Aug 232013

I found this video the day after I saw the official Blurred Lines video. I’ve previously said I’m unsure if Blurred Lines is really sexist. Before I watched the parody I thought “Yay! Now men can be just as objectified and everything is equal.” Except – it really isn’t, is it? Because it isn’t about objectification, it’s about power. And not individual face-to-face power, but rather nation-devouring Leviathan power.

There’s a reason that the N-word is such an emotionally-loaded word, but that any racial pejorative used for white people ends up sounding silly and lame. Honkey, whitey, cracker. No matter how much hatred is in the voice, the words themselves are flaccid things. N*****, on the other hand, is such a charged word I don’t even feel comfortable typing it out when I’m trying to talk about why it’s bad. And the reason is power. The person calling you a cracker may attack you or kill you, but he is only one man. He will face retaliation from society. The term “n*****” carries with it a promise that if you do not defer to the whims of the aggressor you can be pulled from your home and killed (yes, I’ve linked that article before, it’s a good one), and there will be no consequences. The state will not defend you, it will not prosecute your attackers, it may even support them. You have to fear the wrath of Leviathan if you even try to defend yourself, while they can act with impunity. You are helpless. And even if you don’t care about your own life, they can (and will) go after your loved ones instead. The word is a reminder of the terrorism you live under.

The same is true of words like Faggot (vs Breeder) and Cunt (vs Prick). In all cases the group holding the leash of Leviathan is the one with the Words of Power.

An individual person can be prejudiced. Your sister can detest all men. But she can’t be reverse-sexist because sexism is a society-wide phenomenon, not an individual one. Sexism flows in the direction of power – Leviathan cannot serve two masters.

And that’s why the parody video isn’t really the same. The men are objectified, sure. But objectification can be fun and consensual. Those men aren’t ever in danger of being abused by those women, told by their friends that they were asking for it, and having the power of the state protect their attackers from retaliation.

Now in fairness, that wasn’t literally the case in the first video either – the actresses were there by choice in a safe environment and seemed to be having fun. But the scenario is possible, and in some places all too common. You cannot simply swap the sexes in the video and have them be analogous when the alignment of social power is unchanged. There is no way to say “See, here’s a similar video for the ladies, so it’s fair now.” It’s more likely to result in men saying “Well heck, that ain’t bad at all! I’d love to have women checking me out like that!” than to convey the discomfort that the original video provoked.

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