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Are We Misogynists?

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Are We Misogynists?

(Last week I wrote a column. Cosmo wrote a response. Here’s my response to their response.)

Dear Ms. Cohen of Cosmo,

I think your response article was fine (you can find a better by @HotPiece_TSM, HERE). It was a funny rehash of what I wrote from the female perspective, with the twist that the female character never really wanted me all along. It’s a fair point, and one that I wrestled with a lot while writing. Is there latent sexism in defining the female as the dumpee rather than the dumper? After a lot of hand-wringing, I decided to build a fictional straw-woman to get dumped in order to more clearly make my point that a woman piling hate on a man they were never going to end up marrying isn’t productive, and, I would argue, is kind of anti-feminist. As I wrote at the end of the article, “To assign blame is to prostrate yourself as the victim,” I also made an attempt to point out I had been on the receiving end of a woman’s apathy (KARA, YOU COLD BITCH, ANSWER MY CALLS), but perhaps that attempt was too feeble for you. Let’s agree to disagree.

BUT, one thing I took offense to was your casual use of the word “misogyny” in the second paragraph:

“Yeah, your last name sounds okay with my first name, but I think I want to keep mine once I finish my PhD anyways—and I know for sure that with all the misogyny going on up in there that you would not let that fly.”

While I’m sure you could make the argument that my article was misogynistic in the loosest of definitions (though I’d say my tongue was firmly in cheek, like, “I go down on chicks all the time” firm), there’s no way that what I wrote is more denigrating to females than a standard issue of Cosmo – an empire built on how to be a woman in a man’s world (I bet you can’t tell which cover story I made up: “75 Sex Moves Men Crave,” “How To Use Your Tongue,” “Men’s Secret Desires”). When did Cosmo last write an article about 75 careers to seek with a PhD? And I get it. It’s a magazine built to sell ads. I’m not a self-righteous a-hole that believes all popular entertainment needs to exist in service of societal advancement. But that word, “misogyny,” seems to be the word I’m starting to hear all the time, particularly as men’s websites like TFM, BroBible, Guyism, BonerTime, LaptopOnChest, IPeeHardToCleanMyToilet, CoEd Magazine, and The Chive (All sites that I’ve written for, posted my videos, or that have linked to my work, and some that I made up, but could be totally be dude sites) gain more traction. It’s the canned criticism. But is it fair?

Let me first make this point: the objectification of the female body is not misogyny, at least not in the way that me, or my friends, or this website use it. Our deep obsession with breasts does not force us to believe that the brain connected to those breasts is stupid. And a woman’s desire to expose them for “Rush Boobs” or something like “Burn Bra” does not mean they’re the female version of Uncle Tom, desperate for our approval. It is an acknowledgment and celebration of the sexuality that put us all here on Earth. Boobs make boners, boners make babies, babies make your boobs bigger, repeat the process: circle of life. Thus the world spins one more day. I’m certain there are very few females south of Gloria Steinem who would disagree with me. And if there are, ask them if they own a pair of heels.

So if the sexy photos aren’t creating a “hatred of women” on this site, what is? I’m certain you could find a few choice quotes out of context that you could claim incriminate me, but where is the line that determines misogyny? When I first started doing stand up comedy, I would tell this joke about how my friend described Starbucks in terms of race. He said there are Starbucks that predominantly black people go to, and there are Starbucks that white people go to. My punchline was, “I thought a black Starbucks was called a Dunkin’ Donuts.” It always got a laugh, and if I’m being honest, I still think it’s pretty funny. But why? The underlying premise is a bummer: Starbucks costs more than Dunkin Donuts and the suggestion here is that white people have more money. Am I racist? Is everyone who laughs at it racist? Or is it that the joke lays bare some unfortunate social realities in this country and the audience is laughing at the bluntness of it? Obviously, I prefer to think it’s the latter, but in truth all that matters is whether or not the people laugh. Good or bad, if the people laugh, then it’s a real thing we’re living with. And I think that’s the most noble aspect of comedy, to start the conversation, to push the taboos until people have to recognize the world as it is.

The article I wrote did well, and it did well with females too (judging from my unscientific polling of Twitter, laaaaddddiiiesss hit me up @jtrain56). I believe it’s because it laid bare some truth. I’m not saying that if people laugh it’s okay, but I’m saying that the line is not defined, nor will it ever be. To wave your hand dismissively and call me a misogynist over a tongue-in-cheek article (remember…firm, Michael Douglas-ing, tongue) is to miss the point. You’re ending an important conversation before we can even start it.

So, Ms. Cohen of Cosmo, know this. We are men. We like tits. And beer. And sex. And one-piece bathing suits and a tight cozy box. And when I dream, I dream of being saddled to the back of a velociraptor, bandolier across my bare chest, riding head-on into an army of topless woman who will take me prisoner, roughly at first, then evermore gently. I can’t help it. Does that offend you? That’s ok if it does, so long as you can explain why. Otherwise, you’re just another writer, another column pretending at feminism, crying wolf until no one will listen to you anymore.


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Jared Freid (@jtrain56) is a New York City-based comedian who has been featured on MTV’s Failosophy and is the host of The JTrain Podcast presented by TFM.

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