The Atheist Movement Needs to Disown Richard Dawkins
Atheist author, biologist, pioneer of the term “meme,” and noted sexist curmudgeon Richard Dawkins let fly a firestorm of tweets about rape this past Friday. Those, along with his statements from the past couple of years about this and other issues, make for pretty strong evidence that Dawkins is no longer the figuredhead the atheist movement needs or deserves.
A woman was alleging that a man raped her when she was too drunk to give consent, and Dawkins’ immediate response was the mainstay of all conservatives: what if she’s lying? Plenty of Dawkins’ Twitter followers agreed with him. It’s her word against his, they cried. Rape accusations are serious business, they cried.
Yes, rape accusations are serious business. Actually, accusing anyone of a crime, especially a violent crime, is serious business. That’s why we have court systems in place that determine, to the best of their abilities, whether a given accusation is most likely true or false. We have this for virtually every crime. So why are Dawkins and his ilk so preoccupied about false accusations of rape in a world full of false accusations?
Offline Activism Is the Tricky Part for #YesAllWomen
As with every mass shooting in the last decade, Elliot Rodger sparked a clash of ideologies. This being a misogyny-fueled massacre, instead of the usual gun debate, it provoked a nationwide Twitter war between anti-patriarchy feminists and a bunch of apologist white guys, with most tweets focusing on the fact that while not all men denigrate women, all women are denigrated by men, and culminating in the latest clicktivist hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s a strong hashtag, and it has staying power, but does it have the potential to inspire people offline?
When a branch of the American Revolutionary Communist Party concerned with banning pornography for the benefit of women, called StopPatriarchy.com, organized a series of #YesAllWomen rallies in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and San Francisco, it meant another attempt at turning global social media awareness into community activism, in the hopes that the effort is broadcast somewhere, anywhere. Best case - recursively on social media; worst case - word of mouth. This cyclical advocacy happens fair often with little effect, #BringackOurGirls and #Kony2012 come to mind. Ralph Nader was right, “the Internet doesn’t do a very good job of motivating action.”
If you’re young and were raised on mainstream media you could be forgiven for thinking, as incels (men who are “involuntarily celibate”) presumably do, that losing your virginity is the defining moment of everyone’s adolescence, that attractive people are constantly having amazing sex, and sex will lead to love and fulfillment.
None of that is true, of course. Now, sex is fine, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great way to occupy that spare half-hour between dinner and Game of Thrones, not to mention the most convenient way to have an orgasm with someone. Most people really like it, and despite the mess it remains the number one way of getting pregnant. But it won’t change your life. It’s like Monopoly—a fun activity for two or more people that sometimes ends in hurt feelings. When you think of it as being more significant than that, you’re likely to run into problems.
—Elliot Rodger and the Toxic Weight of Virginity
Photo Real – Molly Crabapple on Photoshop, Feminism, and Truth
Two weeks ago, Jezebel published un-retouched outtakes of Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign.
Without Photoshop, Gaga’s wig was more wig-like, her makeup flat beige, but she was the same skinny, strong-nosed chameleon that Stephani Germanotta has always been. The outtakes were not interesting but showing celebrities without Photoshop is Jezebel’s brand.
Jezebel exploded in popularity in 2007 by offering a $10,000 bounty for originals of Faith Hill’s Redbook cover. The raw photos proved the magazine had liquefied the star’s waist, softened her nasiolabial folds, and brutalized her elbow into a bendy tube. This January, with more controversy, Jezebel paid another $10,000 for the originals of Lena Dunham’sVogue cover shoot. Those revealed only a tidied dress.
Jezebel’s is a feminism that seeks its scapegoat in altered images. To refrain from Photoshop is girl-positive marketing gold. Dove Campaign for Real Beauty delights itself by putting out fake filters that chide retouchers. Magazines sign “No Photoshop” pledges. Clothing companies crow that they’ve never taken a clone-stamp to their models’ thighs.
To these feminists, Photoshop is to blame to unrealistic body standards, poor self-esteem, and anorexia in teenage girls. The campaign against Photoshop is the perfect cause for white, middle-class women whose primary problem is feeling their bodies do not match an increasingly surreal media ideal.
Photoshop, the belief goes, takes a true record of a moment, and turns it into an oppressive lie.
But fuck Photoshop. Photos are already lies.
Food Advertising Is Still Feeding Gender Stereotypes
It’s 2014. Russia and America are engaged in some furious military posturing and we are still being told that gendered eating is a thing. Nothing changes. If you are a man, advertisers believe that you like meat cooked on fire, or food that’s simple to eat. Or you like yogurt, crumbly chocolate that can only be enjoyed as a ‘guilty pleasure,’ and anything without calories if you’re a woman. We often like to imagine human beings skipping into a golden, gender-neutral future. However, I’d say there’s a strong argument that, along with death and taxes, patronizing ads that lump men and women into two distinct camps are a near-certainty in this life.
There’s a rich history of reinforcing the gender binary in advertising, from Mars to Hungry Man to, well, just look at this sexist smorgasbord. It’s enough to send Gloria Steinem running to the nearest liquor cabinet (probably to get a Cosmo like a typical woman!). But this kind of work is still very much alive and kicking. In some cases, it’s gotten worse. This Yorkie ad, made in the 70s, is actually far more enlightened than the series of “not for girls” slurs Yorkie has been fond of recently, the logic of which is, “Yorkie is chunky. Men like stuff that’s chunky.”
The Restaurant World Is (Still) Sexist
Time magazine has pissed off the international restaurant world. They’ve alienated female chefs. Oh wait—they forgot them altogether. The recently released November issue is titled “Gods of Food: Meet the People Who Influence What (and How) You Eat.” A bro-centric series of culinary stories about key influencers in food, the content includes a list of 13 “Gods of Food” (no female chefs made the cut) and a visual “food family tree” of heavy hitters who have pioneered the current restaurant scene. You won’t find ladies in there, either.
Like a bad train wreck, Time issue editor Howard Chua-Eoan—the dude who edited this entire package—recently engaged in an offensively revealing interview with Eater’s Hillary Dixler to explain the sausage-heavy content. When asked about including groundbreaking female chefs to the “family tree” flow chart, Chua-Eoan responded, “the chart came about because men still take care of themselves. The women really need someone—if not men, themselves actually—to sort of take care of each other.” The chart failed to include key influencers like Alice Waters, Barbara Lynch, Anita Lo, Elena Arzak, April Bloomfield, Clare Smyth, and Dominique Crenn, for starters. And when it couldn’t get any worse, he added that the Time editors, “did not want to fill a quota of a woman chef just because she’s a woman. We wanted to go with reputation and influence.”
The issue and Howard Chua-Eoan’s recent interview are revealing by-products of the pervasive sexism that continues to exist throughout all aspects of the culinary world. Or in the words of New York chef Sarah Jenkins, “the relentless circle jerk between the media, PR agents, and the chefs or countries who employ them than any kind of reflection on what’s truly happening out there in the real world.”
London chef Margot Henderson—chef and co-owner of Rochelle Canteen, and wife of chefFergus Henderson—decided to call bullshit. Here’s her response to Time, the reality of women in the kitchen, and why she believes media will continue to promote men before women.
David Chang, René Redzepi, and Alex Atala look quite charming on the cover of Time, don’t they? I think that most of these chefs set out to become famous, putting themselves in front of newspapers. I think that women are getting on creating great restaurants, but men feel that they have to change the world. Australian chef Stephanie Alexander has one of the top restaurants in the world. She has now—admittedly—stopped cooking, but the people that she has taught are incredible. Her cookbooks are incredible. That’s the thing: women are better food writers than men, aren’t they [laughs]? And they often stop because they’re so successful and brilliant at writing books when the men aren’t [laughs]. That Time editor… what a wanker? To not even include Alice Waters in this piece? It’s pretty shocking.
If you think about it, women didn’t really start working in kitchens in the culinary world until about fifty years ago. We’ve got women like Angela Hartnett and Joyce Molyneux, one of the first female chefs to win a Michelin star. Angela is one of the chefs that influenced a whole generation of young men who went on to have great careers. Maybe men are better at taking? They recognize the good things that they’re doing and go with it. In all of these media focused articles, they’re often based on geography. Ferran Adrià is an amazing chef who has undoubtedly influenced food in this generation. David Chang is great, and so is René Redzepi, but it’s just that the hard hitting punch line of tacking the name “Gods” on the cover of Time, and the Time editor’s recent interview where he alludes to not including women—on purpose—is offensive.
What Not to Wear This Halloween
Oh, Halloween. The worst night to get a cab and the best night to take home a slutty Disney princess. Is it really a holiday, since we don’t get the day off from work? Of course it is, because when else could you get nudity in massive quantities, enough facepaint to excuse you for bringin home a five, and cauldrons full of shame the next day.
Before you skank-it-out at a house party, leave your credit card at the bar, or turn into a weirdo roaming graveyards, you’ll have to pick out a Halloween costume interesting enough to spark a conversation with that five. You’ll have to navigate the thin line between offensive enough to be clever and overcompensating with complete stupidity. For those not smart enough to use all three digits of their IQs, we’ve brought you a guide on what not to wear on Halloween, so when you only pick up your sexy pizza-slice costume off the floor the next morning and not also your dignity.
Who sells that? Amazon.
What’s it supposed to be? A “realistic black Kenyan man”—perfect for doing the Harlem Shake (um, what?).
Why shouldn’t I wear it? It’s racist.
What kind of person wears that? A bigot.
Who makes that? aleXsandro Palombo, for his website humorchic.com; a “daily society portrait blog, the best illustrated fashion chronicle, a point of view about costume, politics, culture, society, and celebrity. aleXsandro Palombo is the father of fashion satire, visionary artist, author, and critic.”
What’s it supposed to be? It’s a T-shirt of Amanda Knox holding a bloodstained knife.
Wasn’t she acquitted of murder? Yes.
What kind of person wears that? The kind of person who believes they are the “father of fashion satire.”
Insane Clown Posse Is Being Sued for Sexual Harassment
Once I started writing about Juggalos, it became very difficult for me to stop defending them both to my friends and on this site. Every little bit of news from the world of Insane Clown Posse’s hardcore fans—They’re suing the FBI! There’s a Facebook for Juggalos! Some Juggalos covered Ariel Pink!—gave me an opportunity, which felt like an obligation, to try to find some way to defend those scrappy Faygo guzzlers to the world. This attitude really set in after I took Danny Brown to last year’s Gathering of the Juggalos—everyone on the festival’s staff, and Juggalos generally, were unbelievably nice to us the entire time. Since then, I’ve been generally pro-Juggalo, which is not always an easy position to take.
When I was at the Gathering, I met Andrea Pellegrini, who was acting as ICP’s publicist and legal counsel. She was the one who hooked me up with my press passes and drove me around the festival grounds in a weird little golf cart. Pellegrini told me she’d started working for ICP a few years ago, and it’d been “a wild ride so far.” She also gave me probably the best advice I got the whole week: if a Juggalo says “woop woop!” to you, you sure as hell better say it back. She was courteous and helpful, though maybe a little stressed out from handling PR at an event that looks more like a lost Salò blooper reel than an annual music festival.
This week, some of the less savory details of her “wild ride” became public, as Pellegrini filed suit against ICP and a handful of staffers at their record label, Psychopathic Records, in Oakland County circuit court. She cited “a consistent culture of sexism and sexual harassment,” and accused them of wrongful termination and infliction of emotional stress, among other things.
According to Pellegrini’s 17-page, 86-count formal complaint (which you can read in full below), her four-year tenure as an ICP employee was marked by “constant and pervasive harassment… including having a large dildo given to her while at work, and being presented with ‘vagina tighteners.’ [She was] mocked, belittled, and the subject of sexual advances from top level persons at ICP’s label, Psychopathic Records.” In addition, Pellegrini was “asked to do illegal and/or unethical things at her job, including [being asked] to obtain automatic tommy-guns for a photo shoot.” According to the statement, she refused to break the law, and when she reported the sexual harassment she was unceremoniously canned.
The details of the document make for some pretty crude reading. Pellegrini was repeatedly called a “bitch” and a “cunt” by her supervisors, and a coworker named Dan “Dirty Dan” Diamond pulled her hair, told her he “had a fat cock,” and said he’d “like to fuck her.” This guy also gave her a dildo in a velvet bag for her birthday after learning via Facebook that she’d recently become single. The allegations go on and on, and even include things I didn’t know existed, like “vagina tighteners.”
Andrew Dice Clay and His Spectacular Wrongness
If the name Andrew Dice Clay has any significance to you, it is, inevitably, as the blockheaded, spectacularlyleathered obscenity-dispenser who once looked like some combination of Mad Max and Liberace, who now looks like the guy who lives downstairs from your grandmother and can get you a great deal on calling cards. The perfect avatar for all that slimy, bicep-smooching late-80s male machismo, slicking his hair back in every reflective surface, winking at girls in skirts and when the girls snort in disgust he holds up his arms with a “WHATS-A-MATTA-HONEY?” and then tugs on his crotch and lights another cigarette. The definitive representation of the swaggering, filthy, bombastic “I’M HERE, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE WALKING” New York City, a place memorialized in heavy-handed Spike Lee montages, scored to car horns and relentless come ons, all intolerance and impatience and flamboyance, every accent like bad parody.
Andrew Dice Clay is that man. He is so that man. He is throwing you against a motel minifridge and he is chewing the button off of your jeans. He is shouting in your ear as you place his takeout order, and he is telling you to make sure they don’t forget his extra fucking ketchup, sweetheart. But he is also something else. In a sense, Andrew Dice Clay is the greatest comedian you’ve never heard of.