Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What Are Words Worth?

OK, listen up you guys there's something bugging me and I think it's time we opened up a discourse about it. There's a lot going on in the wide world these days; war, famine, genocide, political pandering. It's not like there's a shortage of drama out there. And yet, we seem bent on creating drama where there isn't any, seeing monsters in closets where there are only clothes.

I read a lot. And a lot of what I've been reading lately has really gotten my ire up. It's a pretty useless waste of energy considering I don't know any of the people who have been writing these histrionic things. Nor do they seem like the type of people who can be easily persuaded to see opposing points of view. They seem more like the type of people who project their own mental and emotional issues onto situations where they may, or may not have any basis in actuality.

First of all there's this:

Poor LeBron. They just called him a giant ape! What the hell?

LeBron James is a badass basketball player. When he dunks a ball that thing stays dunked, dude. He is big and strong and yes, he is a black man. I know that's an oddity on the cover of Vogue but is it really helping matters by putting racial overtones on it? Personally I don't see anything wrong with this photo. I think I would have more of an issue if they put him in a trendy suit and had him sipping tea out of a flowered mug.

This photo of LeBron embodies the spirit he brings to the game. If I could play basketball like LeBron James I would probably roar more often too. But some people out there have raised a ruckus and turned it into the dreaded R Word. Racism. Really? Because I'm pretty sure that if you look at this photo and the first thing you think is "LeBron James is a giant, black ape menacing that pretty white lady" it says more about you than it does about Annie Leibovitz's photo. Gisele Bundchen sure as hell doesn't look menaced in this picture.

People, there is no reason for this hypersensitivity. Like I said, there are enough real world outrages out there for everyone. We don't need to invent offenses. In fact, the more of these things we pull out of left field, the less we pay attention to the real racism facing our society.

So, can we stop talking about this already?


The other thing that's really been bothering me lately is the state of feminism. It's no secret that I've always had issues with the word "feminist." I think that damn word got hijacked somewhere around the second wave because I don't really feel as though modern feminists have a sane grasp on it.

Feminism is about having strength in your own opinions, make decisions independently and knowing that you don't need to depend on relationships to define yourself as a person. Conveniently these are also the criteria for being a, you know, regular old adult human being. Which, in the beginning, was what feminism was all about. Equality. Starting unfounded witch hunts and labeling things as "misogynist" doesn't actually make it so. Nor does it help the cause at all.

Which is why this (via and galleyslaves) made me so mad. I'm just going to come right out and say it: This bitch is fucked up.

And I'm not being a misogynist. I just think she's insane. OK that's maybe a little harsh. She obviously has "issues" and has found a convenient screen on which to project the hell out of them.

Look, I like Joss Whedon. I'm not going to go so far as to proclaim him the next feminist messiah or anything but I'm pretty sure he's not the wife raping, misogynistic monster this lesbian feminist has made him out to be. It is also distressing that she seems to have a lot of people agreeing with her. However, she also seems to have a pretty strict comment blocking policy so we'll never actually know what her readers think. I do know the commenters are having a field day with it.

Reading this makes me wonder what they're teaching in college these days. But, then I remember the Women's Studies classes I took in college and how short lived that curriculum was for me. I almost got kicked out of my Women In Literature class for disagreeing with the professor. I have always disagreed on a fundamental level with a lot of the ideas espoused by the radical feminist sect.

I know that the womyn, wimmin and women of this world are constantly struggling on various levels all across the planet to be held in a greater regard as human beings. I know that there are atrocities committed against women that have been ongoing for generations. As far back as the human language goes, in some cases, if not farther. But, I also know that identifying everything as part of an oppressive, patriarchal conspiracy and venerating women just for the sake of being women isn't going to help anyone.

I recognize that there is validity to a lot of feminist theories. But this contrived piece of thought has little basis in Joss Whedon's actual body of work. This is all about the author and her personal experiences as she filters them through characters on a television show. Which is fine, it's her journal, she can write what she wants. But I still think she's way off base with this analysis.

I guess that's the blessing and the curse of the internet. Free to write, free to read.

...But I digress...

I'm really just tired of every interest group trying to put me on high alert for every shiny thing that catches their eye. You dilute the issues and the message you are trying to convey if everything falls under the banner of your cause. By making irrational statements you invalidate any rational statements you make.

In the case of the Vogue cover, disseminating the idea that it is racist perpetuates racism and is more racist than that photograph could ever be. You're telling us to see it in a racist light and that is irresponsible journalism at the least.

I'm not sure which is worse actually - perpetuating racism or devaluing rape by suggesting that all male-initiated sex is rape, as the author of that journal does.

Shame on them all though.

There, I feel better. Now I can go to bed.