Cannes 2013: Roman Polanski Says Birth Control Pill 'Masculinizes' Women

Roman Polanski, the acclaimed director and rapist in exile, feels sad for the loss of traditional romance because the birth-control pill has made it indecent to offer flowers to a lady. No, I'm not being glib here. That is actually what he said:

“I think that now offering flowers to a lady becomes indecent, that’s how I feel about it,” he told a news conference introducing his new film Venus In Fur on Saturday at Cannes when a reporter asked him how his views on women had changed over time.

“I think to level the genders — it’s purely idiotic. I think it’s a result … of progress in medicine. I think that the Pill has changed greatly the woman of our times, ‘masculinising’ her." He added, “I think that it chases away the romance from our lives and that’s a great pity.”

OK. Breathe. And all together now:


The reporter's question was not out of place for the conference, given that Polanski's film is described as a satire on sexism. However, the arrogance and self-imposed sense of tortured wisdom that continued to ooze out of Polanski for the rest of conference was arresting (pun intended). 

Because if anybody has piercing insight into male-female relations it's the man who will be arrested as soon as he steps foot in the United States for evading prosecution for perversion, sodomy, and rape by use of drugs against a 13-year-old child. Ok, I'm being glib there.

Polanski's rape charges have been analyzed endlessly, so let's just stick to unpacking his ludicrous comments from today alone. 

"Offering flowers to a lady [has become] indecent." 
WRONG. Yes, it functioned as a tradition of a dating culture that is no longer relevant. Yes, it may have been co-opted as a cure-all for communication and affection between couples. But none of those make the act of offering flowers any less romantic today than 50 years ago. This is proved by the fact that in 2013 alone $13.2 billion was spent on Valentine's Day flowers. 

Flowers do not solve fights or assume the woman is easily delighted. In fact the insinuation that women are insulted when a man offers flowers is derogatory if Polanski thinks women can be offended by expressions of affection. 

But you know what definitely is indecent? Drugging a child.

"I think to level the genders — it’s purely idiotic."
Gender equality is the fight for equal opportunity and freedoms. Nothing less and nothing more. Polanski seems to appropriate the argument that because women and men will never be equal in every way, the entire fight for equity is futile. Nobody is claiming that all women will be physically, mentally, and emotionally equal to all men. Women are biologically built differently but that also gives them different strengths and advantages over men.

The gender-equality debate attempts to highlight the need for these advantages and strengths to be respected equally to the gender traits of men that are hailed in society. It does not mean that women no longer want to feel appreciated and admired, or even taken care of by the men in their lives.

"I think that the Pill has changed greatly the woman of our times, ‘masculinising’ her."
I actually agree with this comment.

Women have been relegated to the role of child-raiser for centuries while men have been "sowing their seeds." By allowing a woman to control when, how, and who she has a child with, a woman now has control over the timeline of her life. This has empowered women to think beyond their role in the home and venture into the working world and as contributors to their society at large.

A woman is also no longer tied to unsatisfactory men just because she was unfortunate enough to have become pregnant. Women can seek companionship of their own choosing the same way men have.

Birth control has handed the reins of a woman's life back to her, and if that is masculine, then I'm goddamn proud to be a manly woman.

Polanski has lived a life of controversy so his comments do not fall out of the norm for him. But this prevailing attitude that gender equality is a failure is counterproductive to the evolution of social relations. Maybe he doesn't realize it because he has been in hiding, but women aren't just becoming more "masculine," men are becoming more "feminine."

And the whole world is better for it.


How much do you trust the information in this article?

Shwetika Baijal

Shwetika is PolicyMic's first columnist and writes for the Millenials and the Media column. She focuses on how the media frames policy and cultural issues, how the media's framing effects public opinion, and in turn how public opinion affects the policies and issues under discussion.

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