Literally, I Can’t.

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.

me:

him:

me:

……… 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.”

Cool, bro. Cool.

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:

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
HEY LADY, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

HA! That was hilarious. Wait, I have another one:

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Rape culture!
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:

Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
A statistic!
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.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 12.38.04 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 12.38.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 12.38.59 PM

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.

Advertisements

34 thoughts on “Literally, I Can’t.

  1. I am a stranger, and please take this with the greatest of compliments when I say the following statement; and I would like to preface this by saying: I would say I subscribe to a mythopoetic men’s movement. I’m all about male liberation. I am also probably one of the most feisty, independent, and outspoken women you’d ever meet. Your writing is absolutely brilliant. It doesn’t matter what veil your reader is looking through – what I just read, sheer genius.

    Thanks for writing. I’ll be subscribing!

  2. While we’re at it, let’s ban “activist,” so overdone. And “civil rights,” so sixties!

    Sorry peeps, social justice is not and never will be a cliché.

    Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A. That’s not funny.

    Very old joke, goes back to the seventies.

  3. Never ever shut up. This reminds me of the politicians who distinguish between rape and forcible rape. As if all rape was not forcible. Yet, misogynists like Rush Limbaugh are paid millions of dollars to make for their anti-women rhetoric. So never ever shut up.

  4. I saw this a few days ago. The funny thing is that all the sorority sisters I know are not like that at all. They say “literally, I can’t” but totally get with the party. And the performers in/ writers of the video are making a claim about superficiality of certain women, when they themselves are being superficial.

  5. 1. Amazing post, as always.

    2. Congrats on the make out with an attractive human!

    3. Hackles! (http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/53014/101436688/stock-photo-a-fierce-snarling-coyote-with-mouth-open-and-hackles-up-near-radium-hot-springs-british-101436688.jpg)

    4. I was really proud of the time when my college printed out shirts saying “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” and handed them out to basically everyone on campus who wanted one – and for how many I saw *actually* wear the shirts. Repeatedly. Even outside campus. Hoorah breaking stereotypes and supporting a word that actually means a good thing! 😀

  6. You know what is sad? I’m a self-identified feminist who is raising a 16 yr old boy. And he thinks that the word “feminist” excludes men. It is (as he puts it) “women’s rights” and not for everyone’s rights.

    We talk around and around this thing. I am for everyone to have equal pay for equal work. That means if a man was being discriminated against, I would fight for his right to get equal rights as a worker, a parent, as a person. This son of mine tells me because there are laws in place, there is no longer any need for feminism.

    All I can do is provide a role model and keep talking to him.

    • You can tell him that the problem is there are NOT laws in place- the equal pay act didn’t go though.

      Also, there ARE laws preventing racial discrimination, so is racism completely eliminated from the world? No? There are laws against stealing, so now no one ever steals anything ever, right? No? Huh… Funny that…

      Lol, I know you’ve probably already said most of these things, but just in case, there is at least a little ammo. 🙂

  7. Wrapping oneself in bubble wrap sounds like a lot of fun, how is that supposed to be an insult? And I’m sorry, but I can’t (I CAN’T) be bothered to get worked up over the opinions of someone who can’t spell fucking correctly. That isn’t exactly a high bar to attain, idiot youtube commenter.

    However, I am very disappointed in RedFoo. Gordy Barry raised you better than that, asshole! I watched you play tennis, and this is how you repay your female fans?!? Just kidding, I was nominally aware of RedFoo’s tennising.

  8. This is great, I feel like a lot of people who believe men and women should be equal but don’t call themselves feminist take issue with the focus on women’s issues where they want to focus on “everybody” issues. Feminism is like a subset of wanting everyone to be equal, it’s centered on women’s rights because that is an issue that needs an advocacy group. I wish those people would realize that if they think “I want rights for everybody, not just women” that means that A)They are by extension, a feminist and B)Then they should treat everyone equally and be concerned with protecting their rights, INCLUDING WOMEN!

  9. Hi,

    I very much enjoyed this post.

    It was beautifully written, funny at times, and poignant.

    It also made me think.

    I do wonder about the word “feminist.”

    There was an interesting classroom exercise I once saw a teacher use. The teacher asked each student to fill in the blank “I am a ______” with up to five different answers. The teacher told them to complete the assignment right then, during class. The students were asked not to think about the assignment much, and not to discuss it with anyone, and they had to write their answers down on paper, rather than speak them aloud. The teacher collected their papers and then, later in the day, discussed the answers with the class. (She spoke very generally, without treading on anyone’s privacy.)

    Now, consider that portion of America’s adult population who, if asked to give ten (or maybe 15) answers to this fill-in-the-blank, would write “feminist” as one of them.

    I suspect that these individuals would tend to share a wide variety of different beliefs, that many individuals, who would not self-identify as “feminist” on this assignment would not share. I suspect they would tend to share a number of beliefs that one need not hold in order to be committed to equality.

    I am not saying that those people who would self-identify as “feminist” in this assignment have exactly the same beliefs. They’re individuals, and some might not share many beliefs with the others at all. Rather, here is my contention. Suppose you randomly chose one person from the group who would self-identify as “feminist” and you randomly chose a second person from the group who would not self-identify this way. My contention is that there are a large number of beliefs which a randomly-chosen self-identified “feminist” would be —-more likely—- to have.

    Now, consider surveys that ask “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” or “Are you a feminist?”

    What are these surveys asking? I suspect they are ACTUALLY asking this: “Are your beliefs and commitments, across the spectrum, similar to the beliefs of those who would self-identify as feminists in the assignment described above?” And, for many people, the correct answer to this question is “no.”

    —-

    In order to highlight this, suppose you created a survey, in which, at the top, you provided the correct definition of “feminist.” You said: “This is what a feminist is,” and you connected the term to equality. Suppose you even asked people to accept this definition as they complete the survey. “For at least the next five minutes,” you write, “please use and think of the term this way.”

    Now suppose, later in the survey, you ask whether people are committed to equality, in the way the survey has defined earlier. And suppose, even later, you ask them if they consider themselves feminists. I suspect that you would still find a healthy percentage of people who claim that they do not consider themselves feminists.

    I would like to suggest that —some— of these people, who answer “no,” really would have done what you asked – thinking of the term the term the way you requested at the top of the survey. I suggest, again, that they are actually answering a very different sort of question:

    “Are your beliefs and commitments, across the spectrum, similar to the beliefs of those who would self-identify as feminists in the assignment described above?”

    And even within the context of this new survey, the answer to this question for many people is still “no.”

    Questions about self-identification are very different from questions about matters-of-fact. Someone who might be a feminist might still not identify as one, or be comfortable claiming he/she is one.

    And this doesn’t just stop with “feminism.”

    I am a registered Republican. But were I asked if I considered myself a Republican, I would say “no.” And I don’t think I’m being inconsistent. Rather, I, too, would be answering a different sort of question:

    “Are your beliefs and commitments, across the spectrum, similar to the beliefs of those who would self-identify as Republican in the assignment described above?”

    Once again, thank you for the interesting, thought provoking, and very entertainingly, humorously written post.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  10. lets never stop this conversation from happening.
    none of us need to shut the fuck up. if anything we need to keep banging on about it.

  11. I’ve reblogged this as I’ve been struggling to find words to express my feelings about this and you totally nailed it, in a concise and funny and thought-provoking way. I was getting stuck at the WTF stage! Awesome post, thank you so much. And never shut up.

  12. While this song is obviously disgusting, there is a problem I have with what you’ve said here.

    The idea that you’re not going to engage with someone because they “don’t think feminists are funny” is pretty presumptuous of their use of the word feminism. In many circumstances feminism is presented in a very critical manner, particularly with respect to men, I.e. “all men possess bad attribute x”. This sort of idea is unarguably commonplace, and whatever the arguments of “the core values” of feminism may be, if I call myself a feminist I identify as part of this. And frankly it’s just as gross as the objectification and silencing of women, and in don’t think it’s “funny” at all.

    So next time you’re about to internally judge someone for disliking a movement that is oftentimes almost entirely hostile and ignorant towards men and men’s rights, perhaps consider the side that they’ve seen of the broad spectrum of women’s rights movements or equal rights movements.

    Aside from that I agree with everything you’ve said.

    On top of that, your definition alone of feminism as merely the idea that “men and women should be equal” is pretty simplistic

    • I thought about trying to come up with a reply myself, and I just might still! — but instead, I’d like to point you towards bell hooks. She’s widely regarded as one of the most influential voices of the feminist movement, and her book “Feminism is for Everybody” was published in 2000. Her introduction tackles the very concerns you raise, and I’d like to share some of it with you:

      “It is easy for the diverse public to understand what I do as a cultural critic, to encounter my passion for writing. But feminist theory — that’s the place when the questions stop. Instead I tend to hear all about the evils of feminism and the bad feminists: how “they” hate men, how “they” want to go against nature — and god; how “they” are taking all the jobs and making the world hard for white men, who don’t stand a chance. […] Mostly they think that feminism is a bunch of angry women who want to be like men. They do not even think about feminism as being about rights — about women gaining equal rights. When I talk about the feminism I know — up close and personal — they willingly listen, although when our conversations end, they are quick to tell me that I am different, not like the “real” feminists who hate men, who are angry. I assure them that I am as real and as radical a feminist as one can be, and if they dare to come closer to feminism, they will see it is not how they imagined it.”

      She also goes on to define feminism as “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” It’s a good definition. It’s spiritually akin to the one I used above: a movement for equal rights for both men and women.

      It makes me so sad that you truly believe that the feminist movement is interested in reducing men to harmful gender stereotypes, that it is hostile to men and men’s rights. That’s not the feminism I know. That couldn’t be further from my truth. I am sorry that you perceive it that way.

      I am not saying that this specific and hateful brand of feminism doesn’t exist. I am certain it does, in small and spiteful corners of the internet. But to use an analogy that I hope makes sense, to say “I am not a feminist because some feminists are hostile towards men” is a bit like saying “I don’t want to call myself a Christian, because I don’t believe in the hateful message spread by the Westboro Baptist Church.” The vast majority of feminists are merely people, men and women, who believe in equal rights and wish to end sexism. Period.

      I wish you well. The full text of bell hooks’ book is available to read here. I hope you consider clicking the link. http://excoradfeminisms.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bell_hooks-feminism_is_for_everybody.pdf

      • I guess in a simplistic sense many people feel demonized by it, and I’m glad and honestly surprised to have gotten a constructive response to this.
        Though I agree the brand of feminism I’m talking about does exist in “small and spiteful corners of the internet”, I feel small aspects of it that label feminism as merely a women’s rights movement which offers nothing to men appear widely across the whole feminist spectrum.
        It’s as if there’s no place for men in it at all, no place for racial issues etc; and I find it hard to see a feminism that aims to fix gender issues pertaining ONLY to women to be ultimately successful, and I think that shows in the movements popularity particularly with respect to men.
        Obviously within gender rights it’s hard to avoid an “us vs them” mentality but I find it very hard to pretend that isn’t the core of feminism.
        As such it’s a lot easier for me to just extricate myself from all of this, call myself an Egalitarian and not have to associate myself with any of it. To use your example, I’m a vegetarian, and that’s because I believe in animal rights; but I know vegetarians who don’t care about animal rights. We’re both vegetarians, but that’s because vegetarianism doesn’t come with any moral connotations.
        Feminism on the other hand does. If I say I’m a feminist I’m saying I’m implicitly saying lots of things which I don’t necessarily agree with because of the societal understanding of feminism.
        Sorry that wasn’t a particularly cohesive response, bit distracted.
        Thanks for the links

  13. You know… What if that music video was a little different? What if instead of sorority girls… It were gays that walked into the party and told to shut the fuck up. Or what if it were Chinese people… Or immigrant children from Mexico. What if it were any other type of group of people, just not women? Then it would be a hate crime or racist. But since its just women…it’s ok. That’s really pathetic. Unfortunately, I dont think this world can change. As long as there are people singing about it and stupid girls being apart of the video, we are unknowlingly fulfilling the rape culture ideas.

  14. Please never shut the fuck up. you are important to so many of us. You speak for me. My budget made me remove the $5 a month each to my favorite places and you were one of those places and I wish I hadn’t had to do it and I hope my situation improves for god’s sake but in the meantime, I love you. I love your mind. I love your words and your ideas. You give me hope for the future. I am just a little old lady (soon to be 73) who was a misunderstood feminist in 1959, who kept on keeping on as I dumbly thrashed my way through several marriages to men who married me and then told me they thought I’d grow out of it but damn it I never did.

    • Oh, my goodness. Heywood! Please don’t shut the fuck up either. You’re amazing and I hope you are OK — please, don’t worry about it at ALL — and let me know if you need me to send $5 your way 🙂 xoxoxoxoxoxox

  15. This is first post I’ve read from your blog and it is brilliant. For me it’s a massive eye opener, honestly I would have watched that video or heard that song and not thought anything of it simply because that kind of blatant sexist content is pretty common and I’ve become accustomed to it. I’ll be honest too in saying that the word ‘feminist’ is not one that would come to mind to describe myself because it’s misinterpreted by the majority. I’ve just subscribed and plan to snoop through your older posts!

  16. Pingback: I am a feminist. | I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog

  17. Pingback: An Illustrated Guide to Feminism | likev.net

  18. Pingback: An Illustrated Guide to Feminism | Lives Some Live

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s