Monday, August 1, 2011

Sharon Osbourne and the Severed Penis

I've now seen several YouTube videos railing against Sharon Osbourne's comments on The Talk, where she called the actions of Catherine Kieu "quite fabulous" and laughed about it along with the show's other hosts and audience members. In case you're unfamiliar with Kieu, she cut off her husband's penis and threw it in the garbage disposal earlier last month. All the videos I have watched thus far have been men lamenting the loss of a penis and blasting Osbourne for her remarks.

The first thing I thought when I saw these clips was, "Sharon Osbourne? Well, who gives a fuck what she thinks?" She may host a daytime talk show, but so did Jerry Springer, and you can't tell me that every man in America agreed with Springer based on the numbers of those watching his show. Osbourne is a shock value celebrity. She married a shock value singer who bit the head off a bat. They were all in the terribly stupid 'reality' show, The Osbournes, which especially played off of shock value stunts and statements. Sharon has already apologized for her comments, which were only said in the first place for controversy and laughs.

This is not to say that her reaction was appropriate, because it certainly wasn't. But I keep seeing these men saying, "what if we were laughing about women who have their breasts or clits cut off?" I would expect that most women would be offended. Yet I see a difference here still. Men have carelessly joked about and praised sexually violent behavior towards women before. It may not be in removing genitals, but some of our gender have suggested that rape victims deserved to be raped and other monstrous comments. Men are definitely not innocent when it comes to delighting in the misfortunes of the opposite sex, so let's not pretend to have the high ground.

Yes, what Catherine Kieu did was terrible. No, pointing out the insensitivity of men does not excuse it. But I don't think that has been anyone's intent so far. There's no reason to think Osbourne actually believes Kieu's behavior was commendable, and even if she does, I don't think most American women consider her a feminist role model of any sort. This whole ordeal has been blown way out of proportion, and I'm sure that Sharon got the reaction she was going for. Many men tend to view their penis as not just an extension of their identity, but almost as their identity in whole. By overreacting to a joke made on a talk show by a shock-jock like Osbourne, we are giving into this ridiculous stereotype.


  1. Yes - why do we make such a big deal of these comments? I don't condone her comment, but I would not rail against her being a feminist because of it. We should invest our time and energy in more meaningful activities.

  2. I didn't realize that you (Taylor) were a guy.