On Misanthropy as Acceptable Behavior in our Culture: An Observation

If women were portrayed as the bumbling buffoons that men are in commercials there would be justifiable outrage.  But since men are the object of mocking scorn, our society is silent and those most concerned for women’s rights least interested in protesting the inappropriate damnation of half the species.

That’s sexism.  If we wish to address and correct sexism in our society then it has to be corrected no matter who the object and not just when the objects are women.

Hashtag that.

8 thoughts on “On Misanthropy as Acceptable Behavior in our Culture: An Observation

  1. I am no fan of presenting man as bumbling buffoons in ads. However, I am not sure that this is the straightforward evidence of anti-male sexism that it might at first appear.

    First, the very reason that the typical figure of mockery in an ad is likely to be a white heterosexual male is because white heterosexual males are: (a) seen more as individuals than as members of a group; (b) socially privileged in many respects and thus more appropriate targets of ridicule than people without those privileges (much the same reason as a boss is more likely to be a figure of ridicule than the employee); (c) because such mockery is experienced as a softening and palliation of real power differentials, while allowing those power differentials to continue (notice that men do this to themselves too: presenting themselves as incompetent and their wives as hyper-competent, as a way of softening the blow of a status quo that will typically value their competences over those of their wives). So, for instance, Homer Simpson can be completely ridiculous and incompetent, but the fact is that he remains the sole wage-earner in the Simpsons household and, whatever competence Marge has receives limited recognition. If Homer were the competent one and Marge the incompetent one, the reality of the different social valuations of their competence would hit us in an uncomfortable manner. Homer’s ridiculousness dulls us to the objective parameters of the situation.

    Second, and following on from that point, the incompetence of the man relative to the woman is most typically portrayed in a domestic situation. The man simply cannot operate the washing machine, or cannot shop well, is incapable of cleaning the house, or just can’t look after the kids, acting like an overgrown kid himself. The hyper-competent woman has to step in and take over from him. Of course, the message that only women are really competent in the preparing of food, looking after kids, cleaning, and other domestic tasks is just another, slightly more subtle, way of presenting a rather status quo-affirming message: women should be the ones in charge of domestic tasks and should learn not to expect much from men in that area. If such ads did away with the ridiculous exaggerations and naturally presented examples of women who are more competent than genuinely competent men in such things as, say, driving, running a business, handling money, science and technology, etc. we might be dealing with something different. I highly doubt that feminists are the ones making these ads anyway. I would readily bet that these ad agencies are dominated by white heterosexual males.

    Finally, I suspect that women would be more prepared to listen to our grievances if they were not raised in response to theirs, as a sort of defensive and dismissive strategy. I am not a feminist—not by a long, long shot—and yet I believe that it is incredibly important that we take the time to listen, to reflect upon, and to process what is being said in such things as the #YesAllWomen hashtag. Once we have demonstrated that we have done that, I suspect that women would be more prepared to hear our concerns out.


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