Just when I thought the conversation about women and The Social Network would fade away, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin took to the blogosphere in defense of his work.
He posted some thoughts in the comments section (in response to another women’s issue with the women in the movie) on writer Ken Levine’s blog. It’s a very long and passionate response which brings up a whole new host of thoughts on the topic.
Here are some of the highlights:
It’s not hard to understand how bright women could be appalled by what they saw in the movie but you have to understand that that was the very specific world I was writing about.
Facebook was born during a night of incredibly misogyny. The idea of comparing women to farm animals, and then to each other, based on their looks and then publicly ranking them. It was a revenge stunt, aimed first at the woman who’d most recently broke his heart (who should get some kind of medal for not breaking his head) and then at the entire female population of Harvard.
More generally, I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group of people. These aren’t the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the 80’s. They’re very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren’t women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them.)
And this very disturbing attitude toward women isn’t just confined to the guys who can’t get dates.
I didn’t invent the “F–k Truck”, it’s real–and the men (boys) at the final clubs think it’s what they deserve for being who they are. (It’s only fair to note that the women–bussed in from other schools for the “hot” parties, wait on line to get on that bus without anyone pointing guns at their heads.)
These women–whether it’s the girls who are happy to take their clothes off and dance for the boys or Eduardo’s psycho-girlfriend are real. I mean REALLY real.
I wish I could go door to door and make this explanation/apology to any woman offended by the things you’ve pointed out but obviously that’s unrealistic so I thought the least I could do was speak directly to you.
Here are my thoughts in response.
I’m sure it’s true that there are some women willing to throw themselves at these guys. The message we get is that the guys are not looking for relationships, especially woman who will be their equal or challenge their master of the universe stance in any way. That doesn’t surprise me.
I love the line where Sorkin talks about how these guys are pissed about the fact that women still don’t see the tech guys as desirable, that “the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback.” What’s so interesting is that you could replace the “tech guys” with basically any male who populates Hollywood. Yet, it seems that the guys who run Hollywood do seem to get the pretty girls (although it might be their second or third wives) because they don’t have the money the tech guys make when they start out in their careers.
Why I think this story is important to our culture is really what it says about women and men. If it is true as Sorkin and others affiliated with the film continue to repeat, then our culture is in serious trouble and this movie is Rorschach test for where we are and where we could be going. It is also a real indicator of the continued growing backlash against women in society. Let me be crystal clear here – I’m not saying that the film is a backlash film, I’m saying that the film reveals how infiltrated the backlash is in our society.
The movie reveals a world that some (ok, all except the masters of the universe with the power) had hoped had passed. We had hoped that the young men of today being educated at the most elite institutions which are training our future leaders, who who grew up in a world benefiting from feminism, would be different. But it seems that nothing is different.
And the young women who gladly participate at the parties with these students have assumed the roles assigned to them, trophy. Yet in some perverted way these women think they are empowered by these relationships and lives they have staked out. I thought we were over the days where young women just wanted to snag a guy from Harvard. I thought that young women believed they were smart and capable enough to be the guys from Harvard themselves.
I know that there are guys at Harvard who are nothing like the men depicted in the film, and I know there are women who would never get on a fuck bus even if their life depended on it. The problem is that this misogynistic behavior is part of the culture of Harvard, especially the final clubs, that perpetuate and in many ways train these young men to believe they are better and smarter than women.
If the behavior felt like an aberration we would not be having this conversation. The fact that it seems like the norm is the problem. Wonder if Drew Faust — the first female president of Harvard — is thinking about this issue?
Here’s the rest of the blogosphere’s thoughts on Sorkin’s response:
Sorkin explains “Social Network” sexism (Salon)