"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Friday, April 18, 2008

Yeah, I don't know about this.

The movie news blog SlashFilm has just posted this leaked filmshot from the upcoming Indiana Jones movie, along with some rather odd commentary:


Worth a laugh. A new crop of grainy images have surfaced at IESB for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Their origin is unknown at this time. We’ve included the best one above. Memorable movie scenes where a guy punches out a lady on screen are few and far, with Christoper McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun easily in the top 3. Here we have Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt Williams readying a tiny fist for Cate Blanchett’s villainess Russian agent Irina Spalko while gunning it through the jungle. So, now you know.

Discuss: What do you think Shia’s character says right before he socks her? Best answer wins worldwide fame.

Um, wow. And you can imagine what the comments are like, since the blogger pretty much just declared it open season for misogyny.

Before you tell me to "lighten up", realize that my complaint is not with this random image -- a screenshot that may or may not end up in the forthcoming film -- it's with the irresponsibly sexist framing of this picture being "worth a laugh", and the invitation for readers to light-heartedly add their own caption to an image that depicts a man punching a woman in the face. I have a problem with the blogger regarding cinematic violence against women as a novelty to poke fun at and rank into a "top 3". And I don't know what movies he's been watching, but I sure wouldn't call film scenes with men assaulting women "few and far". Plenty such scenes are burned into my brain. Maybe they just somehow escape his notice?

And on the topic of violence against women, I have to point out this totally rad post by Melissa, in which she explains the sexist implications of men saying they want to punch Hillary Clinton in the face (emphasis is mine):

Ultimately, if you want to punch Hillary Clinton for being Hillary Clinton, or because of the sound of her voice, that's your prerogative, but you ought to at least have the integrity to own it wholly, which means owning the entire context: Irrespctive of whether it's specifically because she's a woman, the desire to punch a woman necessarily carries with it particular cultural baggage, including, for example, that women are disproportionately victimized by domestic violence and that women's voices and tones are routinely singled out as prohibitively unbearable. That's the context of womanhood.

It's something of which I must be conscious, too—I am reluctant to use violent imagery generally, but extremely averse to using it when discussing women I don't like. Despite the distinct unlikelihood that anyone would mistake misogyny as my motivation, even a (metaphorical) attack within a culture in which women—particularly strong, opinionated women—have historically been silenced with threatened or actual violence borrows and legitimizes misogynist strategies. I don't have to like Hillary Clinton's voice (although, for the record, I do), or her policies or her sense of humor or her decision to stay in the race, and neither does anyone else—but, regardless of intent, the public declaration of a desire to punch her in response summons an ugly history of physically silencing uppity women. And, no, a threat to punch a man doesn't work quite the same way—care of the double standard brought to you daily by the patriarchy.

(I feel pretty confident that I can safely say, on behalf of feminist women everywhere, we'll happily give up the disparity between threats to hit men and women in exchange for full equality. Just FYI, for any dudez who might be feeling the harrumph of unfairness.)

I'd say the SlashFilm blogger (and about 90% of his dudely commenters) needs some Feminism 101.


Anonymous said...


Tracey said...

Great post, and I totally agree that the taboo of hitting a woman, even in a battle between known fighters, is worth shattering.

The thing that bothered me about the Slashfilm post was how the writer portrayed it as "worth a laugh" and basically invited all the sexism in the comments by asking them to caption the photo. The results were pretty vile.