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2016: The Year in Misogyny

Looking back on the lowlights and lowlifes.

misogyny

It’s been a hard year. Here are some of the most misogynistic cases in 2016 that made us all shake our heads and share a moment of disgust. This list is far from exhaustive, and it’s not in any particular order. In any case, strap in.

Donald Trump

If not the worst (there’s plenty of competition for that), Donald Trump was certainly the most high-profile example this year, with the “Trump tapes” eating up a huge portion of the news cycle in October. Who would’ve thought people would care so much (although apparently not enough) that the next president of the United States bragged about sexually assaulting women!? Not only that, but many who came to his defense (including the man himself) acted as though the part that offended people was his choice of words, not the fact that the actions he described were actual assault.

While we’re at it, let’s give a dishonorable mention to his attempts to discredit Alicia Machado for speaking out against him by telling people to “check out [her] sex tape,” calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” in the middle of a presidential debate, and his deliberately (or perhaps just ignorantly, which isn’t really better) misleading statements on abortion during a debate.

Then, there was his entire campaign founded on a portion of the public’s blatantly racist fears that President Obama wasn’t born in America, general xenophobia, and anti-immigration sentiments against Mexican and Muslim people. Yes, that really all happened, and that man will still become president.

Johnny Depp

Last May, Amber Heard brought abuse allegations against Johnny Depp, and soon thereafter, she had to endure biphobia in news coverage—and, to this day, many people don’t believe her allegations (which we know because, sadly, we’ve had to delete many comments from people who seem to believe that Amber Heard would have gone through all of this just for funsies). Meanwhile, Depp was a garbage sack over paying his divorce settlement, whereas Amber Heard has been a class act throughout and ended up donating her settlement to charity.

She’ll still have to endure a lifetime of people assuming she’s a liar, but we’re still glad she managed to escape a nightmare marriage and we’re hopeful that life is on the upswing for her. Meanwhile, Johnny Depp is still getting work and seems largely unaffected by all of this, because we live in a world where successful white guy A-listers can do just about anything and remain successful.

Nate Parker (here)

The sexual assault charges against him were from over a decade ago, and he was not found guilty. However, the charges resurfaced in 2016 in the wake of his film The Birth of a Nation generating a lot of Oscar buzz. While there are reasonable points to be made about the fact that, as a black filmmaker, he’s being forced to deal with his past in a way that a white filmmaker in a similar position wouldn’t have to, there are equally reasonable points to be made about the fact that in his responses to the past allegations, he’s been incapable of truly dealing with the seriousness of what happened to the victim, despite the fact that she eventually committed suicide. What’s more, BoaN uses rape as a plot point in a way that many believe he had no right to do considering his past.

Adult Swim/Mike Lazzo (see here and here)

No one around here is ever surprised to hear about part of the entertainment industry functioning as a “boys’ club,” but Adult Swim’s Mike Lazzo raised some eyebrows with some comments on why the programming block has so few women involved creatively. Former employees told Buzzfeed that the work environment there is particularly bad for women, with indications that Lazzo’s beliefs were, indeed, creating a problem. Then, Brett Gelman very publicly severed ties with the organization over the same problem, as well as ties to the “alt-right” (a hate movement). Adult Swim, you are on notice. Do better.

Tucker Carlson (see here)

Way to be blatantly sexist while attempting to shame a female journalist about her “girly” news outlet, Tucker Carlson! Thankfully, Teen Vogue’s Lauren Duca remained unflappable as she schooled Carlson on the fact that women can be interested in politics and Ariana Grande. Still, Carlson’s interview was a cringe-worthy example of what happens when you give an unapologetic sexist a microphone.

Birth.Movies.Death’s Devin Faraci (see here)

We’ve got plenty of high-profile politicians and mega-famous A-listers on this list, but Devin Faraci is a fellow journalist and media critic like us here at The Mary Sue. In spite of that, he’s still a well-known name, which is why a shockwave of disgust spread through the media criticism community after Faraci copped to having committed sexual assault. Faraci did apologize and step down from his position at BMD, which is more than can be said for most of the men on this list, but the entire story still served as a haunting reminder of how often assault goes unreported, particularly when it’s committed by a man who’s very popular even within a relatively small community.

Milo Yiannopoulos

Unlike the other people on this list, who might see it as a point of shame, we’re positive that Yiannopoulos will see his inclusion here as a point of pride. He really shouldn’t, though, since he’s made a living out of not achieving anything other than mocking people who do actually make things; in fact, he got kicked off Twitter for doing just that, earlier this year. He did manage to get a lucrative book deal this year, but the jury’s still out on whether he’s actually capable of writing an entire book on his own, so I hope Simon & Schuster is ready to shell out several thousand more dollars for an incredibly patient ghostwriter.

As for why we doubt Yiannopoulos can finish this book: did you know that Yiannopoulos published a book of poetry in which he tried to pass off some Tori Amos lyrics as his own writing? After the plagiarism was discovered, he tried to claim the entire book was published as a joke, but we doubt that very much. Also, remember when Yiannopoulos claimed he was writing a book about Gamergate two years ago? Yeah… that never came out. Rumor has it that he sold the book to Breitbart, but they don’t seem to have published it, and you’d really think they would have by now if it existed in any readable form (Breitbart isn’t exactly known for having high editorial standards).

Between that and the ongoing claims that a lot of his work is actually ghostwritten by unpaid interns/fans, it seems fair to assume that Yiannopoulos’ upcoming book will not be written by him, either. Maybe he can get Tori Amos to write it. She’s great!

Casey Affleck (see here)

Two female producers accused Affleck of sexual harassment and assault while working on the set of his mockumentary I’m Still Here. The civil case was settled out of court. While this happened back in 2010, the charges are back in the news (sort of) thanks to Manchester By the Sea’s Oscar hopes. Current misogyny comes in via Affleck’s non-response. He can’t even bring himself to acknowledge that the thing of which he was accused was a horrible thing, even if he didn’t do it. Instead, he’s perfectly willing to silently accept the spoils of his privilege and coast through this Oscar season untroubled. The misogyny here lies not just with Affleck, but with those Hollywood heavyweights protecting him, and an entertainment media that refuses to ask him the hard questions.

Vin Diesel (see here)

When promoting a movie at Comic Con Experience in Brazil, Vin Diesel did an interview with Brazilian journalist Carol Moreira and it was beyond uncomfortable. Diesel got through just over three minutes of interview before grinding the whole thing to a halt so he could tell Moreira how beautiful she is. He tells her how beautiful she is (starting at the 4:49 mark), before dragging the crew into it, saying “My God, she’s so beautiful, man. Am I right or wrong? Look at her. How am I supposed to do this interview?” Funny, she didn’t have any problem doing her job. How is he incapable of doing his opposite anyone he finds attractive? Does he care that little about his job or about women in his industry that he can’t reconcile the two? By the way he keeps calling her “baby,” telling her he’s in love with her, and asking her to “get outta here” with him, it seems like both.

Moreira, a journalist just trying to do her job, laughs nervously through all his advances and keeps trying to talk about the movie. She later said she was 100% not a fan of Diesel’s behavior, though that shouldn’t even have been necessary. Anyone watching that video can clearly see a creepy guy and a woman who is highly uncomfortable, right? That’s not appropriate anywhere, but especially not in the workplace. Thanks for ruining Vin Diesel for us, Vin Diesel.

Last Tango in Paris (see here)

Bernardo Bertolucci’s notorious film Last Tango in Paris made headlines again for his treatment of 19-year-old actor Maria Schneider. While the news that Schneider did not consent to the use of butter in the film’s rape scene wasn’t brand new information (which reflects a larger tendency within film to excuse the harassment/assault of women for the sake of “art”), the director doubled down to defend the decision in a fully inexcusable way.

THR roundtable (here)

Without any self-awareness, The Hollywood Reporter brought seven white dudes to talk about representing women and people of color in animation—including Seth Rogen who notably used every ethnic stereotype imaginable in Sausage Party. When the animation industry already has a huge gender problem, this kind of pats-on-the-back gathering just feels completely out of touch.

Tippi Hedren (here)

Not unlike Bertolucci, Alfred Hitchcock is another iconic director whose predatory actions came to public attention this year through Tippi Hedren’s candid memoir. Again, while Hitchcock’s behavior and assault were not new information (although that didn’t stop voices on the internet from calling her an attention-seeker or liar), Hedren gave her own account and forced fans of the director to see what he did to her behind the scenes of these critically-acclaimed movies.

Ghostbusters

The latest Ghostbusters did just fine at the box office, but since it didn’t completely blow every other movie out of the water, the movie’s critics have crowed that it was a complete failure. That’s really too bad, since it’s a fun comedy. The entire situation has proven that, apparently, women-led movies need to do twice as well (or better) in order to “prove” that women are bankable stars.

“Rey/Jyn is a Mary Sue.”

Speaking of doing twice as well and still getting complaints, both The Force Awakens and Rogue One had female leads, and both did great at the box office, yet sexists have still managed to complain that these movies are somehow unrealistic. Because, apparently, it’s unrealistic for a woman to be cast in a heroic role.

Twitter (here, here, they did ban Milo, also, here)—and, sure, let’s throw in Facebook and Google, just for good measure

The tech industry has continued to turn a blind eye towards the rampant hate-mongering that happens on their services, from online harassment run amok to bigoted news results showing up first in Google results. Not to mention data-mining. Oh, and the complete loss of privacy, with which Google and Facebook and Twitter have so often been complicit.

It’s not over.

What’s most upsetting about these incidents is the fact that, even in 2017, we know that they will continue. Many of the people and organizations on this list (not all, but many) continue to have inexplicably successful futures ahead of time—perhaps the most successful of all being the number one entry on our list, the United States’ incoming President-elect. 2017 is going to bring a lot more challenges for us all, and it’s going to be incredibly difficult to face those new challenges.

The good news is that we will still be here, writing about it, pushing back against it, and pointing out these uncomfortable truths. We aren’t going to forget about any of this, and we’re going to continue to have eagle-eyed high standards in 2017. We expect better, we deserve better, and we will continue to demand it from powerful people and institutions in the coming years.

(image via Jes/Flickr)

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