Last week, a 1975 interview of Helen Mirren blew up the internet, and like any woman who’s ever witnessed sexism (so, pretty much all of them) I was blown away by her grace, intelligence, quick wit, and ability to put a sexist shit-goblin firmly in his place.
The clip above starts:
You are, in quotes, a serious actress….
Let’s stop right there. If I was Helen Mirren I would have stood up and repeatedly kicked him in the dick. I would have put my super-cool lady feather down, picked up the 200 pound 1970s chair I was sitting in, and knocked his fucking head off. At minimum I would have yelled, “Fuck you, vile pudding sock, pig-fuck!”and abruptly left. It wouldn’t have been eloquent, it wouldn’t have been pretty, and I’m pretty sure I’d spend time in jail.
But, alas…I am not Helen Mirren. Helen Mirren handled it with a cool, collected grace that I can only aspire to in my most vivid of fantasies. I have no patience for sexism and never have. At 14 I told my parents that I couldn’t be Catholic anymore because it was a misogynistic religion of which I wanted no part. Hey, why the hell couldn’t I be a Pope? At 15, I took Driver’s Ed and when the teacher made comments about women drivers causing accidents because they can’t think as well as men, I called him a “simple-minded jackass” and was suspended for a week.
So no, calm, cool comebacks are not my strong point. I wish I had half of Helen Mirren’s cool. Just half.
Dumpster Fire TV Presenter Pig Fuck (his actual birth name) then says to her, “Do you find that in fact, what could best be described as your equipment hinders you in the pursuit of being a successful actress?” To which Mirren gracefully replies,“I’d like you to explain what you mean by my equipment?” then sarcastically adds, “You mean my fingers?”
If I was Helen Mirren I would have said, “Oh, you mean men are too stupid to be able to pay attention if they see a booby? I see. Well, it must be hard to be so slow. That’s tragic, you fucking dumb ass.” But, like I said, I’m not Helen Mirren. For example, when I was taking classes at Second City in Chicago, my teacher kept telling me he imagined me in his bed after I would do some ridiculous comedy scene. I could be acting out being stuck in a bubble, covered in cow-shit, and this dickless clown would remark, “that was great, let’s do that in my bed, ha ha” Did I handle it with grace and confidence like Helen Mirren? Of course I didn’t. I told my Second City teacher, “If I was your wife I’d put myself in a witness relocation program and write “pity fuck” on my tax return under charitable donations, ha ha.”
Not cool Beth. Helen Mirren would never say that.
You need thick skin to be an actress. Hell…you need thick skin to be a woman in any profession. But, as an actress, you need to be able to handle men both simultaneously hitting on you and tearing you down. It’s a bizarre thing to navigate. I was simply not that tough to handle dealing with it all. When I was 17 working as a dresser at a theater, the 45 yr old lead male actor in the play pinned me against a wall backstage, grabbed my ass, and shoved his tongue down my throat. I smacked him in the face and quit my job. I had no clever comeback, because quite frankly, I was shaken to my core. But somehow, Mirren was able to deal with all of that, she was able to look a sexist goon right in the face and win. And I’m sure she was shoved against many a wall, yet still kept going. Admiration is not strong enough of a word to describe my feelings towards Mirren watching that interview.
And the timing of when I became aware of this interview couldn’t be any more raw. I saw it after a two week period punctuated with vile stories in the media about sexism and violence towards women. I read in-depth coverage of the visceral hatred hurled at Leslie Jones by internet trolls who called her fat, made racial slurs, and wished for her death simply for being a female who dared to be in a remake of Ghostbusters. I then heard Trump ask for Hillary to be taken care of by his second amendment people while the howler monkey dimwits at his rallies yelled “spank that bitch” “kill that whore” and compared her body to a bucket of fried chicken. I saw the movie “Suffragette” that Thursday and once again remembered how hard women have fought around the globe for equal rights. I wasn’t even aware that women in Switzerland didn’t get the right to vote until 1974 and 1994 in South Africa. That still shocks me.
I also listened to a story on NPR last week about ISIS soldiers kidnapping 13-17 year old girls. The ISIS soldiers then repeatedly rape them and force-feed them birth control so that when they sell their sex slaves (which can happen up to 15 times) they get a good price on their property. I read later in the week about men throwing acid at women in Pakistan and India if they refuse to go out with them. Additionally, I saw a gut-wrenchingly beautiful and sad video about the stigma British (and American) women are forced to deal with when breast feeding in public and how many of them are forced to breast feed in dirty public bathrooms. Subtext: it’s OK to see a booby in public, as long as it’s in a lingerie ad and for sexual purposes, but seeing a boob feed a baby, that’s just fucken gross, dude. You can see the incredibly powerful poem by clicking here.
So, feeling deeply disturbed by the shit-storm of what women are forced to deal with globally, I tweeted this:
I could screen shot some of the vile things that were said to me, how much hatred this tweet inspired, but I refuse to give trolls a platform on my site. I think I’ve been lucky in many ways online. Sure, I’ve received the occasional, pathetic, dic-pic (to which I always reply to with links to WebMD so that they can get their obvious disease ridden, micro-penis checked out) Helen Mirren would never do that. I know. I wish I was cool as fuck Helen, but I’m angry ass Beth. So, as a woman who writes humor online, I haven’t gotten a whole lot of hatred.
Until this tweet….
The word “feminist” or “feminism” simply infuriates internet trolls. Within an hour of this tweet being out I was called, “cunt” and “loser,” and several men from various countries let me know what they thought of me. Spoiler alert: they think I’m a cunt-loser.
While I disagree with women who make the blanket statement “all men are terrible” and sincerely understand a man taking offense to that, what I don’t get is the misguided anger. How about if we all get angry, collectively, at the men who threaten to rape a woman online for expressing her thoughts? And to be fair, it’s not just men who hate the word, it’s sometimes women too. I’ve repeatedly seen women scoff at the word, “feminist” as if it’s some sort of disease. Perhaps there needs to be more of an emphasis on learning history, more respect given to our sisters and brothers who’ve worked so hard before us for equality.
Sometimes I like to imagine Helen Mirren whispering to me, “Calm down Beth, we’ll get those bloody bastards, and we’ll do it with a feather and a smile…just take a deep breath, darling.”
So finally…at the end of the interview, when Douchebag McPuff N’Stuff implies that her boobs will distract people watching her acting, and Helen Mirren ultimately zings him with: “I would hope the performance, the play and the living relationship between all the people on the stage and all the people in the audience overcome such boring questions.”
Oh, no she didn’t! She told that crusty, old, pudding in a sock he was boring. Just, “boring.”
And the entire time she’s holding a feather. A feather. She literally cut him with a feather. A wisp of words that cut to the core of his fragile male ego. I wish I could cut a person who means me harm with a feather, that I could stay calm when I’m being attacked, that when I’m met with ignorance, I would choose to take the high road.
Well, I’m working on it.
But….if I was Helen Mirren, I would have been able to look at this lipless, garden gnome and simply say, “You’re boring” and know in my insanely cool, Helen Mirren soul that that was far worse than any foul insult, kick in the balls, or any other affront to this sentient laundry pile. Because, by staying cool, sticking to the facts, and pointing out the bloody obvious, she was in control. She was in control from start to finish. And that, if I may say in my best foul mouthed description is why: she fucking owned him.
And if I was Helen Mirren, that is exactly what I would do.
But sadly, I’m not…
PS: Helen Mirren wishes she had told people to “Fuck Off More” so I’m pretty sure that means she also wants to be me…
Click here to read about Helen’s foul Beth-Mouth….