This news is old hat- but Phil Robertson of the cable hit Duck Dynasty made some remarks in his GQ magazine interview that have infuriated the LGBT* and African American communities. These remarks resulted in Robertson’s suspension from A&E and a mass controversy on Facebook and Twitter.
But another group should be offended- women.
If Robertson said anything specifically about women, it was excluded from the report. However, he does mention the virtues of feminine anatomy in relation to his comments on homosexuality, offering:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
A friend of mine pointed out “at least he used anatomically correct terms,” which is fair enough. Unfortunately, that is the extent of this comment’s okayness. Robertson sexualizes a woman’s body until she is only one part- her vagina. A woman is only her vagina. A vagina has more to offer a man.
(And I have a question- what about women’s anuses? And what about women’s mouths? Is that an acceptable place for a Christian man’s penis to find its pleasure? Unless of course, intercourse is solely for the purpose of fertilizing eggs.)
Robertson’s comments sexualizing women’s bodies are not as brow raising as his comments about homosexuality or racism*, however, this isn’t the first time Robertson, or any other the Dynasty members have perpetuated misogyny. Moreover- Robertson said these on the show, post-edit.
A few of his gems include:
“She may be ugly, but if she cooks squirrel and dumplins, that’s a woman you go after.”
“Women with whiskers, it’s a bummer.” (because facial hair is OBVIOUSLY just for men)
“If you can find a nice pretty country girl that can cook and carries her bible, now there’s a woman.”
A good woman is “hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, they only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they’re 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course.”
Then, of course, there is the relationship Robertson has with his wife, Kay, and his young granddaughters. On many occasions, he tries to teach his granddaughters to shoot guns, call ducks, and “de-sissifies” them (as much as they allow.) Robertson holds true the idea of the “woman of Valor” found in Proverbs 31, modified to include how a woman should be whisker-free and beautiful. This double standard is common in the South- a woman should be womanly, delicate, beautiful but not too much that she can’t bait a hook, run her own business, and still accept second-class citizenship.
Let’s not forget Robertson’s own dark history. In the early 1970′s, Robertson fled Louisiana to Arkansas after brutally attacking a bar owner AND HIS WIFE. He never apologized to either, by the way, claiming he “just left it all in the past.” Or that he left Miss Kay, his wife, with four children and no financial stability.
What Robertson said doesn’t matter as much as A&E’s reaction. After the outrage against the racist and homophobic comments and threat of losing sponsors, the network suspended Robertson. However, Robertson has said and displayed misogyny for the all three seasons of the show, with the approval and hitting A&E’s editing room.
I hesitated writing this piece. In the same vein I criticize the media and media for ignoring sexism, I thought Robertson’s comments, though repeated throughout the show by the entire Robertson patriarchy, are not as serious as his remarks about homosexuals and African-Americans. But this is a fallacy. To not say sexism is as blatant in Duck Dynasty as homophobia and racism is to contribute to the perpetuation of persecution.
Maybe it is because our patriarchal society allows so much room for sexism. Maybe it is because some women are self-depreciating, or destructive to gender equality. But excusing Robertson and other reality star’s comments about gender weighs just as heavily as ignoring comments about sexuality and race. Ultimately, it is socially detrimental- and immediately profoundly unjust.
*And another thing- Robertson is Southern—and not from the noveaux metropoli that are popping up across the Southeast Coast. As a reluctant Arkansan, Robertson’s attitudes are the norm- and exceptions are exceedingly rare. Being from a certain region or religion doesn’t excuse intolerant speech- but it does explain the reality of the Robertson’s environment. (Note: Shows set in the South do NOT address ongoing homophobia, racism, and sexism accurately) Even if Phil, Si, Willie, and the other men of the dynasty don’t directly express their racism and homophobia, it is still latently portrayed on the show.