Friday, February 19, 2010

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Sexists

This week, UC San Diego officials condemned an off-campus, Facebook-promoted party called "The Compton Cookout," which was organized as a joke on Black History Month.

Ahh, Facebook—always a wealth of educational materials. This week, I've learned a lot about how far some of the milennials haven't come. Gay marriage seems to be faring well, overt racism is still largely verboten—at least linguistically speaking—but unfortunately, open sexism is in some circles still a-okay. Celebrated, even.

If campus officials at UCSB saw in the "Compton Cookout" a teachable moment, then I hope that Granada Hills Charter High School officials will stumble across the Facebook group created by a group of GHCHS students called "i just found out women spelled backwards is kitchen" (sic) and seize another such moment. If UC San Diego can host a "teach-in 'to discuss the importance of mutual respect and civility'" over an exhibition of racist thought, then wouldn't it be fiting if these boys' mommies were made aware of lines like, "What's strong enough for a man, but made for a woman? The back of my hand."

I'm reminded of another joke from my youth: Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A: That's not funny. Yet at the risk of being called a humorless feminist, I still feel compelled to raise the question: why is it acceptable in some circles to make sexist jokes, but not racist ones? Perhaps it's because the chasm between men and women is, and always will be, far vaster than the one between men of different races. The assumption that there are inherent differences between humans of different races is the foundation of racism, yet the assumption that there are inherent differences between the sexes is, to a certain extent, just common sense. Biologically, evolutionarily, and culturally, men and women are truly different, and there's just no getting around that.


Yet in an age when uttering, or even typing, the word "nigger" immediately brands one a racist, regardless of context, there is no taboo word with a parallel power that would brand one a sexist, nor is being called a sexist, at least for the members of this group, in any way a mark of shame. Yet I'm actually glad that this gross oversimplification of what racism is—use the n-word, go to jail—has no counterpart in gender politics, or anywhere else. A single word does not a racist make. There are no silver bullets, and context is everything.

you know they invented the microwave for retarded women that can't cook, and for the even dumber women they invented drive thru.

if a tree falls and crushes and killsa woman....why the fuck is there a forrest in the kitchen?

Why don't women need drivers licenses?There is no road between the bedroom and the kitchen.

You don't have to be a Santa Cruz grad to notice the oppressive tone, but you'd also have to be pretty dense not to notice that the balls-out offensiveness is central to the humor. One could generously interpret these jokes as social pressure-relief mechanisms, but again, I'm forced to ask: why is it that these jokes would be plainly, immediately, and roundly condemned if they were retold with the w-word substituted with the n-word?

I put this theory to the test, and it was confirmed. Shortly after being invited to join the group—a move its organizers are certain to regret—I took the bait, and began posting jokes of my own. Taking material from a KKK-affiliated website whose motto was, "It's not illegal to be white...yet," I reposted racist jokes, but substituted the word "woman" for the racial epithet, and pointed out that I had done so. No one laughed, my post was quickly deleted, and I was, as predicted, roundly criticized for comparing the two isms. Being accused of racism in a group frankly devoted to sexism: the irony is so thick you could cut it into strips and sew it into a burka.

Upon joining, I noticed that the group has several female members, who even joined in the ribbing with "LMFAO." That could be the case because these girls genuinely think the jokes are funny, in a way that I just don't get, but it might also be the case because it's often safer to side with a bully than it is to stand in his way.

In response to my post, the group's organizer said, "this muthafucker really said nigger..wow u raciest white bitch."

This response may have contained an unintentional spelling error, but I chose to assume that it didn't, and instead accepted it as compliment, pointing him to the definition of "raciest" in TheFreeDictionary.com, which reads,

racy [ˈreɪsɪ]
adj racier, raciest
1. (of a person's manner, literary style, etc.) having a distinctively lively and spirited quality; fresh
2. having a characteristic or distinctive flavour a racy wine
3. suggestive; slightly indecent; risqué a racy comedy

So to the members of "i just found out women spelled backwards is kitchen," I say, gee, thanks! Flattery will get you everywhere, boys.





7 comments:

  1. Do you really think these 15 and 16 year old boys actually believe that women belong in the kitchen? They're teenagers! It's a joke! So much of the days of feminish is so far behind us that it's fun to poke fun of the outdated ideas. They're jokes, and they're funny because theyre offensive, but the men in this group aren't going home to their wives and telling them to make them a sandwich, they're going home to their mommies. Lighten up.

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  2. I get that it's a joke, that it's hyperbole. I'm just raising the question: why does no one dismiss racist jokes in the same way -- "It's just a joke, lighten up"? Why are sexist jokes acceptable and racist jokes unacceptable? If you can answer that question, I'd like to hear it.

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  3. Funny, my son informed me last night that you were sexist. He read a few entries and then got bored and moved on. My husband and I took the opportunity to explain how bad it looks to be a "fan/friend" of a page like that. It looks like it didn't make an impact because I noticed this morning that he has a fan of some other, similar page. To him it is just funny, lighthearted stuff. What teenagers fail to realize is that future colleges/employers may think that they really believe that stuff....

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  4. At least he didn't think I was a racist....

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  5. Read "Somebodies and Nobodies" by Robert W. Fuller.

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  6. Not that I'm sticking up for that ridiculous facebook page, but how clean are the comedy acts that you pimp on your blog each week? Do they make racial/sexist jokes at all? My point is that it's all for humor. Don't get worked up about it. There are far worse things to be upset about nowadays.

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  7. You can call it pimping if you must, but I prefer to describe it as "pilzimping."

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