Although we don’t know who won the Oscar last Sunday we surely know what happened between Chris Rock and Will Smith. Impossible to abstract from what the entertainment world, especially the entertainment world of the American film industry, has to tell us. And in these altered times when the need to express an opinion even without having an idea of what to say seems to urge our fingers so that our “voice” appears. on line in some social networks we have heard and seen everything. There were many different ideas and interpretations of the same episode. Here we analyze some of them.
Let’s review what happened: comedian Chris Rock made a “joke” about Jada Pinkett’s lack of hair, made a disgusted face, his partner Will Smith took the stage to punch Rock and then he returned to his seat as he yelled at him to stop mentioning Jada. Rock smiled and stayed in the cast and the audience laughed as a first reaction, then questions or doubts arose about what had happened.
Then we find different interpretations in social networks. “At one point they tried to mitigate the impact of the event by saying it was something scripted. The question here is whether the fact would really be less serious if it had previously been agreed upon in a script. I believe that there are social and imaginary structures that are difficult to question, for example this idea that Will Smith reacted as he did out of “love” for Jada Pinkett and that he did it “to take care of her” or “defend her”, “said Milagros Martín Varela, graduate in Social Communication, master in Feminist Studies in dialogue with Page 12.
From the cut of the skirts to the Oscars
On the other hand, there has been a lot of rejections. Could these generalized questions have occurred years ago? We think that until recently it was fun for the vast majority that women’s skirts were cut in early evening. In the last World Cup, a man was expelled for registering a Russian girl by making her say guarangadas in Spanish, a language he did not know. The video went viral, almost as much as the waste.
It was said then that times had changed, that from laughing at Tinelli’s jokes in the 90s we had moved on to questioning certain male-dominated attitudes that no longer make you laugh. However, progress is not homogeneous. Without going further, in recent days on social networks there have been all kinds of comments on the possibility of “adopting” or “hosting” Ukrainian women by gentlemen, including officials, such as the case of the president of the Ushuaia Superior Court of Justice.
“I think that the questioning of what happened would not have occurred in another era and this is a huge success of feminism. These questions have also come from figures who are part of the North American entertainment industry and hopefully this will help the Academy realize that there are things that can no longer happen, “said Martín Varela.
What can no longer happen? The Smith thing, the Rock thing, the two things? And what about Jada’s attitude? What does this scene reveal? Does it show us something we don’t know, that we don’t see every day in other contexts?
Matías De Stefano Barbero, doctor of anthropology and masculinity expert, told this journal that what this episode shows is that “violence is not something that has only one meaning. However, it seems we must hurry to see how we can adapt what has happened to our preconceived ideas, and this leads us to reproduce stereotypes and prejudices, but little helps to reflect on the complexity of the subject, which is rich in nuances and contradictions. To cite just one example, Will Smith’s “toxic masculinity” soon began to be talked about, when until then, for many of the roles he chose and the sensitivity with which he played them, among other things, he was considered a positive reference to build other forms of masculinity. It seems that we persist in reducing facts (and people) to the categories of “good” and “bad”, looking for a purity that will reassure us, but we know that in reality it does not exist.
He also added: “There were those who wondered what Will Smith was capable of doing in private if he did it in public. This reproduces, I believe, a simplified and erroneous idea of violence, as if a violent act in a particular situation (which has its precedents and context) irreparably presupposes that violence characterizes that person. This constructs an idea of the “violent” as a monstrous beingwhose reverse is the construction of a peaceful “we”, equally false. I think we owe us the time and space to do more than react to everything that happens, and especially on the subject of violence, to reflect on its causes and consequences, but also on the discourses that we are building around it.“.
The double violence on Jada Pinkett
For Martin Varela, “the main problem here is not Will Smith’s toxic masculinity but the double violence exerted against Jada Pinkett: the aesthetic violence by Chris Rock when he makes an alleged joke about his baldness (generated by a health problem) and also the symbolic violence by Smith. Will Smith not only reproduced the idea of machismo which argues that things between men are resolved with physical violence to show who is “the strongest” and, therefore, “the most virile”; but he reproduces another patriarchal idea and that’s what we feminists question ourselves about “romantic love”: this he did to justify his behavior as a “vent” allegedly caused by the “love” he has for Jada Pinkett. All this without mentioning that Smith was claiming the power to answer for her, as she was the person being violated and not him. That means, Smith acted as if someone he owned had been hacked. ”
Clearly, Jada (the “female” in question) was clouded in all of this. During the scene that had her as a pivot she was out of frame, the camera focused on her when the driver mentioned her, we saw her annoying gesture and then we didn’t see her again, the show was that of the injured male who came out to defend it.
In the text Modernity and spaces of femininityGriselda Pollock (2015), art historian, precisely analyzes the place of women, of the feminine in the paintings of male and female plastic artists. You argue that today the clear division between the spaces of the feminine and the masculine survives, respectively between the private and the public, in which women “are increasingly vulnerable to violent aggression when they are in public”. The female position, she will say, is always an object of gaze; of a look that is assumed to be masculine, even if it is not said.
the hair of sin
You can then say anything about her, question her hair, her color, her weight or her dress and joke about it. The hair, or rather, its lack in this case, is not naive for femininity, as we have told in another note. For women, the demand for long, silky and neat hair was part of the canon to be satisfied to fit the stereotype of the feminine.
The long hair of women was a symbol of seduction and therefore covered so as not to tempt men and God in different traditions (in some it is still valid). This is why women’s shaving has been used as a form of punishment over long periods of history. Joan of Arc, in 1431, had her head shaved and was taken to the market square to read her sentence. Shaving the sinner took away her femininity and humiliated her publicly, as happened in 1945 with the French accused of collaborating with the Nazis: they were forced to parade through the streets completely bald and in their underwear.
“It doesn’t matter when you read this”
Returning to the question of what this scene shows us, we can think that as Rita Segato says that femicides are acts that femicides do for others, to show other men what they are capable of doing and become stronger as “males”, we can think it this scene was also staged for other men, to demonstrate the virility of the male who saved the honor of his sulky female (It’s no small thing that I didn’t ask her if something like this would make her feel better.) “Woman is just a sign, a fiction, a creation of meanings and fantasies. Femininity is not a natural condition of women. female individuals. It is an ideological and variable construction of meanings for the sign WOMAN (sic), produced by and for another, “Pollock will say.
It deserves an important clarification, it doesn’t matter who those men and that woman are, it doesn’t even matter the scene (“it doesn’t matter when you read this” you could read on Twitter). Femininity and masculinity are historical structures and finally those who personified Sunday these two expressions also represent an era. This period of great advancement of feminism is also the moment in which the hegemonic masculinity, that of whites (or blacks of the ruling class as in this case), heterosexual, is still very vigorous. And in that femininity – with the great differences that cross us – continue to be the bodies we talk about, we believe; bodies that are violent.