Dismemberment is sexy as fuck, yo!

I’m not one of these assholes who brags about the fact that I don’t watch TV, but I don’t have cable (too poor), and network TV sucks tremendously, so I normally download whatever I want to watch (until this weekend, that is, when my school’s IT department sent me notice that I had to stop doing so on the school network… assholes). That means I don’t see many commercials, and that I have no idea what’s going on in the world of television. That was always a good thing, but now that I’m a blogger (ugh), I feel like I ought to be keeping up on pop culture happenings or something. That probably won’t translate into me actually doing so, but I want everyone to know I’m thinking about it.

Despite my ignorance of what transpires on the god box, I live in New York, so I’m constantly bombarded with ads for television shows at bus stops, on buses, on the side of buildings, in bathroom stalls, on bar coasters, in subway stations, on subway trains, on the top of cabs, on billboards… you get the point. So I’m aware that shows like Lipstick Jungle exist, and I’m aware that there’s a television series out that has something to do with the Terminator film franchise. I’ve never seen either of these shows, but I know everything I need to know about them from their bus stop ads: Lipstick Jungle is about urban women who are plagued with self-doubt and like wearing lipstick while doing it with men who only shave every four days, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles is about a female cyborg that dudes who read Maxim would totally be down to bang, bro. Let me know if I’m wrong.

I’m not wrong. As much as I’d like to delve into how obscenely trite and derivative these premises are, I’ll leave the obvious unsaid. Besides, I don’t care to waste 5 minutes I could spend thinking about how much I hate Jeremy Piven on watching either of these shows in order to get the ammo I’d need to prove that they are insultingly dumb. Instead, I want to talk about the print ads for The Sarah Connor Chronicles (I’d go over the Sex and the City… I mean… Lipstick Jungle ads, but what can be said that hasn’t been said before about a poster full of women in constricting clothing, crippling shoes, and painted faces advertising a show about the same thing? ).

I was walking down the sidewalk in Harlem with my parents one morning when we happened upon this work of art. I had been doing a little bus stop ad vandalism that week, and my mom pointed out the ad and asked me what I planned to write on it. It’s been awhile now, but I think I opted for “Goddamn, dismemberment is sexy as fuck!” Isn’t that the message here? This is nothing if not an overtly and brazenly sexualized image of a dismembered woman’s body, and it was displayed in a public place in which children can and do see it every second. “But come on,” you’ll say, “it’s not really a dismembered woman, she’s a cyborg! So it’s OK that it’s just a chunk of a body, because it’s, like, not real or anything.” If it’s just a robot and isn’t meant to be thought of as human with respect to dismemberment, why does it have to look like a female human being at all? And why are its breasts completely exposed save for the nipples, which are conveniently hidden by its long, sexy hair? I’m pretty sure sexual characteristics are superfluous for a robot (and that sexualized images of the male cyborgs in the Terminator film series don’t exist). If it was just a chunk of metal it’d be one thing, but it’s not. It’s a woman’s body that is being depicted as a sexual object, and it’s been dismembered. But it’s still supposed to be sexy.

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This image is disturbing not because it stands out from other media for combining sexual titillation with the most extreme form of violence that can be done to the human body, but because it doesn’t. Shows like Dexter, the first season of which revolved around glamorized depictions of women’s bodies having been dismembered and drained of blood, seem to be in a contest in which whoever depicts the most gruesome abuse of women’s bodies wins. If you don’t believe me, watch an episode or two of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (or one of the 15 other Law and Order varieties), CSI, or any of the fucking 14,000 cop shows that revolve around mutilated corpses and brutalized rape and molestation victims. The victims are almost always female; I guess the concept of dismembering and mutilating male bodies just isn’t compelling. Wonder why that could be.

I’ve heard the argument that the writers of these shows continue to dream up ever more perverse crimes and ever more ghastly images of dead women in order to ride the shock value to better ratings and greater ad revenue, which I buy, but where is the demand coming from? Images and descriptions of women being raped, killed, and mutilated are such a common and accepted part of our cultural imagination that hardly anyone seems to be noticing just how extreme these depictions have become in mainstream media and advertising like the ad pictured here. I think this might be an excellent phenomenon to apply the switcheroo test to.

The explanation for why this is happening, as far as I can tell, is a combination of two of the most nefarious forces at work in our society: plain ol’ misogyny and the primacy of profit over morality (humanity, really) that characterizes unregulated capitalism.

One can easily observe throughout the course of history a pattern in which, when a dominant group feels its grip on its privileges and dominance loosening, it reacts violently against the group it sees as posing that threat. The rise of Jim Crow and the increase in lynchings after the end of slavery, when whites felt their security threatened by blacks gaining their freedom, is just one example. These things don’t get worked out overnight, as we can see in the sad state of race relations almost 150 years hence. Sexism, which I would submit is even more pervasive and systemic to almost every culture on Earth than racism, will take much longer to extirpate. (Settle down, I’m not claiming sexism is worse than racism, just that it’s going to be even harder to do away with.)

Many books and articles have been written about the backlash against feminism that’s been brewing since the late 1970s, as well as about what some see as a second backlash since the start of the War on Terrah, but these focus more squarely on the realms of employment and family relations than on culture, even though the backlash has manifested itself most clearly in the realm of popular culture. It’s obvious in the ways that women and girls are now being unapologetically objectified and sexualized in much more sinister ways than ever before in music videos, television shows, movies, and on the internet. The explosion of internet pornography, especially the more degrading and violent varieties, is another symptom of the pop culture backlash against the perceived growth of women’s power and position in society.

That’s where the demand comes from, but the whole process is abetted by the ever more insidious forces of unregulated and amoral capitalism at work in the advertising, media, and pornography industries. The combination of a cultural imagination dominated by a fascination with seeing women degraded and — really — punished, coupled with a media and marketing machine motivated by nothing but profits has produced a downward spiral of salaciousness and misogyny.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles poster shocked my TV-saturated parents, which I would like to take as a positive sign, but I don’t know how young people who have been raised in our hyper-sexualized porn culture and have been inured to seeing women’s bodies used and abused will be able to resist the influence of these kinds of images. I want to think we’re reaching a tipping point and that people will start to react against the growing hatred of women in our cultural life, but I sometimes worry that we might just be fucked.

(As I write this, I’m sitting on a Southwest flight from Chicago to Las Vegas, neither of which is my departure or destination city [discount travel!], and some fucking jagoff is going through a slideshow of photos he has on his computer. They include a bunch of stupid photos of “alternative” looking “chicks” with tattoos, some photos of some dumb band [nu metal, no doubt], some photos of this same band with two tattooed Suicide Girl types in nothing but thongs making out with each other as the band stands behind them fully clothed and appears not to notice, some more photos of the two SGs on a bed nearly naked with one of them pointing a gun at the other, and a few with a girl wearing a nurse’s cap, a thong, and about a pint of blood. Rock and fucking roll. Did I mention that I’m in public?)

 


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Just a quick thought on Spitzer

I’m hearing a lot of arguments about whether my state’s governor ought to resign. There are people saying he should because it’s ethically questionable for him to negotiate a plea from the governor’s mansion. There are others who say that his private life is his own business and that this is a witch hunt reminiscent of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Those arguments may have their merits, but what about the fact that we have a governor who supposedly represents the entire population of the state but has no respect for half of it? No man who sees women as possessing the same measure of humanity as himself pays someone to allow him to “do things” to her. And from what I’ve read he’s into some “unsafe” (whatever the fuck that means) practices, which is even worse. It’s the same concept I’ve read Robert Jensen writing about when it comes to porn: how is a woman supposed to expect to be treated like a human being by a male authority figure who was watching “Filthy Cum Sluts 23” the night before? And how is a woman to expect fair treatment from a guy who likes to pay to abuse women? He’s in a position of authority, a position from which he is to be expected to treat people fairly and equally. He’s proved that he doesn’t see men and women as equal, so he ought to resign. And his wife should tell him to go fuck himself and go to his little bullshit press conferences alone.


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MRAs: A bunch of crybabies?

I spent a little time this weekend conversating with a men’s rights activist (MRA) on his insane little blog, which I posted something about here (that has now been deleted because it sucked), and I’ve decided to tackle the borderline oxymoronic concept of men’s rights activism. I’ll do my best to avoid mischaracterizations, because that’s an MRA tactic; most of their arguments are made in genuine Bill O’Reilly style by cherry-picking quotes in order to create straw men in place of legitimate arguments and by exaggerating the frequency and importance of such “outrages” as they think prove their argument that men’s rights are in serious danger of being trampled upon by “lesbians,” “feminazis,” and “lying whores” (their favorite labels for women who aren’t picking up what they’re laying down). Besides, I don’t think I’ll need to resort to any of that, since the general concept and all of its tenets are entertainingly absurd enough on their own.

Not all MRAs are advancing the same set of issues, but the Wikipedia entry (see what an advanced researcher I am?) has outlined the central features of the (capital M, capital R, capital M) Men’s Rights Movement as “the promotion of male equality, The rights to equal treatment in custody battles, rights, and freedoms in society [sic].” Their main areas of concern are “the effect that Divorce, Custody, Rape and Violence Against Women Act-type laws have on men’s rights and freedoms. It is argued that these laws cause violation of Constitutional rights such as the right to a fair trial and the right to due process [sic again, sheez].” In addition, “Men’s Rights Advocacy and Masculinism also promote the concept of ‘defending male identity’ [sic, what’s with all the capitalization?].” They’re also concerned that our education system, health industry, and laws leave them unprotected from the predations of vindictive and man-hating women. Let’s have a look at these concepts one at a time, shall we?

  1. The promotion of male equality. Equality with what, or whom? I have been thinking about this all day (OK, 45 seconds), and I cannot seem to come up with a group of people with higher legal, cultural, and social status than men. Are these guys honestly claiming that they are subordinated to women somehow? Whatever claims MRAs want to make about our legal system (which I’ll get to shortly), none of them can seriously claim that the status of men in our (or any) society is unequal to that of women.
  2. The right to equal treatment in custody battles. I’ll say up front that I think fathers, unless they’re total assholes, ought to be involved in their children’s lives. I had one around and it was an important factor in my personal development. That said, most fathers are fairly minor actors in the raising of children, which is simply a manifestation of the fact that our culture places the onus of childcare on women, and the fact that childbearing and rearing is seen in our society as nearly synonymous with womanhood. If these MRAs want to get all butt-hurt about the fact that our court system tends to favor mothers in custody hearings (which I doubt anyway), they ought to at least take these factors into account. I’m willing to bet that a lot of these disgruntled fathers, if they were honest with themselves, would have to admit that before the end of the relationship, it was the mother who provided most of the care for the child(ren), otherwise the judge would be unlikely to award custody to the mother in the first place. That men feel entitled to a woman’s labor in the form of childcare, and then to custody of the child(ren) that she raised in the event that the relationship dissolves, is pretty unreasonable. I think that in normal cases custody ought to be awarded in a ratio proportionate to the time that each parent spent with the child before the dissolution of the relationship.
  3. Divorce and men’s rights. We live in a society in which a large portion of women’s labor goes unpaid, and in which women’s paid labor is undervalued. Our social mores have loosened to the point where divorce is more often considered a given than an unthinkable outcome for a marriage (I ain’t saying that’s necessarily a bad thing). That combination of factors puts women in an often untenable situation: they are asked to give up their own career/life plans in order to work in the home, or to put their careers on hold in order to provide care for children, and are thus economically dependent on men, or at least put at an economic disadvantage by being out of the labor market during a crucial period in the development of their careers. That the law (partially) takes this into account is to be expected. If a woman expends her labor in order to make a home from which her partner can work outside the home to earn money, she ought to be considered to have contributed to the family’s combined property. MRAs assume women ought to be left at the mercy of their husbands in the event of divorce. I understand that they find the thought of having to give up a portion of their assets disquieting, but I imagine that fear is a little easier to deal with than the fear of being abandoned with no money and no job skills, which is something that many women, especially those in the generation before ours, are faced with. Men can’t expect the freedom to divorce dependent partners at will, and also the freedom to leave those partners with nothing with which to support themselves. And community property laws work both ways; if a woman earns a larger amount of money than a man, she may also be required to turn a portion of her income over to him after a divorce. The fact that this rarely happens doesn’t make the laws unfair, it merely points to the fact that men are still paid more than women for the most part and that women are rarely the chief breadwinners in a family because they are usually expected to take a backseat to their husbands and take care of the work required in the home.
  4. Rape and men’s rights. Twisty Faster wrote a post once about the legal presumption of innocence in rape cases in which she posited an alternative legal framework in which rape accusations were presumed legitimate unless proven otherwise. As at odds as that idea is with the entirety of American legal philosophy, it is worth thinking about. As things are now, as few as 10% of rapes are reported, and among those, as few as 6% of the rapes that are reported result in convictions. Those are pretty shitty odds. The reason the odds are so bad are many, but the chief reason for the low number of victims that report their assaults is the humiliation and trauma involved in most rape investigations and trials. Most rape cases come down to an accusation and a denial which, because defendants are presumed innocent, means that cases are usually decided in the defendant’s favor. I find it hard to believe that 94% or so of women who report rapes are vindictive assholes who are willing to endure being called a whore in open court in order to get back at a man who slighted them. I don’t deny that false rape accusations happen, but the numbers have to be quite a bit lower than that. Let’s say, as a joke, that 1 in 100 rape accusations is false. Without evidence other than victim testimony, that 1 in 100 is still likely to walk on the charges. But with as many as 94 in 100 cases decided in the defendant’s favor, doesn’t that mean that about 93 rapists are walking free? The MRA obsession with false rape charges, the arguments for which are usually based on overblown interpretations of extremely rare cases, points to a general reluctance to afford women the right to decide what they will do with their own bodies, a reluctance that stems from the male sense of entitlement to women’s sexual favors. It’s that same entitlement that fuels most sexual assault. Surprise, surprise. Men’s rights, gawd. How about the right to not get raped?
  5. Domestic violence and men’s rights. If a man beats anyone, he ought to go to jail. If a woman beats anyone, she ought to go to jail. What’s the problem? Again, this is an issue of MRAs claiming that women falsely accuse men of domestic violence out of vengeance. That probably happens sometimes. Know what happens more? Women being beaten to death by their partners, many of whom have been picked up for domestic violence several times before they eventually kill their partners. There just isn’t a way to structure the law to deal effectively and uniformly with cases in which two emotional (opposite of rational) people are giving contradictory stories, as evidenced by how many men go free on domestic violence charges when there is no corroborating evidence to back up the victim’s testimony. Our legal system favors defendants in all cases in which the case comes down to conflicting testimony, which means that more often than not, men who assault women are not punished.
  6. Men’s rights and the law in general. Our legal system, and its central concept of the “rights”of “citizens”, is a descendant of the ancient Roman law system that spawned both concepts and the British legal system from which our own legal tradition takes most of its central tenets. Rights in the Roman, British, and American legal systems transcend the rule of man and inhere in each citizen under a rule of law that binds all citizens equally. But citizenship has been founded on several bases throughout history, the most common of which has been maleness, the second most common being property (and/or slave) ownership. After a tradition of defining citizenship through maleness for over 2000 years, women have been awarded citizenship by men (despite the fact that legal rights purportedly transcend the rule of man) just in the last century or so in the western world. But equality before the law, which all men enjoy in America, is something that American women have not yet attained, despite being recently included in the category of “citizen” that ought to have guaranteed equality before the law according to the foundations of our own legal philosophy. We still, 43 years after the Civil Rights Act that awarded equal rights to all men under the law, do not have an Equal Rights Amendment for women. Additionally, as of today, men still make the laws in America; of 435 members of the House of Representatives, only 70 are women, and of the 100 members of the Senate, a mere 16 are women. For those who are worried about “legislating from the bench,” there is ONE woman on the Supreme Court. I find it difficult to take pity on men for their supposed lack of legal rights within a system that they have created, that they control, and that they administer according to their own needs.
  7. The healthcare industry. Be serious. Men run the health care industry, as evidenced by the kinds of “advances” that industry makes year after year. We have Rogaine. We have Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. We don’t have a male birth control pill. Women are still held accountable for birth control, and most hormonal birth control methods pose serious risks to women’s health that include strokes and death. Plus, women’s health care costs more than men’s. Let’s face it, we are all in a shitty situation when it comes to health care, but men created this system, and it serves their needs better than it serves ours.
  8. The protection of male identity. OK, Bill Maher. I’m so sick of hearing about the “pussification” of American men. Jesus. Any time a dude treats a woman decently and realizes that the NFL is a boring, corporatized insult to the intellect, some asshole comes out and calls him a faggot. There is NO SUCH THING as a “male” or “female” behavior. All the bullshit macho nonsense these guys believe is inborn is virtually absent in cultures that are in some ways much more misogynistic than our own (India, China in some ways), but why would I expect an MRA to be interested in evidence?
  9. The educational system. MRAs are concerned that our educational system devalues and sidelines boys. What a fucking laugh. This argument is based on complaints that girls are allowed to wear things like “Boys are stupid” t-shirts without getting in trouble, whereas boys could do no such equivalent thing. That makes about as much sense as the old “It’s OK for black people to be racist, so why can’t I say the n-word?” argument. Don’t get me wrong, I think those t-shirts are stupid and parents shouldn’t let their daughters out of the house in something so uncool, and I suppose no one ought to be wearing fashions that denigrate any group based on immutable characteristics, but is this really a sign that our educational system is anti-male? There’s a general argument by MRAs that boys just aren’t free to be themselves at school anymore, that women run the place. They complain that girls are allowed to vent publicly about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and the boys “just have to sit there and take it.” What it looks like to me is that schools are trying to correct the long-standing problem of unequal treatment and rampant sexual harassment. As it is, girls are still being discouraged from pursuing subjects like mathematics and science that would bolster their future earning potential by teachers who (consciously or not) think girls ought to study “feminine” things like the humanities, and teachers still tend to call on male students more often than female students and assume that their male students are brighter than their female ones. Our entire public school system was designed in the first place to train boys for the workforce, a legacy that has far from disappeared. What these MRAs are complaining about is the gradual (though far from complete) diminishing of male privilege in schools, which they incorrectly perceive as the ascendancy of girls over boys.

This last point highlights the central feature of the MRA movement: these men see a zero-sum game when they look at relations between men and women. When women gain, they lose. MRAs are expressing the kind of anger that comes from feeling threatened but not being able to say clearly why. They feel entitled to the privileges they have come to see as their birthright, and when women want the same kind of treatment that they feel entitled to, they feel that their territory is being encroached upon. That mental process is understandable (though not excusable), but it’s intellectually weak and dishonest to argue that men’s “rights” are in danger. What these guys are doing is fairly transparent: they’re arguing for the maintenance of male entitlement and privilege and for the limitation of women’s rights vis-à-vis men, not for the protection of men’s rights. They can euphemize that in any terms they want to, but they still sound like a bunch of fucking crybabies.


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Why’s it gotta be like that?

I’ve written about this subject before, but I feel like I want to address the problem with sex scenes in TV shows and movies. Why is it that every sex scene I see these days has to be completely fucked up and dehumanizing to the women (and arguably the men) involved? I was watching a show last night called Breaking Bad (which I highly recommend you avoid like genital herpes) and there was a scene at the end of the first episode where the husband, who has been out cooking meth because he found out he has cancer and wants to provide a nest egg for his family (I know), comes home and spontaneously and aggressively porks his wife, who is so taken aback by the onslaught that she has a look of fear and surprise on her face even once the act is done (which comes at the start of the second episode, in case the bit in the previous episode wasn’t gross enough). I was fairly shocked that this all took place on a channel that still censors the “god” in “goddamn it,” but I guess I shouldn’t be, since it seems to be the standard way to depict sex in entertainment these days. Apparently people getting naked and getting busy just isn’t exciting enough anymore for our porn-crazed culture. Now it has to be coupled with emotional or physical abuse if it’s going to titillate.

Is this just another example of the race to the bottom media producers have entered into in their quest for ever more shocking footage with which to lure in prurient viewers? I’m inclined to think so, since in the second episode of the show the two main characters had to clean up a mess produced by their attempt to dissolve a corpse in acid, picking up flesh chunks and bits of bloody bone and waving them around for the camera. But it isn’t as if it’s the only example of gross sex I’ve seen in the media lately. The only place I’ve consistently seen sex scenes that don’t involve themes of humiliation, force, or general degradation in the past few years is in gay soap operas on Showtime. Why is that? Is the gay audience more interested in seeing people who want to be with each other, rather than watching someone dominate someone else emotionally or physically? Why do most sex scenes have to be either violent or animalistic in a way that I would think only people who are into Nine Inch Nails think is cool? Has the world’s conception of sex actually been so warped that depictions of people who seem to be into each other having sex (we’ll leave out the problem of objectification and the male gaze for now) are no longer exciting? It seems like sex just isn’t sexy enough anymore.

Maybe this case isn’t about titillation. Maybe this sex scene I’m referring to wasn’t meant to arouse but to illustrate the state of mind of the male character. A common trope in these stupid dramas is that a man who has had some bullshit “intense” experience that makes him question his path in life or whatever will come home and sort of rape his partner (I know, there’s no such thing as “sort of” rape). What in the fuck is that about? Why is sex used as a tool for expressing anger or aggression in entertainment media? Asserting one’s bullshit idea of manhood by forcing a woman to have sex when she doesn’t feel comfortable doing so is rape, even if she’s too shocked to object. Entertainment media writers just seem too eager to resort to this disgusting and fairly scary practice of depicting a male character using a woman’s body to make himself feel masculine or “putting a woman in her place” through violent sex.

Is that really the best way to communicate the ideas going on in a character’s head on screen? Actually, fuck that. Is that how people really act? Do normal men nearly crash their cars, then come home and rape their wives to celebrate the fact that they’re still alive? Does the average dude quit a job he hates, then come force himself on his girlfriend or use her like a blow-up doll because he’s feeling fucking rejuvenated? Do men frequently sexually abuse their partners to make themselves feel like real men? As much as I hate most dudes, and as underreported as partner rape is, I still find that shit a little hard to believe. So then why is it that this bullshit is so common in television shows and movies? Do I put it down to the same kind of general hatred of women that fuels the exponential growth of degrading and violent porn? Has the degradation that characterizes pornography really seeped into mainstream entertainment to such a large extent?

I think the proliferation of these sorts of depictions of sexuality is a manifestation of the central problem in American society with regard to sex: our cultural life is absolutely saturated with sexual messages, but there is still a huge amount of shame attached to sex. The long-term legacy of Judeo-Christian ideas about sex has brought us to a point where we give our kids dolls that pretend people don’t have genitalia, we don’t have suitable words to refer to sex organs, we lie outright to adolescents about sexuality, and we can’t have honest public discussions of sex, all of which points to a profound cultural discomfort with sexuality and the human body. I know very, very few adults who can talk openly about sex without resorting to juvenile language in an attempt to hide their embarrassment, yet we’re completely inundated with sexualized images in our daily lives, thanks to entertainment media, advertising, and the ever-expanding pornography industry. It’s no wonder people have developed warped and even hostile notions with regard to sexuality. Shame over natural desire is bound to create some cognitive dissonance. I believe that it’s this conflict that lies at the center of problems like sexual abuse and assault, pornography, and misogyny in general, and it’s the route by which elements of emotional and physical violence creep into our conceptions of sexuality.


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Diablo Cody sucks. A lot.

Dude, what is the fucking deal with people who call themselves Diablo? One of my friends who has an office job, and hence spends hours a day turning the internet purple, asked me yesterday what I thought of Diablo Cody, to which I said, “No idea, but I think his name is stupid.” I didn’t know who Diablo Cody was, and I wish I still didn’t, because doing a cursory ten seconds of Google research on this Diablo Cody person has convinced me that the world is going to end soon.

Apparently he’s a she, and she’s written a book about the experiences she had during her experimental year-long stint as a stripper, experiences she had already put down in a blog called “Pussy Ranch” (so, so clever). She’s also written some movie called Juno that I plan to never see, mainly because it’s one of these stupid blockbuster award-winning pseudo-indie films that’s supposed to make me have some kind of emotion that only comes naturally to half-wits and teenagers. A friend has summed Juno up for me by saying, “The most compelling character in the movie was a telephone shaped like a hamburger.” I wasn’t going to see it in the first place, but now that I know something about the person who wrote it, I might have to put it on my list of movies that I will never, ever lay eyes on (which includes the Matrix and Lord of the Rings trilogies).

Diablo Cody is some woman who grew up with a place to live, enough to eat, a bunch of toys, a good education, and a stable home environment, which makes her an “unlikely stripper,” according to herself. She fancied herself a feminist while in college “mainly because she didn’t strip,” as one interviewer put it. But those feminist ideals she had in college, those ones that revolved around not stripping, transformed once she graduated and moved to Minneapolis, where she decided that, “If there was ever a time to strip, it was just the right time. I was almost too old but still young enough, and I didn’t have to worry about running into friends and family.”

She apparently had decided to strip as a sort of sociological experiment in order to gain insight into strippers’ socioeconomic backgrounds and the psychology of the men who pay them to prostitute themselves. Either that or she had finally seen the light: “I wish I had the foresight to strip in college. I would have made mad money. But I fancied myself above stripping.” Maaaad money, son. Whatever her motivation for giving up on her anti-stripping feminist ideals, she really learned something from her stint as a sex worker. She learned that “feminism is about choices and refusing to accept stereotypes”. How insightful of her. In fact, Cody figured out that sex work was actually more of a feminist career path than office work: “I actually found the white collar jobs a lot more anti-feminist. I found myself shoehorned into the adorable secretary who fetched older men’s coffee. I would much rather give lap dances.”

Jesus CHRIST! I don’t even know where to start, except by saying that I hope Diablo Cody dies soon. She’s basically a spokesmodel for the Suicide Girl takeover of American culture and the simplistic and obviously logically flawed ideas behind “sex-positive” “feminism,” which is why America loves her so much. She’s basically telling everyone what they want to hear: when women get naked for money, it’s because they choose to, not because they are born and bred in an exploitative patriarchal system that objectifies and commodifies their bodies and sexuality. When women get naked for money, they’re having a good time, not succumbing to the reality that they’ve been presented with a set of options that are vastly more limited than the set of options that their male counterparts enjoy. When women get naked for money, it’s a fucking party, not a symptom of the fact that they’ve absorbed the cultural message that their only power and worth lies in their ability to induce boners.

I can’t even believe that a person who calls herself an “unlikely stripper” because she comes from a “normal” background can actually claim that sex work is about choices, but she does. If sex work is a choice, it’s a choice made from a set of unappealing options, options that are limited by being female, are further limited by being born poor and/or being born into an abusive environment, and are even further limited by a lack of education. The fact that this fucking arrogant, unthoughtful, privileged asshole can keep a straight face while calling sex work a choice makes me want to choke someone.

Diablo Cody really is an insidious motherfucker. She’s a sell-out extraordinaire, an agent of patriarchal exploitation disguised as an advocate for women’s freedom and equality. And not only that, she’s a sign that the English language is in serious danger. Her writing is unfuckingbelievably bad, is rife with stupid puns and rhymes about rappers and blogging, and somehow manages to fail utterly at even its lowly attempt at titillation, tending instead toward ludicrously trite salaciousness.

I hate Diablo Cody. You should too.


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The ol’ switcheroo

I’ve mentioned before that I have a little test I use when confronted with something I suspect might be sexist, one that works really well in the contexts of advertising and entertainment media. The test is that I imagine that the woman or women being depicted were replaced with men but that the context remains exactly the same. It’s basically the best sexism test I’ve ever been able to come up with, and it works almost every time.

I’m pretty ignorant of what’s going on in TV and movies, so I may be a little late on this one, but I’ve got a pretty rad example of the switcheroo for you:

deal_or_no_deal.gif

Just imagine for a second that these 50 “Deal or No Deal girls” were replaced with 50 scantily-clad dudes. Take a few minutes to really envision the whole thing; picture them all standing on the stage holding briefcases and smiling like someone rubbed Vaseline on their teeth, smiling like they’re trying to pretend they’re really stoked to know that they’re there to be used as decorations for some leathery asshole with bonded teeth. 50 whole human beings being used as mere decoration, kind of like beer lamps, or like blacklight Jimi Hendrix posters, or like macramé owls. Try to imagine that they are grinning their asses off even though they’re aware that no one has any interest whatsoever in who they are as human beings, and that no one wants to hear anything they have to say at all, ever. About anything. And that they’re supposed to be grateful for the opportunity to be treated like objects.

“Yeah, right,” you say, “There’s no way a dude could stand there and smile under those conditions.” Or the more astute among you are saying, “No way, dude. No one could ever use men as decorations and give no consideration to their humanity beyond that, because being male is the default human identity and men are always full human beings. Besides, no one even wants to see men used as decoration. I mean, men aren’t there to be looked at, they’re there to be listened to and taken seriously! And besides that, it’d just be too bizarre to imagine, using 50 men as props for Howie Mandell or whoever this other asshole is in the photo. And don’t even suggest the idea of 50 men and a female host!”


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