Tag Archives: Sexism

Why Seth Macfarlane Owes Women Everywhere an Apology

25 Feb seth-macfarlane-oscar-2013-opening

So the Oscars were last night, and for the first time in maybe ever I actually sat through them. It was a challenge. I am sure by now even those of you who didn’t watch the awards have heard about Seth Macfarlane’s atrocious performance. Making racist, sexist, and truly offensive jokes is never ok, ever. The thing is, his jokes weren’t even funny. They were poorly crafted, awkwardly delivered, and poorly received. Macfarlane touched on topics as far reaching as violence against women, eating disorders, and gun violence. Not to mention the fact that he sexualized a 9 year-old girl. Yes, he did that.

Let’s just start with the opening act “We saw your boobs”. Ok, yes-female actors are sometimes asked to go topless for roles. Sometimes these scenes are very powerful and really add to the movie- sometimes they do not. What Seth did was strip these women of their talent, their hard work, and turn them into objects present for male pleasure rather than professional actors. He didn’t make any jabs at the film industry for asking these women to go topless, he didn’t comment on male nudity, or lack thereof in the film industry. All of these things could have been done, and done well, and would have made his crude joke somewhat more appealing. This annoying, poorly done song essentially told these women, who by the way were named specifically, that their work was not valued in Hollywood. He was telling them that men weren’t watching them and valuing their work, but rather that their male audiences were simply giggling at their boob shots and ignoring their work as a whole.

It’s also important to point out that many of these nude scenes he describes were in fact rape scenes, Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry for example. Clearly, these topless shots were only there for men to get off on… Honestly?

And this was just the opening act.

349220530_rihanna-chrisbrown-467I’m just going to run through a few of the other terrible things he said last night. Of Django Unchained, “This is a story of a man fighting to get back his woman who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence –or, as Rihanna and Chris Brown call it, a date movie!” Ok, so just for starters, joking about violence against women isn’t cool in the same way that joking about rape isn’t cool. And doing it at the Oscars just perpetuates the idea in common culture that these jokes are ok, that they don’t in any way lessen these acts of violence and therefore lead to a frame of mind which enables men to commit them because they don’t think its really all that big of a deal. Also, Django Unchained is about a black woman being subjected to violence at the hands of a white man, and then being rescued by a black man- maybe Macfarlane should have watched the movie first as well.

 

Seth went on to sexualize 9 year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, the amazing young actress in Beasts of the Southern Wild when he made a crack about the possibility of her getting with George Clooney. QWImmediately after he made the joke Macfarlane giggled nervously and threw Clooney a drink by way of apology- I think he maybe realized he had stepped over the line. But then again, maybe he was just worried Clooney beat the shit out of him later.

Oh, and who could forget Seth’s remark on eating disorders. He thanked all of the women in the audience who conveniently got “the flu” a few weeks before the awards and told them that they all looked great. So, not only did he make fun of eating disorders and the body dimorphic that rages through the country, he applauded it. I actually almost stopped watching at this point.

slide_282793_2146233_freeAt one point Macfarlane joked about Jennifer Aniston possibly being an exotic dancer. This joke honestly, just wasn’t funny. I think that Seth was trying to poke fun at Channing Tatum for being an exotic dancer, but rather than making fun of the man he chose to demean his female cohost for no real reason. It just didn’t really make sense as a joke. Jennifer Aniston is an attractive, powerful woman. I guess its easier to try to bring her down than to do the same to an attractive, powerful man

When talking about the movie Lincoln, Macfarlane really took it too far. In a year rife with gun violence, making a joke about an assassination was seriously out of line. Just so you are aware, Seth said this- “I would argue that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head, was John Wilkes-Booth.” Just let that sink in.

Of Zero Dark Thirty Macfarlane said that the movie was an example of “a woman’s innate ability to never let anything go.” This movie is based on actual events, and an actual woman. I’m not saying I agree with the premise, or the events that take place in the movie, but the fact that he felt the need to attribute this woman’s work to an annoying female stereotype is ridiculous. If the movie had been based on a man, there’s no way that it would have been trivialized to this degree. Seriously Seth, back the fuck off women.

He also made an of the cuff remark about the Kardashians being harry, stating that the scruffy Ben Affleck could be mistaken for one of them. I don’t know what it is about powerful, successful women that Macfarlane has a problem with, but it seemed to be the only premise for his jokes this night.

Ok, and possibly one of the most offensive comments of the night was both sexist and racist. While introducing Selma Hayek, Macfarlane said that we as an audience had no idea what she was saying but it didn’t matter because she was so attractive. Ok, so not only does this make fun of the fact that she is of Latin decent for no reason, she is a great actress who has been in countless American films- we can understand what she is saying- this joke also essentially tells us that what she has to day doesn’t matter, her only value to us as an audience lies in her appearance. slide_282793_2146875_freeWhich, might I just say also basically says that the only audience Seth cares about is his male audience. He says “we” don’t care because she is so attractive, but what he means is all the men here, who are the only ones that matter, don’t care.

Which I guess pretty much sums up Macfarlane’s attitude for the entire evening. All of his jokes were made at the expense of the amazing women in the room for the “entertainment” of the men (I am not convinced that anyone, other than the drunk frat guys watching at home were truly entertained).

 

It’s kind of a shame too; it could have been a pretty ok night for women. No, we weren’t well represented in the nominations, but many of the women who were present, who performed were truly kick ass. Quvenzhané Wallis’ character in Beasts of the Southern Wild is such a great role-model for young girls, Wallis herself is a great role-model. She’s 9 freaking-years-old! I still couldn’t make cereal at nine, let alone get nominated for an Oscar… Jennifer Lawrence is also pretty bad ass, and she won best actress for Silver Linings Playbook, which if you haven’t seen, is absolutely amazing. Her character in this film is strong, opinionated, loud, and challenges slut shaming in an in-your-face kind of way that I adored.

slide_282793_2146372_freeThe performers were also amazing; Adele, Norah Jones, Jennifer Hudson, Shirley Bassey, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Barbra Streisand- talk about some powerhouse women! Also, Michelle Obama presented the best picture award. The Oscars this year really could have been a night for powerful women (Ok, minus the fact that when the Avengers cast was on stage, Scarlett Johansson was mysteriously absent and the fact that the in memoriam segment seriously lacked female representation).

This night really needed a strong, female host. I, along with a lot of people out in the Twittersphere would have been more than happy with another hosting by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Now that would have been a good Oscars, and might have made me forget the fact that so few women were nominated this year, especially outside of performance roles.

But I digress. My point it, if you are going to hire an asshole male to host a classy event such as the Oscars, vet him a little bit. If he is going to make crude, offensive jokes, AT LEAST make them funny- but seriously, I would prefer less offensive jokes please. You really don’t need to alienate over half the country just to garner a few laughs from some drunken frat guys- who I still maintain are the only demographic who found those jokes funny.

Seth Macfarlane was a miss, in a big way.

Dat Dog: A Sad Tale of Racism and Sexual Harassment in a Local Business

29 Jan

I love local business. I love food. And while I am a vegetarian, I was always a huge fan of Dat Dog. I was there when it was just a small stand on Freret Street, and I witnessed it morph into the beautiful, quirky restaurant we know today. I was excited to hear about the opening of a second location on Magazine Street. I love hearing stories of small business success, which is why when a woman, “Abby” approached me with a story about her experience working there I almost didn’t want to hear it. Almost.

The revitalization of Freret Street has been met with some resistance. In an effort to bring in new business and bring down crime rates the once primarily black community has become more and more marginalized, losing time old traditions such as its second line. While lowering crime and bringing in business can be great, it is important to do so while still maintaining the culture of the community that was there before rather than trying to whitewash an entire neighborhood.

Dat Dog is a prime example. I have gone there, with many of my rich uptown Tulane friends. In fact, I frequent much of Freret Street with these same groups of people. Considering that it is located in a largely black community it is startling to see how few African Americans are employed at many of these businesses.

This was one of the issues my source, a former employee of Dat Dog, brought up to one of her managers. She asked him why there were no minorities working there, despite the fact that the store is located in a primarily black neighborhood. The response she received to her inquiries?

“We need people who can read and write…”

I guess, at least he was honest…?

This alone unsettled me, but the story gets worse.

My source told me that in April, shortly after Dat Dog moved to its new, larger location they hired a new manager. Lets call him “John”. John quickly became known for making sexual comments and sexual gestures to the majority of the female staff. Finally Abby and one of her fellow employees, “Jane”, had enough, and they complained- to no avail. After their complaints John began targeting his sexual harassment towards Jane specifically. The harassment got progressively worse for Jane, from vaguely creepy comments to him looking her up and down saying, “You look like you wanna go home with someone tonight…“. She complained twice more and was repeatedly told by her superiors simply not talk to him, to avoid him. Although Jane did as she was told he would still harass her. She’d continued to go to her superiors reporting the new offenses, and they would just shake their heads and tell her he was a moron. It was, as Abby states “insane.”

Once again, here is an example of putting the pressure on the victim, of making it their responsibility not to get sexually harassed. This is what patriarchy looks like in everyday life.

A third girl, “Emily”, who had been facing extreme sexual harassment by John eventually approached them. She told them that she had been too afraid to come forward, that she had no idea he was harassing others at work as well. John had invited her to a pool party under the pretense that it was a work party and that everyone from Dat Dog would be attending. Long story short, they weren’t. Emily went to the party to find that it was just she, John, and a few of his male friends. Emily told them that he hit on her repeatedly, that he smacked her ass, and that when she finally called him out on it- telling him that sexual harassment is not O.K.– he simply told her that no one was around to witness it so there was nothing that she could do.

Eventually, around September, John was fired, but according to my source it was basically like chopping off one head and replacing it with two more. In late September, two new men who were just as bad if not worse replaced John. One of the men made a comment to a fellow female employee one night at the end of her shift that he was “thinking about her in ways that would make her husband unhappy.”

Eventually more employees started to complain about the sexual harassment that they were facing at work, but according to my coworker nearly 40 of them either quit or were fired for “lack of morale”.  The woman I spoke with said it took a lot for her to finally quit, but what finally pushed her over the edge was when one of the managers made a mistake on the computer when he was adding up the profits for the day. They came up short and he took it from the employee’s wages. This finally gave her momentum to put in her notice and leave this organization that I once thought of as inspiring.

Sadly, for Abby this wasn’t the end of the story. She was unemployed for months. She couldn’t pay any of her bills or her rent. Abby did originally file for unemployment and after an initial letter stating she would be granted the unemployment, she received a second letter stating that her claim had been contested by a previous employer alleging that she had lied about the circumstances under which she left her job. Abby told me that fighting the claim while being unemployed and having no money would have been nearly impossible. She and her fellow ex-Dat Dog employees thought about suing, they thought about filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but they were so drained from fighting management and not being heard that they decided they just wanted to move on with their lives- something that Abby says she is still trying to do.

This kind of blatant racism, sexism, and harassment is what makes it so difficult for women to succeed and advance in the work place. We are told to get thicker skin, to toughen up, but when your livelihood is at stake, when your wages are being garnished, and no one is listening to what you have to say it can feel more than hopeless. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Women shouldn’t be afraid to go to work. They shouldn’t have to choose between working in a hostile environment or face months of unemployment. When people suggest that we live in a “post-racial” era, or that sexism doesn’t exist, they should really take a closer look at the everyday goings on at the businesses they spend their time and money at.

Sadly, the service industry is rampant with racism, and sexism. I don’t think that it needs to be however. As brave as these young women were for voicing their concerns, and leaving this establishment, the power for change lies in the money. It is unlikely that these common practices will ever change solely from the efforts of those who work in the service industry, its takes people on the outside exposing this behavior to make a difference.

Remember, every time you make a purchase you are casting a vote. For me, until I learn that Dat Dog has severely revamped their managing practices I know I wont be casting my vote for them any time soon. I urge you to do the same.

cycpyper

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