A visit from the goon squad
Sexism has been an ongoing issue since man has existed. Some have learned to accept and live with it while others simply will not accept it. Sexism fits into two different types of categories: Benevolent sexism and hostile sexism. In the novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, many of the characters are sexist towards women. Lou portrays both benevolent and hostile sexism while Bennie tends to portray hostile sexism only. Throughout the novel, Lou goes back and forth on how he treats women and his opinion on women. From the beginning of the novel, it is clear that sexism is an issue.
Bennie is the first character that we see a clear sexist approach from. “The Mother Superior leaned forward slightly, tilting her head in a way that must have triggered something in Bennie. He lurched across the sill and kissed her on the mouth. ” (Page 20). Even though Bennie knew it was wrong, he kissed Mother Superior.
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She is a woman who is respected by all but Bennie believes that he could kiss her because he was the man and felt superior towards her. This is simply wrong in the fact that Mother Superior had devoted her entire life to celibacy but Bennie could not simply respect that.
Bennie also shows his sexist side while communicating with his assistant, Sasha. “He sipped his gold-infected coffee and glared at Sasha’s breast. ” (Page 22). In society, it is considered incredibly rude to stare at a woman’s breasts instead of making eye contacts with her. Bennie could simply avoid her breasts and just stare at Sasha herself but he chooses not to. Later on in the same chapter Bennie realizes how much Sasha has grown. “She seemed suddenly older, or was it just that Bennie seldom looked directly at her face? ” (Page 28).
This shows Bennie’s ignorance on how he has not noticed Sasha’s growth because he usually looks at her breasts or does not pay attention at all. This is degrading towards women because Bennie believes it is okay to directly stare at her breasts when it is quite disrespectful. In both these situations, with Mother Superior and Sasha, Bennie portrays hostile sexism because he does not take women seriously or treat them as equals. Lou is another character who portrays some sexism. Unlike Bennie, Lou also portrays benevolent sexism. Lou is a character who always tends to flirt with women.
He usually tells women what they want to hear and is quite friendly towards them. Towards the beginning of the book, Lou is first seen when he picks up Jocelyn from a hitchhike. Even though Lou knows that she’s very young and that it will go nowhere, he keeps giving Jocelyn false hope. Instead of leading her on, Lou could have ended things with Jocelyn a while ago because she is around his son, Rolph’s age. He kept it going because he would receive sexual favors from Jocelyn. This is very common in our society today. Jocelyn gives Lou her all but is only getting her time wasted instead.
Later in the novel, we are introduced to Lou’s current girlfriend Mindy. The actions that both Lou and Mindy take reflect on each other and cause them to act in sexist ways towards each other. Their sexism is mostly based from cause and effect. The stereotype is that usually men are the ones who are sexist towards women. The sexism between with Lou and Mindy is a little different since Mindy goes behind Lou’s back and cheats on him with Alfred. In this situation, Mindy becomes superior to Lou by claiming sexual power. Lou is noticed to be a character who mainly portrays benevolent sexism.
When Lou’s son Rolph explains to Lou what happened between Mindy and Alfred, Lou’s opinion towards women change significantly. Lou says, “Women are cunts. ” (Page 78). When Lou says this to his son, it is no doubt hostile sexism. Lou’s action is best explained in the “Ambivalent Sexism” article. “A sexist man might initially place a woman whom he is romantically interested on a pedestal but abruptly change his views when she rejects him, reclassifying her from “babe” to “bitch. ”” When rejected, Lou does the same as other men. He quickly changes his views on Mindy. Shortly after Lou discovers that Mindy cheated on him, he marries her.
This situation is very common in today’s society. When a woman cheats on her husband or boyfriend, the man treats it like a game. For them, it’s a competition for power. Lou asked Mindy to marry him because in that case, Lou would be gaining his power back and feel superior in the relationship once again. Mindy doesn’t finish school and decides to get married to Lou instead because it is believed that men’s power secures a high status. Even though Mindy doesn’t realize, Lou is now holding more power again. This situation between Lou and Mindy them portrays benevolent sexism.
Sexism has been and will always be an ongoing issue between men and women. It is something that happens when a person does not even realize it. Lou and Bennie both know that some of their actions or words might be very hostile and sexist. Although they realize some of their actions, other times they don’t, or think they are positive, which shows their actions to be benevolent sexism. Both Bennie and Lou have also proved the theories mentioned in the article, “Ambivalent Sexism. ” The way men and women treat each other will always be a competition for the higher power.