By Nicholas Stix
[I just had the displeasure of reading a version of Gloria Steinem’s standard rant (‘men have all the power, and woman are their perpetual victims’). The New York Times just reprinted a ten-year-old version of Steinem’s rant on its op-ed page. The editor later appended a correction, saying that there had been some “misunderstanding.” I don’t see how that could be. A deception, perhaps, but not a misunderstanding. Either Steinem sent in the 2007 version, and deceived the editor into thinking it was fresh garbage, or a Times staffer misled her boss. In any event, I responded. I posted my response at the feminist site that had first posted Steinem’s 2007 version, but doubt the commissars will permit it to be read. Steinem’s 2007 version follows my response.]
Gloria Steinem is a man-hating imbecile. I realize that, as a designing woman who used her beauty to lure and bed rich men for social and political climbing purposes, while playing Queen Bee to frustrated women with a fascist streak, that she does not hate everything about men, but her ranting suggests otherwise. Perhaps her sexism is merely a profitable pose.
“Prick flick” is in no way equivalent to “chick flick.” Steinem reduces men to their sexual organ. The equivalent would be, “cunt flick.”
And calling movies for men “prick flicks” is supposed to appeal to the “self-interest as well as [your] sense of fairness” of her straw man? That’s like black supremacist Rachel Jeantel insisting, on the witness stand, that there’s nothing racist about blacks referring to whites as “crackers.” The problem is that Gloria Steinem, like Rachel Jeantel, has never been held to any moral or intellectual standards.
Steinem does not care in the least about artistic quality, and I have no doubt that she has seen few of the movies to which she namelessly referred. What “classic” John Wayne and Ronald Regan World War II movies has she seen? None? She didn’t even bother looking up any titles! The only “movie” title she even mentioned was “Band of Brothers,” but that wasn’t a movie, it was a miniseries.
A culture critic who is culturally illiterate. Fancy that.
Gloria Steinem’s excuse for political analysis was garbage in 2007, and it’s still garbage.
“Just as there are ‘novelists’ and then ‘women novelists,’ there are ‘movies’ and then ‘chick flicks.’ Whoever is in power takes over the noun—and the norm—while the less powerful get an adjective. Thus, we read about ‘African American doctors’ but not ‘European American doctors,’ ‘Hispanic leaders’ but not ‘Anglo leaders,’ ‘gay soldiers’ but not ‘heterosexual soldiers,’ and so on.”These are all straw men. It is not whites who insist on calling members of affirmative action groups such names, but the members of the groups themselves. Those few whites who refer to themselves as “European American,” are vilified as “white supremacists.” Whites would never refer to themselves as “Anglo” anything, because the term is used by racist Hispanics as a pejorative.
“I am an African-American actor.”
That was Alfre Woodard, on the Tom Snyder Show, circa 1995. Woodard kept repeating herself, and something didn’t sound right. First of all, she isn’t African, and second, she’s not an actor. She’s an actress. But it was very important to her to be categorized in a way that Gloria Steinem dishonestly claims was imposed on Woodard by evil white men.
It has been a very long time since white men ran things in this country.
“Think about it: If Anna Karenina had been written by Leah Tolstoy, or The Scarlet Letter by Nancy Hawthorne, or Madame Bovary by Greta Flaubert, or A Doll’s House by Henrietta Ibsen, or The Glass Menagerie by (a female) Tennessee Williams, would they have been hailed as universal? Suppose Shakespeare had really been The Dark Lady some people supposed. I bet most of her plays and all of her sonnets would have been dismissed as some Elizabethan version of ye olde ‘chick lit,’ only to be resurrected centuries later by stubborn feminist scholars.”More straw men: None of the works that Steinem lists were assigned when I went to school, and I’ve never heard of them being “hailed as universal.” In college, I read A Doll’s House, and was not terribly impressed with it, and was once greatly impressed by Menagerie, but have since soured on Williams, because of his inability to write credible protagonists, female or male.
Steinem misrepresented both Shakespeare, and scholarship. “The Dark Lady” was not a purported female author of the Bard’s sonnets, but a woman about whom Shakespeare had written.
The problem with “chick flicks” and “chick lit” is not that they are dialogue-heavy, but that the dialogue is execrable.
“Feminist scholars”: That’s an oxymoron.
But I hold no brief for any style of contemporary movie-making. The ability to write crisp, witty dialogue appears to be dead. Since contemporary movies (and supposedly top-drawer TV drama, such as HBO’s fare) are full of: 1. Profanity; 2. Constant, blood-curdling violence; and 3. Explicit sex, I avoid them. The last picture that my 16-year-old son and I watched from start to finish was Roman Holiday (1953). But that was a bit recent for our taste.
Gloria Steinem is so dishonest that I doubt whether the man she claims as her point of departure even existed, unless he was a homosexual or non-white.
“Think about it” is one of the hoariest clichés of the incompetent writer. Someone with minimal persuasive skills compels his readers to think. But feminists do not make arguments, they issue orders.
A Modest Proposal . . .
By Gloria Steinem
July 6, 2007
Women’s Media Center
. . . to the Young Man on the Plane from Los Angeles to Seattle who said of the movie that most passengers—male and female—voted to watch, “I don’t watch chick flicks!”
So what exactly is a “chick flick?” I think you and I could probably agree that it has more dialogue than special effects, more relationships than violence, and relies for its suspense on how people live instead of how they die.
I’m not challenging your choice; I’m just questioning the term that encourages it. After all, if you think back to your school days, much of what you were assigned as great literature could have been dismissed as “chick lit.” Indeed, the books you read probably only survived because they were written by famous guys.
Think about it: If Anna Karenina had been written by Leah Tolstoy, or The Scarlet Letter by Nancy Hawthorne, or Madame Bovary by Greta Flaubert, or A Doll’s House by Henrietta Ibsen, or The Glass Menagerie by (a female) Tennessee Williams, would they have been hailed as universal? Suppose Shakespeare had really been The Dark Lady some people supposed. I bet most of her plays and all of her sonnets would have been dismissed as some Elizabethan version of ye olde “chick lit,” only to be resurrected centuries later by stubborn feminist scholars.
Indeed, as long as men are taken seriously when they write about the female half of the world—and women aren’t taken seriously when writing about themselves much less about men or male affairs—the list of Great Authors will be more about power than about talent. Still, I know this is not your problem. Instead, let me appeal to your self-interest as well as your sense of fairness: If the “chick flick” label helps you to avoid the movies you don’t like, why is there no label to guide you to the ones you do like?
Just as there are “novelists” and then “women novelists,” there are “movies” and then “chick flicks.” Whoever is in power takes over the noun—and the norm—while the less powerful get an adjective. Thus, we read about “African American doctors” but not “European American doctors,” “Hispanic leaders” but not “Anglo leaders,” “gay soldiers” but not “heterosexual soldiers,” and so on.
That’s also why you’re left with only half a guide. As usual, bias punishes everyone. Therefore I propose, as the opposite of “chick flick” and an adjective of your very own, “prick flick.” Not only will it serve film critics well, but its variants will add to the literary lexicon. For example, “prick lit” could characterize a lot of fiction, from Philip Roth to Bret Easton Ellis and beyond. “True prick” could guide readers to their preferred non-fiction, from the classics of Freud to the populist works of socio-biologists and even Rush Limbaugh.
Most of all, the simple label “prick flick” could lead you easily and quickly through the thicket of televised, downloaded and theatrical releases to such attractions as:
All the movies that glorify World War II. From classics with John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, those master actors who conveyed heroism without ever leaving the back lot, to Spielberg’s “Band of Brothers,” in which the hero would rather die than be rescued, Hollywood has probably spent more on making movies about the war than this country spent on fighting it. After all, World War II was the last war in which this country was clearly right. [Garbage.] Without frequent exposure to it, how are we to believe we still are?
All the movies that glorify Vietnam, bloody regional wars, and the war on terrorism. These may not be as much fun to watch—you probably are aware that we aren’t the winners here—but they allow you to enjoy mass mayhem in, say, South Asia or Africa or the Middle East that justifies whatever this country might do.
All the movies that portray violence against women, preferably beautiful, sexy, half-naked women. These feature chainsaws and house parties for teenage guys, serial killers and sadistic rapists for ordinary male adults, plus cleverly plotted humiliations and deaths of powerful women for the well-educated misogynist.
All the movies that insist female human beings are the only animals on earth that seek out and even enjoy their own pain. From glamorized versions of prostitution to such complex plots as “Boxing Helena,” a man’s dream of amputating all a rebellious woman’s limbs—and then she falls in love with him—these provide self-justification and how-to manuals for sadists.
As you can see, one simple label could guide you through diversity, and help other viewers to practice avoidance.
But if you really think about it, I’m hope-a-holic enough to think you might like to watch a chick flick after all.