I know this is off-schedule but I’m so . . . something. Disgusted? Shocked? Disgusted that I’m not more shocked?
So Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her husband, tied him to the bed, cut off his penis, and ground it up in the garbage disposal. This news broke a little over a week ago and I heard it and thought “Ew, gross,” and thought no more about it. Because I didn’t think this was going to be a thing. You know, it’s a heinous crime, and all people who are not sociopaths are all going to think, “That’s terrible!” and that’s really all there is to say, right?
I know. I’m so naive. Of course it was going to be a thing. Over on The Talk, which is CBS’s The View, Sharon Osbourne called it “fabulous,” and all the ladies on the panel and in the audience laughed. One of the audience ladies, upon learning that the guy had filed for divorce (before the penis-cutting-off incident), said, “That’ll show ’em.” And they all laughed. Then Leah Remini tried to (sort of) bring order to the proceedings by saying there’s only one thing that would make her that mad, and all the ladies guessed, “Cheating?” and I went, what? Cheating? I mean, I’d be mad if my husband cheated on me, for sure. I’d be file-divorce-papers mad. I’d be fuck-whoever-would-piss-him-off-the-most mad. (Well, maybe. On the other hand, if I wasn’t filing for divorce, I wouldn’t want to give up the moral high ground). I’d be take-the-kid-to-New-Jersey-until-he-made-a-Grand-Gesture mad. But cheating would not make me cut-off-his-dick mad. A man raping my daughter would make me cut-off-his-dick mad. And I assume that’s what Leah Remini was alluding to. And I (and probably Leah Remini) still would not actually cut off someone’s dick. Because that shit is still wrong. And then Sara Gilbert really tried to fix things by saying, “Hate to be the spoilsport, but we wouldn’t be laughing if a man cut off a woman’s breasts and said she deserved it.” And everyone said, “Oh, you! It’s not the same thing at all! Breasts and penises are both hilarious! Let’s laugh some more.”
And I just don’t know how to process all of this. I don’t know what to do when people – mainstream, on TV, on a major network, on a regular morning show that usually talks about, I don’t know, how pretty Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress was – react to “A woman cut her husband’s penis off and threw it in a garbage disposal” with “Ha, ha, awesome!” rather than “Ew” and “That’s awful!”
What’s really upsetting is that this is exactly what I was talking about when I said I hate how all these “girl power”-type moments in pop culture are not only not feminist, they draw unfair ire towards feminism and thus erode or make more difficult the work feminism actually wants to do. I saw this clip because I was looking at this blog, and I almost didn’t post because the clip they’ve got has one of these self-identified MRA guys talking for a few minutes beforehand, and while he makes valid points about how no one would laugh if the shoe were on the smaller, daintier foot, he still calls women “cunts” and talks a lot about how emotional women are and how we want “pussy passes” for being emotional and violent and destructive. And I want to be able to say, “No, no, no, women don’t think this is acceptable; OF COURSE women don’t think this is acceptable, that’s nuts!” Except that then this fairly mainstream sampling of women – the hosts and the audience – think it’s hilarious. So these MRA guys can go, “See?”
And the guys who are on the fence, who say, “Hey, I’m just a regular guy and I think women are sometimes nice and sometimes bitches,” see this and become MRA assholes. Maybe.
So let me do what I can here. Let me say, cutting off a man’s penis is not a feminist act. It’s a sick, twisted, violent, criminal act. Laughing and assuming all men deserve to have their penises (penii? Latin people?) cut off is not a feminist reaction. It’s a sick, twisted reaction and it makes me very concerned about the relationships you have with the men in your life. I mean, really, Sharon Osbourne. You have a son. You think it’s laughable and fabulous when a man’s penis is cut off? That’s not okay.
Sometimes my fourth-grade class does something that makes me say, “Really, guys. Don’t throw crayons at each other, and don’t make me say, ‘Don’t throw crayons at each other’ to a group of fourth graders. Y’all know better.” That’s kind of what I feel like here. Like saying, “Don’t laugh at a man’s penis being cut off. And don’t make me say, ‘Don’t laugh at a man’s penis being cut off’ to a group of humans. Y’all know better.”
But with significantly more disgust and disappointment that I have towards my fourth graders. None of whom would be laughing about this.