If you’ve ever watched HBO’s ‘Girls’ and wondered why it features so much of Lena Dunham’s skin, you’re not alone. A reporter at the Television Critics Association press tour had the same question. He asked it tactfully, and was suddenly deemed “sexist” by Judd Apatow. Producer Jenni Konner pronounced that the question had sent her into a “rage spiral.” Oddly enough, there were no “rage spirals” sent Bill Maher’s way when he made a comment that — using Konner’s standards — was certainly worth one. More on that later.
“I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show — by [Dunham] in particular,” the reporter said, according to EW. “I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on “Game of Thrones,”’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason.” — Reporter
Now, the response by the ‘Girls’ crew:
Judd Apatow: “That was a very clumsily stated question that’s offensive on its face, and you should read it and discuss it with other people how you did that. […] It’s very offensive.”
Jenni Konner: “I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy. […] I was just looking at him and going into this rage [over] this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea of it just makes me sort of sick.”
Lena Dunham: “I totally get it. If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals.”
Now to what Bill Maher said on HBO’s ‘Real Time’ while interviewing Mike Rowe of ‘Dirty Jobs’ fame. The two were talking about 3 million good “blue-collar” jobs that can’t be filled in the U.S. because Americans either a.) won’t train to take them or b.) refuse to apply.
Bill Maher: Do you watch the HBO show ‘Girls’?
Mike Rowe: *with sarcasm* Religiously. …
Bill Maher: Well it’s very hard to imagine those chicks — who don’t have jobs and they’re sponging off their parents and doing stupid things like working at coffee shops — they would never even consider taking a job as a plumber even though the lead girl shows more ass crack every week than 100 plumbers.”
What is more “sexist” and “misogynistic,” Mr. Apatow — a reporter who simply wants to know the rationale behind what he sees as an excessive amount of nudity, or Bill Maher referring to “chicks” that “show more ass crack every week than 100 plumbers”?
Where is the “rage spiral,” Ms. Konner, for Bill Maher? Or do you only go into “rage spirals” for men with a smaller megaphone than you? When one puts the two comments side-by-side, it appears as though Bill Maher’s comment would be worthy of a “rage tornado” or perhaps a “rage vortex.” What gives?
Question for Ms. Dunham: Should Bill Maher seek help with professionals? And (admittedly, a side note) do you regret making that creepy ad where you likened voting for Barack Obama to losing your virginity — especially since most women don’t lose their virginity to a guy with a “Terror Tuesday kill list”?
One guy flatly said he “doesn’t get the purpose” of the amount of nudity on the show and he’s accused of being a sexist; the other guy refers to “chicks” like Dunham and likens her to the stereotypical (male) plumber who shows too much of his hairy butt to customers — and crickets chirped.
Given that ‘Girls’ and ‘Real Time’ both air on the same channel, one would think that Mr. Apatow would want to make it known that there isn’t room for such “misogynistic” talk amongst HBO family. I guess not. Either the ‘Girls’ crew sits silently while Maher does his thing because he has too much clout, or they do so because he’s an ideological ally. Which is it? My money is on the fact that Bill Maher tends to defend the guy Ms. Dunham lost her “voting virginity” to in 2008.
If any of the “chicks” over at ‘Girls’ — particularly Jenni Konner — go into a “rage spiral” now that Maher’s observations have been more forthrightly brought to their attention, I’ll let you know. Chances are that you’ll see Lena Dunham naked again before Bill Maher gets a public earful from Judd Apatow, since they like to talk about drugs together on ‘Real Time.’
In America today, the modern liberal feminist has a strange problem on her hands — the United States is light years ahead of much of the rest of the world when it comes to women’s rights. Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Meg Whitman, Nancy Pelosi, Ruth Bater Ginsburg, Janet Yellen, Sonya Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Megyn Kelly, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, and Melinda Gates barely scratch the surface of the endless list of female role models — living proof of just how much progress America has made since its inception. The tendency of the modern American feminist to inflate legitimate concerns into insurmountable obstacles often makes them look silly.
Take for instance, feminist Suey Park. After recently calling her out for seeing white boogeymen where they don’t exist it was then intimated online and in the comments section of this blog that I was racist. What I didn’t get a chance to do while discussing Ms. Park’s fears of “structural whiteness” was to zoom out to 30,000 feet. Pulling back allows readers to compare Ms. Park’s problems with those of women around the globe. It allows us to see if limited time and resources are being allocated properly.
But I also saw a lot of pressure to dye my hair lighter, wear color contacts, to wear Abercrombie jeans, to wear Ugg boots and Northface and it was all these symbols to make me look more white but could never make me white enough, which was really frustrating, so of course I took that out on my body.
As an Asian American woman you’re told that you have to be smart and pretty to be heard. And you have to be exceptional, and of course people want us to be exceptional, so it was hard for me because I did struggle with math and science and I couldn’t live up to the ideals of what my sister could.
Ms. [Preeti] Dhaka’s training as one of the capital’s nearly 1,000 female investigators couldn’t insulate her from Indian traditions that often conspire against laws meant to enforce women’s rights. After a day of protest duty on New Year’s Eve, she wrote a despairing note: Her new husband, unhappy that her dowry hadn’t included a car, “tried to motivate me to die.” …
Pressuring a bride or her family for wedding gifts is against a 1961 law passed in an effort to end dowry abuses. The dowry tradition persists, with a woman’s family often giving lavish gifts to her fiancé’s family.
Dowry disputes remain a prevalent cause of violence against women, usually by husbands or in-laws who think a dowry was too small. According to government crime statistics, nearly one woman was killed every hour in India last year over dowries. In Delhi, “dowry comes a lot” in police complaints by women, says Ms. Insan. “In the village, the girls don’t come forward. They prefer to protect the home.” …
On Jan. 12, her body was discovered hanging by a scarf from a ceiling fan in her husband’s quarters, according to a police report.
Police charged Mr. Mund, his mother and his sister with harassing Ms. Dhaka into killing herself and inflicting cruelty on her. They are awaiting trial.
The dowry persists. It looks like for all the legitimate complaints about the British Empire, India could use some more “structural whiteness” when it comes to women’s rights. (I would replace “structural whiteness” with “Western Civilization,” but for the purposes of this blog post we’ll stick with feminist jargon.)
In America, “pressure” to “wear Ugg boots” makes it into fawning Washington Post pieces on upstart feminists. In India, women still die over dowry disputes.
In America, “structural whiteness” causes so much pressure to be “exceptional” that feminists have turned it into an issue; in the Middle East, Islamic clerics issue fatwas on the legitimacy of raping non-Muslims in Syria:
An Islamic cleric has cleared the path for rebels in Syria, who are trying to oust President Bashar Assad, to rape women, so long as they’re non-Sunni.
Salafi Sheikh Yasir al-Ajlawni, who hails from Jordan but who lived in Damascus for 17 years, sent a message via YouTube: It’s a “legitimate fatwa” for Muslims waging war against Mr. Assad and trying to put in place a Sharia government to “capture and have sex with” Alawites and other non-Sunni, non-Muslim women, Human Events reports. Mr. Assad is part of the Alawites sect.
Americans should always strive to form a more perfect union, but it is also important for us to acknowledge that the system of governance put in place by our founding fathers is exceptional. Liberal U.S. feminists struggle (in large part because they’ve formed coalitions with perpetual race-baiters) to admit the greatness of the American experiment and, as a result, the credibility of their own cause continues to take a hits.
Suey Park is a young liberal feminist who recently gained some notoriety within academic circles for starting the Twitter hashtag “#NotYourAsianSidekick.” She told the Washington Post she wanted to “create a space where Asian American feminism does not leave any group behind and where they’ll be anything but a sidekick.” Her story gives us a unique opportunity to identify what the next crop of liberal American feminists represent.
I come from a middle-class family. My father is a chemical engineer; my mom, a housewife. And I’ve thought hard about what is it [about America] that has made my life different […] and I would answer this way: If I had stayed in India, if I’d remained, I would have probably ended up living one mile from where I was born. I would probably have married a girl of my identical religious and socioeconomic background. I would probably be a doctor or a lawyer or a software programmer, and I would have a whole set of opinions that could be predicted in advance. By coming to America, my life has taken a totally different shape. I became interested in American politics. I […] went into writing and journalism, public speaking. I joined the government, the Reagan administration. So America, in a sense, gave me the chance to write the script of my own life. And I think that’s the intoxicating appeal of America to outsiders, it’s a country that’s sort of like a blank sheet of paper and you are the artist, and you get to create your own destiny instead of having it given to you.
America is a country where you write the script of your own life. It’s a country that is like a “blank sheet of paper” and you are “the artist” who creates his or her own destiny instead of having it given to you.
Suey Park is like most liberal feminists — they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to blame others for the obstacles to their advancement. They live in the past, looking for the elusive boogeyman who made them feel sad, angry, insecure, weak or confused. In those cases where there is a grain of truth to their complaints, they inflate it into a mountain that they can endlessly traverse.
When did Ms. Park find her excuse mountain? Childhood.
Suey Park: It was a long time ago — from when I was really young. Even from the start of kindergarten, I was quickly racialized and made to understand that I was different based on what my mom packed for me in my lunch bag. On the playground other kids would pull their eyelids to their side and run around and chase me. I always thought to myself that someone must have taught them that. What kid would know to put their hands on their eyelids and make their eyes slanted? It’s not like they would look at an Asian girl for the first time if they never heard of Asians and do that. So it really proved to me that racism is taught.
Things seem so much bigger than they really are when we’re young. Sadly, for Ms. Park, the childhood trials and tribulations all kids go through have been turned a weird affirmation of American racism. Is it more likely that some dumb mean kids saw someone who looked different and responded to it like dumb kids have for thousands of years — or that parents instilled Asian hate in their kids when they tucked them in at night?
Kids can be downright mean in their attempts to come across as smart, witty or popular. Sometimes, insecure kids become bullies to mask their pain. “Mom is an alcoholic. Dad is abusive. Might as well go pick on the scrawny kid to make myself feel like I’m in control…”
Jerks make fun of fat kids, skinny kids, birthmarks, overbites, glasses, the tall, the short, the shy, white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids and yes, Asian kids. Those who don’t go through life with race-goggles strapped tight around their head can see that.
Suey Park: As an Asian American woman you’re told that you have to be smart and pretty to be heard. And you have to be exceptional, and of course people want us to be exceptional, so it was hard for me because I did struggle with math and science and I couldn’t live up to the ideals of what my sister could. So then I internalized that I had to be the pretty one and that I had to be the thin one and that became extra hard for me as I hit puberty and I wanted to hold onto it.
We’re back to childhood again. Freud would have a field day with Ms. Park. Keep that in mind as she discusses her eating disorder and the big boogeyman reveal.
Suey Park: I also think there’s also a lot of silence around mental health issues and eating disorders in Asian American families whether it be because of a cultural barrier or a communication barrier. There’s a lot of pressure to not struggle. It was hard for me to tell my parents about my eating disorder because I didn’t want them to know I was struggling because I knew they had sacrificed so much to give me this good life and so-called American dream.
So Ms. Park has a competitive dynamic going on between she and her sister, her parents put pressure on her to succeed, and the household environment wasn’t conducive to talking about emotional and psychological challenges. Sounds like something that any American might deal with, right? Wrong.
Suey Park: I think what was most disappointing was that even some “progressive” white people or “progressive” Asian Americans were telling me that I was demanding too much and telling me that meritocracy exists and that I should stop complaining and try to overcome my circumstances — the typical spiel.
The boogeyman is real, and he is white. Those darn white people and their “spiels” about overcoming adversity. Apparently, Ms. Park hasn’t been hanging out with the progressive white kids from Minnesoata, because they scrawl all over their bodies with black ink in bizarre attempts to shame themselves for their whiteness.
Instead of seeing a blank sheet of paper, Ms. Park sees “white” and then wonders why there isn’t a “Korean” color in her box of Crayola crayons.
Ms. Park continues:
Suey Park: I think a lot of white people have a visceral reaction to the fact that they belong to a structural whiteness. But I think it shows us something really important, which is that fraction of discomfort is nothing compared to a lifetime of being racialized and put in a subordinate class of people in the U.S.
“Structural whiteness.” Feminists like Peggy McIntosh said that “white privilege” was invisible, and that we couldn’t see it. Now Ms. Park comes along to inform us that this invisible whiteness is of immense size and shape — and it’s subordinating Asians. America is a giant mad house that is so insidious that millions of immigrants come here thinking they can shape their own destiny. If Dinesh really understood he was in an oppressive white matrix, he’d realize that his many successes and the American dream he fondly speaks of are figments of his imagination — it’s really only a “so-called” American dream.
Side note: When I was in college I had a professor tell me the American dream didn’t exist. I told him that I was living proof that it did exist. I left home at 18 years old with $100 to my name. I joined the military, and only a few years later I was putting myself through college at the University of Southern California. It took a little longer than I expected after an honorable discharge, requiring some time as an overnight stock boy at Target (as the only white guy, for those obsessed with race), but I got there. I often get nostalgic for those 1:00 a.m. breaks, where I’d watch my coworkers play soccer in the parking lot while I cheered them on and ate tacos from the back of a food truck, but I digress.
Question for Suey Park: Would she prefer something more “structurally Korean”? The gulags in North Korea are filled with Koreans, and sometimes you get to watch your parents get executed. They put rocks in your mouth and then tape it shut before the firing squad gets to work. (We can’t risk the Dear Leader getting disparaged by someone with nothing left to lose, now can we?) I’d talk about South Korea, but the wealth and prosperity it has seen over the last several decades is largely due to its embrace of America’s “structural whiteness” and the safety and security provided by our marbled Armed Forces. Check out satellite imagery of North and South Korea if you’d like to see what “structural whiteness” can do for the nation state nearest you…
The problem with most feminists is that they spend the bulk of their time reading the ramblings of other feminists, and not enough time examining the authors of the greatest experiment in self-governance in the history of mankind. Their intellectual wells on Washington, Jefferson, Madison and John Jay are dry, but they run deep on Gloria Steinem wannabes.
A bunch of really white guys hundreds of years ago laid down a road map for achieving levels of freedom and individual liberty that, to this day, is an aberration in much of the world. The ideas embedded in the Declaration of Independence and codified into the law by the U.S. Constitution transcend race. America is not structured around “whiteness” — it is structured around freedom and liberty. That is what millions of immigrants get, and what Americans like Ms. Park either a.) fail to understand or b.) willfully downplay to concentrate on a level of racism that simply does not exist in modern America.
In the end, we all want to be happy. Even though I disagree with Ms. Park, I want her pursuit of happiness to end well. According to her Washington Post piece, she has achieved her own definition of success. That’s great, right? Wrong again, white America.
Immediately I’ve become the cool Asian friend and all of my Facebook friends who thought I was really annoying for talking about racism, my feelings and my eating disorder are somehow now tokenizing me as a successful Asian American woman. I mean, how token is that?
At one time Ms. Park was upset because her friends rightfully found her obsession with race annoying. Now that she has found a modicum of success, and they patted her on the back for it, she is perturbed that she has become a “token.” But is she really a token — or just a token in her own mind?
No matter what happens to Ms. Park, there is always something to complain about.
Congratulations, Ms. Park — you are the quintessential liberal feminist.
Ashley Judd is angry. She’s really angry. So angry, in fact, that she wrote about it in The Daily Beast. Over what, you ask? Apparently the endless chatter that occurs in Hollywood circles, entertainment magazines and on talk shows about whether or not she’s had plastic surgery reached some sort of crescendo that demanded her attention. She writes:
“I choose to address [this now] because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about. …
That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
A case in point is that this conversation was initially promulgated largely by women; a sad and disturbing fact. (That they are professional friends of mine, and know my character and values, is an additional betrayal.)
If you make a deal with the Devil, you’re going to get burned. How many magazine covers has Ashley Judd been on? How many of them have been Photoshopped to hell? How many of them have been marketed almost exclusively to women? She enters into an industry filled with the most shallow, narcissistic and vain clowns among us and then wants to blame a patriarchal system designed to brainwash her female friends into betraying her? Not quite.
Sixteen to twenty-five year old men see women as objects because they’re raging balls of hormones. Literally. The rest of the male world will always appreciate a good-looking woman, but they have more important things on their mind. That’s what happens when you become a man. Although, sometimes, they have less important things on their mind (e.g., the football game). Either way, they don’t give a rip what Ashley Judd looks like…except when she willfully dons a football jersey and poses seductively for the camera.
Do you want to know who does care what Ashley Judd looks like? Women. Specifically, the kind of women who host The View. Angry, catty types who like to say mean things behind the back of others. The kind of women who take great glee in seeing beauty fade in someone they once saw as a rival, or were jealous of simply because she was beautiful. On some level Ashley Judd is even worse, because she’s a good-looking woman who goes around throwing out terms like ‘inter alia’ (unnecessarily) just to rub it in that she’s more beautiful and more intelligent than you. If our pretentious friend wanted to put an end to all the “nasty, gendered, and misogynistic” conversations she could start by having a heart to heart with the person in the mirror.
Below is a picture of Adele. A friend of mine had this to say about her Vogue cover shoot:
“Taking a women who IS in shape, photographing her in a bathing suit and putting her in a men’s magazine is one thing. But that is light years away from taking a woman who is somewhat overweight—who is known specifically for her TALENT—airbrushing her to the point that she looks like she’s had surgery, painting her with makeup and putting her in, easily, the most revealing top she’s ever posed in. Then they point a fan at her and hide her chin with heavy shadows—and FOR WHAT? A magazine aimed exclusively at women? That’s who this is for? That is something [women] all should be ashamed of. Including her.”
Remember how women fought for all sorts of basic rights, and then generations later their daughters and great granddaughters used those rights to turn themselves into Photoshopped mannequins? I do. Note to Ashley: next time you write a piece on the “insidious” women who don’t realize they’re part of the problem, all you have to do is to stick it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and then send it to your home address. The mailman might think you’re a little strange, but your message will be better targeted.