January 2, 2019 § 4 Comments
Eighteen months ago, Louis CK was one of the most famous comedians in the world, almost universally loved, devastatingly funny, and, apparently, a decent human being. And then came the scandal, which involved him being an incredible douchecanoe with women, intimidating them and performing sexual acts in front of them. And so, he disappeared from the public eye after apologizing for his behaviour. This was the right card to play and the appropriate response for his behaviour.
But now he’s back. And somehow, getting booked for shows. Last month at a comedy club on Long Island, CK attacked the survivors of the Parkland massacre. That in and of itself makes him an asshole, but comedy has long been the purview of assholes. That’s part of what makes comedians funny. But this was crossing a line, and he knew it. He had to. He’s a smart guy.
But then he went onto whine about his own ‘bad year.’ He complained that the sex scandal cost him $35 million. And he complained about finding out who his ‘real friends’ were, whining that:
People say that like it’s a good thing. That’s not a good thing. That’s a horrible experience. Who the fuck wants to know who your real friends are? I liked having a bunch of fake friends and not knowing who was who.
And then he went onto attack the ‘younger generation’ for essentially having no sense of humour about such things.
And so there we go. Yet another white dude caught being a morally reprehensible character who isn’t sorry for his behaviour. His apology means absolutely sweet fuck all now. Because he obviously didn’t mean it and he doesn’t care that his behaviour was boorish. He has become another Justice Brett Kavanaugh, attacking his accuser(s). And Kavanaugh is just another Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey. This is apparently what you do when you’re a white guy accused of being a dickhead, you mumble something about recognizing your behaviour was uncouth and then attack your accusers.
Fuck that. We deserve better.
December 19, 2018 § 3 Comments
For roughly the past 25 years or so, I’ve referred to ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ as the date rape song. The lyrics are creepy as all get out. And yes, I know the song was written in 1944. And I know that the lyrics actually reflect pop culture in the 1940s, including jokes about drinks being spiked (with alcohol) and young men and women were not allowed the kind of freedom depicted in the lyrics in 1944. And that the song was actually written by a married man so he and his wife could sing it at their housewarming party. I get that. But it’s not 1944, it’s 2018.
The lyrics of the song include the woman saying she ought to say no and the man complaining about his wounded pride; then she wonders what he put in her drink; and then she even says the ‘answer is no’, and he continues to badger her. In 2018, this conjures up images of rape culture, of roofies, and continues the idea that it’s romantic to badger and harass a woman until she gives in. And in the context of #MeToo, this shouldn’t be acceptable. The fact it took us until now to figure this out is something else, of course.
I posted something along these lines on Facebook earlier this month (minus the historical context) when a series of radio stations in Canada decided to stop playing the song. Personally, I see that as no major loss. There are still countless Christmas songs we can listen to in 45,000 different versions until we want to pull our hair out. The song kinda sucks anyway, I mean, aside from the rape-y feel to it.
And then the commentariat! My feed lit up with my friends arguing against me. I even got chastised for being a bad historian for failing to note the song is from the 1940s. Over and over, the context of the song was explained to me. But that’s the thing, this cuts both ways. If we want to consider historical context for things, then let’s discuss Confederate War monuments.
Historical context is a real and important factor in debates about history and artefacts from the past. And ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ is an artefact. Questions of historical context and artefacts are immediately loaded. So, to take the example of the Confederate War monument, it does not belong in a public park, but on the grounds of a museum or inside the museum, where it can be historicized and explained, and put into its context. That is possible and doable. And it solves the problem of ‘erasing history,’ which gets pro-Confederates riled up. But a song is not a monument. A monument is not a a living artefact. In the past couple of years, ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ has been recorded by a wide variety of artists, from Cee-Lo to Trisha Yearwood. So in addition to being an artefact, it’s a contemporary pop song. And radio DJs can’t be expected to provide the historical context of the song, nor can we expect that in our Spotify and Apple Music playlists, or on our satellite stations on our TVs.
Something else was fascinating about my Facebook post and the blowback I got. There was a very clear disconnect between the ‘likes’ and the comments. The comments were all written by men, save for one woman, a good friend, who noted that she attempts to keep the context of the song in mind when playing it or when she hears it. As for the likes, they were 90% women.
At the end of the day, I find the song creepy. And have for a long time. And while I don’t think the song should be banned (I’m generally not a fan of this kind of censorship, having grown up in the era of Tipper Gore’s PMRC). But I am fine with radio stations refusing to play it. That’s their choice. We generally skip the song when it plays on random Christmas playlists or Apple Music Radio around here. Life goes on.
But, perhaps due to what I do for a living, having spent much of the past 20+ years in classrooms with university students, I do see very clearly the effects of pop culture on the kids. I see the effects of rape culture on both the men and women in my classes, I see the effects of misogyny, racism, classism, etc. And I see that they (like I did at their age) take their cues from pop culture as a whole first, their education second (generally-speaking).
And it is in this sense that I see the problems with ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ all the more.
October 17, 2017 § Leave a comment
Since around Sunday afternoon, women have been posting on social media that they have been victims of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of these brave posts, with the hashtag #MeToo. But, almost immediately, the backlash came. From men.
Yes, men are the victims of sexual assault, too. Around 10% of rape victims are male, and around 3% of men in the United States have been sexually assaulted. This is a very real problem. And the sexual assault of men does not get much coverage in our world. To be a male survivor of sexual assault is alienating and lonely. In fact, many of the same things women experience, men experience in the aftermath of being sexually assaulted.
But. This male backlash to #MeToo smacks of an attempt to deny women their experiences. It also smacks of ‘All Lives Matter.’
A couple of years ago, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, white conservatives began the counterpoint: All Lives Matter. Well, duh. Of course all lives matter. That was never open for debate. No one ever said that because Black Lives Matter, other lives don’t. But the simple fact was that the discussion was about black lives, which were much more likely to be terminated at the hands of the police than other types of lives.
In effect, saying ‘All Lives Matter’ was an attempt to equate the African American experience with the white American experience, and to say they were both equal. They’re not. This nation was founded upon exploiting the labour and bodies of African Americans, and even though slavery ended 152 years ago, the cost for black bodies has not ended. And even though the Civil Rights Era was half a century ago, the cost for black bodies has not ended. To suggest the white and black experience is the same is a false equivalence.
Not all men who are speaking out right now are attempting to deny women’s experiences. They are speaking out of of the same, or similar place. But, this is already being used to silence women. Some men are using these men’s experiences to claim an equivalence of the male and female experience. This is already being used to deny the experience of women. A few years ago, during another heightened consciousness over the experience of women, #YesAllWomen was a social media activist campaign. Because almost all women have experienced this. So, to claim that the male and female experience of sexual violence is the same is wrong. It is not. It is a false equivalence.
September 9, 2013 § 2 Comments
This article from a TV station in Texas is unconscionable. A truck decal business in Waco, TX, created a decal for the tailgate of a pickup truck of a women tied up and looking like she’s been abducted. I will not re-produce the image here, it doesn’t deserve it, but you can see it if you follow this link. The decal is bad enough. But the article on the TV station’s website is even worse. After noting that the majority of the feedback for the decal has been negative, moron journalist Matt Howerton says that the feedback leads to the question as to whether or not the decal is “‘Poor taste or good business?'”
I’m gobsmacked at how this question is even asked. An image of a distressed women tied up and looking like she’s in the back of a pickup truck is never good business. It’s beyond poor taste.
A few days ago that I know we live in a misogynist society, but sometimes it just hits me in the face how misogynist. This is one of those moments. By now, everyone in Canada has heard about the students during frosh week at St. Mary’s University and the University of British Columbia (my alma mater, I’m ashamed to admit) chanting about underage rape. Seriously. It’s not funny, it’s never funny.
Pretty much every single woman I know has been the victim of sexual assault at least once in her life. And yet we as a society accept that, we even encourage it with idiocy like KWTX’s question about the truck decal. This is a nothing less than a disgrace.