Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Worst Mistake

“Whats the useless skin around the vagina called?... A woman.”

Isn’t that a hilarious joke?!  No?  You didn’t think that was funny?  You thought it was offensive and sexist and subscribes to the harmful misconception that everyone with a vagina is a woman (and, similarly, people without vaginas are not women)?  Yeah, I didn’t think it was funny either.  I was even less inclined to find it amusing given the circumstances under which I found this joke.

Before I explain those circumstances, I think we should pause and focus on the word “joke.”  These are definitions of the word as found on dictionary.com:

1. something said or done to provoke laughter or cause amusement, as a witticism, a short and amusing anecdote, or a prankish act: He tells very funny jokes. She played a joke on him. 

2. something that is amusing or ridiculous, especially because of being ludicrously inadequate or a sham; a thing, situation, or person laughed at rather than taken seriously; farce: Their pretense of generosity is a joke. An officer with no ability to command is a joke.
3. a matter that need not be taken very seriously; trifling matter: The loss was no joke.
4. something that does not present the expected challenge; something very easy: The test was a joke for the whole class.

My personal favourite is number 3 because it is clearly not applicable in this situation.  This joke and where it stems from is hardly “a trifling matter” and we cannot pretend that it is.  We have not reached a point of gender equality where we can look back at it and laugh, and even if we did reach that point, there’s not a hell of a lot there to laugh about.  Telling a woman to get back in the kitchen or to go make a sandwich isn’t funny.  It’s not that we’re too sensitive; it’s that we’re too oppressed.  We are still the victims of institutionalized discrimination that prevents us from equal rights, earning equal pay, getting respect, and being taken seriously in general.  This brings me to that aforementioned circumstance and how I happened upon the "hilarious joke" I opened with.  

Acquiring 1,445 likes in 8 hours, this cartoon was posted on Facebook by a certain group, accompanied by the caption “Worst mistake in history”

Come again?  The “worst mistake in history” you say?  I hope you’ll understand why I’m not particularly amused by this kind of joke.  And I hope that in that understanding you DO NOT chalk it up to me being “too sensitive” or not having “a sense of humour” or some other bullshit that is meant to justify this kind of blatant misogyny.  It is hardly an issue of not taking a joke; it’s more an issue of recognizing the thinly veiled message of the disgruntled, privileged male who is grossly misinformed in his opinion that women currently wield too much power, and being fed up with it.

Usually, when I get upset I say something.  (It’s this wonderful ability I’ve had ever since I learned how to talk.)   So, I said something.  

“this is not just a joke.  this is extremely sexist and extremely harmful.  where the fuck does anyone get off expressing discomfort because a group of people (a group which, incidentally, makes up roughly 50% of the globe) learned to speak, a.k.a. voice their opinions, feelings, complaints?!  how dare anyone present this as a problem and how dare they label that ‘problem’ as ‘the worst mistake in history?!’
this isn’t just a cartoon and I will not relax becuz it’s just a joke.  anyone who is saying that is so thoroughly embedded in the misogynistic perception of the world and our culture that they don’t realize how ultimately harmful and inherently pernicious this cartoon is.”     

My comment got 10 likes before it was removed when I disliked the group.  In retrospect, I think I should not have disliked the group because now the majority of the comments look like this:


These are just some of the comments you can find on this picture.  For the record, I didn’t block out their names because these assholes don’t deserve anonymity.  Don't try to placate me with the standard "they're just jerks on the internet."  It's true that they are jerks on the internet, but it can hardly be reduced to that.  And to Chris Favuzza: Seriously?  It’s a “bitch fit” to be offended when everything about this cartoon, comment section, culture, mentality is a personal threat to our dignity.  This kind of thing plays no small role in how women are treated in the professional world, not to mention the dating world, the domicile, the medical world, the education system, and the legal system.  Where do you get off thanking those who displayed what you would call “a sense of humour” but what I call “complacency?”  And I'm not personally attacking all the women who found this funny; I am, however, pissed the fuck off at the culture which allows this kind of thing to go on and then tells me to "shut the fuck up" about my anger.

But since everyone is so quick to cry about how a lack of humour is causing all these “uptight” women to get all bent out of shape and hysterical about a simple joke, let’s focus on that for a second.  Fuck Sam Phillips and his truly original request for a sandwich, let’s look at what Tremayne Craigg has to say:

You probably would just laugh, Tremayne, but I would argue that that has more to do with your relative position of power than with your genuine good nature.  It’s not the same when a joke is made about a man’s worth in society as when the joke is made about women.  And, personally, I don’t think it’s nice to do that to men either but that’s just because I happen to be an egalitarian.  You see, Tremayne and people of his gender have the luxury of moving on.  And I really didn’t appreciate being reduced to a “sensitive bitch” because I was offended by a) the cartoon, b) the caption “worst mistake in history,” and c) the asshole comments telling me to lighten up, calling me useless, demanding that I go make a sandwich, explaining that I require a dick shoved in my mouth, and reiterating that I need to get over myself.

This is an issue we do not address nearly enough in this country, and it isn’t going anywhere.  It’s not just a fucking joke to be laughed at, and then disregarded; it’s a fucking tragedy and it is suffocating us.  What harm could it do to stand by and let that suffocation occur?  Well, it might prove to be the worst mistake in history.

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