A reader sent me a link to this d00dly graph, What The Force Would Be Used For If It Actually Existed. If you don’t want to bother to click through, the answer is: greater than 50%, pulling the remote to you because it is too far away; insignificant percentage, actually making a difference in the universe; all the remaining percentage, persuading women to undress. Wait, I can’t keep typing because I’m laughing so, so much. Oh, those clever d00ds.
My correspondent wrote:
This is rather disturbing if you think about it. Using coercion to “persuade” a woman to undress: shades of rape culture?
Hey, that is totally what
the force is for!
Well, clearly, the implied viewing audience for the graph, and putative possessors of the force, are heterosexual males*. That’s dominant patriarchal discourse for you.
If the force actually existed, I’d devote 95% of my usage (the other 5% is for retrieving my glasses from wherever I last set them down) to persuading mansplainers to stop talking and listen for a change. I’m not sure if the force is that strong, though. But it would be good times, AND count as actually making a difference in the universe!
*the kind, no doubt, who can take a joke. Unlike hairy-legged feminazis, who have no sense of humor.
The other day, a male friend of mine was at the grocery store in the check out line. He was not feeling particularly happy, and, I guess, was frowning a little. A dude in line behind him tapped him on his shoulder to get his attention and when he turned around, the dude said, in a bright voice, “You dropped something,” and was pointing to the floor. My male friend looked down and said, “I don’t see anything.” The dude then told him, “You dropped your smile.” My male friend was not amused. He turned around going back to his business saying, “Oh, OK.” The man proceeded to walk away mumbling, “Don’t look so serious. It’s only the grocery store.”
That doesn’t sound right, does it?
No, because it really happened to a woman. There, that feels more…normal, doesn’t it?
Isis got a letter from a PhD student who was told in a teaching evaluation that she needs to smile more. Isis gave her some excellent advice but I want to address this whole “needs to smile more” issue from a different angle.
Over at the mansplaining thread, you can read literally hundreds of hilarious, annoying, frustrating, heartbreaking stories of how women are constantly subjected to intrusive, incessant, insensitive, inane mansplaining. Interspersed you will also find comments from d00dly d00ds whinging away about how awful it is that women are talking so MEAN about men, and their mansplanations about how mansplaining doesn’t exist. Then some douche tried to coin the phrase femsplaining.
Femsplaining, as best I can tell, is a phenomenon that arises in the following manner:
Lindsey Vonn is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Womentalksports.com notes
Vonn is first a GREAT athlete, but she also represents norm of feminine attractiveness. The combination of athleticism and attractiveness make Vonn the likely poster girl of the US Olympic Team, and the media hasn’t disappointed in constructed her as such.
Not to be left out, Sports Illustrated is featuring Vonn on their February 8,2010 cover (pictured here). For those of you who follow SI Covers, know that female athletes are RARELY featured on the cover.
Over the last 60 years researchers have shown that about 4% of all SI covers have portrayed women.
When females are featured on the cover of SI, they are more likely than not to be in sexualized poses and not in action-and the most recent Vonn cover is no exception.
Silly ladeez! Chris Chase mansplains why you are WRONG!!!! (Though I note, alas, poor Chris is unable to actually directly link to the womentalksports.com post he is mansplaining.)
Because the ladybranes are tiny, I am here to help. I am going to translate Chris’s mansplaining post into a more direct communication that really gets the message across, so that even the teeniest tiniest ladybraned ladeez out there will understand what is meant. Chase’s original text is in boldface. Here we go!
Last time I checked, Erma Bombeck, when she was alive, was a hugely popular American humorist who wrote a newspaper column and published 15 books, most of which were best sellers. She came from the working class, and made quite a successful career for herself in publishing, at a time when women normally did not have careers.
But apparently, since she wrote about housewives and domestic issues, there’s nothing to admire about what she did. And if you want to mock a woman writer these days, why, you just link her to Erma Bombeck and call it at day. See: “Erma-Bombeckian” (Steven Pinker trashing Natalie Angier in the New York Times) or “Isis Bombeck” (commenter Prometheus just mocking Dr. Isis in general).
Here’s what I wrote earlier about Pinker’s small-minded carping:
But I really don’t like the way Pinker compares [Angier] to Erma Bombeck as a put-down. It’s insulting to Angier, and it’s insulting to Bombeck, a woman who wanted to be a writer from her earliest days, who had her first newspaper job at age 15, and who campaigned for the ERA. Erma Bombeck may not be your cup of tea, but for several decades she was the wry voice of the American middle-class housewife. To use her as a snipingly dismissive insult is, in a sense, spitting upon the unnoticed and unrewarded labor of all those women who tended the homes – and the ones who still do. To compare Angier to Bombeck is to say, “your writing is no better than a bunch of old wives’ tales”.
Maybe I’m just an overly sensitive, grouchy old humorless hairy-legged feminist. (Though I did shave just the day before yesterday.) But that’s what sucks about patriarchy: you’re never entirely sure if Steven Pinker just doesn’t like Natalie Angier’s writing style or if Steven Pinker is evaluating Natalie Angier more harshly because she’s a woman writing about man stuff.
Well, now I’m pretty sure about this: if you want to dismiss a woman writing about anything, you call her Bombeck. In doing so, you denigrate everything Erma Bombeck every did and achieved, and you deny that the world of wives and mothers has any weight or importance. And then you tar your present-day writer with that not-serious brush you just created.
I say, any d00d who resorts to trying to insult women writers by calling them Erma Bombeck – as if that were an insult – must be trying to overcompensate for his phenomenally small weiner.
UPDATE: Samia, in the comments below, has rightfully pointed out the serious problems with the last sentence of this post. I’m leaving the post as is so people can see what I originally wrote, but I encourage you to read the exchange between Samia and myself below for some enlightenment as to why I really should have thought twice before posting that remark.
Last night I was watching tv with Mr. Zuska and the loathsome Kohler’s “Jo’s Plumbing” commercial came on yet again.
Plumbing is one of those trades that have been traditionally dominated by men. Women have struggled to gain access to these well-paying jobs. It is a job that takes a women out, often on her own, into the houses of strangers, where she might be vulnerable to sexual assault, not to mention the harassment and discrimination she might have to put up with on the job from colleagues.
In this commercial the young plumber is, of course, hot and sexy, dressed in tight clothing to show off her body (unlike what a real plumber might actually wear). She shows by a sultry glance at the average-looking d00d coming out of his house that she, though at work and on the way to a plumbing job, is certainly available to and interested in him. Earning a living will not get in the way of her sexual availability for any random guy she happens to pass on the street! This woman is dark-haired and vaguely ethnic/exotic – perhaps Latina. Average D00d, though clearly on his way somewhere, is overcome by lust and runs back into his house to try stopping up his toilet – which is, as all women agree, a surefire mating strategy. As he is failing miserably in his quest, a non-exotic, non-sexily dressed, blond woman, presumably his wife or partner, wanders by the bathroom door and catches him at his ridiculous labor. Average D00d looks up, caught, sheepish. Thus ends the commercial.
The text of the commercial is obviously the amazing flushing power of the Kohler toilet, but what, exactly, are we to make of the commercial’s subtext? Obviously, we aren’t meant to think much about it at all in the first place – it’s just supposed to function as background. But what sort of background? Average D00d is the buffoonish husband of so many sitcom families, Blond Woman is his long-suffering wife. What does Jo the Plumber signify? Women’s sexuality, dark and mysterious, driving men to do ridiculous things, to lose control over themselves and their planned agendas – to lose responsibility for themselves. Hawt women want it – all the time – even when they’re working! So what if you are in a relationship – it is perfectly reasonable to lose control over yourself at the sight of a Hawt Exotic Woman Who Totes Wants You, You Know She Does.
Something else about this commercial’s subtext: it lets us know who the commercial takes as its audience. And that would be, heterosexual white men, who can identify with Average D00d in his lust for exoticized Jo, and then admire the masterful performance of the Kohler toilet, shown to manfully handle every (clean and unblemished) item thrown at it. You gotta hand it to the Kohler ad folks. Here they are, trying to sell a product whose purpose is to efficiently and swiftly dispose of piss and shit, and they’ve done it by connecting it with hawt sexy exotic women. Hawt sexy exotic women are, of course, not the same as those illegal immigrant wetbacks that are stealing our jobs. You know, like cleaning our toilets, something done more and more frequently these days by illegal immigrants.
I would bet that most bathroom renovations – the market Kohler might be trying to reach – are under the guidance and decision-making of women. It seems like it would make more sense to create a commercial that would appeal to women’s interests, and that doesn’t treat women like sex objects, but then, I don’t get paid the big bucks at the ad agencies. And sex narratives like the one in the Kohler ad are so ingrained in the consciousness of all of us that they may work equally well on women as on men. I’m sure we’ll be able to tell by the comments. How long till someone shows up to accuse me of having no sense of humor, of reading too much into a “simple” commercial (like any commercial is ever simple), and all the other familiar, tired, tiresome complaints one hears whenever one dares to notice the miasma of gender smog permeating our lives?
You are a male physics professor, and you want to improve science education. What could possibly be a better idea than to team up with a bunch of professional cheerleaders and make a video of them shouting out science tidbits while they shake their pompoms? Science cheerleaders!
I know, right? You wish you’d thought of it first, don’t you?
While I’ve been away from the blogiverse, it appears that you’ve had the misfortune to be treated to all manner of disgusting ads popping up here at ScienceBlogs. Mail Order Brides, Naughty Singles, and I don’t know what all else. Isis has some details here. She says:
…if you’ve been visiting me for any length of time then you know how I feel about the exploitation of women, especially racial minorities and women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. That’s the entire point of the Letters to Our Daughters Project and the Silence is the Enemy Project, right?
That said, I cannot in good faith continue to contribute content here while these ads remain visible. This also makes me sad because I love being at ScienceBlogs. I love my Sciblings (well, most of them) and I believe in the establishment of community for the promotion of science. But, it would not be right for my page views to generate revenue that funds individuals who exploit women. The morality in this matter seems pretty black and white.
I believe the management here at ScienceBlogs when they tell me that they are working to have their ad agency remove the ads, but the traffic generated in the meantime while those ads still appear still puts money in the pockets of those who exploit women. So, until I receive confirmation from the Overlords here at ScienceBlogs that these ads are gone, I’m taking a hiatus.
Well said. Can’t think of a thing to add at this point. I’ll be back when the ads are gone. In the meantime, I sincerely apologize to those of you who have been offended by the ads, and I hope that someday you’ll receive an apology from ScienceBlogs, too.