Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house. (Not a Black Widow)
Photo Credit: Doree Weller
No, really, I am. Or at least, that’s what people tell me.
It’s just that I have really thick skin, most of the time. It’s hard to insult me; you have to work at it. As a result, I have to try to remember what others find hurtful, and I’m not always good at it.
Part of the reason I love Facebook is that it shows me what other people get upset about, and helps me to be more sensitive.
Part of the reason I hate Facebook is because it shows me what other people get upset about, and makes me wonder: WHY??
Case in point, a few months ago, people got upset because Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans made a joke during an interview for the Avengers that Black Widow (the fictional character, not to be confused with the real person, Scarlett Johansen), was a slut. The interviewer asked them about “shipping” (potential relationships for those of you who don’t know the term) with Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Hulk. Because we all know that if a woman is friendly with a man, she must want a relationship with him, right? But I digress… They joked that she was a “slut” and a “whore.”
People got really upset about it, and of course, both actors apologized.
I have many thoughts about this, and no real conclusions.
First off, is “slut” and “whore” really the worst thing a woman can be called? We turn it into this big feminist thing, and while I don’t ever condone putting women (or anyone) down for personal choices like sexuality, if we refuse to be stigmatized by those words, we remove their power. There’s no real equivalent word for men (at least not that I can think of). Once upon a time, “bitch” was a put down for women too, but many women have usurped it and made it a power word. I think it’s time to just start shrugging off stupid people who judge sexuality. She’s a slut because she makes choices about her sex life that you don’t agree with? Whatever.
Second, it’s a fictional character. I mean, I get that the way we talk about and portray fictional characters really does impact how we think about real people. I’m a writer, so I get it. But, let’s assume that these are pretty nice guys. They were joking around about a character in a movie, and probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Actors aren’t writers, and I have to wonder if they like getting asked about how their characters think and interact as if they’re real people. I never get tired of talking about characters like real people, but I don’t act; I write.
Third, why do we care so much about potential romantic involvements in movies? I mean, if a man and a woman in a movie seem to really care about one another, people start speculating that there’s something romantic going on. Men and women aren’t ever allowed to “just” be friends, as if friendship isn’t an important enough relationship to “just” be that. I know we want our fictional characters to be happy, and that means that we want them in a fulfilling romantic relationship, but the fact is that people can be friendly without romantic interest. And what is “flirting” anyway? These days, manners and basic courtesy seem to be mistaken for flirting.
Fourth, the fact is that guys joke about women, saying things about them that they’d never say to them. Women do it too. When we sit around drinking our margaritas, we say things that we’d never want our significant others to hear. And if they did, we’d want them to know we didn’t mean it. Actors just happen to get much of what they say captured on film, so they’re not allowed to make jokes in questionable taste. If they do, it’s a BIG DEAL.
Fifth, and this kind of ties on to my last point… people don’t mean everything they say. If I had a camera on me every time something stupid popped out of my mouth, I’d probably have people protesting me. It’s not that I mean what I say all the time; it’s just that sometimes the brain-mouth filter doesn’t engage in time and something comes out of my mouth that even mystifies me. I’m like, “Where did that come from? I wasn’t even thinking that!” Or in the words of Adele, “Just ’cause I said it, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…”
We all say things, and we’re all insensitive sometimes. I think it’s time for us to stop being so damn sensitive to what everyone says and does. People do stupid things sometimes. They say stupid things. Let’s take the sting out of insults, and take back our power.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
If not allowing others to make me feel inferior makes me insensitive, so be it. I can live with that.