Mihir Choughule

A Tale of Three Countries

If you ever thought, in a momentary brainfart perhaps, that misogyny is completely made up and a figment of people’s imaginations, then this past week offered up some reassurance that despite it being the 21st century, women are still treated as secondary citizens. What’s more, even famous women are subject to the same level of hatred and sexism that is more commonly attributed to the disadvantaged in the developing world.

Here is what went down, in the past week, in three separate countries around the world.

For bibliophiles, the Italian author Elena Ferrante is a name that many are familiar with, having constantly been in the news over the past year – and for good reason. Her ‘Neapolitan Novels,’ a 4-part book series charting a coming-of-age story of two friends in Naples in the mid-20th century, widely touted as the introduction of feminist themes in mainstream literature, deals with issues surrounding women which are considered taboo – like dislike of children and disdain towards the concept of motherhood. It is no wonder, then, that people all over the world have become champions and voracious consumers of Ferrante’s works.

The mystery surrounding Ferrante’s real identity has also added to the intrigue and allure of her works. Just who is this woman, who has so brilliantly captured the unsaid thoughts of a lot of women worldwide? Although people wondered, they were happy to have her identity hidden. Not Claudio Gatti however, a psychopath/stalker masquerading as an investigative journalist, who seemingly made it his life mission to find out who she was (I have deliberately left out the link to his article – those curious can Google of their own free will). Before delving into an analysis, it is important to provide some context to substantiate the claims of misogyny. Ferrante has stated repeatedly that her anonymity is key to her writing; that it is a precondition to her writing. By ignoring these repeated affirmations, Gatti has conducted a gross violation of privacy. But that’s not the worst part. What is more sinister is his explanation for why he did it. The following is a “legitimate reasoning” given by Gatti for his expose:

But by announcing that she would lie on occasion, Ferrante has in a way relinquished her right to disappear behind her books and let them live and grow while their author remained unknown. Indeed, she and her publisher seemed to have fed public interest in her true identity”

Read that phrase again and let it sink in. Gatti is basically saying that she and her publisher asked for it (‘inevitable,’ to use his own words) through some action of hers. What Gatti has done to Ferrante embodies the whole concept of misogyny. A successful female writer, writing about previously stigmatized topics for women couldn’t possibly be allowed to get away with it. Gatti does what millions of men do when they feel emasculated – they make it their lives’ mission to dig up dirt on the woman in question. Would he have done the same if Ferrante was a man? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Next, we move on to Paris, where Kim Kardashian probably had the worst week of her life. Firstly, she was the victim of, let’s not kid ourselves, attempted sexual assault, when a ‘prankster’ (who attempted something similar with model Gigi Hadid just a couple of days before) tried to use her body as a commodity to supposedly make a stand against unrealistic standards the Kardashians set for young girls. There are better ways to do that then attempting to force himself upon her in broad daylight, but hey, he had noble intentions so it’s all cool!

Her ordeal worsened when she was robbed at gunpoint. Regardless of what you think (or don’t think) of the Kardashians, this is a terrifying ordeal to have to go through. Not according to the vast majority of commentators. Apparently, her route to stardom and general ‘attention-seeking’ antics make her completely undeserving of any sympathy, even when they are duct taped, gagged and have to beg for their life. Even the head of Chanel, for whom the Kardashians have undoubtedly modelled in the past, blamed her for flaunting jewellery and expecting people not to rob her. What’s that, I hear you say? That’s right – another pseudo-rape apology.

What sort of society is it where women are denigrated for using their physical attributes to attain stardom and beauty whilst, at the same time, predominantly promoting women based almost exclusively on their looks and appearance? It’s a lose-lose situation. No matter what you think of Kim Kardashian, she had to endure a horrific ordeal.

Last (and most certainly the least), we come to the overgrown child that is approximately only 80 million votes away from ascending to the most powerful office in the world. Trump’s campaign exploded in controversy for the 1000000000th time when he made disgusting, lewd comments about doing whatever he wanted to women because he was ‘rich and famous.’ (a.k.a. sexual assault). At this point in time, there is literally nothing more to say about Trump that hasn’t already been said over and over again for the past year or so. It continues to boggle me that the man is the best candidate available from 1 of the 2 major parties in the country.

What’s worse is that the response is predictably misogynistic and unrepentant, as best encapsulated in the tweet below:

That right there is Trump’s attitude towards women. There is an explicit assumption made that Hillary should be judged on the actions of her husband – basically, that this is the overriding factor which Clinton should be judged by. Regardless of your position on Hillary’s candidature, she has been a key figure in politics in the recent past and is far more than the recipient of vitriol because of her husband’s misdeeds. Trump’s lack of contrition and dragging Bill Clinton into his apology is, unfortunately, the prevailing mindset of several men, particularly in upper-class, white professional circles. Hence, any existing support for Trump can no longer be guised under anti-establishment rhetoric – you are advocating racism, sexism, elitism, misogyny and even borderline incestuous behaviour by giving your vote to this man.

There is no distinctive message in this article, save for the fact that this was a week in which there were three high-profile cases, featuring three extremely successful women, who were the subject, tacitly or openly, of emotional violence perpetrated by men. And sadly, there were people who took pleasure in seeing these women ‘taken down a peg.’ Maybe this article will go unnoticed and women will be subject to discriminatory behaviour because of their gender. But if there’s one message that I want people to take from this rant, it is this: if you took pride in Ferrante’s exposing, reveled in Kardashian’s despair, and are still pro-Trump after these latest antics, then hang your head in shame.

Article by Mihir Choughule

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