After having some conversations with friends about the reactions to the USC Kappa Sigma Gullet Report email, it occurs to me that I may have fallen into the category of the over-reacting, over-sensitive feminist. This asshole would equate me to a “self righteous slut like Margaret Hartmann who think[s] everything [she] read[s] on the internet is the end of the world.”
He would then go on to tell me that “guys are dicks sometimes. Guys send out emails to their friends that make jokes about other people. Frat bros are misogynistic. Bloggers are misogynistic. Misogynism is funny. Deal with. I mean, not to point out the obvious but didn’t some chick at Duke release a 50 page powerpoint presentation to the entire internet about all the dudes she fucked? … Typical chicks. Do me a favor honey and next time you’re going to type up a condemnation of every dude in the country over a joke, step away from the keyboard and put an extra slab of mayo on my sandwich.”
All right. Here’s the deal. I have a pretty good sense of humor. I can take a joke. I can laugh when my guy friends tease me about being a feminist by cracking jokes about making them sandwiches. If I had only read segments of the Kappa Sigma email, I probably would have laughed – and if I read it as though it was satire, it’s spot on.
But do you want to know why I take offense at this email and subsequent blog attention? The thing that makes me most angry is that we find this shit funny in the first place, that our society is in a place that allows and encourages us to find demeaning sexual humor and humiliation FUNNY. What the fuck. How did we get to a place where we view a sexual experience as an opportunity to ridicule someone (or an entire group of people) for things they have no control over (the color of their skin, the shape or size of their labia, the “grip” of their vaginal walls)?
[Sidebar: This reminded me of the time a couple years ago when the term FUPA was a big thing. When I first heard what FUPA meant, I was shocked and disgusted that my guy friends, who I would pal around with every day (and considered to be very respectful towards women) would talk about, make fun of, let alone HAVE AN ACRONYM FOR a part of a girl’s body that should never be ridiculed for its appearance. Shouldn’t you be celebrating the fact that you got the chance to see a FUPA in the first place?]
How do we live in a world where a guy like Tucker Max will sell out stadiums on college campuses in 15 minutes while we can’t get enough students to register to vote? How is it that rape culture in this country is promulgated through our news media, fashion industry, and pretty much all other aspects of popular culture?
It’s engrained in the anonymous nature of the blogosphere, and in the supporting comments of “extra slab of mayo on my sandwich” guy and of the USC email:
(RandyMossRules) There is nothing wrong with this. It’s just guys’ way to talk about hooking up. Like girls don’t sit around and do the same shit too, right? Give the kid an A- for the ingenuity of some of those names. He’s dead on about the Middle Eastern chicks too.
(jackofspades) “Do me a favor honey and next time you’re going to type up a condemnation of every dude in the country over a joke, step away from the keyboard and put an extra slab of mayo on my sandwich.” Yup…that about sums up my thoughts.
It’s a dangerous place for women when the rape culture is reinforced through popular humor and culture, where we continue to shame victims of sexual assault and violence, where we continue to hold double standards for the sexes. That’s why I think it’s important to support the creation of forums for the discussion of hate speech against women and sexual violence on college campuses and in our society, as some grad students from USC have proposed.
I’ll stop rambling on about how distressed I am at my seemingly insignificant ability to change the world and end with this: it only takes a conversation to get the ball of change moving in a forward motion. Talk to your guy friends about this; ask them if they’ve ever been in conversations like this with other guys. Ask them why this kind of stuff is funny to them. Get some sort of dialogue started.
This post is brought to you by Tara, who is grossed out by large quantities of mayo but enjoys it on sandwiches.