Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow think making connections between male entitlement and violence against women is 'self-promotional'

Actor, Seth Rogen and director, Judd Apatow did not react well to a recent column by Washington Post film critic, Ann Hornaday which drew connections between last week’s mass killing in Isla Vista and movies that center around “sexual conquest.”

Hornaday writes:

For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny).

She specifically named Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen’s recently-released film, Neighbors, as an example, saying:

How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like ‘Neighbors’ and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of ‘sex and fun and pleasure?’ How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, ‘It’s not fair?’

Rather than take a moment to consider the larger picture Hornaday is trying to show us and look at the ways in which mass media and our culture at large excuse and perpetuate violence against women in perhaps less overt ways than men like Apatow and Rogen are prepared to accept, they strike back. Because defending your ego is clearly more important than having conversations about male entitlement and violence against women amirite?

Hmm… How dare she.

In peak grossness, Judd Apatow accuses Hornaday of “milk[ing] tragedy.”

“It worked for her?!” WORKED HOW, EXACTLY, JUDD APATOW? Man, this culture of virulent misogyny and this global epidemic of violence against women is really working for us, isn’t it. Get it, girl.

I suppose we could all be accused of the same. Selfishly using Elliot Rodger’s violence and misogyny to talk about how our culture facilitates said violence and misogyny. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. Particularly all the millionaire writers out there making millions off of their columns while celebrities like Rogen and Apatow starve.

Just remember everyone — movies that objectify women or treat them as things men should chase and “get” don’t generate any money at all. And, as we all know, women who write about sexism in movies are just doing it to make a buck. Femini$m.

Comedian, Patton Oswalt steps in to support his brothers in arms, telling Rogen not to worry because he “knows the truth.” Tweet on, brave truth-tellers.


Oh hey. And maybe next time you’ll keep the computer shut off for a while and think more before jumping on Twitter to whine about women talking about sexism in the movies you’re making millions off of. What do you think?

What’s become clear in all of this is that the real victims in all of this are white, male celebrities.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • >Just remember everyone — movies that objectify women or treat them as things men should chase and “get” don’t generate any money at all. And, as we all know, women who write about sexism in movies are just doing it to make a buck. Femini$m.

    Wonderful injection of humour into this Meghan 😉 Too true.

  • Don’t make them mad, Meghan! You know what happens when entitled white men feel like they are the victims. And it happens over and over again.

  • Greeson


  • zoocreeper

    Men will always circle the wagons to protect their own. Not even surprised that they’re telling her to shut up.

    • klobberhead

      I don’t disagree with you, but everyone circles the wagon to protect their own. These attacks against guys voicing their (obviously annoyed at being singled out) opinions are exactly that. This whole thing has become “us vs. them” and pointing blame is doing nothing useful. Rather than condemning a couple of people who it is implied are causing the world harm by doing their jobs, why not try to understand that the problem is bigger than that, and it is entitlement being taught to everyone by everyone? You can see it every day, in every person.
      Pay careful attention to your actions, and I guarantee that you will feel like something you think you deserve is denied, thereby making you react negatively. I have done it, I have seen the people I respect the most in my life do it, and I know it is so common that no one cares any more. You do not have the right to everything you have, you do not have the right to hear only what you want to hear, and you do not have the right to be treated the way you think you ought to be treated.

      P.S. Most of what I’ve said is not a direct response to an individual. I only started with what creepy zoo-goer said as a jumping point.

      • Meghan Murphy

        ” Rather than condemning a couple of people who it is implied are causing the world harm by doing their jobs, why not try to understand that the problem is bigger than that, and it is entitlement being taught to everyone by everyone? You can see it every day, in every person”

        I think you missed the entire point. The point IS that the problem is bigger than that — not about Rogen and Apatow, though they chose to make it about themselves.

        • Joseph

          Well, yes and no. The poster is right that they were singled out for no particular reason. Or do you honestly think those guys’ movies are the worst offenders? Just about every movie has a “romantic” subplot about getting the girl. That’s what needs to change, but that’s also the basis of their accusations of the article being “clickbait”. I think they’re off the mark, but mostly because WaPo isn’t HuffPo, they don’t need to get traffic that way.
          The columnist could have just mentioned the movies by title, but she chose to put the names of the actor and director in there. It was probably just done so people could have a current example they could readily associate with the problem, but I can get being annoyed for having been singled out like that, especially in connection with a horrible crime.
          But yeah, you’d think celebrities would know better than to ever act the victim. They can’t really pull it off.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hmm ok. So it’s clear this comments section is just going to be repeating myself over and over again.

            “The poster is right that they were singled out for no particular reason. Or do you honestly think those guys’ movies are the worst offenders?”

            This film was used as an example because it’s a brand new film. It is a relevant example, which is why it was used — not ‘for no particular reason,’ but rather to illustrate her point. And NOBODY HAS SAID “those guys’ movies are the worst offenders.” Nobody.

            Why are we so desperate to defend Rogen and Apatow? Why are we not allowed to talk about sexist messages in their films? No one’s saying they are evil.

          • Joseph

            No ones talking about the sexist messages in their films because they’re pretty blatant. Which is why, I suppose, they felt the need to defend themselves the way they did, since they can’t defend the movies.
            I don’t know, her disdain for the movies leaks through to seem like a personal attack on those two in the original column. Which seemed counterproductive for her argument. Maybe that was unintentional, or maybe its just a result of a defensive male filter on it that makes it seem that way.
            Either way though, you’re right. It is not about any particular actor or director, its about the culture and how we can change it. I liked this fellow WaPo columnist’s post on the subject, especially her closing sentiment:

          • Did you just say the Washington Post doesn’t need ad revenue? Even if that were true-which it’s not, the more views an article gets the more notoriety the writer gets.

        • “…not about Rogen and Apatow, though they chose to make it about themselves. ”

          Hyperindividualism in a nutshell. It has gone so far now in loosing personalities the world over that human beings have to identify with anything that is not really about them on the individual level.
          Like if I would critique the multinational company McDonalds I can surly find one or two or ten people that will take it personal, maybe because they work for them or they really like their food. They identify so deeply with what they do that they miss the fact that lifting critique against McDonalds is not the same as critiquing the workers (or their consumers) same goes with prostitution, porn or in this case sexism in movies. These guys are so heavily identifying with their work that, for some reason, it becomes them and about them.

  • Morgan


    So, dudes, a woman puts forward an argument that disagrees with your narrative of the world (“white guys aren’t guilty of anything! just let us keep making shitty movies, without analysis, ok!”), therefore she’s stupid, right? ‘Cause us chicks, we’re only good for fucking and objectifying anyway. Ladies, stay off those computers until you’ve thought more and come to the right conclusion! You know, the one Judd likes!

    Oh, let’s not forget the outrage, the “how dare you” of it all. How dare she indeed. A writer, of all people, writes about a current event, and provides an analysis for that event by considering the context it occurred in (male supremacy).

    Those pesky women, who think they have brains and a right to discuss their experience of the world, “they’ll never go away.” Damn them. No, FUCK them. Women don’t know what “truth” is anyway. Only someone with testicles could see the world the way it REALLY is. Pfft, women and their idea of “truth.” Unless a man says it, IT AIN’T TRUE right bruh??

    • morag

      Spot on, Morgan. And hmmmm, I wonder why Rogen and Apatow reacted so angrily to this particular article, than say a scathing movie review by a critic like Richard Roper? And then repeatedly follow the author on Twitter telling her to shut up until she recanted her views? It’s almost like any woman who says anything a man doesn’t like even on the smallest corner of the internet is an easier target than the highly payed men who have the industry clout to destroy a big budgeted movie. Hmmm indeed.

  • Fuck this. Fuck them (err, I take that back), and fuck their Liberal white-bro mindset.

  • I feel so bad for the white guys, but happy to hear that as a woman in this world I’m going to make some money, finally. And I agree, the neo-liberal white bro mindset is deadly. (But really, who is Judd Apatow? I’m not familiar with him.

    • kingdomofevil

      A producer/director/writer of comedy films. Some of them are funny (I did like Neighbors, actually), some of them aren’t. Actually, Neighbors is probably better as regards gender issues than most of his films.

  • Flux and Virtue

    All this discussion about misogyny and the links to everything that exists as accepted in our society, has really brought all of the misogynists out of the wood work! And they are angry. How dare we call them on this. What ARE you doing out of the background you meagre females.

    Keep coming at ’em Meghan, we’re right behind you.

  • I have my own issues with that Hornaday quote, she makes it sound as if women are only something that a “shlubby arrested adolescent” shouldn’t be entitled to have . No one is entitled to women! Not even rich privileged douchebags with nice hair.

  • Movies about college are part of the problem, but they’re not completely wrong when it comes to portraying college life (in fact the movies may be part of the reason why people treat college as a place to party and have sex), but universities should also take part of the blame for subtlely promoting that behaviours themselves.

    I was told I had to “get involved in student life” if I wanted to take full advantage of the “university experience” and get a job later. I was told that a degree wouldn’t be enough. That may well be true given that we live in a capitalist world where people have to compete for employment and some people have to wind up unemployed in order to make the system work, but I think that universities should be providing a way to get “life experience” that does not innevitably end up being all about partying and having random sex. It’s possible there are some groups at my campus that are not all about that, but you can’t tell in advance and even if you could, they should not be pressuring people to “get involved”, some of us (especially those who live off campus) have perfectly fulfilling lives outside of university.

    Anyway, the culture we live in is just all around toxic and it produces men who murder because they can’t get laid. And yes most men don’t murder, but many men, especially those who buy into the ideals our society promotes to them (e.g. aggression, selfishness, emotionless, mindless pleasure seeking, etc.) do all kinds of things that are of a similar nature but milder (e.g. beating people up, posting misogynistic rants on the internet, talking loudly about their sexual conquests and how massive a particular woman’s boobs are.) Everyone wants to look for a link between the culture and extreme acts of violence, like murder and rape, but we should also take into account the ways in which violent media, pornography, BDSM, etc. encourage more ordinary aggressive/mean acts.

    • Universities are rape factories thanks in part to male entitlement. We may never know how much movies and media add to the expectations of young men entering college, but its clear from observing “frat” movies that sexual encounters are something that comes in the meal plan package. Reflect on the term “panty raid”, it encapsulate the problem of misogyny in higher education without the need for much elaboration.

  • Guess I won’t be seeing anything by Rogen or Apatow…wait, I already couldn’t care less about their work. Big cry babies.

  • dan

    screw all of them and their stupid shows promoting unrealistic white male sexual fantasies

    they are involving themselves in this controversy just to further their own celebrity not because they care about the issue

  • Wow they just can’t stand that their movies have a negative influence on the world. I’m sure if they had inspired someone to do something charitable both of them would be eager to accept responsibility for their part in the situation. But no, I suppose they think every person is an island and that the culture we live in has no effect on how people perceive themselves or others. Yawn.

  • NitroGirl

    Of course Seth’s going to defend something that’s gotten him loads of cash,however you can’t play as an immature, 20yr old White fratboy or “Bro” all your life, college chicks aren’t exactly chasing after grey beards..doubt anyone would want to see a movie like that. His shelf-life is depleting,perhaps he should find another niche,that is,if he has the acting chops to pull it off. (Which I highly doubt..LOL.)

  • Marino

    I consider myself a feminist and believe strongly in gender equality, but I have never disagreed more with an article. What was expected to happen? Neither of these men are anywhere near what if consider to be virulent misogynists. When you publish an article directly naming individuals and drawing parallels to such atrocities how can you expect them not to be defensive? And the mocking tone of the article is a bit insulting. As if it is a snare to lure a statement to be interpreted is misogyny. A GOOD writer would focus more on the facts at hand and not try to excuse the behavior of an obviously disturbed man on some shitty comedies. Is it so impossible for a “fat” guy to land the “pretty” girl? Articles like this actually validate the the arguments of meatheads everywhere. Did they gain insight here?
    They gained ammunition.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The writer didn’t “try to excuse the behavior of an obviously disturbed man on some shitty comedies” — she tried to draw connections between the messages sent to men in this society and violence against women. Which is important and relevant. Rogen and Apatow made it about them instead.

      • Marino

        The writer made it about them as soon as she named them directly! I understand the point that was ultimately being made, and the way they responded was inappropriate. However, it wasn’t just pointing out these problems with their films, it was aimed at them directly. The second quote citing the original article poses the question: ” Did this style of film making make men feel entitled to the women they desired? How could they not feel spurned?” As if his actions were understandable from being fed a steady diet of unreasonable expectations. They are not. And surely women worked on these movies too, only they weren’t named publicly.

        • Meghan Murphy

          People don’t understand points unless provided with examples that people can see and relate to. As a writer and a reader, I understand this. I’m certain Hornaday does as well. There is no point in making abstract claims, your point won’t convey effectively.

      • lizor

        Meghan, you are so incredibly patient with these commenters (like klobberhead above). We are so lucky to have this blog and your profound ability to explain simple concepts over and over and over to people who are seemingly too lazy to read before commenting is a blessing to us all. It’s far more than I could bring myself to and I really am grateful to you for your example, as well as your kick-ass writing!

        Thank you.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Thanks lizor! And I am ever grateful to have the smartest commenters on the whole internet (aside from the odd few who slip in here and there 🙂

  • “…how dare you imply that me getting girls in movies caused a lunatic to go on a rampage.”

    Getting? Good grief. No boyo, you didn’t cause the lunatic rampage single-handedly. You’re just another thick brick in the wall of mindless misogyny.

  • Avneet

    I think Seth and Judd’s reactions were so strong as the accusations are incredibly harsh. I will accuse Seth and Judd for making crappy movies but to compare them to the tragedy that just took place, as well as the timing of the accusations is terribly wrong!

    Movies are meant to make money, not to provide people with beliefs in how life works. Blaming Seth and Judd, is like blaming the Director of Leave it to Beaver for so many divorces due to people believing marriage would be the same as Mr. & Mrs. Cleaver. The argument can be made but it is a stretch, and the accusation of being associated with a mass killing within a week of occurrence deserves criticism.

    At 22 years of age, you should be aware that movies are not real and it is obvious that Elliot Roger was mentally ill, not something Seth or Judd can fix.

    Neither Seth or Judd are “defending their ego”, they are disassociating themselves from a harsh accusation.

    Also, as a non-feminist when you include too many stereotypes to typical “white males”. Associating white males in one category is like putting all feminist in one category.

    I believe complaining about the difficulties of being a white male is more obnoxious than an NBA player demanding more money, but putting all white men in a category is just as wrong as any other race

    • Meghan Murphy

      I feel like you’ve never read this blog before… In which case maybe you should. Because I think we’ve already established that media and imagery impact the way we see and understand the world around us…

    • Hi!

      May I suggest you read “Four Arguments For the Elimination Of Television” written by jerry Mander and you might have a thing or two to think about just how much media affects the way we view the world around us. Fiction or not.

      • I’d like to suggest watching the documentary “The Century of the Self,” by Adam Curtis and visiting his website, a treasure trove of documentaries explaining how we are little more than lab rats being mindfucked by TPTB:

        “The business and political world uses psychological techniques to read, create and fulfill the desires of the public, to make their products or speeches as pleasing as possible to consumers and citizens. Curtis raises the question of the intentions and roots of this fact. Where once the political process was about engaging people’s rational, conscious minds, as well as facilitating their needs as a society, the documentary shows how by employing the tactics of psychoanalysis, politicians appeal to irrational, primitive impulses that have little apparent bearing on issues outside of the narrow self-interest of a consumer population.”

    • anaeli

      Do you happen to live in a bubble in which everything affects nothing? If yes, for starters, take Meghan’s recommendation and read a few more blog posts. Then I will gladly give you a list of books, articles and documentaries that talk about how strongly we are influenced by the media (films, news, other tv shows, newspapers, internet, you know, mediated forms of ‘mass’ communication etc).

      Also I don’t think anyone’s saying Seth Rogen and that other guy gave Rodger the push needed to kill some women. But what is being said is that with their films they are perpetuating a toxic culture. They were there in the article as a recent example of the same old same old tropes repeated ad nauseum.

    • amongster

      “Movies are meant to make money, not to provide people with beliefs in how life works.”

      it is so tiring to point out that movies that show the status quo *are* providing people with beliefs how the world works. people are just so used to see it that they don’t even question that the world doesn’t have to be like that. as soon as there is a movie about a world in which things are done differently people see it as propaganda, just because they actually see a message now that is different from the message they are used to be provided with.

  • Alice B.

    I understand your point. I guess. But I think we’re missing the bigger picture that people who actually commit these crimes and harbor discriminatory attitudes against women and minorities aren’t getting punished as harshly as they should be and aren’t facing serious enough consequences for their attitudes and actions. I don’t think it’s useful to point the finger at ridiculous comedy flicks. I’m sure many women watch those as well and you don’t really hear about women going out on a violent rampage because they’re furious about the attitudes towards women in the film. I wonder why men would then be more susceptible to violent behavior after watching such films??
    Obviously some serious mental illness is involved with such rampages -coupled with access to weapons and a (basically warranted) disregard for the consequences, as people get away with murder of women and minorities all the time. A better example of white male entitlement is a stroll through any financial district, political office, prison, or wealthy zipcode…not characters in Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen flicks.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ok, so do you think that the messages sent to men via porn — that women are objects to be fucked, enjoy being degraded, etc. impact the way men see women? Or is that just ‘pointing the finger’ in the wrong directions? I think what’s important is that we start making connections and stop compartmentalizing…

    • Grackle

      “I’m sure many women watch those as well and you don’t really hear about women going out on a violent rampage because they’re furious about the attitudes towards women in the film. ”

      How would that parallel the situation we’re discussing? Nobody is arguing that men go on a rampage because they don’t like how they are presented in these types of movies. Instead it’s all about a culture that fosters an attitude that every guy is entitled to a beautiful woman practically by virtue of existing.

      Also, you should consider learning about privilege, because it really has to do with much more than the things you described in your last sentence. Those are only a part of it. Another part (of many) is having all forms of media catering to your demographic and, in the case of the kind of film we’re discussing here, your wish-fulfillment fantasies.

    • hello

      Subjectivity is gendered because gender exists. Therefore film viewing is gendered– because gender exists. Men and women watch the same movies, but there are different messages for each group. One group does the pursuing and fucking, one does the fawning and cheerleading and silent supporting and acquiescing.

      Also, no one said that this one movie or movies like it are the ONLY cause of the male entitlement that leads to male violence. No, it was merely suggested that it is ONE telling aspect of how our culture trains and constrains men and women, and how that specific training can lead to attitudes that engender violence. You wonder “why men would then be more susceptible to violent behavior after watching such films?” Well, if you hadn’t been so busy allowing Rogen and Apatow’s hissy fit to distract you from the real point of the article, you would already know the answer. Because the entire article was there to tell you : It’s the culture. Movies are part of culture. But it is the culture.

      It’s not obvious, by the qay, that mental illness is involved with such rampages. Some people do bad things, that is part of reality. The statistics clearly show that people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators, and the fact that you can’t figure out why this santa barbara shooter (and others like him) do what they do even though they tell you explicitly (they say explicitly that they hate women and that that is why they did it) speaks volumes about how our culture supports men no matter what. unritically. like the cheerleaders we women are all supposed to be.

  • Alice B.

    I’m wondering if the connection you’re making here between Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen films and viewing pornography and its impact on men is that both contain sex?
    If that’s the case, then
    I have to say that I disagree with you that sex (to use the bridge between the porn comment and previously discussed issue of Apatow/Rogen-ish films as helping contribute to violent rampages and rape) is about men fucking/degrading women as an object. Believe it or not, but I think women (myself included) enjoy having sex and even watching it. I think “connecting” porn or a movie featuring sex to a man fucking/degrading a woman as an object is problematic and innacurate as it assumes that women are sexless beings with only a passive role in the act of sex and pretty much agrees with the statement that women are objects that must be fucked without their consent/degraded…
    But anyway, as far as pornography goes, there are many different types, many fetishes out there. Do I think porn featuring a woman being roughed up, degraded or pretending to be raped impacts the men who watch it? I can’t say for sure, but I definitely think people who want to see that type of porn impact the type of porn that is made and ultimately viewed by them. And not to be judgmental, but I definitely think there is some type of mental illness at play if a person seeks out that type of material and gets their jollies off to it. Personally, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, nothing kills my partner and I’s sex drive like running into some violent or degrading porn on our occasional trip through the web to see our fave professionals.
    However, unfortunately, long ago, before Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Hustler, and the Internet…men found ways to abuse, rape and murder women. ALL the time and more often. It was business as usual, and in other areas (even absent Seth Rogen flicks and a computer with internet and porn vids) they still do. The difference is that we have laws that protect women (and men) from abuse. The problem is when these laws aren’t upheld or are manipulated and rendered as being pretty much useless. Add to that, all the cases of untreated mental illness and the ability to easily obtain weapons and we have a disaster waiting to happen.

    • stephen m

      @Alice B: There are many peer reviewed articles that show the negative effect of porn for women and society. Here are 3 you can chase down if you are interested.

      I have yet to read a publication in a first or second tier peer reviewed article that demonstrates the benefits of pornography to women and society.

      Pornography, Individual Differences in Risk and Men’s
      Acceptance of Violence Against Women
      in a Representative Sample
      Neil M. Malamuth & Gert Martin Hald & Mary Koss

      Pornography and Attitudes Supporting Violence
      Against Women: Revisiting the Relationship
      in Nonexperimental Studies
      Gert Martin Hald1,2Ã, Neil M. Malamuth1, and Carlin Yuen3

      Pornography and Sexist Attitudes Among
      Gert Martin Hald1,2 , Neil N. Malamuth3 , & Theis Lange4

    • Laur

      I’m glad to hear you and your partner don’t like violent, degrading porn. The fact is, websites where women are being violated and even have the word “abuse” in their name receive millions of hits a month. And men are willing to PAY to see women abused, which is why so many horrendous sites are able to stay in business.

    • Grackle

      “Believe it or not, but I think women (myself included) enjoy having sex and even watching it.”

      Oh my lord! your argument certainly wouldn’t have been complete without the implication that feminists are not only frigid and anti-sex but that we have no concept of the reality we all live in. Of course there are women who like porn–do you think this is some kind of revelation to us? You’re simplifying everything and missing the point entirely.

      Also, considering what an enormous amount of porn out there that is incredibly degrading (it’s practically the default), there certainly must be a lot of men and women suffering from “some type of mental illness.” That said, stop with the offensive comments about mental illnesses, the existence of which are only a small contributor to a much larger problem. One in four people suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime, and by an overwhelming margin, those illnesses are completely non-conducive to violent behaviour. (Like someone said in the thread above, people with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.) Naturally we need far better treatment for those with mental illnesses but you’re shifting the blame for the UCSB killings to an individual rather than examining a culture that we are all a part of.

      • anaeli

        Alice B., sorry but I’m not really sorry, I find your assumptions very condescending and ignorant. As Grackle pointed out, you’re the one painting others as sexless beings. If you had just bothered to read more about this blog (I clearly remember Meghan writing about her own personal life which *GASP YOU GUYS* included sex), you’d know better than to come to us with the shocking revelations that women like sex and some even like watching it!
        I don’t myself believe that sex, in and of itself, is about degrading women and giving men power. I do however believe that is how our society and culture talks about and portrays sex a lot of the time. If you point these things out, you are not the one portraying things as such. I don’t want to be perceived as a sexual prize for a man or as a lesser person because I am not a “virgin” or as a whore because I have casual sex etc and I don’t want other women to be perceived as such either, yet I can see it happen in movies and then I can point it out and discuss it critically (i.e. original article) in a wider context. I think that is pretty much the opposite of agreeing that women are objects and sexless and whatnot.

  • Alice B., to quote lizor: “Meghan, you are so incredibly patient with these commenters (like klobberhead above). We are so lucky to have this blog and your profound ability to explain simple concepts over and over and over to people who are seemingly too lazy to read before commenting is a blessing to us all. It’s far more than I could bring myself to and I really am grateful to you for your example, as well as your kick-ass writing!”

  • Alice B.

    Again, you have abandoned ship for your original argument/point by linking sexual content in a comedy flick to pornography. And I didn’t say porn necessarily benefits men or women, I simply said that referring to sex as something men do to women places women as passive unwilling recipients when that’s not always the case.
    I really just think this whole argument is silly and that the original person who wrote that comment was out of line. Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow could have certainly responded more eloquently, though. But I really think we’re missing the point with this situation. People who commit such heinous crimes are seriously mentally ill. If one is capable of being influenced by a Seth Rogen film, or even porn for that matter, to go out and rape, abuse, or go on a killing rampage, Im quite sure they have some serious mental problems. As I’ve been saying…combine that with lenient gun laws, access to a sounding board to connect with other disturbed individuals, and precedents that have been set that establish loopholes in laws that protect minorities and women…violence ensues. I think we need to be demanding more accountability for these crimes, stricter gun control laws, and better mental health programs/care…not spending our time “connecting” sex in films to mass murderers.

    • hello

      So, no matter what a murderer says about why he did it, you are committed to believing that he did it because “he couldn’t help it” (i.e. mental illness). Wait a sec, that probably only applies to white, middle/upper-class males, doesn’t it? I doubt you think that by definition a man who beats his wife is “mentally ill” (in a clinical sense, i.e. not responsible for what he did, not in control of it). I doubt you think, either, that the Taliban are merely mentally ill and not politically motivated.

      Your recourse to “mental illness” depoliticizes and personalizes every act of violence against women. That is how you are colluding with a violent male culture right now. Maybe you should ask yourself why you feel the need to cheerlead and excuse these men and this culture instead of supporting women when they speak up about the toxic culture that is killing women worldwide, selling them into sexual slavery. Because, despite the cushy circumstances of the Santa Barbara killer’s life– and judging from your posts, perhaps your life as well– the vast majority of the issues facing women on this Earth are violence at the hands of males, including murder as well as rape and being sold into sexual slavery.

      • amongster

        “I doubt you think that by definition a man who beats his wife is “mentally ill” (in a clinical sense, i.e. not responsible for what he did, not in control of it). I doubt you think, either, that the Taliban are merely mentally ill and not politically motivated.”

        this reminds me of a quote from the book “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft which i found recently (full text here: )

        “A critical insight seeped into me from working with my first few dozen clients: An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside. I can’t remember a client ever having said to me: “There’s no way I can defend what I did. It was just totally wrong.” He invariably has a reason that he considers good enough. In short, an abuser’s core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong.”

        and this distored sense is not a product of a mental illnes but always the result of growing up in a rape and porn culture. rodger also felt it was wrong to kill his own father and actually waited until his father was gone for some days. but he felt absolutely justified in killing girls and “rivals”.

      • Donkey Skin

        ‘recourse to “mental illness” depoliticizes and personalizes every act of violence against women.’

        I think feminists need to be aware that this is actually occurring on a broad institutional level – in the justice system, the psych industry and the media. It is a new strategy in the patriarchal backlash against the truth exposed by second-wave feminists, when they identified male violence against women and children as not merely an issue of criminality, but a core feature of patriarchy and the bedrock of male political control of women as a class.

        Once MVAW was barely acknowledged as a significant issue at all, now that it has been named by feminists, it is being recast as matter of mental illness, and men are frequently seen as victims of their own violence (for instance, in the claim that men who beat their wives and children need to ‘seek help’ for their behaviour).

        When Australian actor Matthew Newton seriously assaulted two of his girlfriends, resulting in one conviction and another incident caught on CCTV when he fractured one girlfriend’s skull by repeatedly slamming it into a hotel floor, he got a sympathetic hearing by a current affairs show in which he talked about how the ‘incidents’ were triggered by his bipolar disorder. The show ended with a plea for anyone affected by mental illness to seek help, and a number on which they could do so. No mention of domestic violence or where victims of same could get help.

        When Hey Dad star Robert Hughes was recently convicted by an Australian court of molesting a number of young girls over many years, some of his co stars expressed regret that he ‘hadn’t been helped sooner’ by receiving psychiatric treatment. Not that he hadn’t been stopped, but that he hadn’t been helped.

        Similarly, when Victorian man Greg Anderson beat his 10-year-old son Luke Batty to death at a junior cricket match this year (before being shot dead by police), the media focused on ‘mental illness’ as the catalyst behind the murder and referred to him as a ‘loving father’ who was ‘troubled’. You had to read the details of the case to see what was really behind it: Anderson had a long history of violence against Luke and his mother Rosie, including stalking and death threats against both of them, and Rosie Batty had multiple restraining orders against him.

        There is a pattern in the way male violence is being presented here, and this pattern is not random. It is a deliberate attempt to obscure the nature and meaning of male violence against women and children, so that men are never ultimately responsible for it. This ensures the patriarchal order effectively resists the challenge posed by the feminist exposure of male violence, and can carry on replicating itself undisturbed.

        N.B. The book quoted by Amongster, ‘Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft, provides an excellent dissection of the dynamics of this.

        • I wish I could give this comment, Donkey Skin, a whole bunch of “likes.”

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Again, you have abandoned ship for your original argument/point by linking sexual content in a comedy flick to pornography.”

      Hmm I still don’t think you’re quite getting this. 1) We call it ‘porn culture’ for a reason — i.e those messages and that imagery extends beyond porn videos, and 2) It’s not about ‘sexual content’ per se, it’s about the messages sent to men about women/men’s relationships to women.

    • Laur

      Hi Alice B.,
      “I simply said that referring to sex as something men do to women places women as passive unwilling recipients when that’s not always the case”

      Feminists did not come up with the idea that sex is something men do to women. That is male ideology. For Rogan, it is natural for him to refer to “getting” the girl. I doubt he thought for a second that that is ethically problematic. I have never heard any feminist state she believes women are “sexless” creatures; I certainly don’t believe that at all. I would also add that many, if not most, women are deeply affected by mainstream media and pornography. As a girl moving into young adulthood, I watched several of my teenage friends mimic how women act in the media and in porn again and again. The friends most affected were those that had experienced childhood sexual abuse. The guys didn’t care why the girls were dressing and acting as they did, they just wanted to fuck them. People DO turn to the media to get ideas about how to dress, behave, and so forth. No one here is saying that a man watches a Judd Appatow movie or porn flick and then becomes a murderer and/or rapist. But television commercials would not exist if media did not influence behavior substantially.

      I can’t speak for Meghan, but porn is a topic she’s written a lot about. It is also a form of media. Now, mainstream television and movies have become increasingly sexually violent, especially towards women. Thus mainstream media and pornography are on a continuum, with the effects of pornography trickling down into mainstream media.

      Finally, Rodger wrote in his own manifesto: “At my father’s house, we watched the movie Alpha Dog after dinner one night. The movie depicts a lot of teenagers and young people partying and having sex with beautiful girls, living the life that I’ve desired for so long. The main character is a fifteen year old kid who has sex with two hot girls in a swimming pool. I was so envious that I delighted in his death at the end… The movie deeply effected me emotionally, and I would think about it for some time afterwards.”

      Rogen and Appatow are very mainstream and popular and a good portion of the U.S. population is familiar with their work, which I’m sure influenced Hornaday’s choice in naming them.

  • Ellesar

    This immediately made me think of another shitty genre – the romcom, and how (supposedly, according to some fairly nasty males on youtube) the ‘public marriage proposal’ that fails is due to these hapless men thinking that things should be done how they are done on some ‘chickflick’. This is the other side of the coin, films aimed at women, which apparently some men are seeing and taking literally.

    If that is the case, then it is certainly not a leap to see how Rogen’s and Apatow’s lowbrow humour could also be taken quite literally by the kind of male who has no emotional literacy and believes that girls and women are all exactly like these f’g awful films depict us to be.

    I must say that I was surprised at how their language was so restrained though! I am so used to seeing feminists being called all the vicious misogynist names under the sun that it was actually startling to see them not descending to that level.

    • hello

      ‘no emotional literacy’– good phrase! It really did strike me how emotionally and socially tonedeaf the santa barbara murderer was, for example. He truly seemed to believe that straight women care, when choosing people to date, mostly about men owning fancy sunglasses, clothes, cars, and looking like body builders. He was so tonedeaf to women and emotion in general that he literally did not seem to realize that the vast majority of women care MOST about having an emotional connection with a man they date, not about how fancy their possessions are. And most women certainly don’t like the “bodybuilder” physique. That is what men like and what men fetishize, not women. He was just baffled by these basic facts that most people know. So strange.

      • I think part of the problem is us “women” don’t share a common aesthetic, despite the tendency for patriarchy to paint things this way. Some ladies don’t give two shits about emotional connections, others consider it the backbone to a healthy relationship. Go figure, women aren’t made on an assembly line – they are (gasp!) different. Some might even like that body builder physique, which might explain the appeal some have to Chris Hemsworth.

  • marv

    Men avowing they don’t contribute to rape and porn culture because they don’t rape or use porn are as self-deceptive as white people who insist they are not racist while living on colonized lands. Looking away, minding my business is complicity in sexual fascism. Men’s passivity bolsters male hegemony via a conspiracy of silence. If men are not actively engaged in political protest against sexism they are part of the problem. Apatow and Rogen are not just acquiescent; they are provocateurs of misogyny.

    • Ellesar

      And let’s face it – there are few men who do not use porn. Those who genuinely do not are probably as least making an effort to see life with eyes wide open, and using their empathy to identify why something is OK or not. I would imagine that those sort of men DO accept that we live in a rape culture, and that it is NOT ENOUGH to say ‘well I am not a rapist’!
      But I think that the John Stoltenberg’s of this world are all too rare.

      • Patriarchy is a system of sex privilege. Men can’t “feel” the effects directly, their is no disincentive for porn use. Mind of a porn user, “Rape happens to other people and I did nothing to contribute to that.”

        The whole point of radical politics is to force the discussion, to expose rape culture as something ALL MEN have a part in. Its a patriarchy intervention! Men will collectively go thru the 5 stages of addiction: Denial, anger, grief, bargaining then finally acceptance. We can’t expect the addicts to give up their lifestyle willingly.

        • Really good point here Stacy. I think this is a concise and articulate point! I think alot of men may think about and be concerned with these issues but with no tangible immediate negative feedback it is a very abstract issue, I think, unless the point as you say is exposed vigourously, forcefully and uncomfortably.

      • Stoltenberg has ridden Dworkin’s coat tails into M2F Laydee Camp, supporting men demanding, well, demanding all the crap they demand or else:

        “So basically John Stoltenberg believes that radical feminists are only motivated by “fear and loathing” in their rejection of transgenderism. Oh and that therefore women are out of line for having “fear and loathing” of men.”

  • tm

    I just think it’s weird to put forward the idea that an “attractive” woman can’t be into a “shlubby” guy. Heaven forbid. Maybe it’s wish fulfillment, but that’s what studio movies are about. I am not sure where in Apatow’s or Rogen’s movies there is an endorsement of picking up a weapon and killing women. Can anyone find me that scene?

    • marv

      We are not talking about direct cause and effect in the sense that a particular movie leads to real life tragedies. Sexist movies along with other cultural practices like porn and sexual harassment contribute to a women degrading social environment. In this already aggressive context some men become more violent than others. You are blinkered by a mindless individualist analysis of what you see. Analogy, climate change is not caused by any one person or country. It is the cumulative impact of all carbon released in the atmosphere. Some companies and nations cause more harm than others. Apatow and Rogen are sexist social climate producers and deniers. You are out of your element here.

    • Not to worry, tm. Men’s wish fulfillment and rich (albeit delusional) fantasy life is now, and has been for thousands of years, practically impervious to any irritating intrusions from fact, reason, logic, science, reality or sanity. Weird, huh?

      You have plenty of time* left to wallow around like a happy, little piggy in blissfully ignorant slop before toxic masculine entitlement kills off every life form here on Planet Man; at least for a few more decades. Have fun.

      *Unless some sub-human bunch of killbuzz females actually succeeds in ending patriarchy first.

      • tm

        Well, as someone who really would like to see an end to patriarchal nonsense, and not die in ignorant slop, I would welcome any and all real changes. Part of the patriarchal order is that unattractive guys do NOT get the “hot girl”. Nerd gets sand kicked in face at beach, does not get girl until he buys Atlas wight lifting routine, etc. Apatow (and his imitators) was the one who made that trope what it is today. You can argue that Woody Allen was the first, but that’s a whole other (really creepy in hindsight) thing and not really mass-media/cineplex material.

        @Marv – I would contend that analyzing a text that reaches millions upon millions of people is exactly why it should be broken out and looked at. But it can’t get shoved away from analysis if it’s more complicated than either/or.

        And here’s my next question: it’s not just guys who go see these movies. What “wish-fulfillment” brings in the female viewer? Is there one?

  • Going back to the original points about movies as described and the men associated with them (and their reactions): I have thought about men needing to be ‘primed’ and brought up (for that’s where these ideas gestate?) to accept and process these critisisms and be made aware of how the world we live in affects others (such as women) and they ARE privelidged whether they like it or not.

    I can’t help but get the feeling that to ‘push back’ too aggressively (for instance to call out individuals in personal exchanges about how much they earn, or their ‘male-whiteness’), whilst justified, sets the pendulum swinging a little too far the other way and it’s just going to swing back – setting up another equal and opposite reaction? I am thinking of the way that ‘Nuts’, ‘Heat’ and FHM etc take advantage of these polar movements and arguably set progress back in youth cultures just as the older generation is accepting the differences and changes of the previous generation (second wave feminism for eg.).

    • Sorry to over-comment but I just wanted to ask whether we think Seth, Judd or anyone in a similar position is being educated by the approaches here – this dialogue? Is either Seth or Judd coming away from this contact as being more informed or sympathetic to the issues raised? WIll they change anything they do in future? Has anything changed? For change is surely the goal?

      In education, would any educator deal with a pupil they wanted to educate (of any age) in this way? If Ann Hornaday knew something, believed something that she wanted the people she talks about to understand, I am wondering if this is the most effective way to achieve the aims of feminism? Where is the line between expressing a justified anger and actually employing a strategy that is effectively fulfilling the aims of feminism (I realise there are probably many different opinions on this!)

      Is what I am seeing here an example of the difference between liberal forms of feminism that I might be more inclined towards and a more ‘direct’ and ‘offensive’ approach (offensive in terms of strategy, not the effect!).

    • Laur

      Do you seriously think by giving examples of misogynistic filmmakers, women are “swinging the pendulum in the other direction”? Women are raped on a massive scale, are not at all represented in government, own 1% of the world’s property, yet mentioning two men in an article is “swinging the pendulum in the other direction?” Talking nicely to men has clearly not worked for women, though Hornaday is far from mean in what she is saying. And I would go on record as saying she is not trying to start a dialogue with Seth or Judd, but is trying to reach readers of her paper by giving concrete examples they are familiar with.

      Women have tried so fucking much, and I am tired of being told we are not “trying” correctly.

    • Me

      Please, cut the crap. Men like our privilege well enough, there’s no “whether they like it or not” about it. Hating women is so normalized, like hating the natural world, it simply blows your mind away that men are this insane and think nothing of it and immediately blow their tops when anyone makes an effective challenge that can’t be ignored. Entitlement isn’t that difficult to “deconstruct” and comprehend unless you want to hold on to it.

      The correct image isn’t a pendulum, it’s a fist in the face. Systematic dispossession, violence and denial of basic human rights, a penis raping a vagina, worse jobs, less pay, another aggressive, lazy, self-important fuck who likes his in-house serf, financial and emotional support just fine. Sex based oppression and male supremacy are not accidental, they’re carefully maintained and promoted, and men don’t have empathy for those they hate. You don’t think men would have already listened to women sometime during the past several thousand years, or are we here for a lack of an effective communication and education strategy? The “line between expressing a justified [are you saying useless???] anger and actually employing a strategy that is effectively fulfilling the aims of feminism” is not in some rhetorical device, it’s in the fucking results, and why the hell would the two have to be mutually exclusive? Protip: men hate insanely on women and carefully play as a team against them too.

    • Prime this.

      • Danny Mills

        OK ‘ME’ we’ll, didn’t mean to suggest anger was useless as I don’t believe that. And yeah I understand what you’re saying. I would take offense at your putting of words and motivations in my mind and mouth as one of those ‘men’ though. The more I learn about the damage and pain this privilege causes the more I look into how to learn and countareact it, hence me being here interacting with these passionate and educated people. I’m trying to adjusty to this casual generalisation of ‘men’ that is used so much as if one word can describe 1.5 billion individual’s motivation and aims so easily. Generalization and objectification is something feminism rails against in principle?

        ‘Laur’ you’ll notice my suggestions were all questions, not statements. I am here to learn. I am aware of the dangers of commenting on ‘how not to do feminism’ and I didn’t mean to step over that line. I do come from a place of ignorance about what it is like to live under these oppressions and I will never truly know. I am not here to speak for or correct anybody.

        But here’s a ‘protip’ – Fact: all men do not hate insanely on women and all men are not ‘this insane’. Some pretty broad statements there but I appreciate the responses.

        • Danny Mills

          Sorry, Re: ‘Generalization and objectification is something feminism rails against in principle?’ Just realized that I have just again suggested ‘how to do feminism’ – apologies! But educate me: why is this okay?

          • morag

            Here’s a suggestion Danny Mills, maybe instead of telling the women here that “not all men are like that” which every feminist is told ad nauseum, why don’t you tell other men “You know how everywhere men are made to believe that women are stupid/shallow/manipulative/the root of all evil/only good for sex etc?.Not all women are like that. In fact NO woman is.” Why do generalizations about men’s destructive behavior based on facts and observations concern you more than the harmful generalizations about women that stem from hatred?

          • A valid point, but on the subject of assumptions, how do you that I don’t tell them that? How do you know that the people I am friends a with, I don’t have to say that because it’s a givenm, because those are the people I choose to associate with – friendly, fdair, intelligent, unjudgemental and compassionate men and women.

          • Me

            It’s never a given. If you have friends who would agree, that is all the more reason to speak about it again and again and do something meaningful. That’s what people do when they agree on something and find it important: talk about it, act on it. I’m sure you’ll find your friends as difficult to move as you yourself appear. In all fairness you’re just dodging, and we all know for a fact that things like sexual violence and male cruelty are still almost unspeakable among the “friendly, fair, intelligent, unjudgemental and compassionate”, unless it is to complacently point the finger at other people, at other men. That is a part of what is so maddening about this: those who “care” don’t really give a fuck to do anything about it.

            Also: when you as a man think it’s a given in your peer group that everyone opposes all the bad and frankly vicious things men do and that no sexual violence, battery etc. is done to the women, and when the above is your way of talking about it, how supportive do you think that is to women who might be experiencing male violence to come forward? By definition it already doesn’t happen. That my friend, is the opposite of caring in a world of ubiquitous male violence against women.

          • tm

            NO woman is stupid or shallow? Ever? My Essentialist Radar is pinging…

          • morag

            Of course that’s not what I meant, and you know it. So please stop with this “gotcha!” bullshit and accusations of essentialism. It’s a fact that men’s images of women in tv/literature/movies/photography etc operate on the assumption that ALL women are inherently stupid and shallow and all the other traits I listed. I stand by my comment that NO woman is “naturally” that way by virtue of her being a woman. The fact that that is what you took from my comment and didn’t digest anything else I’ve written here shows that you’re the one with the problem.

          • stephen m

            On an encouraging note:

            As a man reading Meghan’s excellent feminist articles and the ensuing conversation there are some differences in protocol that you will have to learn by example or get a good old fashioned verbal slap up the head. This is a feminist blog.

            Listening carefully to the women around you, reading women authors, and following feministcurrent is a good start to partially submerge yourself and to glimpse what it is like to live as a woman instead of as a man. Attempt understanding and empathy.

            When you think you are beginning to understand the angst that is expressed here at feministcurrent, read Rebecca Mott, . Be prepared to wake up very angry with “men”. Reading this should be a painful experience, then imagine being a woman living it.

          • I appreciate the moderate response. I have entered this forum with my ignorance of the issues that matter here: I am man and I have to take responsibility for ‘all men’ – I am ‘all men’. There is no ‘they’ when I talk about men. It’s ‘us’. This front-line feminism is challenging and important (I have so far just been looking at academic feminist theory). Yes, I, we, us, need to do more listening and less commenting, less defending. I accept that anger. The rage. And I understand how I am the problem. I understand how It’s important to maintain that and how much harder it is to keep women’s issues in the limelight due to the nature and control of that which is the reason feminism exists – it would be nice to have a world where it didn’t have to – but that ‘s not the world we live in. Anyway. I appreciate all responses. What I learn will go further than just this forum so don’t think this is just taking up space that could be filled with the views of women. I am having my understanding enhanced by being involved here.

          • Me

            Good comment.

        • Laur

          Fact: all men do not hate insanely on women and all men are not ‘this insane’.

          Sounds like you should be posting on the #NotAllMen hashtag.

          If you want to be educated, you should check out #YesAllWomen, on twitter, a direct response to #NotAllMen.

          Your attempt at “education” by stating this “protip” is not telling women what we don’t already know.

          • Actually, #YesAllWomen and Feminist Current are obviously too advanced for you, Danny Mills. Educate yourself with a Feminism 101 site, such as

            You are a boring waste of perfectly good space here and a drag on women’s time and energy. But, that would be your objective, wouldn’t it? I recommend a big dose of Keopectate to help you cut the crap spewing from both ends of your obtuse food tube.

          • I don’t really agree with sloganeering and the ‘not all men’ general argument is not something I would wish to align with in any profound way – just a simple statement that I know now (looking at responses online) helps to derail the feminist argument and focus back on how men feel so – sorry, and I won’t reiterate the comment again. I don’t (and don’t think anyone should or can) speak for anyone but myself and I don’t assume I know any more than anyone else (I may know something interesting or different). I am not educating just responding, discussing and learning. So thanks.

        • Me

          “I’m trying to adjusty to this casual generalisation of ‘men’ that is used so much as if one word can describe 1.5 billion individual’s motivation and aims so easily.”

          Ask your self are you trying to actually adjust to this generalization, or find reason to deny it? There is NOTHING CASUAL about it, ffs. Admittedly adjusting to it takes serious effort. Best done listening to women, trying to change other men’s violent behavior and trying to get so-called #notallmen to care. It’s almost impossible to get men to take a stand against “our own”, for the hate, for the privilege, for our lack of empathy and for our basic cowardice.

          It in no way objectifies men to say that they act in deeply controlling, angry and violent ways. Objectification is what controlling, angry and violent men do to women in order to feel good, normalized and within the bounds about hating them.

          • I accept all these points. The power of these arguments is certainly in going back to male arenas and communicating and representing this anger to them in a bid to get them to understand what they see as casual behavior or comments but others see as tremendously amd profoundly damaging and offensive.

          • I read, what I thought, a pretty funny comment regarding the hashtag #notallmen on it on twitter the other day though, I post it below:

            “How many men’s rights activists does it take to change a light-bulb? #NotAllMen!”

  • Sayeh

    What’s funny about this critique is that Judd Apatow’s films tend to be quite the opposite. There’s always a twist in which traditionally-held patriarchal ideals about virginity and parenthood and relationships, etc are turned on their heads. This is especially true of Knocked Up as in the beginning, the female characters are portrayed as uptight and humorless and emotional but by the end it’s the dudes that are “acting up” by being immature. Of course, I can understand if she’s only ever seen the first halves of his films because they’re usually a cringefest but they’re necessary for contrast.

  • Aidan Brumsickle

    I can understand their initial defensive reactions, but it’s unfortunate that they follow the trend of accusing anyone you don’t agree with of “doing it for the money/attention.” This approach is often used with utter ignorance of how much money or attention a blog post or YouTube video actually makes. I’ve seen the same tactic used against youtubers who spoke up about Sam Pepper.

    I think that in an age where one of the big problems is a lack of people who are willing to speak out, it is especially damaging to send the message that their motivation and honesty will be questioned at every turn. It’s a problem for victims of oppression and abuse, and it’s also a problem for allies.