Day 90: “The Slap”; the Oscar slap!

The much waited thought about the ridiculousness regarding “the slap”; the Oscar slap.

Here’s what’s annoying about the criticism – the same group that condemns rape jokes are not condemning Chris Rock’s joke regarding a woman’s physical appearance. Everyone is focusing on Smith’s reaction as being physically violent but Rock’s “jokes” having symbolic violence is completely overlooked.

What is symbolic violence? It’s a type of non-physical violence manifested in the power differential between social groups – in this case visual aesthetics of women with long hair vs. women with short hair or shaved head. The joke “Can’t Wait For G.I. Jane 2” is clearly indicative of “purely a reference” to Jada Pinkett Smith’s “shaved hairstyle” which was similar to that of Demi Moore’s in the original film. Of course, Jada’s Alopecia (a health issue) is not considered during the joke, and the taboo of women with shaved head due to societal views of beauty (reception of shaved head of women opposed to men where members of family or friends may have yet to comment or won’t look at the person in the eye and literally just shake their head in disappointment or disapproval of shaved head) is not taken into account at all. Long hair and traditional femininity goes hand in hand. Feminists keep telling women “You are not your hair”, yet I don’t see much hullabaloo about Chris Rock’s sexist jab on hair length as toxic. The “Can’t Wait For G.I. Jane 2” joke was not comedy – I don’t see it as dark humour either. I see it as adult bullying where cultural norms that are associated with femininity and gender roles designed to harm society (and also men themselves) in the form of comedy – is not seen as problematic.

Those who were obsessed with Will Smith standing up for his wife – focused on toxic display of masculinity, but not once questioned why our society does not see shaved head portrayed as soft and feminine, but rather masculine. Why physical appearances must be made into a joke to belittle someone? Past years, every jab at Jada has been about her open-relationship with her husband, being a strong willed individual, having many boyfriends, and now – shaved head. One can’t keep pushing a person to a corner and expect their loved ones to never react.

I wonder if Will Smith would have been Wilma Smith, and slapped Chris Rock – how would that play out? For sure Wilma couldn’t show toxic masculinity, then perhaps Society would call it “emotionally charged reaction of a strong willed woman”? But no one would question the fine line some comedians cross between comedy and adult bullying.

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