Kevin Smith, Feminism, and the Public Debate

by Tess Adair

post dated: 7/24/2015


I recently went back home and spent a lot of time going through my old stuff. One such old thing was the book My Boring-Ass Life by Kevin Smith, a compilation of his blog posts over a period of a few years. I bought the book in college, probably off Amazon, and since I didn’t have much time for pleasure-reading then (story of my life,) I primarily read it in airports and airplanes. I took it with me every time I traveled. Ultimately this meant that I spent a lot of time with it and came to see it as a sort of security-blanket/good-luck-charm for travel, and despite my warm feelings for it, I never actually finished the damn thing. I’m not even halfway through.


So, back home now and nursing a post-flight cough, I flipped it open to page 130, where the plastic piece of garbage I used as a bookmark is tucked. I don’t know if this is really where I was in my reading, or if I put it here specifically because of this passage, but as soon as I read it, I remembered, all over again, that one of the things I love about Kevin Smith is his unassuming, un-grandstanding feminism.


“I don’t know how chicks go to the movies, man. There’s so much brutalization of women depicted, it makes you wonder who’s greenlighting these flicks (though, in the case of Suspect Zero – a Paramount film – the answer would have to be then-head of the studio Sherry Lansing). I realize I’ve only become more sensitive to this because I’ve got both a wife and daughter, which makes me sad to think that, as a single guy, this phenomenon was something I didn’t notice at all, since I didn’t have as much personally invested in the distaff. Does it make me want to campaign against those who tell women-in-peril tales? No—I’m for freedom of expression and all that. But it does make me want to turn off movies that show the first hint of brutality to women and opt to watch something else.”


It kind of makes me think about one of the final scenes of Dear White People, where Sam explains to the Dean of Students that it’s not just shameful that one house held a racist party—it’s shameful that the invitations to said party were not met with derision and disgust, but instead hundreds of white students showed up, gleefully displaying the blackface, costumes and props that they had prepared for such an event.


Censorship is not an option. It’s the public discourse that needs to change, and fortunately, I believe it is. Now, sprinkled amid the endless online harassment of women are, in unpresented numbers, articles pointing it out and decrying it. Articles holding up a mirror to us and asking us to look for a reason.


That being said, I cannot seem to go on the internet for even a moment without multiple gratuitous shots of women’s breasts, women’s abs, “hot women doing embarrassing things,” “celebrities who are secretly ugly” (always accompanied by a female face,) “hottest (female) celebrities,” “celebrities (again, picture of a woman) who need to lose weight,” or “celebrities who have lost weight.” The list is endless, and it’s everywhere. I will read an article about rape culture and on the side of it, a sexualized image of a woman that literally crops out her face, leaving her a collection of commodified body parts, trying to get me to click on god knows what. Salon may want to bark its moral outrage at you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t after the dollar, and what better way to get it than by selling women’s bodies? It’s how we’ve sold everything for decades.


I don’t have any answers right now. The questions seem too small and the resolution too big. Sexism and racism are both so tightly tied to capitalism, and we don’t allow ourselves to question that.


Maybe I’ll have an answer if I can finally get myself to turn off Game of Thrones after the next, inevitable, rape scene.


Meanwhile, Kevin Smith puts out new podcasts all the time, and that shit is free. (And the ads on it completely devoid of the objectification of women!)