Title Twists Story To Uphold Patriarchy, and It Makes No Sense


Today I am addressing an article titled: Woman Thanks Man For Slut Shaming Her And It Makes Total Sense.

First of all, the woman was not thanking the man for slut-shaming her. He noticed other men in the area behaving in a predatory way, noticed she was completely unaware, and chose to go out of his way to warn her about the potential danger she was in. Good move, bro. You a good guy. That’s what he was being thanked for. The other thing he did, however, was blame their behavior on her yoga pants.

She chose to ignore the slut-shaming aspect, thank him for the warning, and leave the area – a perfectly reasonable and sensible reaction by all accounts. What is not reasonable or sensible is the way this article tells the story. The man did two distinct deeds that day, one of them good and one of them sexist. The article twists the narrative to make it look like the two deeds were one and the same, encouraging readers to think that it’s sometimes a good thing to be sexist. It’s not.

This is why we need to strive for more nuance in journalism. You can be a good person (as this guy probably is) and still be sexist. The two are not mutually exclusive, and we need to stop treating them like they are if we ever want to deal with systemic sexism.

The world isn’t split into good people and death eaters.

Of course, you won’t get nuance from Chicks on the Right because they don’t want to be part of the solution to systemic sexism. They want to deny it’s existence altogether, presumably because the people who run this publication directly benefit from sexism and would lose support and power if sexism were successfully dismantled. This article wasn’t singing praises to the man’s good deed, it was using the story to push a narrative that reinforces one of the most damaging aspects of patriarchy. Here’s what the article was really communicating:

Don’t be in public spaces. They don’t belong to you. If you have to be in a public space, make yourself as invisible as possible, or else. You know what? Maybe just stop existing. That’s probably the most sensible way to deal with this problem. And if something does happen to you, it’s definitely all your fault.

What’s so damaging about this is how pervasive it is – it seeps into every single aspect of every single woman’s life, and no woman is free, equal, or even safe while it continues to dominate discourses about public safety and personal responsibility. I really hate having to be paranoid and afraid all the time, just because I was born with female anatomy. Why do I have to look out for my own behavior and for every man on the street? Why can’t men take some responsibility for themselves? Why is it always, always, my job? There’s a certain irony in claiming that you can’t change others’ behavior, only your own, in relation to a story that aims to reinforce the idea that women are responsible for the way men behave.

The guy deserved thanks for looking out for her safety (if someone warned me about predatory behavior I hadn’t noticed, I’d be thankful), and I can understand just thanking him and continuing with your day without addressing the sexism (it doesn’t seem like a worthy hill to die on, and he was trying to help). However, there’s no need to assume that she was at fault for being unsafe and it’s a bit saddening that she’s internalized that narrative and the guilt that comes with it.

Criminals cause crimes, not victims. Her clothing had nothing to do with their pervy behavior. I’ve been sexually harassed and catcalled in all manner of attire, from tight dresses, to t-shirt and jeans, to full winter gear in all its bulky and form-hiding glory, to fucking pyjamas.

I’ve been catcalled while dressed like this. Really. For real.

If men such as the pervs in this story think there’s a vagina hiding under the clothes, they will harass or catcall. It was nothing to do with her yoga pants. She would have received the same attention if she had been wearing sweat pants and a hoodie. By suggesting her yoga pants were the reason for the men’s behavior, this article perpetrates dangerous misinformation about what sexual violence is, and why it happens. It’s got nothing to do with sexual desire, and everything to do with power and control. Her yoga pants were not the problem.

I understand that this is the world we live in, but I refuse to accept it. Because if we accept it and bow to it, then it’s never going to change. We CAN change others’ behavior, by making it known that their bad behavior is unacceptable and expecting better of them. Jumping down that guy’s throat would not have made things better, and I won’t criticize how she reacted. I probably would have done the same. However, writing off the pervy behavior as logical and expected, and internalizing guilt about being dressed the wrong way (or, you know, existing), is actively reinforcing an unacceptable status quo. We are capable of greater things, and I’d personally like to be part of the movement to achieve them.

An awkward interview with Good Day Sacramento

Books, Random, Rants, Society, Uncategorized
The newest John Green movie adaptation is out, and the cast and author are just finishing up the promotional press circuit.
Today, Green wrote a passionate article about the commodification of persons in the promotional cycle of the film industry, and what it’s like to be on the side of the interviewed, and it was in response to an interview with Cara Delevingne on a morning talk show in which they asked her if she had read the book. Curious, I looked up the interview, and I disagree with Green’s assessment that things went downhill after that fateful question. I’m pretty sure things started at the farthest bottom of the hill and sat there until Delevingne gave up trying to drag it up to a more acceptable standard of interviewing, at which point the whole interview fell apart as a result of losing her complicity and effort to hold it together.
They were incredibly rude and patronizing to her, from the very first second. As a way of venting my discomfort at having witnessed this situation in which a fellow human being was treated with unearned disrespect and unnecessary spite, here’s my summary/interpretation of the interview:
Interviewer 1: “We have here: Carla. I know I just called you not your name but I’m going to gloss over it because your feelings and identity don’t matter to me. Hey there Cara, how are you? No don’t answer, I don’t actually care or want to hear about it. The book is taught in a lot of high schools, and you’re pretty much a child so you might have read it for that reason, but you’re just /sarcasm oh so busy being a famous little princess lololol /end sarcasm, no really though did you get a chance to read the book the movie you starred in was based on?”
(Cara diffuses situation with witty joke)
Interviewer 2: “lololol your joke was not appreciated because you know my cohost was just trying to point out that you’re taking part in what we consider to be a freakishly high frequency of projects. Isn’t it hard to keep your little air head focused? Do you work continuously because your life is otherwise empty and unmotivating? What’s your Meyers Briggs type? What do you think?”
(Cara registers confusion at the random, context-lacking line of questioning, attempts to explain what it’s like to have a real job, gives up and attempts to explain what it’s like to actually like your job, gives up and trails off)
Interviewer 2: “So it’s not hard? Alright, if you say so.”
Interviewer 1: “Are you even capable of identifying with this character you portrayed across a feature length film?”
(Cara makes another sarcastic joke, in an almost defeated, knee-jerk manner at this point, as if thinking – for the love of sanity, are we really only a minute into the interview? How much more of this do I have to take?- and then answers the question they should have asked about her relationship with the character, giving an interesting insight into the dynamic between actor and character and its effect on the end product)
Interviewer 2: “HURhur oh RLY?”
Interviewer 3: “Hey I love this movie because the characters talk like people instead of like teenagers (who are not people, as everyone knows). LOL I was such an idiot in high school so I know everyone else was, it’s like these characters aren’t even REAL, it’s like the writers don’t even know how to write a teenage character and the actors don’t even know how to play a teenage character, because these teenage characters are so similar to actual people. LOVE IT. Now, keeping in mind that I just gave your movie and its target demographic a really back-handed complement, can you tell us why you aren’t excited to be talking to us? You were excited talking to other people. Is the wittle baby tired? Are you PMSing or something? What’s your problem?”
(Throughout all of this, Cara appears to become offended at the backhanded complement, realizes that being offended isn’t worth her time or energy, stops being offended and tries to take the next question seriously, becomes reoffended when they finish asking the question, pulls herself together, spits out a stock answer to keep things moving, and attempts to take the high road and be empathetic to the interviewers, explaining that maybe she just seems lower energy because it’s the morning)
Interviewer 1: “Yeah. You seem irritated. Perhaps it’s just us. Look, we’re giving you a clear opening to stroke our egos here. We’re handing you this one for free. Don’t mess it up.”
(Cara can’t take their BS anymore, calls them out)
Interviewer 1: “Well, if you don’t want to talk to us, we don’t want want to talk to you. How ’bout that? I guess it’s just past the small child’s nap time.”
(Cara attempts to respond and they cut her mic, but continue to film her as she looks on with a look of cold, calculated hatred in her eyes – after a few seconds the video feed cuts from her end)
Interviewers: “WOAH WHAT A MOODY LADY TEENAGER GEEZ. I know it’s hard soul sucking work going to all these interviews but STILL. You made money for doing a job, so you OWE US all the ego stroking we want! We are entitled to that ego stroking! We are entitled to your time and energy! We are entitled to whatever we want from you, regardless of whether or not you had any way of knowing we wanted it, regardless of whether or not we deserve it. This isn’t a business transaction based in tradition, mutual benefit, and mutual understanding/respect, it’s where you’re supposed to show us the attention we’re owed! Bitch can’t even take a joke. We were treated SO BADLY but I guess we just have to shake it off, like the poor TV talk show host martyrs that we are. So moving on to our next story about cholesterol…”
Of course, I hardly quoted them directly at all, but instead replaced direct quotes with my interpretations of what they meant by what they were saying. Whether those meanings were intentional or not, doesn’t matter. That’s how it all came across, Delevingne handled it incredibly graciously.
This opens up a lot of thoughts I’ve been thinking lately about the way we handle celebrity interviews and how it represents the failure of traditional mass media to understand the context in which it exists, but this is already pretty long so I think I’ll just leave it as a rant and save those thoughts for their own post, should I ever get around to writing it.