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Guy who gets it
October 13, 2012 9:58 AM   Subscribe

The fight for feminism, as explained by dudes who totally get it. (featuring one of my favorite comedians, Guy Brannum)
posted by msalt (128 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's up with that pop-up?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:08 AM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It makes way more sense to me now that a man's explained it! Thanks!
posted by kenko at 10:09 AM on October 13, 2012 [48 favorites]


I liked the juxtaposition of a video about how rape jokes contribute to rape culture with a stand-up routine in which he makes...wait for it...a rape joke.
posted by quiet coyote at 10:15 AM on October 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Men need to (a) listen to women's stories about their experiences (b) tell creepers and sexists to stop their behavior. So guys, if you're going to make videos, (a) make videos chronicling women's stories and experiences, or (b) where you tell creepers and sexists to stop their behavior.
posted by cashman at 10:21 AM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, this would be better if it was a "dude who totally gets it" explaining the fight for feminism to other men, rather than to "ladies."
posted by Catchfire at 10:23 AM on October 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


I am very much unconvinced that these dudes "get it"
posted by Bwithh at 10:42 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What everyone else said. Seriously, I know there's a big desire to show that you get it, and an impulse to spread the word - I get that too. But there are lots of women who can talk about this to other women with eloquence - and with the weight of personal experience.

Talk to other men instead. They're likely not to listen to women talk about feminism, because they assume it's self-serving, but they might listen to you.
posted by Zarkonnen at 10:44 AM on October 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I liked the juxtaposition of a video about how rape jokes contribute to rape culture with a stand-up routine in which he makes...wait for it...a rape joke.

Yeah, wtf was that? Also comparing black men to dogs. Um..hilarious.
posted by sweetkid at 10:46 AM on October 13, 2012


What's up with that pop-up?

Upworthy. Rehosted content, attempting to profit by selling your personal info. To nonprofits.

It's kind of a weird business model.
posted by ook at 11:02 AM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Something I've learned about being a male feminist ally is that it's a process of continuous growth. I'm come to the realization that in my nearly thirty years of privileged existence, there are aspects of the female condition that I will never experience firsthand. That's something that's inherent to my gender and I can't change that. I've also developed a lot of crappy habits through the years that I'm trying to shake off every day.

There were a few argh-worthy moments in this video. Yes, the main points he is making are all true, but it still had a lot of problematic elements. The silly angry cat animation while talking about vaginas stood out to me the most. But I acknowledge that there are a bunch of things that I probably missed.

But the primary tenet I live by as an ally is that if a woman calls me out on something problematic that I've done or said, I have to quell that privileged instinct to defend my actions and listen to her, because the only window I have into the perspective of a woman is through that woman. This video didn't really cover that at all.
posted by triceryclops at 11:04 AM on October 13, 2012 [22 favorites]


I thought it was pretty ok. I would show it to a class. For an audience that is familiar with the idea of microaggressions (many of the curse words in English connote female sexuality! This implies these acts are degrading and or not good!), or the Bedchel test, this might come off as old hat. But to actually teach the ideas involved in it, it wasn't too bad. Someone who didn't care about feminism or didn't really know any of this stuff might actually be convinced.
posted by kettleoffish at 11:06 AM on October 13, 2012


I prefer this guy: Slut Shamer Who Thinks He's Being Nice
posted by spiderskull at 11:13 AM on October 13, 2012 [23 favorites]


Not particularly impressed.
posted by Miko at 11:18 AM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't mind if male feminists get it and use their spotlight to say it. He can talk to me, to other men, to other women- one of the battles of gender inclusion is allowing us both to simultaneously occupy the same role state, not just swapping the roles around the way that pink flipped into being a girly colour from a masculine one.
posted by Phalene at 11:18 AM on October 13, 2012


I think this video could just as easily be directed at men without really changing the content significantly - e.g. opening with "hey guys" instead of "women of America". I honestly had a bigger problem with the shoehorned jokes. Could've done with less of that.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:20 AM on October 13, 2012


I'm sorry I went back a re-watched the video and I still didn't see a rape joke. Where is this rape joke and when did he compare black men to dogs?

I certainly didn't see this video as a message to women explaining feminism, I saw it as a video to a general audience explaining feminism. Not the greatest work ever, but not bad.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:25 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry I went back a re-watched the video and I still didn't see a rape joke.

From the second link:
Now, audience, before we go any further, I need to make somethng perfectly clear. I am not a rapist. But if I were, you, sir, would totally be my type. Because, let's be honest, you're not the cutest guy in the room but you do look physically weak. And if I were to attempt to rape someone I wouldn't want them to fight back. I couldn't take the rejection. If you resisted I would just end up in the corner crying about how no man would ever love me.
posted by fredludd at 11:29 AM on October 13, 2012


and when did he compare black men to dogs?

At 0:33 in the second video link. "Why is it if you make angry dogs fight that's a crime, but if we make angry black people fight it's just boxing. And football. And Iraq."
posted by Silly Ashles at 11:37 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah ok, I only watched the video in the first link. I figured the rest was just biographical information and didn't look at them.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:39 AM on October 13, 2012


I saw it as a video to a general audience explaining feminism

What about all the "hey, ladies!" "Women of America!" forms of address?
posted by Miko at 11:41 AM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really didn't think this was that bad, speaking as a feminist and a woman. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but as an introductory video for the uninitiated or unfamiliar, I think it's a decent start.
posted by nonmerci at 11:43 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dear Men, White People, Straight People, Rich People, the middle-class, citizens of industrialised nations and at one point or another everyone else.

It's not about you.
posted by fullerine at 11:44 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me those just washed over as a general address. Also I took "Women of America," as the beginning of a general declarative sentence. However looking at it in a second viewing I could see how maybe that was an intention to establish an audience.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:46 AM on October 13, 2012


Also, speaking as someone in her 20s, I can't tell you the number of American women of a similar age I know or have met who actively eschew the term 'feminist,' refuse to identify with the terminology or learn about feminism, and/or can't understand its relevance in our current society. Seriously. These are women who are politically progressive, intelligent, traveled, etc...so addressing women might not be so bad. But I can see the paternalistic element of such a video, particularly coming from a male comedian (whose work I'm not at all familiar with) and I agree that isn't the most useful approach. Women addressing women would be nice.
posted by nonmerci at 11:47 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


as someone in her 20s, I can't tell you the number of American women of a similar age I know or have met who actively eschew the term 'feminist,'

You know, I'm not sure this is age-dependent. The same thing was being said when I was in my 20s, in the 90s.
posted by Miko at 11:50 AM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, it's not something that's "being said," it's my verifiable experience with my generation. It's incredibly depressing having heated arguments about why feminism is important with other women, and I've been consistently shocked how often I've come into contact with it outside of gender studies classes.
posted by nonmerci at 11:52 AM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


For me those just washed over as a general address.

Well, I'd say language matters. If you're addressing a general audience, you usually don't call them "ladies."

I don't hate this, it's fine, whatever, I just don't think it's that great. It's not something that's going to change the cultural game on its own, but every little chip in the granite helps.
posted by Miko at 11:52 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's my verifiable experience with my generation

Yes, and I meant to point out that it was also my verifiable experience with my generation. Despite the activism of many who did self-identify as feminists, probably about an equal proportion of Generation X women did not identify as feminists when in their 20s. It occasioned much discussion, op-eds, magazine articles, etc. In fact it was part of the premise for Susan Faludi's significant book Backlash.

I think that second-wave feminism was so successful that to some degree, they thought they had managed to change the impression of "feminism" for all time, and were actually surprised that the subsequent generations did not adopt the label by default. I co-led the student women's rights group in college, and we had the same heated conversation constantly about "not being a 'feminist,' being an 'egalitarian'" or just feeling that the major battles had been won, or that the term signified extreme, radical, or fringe points of view rather than the simple assertion that women are full human beings deserving of according rights and privileges.
posted by Miko at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wow, I was actually able to substantiate this due to this poll.

It's really interesting to compare the overwhelming number of women who agree with the statement "The women's movement has made my life better" with the number who accept the label "feminist." Dramatic.
posted by Miko at 12:05 PM on October 13, 2012


How do you think third-wave feminism fits into this? I don't know enough about the history of the movement and the way the movement has evolved since the 70s to have any idea or opinion on the matter--how do you show women that feminism continues to be relevant? I just don't understand how to achieve this, and it's kind of demoralizing. I think that misogyny is so pervasive and accepted in our culture that it will take time or maybe something radical--fourth-wave feminism?--for many women to get past that ingrained self-hatred (sorry if this is too strong) that prevents many from earnestly looking at feminist issues as they relate to their own lives. I felt like with the women I know in particular that I've discussed this with, there is a "who cares" or "it's not important" or "we're past that and we have bigger fish to fry" attitude and short of having these women sit down and really read the history of patriarchy/women's rights/feminism in the occident, how do you 'make' it relevant to them? I guess if the GOP are re-elected and there is a move to illegalize abortion...then perhaps that will create change. I hope it doesn't have to come to something that extreme. /end ramble
posted by nonmerci at 12:11 PM on October 13, 2012


Dear Men, White People, Straight People, Rich People, the middle-class, citizens of industrialised nations and at one point or another everyone else.

It's not about you.


But isn't it? I'd say inequality and systemic injustice is very much about men, white people, straight people, rich people etc. etc. etc. I'd say it is about all of us and all of us should be involved in changing it.

I don't think the (first) video is saying "hey feminism is about listen to me me me" I hear the message as "feminism is important and should be taken seriously, and here are some current issues I think we need to address"

This is despite aforementioned flaws, to which I would argue the perfect is the enemy of the good--and the critiques can make the good better.
posted by chapps at 12:14 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Miko: If you're addressing a general audience, you usually don't call them "ladies."

Then what? "Girls" sounds even more insulting to my ears. "Women" sounds like a '50s commercial talking about how women can't survive without their men.
posted by pyrex at 12:14 PM on October 13, 2012


I agree with this guy and stuff, and I've seen him on the TV!
posted by Zerowensboring at 12:16 PM on October 13, 2012


Then what? "Girls" sounds even more insulting to my ears. "Women" sounds like a '50s commercial talking about how women can't survive without their men.

I think "ladies" is fine if you're addressing a group of, well, ladies. As in not a "general audience," whose constituents may be men, women, or anything else.
posted by King Bee at 12:16 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK, I can see how this is useful aimed at women who are basically feminist but have this idea that "feminism" is this thing that doesn't apply to them, or is outdated, or just man-hating. I still think it could've just addressed everyone with no downside.
posted by Zarkonnen at 12:23 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


nonmerci : I can't tell you the number of American women of a similar age I know or have met who actively eschew the term 'feminist,' refuse to identify with the terminology or learn about feminism, and/or can't understand its relevance in our current society. Seriously. These are women who are politically progressive, intelligent, traveled, etc...

"Feminism" has a strongly negative connotation to a lot of people.

If you address a group of "borderline friendly" people about equal rights - Cool. Equal pay? cool. Reproductive self-determination? Cool. But feminism? Bam, half of them just tuned you out, and a quarter probably made a joke about it.
posted by pla at 12:24 PM on October 13, 2012


So a general audience by your definition, should not be addressed as "ladies and gentlemen"? How about "ladies, gentlemen, and derivatives thereof"?
posted by pyrex at 12:29 PM on October 13, 2012


If you address a group of "borderline friendly" people about equal rights - Cool. Equal pay? cool. Reproductive self-determination? Cool. But feminism? Bam, half of them just tuned you out, and a quarter probably made a joke about it.

Yes, I know. And I know some of the politics that has gone into making that term fiercely negative. But I'm talking about women I know who are otherwise very socially progressive people, university-educated--it is shocking to me that these women don't see the value in feminism. Yeah, you're right, they might agree in certain tenets of current women's rights issues like equal pay and contraceptive rights, but I think it's just as important to be in tune with the history of women's rights, patriarchy and the insidious misogyny women experience every day (because I think that is separate from the concerete things women may be fighting for at a given time) and that's going back a long time. It's disappointing to me--I don't really have a solution, other than having more conversations with your friends and other like-minded people as to why it's important. Speaking as a feminist, I wish there was less resistance.
posted by nonmerci at 12:33 PM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


How do you think third-wave feminism fits into this?

Third wave feminism draws focus on marginalised voices within the feminist movement (i.e. Black and Asian women, lesbians, migrants, and the complexities of becoming feminist within particular social groups) and examining feminist issues through a variety of these lenses.

It is often associated with a feminist "sex positive" response to the anti-pornography movement of the 80s, and sometimes a free speech response to anti-porn legislation.

I'd characterise the third wave as mostly a 1990s (and later) movement...

The feminists highlighted at the start of the video were 70-80s based (second wave US feminists), although pointing out that many were/are lesbians and Jewish is kind of a hat tip to the 90s third wave analysis.

However, the video is pretty simplistic and doesn't really discuss issues that can be drawn from 3rd wave feminism... such as pay equity looks different if you look at race, part time work, type of work, etc. This video is 21 min long but a good detailed examination of black women and pay equity.
posted by chapps at 12:35 PM on October 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


My first reaction to this was to think "Hey! Way better than the epically assholish remarks from Roger "some girls rape easy" Rivard and Todd "legitimate rape" Akin.

Now I'm trying to suss out what this says about my own degree of demoralization and exhaustion with public discourses about women and feminism. It's as if my standards are so low at this point that a guy who isn't a raging misogynist and who can outline the basic bullet points of feminism gets a few gold stars.

I have to quell that privileged instinct to defend my actions and listen to her, because the only window I have into the perspective of a woman is through that woman.

Actually listening to women and making the good faith effort to understand our experiences - even if full understanding is impossible - carriers far more weight with me than men talking about the experiences of women.
posted by space_cookie at 12:48 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK let's see if i can formulate this question.

I'm a 30ish, white, straight, middle class, educated male in America. I agree with everything in this video. I worked kind of closely in college with a very strong and somewhat prominent feminist. One of the most brilliant people I've ever met. She opened my eyes at the time and made a strong impression on me. So, I personally identify as a feminist, but I realize that being who I am, I may not be able to understand all of these issues all the way to the core. I do think I "get it" much more than most, though, and I keep trying to understand better.

What I don't think I fully understand is stuff like this:

It makes way more sense to me now that a man's explained it! Thanks!

I mean, I understand what's being said. We've had the mansplaining discussion here, and the necessity of the concept of a dude "getting it" and explaining it is a problem in and of itself. The problem, I think, is that I feel like this kind of thing is what shuts down men talking about these things and to the negative sort of man-hater image of feminism that, as noted, a lot of people still have. It's comments like that that can intimidate me out of these discussions, anyway. Still, I understand the objection.

But, what can we do? Should we not talk about it or try to spread the understanding? Do I limit my understanding to informing my personal conduct? Im really asking here. I want to know what I should be doing.
posted by cmoj at 12:50 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Feminist Manifesto, by Richard Jeffrey Newman
posted by Myca at 12:51 PM on October 13, 2012


But, what can we do? Should we not talk about it or try to spread the understanding? Do I limit my understanding to informing my personal conduct? Im really asking here. I want to know what I should be doing.

I think you should talk about it and try to spread understanding, absolutely, and don't apologise for it either.

No one fully understands everything about women's experience, and by the same token no one should assume they can sum up your experiences by social categories.

Sometimes I think men can provide helpful insight, as well, by observing what women put up with that they would never put up with. Do you notice when female colleagues put up with things that you would never put up with? Or female friend being spoken to in a way you would not tolerate? Say so! She may be so acclimatised to it she doesn't even register it. Men have done that for me and I have really, really, appreciated it... and kind of been shocked I didn't see it my self with my women's studies degree and all.

I have a friend who outed the fact that everyone at his (progressive environmental) workplace was paid very differently based on how hard they negotiated their pay... guess who was paid less? I bet none of the women who were able to fight for more equitable treatment were unhappy he spoke out.
posted by chapps at 1:08 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


[If you want to discuss the site's purpose, please take it to MetaTalk. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:17 PM on October 13, 2012


At the beginning he says, "Here are 5 things feminists still have left to fight for" and at the end he says "you've still got work to do, ladies."

I can't even...

what?

Not, "Hey men, get your act together and stop being shitheads" but "hey LADIES, put in more effort."
posted by desjardins at 1:36 PM on October 13, 2012 [34 favorites]


But, what can we do? Should we not talk about it or try to spread the understanding?

Not at all. It's the idea that listening engenders understanding and understanding has to come before talking. To me, that in itself, is one of the most powerfully, radically feminist postures anyone can take.* What irks me as a feminist and a woman is when I get the vibe that a guy has leapfrogged over the listening and understanding parts and straight into yakking about women's experiences part.

I think spreading the understanding can mean lots of different things. As chapps said above, simply acknowledging to a woman when she is being treated as less than can communicate a profound understanding and solidarity. Like when a male relative said to me that if I had been born a boy my family's faith in my judgment and ability to take care of things would have been assumed instead of earned. That was a good yeah, you get it moment. Even better that it was a spontaneous observation and not a point that was conceded during an argument or debate.

*It's obvious, I hope, that I'm referring to how talking and listening are coded masculine and feminine and that I am not saying men can't listen.
posted by space_cookie at 1:37 PM on October 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Third wave feminism draws focus on marginalised voices within the feminist movement (i.e. Black and Asian women, lesbians, migrants, and the complexities of becoming feminist within particular social groups) and examining feminist issues through a variety of these lenses.

Sorry, I know what third wave feminism is, I was asking more specifically with relation to this sense that feminism isn't something many American/western women can relate to, or is a signifier women don't want to associate with. I know there is a fraught history of second-wave feminism interacting with third-wave, which is why I brought it up.
posted by nonmerci at 1:42 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi nonmerci, my misunderstanding.

In relation to your actual question, I think it is a long standing issue that many women want to dissociate themselves from feminist movements of their day, not just part of the third wave. Although, of course, many women within the third wave choose to use the term "womanist" to dissociate from problems within feminism... this might be related in some cases.
posted by chapps at 1:51 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of me wonders if the guy used the term "ladies" just to rankle men into revealing that they find being called "ladies" bothersome.

Part of me knows, too, that desjardins is absolutely correct.
posted by sibboleth at 2:06 PM on October 13, 2012


Not the best example of a feminist lesson, but I'm glad he tried.
posted by zennie at 2:10 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


triceryclops basically explained my position. I have never, ever been sure that I "totally get it" when it comes to feminism, and frankly I don't think I ever will—there are some things I won't be able to understand in the same way. To me, this is a good thing, because it means I have to constantly question whether this issue or that controversy is really a "thing" or not. Case in point: the recent discussion of the Times Square V-Day photo with the sailor kissing the nurse. Initial reaction: "this is bullshit, it's a joyous photo celebrating a joyous occasion." And then, after reading the related article and thinking on it some, the sexual assault depiction made a lot more sense.

One thing I've learned about my approach to feminism (and really any form of activism) is I need to stop being so defensive about everything, even if it's an unconscious knee-jerk defensiveness. It really does help when you're not going around feeling offended by perceived personal slights that aren't intended 90% of the time.
posted by chrominance at 2:54 PM on October 13, 2012


I've grown suspicious of people who claim to "totally get it."
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meh.

Not great.

Back when I was a lad in the Missouri Ozarks, feminism was a political movement that seemed to me like a straight shot of common sense. Sweet reason, pure and lovely. Then I went away to graduate school and encountered feminists who believed utterly daft nonsense, repudiated the egalitarian, liberal feminism that I had thought was so awesome, and informed me that as a white, male, liberal analytic philosopher I could not be a feminist.

So, to be honest, ever since I've been a bit skeptical of the movement.

Take this video, for example. First, there is evidence that indicates that women on average make 8/10 of what men make because they put quality of life over earnings. Maybe it's true, maybe it's false...but it isn't mentioned here. Instead, only a stupid argument is mentioned. Then there's the term "microaggressions." Using the term "balls" to mean 'courage' is simply not a big deal. But it's not crazy--just false--to think that it is a big deal. But no matter how you look at it, it is not aggressive. I'm all down with saying to people "hey, man, you know, it's no big deal really, but when you say 'balls' to mean 'courage,' it kinda sorta...like...you see how that makes it seem like a largely male trait?" Yeah...I don't think that's a crazy point. I think it's nit-picking, but I do understand and have some respect for the argument. But it is not in any way aggression. Then there's "rape culture." That term is fraught with baggage we could talk about all day...but the short version is, you don't get to push it as if it were obviously the right description/diagnosis of the situation, as is done in the video. There's too much rape, yes. yes, women should not have to fear rape. But that's not what is connoted by 'rape culture.' Is this a "rape culture"? Well, the term is so confused that it's hard to say... I guess the short answer is 'no'...but when a question contains an ill-formed term, it's hard to answer...

You can be an egalitarian with respect to sex (or so-called "gender," to misuse the term)--even a rather hard-core, passionate egalitarian--without thinking that stuff like this is good.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:41 PM on October 13, 2012


"[treating your vagina] like an erotic District of Columbia…"

OK, he gets snaps for that one.
posted by LMGM at 3:52 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


ever since I've been a bit skeptical of the movement.

Why not just continue to espouse your personal feminism? I don't agree with every stance articulated by every feminist, but I'm still a feminist.

it's not crazy--just false--to think that it is a big deal

Actually, what's false is the idea that you get to define what is a "big deal" to someone else - or should be.

I guess the short answer is 'no'

Really? For whom? On what evidence?

It's really hard for me to accept your self-positioning as "egalitarian" while you are holding the views you've offered here. If all people are equal, we certainly all have an equal right to perceptions arrived at through legitimate processes of reasoning - such as identifying the concept of "microaggression," or positing a "rape culture" and critiquing it. You're just rejecting those ideas out of hand, and yet they have a great deal of validity for many people and, at the very least, deserve thoughtful critique rather than lazy dismissal.
posted by Miko at 3:58 PM on October 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


Here's a definition for rape culture.
Rape culture is a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence.
I don't really think it's that confusing. Can you really say that you do?
posted by Miko at 3:59 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


And here's 5 myths about the gender pay gap, from the Department of Labor, via the National Committee on Pay Equity. I've actually worked in two places where women got paid less than men as a matter of standing policy - no quality of life choices entering into it (in both cases I was too young for that to even be a factor - college students are college students!)

We're not making this stuff up!
posted by Miko at 4:05 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Assuming the privledge to define aggression for others is itself aggressive.
posted by space_cookie at 4:05 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


His statement that "not enough people are going into nursing" because it is an underpaid profession because it is predominantly female does not jibe with the fact that I know at least a half dozen nursing school graduates who can't find work anywhere because there doesn't seem to BE the vaunted shortage that got everybody signing up for nursing school after 2008.

I kind of stopped listening after that.
posted by availablelight at 4:15 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fists O'Fury: Back when I was a lad in the Missouri Ozarks, feminism was a political movement that seemed to me like a straight shot of common sense. Sweet reason, pure and lovely. Then I went away to graduate school and encountered feminists who believed utterly daft nonsense

Quite honestly, there are plenty of times when I disagree with other feminists or people in different progressive movements, and think that what they believe is ridiculous or wrong in important ways. But, a person can have some ideas that are ridiculous, and have other ideas that are worth listening to, and make good points in other ways. Also, in feminism in particular, it's not at all one big cohesive movement. There are a lot of different people who think a lot of different things and they don't all agree.

Then there's the term "microaggressions." Using the term "balls" to mean 'courage' is simply not a big deal. But it's not crazy--just false--to think that it is a big deal. But no matter how you look at it, it is not aggressive. I'm all down with saying to people "hey, man, you know, it's no big deal really, but when you say 'balls' to mean 'courage,' it kinda sorta...like...you see how that makes it seem like a largely male trait?" Yeah...I don't think that's a crazy point. I think it's nit-picking, but I do understand and have some respect for the argument. But it is not in any way aggression.

I think this is one of those situations like the word "assault", where it has an "official" meaning that's pretty different from the way we use it in day-to-day life. In the US, an assault is an act that puts someone in fear of a battery, so when you draw your fist back, that's the assault, and when you then punch someone, that's the battery. But just in day-to-day life, nobody would say that just drawing your fist back is "assaulting" someone.

It's the same here, in this case. When you say something is a "microaggression" you're not saying that the person doing is is being "aggressive." The word is not intended to mean that. Part of the point of microaggressions is that very often, people use them completely subconsciously with no ill intent at all. Sometimes the person is honestly doing their best to be nice and friendly when they use microaggressions. So when we say that something is a microaggresion we're not saying the person who did it is this aggressive, hostile person.

About the fact that it's no big deal, that's also part of the point. The point is that there are all these things that on their own, are no big deal and people will tell you that you're just being petty and concerned about nothing if you bring them up. But the point is that there are tons and tons of them, and they are repeated over and over, and they add up and affect the way people think and operate, and become a big deal in that way.
posted by cairdeas at 4:22 PM on October 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


But, what can we do? Should we not talk about it or try to spread the understanding? Do I limit my understanding to informing my personal conduct? Im really asking here. I want to know what I should be doing.

Share that understanding with other men, rather than women. Because, trust me, we already know those things. We wrote the memo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 PM on October 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


What do people think of the video's proposed issues that still need working on? What is missing?
posted by chapps at 4:27 PM on October 13, 2012


What is missing?

My attention span. I turned it off after two minutes because it was rubbing me the wrong way.

Share that understanding with other men, rather than women.

It's sad how so much of the "men's rights" stuff is fruitbat-crazy, because in a lot of ways there isn't a good framework or even language for these discussions outside of very academic circles where everyone has read the same theoretical and historical pieces, and instead the framework seems to come straight from the worst corners of Fox News. I mean, I work in a place that is like 90-something percent male, and yet I couldn't begin to count the number of times someone has said to me, in total seriousness, "The problem is that things have swung so far to the other extreme and now you can get fired for just being a guy."

I'm not sure where the answer to that is, but it's definitely not that the "ladies" should be trying harder to communicate. Obfuscating this has become part and parcel of the Limbaugh/Palin/etc political project, and isn't disconnected from why white men vote GOP in such large numbers.
posted by Forktine at 4:38 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


So when we say that something is a microaggresion we're not saying the person who did it is this aggressive, hostile person.

Sure, but that argument is going to sound a lot like "I don't mean pussy like THAT" to people who don't see anything wrong with calling someone a pussy. (for example)
posted by 23skidoo at 5:03 PM on October 13, 2012


wow, that rape joke that Guy Brannum tells in the linked video is very... on-the-nose and aggressive. The "humor" seems to be just in the shock value of announcing to someone in the audience that the comedian on stage would like to rape them.
posted by Bwithh at 5:47 PM on October 13, 2012


Sorry, Feminists
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What everyone else said. Seriously, I know there's a big desire to show that you get it, and an impulse to spread the word - I get that too. But there are lots of women who can talk about this to other women with eloquence - and with the weight of personal experience.

THIS THIS OMG THIS. This is what I feel a lot of people, even good friends of mine, don't "get" about how annoying I find their White Knight tendencies toward online speech. I understand the positive intent, but holy cow it never stops being annoying. I can only encourage more women to explain this to more dudes. Hopefully it will eventually become clear (or better yet, moot).
posted by trackofalljades at 6:16 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting analogy with assault and battery, cairdeas, but yeah the term microaggression is clearly intended to draw manipulative parallels with physical violence, very much Godwin's law or Fox New's "job creators" territory, debate lost.

I believe the larger problems with feminist theory roughly parallel the problems with Marxist theory, both imagine that describing the problem should be sufficient to solve the problem, then as their descriptions fail to fix it, they embark upon more complex descriptions.* We should instead treat the inequality that women endure more epidemiologically.

Is there a male-on-male analog for rape and rape culture? Yes, it's murder and honor culture. Males murder one another very frequently in primitive societies. Why don't western males murder one another anymore? It's complex, certainly not merely better forensics. We first formalized these murders into duals over centuries before finally stamping them out, for example.

Does this suggest any steps towards addressing rape? Yes, several : Aggressively and totally destigmatize prostitution for both parties. Fund so much female and male-female written and directed porn that you flood out the male-only directed porn, maybe tax male directed porn to fund it. Reduce the work week to say 20 hours, forcing all non-entropenuers to choose quality-of-life over earnings. Reduce the differences between male and female clothing. etc.

* If you cannot get beyond descriptive fixes, then you should focus upon feminism outside the western world, where descriptive fixes can still make progress.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:02 PM on October 13, 2012


microaggression is clearly intended to draw manipulative parallels with physical violence

I'm not sure that's really so "clear." There are a lot of kinds of aggression, and physical aggression isn't the only kind. Verbal aggression is a legitimate phenomenon.

Is there a male-on-male analog for rape and rape culture?

How is this relevant?

"Primitive" societies? Such as....?

Aggressively and totally destigmatize prostitution for both parties

Because this will reduce the "male-on-male" murder rate how?

Reduce the differences between male and female clothing

Um....sure.

I'm as interested in systemic fixes as anyone and very outcomes-focused. But your reasoning seems to be all over the place, and not tightly connected to the outcomes you're asserting would create social good.
posted by Miko at 7:18 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The feminists highlighted at the start of the video were 70-80s based (second wave US feminists), although pointing out that many were/are lesbians and Jewish is kind of a hat tip to the 90s third wave analysis.

And/or, it may be a reference to the fact that Guy Brannum is gay and Jewish. One aspect of this video that I thought was interesting is that the speaker is a strikingly butch gay man, which is a voice we don't often hear in (American) gender politics discussions. I'm surprised that this has not come up in 60-some comments.
posted by msalt at 7:18 PM on October 13, 2012


Also, I didn't get the memo when men murdering men was "finally stamped out."
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there a male-on-male analog for rape and rape culture?

Yes, it's called rape culture. I mean, literally in 1975 feminist activist documentary "Rape Culture" that is said to have coined the term, they feature a male prison rape activist group.

And mindless jokes about male-on-male prison rape is still very mainstream today
posted by Bwithh at 7:33 PM on October 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


One aspect of this video that I thought was interesting is that the speaker is a strikingly butch gay man

wait, what? does "strikingly butch" mean now the opposite of what I think it means?
posted by Bwithh at 7:36 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I got the "gay" vibe but not a "strikingly butch" vibe, knowing nothing else of this person's work.
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on October 13, 2012


I'm singling out murder specifically because society has made so much progress there (see Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature). Yes, there remains a high murder rate amongst lower classes, but rape hasn't been eliminated even amongst the upper classes. It's completely reasonable to ask : How do we achieve the same success with rape that we've witnessed with murder? In both case, there is a biological pressure that's demonstrably controllable, but extending that control across large segments of society remains a tricky epidemiological problem.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:47 PM on October 13, 2012


We should instead treat the inequality that women endure more epidemiologically.

How, exactly, does focusing on prostitution, porn and and clothing address women's inequality epidemiologically?

In both case, there is a biological pressure that's demonstrably controllable...

Are you saying that rape is reducible to the biological "pressure" to have sex? I assume I am misunderstanding you.
posted by space_cookie at 7:57 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm no Pinkerite. Higher socioeconomic status usually means lower crime rates. With rape, even though it's confounded by relationships with victims, lower-status men still rape more than higher-status men. But all classes rape, at least some.

But because of the characteristics of offenders, I don't think you're going to be able to come up with a simple structural fix; the psychological and attitudinal factors are central.
posted by Miko at 8:01 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


More rape etiology.
posted by Miko at 8:06 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


wait, what? does "strikingly butch" mean now the opposite of what I think it means?

Hard to say with the information at hand. What do you think it means?
posted by msalt at 11:24 PM on October 13, 2012


How, exactly, does focusing on prostitution, porn and and clothing address Iomen's inequality epidemiologically?

It doesn't. People often just use a lot of words to basically say feminism has to be focused on the male penis to have any validity.
posted by JLovebomb at 12:53 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


All classes committed murder quite frequently several hundred years ago, Miko. And I'm advocating a major overhaul of the relationships between men and women, a structural fix, but not a simple one.

Yes, I'd expect that, if we made visiting a prostitute as normal as going to the pub, then we should see the rape rate decline substantially, well because both rape and murder serve reproductive functions in most species where they occur frequently. And commodifying young males' early sexual experiences in that way gives the state, prostitutes union, academics, etc. much more influence over them.

Also, I meant that men should be wearing skirts, tights, hot pants, etc., not that women shouldn't wear these things, very sorry if that came out wrong. In fact, I should have said to eliminate *all* behavioral differences that segregate the the genders, sometimes that means women should act more like men, sometimes that means men should act more like women.

In essence, I'm claiming that equal-but-different feminism isn't helping much so we should give the make-men-and-women-the-same feminism a much more serious try, but this time around make men behave more like women whenever appropriate, rather than expecting that only women need adapt.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:58 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think that men rape because they don't have adequate access to prostitutes? Really?
posted by Summer at 3:09 AM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never said anything about mere access like you mean it. I said "totally destigmatize prostitution" and "[make] visiting a prostitute as normal as going to the pub".
posted by jeffburdges at 3:26 AM on October 14, 2012


i seriously don't want to step in this but according to Wikipedia:

The incidence of rape increased after the closure of the brothels, possibly eight-fold; Dower states that "According to one calculation the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women amounted to around 40 daily while the R.A.A was in operation, and then rose to an average of 330 a day after it was terminated in early 1946."

be more than happy to be shown that this is wrong for whatever reason, not an expert. kinda don't want to be.
posted by twist my arm at 7:56 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


>>At 0:33 in the second video link. "Why is it if you make angry dogs fight that's a crime, but if we make angry black people fight it's just boxing. And football. And Iraq."
>sweetkid: comparing black men to dogs. Um..hilarious.

So you interpret that joke as putting Black men down by comparing them to dogs? Frankly, I'm a lot more bothered by your take on it than the comedian's.

He's clearly making the point that our society exploits Black men in a way that we would never tolerate with dogs. So, yes, I guess that is technically a comparison, but .. wow. Can you spell out for me how the joke is disrespectful to Blacks, please?
posted by msalt at 9:22 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Here's a definition for rape culture... I don't really think it's that confusing. Can you really say that you do?

It's easy for a concept to be confusing when its definition is simple.

For a more neutral example, take "the English language". This obviously refers to language descended from that spoken by people in England.

Now, is African American Vernacular English a dialect of that, or a different language? It is frequently incomprehensible to speakers of the Queen's English. How about the way they speak English in Scotland? How about Gullah? The answers are ambiguous.

So we're talking about "rape culture," right, and this refers to a culture that makes rape easy and acceptable. So: precisely which behaviors and customs contribute to this? Precisely which are consequences of this? Some things are both causes and effects of rape culture; but does that mean they reinforce themselves, or that they're a knock-on effect of some other social force?

And perhaps more importantly: what is not rape culture? Has there ever existed a society that didn't legitimize sexual violence in some capacity? What would that look like? If you're going to fight this type of culture, you'd better have a clear idea of the outcome you want.

None of this means rape culture is a useless idea. That would be like saying that "English" is a useless idea--it would leave us without a way of identifying what to study when we want to study this... thing I'm using to communicate with you right now. But it's a label with ambiguous applicability, and so I don't think it's stupid or intellectually dishonest to be confused by it, nor to prefer other ways of talking about that type of problem.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:47 AM on October 14, 2012


masalt, it's making the comparison that when black veterans fight in Iraq, and when black athletes compete in sports, they are just like these frenzied, senseless unthinking beasts who are kept locked up under the control of others, and then unleashed to act like mindless animals. That is talking about people like they don't have brains or skills and don't make their own decisions and are something less than human. It is patronizing and demeaning. To me, comparing a veteran who has decided to join the military, trained and developed skills, served his or or country, maybe been injured in the course of duty, or maybe given his or her life, to a fighting dog who has just been unleashed by its master, is disrespectful in the extreme. There are ways to talk about exploitation of groups in society without comparing them to fighting dogs, seriously.
posted by cairdeas at 9:49 AM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, folks, if you didn't read the sex offender/etiology links I gave above, or even something as basic as this, but you want to extrapolate from wartime Japan to all of the globe about how necessary prostitution is to rape reduction (!), I don't treat your points as valid. The conditions were quite particular: MacArthur had essentially ordered US troops to terrorize the population in any way possible, and rape was a handy tactic of war - not an expression of an innate male need to copulate at will.

In addition, Dower's assertion is contested. "Michael S. Molasky states that while rape and other violent crime was widespread in naval ports like Yokosuka and Yokohama during the first few weeks of occupation, according to Japanese police reports and journalistic studies, the number of incidents declined shortly after and were not common on mainland Japan throughout the rest of occupation.[40]" Records were not kept adequately due to censorship, nonreporting, and the general chaos of occupation.

I also really contest the idea that being pressed into prostitution by your government as an attempt to suppress violent attacks on civilians is a better fate for women than rape.

Seriously, let's not extrapolate from this one narrow, unusual and ignoble example. Unless you're all a lot more informed than I think you are about the realities of global prostitution and sexual slavery, this isn't a line of discussion that's going in a direction that favors your argument.

It seems reasonable to me that in a truly egalitarian society, there would simply be no market for prostitution. It would be unnecessary to regulate because there would be no monetary premium on sexual services; sexual assignations of any kind could all be accomplished through voluntary agreement at the free will of all parties. If money is required to sweeten the deal, there is an inherent imbalance in perceived value or scarcity, and that reveals a lack of equality somewhere in the system.

men should be wearing skirts, tights, hot pants, etc., not that women shouldn't wear these things, very sorry if that came out wrong. In fact, I should have said to eliminate *all* behavioral differences that segregate the the genders, sometimes that means women should act more like men, sometimes that means men should act more like women.

I essentially have no problem with this idea, but definitely not sure that it follows that this would reduce rape. I oppose any strictures imposed on dress, but there will be times women are interested in dressing in traditionally/stereotypically feminine or sexy attire, and men will be interested in dressing in traditionally/stereotypically male/sexy attire, and so that behavior will not disappear from the earth. As long as we associate ideas of dress with the communication of a standard of behavior or consent, we're going to have the "looked like they wanted it" issue. I can't see that any amount of randomizing dress styles for the genders is going to change what comes down to erroneous reasoning.
posted by Miko at 9:51 AM on October 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Now, is African American Vernacular English a dialect of that, or a different language? It is frequently incomprehensible to speakers of the Queen's English. How about the way they speak English in Scotland? How about Gullah? The answers are ambiguous.

No. THose are all dialects of English.

Has there ever existed a society that didn't legitimize sexual violence in some capacity?

I will maintain that there are certainly subcultures, at the very least, that do not legitimize sexual violence.

Rape culture is a very strong concept for bundling and critiquing the conditions that legitimize and apologize for rape. We can certainly talk about what specific behaviors create a rape culture. One of them, it's widely agreed, is making jokes about people being raped that the joker expects to be received as funny.

It's really, really not that complicated to discuss. You're engaging in an effort to make it seem like a much more difficult problem than it is, which, in a sense, is another thing that helps to create a climate ("we can't even say what it IS! It's so confusing!") That means we continue to contest its reality, rather than discussing its expressions.
posted by Miko at 9:55 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


A long post about rape culture with many concrete examples of behaviors that contribute to toleration/legitimizing of rape.
posted by Miko at 10:02 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I fully believe you have no difficulty using "rape culture" without confusing a discussion. This is because you occupy a cultural space where certain ideas about where exactly to apply "rape culture" are commonplace. Your experiences in this respect may not be rare, but you surely shouldn't assume them to be common among people like Fists O' Fury who very specifically had a bad experience trying to integrate into the feminist movement he encountered in college, and so, probably didn't talk for long to whoever "widely agrees" with your idea of what jokes contribute to rape culture.

What I'm getting at is that you're deliberately ignoring the experience of people who are unlike you. Othering, in other words. And it must be my fault--I'm engaging in an effort to make it seem like a much more difficult problem than it is. I think it's complicated, but I can't possibly be honest about that.

Incidentally, I was serious when I said that "English" is a complicated concept: A language is a dialect with an army and a navy. The question of how to classify languages and dialects is something that give linguists a lot of trouble.
posted by LogicalDash at 10:12 AM on October 14, 2012


This is because you occupy a cultural space where certain ideas about where exactly to apply "rape culture" are commonplace.

It's an easy place to occupy. You can arrive there by reading about it.

you're deliberately ignoring the experience of people who are unlike you. Othering, in other words

Please. What I'm expecting is that people make a minimal effort to actually understand the terms used in an argument they are so darn eager to engage in. If you don't understand a topic, educate yourself first before attempting to lecture those already educated.

The question of how to classify languages and dialects is something that give linguists a lot of trouble.

If you're not a linguist, that doesn't have to trouble you. There is a layperson's answer, provided by me, which has utility in almost all non-theoretical realms.
posted by Miko at 10:15 AM on October 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think it's complicated, but I can't possibly be honest about that.

Would you like to take one or two of the behaviors listed in the links as examples of "rape culture" and explain how they do not actually legitimize or support tolerance of rape? I'm interested in where you see these complications arising. What part of it is complicated, to you?
posted by Miko at 10:17 AM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me, comparing a veteran who has decided to join the military, trained and developed skills, served his or or country, maybe been injured in the course of duty, or maybe given his or her life, to a fighting dog who has just been unleashed by its master, is disrespectful in the extreme. There are ways to talk about exploitation of groups in society without comparing them to fighting dogs, seriously.

FYI, He said rap not Iraq.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:47 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


masalt, it's making the comparison that when black veterans fight in Iraq, and when black athletes compete in sports, they are just like these frenzied, senseless unthinking beasts who are kept locked up under the control of others, and then unleashed to act like mindless animals. That is talking about people like they don't have brains or skills and don't make their own decisions and are something less than human.

I honestly think that most of that interpretation is your gloss, not anything from the joke or the comedian. For one thing, I don't think most Americans would agree that dogs are "frenzied, senseless unthinking beasts." For another, you equate suffering from economic and class coercion with being "less than human" and not having brains or skills. I find that deeply offensive victim-blaming. You may disagree with Brannum's implicit argument that Blacks are forced by economics and racism to do jobs that whites avoid, for the benefit of whites, but that does not make him anti-Black.

If I compare conditions in an 3rd world sweatshop to factory farming in the US, am I calling the workers in that sweatshop chickens and pigs? No, I really don't think so. In both cases, the issue is that humans are being treated worse in some cases than we treat animals. The point of saying that is not to reduce humans to animals, it's to protest others who do so.
posted by msalt at 10:48 AM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


nooneyouknow: FYI, He said rap not Iraq.

Good catch, makes a lot more sense as a form of ritualized combat for entertainment of suburban whites.
posted by msalt at 10:50 AM on October 14, 2012


Gullah is a creole; luckily the DVD of Trainspotting comes with subtitles; and the only time I've heard of African American Vernacular being incomprehensible was the "jive" routine in the movie Airplane.

None of which have anything to do with the concept of rape culture other than as a way to obfuscate.
posted by Forktine at 10:54 AM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The incidence of rape increased after the closure of the brothels, possibly eight-fold; Dower states that "According to one calculation the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women amounted to around 40 daily while the R.A.A was in operation, and then rose to an average of 330 a day after it was terminated in early 1946."

I don't think this example proves jeffburdges point that rape is the bi-product of some sort of sex scarcity economy wherein if sanctioned access to that commodity increases, violent access will decrease. It still rests on the assumption that rape is essentially about sex and ignores the inherent dynamics of control, power, objectification, degradation, humiliation and on that are enacted via rape.

It also ignores the rather well documented history of rape as a tool of warfare.

Whats more, I fail to see how the deeper commodification of sex addresses the problem of rape in particular and the inequality of women in general.

precisely which behaviors and customs contribute to this?

Um. When political leaders say things like "legitimate rape" and "some girls rape easy." And when those leaders are censured by their peers not because what they said was wrong, but because it made them look bad. That's just one example.

This is because you occupy a cultural space where certain ideas about where exactly to apply "rape culture" are commonplace.
What I'm getting at is that you're deliberately ignoring the experience of people who are unlike you. Othering, in other words.

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If you're going to accuse someone of ignoring another's experience, please offer examples of an experience that is being ignored. Who is being "othered" here?
posted by space_cookie at 10:54 AM on October 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Here's one of the problematic things about the "black people fighting" joke:

but if we make angry black people fight it's just boxing.

Who is "we"?

The way the joke is framed definitely implies that the speaker is not black, and is not speaking to an audience that may include black people. That's othering. It's a small kind of othering, but it is definitely othering, just like when my local drugstore has most of the shampoo / conditioner / other hair care products on one aisle, and the black hair care products on another aisle -- next to the psoriasis / antifungal / dandruff shampoo. Anything that talks about "we" or "us" as opposed to "black people" or "women" or whatever other group raises warning flags for me.
posted by KathrynT at 2:53 PM on October 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Miko: I got the "gay" vibe but not a "strikingly butch" vibe, knowing nothing else of this person's work.

Hmm. I have seen him perform live (at Bridgetown last year) which may be informing my opinion; looking at the clips he is a bit flouncier than I recall, especially in the Chelsea Lately clip (perhaps playing to that audience.)

Aside from certain signifiers such as non-colorful, scruffy clothing, posture, etc., it is primarily that he is (in Keith Johnstone's terms) playing high-status; an authoritative, even domineering authorial voice (unlike the usual crowd-pleasing, nebbish or ingratiating comic) which is pretty rare. Examples might include, historically, George Carlin at certain points, Andrew Dice Clay, and Chris Rock (as opposed to, quintessentially, Woody Allen or Jack Benny or Jerry Seinfeld or Ray Romano.) More currently, Brody Stephens is very high status.
posted by msalt at 3:23 PM on October 14, 2012


The way the joke is framed definitely implies that the speaker is not black, and is not speaking to an audience that may include black people.

I take your point on the audience (which is the viewership of Chelsea Lately -- I have no idea what its demographics are), but I'm not sure that is distinctly othering. He is explicitly accusing white-dominated culture, which of course includes him, of exploiting black conflict for entertainment. It would be weird and more troubling for him to say "they;" to me it seems more like he's taking responsibility for his role in the dominant culture than in othering. Maybe they can't be separated; I don't know how else he could make his point. He's a gay Jewish comedian who works for a women's TV show; I think he's pretty well aware of othering.

In any case, it's not anywhere close to describing black people as "frenzied, senseless unthinking beasts" (in Cairdeas' striking formulation.)
posted by msalt at 3:37 PM on October 14, 2012


It seems reasonable to me that in a truly egalitarian society, there would simply be no market for prostitution. ... If money is required to sweeten the deal, there is an inherent imbalance in perceived value or scarcity, and that reveals a lack of equality somewhere in the system.

I appreciate the sentiment but that society sounds much further off, far more idealistic, and maybe much more constrained, than what I described. Inequalities are commonly be papered over with money though, that's okay.

Also, Japan has both host and hostess bars where essentially you pay for attention from a member of the opposite sex, some rich japanese women pay men to pay attention to them all night, so maybe the money doesn't move only one way either.

I'd expect duels helped reduce the murder rate considerably by preventing violence from repeating itself, but once society changed enough we no longer needed them.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:47 PM on October 14, 2012


i seriously don't want to step in this but according to Wikipedia:

The incidence of rape increased after the closure of the brothels, possibly eight-fold; Dower states that "According to one calculation the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women amounted to around 40 daily while the R.A.A was in operation, and then rose to an average of 330 a day after it was terminated in early 1946."


Personally I'd be offended if someone said that if I couldn't buy chocolate I would rob stores for it, and that doesn't even take into account treating a man like an object I can purchase.

The funny thing about rape culture is it objectifies men, too - as out of control individuals who need to be taken care of and appeased by women (I'm more upset about my vagina being redefined as "sex", but I'm pretty offended on behalf of men as well). Oddly, this characterization of men often gets blamed on feminists, but as you can see from the example of "if men could buy timeshares in women's vaginas they wouldn't rape" example, it's integral to comodifying women's vaginas as "sex" which should be purchasable due to the threat of violence.

For those interested in learning about microaggressions: this is a great site which people supply anonymous examples. I've personally be able to catch lingering prejudices in myself by reading it and seeing what things I dismissed reflexively, then thinking further about why I reflexively dismiss what someone says, so I highly recommend it for those interested in learning more.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:09 PM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


msalt: For another, you equate suffering from economic and class coercion with being "less than human" and not having brains or skills. I find that deeply offensive victim-blaming.

msalt, giving you the benefit of the doubt, you completely misread what I wrote. Here were my exact words:

masalt, it's ["it" being the comparison Guy Brannum made between fighting dogs and black people] making the comparison that when black veterans fight in Iraq, and when black athletes compete in sports, they are just like these frenzied, senseless unthinking beasts who are kept locked up under the control of others, and then unleashed to act like mindless animals. That is talking about people like they don't have brains or skills and don't make their own decisions and are something less than human. It is patronizing and demeaning.


I clearly said that comparing someone to a fighting dog was talking about someone like they were less than human, etc. If you read what I said and honestly thought your line which I've quoted above was an accurate interpretation of it, then I urge you to read quite a bit more carefully.
posted by cairdeas at 8:47 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, I know you like Guy Branum. I know that it can suck to have people criticize a performer you like and maybe want to see supported. I also know that it can really sting to see yourself as an ally and feel like that is not appreciated or maybe even at times rejected by the people you are trying to be an ally to. But one of the most intractable problems for many of us in this society is the knee-jerk, extremely defensive pushback we often get when we try to point out things that are problematic. Sometimes, that pushback is the strongest from people who see themselves as allies, and sometimes that's when you get the strongest reaction of "ME?? How could you say that about ME, when I have all these bona fides."
posted by cairdeas at 9:10 PM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


cairdeas: I sense that you actually believe what you are saying, and that you don't realize how deeply condescending you are being in telling me what I think and how I feel, and assuming that only personal bias might cause me to disagree with you.

I respectfully ask you to stop doing that, and consider the possibility that the issue might not be my defensiveness, but rather that you in fact might be wrong. Some might even say, insufferably full of yourself. Can you see how that might be a possibility?
posted by msalt at 11:41 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


To address your specific points, in the previous comment, here is the original joke:

"Why is it if you make angry dogs fight that's a crime, but if we make angry black people fight it's just boxing. And football. And rap."

All that stuff about Black athletes being frenzied, senseless, unthinking beasts... mindless... less than human -- that is all coming from you. That is a gloss you are imposing on the original joke. It's your interpretation. Not there in the joke.

Now, pause for just a second - does your theory really make sense even to you? Do you really think that Guy Brannum is an extreme racist who chooses to go on national television and declare that Blacks are subhuman, frenzied animals? Consider Occam's Razor -- does it seem at all surprising to you that a person would do that on national TV with no controversy resulting whatsoever? I supposed that it's possible that he slipped one past the goalie until I inadvertently exposed him on Metafilter, but I'm pretty sure Occam would go with possibility #2 -- that you are reading this joke incorrectly.

He is a social critic, fond of pointing out hypocrisy and wrongheadedness in society. His joke says that society is treating these athletes and performers worse than it does animals. If he came right out and said that in so many words "Society has a higher standard of protection for fighting dogs than they do for boxers, and I think that is wrong" -- would you still accuse him of reducing Black athletes to frenzied, mindless beasts? The joke doesn't even make sense with your interpretation, because if he truly equated Black athletes with dogs, there would be nothing to be outraged about.
posted by msalt at 12:04 AM on October 15, 2012


Now, pause for just a second - does your theory really make sense even to you? Do you really think that Guy Brannum is an extreme racist who chooses to go on national television and declare that Blacks are subhuman, frenzied animals?

We were just talking about microaggressions earlier in the thread. (I really wish I knew another word for it because I think the word seems to mean something it doesn't, but anyway). No, I don't believe that Guy Brannum is an extreme racist who believes those things. I do think that what he said was a microaggression. Again, sometimes people believe they're being nice, friendly, or helpful when they use microaggressions. In my opinion the comparison he made was wrong, and offensive, period.

If he came right out and said that in so many words "Society has a higher standard of protection for fighting dogs than they do for boxers, and I think that is wrong" -- would you still accuse him of reducing Black athletes to frenzied, mindless beasts?

Uh, no, because that's completely different from the joke he made in your link in many ways.

I'm sorry about how angry you are about people's response to this, but at this point, and now with the personal insults to me, you are really threadsitting.
posted by cairdeas at 12:48 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Maybe you two can take this to email if you want to pursue the one-on-one conversation.]
posted by taz at 1:20 AM on October 15, 2012


My understanding of microaggressions is that they are precisely those unintentional, tiny faux pas which inflict "a thousand cuts" by their accumulation. I don't know Guy Brannum, but as someone who is also a comedian, I guarantee you that this is not what is happening here.

This is a 27-word joke on a hot-button issue that he performed on national television, in the biggest break of his career. I guarantee that there was nothing unintentional about a single word of that joke.

As for the rest of it, I'm happy to discuss in memail, but I think Taz is right that the discussion belongs there.
posted by msalt at 1:34 AM on October 15, 2012


This is a 27-word joke on a hot-button issue that he performed on national television, in the biggest break of his career. I guarantee that there was nothing unintentional about a single word of that joke.

The amount of thought one puts into a micro-aggression doesn't determine whether it is or not. What makes something a micro-aggression is that it is brief but harmful to the person who receives it. Often the people saying it like the person they are alienating or agree with them, but simply don't understand the broader context - and I would argue that's the case here. There is a larger context of people telling the objects of prejudice "work harder to make yourselves equal" which Branuum did not take into account. It's clear he wants to be an ally and is trying to help; it's also clear that he doesn't really understand the context, and so he is instructing women to work harder (and missing some of the more interesting discussions around Slut Walks which brought up a lot of issues around the media, women's bodies as commodities, and classes of women who are unrapable due to their job, economic standing, or race).

One thing I've learned as someone who tries to be an ally is that if I'm telling someone I'm an ally to what to do, I'm probably doing it wrong. If I'm commanding them, I'm definitely doing it wrong. If one of their issues is their bodies being displayed (i.e. "sex sells"), having my freeze-screen for my video being the only shot displaying bare breasts is probably a bad idea.

When in doubt, I address people of a similar level of privileged, not the less privileged I want to help. When at all possible, I try to clear space for them to express themselves, and if I have the means I amplify what they say.

I don't think eh was ill intentioned, but I do think he was painfully tone deaf and several of the things he said made me want to stop watching because they just hurt. he also made me laugh, but it wasn't worth it for me.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:23 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Deoridhe, I think that's an astute criticism of this project overall. I'm guessing the condescending tone "Hey ladies" has something to do with his somewhat manufactured role as the gay comedian on a television show aimed at women, which does not fit the persona he shows on a comedy stage. (I'd love to read more about that interesting and complex dynamic, the ritualized alliance of straight women and gay men, which may be fading as fast as drag shows in this new era )

I just read the fighting joke different than some here. Actually, I think we read it the same way; I just don't think that saying it's wrong that A is treated like B means that A is no better than B. Precisely the opposite in fact.
posted by msalt at 9:37 AM on October 15, 2012


One problem I see with the fighting joke is that the comparison of black men to dogs removes any agency those men might have. Dogs really don't have a choice; they are imprisoned, trained, and forced in a manner which would be entirely inappropriate if they were human. Black men, however, do have agency. Highly constrained by racism and prejudice - but still choices and agency. Positioning them as in the same role as dogs to an unspoken (but implied white) authority implies that the only people in their lives who have agency is white people, something which wasn't true even when black men were actual slaves.

The second problem I see is implying that men who box, play football, and rap are "angry". One issue with this is that it plays off of stereotypes of black men as "angry thugs" which is a strong part of media-driven racism I've seen in recent years (for example, look at the case of Trevon Martin, where despite Martin being a teenager and unarmed, he was portrayed as threatening to the man who followed and shot him). Anger is not actually needed in order to practice sports (in fact, sports are a learned and practiced skill) and rap has it's roots in a widespread means of cultural entertainment which was more about demonstrating quickness of thinking, wit, and creativity than anger.

The second issue I see is that part of black men's ascendance is boxing and football is itself a result of racist narratives, where black men are stronger, more physical, and animalistic in a way that white men are not (note the theme of black men being animalistic showing up again - a major stereotype founded during slavery that persists to this day is that black people are more "primitive" and closer to animals than white people, which is why white people should be in charge; the image showing President Obama as a Medicine Man from Africa hinged on this stereotype).

A third is that the another thing those three things have in common is that they had been means by which poor black men could leave poverty, so there is a certain amount of class-based stereotypes being called up as well.

Any joke which hinges on this many stereotypes will be - frankly - an easy laugh. I think the comedian Bo Burnham put it best when he said, "Guys, it's 21st century racism. It's racism in light of itself. The only reason I'm saying these things is because the stigmas about race are already there and I'm just playing off of that, and they understand that. So if after the show, you see like a black guy beating me up he's doing it ironically, okay?" Most of the jokes members who are not part of different minorities make about those minorities hinge on existing racism and inadvertently reinforce it even if the comic doesn't mean it too. It is really difficult to not, and even in the case of skilled and racially aware comics, like Dave Chapelle, people will take carefully balanced jokes and use them to reinforce racism (part of why he left comedy despite being hugely successful - his Inside the Actor's Studio is really incredible).

For an example of something which highlights but attempts to undermine racist narratives, my best recommendation is Chapelle's sketch "The Niggar Family", which highlights how ridiculous racist narratives are by applying them to a family of white people (with one well-done section about a family's daughter dating "that Niggar boy" which shows it's not the word, but whether one is white or black, which drives these prejudices). W. Kamau Bell is a more recent approach to dealing with racism (I've not seen his recent TV show at all, but I adore his stand-up); though he doesn't explicitly state it, I'm pretty sure he's trying to counteract some of the misreading which plagued Chapelle. I'd place him at around racism 201 even in his standup, though, much like Chapelle - both assume certain things are accepted, like everyone has internalized racist narratives, racist narratives are unequivocally false and have a basis in confirmation bias not reality, and language is very important - meaning that it should be used with care. Part of that care is exposing, analyzing, then coming up with ways to undermine the greater narratives of prejudice, and that is much more difficult than relying on prejudicial narratives to get a laugh.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well put, thanks. That's a much more telling critique than the earlier argument that Brannum somehow reduced Black men to beasts by comparing their situations. And Kamau Bell is great. (Though I'm a bit wary of your argument -- is this right? -- that "part of black men's ascendance in boxing and football is itself a result of racist narratives." As a sports fan, I'm going to go with talent and hard work.)

Comedy by nature does not lend itself to the highly-refined and ultra-careful wording that many feminists advocate - but for the same reason, it reaches a much larger audience of people more open to persuasion. I'm concerned that some of this care with wording risks making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Meanwhile, here's some textbook microaggression by Mitt Romney, courtesy of Greg Nog in another thread.
posted by msalt at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2012


Dave Chapelle, people will take carefully balanced jokes and use them to reinforce racism (part of why he left comedy despite being hugely successful - his Inside the Actor's Studio is really incredible).

Agreed, that special is really required viewing.
posted by sweetkid at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2012


Though I'm a bit wary of your argument -- is this right? -- that "part of black men's ascendance in boxing and football is itself a result of racist narratives." As a sports fan, I'm going to go with talent and hard work.

I can see why you would feel wary. Let me give you the context I'm operating from and see what you think.

One quality of both slavery and Jim Crow was that black people in general were bared from widely-recognized intellectual pursuits (though it is clear they had their internal culture of philosophy and language) by denying them access to education and recognition of their intelligence. During Jim Crow in particular, black people who succeeded were often deliberately targeted by lynching, which set up some of the self-reinforcing culture we have now of "don't draw too much attention."

While this was going on, black people in general were praised and extolled for their strength and physical acumen - it was an area in which they could succeed and receive recognition for it which was less likely to end up with them dead. This persists in stereotypes aimed at white people (white people can't dunk, white people can't dance) and positive stereotypes aimed at blacks (black people are good at basketball). Also not taken into account is the brain damage caused by concussive damage in football and boxing.

What this set up was an unequal playing field where black people could receive money and recognition for physical ability which reinforced the racist narrative that black people were intellectually lesser but physically superior (and thus white people should be in charge). Individual black people, primarily men, could thus succeed in this area, but their success was simply evidence that the racist narrative was accurate and often the very real effort they put into being good at sports was downplayed as "natural".

So in short, the individuals succeeded due to effort, but their efforts were downplayed and stereotypes of black people were played up due to racist narratives and to reinforce racist narratives.

Comedy by nature does not lend itself to the highly-refined and ultra-careful wording that many feminists advocate

I would actually argue that comedy lends itself exactly to this, which is why W. Kamau Bell and Chapelle are such superior comics (though Chapelle has some egregious sexism in his skits which left me feeling gut-punched). EASY comedy doesn't; easy comedy relies and reinforces prejudicial tropes, but complex, difficult comedy actually challenges them using clear wording that startles people into rethinking their assumptions.

Care with words is also not exclusively a feminist thing, and I'm finding the subtle call out to "humorless feminists" rather startling. As a side-note, there are other things going on with women having a much harder time in comedy than our stereotypical lack of ability to make jokes.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:12 PM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Care with words is also not exclusively a feminist thing, and I'm finding the subtle call out to "humorless feminists" rather startling.

I'm not making any "subtle call out" of any sort -- if I wanted to say that, I would, directly. I don't. Perhaps you are conflating me with other MeFites, but I would appreciate you not putting words in my mouth. Comedians are extremely careful with words, even in the acts you dismiss as "easy." (Are you a comic?)

My point is that a good standup bit must be VERY short, grab the interested of a highly distracted and often drunk crowd, and make any points indirectly or using surprise and shock to hide the dagger blow. Kamau (who I do know) and Chappelle are great, but you are referencing their TV shows, which is a very different situation. I could quote you bits from their stage acts the would reinforce all the prejudicial tropes, seem "easy," etc. and they are two of the most thoughtful, careful comics about these issues (along with Louis CK, Jackie Kashian and Maria Bamford, who are all great IMHO.)

When talking about hot-button issues, it is nearly impossible not to interact with stereotypes, even if (precisely if!) your goal is to undermine them. The danger I see is that comics are often criticized for simply talking about social problems if they don't add glaring critical framing; but that would make anyone who disagrees with you tune out, and also kill the humor. I happen to think that stereotypes can be engaged and attacked directly, without necessarily reinforcing them. In fact, I think they must be.
posted by msalt at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2012


I didn't get the sense that he was undermining stereotypes or making a social comment by making his comparison between angry black men/sports&rap and anrgydogs/fighting. I felt like he was pretty straightforwardly saying these were two completely comparable situations and it's weird that we call them out differently. Which is why I (and other people) immediately thought he was comparing black men to dogs.

Maybe this is because the joke was too short for the nuance to be clear, but if he was trying to make a statement about how we should be better about race that really didn't come through.
posted by sweetkid at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2012


Interesting. I took it as outrage -- we don't even allow dogs to fight like this, but the dominant culture can't get enough of fighting when it's Black men. (Possibly also a critique of animal-loving but relative insensitivity to human suffering). My sense is that he was trying to startle the audience into laughing by recontextualization; here are 3 common forms of entertainment that we take for granted, but when you think about it, this is ritualized combat for our amusement not fundamentally different than things we would not tolerate for animals. (Yes, this dodges the distinction of consent, but I think it's a valid point.)

But you're right, the wording is so pithy (as with almost all comedy) that people can read different things into it. I admit I'm projecting the social critique I would have; I've long thought that there is something F*ed up about the way white suburban teenagers love to celebrate beefs among Black rap artists, and no doubt record company execs encourage the conflict. (cf Diordihe's points about sports)

One thing is, I've seen plenty of comedians who are straight up racist or homophobic, or gleefully traffic in stereotypes with no attempt at all to challenge them (and that includes many Black comedians.) Generally this is live, not on TV; I perform in Montana, Idaho, and Nevada as well as the West Coast. I don't know how to detail the differences exactly, but Guy Brannum is definitely not doing that.
posted by msalt at 5:05 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the country I live in (UK), three times more young men commit suicide than do young women. In later life, men die before women because of occupational disease, lower per-capita funding for treatment for gender-specific disease and, of course, state violence. Men are more likely to get imprisoned for the same offence, and more likely to be portrayed as stupid or violent in films and advertising. And men, de facto, require permission to maintain contact with their children.

Oh boy.
posted by falcon at 12:05 PM on October 16, 2012


Patriarchy sucks for everybody, though some a whole lot more than others.
posted by Miko at 1:23 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


more likely to be portrayed as stupid or violent in films and advertising.

For the most part, and I can't understand why this isn't more obvious to people, the fact that men are shown as "stupid" in advertising is because this is often in the context of "women's work" - the man is so incompetent at caring for the baby, washing the dishes, keeping his shirt clean, whatever, that the woman must shake her head disapprovingly but lovingly and take over. The husband is "just another kid." But it's always in the context of the woman being "better" at domestic work and childcare. This reinforces gender roles that assert that the woman is in charge of the household, and is super patronizing to the many men who are perfectly competent parents, floor moppers and clothing caretakers, but this certainly does not advance women in any way. These advertisements are not being feminist in the slightest.
posted by sweetkid at 5:22 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact.
posted by sweetkid at 6:25 PM on October 17, 2012


Sweetkid, I'm curious what you think of the show "Glee." To my eye, it messes with (yet dances with) stereotypes in ways that are very interesting and subversive.
posted by msalt at 9:28 AM on October 18, 2012


In what sense msalt? I'm not sure what you mean. I've seen some of Glee and think it's an okay show at some points and a really good show at others, but I'm not sure exactly what you're asking.
posted by sweetkid at 7:46 PM on October 19, 2012


Well, in this discussion, there has been a general sense that referencing stereotypes reinforces them, even if you criticize the stereotype.

Glee seems to almost aggressively engage with stereotypes (it seems partly modeled on soap operas), but with often with very subversive twists. EG you have a super macho, huge, incommunicative football coach, but the twist is, it's a woman -- coach Beast. But later it turns out she is physically abused by her (smaller) boyfriend, and lies about leaving him, in a more typical scenario.

And, like Modern Family, it's presenting, tackling and (sometimes but often not) counfounding stereotypes of gay characters, who simply haven't been seen on TV as primary characters that much before, aside from Will and Grace. So I guess the question is, is this all bad because of the stereotypes involved? Or can it be progress nonetheless.

I see dumb dads on TV where it has nothing to do with domesticity, or where the mom is not handling that stuff particularly well either. I just think dumb dad is a trope.
posted by msalt at 8:49 AM on October 20, 2012


Dumb dad is a bit of a trope, but I was specifically referencing the comment above that seemed to imply that men actually have it pretty badly, what with being stereotyped as dumb in advertising/TV (among other things). I have seen this argument come out before - advertising is SO misandrist because of these dumb men spilling on themselves/putting oven mitts on the baby's hands instead of gloves/not knowing how to make dinner. But this type of advertising pretty strongly enforces gender roles that assert that domesticity is the realm of women.

Also, referring to stereotypes, I'm still not sure what Glee has to do with it. I think Glee has characters that break stereotype pretty often.

If this is about your original point, that Guy Branum is making a social commentary about how society treats black men with his dogfighting joke, I still don't see it that way at all, I'm sorry. In fact, I watched another clip of his, where he compared Mexican people to elves, because they just come along and clean up after you, and whatever do other people DO outside of California, where you don't have Mexicans to clean up for you? Is this some sort of "ironic" statement about how white people treat Mexicans? I think it's just a shitty, "ironic racism" joke that's not really making any kind of interesting commentary at all. It's not asking for any kind of self reflection. It's making the statement that ALL Mexicans work in a service capacity and they're all basically invisible and aren't we glad for it.

I'm neither black nor Mexican but I don't like this reductive type of humor, especially delivered from people outside those cultures.
posted by sweetkid at 6:22 PM on October 20, 2012


I don't know the Brannum bit you reference (Mexicans/elves), so I can't speak to that. Sorry I missed the context of your comment. I thought you were speaking in the context of earlier comments such as Diordhre's which I read as saying that engaging stereotypes reinforces them even if this is inadvertent.

It sounds like we agree on Glee. It my opinion is engages with stereotypes almost obsessively, though often to reverse or tweak (some of) them. Then again, Brittany is still a dumb blonde cheerleader, and making her bisexual doesn't exactly remove her from the universal of sexist male fantasy. It's a complicated stew, but I think that can be useful too.
posted by msalt at 9:43 PM on October 20, 2012


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