Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm Gendered and I Know It

I've been thinking about gender (...ladies). The catalyst, as it often is, was a novelty music video by a band named after internet shorthand for "laughing heartily". Setting aside the danger of LMFAO's video making me abandon my heterosexuality, I think it's best to structure my musings as a thought experiment.

Consult Your HR Department for Safe-For-Workness

Imagine a world where gender roles were completely reversed - we've now entered a twilight dimension where female privilege is taken for granted, where the Great Women of history are venerated and academics have only within the last half century began any systematic study of Men's issues and history. Of course, some polemicists derisively wonder why this small cadre of "Masculinis" hate women so much. I mean, they want men - grown family men who belong in the home with the children - to serve in the military, for goodness sake. What's next, co-ed bathrooms?

I'm more than just a pair of abs. I'm a PERSON. And a wolf. A PERSON wolf.

But that's politics. We're here to focus on popular culture in our bizarro-world. And here "Sexy and I Know It" signifies very different things. It's no longer parody, it's the norm. Rather than eliciting a few laughs, the video might set off a discussion of the morality of a society that requires its young men to flash a little skin just to get noticed. Masculists would debate whether appropriating the historic symbols of oppression and flaunting male sexuality subverts or strengthens the historical and cultural discourse of male otherness. Some might note that a man who actually dresses and behaves like that would be "stud-shamed" and marginalized from meaningful participation in society. Others would be unsurprised if they discovered that a speedo-clad dancer from the video were later a victim of sexual assault - "Well, look at how he was dressing." Church leaders would caution young women against viewing such vulgar and smutty entertainment. Young men might wonder why they always get singled out for how they dress when the girls seem get away with pretty much anything. What's wrong with wearing a flattering speedo in an appropriate situation?

I'll just stop there because gender is way too big an issue for the time I have right now. But the LMFAO video grabbed my attention because it's as good a representation of what an entertainment gender-role-reversal would look like as I've seen. There are larger questions too, such as my ability as a member of a fairly privileged group to truly place myself in the shoes of anyone else and call myself a "feminist". I mean, my wife, who sometimes disagrees with me on these kinds of issues, has a far more authentically female perspective than I do, on account of her, you know, being authentically female. So rather than claim that I have any conclusive arguments to make here, I'll cede the final word to the Todd.

Equal rights? HIGH FIVE!

1 comment:

  1. I'm female and I know it... Role-reversal aside, this music video is awesome. I'm glad you got a thought experiment out of it. Todd was a nice touch, but where's the female making passes at dudes all the time to be his role reversal? Todd's perfect mate?!