Well, readers, it’s another sweltering day in June, and here in the trenches of the culture war accusations of “misogyny” and “political correctness” are being fired back and forth. And what’s that out there in the middle of the no-man’s land? Well, it’s the photo that started this latest skirmish:
And in all fairness, they are some compelling arguments.
Now ads featuring violence towards women exist, as evidenced in Jean Kilbourne’s famous documentary Killing Us Softly. Critics of this ad have cited (though I am paraphrasing for the sake of space) that the inundation of these images in our society leads to the normalization of violence. Show enough ads featuring women getting choked out and people will start assuming that it’s the natural way of the world.
Image retrieved via BusinessInsider.com, fair use
Even if the person doing the choking is the bad guy (and Apocalypse is), the simple fact that it’s a yet another man committing an act of force on a women should be enough to elicit outrage from us all.
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help women…”
That declaration was by former Secretary of State and (depending on the shift in public perception) former feminist icon Madeleine Albright, speaking at a rally for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
This comment follows close on the heels of feminist Gloria Steinem’s snide remark that the some 82% of millennial women supporting Bernie Sanders were doing so just so they could meet boys, and not long after DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz accused the same demographic of “complacency.”
And the timing is hardly coincidental. Staggered by a Pyrrhic victory in Iowa and a resounding defeat in New Hampshire, the Clinton campaign has been desperately attempting to find a swift end to what will otherwise become a protracted and altogether too-close-for-comfort campaign, and securing the female vote has been the first place to start.
Well readers, once again this post comes to you late- and you can blame a combination of my own schedule and the complexity of addressing theological minutiae. Rather than trying to grapple with the subject of superstition in contemporary Christianity, we’re going to be looking at an equally strange subject:
Now a few of you may vaguely recall that in 2014 the city of Houston passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or “HERO”, a piece of legislation banning discrimination in terms of employment, housing, and use of public accommodations. For the most part there was no controversy over most of the ordinance, which prevents discrimination against race, sexual orientation, sex, and marital status, but what really riled up some was the inclusion of the following element-“Gender Identity.”
Now the inclusion of the term “Gender Identity” is important because it means that transsexuals may, without harassment or prevention, be permitted to use the bathroom of whatever gender they identify as. In other words, a woman who was once a man would be allowed to use the male bathroom and vice versa.
I like Gawker. I mean, for the most part. Back when I was more into video game news Kotaku was one of my go-to sites, and I inevitably return to general science fiction and fantasy site io9 every Thursday to see if Rob Bricken has updated his weekly Q&A feature “Postal Apocalypse”. When things are going particularly slowly at work I even pop over to Kitchenette for “Behind Closed Ovens” to be regaled by tales of those who work in the restaurant industry. That of course leads me to the larger site Kitchenette is a part of, and probably the most reviled part of the Gawker network: Jezebel.
Of course, marketing yourself as a feminist blog in any way, shape, or form is sure to bring out a lot of angry, irrational, unsurprisingly male voices your way, but such is life. I’ve never particularly been bothered by anything on the site, but I’m only ever directed over there when one of their bigger stories is featured on io9. It wasn’t until just last week that a friend of mine linked me to the following feature that I even spent more than a couple of minutes clicking around Jezebel [click the image to be linked directly to the post itself]:
Which initially delighted me, primarily because I found out that a poster of a tatted-up Republican Presidential nominee Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz was so very, very real. “Would U?” is described upfront as being “an academic forum in which [Ellie Shechet shares her] gross crush of the week and ask if you, too, would bang that person” and includes a roundtable between Jezebel staff which I found mildly amusing, though by the time I made it to the bottom and the poll, which I’ve embedded below, I felt more than a little bit uncomfortable.
Rape is never funny. However, the way Western society often responds to rape is an absolute joke. Schumer has perfected the socially conscious ‘rape joke’, not by downplaying the seriousness of the violent crime, but by mocking the ridiculous social circumstances that allow rape to go unpunished.
There are a lot of ways women police ourselves. We try not to be too cocky, or too naggy, or too loud and obnoxious, or too vain. We are taught to police these behaviours because they will make us less likeable, less dateable, or an embarrassment for our significant others.
Sketches like, “I’m Sorry” or “Compliments” draw attention to the pressure women feel to act coy, even in situations where their male counterpart would be encouraged to be confident.
Meanwhile, “I Have a Boyfriend” and “Hello Mi’Lady” highlight the way women can be manipulated into accepting unwanted advances, since ignoring or rejecting them is considered “bitchy” or “cruel”.
3) Unrealistic Beauty Standards
Schumer regularly takes on unrealistic beauty standards, especially those that target female celebrities.
Her parodic music video, “You don’t need make-up,” mocks (most) men’s misconception of what ‘natural beauty’ actually looks like.
Rape, misogyny and beauty standards aren’t just ‘lady problems’, they are societal problems. These issues matter, and I’m glad Amy Schumer is drawing attention to them via her show. I’m also glad Schumer approaches these issues with a sense of humour. Humour has a powerful way of helping us self-examine ourselves, and think more deeply about problems we might have dismissed if they hadn’t made us laugh.
…And for those of you concerned, Evan has mandated a cut-off for these posts. As important as they are, and as many interesting questions as they raise, there’s only so many weeks in a row we can dedicate to beating a dead horse.
I feel first that I should clarify some of my points in my original response. When I was first drafting it, I was concerned that Kat (who had written a rather personal piece) might take it the wrong way- I’m glad that she gave me the benefit of the doubt on it. Truth is, my issue isn’t with Kat (who I think would agree with most of what I’m about to argue) but with the wider implications of Deschanel’s statements (though there were a few points I take issue with in Kat’s response- but we’ll get to that).
Deschanel argued that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way“. My response was “No, you ****ing can’t”.
Not “no, you *****ing can’t be powerful”, not “no, you can’t be feminine” (whatever “feminine” means), but rather “no, you can’t have your ‘own feminine way.'”