activities, or you would never see them because they would believe they should only be cleaning the office late at night or some such...
    I hate to break it to you, but if you do not believe women should be stuck in a cave cooking the meat and not get any credit or respect for that action, then you believe in feminism. Whatever activities/people you do dislike, they are not - by definition - "feminism." Thank you.

  • Kathy | March 16, 2012 11:45 PMReply

    Thanks for the great article. The breadth and depth of misogyny just shows why we can NEVER take feminist gains for granted and why we will ALWAYS need to have a strong global feminist movement. Feminism is survival.

  • DM | March 16, 2012 7:03 PMReply

    Hang in there, Melissa! It is pretty amazing how hateful people can be when it comes to the topic of women having more opportunities in film. That's exactly why we need you! Unfortunately, many women writer/directors/producers/etc worry about their careers being impacted if they speak up about the sexism they encounter in the business, so it is so important to have a person like you focussing on it. I really think it has made women a little more comfortable sharing their stories, and I believe it will continue to allow women to open up about it. You might not hear from us very often, but we're grateful for what you do.

    And, as far as the general vitriol aimed at women lately, I think it is in some way a response to women speaking out more-- thanks to blogs and social media where they have the power to broadcast themselves when traditional media ignores them. Women are pushing harder, so of course, the response is going to be louder than we've experienced in the recent past. I would posit that it's a good thing you don't delete the trolls because it shows just how real the negativity toward women is.

  • Tony | March 16, 2012 6:20 PMReply

    Ever called a male a penis, prick or dick? Exactly the same in reference to your privates. Does the mean that you are insulting an entire gender. No it doesn't in my view, it's time to grow up. Equality is cool, but it will never be equal if you play the sex card if a similar insult is aimed back (albeit more crude than the previous insults).

    The laws in some state in the US seem to me (as a non US citizen) totally archaic in regards to women's rights, but that can not be assimilated into this arguement, which is about a vulgar UK columnist commenting on a man whose only bodily function is the ability to blink who has the wish to die. Because wants to die and any help he gets will result in the person helping would create a felony, he would like another option. Allison even goes to suggest that he should forgo food to meet his end. Please read the link to the original article Allison had written, because I do not want to go over all the details of how vile her point is.

  • takingitoutside | March 22, 2012 12:24 AM

    As it happens, I'm in agreement with Eleanor here, but on top of that, you're wrong on another count. You say a similar insult was aimed back - who exactly aimed that equal insult at Mr. Stanhope, and when? He started the obscenities all by himself, and I'm not aware of Ms. Pearson calling him, to use your words, a prick, dick or penis. Your comparing *anyone* calling any guy an anatomical obscenity in *any circumstances* with one specific guy spewing obscenities in public forums (Facebook and Twitter) followed by over a hundred thousand people solely because he disagrees with the conclusions in one article she wrote is absurd.

    You seem to think that disagreeing with her or finding her argument "vile" is carte blanche to use any insult in existence. That's nonsense. Stanhope could have called her an idiot and no one would have cared. You yourself managed vulgar and vile, which one may not agree with, but are at least borderline polite. For that matter, you didn't even call her vile, you said that her point was, where Stanhope swept past her point to insult her entire self. On top of that, he reached for a particularly vile, gendered insult which carries connotations of violence against women to a large swathe of the population (including women who have actually been victims of violence). Stooping that low over so little provocation suggests that Mr. Stanhope needs to grow up, not those who condemn his misbehaviour.

  • Eleanor | March 19, 2012 2:38 PM

    Sorry , until you are comfortable using the "N word: in a crowded room of African Americans, you shouldn't use the "C word" directed at women, especially not to her face. It is easy to say something in a comment that you would never say across the desk from someone.

  • KR | March 16, 2012 5:38 PMReply

    Because wanting to see more women-directed films is JUST LIKE murdering six million people! LOL. I think we just have to accept that there's some serious mental illness out there. It seems that the Republicans have had to stop picking (so much) on Latinos because they're reading the writing on the wall, which is that Latinos are becoming a huge percentage of the voting public. So they seem to have decided to pick on women instead (though they'll likely end up with the same problem -- women vote). Internet wingnuts just seem to pick up on whatever Republicans are doing. It's a sign of a dying party, though, when your only agenda is convincing your wingnuts to hate the maligned-group-of-the-day. It does make me wonder who will be next.

  • Akiva Penaloza | March 16, 2012 4:39 PMReply

    I couldn't have said it better Melissa. I feel the exact same way. I am exhausted and angry. But I will still march come April 28th. I'm in the fight.

  • Shannon | March 16, 2012 3:28 PMReply

    Melissa, I feel your pain. It's a scary, depressing, exhausting, daunting time to be a woman. I work at Planned Parenthood and write female-driven movies. The work that you do inspires me to keep working to make women important on screen and in politics. If anything this last year has taught me, it's that when the Republicans strike women, we fight back. So let's keep fighting the good fight and keep hope alive.

  • Dawn | March 16, 2012 5:12 PM

    Amen Shannon, and amen Melissa. That kind of vitriol hurts everyone. Everyone.

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