Adriana Cohen / March 31, 2022

A Slap in the Face to Women’s Rights

Why does fitness enthusiast and fellow actor Jada Pinkett Smith need a man, in this case, her husband, to defend her?

Hollywood movie star Will Smith storming the stage at the Oscars and slapping comedian Chris Rock over a bad joke about his wife’s bald head was beyond embarrassing; it was outright thuggish and against the law. It was also a highly emotional and childish response one expects on the school playground, when one immature kid teases another or picks on their little sister, not from a 53-year-old adult at the Academy Awards.

My first reaction when seeing “the slap heard ‘round the world” was: Why can’t a fellow comedian like Smith, who spent years making us laugh on his hit TV show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” take a joke? Has his skin gotten so thin that any joke or perceived slight against his wife by another Hollywood entertainer warrants going full Conor McGregor on live TV?

Gimme a break. The Oscar winner needs to take a chill pill and start practicing yoga, like, yesterday.

My second thought when watching the fiasco unfold on TV was: Why does fitness enthusiast and fellow actor Jada Pinkett Smith need a man, in this case, her husband, to defend her? Perhaps if we were living in the “Leave It to Beaver” days of the 1950s, when American women were predominantly housewives and not able to have careers or achieve financial independence, the whole “damsel in distress” act would’ve played well.

It does not play well in 2022, after women have fought tooth and nail for the past 70 years in pursuit of gender equality. Today in America, we have a female vice president, for Pete’s sake, who’s a heartbeat away from being commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces and having access the nuclear codes, but Jada Pinkett Smith needs a man to defend her from a bad joke?

Seriously? Ask any self-respecting modern American woman of any background and she’ll tell you that was more embarrassing to the sisterhood than the slap itself.

The sad truth is Pinkett Smith and her Oscar-winning husband have done more damage to feminism and set women back years if not decades by putting on a show, in front of millions of impressionable young women and men around the world, implying that women can’t defend themselves. Together, they sent the message that women are incapable of handling themselves publicly and hence need a man to run to their defense when their feelings get hurt.

A major setback for women and feminists everywhere.

Modern women — or feminists by any definition — shouldn’t be acting like helpless victims who need a man to bail them out of awkward situations. What the Smiths should have done was shrug off the insensitive joke, and then afterward, Pinkett Smith should’ve approached Rock and asked for an apology.

No husband needed — thanks very much.

That would’ve been the best approach and earned Rock’s respect, who undoubtedly would have apologized to her. But now, instead, Will Smith’s image is in tatters for assaulting Rock needlessly, and the multidecade acting legacy he’s worked so hard to build is in jeopardy. And Pinkett Smith has done women no favors when it comes to female equality and liberation, especially for the millions of oppressed women living in Sharia countries in the Middle East who are forced to live under the thumb of men and who are not permitted to work, drive or get an education.

That’s the unintended consequence of Will Smith running to his wife’s defense. He may have meant well and responded out of love to defend his wife’s honor. But at what cost to his career and women striving for equality everywhere?

That remains to be seen.

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