Let's talk about the Will Smith and Chris Rock issue - that's what it's become, with Jada Pinkett Smith being just a minor factor in the equation. It's about two men exerting their power and bravado over a "helpless" woman who is only good enough to either be insulted or a damsel in distress needing to be defended. Archaic behaviour, perhaps? Chauvinistic? Absolutely.
We all know that Jada is no pushover - but why was it so easy for her to be insulted by a man who, at that moment, wielded more power than she did - he had the stage and mic, while she didn't.
To backtrack a bit, let's discuss the insult - which some may not have understood - and why it hit a nerve with Will. Chris was roasting some of the nominees and said: "Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane II, can't wait to see it."
Moments later, Will walked on stage and smacked Chris before heading back to his seat and saying: "Keep my wife's name out of your f…king mouth." Will loudly repeated the phrase, which verified to the audience that the slap was not part of the act. Will was indeed angry - justifiably so.
READ MORE | Will Smith smacks Chris Rock on stage at Oscars
Chris was referencing the 1997 film G.I. Jane in which actor Demi Moore shaved her head as the lead, Jordan O'Neil. O'Neil is the first woman to undergo Navy Seal training, and she outlasts many of her male counterparts after taking part in the brutal Seal preparation. To further solidify her position as a Seal, O'Neil strips herself of her femininity and shaves her head to become the "G.I. Jane".
Therefore, the insinuation Chris made is that Jada has been stripped of her femininity since she has gone bald (due to alopecia). This is an association commonly made about women without hair; they are often insulted for not being feminine enough, among other insults.
This was not a topic to be discussed by Chris, let alone on a global stage. He intentionally insinuated that something was wrong with Jada and he tried to embarrass her about something she has no control over - and that can never be overlooked. It would make sense why Jada's husband would be offended. Let's assume she went bald by choice and not because of alopecia. Would that make it okay for Chris to attack her over it on a global stage?
And it gets worse. This is not the first time Chris has insulted Jada.
According to Us Weekly, he publicly made fun of Jada for boycotting the Oscars back in 2016. She was boycotting the event due to a lack of diversity among nominees.
"Jada said she's not coming," Chris joked. "I was like, 'Isn't she on a TV show?' Jada's gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited!"
Also, to be noted, Chris felt it appropriate and necessary to refer to Rihanna's underwear for no apparent reason - but I digress.
Safe to say, Chris has insulted Jada and gotten away with it because he knew - as most men do - there would be no consequences for his behaviour.
Back then, Jada took the stance that most women take in such situations, accept the status quo and move on. Jada told X17 back in 2016: "It comes with the territory, but we gotta keep it moving… There's a lot of stuff we gotta handle, a lot of stuff in our world right now. We gotta keep it moving."
Until we start calling what Chris did to Jada what it is: violence against a woman who at that moment did not have the power and platform that he had - women will forever be abused by men for their benefit and popularity points.
Moreover, while we are all reeling over Will's action, few address what happened to Jada. I've read many articles about the level of violence that Will exerted against Chris. And so I have to ask again, what do we have to say about the verbal, emotional violence that Chris subjected Jada to on a global stage?
The straightforward explanation for this is that, as a society, we have normalised that women should smile and wave whenever they are subjected to unfair treatment, insults, and disrespect at the hands of men. This is quite evident in this particular case as the feud between the two men has almost entirely erased Jada's voice - she's been reduced to being the subject of the dispute between her husband and Chris - not a human being who was unfairly targeted.
This is how society deletes women's voices from history.
Perhaps Will acted in rage. It wasn't a calculated act. His violent outburst was instinctive and in afterthought, not the most conducive way to handle the situation. But did Chris deserve to be put in place? Absolutely.
We also have to ask ourselves: Are we being honest in viewing this kind of behaviour against women as what it truly is - violence and abuse? Unfortunately not - and that's the problem.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Tell us here.
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