Actually, that’s NOT funny at all.

12 06 2009

A co-worker was telling me the other day about one of the funniest things he and his friends did during his freshman year of college.  Before he recounted the story he warned me that I probably wouldn’t like it so much because I wouldn’t “appreciate it the same way”.  Okay, whatever, knowing how some college guys can be so wrapped up in their cis, het, upper-class, male privilege, I braced myself for a story I probably would regret listening to.

So apparently, this dude and 3 or 4 of his dude friends were walking around a mall with “a girl who was really stupid – she had ADHD and was just really dumb, but she was hot”.  One of the dudes thinks it’d be absolutely hilarious if he pretended to be a pimp and “sold” the woman to the other dudes who’d just play along with it.  The young woman objects, but in the end “she just agreed because she’s just stupid”.

The “pimp” starts slapping her (“lightly, though”) and pushed her around yelling, “come on bitch!  You better get more money flowing in!  Business hasn’t been so well for you, that’s gotta change!”  He brings her to the other dudes, who are trying not to laugh so they can put on a convincing show, and they start trying to “buy” her.  They all “reject” her because she’s “too expensive” and therefore not worth it.  Afterwards the “pimp” starts pushing her, yelling at her even more about how she needs to make him more money, and calling her a “stupid slut” and a “useless whore”.  He thinks it’d be funny to “sell” her to random people in the mall.

They finally stop this bullshit when one of the men in the mall actually says that he wants to buy her and asks how much she is.  The “pimp” almost wanted to sell her for real, but one of the other dudes who was in on it decided that they’d gone too far and made the group go away.

I was fuming as I heard this story – what made these men think that it was acceptable or funny to pick on a young woman with ADHD, to walk around publicly and pretend she was a prostitute, to verbally and physically abuse her under the pretense of her being a prostitute in  need of business, and to go around spewing such misogynist language (calling a woman a bitch, a stupid slut, or a useless whore is not funny)?  What about the bystanders who just witnessed this occurring?  They may have just dismissed them as stupid college students goofing off, but still – such questionable, degrading behavior should raise eyebrows and have at least one person wondering if the woman was okay or what the guy with her was really up to.

Of course my angry reaction to this story, which was expected, was dismissed because I “wasn’t there to see it” so obviously I don’t get the humor.  Yes, because harassing a woman with ADHD, glamorizing pimping, glamorizing abusing women, constantly degrading a woman and using her presence for your sick entertainment is so freaking funny.  Hardy har.

This was sick, disgusting and wrong.  It was not in any way, shape or form, comedy.  And comedy/humor are often ways to innocently cover up one’s racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. ideas.  When someone objects, we are quickly dismissed as too serious, too sensitive, too uptight.  But the bottom line is that it is never acceptable or funny to dehumanize someone else for shits and giggles. Have some basic human respect, try and see past your privilege and be more conscious of other bodies’ existences, and do not belittle or degrade others just for your own amusement or entertainment.

Spend your summer vacation at Beauty Boot Camp!

12 06 2009

Where are you going to send your daughter(s) to camp this summer?  How about Niagara College of Canada’s Beauty Boot Camp for Tweens:

Calling all pre-teen girls, ages nine through twelve. Come and have a blast of summer fun at our Beauty Boot Camp! Let’s make some facial masks, body scrubs, and glam up our fingers and toes. Let’s play with fashion, do our hair, and decorate a shirt or two. You’ll love creating and learning in our professional Esthetics Lab! Sign up early. Seats are going fast. See you soon!

All girls love to play with makeup!  So of course they’d have a fantastic time doing facials and body scrubs, and manis and pedis; playing with fashion; doing their hair; and decorating shirts.  OMG!!  Can’t wait!!

Or if your daughter is slightly older than that, consider their Beauty Boot Camp for Teens:

Calling all girls from thirteen through sixteen! Join us in our Esthetics Lab for a great learning experience and some amazing fun! You will learn how to do facials, makeup, nails, and up-dos to enhance your own natural beauty. Come on out and make some new friends while learning beauty fashion tips. Develop your own style, flair, and creativity! Enjoy learning how to give each other spa treatments and how to create your own beauty products. Don’t miss this experience! Register early as seats are limited.

“Enhance your own natural beauty”?  Pshht.  This camp sounds like it’d be reinforcing western standards of beauty and teaching girls that 1. they aren’t good enough as they are, 2. they need to prioritize their appearance because that is the most important thing about them, and 3. it is their responsibility as women to make sure that they are able to look good at all times.

What the camp descriptions neglect to tell you are that:

1. This camp experience will just (further) shame girls into gender conformity.

2. It feeds on perhaps already-existing insecurities that tween and teen girls have and will magnify them.  Learning about makeup, fashion, etc. is NOT empowering – it is NOT empowering to insinuate to girls and young women that their value is essentially based on the way they look and therefore they need to look good all the time.

3. It further bolsters the booming beauty industry which thrives by deceiving women and making them think that there are all these magical solutions to nonexistent problems about their appearance or their bodies.

As Renee writes on Womanist Musings:

If we are going to take the time to create classes by gender, how about one where both boys and girls learn affirming messages?  How about a class where they learn that it is okay to subvert gender norms if that is what makes them happy and comfortable?  A radical thought I know, a class that teaches children to think while at the same time affirming that the constructions which we  create are certainly not relevant or helpful for everyone.