June 27, 2017
Women have finally made it. How do I know true equality has been achieved? It’s because women can now make films that are just as raunchy and disgusting as movies for men. If you walked out of “Wedding Crashers” or “Wedding Crashers 2” and thought, “Our culture is so sexist. I wish they made a movie where women could put their bodily functions on public display, where women could drink until they were sick, where women talked like sailors and objectified members of the opposite sex,” you’re in luck.
This summer you can go see “Rough Night” starring Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon or “Girls Trip” starring Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah. In the former, five friends accidentally kill a male stripper they have hired for a bachelorette party. While a surprising number of critics have worried about the idea of playing a dead stripper for laughs, the plot is completely secondary to the idea that five women in Vegas are finally going to let loose — or as one of the characters has it — they’ll be “swimming in d–k” this weekend.
Letting loose, in case you didn’t realize, means acting like men. Which is why one of the characters yells at another, “Stop being a stupid f–king c–t and do a little cocaine.” It’s why the women do shots and then vomit onto the table and why when the stripper does arrive, one of them yells, “Get to the beans, get to the beans.” The notion that women 10 years out of college with real jobs and children at home talk and act like this — even when they’ve consumed an excessive amount of alcohol — is a bit of a stretch.
The story and the dialogue are similar in “Girls Trip,” though the group is headed to New Orleans instead. In an opening scene on a flight to the city, one of the women tells her friend, “Straight up, you’re gonna get two d–ks this weekend.” When the prudish woman objects to this conversation taking place loudly on an airplane and asks her friend to use her “lady mouth,” the other one responds by mimicking oral sex. Lovely. When the group arrives in the Big Easy, things go downhill fast, with one of the ladies actually swinging across a street between bars and urinating on the crowd below.
This is not the first time women have starred in gross-out movies. “Bridesmaids,” which was released in 2011, was hailed as a feminist film. It was supposed to be a breakthrough because it showed that women could be funny, which men have sometimes denied. But these women were not Lily Tomlin or even Tina Fey. They were unafraid of behaving crudely — and pretending to have explosive diarrhea — in order to get laughs. Here was a true leap forward for womankind.
Indeed, some critics argued that crudeness made them more human. Writing in the Guardian, David Cox explained: “For all its apparent girliness, ‘Bridesmaids’ is more about friendship than women’s friendships; it’s about competitiveness not bitchiness, despair not weepiness, charm rather than cuteness and anxiety rather than hysteria. Its women have been liberated from the shackles of fabricated feminine rectitude. At last, they’ve been allowed to be people.”
But why do we assume that behaving like men makes women more human? Isn’t that very idea sexist?
It’s as if we decided that if women lived in a world free of discrimination and ingrained cultural expectations, they would finally let their guard down and become gross, sex-obsessed animals. So deep-seated has this notion become that in The New York Times last week a woman described herself as being a “demisexual” because “I don’t experience sexual attraction until I first develop a deep emotional intimacy with someone.” In this world, behavior that is perfectly normal for women — not wanting to jump a hot guy you see across the room — becomes deviant.
It seems possible that the characters in these movies represent the aspirations of a subset of American women — whose lives at home are filled with the drudgery of child-rearing and office work — but who long for a weekend filled with cocaine, absinthe, public embarrassment and anonymous sex. But if you talk to most grown-up women about their ideal weekend away, they will say they’re happy to lie on the beach without the distraction of children, catch up with old friends over a bottle of wine or two, and sleep in the next morning.
Such weekends may not be a hit at the box office but at least women could walk away with some dignity.
By Naomi Schaeffer Riley
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