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The affair of the slap of the Oscars reveals a sexism squared: that of Chris Rock who finds nothing better to do than a seedy joke on the autoimmune disease of a woman who bravely stages her alopecia. And that of Will Smith who defends by virile violence the flouted honor of his wife, as in the time of the knights.
It is an understatement to say that the shock sequence of the Oscars slap is uncomfortable. The slap inflicted by Will Smith on Chris Rock sweeps away everything in its path. Any other subject, any controversy, any debate has since been buried. Since the impulsive gesture of the Oscar-winning actor, we get lost in comments on the violence of the scene. But what violence are we talking about?
First of all, let’s see – and Will Smith’s spectacular gesture shouldn’t hide it – the violence of a sexist joke. One more, no doubt. But not on just any subject. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease characterized by hair loss. However, we know what sexual and feminine symbolism rests on the hair of women. We know that to punish them at the Liberation they were shaved. We know how women with cancer do what they can to compensate for the hair loss caused by chemo, between wigs that scratch and covering turbans. In short, in the collective imagination, and this is still the case in 2022 – alas – a woman with a bare head is rarely seen as a paragon of femininity.
Jada Pinkett Smith is a 50-year-old black woman. It is not trivial to write this. Alopecia particularly affects African-American women,…