Friday, May 14, 2010
This clip, originally from The Onion and sent to me by my friend T in Sydney, is hilarious. At least, she and I and several others think so. Some have got hot under the collar about it, though. "Slut Shaming at The Onion: Humour Fail" at http://www.womensrights.change.org/blog/view/slut-shaming_at_the_onion_humour_fail puts the case against finding it funny as compellingly as it can be put. Its main thrust (sorry) is that the faux clip is cruelly judgmental of women's sexuality; it reminds her, says writer Ruth Fertig, of that infamous 1978 Hustler cover.
Back then, this image of shapely female legs being fed into a meat grinder, with the pink mince of her torso being extruded from the other end, appalled and outraged me. And, even if, as was claimed, it aimed at depicting women's consumption by the porn industry, it remains a shockingly revolting image. And one this The Onion clip doesn't in any way remind me of.
What Fertig has overlooked is that it's not the young women's sexuality that defines them here as sluts but their appearance and behaviour, both of which are relentlessly geared towards grabbing male attention. Look at those two women kissing - they're not doing so because they fancy each other but because acting it out it will attract the male gaze. Drive through Courtenay Place in the small hours and you can see any number of young women behaving like this. The "look" and the behaviour have nothing to do with women's rights - they have to do with the age-old assumption that male attention is in women's best interests.
Seems to me one could argue just as cogently that the clip implicitly and explicitly denigrates men. The reporter suggests that what caused the bus crash was some of the onboard slut getting on to the driver; and, in signing off the story, the newsreader farewells him with "Stay safe out there, John, and don't fuck any of those sluts" - both jokes playing on the taken-for-granted notion that all men are putty in the hands of women who look like this.
What does dismay me - given the foul way women are treated in the name of entertainment - is that the youtube version of the clip pixellates out - apparently for our protection - a pair of naked breasts. Now that is something worth getting worked up about.