Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Misogyny, Misogyny, Misogyny

I have just seen possibly one of the most demeaning things I have ever read (ok, yes that's hyperbole, but I'm left-wing, it's allowed). An interview with Evan Rachel Wood in the Guardian Guide (no I don't know who she is either, but she's in films, apparently) reads as follows:

She is toying with the idea of further education, in the form of "taking some courses" rather thana full-on live-in sort of commitment. "I don't think I could live in a dorm and handle all those drunk people. I've really been getting into philosophy and religion and I'd love to study some of that a little more."

And what of her philosophy that British boys are best?

"They just have a different way about them. They're much more polite. I know that's pretty stereotypical but it's really true. They really know how to treat you. And mums always like them!"

Let me get this straight, a teenage hollywood actress says she might want to continue her education in philosophy, and the question instantly becomes turned around to her sexual preferences and availability to the male readership. I shouldn't need to point out the rampant sexism at work here. Her comments about philosophy, a serious subject (not for her sort), are twisted into a question about who she fancies (which is, after all, all teenage girls think about). The only 'philosophy' that young women can possibly be interested in is the philosophy of man-selection. Just because this is in the entertainment section of the paper doesn't somehow make this ok, though someone really should tell the Guardian that.

This also annoys me because of the way in which Philosophy is presented. Telling someone you're a philosophy student usually elicits one of two reactions, either amazement or condecension. Either they can't believe you spend so much time on it, or they can't believe you waste so much time on it. It's not something someone studies seriously, it's something you either treat with mysticism or disdain. For Wood in the quote above her claim that she finds philosophy interesting is dismissed, she might as well have said she finds astrology interesting; of course it's interesting, but it's not what sensible, ordinary people spend any time on (especially not pretty little actresses). This is as much the fault of academic philosophers as the media, but it grates, and it would be nice to be taken a bit more seriously.


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