WBEZ | least trusted http://www.wbez.org/tags/least-trusted Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Kristen Stewart, slut-shaming and the war on women http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/kristen-stewart-slut-shaming-and-war-women-107094 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kristen-stewart.jpg" style="height: 305px; width: 620px;" title="Kristen Stewart braves the Toronto premiere of 'On the Road'. (AP/Marion Curtis) " /></p><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;ve always known I would have a daughter someday. With my brothers, father, uncles and their friends, I was surrounded by men who shaped my understanding of the world. A classic workaholic, my father taught me the importance of playing by society&rsquo;s rules, doing what was necessary to get ahead. As a former nerd, all he wanted to do was fit in and be one of the guys.</p><p dir="ltr">My father and his friends had a term for girls: &ldquo;Psycho bitches from hell.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">At the age of three, he taught me how to catcall. He trained me to whistle at women in the grocery store and yell things like, &ldquo;Hubba Hubba!&rdquo; The woman would usually tell me how cute I was.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You&rsquo;ll be a real heartbreaker someday,&rdquo; she would say.</p><p dir="ltr">My dad would wink and nudge me, rewarding me for sexual harassment and complicit masculinity. This is the world I grew up in.</p><p dir="ltr">But it wasn&rsquo;t supposed to be. I was supposed to be a girl. My mother was going to call me Natasha, Tasha for short. I wonder what life would have been like as Tasha, even though I&rsquo;ve always hated that name. Sometimes when my mother looks at me, I can see she&rsquo;s wondering the same thing&mdash;what it would feel like to have a daughter. It looks like fear.</p><p dir="ltr">Yesterday I felt my mother&rsquo;s eyes on me again. <em>Reader&rsquo;s Digest</em> released their annual poll of the most and least trusted people in the world. Topping the list was Tom Hanks, long a leader of dependability in the U.S. He often ranks near the top, and joining him were actors like Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock.</p><p dir="ltr">But guess who <a>ranked at the bottom</a>? America&rsquo;s &ldquo;least trusted&rdquo; actress is Kristen Stewart, who also placed second on Star&rsquo;s &ldquo;Most Hated Celebrity&rdquo; list.</p><p dir="ltr">In the poll, Stewart boasts a whopping 24 percent &quot;trust&quot; score, which is the Digest&#39;s version of approval rating. That&rsquo;s nearly as <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/116500/presidential-approval-ratings-george-bush.aspx,%20">low</a> as George W. Bush when he left office in 2008 and Nixon during the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/congress-approval-rating-porn-polygamy_n_1098497.html">Watergate Scandal</a>. She&rsquo;s only slightly more popular than BP during the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/congress-approval-rating-porn-polygamy_n_1098497.html">infamous oil spill</a> that cost billions of dollars worth of damage. She has the same approval rating as <a href="http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/150-years-later-23-of-americans-40-of-southerners-side-with-confederacy/">the Confederacy</a>. If it makes her feel better, celebutante Kim Kardashian racked up 8 percent, making her three times less popular than institutionalized slavery. (Ah, priorities.)</p><p dir="ltr">The popular magazine spoke to Dorothy Crenshaw, CEO of Crenshaw Communications (the PR agency behind Starbucks and Bain Capital), about Stewart&rsquo;s unpopularity. Crenshaw <a href="http://www.rd.com/slideshows/readers-digest-trust-poll-heres-what-shocked-us-the-most/#slideshow=slide7">put it bluntly</a>, &ldquo;Kristen Stewart&rsquo;s trust was damaged when she was unfaithful.&rdquo; She might as well have said, &quot;Don&#39;t trust a ho.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Unless you were vacationing on Mars, you&rsquo;re likely aware that Stewart became a <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/content/2012/08/trampire-slut-shaming-and-kristen-stewart">tabloid phenomenon</a> last year when the photos were taken of her in a romantic tryst with Rupert Sanders, the married director of her film, <em>Snow White and the Huntsman</em>. After the images leaked, Stewart quickly became the target of a collective witch hunt, and she had to hide in her hotel room to escape paparazzi and death threats from vengeful Twilight fans.</p><p dir="ltr">Will Ferrell mocked the scandal on Conan&mdash;the fact that America was so invested in the breakup of people they don&rsquo;t know. Ferrell pretended to break down over Stewart&rsquo;s infidelity, crying that she was a &ldquo;trampire.&rdquo; Rather than realizing they were being punked, the internet turned the joke into a viral meme. You could even order a &ldquo;Kristen Stewart Is a Trampire&rdquo; t-shirt to commemorate America&rsquo;s inability to understand satire. They say you vote with your dollar. In 2012, America voted for slut-shaming.</p><p dir="ltr">Although the media moved on from the story (aided by Pattinson and Stewart&rsquo;s reconciliation), the public clearly has not, and it has killed her career.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite being a big factor in building buzz for <em>Snow White and the Huntsman</em>&rsquo;s success, Stewart was initially dropped from the sequel by Universal. After much criticism, they re-hired her. The film has been pushed back to 2015, quite a delay for a film that made $400 million worldwide. IMDB doesn&rsquo;t even list a director attached. When <em>Safe House, Thor, Horrible Bosses, Captain America</em> and <em>Ted</em> boasted similar grosses, sequels were pushed into production almost immediately. A sequel to <em>The Hangover</em> got fast-tracked before it ever came out.</p><p dir="ltr">In the meantime, Stewart only has one other film lined up, and her <em>On the Road</em> adaptation was all but dumped by the studio despite <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/kristen-stewart-oscar-on-the-road_n_2270461.html">critical raves</a> for her performance. Topless photos <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/03/kristen-stewart-topless-naked-on-the-road_n_1937851.html">leaked</a> before <em>On the Road</em>&#39;s release got more buzz than the film. Like the film, her breasts were not well-received (and a British men&rsquo;s website later deemed her the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/kristen-stewart-least-sexy-hollywood-actress_n_2723756.html">least sexy</a>&rdquo; actress in the world). She even canceled OTR press appearances after the scandal broke because she was &ldquo;<a href="http://metro.co.uk/2012/08/09/kristen-stewart-too-ashamed-to-attend-on-the-road-premiere-529700/">too ashamed</a>&rdquo; to be seen in public.</p><p dir="ltr">Although easy to laugh off, this sends a clear message about the double standards set for men and women. Case in point: Ashton Kutcher got a nod on America&rsquo;s least-liked list. But not because of his infidelity. <em>Reader&rsquo;s Digest</em> cited his <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130507-912697.html">virulent Twitter presence</a> as the reason for his low score: &ldquo;Those with large social media audiences...drifted to the bottom of the list of those tested.&rdquo; His cheating scandal wasn&rsquo;t even considered relevant enough to be mentioned.</p><p dir="ltr">When I wrote about Stewart in 2012, I argued that her <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nico-lang/trampires-why-the-slut-sh_b_1850940.html">constant slut-shaming</a> in the media was endemic of the <a href="http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/war-women">War on Women</a>, a rhetoric that teaches us that female sexuality isn&rsquo;t to be trusted and tells young girls that they have to protect themselves from their own bodies. This was a time when many feared for repeal of their reproductive rights with the prospective of a Romney administration that would erase years of progress on gender equality.</p><p dir="ltr">With Obama promising to maintain Planned Parenthood, many feel like the battles were won. However, Stewart&rsquo;s continuing victimization shows how invisible war can be, the hidden microagressions that affect us every day. Last year, I wrote that Chris Brown could beat the crap out of his girlfriend in public (allegedly for being unfaithful) and win awards for it. After barely making it onto Star&rsquo;s Most Hated list (at #20), he didn&rsquo;t get listed in the <em>Reader&rsquo;s Digest</em> poll at all, yet Stewart did. We still have work to do.</p><p dir="ltr">I wonder how Tasha would have made sense of all this. Would she learn she can&rsquo;t trust Kristen Stewart? Would she look in Kristen Stewart&rsquo;s face and see fear? I hope she would see someone who is brave and strong in the face of constant criticism. To all the girls demonized as &quot;sluts&quot; for not being what society expects them to be and shamed for being human, Kristen Stewart should be a hero.</p><p dir="ltr">One day when I give my mother the daughter she wanted, I want to look into her newborn eyes and see hope, a promise that we can unlearn what we were taught and get it right next time. I plan on giving her the world. I just pray it&rsquo;s better than the one I grew up in.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nico_lang">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nicorlang">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/kristen-stewart-slut-shaming-and-war-women-107094