Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hollywood Slut-Shaming

I was reading a frankly depressing article linked on ONTD about sexism in Hollywood and saw a reference to this movie, What's Your Number, where Anna Faris plays a woman who is afraid that if she's slept with too many men already, she'll never get married. First of all, the book this is based on has the woman reading in the New York Post (not exactly the most respectable bastion of journalism in the first place) that the average person has 10.5 partners in their lifetime; she then sets a number for herself, saying that 20 will be her limit before getting married. Naturally, the story has her hitting that limit and then freaking out because she's not married yet, and she goes on a quest to seek out her former lovers and determine if she let The One slip away. I haven't read this book, but I really hope the point is not to encourage that kind of arbitrary quantification system.

But then again, maybe that's exactly what it does. ONTD's linked source describes the film as being about a woman who learns in a "ladymag" (oh, what a lovely, condescending little word) that if she sleeps with one more person than the 20 she already has, she'll never get married. So the NY Post has become a "ladymag" and the woman gets her "limit" advice from the mag, not her own relationship issues. Great. But that's not even the worst part.

Apparently, the studio is haggling over the number, trying to figure out how many partners they can give the character without making her a slut.

Did you hear that? That was my foot kicking something hard.

If this were an independent movie or a foreign movie, this would not be an issue. I'm FORCIBLY reminded of a theory I had several years ago, when the script was being written for the second Bridget Jones movie. Renee Zellweger apparently had some issues with the initial script, and I was musing over the plot elements of the book to try and figure out what might be amiss. After seeing the final film, I became convinced that earlier drafts of the script must have included both Bridget and Mark seeing (and sleeping with? I can't remember from the book) other people while they were broken up. In the book, there is nothing terribly appalling about this - just your normal obstacles to getting the couple back together. But I KNEW - especially after they turned Bridget's rival into a sweethearted lesbian with a crush on her - that somewhere, in some meeting, it had been decided that audiences wouldn't forgive Bridget (and probably not Mark either) for being with someone else.

At another point in the article, Anna Faris mentions a movie she made with Kate Hudson called Gold Diggers, which was supposed to be the feminine answer to Wedding Crashers. But she says that they couldn't really make it a female Wedding Crashers because, and I quote, "the big hitch was, nobody's going to like those girls if they seem like sluts... We realized we can't make an actual female ‘Wedding Crashers,' because then it would be ‘Call Girls.' " I'm telling myself that she said this sadly and with resignation, because ... *boils*

I'm also picturing that scene from Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, where Matthew McConaughey looks out upon this sea of former flings - I don't know how many there actually are, because I've never seen the movie, but in the trailer it sure looks like more than 20. Nothing wrong with that, though, is there? No, sir. Men can have all the conquests they want, with however many people they want, because they're Manly Men of Manparts.

I could draw a parallel here to female circumcision, a practice that is still used in many places in the world to make sex painful for women so they'll look upon it as a duty to their husbands, not a pleasure, and won't seek sexual encounters outside the marriage bed. Oh look, I just did.