Why Seth MacFarlane’s Misogyny Matters

By Margaret Lyons

Seth MacFarlane made a whole bunch of sexist, reductive jokes at the Oscars last night. It’s frustrating enough to know that 77 percent of Academy voters are male. Or to watch 30 men and 9 women collect awards last night. But MacFarlane’s boob song, the needless sexualization of a little girl, and the relentless commentary about how women look reinforced, over and over, that women somehow don’t belong. They matter only insofar as they are beautiful or naked, or preferably both. This wasn’t an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.

MacFarlane’s opening musical number, “We Saw Your Boobs,” might as well have been a siren blaring, “This isn’t for you.” Come on, everyone likes boobs, right? No. The answer is no. They’re not something I hate, and heck, I have a pair to call my own, and yet my takeaway from The Accused was not “Finally, I’ve seen Jodie Foster’s breasts.” My lasting memory of Boys Don’t Cry is not “Hey, free breasts!” At least there was that super timely and relevant reference to Kate Winslet’s many nude scenes.

Jeez, the song was a joke! Can’t you take a joke? Yes, I can take a joke. I can take a bunch! A thousand, 10,000, maybe even more! But after 30 or so years, this stuff doesn’t feel like joking. It’s dehumanizing and humiliating, and as if every single one of those jokes is an ostensibly gentler way of saying, “I don’t think you belong here.” All those little instances add up, grain of sand by grain of sand until I’m stranded in a desert of every “tits or GTFO” joke I’ve ever tried to ignore.

Then came the joke about actresses getting the flu to lose weight. “It paid off,” MacFarlane said. “Looking good.” Well, thank God, because what matters to all women is that we look good for Seth MacFarlane. How many women did he introduce over the course of the night by mentioning how they looked: “Please welcome the lovely ___ ,” “the beautiful ______”? How many men?

Uh, those are compliments! Now he can’t even give women compliments? Compliment away, friends. Let’s compliment the shit out of each other. But let’s be really cognizant of what we compliment each other on, and what that says about what we expect from each other, and what we consider valuable and worth mentioning. It doesn’t matter what Salma Hayek says, because she’s so pretty!

You just don’t like Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor. What did you expect? Actually, I do like Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor. (Sometimes. No one likes everything all the time!) I’ve been a loyal Family Guy viewer for almost fifteen years. I’ve been to — and adored — Family Guy: Live. If MacFarlane had sung “Shipoopi” all night, I’d be writing a really different story right now. Instead, there were jokes about how Rex Reed would probably call Adele fat — because that’s what’s important about her — and how someday Quvenzhané Wallis will be old enough to date George Clooney — because that’s what’s important about her — and how sometimes, gasp, a woman might have body hair — because that’s what’s important about them. Women are nags, and Jews run Hollywood! Thank you, Seth MacFarlane, for this cutting-edge humor. Like Mark Wahlberg said, the party’s at Jack Nicholson’s house. You remember, that place where Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha.

I dream of someday watching women win all the non-performance categories, of women making as many films as men do, of women and men being nominated for a comparable number of awards. There are a lot of reasons why that day is far, far in the future. But I’ll tell you what’s not helping: the biggest night in film being dedicated to alienating, excluding, and debasing women. Actual gender equality is a ways away, but I’d settle for one four-hour ceremony where women aren’t being actively degraded.

[Source: Vulture]

Fraternity Brothers Raising Money to Help Pay for Transgender Member’s Top Surgery

By Greg Hernandez

Donnie Collins, an Emerson College sophomore pledging the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity, is finding out a lot about the meaning of brotherhood.

Collins is a transgender male whose health insurance does not cover his female-to-male top surgery which involves the removal of the breasts. He has paid for his hormone treatment himself.

Now his his new fraternity brothers have stepped in to help raise money for the operation through a page on IndieGogo.com.

‘We care deeply about each and everyone, and rely on the entire active brotherhood to stand behind any one individual when they are in need,’ members state on the page.  ‘We as an organization are told from day one to use our resources. You may not know this gentleman like we do, and we might not even know you, but if it speaks to you then we want to present you with an opportunity to give.’

Collins wants to have the surgery in May. He came out as transgender while a student at an all-girls boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut.

He tells Out.com that he cried in gratitude when he found out what his fraternity brothers were doing for him.

‘I was just like, ‘Oh that’s such a Tau thing to do,’ and I didn’t even think it was that weird,’ Collins says. ‘But then I started sending [the indiegogo link] out to people, and they were like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing! See, Greek Life isn’t bad; it’s amazing.’’

As of Monday (25 February) evening PST, just over $2,300 had been raised.

Below is a video made by some of the fraternity brothers:

 

[Source: Gay Star News]

HOLY SHIT A DAD DOES LAUNDRY

I was watching this commercial and the whole time I was waiting for the mom to show up and take over or tell the dad he was doing something wrong but NO. It’s just a dad, being a dad, doing his kid’s laundry. It’s a little ridiculous that this is some kind of shocking revelation because dads have been doing laundry and tons of other household/parenting activities for quiiiite some time now, but somehow it’s taken until 2013 for cleaning product commercials to get with the program….small victories, take ’em where you can get ’em I guess.

Quvenzhané Wallis + The Oscars = Sexist/Racist Undertones

For those of you who don’t know, this is Quvenzhané Wallis, the 9 year old star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, for which she received a Best Actress nomination. She is a fireball of energy, an extremely talented actress for her age (hence the nomination) and wise beyond her years. Despite all this, much of the attention she’s been getting recently has had some disturbing and completely inappropriate sexist and racist undertones.

For starters, people are having a lot of difficulty trying to figure out how to pronounce her name. She spells it out in this video for everyone who hasn’t taken the time to figure it out themselves. It is still a fairly common and accepted practice to make light black men and women’s names (see: Top 60 Ghetto Black Names). There seems to be a very fine line between poking fun at a cultural practice and marginalizing someone because of their ethnicity or heritage. On the bright side, Quvenzhané is taking no guff from anyone about her name. In an interview about her upcoming role as ‘Annie’ an AP reporter said she was “Just going to call her Annie”. She responded, “My name is not Annie. It’s Quvenzhane.” She’s proud of her name and she’s letting everyone know.

Unfortunately, the trouble doesn’t stop there for Ms. Wallis. Last night at the Oscar ceremony Seth Macfarlane who served as host made a joke about Quvenzhané’s age saying “She’s 9. To give you an idea of how young that is, in 16 years she’ll be too old for Clooney.” To be honest, at the time I didn’t think much of his joke, thinking it was more of a jab at George Clooney than anything. After reading numerous negative comments about this particular joke I realized that it’s a lot more problematic than it was perhaps meant to be. Black women have historically been over sexualized in this country and this joke was just a perpetuation of that process, not to mention that this girl is 9 years old. 

By far the worst media attention surrounding Quvenzhané is a tweet from the satirical news source The Onion. It read, “Everyone seems afraid to say it but that Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a c**t, right?” After a surge of outrage on Twitter, The Onion took the tweet down and quickly apologized via their Facebook page:

“It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting. No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire. The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again.”

Yes, The Onion is satirical and not meant to be taken seriously. However, there is a huge difference between the intent of a joke and the impact it makes, especially when the joke is focused on someone who is part of a marginalized group. And again, maybe the tweet wouldn’t have been quite as offensive if it wasn’t directed at someone who’s still in elementary school.

A lot of people are responding to all of this controversy by saying that those who are offended “just can’t take a joke” and that it’s not a big deal. But it is a big deal. It’s a big deal to anyone who has ever been belittled or told that they were weird because their name isn’t “normal”. It’s a big deal to women, especially women of color, who have been told from a young age that their only attribute is their body, that their only hope of achieving anything lies in being hyper-sexualized.

This little girl does not deserve any of the disrespect she’s been shown recently. Luckily, she has a ton of support behind her, and honestly, she’s probably tough enough to handle all it all herself.

“Femme is, in part, about femme friendships. Femmes are people who see another feminine person and purposefully ignore the culturally prescribed girl hate and learn to say, ”God, you are beautiful and I want to be your friend,” rather than, “She’s so much prettier than me, I hate her.” My femme friendships are a mutual celebration of our brilliance, beauty, strength, power, heart and soul. Ultimately feminist, we heal through loving each other in a world that teaches us to mistrust each other.”

Melissa Heckman, Body Image: I’m a Femme

Is Danica Patrick About to Become the Most Important Athlete Ever?

By Hampton Stevens

If she wins the Daytona 500 on Sunday, she’ll have earned a bigger victory than any female athlete before her—and could have a bigger cultural impact than almost any athlete, period.

Danica Patrick is already the most important female athlete on the planet. On Sunday she has a chance to become the most important athlete of all time. That’s because Patrick averaged 196.434 mph on her qualifying lap at Daytona International Speedway, becoming the first female driver ever to win the pole position at a major NASCAR event. Before her, the best qualifying spot for a female driver was ninth, a mark set by Janet Guthrie in 1977.

But Patrick didn’t just win the pole. She did it with the fastest lap-time for any racer at Daytona since 1990, covering the 2½-mile track in a blistering 45.817 seconds. Much more significantly, she did it while qualifying for NASCAR’s most important event: the season-opening Daytona 500.

Absurdly, the Daytona 500 is often called “the Super Bowl of racing,” mostly because calling stuff the Super Bowl of anything has become a lazy way to describe any big, glitzy annual event. The Kentucky Derby is a better analogy for the 500 because it’s a race, so more than two teams can win. Better yet, think of the Daytona 500 as more akin to the Masters in golf, at least in terms of prestige and social impact. Like the PGA’s stop in Augusta, Daytona is NASCAR’s richest and most prestigious contest, and no one can truly call themselves a great champion without winning at least one. Also like the Masters, the Daytona 500 has so much cultural currency that whoever wins could dramatically impact the world beyond sports. That is, if the winner happens to not be a white male.

The obvious comparison, then, would be between Patrick to Tiger Woods, who broke racial barriers by succeeding at the Masters. But if Patrick could win the race on Sunday, or any time during her career, it would arguably—depending on whether you think gender or racial equality matters more—be the most socially significant thing to happen in American sports since Jackie Robinson’s integration of baseball, or ever.

There’s no woman close to taking on men at Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, or in the NBA or NFL. Only motorsports offers the chance of gender equality.

At the very least, Patrick winning at Daytona would be the single greatest moment in the history of women in pro sports. She would in many ways have exceeded the accomplishments of any female athlete, ever—be it “Babe” Zaharias, Billie Jean King, or Brandi Chastain.

That’s because the unique nature of motorsports allows Patrick to do what almost every other female athlete can’t: compete equally with men. Due to racing’s heavy reliance on technology, and because winning demands the fairly gender-neutral traits of endurance, eye-hand coordination, reaction time, and courage, Patrick can compete in the same venues, under the same rules, for the same trophies as men. That’s what makes her opportunity so historically unique. No woman has ever done that in a major American sport. Beyond some hype about Michelle Wie a few years ago, there’s never been a female golfer who even threatened to qualify for a men’s PGA event, let alone win a Masters. There’s no woman close to taking on men at Roland-Garros or Wimbledon, let alone competing in the NBA or NFL. Only motorsports offers the chance of gender equality.

(The argument that racing doesn’t count as sport because the drivers rely on fast cars to win is almost unworthy of mention. Suffice it to say that jockeys can’t win without the help of their horses, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t athletes and it certainly doesn’t mean that horseracing isn’t a sport.)

If that chance at equality seems incongruous, given the stereotype of NASCAR as a redneck bastion, you wouldn’t know it from the fans. Trackside or measured by merchandise sales, Patrick is deliriously popular. One season since her jump from the IndyCar Series—where she was the first women to win a race—the 30-year-old is not only a good bet to win NASCAR’s rookie of the year; she is a near-lock to wrest the Most Popular Driver award from Dale Earnhardt Jr., the charismatic son of a legend who has practically owned the title for a decade.

At the track, her popularity is even more evident—especially in the passion from the throngs of young women and girls. They mob her, shriek, beg for autographs and photographs, and proudly wear hats and shirts emblazoned with her name, her image, or the black and day-glo green scheme of her #10 Go Daddy Chevrolet.

Jeff Gordon is one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, having won the Daytona 500 three times. For Sunday’s race, he qualified second. He described himself as proud to start beside Patrick, and rightfully said her success can only grow the sport. But Gordon’s own five-year-old daughter Ella might have given the most powerful illustration of what Patrick’s accomplishments at Daytona can mean. Until Patrick won the pole, Ella told her dad, she didn’t even know that girls could be racecar drivers too.

Follow This Blog: “I Once Had a Guy Tell Me”

Cool Tumblr I found called “I Once Had a Guy Tell Me.”

Here’s a favorite:

“I once had a guy tell me women had not discovered or invented anything of importance in the STEM fields. i shot right back that rosalind franklin discovered the structure of our DNA and he would have known who she was had it not been for watson and crick stealing her data. no response.”

Click here to see it.