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December 2014

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criminal minds garcia plan b

this will be the writer's year, man.

So last night, I lay awake in bed for hours, feeling a bit brutalized because of a very funny, very apt, very smart deconstruction of The Phantom Menace that had a lot of smart clever things to say about constructing a narrative.

It was also, not incidentally, misogynist.

In small ways, and in great. Mentioning that a character complains like a girl. Calling C-3p0 "effeminate" as if that were a bad thing. Illustrating and adding violence against women as a running gag.

You know what?

I do not actually think those jokes were intended to hurt me. I think they were intended to be funny.

And yet, they left me feeling like a bad person. They left me lying awake at night, wondering why people hated me because I happen to be female.

And I realized, they don't. The people who make these jokes do not realize that they make me feel bad, or wrong, or toxic simply for having been born female, or queer. They don't actually mean to make black or Asian or Latino or Middle Eastern people feel less human. They are just... made a little uncomfortable by difference.

And so they alienate it.

And they don't realize that they are alienating me. A human being. Somebody who will lie awake at night wondering why they hate her.

Tonight, I am watching the Oscars.

I have watched Seth MacFarlane make jokes about women and blacks as if we are not people with hearts.

I have watched Ang Lee and Samuel Jackson and Halle Berry and Shirley Bassey and Salma Hayek and a dozen others be beautiful and gracious, and I have to think--

--as Ang Lee said--

NAMASTE.

Peace.

Peace.

I still want to punch Seth MacFarlane in the face. A song about Meryl Streep's boobs? Really Seth? Where's the song about Ewan McGregor's dick?

Namaste.

I know you do not mean to hurt me. I know you do not mean to make me feel less than human.

But sometimes you do.

Oh, you do.

And you, Seth, are not the first one.

Comments

Hm. "Didn't mean it," is striking me as increasingly problematic.

Over the last couple of years, I've had a number of interactions - all, as it happens, with white men - where they said something I found really hurtful. Look, okay, people make mistakes all the time, things happen. If you say something offensive, and someone points out that yeah, that was offensive, if you did so by accident, you stop, apologise, and express your embarrassment and horror at being so thoughtless... or whatever the situation merits. It's not always embarrassment and horror. But these things happen, we work them out, mistakes aren't a huge problem, and life goes on.

So, I told them that they found it really hurt... and their responses were to tell me that it wasn't hurtful, and that there was something wrong with me if I found it hurtful and that I was making too big a deal of it.

In one of the cases, it was a person who has been increasingly behaving like an asshole to me (while being proprietary about my time) and after he threw a fit about how I was being mean and hurting him by telling him that something he'd said to me was hurtful (no really)... I just stopped spending time with him. Done. (Later to be followed up by trying to pick fights with me in my blog and hate-o-grams. Yeah, he's got the big boy pants.) The other... it was several really difficult months in there, but eventually we got to a mutual understand that when I express concern about something, ducking responding to my point by dismissing, devaluing and belittling what I said is not okay. Recently he encouraged me to remind him, if this sort of thing comes up, that it's not about what he meant, but what he did.

(BTW, as frustrating as the experience has been, I'm really impressed by the changes he's made.)

Anyhow, the whole thing has left me a lot more cynical about the idea that they didn't mean it. When pointed out, do they immediately say "OMG, that didn't occur to me, I'm so sorry"? If not... well, I kind of think they meant it. Or at least, they think their right to do and say whatever they want is a lot more important than anyone else.

"Didn't mean it." means "My intention is more important than your experience (even if I didn't think about it at all)."
Yeah, that's mostly where I am too. And, adjacent to your point "it's a joke" it's the stupidest fucking defense on the planet. Because, see, if :nasty, mean, fucked up thing: is funny to you, then that says something about what you believe, what you have and have not thought about in the world, and whether you have empathy for whoever you are saying fucked up things about.

That being said, I am all about snark, gallows humor, and I'm actually a big fan of Seth McFarlane's shows. I haven't seen the Oscar thing, maybe the shittyness will go over my head, and I'll think it's funny (I like the idea behind playing off overlong speeches with Jaws.) but there's a way to snark, a way to address shittyness with humor. I think it's all in where you put the emphasis, I think, and a lot of people fuck it up.

Edited at 2013-02-25 10:16 pm (UTC)