Sunday, October 12, 2008

The line between sexism and fun

Becky Drysdale (of Time Traveling Lesbian/Big Gay Sketch Show fame) recently made a video entitled "L Word Serenade". It's been around for couple of weeks or so, and it's rather funny:

Ha, ha, silly lesbians watching the L Word for the sex, right? I thought so too, at first. But after watching it several more times, I'm not so sure.

What if the song had been performed by a man, about some other show? My reaction to that would likely be, "Oh, great, another stupid rap about some guy's sexual prowess." I know, I know, it's "just a joke", right? But sometimes it seems like we have a lot more tolerance for objectification if it's being done by a woman.

It seems like there are two way to view objectification:
  1. It's a social construct, and it's a problem because it's pervasive, constant, and nearly completely biased against women - if it was equally distributed and less prevalent, it would be okay. Lots of feminist adjacent men seem to think like this, mostly in terms of "It's okay to objectify someone a little." A number of lesbians seem to agree, cf. Sandy from the Lesbian Mafia, who thinks that porn would be just fine, if only men wouldn't look at it!

  2. It's a moral issue: objectifying someone's body is essentially always wrong. This, curiously enough, is a view held by both right-wing Christians, and by some of the most radical feminists: Andrea Dworkin comes to mind.

I personally tend to float somewhere in between: I think that it's possible to appreciate sexuality without objectifying the person, but I think that it becomes wrong as soon as you actually start treating them only as an object. I'm not always sure where exactly that line is, though. This song, while not offensive per. se., still bothers me somewhat.

Or, perhaps I'm just still mad about the Margeret Cho incident.

What do you think? Does the 'L Word Serenade' offend you, or is it just funny?


Improvedliving said...

well there is very thin line between both of this.

Bongs Bay said...

I find it somehow simultaneously funny and offensive, so straddling your "line" between sexism and entertainment. On the one hand, it's a clever rap and I theoretically like the idea of the lesbian gaze (women looking and being looked at) as a foil to the male gaze we usually have to contend with. On the other hand, that's not to say that her blatant objectification of all the women on the show is a good thing.

I've been trying for a day now to work out how I felt about this so I could comment here, and I'm still pretty ambivalent. Perhaps we can still enjoy something and find it offensive at the same time. Humor is often offensive to someone. Is it enough to say that her intentions are good (i.e. Drysdale probably doesn't think that women are actually less than and that they're only around to be fucked) or is objectification always bad?

There I go, answering your question with more questions. Helpful, I know.