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Posts Tagged ‘sexism’

Perhaps it is worthless to blog about the inherent sexism in commercials, but when I’m actually watching the commercials, it just becomes so much more apparent.  This year the commercials seem to be all about men and what it means to be a man.I was shocked to see a Dove commercial, a company who I’m usually impressed by, put out a commercial celebrating some kind of inherent masculinity.

The Dodge Charger commercial proved once again that women like to deprive men of their masculinity, and they need gadgets and cars to regain it:

Men also seem to have a venue to get their aggression out on women, by, what else, tackling them:

Of course  there was the Focus on the Family – Tim Tebow commercial, which has received tons of attention already. The message here, if you’re irresponsible and get pregnant, then you may as well do the right thing and keep the baby.

The majority of these commercials seem to suggest that American men are in trouble – their masculinity is being threatened, mainly by women, and they need to get it back in any way possible. I worry what these commercials mean for women. Will we see more depictions of aggression toward women in the media? Will women be even more demonized than they already are? It’s sad that these stereotypical images of what a man should be continue to persist, and that we haven’t moved beyond it at all.

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I’ve been on quite a hiatus from posting recently due to various factors, including a two-week long vacation and moving into a new apartment. Today, I read some news that made it so easy to get back into blogging.

The first “sex robot” has been released. Her name is ROXXXY (so original!), and in addition to having the features of other “real dolls” she can “speak and listen, and actually learns what her owner likes and dislikes.” She can also talk about sports! It’s a guy’s dream, right? A woman who is there for sex and to talk sports, but who isn’t actually a real woman.  This continues to make me sick, and I’d really like to meet one of the men who are actually purchasing these robots (which cost a mere $7000), and find out what on earth they are thinking.

As if women aren’t already taught to believe that they should look like dolls (see, e.g., the Barbie franchise), now there are actually robot dolls that men can choose instead of real women. Honestly, it makes me sick. Also, does anyone else think there’s a weird Stepford element going on here?

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I love Kate Harding, who writes for salon.com. She’s brilliant, and she always manages to say exactly what I want to say, but can’t find the words to express it eloquently. In this post she talks about the Method commercial that has been getting a lot of attention because it makes light of sexual harassment. The company decided to pull it when they realized that their target demographic (women) was actually offended by the product rather than intrigued. She discusses the blogger Steve Hall who wrote a post about how annoying feminist bloggers are and how they should be banned from the blogosphere.

Of course I’m personally offended by this, since I consider myself to be a feminist blogger, but I also think that when you put Steve Hall and Tucker Max together what you get is a new culture of men who are incredibly afraid of feminists and strong women in general. These men seem to think that it’s funny to objectify women and to make fun of sexual violence. They think that feminists should keep their mouths shut and lighten up. Although it’s possible that these men are few and far between, I worry that they are in fact more common than we think. It certainly doesn’t help that “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” exists for mass consumption. I’m not sure that I have a point here, but I just wish that there was more education out there for young men to feel comfortable with themselves and respect women. Because ultimately I think this all boils down to men being incredibly self-conscious and uncomfortable with themselves.

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I have been so bad about blogging lately, which is in part due to the fact that I have a big paper due soon, and I’ve been desperately trying not to procrastinate. The procrastination has won over, however, especially after I saw this article.  Written by Manohla Dargis, one of the NY Times film critics (and, I admit, my least favorite NY Times critic), this article discusses the lack of opportunities for female directors in Hollywood.  She cites to some pretty depressing statistics, not the least of which is that in the 81 years of the Academy Awards, only 3 women have been nominated for best director. (!!) None of them won. Organizations like The Women’s Media Center and the blog Women and Hollywood are vigilant about tracking these statistics.

It’s hard to know why women have fared so badly in Hollywood in the last few decades, though any business that refers to its creations as product cannot, by definition, have much imagination. The vogue for comics and superheroes has generally forced women to sigh and squeal on the sidelines. Even the so-called independent sector, with its ostensibly different players and values, hasn’t been much better, as we know from all the female directors who have made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival only to disappear. New digital technologies and the Internet have leveled the field — though usually it seems as if it’s sheer grit that pushes filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy”) along the hard road from idea to distribution.

I recently wrote a law review article that discusses the idea of digital technology and its democratizing potential. (Soon to be published…) I think there’s a lot to be said for the fact that more women are starting to use new (cheaper) digital technologies to create their own films without the backing of a studio. These films always tend to be more interesting anyway. But, I think it’s insane that the studios haven’t caught on to the fact that women go see movies. And, many women are interested in more than cheesy romantic comedies. I enjoy rom-coms as much as the next girl, but I personally feel so refreshed when I go see a movie like Whip It! or Bright Star. Not to mention that it would be nice for younger girls to see role models on the screen, rather than just Bella and her dysfunctional relationship with Edward. (Sorry, at this point I feel like a Twilight reference is obligatory).  I could go on and on about the blatant discrimination that happens in Hollywood, but I’ll spare you.

What I would like to say, however, is that this year there has been a whole slew of films that are directed by women and are starring women. And, many of these movies are not your typical rom-coms (see Bright Star, Coco Avant Chanel, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Julie & Julia). Many of these movies and directors are getting Oscar buzz, but predictably, male-driven films like Up in the Air and Avatar threaten to pull ahead and woo the Academy with quirky style or crazy special effects (respectively).  Bright Star, Coco Avant Chanel, and Julie & Julia, I think, are the best three movies that I have seen all year. I am not advocating for the Academy to give the best director award to a woman, just because she’s a woman, but I think they should at least take it into account. And, this year seems to be the perfect year to do it. I also hope that the studios will get their heads out of the ground (to be kind) and look at how many both financially and critically successful films came out this year that were led by women. Next year, I hope to see even more…

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Only 13 % of Wikipedia contributors are women, according to Time Magazine (and via feministing). This strikes me as incredibly problematic, since Wikipedia is such a major source of information these days. If it is mainly men that are contributing to Wikipedia, it means that we are mainly getting a male perspective on everything that is on there. The ladies at Feministing make a good argument that some of this gender disparity might be due to lack of access. Even if this isn’t the case, and women just aren’t interested in posting on Wikipedia as much as men, I think this statistic at least suggests that we should be wary of the perspective we are getting by relying on Wikipedia for our information. Furthermore, Time Magazine suggests that Wikipedia contributors are also likely to be someone who has had the benefit of higher education, which means that Wikipedia is also giving us a privileged, upper-middle class view of the world. I think that we, as a society, need more strategies to promote those from underrepresented groups to contribute more to the dominant narratives of culture and history.

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Barbie is a copyright of Mattel.

No joke. Mattel and Universal have reached an agreement to create a live-action Barbie, feature length film. No casting or plot details have been released.

Why can’t Barbie just disappear? As the writers at The Frisky point out, how can you create a live-action character of a doll who would not be able to stand upright because of her proportions? And what on earth is the plot going to consist of? Did she ever actually have a story beyond being a blonde, beach loving bimbo? I’m sorry, but my idea of creating a larger market of movies for women and girls does not involved contrived movies based on a totally regressive, sexist doll. Oh, and not surprisingly, everyone involved so far is a man.

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Great post on Jezebel about Tucker Max. A few of my favorite quotes:

It really is refreshing that someone has the courage to call a girl a “slut” for once in this repressive climate where women’s sexual behavior goes un-judged and un-commented upon. And that someone’s finally speaking up for all the silenced frat boys of the world.

Frankly, if Max is able to make money by putting misogyny on film as well on his blog, it’ll be about as surprising as dudes drinking beer out of both bottles and cans.

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Sexism Abounds

As many law students and lawyers probably do, I have a love/hate relationship with the “legal tabloid” Above the Law. However, the way they decided to describe the new phenomenon of law firms giving no-offers to their summer associates just pushed me way towards the hate side of this relationship:

Times have changed, kids. In 2006, bright law students were hot and desirable; all the firms wanted to get into bed with them. Law students today, however, are like single women over 35. They’re desperate — and firms are warier of committing to them.

I really resent this comment. First of all, not all single women over 35 are desperate. Second of all, why did the authors feel that they needed to use this metaphor to begin with? Aren’t there other symbols of desperation they could have used without being overtly sexist? After everything with Tucker Max, and now this, I’m starting to think that men should not blog unless they receive a crash course in sexism/feminism. 

 

Thanks AS for the heads up on this post.

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Okay, so 2009 is not over yet, but I’m pretty sure that there is no movie set to come out in the next 3 months that will disgust me more than “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” I saw a preview for this movie recently, and I had no idea what to think. Was it a comedy, a horror film, a stupid response to “The Hangover”? I didn’t spend much time thinking about it, assuming that it would be released and disappear unnoticed, until I read this article.

Tucker Max thinks that “all women are whores” and that “fat girls aren’t real people” — and those are some of his family-friendlier observations. So why do so many women love him?

If you’re not 19 and don’t regularly scan the best-seller list, you may need an introduction to the Max oeuvre. Max, a hedonistic folk hero to his fans, got his start in 2002 when, egged on by a friend, he started a blog detailing what he calls his “life as a self-involved, drunken womanizer.” The site now gets more than a million unique visitors every month. It has spawned a book, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” — more than 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list — and his exploits have been adapted for the big screen in a movie opening this week.

Max and his growing audience share an unabashed focus on three basic adolescent obsessions: bodily functions, drinking toxic amounts of booze and “scoring.” The women in his stories are insulted, tricked, coerced, traded and discarded. One conquest is vomited on and videotaped without her consent.

 

The homepage on Tucker Max’s own website reads:

My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.

I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world.

Apparently, and to my utter disbelief, women LOVE Tucker Max. Is there any woman out there who can coherently explain this love to me? Jaclyn Friedman, at The Washington Post, that we shouldn’t be too surprised because “[w]e’ve already, after all, replaced the fiercely independent vampire slayer Buffy with the helpless vampire lover Bella. The cult of Tucker Max is just a photo negative of the “Twilight” phenomenon: Both cultures view women as irresistible objects that tempt men into doing dangerous, uncontrollable things.” This is certainly true. This new vampire craze seems to suggest that women love the idea of seducing and being objectified by powerful men.

More disturbing than this, however, is that Max is apparently extremely popular on college campuses, where rape and sexual assault continue to be a problem. Max seems to be doing everything to subvert the message that women should be empowered to take control of their own sexuality and not become sexual objects for men to use and abuse.

Meanwhile, Friedman’s stories about what women do to gain Max’s attention (see excerpt below) remind me of the novel “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn, which is a fabulous novel that in part contains an excellent commentary on the dangers of extreme and obssessive fan-dom of an idol who takes pleasure in others’ pain.

Another female fan sought out Max, slept with him, and then tattooed an explicit sentence commemorating the event just below her hip bone, thus earning the Holy Grail of any Maxite: an original Tucker Max blog entry featuring her.

 

Just in case all of this hasn’t disturbed/disgusted you enough, here’s a nice post from the FAQs on his webpage about why he’s not sexist/misogynistic:

 

This always confuses me. For fucks sake, I originally put up a page dedicated to getting a date; how is that sexist? How in hell does that imply I hate women? I hate a lot of things, (stupid people and Duke basketball, for instance) but nowhere on that list is women. I LOVE women. Now, do I treat some women like shit? Yes, sometimes, but I treat EVERYONE like shit, not just women. Sexism is treating one sex differently from the other(s). I treat people as individuals.

Don’t misunderstand, there are times when women just annoy the shit out of me. Of course, I am sure I annoy them also. It’s part of the curse of having a high sexual dimorphism within a species: the differences cause friction. And let me be clear about this: I do not believe that women’s studies is a legitimate academic discipline. Of course, I don’t think many of the majors available are legitimate academic disciplines (see e.g. “Marxist studies,” or “Recreation.”). And I obviously believe that there are natural, inherent differences between the sexes, differences that go beyond the purely reproductive, and that examination of those differences is fertile ground for humor. If you are one of those who reject the idea of inborn differences between the sexes and claim that all differences are socially constructed, I can offer you nothing but a biology primer and my sympathies, because you are stupid.

Oh how I would love to put him in a room with bell hooks or Gloria Steinem or even better, Catharine MacKinnon, and watch them tear him apart.

I will certainly be encouraging everyone I know to boycott this movie and to spread awareness about Tucker Max’s dangerous message. I hope you will do the same.

For more of the feminist response to Tucker Max click here and here.

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