I’m on a date a few weeks ago, having dinner with this guy. We’re smiling, we’re laughing, we’re talking, it’s comfortable. I mention having read an article by a very funny female writer, a feminist whose work I really admire. Have you read that piece?
“Sorry,” he says, stabbing some broccoli with his fork. “I just don’t think feminists are funny.”
In the three seconds that transpired between the end of his sentence and the moment I realized he was kidding, my eyes basically turned into cartoon daggers a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Like, trembling white-hot rage from my toes.
……… Right. He’s on a date with … a funny feminist writer. We’ve spent the better part of several days … talking about funny … feminist …. writers.
Goddamnit, you jerk, that was hilarious.
Lest this require clarification: that was a great joke. It works because it’s mocking the sexist bullshit that I hear all the time, and it’s playing on the old trope that feminists can’t take a joke. It works because, you know, both of us clearly believe that women are funny. It also worked because the timing was really good and the joke was kinda on me because my hackles were instantly raised … whatever the hell “hackles” are. And it worked because we both knew if that’s something he actually believed, it would take me all of ten seconds to gather my belongings and never make out with his face again.
I mention all of this not just so I can point out that I made out with a cute boy (but, you know, high-five for me!) but as an important backstory to establish that I, Katherine Fritz, Lady Feminist, can, in fact, take a joke.
And now onwards to my point.
This is a music video on the internet! AND I WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT. Let’s all watch it together, shall we? Just released from Play-N-Skillz feat. Redfoo, Lil Jon, and Enertia McFly. I know that to most of my readers, those words sound like hot garbage nonsense — but I assure you, those are actual people that the under-twenty set know about. Personally, I think they all sound like characters on a ’70’s Sunday morning cartoon — like, about a scrappy baseball team where Enertia McFly is a sassy shortstop with a secret heart of gold and Lil Jon is always forgetting his glove, the rascal! — but they are, in fact, hip-hop artists with a significant following.
In case you didn’t get all the way through it, here’s the recap: A group of prissy sorority girls arrives at a party. They’re asked if they want tequila shots, vodka shots, “girl-on-girl” action. They turn up their noses, sniping back, “I can’t. I can’t. Literally, I can’t.”
And then a group of men screams SHUT THE FUCK UP in their faces. Repeatedly. Jumping in their personal space, at one point knocking a woman over and filming it for the porn site RedTube. Some sample lyrics:
“You got a big ol’ butt, I can tell by the way you’re walkin’, But you annoying me ’cause you’re talkin’, Shut the fuck up!”
“I said jump on the pole, I don’t need your opinion.”
“Get low, low, low, While I Instagram ya, Shhh, don’t talk about it, be about it.”
There’s a disclaimer that’s since been added to the opening credits of the video, in response to the PR shitstorm that’s ensued, telling us that the content is “satirical” and “is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people.”
In other words — lighten up, ladies. Can’t you take a joke?
You know something? I love jokes! Here, let me tell you one right now:
HEY LADY, SHUT THE FUCK UP!
HA! That was hilarious. Wait, I have another one:
Rape culture who?
SERIOUSLY HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT RAPE CULTURE IS A REAL THING?
HAHAHAHAHAHA I CRACK MYSELF UP. OKAY OKAY ONE MORE:
A statistic who?
One in five women will be sexually assaulted in the course of their lifetimes. Now open the door for me, won’t you, sweetheart?
Wait, you’re not laughing? Weird. I thought it was just us pesky feminists who don’t like jokes.
Wanna know what’s also hilarious? The fact that this also happened this week, and that it is a REAL THING that happened. Time Magazine does this annual “Words to Ban” list, and it’s a humorous take on the year in slang. Annoying phrases on the chopping block this year: “Bae,” “Basic,” “Obvi,” “Yaaaassss.”
Oh, right. And “Feminist.”
Because, you know. Feminists are, like, really basic right now. Sooo overplayed. Literally. Obvi. Yaaaaasss.
Fun fact: This survey polled Americans of all ages, races, genders, etc. Twenty percent self-identified as feminists. Just 20%. And then they asked the question, “Do you believe that men and women should be social, political, and economic equals?” And 82% of them said yes. Spoiler alert: if you believe that men and women should be social, political, and economic equals, that means you are a feminist.
That’s basically like saying, “I’m not a vegetarian, I’m just morally opposed to eating animals and I choose to eat an exclusively plant-based diet.” That’s basically like saying, “I’m not a plumber, I’m just a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining water and sewage systems.” Sorry, but if you think that men and women should have the same basic human rights: congratulations! YOU’RE A FEMINIST. Let me know where to send your welcome packet; the secret handshake is kinda tricky and I need to know what size t-shirt to order. The “F word,” despite all the recent goodwill of the Beyonces and Taylor Swifts and Emma Watsons and Joseph Gordon-Levitts of the world, still has a pretty bad image problem.
Which is a big problem, because the world still has a pretty bad misogyny problem. And if you don’t believe me, let’s look no further than the comments left underneath that youtube video.
Right. So. If we’re really going to use the phrase “freedom of expression,” you got it. Here we go. I’m going to express the thought that “This music video is promoting the idea that when a woman says no, the appropriate response is to mock her, physically intimidate her, or tell her to ‘shut the fuck up.'” I’m going to express the thought that this video perpetuates rape culture. I’m going to express the thought that I am deeply offended by its content. I’m going to express the thought that Redfoo should lose his job over this.
I’m going to express that the world is a vastly better place than this sexist garbage would lead us to believe. I’m going to express the thought that the more we call out this kind of crap for what it is, the more likely it is that we can make some kind of difference. I’m going to express the radical idea that the less we portray women as objects in our media, in our pop culture, in our art, and in our entertainment, the less likely it will be that we objectify them as individual people. The less likely it will be that we dismiss their voices when they are victims. The less likely it will be that we disregard what a woman has to say, because it is a woman who is saying it.
But then again, what do I know. I’m just another humorless feminist. I should probably shut the fuck up.