Following up on my well-commented post from December 27th on legitimizing domestic violence against men through mockery in what I jokingly referred to as the “high-culture” venues of comics, t-shirts, commercials, and greeting cards, I wanted to enlarge upon this by bringing examples of sexism and other forms of discrimination in mockery and in media.
To get started, since many readers of this blog came as a result of direct invitations from me, I happen to know many of you are atheists. So consider the following, taken from an old issue of the Readers’ Digest that I happened to come upon in a barber shop.
(At least the experience wasn’t as personally offensive as an earlier barber shop experience in which laughter met my request for a men’s hair style book, followed by my girlfriend who had finished before me being asked if she would rather wait to pay, the obvious presumption being that she would then not be the one paying. Please note that such “trivialities” are the sorts of complaints routinely heard by our “Human Rights Commissions”. But that experience is the topic of an earlier post on this blog).
Does this not offend or upset you? Do you not wish to write in an angry letter to the publishers, perhaps even threatening to retract your non-existent subscription to their publication? Do note that while the comics I referred to previously mocked violence these go nowhere near that far.
I want to make it quite clear that what I am not asking for is the censorship or banning of images, cartoons or words that offend me. What I am pointing out is how we can all feel deeply hurt by words and images and how unfairly inconsistent society responds to the complaints by certain favoured groups.
Consider the Women’s Media Center, allied with organizations receiving significant government funding like the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and the National Council of Women Organizations. It exists to increase women’s stories and voices and act as a watchdog monitoring misogyny and sexism in the media through its project Sexism Watch. The organization was founded by renowned feminists like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda and involves leading journalists, academics and foundation leaders. Clearly, it means business, stating:
Every day when women turn on the news, open the paper, or log on to the Internet, they see a world that, as shaped by the media, is missing something. What’s missing are the women: women reporters, women’s voices, and women stories.
With all that expertise and money, what is Sexism Watch up to? It’s making videos like this, which I saw poted on the blog Feministing recently:
The video includes clips from Harball’s Chris Matthews commenting in a complimentary manner on Hillary Clinton’s dress and appearance and saying things like “cosmetics tonight are very important.” What the video doesn’t include is how – in an example no less sexist – Clinton secured female votes during one emotional speech where she broke out in sobs. She also played the gender card herself when it was required, such as when she said
if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen…and I’m very comfortable in the kitchen
As CNN’s Glenn Beck shot back on his show, if someone had said to her
if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen…but I assume you’re comfortable in the kitchen
this would have been unacceptable. In fact, it would likely have become part of the Women’s Media Center clip scene. But it’s as a result of comments like these that women were always her base of support. It’s called hypocrisy. If you voted for Clinton cause she’s female you voted against Obama cause he’s male, and that’s called sexist.
On the flip side, there were few complaints about journalists frequently harping on Obama’s good looks, like the following (just watch the last minute as longer exposure to the View can be harmful to your intelligence):
or mockery about McCain as an “old man” like the following where MSNBC actually called in Michael Ian Black of comedy Central to make the most of this golden joke opportunity in a piece called “Old Man McCain is Out of Touch”.
Now granted McCain’s internet stupidity is important for voters to know, but this went way too far, especially when McCain was compared to “grandpa simpson” and when Black said things like
we’ll start [teaching him] with what he knows…the telegraph…
…you have to double click on the web browser…there’s not a lot of 72 year old men out there who can double click on anything..
Notice first the ageism and recall how McCain would later in the campaign shrug it off in self-deprecating good humour. Hilarious, yes, but had I the time and money of the Women’s Media Center I could turn all these clips easily found on youtube into a fairly impressive clip sequence of political misandry to rival their own.
Finally, it isn’t just women’s traditional roles that are mocked in political coverage. How about the way in which until quite recently male candidates who had not served in the military were routinely mocked as unmanly and unfit for being Commander-in-Chief. I suppose with female candidates who never know the burden of registering for the draft (a legal duty of every male US citizen when they turn 18) this has become less of an issue, although the fact that women can obtain the highest office in the US without such a burden yet male legal conscription remains should give us pause.
In any case, mocking women’s fashion seems somewhat trivial compared to mocking men who refuse to sacrifice their lives and thereby bullying other men into doing so.