Arlene sidles up to her colleague, Tim, and tells him she’s made “a pretty intensely hot pot of coffee.”
“You like it hot, Tim?” Arlene asks before gripping Tim’s torso.
Tim’s not into it but Arlene is incorrigible: She accuses him of putting an “I love you” mug on her desk and then does unmentionable things to a blow-up horse in a last, desperate fit of seduction.
The outrageous spoof of female-on-male sexual harassment got plenty of hoots on Saturday Night Live this weekend, as Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy terrorized Tim with talk of “quiet whispers” and “lady boners.”
The skit was also well received by the feminist blog Jezebel, which proclaimed that Ms. McCarthy had “made sexual harassment funny.”
Writer Anna North declared that seeing the “female sleaze” is “actually good for men and women.”
“Part of it is the shoe-is-on-the-other-foot feeling of watching a woman do what we're accustomed to seeing men do,” Ms. North wrote, hazarding that Arlene’s lady boner is “transgressive.”
While she acknowledged that men who fall victim to female sexual harassment are often stigmatized and fail to report it, Ms. North added, “it’s also part of why the skit is funny.”
Jezebel’s commenters quickly caught the stench of that double standard.
“So lets recap, 9 times out of 10 on Jezebel sexual harassment is never funny,” wrote one. “HOWEVER! When a Jez darling du jour does it, it sure is hilarious, and everyone will fall all over themselves to justify it.”
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment filings by men have doubled over the last 15 years, with labour experts noting men are less likely than women to report harassment for fear of being ridiculed by their co-workers.
This wasn’t the first time Ms. McCarthy got laughs for sexually harassing a man: The shtick is reprised from Bridesmaids, where her character Megan foists herself on an air marshal mid-flight. (In both cases, she gets a man out of it.)
Ms. North’s only concern with the SNL skit was that it may also have been a fat joke, with Arlene poured into khakis that leave little to the imagination.
Would the whole thing have been as uproarious if Arlene was slim? Probably not: Consider Jennifer Aniston, who plays Julia Harris, a dentist sexually harassing her male underling in the recent dud Horrible Bosses. After Dr. Harris drugs her employee in the dentist’s chair, he accuses her of being a “raper.” She snorts, “Just relax there, Jodie Foster,” referencing The Accused, a film based on a 1983 gang rape in Massachusetts.
Cringe-worthy, yes, but the double standard persisted there too, with plenty of viewers plainly titillated by the idea of Jennifer Aniston ever sexually harassing them.
Was the SNL skit funny?