hypocrisy misogyny

Michael Moore upbraids Rush Limbaugh for his misogyny by calling him a “prostitute” and a “bitch.” Uh, Mike …

Oh, Michael Moore. You still don’t get it, do you?

73 replies on “Michael Moore upbraids Rush Limbaugh for his misogyny by calling him a “prostitute” and a “bitch.” Uh, Mike …”

@Astazha- The problem is that you said that “being not-feminine” was part of male identity. That’s not the case, as you yourself demonstrate. Being “not-feminie” is a HUGE part of normative masculinity, which is actually troubling in a lot of ways, because it leads to hurtful shaming and gender policing of feminine men, who often still have strong identities as men. “Masculinity” and “male identity” are not the same thing, and conflating them is problematic. Make sense?

Also, one of our regular posters maintains a blog called “No Seriously What About Teh Menz” that talks a lot about these sorts of masculinity issues. You should probably hang out there; it’s pretty neat.

@Astazha: you write about wanting to “reach a place where all of my thoughts, ideas, and feelings about gender are self-consistent and fair.”

I sympathize. I know that right now I have some non-self-consistent beliefs, and it bugs the crap out of me. One of these days I’m going to go to the forums and talk about it, because it’s kind of a derail for these threads.

The thing about some words being offensive. Sometimes I think the word “offensive” is the problem. A clearer phrase would be “hurtful”. It’s not like the people objecting to “prostitute” or “bitch” are like “Hmm, here is a list of words that are bad, let me look, okay, okay, yep, ‘prostitute’ is on here, better complain!” It’s not an ideological objection in that sense. The word “prostitute” can and has been used in feminist discussions (although I understand “sex worker” is a less loaded term). But it can and has been used in a sexist, hurtful way too, and that’s what’s being called out.

Michael Moore could have just said that Limbaugh is a sellout. Instead he made his point in the most problematic and sexist way possible. I predict he’ll give a fauxpology in a few days if there is enough backlash about this tweet.

Astazha For me personally the goal is to get the big issues right, and not to be as PC as possible.

If you are here in good faith, you might want to realize that those of us who have been involved in social justice work for some time (I became an active feminist in the early 1980s, and I teach women’s and gender studies), tend to see the usage of “PC” as a big flashing “I AM TROLL” or “I AM PRIVILEGED ENOUGH TO THINK THAT I CAN TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR ISSUES AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE BIG or small, and oh by the way, only MY ISSUES ARE BIG” sort of sign (aka, you who are, I assume a man, are coming to us and talking about whether or not our language is in your estimation PC. You are in effect saying that you get to determine the ‘big issues’ (which you can for yourself, but not for anybody else, and I among others react really badly when people, especially men, tell me that I should be considering big issues).

Assuming you are asking in good faith, I consider your main problem in what you are trying to do the fact that you consider “identity” to be how gender (NOT sex) is manifested. That is, people IDENTIFY as X or Y.

a man who identifies as feminine (but not necessarily gay) Other parts of your posts use “identity” uncritically, i.e. as interior and born in so to speak.

These days, in many areas of gender studies, that’s seen as an essentialist position, as opposed to the social constructionist position which is that cultures construct ideas of what “masculinity” and “femininity” are (and given that they’re constructed, and intersect with constructed notions of “race” and “class” and “sexuality”, that means there are multiple masculinities and femininities–although there’s usually one ideal/normative/or hegemonic masculinity and femininity in many situations). Since these cultural constructs differ over time and across cultures, they’re clearly not caused by biology.

Here’s a good analogy one of my students came up with to distinguish between the biological (inherent) and the culturally constructed:

We all have to eat food to live (that’s essential), but table manners are socially constructed! He was absolutely right.

The sneaky part about the cultural constructions that exist in a kyriarchy (google it if you haven’t heard it before, I’m on a short lunch break) is that they are presented as “natural.”

Another example from a student of mine in a class who had trouble with a paper on hair bands of the 1980s: he kept wanting to say they weren’t sexist because they dressed like women while performing.

He and I went back and forth for weeks with him not understanding that he had to define what “dressed like women” meant: there is no single essential way women always dress! (It took one of my other students seeing a vid he was using to point out that the short tight skirts worn by one of the bands clearly showed their penises, which meant that if they were on stage, all the fans below were in essence “below” their cocks!). That is, the women’s clothing this band wore was very specifically tied to cultural images of “sluttiness” and not, as I pointed out, the kind of clothing my grandmother (a woman) would wear!

To say that something is dark is to say that it is not light. The speaker might prefer one over the other, but doesn’t have to.

Except that you keep focusing on the individual — the whole point of gender studies and deconstruction is that there are social/cultural attitudes that exist, and those affect people (i.e. is that newborn baby a girl or a boy? If a girl, dress her in pink–except that a century ago, “pink” was the masculine color, and “blue” the feminine” — google if if you want–the New York Times did an article on it).

So the binary of man/woman as polar opposites also lines up with other cultural binaries: good/bad; light (reason)/dark(unreason); mind/body, and women are coded in with the negatives in all those ways. Separate or opposite but equal is crap, and language matters because language is how we are acculturated. So talking about how concern about language used (especially in regard to identifiers, i.e. who gets to ‘label’ who in terms of power relationships) is PC is one of those danger signals for many of us.

THere are feminine men, and there are masculine women–and there are multiple masculinities (and masculinity studies) and multiple femininities.

And the foundational idea of gender studies is that people PERFORM gender, and if you know anything about drag kings and drag queens (most don’t know drag kings exist), then that’s the best example for how the gender role is not connected to the genitals.

The author of a really good article I taught in my last gender class is Scott Herring:

This was the article:

“Out of the Closets, Into the Woods: RFD, Country Women, and the Post-Stonewall Emergence of Queer Anti-urbanism.” American Quarterly 59.2 (2007): 341-372. Reprinted in West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977. Ed. Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

And the foundational idea of gender studies is that people PERFORM gender, and if you know anything about drag kings and drag queens (most don’t know drag kings exist), then that’s the best example for how the gender role is not connected to the genitals.

I would argue that this is a misconception of what Butler, at least, means by gender as performative.

“Within speech act theory, a performative is that discursive practice that enacts or produces that which it names” (Bodies 13).

“gender cannot be understood as a role which either expresses or disguises an interior ‘self,’ whether that ‘self’ is conceived as sexed or not. As performance which is performative, gender is an ‘act,’ broadly construed, which constructs the social fiction of its own psychological interiority” (“Performative” 279).

In opposition to theatrical or phenomenological models which take the gendered self to be prior to its acts, I will understand constituting acts not only as constituting the identity of the actor, but as constituting that identity as a compelling illusion, an object of belief.

Drag is, in my opinion, a terrible example of performative in the Butlerian sense of the word, because our social discourses around drag assert that it is an act distinct from identity, rather than a becoming through acting. The conventional view of drag is not that the man/woman becomes a woman/man through the performance of the trappings of that social expectation, rather the opposite. A better example might be employment positions, a person becomes a construction worker by construction worker-ing, and forms a self concept as a construction worker around that.

(The above is the sort of horror you get when you let a philosophy student into your queer theory classes XD).

@Astazha, I would suggest you go do some 101. You don’t even seem to have the “liberal feminist” seperations down yet, you’re still doing a lot of essentialism, so it is hard to recommend things from me, who tends to be into post-Foucault Marxist kind of stuff when it comes to hard theory. It’s hard to give answers, especially anything approaching simple ones, when you aren’t even starting to formulate the questions right.

How would you describe and differentiate femininity and masculinity…

Why should I describe or differentiate them? Are these meaningful definitions and concepts? You could define “masculinity” as “things society expects of men” and “femininity” as “things society expects of women”, as some “liberal feminist” theories would frame it. Of course, in that construction of the terms, they are defined as society defines them, and only seen as mutually exclusive because they are defined oppositionally by the society. “Is the color pink masculine or feminine?” In that view would be answered by “in what time, place, and culture?” A constructionalist would object to those definitions as discursive in and of themselves. To define something as “expected of a man/woman”, you need to know what a man or woman is, an extremely complicated (and often poorly formulated) set of questions in and of themselves, which are not infrequently related to cultural notions of the “masculine” and “feminine”. There’s a lot of circular definitions in how we define and conceive sex/gender/etc.

You speak of a “newer healthier masculinity” in your own post. You must know what this term means, right, you do keep using it, don’t you?

I also don’t think that the feminine is inferior to the masculine, just that there is some exclusivity (as well as overlap) to the terms.

If you need me to tell you what the term means, why do you have such firm opinions about it? You must have some working definition of the term that you are using. Can something like a “feminine man” exist under your usage (even if your usage is a somewhat slapdash approximation for quick understanding, social identites, etc.)? Is masculinity just a way of being a man or identifying as a man? If so, there are no feminine men, but there are no two masculinities which are exactly alike, and some of those masculinities involve wearing dresses and make up while being fucked by men. Does that fit into your usage of “masculine”? Is knowing whether an act or appearance is masculine or feminine or what? gendqueer-ine solely and totally dependent on just finding out the person doing its gender identity?

@Quackers: I don’t have issue with a femme man, which if I understand the term correctly is a man who identifies as feminine (but not necessarily gay). I sometimes switch into this myself, possibly because the pressure of being masculine in a traditional fashion can be too much and I have not yet come to an understanding of what a newer, healthier masculinity would mean. I also don’t think that the feminine is inferior to the masculine, just that there is some exclusivity (as well as overlap) to the terms. To say that something is dark is to say that it is not light. The speaker might prefer one over the other, but doesn’t have to. The gender binary is too simple, but I don’t have a better model in my head except perhaps a spectrum. If we think of masculine & feminine as, instead of two sides of coin, two facets on a diamond, it would still seem apparent to me that they are opposite facets. Thoughts?

Other posters here will know more about this than me since they study it more extensively, but in my opinion I would like to eventually see a world where “masculine” and “feminine” traits are just seen as human traits and where we don’t value one over the other. I think assigning a gender to personality traits and behavior is silly and that it causes confusion and discomfort for individuals who feel like they HAVE to display certain traits in order to fit a masculine/feminine identity, especially if those traits don’t come naturally to them and if they don’t identify as either male or female.

I realize that there are people who feel more comfortable acting more traditionally masculine if they are men or traditionally feminine if they are women and I have no problem with that, the problem is that society still rewards people for sticking to those roles and punishes people who don’t (non-cisgender people for example) We also live in a society that rewards stereotypical male traits such as aggression, over-confidence, and dominance. Studies have shown that women are screwed whether they embody those traits or if they don’t. For example it’s acceptable for a man to be aggressive to get a job, or to get taken seriously, but if a woman does it she’s seen as a bitch. Yet if she’s not aggressive or doesn’t sell her abilities, she’ll risk losing a promotion. It’s also a problem when men are told one of the core definitions of masculinity is to obtain as many women as possible. This is hurtful for men and women.

I just think we’d be a much happier society if we didn’t focus so much on gender roles and just act in a way that comes naturally to the individual. In my experience most people I know usually will have both masculine and feminine traits anyway.

@ M Dubz: Yes, that makes some sense. I still conflate a lot of these terms, and that’s making an already difficult conversation unmanageable. Thank you for referring me to NSWATM, that is right up my alley. From there I found The Good Men Project, which also seems worth checking out.

@ cendare: Thank you for expressing kinship, and I agree that “hurtful” frames the discussion better. You mentioned going to “the forums”. Did you have anywhere specific in mind? I’m definitely looking for good places to have this conversation; preferably places that will be tolerant of a working class guy who is a product of our sexist culture and trying to do better, but if I have to take a good dressing-down to finally understand these things I will.

@ithiliana, Quackers, and darksidecat: There’s a lot here, and mostly I need to do some homework. There are points that make sense, points I already agreed with, points I didn’t comprehend, and points that I understood but do not agree with. I don’t think I’m ready to have this discussion though, as I don’t grasp the “101” and this is creating some communication barriers. Thank you for assuming good faith and taking the time to answer my questions, I am going to go back through all 3 of these responses carefully and spend some time with google, maybe order a gender studies text so we can be talking about apples and apples in the future.

@Astazha: I actually meant specifically the Manboobz forums. In fact, after I wrote that, I was reading these forums and found at least one piece specifically talking about masculinity/femininity.

Also, to get past “101” I want to mention Shakesville. I’ve been reading it for several years and lots of things I didn’t understand before are clearer to me now. (like, why “lame” is hurtful; why assuming “vagina equals woman” is wrong; etc.). Mind you, they are not tolerant of *posting* when you don’t get 101 stuff. But just reading it is what I did, and what I recommend.

Xardoz: Michael Moore: unintentionally helping Republicans since the 90s. 🙁 Seriously, I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t have voted for GWB if it wasn’t for Moore’s documentaries “pissing them off.” I still think they’re stupid, but I sort-of kind-of know where they’re coming from now.

I hear shit like that and I think… bullshit. That’s a way to blame, “The Left” for them being on the Right. That way they don’t have to cop to the things they are supporting. I’ve had people come up with that sort of “explanation” and when I press them… they weren’t going to vote got Kerry, or Obama. They just wanted cover for voting Republican.

yeah, definitely do NOT post at Shakesville unless you are able to be VERY careful about what you say. because the woman who runs the site can be VERY rude and nitpicky about those sorts of things. to the point that not only did i stop posting there, i can’t even stand to GO to that blog anymore, because all i ever seemed to get was scoldings for saying the wrong things.

What are you talking about Vanessa?

Of Course Shakes is a bit nitpicky. A lot of people go there with zero/zip/nada understanding of the issues, and then try to tell people there “The Way Things Are”.

If you like, you can try asking the same sorts of questions at an MRA site (even a, “mild one” such as the Men’s Rights reddit) and see what sort of response you get.

Apples and oranges.

She (Melissa of Shakesville) got all pissy at me for suggesting that people vote for alternative left parties like the Greens instead of Democrats. i started out really liking her blog, but after a while she just really started coming across as a rude and standoffish jerk, even though i agree with her on just about all of the issues. i once kind of liked the quirkiness of Shakesville, but after a while it just started to seem like a juvenile clubhouse where “the regulars” get treated better, and can get away with more things, than others.

i KNOW the MRAs are much worse than her, i just had hoped for better from people who are on the right side of the issues. and i ended up feeling very put down and unwelcome, and so i can’t really even stand to go there anymore. and i know she has no obligation to be nice to me, on the other hand if she is only going to criticise me when i do something wrong, then that is not a place where i feel safe or welcome.

or to put it another way, i felt treated like the enemy by her. like i was no different from the MRAs or other right wing, anti-feminist types who go to sites like hers to troll.

I agree with her. If you were saying a vote for a third party is a viable alternative, in the present climate, you are not helping.

But that’s not what you were implying with your first comment. You and Shakes have a difference of opinion on a thing which is near and dear to both of you. That’s one thing, saying one has to how one phrases things, when someone is being referred to Shakesville for Feminism 101, is something altogether different. At best disingenuous, at worse downright dishonest.

I know it’s weird to necro threads and probably most of you will never even see this, but I wanted to come back to this place and say thank you. Thank you for calling me out, for assuming good faith and engaging, for taking the time to educate and refer, and particularly for making it clear that I was in need of some 101. This thread was a turning point for me.

The conversation was memorable, informative, and probably more traumatic for me than any of you realized. I won’t go deep, but suffice to say it was right here that I started to realize that the reason for my rocky relationship with feminism was me. I set out to learn: I spoke with my partner, asked a feminist friend, re-read your posts, checked out the resources you suggested and others, began to follow feminist bloggers, and most importantly began to really listen carefully to what was being said. The crucial insight, really, was that I needed to learn more, that my own experiences and casual observations were not sufficient expertise. It’s stupid, I know, but what is obvious now was not obvious to me then.

I came to this crossroads as someone who theoretically believed in equality but was in practice still quite obliviously sexist, and I left down a different path. It’s only been a year and a half, but I have a substantially different perception of the world. I’m a male feminist now; I have found it to be a difficult, meaningful, and worthwhile path. My life, my little corner of the world, and my marriage are all better for it.

There were multiple things that contributed to that, but right here was one of the crucial places where feminism finally got some traction with me.

Thank you.

Astazha – why can’t all the thread necros be like this? Thank you! (Okay, it’s weird me saying that ‘cos I wasn’t commenting then, but still – it’s good to read.)

Yay! I’m glad that you were able to figure things out, since you came across as really confused when you first commented here. You sound like you’re in a much more comfortable mental space now.

The crucial insight, really, was that I needed to learn more, that my own experiences and casual observations were not sufficient expertise. It’s stupid, I know, but what is obvious now was not obvious to me then.

I came to this crossroads as someone who theoretically believed in equality but was in practice still quite obliviously sexist, and I left down a different path.

Ohh, that feel… I wish this was a more common experience, the turning away from thoughtless sexism and toward consideration. I don’t think I was that bad overall, but there are certainly moments in my recent past that shame me when I remember them. I think I’ve become both a better, and more content person since I recognised the importance of feminism, and I know that I owe a great deal of that improvement to the people on this site. It’s a pretty awesome place, this.

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