On women & sexism in pop culture – on bloggingheads! With Alyssa Rosenberg!

I was on bloggingheads.tv again, and this time I was a guest host! And I didn’t even talk about Israel/Palestine*! Squee! (Thank you, vacationing The Posner Show host Sarah Posner!)

I was really, really lucky and got to talk with Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes for Think Progress and The Atlantic and is easily one of my favorite pop culture writers (certainly one of the very few I follow regularly). We talked about women in pop culture, the economic incentives for the production of sexist entertainment, Louis C.K.’s response to Daniel Tosh’s “wouldn’t it be funny if she was gang-raped right now?” joke, and whether pop culture can in fact be separated from politics. I talked about talking with my kids about all this stuff, Alyssa talked about the importance of diversity in entertainment, and we agreed that problematic entertainment is far more interesting than homogeneity. Plus which, I suggested that even the mighty Joss Whedon (Firefly, Avengers)  isn’t perfect—and posited that that’s okay! (And please note: I was wearing a Firefly tee as I posited that positing. I am a Browncoat).

Following is a three minute snippet. To watch the rest of the episode, please click through to The Posner Show at bloggingheads.tv (and again I say: Thank you Sarah! And thank you bloggingheads!)


*as I did the first time…

Everything wrong with Americans’ understanding of pregnancy & relationships, in 2 minutes & 6 seconds.

Note: Image reflects my state of headdeskery, but does not reflect my actual hair. Though I wish it did.

So I didn’t even know this was a thing. So I have Alyssa Rosenberg — who I normally quite like — to thank for the vein currently popping in my forehead. Because I saw it at her place first.

So. The book What to Expect When You’re Expecting has reigned as the Bible of Pregnancy for years, in spite of the fact that it’s far from flawless. Aside from not being flawless, however, it’s also a non-fiction guide to the often surprising realities of pregnancy.

So, naturally, Hollywood has made it into a rom-com staring Everybody They Can Find*.

Following is the movie’s trailer, and as Ms. Rosenberg puts it, it looks frankly rancid. Why do I agree with Ms. Rosenberg on this? Because the trailer alone is making me want to stab myself in the eye.

While, as a former pregnant woman, I can certainly attest to the fact that being pregnant can feel uncomfortably like being a science experiment run amok (the only thing the trailer gets right, and it’s flown past in the first seconds and immediately buried in rancidity) almost everything else about this is awful.

Why do I keep using italics? Because it’s that bad. 



  1. Pregnancy makes women incapable of brushing their hair.
  2. Pregnancy makes women want to hurt the man who impregnated them.
  3. African families on film are useful objects for helping American couples understand the need to reproduce and/or as possible sources for babies.
  4. Men need to be manipulated into wanting to be fathers (heh, it’s right there in the word, amirite? MANipulated!).
  5. Men Caring For Children Is Intrinsically Funny. (See also: Jonah Hill in The Sitter).
  6. Men Caring For Children Are Intrinsically Incompetent. (See also: Jonah Hill in The Sitter).
  7. In any group of men, The Black Guy is the coolest guy.
  8. The notion of breastfeeding is funny.
  9. Fat women who look confused are funny because they are fat, and confused. Also: Breastfeeding? Kind of freakish.
  10. If you are a man in a relationship with a woman, that woman becomes your mother and demands that you behave in a socially sanctioned, responsible fashion.
  11. One way women do this is by making you buy a house.
  12. When women in such relationships feel Something is important, they will trick the men they love in order to achieve that Something.
  13. Men honestly just need to get over being manipulated, tricked, and treated like children.
  14. Insulting a man by calling him a bitch is funny. Because when men are forced into doing something they don’t want to do, they are like women, and that is funny.

With the foregoing to go on, I will now make the following predictions:

  1. When the pregnant women in this film go into labor, there will be screaming.
  2. Also, husbands will be insulted.
  3. Furthermore, husbands will prove incompetent at helping their wives.
  4. There will be demands (made in deep, almost Vader-esque tones) to “just give me the drugs.” These demands will be made by the women who planned what will loosely be called “natural childbirth.”
  5. Any non-doctors involved in the delivery process will either be crunchy-granola-magical-fairies-of-weirdness (midwives, doulas, lactation consultants) or uptight-yet-ultimately-correct-followers-of-doctors’-orders (nurses).
  6. But all will glow, in the end.
  7. Except possibly for the ladies’ post-baby weight which, if the movie has time to address, they will totes obsess about shedding. Possibly during the credits.

Please God, can I go raise my children on the South Pole?

*Everybody They Can Find concept totally ripped off from Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

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