Ladies and gentlemen, your sexist of the day, perhaps your idiot of the year, and winner of the I’m Terrified of the Female Body and Grossed Out By Its Processes Award, Two and a Half Men creator Lee Aronsohn! Who told the Hollywood Reporter that he’s sick of female-centered comedies because “Enough ladies. I get it. You have periods,” and declared that “we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.”
Because talking about Michael Fassbender’s penis is endlessly entertaining, but having to hear that ladies have menstrual cycles, take birth control pills, and enjoy sex is just unbearable, right? Because even though the number of female characters on television tends to hover in the low 40 percent range, we’re just saturated with vaginas, because god forbid stories about men and their ish don’t absolutely dominate the media? Because even though those shows Aronsohn’s complaining about have actually created more writing and directing jobs for men than women, and resulted in some really awful portrayals as a result, we couldn’t possibly let women come to expect that they’ll have access to stories both about them and by them, could we? Because where would that leave poor, suffering, disadvantaged American men?
Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked that the creator of a show as middlebrow, as worshipping of lotharios, as willing to give a leading man like Charlie Sheen a pass on his behavior with a morals clause that could only punish him for a felony, as Two and a Half Men apparently has a ten-year-old boy’s attitudes towards women and their genitalia. But that Aronsohn is dumb and woman-fearing enough not just to believe this, to blithely admit he believes it to a major publication tells you everything about how cosseted Hollywood’s disgusting sexists are. You want to know why we get what we get on movie and television screens? Why, as Vulture asked after their drama derby assessing the last 25 years of television honored almost no performances by or stories about women, there are a dearth of great women’s dramas? Because there are, apparently, no consequences in Hollywood for being perfectly open about how much you despise women’s bodies and the contours of women’s lives. But hopefully that won’t be the case forever, so Aronsohn and his ilk can get acquainted with what it actually feels like to be marginalized.
I spent some time talking to Twitter pal R Lackie, who was at this event, this afternoon, and notes that Aronsohn was asked specifically about female gross-out humor on television. I appreciate the context, but it doesn’t change my reaction much. There’s so much policing of women and bodily functions that are perceived to be gross. On one end, there’s Judd Apatow adding the food poisoning scene to Bridesmaids to up the ante. And on the other, it’s Aronsohn declaring that we’ve hit our capacity and it’s time to shut it down. There are a lot of critiques to be made of 2 Broke Girls or Whitney, but the fact that the characters talk about sexual desire and their bodies isn’t one of them.