Misogyny (et al.) at the Oscars

NSFW: expletives

A row of Oscar awards

“This wasn’t an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.”

An article by Margaret Lyons at   Vulture.com has been making the rounds on the internet: “Why Seth MacFarlane’s Misogyny Matter.
(MacFarlane is the creator of Family Guy, and hosted the Oscars this year.)

Lyons does a nice job of summing up experiences that are all too common for many of us but haven’t sunk in to our cultures at large:

“Yes, I can take a joke. I can take a bunch! A thousand, 10,000, maybe even more! But after 30 or so years, this stuff doesn’t feel like joking. It’s dehumanizing and humiliating, and as if every single one of those jokes is an ostensibly gentler way of saying, “I don’t think you belong here.” All those little instances add up, grain of sand by grain of sand until I’m stranded in a desert of every “tits or GTFO” joke I’ve ever tried to ignore.”

Lindy West at Jezebel.com also posted an article about MacFarlane, coining the term “sexism fatigue.”  (I wouldn’t be surprised if another term for this already exists in the academic literature.  And if it doesn’t, it should.)

Sexism Fatigue: When Seth MacFarlane Is a Complete Ass and You Don’t Even Notice

“Seth MacFarlane will go on the television and make a joke about George Clooney having sex with a 9-year-old girl who is sitting right there, and your first reaction will be, “Well. At least he didn’t literally say she should get raped. Pass the cheese.”

That’s bad. A famous man making sexist jokes on a primetime awards show watched by millions of people is so banal and status-quo in our culture, that to me—a woman professionally committed to detecting and calling bullshit on sexism—it just feels like a drop in the bucket.”

West also coins another phrase in her article:

“Fuck the bucket.  If I’m not fatigued, I’m not caring enough. So fuck that stupid bucket.”

I hope there’s an equivalent term for this in the academic literature, too.

4 thoughts on “Misogyny (et al.) at the Oscars

  1. Please, the misogyny starts the minute the first woman steps onto the red carpet and everyone comments on the way she looks, and precious little is said about her work or why she’s actually there. Every media outlet has a worst dressed list, and they dredge up what everyone wore in the past. And Joan Rivers and her cronies are just atrocious. She commented that Adele, who just had a baby for God’s sake, was “rolling in the deep fried chicken” yet fails to see her obsession with youth is making her look like a character from the movie “Brazil”. MacFarlane is just the icing on the cake.

    I personally thought the anti-semitic jokes were as shockingly offensive, but there’s been very little comment about that, except from the anti-defamation league.

  2. I agree; no matter who the host is, there’s plenty of objectification going on.

    And I think your point about the anti-semitism speaks to the exhaustion that West talks about. When I wrote this post I thought about also discussing the the mix of racism and sexism leveled at Quvenzhané Wallis, but then realized that merits an entire discussion on its own (one that has been happening on the internet, like here: http://www.racialicious.com/2013/02/25/apparently-people-have-beef-with-quvenzhane-wallis). If I did include the stuff about Wallis, then this post probably would have become twice as long and I decided I didn’t want to spend another 40 minutes searching for links and proofreading. So instead I titled the post “Misogyny (et al.)” to hopefully signify that there’s more than just Macfarlane’s sexist jokes going on.

    But even with all those other things going on, it’s still worthwhile point to out that even something that’s “the icing on the cake” can be a tipping point where someone succumbs to exhaustion and says, “Well. At least he didn’t literally say she should get raped. Pass the cheese.” Neither of the authors are arguing (I think) that MacFarlane’s misogyny was the most egregious or shocking offense of the evening. If anything, I think the articles are backing up your point in that, “OMFG, even the ICING on this Oscar cake is hella sexist!”

    And on that note, here’s a post I just found that tries to catalogue everything that was cringe-worthy at the Oscars, which is a tall order.

  3. well said. i am sick of it too. i don’t need to nitpick over who exactly said what and when and what sex they are, or are not, but racism, sexism, homophobia et al is not funny, unless there is a thought of framing in it that can be funny without degrading or ridiculing apart from the bigots or bigotry behind it.

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