Friday, June 24, 2011

"Dear Woman" Gets the Much-Needed Will Ferrell Treatment

Screen shot 2011-04-06 at 9.24.52 PM

When Arjuna Ardagh and Gay Hendricks posted their [ridiculous? condescending? smarmy?] "Manifesto for Conscious Men" on Facebook a while back, many men who are not SNAGs (sensitive new age guys - this manifesto and the ensuing video are manifestations of Boomeritis*) found it disturbing and wrong-headed, even while granting that their intent was probably good (although, months later, it seems like a marketing ploy for workshops and a potential book, so maybe their intent was $$). I posted my less than enthusiastic response here.

Then they released a saccharine video called Dear Woman that went viral and generated a LOT of comments (nearly 3,000 remain after many were deleted), many of them homophobic, misogynistic, and/or violent - now THAT is some shit that deserves an apology.

On behalf of myself, and any other men who were offended by those comments, I regret that Arjuna and Gay were treated that way. It's one thing to disagree - and constructive disagreement is a fine way to hone perspectives - but the conversation must remain civil and each side should be respectful.

To add to the chaos, actual, honest-to-Gloria-Steinem feminists (The F Word: Feminist Media Collective) were appalled and somewhat grossed out by the "fauxpology":
This is just about the creepiest apology I have ever heard. Though it reminds me, in an uber-triggering kind-of-way, of men in my past who have desperately wanted to pretend to be my ally by telling me over and over again how magical and mystical and miraculous women are and then talking over me when I try to explain that that ain’t it.

Ok menz (and let me clarify, this video, in no way, speaks for all men, but rather for Gay Hendricks and Arjuna Ardagh [credit to Zosia Bielsk at The Globe and Mail for doing this research for me].

In fact, I believe that most men I know may or may not die of laughter interspersed with vomiting were they to watch this video) – because it’s just too easy to stop at simply making fun of this crinkled brow + fuzzy hat = goodguy! video on accounts of creepiness (though this is a very valid reaction), I would like to explain to you why Dear Woman is offensive and why I do not accept ‘your’ fauxpology.

I guess maybe they missed their target audience for this stuff? Another feminist blogger, Teen SkepChick, offered this perspective, which is similar to some of what I argued in my rant:

I was tempted to ignore the pigeon-holing as just flowery language; a work of prose intended to make the point that men need to shut up and listen. But on their website, Conscious Men state that they “worship women.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to be worshiped. I do not claim to speak for all of woman-kind (or all of Skepchick-kind, for that matter), but I have to say that the concept makes me uncomfortable.

There is simply no reason to worship women, no more than there is any reason to worship men. Women are not inherently holy, nor good stewards of life. We just haven’t been given the chance to screw things up. If women had run the world from the beginning, I would be willing to bet that we would still have wars and still destroy the environment. (God may have been female, though.)

We’re not a gender of saints, and we are not a gender of sinners. We have racists, environmentalists, fundamentalists, atheists, liberals, conservatives, coffee-drinkers and scone-eaters. We have dark skin and light skin and harbor irrational prejudices, just like men.

Feminism – as I understand it – is not about proving that women are better than men, or about women’s dominance over men. It’s rooted in the concept that women and men deserve equal dignity. And we will not achieve anything close to gender equality if men are not involved in the fight.

That is exactly the thing that needs to be said more often, especially by feminists who have been demonized by the MRAs (men's rights activists, who also sometimes call themselves Zeta Males). Many of the most offensive comments on the video were from those guys (who give the rest of us men a bad name).

Anyway, enough seriousness - humor and satire are always welcome and, done well, often able to deflate the self-righteous moralizing. Enter the new version of Dear Women.

Dear Woman Funny Or Die

So Will Ferrell and some buddies (Will Forte, Tim Heidecker, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel and Jon Daly) got together and made a parody video - funny as hell. It's nice to see that manly feminism is thriving in this postmodern era.

Yeah, I feel much better now.

* Wikipedia: According to Ken Wilber, "Boomeritis" describes a pathological belief system that afflicts Baby Boomers in particular. Boomeritis, in his view, is characterized by relativism, narcissism, and aversion to hierarchy. He believes that this attitude carried over to the so-called Generation X. [He's wrong about the Gen X part.]

1 comment:

Sage said...

Even though I continue to be one the men on the planet who supports the original "Dear Woman" video, I find this parody to be a much, much needed balance to it. Fabulous!