Actor Sean Penn enraged Thandiwe Newton – and the internet at large – with his recent ponderings about “feminised” men.
Publicly condemning him for something he said in an interview, Newton went straight to Twitter to voice her thoughts on his comments… and she definitely didn’t hold back.
“Dude what are you SAY-ING??,” she questioned. “Like for REAL? You’re a jibbering FOOL. MF you used to be sexy but now you’re just tragic.”
“In front of your DAUGHTER!? That poor little mite. Thank God her Mum’s so dope. Please stop ruining the brilliance of #LicoricePizza with this nonsense,” Newton finished in a second follow-up tweet.
— Thandiwe Newton (@ThandiweNewton) January 30, 2022
To what exactly is she referring, you might ask? Well, buckle up because the whole thing is pretty bizarre. It all started when Penn spoke to The Independent earlier this year as part of the promotional press tour for his new film, Flag Day. Serving as both the director and the male lead in the movie, he was reluctant to act and direct at the same time again, however, it actually turned out to be a much happier experience than he was expecting and gave the seasoned actor a chance to work alongside his two children, Dylan and Hopper, who also star.
Going on to discuss some of the other roles he’s played in the past, conversation then turned to his views on masculinity – which are quite “old school”. “I am in the club that believes that men in American culture have become wildly feminised… I don’t think that [in order] to be fair to women, we should become them,” he told one newspaper. Later asked to clarify these comments by The Independent, Penn reemphasised his point by saying, “I think that men have, in my view, become quite feminised. I have these very strong women in my life who do not take masculinity as a sign of oppression toward them. There are a lot of, I think, cowardly genes that lead to people surrendering their jeans and putting on a skirt.”
His daughter, who was present for the interview, was left “quiet, staring into space”.
Masculinity is not defined by what clothing is worn. Sean is showing his generational bias.
— Penny ? ?? ? (@ATrickledown) February 1, 2022
I think it’s probably safe to assume that Sean wasn’t a fan of Harry Styles’ Vogue cover. Especially given that he thinks “there has been an absence of male behaviour” in recent years. As one Twitter user pointed out though, masculinity is not defined by what clothing is worn and Penn’s comments show that his views on manhood are antiquated, to say the least.
Penn has a less-than-great history with feminism, another Independent article notes. You need only look to his reaction to the #MeToo allegations to see that. Instead of standing in solidarity with those sharing his stories, he branded the movement “not intellectually honest” – even publishing a poem in defence of alleged abusers in his debut novel back in 2018.
It’s also worth noting that the actor has a slew of domestic abuse and violence allegations against him, dating all the way back to the late 80s when he was married to Madonna. She reportedly even ended up in hospital on one occasion after he hit her across the head with a baseball bat. Madonna never pressed charges though as Penn was already facing 60 days jail time for assaulting a film extra.
Penn’s comments reek of misogyny and harbour the type of bias that we have collectively fought so hard to overcome. Some might argue that he’s of a different generation – which is true – but justifying his opinion by putting it down to merely being the product of “a different time” essentially lets him off the hook. And the fact that he said all this in front of his daughter is just even worse.