About a month ago now, I saw a movie poster at the local cinema for the sequel to Grown Ups. For those who don’t know, Grown Ups is an Adam Sandler film. I watched Grown Ups last summer when my parents came for a visit. I had misgivings before I watched it, as my sense of humour differs from that of my parents. Grown Ups is typical American fare as far as humour goes. There are the almost-obligatory fat jokes, the sex jokes, the unsurprising yet irritating old person jokes (surrounding the older, very much sexual Gloria, who plays Rob Schneider’s character Rob’s girlfriend), and the misogyny.
There is a particular sub-plot in the film that fills me with rage (well, two or three subplots at least, but let’s focus on this one). In the film, Sally (Maria Bello) continues to breastfeed her son Bean (I think he was supposed to be three years old or possibly a bit older?). The other main character couples in the film display disgust at this fact. (I say “couples,” but this is mainly a film about the male half of the couples.) In one scene, the husband Eric (Kevin James), their son Bean (Morgan and Frank Gingerich), and Eric’s friends are waiting in line for a water slide. Bean wants milk. Eric, giving in to the peer pressure of his male friends, grabs a small carton of cow milk from another kid and coerces his son to drink it. The boy does, and his dependence on breast milk is magically broken.
(And it gets better, which is to say, worse.) When Sally finds out about this incident, she doesn’t flip out and get angry. Here is the quote from the scene where she finds out (taken from IMdb):
Sally Lamonsoff: See that? Now he won’t even drink from me.
Roxanne Chase-Feder: That’s what men do. They take and take, and then give you up for some cow.
Sally Lamonsoff: Well now I don’t know what I’m going to do with these. [as she gestures at her breasts]
Eric Lamonsoff: I do.
Now to pick this incident apart.
A man, pressured by his male friends, chooses to take away his wife’s power as a parent and as a woman by deciding his son must be weaned to appease his male friends’ beliefs and re-establish his “real manhood” in their eyes.
What else could he have done? He could have respected the decision his wife (and himself as well, ideally) made about breastfeeding. He could have told his friends that the WHO recommends breastfeeding for “up to 2 years of age or beyond.” He could have relayed the many benefits of breastfeeding beyond the six-month mark (six months of age is the recommended age for introducing solid food). He could have said why he and Sally made that decision. He could also have told his friends to smeg off and worry about their own parenting choices.
While I prefer the educational route, I’m sure the script writers, producers, and movie execs see the original scene as more humourous and, above all, more profitable.
And when Sally finds out what happened? She’s put in her place as a sex object. The importance of her breasts as sex objects supersede their importance as nutrition and comfort for a child.
I would also like to remark that the children in this film are more like props for the adults than actual characters.
Oh, it’s just a movie! It’s funny. Quit reading all this power-stealing misogyny into it. Feminists!
The problem is, it’s not just one movie. It’s not just one image or one thought or one idea. It is the majority of movies, images, thoughts, and ideas that promotes an unhealthy, hateful attitude toward women. (We aren’t even delving into the hatred against non-cisgendered women.) It is our culture, and our culture, ultimately, is us. Isn’t it time for equality to be the norm? Isn’t it time our movies/images/thoughts/ideas reflected equality? And if not now, when?