So a woman on Fox said a dumb thing. Raw Story wrote about it. And, as usual, a “liberal” site’s otherwise enlightened readers didn’t hesitate to respond with misogynist asshatery.
Women and men alike called the women of Fox News “blond bimbos.” A “bimbo” is defined as “an attractive but stupid young woman, especially one with loose morals.” Did these commenters not know the meaning of the word they used? I find it more likely that they damn well did know precisely what they were signifying – I know from my feminist training that one of the oldest tricks up patriarchy’s sleeve is to try to silence a woman by questioning her morals. Also, notice the emphasis on blondness in the comments. We all know about the stereotype that women with blond hair lack intelligence (but just as there is no male equivalent to “bimbo,” there is no equal belief that men with blond hair lack intelligence.) One commenter even posted a cartoon of a woman being whipped across her face with a large penis, the caption reading “DICK-SLAPPED!” (exclamation point from the original). Nineteen “liberals” “liked” that comment – of a woman’s face being whipped by a penis…
This latest example at Raw Story is, unfortunately, just another example of a more widespread phenomenon. When people of the left criticize the women of Fox News or Sarah Palin (or fill in the blank here), all too many of them apparently feel free to let their sexism flag fly in a way that I contend writers on a liberal blog would not dare with racism – I guess sexism is still safe territory even on the “left.”
It was exactly this phenomenon that caused me to finally split with the Huffington Post a few years ago. I was already sick of their hopelessly over-trolled comments section and their flagrant click-baiting, but the final straw came when a prominent writer at the site attacked a conservative woman in very sexist terms. I was outraged and submitted a comment saying just that, asking why this was tolerated on a “liberal” blog. There were only five comments on the post at the time so it was straight-forward seeking my comment, but it was never approved. The following day I submitted an angry follow-up, demanding to know why my pointing out blatant sexism at HuffPo was apparently not allowed while they routinely let trolls shit all over their page. Still no response. No more me reading HuffPo.
Sexist bullshit caused me to part ways with another “liberal” blog on which I was once quite active. This time, it was Daily Kos. I will let Kos’ own words set up the scenario:
So over the weekend, certain segments of the community have erupted in anger over the TBS ad for their reality show, the Real Gilligan’s Island. Apparently, having two women throw pies at each other, wrestle each other in a sexy, lesbianic manner, then having water splashed on their ample, fake bosoms is degrading to women. Or something like that.
Why, yeah, I am offended by an ad appearing on a “liberal” blog, which should be feminist-friendly space, objectifying women. The ad placement, however, was not my primary concern (I never saw it at the time it was appearing). My outrage stemmed from the rest of the statements from Kos:
Whatever. Feel free to be offended. I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst. I don’t care for such sanctimony from Joe Lieberman, I don’t care for it from anyone else. Some people find such content offensive. Some people find it arousing. Some people find it funny. To each his or her own.
But I am not Lieberman. I won’t sit there and judge pop culture and act as gatekeeper to what I think is “appropriate”, and what isn’t.
And I certainly won’t let the sanctimonious
women’s studiesset play that role on this site. Feel free to be offended. Feel free to claim that I’m somehow abandoning “progressive principles” by running the ad. It’s a free country. Feel free to storm off in a huff. Other deserving bloggers could use the patronage.
Me, I’ll focus on the important shit.
Good to know, oh famous king-maker of the “left” and much celebrated member of dood nation, that for you, the continuing exploitation and objectification of those of us born with two X chromosomes is not “important shit.” Thanks for making your position so crystal clear. Kos keeps his focus on important shit. Oh, what is important shit? Perhaps teh menz (deliberately misspelled that way by feminist bloggers) of the left can explain it to us women! Furthermore, notice the shocking strikethrough of “women’s studies” as he actually calls women formally educated in issues and academic theories of their own patriarchal oppression – me, yes, me, over here, women’s studies grad – the “sanctimonious set.” Fuck you Kos. I could use my $80,000 women’s studies training to do better, more academic analysis of Kos, his blindness, his privilege, his betrayal of liberalism as I understand it, but, no, I think this time that just plain “fuck you” works. Oh, and since I’m being hostile, I will add that “lesbianic” is not a word and that titles of television shows should be italicized or put inside quotation marks.
Shakesville (a great blog – if you haven’t checked it out before, I really encourage you to do so) broke it down:
Kos has a right to disagree with the sentiments of women who are offended by his decision. He also has a right to be condescending…
“Apparently, having two women throw pies at each other, wrestle each other in a sexy, lesbianic manner, then having water splashed on their ample, fake bosoms is degrading to women. Or something like that.”…dismissive…
“I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst.…insulting…
And I certainly won’t let the sanctimonious women’s studies set play that role on this site.”…egotistical…
“Feel free to storm off in a huff. Other deserving bloggers could use the patronage.”…and demeaning…
“Me, I’ll focus on the important shit.”…every right to be all of those things. (As do his merry band of groupthink wankers, many of whose own sexism is put on display in the comments thread associated with the main post). And I have the right to declare him a wanker and remove him from my blogroll, which I’m sure would give him a good laugh, considering I’m a Lilliputian to his Gulliver. But damn it, I won’t stand for that shit. Someone’s gotta stand up to those on our side who would continue to relegate us to the margins, treating our concerns about fairness and respect with mockery and scorn. The liberal sphere is a not a place where strong women should be branded as hysterical or over-reactionary for being concerned about the possible appearance of support for the denigration of their gender, even if there are those who disagree. Disagreement is not the same as ridicule. It’s thoughtless, and worse than that, it’s bad politics.
With friends like these, who needs Republicans?
After outrage in response to his remarks, Kos followed up with one of those seems-to-be-an-attempt-to-apologize-but-just-makes-it-worse-you-should’ve-just-shut-up things:
Update: Hmm, after considering the early feedback, it seems most people didn’t have a problem with the ad, but had a huge problem with my sweeping generalization of the “women’s studies set”.
It’s a fair critique, and duly noted. I stand by everything else written, which is offensive enough to some people as is. But I honestly didn’t mean to smear anyone who has ever taken a women’s studies course, or majored or minored or gotten an advance degree in it. Just what is, to me, a small, extremist set looking for signs of female subjugation under every rock. So yeah, a poor choice of words that cast the net far too wide to cover the people that have, in fact, pissed me off.
Sorry about that, but not sorry about my broader point — that being sanctimonious about this ad is no different than the sanctimony we decry from people like Lieberman, Dobson, and the Family Values Coalition.
Didya catch this one – there is a “small, extremist set looking for signs of female subjugation under every rock!” Our numbers are “small.” We are “extremists,” you know , those of us screaming from the rooftops about the systemic oppression of our kind, so says another “liberal” site. And, finally, we are “looking for signs of female subjugation under every rock.” Funny, but I find more signs of subjugation every fucking day of my life and I don’t have to look under rocks to find it. In fact, as the ad in question well illustrates, I can easily find it just by logging into a “liberal” blog which, again I say, should be feminist-friendly territory. How very often conservatives claim that members of racial minorities just look for racism under every rock and that that is precisely – and only – why they constantly find it. Would someone with high liberal cred like Kos dare to make such a claim about a “small, extremist” group of people of color looking for racism “under every rock?” And the answer is “fuck no.” When it comes to racism, good liberals get it that it is systemic, that it is, in fact, everywhere.
It is so frustrating that women can’t count on similar understanding from the “left.”