This is funny. No, really, you're going to laugh. You see, I was all geared up to write an article about "female role models in popular culture" when a chance encounter gave me some new material - and pissed off energy - to work with. It's a little after 11:00 AM on a lazy summer Tuesday, and with nothing better to do (that's a lie), I was flipping through the Tube when MTV's Disaster Date caught my attention. Funny how things work out.
If you're not familiar with the show's premise (as if the title isn't descriptive enough), evil people set up their BFFs on fake dates with actors who are programmed to behave as sloppily, loudly, rudely, [insert negative adjective here] as possible. Basically, they taper their act according to what their "victim" despises the most. So if Jimmy hates a messy eater, you can bet his date is going to be shoving nachos down her throat. Or if Suzy hates nerds, her date is going to be a Level 27 Dragonlord who spends his spare time collecting Pokemon cards. In other words, stereotypes to the max.
Well, meet our latest Disaster Date victim, Antoine: a "player" who hates "girls with hairy legs, girls who boss him around, and most of all, feminists."
That's okay, take a minute. Just let it all sink in.
Now if you're not sufficiently pissed, meet Antoine's date Crystal, a "strict feminist who's gonna show Antoine why women are the superior gender."
Who knew that in a five-minute span MTV could cram every feminist stereotype into one neat little package? From the misconception that feminists have hairy legs to the plain fact that they're "whiny bitches" who make men their whipping boys, Crystal portrays it all with the elegance of a B-movie actress. Actually, that's being generous.
But the sad part about this whole thing isn't that we're actually spending chunks of our lives watching crap like Disaster Date (and other MTV treasures like The Real World or The Hills), these "dates" are supposed to be a window to the types of people we, as a society, disapprove of. We hate slobs, people who chew with their mouths open, and public burpers. We hate over-emotional, whiny girls and dead-beat guys, over-bearing perfectionists and religious fanatics. And apparently, we also hate feminists.
It just makes me so angry. Popular culture does a lot to dictate how people view certain issues, and when shows like these make it seem like "hip, young people dislike feminists," how do you think the Average Joe (or Jane) - who doesn't know a single thing about feminist ideology - is going to react? Shame on you, MTV.
But you're not the only culprit.
The general consensus in the media seems to be the "I'm not a feminist, but" theory. And if it's not that, it's the "everybody hates feminists" message that I addressed before. I mean, thinking back I've never really heard a television character come right out and say they were a feminist. Sure, there are a few strong female characters that we can respect (see my article TV Women Who Break the Mold), but do we ever hear the f-word? Nooooooo . . .
Well, let's do something. Even if it's a little step, even if it seems totally pointless, it's going to make me (and hopefully you) feel a whole heckuvalot better. Here's the link to the episode of Disaster Date we've been talking about. There's a comment box on the bottom of the page. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I say we tell MTV exactly how we feel about their episode.
Update (7.28.2010): Check out this awesome comment from Rach, a fellow blogger! She really busted MTV in the you-know-what!
Feminists are all kinds of people--men, women, gay, lesbian, bi, straight,..okay you get the idea. We're all different! I don't understand why feminists have to be stereotyped as man-hating, non-shaving, "reverse sexist", possibly lesbian women. While there are a few radical feminists who DO exhibit these traits, they're in the minority. Feminism isn't about hating men or wanting women to be the "dominant sex"; feminism is about wanting equal rights for everyone, everywhere. By producing this episode, MTV is perpetuating an unfair stereotype attached to a very important movement. In fact, this whole show is about mocking those who do not fit society's expectations...seriously, can't we all just grow up?