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Quote of the day: “We’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.”

Ladies, please! We don't need to see THAT.

Quiz! Who said the following, in reference to the presence of women on television?

Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods. … [W]e’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.

Was it?

  1. W.F. Price of The Spearhead
  2. Christopher in Oregon, legendary vagina-hating Man Going His Own Way
  3. Reddit commenter VjayjaysAreIcky69

Trick question! It was actually Two and a Half Men co-creator Lee Aronsohn, complaining to The Hollywood Reporter about the female-centric sticoms that have popped up of late. (There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to shows like Whitney and 2 Broke Girls, but “the main characters have vaginas” ain’t it.)

In a keynote address at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, Aronsohn also defended his show’s tendency to portray women in a less-than-flattering light:

Screw it. … We’re centering the show on two very damaged men. What makes men damaged? Sorry, it’s women. I never got my heart broken by a man.

So brave, Aronsohn, so brave, standing up to the Matriarchy like that!

On ThinkProgress, Alyssa Rosenberg lays into Aronsohn:

[H]aving to hear that ladies have menstrual cycles, take birth control pills, and enjoy sex is just unbearable, right? Because even though the number of female characters on television tends to hover in the low 40 percent range, we’re just saturated with vaginas, because god forbid stories about men and their ish don’t absolutely dominate the media? Because even though those shows Aronsohn’s complaining about have actually created more writing and directing jobs for men than women, and resulted in some really awful portrayals as a result, we couldn’t possibly let women come to expect that they’ll have access to stories both about them and by them, could we? Because where would that leave poor, suffering, disadvantaged American men?

And then she takes on the entertainment industry in general, for tolerating his troglodyte views:

[T]hat Aronsohn is dumb and woman-fearing enough not just to believe this, to blithely admit he believes it to a major publication tells you everything about how cosseted Hollywood’s disgusting sexists are. You want to know why we get what we get on movie and television screens? …  Because there are, apparently, no consequences in Hollywood for being perfectly open about how much you despise women’s bodies and the contours of women’s lives.

Maude Lebowski, what do you have to say about all this?

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10 years ago

that isn’t technically what i’m saying, but i’ll take it

10 years ago

A month ago I sat through 5 hours of a very weird adaptation of The merchant of Venice, King Lear and Hamlet (mixed) in Hungarian subtitled in French.
I’m still not sure what happened. There was a lot more nudity than I expected, but that’s far from being the oddest thing in the play.

I wonder, are you all reading the text/watching the play in the original English? Because I tried to read a bit of it, and reading old English with my knowledge of modern English feels almost as trying to read Portuguese with my knowledge of Spanish.

10 years ago

I have a really frought relationship with Romeo and Juliet. I love the language but I find it difficult because of the way romantic love is portrayed. The kind of love the protagonists share is, to my mind deeply unhealthy, and I dislike the way our culture interprets it as the epitome of that particular view of love. I’m pretty sure that Shakespeare didn’t intend for it to be interpreted that way but we have and to be completely honest I think it does us a disservice.

Personally, I prefer, As You Like It, Twelfth Night (the one with Imogene Stubbs Helena Bonham-Carter) and Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh/Thomson version).

10 years ago

Whoo Boy! Go to Paris for a couple of weeks and miss the fun.

I’d reccomend “Contested Will” as a pretty good rundown of both Shakespeare in his time, and how he came to be what he is today.

I am not a Shakespeare scholar. I am something of a student of the period, mostly in England (because it’s the stuff I can most easily read in primary sources).

Theatre was a mixed bag. Actors were seen about as they are today. A dicey way to make a living, and one spent time with people of questionable morals. Because of how all the other trades were arranged, players had to have sponsors, or they were, “sturdy beggars” (think buskers in the streets).

But they travelled. They did strange one-offs (see Will Kemps Nine Days Wonder, of which the language still makes reference). They had patrons. Not because giving cover to, “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men” was prestiguous, but because the Lord Chamberlain both wanted to be able to go to the shows, and needed to know he had a troupe he could command to perform if he needed to supply an entertainment.

It was a trade. There were apprenticeships, and specialists (Kemp was a clown, Burbage was a dramatic lead). Shakespeare was famous in his day, and seen as a cut above the rest; even in his life, and most certainly very shortly after his death.

By virtue of both that, and the lack of really intense interest in his life, right after his death, he has slipped into a strange place of icon; revered more for what he represents, than for who he was, and what he did.

That the language hasn’t changed all that much* is part of it. That he was a cut above his peers is part of it. That Elizabeth I’s reign is seen as a bit of a golden age is part of it.

That we don’t really understand the serious differences in mindset between the people of Shakespeare’s day and ourselves, and then (as is the case in most times) project our values to the things/people we read&dag; doesn’t help. We have (always) done this, but it tends to make us think we know what is going on, when we don’t. One of the classic examples of this is the bedroom scene in Hamlet; where he is beruking his mother. It’s said that his use of “you” is a censure, but that’s because we don’t appreciate the role of office, compared to that of family. He never, in the play, calls his mother, to her face, in the familiar. She was both his mother, and the queen.

Those were important things to the people of the day. To have used the intimate would have been to make a very different statement, and Shakespeare knew it; which we no longer do. Some of the “lesser” playwrights didn’t know it quite so well.

And Shakespeare was well thought of in his day. There were the “bad quartos”; stolen from the “roles” the actors had to read from (nothing but their lines, and cues to entrance) or written out from the memories of those who went to the show. There were the people who claimed they had really written some of the works now attributed to him; though those claims weren’t made until after he died, and the contest wasn’t really one that could be answered.

It’s an interesting time, and far to large to sum up, well, here.

(addendum; the need for patronage was to be able to rehearse. The theaters were in Southwark, and so outside the bounds of the City of London. It wasn’t so much the city which was the problem, as the laws against “sturdy beggars”. It took things like plague to get the theaters shut down)

*Which is another long subject; compare Shakespeare to the modern day. Compare Shakespeare to Chaucer. Compare Chaucer to Beowulf. Note the difference in langauge. Then ponder that the time lag between each of the objects in those pairs is the same. The printing press has slowed the rate of change. Neil Postman argues, in “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, that literacy is failing, and the likelihood is language will again start to change more rapidly.

Nicholas Ostler argues, in, “The Last Lingua Franca” that the net will actually do more for the ossification of languages; and the death of multilingualism; at the world level, but that’s the problem of reading too much… everything seems to interelate.

&dag; (sadly I can’t seem to find; probably lost in a move, the book which discusses how much Shakespeare managed to catch the non-period thinking of Rome in the histories, all the while using the very different ways the Romans thought to illustrate themes of interest to his audience

10 years ago

…I love Midsummer. It appeals to my fondness for absurdity and farces. I mean, the point isn’t the PLOT, the point is people getting in assorted bizarre situations (and also getting turned into donkeys by Oberon) (and also Puck). Puck is AWESOME, you guys.

I personally dislike R+J because I was forced to read it on three separate occasions in school, and hence am ENTIRELY OVER IT.

10 years ago

TGMoxley: I mean, Heminges and Condell just worked with Shakespeare and acted in his plays during The Bard’s lifetime, clearly their crazy scheme to get people to READ Shakespeare is utter silliness.

Argument from what authority?

I suspect, from my knowledge of the period, they were cashing in. He was a hot property, and there was money to made in selling books (the Elizabethan trade in printed matter was huge).

The thing is… the plays aren’t poems. You want to take something apart for, “what it means”, read The Rape of the Lock, or Venus and Adonis.

But Two Noble Cousins wasn’t about, “meaning”, it was about paying the bills by entertaining people, “speak the speech, I pray you.”

Moving it to close reading is interesting, but it strips the context of playing from the work. The ways in which the players create the personae, and how those personae interact is what makes them work. I’ve seen more than one play on more than one night of the run, so that I could see how the differences between the shows affects the way the play plays out. When the lead is out of sorts, one gets a different play.

Close reading is purely internal. All one gets out of it is what one can bring to it. That’s not what plays are about.

10 years ago

When I was in high school, we had Antigone (Anouilh version) to read. So I read it, and I loved it. Then we studied it in class, dissected every metaphor of every sentence, and I hated it. Then water passed under the bridge and I came back to loving it. High school kids disliking the book they have to read in school is not the same as kids disliking books.

In high school, we had a small network of a dozen of students who lend books to each to each other. Each day at 10 piles of books were exchanged, we sometimes had waiting list when the last issue arrived. We liked these books so much we read them in class of French and history (do you know how easy it is to read a book in French class when you’re supposed to study a book of the same size? Very) Sure, most of it wasn’t great literature, a lot of them were shojo mangas, a few SF novels, and some other novels, but they were books. Books that we read with pleasure, over and over. And I met so many Harry Potter fan (from “I liked it” level to “I devote hours of my day to Harry Potter-based communities and have met friends IRL through it” level) of my age that the idea that high school kids just don’t read.

And for the idea that TV is intrasequelly bad: there are very good books that had very good adaptations, if only that. I’d chose an episode of Game of Throne, or The Perfume over many of boring classical novel I read trough school.

10 years ago

I don’t get it. Do the MRAs think that a female can get pregnant with the used condom by shoving it up her vagina??? The biological part of this whole thing is what I don’t get, I mean this “sperm-stealing” female would have to be monitoring her fertility and then in that small time-span (relatively speaking of course) find a guy to have protected sex with her and then find a way to grab the used condom, bolt out of the door (while keeping the sperm in a hostile environment alive) and get to a professional to implant her egg with it. That’s kind of a stretch even for the most psychologically antisocial personality types. Wouldn’t it make more sense to find a rich guy to marry and then divorce for the alimony if this is all about hurting the men?

I’ve been reading your blog for the better part of 6 months now and I have yet to find the answers to this question, either from here or from their various website. Although honestly I can’t stay on their sites for too long due to the possible aneurism from reading the inane babbling I see.

10 years ago

Oh, dear. 40% of the characters on teevee are female and Aronsohn thinks we’re at the point of “labia saturation”?

He doesn’t want to hear about our icky periods, but we’ve been hearing dick and erection and male-masturbation jokes day after day for the last 30 years without comment?

What a sexist jackass.

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