#Problematic: Katy Perry Wants More Bad Blood
I heard on NPR this week that Kai Ryssdal said some disparaging things about millennials on his Marketplace segment. As a member of the dreaded millennial pack, I get it. We are addicted to smart phones, social media and have sorely escalated reality television into a hellscape. But at the same time, we are incredibly misunderstood, and a lot of older generations don’t do their research, or use singular events to characterize us all. I don’t hate on Baby Boomers for draining social security, allowing our nation’s food practices to get completely poisonous and out of control, ruining our environment or propagating bigotry. I could. But I know that I would be categorizing a whole group unfairly based not the actions of only some of them. Well Ryssdal drove the immaturity of doing so home when he mocked, “Ooh-milliennials! Gotta-cater-to-the-millennials!” and then implored everyone to download a new Chrome extension that changes the word “millennial” to “snake person.” Granted the idea is funny, but I think Joe Veix’s Chrome extension that changes Rand Paul’s name to “Taco Bonerstink” is much more worthy of a download. Anyway, the point is that shit is rough, so let’s get into some rougher shit.
1. Laura Kipnis Vs. Northwestern University
As I have said in so many words, I think Male Rights Activists are scum, but their gender (in)equality opposite is far more dangerous. Meninists are a joke. The name alone is funny. The main threat they pose is simply their persistence deep in the intestines of the internet, and just littering more stupidity into the world in general. But it is the factions within feminism that threaten to rip the whole thing apart from the inside, like that snake that swallowed the alligator. The multitude of specific grievances within feminism, and the overwhelming way in which all feminists vary in staunchness on each one, makes us kind of like the Republicans of social justice causes. The GLBT movement, for instance, is seemingly linked on everything from marriage equality to blood donor laws—there are of course smatterings of discord, but all in all its a movement united for their own equality. When it comes to feminism, the disparity in beliefs span from the women who won’t allow trans women at feminist conferences, to the women who want to further criminalize sex work.
To prove just how close we are to pushing ourselves into a Hawthorne-esque nightmare, the campus rape epidemic has now turned into a witch hunt which threatens both the state of academia and the rights of women on campuses. A feminist professor at Northwestern University, Laura Kipnis, is having Title IX charges filed against her by feminist students. The students are are upset over an essay Kipnis wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education on the university’s new policy on sexual conduct between students and teachers. They were so upset actually, that they carried mattresses to the presidents office in the style of Emma Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz carried her mattress in protest of Columbia University’s complete ineptitude in punishing a fellow student who raped her, in what will undoubtedly become an iconic act of bravery in the fight against both campus rape, and the victim-blaming, ambiguity-celebrating, semantic-abusing legal system in regards to rape across the board. The fact that a group of self-proclaimed feminists would not only misconstrue the meaning of Sulkowicz’s protest so deeply, but that they also are so deeply unoriginal, is an insult to Sulkowicz and gives power to the same kind of cretans like Cathy Young who tried to defame Sulkowicz in the media.
Kipnis’ argument is complex, but fair (as is the article she wrote in response to the charges). She argues that the absolute terror of these academic institutions after all of the embarrassment brought to them by impotent action on harassment policies has them pandering to students in a way that strips them of their own agency. She explains, “But I also believe that the myths and fantasies about power perpetuated in these new codes are leaving our students disabled when it comes to the ordinary interpersonal tangles and erotic confusions that pretty much everyone has to deal with at some point in life, because that’s simply part of the human condition.” She makes it very clear that anyone who sexually harasses or rapes a student, or anyone for that matter, should be “chemically castrated, stripped of their property, and hung up by their thumbs in the nearest public square.” She could not articulate more clearly that her views are constructed out of care for the well being of the students. She is also equally clear that professors should not be seen as potential predators, nor have their students have such powerful guidelines at their disposal to slander them putatively if they wished. It’s not going to do victims any good if universities, in an attempt to protect themselves from legal frustration, are creating guidelines that make it even easier for students’ accusations to be discredited out of the ease of which they can be made.
What’s problematic, Kipnis points out, is the fact that the mattress-wielding students adamantly requested the university publicly condemn her depicts the very mentality she fears these guidelines are fostering. I’ll admit that even I was a little taken aback by her enthusiastic advocation of student relations with professors, but at the same time I see the puritanical damage that completely villainizing it has. Also her opinions on the semantics of guidelines meant to curtail professorial interactions with students, in no way diminishes the important conversation around student to student harassment and sexual violence. If anything Kipnis is arguing for the students to not be babied by patronizing rules about consensual sex with other adults, albeit professors, in a way to give them more agency to speak up when they are violated by other students. I know how easily impassioned I was in college, and I see where these young women could misconstrue Kipnis’ points—but when campuses are punishing their professors in response to students violating other students, its further empowering the privileged male students taking advantage of backwards university bureaucracy in the first place.
As #Problematic as … posthumous fame:
2. Country Music Still Unkind To Women
It was recently brought to my attention that a radio host I’d never heard of took to her Facebook page just to tell me to I can kiss her ass. Radio Lia, or Lia, or a country music radio host (I was unable to discern on the internet what her exact name is and the exact program she hosts, because unlike me, she really cares about clarity), was upset when I wrote about country band Little Big Town’s song “Girl Crush.” I can be flippant and sarcastic, and apparently she is incapable of discerning either, and took me making a few jokes about country fans very much to heart. What I don’t understand is how she misunderstood me so deeply, as I was calling out “sector” of country fans, who absolutely exist, for being entirely homophobic and misogynistic. That specific sector had the song “Girl Crush” pulled from many country stations, or played in less rotation, because it makes clever use of the term “girl crush” as an innuendo about a woman who is obsessed with her ex’s new girlfriend.
For the sake of not stoking a future pissing contest, I’ll refrain from getting into the pitfalls of her trying to get 47,000 people enraged at me or her argument that I am biased and judgmental. I will point out though that many of her fans took to the comments to point out stations that did pull the song, something Lia denied was happening and blamed the media for making country fans look bad. For the record, I am from Nashville, a country music fan, and not the liberal mud slinger she’s making me out to be. Also Lia is woefully forgetful that the same kind of reactions from conservative country fans and radio hosts in the past that I was condemning led to tragedies like the end of the Dixie Chicks.
Also, criticism encourages change, and my only intention was to criticize part of the country music industry that’s ruining something for me, which is the participation of members of the GLBT and straight women in country. To further illustrate that point this week famed radio consultant Keith Hill in an interview with Country Aircheck said:
“Hill cautions against playing too many females. And playing them back to back, he says, is a no-no. ‘If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,’ he asserts. ‘The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75 percent, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19 percent. Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.’”
Martina McBride herself posted on her Facebook page to ask, “How do you feel about this statement? I especially want to hear from the females. Do you not like to hear other women singing about what you are going through as women? I’m really curious. Because to me, country music is about relating. Someone relating to what you are really going through on a day to day basis in your life. Did you girls (core female listeners) know you were being ‘assessed’ in this way? Is this how you really feel? All I have to say is that as long as I have Martina McBride on my side, I really don’t give a fuck about Radio Lia.
As #Problematic as … female nipple censorship:
3. Katy Perry Wants More Bad Blood
It is now rumored that Katy Perry is going to join forces with John Mayer to write an anthemic, pop takedown of Taylor Swift, and I CAN’T WAIT FOR IT. I mean come on, this is one of the best pop culture wars of all time—one incredibly privileged white (purportedly) Christian-valued woman against the other. It has been heavily speculated, and also just plain hinted at by Taylor Swift, that her song “Bad Blood” is about a fellow pop star who tried to sabotage one of her tours. Her unparalleled roll out of the video at the Billboard Music Awards, that featured a slew of stars and broke the Vevo 24-hour record, I guess sunk the knife (maybe the same one Taylor got scars on her back from) in a little deeper for Perry, so she decided to call an ex-boyfriend in hopes he’d want revenge on a different ex-girlfriend (Swift and Perry both dated Mayer). I guess that goes to show that sometimes there really are perks to staying friends.
I just wish one of them would come out with it and say, “I can’t stand that bitch.” And the tireless defenses from fans on either side are really hilarious when what this boils down to is not an issue of morality, but two women who want to beat each other. What’s really problematic is that they both try to hide it behind some feminist “I don’t like mean girls” hack.
As #Problematic as … the fact that Taylor wouldn’t let Lena be in that big cat fight at the end of the “Bad Blood” video with all of the other models and actresses, and stuck her behind a desk with a cigar instead:
4. You Deserve A Treat
If you’re still with me, you’ve let me go on a social justice rant, indulge in a personal defense and get a little giddy over a celebrity feud. I think the world deserves more beauty, so to round out this week, let’s talk about a couple triumphant moments for the way women’s bodies are portrayed in the media. Miley Cyrus, passionate nipple warrior, finally got a nipple past Instagram’s draconian censorship laws that censor the female body far more harshly than the male counterpart. She was so subtle, so sneaky, the photo was not immediately taken down, and perhaps that will help Instagram realize that the world will not end if there are tits on a photo sharing app. Furthermore Elle Australia did a truly rad thing, and for its June 2015 cover featured model Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son in a casual, sexy splendor. The cover is available to subscribers only, but that is still a wonderful step forward in breaking the body-shaming, female-fearing taboos against breast feeding.
As #Problematic as … how much white people love dolphins: