Why do we force penguins to apply to Harvard?


Roisin O’Connor asks in the Independent

Why do we reduce a woman’s work to whether it’s feminist or not?

Eh? First of all, “we” don’t. Hating on feminism is a thriving business (and an even more thriving hobby). Second, even among people who do see things from a feminist point of view, very few of them “reduce a woman’s work to whether it’s feminist or not.” That rhetorical question is sort of like asking “why do we force-feed children stale Raisin Bran?” It assumes facts not in evidence, and it’s kind of random.

It comes at the end of a piece explaining why a new video about torturing and murdering a woman is a great thing.

Rihanna has directed the music video for her latest single ‘Bitch Better Have My Money‘, and it is violent, intense and unnerving, raising all sorts of questions without answering any of them.

In the opening scenes we see a blonde-haired woman with a fluffy dog kissing her boyfriend (‘The Accountant’) goodbye and getting into a lift, where Rihanna is waiting with a Louis Vuitton case. The lift doors open on the ground floor, and Rihanna emerges dragging the trunk, which appears to have become suspiciously heavier.

The woman is then dragged around by Rihanna and two sidekicks, at various points she is stripped naked and hung upside down, hit over the head with a bottle, and forced to down vodka and take drugs.

Sound fun? Not to me. I don’t like watching pretend-sadism onscreen.

The people criticising Rihanna for her highly stylised video are happy to gush about Quentin Tarantino’s genius and his creative vision, and controversial as he is they would rarely question his authority as an auteur. There was little fuss over the raped and murdered bank teller in From Dusk Till Dawn, the brutalised prostitutes in Frank Miller’s Sin City, or the bikini clad college girls snorting coke and shooting down pimps in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, all of which are hailed as “cult classics”.

I wonder if O’Connor actually knows that. I wonder if she knows they are the same people at all. I’m betting she doesn’t, because it’s been my experience that people who like hipster violence in entertainment like it across the board…and don’t give a rat’s ass about feminism.

So back to her question, which wraps up the piece.

Why do we reduce a woman’s work to whether it’s feminist or not? Rihanna certainly doesn’t care what you think, she’s counting the money she just got back, the Queen of DGAF.

Well sure, and the people who get lots of money from other misogynist cultural products also don’t give a fuck what I think. So what? Rihanna’s bank account isn’t by itself an argument.


  1. drken says

    When people say “there was no fuss back when…” they tend to conveniently forget that those who did complain about it were either ignored, or shouted down with accusations of “feminazi” and being “Politically Correct”. For example, It’s great that people now see the rape scene in Revenge of the Nerds as an actual rape, but let’s not forget that when the movie came out, those who called them out on it weren’t taken very seriously. Also, those who called Eddie Murphy’s “Raw” homophobic were told to get a sense of humor. Yet somehow it’s now mainstream to point how dated it now seems. Also, Al Jolson, etc.

  2. says

    I can’t help but associate this post with this comment:

    Basically, they’re like the christian conservatives who couldn’t understand the liberal uproar about Josh Duggar. Those folks have two boxes (stealing from Libby Anne here): Rightful sex (Man, woman, married, PIV) and Unrightful sex (outides of marriage, masturbation, contraception, same sex, rape). And since liberals are OK with about anything in the latter box except rape, conservatives think they’re hypocrites for objecting against rape. They cannot understand that our boxes are very different, one saying “consent” and the other “no consent”

    Not all depictions of violence are equal. It’s entirely possible for two videos to depict exactly the same act and yet send entirely different messages.

  3. L.A. Julian says

    Plenty of people complained about Sin City’s sexism — somwhow O’Connor missed it all.

    And the woman victim is just a means to get at Rihanna’s “real” enemy, the (male) accountant — which pushes it into classic “fridging” territory. (Based, I am told, on a real feud with a accountant she blames for losing her a fortune — so possibly a case of threatening, but definitely not feminist in blaming/punishing a man’s girlfriend to get back at him, even if only symbolically. Why not a “Goodbye Earl” type video punishing the male offender, instead of sexualized violence against his innocent female partner?)

  4. says

    drken @ 1 – that too, yes. I’ve been making a “fuss” about that kind of thing for decades. It was never what one would call a majority view, and it still isn’t.

  5. footface says

    It’s true. I don’t remember Facebook or Twitter blowing up about “From Dusk Til Dawn” when it came out. In 1996. Years before Facebook and Twitter existed.

    “Making a fuss” and “calling something out” and “getting together to condemn” looked a lot different back then.

  6. S Mukherjee says

    So now we can’t even criticise someone for making a violent video showing torture and abuse of a woman? Sometimes I just despair.

  7. Sea Monster says

    I hate it when people use ‘we’ as a weasel-word. They use ‘we’ when they mean ‘you (all)’.

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