30 December 2007

A Year in Hollywood, or a Chronicle of Misogyny?

Today's Chronicle-Herald features a round-up of the year's "biggest" Hollywood stories. It is entitled "A wacky, tacky, skanky year," which should set off alarm bells as to what its content holds. Sure enough, it features a lot of woman-bashing, going from Britney Spears to Amy Winehouse to Paris Hilton to Lindsay Lohan before finally mentioning a single male's antics for the year. When a news story portrays women only in negative lights, using all the cliches that they can fit into a sentence (Britney was "drinking and partying" after everything she did, while Lohan's "firecrotch" came up somehow), that story is sexist and degrading to women. Men only feature into the story when it's for their despicable actions and statements towards women and minorities, demonstrating again the contempt that they have. Don Imus's "nappy headed hos" comment appears, as does Alec Baldwin's reference to his daughter as a "little pig," and the fight between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee is reduced to being about visitation rights to Pamela Anderson's breasts. The entire eye-rolling article can be read here.
How does this relate to violence against women? By holding women in the context of being "less than," there emerges a sense that they "deserve" whatever negative treatment comes to them. There was a news story yesterday about a woman in the United States who was gang-raped for fourteen hours, yet a mention that she initially came to the men's house to do drugs with them is going to be a centrepiece of the defence team's legal case, because their perspective is that because she came to do one activity with them, she is by default consenting to do other activities with them. In that sense, she "deserved" to be raped for doing something like going to do drugs with bad people, so the argument goes.
The manner in which Hollywood celebrities are treated--particularly women--is very telling of men's attitudes. They say that people "love to see a hero fall" or a celebrity "fall from grace." This is a cover story for the seeming reality that men love to see women degraded, shamed, and humiliated publicly. This is what they do to the most famous and powerful women in the world, and it affects how they treat women who are much less famous and much less powerful. No matter what their standing in life, women can be reduced to a thing, an object, something to be scorned and hated. This is the attitude that fuels misogyny, and it is continually stimulated by news stories such as the one in today's Chronicle-Herald.

No comments: