What It’s Like To Watch People You Like Demean Women

So here’s what happened: a female freelance writer for the Dallas Observer wrote a post on the paper’s music blog about a popular local country group, the King Bucks, criticizing what she felt was their lackluster live performance chops. The band is by all accounts exceedingly popular, but popularity is hardly their only calling card–the King Bucks are very talented musicians who have worked for decades, I think it’s fair to say for at least a couple of them, writing and performing music that makes many proud to say they’re from Dallas.

I mean, tell me this Danny Balis record isn’t a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. A King Buck, Balis is also a popular radio personality on the local sports talk station. By virtue of their musical acumen, professional connections and winning personalities, Balis and the rest of the King Bucks carry as much or more cultural caché as/than anyone in Dallas, particularly among those who take an interest in the city’s alternative music scene. They are big men on campus.

Anyone familiar with the way the internet works will perhaps, then, not be surprised at what happened after Sophia Dembling said she kind of thought the King Bucks were not giving it their all during live shows. She was called an ugly, fat old bitch not by the usual anonymous troll brigade, but by people signing their names to posts on Facebook.

Here’s the gist of what Dembling wrote:

“Nothing wrong with their music, and they have chops. They’re good lookin’. They have some fine ironic facial hair.

But I don’t like ’em and I’ll tell you why: Because they don’t care about me. Not me personally, but me as a member of the audience.

The couple of times I’ve seen the King Bucks, they’ve played skillfully but put out no sparks. Occasionally one or the other muttered something unintelligible into the mic, but mostly they didn’t bother with patter. They seemed to be looking at something deep in their own heads rather than at the full-house crowds that had shown up to commune with them. They didn’t show us any love.

Ergo, fuck ’em. I’m not interested.”

Dembling, a music critic by virtue of the fact that she’s a writer writing on a music blog, expressed an opinion about the band as a group of entertainers. She made no personal attacks. I think it’s obvious her comments (positive ones!) about appearance and facial hair are relevant to the analysis of the performance appeal of professional entertainers. I’ll say here that I don’t know Dembling, and don’t think I’ve ever met her. And so I don’t know if Danny Balis ever has either, but he did casually call her a bitch in his Facebook link to her blog item:

I believe that the use of the term “bitch” by men against women is not playful nor throw-away, but a verbal threat. Like the use of the word “cunt,” when a guy uses a gendered insult after he believes a woman has wronged her in some way, it is an assertion of power and privilege. Quite frankly, to be called a “bitch” by an angry man is scary. It conjures up images of violence and danger. That the term is used casually does not make it less frightening–in fact, it sends the message that the guy is so powerful, he can do whatever he damn well pleases, and who will believe her word against his when it comes down to it?

Now, I’ve been writing online for close to fifteen years now, and I can tell you that when a woman writes something that folks dislike, the go-to response is a personal attack on that woman’s weight, appearance and perceived sexual availability (or lack thereof). Very often, this comes from anonymous commenters. But this time, I watched as people I knew and liked and have shared drinks and dances with derided a woman for being a woman, rather than for being a person with ideas. Women’s value, in our society, is concerned first and foremost with their sexual appeal in heteronormative terms–how well they adhere to certain beauty standards and work to be pleasing to a particular male gaze. Women who fit this are celebrated (sometimes). Women who do not are derided, however intelligent, thoughtful and compassionate they may be otherwise. Fat? Ugly? Old? Three ticks off before anyone ever looks at your academic report card.

Of course, some folks did engage with with Sophia Dembling’s argument. And then some folks said things like this:

And this:

The things said on the Hardline radio show yesterday afternoon, of which Balis is a co-host, about Dembling were along similar lines and much worse–I can’t find a podcast available to link to y’all yet (anybody help out, there?) but suffice to say that everything that you might imagine a bunch of posturing men of privilege in a bro-tastic echo chamber would say about a woman, well, they said about Dembling. That kind of thing is expected on talk radio, especially sports radio. But you know, it’s all just members of the historically oppressive group demeaning the historically oppressed group in good fun, just for funsies and ratings, so nobody should worry about it too much.

So I’m not going to say I’m disappointed that a bunch of dudes on a talk radio station got their radio rocks off by talking disrespectful, sexist shit about women. I understand that it’s their job and I can’t be bothered to take that on right this second. However, I do want to say that it is hard, and saddening, and frightening to watch real people you really meet every day in the real world say hateful things.

I have heard that Danny Balis apologized to some folks for the things he said, and I respect him for that. It’s hard to say you fucked up. But what Balis, and the other folks who joined in on the sexist chorus, should know, is that an apology is a first step, not a solution or an end. The next step is to quit acting like a sexist asshole, even for a minute, even if you think it’s for fun and jokes, and stop saying sexist things and perpetuating sexist ideas like, for example, the notion that women are not valuable unless you think they are sexy, whatever that means. Because if that happens over time, I can believe that good hearted people just make mistakes and can learn from them.

If it doesn’t happen over time, I’ll continue to see these folks out at bars and shows, and I’ll remember their thumbs-upping of sexist comments, and their gleeful skewering of a woman who they feel isn’t pretty enough to have thoughts or opinions, and I’ll think less of people I once knew and liked. I know people fuck up. I know they do. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still scary and sad, when you are a member of the group that your friends and acquaintances, however casually or however briefly, expressed hatred and disdain for.

I want to note that the kind of sexism that places value on women’s appearance before anything else and silences women not for their intellectual work but for superficial and aesthetic reasons, is not really, in any true way, about physical attractiveness. Flaws can and will be found with any woman if hateful people need them to be there–no matter how thin, blonde, busty, slutty or chaste she is. Women who feel safe hiding behind fat- and slut-shaming other women should know that the tides turn easily when the basis of insult is predicated on femaleness first. Every accusation that a woman is too fat, too ugly or too old to have a valid opinion worth expressing is a cover for a very simple, very timeless idea: a woman is too female to have a valid opinion worth expressing.

What I think this incident reveals is the degree to which hateful beliefs can become ingrained and invisible, and come out especially in moments wherein people feel threatened. We might think to ourselves, I am not racist! I am not sexist!, but when our instinctual, and later intentional, defensive response is one that is predicated on racism or sexism or able-ism (calling someone or something “retarded,” for example), we owe it to ourselves not to sweep our actions under the rug and say we are super really a good nice person except this one time, but to take an honest look at what the root of the issue is.

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in body image, Dallas, duders, entertainment, feminism, media, music, news. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to What It’s Like To Watch People You Like Demean Women

  1. Lane says:

    I was wondering if you were going to write about this.

    I listen to The Ticket, and I find myself fighting the losing battle between laughing at the jokes that are funny, and getting my back up over the jokes that make me feel like I’m not even wanted as a listener. After turning off the show, I was thinking about how these men are playing parts, and that a lot of the sexist pater is expected–almost job description humor for the medium. But, having worked in an atmosphere like that, I know firsthand what a slippery slope it is for morons who can’t tell the difference between “This is a joke” and “Let me rub my penis on this woman here and call it a joke–why didn’t that fat bitch laugh when I rubbed my penis on her?”

    It makes me sad because I just want to enjoy the radio, and enjoy sports, and learn something maybe, without cringing that I might be exactly what the deejays think is gross and unnecessary: That being, a woman.

    • Darla Pyron says:

      I totally hear you. I listen to a sports talk station in Dallas (The Fan) and gravitate between being amused and insulted. I just want to hear the news about the Rangers, Cowboys and Mavs, and would like to not have to worry about being called a ‘fat, ugly bitch’ or like one guy said, “If I had a choice between (having sex) with a fat girl or a hot girl with AIDS, I’d take my chances with the girl with AIDS” Really?

      I know they have to have a Sexy Sidekick and constantly remind guys they should not settle for anything less than a Playboy bunny, but I get tired of constantly being reminded that to these guys, and their listeners, I’m a revolting pig who doesn’t even deserve to live.

  2. Nunya business says:

    “I believe that the use of the term “bitch” by men against women is not playful nor throw-away, but a verbal threat.”

    Christ almighty? Really? Is it a threat when a woman calls a man a dick? You’ll probably say it’s not because women have been disempowered or whatever feminist mumbo-jumbo you want to throw out there. It’s not a threat. It’s childish, it’s rude, and it’s totally inappropriate to the situation. If he’d called her a “fucking idiot” you likely wouldn’t call it a threat. By saying that the use of the term “bitch” is a sexist threat you’re also being sexist, stereotyping men as threatening instead of saying that this particular man is childish.

    Oh how I wish the English language had gendered words like so many of the world’s languages. Then feminists could get past the trite argument that specific words are threatening because they seek to impose an element of danger. We use certain words to describe men and others to describe women. It’s a fact of life you’re going to have to come to terms with. Men and women are different.

    Your point about calling her ugly, fat, frumpy, etc. is correct. That’s where the sexism comes in, but it gets lost with your hyperbolic semantic sensitivities.

  3. joereform says:

    “Hard-nosed” feminist needs to grow thicker skin. A “threat”? Get real.

    A threat is an expressed intention to harm someone. Now, please show me how anything that Danny said could be construed as a threat.

    This kind of rhetoric is what discredits feminism, Andrea. You come off with declarations of wanting to empower women, to make them stronger; and then you follow it up with a post like this that shows you to be some fragile flower who feels “threatened” when you hear the word “bitch” uttered by a man in response to a female blogger who childishly trashed his stage persona. Do we need “trigger warnings,” too, so you don’t burst into tears? Are women weak, or are you powerful? Make up your mind.

    Stop being so melodramatic. I didn’t cringe and whimper when you tweeted that men who wouldn’t go see Bridesmaids were “assholes.” She was being insulted, not threatened, and with a word I commonly hear females use toward one another (which distances it from the word “cunt.”)

  4. joereform says:

    Now, I’ve been writing online for close to fifteen years now, and I can tell you that when a woman writes something that folks dislike, the go-to response is a personal attack on that woman’s weight, appearance and perceived sexual availability (or lack thereof).

    I have been online for about that long, myself, and I can tell you that when a man writes something that folks dislike, the go-to response on the part of women is to accuse the man of “bitterness” or of lack of desirability to women as a group. That doesn’t excuse the insulting, but let’s face it: people insult in ways to hit where it hurts.

    If calling a woman “fat” didn’t hurt, men and women wouldn’t use it as an insult toward them, just in the same way that telling a man that no woman would ever sleep with him would be an impotent insult (pun intended) if it didn’t strike a man in his area of vanity (pun intended).

  5. DK says:

    Oh look guyz! Joe, a white male, does not feel silenced and marginalized by the word “asshole” which has zero insutitional power and is not used (and has never been used) to oppress and control his gender. His unrelated and ignorant experiences and opinions are more valid than your lived ones, ladies. So stop yur crying when men angrily call you cunt and bitch, words WITH instutional power and often used side by side with assault and harassment against female bodies, as Joe knows best.

    Next up: racism isn’t that bad because I’m white and have never had a problem with it!

  6. premiumshlock says:

    I can see how on first glance, “bitch” (and Balis’ use of it in this case) seems not threatening but “simply” insulting. Though I don’t use it myself, I might even concede that it’s in a somewhat grayer area than “cunt” is. But as other readers have pointed out, both words carry with them institutional (regardless of intent) and, when used by men, often even regardless of context, physical power. In both cases, it’s not a level playing field for men and women (which is not to assign value one way or another; this doesn’t make women inferior). That’s why it’s not the same when a man (or a woman) calls a man a dick or an asshole. When a man calls a woman — or plays Michael Bolton — a bitch, though, there can be a perceived physical threat. Yes, there may have been no such intent whatsoever, the threat may not “actually” be there, but that’s all ultimately besides the point. It was felt nonetheless, for a longstanding history of institutional and physical abuse has existed. The perception must be dignified, it still means something.

    In any case, I feel bad that Dembling has had to sustain these attacks. Doesn’t exactly register Balis et al. as particularly mature artists, who are better off allowing others to analyze and evaluate their work, however much interpretations and opinions may differ. But it’s even less mature that they should respond as they have, with a sexist ad hominem attack. And stupid: they might delete the posts or retract their statements and apologize at some point, but what were they thinking? This shit’s on the Internet, it was published, for people to see. And they expose themselves as schmucks.

  7. joereform says:

    Oh look guyz! Joe, a white male, does not feel silenced and marginalized by the word “asshole” which has zero insutitional power and is not used (and has never been used) to oppress and control his gender. His unrelated and ignorant experiences and opinions are more valid than your lived ones, ladies. So stop yur crying when men angrily call you cunt and bitch, words WITH instutional power and often used side by side with assault and harassment against female bodies, as Joe knows best.

    And this is the feminist version of Andrea’s complaint: a man is too male to have a valid opinion worth expressing when faced with a woman and her “superior insight.”

    Have men used the term “bitch” when actually threatening a woman? Sure. (So have other women, incidentally.) That doesn’t make it a “threat word” in and of itself. There was no express or implied attempt to harm her. Therefore, no “threat.”

    Again, stop being so fragile and weak. “Crying wolf” is never an effective strategy.

    • DK says:

      Of course we have superior insight over our OWN LIVED EXPERIENCES. You are welcome to have an opinion about your own, but you have no say in those of others.

      You don’t have the first clue of what it’s like to be threatened or afraid based on your gender. Not the first inkling of an idea. Yet you deign your opinion more valid than our experiences and tell us what we are supposed to feel and what is or isn’t threatening. There’s a word for it: mansplaining. And it is sexist and ignorant and reeking with privilege.

      • joereform says:

        Care to throw any more empty rhetoric my way?

        Whether or not you personally have been threatened because of your gender, it is crystal-clear that this is not what was going on in the comments section of the blog or on Facebook. So we are not talking about your OWN LIVED EXPERIENCES. This was a case of an arrogant New Yorker pissing off a bunch of local musicians and their supporters and getting called a clueless “bitch” over it. Inappropriate? Okay. Not a threat.

        Want to know how to defuse being called a bitch? It’s not be overreacting to it, because that is precisely what fuels the use of it in the future. I can’t believe I am having to explain (or “mansplain”) to an adult that insults are only as effective as the reaction that is elicited.

        A teacher I knew is a prime example of how to handle this effectively. When some cocky teenager called her a “bitch,” she didn’t start tearing up and freak out about how she was being “threatened.” She typically looked the kid in the eye and said, “You forgot to put the word supreme in front of that!” That is a display of feminine strength, and would shut the kid up immediately. By showing that an insulting word didn’t faze her, she completely took the boy’s power away.

  8. joereform says:

    In any case, I feel bad that Dembling has had to sustain these attacks.

    I don’t feel bad for her at all. Her entire blog was an attack on the her view that the King Bucks are a lousy band, not because their music is bad, but rather because they don’t pay enough attention to her while they are on stage. She topped it off with a “back in my day” story about how things were at the height of the punk rock era in NYC, and how the Bucks could take a lesson from those bands.

    When I post here, I know I am going to get responses of, “You ignorant man! Your opinion is worthless. And you are probably a Republican and homophobic and racist, too!” When people post on the Internet about anything controversial, they should not be surprised by a lack of civility from those who disagree, and especially from those who are publicly attacked themselves. It goes with the territory.

    Someone who has been writing on the Internet for 15 years should understand that by now.

    • Ray-Mel says:

      “I don’t feel bad for her at all. Her entire blog was an attack on the her view that the King Bucks are a lousy band, not because their music is bad, but rather because they don’t pay enough attention to (italics) her (/italics) while they are on stage.” – joereform

      Here’s what she actually wrote:
      “But I don’t like ’em and I’ll tell you why: Because they don’t care about me. Not me personally, but me as a member of the audience.”

      You’re right, though, joe, that she did compare the King Bucks performances to what she had seen in New York. You seem to take offense to this comparison, which was just part of her critique. She was comparing a performance style she felt came up short to those she felt were superior. You may disagree with her assessment, but you seem to take issue with her choice of location, that is, New York, particularly since you also called her an “arrogant New Yorker”. Sophie has lived in Dallas for about thirty years, so, while she probably and rightfully is proud of her New York roots, I don’t know that she can really be called a “New Yorker” anymore. As for “arrogant”, well, that is a term that may be better applied to a man who tells a woman what epithets she should accept being thrown at her. Try making the same argument to a large Black man and see how that conversation goes.

  9. Darr says:

    I like them both. Don’t enjoy this argument, and if had to side would be on the Yankee Chicks. The juvenile denominator is unfortunate for the Balis camp, who I do think is genius as well.

    At least is good publicity for all!

  10. midorime says:

    Excellent post. And you are so fortunate to have Joe come and illustrate so precisely part of the larger context you describe, as well as to show that no matter how clearly and elegantly you explain something, those who choose to remain ignorant will do so (and loudly, as well😉

    • joereform says:

      Yes, you are indeed fortunate that I pop in from time to time to put some perspective on the fantasy world of the fem-o-sphere. Makes it more of a discussion and less of a cheerleading section for bad thinking.

  11. Mindy says:

    Maybe he has never seen her at a show because, as he says himself, he stares at the ground. Why is it so much to ask that the band at least acknowledge the fans who have paid good money and taken the time to see them live. After all they could just buy the CD if they didn’t want any interaction.

  12. Molly says:

    I find it bitterly ironic that so often commenters (usually men) to a feminist post reinforce the point the author is trying to make. Somehow the man is always right and the women are always wrong. I don’t know any of the people in this post, but I agree it’s disappointing to see people I like fall into age-old patterns of disrespect for women.

    • joereform says:

      I never said the comment wasn’t disrespectful. However, disrespecting someone and threatening them are two different things. Surely you do not have to be a man to understand the difference. And you are right: a man shouldn’t have to come along and point it out.

  13. Rockula! says:

    First of all, let me point out that any type of conflict when subjected to the anonymity of the internet will spiral downward into the most petty of arguments. So the responses are not as indicative of real life and should be treated as slightly more authentic as a rumour started behind your back. As far as the actual catalyst for the hatred aimed back at you? Had, you not included the comment about “ironic facial hair” then you would have an air-tight reason to feel like the responses were unjustified. However, you made the cardinal mistake of criticizing a musical act based on their appearence. I will even grant you that it was a fairly benign comment. However, you do realize that crossing the line from criticizing musical ability to personal criticism opened up the door for all of the bitter and abusive retorts. Just like a police officer or a judge has a responsibility to refrain from “taking it down to the offender’s level”, so does is the duty of the music journalist to stick to the music . That being said, I do agree that the responses were childish and petty. Women need to realize that, although they are victims of a highly sexualized society that treats female sexuality as a commodity to be judged, they also reap the benefits of that comodification every day. You may not personally seek to reap those benefits but they are there nonetheless and you do recieve differential treatment as a woman. Since we are also framing this in the context of music journalism, how many times do you notice the rest of the band whose members include a woman? How many promo shots do you see where the female member is placed in the dark blurry background with the drummer and bass player? Simply put, to have a female in the band is a commodity to be exploited and the business of music journalism is just as guilty of using sexism to promote their story as the artists (and especially their management) do. To address the specifics of this incident, as a musician, I know that the fragile ego of a musician will not allow them to be slighted. Therefore, they will seek out any percieved weakness they can in order to feel like they have landed an equal insult to the offending journalist. When the journalist is a male, they usually default to the stale old “You’re not in a band and therefore not qualified to judge” retort, but if that is not convenient, it is usually a vaguely personal attack like “dick” or “douche”. If it’s a metal band, it usually ends up with overt threats of violence. Musicians (especially the men) have super sensitive egos and have a hard time accepting criticism mixed in with all the praise they recieve. It’s even worse when it is a female due to the fact that male musicians also recieve a huge amount of ego gratification from women (why else do men become musicians? certainly not purely for the artistic satisfaction). I have seen a multitude of examples where male journalists are openly threatened, so being called a bitch is hardly threatening. Maybe you should ask Wilonsky how many times he’s been threatened? Then ask him if it was because he was a man. If you wanna be treated just like everyone else, then you need to judge the insult from it’s intentions, not it’s result. The fact that you are a woman does not make you immune from the backlash that every music journalist suffers for stating their opinion. You don’t get it both ways and playing the sexist card does all female journalists a disservice.
    rockulaproductions@yahoo.com

    • Yes, naming and identifying blatant sexism really does a disservice to women.I’ll definitely stop doing that so sexism stops existing.

    • midorime says:

      Reading skills are a great thing. They prevent a person from confounding the author of the post here, and the author of the critique of the band. The facial hair comment was made by the latter, and quoted as part of the original review in the blog post above. (And with respect to the original, it seems she didn’t criticize musicians based so much on their music, as she critiqued performers, based on their performance. I don’t know the band and don’t care, but certainly assessing the ability of people putting on a show to, well, put on a good show, seems valid.)

      In terms of commodification benefitting women, well sure, maybe a few women for a few years before they hit their “no longer deemed hawt” date, and even then they’re being used as eye candy, not for their musical or performing skills. As for the majority of women who aren’t young, slim and conventionally attractive, there aren’t really benefits to the sexism that you so kindly acknowledge. But you probably don’t notice those women, so no perceived harm on your part, no foul, right?

      In terms of being treated like everyone else, women are half the population. They are everyone else. But I assume that by “everyone” you mean “everyone normal” by which, in turn, you mean “everyone male”. Which, of course, is the crux of the matter. Gender-based insults serve to remind women (and men) that women aren’t part of the “everyone” club, and that whatever they say or do counts less than the words or actions of the “real” (read male) “everyone”.

      So thanks to bloggers like ms Grimes who remind women that their reality is real, that their experiences and responses to gender-based insults are shared and not weird or other. It won’t change minds like Joe’s, or probably yours, but it makes a difference anyway.

  14. emjb says:

    The best (I mean worst) part about mansplainers is when they mansplain that they aren’t really mansplainers to you. Also: sexism does not exist, ladies. All in your heads! Now make me a sandwich, for I am a man.

    This is pretty ugly, but hardly surprising. Music criticism and those who care about music criticism are still dismissive of women on principle and so you get long screeds about how women Just Can’t Take a Joke, C’mon.

    When, for the same amount of time and energy, you could, for example, write your own piece about how the critic was wrong, without ever referring to her looks or gender or race or whatever. But apparently that’s just too hard.

    • joereform says:

      What? Please show me any comment here that claims or implies that sexism doesn’t exist.

      If you have to make stuff up to support your point, it must have been a damn flimsy one to begin with.

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  16. Bill says:

    I don’t know why anyone listens to The Ticket anyway. If it’s what makes you happy, that’s your call, but if you know you’re going to be offended by half of what is said, why listen? (I am not a listener.) I’ve always liked Sophia’s writing, have exchanged emails with her over the years, and admire her intelligence. I’m not so much offended by the language (I’m a guy), but I am offended that someone would insult her like that for the sake of a cheap, gratuitous throw-away line to entertain his audience.

    Find something better to do with your life than waste it listening to trash talk on the radio.

  17. shesapoet says:

    It’s funny how “Joe” tells women to stop being threatened by the word bitch. If you, Joe, were called a bitch…how would that make you feel? A dude being called a BITCH is pretty offensive. Just like when a woman is called one. I agree with Andrea when she says it is scary when a man calls a woman one because of the anamosity that goes along with it.

    Think about it.

    The teacher who calls herelf “a supreme bitch” (or whatever) is not helping women. That doesn’t make her a super feminist because she embraces the word. Feminists are not all hardened, hardcore, man-eating, whoo-rah women. We are simply women. Because we do not embrace the word bitch means that we want a change. I would want my kids to one day not have to deal with that word thrown around so lightly.

    We make a change by NOT embracing the word.

  18. A chick says:

    good fucking god. you – and this whiny screed – are the reason no one takes feminists seriously.

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  20. weldog says:

    ugh, this bitch needs to be slapped…weldog out

  21. Bryan Winkler says:

    Sophia’s true character really shines in a blurb on her homepage:

    “My name is Sophia Dembling (Sophia with a long i) but you can call me Sophie if you want. I’m an award-winning writer in Dallas , Texas . That’s right. Award-winning.”

    Puke. What a joke…

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  23. Connie Gray says:

    Wow.. People are too quick to get offended and much too quick to set a double standard for themselves. Food for thought: Is a woman calling another woman a fat, ugly bitch sexism?
    People are so quick to argue that they, or someone they know or relate to, is being treated unfairly based on some generalization, like race or sex, rather than just seeing that, if you critique somebody, regardless of who or how, it is a possibility that they will get offended and lash out in retaliation. When you go into the business of passing judgement on other people, it is to be expected that not all of them will respond graciously. A response like this one not only perpetuates sexism, in that it calls the wrong kind of attention to it, but it bows the writer to the same level. I’m going to have to largely agree with joereform on this one. He seems to be the only one approaching this from an unbiased, logical angle. Everybody else is just letting themselves get offended over comments that weren’t even directed at them or have any affect on their personal lives whatsoever.
    It is unfortunate that people feel the need to lash out whenever anybody has a differing opinion than theirs. How can you champion for a woman’s right to express her opinion without retaliation and then crucify a man for exorcising his right to express his opinion. That hypocritical attitude is the embodiment of sexism.

    • I’m not interested in getting into all of this again, but I do want to comment on this: “Is a woman calling another woman a fat, ugly bitch sexism?”

      I’m not sure I would call it “sexism,” in that I believe sexism to be the widespread systemic oppression of persons based on their sex/sexual identity/expression, and I am not sure members of marginalized groups are capable of fully committing -isms against members of their same marginalized group, because the politics of their identity/involvement are more complicated than simply privileged group-oppresses-marginalized group. If you are, by definition, disempowered by virtue of your status of being a woman, but still do and say sexist things, you’re doing something a little different than, say, a privileged man is doing, when you are calling someone a fat, ugly bitch. However, I want to be clear: I’m not saying it’s totally cool for women to call other women fat, ugly bitches just because they’re all members of a marginalized group. Because the negative effect is perpetuated: some women believe they can escape the negative consequences of sexism by being pretty, thin and compliant. In fact, they can’t. Sexism will probably get to them one way or another, even if they are pretty and thin and compliant.

      Which is why I would say a woman calling another woman a “fat, ugly bitch” qualifies as a sexist statement, because it’s predicated on ideas about women’s value lying predominantly in their physical attractiveness and, as I’ve written before, “bitch” is a term used specifically to denigrate women. Even when used against a man, the insult is about that man being (negatively) female. Women can act sexist if they hold sexist beliefs and do sexist things and uphold systems of oppression by using sexist beliefs/tenets as a weapon to silence/denigrate other women. And yes, women can act sexist against both men and women.

      So the question is: why call a woman a fat, ugly bitch when you can, say, rip apart their stupid argument? Because in a sexist society, it’s more damaging/insulting/mean to call a woman fat, ugly and bitchy than it is to call her stupid. “fat, ugly bitch” draws upon widely held sexist beliefs that don’t need any explaining. In three quick words, you can easily convey the idea, to a woman, that she is totally worthless: she’s fat (what man would want her looking like that?) ugly (what man would want her looking like that?) and too mouthy/combative (what man would want a woman acting like that?). All three insults are predicated, again, on the idea that women’s worth is defined in relation to the sexual attractiveness to men. It’s true that men are also and often denigrated for being fat/single, and that is a shitty and stupid thing to do, but because men generally in society can hold social capital that has nothing to do with their relationship status (see: confirmed bachelor = positive, crazy old cat lady = negative), those insults don’t have the same power behind them.

  24. Connie Gray says:

    It is only more demeaning if the woman allows it to be. Words themselves hold no power other than what the interpreter lends to them. And his statements weren’t sexist because they weren’t said in an attempt to demean her for being a woman. They were said as a quick, although immature, retort to what he felt was a personal attack against him and his band. If it were a man, he would have used similar statements in retaliation. And if it had been a woman that had retaliated in this way, people would not be as quick to crucify her for being sexist, regardless of who the comments were aimed at. Reacting in this way is not going to help your “cause” at all. You are putting sexism where there isn’t any. Were his statements shallow? Yes. But shallow and sexist are not the same thing.

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