Why Is Pop Culture so Anti-Woman?

When you’re part of a dominant class you don’t realize how differently you see the world. Sure, I’m ethnically Hispanic and have suffered humiliation and financial consequences over one overt racist incident. But by and large the world is my oyster. I’m a man and racially I’m white. In fact I’ve had coworkers come to me and disparage Hispanics (all-to-often a codeword for Mexicans – especially Illegal Mexicans – in the USA) and then say, “they’re not like us white guys.” So for the most part I never saw anything awry with pop culture. In fact, one of the few times I realized consciously that I wasn’t actually represented on TV was when I did see myself represented on TV in the form of reruns of the TV show ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?. The show was exactly about me – it was about kids (although I think they were high school age or older) who were born in the USA to Cuban immigrants and whose grandparents only spoke Spanish. It was odd and fascinating and I couldn’t get enough of it. But other than that one year or so when I saw those reruns, I was able to identify with virtually any TV show. I could see myself as Chandler, Ross, or Joey in Friends. (Or as a character on Full House or Home Improvement) Now, I loved showed with African Americans like Hangin’ with Mr Cooper, Family Matters, The Cosby Show, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air so it’s not as though I needed to see myself in TV. But until I started poking around on the Internet as an adult I never realized that for people like African Americans, those four shows were almost the only opportunity they had to see themselves on TV (especially in a positive sense). And forget it if you’re Asian! (including Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis) I came to realize that I had been as naive about the entertainment landscape as those white couples from the 1920s who use to take trips to Harlem on the weekend to experience the Jazz and other aspects of African American culture. At the end of the trip they could retreat to their comfortable lives while the African Americans were stuck there.

And then, last year, I had a girl. I made a few missteps in my senior year of high school, but over all I’ve always been deeply respectful to women. I never referred to them as bitches or treated them like sex objects or property. I never leered at breasts or butts or had to be told to look at a woman’s face. What I suddenly realized, after having a girl, is that the entertainment world is not nearly as respectful to women. Sometimes it’s extremely innocuous such as when females in pop culture aren’t given anything useful to do. I read an essay a few years ago about a woman who loved The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when she was a kid. When she went back and re-read it she was disgusted that none of the women had any agency and Fenchurch was magically killed because Douglas Adams was having a bad day. Sometimes the pop culture disrespect comes from an attempt to appeal to men. Compare super hero costumes for men and women:

 

Psylocke
Psylocke
Supergirl
Supergirl
Superman
Superman

The ridiculous nature really comes to light when you see people try putting men in the same costumes they give women:

Spider-man Dressed as a girl
Spider-man Dressed as a girl
Batman dressed as a girl
Batman dressed as a girl

 

and then there are the weird poses which the Hawkeye Initiative help point out:

Hawkeye Initiative 1 Hawkeye Initiative 2

And that doesn’t even get into the concept of video girls in music videos whose only purpose is to titillate. And that doesn’t even get to the whole women in fridges thing.

But what really got started on this post was Childish Gambino. I love listening to Childish Gambino because he has such great lines like:

everything I'm sayin, I'm super sayin like Goku

Are there asian girls here? Minotiry report!

Chillin' with my n-words say it like a white kid

Freakin’ awesome, right? OK, so maybe you don’t like word-play as much as I do (I love me some puns), and I’d like to share this verbal gynmastics with Scarlett, but then there are lyrics like:

 

“E.E. cummin’ on her face, now that’s poetry in motion”
“Dirty girls love my dick, they’re cock-roaches
Jewish girls eat my meat, it’s not kosher”

and so on. Most music is made from the point of view of men and with stuff like this it’s not all that great to sing along to with my daughter near me. And, I haven’t even gotten into how women are treated in TV shows and movies. Most of this is old hat to women, but I didn’t really realize it was so bad and now I wonder how we actually end up with girls making it to womanhood and not being all messed up from all the messages they’re constantly getting from the media. It’s going to be an interesting 18 years…..

What are the odds?

Katy Ho on the Bus
Katy Ho, a fellow Cornellian from C/O 2005 on the same bus in Brooklyn that I happened to be on.

One in 1,600,000.  That’s odds of randomly meeting someone I know in NYC excluding my wife’s family.  And yet, due to construction on the Q line, Danielle and I found ourselves on the bus with Katy Ho, who we hadn’t seen since graduation.

I’ve often remarked to my wife that it was odd we hadn’t seen any friends in New York.  And she always reminds me that New York has eight million people and the likelihood of anyone we know being in the same place as us is pretty slim.  I know this is true, but I strangely feel as if New York is a more intimate place.  I think it has to do with the fact that because there are eight million people there, you’re almost never walking alone on a street.  The city seems to be overflowing with people and it seems inevitable that you’d meet someone you know by chance.  But that’s just an example of how bad the human mind is at figuring out probability.  Katy was coming home from yoga and dinner with some friends.  And if the train tracks hadn’t been under construction, we would never have met up.

I’ve only ever seen one other person that we knew and that was Aileen, Danielle’s childhood friend.  But she was staying with her aunt who lives very near Danielle and we met her in that neighborhood – on the boardwalk to be exact.  So that’s a lot more likely because you’d only have to look at the number of people living in that part of Brooklyn compared to the number of people we know, which is at least two, if not three or four.  What was amazing about that particular encounter is that we randomly came across her on the boardwalk twice in one visit.  Although, it was probably roughly the same time each time (give or take an hour) so we were just catching her routine rather than bumping into each other randomly.

These chance encounters are part of the charm of living in a city.  In Maryland the chances of running into someone are much slimmer because you’re more likely to be taking your own transportation.  And there are less places to just walk around like the boardwalk or Manhattan.  I really enjoyed the shock of finding someone randomly in the city (although Danielle deserves the credit for seeing Katy) and I hope that I will run into one of my other friends next time I’m out in The City.

Great Friends

I want to give a huge thanks to Katie Cheng who dropped what she was doing Friday night to give my car a jump. Even though I hadn’t left the lights on in the car or anything, the car refused to start, leaving me stranded at Best Buy. It was near 10p and Katie didn’t mind coming out in the freezing cold with her car to help me out.

Also, thanks to Benny. Even though I was able to get my car started to go to Sears to get a replacement battery, he was ready and willing to help me out too.

Thanks for being great frieds!