I saw the first Bad Moms movie with two friends who had served with me on the Executive Board of the PTA back when my (now-teenaged) kids were in elementary school. The film was crass, irreverent, and hilarious. We snuck in wine coolers and it was a fun girls’ night out watching a so-called “chick flick.”
Yeah, I won’t be doing that for the sequel, A Bad Moms Christmas, which is out in movie theaters today. I’m boycotting the movie (and calling on all readers to do the same #BoycottBadMomsXmas) for one simple reason: Susan Sarandon.
When the first Bad Moms came out in July 2016, those were simpler, better days. I didn’t rely almost exclusively on political humor to make me feel better, if only for a few minutes, about the pussy-grabbing misogynistic racist in the White House. I genuinely believed we would replace our first feminist (and African-American) President with our first female President. This was before I wore a pussy hat in the Woman’s March on Washington, and joined The Resistance to fight back against those who seek to strip away my rights and the rights of marginalized women across the country. It was before I joined the National Organization for Women and Emily’s List, and began spending far more time on state and national politics than volunteering with my kids’ school.
You see, I am one of the 47 percent of white women who, along with a whopping 94 percent of African American women, chose correctly in the 2016 election, proudly voting for the most qualified person ever to run for presidency: Hillary Rodham Clinton. We knew that Clinton was not only the far better choice, but also the only viable choice in 2016 to lead our country and all of our people. We knew she would stand up for women, children, people of color, working families, and disabled people, regardless of their socioeconomic status. We knew this because we paid attention to what she had done for these groups of people for her entire adult life.
The vast majority of us knew this during the primaries as well, when Clinton ran against another angry white man: Bernie Sanders. His grandiose promises rang hollow with us as we heard Hillary’s detailed solutions for how we would achieve meaningful progress under her pragmatic leadership. Although the media had a love affair with Bernie, we knew better: He was a career politician who had failed to accomplish anything in Congress over a thirty-year period of time. We knew he wasn’t a true Democrat, and that he was willing to toss to the side the human and civil rights of all Americans to (possibly) achieve ephemeral socialist goals that would ultimately benefit white men far more than anyone else. (Continuing to prove us right, Bernie recently stated on Late Night with Seth Meyers: “[W]e have got to take on Trump’s attacks against the environment, against women, against Latinos and blacks and people in the gay community, we’ve got to fight back every day on those issues. But equally important, or more important: We have got to focus on bread-and-butter issues that mean so much to ordinary Americans.” Gee Bernie, aren’t women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community considered “ordinary Americans” in your worldview?)
But I digress: The 53 percent of white women who voted for Donald Trump didn’t seem to know or care about any of this. There are a variety of possible reasons for why this may have been: brainwashing via fake news on social media, their deeply engrained racist viewpoints, choosing to vote for the interests of the white men in their lives, and/or putting their steadfast religious beliefs ahead of all other interests. We will surely be studying for years to come why so many women voted against their own self-interest in 2016, and chose an unqualified, bigoted buffoon as our President, rather than the most qualified person ever to run for the presidency who happened to be female. One reason stands out to me, however, when you consider the disproportionate number of black women who voted for Hillary Clinton, both in the primaries and the general election. White women had the luxury of throwing away their vote. Pollsters and the media informed us—repeatedly—that Hillary Clinton had the election in the bag. This (erroneous) fact gave white women the illusory opportunity to vote for anyone other than Clinton, since she was going to win anyway. When Donald Trump cavalierly asked African Americans, “What the hell do you have to lose?” he may have in fact signaled white women that, for them, a Trump presidency would not be so bad.
This is the crux of white woman privilege that we take for granted without even realizing it. Even if you strip away our human and civil rights, we still have white men to protect and provide for us (except of course when they don’t, using their own superior privilege to use, abuse, harass, molest, assault, or leave us). African American women simply do not have this privilege. Marginalized in multiple ways, black women suffer from a particular brand of sexism and racism (known as “misogynoir,” a term coined by gay black feminist, Moya Bailey) in the workplace and everywhere, the gender pay gap is even greater, and the lives of them and their loved ones are discounted, which causes the need for a movement protesting that “Black Lives Matter.” Americans’ undeniable prejudice against black females starts at an early age, when studies show that young black girls are treated as if they are older than their years, and penalized (black girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school than white boys) accordingly.
So, how does Susan Sarandon, a protagonist in one of the greatest feminist movies of all time (Thelma & Louise), figure in to all of this? I’m so glad you asked.
Sarandon injected herself into the divisive 2016 election debate early on, as an impassioned Bernie Sanders supporter. Using her platform as a famed Hollywood actress, she spoke out unfairly against Hillary Clinton, and gave cover to Sanders, who preached general socialist principles that ignored or minimized the import of human and civil rights for women and people of color. She told young women not to vote with their vaginas, but rather to vote for a candidate that had no chance of winning. Apparently, according to Sarandon, a vote for an eminently qualified and experienced woman for president must mean that vote was prompted, not by policy or other legitimate reasons, but merely because of gender. This line resonated with millennial women, who didn’t seem to understand what a big deal it was that a woman had overcome so many obstacles to put even a few cracks in the glass ceiling.
While a handful of other celebrities in Hollywood supported Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, none were as strident in their support as Sarandon. She infamously accepted an invitation to attend the Democratic National Convention in the Summer of 2016, only to appear as if she was hating every minute of it (which she confirmed, in a tweet, was in fact the case).
A fellow Sanders supporter, Sarah Silverman, spoke to the Bernie or Busters in the convention hall (including Sarandon) when she told them they were being “ridiculous.” Silverman sanely believed that the time had come to support the Democratic nominee for the presidency. Her words fell on deaf ears: Sarandon became Hollywood’s poster child for the Bernie or Bust movement. Never pivoting to Hillary Clinton, she told her fans that Clinton was apparently so “corrupt,” that she was more afraid of Clinton than of Donald freaking Trump. Then, Sarandon encouraged her fans and Bernie supporters everywhere to vote for Jill Stein, which we know was as good as voting for Donald Trump, and helped hand the win in the electoral college to Trump.
All of this contributes to why I don’t find Susan Sarandon’s role in a comedy about women and moms to be at all funny, but rather, insulting and ironic. Sarandon is in fact the ultimate “bad mom,” who put her own petty whims ahead of a nation of daughters and granddaughters, including her own.
But wait, there’s still more. Women of color have become increasingly vocal in their support of Hillary Clinton, and how they feel they were silenced during the 2016 campaign and even now. Like the NFL players who have exercised their First Amendment rights in protest of systemic racism in America, African American women have likewise taken to Twitter and Facebook to protest white privilege. They have called out Susan Sarandon, among others, as examples of whites who had no problem telling others to throw their vote away, all the while knowing that their privilege would enable them to ride out any consequences of a Trump presidency.
One such woman recently said of Sarandon, “I won't support someone who didn't care about me as a woman, who is both Black and Latina. I don't see much difference between her and other predators in the movie industry.” Indeed.
These women of color are exercising their civil rights, which is why it was all the more outrageous when Susan Sarandon, rather than take the valid criticism of these women to heart, encouraged (or at least failed to discourage) her fans to harass and bully one such woman, known on Twitter as Queen Bravenak. Bravenak’s suspension from Twitter mirrored the twisted logic that led to African American football players being threatened by suspension or removal from their jobs for exercising a fundamental civil right: the right to freedom of speech.
Then, there is also the story of Latina civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta, who was shouted down by Bernie supporters at the Nevada caucus after she offered to translate for Spanish speakers. Sarandon felt the need to take to Twitter to accuse Huerta of lying about the incident.
Of course, as a white woman I could ignore all of this and go to see A Bad Moms Christmas. I could laugh at the humorous moments in the movie. I could forget about politics for a couple hours, hanging out with my friends, and having a good time. I could do all of this because I am privileged enough that I will weather a Trump presidency, as much as it sucks, the rest of America be damned. I could do all of that, but I won’t. Because I stand with my sisters of color, and think that Susan Sarandon threw all women—but them in particular—under the bus, when she failed to endorse Hillary Clinton for president over Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and instead, actively worked to prevent Clinton from winning the presidency. For this reason, I won’t give a dollar of my money to a Susan Sarandon project, ever again.
So, please join me in boycotting A Bad Moms’ Christmas. There are plenty of other funny movies to watch with your girlfriends or things to do on a Girls’ Night Out (and, while you’re at it, boycott the brands that Sarandon earns money to hawk, including L’Oreal Paris and Mercedes-Benz).
Susan talks smack about Hillary Clinton on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: She told Colbert she was more afraid of Hillary’s hawkishness than she was of Trump building a wall. Really.