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does portia de rossi hate men?

Image: Pulicciano

Image: Pulicciano

I just bought myself a copy of Portia De Rossi’s memoir Unbearable Lightness. It reveals her struggle with an eating disorder and her sexuality while straddling fame as a hot young lawyer on TV’s Ally McBeal. It can be risky when celebrities put pen to paper to tell their story. I’ve read my fair share of celebrity tell-alls and I must say, despite bursting with promise, many of them aren’t great. Portia’s, however, is surprisingly good. It’s well-written and entertaining and I’m looking forward to picking it up again later tonight. But this isn’t a book review.

If you’ve been following the news and publicity surrounding the release of her memoir, you’ll have noticed that Portia has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. You see, while on her Australian promotional tour, Portia was more than happy to be interviewed about her story, as long as the interviewer had breasts. That’s right: no boys allowed.

Generally, the public haven’t been incredibly supportive. They’re calling discrimination and publicity stunt, among other things. Is it possible that this famous lesbian, who campaigns for equal rights and gay partnerships alongside her equally-if-not-more-famous lesbian wife Ellen De Generes, could be accused of hypocrisy and man-hating?

David Koch of 7’s morning show Sunrise was one of the unhappy gents who didn’t quite get Portia’s no-male request. He details in his article on The Punch that a condition of Portia being interviewed for the show was that he not be present. Suffice to say, he wasn’t impressed. He says, and I quote: ‘Last week, for the first time in my eight years on Sunrise, I was specifically excluded by a guest from interviewing them because of my gender.’ He wasn’t the only one – even Austereo’s loveable duo Hamish and Andy were excluded, with the pair having to enlist the obviously-female Fifi Box to interview Portia for their radio show.

Unbearable Lightness does deal with some sensitive issues that perhaps – perhaps – she felt uncomfortable to talk about with a male, and rightly so. But I’m a woman, and I get it. I get that the issues are sensitive, but Portia’s reasoning that ‘men are tough and can’t relate to sensitive issues’ such as those in her book is somewhat confusing, even to me.

But what say you? Has her request for female-only interviews damaged her credibility as an equal rights campaigner, or was she well within her rights to exclude an entire gender? Or should we acknowledge that irrespective of her ‘requests’, she is a woman who had the courage to tell her story, as intense as it is, and applaud her for her honesty and strength and just move on?

2 thoughts on “does portia de rossi hate men?

  1. It’s hard! She’s obviously struggled a lot with issues such as homosexuality and an eating disorder, so it may be the case that she has problems with talking about these sorts of issues with men, if there is some personal trauma there for her. In that case, I think she is well within her rights.

    The idea that men can’t understand sensitive issues is absurd though. I’m sure that David Kosch and Hamish and Andy would have been sensitive about the issues they discussed. Additionally, I don’t think it’s healthy to try and freeze out roughly 50% of the population. I still maintain that it’s her right, but I also find it strange.

  2. As much as I feel that celebrities should be afforded the same amount of consideration as someone else, the fact is that they do choose a career where they are in the media’s eyes. It’s not as though male interviewers are cretins who are going to push topics that an interviewee is obviously uncomfortable with, not to mention that someone of De Rossi’s celebrity status can make ‘demands’, for want of a better word, as to what she does and doesn’t want to discuss.

    Like Erin, I find it strange and it doesn’t seem like she provided an explanation to the public or to the interviewers in question. Moreover, she could have elected to simply do interviews where a male wouldn’t have to be excluded in the first place. But really, shouldn’t a male’s sensitivity (or what have you) be decided on a case by case basis rather than making a sweeping statement about their entire gender?

    This incident will probably be forgotten soon enough, but perhaps the most widespread damage to people other than De Rossi is that it’s reinforcing the notion that feminists hate men. It’s becoming really apparent to me lately that misconceptions about what feminism is, is making girls reluctant to identify themselves as such, let alone boys.

    Ultimately though, if you’re a celebrity and you’re going to write a book, you know that people will want to talk to you about it. If you don’t want to, then don’t write a book.

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