I don’t often comment on pop culture, especially celebrity culture, but every once in a while something catches my attention that I have to comment on. Last month I read about an Australian cricket player, Chris Gayle, who was fined $10,000 Australian dollars (and almost suspended) for “making inappropriate comments to a female reporter in a live TV interview.” In the interview, Gayle comments on the reporter’s “beautiful eyes” several times and then says he hopes to be able to go on a date with her and calls her “baby.” He was punished for “sexual harassment,” fined and almost suspended for the incident.
Yet today I saw a video of two Hollywood actresses very relentlessly hitting on a male reporter, without any resultant public uproar, fine or reprisal. While the incident may have been scripted (I do not know one way or another), it depicts two women very aggressively objectifying a male reporter and going way beyond anything Chris Gayle said and did in his fine-worthy gaff last month. The women blatantly tell the reporter that he is handsome then point at him, motioning for some other women to come over and have a look at the “hot man.” At one point they even ask the male reporter to undo the buttons on his shirt in order to show them his “swollen” muscles. And the male reporter obliges them as they ogle and comment on his physique and good looks. Even if it was just a stunt (and I suspect it may be scripted) it is presented as a real exchange between these randy women and the “hot” male reporter. There has been no shaming of these women for objectifying him. Instead mainstream entertainment media is applauding the actresses and telling them to “Work it, Ladies!”
As a woman, I see a major double standard here. If men are not allowed to hit on women then why are women allowed to do it—and in this case in a much more sexual and brazen manner—without any reprisal or uproar? Parity must go both ways or the whole argument is meaningless. If we punish men but not women then it risks becoming a tool that can be used on an ad hoc basis to single out certain individuals.
This is part of the larger problem with identity politics, liberalism and mainstream western feminism in general. Identity politics places people into little camps and inadvertently pits them against one another (i.e., male vs. female, white vs. black, homosexual vs. heterosexual) in counter productive ways. Ironically, in its pursuit of equality, identity politics often divides people– focusing more on differences than our common humanity and common struggles. At the present historical juncture of hyper-predatory capitalism, everyday people are increasingly at risk of unemployment, underemployment, crippling debt and growing economic despair regardless of their race, sex or sexual preference. While certain groups may be more negatively affected (i.e., black populations are disproportionately effected by poverty, etc), the larger issue here is class, meaning the majority of us who are not wealthy or famous are suffering financially, including the shrinking middle class. These are issues I will address in greater depth next month in my first VLOG.
For now I just want to point out the blatant double standard at play. If men had done to a female reporter what the women in this video did, there would have been a huge uproar. Had two men asked a female reporter –on mainstream network television—to unbutton her blouse so they could get a look at her, errr, “swollen” breasts, heads would have rolled. But in this case, since the culprits are women, it is presented as cute and perfectly acceptable?? Basically, when Chris Gayle broke society’s rules about “sexual harassment” he was punished and fined but when two women do the same thing (in a much more brazen and tacky manner) they are applauded and egged on.
Just Some Things To Ponder…