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.