My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Generation M: Misogyny in Media & Culture – 2008

on April 10, 2012


This is my favourite kind of documentary, obviously, since it’s basically what this blog is all about – examining misogyny and sexism in media.  Unfortunately, after watching quite a few documentaries about this, they’re starting to get a little repetitive.  But I can still find a few things that I had never thought of before in all of them.

One thing that I liked about this documentary was the way it contrasted sexism with racism.  For example, it presented the song Kim by Eminem (which, admittedly, I actually know all the words to and used to love), which is pretty undeniably misogynistic and questioned if the reaction would be the same if he was being so violently racist instead.  Plenty of people – including women – defend Eminem, saying that he’s just pissed at Kim for cheating, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, he’s fucked up, he’s just angry, etc.  But would people of colour defend him in the same way if he was talking about killing black men?  This could be argued I guess, but it seems pretty clear that they would not.  In fact, Eminem will not use the ‘N-word’ in his music (but feels very comfortable saying any derogatory word or phrase he can think of about women).

Another example used was the video game Grand Theft Auto.  I have no experience with this game at all (I’m not really into video games.  Except the Sims which I love, and may have to do a post about), but I have seen it criticized in more than one documentary now for it’s violent misogyny.  Specifically, I guess, killing prostitutes is a thing in GTA… isn’t that original.  Gamers say it’s fun because you can do things that you would never do in the real world.  Okay, so what else would you never do in the real world?  Would a game sell big because it allows you to be a pedophile?  Or lynch N- – – – – s*?  Of course not! Because those things are horrifying!  But then, the implication there is that killing prostitutes is not horrifying?

The beginning of the film talked a lot about female pop stars and the image of femininity, sexuality, and “female empowerment” that they present.  As they flash images of the Pussycat Dolls, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and whoever else, I totally agree with their point.  But I also still secretly wish I looked like them.  It’s so frustrating to recognize how problematic and impossible these standards of beauty are, but still be affected by them.   I sometimes wonder if documentaries should show all the hundreds of images (of sexuality, violence, gender stereotypes, etc.) that they are criticizing the media for showing, but I think it does make a difference.  Now when I see ads in the real world like the ones that have been shown in these documentaries, I immediately think of the criticisms of the ad (rather than immediately criticizing myself, which is what the ad would prefer I do).

I agree with their criticisms of the Pussycat dolls, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, but I can’t help but get defensive when they start talking about Christina Aguilera.  I love Christina Aguilera.  I like to think I have a good reason to, and she is not like all the others, but maybe I’m just too biased to see that this isn’t true.  I have always seen her as a strong woman, and have reminded myself many times that “Lil Kim and Christina Aguilera got your back” as I walk out of the door worried that I look ‘too slutty.’  I have gotten a lot of strength from a lot of her songs (most notably Can’t Hold Us Down, which still makes me cry), and I totally think she is a feminist.  Her songs about sexuality imply agency and are about her own desire, not about men’s desire for her.  Get Mine Get Yours talks about her need for sexual satisfaction, Still Dirrty talks about how she’s still a ‘freak’ even if she’s not always dressed like it, even in Dirrty she says “I wanna get dirty,” not ‘I’m getting dirty so you can watch.’  I think it’s always been a bit different with her – more authentic.  And a lot of sexist assholes feel the need to call her a slut (etc.), but say they wanna fuck Nicole Scherzinger, so I’m clearly not the only one who sees a difference.    She’s not perfect, but I still just have to love her.

The last thing I have to say about this documentary (after that somewhat off-topic rant about Christina) is that it has taught me a lot about what guys to stay away from.  I never really put the pieces together before, but guys I’ve known who were into Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and Eminem have pretty much all been sexist, ignorant, had very traditional ideas about gender roles, and had absolutely no desire to change.  I never knew who Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh were until I started watching feminist documentaries, and now it all makes sense.  So there’s my advice for you.  If you come across a man who talks about Howard Stern all the time, run.  (Unless sexism, ignorance and traditional gender roles appeal to you, in which case, go for it.  Who am I to judge?)

*Forgive me for using that word, I was just trying to make a point that a game would never use that word in that way to sell a product.


2 responses to “Generation M: Misogyny in Media & Culture – 2008

  1. Zap says:

    wow i actually sat through the whole thing. Conclusion? It’s pure propaganda.
    Might as well do a smaller “documentary” ( 5th grade presentation more like it ) in which some “professor” in a leash held by a woman is happily thrown a dog biscuit and repeats adnauseum:
    “Men evil, women good! Men evil, women good!”

    It would still be more informative that this….thing.

  2. liv says:

    Glad you watched the documentary, sorry you didn’t find it informative. I find it interesting that you conclude that any professor who discusses misogyny must be being controlled by some sort of dominatrix woman. Unfortunately the type of misogyny in our media is pretty obvious and very repetitive…and yet people don’t seem to recognize it.

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