Tag Archives: Quvenzhané Wallis

Why It’s Not Okay To Call A Nine Year Old Girl A Cunt

$1D7FBBEA90888EAI didn’t think my blogging-brain would be dedicated to telling people, today, that calling a nine-year old girl a cunt, in any context, is not okay.

But apparently some people need to read this.

First of all, if you’re not aware, this appened a little after the Oscars.

Here’s a screen grab of @BlackGirlNerds’ RT of the original tweet from @TheOnion:

 

Capture

This isn’t okay. It’s not okay because – contrary to all the guys (and so far, lest you think I’m exaggerating, they have – with one exception- all been guys) – this isn’t satire, it isn’t on par with the way women are picked apart by the media, and it isn’t funny. It’s also f*cking racist (nblo.gs/IFrim).

“Cunt” is a word that’s used to silence women. It’s regarded (rightly or wrongly, and I lived for a while in a country this isn’t the case, so my opinion on its use is somewhat more liberal than most people I’ve encountered in America) as one of the worst words our American-English language has when it comes to reducing women to their gender and excluding them from the conversation. (Interestingly, a major plot point in Netflix’s new “House of Cards” revolves around one character calling another this word, and even there, it was uncomfortable – but there, it was being used by fictional characters to prove a point, not flung by an anonymous intern at a child.)

An anonymous writer for a major satirical publication calling a woman (or a nine year old child) a “cunt” after a program in which a host known for racist and sexist “jokes” has been standing in front of America telling just those for three hours?

That’s not humor. It’s reinforcing the power dynamic of Hollywood and putting Wallis “in her place” for standing out. For being a child with distinctive early talent and the personality to express it. Intended as such or not, the message when reading The Onion’s tweet is, “keep your head down and your mouth shut, or we’re gonna shame your ass back to where it belongs.”

I leave it to you, dear readers, to imagine where The Onion’s anonymous Twitter-updater would think this should be.

There’s also a wave of people saying (again, I’ve seen mostly guys saying this) that it’s dumb for people to focus on one tweet as opposed to focusing on discussion of Anne Hathaway’s attire and how it did or did not ascribe to fashion culture and its demands.

Uh, fuck you. Women deal with this kind of discrimination every single day, we are not okay with it, and if you paid attention to campaigns like @EverydaySexism or @MissRepresentation (or, say, almost any piece of feminist writing for the last 30 years) these “nice guys” would see constant and vitriolic indictments of the ways in which media misogyny hurts women and girls in society. It’s not okay, and Hathaway has already been in the spotlight for inappropriate sexual commentary in the past, and as fans and women, plenty of people have had issues with it then, so don’t hold this up now as some kind of thing we ought to be paying more attention to than we already are.

If for one second you think it’s acceptable to tell me that The Onion’s tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis is less worth getting upset about than the hard time Anne Hathaway (a personal favorite, as celebrities go) got for her dress…well, shut up, save your breath, and learn how to be offended by more than one thing at a time.

As far as the people who say that raging about this because of Wallis’ age isn’t okay because it sends the message that it’s okay to use this word against women (as opposed to children): Uh. No. That is also not okay. But it’s especially disgusting that this word was used to attack a talented young woman of color on a night that should have been all about her professional accomplishments.

In some ways, The Onion’s “satirical” (read: chauvinistic and from within the power structure, not attacking or challenging that power structure, i.e. not fitting the definition of satire) is proof of what feminists have been arguing for years: that media slamming of women creeps ever more obviously into the limelight and becomes more “acceptable” with every airbrushed magazine cover that’s published.

What else is disgusting about The Onion’s attack on Quvenzhané Wallis? (Aside from the blatant misogyny and undercurrent of racism, which is better explored in the multitude of tweets @BlackGirlNerds has been RTing.) I could go on about it all day.

But following after a three-and-a-half hour session wherein Seth MacFarlane made clear his feelings on my gender and other races, let’s leave it at this:

This is probably the last time I’m going to bother watching the Oscars, and while they’ve now (as of noon today) issued an apology on Facebook (not that I can find a link to it on the front page of their website, where it belongs) I don’t think I’ll be reading much of The Onion for a while.

Is it because I have no sense of humor? I like to think not. It’s because I’m sick of reading things that denigrate my gender and having to take a step back and try to see things from the POV of the “satirist” in order to laugh. I’m tired of it. I want to watch comedy that’s actually funny, not comedy that spews insults and terms of abuse in order to prop up the insecurities of the comedian.

Update: While I haven’t posted this entry yet, The Onion has issued an apology for their tweet. It can be read at “http://www.theonion.com/articles/the-onion-apologizes,31434/” and undercuts the argument of anyone who thought this tweet fell under the umbrella of satire:

“On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.

No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire.”

Damn straight.

(At the same time, a friend who called their offices to complain mentioned they’d redone their message machine to include a note to those inclined to rant re: reading the first amendment, so it would appear the spirit of apologetic remonstration is spreading through their offices in uneven fits and starts.)