A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

EW: Take a Closer Look at Misogyny in Pop Culture

Guest post by Derryl Murphy

The November 9/16, 2012 issue of Entertainment Weekly has a commentary by Keith Staskiewicz titled “Worst Wives Club,” which purports to ask why TV fans have so much hate for the women in their favorite shows. Booing Lori Grimes at NY Comic Con, being happy that Rita on Dexter was killed (“good riddance” is the quote used), and more: examples trotted out also include Betty Draper on Mad Men, Skyler on Breaking Bad, even Carmela Soprano, because wanting your husband to maybe lay off the nasty shit and come home for dinner is apparently the height of bitchiness and you therefore must pay.

We love watching men behaving badly (and in the case of Breaking Bad, baldly) on our drama series, but we save the lion’s share of our scorn for the women in their lives, whose main crime seems to be wanting them home in time for dinner.

-Keith Staskiewicz, “Worst Wives Club” Entertainment Weekly (November 9/16, 2012)

I wrote a letter in response, which is a tad shorter than what you see here, but still covers the same points.

Keith Staskiewicz’s column in the November 9/16 issue really seemed to miss the mark. A quick glance at the web and the news shows how fanboys have treated Anita Sarkeesian after her Tropes vs Women Kickstarter and her comments on misogyny in video games (start here and then move on if you wish). You can also see how members of the atheist and scientific community treated Rebecca Watson after she spoke out against harassment – see her article on Slate for the low down on this and make sure you read the comments to remind yourself just how horrible males (I refuse to use the word men) can be. And of course we can’t ignore how women were viewed by a large segment of people running for office in the latest US election, and how many religions treat women. It seems that misogyny is an equal opportunity blight, and no matter what community one might belong to, there are plenty of reasons offered by other members of that community for us to bow our heads in shame. Is it a surprise that TV fans (male, of course) feel threatened by women who don’t behave exactly as they want? Perhaps it’s time EW looks at how fans of pop culture treat females who tread on their so-called territory. At the very least, I’d be curious to know what their mothers and sisters and maybe even sometimes–unlikely as it would seem to many that people like this would even have them –wives and daughters think about the language they use, the rape fantasies they seem to harbor, the anger that just won’t go away.

Derryl Murphy is the author of the novel Napier’s Bones (CZP) and the new collection Over the Darkened Landscape (Fairwood Press). He lives with his family on the frozen Canadian prairie, and is on Twitter as @derrylm.

Thanks to Derryl for letting me share this. I haven’t read the EW piece (it’s not online yet or I’d link it here), so if you have, chime in and let us know what you think. I think it’s so important that we speak out in whatever way moves us whenever we’re inspired to, and I sincerely hope EW gives some thought to Derryl’s suggestion. ~Rosie

8 responses

  1. Derryl Murphy

    I’ll note that this started as a letter to a magazine, and therefore truncated so they would be more likely to consider it for publication. Marti asked me to expand on it a bit, but not a lot. I do appreciate seeing other thoughts and ideas, though; the conversation is far more important than the initial statement, IMO. I guess in the end I was trying to say that this misogyny seems to be cropping up everywhere, and it’s important to look more to the root than to shake our heads and wonder about those crazy fans in a singularly unquestioning way. A mirror needs to be held up, at the very least.

    November 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm

  2. Sam

    I agree with Derryl’s urging to speak out against misogyny wherever we see it, but I will have to quibble with the assumption that the offending t.v. fans are “male, of course”. I am in a couple of fandoms (admittedly, where some of the crazies hang out) where it is actually the female fans that are the most vocal and most vitriolic about the female characters. So there is educating to be done all around.

    November 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

    • Yeah, internalised misogyny is all too common in fandom. I’ve noticed it a lot in fanfic, especially slash fic written by women. They tend to kill off the female love interests of the male characters they want to put together, or make those love interests incompetent or nasty or evil, to get them out of the way of the Pure Manlove they want to depict.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm

  3. Wait, people said “Good riddance” when Rita died? Between that and Frank Lundy being killed off, I got so mad at the show that I swore never to watch it again. (And so far have not.)

    November 21, 2012 at 1:34 am

  4. Derryl Murphy

    Hi Jess. Can you clarify for me how my point is an amplification rather than contradiction? Certainly I chose to amplify (good word, actually) things that have been said and done elsewhere, because I suspect there are still many out there who are quite clueless about what’s been happening. But if I’ve misspoken, I’m keen to find out how.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    • Sure. It’s a small thing, really, but when I read, “Keith Staskiewicz’s column […] really seemed to miss the mark,” I thought your post was going to be a rebuttal. But upon reading, it seems that you’re saying that fans do tend to hate female characters *as a part of* the wider culture of misogyny in fandom. Is that an accurate summary? It’s possible I’m projecting my own experiences here.

      November 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm

  5. I haven’t read the EW piece, but it seems like Derryl’s point is an amplification of it, rather than a contradiction?

    When I was active in online fandom, I definitely saw this phenomenon (of hating the female characters, especially love interests of popular male characters) a lot, and it was part of a wider culture of misogyny.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm

  6. JackieP

    Love this and yes we should speak out when ever and where ever we can. If we don’t then we are no better then these males. Just by being silent. As for hoping EW giving thought to the suggestions. Doubtful, but there is always a tiny ray of hope burning.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

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