Media Critic Calls for End of Media Criticism and/or Feminists

Oh, good. I was wondering when someone would publish an article with this headline! Again!

Has Feminism Gone Too Far?

Now: careful readers will note that this is a post on The Frisky, to which I have contributed in the past. Careful readers should also be informed that I like The Frisky, and have had only remarkably pleasant interactions with those who work there. However! I need to say something here.

Because the post is by Susannah Breslin. And, by “feminism,” she apparently means the blog Jezebel, or perhaps this one post that was on Jezebel, which was about a Gap Kids commercial. And by “gone too far,” she means “put forth an opinion with which Susannah Breslin disagreed.” Yes, it’s true: the blog Jezebel did in fact put forth an opinion with which Susannah Breslin apparently disagreed, this one time, in this one post. For the record, I kind of disagreed with that one post that one time as well! But whether this is, in fact, conclusive evidence as to the too-far-gone-ness of the entirety of feminism is where Breslin and I, apparently, disagree. But never mind! Big conclusions! Narrow-ass case study! GUARANTEED BLOG-FODDER PAGEVIEW GOLD!!!

So, the post in question argued that the little girls who danced in a Gap Kids ad were oversexualized. Having seen the ad, I think this is maybe not so much the case! I just see some kids dancing. However, here are the conclusions which Breslin invites us to draw:

You know, I understand there was a time in history when the word “feminism” meant something. Women fought to win equal rights.

Ah, yes! The golden days! When the only people being challenged were people who, living in the past and all, had absolutely zero chance of ever being you, personally!

Recently, it seems like old-school feminism has returned.

So, the feminism of the past was good and “meant something.” You might even refer to it as feminism of the “old school!” But we should all beware the return of… “old-school” feminism?

This time around, though, it seems like all the political action is gone, and the new feminist key activity consist of pointing out all the ways in which women are supposedly exploited, victimized, or hyper-sexualized by the media.

Okay: first of all, determining that there is zero “political action” involved in contemporary feminism on the basis of one forty-word post on one popular feminist-trafficked blog is probably not the most reasonable thing anyone has ever done. And it should be no surprise that, since it is based on that forty-word post, as opposed to actually seeking out and speaking to feminist activists (of which there are, yes, many) it is also completely wrong. Second: leaving aside the part where none of us participates in political action (even though we do), why is media criticism suddenly un-okay? In the eyes of someone who writes blog posts about blog posts? And who is, yes, engaging in media criticism therein?

Oh, right. Because this particular blog post pointed out some possible sexism.

So, let me lay some facts on you here: the popular feminist-trafficked blog Jezebel is, in fact, a blog. To be more specific, it is a for-profit blog, with deadlines and necessary post counts for the day and everything. Which means that the people working there, as far as I can reasonably ascertain, need to put up a certain number of things that are of interest to their readers every day. This particular item was apparently recommended to them by readers, so there’s one more reason for including it right there. And, yeah, they often cover things that are of interest to feminists, or cover things from a feminist perspective, so pointing out The Sexism is something that they do. Which means that they – like me, like everyone who works at this blog probably, like pretty much all ladybloggers – have to go out looking for materials potentially containing The Sexism.

Which is not the same as “looking for things to get offended by,” so don’t even start with me. It’s looking for material. And it’s something that feminist media critics, and feminists, do, whether or not we have deadlines or post counts or even blogs at all: we scan the media, the culture around us, the news, and we examine it for evidence not only of progress or reasons to be optimistic (I’m really into looking for evidence of progress and reasons to be optimistic lately) but for places where progress remains to be made. So that we can work on them. This isn’t divorced from “political action,” it’s an integral part of that action. We have to know where we are to know where we want to go next.

But Breslin isn’t buying the whole “sexism still exists even though it probably shouldn’t, sometimes in the media” thing:

This is what feminism has come to? Pointing out sexism in advertising? Complaining about the latest Gap ad? Functioning as some sort of self-proclaimed social police in order to point out all the ways in which the media exploits women? Surely, the media is a fair exploiter. Men are exploited as rampantly as women, merely in different ways. (Seen “Tool Academy,” ladies?)

Emphasis mine, because: oh, Lord. I know the Breslin is baiting me, here, but: OH, LORD. Yes, men are exploited differently than women. It’s the differences that matter, and often tell us the most about how gender works. “Tool Academy,” the show she’s putting forth as an example of how sexism no longer exists, was a show which posited abusive, misogynist boyfriends as fundamentally funny, as opposed to being a legitimate threat to the women involved with them, and encouraged their girlfriends to stay with them because they could Make Them Change if they loved them enough. See also, “Tough Love,” in which a man verbally and physically abused women to make them better girlfriends. The MTV/VH1 partnership only recently realized the problems inherent in promoting a show by promising that a man would punch a woman in the face for your entertainment. Is “Tool Academy” exploitative of the Tools in question? Sure. It’s also really fucking sexist.

And it shows us something about how sexism works – minimizing violence against women, suggesting that it all only exists Over There, in the realm of Tools and douchebags and losers we would never hang out with, suggesting that abuse is okay if it’s done for your own good or that women can somehow deserve it by being obnoxious enough – which is why we should keep analyzing it. It is, yeah, going to come in handy when it comes time to identify, resist, and hopefully eliminate violence or rationalizations for violence in our communities.

Now: not all of our analysis will be 100% correct at all times. Not all of the problems we identify will be clear-cut and uncontroversial. (In fact, basically all of them will be controversial.) Not every problem we identify will be as consequential or severe as every other problem. And that is just part of the deal, when it comes to examining the culture. Hopefully, we retain a sense of perspective. I think devoting 40 words and a “Sparkle Motion” joke to a potentially marginally creepy ad denotes an excellent sense of perspective, myself. But if we’re wrong occasionally, or if we get a bit too high-strung and stressed occasionally, or if we run into disagreement among our own, that just means we need to get better at scanning. It doesn’t mean we need to stop examining things. It means anything but that.

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48 Responses

  1. Jill
    Jill December 16, 2009 at 12:36 pm | *

    Ugh Susana Breslin drives me up the wall. Every time I read one her posts I want to throw something. I want to take her to the School of Logical Thinking Where Not Everything Is Totally About Susana Breslin.

  2. Jill
    Jill December 16, 2009 at 12:38 pm | *

    Although my favorite part was this:

    Mostly, it seems like this is armchair activism. If you sit around and point out problems, you feel like you’re doing something. But are you? Or are you doing nothing?

    Um. Kind of like pointing out the problem of whether feminism has gone too far?

  3. Jessica
    Jessica December 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm |

    I’m sorry, but IN WHAT WAY does that GAP commercial oversexualize those little girls? That is probably my favorite holiday commercial, mostly because those little girls are covered up and are dancing VERY age appropriately. You have to have a real stick up your ass to find anything about that commercial offensive. Seriously.

  4. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe December 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm |

    I have to agree with Jessica. I found that commercial cute and charming. As for the post Sady wrote about, it seems to me like an overreaction to an overreaction.

  5. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 16, 2009 at 1:51 pm |

    Sady, I realize that you wrote about example 2099b of Anti-Feminism as Attention Fodder, but I think you should address the burning! issue! of the unjust outrage that a few people had about a Gap commercial, and the response ONE blog post had to it. This is of Utmost Importance. If you don’t rush to defend a multi-national corporation against hordes of strawfeminists, you have a stick up your ass.

    Oh, the original post? Simply irrelevant! LONG LIVE THE GAP! DEATH TO THE STRAWFEMINISTS! AND I REFUSE TO BURN MY BRA SO THERE NYA NYA NYA!

    Stop oppressing me with your feminism!!!!!1!! ELEVENTY.

  6. Jill
    Jill December 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm | *

    I have a really fun idea: Let’s read Sady’s post and actually engage what she says instead of talking about the stupid Gap commercial. I realize that was her jumping-off point, but the whole thing with jumping-off points is that you use them to talk about something way more interesting than the initial point. So let’s focus on the more interesting stuff, since Sady wrote a very smart post about it.

  7. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp December 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm |

    I love that she seems to believe that feminists JUST NOW started criticizing advertisements and popular culture. Someone send her a link to Wikipedia.

    1. Jill
      Jill December 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm | *

      Or a first edition Ms. Magazine.

  8. Kymberly
    Kymberly December 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm |

    Not only was the original post just 40 words long, it was pretty wishy-washy about the issue. And the comments quickly pushed the consensus to “We think you’re overreacting.”

    Did a few feminists think the commercial was too much? Yeah, a few. Far more feminists thought it was harmless. Which means basing a “Has feminism gone too far?” screed on this example is really reaching.

    I say it was Susannah Breslin who’s gone too far.

  9. Kelly
    Kelly December 16, 2009 at 2:26 pm |

    Man this post was great! How is it you always know just how to get at the heart of the matter? The whole, “you are just looking to get offended” thing which I hear ALL THE DAMN TIME was something I never really knew how to respond to. Now I do. THANK YOU!

  10. Siege
    Siege December 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm |

    I agree with Sady. (This is usually true, though.) This “The Struggle is over so quitcherbitchin” meme is so very frustrating, and I see it used in anti-feminist and anti-anti-racist and basically anti-anti-oppression arguments in Real Life as well as all over the web. It is different from the “You kids today don’t know how good you have it” (which is dismissive in its own way, and she touches with the “equal rights” remark). This argument says straight up “[Your cause] doesn’t exist anymore” as if you were petitioning Sony to revive Betamax, which is I think a lot more dismissive. It’s shockingly narrow-sighted and rises not from observation but from a willful *lack* of observation. Breslin has sung this song before, so much so that I wonder if she is consciously using it as a “controversy=pageviews” mechanism. Oh, that’s what Sady said in her post. So I really have nothing useful to add.

    Except this, if I may say one thing about the original commercial without commiting threadjack (or maybe just a little threadjack): as someone who has once or twice been paid to choreograph for children, I can tell you that if you look at it right(/wrong) *every single* dance move can be read as “inappropriate”. This is because our dominant cultural narrative describes bodies as dirty sexual objects, and not as, you know, *us*. Not to say that sexualization of children doesn’t happen, or that it doesn’t happen in dance (because it does, on both counts). Just noting that dancing bodies are often seen as sexualized regardless of content, just because they are dancing, and this I think could be a whole other conversation so maybe I’ll just stop right here. /threadjack.

  11. E.D.
    E.D. December 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm |

    I think the trouble here is that because of feminists, women and men have simply become *too equal*. There is too much equalness going around.

    Yes, it’s a logical impossibility. But when have mere laws of reason ever played any part in antifeminist writings?

  12. Evrybdy44
    Evrybdy44 December 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm |

    Why rip into Jessica so hard. I get that her comment had more to do w/the commercial than the whole post. But the commercial was where the whole thing started. May not have been the central issue but the mention was there.

  13. Jessica
    Jessica December 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm |

    Wow, how sad is it that I have to walk on eggshells when replying to a blog post? I didn’t post that response for you to tear me a new one, Sady. But I’m sure glad it gave us something to talk about!
    I read your post, and I responded to it, albeit not in depth because I don’t have much to say other than the fact that I think it’s insane for someone to just throw it out there that a commercial featuring children who are fully clothed in winter apparel is somehow sexual. IN MY OPINION, for someone to look that deeply into anything pertaining to a child dancing is really just looking for an argument for argument’s sake. There are bigger feminist issues to worry about. This really is something to get mad about just for the hell of it. So thats why I replied about it. Next time, I’ll make it several paragraphs long so it’s long and drawn out and not to the point…just so that there is substance!

    I’m a fairly young feminist. I haven’t called myself feminist for long because I didn’t feel comfortable with the title until recently. Now, I think I know why – because if you don’t agree with one feminist’s belief, others will jump on you and tell you you’re wrong in thinking that way. I thought feminism meant we didn’t all have to have the same exact ideals, just as long as we respected each other and saw everyone as a human rather than a gender. But, instead of maybe an “I disagree” or something. But because it is my OPINION that this woman “has a stick up her ass”, I’ve got a comment from you talking down to me. That is fantastic. I’ll remember to think twice about posting my uncool feminist opinion next time.

  14. Jessica
    Jessica December 16, 2009 at 4:48 pm |

    I’m not sure where I said “I’m not a feminist anymore”. This isn’t high school, and I’m surely not going to tell my mother on you. My comment was rude, yes, but I’m offended that someone would even think that a commercial showcasing fully clothed children is sexual. If the writer wants to talk about something that oversexualizes children, maybe she should go watch one of those beauty queen reality shows and write about that instead. THERE is a real problem. And maybe she has written about that. Good for her.
    I didn’t mean to offend, Sady. Just thought we were allowed to express opinions. I’ll tone mine down next time I post something.

  15. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm |

    Regarding the column, it’s this kind of ignorance that really needs to be addressed, since it is so pervasive. We who have dwelt for any extended period of time in this sorts of spaces are tempted to yawn at these sorts of arguments more than anything, but the unfortunate fact is that when one like this comes up again, we know about that of which we struggle.

    Regarding the charge that all we do is lob grenades at the same issues to no good end, I’m reminded of something British director Lindsay Anderson said in response to his critics. They accused him of making the same criticisms against British society from film to film, with the assumption that surely by the second or third he’d have gotten it out of his system and moved on to something else.

    Anderson responded, “I would stop making the same charges, except that we’re still f**king doing it!”

  16. groggette
    groggette December 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm |

    @ Jessica, no one actually said you were wrong. It was brought up that you missed the point of the post, and you did.
    And if you truly believe that a part of feminism is “respect[ing] each other” then maybe you shouldn’t say some one has a stick up their ass just because they have a different opinion than you.

  17. Emily
    Emily December 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm |

    @Jessica – the problem with your comment is not your opinion on the GAP ad, it’s that you’ve entirely missed the point of Sady’s post. Your comment might be appropriate on the original Jezebel post, in which people, many of whom identify as feminists, were discussing whether they thought the ad sexualized children or not. THIS post is about how the fact that such a discussion exists on the internet is being used by Ms. Breslin as some sort of evidence that feminism has run amok or is no longer important/relevant/needed. And why that is stupid.

    If you read Sady’s post carefully, you would note that she AGREES with you that the ad was not sexualizing children. However, she does not think that the existence of a discussion about it on the internet reflects poorly on feminism.

    In your comments you do not really take a position on whether the existence of such a discussion on the internet reflects poorly on feminism, other than to say that you are “offended” that someone could believe the ad to be oversexualizing children. It seems like you’re jumping from “I think that opinion is wrong and baseless” to “I am offended that this conversation even happened.” Which I must admit, does not make a lot of sense to me.

  18. groggette
    groggette December 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm |

    @Jessica,
    Jezebel actually does frequently talk about child beauty pageants. Fighting against sexism isn’t a zero sum game and feminists can talk about the big things (sex trafficking, rape) and still talk about the little things like whether or not a commercial is sexist.
    And I mean this as a serious suggestion to you and not a snide comment, I think you should seriously consider reading up on a feminism 101 blog because you are engaging in a lot of common silencing techniques in here.

    And with that I will step back from this derail and say, Sady, you rocked my socks off with you takedown of Breslin’s complaint.

  19. Maggie
    Maggie December 16, 2009 at 5:13 pm |

    Perhaps one could mosey on over to Jezebel and voice your outrage, Jessica? It would make more sense there.

    Back to the actual topic: *I* say feminism hasn’t gone too far enough! Drives me nuts when people say things like this. Maybe you can post a list of things that we’re allowed to consider, Susannah Breslin?

  20. groggette
    groggette December 16, 2009 at 5:24 pm |

    @Maggie,
    high heels & abortions. That’s it.

  21. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm |

    I’m a fairly young feminist. I haven’t called myself feminist for long because I didn’t feel comfortable with the title until recently. Now, I think I know why – because if you don’t agree with one feminist’s belief, others will jump on you and tell you you’re wrong in thinking that way.

    Jesus H. Christ. Heaven forbid that anyone holds an opinion that contradicts yours! So it’s okay for YOU to jump in and post disagreement, but the rest of us can’t disagree with YOU? You can ignore the actual content of the original post (in all three of your comments no less), you can say we have a stick up our asses, but it’s awful for people to disagree with you? What makes you such a special fucking snowflake? Get the fuck over yourself.

    But this really is beside the point. Jessica, people are irritated with you not because of your opinion but your stunning lack of reading comprehension. Read Sady’s actual post already. Sady’s post did not go off on how awful the Gap ad was. It was on yet another strawfeminist argument being put out there, and she took it down point by point. It’s telling how you’re so fixated on the Gap ad and how supposedly uptight Sady is/we are (for what? mentioning it in 2-3 lines?) when no one here commented on the stupid freaking Gap ad.

    I don’t mind rude or blunt. I do mind it when someone ignores the original post.

    Here, let me summarize, again, what people are saying to you, since you have such selective reading comprehension:

    You are ignoring Sady’s actual post.

    And again:

    You are ignoring Sady’s actual post.

    You are ignoring Sady’s actual post.

    You are ignoring Sady’s actual post.

    Do you need me to copy and past this several more times? Maybe I should draw you a picture? Or do you get it now?

  22. Evrybdy44
    Evrybdy44 December 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm |

    All these posts about how one person “missed the point”. Rlly!

  23. Andrea
    Andrea December 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm |

    Okay, I’m not reading all the crap above about the Gap commercial. Sorry, no patience for it tonight. Sady, I loved the post (as freaking always). And as for Ms. Breslin, Oh Shit, dude! I’m getting a PhD in art history. All I do All. Day. Long. is sit around and look at pictures and analyze them. I’m such an f’ing looser! I’m not actually doing anything worthwhile! Screw cultural production as one of the most important and telling products of the structures in society. Images are just stupid images and don’t mean anything. If only she had gotten to me before the 5 years I just spend becoming ABD in what, it turns out, is a useless pursuit. Damn.

  24. wiggles
    wiggles December 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm |

    2 Jill 12.16.2009 at 12:38 pm

    Although my favorite part was this:

    Mostly, it seems like this is armchair activism. If you sit around and point out problems, you feel like you’re doing something. But are you? Or are you doing nothing?

    Um. Kind of like pointing out the problem of whether feminism has gone too far?

    It would be awesome if it turned out that she was being meta – criticizing feminism in a way that anti-feminists often criticize feminism, putting a mirror up to anti-feminists. I doubt it’s the case thoug, because people who say feminism is over are never very clever.

  25. Jessica
    Jessica December 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm |

    Guys, I’m sorry. I was wrong. Let’s stop derailing the thread by dedicating more posts to my fuck up. Thanks, and sorry again.

  26. wiggles
    wiggles December 16, 2009 at 6:52 pm |

    Isn’t there a “this is why I no longer call myself a feminist” comment in practically every post on this blog? It seems that way sometimes. They’re probably all from the same person.

  27. PharaohKatt
    PharaohKatt December 16, 2009 at 7:03 pm |

    Oh *dramatic sigh*!!
    There was a time when feminism was about standing up to victim blaming, pointing out sexism in the media and critiquing rape culture. I mean, no one does any actual activism anymore!!!

    What’s that? All these are posts from the last few days?? No! Never!!
    But… It’s… Social media and… Damn those feminists, ruining sexism for the rest of us!!!

    On another note, I find it hilarious that one of the “Related” articles is 1-in-3 women sexually harrassed at work. Clearly we’re living in a post-feminist world! 

  28. cacophonies
    cacophonies December 16, 2009 at 7:10 pm |

    @Sheelzebub-

    Do you talk to everyone you know like this in person? Or do you just get on the internet and look for comments on blogs that you can use to rip the author to shreds and speak down to them and be a rude, condescending jerk to? Because what you said to Jessica had already been articulated in 10 other, individual comments on this post, one of those being from you.

    @Jessica-

    I think that it’s not feminism that is failing you right now, but rather Teh Interwebz. Many people who comment on mainstream feminist blogs have a tendency to go around looking for someone to yell at.

  29. Ginsu Shark
    Ginsu Shark December 16, 2009 at 7:20 pm |

    “Perhaps one could mosey on over to Jezebel and voice your outrage, Jessica? It would make more sense there.”
    Unless you’re one of the privileged elite Jezebel allows to actually post for real, you can’t…

  30. Andrea
    Andrea December 16, 2009 at 8:30 pm |

    Jessica, don’t let it get you down, girl. We all fuck up, we all get called out for it, sometimes more than might be necessary (as in this case), but this is one great big learning opportunity for everyone. I hope this silliness won’t turn you away from commenting in the future and engaging in the community. You apologized and that was good, so just, you know, don’t worry about it too much beyond that.

  31. Anon
    Anon December 16, 2009 at 9:09 pm |

    Thanks all of you for calling on Jessica for that insensitive post.

    I was creeped out by that ad – although I definitely “have a real stick up your ass” as she says as my dad sexually abused me at that age. Perhaps the original Jezebel poster felt the same way. I actually appreciated the discussion at Jezebel because it showed me that I was too sensitive – without making me feel like shit.

    p.s. Oh, and Sadie was right on.

  32. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm |

    Do you talk to everyone you know like this in person?

    I’d rather not belabor this as Jessica apologized. But when someone is repeatedly rude and condescending, then yes, I tend to get pissy.

  33. Meowser
    Meowser December 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm |

    Breslin:
    and the new feminist key activity consist of pointing out all the ways in which women are supposedly exploited, victimized, or hyper-sexualized by the media.

    You know, it’s a funny thing. When my mom was subscribing to Ms. Magazine way back in the Pleistocene Era, i.e. 1970s, you know what caught my interest first as an 11-year-old? The “No Comment” section, in which they would simply reproduce sexist print ads without a word of comment, the implication being that the reader was smart enough to know why these ads were sexist. So for her to claim that feminist media criticism is a Brand!New!Thing!, I gotta wonder, where’d she grow up — in a Flintstones cartoon?

  34. TeriSaw
    TeriSaw December 16, 2009 at 10:48 pm |

    Anytime I hear anything that suggests “feminism is over” I tend to tune out. It’s such an obvious attention grab. And when you add in gripes about the various feminist “waves” I’ve already left the room. However, gotta say the “what about the menz” comment about Tool Academy was especially *facepalm* worthy.

    Not to continue the derail but I wanted to respond to this:

    “Unless you’re one of the privileged elite Jezebel allows to actually post for real, you can’t…”

    Yes, and would LOVE to see a post/discussion about this. Auditioning to comment, really?

  35. roses
    roses December 17, 2009 at 12:14 am |

    On topic – I don’t even know that Jezebel is a feminist blog. It’s more of a pop culture blog written from a feminist perspective. Which means, yeah, critiquing sexism in pop culture and the media is going to be a big part of what they do. That doesn’t mean it’s all feminists in general do, or even all that the contributors for Jezebel do in the way of feminism. It’s one blog.

    Didn’t Susannah Breslin also write an article called “Feminism is dead” or something along those lines for Double X? If I recall correctly she picked on Jezebel in that one too.

  36. Roxie
    Roxie December 17, 2009 at 1:18 am |

    I’d love to count how many times in a year there’s a story about “Feminism is going too far!” vs. “Feminism is Dead!”
    Which is it, press?!

  37. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 17, 2009 at 8:57 am |

    Breslin says: You know, I understand there was a time in history when the word “feminism” meant something. Women fought to win equal rights.

    We had to walk uphill! BOTH WAYS. WHILE BURNING OUR BRAS YOU SPOILED LITTLE WHIPPERSNAPPERS. /sarcasm

    I’m willing to bet I’m much older than Breslin. I can assure her that when she thought feminism “meant” something (and it does NOW, BTW), there were still people like her, cawing about how it’s gone too far/unnecessary/dead.

    These tropes are like styrofoam packing peanuts of rhetoric–there’s a lot of them, they’re basically toxic, they get static and stick to everything, and they never really go away.

  38. wiggles
    wiggles December 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm |

    Sheezlebub – I was knee-high to a grasshopper during the second wave, but wasn’t the typical anti argument that the first wave had accomplished all the necessary legislation and the personal stuff was up to women on an individual level? We gave you the right* to vote and own property, what more do you want? Not much has really changed with the antis, that I can see.

    *Thanks for the favor, Mr. Bunker.

  39. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick December 18, 2009 at 12:06 am |

    Like your momma used to say, if you can’t say something about the post, don’t say anything at all.

    I’ll try, although my first paragraph is going to mention the ad.

    The very headline of Breslin’s article inadvertently makes a point worth noting. Whether you agree or not, the Jezebel post was citing this Gap ad as an example of sexualising children. So why, in her disagreement, does Breslin say that feminism has gone too far? Why not child-advocacy having gone too far? Why not sexualisation (to the point that you see it even it’s not there, and you don’t want it to be)? Why does she see a complaint about sexualised kids and call it feminism? Is it that she was just reaching for something to be offended at feminism about (the sort of thing feminists are often accused of doing) – or is it that she knows feminists, and not anti-feminists, are the ones who will stand up for the kids who are sexualised or exploited?

    So, the feminism of the past was good and “meant something.” You might even refer to it as feminism of the “old school!” But we should all beware the return of… “old-school” feminism?

    Oh, indeed. As you said, feminism of the past pointed out sexism in people who couldn’t possibly be you (generic you) – but now, when feminism points out sexism, it could be yours – and that’s why it’s so important to decry it as meaningless.

    Is “Tool Academy” exploitative of the Tools in question? Sure. It’s also really fucking sexist.

    There’s a good look at Tool Academy on The Hathor Legacy, where the point is raised that the show takes it as an a-priori given that these guys are worth staying with – no attention is given to the possibility that dumping them altogether might be the better (let alone safer) option.

    The MTV/VH1 partnership only recently realized the problems inherent in promoting a show by promising that a man would punch a woman in the face for your entertainment.

    And in doing so, left the viewers free to imagine how she might really have deserved it. Which leads me to ask if they saw the same problem you did? Was Tool Academy promoted by

    Now: not all of our analysis will be 100% correct at all times. Not all of the problems we identify will be clear-cut and uncontroversial. (In fact, basically all of them will be controversial.)

    Because feminism is still the dissenting opinion, much as its critics like to claim otherwise. Which is why another of Breslin’s quotes – “Functioning as some sort of self-proclaimed social police in order to point out all the ways in which the media exploits women?” – irritates me so much every damn time I see it. Where is the “policing” in feminist media criticism? Where is the ability of a dissenting view to “police” a dominant one, and what sanction can feminists lay on TV studios or other media, except to influence viewers (just like they can do with their expensive advertising campaigns). This emphasis on “policing” is just a fear of dissent, and more so a fear that said dissent is right.

    These tropes are like styrofoam packing peanuts of rhetoric–there’s a lot of them, they’re basically toxic, they get static and stick to everything, and they never really go away.

    Best simile I’ve read in ages.

  40. SunlessNick
    SunlessNick December 18, 2009 at 12:11 am |

    I fail at coding. Film at 11.

  41. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 18, 2009 at 10:39 am |

    Where is the “policing” in feminist media criticism?

    And where is my badge??? If I’m going to be a member of the feminist police, I think I deserve a snazzy badge, dammit.

  42. ostrova
    ostrova December 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm |

    About the GAP ad: I like the dancing. I kind of gag on the spoiled and materialistic attitude:”One, two, three, four, not gonna wear it anymore! How cute are these boots?” And oh yeah, feminism is so over. We don’t have the ERA and abortions may be as good as illegal for most American women. But this shouldn’t bother you unless you’re one of those hairy-legged fat ugly crew-cut lesbo commie feminists.

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