This summer has been filled with pleasant weather, fun barbecues and some impressively sexist commentary from random dudes about women's bodies. The latest such comments came from the ex-CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, at the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival, where he explained his very scientific claim that female artists can't be both funny and pretty.
"The hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman. By far," Eisner said during an onstage discussion with Goldie Hawn. "They usually — boy am I going to get in trouble, I know this goes online — but usually, unbelievably beautiful women, you being an exception, are not funny."
Boy, oh boy, you are in trouble, mister! But don't blame the Internet — blame yourself. Suggesting half the planet has a humor deficiency correlated with shifting, societally sanctioned social norms about beauty is not only highly inaccurate, it's obnoxious as hell.
It's 2015, and women have far more pressing concerns than how attractive they are to men they have never met. We have jobs, dreams and some of us even have (gasp!) hobbies. Here is a short, nonexhaustive list of things women may be more concerned about than whether the man who used to run Disney thinks we're cute:
1. Where do I want to be in five years?
2. Should I ask for a raise?
3. Do I want children?
4. Should I write a book?
5. Should I get this mole on my butt checked out?
6. Where does all the hairpins go?
7. It is time to stop stealing WiFi from the neighbors?
8. Will I make rent this month?
9. Why does the guy I'm dating keep using the banana emoji?
10. Should I go back to school?
11. Will 3-D Doritos ever come back?
12. Should I run for office?
13. I wish I could unfollow people's babies on Facebook.
14. Is Greece going to be OK?
15. What ever happened to Cherry Coke?
16. Do I say "just" too much?
17. I wonder if Iran will reach a nuclear deal.
18. Do I need a Boston cream doughnut right now?
19. Why didn't I get that Boston cream doughnut earlier?
20. I wonder how far I have to walk to the closest Boston cream doughnut.
In short, pretty much everything is more important than whether a random man thinks a woman is hot.
Unfortunately, Eisner's thinking is nothing new. In his defense, maybe he didn't know making broad generalizations about women's appearance was sexist because he hears this line of thinking all the time. Fox News even dignified Eisner's outlandish claim when host Steve Doocy actually posted the question, "Are female comedians simply not hot?"
There is a long history of women's looks being used to exclude them from the entertainment world. Comedian Rachel Dratch, for example, wrote in her memoir, "I am offered solely the parts that I like to refer to as The Unf---ables." Mindy Kaling has been called "ugly" and "fat" by journalists. And in 2014, Academy Award-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy was called "hideous" in her role in Tammy by a reporter who also suggested her performances were better when she was all dolled up. More recently, Amy Schumer was called too "chubby" to star in Trainwreck — a movie she wrote — by film blogger Jeffrey Wells.
In comparison, male comedians like Louis C.K. certainly don't fit traditional standards of beauty (something C.K. often emphasizes in his routines), yet their looks don't stop them from getting ahead in the industry.
This phenomenon of evaluating women first and foremost by their looks isn't unique to the entertainment industry, either. We live in a world in which many men volunteer unsolicited thoughts about women's bodies regardless of the occasion. Powerful political figures such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have both had their appearances commented on by fellow politicians. When Hillary Clinton was first lady, 19 Republican members of Congress rated her physique for the now-defunct Spy Magazine. Even President Barack Obama felt the need to publicly comment on the looks of Attorney General Kamala Harris, calling her "the best looking attorney general" in 2013.
It's clear rating women isn't something teenage boys do in their parents' basements — it's something that grown men believe they can do on the record, or for all to hear.
The knee-jerk reaction many people have to these comments is to defend the attractiveness of the women being judged. Schumer, for example, tweeted a picture of her figure when her weight was put into question. Later, though, she featured a sketch on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer parodying 12 Angry Men in which a group of men pontificate as to whether she is attractive enough for television. (In the end, they determine she is "hot enough for basic cable.")
Schumer's sketch highlights the absurdity of a group of men feeling entitled to evaluate women based solely on her looks. That idea — that women should value their bodies more than their minds — is getting old and boring, just like Eisner's views on women.