Maybe it's spring fever. Maybe it's femiphobia. Maybe it's hormonal. (Heh.) Kos done popped a cork:
So over the weekend, certain segments of the community have erupted in anger over the TBS ad for their reality show, the Real Gilligan's Island. Apparently, having two women throw pies at each other, wrestle each other in a sexy, lesbianic manner, then having water splashed on their ample, fake bosoms is degrading to women. Or something like that.
Whatever. Feel free to be offended. I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst. I don't care for such sanctimony from Joe Lieberman, I don't care for it from anyone else. Some people find such content offensive. Some people find it arousing. Some people find it funny. To each his or her own.
But I am not Lieberman. I won't sit there and judge pop culture and act as gatekeeper to what I think is "appropriate", and what isn't.
And I certainly won't let the sanctimonious women's studies set play that role on this site. Feel free to be offended. Feel free to claim that I'm somehow abandoning "progressive principles" by running the ad. It's a free country. Feel free to storm off in a huff. Other deserving bloggers could use the patronage.
Me, I'll focus on the important shit.
p.s. And congratulations -- the more people have bitched about the ad, the more successful it has become. It is now the most successful ad in the history of this site, with close to 8,000 click throughs over the low-traffic weekend. And, now that you have demanded I respond to the ad, thousands more will click through to see what the big deal is all about.
Sometimes, the best way to kill something you disagree with is to ignore it.
Of course, such sanctimony had to be properly and sanctimoniously denounced! There was a lot more sanctimony in the 900+ comments below. Somewhere in there, I'd read enough and piped up:
what I find so offensive here is the sanctimonious diary up at the top of the page that reads, in effect:
"I, as the man, have weighed the concerns of feminists on this matter, and I, as a man, have decided that feminists who take offense at this ad are being sanctimonious."
In other words, the man -- and here, he's The Man -- is attempting to define what are and are not appropriate feminist issues. As if he had any special insight into the matter.
The blanket and prejudicial disregard he expresses here for women, for feminists, for academic feminists is so typically chauvenistic, it's simply a laugh that he attempts to claim that he's sensitive to feminist causes.
Here's a clue, guys: The first step to supporting feminism is shutting up and letting the women speak ... and hearing, really hearing, what we have to say. Every time you overrule -- with prejudice and ad hominem attacks -- what we say about our concerns, you are reinforcing the very thing you claim to oppose.
The really sad part of all this is that it's not a surprise -- not to me, after the underwhelming responses to posts about the ERA and women's rights. On DKos, the men have signed on regarding women's reproductive rights. But when it comes to any other feminist issues, well, us girls are supposed to just shut up.
Who says the left isn't a patriarchy?
There were not a few sad comments. Disillusionment comes at a price. Many declared they were leaving DKos. Many were shocked that such sentiments and attitudes could be expressed by a progressive leader like Kos. Some were just melancholy, like radioradio:
I've loved this site for a long time, and I've been so disappointed by the recent swipes Kos has been taking at those working for women's rights, or for better representations of women in media. How dare the "women's studies set" be offended by images that objectify women and play into ugly gender stereotypes! Just as it was a few weeks ago -- how DARE those ladies not toe the party line when the party starts hedging on supporting reproductive freedom! Why does it seem so very obvious that if someone had produced an ad with offensive, stereotypical representations of other key Democratic constituencies, say African Americans or Jewish people, the criticism would be coming fast and furious on sites like this one. But I guess we ladies just have no sense of humor. With the climate here these days, I'm beginning to wait for a post to pop up chastising all the "feminazis" on this board who see problems with the ad.
Some responses were more biting. wakingup drew blood:
Like someone above commented, I could basically give a shit about that ad. But the ad becomes a springboard from which to explore the real issues having to do with gender and power in the world.
it is interesting to see the comments of many of the people here, and to see how they would fit quite comfortably into any conservative republican bachelor party of the sort GWB and his cronies probably attend. And yet these same people consider the objections to corporate marketing and control of the female image as a conservatively-based thing. Quite ironic really. A fine example of men banding together to face the common enemy: women. The brotherhood of man, guess it really does ultimately transcend political affiliations.
This drew a response from Armando, the DailyKos minister of tact, that said, in essence, "Bullshit" (and was titled with same), which led to a brief exchange of more tactful expressions, until wakingup said:
When I say you don't know what it is like to be a woman, the point is it can't be expected for men to know how it is for women, any more than women can know what men's experience is like.
And this is precisely why listening, instead of ridiculing, women's accounts of their own experience is appreciated. And nobody is even saying you must agree, but we deserve more than the snide, even celebratory tone of the posts here, dismissively cackling at something that can be an important issue for many women.
It sure let's us know that we don't count.
And that pretty much sums up my own take on "liberal" men and their "support" of feminism. Not all men are like this -- thank goodness! -- but in my experience political persuasion is not a good predictor. Yes, the misogynists are different between left and right. The wingnuts will criminalize your body, while the macho lefties will just declare you as being irrelevant ... or a barrier to progress.
Lauren at Feministe expresses much the same interpretation:
Is the ad in and of itself offensive? Not necessarily. What is offensive is Kosâ€™ dismissal of feminist complaint, concern and criticism regarding a pretty sexist ad designed for het male titillation run on the most widely-known progressive blog for his own personal profit.
Objectifying and demeaning any minority group for the sake of profit, be it corporate or personal, is abhorrent. This is exactly why I resist the Democratic party and most of its advocates. Women and womenâ€™s opinions donâ€™t matter if they run contrary to the bottom line.
On her own site, Echidne offers a more charitable interpretation:
Much of the anti-woman stuff in the society is fairly invisible unless you happen to be a woman, and a woman who has awakened to these issues, to boot. Some time ago I started to write a diary of my public radio listening. I noted down any programs that discussed gender issues or women, the topic and the conclusions, and I set the diary aside unread for a while. When I actually analyzed my notes I was shocked, and I'm a feminist. This was public radio, remember, so I expected fairly neutral coverage. What I found was something different: the programs about women or gender differences were always about the problems that women cause or that women have, always slightly negative in tone, and the solutions always privileged the idea that women should somehow change. The only programs taking the same tone about men were on men's medical issues, whereas the negative issues on women were not only on health but also on women working, women mothering, women not speaking in public, women not getting raises, women reacting worse to terrorism threats, women not being suitable for the military and on and on.
In short, and in an effort to be polite, I suggest that Kos doesn't see the sexism around him. That's the only kind explanation I can give for his response, whether the particular ad is harmless or not (I didn't look).
I think that has to be true, at a very minimum. The question then is how much Kos, and guys like him, will cling to that ignorance? And at what point does that ignorance become simple insensitivity? When does poo-pooing become pigheadedness?
Amanda on Pandagon is a bit more blunt:
Everyone spends a lot of time blah blahing about how the Democrats need to set themselves apart from the Republicans in a very obvious and clear manner. Well, the number one thing the Republicans sell themselves on is that they are the party of The Cock as a Weapon. They are all about male dominance and male sexuality displayed in a dominant manner--think Bush displaying his cock in a flightsuit, drawing a picture of erotic militarism that couldn't be more obvious. I think the Democrats' move should be obvious--hold that silliness up for ridicule and fashion themselves as the party that actually cares about people, yes, even women. And put women's rights up to the front instead of doing things like demanding that women's organizations like NARAL carry the Democrats' water for them
Instead, we get this abject fear of being feminized from prominent liberal men, which is frankly hurtful. C'mon guys! We're not so bad! No one is gonna make you wear lipstick, I promise. Well, if someone does, it's not going to be the girls but actually the bullies on the right who all but held John Kerry down and put a skirt on him. More than half the voters in this country are women, hard as that may be to believe.
Shadowthief sums it up well:
Normally, I would say, eh, just forget the whole thing, it's one of those minor tempests that will blow over and is best blotted out.
But the nasty, hateful attitude taken by Kos and the frat boy posse on this diary make me think that all this is far from over--and that while the folk on my side have learned a great deal about Kos, et al, they have learned nothing at all.