Link Soup 9/13/07

No, I wouldn’t call this a new column, but every once in a while I see some great conversations happening around the blogosphere and feel like sharing them.

A friend sent me to this article on The Entertainment Industry’s Love Affair with Immature Men:

No, not Michael Vick. Though the Falcon quarterback’s explanation for dog fighting — “I need to grow up” — does show just how ubiquitous the Peter Pan excuse has become. Male leads in recent popular TV shows and movies are increasingly portrayed as victims of their own immaturity. If only instead of claiming he had found Jesus, Vick had said he’d found some fantastically attractive and accomplished woman, perhaps the viewing audience would’ve gone along. In today’s romantic comedy scripts, the man-child always meets his Wendy. Only through the innate, successful, high-achieving grace of a female may our hero be saved.

Taken one at a time, it’s easy to pass off this trend as a simple, comedic trope. But considering the storyline’s popularity and how it is affecting gender relations at large, this narrative is worthy of closer attention.

It’s hard to imagine an unbeautiful TV slacker woman, lost in her adolescence, who manages to snag a successful oncologist who used to model and volunteers at the soup kitchen in his free time. The beautiful, accomplished woman is simply another cardboard cutout standing in for a real (fictional) human being. And when she puts up with a guy like this, it becomes a total het male fantasy.

The Curvature makes a great point about the intersection between feminism and disability activism:

Disability Rights are a feminist issue because women know what it’s like to be infantalized and treated as lesser people. And we should know damn by well that it isn’t right. Not for us, and not for anybody.

Indeed. Do read the whole article for additional thoughts.

Cortney at A Feminist Response to Pop Culture said something I’ve been trying to say about Law & Order: SVU:

The entire premise of SVU is sexual assault in its many forms. It is an excellent platform for politicizing institutionalized abuse of women but is used instead as a cheap ploy to attract and retain viewers.

And finally, the popularity of this show certainly raises the question: why are we so fascinated by sex crimes? The delight that viewers get from watching child rapists and deserving bitches get theirs is very telling.

There’s really so much more, and I’m doing a disservice to the article by just clipping these lines. Rape already suffers from the stigma of not being a real problem, of being a problem victims encounter only through bad choices, etc. By choosing to capitalize on that view rather than challenge it, the show becomes part of the problem by failing to be part of the solution.

Girl in the Machine explains three simple rules for writing a video game female lead wthout stereotypes.

Poisoned River shared some jokes a comedian told about rape. And yet the part I’m quoting from that article is what came after:

Then he talked about the Virginia Tech shootings, and said that at universities the attractive girls should take it in turns to sleep with the geeky, unsociable guys so that those guys don’t go crazy and kill people. Because it’s women’s responsibility to ensure men don’t kill people. And sex is a magic pill which cures mental illness and removes all violent urges.

And what he’s also saying in here is that if women don’t submit to sleeping with men they find repulsive, men are entitled to rape them as punishment. He also seems to conflate rape with sex, which is sadly common.

Richie at Crimitism neatly shoots down the Men’s Rights Activists myth that dumb guys on TV are a conspiracy by feminists to make people hate men. After describing a plot in which a woman totally bosses around her stupid husband, he asks:

Now, am I describing:

  1. The nightmarish future of comedy. Good God, if only we’d listened to Nathanson and Young WHILE THERE WAS STILL TIME!!!
  2. An episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, AKA the feminist Trojan Horse responsible for driving misandry to its highest recorded level since the Depression and rainfall to its highest level since the Wall Street Crash.
  3. Sons of the Desert, a Laurel & Hardy comedy from 1933, which, if I’ve done my sums right, predates “today’s media” by some considerable margin.

You have to go read it for the answer. 😉


  1. MaggieCat says

    I read the rest of the article about feminism and disability rights and while I agree wholeheartedly with the quote you pulled, the rest of the article is annoying and in some places slightly insulting. This is hard for me to write about since I am disabled due to a disease, and had to use the Americans With Disabilities Act to get my middle and high schools to make very necessary accommodations. I know for a fact how insanely stupid institutions and the people in charge of them can be about the topic, and that they generally vacillate between asking if you’re really sick (if you “look” healthy enough to them) or treating you like an invalid when you’re actually doing fairly well.

    But none of us want them at the expense of being told that we’re the problem.

    This is precisely what the telethon does. It assumes that those with disabilities need to adapt to our way of life, rather than us making room for them. Maybe some do want “cures.” Others don’t.

    This is an extremely simplistic view. Especially when the original article is about a disease that is progressive, and can be dangerous or even fatal. Perhaps it would have worked better if the point was drawn around deafness (since there’s the issue of deaf culture being wiped out by “cures”) or a different type of disability that can be worked around with physical accommodations. In this sort of case, this isn’t about saying that the people affected are the problem- most of it is about the disease being the problem. I have yet to meet anyone with a serious progressive or chronic disease who doesn’t want a cure. There is a huge difference between telling someone they need a cure for something when they’re fine with the way they are and saying that it’s more important that society provide adequate accessibility services when those services won’t help other people even get out of bed due to the pain. And in no way am I saying these things aren’t desperately needed for people who require them and can make use of them, but this is a topic where both things need to be addressed, because either way you’re ignoring a large portion of the affected population.

    Jerry Lewis is a paternalistic asshat from what I can tell, and heaven knows I find this particular telethon irritating, but dismissing the “cure mentality” just really grates for me personally. Awareness is a huge hurdle to overcome initially, and saying that with adequate accommodations everyone can do what the able-bodied and healthy can do is not helping with that.

  2. says

    Good points, Maggie.

    …but this is a topic where both things need to be addressed, because either way you’re ignoring a large portion of the affected population…

    *nod* There’s no one-size-fits-all response to disability generally. I think awareness is, as you say, a huge hurdle. People not personally dealing with whichever particular disability ought to do a better job of listening to those who are when they express what they want and need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *