Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Righteous Fury

I have been experiencing some serious post-election fatigue, and I know I am not alone on this! The 2012 presidential election was bruising and full of oppressive suggestions. I felt I had to vote for Obama to fight the fascists. But his victory is terribly, resoundingly hollow when he immediately turns around and defends his right to kill any American citizen, anywhere, for any reason, without the facade of judicial review. I now have a better understanding of why anarchists historically oppose elections as an avenue for change. They sap the organizing energy of the people and fool us into complacency.

As a result of this slump, I have been less outraged than usual over the random legislative assaults on liberty. Yes, the Kansas legislature is leading particularly vicious and harmful attacks on women and workers. Yes, my relatively secure and middle-class job as a teacher is being transformed into a fragile, low-wage job. Yes, getting pregnant in this state is now dangerous because of the restrictions on women's health care. But if Wisconsin showed us anything, unfortunately, it was that even massive and well-supported protest can do nothing against an elitist and misogynistic legislature and governor.

In the past, I have argued that a centralized state can successfully enforce some superficial anti-discrimination against oppressed groups. But today, the Supreme Court is listening to arguments on the Voting Rights bill, and they seem inclined to declare it outdated and unnecessary. This is doubly insulting after a campaign season where overt racism and attempts to keep people of color from voting cropped up continually. Thus the state proceeds in gutting even its few possible positive effects on the world. What the state gives it can take away. Cursed be the name of the state.

Still, I can't do anything about these events, so there's no point in arousing my usual fury on them. But Seth McFarlane's Oscar performance of "We Saw Your Boobs" made me furious with blood boiling, headache inducing, manic shouting, fury. Jezebel has already published a great article about sexism fatigue, and Salon demonstrated that many of the scenes described portrayed rapes and other brutality against women. And certainly, there is a grain of truth in that Hollywood makes few movies from a woman's perspective. Most of the movies described probably did feature nudity because studio execs figured that female nudity = more male viewers. Men probably do frequently see only sexual objects on screen, because they are looking for it. But that does not make this okay, or even funny.

This song is a tool of oppression. It reminded all the women in the audience that even immense success, in a capitalist and celebrity obsessed world, cannot protect women from sexual objectification and humiliation. Many of the women named (Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, others) have done a lot to encourage empathy and spotlight oppression; certainly, all the women named have done more noble work than McFarlane--as anything is better than no or negative efforts. But he is a man, so he should be able to remind them that in scenes of emotion and hardship, men only see breasts. That when women portray complex characters, they are really only portraying a sexual stimulant. That no matter what, a women whose breasts have ever appeared anywhere deserves mocking and shaming.

These are the insults and put downs that keep us depressed, on the defensive, always remembering that we are not equal to men, and fearful that we never will be (or that god forbid we transcend gender and interact with other human beings on basis of other characteristics than their functional reproductive parts). Even riches and fame are no defense against casual abuse. There is not an electoral solution to crap like this.

We must relentlessly organize against sexism. In a more just world, McFarlane would never work again, never date again, never wake up without a rush of shame. In a truly just world, that song would never have happened because no one would ever visualize humiliating female-bodied humans because of their complex artistic works; no one would turn a portrayal of injustice into an opportunity to get aroused. Unfortunately, McFarlane probably will work and date again, but we must not accept this as just more awkward humor. Take arms against a sea of sexism, and by organizing, education, and stomping out, end it!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't see the oscars but I looked up a quick summary of what made you so mad. Sounded pretty immature and not funny. I saw many "watching the Oscars" updates floating across Facebook, but don't recall seeing any outrage over this from friends. Thank you for being furious.

    This guy sounds like one of the creeps who think that breasts are always sexual regardless of context, and would probably freak out about people doing normal things like nursing a 2 year old on an airplane. Again, what a creep.