Entrenched Sexism: Pussies!

For your consideration: This video of James Franco and Grandma. A sweet, relatively innocuous snatch of funniness whose seeming innocuousness makes it all the more pernicious. Why do I say this? Well, we here at Barb HQ are interested in the entrenchment of sexism. How deeply and thoughtlessly entrenched is the fatuous historical hatred of half the population that a video that doesn’t in any way actively and intentionally slander women still manages to quietly degrade them with a loud word and still pass as sweet and innocuous.

OK: So the joke is that sweet, slack grandma temporarily rises from her pleasantly idle love-of-grandchildren stupor to bellow on command that she thinks her grandson’s detractors are PUSSIES. A woman bellows, a duo of women (presumably her granddaughters?) waves in pleased and appreciative confirmation behind her. Comedy! And scene.

This little review of the awesome Feminist Rapper series sums it up:

“… it’s a lot easier to convince students that racism exists than that sexism exists. Sexism is so deeply embedded in a narrative of things that are “natural.”… It’s hard to expect students to think critically about gender issues when nearly everything they consume in pop culture, from reality television, to magazines, to films, reinforces roles and stereotypes, rather than challenges them.”

For example: Obviously, black men and stereotypes of black men are convenient scapegoats for stupid white men. Oftentimes, in stupid self-defense, women are then made the scapegoats of stupid black men. And the cycle continues!

The entrenchment of sexism. The cycle continues and we don’t even notice. A woman uses the word PUSSY and other women applaud at its usage. A word that aggressively denotes weakness: Pussy. The giggly “dirty” slang for my general vulval region. And we all laugh. ‘Cause it’s a grandma being adorably and uncharacteristically confrontational and supportive of her grandchild. But the underlying woman-negative message (and hence sex-negative message and hence I dislike you for calling me names and then how are we going to have sex if I dislike you and then how will we perpetuate the species?!) is that pussy means vagina and vagina is bad. Vagina is trying to get in the way of James Franco’s new movie. And the cycle con–No! We have to stop the cycle! Women are not worse, not better, not weak. My external genital organs (ridiculously named the pudendum–Latin for SHAME) comprise a complex clitoral organ system that works in tandem to facilitate sexual response, childbirth and more! Wow!

We need to stop being so lazily inclusive of such epithets. We reinforce these false associations (women=weakness or badness) by using them thoughtlessly.


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