Did she deserve it?

And when, if ever, is misogyny funny?

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

 

misogyny social mediaDisclaimer 1: I know it is not wise to watch videos posted on social media. More often than not, their contents suggest that weird folks create them to get their jollies from the number of viewers who choose to watch weird stuff.

Disclaimer 2: I don’t always act on my hard-earned wisdom.

So, a few days ago, I watched a video on Facebook, because I love the artist who posted it (Ladislao Loera) and because the female subject of the video’s comedy was a public figure I previously enjoyed critiquing.

I was swiftly sorry I clicked the play button. The video was rampant with overt misogyny and crudely objectifying jokes targeting the woman, who was present for the verbal assault. It was an assault aimed not only at her public commentary on contemporary culture—fair game in my world—but also at her body, her face and her genitalia—not fair in my world.

The audience in the video gasped and moaned with each wildly offensive punch line and then roared implicit approval, while the woman’s icy smile morphed into an icy grimace.

Here are a few examples, the target’s name removed or replaced with “she” and “her” to attempt some objectivity, for the moment at least:

Fun fact: She has a big angry bush. No joke, that’s just a fun fact.     – Rob Riggle

Her pussy—seriously this gets classy—her pussy is now so old and dry that it just got a job drawing cartoons for The New Yorker.     – Jimmy Carr

I just realized that I'm not the only athlete up here tonight. As you all know, earlier in the year, she won the Kentucky Derby.     – Peyton Manning

It's fifty-six days to Halloween, but I see that she's already in her skeleton costume.     – Rob Lowe

She is one of the most repugnant, hateful, hatchet-faced bitches alive, but it’s not too late to change—you could kill yourself.     – Jimmy Carr

And there’s one more I’ll quote, not because of any overt misogyny, but because of the source and the message she sends:

As a feminist, I can’t support everything that’s being said up here tonight. But as somebody who hates her, I'm delighted.     – Jewel

The message in Jewel’s joke is that misogyny is funny, even for feminists, as long as we adequately dislike the object of derision.

I hope this isn’t a new standard for the most recent wave of feminists.

misogynyTrue, Ann Coulter, the focus of the recounted jokes, from a Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe, has indeed made a career of promoting fear and hate of “others.” She targets vulnerable populations with her own bigoted and objectifying commentary, demonizing them for being other than white, other than U.S. citizens, other than heterosexual, other than Christian, other than a privileged, slender, long-of-face, well-educated, angry, conservative white gal, most often seen bearing a cleavage cross.

But take the Comedy Central jokes and insert the name of a well-respected woman, say Eleanor Roosevelt or, better yet, the recently be-sainted Mother Teresa or even your mother. Are the jokes still funny? To me, not so much (although they never were), and I’m as disinterested in envisioning Eleanor Roosevelt or Mother Teresa’s nether regions, as I am Ann Coulter’s.

The wee bit of bright light in this is that, despite the discomforting video, the Facebook comments responding to it were moderate by social media standards, which says something lovely about the artist and his friends. Two dominant perspectives twined around the comments thread, encapsulated in the following:

Clint Trout Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I don't think it is funny, fair, civil or appropriate to insult people (especially women) for their looks. For their behavior and views, however, absolutely.

Michael Loebe Are we not discussing the monster who has spent her entire adult life attacking, degrading, and advocating for the reduction of rights of major communities in this country? I feel no pity for someone who gains financially by verbally destroying the dignity of thousands of people. She incites hate and violence and I have zero respect for her.

Maybe Coulter is a monster of sorts, although I find her particular brand of cruelty to be so common as to seem quite human. Nonetheless, as I wrote on Ladi’s post, we can satirize our monsters without behaving like them.

Here’s the video—what do you think? Did Coulter “deserve” it?