For Quvenzhané Wallis and Girls Like Her

Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

I have a piece up on the Bitch Magazine blog about The Onion’s “joke” involving calling Quvenzhané Wallis, a 9 year old girl and the youngest Oscar nominee ever in the Best Actress Category, a sexualized, gendered slur. An excerpt:

We all get that this was meant as a joke, that the writer doesn’t actually revile Quvenzhané Wallis. I can see that the intent was perhaps to send a message about the vicious scrutiny of girls and women in the public eye. What he or she (let’s be real, probably a he) was really thinking, however, is entirely beside the point. What they did was call a girl a gendered and sexualized slur. What they did was send the message, yet again, that girls and women are open game when it comes to sexual jokes and jokes about our bodies, and that it’s extra funny if the target is a very young girl.

Of course, The Onion would have been wrong to use that word, no matter who they decided to use as the hinge for their “joke.” This and much of the sexist “humor” at the Oscars were a reminder to girls and women in Hollywood, and all of us watching, that some men will always see our bodies, feelings, and lives as simultaneously a joke and a threat.

However, the context for this particular joke is not only the gross objectification that all girls and women are subjected to in American society. It’s also that black girls specifically are hypersexualized in ways white girls are not. It’s also that black children are routinely denied the innocence that we otherwise claim is a right of childhood.

Check out the full post at Bitch.

Comments are closed.