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Monday, May 27, 2013

Canon fodder

The cocktail waitresses of Star Trek (2009)
So I was watching the 2009 film Star Trek, which annoyingly has no subtitle. No Nemesis, no Insurrection, no Into Darkness, no Into the Woods, nothing. So it will forever be known, to me at least, as "the 2009 Star Trek," which is unfortunate given that it's a decent film and immediately precedes Into Darkness, currently in theaters, which gets its own subtitle. Maybe they realized they messed up with the previous one? I don't know.

Anyway, I watched it and couldn't help but notice all of the female Star Fleet extras running around (literally, in more than one case because their ship was in danger of being destroyed) in those mini dresses and go go boots that the women wore in the original series, their hair more often than not up in what I guess was supposed to be a futuristic version of the beehive-like updos worn in TOS, a sort of vertical topknot, an oblong bun which sticks straight out of the tops of their heads. The choice to outfit them this way was presumably made in deference to the original garb that female officers wore in TOS, and to the reasoning it embodied, which-- one can only guess-- was so that nobody would accidentally take them seriously.

I watched this and thought about a recent blog post by Felicia Day on Into Darkness, discussing how it has no strong female characters. How even in instances where the leaders of the free galaxy, the decision-makers, were getting together and figuring out what to do, there were few women, especially appropriately aged women (you know, prime minister age or thereabouts) amongst them, and how weird and disappointing that was. Though Day doesn't specifically mention the gratuitous underwear scene with Alice Eve for which screenwriter Damon Lindelof confusingly apologized (confusing because you don't exactly trip and accidentally insert scenes like that into a script), she says
I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot. I loved her bob. That’s it. What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight? A tomboy? Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice? Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved. From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this. A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy. Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!
Responses have ranged from the reasonable to the ridiculous on both the original Tumblr post and on her Facebook wall when she linked to it. It's important to point out here that by "ridiculous," I'm not referring to any comment which simply differed either with facts or the intent of Day's post, or both. I'm referring to the kind of comment typical of any feminist critique of popular culture, which is some combination of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "You're just jealous," or worse. Sometimes much, much worse.

There were plenty of people who agreed with Day that a) there are no strong female characters in Into Darkness (which, full disclosure, I haven't seen....yet. That's why I was re-watching the 2009 movie), and b) given the futuristic setting of the Star Trek universe where the Federation has been depicted as an egalitarian organization, it doesn't make sense to portray events as though there are no women in charge of anything who possess formidable skills and commit acts of bravery and cunning with more or less the frequency that men do, and even with c) Day's larger point that "it's time to invent some new cliches" where women are concerned. There are people who agreed with all of these things, and yet ultimately disagreed with Day's claim that this spoke poorly of the movie as a whole (which, incidentally, she says she enjoyed very much).

A sampling of replies 
Why do they disagree? Because of canon.

Because Kirk is notoriously a womanizer, so it makes sense to depict him womanizing.
Because in the original series of Star Trek (referred to as TOS, for...the original series), the stories told revolved mainly around men doing things, men like Kirk and Spock and Scotty and Bones and Sulu.

Even though the 2009 movie and this current one are reboots and have changed a lot of things, they cannot and should not change the fact that the story is not about women and their interests, so if you're interested in that kind of story, find a different science fiction franchise already. One that didn't originate in 1966. These are the stories we've committed to, and by golly we'll be damned if they're going to be changed! At least to be less overtly sexist, anyway-- other things such as chronology or location of events and the circumstances of different characters dying or not dying, as the case may be, you can change and we'll grudgingly accept it. But don't take away our sexist stories, because we'll have nothing left!  If you want strong women, go watch Xena: Warrior Princess or something, and leave TOS alone!

...they said. Basically.

In response to this position-- that the absence of strong female characters in Into Darkness (or, for that matter, the 2009 Star Trek) is a feature; not a bug, because it's simply the movie being true to canon-- I have a few thoughts.

The first is that I can see the point of this objection. In spite of being reboots, these two movies resurrect very old stories from TOS and splice them together with a modernized perspective. If too many changes were made, the stories would not even be recognizable and they would simply be about a group of people with familiar names in a familiar-but-new setting doing completely unfamiliar things, in which case it might as well not even be the Star Trek universe.

However, this brings up all kinds of questions about what aspects of canon must be adhered to and why, in order to preserve the familiar setting and cast but also tell a story which isn't identical to one the audience has already been told (in which case the movies would not be reboots but remakes, which is a different beast altogether). Of all of the things preserved for the new, 2009/2013 versions of stories originally told decades earlier, must one of them be the male-centric nature of those stories? And regardless of your answer to the previous question, would it really be worse to modify the story to make it less sexist, or to invent a new one?

This is especially relevant to ask when we're talking about the Star Trek universe, given that this universe depicts a futuristic existence where human civilization has presumably progressed to the point that bigotry is no longer much of a thing, right? It's inevitable that people who are trying to tell stories about future human civilizations which have progressed far beyond their own, will still project on those people their own prejudices and general small mindedness without even realizing it-- so even as they're giving people of the future things like teleportation and food synthesization, they're still going to make those people reflect whatever backwards inclinations are common in the time of the writers-- or rather, in the writers themselves. It's pretty much ubiquitous in any movie or TV show which takes place hundreds of years from when it's written. We just can't help but think about how people might think in the future-- especially a utopian rather than dystopian image of the future-- by relying on how people think now. Then, when that actual year finally comes along, people can watch your movie or TV show (assuming they remember it exists) again and laugh their asses off.

But in this case it's a little different. In this case, we're talking about putting our own current spin on the stories that were previously told about those futuristic civilizations and yet not questioning, in fact transferring verbatim, much of the prejudices of that bygone era. Prejudices which don't even apply to our own societies in some parts of the world (where female leaders are common), let alone a society in the year 2233. Isn't it weird that we'd take an old depiction of a futuristic society and decide to re-depict it, and in doing so deliberately not make corrections which would render the depiction more realistically futuristic?  It's as if someone had actually invented a teleporter which is both different from, and functions better than, the ones depicted in old episodes and movies based on TOS, but we went right on making new movies which showed people moving from one place to another by standing on a little circle and becoming fuzzy until they vanish. Because after all, that's canon. You can't change the story.

If that's really the case, though...that story is boring and you shouldn't expect people who are represented poorly (or not at all) in it to be interested. They may be, but you shouldn't count on it.

There, I said it.

Yeah, yeah, I know-- there's no shortage of people who simply don't care if women and minorities are interested in the movies and TV they love. You could keep right on making movies and TV shows based on comics, science fiction, or fantasy which cater to the interests of white male geeks only, and plenty of white male geeks would be just fine with that. Some of these people even react to complaints like Day's by acting as if she wants to take over Star Trek-- or Star Wars, or Doctor Who, or movies based on Marvel comics, or any other franchise which keeps churning out geek fodder-- and make it all about women. Put women in charge of everything! No, that is not what she's saying. That's not what I'm saying, and it's not what any feminist critique of these things that I've ever seen has been saying.

I'm saying that if you're going to tell girls and women that it's cool to be a nerd, you should also give them better reasons to be.

That is not at all a knock at Wil Wheaton, who is speaking in the video at that link-- he's actively doing this, in addition to giving that excellent speech. Felicia Day is actively doing it, by creating the Geek & Sundry channel on Youtube. She's also asking where all of the women are, and she's not the only one doing that. According to a recent article in the LA Times, appropriately titled Where have all the women gone in movies?,
Despite the success of recent female-driven movies such as "Bridesmaids" and the "Hunger Games" and "Twilight" series, female representation in popular movies is at its lowest level in five years, according to a study being released Monday by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 
Among the 100 highest-grossing movies at the U.S. box office in 2012, the study reported, 28.4% of speaking characters were female. That's a drop from 32.8% three years ago, and a number that has stayed relatively stagnant despite increased research attention to the topic and several high-profile box-office successes starring women. 
"There is notable consistency in the number of females on-screen from year to year," said USC researcher Marc Choueiti. "The slate of films developed and produced each year is almost formulaic — in the aggregate, female representation hardly changed at all." 
When they are on-screen, 31.6% of women are shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, the highest percentage in the five years the USC researchers have been studying the issue.
For teen girls, the number who are provocatively dressed is even higher: 56.6% of teen girl characters in 2012 movies wore sexy clothes, an increase of 20% since 2009. 
The USC researchers said these trends persist because those working in Hollywood believe attracting a male audience is the key ingredient to box office success.
Well gosh, I guess I have some questions for "those working in Hollywood" then. Such as:
  • Do you think women also go to movies?
  • Do you think men will stop going to movies if they feature strong female characters, and the number of women who see them will be unaffected? In other words, do you think both groups only want to see men doing things, and women serving as eye candy or simply absent? 
  • Do you think that movie-goers are actually more sexist now than they used to be, and are continuing in that trend? Or is there just more money to be made in assuming they are? And in the end, what's the difference?
Returning to science fiction/comic/fantasy movies specifically, there are so many movies in those genres which are either out currently, or coming up in the next couple of years, that geeks are downright giddy. The Wolverine. Iron Man 3. Man of Steel. Pacific Rim. Ender's Game. Thor: The Dark World. The Avengers 2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Ninja Turtles. More Transformers, more Expendables, more X-Men, and so on. It's a great time to be a geek-- if you're a straight white male geek, or don't mind taking part in stories told mainly for and about same. And actually there are a lot of people in that latter category-- there have to be, don't they? Because the alternative is to just not watch the movies.

But geek movies have a woman and minority problem, and they have it because canon is considered so important.

Because geeks are so often gratified when something is just the same as it was when originally depicted in the  comic book/regular book it came from, and prone to throwing tantrums (AKA "nerd rage") when it's different. And the origins of the stories which formed these canons are old-- sometimes very old. Given how quickly social contexts change, "very old" in this case could be any time before 1980. If the canon of your franchise of choice formed prior to that point-- and most of the popular ones do, from Superman to Star Wars-- it's probably going to be sexist. At that point you have to stop denying it, and start figuring out what to do about it. Is preserving the canon more important than telling stories which include women and minorities as something other than bit parts and scenery? As actors-- and by that I mean, people who act, rather than being acted upon?

And by "canon," I know I'm not referring to every last detail of a franchise story. An aspect of the story is considered canonical or noncanonical based on how important it's considered, how story-altering it would be to change. Yes, I know. I also know perceptions of what should be considered canonical tend to differ. Is Johnny Storm's race canonical, or not? How about Nick Fury's? Is Spider-Man's web-shooting ability naturally derived or an invention? These are questions a lot of comic book geeks actually have opinions about, and those opinions are based loosely on two different factors: 1) whether there's precedent you can point to in the comics, and 2) how cool the particular geek you're talking to thinks the different options are. Degree of badassery has a remarkable effect on people's concerns about canon-- see, for example, every superhero costume which made a dramatic change from brightly-colored spandex to metallic and/or black armor upon arriving in a movie post....oh, probably 1989's Batman. Some costumes just can't be translated directly to real-world garb without looking ridiculous rather than menacing to our eyes. That fact might not change, but it should be clear by this point that what impresses us does, has, and will.

You could change the characters, along with the costumes.
And if that's too disturbing to consider, why not come up with and/or use some new stories?

I actually don't really care which route movie makers choose-- either one could be amazing. And both have actually been done and continue to be done, over and over....just not in women's favor. The movies I listed as coming out in the next couple of years are noticeably lacking in strong female characters. Just men saving the world and the girl, over and over, for the most part.

It doesn't have to be that way. So why not change?
Give us women...and make them badass. I hear geeks are into that.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A-baby-ist.

Niall Ferguson
So, just as I'm finishing reading comedian Jen Kirkman's book I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids, historian Niall Ferguson goes and claims that people who don't have children don't care about society or the future. Or at least, he claims that about economist John Maynard Keynes, while suggesting that Keynes was gay:
Speaking at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., in front of a group of more than 500 financial advisors and investors, Ferguson responded to a question about Keynes' famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living, as well as the dead. Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of "poetry" rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive. 
It gets worse. 
Ferguson, who is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, and author of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, says it's only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an "effete" member of society. Apparently, in Ferguson's world, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor society.
That was on May 2nd. For two days the blogosphere discussed whether Ferguson is a homophobe, and on May 4th he apologized-- kind of. He went to great lengths to disavow any possible homophobia, including suggesting that it would be impossible for him to be homophobic since he'd asked Andrew Sullivan to be godfather to one of his sons. The reader is treated to a lecture on how absurd and idiotic it would be to think that Ferguson of all people might harbor any bigotry toward homosexuals, as well as the fact that Keynes himself was not immune to such, being somewhat xenophobic toward Poles and Americans. Which is relevant because...I've no clue. The apology ends with a flourish of snark so abrupt it threatens rhetorical whiplash:
Shock, horror: Even the mighty Keynes occasionally said stupid things. Most professors do. And—let's face it—so do most students. 
What the self-appointed speech police of the blogosphere forget is that to err occasionally is an integral part of the learning process. And one of the things I learnt from my stupidity last week is that those who seek to demonize error, rather than forgive it, are among the most insidious enemies of academic freedom.
Be warned! All who took offense to Ferguson's remarks and fail to accept his apology given here are forthwith declared members of the self-appointed speech police of the blogosphere and enemies of academic freedom! Criticism is censorship! Free speech! The ability to speak one's mind openly is in peril when people object too stridently to illogical and offensive smearing of widely respected economists! Geez, you'd think he was a comedian who made a rape joke.

And one common theme that exists in both Ferguson's "apology" and the reactions of people who took exception to his remarks is this: the emphasis on homophobia. Being anti-gay is wrong. Nobody should suggest that gay people are selfish, impetuous, nihilistic, or otherwise deficient in character in any way because they are gay, say the detractors. I didn't mean to suggest that, don't believe it, and don't attack me too much for accidentally claiming it or else you're the speech police, says Ferguson.

Okay...but how about what he suggested about the childless?

Ferguson remarked on the added stupidity to his comments arising from the fact that Keynes' wife did actually get pregnant but suffered a miscarriage, implying that it's underhanded to criticize that particular couple for not having children because at least they apparently tried, and it would amount to pouring salt on the wounds of someone who has lost the baby they hoped for to claim that no such hope ever existed. Which, indeed, it would be...although considering that Keynes died in 1946 and his wife Lydia Lopokova in 1981, it's safe to say that those wounds have long since scabbed over. More fundamental to the point, however, is the fact that Ferguson's characterization of Keynes as selfish and shortsighted due to not being a parent is equally a catastrophic failure of logic and fairness whether he and his wife had attempted to procreate or not. This is because not only does not having children count as character flaw; neither does not wanting them.

Childless by choice, otherwise known as childfree, is not a bad thing to be. Really.

Jen Kirkman
I frequently make the same joke as Jen Kirkman makes in her book's title-- how could I be a parent, when I can barely take care of myself? But let's be clear...it's a joke. Mostly. In addition to being a quasi-memoir and thoroughly enjoyable read, Kirkman's book tears to shreds a lot of popular misconceptions of what it's like to not want children, as well as countering arguments-- yes, arguments-- people make for why you should have children, even though you don't want to. Especially if you're, you know, female. People without children don't understand how precious life is. They won't have anyone to take care of them when they're old and infirm. They have no legacy to succeed them. They are doing a disservice to their parents and partners (who, presumably, not only want children/grandchildren themselves, but require them). They are not truly fulfilled and actualized women (not applicable to men, seemingly-- they don't tend to get this one, even from Niall Ferguson).

Along with revealing the extent and nature of homophobia in the United States, the culture war over gay marriage has revealed a lot of other kinds of prejudice and narrow-mindedness that tend to overlap with it. They're like a Darwinian tree of bigotry, the root of which is basic sexism. From that root sprout a seemingly infinite array of stringent and ingrained beliefs about what men and women should do, say, and in general be, and one of the things they should be is parents. With a person of the opposite sex. Naturally. That is, by a combination of the man's sperm and the woman's egg achieved via sexual intercouse within the context of marriage, probably in the missionary position with the lights off. Not artificially, whether by adoption or in vitro, not outside of marriage, not with a partner who has the same type of genitals you do, and absolutely, positively, not not at all!

It's sort of like atheism, in that a religious person would prefer that you be of the exact same religion that they are (after all, their belief is the Truth with a capital T)...but they can deal if you're, say, of another denomination. Methodists can get along with Presbyterians when they need to get things done. And hey, when it comes right down to it, if you at least agree on a lot of traditions and have a similar basic history underlying your respective belief systems...okay, Protestants can get along with Catholics. And then, well, you know, in the spirit of ecumenicalism, they can also manage to get along with Jews and maybe even Muslims. And then, hey, I guess if we're going to try and all be on the same page, in the end what matters is that we all worship God, right? In our own ways, but everyone has a different path up the mountain and what matters is that you get there.

But wait....you don't even believe in God?
You don't even want children? 

The brain seems to short-circuit here, as in a conversation Kirkman recounts having had at a wedding with someone she'd just met:
"I know you're not even married yet," Lucy lectured, "but at your age, you have to think about making a family while you're planning the wedding." Five minutes ago I was too young to know that I was going to change my mind and suddenly I'm too old to waste any time after my wedding to plan on making a family? Which age bracket am I in? Young and stupid or old and barren? And "making a family" is another expression that grosses me out. I pictured Matt standing over me in a lab coat with a turkey baster. 
Lucy took a big sip of her red win, wiped her lip, and leaned into me. She may have been a little drunk or a little dehydrated or a little both, because she had that dry "wine lip" that looks like someone poured purple paint into the cracks of a sidewalk. She leaned in close and whispered, "What would you do if you accidentally got pregnant?" I didn't even understand the question. "Oh, I would never cheat on Matt," I answered. "No, Jen, I mean what if you got pregnant, by accident, with Matt's baby?" 
"Are you asking me, someone you barely know, at our friends' wedding, if I would have an abortion?" 
"Well," she said, "it's something you have to think about if you don't want kids. I mean, I personally think that abortion is something for teenagers who couldn't possibly raise a child. But ever since I decided that I wanted to try to become a mother and I see how difficult it can be to get pregnant, I realize that it's a gift to be pregnant and if a married couple who are both employed accidentally get pregnant, I don't see how you can give that up."  
A total stranger tried to small-talk me about abortion. I have never had an abortion. I never want to have an abortion. I also don't want to have a baby. 
And trust me...we've thought about it. We've heard all about how Jesus wants to be our lord and savior how great parenting can be, how fulfilling, how important, how necessary. And by "necessary," I mean we've heard about how it's necessary for everyone who is capable of procreating, especially the rational and intelligent ones, to partner up and make some babies already, for the sake of the human race!

But really...we don't. We have our reasons. And it's okay.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The stupidest cartoon

When I saw this cartoon, my head about exploded:


I'll let Hemant Mehta explain what's so wrong with it:
The idea, of course, is that the media is celebrating Collins for telling the world he’s gay, while they were mostly annoyed by Tim Tebow for telling the world he’s Christian. 
If that sentence seems weird to you, that’s because the cartoon makes no sense. 
Collins did something no male in the NBA (or several other popular leagues) had done: He came out as gay while still playing professionally. 
Believe it or not, there’s no shortage of Christians in any sporting league. Need evidence? Just listen to someone on the winning team during a post-game interview. 
When Tebow told the world he was Christian — more Christian than other Christians, really, with his eye black messages and on-field prayers — it was annoying. It doesn’t take “courage” to proudly proclaim, “I’m in the majority!”
All I can do is create my own versions which attempt to be closer to reality. Like

Or even just


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why do we laugh at sexist jokes?

Post about stereotyping, cliche
thinking gets stereotyped,
cliched image
Let's say you view love as a battlefield. Okay, more like a football field. Dating, sex, relationships, marriage-- they're all a series of skirmishes against the other team, aka the opposite sex. You compete with others on your own team as well, fellow Men players and Women players, but when push comes to shove it's really your team against their team. When you get together with fellow teammates, you make fun of the other team with abandon. Sometimes you even do it in their presence. It's expected; it's normal-- why wouldn't both sides of a rivalry do that? And hey, it's all in good fun. More or less. Because after all, you're going to be playing on this field for your entire life. You will never stop playing, and neither will they. As a straight person, that's what you're expected to do-- it's all you can do. Right?

That's what you'd call an adversarial model of sex and relationships-- a zero-sum game, in which men and women are two sides in a conflict, each trying to get what they want from the other. Generally speaking, according to this model what men are trying to get is sex with the hottest women possible (and eventually marriage with the most virginal) while women are trying to get married to the wealthiest, most high-status men, and the behavior of both sexes can be read as performed in pursuit of this goal. Both the "is" and the "ought" here are taken as a given, and since the goals of men and women generally differ, they are eternally at odds with each other and can be expected to engage in various forms of manipulation in order to get what they want. Sure, at times this will result in love-- but never complete trust, because the goals remain different even though they overlap. You're in competition amongst (straight) people of your own sex because you all want the same thing, and also with people of the opposite sex because they also all want the same thing, and they want it from you. Hopefully.

If you don't view relationships this way yourself, you probably know people who do. When there aren't members of the opposite sex around they'll talk about how crazy women are, or how stupid men are, secure in the belief that you not only won't mind but will actually appreciate these comments, because after all you're on the same team. You're just one of the guys/gals, and we've got to stick together. Bros before hos, and whatever the female equivalent is. I'm pretty sure there isn't one, or at least there isn't an actual slogan that women employ for this mentality. We are not, however, exempt from that kind of thing.

I was thinking about this while reading Miri at Brute Reason's excellent post discussing research on sexist humor. Her post covers studies which found a correlation between appreciation of sexist jokes and permissive attitudes toward sexual assault and rape, and it's a must-read. The most interesting portion of it to me, however, was this:
Men who found the jokes funny also tended to score higher on a measure of adversarial sexual beliefs, which is basically the idea that men and women are “adversaries” in the game of love and that women will deceive and manipulate men to get what they want (therefore it’s also a measure of good ol’ sexism). The study had female participants, too, and for them, the degree to which they enjoyed the sexist jokes was also correlated with their endorsement of adversarial sexual beliefs, but not with their self-reported likelihood to rape or any measure of aggression.
It actually hadn't occurred to me that if you're one of these people-- male or female-- who views sex and love in adversarial terms, you're not only likely to likely to appreciate sexist jokes, but likely to appreciate (or at least not be offended by) sexist jokes against your own gender. That is, if you go through life assuming that people of the opposite sex are in some sense the enemy, trying to manipulate members of your sex into getting what they want, you're not likely to be surprised when they make jokes at your gender's expense. In fact you'd expect this, because it's not like you can have a battle with only one side fighting, can you? It's all in good fun to trash people of the opposite sex because a) it's so true (that's why we're laughing), and b) hey, they do it too.

Now, the studies Miri discusses weren't conducted to examine adversarial thinking in relationship to sexist jokes specifically, so I'm extrapolating from this. But I would hazard to guess that if the jokes told had been sexist toward men rather than toward women, the men wouldn't have been terribly bothered and might well have laughed, again in correlation with the extent to which they think in adversarial terms. And this makes quite a bit of sense when you consider that a lot of the jokes which poke fun at people based on their sex do so in both directions. It's staggering to think about how many comedians have built their entire careers trading on such stereotypes, male and female, and they're usually at least implying some not-so-flattering things about their own gender while appearing to attack the other. Often unintentionally, but still they are.

So if this is all true, it gives you something to think about when, for example, discussing why a woman would laugh at Seth McFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" song at the Oscars. That song celebrated adversarial thinking, without a doubt. And when a public figure makes a joke, song, commercial, speech....really any sort of performance that transmits a message which turns out to offend people, the first thing those who enjoyed/agree with it do is find examples of people the performance supposedly mocked, hold them up, and say "Look at this-- we found a woman/person of color/homosexual/citizen of that country/member of that religion who thinks it's funny/true! Therefore it's not offensive!" Every. Single. Time.

In the case of sexism, maybe this is the explanation for why. Not because the joke isn't sexist, but because they share a mindset with the person making the joke which permits them to enjoy it along with them, even though it's sexist in their direction. Because hey-- it's so true. And they do it too.

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In related news, it's a travesty that this Kickstarter will almost certainly not be funded. If you're interested in the general topic of offensive jokes, consider supporting it even if you don't like this post from me. Even if you think I'm absolutely wrong-- especially if you think so. Because if so, that documentary might bolster your case. :-)