Thanks to the potent Feministing column “Your daily feminist cheat sheet,” who recommended film critic Maryann Johansen who coordinates Flick Filosopher. The title of her article is: “a feminist film critic defends the Onion’s Quvenzhane Wallis tweet.” Her title is inflammatory, but I’m a little intrigued by the notion of some idiot was going to parade their shadow representation of feminism to justify calling a nine-year old kid a misogynistic insult.
I could not have gotten it more wrong. Turns out that Maryann Johansen is not only on-point, but seems to be the kind of really smart feminist critic who can help make oppressive discourse visible, able to be mocked and defeated. Thinking about it, the denigration of Quvenzhané Wallis is only visible because the insult doesn’t work against regular celebrity women — they are often called terrible names. Johansen explains that the Onion tweet is visible precisely because the message (hate women) has suffused mainstream culture.
That gets attention in a way that calling a famous adult woman the same thing never does. Because it’s clearly outrageous in a way that, apparently, isn’t quite so clear-cut when it comes to an adult woman. But she asked for it by wearing that dress. She’s an attention whore. She likes being in the spotlight. She can stop being famous any time if she can’t take it. We should see such rationales as ridiculous. We can see it when they’re applied to a nine-year-old. But we don’t see it in general.
What a smart argument. I still don’t see any need to defend the tweet. I’m not going to cheer on hatred of women in order to make hatred of women more visible. We work with the tools available to us. We read the signs available to us. We dismantle systems of oppression as they are described and spoken into being.