Sexism as irony...
November 5, 2012 2:16 PM   Subscribe

"Hipster Sexism consists of the objectification of women but in a manner that uses mockery, quotation marks, and paradox: the stuff you learned about in literature class."
posted by Isadorady (147 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you didn’t see the familiar, ancient Playboy logo, you’d think you were looking at a Gregory Crewdson–approved photo collage by a graduate of Yale’s art department.

This makes literally no sense.
posted by nathancaswell at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2012 [34 favorites]


I had a super-duper feminist girlfriend once. One time she was coming out of the shower and I felt very attracted to her at that moment. I asked her "Is it OK if I objectify you right now?" She literally beamed.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:20 PM on November 5, 2012 [21 favorites]


As funny as Dunham’s Girls is, it can definitely border on Hipster Sexism. For example, take the episode when the male protagonist Adam says, “Yo skank, where you at? Getting that pussy pounded?”

Not to make this thread all about Girls right out of the gate but IIRC this was part of the trajectory of season 1 of making everyone absolutely loathe Adam at the outset before his character was gradually shown to be much more complicated and sympathetic than we'd all assumed, despite his crassness. It was, like, a big part of the show. I don't think we were supposed to be laughing with him when he said the above.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:23 PM on November 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


AKA Vice Magazine
posted by klangklangston at 2:26 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's no way not to make it about Girls. This author's tone-deafness begins at her misreading of that wonderful humane smart show and extends into the delightful campaign video and then on to everything else. There is a type of misunderstanding of art that is intentional trolling. That's what we're looking at here. Bleh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:28 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


“Yo skank, where you at? Getting that pussy pounded?” is one of my favourite lines from Girls. The joke is, he's talking on the phone to his sister.
posted by Flashman at 2:28 PM on November 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


That Obama ad was fucking stupid.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:28 PM on November 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


The campaign video was creepy when Putin did it and it was creepy when Obama did it. Not sure it was sexist, though. Just fucking weird.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:29 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I came in to make a pithy remark along the lines of "Also known as the Dunham/Girls Effect" but the article did it for me.
posted by mediocre at 2:30 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


She literally beamed.

Did it hurt?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:30 PM on November 5, 2012 [40 favorites]


I had a super-duper feminist girlfriend once. One time she was coming out of the shower and I felt very attracted to her at that moment. I asked her "Is it OK if I objectify you right now?" She literally beamed.

I remember either you or somebody else making this comment before and it was then as it is now just so orthogonal to anything that even calling it a straw man is giving it too much credit.
posted by kmz at 2:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [36 favorites]


She literally beamed.

Cool story, bro.
posted by cdward at 2:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [51 favorites]


Then I found 10 dollars.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:33 PM on November 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


'Beamed' just means 'smiled broadly,' I'm sure you all know. JK Rowling uses it on every page, even when she's killing a beloved (or behated) character.
posted by Mister_A at 2:34 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Something I find more upsetting then outlandish sexism being the new politically correct is the word "winning" becoming an adjective.
posted by mediocre at 2:38 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there anything that Lena Dunham's involvement can't make worse?
posted by Egg Shen at 2:38 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is traditional when discussing Girls to have no understanding of how fiction works whatsoever, so that's that checkbox ticked.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on November 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


Or as it's also called, "sexism".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


Mediocre, I'm just glad it's not the Charlie Sheen version anymore.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2012


Mister_A: " JK Rowling uses it on every page, even especially when she's killing a beloved (or behated) character."
posted by boo_radley at 2:41 PM on November 5, 2012


/may have to read Potter now.

LEAF ON THE WIND, MOTHERFUCKERS.
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is there anything that Lena Dunham's involvement can't make worse?

This thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:43 PM on November 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


I would think anyone reading a women's issues column called Broadminded would already have a grasp on ironic sexism.

But, hey, no harm in patronizing, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:44 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm just glad it's not the Charlie Sheen version

That's the thing.. how is it not? Had Sheen never uttered the word during his downard spiral slash mania episode, it would not be part of the cultural lexicon as it exists now. It would just be a present perfect continuous of "win."
posted by mediocre at 2:45 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something I find more upsetting then outlandish sexism being the new politically correct is the word "winning" becoming an adjective.

Get in line. I have been irked by the phrase "winning smile" for years.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:46 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


the word "winning" becoming an adjective.

I don't have the OED handy but I'm pretty sure that's been going on for at least a few centuries.
posted by kmz at 2:46 PM on November 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'll say the same thing here that I said when a friend posted this on Facebook last week: does anyone seriously think that Dov Charney is an example of any sort of ironic, Hipster Sexism? I know it's a minor point in the article, but the idea that anyone thinks of Charney as anything other than a Classic Sexist is mind-boggling.
posted by asnider at 2:47 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I would think anyone reading a women's issues column called Broadminded would already have a grasp on ironic sexism."

Was just about to post the same sentiment, Sys.
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 2:52 PM on November 5, 2012


It is traditional when discussing Girls to have no understanding of how fiction works whatsoever

"Most troublesome is Anakin's decision to kill the Jedi children. While it's popular to ironically demonstrate the approval of child-murder by having protagonists murder children, I feel that murdering children is bad, and we should be given pause when see acts of childmurder such as this, which I shall refer to as Hipster Childmurder"
posted by Greg Nog at 2:56 PM on November 5, 2012 [53 favorites]


Thank god Lucas didn't do an endorsement video...
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on November 5, 2012


I don't have the OED handy but I'm pretty sure that's been going on for at least a few centuries.

...I just so happen to logged into OED online right now...lemme see:

1435 R. Misyn tr. R. Rolle Fire of Love 24 Full hard treuly it is a wynnynge craft or office to haue & not to be couetus.

So yeah, it's been around for awhile.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:58 PM on November 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


Not to make this thread all about Girls right out of the gate but IIRC this was part of the trajectory of season 1 of making everyone absolutely loathe Adam at the outset before his character was gradually shown to be much more complicated and sympathetic than we'd all assumed, despite his crassness. It was, like, a big part of the show. I don't think we were supposed to be laughing with him when he said the above.

Well and also a lot of the stuff in Girls where we think Adam is a creep is eventually shown to be part of a more complex consensual, kinky relationship. Which is different than being sexist.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:06 PM on November 5, 2012


I tend to like irony, sometimes it makes the perfect point, but dogallmighty overwhelmingly ironic sexism/racism/homophobia/ableism/-ism is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, 9/10s of my brain is always engaged in trying to figure of what level of asshole the person speaking/writing is. Are you trying to be funny, are you hiding behind some twist of tone to set up plausible deniability, are you just completely tone deaf...? Anytime the probably outcome of what you said will lead you to also utter the words "take a joke, jeeze" is significant, you fail at being funny, and likely fail at being a decent human being.
posted by edgeways at 3:08 PM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I stand corrected.

Still bugs me though.
posted by mediocre at 3:09 PM on November 5, 2012


Anyway the article is sort of a mess and has some weird examples that I disagree with severely HOWEVER THAT SAID I do know a few irony fetishists who make Ironically Sexist and/or Ironically Racist jokes and I'd like to say that my disagreement with many of the points in the article does not mean that I disagree with its premise, namely that that shit is fucking obnoxious and awful as hell, please stop it immediately everyone, I don't think it's helping.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:14 PM on November 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


Wait I thought this generation was all about the new sincerity?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:15 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is a certain skeeviness to people kidding on the square with sexist/racist stuff - the article doesn't really come within spotting distance of addressing that though.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's the next generation entropic. The hipsters are already, like, 30. The preppy looking 20 year old kids? Those are the earnest ones.
posted by fshgrl at 3:21 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


"What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."

I know that I'm a horrible person because I thought this was hilarious. I understand the problems people had with Girls and why in the context of American race relations that line was racist and dismissive, but still, I think it's hilarious. *Off to hand in my black card.*

But I never really understood why anyone expected Girls not to be about privileged white girls. White people in the mainstream entertainment industry tend to make movies about themselves and their friends. Sure protest it because it's another in a long line of media made by white people ignoring all the non-white people in America, but the level of vitriol against it seem unwarranted.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:21 PM on November 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


The campaign video was creepy when Putin did it and it was creepy when Obama did it.

Didn't I hear that Reagan even did it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:22 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Anyway the article is sort of a mess and has some weird examples that I disagree with severely HOWEVER THAT SAID I do know a few irony fetishists who make Ironically Sexist and/or Ironically Racist jokes and I'd like to say that my disagreement with many of the points in the article does not mean that I disagree with its premise, namely that that shit is fucking obnoxious and awful as hell, please stop it immediately everyone, I don't think it's helping."

Meh. About 40 percent of the jokes in my peer group are ironic sexism/racism/homophobia. It's a large category, and often they're pretty damn funny and incisive.
posted by klangklangston at 3:22 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can someone explain what the Ironic Sexism/Racism IS? I feel stupid but I don't get if it means that these are non sexists making a statement through jokes, or if it's a different kind of sexism. From here it seems like exactly the same kind of sexism as we've always had.
posted by sweetkid at 3:23 PM on November 5, 2012


It's both, sorry. That's why it's kinda a dumb thing to describe in broad strokes.
posted by klangklangston at 3:23 PM on November 5, 2012


… I mansplained.
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Re: Girls, I think you can agree with this:
But I never really understood why anyone expected Girls not to be about privileged white girls. .White people in the mainstream entertainment industry tend to make movies about themselves and their friends. Sure protest it because it's another in a long line of media made by white people ignoring all the non-white people in America, but the level of vitriol against it seem unwarranted

Without thinking this

"What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."

is hilarious. That was all kinds of f'd up.
posted by sweetkid at 3:25 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's both, sorry.

No, I mean really, what is it.
posted by sweetkid at 3:27 PM on November 5, 2012


It's it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:29 PM on November 5, 2012


Mainly Dunham seems to take swings at people who are full of themselves, which is possibly why she is such a target for people who like being pretend-offended about bullshit.
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's a new kind of bigotry, you probably never heard of it.
posted by dr_dank at 3:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [52 favorites]


'Beamed' just means 'smiled broadly,' I'm sure you all know.

Yes, but when it says "literally beamed" I don't think it's saying beams of light literally came out of her, so I figured she hit him with a beam. That'd be pretty literal.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The preppy looking 20 year old kids? Those are the earnest ones.

We even wear bowties out in Public like that's a normal thing that humans do.
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


If you decide that ironic sexism is sexism, full stop, it leaves you without any very direct way of making fun of sexists.

That is unless you decide that sexist behavior might ultimately be for the better in some circumstances. I find that odd; I thought it was the sort of word used to brand enemies; but, meaning shifts over time, no worries.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:32 PM on November 5, 2012


I was reading and reading and I realized I had no idea who those people are.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 3:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whelk, isn't Jesse Thorn in his 30s or so?

Having contributed to ShitRedditSays for two months or so, I never want to hear another ironically sexist joke again. If it supports the underdog rather than kicking it, well and good, but it had better be obvious about it. Maybe that ruins that particular kind of joke, but there are other things to joke about and other ways to joke about them.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I know a few politically liberal guys my age (late '30s) who generally talk the lefty/progressive/feminist talk as well as anyone, but their words and actions occasionally reveal an undercurrent of disdain, that women are just fundamentally not as smart or serious or funny or rational or interesting or whatever as men. If I call them on it, they handwave it off as just kidding around, but...I doubt it.

Meanwhile, as I've gotten older I've come to realize that my father, who is 67 and admittedly has never been above telling the occasional "dumb blonde" joke, is more progressive (when it comes to gender relations, anyway) than any of those dudes will ever be because he's always treated my mother (and all other women, as far as I've seen) as an equal, and not in that patronizing "I WILL PROTECT YOU MY PRECIOUS DELICATE FLOWER" Promise Keeper-style way.

> Can someone explain what the Ironic Sexism/Racism IS?

My understanding is that it's racism/sexism that young(er) people try to pass off as just joking around...because everybody knows we solved racism and sexism and none of us could possibly actually be racist or sexist, right? That said, I'm 39 and I used to be with it, etc., so I don't even know anymore.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


Really all HBO shows should have a warning at the beginning by Ice T in the style of the one on Home Invasion.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain what the Ironic Sexism/Racism IS? I feel stupid but I don't get if it means that these are non sexists making a statement through jokes, or if it's a different kind of sexism.

It's people who think of themselves as Non-Sexists using Over-The-Top Sexist Jokes to demonstrate just how absurd Sexism is.

It's a way of joking that has complex and problematic approaches toward problematic power-structures and deserves, as shakespeherian said, a good article to be written about the ways in which it's pernicious, and can be reiterative rather than destructive of those undesirable power-structures. It's unfortunate that this is not that good article.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:40 PM on November 5, 2012 [33 favorites]


Whelk, isn't Jesse Thorn in his 30s or so

We grandfathered him in back in 09
posted by The Whelk at 3:42 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I must be getting old... I thought Madonna had brought us ironic sexism with "like a virgin" in, what, 1984?
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:45 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's people who think of themselves as Non-Sexists using Over-The-Top Sexist Jokes to demonstrate just how absurd Sexism is.

And it sort of gets mileage from how pervasive and entrenched sexism is as well as laffs from people who agree that it's awful. Sort of plays both ends against the middle to keep from having to offer a sincere opinion about anything. We had to pretty much outlaw ironic sexism/racism here because people were using it badly and starting a whole bunch of stupid fights among people who basically agreed about the topic because they couldn't agree on how to discuss it.

So like you see it in threads about rape where people who totally understand that "She was asking for it" is a bullshit non-response to hearing about someone being raped nonetheless make some sort of "You could tell she was asking for it by wearing that burqa" comment which is intended to be all "This is so over the top everyone must know I am kidding" but some people take it seriously either through a misread or being Tired Of This Tactic and then we start to talk about people who were raped while wearing burqas. Horrible. Just say what you mean.
posted by jessamyn at 3:48 PM on November 5, 2012 [25 favorites]


Sarah Silverman on "Blood Laughs":

PLAYBOY: You consider what you do “shock comedy”?

SILVERMAN: Well, no, it’s not really that black and white. I don’t write something and think, “How can I be shocking?” I think that would be a big mistake. Especially when an audience comes specifically to see me, and they have certain expectations of what it is that I do. It’s this weird dichotomy. They’re expecting to be shocked, and you want to give them what they expect, but doing shock comedy, real shock comedy, is giving them what they don’t expect. You know what I mean?

PLAYBOY: It’s not shocking if they already know what you’re going to say?

SILVERMAN: Yeah, exactly. I think to be a true shock comic, I have to totally disregard their expectations. If you try to second-guess an audience, you’ll just make yourself fucking crazy. You’ll just go onstage and hate yourself.

PLAYBOY: Do you ever worry about how your jokes could be misinterpreted?

SILVERMAN: How do you mean?

PLAYBOY: When you make a joke about race, for instance, or AIDS or the Holocaust, it’s not always obvious that you’re being tongue-in-cheek.

SILVERMAN: But I have no control over that. Once it’s out there, it’s theirs to have. These jokes are going to be whatever they see in the context of their own lives.

PLAYBOY: So you don’t care if people show up for your standup and think, “I hope she does the one about the chinks?”

SILVERMAN: [Groans.] Oh god, that’s the worst. I had a boyfriend who called it “mouth-full-of-blood laughs.” It’s when people are laughing at the wrong thing. One time, there was this lead singer of a very popular band from the 80s—I can’t give you his real name—and he came up to me after a show, and I swear to god, he goes, “You’re my favorite comedian! I love Jesus is Magic!” I was so flattered at first. And then he said, “You have the best nigger jokes!” I was like, “I… I… didn’t mean…” And he turns to his friends and says, “She’s got the best nigger jokes!”

PLAYBOY: Would you give us a hint who it was?

SILVERMAN: I’ll just say this. After that, I stopped believin’.

posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on November 5, 2012 [38 favorites]


My understanding is that it's racism/sexism that young(er) people try to pass off as just joking around...because everybody knows we solved racism and sexism and none of us could possibly actually be racist or sexist, right? That said, I'm 39 and I used to be with it, etc., so I don't even know anymore.

That pretty much nails it -- the problematic stuff, anyway -- as well as can be hoped.

(But it's not strictly endemic to particularly young people. The Vice guys are in their forties, for example.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:51 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw,

A similar thing happened with Dave Chappelle:

Chappelle also said that he felt some of his sketches were "socially irresponsible." He singled out the "pixie sketch" in which pixies appear to people and encourage them to reinforce stereotypes of their races. In the sketch, Chappelle is wearing blackface and is dressed as a character in a minstrel show. According to Chappelle, during the filming of the sketch, a crew member was laughing in a way that made him feel uncomfortable and made him rethink the show. Chappelle said, "it was the first time I felt that someone was not laughing with me but laughing at me."

---

Can someone explain what the Ironic Sexism/Racism IS? I feel stupid but I don't get if it means that these are non sexists making a statement through jokes, or if it's a different kind of sexism. From here it seems like exactly the same kind of sexism as we've always had.

sweetkid

Visit reddit if you need a large sample in the wild.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:52 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Visit reddit if you need a large sample in the wild.

Yeah, I don't go there anymore.
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


High five, Artw.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:00 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to be Ironic Racist a lot, especially in front of my raised-in-rural-Wyoming* grandmother, as a means of getting her riled up and exposing her own deep-seated racism even more. Ya know, for laughs.

Then one day I realized that I was simultaneously perpetuating racist language AND mocking the elderly, all in service of some sefl-aggrandizement satire bullshit. So I stopped, and now I try really hard not to say racist or sexist stuff, no matter how ironic and "hilarious" my brain tells me it's going to be.

*Who am I kidding? It's just Wyoming. There's no NOT-rural. The whole state is basically a heap of sagebrush surrounding Yellowstone. Ha! Just kidding Grandma LOVE YOU XOXO
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:04 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Can someone explain what the Ironic Sexism/Racism IS?"

From a short YouTube about retro sexism: "It's really the normalization of sexism through the use of irony. It's the 'they know that I know that they know' that they're being sexist."
posted by iamkimiam at 4:06 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I would think anyone reading a women's issues column called Broadminded would already have a grasp on ironic sexism."

"It's both, sorry. That's why it's kinda a dumb thing to describe in broad strokes."

"'Beamed' just means 'smiled broadly,' I'm sure you all know."


Gah, now I see it everywhere!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:09 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


So, it's a bad thing, unless it's being used to fight a bad thing, then it's actually good, and it's not serious then, until it's totally serious, and...

I'm certain she has a good point. Damned if I can figure it out.

I don't understand irony anymore. I'll just go back to folksy aphorisms, if that's all right with you guys. Irony was cool, but it's like mainstream retro now. How 'bout them apples?
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:17 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Can someone explain what the Ironic Sexism/Racism IS?"

From a short YouTube about retro sexism: "It's really the normalization of sexism through the use of irony. It's the 'they know that I know that they know' that they're being sexist."


AH thank you for taking my question seriously, I get it now.

Yeah, people do this all the time. My brother and I got in a big argument about it recently, for the racist version. He thinks a fun, "let-loose" bonding time with his friends is to hurl racial insults at each other (we are Indian American, and he's talking about friends who are white, Hispanic, black, etc). I hate the idea of this, but at the same time I can see how it's obnoxious for me to try to make him stop it.
posted by sweetkid at 4:18 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw: Really all HBO shows should have a warning at the beginning by Ice T in the style of the one on Home Invasion.

Better still, what about the song "First Impression" on Original Gangsta? Talk about over the top irony.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:20 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also he gets a role as a kangaroo.
posted by Artw at 4:24 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, does

Q: What do you call a black guy flying an airplane?
A: A PILOT, you racist shit


count as ironic racism, or what?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:36 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now a major motion picture!
posted by Artw at 4:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


While it's problematic on its own, I can't help but think that if we keep on creating this kind of extended racism taxonomy, defining ever more precise boundaries between some sense of absolute right/wrong, the end result would be very PC, and very bland. We'd essentially be talking like politicians—without the dog whistles—the lot of us.

The article is wildly off base on certain things (the Playboy cover? Come on!), but it does graze a point here and there.

Obviously, this so-called hipster racism is not without its problems, especially since it signifies a modus of social interaction that would rub outsiders (the downtrodden, the old, the humourless, the PC) the wrong way, by making light of their struggles, achievements or deeply held beliefs about equality. But if we can't make light of anything, then where are we—and where do we go from here?

The term hipster, these days, animosity aside, applies to young people. Young people who should be allowed to make light of things (within the porous boundaries of tastefulness) despite what other people might think, or even if they were to get genuinely hurt by these remarks.

Like Donald Glover said in his stand-up: he thought it would be a good idea for white people to start saying nigger—to disarm the word and render it harmless—while at the same time admitting that "we're going to lose some of you in the process".
posted by flippant at 4:43 PM on November 5, 2012


DoctorFedora: I think it does, yes, because it relies upon and in at least that sense, if no other, helps sustain a shared understanding of the existence of racism and racist jokes.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:49 PM on November 5, 2012


While it's problematic on its own, I can't help but think that if we keep on creating this kind of extended racism taxonomy, defining ever more precise boundaries between some sense of absolute right/wrong, the end result would be very PC, and very bland.

This sort of concern, I think, goes hand-in-hand with the idea that labeling something as sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive necessitates saying that it is evil to do that thing, whereas really I think more what these sorts of conversations are about is attempting to uncover which aspects of prolonged systemic prejudice we are consciously or unconsciously participating in, and whether we are hurting people by doing so. I don't want to live in a bland 'PC' society, but I also don't want to blithely hurt people by my actions simply because not to do so would be 'boring.'
posted by shakespeherian at 4:53 PM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


a short YouTube about retro sexism. That was helpful, a little more than the article. I'm not sure how this is any different than picking on Archie Bunker or Homer Simpson or any of the overwhelming host of white male foils. As stated above if we can't make light of anything, then where are we . So what if a women in a bikini is an effective way to sell hamburgers? What does it matter if I know that is what she is trying to do and lace the moment in irony?
posted by relish at 4:54 PM on November 5, 2012


This Stewart Lee bit seems relevant.

I just looooove when people compare courtesy to Stalinism.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:59 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just say what you mean.

Sounds funny.

"I like apples. Barack Obama is a complicated figure! The phrase 'suck a bag of dicks' makes no literal sense."

Buy my DVD!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:00 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think there is a middle ground between calling people out on their shit even if it's veiled in irony and a blanket lack of understanding of all humour and art though.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


So what if a women in a bikini is an effective way to sell hamburgers? What does it matter if I know that is what she is trying to do and lace the moment in irony?

Is a woman in a bikini the most effective way to sell hamburgers? Or is it the lazy way to sell hamburgers?
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:01 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does selling hamburgers have to be done at the expense of the total personhood of all women, though
posted by shakespeherian at 5:03 PM on November 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


As stated above if we can't make light of anything, then where are we

No one is legitimately saying that we want all people to stop all sorts of expression just that it's important to understand the multiple layers of messages you may be sending to people who are attenuated to them for various reasons. This is what the whole dogwhistle thing is about in the first place. Someone says "states rights" and some people hear "states rights" and other people hear "I get to keep my guns" or "I get to keep people from having abortions" or "I can stay racist" or whatever it is. And it's subtle and sophisticated, but it only really worked when everyone didn't understand the playing field and there was plausible deniability that saying "states rights" was conveying a coded racist message.

So, I think it's the same thing. You can say what you want, but you can't pretend that the jokes you make that are ironically sexist aren't getting mileage out of the culture of sexism. If that's okay with you, then go ahead and do that. Sarah Silverman is funny precisely because (among other things) she's edgy in this way. But for every Sarah Silverman, there are a lot of people trying to do the same thing only they're not as funny and they just wind up sounding racist and then they hide behind humor as if just in trying to be funny it's always okay to be racist. it's not.

And if you put a woman in a bikini to sell hamburgers, you have to own that you used a not-so-coded message to sell your product at, it could be argued, the expense of women. You can do that, it's totally legal, you just have to own it. See also: booth babes. The point is that no one is right, not the hamburger seller, not me, not the tv station who buys and sells those ads, but that you have to be responsible for the messages you are sending and if increasingly that message is "We don't really care if a lot of people find our ads sexist" then that's what you'll get. And maybe it does matter and maybe it doesn't, but saying "Women in bathing suits selling hamburgers isn't sexist" doesn't matter. You can keep doing it. You just don't get to tell people how to interpret it.
posted by jessamyn at 5:05 PM on November 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


I would say that people who make supposedly ironic jokes about sexism, racism or homophobia are fooling themselves - these people are sexist, racist and homophobic.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:06 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah ironic sexism and racism just aren't that funny to me anymore. My kids don't get it and I don't want them to.
posted by Mister_A at 5:15 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't understand irony anymore. - Slap*Happy
Just say what you mean. - Jessamyn


Two nights ago I watched Tiny Furniture with my 21 and 24-year-old daughter and son-in-law. I've never seen Girls, so this was my first time with Lena (hahah). The movie was typical of the, what do we call them, intentionally awkward and difficult to watch films - films that are ironic in total. They seek to appear to be everything that they are not: under-produced, unscripted, naturally awkward, and so on. They are in fact intentionally all of those things.

(The scene that I just couldn't understand was the sex in the metal tube thing. Why? That was just hard to watch. I get it that my discomfort outs me in some way, but about what?)

Watching this film reminded me of an experience I had while showing Clerks to a high school English class, with the intention of discussing irony, with this my newfound cool example of it. The Jay and Silent Bob sequences were totally a hit with the boys, for what I think were the wrong reasons. The negative stereotypes being parodied were in fact being reinforced rather than interrogated.

Again, recently, four grade 12 boys (white Germanic-Mennonites) told me I had to see the helicopter scene from The Dictator. I watched it with them and we were all laughing, but I couldn't be confident that we were laughing for the same reasons. When I explained why I felt awkward about it, they laughed and said that of course they knew it was about racism, but that it was just so funny that it didn't matter. That is, what mattered was that it was funny, and the reason it was funny was because it was a racist joke.

I don't think a lot of kids understand how irony works, and I'm getting to the place where I'm unsure about how to deal with it too. What I think they do understand is that if you read a text from a stance that deliberately works against the "literal" words/images presented (a kind of endemic irony?), there is no end to the hilarity.

Like I say, I'm not sure (how) irony works anymore, because most everything plays as, or can be played as, ironic these days. We're just hungry for laughs, and there's nothing like an ironic stance to give you a chance to giggle at anything.
posted by kneecapped at 5:17 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you didn’t see the familiar, ancient Playboy logo, you’d think you were looking at a Gregory Crewdson–approved photo collage by a graduate of Yale’s art department.

I don't know who Gregory Crewdson is but that looks like every Playboy cover ever, doesn't it?
posted by chapps at 5:25 PM on November 5, 2012


chapps, I couldn't distinguish it from ordinary Playboy, either. A Google Image Search of his name (probably NSFW) didn't clarify the article's point. I now feel a vague foreboding, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:29 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Or as it's also called, 'sexism'." --Marisa Stole the Precious Thing

Yeah, this. Aside from the legitimacy of her argument, why do we need a special name? I groaned when I read:

"I think we should call this new strand of culture Hipster Sexism."

It's depressing that anybody thinks we should call any form of anything "Hipster" anything.
posted by The Minotaur at 5:30 PM on November 5, 2012


Really, really stupid ad.

If hipster sexism is making fun of both sexism and tedious, hyper-pious feminism...then I'm all for it.

If it's just sexism, though...I'm going to not get behind it if it's all the same to you.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:31 PM on November 5, 2012


I didn't understand the playboy thing either, but i was surprised at the insane level of airbrushing and photoshop on that cover. It doesn't really look like a person anymore, let alone being something remotely sexually appealing.
posted by palbo at 5:33 PM on November 5, 2012


So, does

Q: What do you call a black guy flying an airplane?
A: A PILOT, you racist shit

count as ironic racism, or what?


I'd say that's a very traditional humorous setup - what you have is an incongruity between the world the hearer of the joke is being invited to imagine in the opening line and the world that is revealed in the punchline. Basically, its structurally the same as:

A man walks into a bar. Ouch. It was an iron bar.

In the opening line, we are invited to imagine a man walking into a drinking den. Then, the punchline reveals that we are in fact seeing something entirely different.

In the joke cited, the world the hearer of the joke is being invited to imagine is one in which he and the teller of the joke are colluding to tell and enjoy a racist joke. Then the punchline pulls that away, and reveals instead a world where racist jokes are not acceptable.

What's interesting about it is that either the person being asked the question or the person asking the question can drop the punchline, which is unusual. So, there's a joke about the structure of jokes there, as well. The person being told the joke has the option of short-circuiting the joke - by saying "a pilot" - but is expected to say "I don't know", in order to carry on the structure of the joke. At which point their expectation - that by playing along with the structure of the joke they are protected from being the subject of it - is confounded.

So, it's possibly an ironic comment on the way the structure of jokes can create a safe space for racism to be expressed, but I don't think it's ironic racism - if anything, it's an internally referential posture of anti-racism used for ironic purposes.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:36 PM on November 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


"Why does selling hamburgers have to be done at the expense of the total personhood of all women, though"

A rarely discussed fact of hamburger marketing is that most burgers are purchased by men who then have sex with them.
posted by klangklangston at 5:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think there was a Daniel Clowes Eightball comic devoted to just this very subject. Talk about feeling uncomfortable!
posted by KokuRyu at 5:37 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


A rarely discussed fact of hamburger marketing is that most burgers are purchased by men who then have sex with them.

Ironic sex! You can't call it wrong!
posted by Artw at 5:38 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


A rarely discussed fact of hamburger marketing is that most burgers are purchased by men who then have sex with them.

You don't expect us to actually EAT the horrid little things do you?
posted by Mister_A at 5:49 PM on November 5, 2012


Meh. About 40 percent of the jokes in my peer group are ironic sexism/racism/homophobia. It's a large category, and often they're pretty damn funny and incisive.

Thus spake the white dude.
posted by liketitanic at 5:52 PM on November 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's always possible to add another layer of irony. There's sexism, ironic jokes about sexism, being ironic about how ironic sexist jokes are actually themselves sexist, being ironic about how the previous level of irony is itself sexist, etc. You can keep layering and layering and layering it on, and never build an onion, much less have a moment of honesty about how you actually feel.

As I've gotten older, I've gotten a lot more cynical but also a lot less interested in layered irony. I can totally get the ironic-sexist and ironic-racist jokes, but also can't help but see the ways in which they perpetuate what they are joking about.

All that said, the article itself seemed more like a first draft with some good ideas but super disjointed; I'd love to read it in a year when it's been rewritten a few times, had an editor rework it, and been expanded to three times its length.
posted by Forktine at 5:52 PM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I experienced hipster sexism in the 90s with the garage rock scene. Old news.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:57 PM on November 5, 2012


And one of the reasons I cut ties with most of those people after I dumped my guitarist boyfriend.
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:59 PM on November 5, 2012


Isn't the title of her column, "Broadminded," basically an example of ironic sexism? At least for my generation, calling a woman a "broad" was something sexist older men did and younger women found it insulting.
posted by straight at 5:59 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know who Gregory Crewdson is but that looks like every Playboy cover ever, doesn't it?

I am very familiar with Crewdson's work and it still makes no sense. He did go to Yale, however.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:05 PM on November 5, 2012


It's depressing that anybody thinks we should call any form of anything "Hipster" anything.

I was really hoping to see what Hipster Feminism would entail.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:41 PM on November 5, 2012


Probably a lot like hipster sexism.
posted by Artw at 6:43 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about hipster squarism?
posted by Mister_A at 7:02 PM on November 5, 2012


Eleventh Doctor cosplay.
posted by Artw at 7:06 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This sort of thing was so much more deliciously witty twenty years ago when my friends and I invented it.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:09 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thus spake the white dude.

In defence of Klang, my experience is that - in line with Sweetkid's - this phenomenon is in no way limited to white people.
posted by smoke at 7:26 PM on November 5, 2012


"Thus spake the white dude."

Yeah, sure, but my peer group looks as multi-culti as an after school special and I work at a place that does things like sponsor teach-ins on transgender intersectionality for high schoolers. So while I understand the skepticism, I'll let people who actually know me call me out on my shit rather than worrying about you, cool?

(I'm also straight, college educated and English speaking! My invisible backpack has Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it and you're jealous!)
posted by klangklangston at 7:33 PM on November 5, 2012


>...whereas really I think more what these sorts of conversations are about is attempting to uncover which aspects of prolonged systemic prejudice...

What sorts of conversations do you mean?

I figure there are conversations about sexism where people try to identify aspects of systemic prejudice they hadn't noticed, and there are conversations about sexism where people try to decide the right way to do things nonsexistly, and there are conversations about sexism where people identify the wrong way, whether to find out who to attack or to lead into one of those other conversations or perhaps that's the only conversation on sexism that makes any sense to the sort of person who's never had to think about sexism before.

...And so forth.

Social criticism of all sorts operates at a higher level of meta than most people are accustomed to, and therefore tends to go badly if you don't take care to define your terms, state your thesis, and generally make it blindingly obvious what you are trying to do.

But that's tedious, and savvy people often forget to do it.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:33 PM on November 5, 2012


I'm generally in favor of social taboos against sexist and racist jokes, but something about this doesn't add up for me.

We know that a white person dressing up as a black person for laughs is racist -- it makes black people into objects of ridicule and humiliation. But if ironic sexism means I "dress up" as a sexist for laughs, then isn't that about humiliating sexists? Why isn't that a possibility?

The problem is that there is a different, sexist interpretation of the joke. An ironic sexist could be interpreted as trying to provoke audience laughter at his ridiculous, sexist antics — I think this would be good and healthy. But that's different from real sexist humor, where the comic tries to say something outrageously sexist or racist. In that situation, we're not laughing (if we are laughing) at the comic's ridiculousness. Instead, we're laughing because a taboo was broken, and somebody somewhere is presumed to be offended, so the object of ridicule and humiliation in this scenario is the too serious, overly politically-correct person who can't take a joke.

The premise of this article is that ironic sexism might make fun of sexism, but it's just too dangerous. We never know if someone is laughing at the sexist or at anti-sexist people, so let's be on the safe side and assume sexism. But I think that in a lot of cases it is possible to figure out what people are laughing at, you just have to look at who ends up with egg on their face.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:34 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between sexism and ironic sexism?

You'll have to tell me, because they're indistinguishable from the outside.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 PM on November 5, 2012


Indeed, when watching the ad, I imagined a brighter future for ironic hipsterism. One day, perhaps, the worst kind of Classic Hipsters will be replaced by the best kind of Hipster Hipsters.

On that fine day, the men who say that the things you've probably never heard before are “things you've probably never heard before” will always be joking.
posted by Revvy at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2012


"What's the difference between sexism and ironic sexism?

You'll have to tell me, because they're indistinguishable from the outside.
"

Really? I found it pretty easy to tell Dunham's ad from actual GOP sexism.
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the general move to taxonomize statements/jokes/positions is somewhat harmful and reductive. It's like when someone calls something "political correctness", which is a bullshit move supposed to somehow instantly deactivate whatever the other person is saying. It's really best to engage an individual discursive element on its own terms. That said, while I disagree with the author's interest in creating definitions, I agree with her general position that it is frequent for people to use a veneer of transgressive humor to simply reify dominant and oppressive cultural tropes.
posted by threeants at 8:18 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The thing is, there's some shit that people who get shit on a lot get really tired of hearing, regardless of what the actual motivation behind it is.

If I step on your toes, it still hurts, even if I did it ironically to make fun of those rude people who are always stepping on your toes.
posted by straight at 8:21 PM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


"What's the difference between sexism and ironic sexism?

You'll have to tell me, because they're indistinguishable from the outside."

>> Really? I found it pretty easy to tell Dunham's ad from actual GOP sexism.


I couldn't, probably because I had never even heard of the show Girls before. I do recall being "ironic" as an undergrad nearly twenty years ago, but I guess I grew out of it. You could call me "unhip" but it all seems so childish in retrospect, especially grown men wearing pedal pushers.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:24 PM on November 5, 2012


while I disagree with the author's interest in creating definitions, I agree with her general position that it is frequent for people to use a veneer of transgressive humor to simply reify dominant and oppressive cultural tropes.

Exactly, I agree with the author's general theme and saw the same problems with the specific examples she used to make her point. It just makes me uneasy when cultural commentators attempt to reach so far and wide in their generalizing definitions.
posted by fatehunter at 8:34 PM on November 5, 2012


I couldn't, probably because I had never even heard of the show Girls before. I do recall being "ironic" as an undergrad nearly twenty years ago, but I guess I grew out of it. You could call me "unhip" but it all seems so childish in retrospect, especially grown men wearing pedal pushers.

I honestly don't think she was being ironic. I think it's okay to say that men who care about fair pay and women's reproductive health are sexy--and I think it's okay to equate something like exercising your democratic right to vote with adulthood the same way our society equates losing one's virginity with adulthood (maybe it's even better). Sure, she's being tongue-in-cheek, but she's being earnest, too. I bet you she really, genuinely thinks these are positive values to look for either in a mate or a political candidate.

Sex positivity is okay. Really.

I went googling for a transcript and found one on a conservative site where people left comments like "she should have been aborted" and "she will never have a real first time" and " New generation of Obama girls are all sluts. No wonder they need contraception because they look for any opportunity.Heaven help us if they breed", oh, this gem:
My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl. Now I was a woman. I went to the polling station and pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.

But now my relatives are ashamed of me, my own father can't look me in the eye. When I enter a room the conversation stops, I here whispers of "She...voted...for.......Obama!" All around town the cool guys are laughing and calling me a filthy Obama voter and telling me theres nothing quite as skanky as a white girl who votes Obama. I always heard once you go Obama, you'll never go back, but I didn't realize that's because once I voted for Obama no other candidate would ever have me. I'm damaged goods, maybe I should just end it all.
It seems to me that this kind of sexism (and racism) is a world apart from Dunham's sex-and-democracy positive comment. It seems to be that it's genuinely dangerous to women, rather than empowering them to vote for (or even fuck!) people who care about them.

But hey, er, maybe that's just me?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:40 PM on November 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't think a lot of kids understand how irony works,

You can't really understand irony if you don't actually understand anything of the painful experience behind the condition being mocked.

I agree with Greg Nog, bad article about a real thing.

The Dunham thing is such a bad and debatable example of this that I find it really pointless; I'm totally unable to reconcile the author's point of view with this material. I think there's a general sexism that exists that the "first time" humor wouldn't work without. It needs to be a bubble surrounded by water to make any sense at all, and a nonsexist society wouldn't have the water. But this is just a lousy example because just about everything about it is well meaning and defensible.
posted by Miko at 8:41 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that this kind of sexism (and racism) is a world apart from Dunham's sex-and-democracy positive comment. It seems to be that it's genuinely dangerous to women, rather than empowering them to vote for (or even fuck!) people who care about them.

But hey, er, maybe that's just me?


I guess to repeat what jessamyn said above, just say what you mean, although the "sexiness" of political candidates who support reproductive rights is a bit of a red herring. Not just a bit, a total red herring.

Let's not forget that the girl (and that's what she was - a girl, and not a woman) was talking about her "first time", which is a deeply unsettling image given the age difference as well as the power differential. And this is supposed to be the Obama campaign, which is "friendlier" towards women, so why such a patronizing, intellectually insulting campaign ad?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:53 PM on November 5, 2012


Lena Dunham is over 18 and was during the last two elections, too. She's a woman, not a girl, and has been for awhile.

I guess I think it's okay for grown women to imply that they want to have sex with grown men. I also think that what she's doing isn't patronizing--she's actually talking in the language of young women in intimate spaces. She's talking to them like an equal, a friend--maybe a friend with slightly more experience, but she's not talking in the paternalistic tones of, say, many men who would attempt to make reproductive decisions for women in politics. Hence the jokeyness. She's talking to college-aged women like she's one of them because she is--she's sharing what are clearly deeply held beliefs (and managing to impart a subtle sex positive message while she's doing it). Frankly, if that's unsettling I think it has more to do with paternalistic attitudes of the viewers (young women shouldn't want sex, shouldn't say they want sex, shouldn't joke about sex with older men) than anything particularly paternalistic about what she's saying.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:06 PM on November 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


Generally speaking, in the context of this ad, if you are talking about virgins you are talking about girls (and I'm not saying that women who have not had sex are not "real women", I'm just talking about the shorthand messages contained in the ad).

Anyway, I'm getting a little too worked up about something that is over (a political ad), so I will shut up now.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:47 PM on November 5, 2012


My daughter worked in the campaign to get college aged kids to register to vote that used this "it's my first time" slogan earlier this year. They had all sorts of buttons, stickers, shirts,etc...and they could not give them away- I am not sure if it was the perceived sexism or the cheesy embarrassment factor. And forget even trying to give them to guys.
posted by Isadorady at 11:35 PM on November 5, 2012


Argh. I agree with approx 70% of her points, but I've never seen someone rant against Vice so hard while simultaneously sounding like they wanted to be published in Vice so bad.
posted by 256 at 11:35 PM on November 5, 2012


she's actually talking in the language of young women in intimate spaces

Yes, I agree. This idea that all people should talk from the viewpoint of perfect wisdom when doing anything public is kind of infuriating. I think Dunham's video is a clever inversion of a conversation that many young women have had. Is it an endorsement of all the concepts and attitudes a young woman should have about their place in the in the world and their sexuality? No. Are there some people who might take it as such? Yes.

But are we seriously going to gear our culture towards the idiots? She is someone who gets to play with all the strange and horrible moments that young women are party to. Should we shut her down because every moment of her output isn't wisdom from the mount about how to live a perfect life?

Can the person who has been at that point in her life, not joke about it? Because this campaign ad is really clearly a joke. I'm not sure that not allowing for jokes that reference things we feel weird about is a great way to move forward.

Sure, I know that jerks who see this, and are in no way underprivileged might take it as an excuse for acting as if they are victims. I think this might be part of the system. A feature, not a bug. When it happens, I think it's good to call it out. It's always righteous to speak truth to power. But we might not want to blame the source for the misinterpretations of the weak minded and look to them instead.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:46 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never seen someone rant against Vice so hard while simultaneously sounding like they wanted to be published in Vice so bad.

Gah! Stupid sexy Vice!
posted by threeants at 12:18 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't the title of her column, "Broadminded," basically an example of ironic sexism? At least for my generation, calling a woman a "broad" was something sexist older men did and younger women found it insulting.

No, that's reclaimation of a sexist word by the use of a punne, or play on words.

Now had that been the title of a memoir of a randy old goat reminiscencing about his many sexual conquests over the years, it would've been sexist.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:06 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Irony is the shiv in the heart of sincerity. I am not a fan of the mode.

'Ironic appreciation' of stuff -- something that really started to kick in in the 1990s and has reached its nadir in the youth tribe that people are calling 'hipsters' lately -- makes me unhappy.

Love things and love them with your whole heart and share that love around, or get the fuck out of my road, I figure.

Which is only tangentially related to the topic at hand I suppose, but I felt like sharing. Unironically.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:59 AM on November 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I love the way some people still feel the need to explain ironic humour at painful length, and still do a lousy job of it. If you honestly feel ironic humour needs to be explained then you don't really get it. It's not a popular opinion - certainly around these parts, I know - but irony is something smart people do and dim people get annoyed by.

Or am I being ironic?
posted by Decani at 3:17 AM on November 6, 2012


Funny ironic sexism: when I, a female engineer, make a silly math error and a coworker with whom I am good friends and have a respectful working relationship says "Obviously, girls aren't good at math."

Not funny ironic sexism: when a coworker of a much older generation who is frequently patronizing to me and who makes non-ironic sexist comments in other situations says the exact same thing to me, thinking it's witty.

As with most humor, context is everything.

I found the video a little cringe-inducing just because I felt like she took the metaphor a little too awkwardly far in some cases, but I didn't find it patronizing or sexist. If the GOP wants "patronizing" they should have a look at the Daily Show's segment on all the "turn on" and "woo" terminology being thrown around with respect to women voters.
posted by olinerd at 3:50 AM on November 6, 2012


A metaphor is a glorious thing,
A diamond ring,
The first day of summer
A metaphor is a breath of fresh air,
A turn-on,
An aphrodisiac
Chicks dig, dig, d-i-g, dig, dig metaphors.
posted by yaymukund at 4:58 AM on November 6, 2012


Chicks dig scars. And broken bones heal. or so runs the wisdom of my tribe
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 AM on November 6, 2012


the "sexiness" of political candidates who support reproductive rights is a bit of a red herring. Not just a bit, a total red herring.

Absolutely. Reproductive rights are just human rights. They don't have anything to with whether someone's sexy. The only connection I can see is that if I'm otherwise attracted to someone doesn't support reproductive rights, that's a flat dealbreaker. But supporting those rights doesn't make them sexy, it just makes them just.

As with most humor, context is everything.

And yet, if your friendly male co-workers could never ever let it go and constantly get yuks laughing it up about that and when you say "OK, that's getting old" they claim to be offended because obviously they don't believe that, they're just being funny, and you say "well it's not funny any more and by constantly repeating it it's like you want to remind me that this stereotype exists," the context and intent change a little. Or if your other co-workers who aren't as forgiving of your friend and don't have the same rapport have to hear this comment in meetings and don't benefit from having the opportunity to share in the social permission you two are giving each other in your friendly interactions.

I think that's the risk that people take when engaging in this sort of humor - they're perpetuating a social meme while still being able to claim innocence of intent - and it can be hard for them, and everyone around them, to know where everyone's lines are, and be fully informed and in control of those nuances 100% of the time. That's the argument for plain speaking.

I think lumpenprole's right, Dunham is playing in this space with intention and as a comedian (or satirist or whatever she is), liminality is what she's supposed to be doing. She's also doing it in service of policies and actions that demonstrably improve the lives of women. That's why I think that this adds up to a bad example of the real thing the author wants to complain about.
posted by Miko at 6:12 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the author wanted to complain about Lena Dunham and worked outwards from there.
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the author wanted to complain about Lena Dunham and worked outwards from there.

Maybe, but she ends the piece praising the ad.

On occasion, however, Hipster Sexism can combat Classic Sexism. Like when Hipster Feminists skillfully parody Hipster Sexism, as with the recent Sorry Feminists hashtag. The best recent example, of course, is Dunham’s ad, where she deploys a stale girls-losin’-it trope in order to fight Classic Sexist Republicans. Part of what made the ad such a great, effective artifact was that the irony appeared to be entirely under Dunham’s control. She was a young woman who was mocking Classic Sexists’ idea of how young women think. While sometimes her show has traces of Uncle Terry, the ad skillfully avoided that pitfall.

Indeed, when watching the ad, I imagined a brighter future for ironic sexism. One day, perhaps, the worst kind of Classic Sexists will be replaced by the best kind of Hipster Sexists.


I think she wrote this because she really liked the video, but then she was like "Oh, no! It perpetuates sexism. I'm a feminist. I can't like something that's sexist!!11!!1" So she wrote this mostly to rationalize to herself why she's not a bad feminist for liking the video.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:00 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yet, if your friendly male co-workers could never ever let it go and constantly get yuks laughing it up about that and when you say "OK, that's getting old" they claim to be offended because obviously they don't believe that, they're just being funny, and you say "well it's not funny any more and by constantly repeating it it's like you want to remind me that this stereotype exists," the context and intent change a little. Or if your other co-workers who aren't as forgiving of your friend and don't have the same rapport have to hear this comment in meetings and don't benefit from having the opportunity to share in the social permission you two are giving each other in your friendly interactions.

Well, context still stands. I have other coworkers that I am friendly (but not close friends) with who try to make the same jokes, and do it ad nauseum, and it definitely just feels like they're being sexist. And I agree that doing it to me in a large meeting where not everyone is on equal footing and equal rapport is inappropriate as well. I only offered two extreme cases and didn't try to exemplify every situation in the spectrum. I'm just saying, in the right situation, of which there are few, the irony -- from a male OR female coworker -- can be funny.
posted by olinerd at 7:03 AM on November 6, 2012


What's most annoying about this article is the author's constant tendency to mistake "vulgar" for "sexist". "Skank" is sexist. "Pussy pounded" is vulgar, but not inherently sexist. Laughing at pictures of drunk girls peeing would be sexist if Vice were not also having a chuckle over pictures of bros relieving themselves in the bushes. Since they are, it's merely vulgar. And arguing that vulgarity is anti-women is sexism of the old-fashioned, non-hipster sort.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:34 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So while I understand the skepticism, I'll let people who actually know me call me out on my shit rather than worrying about you, cool?

Yeah, I am jealous of your invisible backpack, actually.

I appreciate that you didn't bite my head off, but maybe just share those sentiments about racist jokes with people who actually know you and not strangers on the internet. They really don't read right among strangers who don't know the context you're talking about, especially ones without your chill backpack.
posted by liketitanic at 7:38 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


in the right situation, of which there are few, the irony -- from a male OR female coworker -- can be funny.

Sure, I getcha, and yet there are a lot of people who really can't tell what the right situation is...that's the problem with it. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence, and you can still make mistakes.

I'm not harping on you, sorry if it sounds like that. I definitely have friends with whom I sometimes make these kinds of jokes from time to time, acting in 'ironic stance,' to make fun of others who I disagree with, though like others in this thread it really winds down as I get older and just get exasperated with the entire society's approach to bias. It's just that you can understand the context, your friends can, but a lot of people can't and don't and so they take the wrong lesson from these examples.
posted by Miko at 8:08 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I appreciate that you didn't bite my head off, but maybe just share those sentiments about racist jokes with people who actually know you and not strangers on the internet. They really don't read right among strangers who don't know the context you're talking about, especially ones without your chill backpack."

I was responding to someone who does know me outside of MetaFilter who gave a blanket condemnation of ironic racism/sexism, and I was pointing out that it's possible to engage in them without kidding on the square.
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 AM on November 6, 2012


I was responding to someone who does know me outside of MetaFilter who gave a blanket condemnation of ironic racism/sexism, and I was pointing out that it's possible to engage in them without kidding on the square.

Sure, although, to devil's-advocate it, if you are doing a humorous routine about how stupid people who call [group] [term] are, by pretending to be one of those stupid people, and your friends are all enjoying the satire of those stupid people, that doesn't need to have any element of kidding on the square... but if a member of [group] walks past, or is on the other side of the room, they might just get that someone over there keeps saying [term] about them, and their friends keep laughing. It's not the end of their world, but it's a wholly unintentional piece of background radiation that has the potential to make somebody's day a little worse...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:47 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Irony is the shiv in the heart of sincerity. I am not a fan of the mode.

Irony is the mode for when you don't want to own what you say, but won't not say it either.
posted by jfuller at 10:51 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


game of shadows, accountability evaporates
posted by Miko at 11:26 AM on November 6, 2012


The funniest thing about all this is that it made me (a dude) think about the first time I voted. It was for Clinton's first term. And you know what? It was special.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:31 AM on November 6, 2012


I stood in line to vote today behind two people--a guy and a girl-- just a little younger than me. They'd clearly never met before but both talked about how excited they were to vote and shared stories of the last election. "I was so proud of myself the first time I voted," was what the girl said and the guy quickly agreed. It was so close in tone to Dunham's at the end of this video.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:37 AM on November 6, 2012


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