Speed Reads

'old-school misogyny'

Sean Penn criticized after claiming 'cowardly genes' lead men to wear skirts

Sean Penn has sparked criticism after complaining that men have become too "feminized" and wear skirts because of "cowardly genes."

The actor argued to The Independent that American men have "become quite feminized," saying, "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." 

Penn's remarks doubled down on his previous claim that "I don't think that [in order] to be fair to women, we should become them." The statements were made while Penn was being interviewed with his daughter, Dylan Penn, and The Independent wrote that the comments "[left] Dylan quiet, staring into space." 

Penn quickly began to draw criticism, including in a column from The Independent itself. "Penn's latest comments are problematic in a whole host of ways," wrote Leonie Cooperdescribing it as his "latest misfire" and an example of "old-school misogyny" from the actor, who has had an "unnerving number of 'yikes' moments over the years." Penn sparked backlash in 2018 for saying the "spirit" of the #MeToo movement is "to divide men and women" and that it's "largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious."