It’s okay to be misogynistic when criticizing a bad movie about women

Maria recently linked to an excellent negative review of Sex and the City 2 which thoroughly takes apart the movie’s offensively ignorant spin on Muslim culture and accurately refers to the four stars as “mock feminists.” But as Melissa Silverstein points out, many reviews of SATC2 have engaged in misogyny to make the same (or lesser) points:

But what has been so profound to me has been the release of a pent up torrent of misogyny against women and this film has just been a vehicle for that misogyny to be revealed.  Because films allow — and in fact require — critical responses this has seemed to be an invitation to be as mean as possible.  And it’s come from everywhere.  From men from women, and from people who are usually progressive about issues and ideals.

The Guardian agrees:

The women/actresses/characters/whatever are old, ugly inside and out, bitches, lewd sluts, whores, venal, selfish, haggard, vulgar, self-pitying, neurotic “girls”. These are all words from the reviews.

Given the critical bile on offer, you would think that Sex and the City 2 had been made by a convicted rapist such as Roman Polanski, a famous misogynist such as Lars Von Trier (the plot of all his films: brutalised woman suffers), featured a convicted rapist such as Mike Tyson in The Hangover or depicted women being grateful for hate-filled violent sex before being murdered, such as Michael Winterbottom’s acclaimed The Killer Inside Me. Yet none of these films, even when reviewed badly, attracted any of the sizzling contempt reserved for Sex and the City.

When you make a terrible movie featuring men, the problem is that the movie sucked, not that men suck. When you make a terrible movie featuring women, the problem is that women suck. It’s these subtle ingrained thought patterns that make it so impossible for women to fix the film industry from within. You just can’t win when every mistake relating to your career in any sense reflects not only on you, but on every woman and girl in the species.


  1. Maria says

    That’s actually part of what they were talking about in that Joss Whedon post I linked to a little bit ago — Buffy the female character/Sarah Michelle Geller get blamed for the flaws in Buffy, and Joss gets all the praise for the verse.

  2. says

    I’ve not seen the movie, but that article about cultural tone-deafness makes it sound like the main characters come across as idiots if you have even a vague idea of what Arabic culture is like. This presumably makes them hard to relate to, and the movie doesn’t seem to be one of those ones where the characters are meant to be unsympathetic to the audience… which makes their characterization a valid point for criticism.

    None of which excuses the language used to make those criticisms, or the woman-bashing implied by them, of course. It’s instructive how quickly the criticism slips over into woman-bashing.

  3. says

    No, Marti Noxon gets blamed, but that’s in small part due to her seeming cluelessness in the dvd commentaries and in large part due to fan implosion (quite probably influenced by privilege/sexism).

    SATC2: I know my favorite critic tore into this, as well, but the site tears into many mainstream shitfests – but yeah, I can see that the film is used as a chance to go against women when equally bad “manly” films are “just a movie” you’re supposed to “take for what it is”.

  4. Somebody says

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised that the women were called all those names. When Hilary Clinton was running for president, one of the things I read about it was: ‘Do we really want to watch a woman age/cry/turn ugly before our eyes’. I never expected much of the US after that awesome piece. And I live in a ‘third world country’.

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