by earicicle, SheKos editor
If you watched the Super Bowl, you may have detected a subtle undercurrent of misogyny that ran through just about every commercial. Subtle as holding a fraternity hazing in the library of a nunnery. "Sex sells" is, of course, the advertising profession's guiding principle. Oops, I just said "advertising" and "principle" in the same sentence. Fifteen yard penalty!
I get the allure of sex in advertising. I'm just not sure why sex so frequently (aka "always") seems to equal misogyny. I happen to think sex is a fun and positive thing. Is it just me? Surely there must be a way to market products without resorting to degrading stereotypes. Right, highly paid men of Madison Avenue?
Amanda Hess thoroughly dissects Why Superbowl Ads Are So Sexist, Racist, and Homophobic in a post for her Washington City Paperblog, The Sexist. The Dodge Charger ad is particularly egregious. It shows a weary series of defeated-looking men, staring into the camera, saying nothing. In voice over, they dully recite a litany of things they will do, ostensibly because they are giving in to the unreasonable demands of the
bitches women who rule their lives. Terrible, awful things like putting the toilet seat down and putting socks in the laundry hamper. OMFG--the horror! The oppression!
And then the last few seconds of the commercial feature a sleek, black muscle car, roaring powerfully as it whooshes by with no one visible behind the wheel. Clearly, the cockpit of the Dodge Charger is the last refuge for one's all-but-amputated male member. Got the message? Put your penis back in the driver's seat!
Woman's Last Stand is a priceless parody of the auto ad's whiny tale of woe. Written and directed by MacKenzie Fegan, it already has more than 150,000 hits on YouTube.
Hess posted the video's text:
I will get up and pack your lunch at 6:30 a.m. I will eat half a grapefruit for breakfast. I will get the kids ready for school. I will ignore your smelly loser friend who is crashing on our couch. I will make 75 cents for every dollar you make doing the same job. I will assert myself and get called a bitch. I will catch you staring at my breasts but pretend not to notice. I will put my career on hold to raise your children. I will diet, Botox, and wax. Everything. I will assure you that size doesn’t matter. I will be a lady in the street but a freak in the bed. I will turn a blind eye to your ever-encroaching baldness. I will humor your Fantasy Baseball obsession. I will pretend not to notice when you cry at the end of Rudy. I will watch TV shows where fat, stupid, unattractive men have beautiful wives. I will allow you to cheat on me with younger women. I will see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Twice. I will elect male politicians who will make a decisions about my body. I will listen to Rush and tell you, yes, if there were a gold medal for air-drumming, you would win it. I will get angry, and you will ask if it’s that time of the month. I will watch Super Bowl commercials that depict men as emasculated and oppressed, and I will feel so fucking sorry for you.
[note: I have slightly corrected Hess' transcript so that it is accurate.]
But you really must watch the YouTube. The actresses deliver their lines in a deadpan monotone diametrically opposed to the Madison Avenue norm, aka "Perky, Barely-Legal Swedish Bikini Model." They haven't been through three hours of hair and makeup. They haven't been shot through magic camera lens filters to shave 25 years off their real age (I'm looking at you, Diane Sawyer).
In other words, they are real women, really tired of being subjected to impossible cultural standards of beauty, relationship behavior and overall Super Woman-hood. And utterly fed up with advertising that perpetuates the worst of it.
Oh, and memo to Dodge: We real women were probably not gonna buy your fucking "compensating-for-my-tiny-penis" gas guzzlers before your craptastic commercial. But we are NEVER gonna buy one now. Oh, I'm sorry...your market research boys forgot to tell you that we control about 80% of car buying decisions these days? Ruh-roh...
- This week in 1820, Susan B Anthony was born. Her first political involvement was in the temperance movement, which dealt with abuses of women and children by alcoholic husbands. In the 1850s, she was an early participant and leader of the annual National Women’s Rights Conventions. She was also an outspoken abolitionist. But after the Civil War, she found herself at odds with some of the people she had worked with to abolish slavery, including Frederick Douglass. Because they wanted to focus on securing the right to vote for African American men only, she felt this would make it much harder to get women the right to vote. Disappointed, she opposed the 14th and 15th Amendments because they contained the word "male." In 1868, she began publishing the weekly journal, The Revolution, which advocated for women's suffrage and equal pay laws. She decided to vote in the 1872 presidential election, and was caught, prosecuted, and fined $100, which she refused to pay. She was a tireless advocate, and talented organizer. She died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920.
- This week in 1879, female attorneys were first allowed to present a case before the Supreme Court.
- This week in 1898, labor organizer Angela Bambace was born. She began working in a New York garment factory at age 17. In 1936, she started the first women's labor union: the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was a strong supporter of this progressive labor union.
- This week in 1920, The League of Women Voters was founded.
- This week in 1943, Biblical scholar Elaine Pagels was born. She is widely acclaimed for her books on both Gnosticism, and early Christianity. She is regarded as having done more to bring the "lost gospels" to public attention than any other scholar. An interesting article and interview with her can be found here.
by pat of butter in a sea of grits
A woman's work is never done. My spouse and I spent this weekend painting our living and dining rooms (including the ceiling!) along with the usual housework assortment of laundry, cooking, cleaning, child care, grocery shopping, and so forth. So housework is on my mind as I write this. I work part-time, and my husband has a demanding full-time plus job. I have immense respect for couples in which both work full-time outside the home (not to mention single parents). There are so many things around the house that need to get done. It really helps when somebody is around who can take care of some of those responsibilities.
As it happens, for married couples, the "who" is usually the wife. In 1990, Arlie Hochschild wrote a sociology professor at UC Berkeley, published "The Second Shift, which was based on interviews with 50 Bay Area families over many years. The book reported that women who were in the labor force continued to do much of the work at home as well. A small minority of families in her study had an equal division of labor at home. The results of this inequality were women being exhausted, more frequently sick, and having a lower desire for sex.
The picture does seem to be improving somewhat on the equality in housework front. Some more recent data indicate that wives continue to spend more time in housework than their husbands do, but that time spent on housework was positively correlated with sex for both husbands and wives. Both single and married women reported doing less housework in 2005 than women did in 1976, while married men reported doing about twice as much as married men did in 1976. Stephanie Coontz said in April that "Men are doing more housework and child care than ever before," so with luck - and perhaps some great inventions like the laundry folder-and-putter-away (my dream invention) - the second shift for women will continue to decline.
After Proposition 8 was enacted in 2008, repealing gay marriage, I noticed a new breed of activism in the GLBT community that had long been lacking from the well-known GLBT groups like the Human Rights Campaign. The group leading the charge in the post-Prop. 8 protests is known as Join The Impact. The thing that caught my attention about Join The Impact was its ability to mobilize activists across the country to protest in support of marriage equality.
But now there is a new form of marriage equality activism sweeping the net...and hopefully it will soon be sweeping the nation. A new group known as Queer Rising is making quite the splash with its "guerrilla tactics." For example, it laid out this bold, concrete plan for civil disobedience in New York City to mark Valentine's Day:
A gathering of same-sex marriage equality proponents for a press conference and rally in the park opposite the bureau; The application – and subsequent rejection – of several same-sex couples hoping to obtain a marriage license inside of the bureau; The application – and subsequent approval – of a lesbian and gay man, whom according to New York State law may legally marry each other, for a marriage license; and a significant act of civil disobedience to rival the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1960s, in which black Americans asserted their rights of equal treatment by society at large
Here's a video showing their ideas in action:
It seems to me that those who would fight to deny us equality have awakened a passion and determination in the GLBT community that may not have been seen since the early days of ACT UP, which is also revitalizing itself. All in all, this is great time to be a GLBT in America. Not because we have made huge progress, although in many ways we have. But because we are being awakened to, and for, the coming revolution.
- In Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette Regional Service Center Grand Opening Reaction/Report, BlazersRock001 writes an insightful and moving diary about the opening of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland--an event attended by pro-life protesters, even though the new clinic offers only reproductive counseling, birth control and exam services. It's a must-read for those who need an example of a progressive "win" in these challenging times.
- In 19th Annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver, Andre29BC explains how the mistreatment of women (rape, battering and murder) knows no borders.
- The genocide still taking place in the Congo is a horror that affects all who live there. But, as teacherken points out in his compelling diary, They're Killing Women, it affects the women there worst of all. But Dr. Denis Mukwege offers a ray of hope, helping those affected by the "war against women" through dance and song.
- Watching a right-wing movement tear itself apart in a spasm of ideological rectitude is always a thrill. But Wendy Norris, writing for RH Reality Check, fills in the details, in Radical Anti-choice Group Rocked by Founder Resignations, a report on the resignation of founders of the virulent anti-choice group known as "American Right to Life Action." They've been cat-fighting amongst themselves about whether the "incrementalist approach" of stacking the courts and legislatures is best, or whether to just embrace the "Go directly to Jail" approach.
by earicicle, SheKos editor
I’m guessing most SheKossacks aren’t regular readers of Playboy. And I’m not sure how many are fans of singer, serial-actress-dater, tabloid-attention-whore John Mayer. In case you missed the doozy of an interview he gave to the mag, I thought I’d catch you up on the firestorm it has created. ‘Cause it’s been awhile since a public figure has blended sexism, racism, ignorance AND indiscretion so thoroughly.
Here’s the Readers’ Digest on the interview, in case you don’t want to click through and try to stomach elegant gems of self-rationalization such as "I could have fucked a lot more girls in my life if I hadn’t been trying so hard to get them to like me." To summarize:
Uses N-word and thinks it’s cool? Check.
Explicit kiss & tell about the sex with famous ex-girlfriends? Check.
Bizarre braggadocio about a love of porn, with bonus points for boasting about a seeming addiction to spanking the monkey? Check plus!
An arrogant juvenile in the body of a 32-year-old "man" is hardly news in the music and entertainment industry. But a jaw-dropping exchange about his racially-profiling pecker launches Mayer into another stratosphere. He brags that "black people love me" and that he has a "hood pass," which he then fails to define. Well, he tries to redefine it using the N-word. Umm...what?
Playboy tries to clarify by asking Mayer just what this "pass" entitles him to:
PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you?
MAYER: I don't think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I've got a Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock.
The Italian-based clothing company Benetton is famous for its racially diverse ad campaigns, United Colors of Benetton. David Duke: not so into diversity last time I checked. I did not realize, however, that the Ku Klux Klan was now accepting individual body parts for membership. Apparently, Mayer's Third Reich-era Vienna sausage proudly wears the pointy white hood. Gee, I hope it's at least made of latex, and came without the eye holes.
I've interviewed white supremacists, and the punchline to this joke falls... limp. I can roll with some pretty raw or adventurous humor, but this fratboyesque ahistorical cheap shot shows a profound misunderstanding of white supremacy. Today's white supremacists may decry "miscegenation," but white supremacy resulted in an awful lot of race mixing -- the forceable kind. Mayer's father is Jewish and I wonder how much he knows or cares to about the violent history of white supremacists towards Jews in the US and abroad.
Chideya is a journalist and an African American woman, so I’ll take a wild guess and say she might have a slight edge on John when it comes to knowledge and insight on this issue. Mayer admits in the interview: "I wasn’t paying attention in school." Clearly, he dozed off during history class. And while dreaming up three-chord wondertunes to make himself a Rock Star, he missed the lessons about white masters raping their slaves, and groups like the Klan targeting Jews as well as blacks.
Nonetheless, Mayer goes on to list a couple of "superhot" black women, saying he’s "going to start dating separately from his dick." The use of the N-word in the article has drawn the most heat. And of course it has led
the douchenozzle him to apologize to his fans via Twitter. In classic "I’m sorry, but..." style, he qualified his regret by saying, "It was arrogant of me to think I could intellectualize using it." How about this handy rule: Don’t say it. Ever.
Less play has been given to the pervasive, relentless sexism of the piece. Mayer’s dismissive, derogatory and derisive attitude toward women oozes from a Neanderthal lobe in his brain every time he opens his piehole.
I get less ass now than I did when I was in a local band. Because now I don’t like jumping through hoops. It’s been so long since I’ve taken a random girl home. I don’t want to have to submit myself for approval. I don’t want to audition. I’d rather come home and edge my shit out for 90 minutes. At this point, before I can have sex I need to know somebody. Unless she’s a 14 out of 10.
Wow, that's rough. You "need to know somebody" now before you fuck her, even a 12 out of 10? FYI, John, I really don’t judge men based on their appearance. But, to put it gently, you should thank your personal deity (if He/She/It is still speaking to you) that you can play a few guitar chords. Because, um, have you looked in the mirror lately? Let's just hope the women are focused on getting to know your winning personality, and not rating you on a 10-point scale. On second thought...
And then there’s this:
PLAYBOY: You’ve also been called a man-whore.
MAYER: I feel like women are getting their comeuppance against men now. I hear about man-whores more than I hear about whores. When women are whorish, they’re owning their sexuality. When men are whorish, they’re disgusting beasts. I think they’re paying us back for a double standard that’s lasted for a hundred years.
Here’s a wild idea, John: Maybe the comeuppance you’re experiencing is personal, not based on some meta reversal of gender roles. (BTW, "double standards" about female behavior have mostly been in place for many centuries. Snoozing through history class is really biting you in the ass, it seems.) Maybe women have wised up to you, John-boy. And have sized you up, too. Generally speaking, we realize the larger the swagger, the smaller the dagger.
Sorry about that, John. Mother Nature can be a real bitch.