great tits! July 15, 2013 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I loathe Jenny McCarthy's anti-vax views with the white hot heat of a thousand suns, but this comment is really repugnant.

I have used the contact form and the comment is going to stand. I guess I would like to see if the community thinks this type of discussion, in which we reduce women to those body parts we've seen naked, is acceptable.
posted by lalex to Etiquette/Policy at 8:47 PM (483 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Isn't it satirical?
posted by ericost at 8:51 PM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Is it? I asked the mods if there was some context I was missing, and the answer was no.
posted by lalex at 8:52 PM on July 15, 2013


To be fair, if Ms. McCarthy is reduced to her body parts, she's being held in higher esteem than she deserves.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:54 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


lalex contacted us about this and I'll just briefly recap what I said in that exchange. That comment had picked up just a few flags, and was posted 5 hours ago. I agree I am not crazy about the use of 'tits' there.

I took it as permissible since it is an expression of the view that her fame originally came from her nude modeling, and it's absurd that people are taking her as a medical authority for treating their kids -- rather than the comment actually making an evaluative comment about her body. So yes, I take it that the comment is satirical, satirizing the viewpoint of a person who thinks "this woman is famous for something totally else, let's follow her quack medical advice".

I said there was no "additional context" in the sense that there wasn't some behind-the-scenes talk we had with the commenter or anything.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [33 favorites]


And let me firmly say that this thread needs to not get into any kind of evaluation of her body parts, not even in a ha-ha way. Thank you.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:56 PM on July 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Hmm. I think that "Something a shitty person would say hypothetically" or "Something a shitty person essentially said paraphrased" are always deep grey areas between satire and "but mom, i mean ass like a donkey!".

To be satirical you generally want to actually be trying to satire a real thing, and not just some hypothetical shitty opinion someone you don't like might have or something they might say.

Which is kinda what this is.

As far as shitty posts on the internet, or even that have stood on this site go it barely makes me roll my eyes. And it definitely feels like a stretch to file it "haha, because wimmenz are only worth their bodies or body parts amirite! objectification lol!" when that isn't the main point or premise of it.

Overall, i just don't think it's that awful of a comment. As with what happens on other sites, the number of favorites it got is grosser than the actual post.

What i'm not looking forward to is all the attention that post will get, and basically any of the discussion that will happen here. Yea it's not the best of the web, but pulling it out to have an episode of "round table with the MeFi crew" is basically just pouring fuel on the fire and giving attention to something that doesn't really deserve it.

And hal_c_on's comment is about where i expect the bar of this discussion to sit. Good luck.
posted by emptythought at 8:56 PM on July 15, 2013


I asked the mods if there was some context I was missing, and the answer was no.

I just think it's one of those ironically sexist comments. Like Senor Cardage was making a comment as if he were saying something awful and sexist. Which is sort of why we don't like those sorts of comments because they can be complicated to parse and they bother people. I sort of thought the whole thread was mostly an excuse to just sneer at McCarthy and thought it was pretty weak sauce but I don't have to like every post. I was the one who looked at the comment and was like "Eh. Don't love it, wouldn't delete it."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


It definitely read as satirical to me, meant to be read as being spoken by someone who made the choice to listen to Jenny's views on medical issues not because she has any authority on the matter, but because the listener liked her tits.

As a woman with tits, I am not offended by the aforementioned comment in the least. I am, however, greatly offended by Jenny McCarthy's views on vaccination.
posted by amyms at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2013 [46 favorites]


(and hal_c_on, i'm absolutely not attacking you or your comment. I agree that she's shit, it's just that a huge "LOL SHE SUCKS SO MUCH" circlejerk of insults and such is where i expect this to go)
posted by emptythought at 8:57 PM on July 15, 2013


I don't know, I am pretty humorless and have a pair of tits and I thought it was okay.
posted by liketitanic at 8:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess I would like to see if the community thinks this type of discussion, in which we reduce women to those body parts we've seen naked, is acceptable.

Nope.

I'm mystified that thread stayed up. It qualifies as outragefilter, GYOB, editorializing, and "look at this asshole"—four traditional reasons to delete, while letting it stand contributes nothing but bile to MetaFilter. Mods can feel free to explain differently, but my thinking is that if you're able to pad an FPP with enough links to otherwise legitimate websites like Atlantic and Slate, you can apparently skate deletion.

In the mods' defense, at least one other sexualized comment about McCarthy was deleted. That this one's satirical is not, I don't think, an excuse. It wouldn't be in a different context (other than gender).
posted by cribcage at 8:59 PM on July 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Mods can feel free to explain differently

It picked up flags really slowly and people seemed to be actually discussing the topic of the thread and (mostly) not engaging in a hurf durf pile on and it was a slow night so I opted not to delete it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


otherwise legitimate websites like Atlantic and Slate

Those are ... not what I would call "legitimate" websites, even with as many links as they get.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:02 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Senor Cardgage's comment immediately drew my eye; I'm still not entirely sure I'm comfortable with it. On the one hand, I agree somewhat with the sentiment, but on the other hand, it reads way too much like a Reddit one-liner than I like to see on MetaFilter.

Seeing as such comments are rare, I guess it adds something to the thread that I don't entirely mind being there? Sometimes uncomfortable line-toeing is an alright thing. But I also appreciate that this MetaTalk exists.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:02 PM on July 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the FPP was framed poorly at best, if not a bit misleading, but the mods have been good about nixing some of the more overtly sexist crap that has been posted, for the most part. I just hope folks can keep in mind that a woman having views we find repugnant isn't an excuse to rear up some of the uglier misogynist shit that can be lobbed at her.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I took it as permissible since it is an expression of the view that her fame originally came from her nude modeling, and it's absurd that people are taking her as a medical authority for treating their kids -- rather than the comment actually making an evaluative comment about her body.

I think this is part of what's upsetting to me. People shouldn't take her medical advice because she isn't a doctor or a scientist, not because she was once a nude model.
posted by lalex at 9:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [25 favorites]


I flagged it. I read it as saying that a woman who was known for nude modeling can't possibly be intelligent or say anything worth listening to.
posted by chrchr at 9:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I thought it was pretty funny.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:07 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took it more as making fun of the inference, "once seen naked, THEREFORE good to listen to on medical advice". Not as saying no nude model could be a doctor.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:10 PM on July 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I took it more as making fun of the inference, "once seen naked, THEREFORE good to listen to on medical advice".

Which is pretty sexist, I think, as if the reason why there are a host of people who listen to McCarthy's anti-vax views is because she has been seen naked. The point raised about Jim Carrey getting a free pass on this issue comes immediately to mind.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:16 PM on July 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


LobsterMitten is right. It's clearly making fun of a character who's so entranced by her body that he ignores the wrongness of her views. No one on Metafilter is saying or implying that someone who has appeared nude can't say anything intelligent.
posted by John Cohen at 9:17 PM on July 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, when the CDC declares you a "menace to public health," you're pretty much at the level of herpes. There's not a lot of positive things one can say at that point.

The post needs to stay up. Sometimes metafilter gets to serve as a source of public good and countering bad science is one of those things this site does well.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:18 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


countering bad science is one of those things this site does well

Except when woo gets promoted over science, but that's a whole other can of vurms.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]



countering bad science is one of those things this site does well

Except when woo gets promoted over science, but that's a whole other can of vurms.


Organic worms, I hope.


I took it more as making fun of the inference, "once seen naked, THEREFORE good to listen to on medical advice". Not as saying no nude model could be a doctor.


And yes, this, though sometimes this site treats satire as fact.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:23 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is pretty sexist, I think, as if the reason why there are a host of people who listen to McCarthy's anti-vax views is because she has been seen naked.

There are a host of people who listen to McCarthy for no other reason than that she is famous; she is famous because she was a Playboy bunny. There isn't a huge leap to people listening to McCarthy because she was a Playboy bunny there, really.

Not my comment, though, thank god.
posted by Justinian at 9:23 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, I don't think the comparison to Carrey is apt. McCarthy is known almost entirely for her anti-vax views these days. She's the poster girl for it. But I had no idea Carrey was anti-vax until your comment, assuming that was the implication, and it isn't what he is known for.
posted by Justinian at 9:24 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The post needs to stay up.

Yet the post pretty much declares she's going to be taking her "anti-vax roadshow" to the View, omitting the fact that she isn't anti-vax anymore (as indicated by one of the links in the FPP itself), and there's no indication that the View would let her have a platform for said opinions anyway.

I agree "more research needs to be done" is a pretty dumb position to take on vaccines, but she has changed her position from wanting to get rid of vaccines altogether. And I say that as someone with a vested interest in wanting to get rid of anti-vax stupidity.

But I had no idea Carrey was anti-vax until your comment

That's pretty surprising, considering he's been pretty vocal on this position.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:29 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will also say that this is pretty ugly, and then I'm going to step out of this thread:
posted by lalex at 9:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: "And yes, this, though sometimes this site treats satire as fact."

Citation needed. You have a habit of throwing these little bombs up and then waltzing away from the explosion, and that's bullshit.

When has this site taken satire as fact? I can think of several occasions on which this site has been taken in by hoaxes, but that is not at all the same thing.

So put up or shut up.
posted by scrump at 9:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


When has this site taken satire as fact? I can think of several occasions on which this site has been taken in by hoaxes, but that is not at all the same thing.

So put up or shut up.


Stuff White People Like is racist, some people taking issues with the analaogies in the 'if movie critics were like game journalists', maybe the Onion c*nt thread? I've noticed it a few times.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:33 PM on July 15, 2013


Anecdote is not data. Would you like to try again, using actual links this time?

Or would you care to revise your previous statement?
posted by scrump at 9:40 PM on July 15, 2013


omitting the fact that she isn't anti-vax anymore

That seems pretty doubtful - she's spewing some "more research line".

The tits comments are pretty awful though - seriously guys?
posted by Artw at 9:48 PM on July 15, 2013


Is the title of this MeTa intended to be quotative, satirical, or intentionally provocative in some way that sets it apart from actual objectification of the body? Just curious. No reason.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:49 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


To address the original post and not this derail: Yes, Lalex, I think it was off base and I agree with you. I flagged it.

I disagree that it is ironic enough to stand on its own, as if it were a guy, I highly doubt the comment would be about his posing for a nude magazine. Yet because McCarthy is a beautiful blonde woman who posed for Playboy, she is a cheap target.

I am not a fan of her nor Hasslebeck. But there could be enough commentary about her woo and her association with Jim Carey without mention her mammary glands in relation to vaccination. That's pretty sexist, and I think people saying, "well, that's how she got famous, displaying her tits," are also pretty sexist. I actually had no idea that she had posed for Playboy, FWIW, before this MeTa.

I just thought of her as a concerned mother. If mistaken in her views, yes, but I never looked at Jenny McCarthy and thought she should be denigrated for being a concerned mother because she may have displayed her body in a magazine. I find this highly offensive.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:52 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I just think it's one of those ironically sexist comments.

Wait, is this ok now? I thought we had decided that wasn't ok.
posted by ryanrs at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


So put up or shut up.

You waited until Charlemagne in Sweatpants wrote one comment without saying 'I' and then made it all about him? Fuck, man.
posted by carsonb at 9:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I find the 'Celeb X Believes Y, So There's Got To Be Something To It' mindset always pretty funny. I didn't think the denigration/dismissal was necessarily sexist, but on preview, think I need to do some thinking - thanks, Marie Mon Dieu - but the fact that McCarthy's fame was based on something so shallow and ludicrous, even by the already low, low standards of celebrity culture, did make it funnier to me.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the difficulty scale for making satirical comments, a contentious post on Metafilter is way up there. The core of the comment's attempted humour is its faux-infomercial tone, and with some softened language and a few more hours in the room I'm sure it could be elevated to a mild chuckle. This just proves why Jack Handey is such a legend—one-liners are not easy. So, if you're feeling tense and need a good laugh, I recommend leaving comedy to the professionals and head on up to Rory Marinich's Jack Handey post!
posted by Lorin at 10:06 PM on July 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


carsonb: "You waited until Charlemagne in Sweatpants wrote one comment without saying 'I' and then made it all about him? Fuck, man."

I'm having a worse day than usual and am considerably off my form.

I'M SORRY, MAN, I DIDN'T MEAN TO HURT YOU
posted by scrump at 10:13 PM on July 15, 2013


(((((((scrump)))))))
posted by carsonb at 10:21 PM on July 15, 2013


I disagree that it is ironic enough to stand on its own, as if it were a guy, I highly doubt the comment would be about his posing for a nude magazine.

In general, I agree with this, but Channing Tatum immediately came to mind as *one* man who has been subjected to the same type of comments because he was once a stripper.
posted by misha at 10:22 PM on July 15, 2013


It may have been a satiric point, but I'm not clear on what that point was, other than "We shouldn't take her seriously because she's been publicly naked."

So have I. The fact that I have seen her naked is neither here nor there. There are people I have seen naked whose medical advice I absolutely would listen to. People have seen me naked and I would like it if they took me seriously when I discuss, I dunno, theater or Omaha or movies or whatever else I feel I have something to say about.

It's the poor quality of her opinion that's the issue. It's the opinion that stinks, not that fact that the person expressing appeared topless in some photographs in 1993.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:30 PM on July 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


But I don't take people seriously BECAUSE they've appeared naked, with the exception of a few performance artists.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:37 PM on July 15, 2013


Really? There is nothing I take more seriously than a person with their clothes off.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:37 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It may have been a satiric point, but I'm not clear on what that point was, other than "We shouldn't take her seriously because she's been publicly naked."

I think the point of the comment is that you are exactly right, and that those who make decisions about her opinion on other grounds, namely other than the quality of her argument, are being especially ridiculous.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:40 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It definitely read as satirical to me, meant to be read as being spoken by someone who made the choice to listen to Jenny's views on medical issues not because she has any authority on the matter, but because the listener liked her tits.

Is the view's target demographic 18-30 year old straight men these days? Does that demographic make up the core of anti-vax movement? Otherwise, I think the comment wasn't good satire, just ironic sexism.
posted by Garm at 10:41 PM on July 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Everyone will interpret differently. The moods let this one stand. I'm ok with that.

That said…it is saying that a woman who has appeared naked can't possibly have anything intelligent to say…if that woman happens to be Jenny McCarthy.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:53 PM on July 15, 2013


This is why it's maybe a good idea not to do the ironic sexism stuff. At best it's confusing, at worst it's sexist.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:58 PM on July 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've seen plenty of it go fine, but it's usually by women in threads about sexism and the meaning is clear.
posted by ODiV at 11:01 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since when is it okay to make "ironically sexist" jokes on MeFi? Really? What other kind of "ironic" jokes are okay to make, or is it just restricted to ones that involve women and their body parts?

It's one thing to say something substantive and straightforward about your own thoughts in an effort to have a substantive conversation, even if it is sexist; I would not argue for that to be deleted. Making cheap "ironic" cracks about tits is not that in any way. It's worthless cheap dreck that is actively damaging.

"Liberal" men do this all the fucking time. So understanding about how our culture damages women, and the variety of weapons people use to rip women down. UNTIL, being confronted with a woman they *want* to rip down. Then, suddenly, it's open season to use all of those gendered weapons. Now you feel free to start talking about people's tits, calling people cunts, and all the rest of it.

Guess what, when you use those weapons on Jenny McCarthy, or Sarah Palin, or Ann Coulter, you are only reinforcing and assisting the people who will use those weapons on me - the Bill O'Reillys, the Rick Perrys, the Rush Limbaughs.

You're reinforcing that my tits are going to be something to snigger over when I speak publicly and someone disagrees with me or I say something that makes someone angry. That they will be seen as a legitimate part of the case someone makes for why I must be wrong or why I should never have been taken seriously.

Reinforcing that the only reason anyone would listen to or believe an attractive woman in the first place is that they must just have been mesmerized by her tits. Reinforcing that if a woman is attractive and has breasts then her breasts are obviously the first and foremost reason why anyone would possibly pay attention to her.


Can you consider for a moment that we never fucking hear this shit when it comes to men?? Male celebrities tout all sorts of bullshit all the time. We never hear anything like, "Oh that Charlton Heston, he sure did a great job of promoting a lot of fucking gun lobbying that lead to the deaths of many children. But he sure had a great ass and package, didn't he?"

Bullshit, it should have been deleted. Thank you for making this MeTa lalex.
posted by cairdeas at 11:30 PM on July 15, 2013 [66 favorites]


I think people saying, "well, that's how she got famous, displaying her tits," are also pretty sexist. I actually had no idea that she had posed for Playboy, FWIW, before this MeTa.

I have no idea what the circulation of her Playboy issues was, but I'd bet on her MTV shows having had a larger audience over time, and so I think she actually got famous for a certain approach to crude, sexist stereotypes on Singled Out and, briefly, The Jenny McCarthy Show (1997).

In the former, she herded female participants off-stage while acting cheerful about the crazily objectifying criteria male contestants had used to judge them, but then she would sometimes say cutting things about those judgments too. I have no idea how much of that was scripted, but she had a talent for expressing it, and I suspect both elements were intentional and successful in that they 'validated' everyone in the audience--both people who were straightforwardly sexist and people who saw the irony as a release valve allowing them to enjoy it.

And I seem to recall the latter featuring a sketch about Jenny McCarthy as an android girlfriend wearing a negligee (possibly with fembot shiny metal cones positioned up front--I don't know how much I'm conflating with Austin Powers), which she raised and lowered repeatedly as a sort of joke come-on intended to make fun of predictable, objectifying, and mechanical responses she elicited in her human boyfriend.

So what I'm saying is ironic sexism was Jenny McCarthy's whole schtick. I hardly think that justifies its use in a weak, offhand joke about her, but I'm pretty sure she was way better at it and more invested in it than anyone on MeFi, and if anything, she's a brilliant source of reasons not to go there, rather than a reason to take it up.

Still, I can understand a plausible connection or satirical basis for the comment that goes beyond her appearing nude somewhere (which I didn't know for years), even if I'd also be perfectly fine with a deletion on numerous grounds.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:31 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


She also wrote the movie Dirty Love.

She has certainly done more than appear in Playboy. I think those were "before she was Jenny McCarthy" shots, not that there is anything wrong with anyone, of any sex, choosing to appear nude.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:43 PM on July 15, 2013


Now that I looked it up, yeah that's how she got her start, I never new that.

Not that any of this qualifies her to speak on health issues.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:46 PM on July 15, 2013


Regarding famous for being nude sentiment, I saw it along the lines of how I feel whenever Perry Ferrell, Eddie Vedder, or any other musician starts talking about 'issues.' They're famous for one thing, and they take the opportunity their fame provides to spread whatever ill-informed woo they've decided will be their cause.

A celebrity holding forth on their pet topic is almost always a painful waste of time. In this case, with the anti-vac idiots, you could point to Mariah Carey as being famous for her voice, or Jim Carrey being famous for talking out of his asshole. In McCarthy's case, she literally has no talent, and owes her fame (originally) to appearing nude.

This is not to say that you can't appear nude and be an absolute genius. In McCarthy's case, well, all we can say is that she's appeared in the nude, and hold ridiculous opinions that are a hazard to public health, and people will sadly listen to her because she's famous.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:55 PM on July 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


(FWIW, I didn't mean she's famous only for appearing nude; to clarify for people who don't know her, that is not the case. She's more famous as a sexy/crass/comic host of various tv shows. The Seth Mnookin blog posts linked in the post give a full history of her career, which begins with Playboy, which is what gets her a hosting gig at MTV on Singled Out, which in turn is what makes her famous more widely. The nude thing may be sort of a red herring in the discussion of what that comment means.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:07 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


First, I think the post is going in a really interesting direction right about now, and a useful one, too. Examining why she gets pilloried and Carrey does not is a Good Thing. There's a lot of unpacking to do, and I think we could get some interesting discussion out of it. Maybe even some learning. Perhaps it's slightly disappointing that it took a long list of "GRAR I agree that she's horrible, SO SAY WE ALL" to get to something useful, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

I took the comment in question as a distillation of America's very frustrating "all opinions are equal" approach to celebrities vis-a-vis scientists. It's a rather funny boiling down of the arc of her career and the implications thereof. But it is a much more brutal indictment of those who listen to her (sexist, objectifying, uncritical) than herself or women in general.
posted by aureliobuendia at 12:11 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, its a satire of people who listen to McCarthy's opinions despite her lack of qualifications. However, it ends up strongly implying that her only qualifications were her physical attributes, which are unlikely to be the only thing that contributed to her success, and it is quite sexist to suggest so.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:18 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not only that, I don't even buy it as a satire of people who are convinced to fear vaccines by her and her opinions, because it's not the same set of people who are interested in her because of her tits. The people who she convinced to fear vaccines are mostly a whole bunch of moms of autistic children!!! Who found out about her opinions through Oprah and People Magazine!! Who, many of them, were in grade school when she was in Playboy, and have never seen any movie or TV show that she was in.

"Ya, we'll just listen to her because she has great hooters~!" is not at all a "satire" of those people and their motivations.
posted by cairdeas at 12:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


LobsterMitten, since you seem to be the one on duty now, I would like to ask you in sincerity - as a matter of site policy, are "ironically sexist" or otherwise ironically bigoted jokes okay now, or were they always okay and I didn't realize it?
posted by cairdeas at 1:04 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


She was a nude model for a short time over twenty years ago. Since then she's acted, she's written books and she's been an extremely effective figurehead for the Anti-Vax cause.

AntiVax is a terrible, terrible thing, but that shouldn't be a detraction from the subject of this metatalk. I wonder, what does she have to do before she is allowed an opinion on this that doesn't automatically end up with someone talking about her tits.

This isn't ironic sexism / objectification / whatever you want to call it.

This is female body policing (otherwise people would have dropped the subject a decade and a half ago) that's being allowed because we don't like what she has to say.

If she was a man, if she hadn't been a nude model or if she was pushing for something we all believed in, then the flagged comment would not have been made or allowed.
posted by zoo at 1:04 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


This seems to be really pricking me, so I have one more point to make.

The joke, if ironic or satirical, isn't satirizing people FOR being sexist. The joke is, itself, using sexism to satirize people.

Huge, huge difference.
posted by cairdeas at 1:30 AM on July 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


If anyone ever didn't deserve this much commentary in the first place. Male or female, some people are best ignored.

I thought the FPP was lame, but then I can't imagine most Mefites caring about who hosts the View.

I've also given up commenting on anti-vaxxers. They don't deserve the honor of our outrage. They're fools and history will prove them so.
posted by spitbull at 1:33 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I THOUGHT IT WAS A PITHY COMMENT ON THE IRONY OF OUR POPULAR CULTURE IN WHICH BOTH MEDIA AND MEDIA CONSUMERS CONSIDER IT APPROPRIATE TO DISREGARD - OR AT LEAST GIVE EQUAL WEIGHT TO - QUALIFIED MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS AND PEER REVIEWED CLINICAL EVIDENCE IN FAVOUR OF SOMEONE WHO LACKS ANY OF THOSE QUALIFICATIONS BUT LOOKS GOOD ON TV AND IS FAMOUS.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:52 AM on July 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


I am pretty firmly of the belief that anti-vaxxers listen to Jenny McCarthy because she is anti-vax, not because she was in Playboy, or even, for that matter, because she is famous. She was merely the most famous person they could find that would publicly espouse their stupid beliefs. In fact, a big part of her fame now is because she is vocally anti-vax. I doubt there are more than a tiny percentage of people who changed their opinions on vaccines because of her.
posted by empath at 1:58 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not only that, I don't even buy it as a satire of people who are convinced to fear vaccines by her and her opinions, because it's not the same set of people who are interested in her because of her tits. The people who she convinced to fear vaccines are mostly a whole bunch of moms of autistic children

This is right on, cairdeas. That's what jarred me about the comment, too. Very well said.

I think that is part of the reason Jim Carrey doesn't get as much flak. I didn't realize he had said or written about anti-vac stuff nearly as much because I was never really in his demographic. Moms are typically, though not always, the ones who take the kids to the doctor to get immunized. They are more likely to be in charge of the healthcare. Jenny McCarthy reached that audience far more effectively than Jim Carey did, and so is more directly responsible for the anti-vac crap taking over.

I had SO many discussions on Mom blogs with very earnest women telling me, "But I've looked into this, and it really is a thing! Vaccinations are linked to autism!"

Because other prominent Moms, like Jenny McCarthy, were putting out their own pseudoscience telling them just that.
posted by misha at 2:01 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I agree that the comment under discussion is problematic, but I don't think it should be removed: It's the kind of thing that could be very well countered in thread, and the criticism would be relevant to the discussion.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:07 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


cairdeas: "are "ironically sexist" or otherwise ironically bigoted jokes okay now, or were they always okay and I didn't realize it?"

I believe as the site has grown the community has become less tolerant of jokes casually employing sexism/racism for ironic effect. Sometimes a comment's tone is virtually indistinguishable from the prejudice it parodies, thus putting the burden of making this distinction on the reader. In this case we gave it the benefit of the doubt. I don't think there's ever been a hard-and-fast rule for or against this kind of joke. I do believe we look at them with increasing scrutiny.

Dr Dracator: "It's the kind of thing that could be very well countered in thread, and the criticism would be relevant to the discussion."

To the extent that it is indeed relevant to the discussion, sure. I don't want to be all "the system works!" but this seems like exactly the sort of issue that MetaTalk is for, and having this exchange here seems to me preferable to having an extended metadiscussion in-thread.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 2:51 AM on July 16, 2013


Please try to understand how irony works.
posted by Decani at 3:10 AM on July 16, 2013


I would actually say the same, Decani, but from what I assume is the opposite point of view. This failed even as irony.
posted by cairdeas at 3:18 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please try to understand how irony works.


Ctrl-F "ironic sexism", dude - not least because the irony of someone demanding that people try to understand how irony works in a thread where the role of irony is a key part of the discussion is kind of pleasing.

Surprised there needs to be a discussion about this. Obviously, it's in the artificial voice of a stupid person who decided not to vaccinate their child because of Jenny McCarthy, rather than the authentic and autobiographical voice of the MetaFilter member typing the post.

Equally obviously, the fact that Jenny McCarthy worked as a nude model is being presented as making her particularly unsuitable to advise on the raising of children - there's a reason why that is being put in the mouth of the stupid person, rather than, for example, the MTV game show stint, or the incredibly stupid sitcom vehicle Jenny. Or indeed the upcoming role on The View - the show that brought you such hits as "it wasn't rape-rape". That's the bedrock of the gag - that women who have been photographed nude are not good role models, and only stupid people would follow their advice.

That's unfortunate, not necessarily so much for Jenny McCarthy as for other women who have moved into the ambit of anything even vaguely resembling sex work, but it's absolutely not exceptional.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:42 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Channing Tatum immediately came to mind as *one* man who has been subjected to the same type of comments because he was once a stripper.

Based on vaguely registering his funny name a couple of times, I'd just assumed Channing Tatum was a drag queen with slightly off-kilter taste, because Stockard Channing Tatum O'Neill.

Shame that's not the case, really, but if anyone's stuck for an overly complex drag act/Halloween costume, there's a rare and challenging 'triple celeb' opportunity for you!
posted by jack_mo at 3:59 AM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


That's the bedrock of the gag - that women who have been photographed nude are not good role models, and only stupid people would follow their advice.

I mean, not really. The joke is that people take advice from a notable person based on some quality the notable person has that is entirely irrelevant to the decision being made. You can adapt the template to a lot of different situations.

"As the foremost technological innovator of his times, Steve Jobs seemed like the right person to defer to regarding my wife's cancer treatment. Sadly, Bev passed away after years of alternative medical treatment. Still... great iPad."

"As one of the most natural and effective politicians of my generation, Bill Clinton seemed like the right person to defer to about whether I should have an extra-marital affair or not. Sadly, I lost the house in the divorce and I currently live in a studio apartment. Still... I feel like Bill really gets me."

Now whether it's appropriate to say that Jenny McCarthy is only or chiefly notable for the nude modeling is not something I can say anything about since I haven't been following her career closely enough.
posted by logicpunk at 4:07 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


So if someone makes an 'I'd hit it' joke, but they make it ironically, it's now okay? Because I'm having trouble seeing a huge difference between that kind of sexism and reducing McCarthy to her mammary glands.

I hate having to defend loathsome people like her, but sexism still counts as such even if it's directed at an anti-vaxxer who did untold harm to public health.
posted by winna at 4:36 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I feel like that would work better if those jokes in those forms could be pointed at as existing in those forms, rather than being invented as hypotheticals to address a specific comment.

But sure - "it is unwise to take advice from someone famous for one thing on another thing" is not a hugely startling statement. It occurs in the Platonic dialogs, where Socrates points out that Homer, who is a famous poet, should not be taken as an authority on military strategy or medicine just because he talks about those things in his poems.

I'd say that selecting something McCarthy did early in her career as the thing that disqualifies her (as opposed to e.g. releasing the iPad or having an affair while President of the United States) is an interesting choice, and kind of a different one. Maybe one could make a joke about Clinton being a Rhodes scholar, and why as a result of him being a Rhodes Scholar he'd be a good person to ask about cookery? It's a tricky formulation.
To which the response is indeed "but she is only notable for her nude modelling". To which the response is "that's interesting. Why is that, exactly?" And so on.

Basically, one can believe what one likes about this - ultimately, it's a matter of opinion, and even those actually making, rather than commenting on, McCarthy jokes are not likely to have a total handle on the structures informing them, but I don't think making up comparable jokes post factum is conclusive, especially when those jokes do not map.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


logicpunk, I actually think that the problem is that the joke wasn't set up at all like the Steve Jobs example you use.

If the joke had read "As one of the great Playboy centrefolds of the 90s, Jenny seemed like the right person to defer to regarding our infant's healthcare needs. Sadly little Schuyler passed away from a disease thought irradicated in the 1600s. Still...at least we'll always have her cameo in Scream 3" then I think it would have successfully avoided being sexist. **

Noting that McCarthy's career of nude modelling and occasional appearances in bad movies does not qualify her to speak with authority on medical issues would not have been sexist (neither endeavour is exclusive to women). The joke referenced her looks rather than her achievements and therefore was sexist.


**Happy to be told if I'm wrong about this
posted by jonnyploy at 4:43 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Metafilter would be much better if everyone just wrote in their own voice instead of trying to parody other voices. That's not to say that there aren't good parodic comments. It's just that it's a lazy way to try to be funny while making an argument, and putting hyperbolic words in another person's mouth skews discussion away from positions that people actually hold. And on top of that, text doesn't convey sarcasm very well, so it's hard to figure out what is intended.

It really is difficult not to do though. Parody is just a natural way to write on internet forums. I often catch myself wanting to mimic other people all the time, and I always have to stop myself, because I know it's not helpful. Keep a watch on yourself and see how often the comment you're writing is a parodic version of some other person's voice. You might be surprised.
posted by painquale at 4:46 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


in which we reduce women to those body parts we've seen naked

could you explain how you get to that conclusion from what the comment said? because i think you're projecting your own biases.

the comment is basically "someone who primarily does [irrelevant job] isn't qualified to talk about X"
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:59 AM on July 16, 2013


could you explain how you get to that conclusion from what the comment said?

May I?

"Tom Cruise, who works primarily as an actor and never graduated high school, isn't qualified give advice about psychiatry." ≠ "Tom Cruise isn't qualified give advice about psychiatry just because he shows off that bulge in his pants onscreen. Even though it is a pretty big bulge."

"Donald Trump, who works primarily as a blowhard and sometime real estate developer, isn't qualified to be the arbiter of whether or not President Obama is really a US citizen." ≠ "Donald Trump has a nice ass for his age, but that doesn't qualify him to decide President Obama's true citizenship status. Really nice ass though"

"Gandhi, known for being a spiritual man who resisted tyranny through nonviolence, was not qualified to give advice to Britain in WWII when he suggested they lay down their arms and practice nonviolence towards the Nazis" ≠ "Gandhi, known for the appearance of his sinewy, fit body in a loincloth, was not qualified to give war advice to Britain in WWII, but at least he looked fit in that loincloth."

Absurd, isn't it, when you're talking about men.
posted by cairdeas at 5:24 AM on July 16, 2013 [33 favorites]


It's in the very nature of "how irony works" that not everyone will get the double voicing. Irony always risks (usually intentionally) the frisson of giving offense, or at least a flavor of offensiveness. This is what makes it a weapon of dissent under censorship, and a tool of passive-aggressive bullying. Both can be true. Irony assumes a world of polarized points of view and their characteristic modes of expression.

For what it's worth I just read a decidedly non-ironic version of the same comment ("She's so hot I'd believe her about anything" I think it was) in the comments section of an article on this story on a major magazine's website.

I found that ironic.
posted by spitbull at 5:26 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


cairdeas, I don't believe any of your examples appeared in PlayGirl.
posted by FreezBoy at 5:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would definitely vote in favour of this kind of thing not really being done around here. I don't really see that much of a difference between "Senor Cardage [...] making a comment as if he were saying something awful and sexist" and Senor Cardage saying something awful and sexist. Because the same thing is said in either instance - the scare quotes don't change those words or their meaning. There are many much more tactful ways to express the same sentiment, even with humour.
posted by Dysk at 5:33 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


cairdeas, I don't believe any of your examples appeared in PlayGirl.

Shall I do them over with Brad Pitt or Keith Urban or David Duchovny, or actors who have done full frontal nudity onscreen like Christian Bale, Jason Segel, Richard Gere, etc., etc., etc.?
posted by cairdeas at 5:37 AM on July 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


She was naked once, her argument is invalid! /barf

Sexism hurts all women, regardless of how despicable the opinions or actions of those women the sexists are targeting. "Ironic sexism" like "ironic racism" is actually not that different from the real fucking thing.
posted by lydhre at 5:49 AM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


She was naked once, her argument is invalid!

I don't think that was the point of the comment, even ironically. The voice was of a hypothetical person who though McCarthy's views on the subject were worthwhile. Expressed indelicately, but I think you are really reaching with that interpretation.
posted by spaltavian at 5:53 AM on July 16, 2013


The comment isn't making fun of Jenny McCarthy, its making fun of people who would listen to Jenny McCarthy and what their plausible reasons for doing so might be.
posted by JPD at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


You know the song "Girl" by the Beatles? There's a section that features backing vocals where the rascally Liverpool lads sing:

"tit tit tit tit tit tit tit tit
tit tit tit tit tit tit tit tit..."

I sometimes think of that when I hear the word "tits".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:01 AM on July 16, 2013


I may be a horrible person for saying this, but, say if Brad Pitt was a big supporter of homeopathy (or whatever) I honestly would not have any trouble with a comment that went along these lines:

"As someone whose ass we've seen on a number of occasions, Brad seemed like the right person to defer to regarding our medication dosage for our kid. Sadly little Schuyler passed away from an easily curable infection. Still...great ass though".


I seem also to recall a fair bit of derision (here) directed towards (was it Scott Brown?) that fellow out east who took over from Ted Kennedy because he posed nude (or semi nude?), along with his annoying political stances.

I mean the linked comment isn't fantastic or anything, but personally, I don't think it's any indication of a major Metafilter shift on sexism.
posted by edgeways at 6:11 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was in scare quotes, I don't think it was a sincere comment. Read to me like an impression of what some shmo would say.
posted by windykites at 6:21 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reads to me like the kind of thing OptimusChyme (RIP) used to say that would get deleted right away. Hard to understand why this comment stands.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:23 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Tom Cruise, who works primarily as an actor and never graduated high school, isn't qualified give advice about psychiatry." ≠ "Tom Cruise isn't qualified give advice about psychiatry just because he shows off that bulge in his pants onscreen. Even though it is a pretty big bulge."

"Donald Trump, who works primarily as a blowhard and sometime real estate developer, isn't qualified to be the arbiter of whether or not President Obama is really a US citizen." ≠ "Donald Trump has a nice ass for his age, but that doesn't qualify him to decide President Obama's true citizenship status. Really nice ass though"

"Gandhi, known for being a spiritual man who resisted tyranny through nonviolence, was not qualified to give advice to Britain in WWII when he suggested they lay down their arms and practice nonviolence towards the Nazis" ≠ "Gandhi, known for the appearance of his sinewy, fit body in a loincloth, was not qualified to give war advice to Britain in WWII, but at least he looked fit in that loincloth."


Yes, there is a pretty clear difference here. Tom Cruise is not famous because of showing off his bulge. Donald Trump is not famous because of his ass. Gandhi is not famous because of how fit he looked in a loincloth. Jenny McCarthy is famous because of her tits.
posted by kafziel at 6:24 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


She was naked once, her argument is invalid!

I think the intent was more like (long version) "She was in porn, that's the only thing she was good at, but she has managed to stretch her porn fame into a more generic celebrity, so now people listen to her because she's a celebrity in a country where people listen to celebrities because... famous!"
posted by pracowity at 6:29 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think some people in this thread might want to consider how hard and fast they're willing to go to the mat to defend a crappy sexist joke. This argument should have been over 80 comments ago.
posted by fight or flight at 6:33 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I absolutely read the comment as satire. It didn't seem particularly difficult to parse, either.

But then, I personally have ended up substantially altering the way I make my points on MetaFilter because so many readers are unable to look past the most literal, pedantic reading of things. Not only do people get hung up by satire, but they seem unable to process basic analogies.

Now an analogy, of course, is a way of making a comparison between two situations that are quite different because they are similar in some way that is instructive for comparison. It's weird that I feel I have to say that, but infallibly, every time I see someone make an analogy here, particularly one with a satirical bent, someone pipes up immediately to stretch the analogy far, far past its obvious framework for comparison until it breaks. Say that someone hangs on to a bad idea hangs on to a bad idea like a dog with a bone and you will soon end up accused of calling a person dog-like. Or someone will point out that dogs usually bury bones, but that doesn't work in this case. Or dogs urinate in public, and it's offensive to say they're the same. Etc.

It's tiresome and weird how this works, but I try to keep it in mind to avoid ridiculous debates like this one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:34 AM on July 16, 2013 [27 favorites]


I think the comparison to the hypothetical Tom Cruise situation is actually quite apt. Tom Cruise does have crazy views on psychiatry and is a Scientologist, and people give him an audience regarding those views (i.e. on Oprah) because he is an actor, he is an actor because he is an attractive person. If he were unattractive his career never would have happened. The same goes for Jenny McCarthy. This is a comment on the superficial nature of celebrity and how being a traditionally good-looking person gives you more power/clout/status in our society, particularly in the entertainment business of course.

The interpretation of the joke is clearly not as cut and dried as some here think it is, since reasonable people seem to disagree on it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:36 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hear you fight or flight, but at the same time, you also have to wonder how many perfectly nice people of both genders can tell you they all easily arrived at the same interpretation of something as satirical not sexist before you consider whether you're going overboard, no?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:36 AM on July 16, 2013


Absurd, isn't it, when you're talking about men

It was already absurd. That's the whole point of the comment, is the absurdity- to base your healthcare decisions on someone's looks. If you guys think that there isn't a contingent of people who believe what celebrities say just because those celebrities are attractive, then you're just kidding yourselves.

Also, I'm not sure who all was saying "mammary glands" in here but I find that way worse than tits.
posted by windykites at 6:39 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe as the site has grown the community has become less tolerant of jokes casually employing sexism/racism for ironic effect.

Wow. That's some virtuoso deployment of the passive voice right there.

*golf clap*
posted by R. Schlock at 6:39 AM on July 16, 2013


before you consider whether you're going overboard

I get your point, but I feel that it's important for MeFi as a community to be able to point out incidents where we feel offended and have those incidents calmly considered, rather than shouted down because we "don't get satire".

Speaking personally, I do get the joke, I understand satire, and I still think it's sexist and should not have withstood being flagged because it's a "slow night".
posted by fight or flight at 6:45 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Even if the scare quotes didn't tip a person off it was satire, I have no idea why it wouldn't occur to a reader that absolutely no one talks like that on MeFi.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:45 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


And honestly I'm not a huge fan of the joke, but it still seems like its intent was clear enough that you kind of have to be willfully obtuse or just spoiling for a fight to insist on taking it literally.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:50 AM on July 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's a "witty" comment because you say you're taking someone seriously because of something they do, but you use a terrible / rubbish thing that they do to show how ridiculous taking them seriously is.

Which is a perfectly good joke. However, the first bit of the joke should say we should be serious, but demonstrate why we shouldn't. (According to current norms)

This would work if it was ...

"As someone who regularly presents daytime television, Jenny seemed like the right person to defer to regarding our infant's healthcare needs. "

but instead it was ...

"As someone whose tits we've seen on a number of occasions, Jenny seemed like the right person to defer to regarding our infant's healthcare needs."

The joke doesn't work unless you acknowledge that showing your tits at any part of your life somehow makes you stupid or incapable of knowing anything . It's sexist because the pretend person saying this isn't smart enough to realise the unacknowledged truth that showing your tits makes you stupid."
posted by zoo at 6:50 AM on July 16, 2013


You are fighting hard to defeat an argument nobody seems to be making, dude.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:51 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In fact DirtyOldTown, taking the joke literally tips us off to the actual intentions. Because if we take the joke literally, we can presume that showing your tits means you can be trusted about complicated science stuff."

If we took it literally, it'd be OK. I have no problem believing people who have shown their tits to us are capable of holding complex positions on complicated subjects. But that wouldn't be a joke then.
posted by zoo at 6:55 AM on July 16, 2013


The framing and language of that post is really problematic. From the Insane Clown Posse title to the "roadshow" to the "admits", it practically guaranteed the thread would turn into an ugly pile-on hate fest.

I never knew that MeFi has such strong feelings about anti-vaxxers. That was my first, and probably last, vax thread.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:56 AM on July 16, 2013


Would you say you have been successfully inoculated against them?
posted by elizardbits at 6:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


FYI, I actually forgot that Jenny McCarthy was a playboy bunny. She's been on TV for so long, and has such a strong personality. She's still the girl from Singled Out, and now the anti-vax nut.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:58 AM on July 16, 2013


chrchr: "I flagged it. I read it as saying that a woman who was known for nude modeling can't possibly be intelligent or say anything worth listening to."



Or possibly that a woman whose claim to fame is nude modeling might not be the best person to seek medical/scientific advise from.

No one is saying she can't be intelligent - or even that she can't also be a doctor and/or scientist.

No all that is being said is she's not an expert on medicine.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:59 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's more of a self imposed quarantine.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2013


> I just think it's one of those ironically sexist comments.

I'm sure it is, but if emptythought's comment

To be satirical you generally want to actually be trying to satire a real thing, and not just some hypothetical shitty opinion someone you don't like might have or something they might say.

were to catch on, it would help dry up one of the site's more notable open sores.
posted by jfuller at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Frankly I'm shocked that the comment in question survived, but what's more I wish I were more shocked at how shallow, misogynistic, pathetically reactionary that whole thread is.

No, saying that how much a woman has revealed of her body can disqualify her from having an opinion is not fucking ok. No, the little quip at the end of it declaring that McCarthy's only value stems from her 'great tits' is not fucking ok, and no, saying that how much McCarthy has revealed of her body to your entitled fucking male gaze is anything more than tangentially related to her popularity among the middle aged mothers in question is as pathetically blind as it is revealing.

The comment cjorgensen made upthread about how "sometimes metafilter gets to serve as a source of public good and countering bad science is one of those things this site does well" is indeed true generally because of the hard work of a few dedicated posters, but it is so very much not the case here. benzenedream's 19 short words are the only thing in that thread that could even plausibly be pointed to as a source of public good or a countering of bad science. I also don't really see much else that isn't in all of the other anti-vax threads including the upset indifference at Jim Carrey for being anti-vax, the anger at Jenny McCarthy for being a woman of questionable honor with an opinion, and the thin excuse to piss on the othered.

For all of our collective bluster, precious few of us could accurately describe how vaccines work or why in any real detail. Hell, at least from my experience of both communities I'd bet the average antivaxxer knows more about vaccines than the average angry mefite. Most of us here are just lucky that the people doing our thinking for us happen to be right, and are apparently proud of it. It always gets me that the angriest voices most interested in doing SOMETHING to change the sad fact of anti-vax campaigns are always the ones clearly least interested in the understanding and compassion that is actually effective. The funny thing is that metafilter is actually capable of having threads that are something more than just a circular pissing contest and actually do create meaningful change.

Mostly I'm just sad at how little place in that thread there still is for people who don't want to be reduced to just tits, or people who actually know things about vaccines or just me in general.

Great tits everyone!
posted by Blasdelb at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2013 [31 favorites]


To be fair, McCarthy isn't actually famous for the Playboy stuff. Lots of women are in Playboy we've never heard of or have already forgotten. She's famous because people were charmed by the disconnect between her being a model type and the goofy, scatological jokes she made as an MTV host and on her own subsequent comedy show and in her books.

It's weird to sort of almost defend someone I cannot stand, but there it is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does the joke say that she is not an expert on medicine, or does it say she can't be an expert on medicine?
And what do her breasts have to do with any of this?
posted by zoo at 7:05 AM on July 16, 2013


fight or flight: "Speaking personally, I do get the joke, I understand satire, and I still think it's sexist and should not have withstood being flagged because it's a "slow night"."

That's not what Jessamyn said. She said the POST was not deleted because it was going okay and it was a slow night.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2013


I.e., not the tits comment, the Jenny McCarthy FPP.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2013


Shall I do them over with Brad Pitt or Keith Urban or David Duchovny, or actors who have done full frontal nudity onscreen like Christian Bale, Jason Segel, Richard Gere, etc., etc., etc.?

Go for it. I won't faint.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb, I don't think people are foregoing a serious refutation of antivax nonsense because they're opting for sexism instead. I think that it's a matter of antivax nonsense being held so universally in contempt here that going over it again would verge on self parody, so people are reaching for other stuff to talk about and getting clumsy with it.

This was my objection to the FPP post. Given that we've done "antivax is silly and dangerous" to the point of exhaustion, all that's left is, "Awful show hires awful woman who believes awful things, awfulness sure to follow." Kind of a big yawner.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:14 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great tits everyone!

Thanks. And we specifically said don't do this here, so please don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:14 AM on July 16, 2013


Go for it. I won't faint.

Ugh. Dude do you really gotta?
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:20 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can appreciate the argument that people are making that they are concerned that perhaps the joke was trying to reduce McCarthy because she's a woman who'd been photographed naked. I can see how that would be a concern. I don't really think that matches up with the thinking of anyone I have ever seen on MeFi though, so I'm more inclined to go with the interpretation that the meaning of the joke is, "What she is famous for has so little to do with the area in which she is being treated as an expert that it's absurd." I get the other way of looking at it, though, and I'll chew on that a bit, too.

Really, kind of getting back to Blasdelb's comment about better ways this FPP discussion could go, I kind of wish the post had been framed around an article with a bit more reflection to it, so that we maybe could have gone in a direction like "Why do we trust stars more than scientists?" instead of "Jenny McCarthy still sucks." To me, as it was framed, it was always going to end badly, one way or another.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:22 AM on July 16, 2013


I think this is an important discussion to have here on Mefi. And it is my opinion that ironic bigotry is effectively the same as unironic bigotry, and should not be tolerated here. I really see no problem deleting comments like the one linked.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:22 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Speaking personally, I do get the joke, I understand satire, and I still think it's sexist

Then you don't really think it's satire. Unless you think he was satirizing gender equality.
posted by spaltavian at 7:25 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I regret not having flagged the entire "Let's all hate on Jenny McCarthy again!" FPP in the first place.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:26 AM on July 16, 2013


Oh for the love of god.

If a famous baseball player used his fame to spread medically dangerous knowledge, and someone said "OH LOOK AT ME I CAN HIT A BALL WITH A STICK SO EVERYONE SHOULD LISTEN TO ME RE: MEDICINE" and then someone else came into the thread and said, um, exCUSE me? Are you saying that JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE PLAYS BASEBALL, their opinion is INVALID? Then that would be dumb.

No one's saying, oh, a woman got naked SO THEREFORE let's not listen to her; they're saying, the only reason she has a platform to express this opinion is because she got famous for nudity. Rather than for, like, doctoring.

THIS IS DUMB.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:26 AM on July 16, 2013 [54 favorites]


Blasdelb, you link to a thread as an example of communicating science effectively that is full of....you. And you are complaining that the current thread is not communicating science effectively. So...be the change you wish to see? Clearly you think you can do better, so it would be cool if you wanted to step in and do it. If that one borderline joke is preventing you, well, fair enough I guess.

As for the joke itself, read it as what MuffinMan said upthread:

I THOUGHT IT WAS A PITHY COMMENT ON THE IRONY OF OUR POPULAR CULTURE IN WHICH BOTH MEDIA AND MEDIA CONSUMERS CONSIDER IT APPROPRIATE TO DISREGARD - OR AT LEAST GIVE EQUAL WEIGHT TO - QUALIFIED MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS AND PEER REVIEWED CLINICAL EVIDENCE IN FAVOUR OF SOMEONE WHO LACKS ANY OF THOSE QUALIFICATIONS BUT LOOKS GOOD ON TV AND IS FAMOUS.

but it clearly didn't read that way to everyone, which is fine, and it is good that we are discussing it. That one borderline joke doesn't make the entire thread a shallow misogynistic shit show, though.

People are allowed to be legitimately pissed the fuck off at McCarthy, Carrey, Wakefield et al over the anti-vaxx crap.

And pointing out that the reason McCarthy has the power to promote a harmful, death and illness causing agenda is because she is a famous, objectified celebrity is pointing out the truth. Maybe not a great idea to point it out using the scare-quotes irony style, but true regardless.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I regret not having flagged the entire "Let's all hate on Jenny McCarthy again!" FPP in the first place.

That would have been really helpful. I just looked at it and was like "This is clearly just a 'let's hate on McCarthy' post right?" but it got very few flags and I figured I was just being crabby and decided to watch it all night instead.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 AM on July 16, 2013


Also, the comments subsequent to my earlier one have helped me crystallize why this felt uncomfortable to me, so thanks for that. Especially cairdeas, who is often very noticeably good at explaining things like this.

The problem with the joke as "satire" is that it's trying to satirize a person who is so completely blinded by boobs that he'll believe anything they tell him. First off, it's not the horny guy demographic that's buying into this anti-vax thing, but that's not even the problem. The problem is that the joke implicitly says: "Nobody would be listening to you, Jenny, except that they like your boobs." And that's problematic because, though McCarthy modeled nude in the past, she's known primarily for her hosting and occasional acting gigs now. People know her for her celebrity personality, not for the fact that once upon a time she modeled naked.

The satire works better if it was something like "Ha ha Jenny you're so funny, and yes of COURSE you're right about vaccines! Tell me that joke again about the vaccine user who gave himself autism, the face you make when you tell it CRACKS ME UP!"

Except that not nearly as many people would have favorited that comment. Because the real appeal of the comment is the vitriol, the deep angry scorn, embedded in the savageness of it's using the word "tits".

I love vitriol as much as the next guy – seriously, I love it – but the problem with vitriol and anger in general is that satisfying as it is, it's easily capable of missing its mark. I think we have to be on the lookout, as a community, for the sorts of angry feel-gooderies that are unintentionally alienating large swathes of our members.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:30 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


THIS IS DUMB.

This has already been spelled out multiple times, but I'll try to break it down again:

The implication that McCarthy is famous because of posing in Playboy is sexist because, to the anti-vax folks who used to hang on her every word, this is not what she was famous for, and this hasn't been what she's been famous for, to anyone, for like, decades now.

If anything, that poorly-constructed FPP and the truly sad thread that has followed is a testament to my long-held belief that, if you want to see where men actually stand on the opinions of women, present them with a woman whose opinions are almost diametrically opposed to their own, and observe the language used in their criticism.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:31 AM on July 16, 2013 [44 favorites]


Even as irony, the message that was communicated was that it's permissible to objectify women so long as they hold unpopular ideas. Ridiculous as this sounds, the satire dismisses the rest of McCarthy's career in favor of objectifying her. Her nude modelling might have jumpstarted her career but as far as I can tell from her Wikipedia page, she has an extensive filmography and has done a huge amount of television work. When you boil her down to just tits, you're saying that the rest of her career, all 20ish years of it, is worthless because her only talent is how pretty she is. If not shitty then that's at least a lazy criticism of her unfounded activism.
posted by dubusadus at 7:32 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Rory, as has been pointed out repeatedly, the objectification doesn't link only with her nude modeling or whatever from forever ago. Her entire celebrity has been built on objectification and her appearance and that's the POINT that this objectification automatically lends credibility in our crappy society and OH WHATEVER we're just repeating the same shit over and over now.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:32 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm sure somebody has written a feminist criticism of Jenny McCarthy but the unfounded assumption here is that her entire career is built on her looks. You're taking that assumption as evidence and whatever motivations you might have for doing so it has the effect of being grounded in sexism even if it isn't.
posted by dubusadus at 7:36 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


there's a whole swath of women from the early to mid 90s who posed in playboy and had the same sort of humor as mccarthy (probably starting mostly with pamela anderson and moving on through personalities like carmen electra). it was part of this whole trend in making the porn star thing mainstream (see also jenna jameson). she was certainly good at parlaying that into a longer career.

this thread has reminded me that experiences and reference points differ. i wonder about ages of participants. there was a time in the mid-late 90s in my area where you couldn't go into a single straight, of a certain age, man's apartment and not find a poster or centerfold of mccarthy. i feel like for a few years there i was looking at her breasts more than i was looking at my own. i personally know women who viewed her as the barbie they always wanted to be. they would literally stare at her naked form while having sex with their boyfriends (a lot of these posters were bed height) and wish they could live up to that. i also happen to know that some of these women became fans of mccarthy for her humor and business acumen - then she grew up and they grew up and they all had kids and, while already trending towards anti-vax, her support on oprah and her books very much pushed them further down that road and gave them easy to understand (and parrot) talking points.

it's probably not a joke i would have made here, and i understand why some don't like it - especially those who didn't know she posed nude or are of the opinion that she posed nude once 20 years ago and once the month was over no one looked at those pictures again. however from my experience, the person that comment satirizes is people i know, so it didn't read as completely outlandish or like they were bringing up her nude modeling completely out of context of her celebrity.
posted by nadawi at 7:37 AM on July 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm sure somebody has written a feminist criticism of Jenny McCarthy but the unfounded assumption here is that her entire career is built on her looks.

Her career as a... model?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


The implication that McCarthy is famous because of posing in Playboy is sexist because, to the anti-vax folks who used to hang on her every word, this is not what she was famous for, and this hasn't been what she's been famous for, to anyone, for like, decades now.

If she never would have been a Playmate of the Month (and Year), you (and the anti-vaxers) never would have heard of her. That was her big break.

you're saying that the rest of her career, all 20ish years of it, is worthless because her only talent is how pretty she is

I am saying that her career is worthless regardless of her appearance. I would also say the same of Larry the Cable Guy, her co-star in "Witless Protection".

the unfounded assumption here is that her entire career is built on her looks

I think that assumption is rather well founded. Do you wish to defend her acting chops?
posted by Tanizaki at 7:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


her career is a combination of her looks and humor. they really can't be divorced and one probably doesn't weigh higher than the other. i feel like, pre-mommy books, her appeal could best be summed up by her candies ad - raunchy, funny, sexy, irreverent. you can't put a generic pretty girl in that ad and have it cause the splash it did. it required mccarthy's humor. but, you also wouldn't have found someone like her cousin, melissa mccarthy, in that ad - it required jenny's looks (and, looking now, i guess post books too since she redid the ad with kelly clarkson).
posted by nadawi at 7:43 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb: "Hell, at least from my experience of both communities I'd bet the average antivaxxer knows more about vaccines than the average angry mefite. "

I highly doubt that.

I've never really heard a rational anti-vax argument. It's all either uneducated idiocy (such as unfounded claims that all vaccines are inherently toxic in some way) or some sort of batshit insane conspiracy theory along the lines of "the government / greedy big pharma are (deliberately/unknowingly) poisoning our children, wake up sheeple." That is, if an anti-vaxxer is willing to admit that vaccines work at all. Or aren't dismissing various diseases outright (like measles, chicken pox or rubella) as practically harmless.

Some members of the anti-vax community even have what appears to be a belief in the protective power of herd immunity without actually understanding how it works. If other people's children are vaccinated, theirs can't possibly get sick. Some advocate homeopathic, vitalistic or naturopathic remedies that basically do nothing but give parents a false sense of security.

Millions of kids are alive today because of vaccinations. Latest estimates are 3 million annually worldwide. Tens of thousands of children remain unparalyzed because of the polio vaccine. Smallpox and Polio have pretty much been eradicated. HPV has been reduced by 56% since 2006. Etc., etc.

I'm still waiting for a rational anti-vax argument. Until they come up with one that addresses the proven track record for vaccines and isn't filled with pseudoscience, conspiracy theories or fearmongering bullshit, their community truly doesn't seem at all knowledgeable to me.
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


it might depend on where you (the general you) draw the anti-vax line. i know some pro-vax people who say that parents who choose to space the vaccines out are anti-vax and just as dangerous/dumb/murderous as those who choose zero vaccines. or that those who vaccinate for things like measles, but don't vaccinate for chicken pox are obviously intellectually inferior. there's been this huge bright line drawn down the center by both sides, but there are those in the middle who probably know quite a bit about vaccines.
posted by nadawi at 7:48 AM on July 16, 2013


Please do not turn this MeTa thread into a discussion of pro/anti vax stuff. There is an existing MeFi thread for that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:50 AM on July 16, 2013


I'd bet the average antivaxxer knows more about vaccines than the average angry mefite

If they did, they wouldn't be anti-vaxxers.

I found it sad when I had my first visit with my general physician a few years ago and he asked if my kids were all vaccinated. When I advised that they were, my surprise must have been evident because he explained, "hey, in this [SWPL] neighborhood, you can imagine".
posted by Tanizaki at 7:50 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that assumption is rather well founded. Do you wish to defend her acting chops?

No but I would love to see your takedown of her entire body of work. I'm sure it'll be quite the hoot. You could podcast it, MST3K style.

Look, the problem here is the link between a rote dismissal of McCarthy based on her looks and her as a proponent of the anti-vax movement. If you approach an anti-vax argument with the objection that Wakefield's research has since been retracted, that multiple studies have found vaccines not to be linked to autism, with an understanding of herd immunity, etc, fine. If you approach the anti-vax argument by saying it's all stupid helicopter moms, then you're dragging gender into the fray. The same goes for dismissing McCarthy by her career and the practice is made worse by the rote dismissal of her career founded on a traditionally sexist approach towards dismissing women for their accomplishments. It's an ad hominem attack any way you see it but this one is particularly grounded in a really bad way.
posted by dubusadus at 7:51 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


We need an FPP on Mikhail Bakhtin, Aristotle, and other giants of poetics. "Irony" and its rhetorical kin are such helpful concepts for analyzing discourse and power in any community.
posted by spitbull at 7:53 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just looked at it and was like "This is clearly just a 'let's hate on McCarthy' post right?" but it got very few flags and I figured I was just being crabby and decided to watch it all night instead.

Awhile back I asked about a comparable FPP and got the same response: it didn't get a lot of flags, so we-as-mods decided to let it stand despite disliking "look at these assholes." So that's totally consistent, and I guess what I'd suggest then is a change in policy: "look at these assholes" should be a reason to quick-delete an FPP that has zero flags.
posted by cribcage at 7:54 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


If anything, that poorly-constructed FPP and the truly sad thread that has followed is a testament to my long-held belief that, if you want to see where men actually stand on the opinion's of women, present them with a woman whose opinions are almost diametrically opposed to their own, and observe the language used in their criticism.

So like me and Dr. Laura. Seriously, when I find I agree with her on anything it sends me into a self-reflective existential crisis that can last for days. Usually this is resolved by me coming to an understanding that I probably misinterpreted her position. It's easier for me to deny reality than it is to agree with her.

This said, I think if you are deciding to attack someone because they are a fucking idiot it's very difficult to not go to places that are negative. I use Dr. Laura as an example because she too appeared naked, and if you saw the Saturday Night Live skit it was scathing. (3 Minute Mark.)

I generally agree that people's appearances should be off-limits, but at the point where you are mocking the person, for being that person, it's often impossible to not comment on the shitty things that person has done or even the ironic assessments of their lack of virtues. I think most people would says making fun of someone with a physical disability is egregious, but the Cheney is heartless jokes are common. Karl Rove can't go unmentioned without someone mentioning his looks, Limbaugh his weight (or drug addictions), etc. I guess what I am saying is that when the gloves come off it's no longer time for niceties. You should see the things I say about Rupert Murdoch for example. You can't judge my opinion of men by the words I use to describe that man (though you could perhaps come to a better understanding of my opinion of excrement).

This all said, we still may be in agreement, since there are still words I won't use regardless of how much I despise the person.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


a change in policy: "look at these assholes" should be a reason to quick-delete an FPP that has zero flags.

it is, sometimes. jessamyn seems pretty clear here - she felt it was borderline but unsure if that was just personal dislike, so she looked towards the community to see how it was all being received. this seems bang on consistent with the way the mods moderate and discuss their moderation - very few bright lines, a lot of wiggle room, sometimes things fall through the cracks.
posted by nadawi at 8:00 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the comment should be removed.

There are many ways to criticize Jenny McCarthy's stances on vaccines and health matters that don't involve her body. Satirical or not, the comment wasn't appropriate and doesn't add value to the conversation in that thread.

And to that end,it doesn't read satirical to me at all. It reads as cruelly excusing McCarthy's views because of her body and because of how she used her body nearly twenty years ago now. TWENTY FUCKING YEARS AGO!

I really hate Jenny McCarthy for her opinions. I really do. I am the last person you will find defending her opinions. But I do not ever, in discussing her, resort to talking about her body when talking about her harmful opinions and comments about vaccines.

That comment really ought to have been removed. It's Metafilter at some of its worst.
posted by zizzle at 8:04 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


cribcage: "I guess what I'd suggest then is a change in policy: "look at these assholes" should be a reason to quick-delete an FPP that has zero flags."

There's no way this is going to happen, but for whatever it's worth I'd object to it.

First, it's a slippery slope reason for deletion. Plenty of borderline 'look at these assholes' posts have survived on the front page over the years because it turned out that this community was mature enough to handle the presented subject matter. Would this count as a 'look at this asshole' post? Would this?

Second, you're asking for a policy to be put in place that goes against the site's current moderation style. The mods would be empowered to delete any post that they think might go south (before it actually had) based on their own judgment with no community input. They do that now, but only on rare occasions.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on July 16, 2013


I mean, it clearly falls under the "offensive/sexism/racism" category for flagging. The comment is not ambiguous on that.
posted by zizzle at 8:07 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


So long as we can all agree that Jenny McCarthy is a terrible person, at least.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:08 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


TBH If the thread was seamed worth watching I am not sure why the comment wasn't removed - what's the point of watching, otherwise?
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on July 16, 2013


Go for it. I won't faint.
posted by Tanizaki


Tanizaki, my Metafilter goal for 2013 is now to post something that will make you faint. But, I'm going to need you to tell me if/when it happens.
posted by cairdeas at 8:10 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


zizzle: "I mean, it clearly falls under the "offensive/sexism/racism" category for flagging. The comment is not ambiguous on that."

Except it IS ambigious because it is SATIRE. Are we reading the same thread?!?
posted by lazaruslong at 8:10 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Crap satire. That is sexist.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I believe as the site has grown the community has become less tolerant of jokes casually employing sexism/racism for ironic effect.

> Wow. That's some virtuoso deployment of the passive voice right there.

*golf clap*


Both verbs in sentence you quoted are in active voice. What voice they're in is also completely irrelevant to the topic we're discussing.
posted by nangar at 8:13 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


lazaruslong: " Except it IS ambigious because it is SATIRE. Are we reading the same thread?!?"

As PinkSuperhero mentions, one of our past users named Optimus Chyme was the king of satirical takedowns. His comments were routinely deleted because of how destructive they could sometimes be to thread conversations. At least, that was my understanding from what the mods said back then.

Satire isn't enough to inoculate a comment from deletion. The "tits" one in the McCarthy thread was sexist, and I flagged it for deletion. And lo and behold, it stayed and spawned a MeTa.
posted by zarq at 8:15 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


this seems bang on consistent...

As I said. In fact, I even used that word. And now I'm suggesting a break with consistency. Because in some cases—for instance, a poorly framed FPP about how opposition to gay marriage is a bad thing, or a poorly framed FPP about the importance of including abortion in basic health care, or the poorly framed FPP under discussion here—the FPP just ain't gonna pick up crazy flags. The community agrees, and many of them think the message is more important than whether the FPP fails a dozen different basic tests for being front-page worthy.

The mods would be empowered to delete any post that they think might go south (before it actually had) based on their own judgment with no community input.

To my understanding, that's what we have. I also think you're overestimating the importance of flags according to what mods have said about flags for years—but here maybe we have a "we're both right" situation, because in my opinion mods have often placed more importance on flags in specific situations than they've said they place on flags in the abstract.

Would this count as a 'look at this asshole' post? Would this?

The first link is broken. The second goes to a Ted Haggard thread that begins with "ha ha ha ha," a suggestion that priests be permitted to solicit prostitutes, and "Christ, what an asshole." So no, I do not find myself impressed with the community's mature handling of subject matter, and I do not think MetaFilter's rich tapestry would have been poorer for that deletion.
posted by cribcage at 8:16 AM on July 16, 2013


for the people who keep saying 20 years ago - you do know she's been on the playboy cover 6 times, most recently last year, yeah?
posted by nadawi at 8:17 AM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


nadawi, but being in Playboy is also a marker of having made it big. Lots of celebrity women have been in playboy by choice after they hit it big. It's a blurb in their careers that gets 10 minutes of attention and then is moved on from when they do their next thing.

In this case, people are guffawing Jenny McCarthy because she did playboy first, then made it big. Then followed the cycle of other big celebrities by being in playboy again because she was a big celebrity.
posted by zizzle at 8:20 AM on July 16, 2013


no matter when the mods delete a post, it's the wrong time according to some segment of the user base. delete it immediately - people say they're jumping the gun and they should have seen how the conversation went and that the mods are just moderating their preferences and why didn't they convene a 10 person panel first. if they wait and respond to mass flagging they're told that they are moderators and they should ignore the mob and keep important posts up. if they wait a couple hours and then delete it, they're told that it's an injury to the community because if post is up for a certain length of time users have faith it'll stay up and now their precious comments are lost to the ether.

it seems like the only answer is to realize it's always a judgement call by the mods and flag things that seem to need their attention.
posted by nadawi at 8:22 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


A successfully constructed satire of Jenny McCarthy might entail a criticism of how poorly founded her beliefs are. It might criticize the layman understanding of science not as a system of peer-review, but as sensationalism and grubby paws seeking fame and funds. It might even bring Jim Carrey's empty-minded impersonations of the disabled to mind, how his parroting might simply be a reflection of the kind of logical potholes that he faces every day in his own home.

This satire has sexism at its roots. That's the problem. And simply reiterating that we're all too fucking stupid to understand this blatant and superficial bit of irony is annoying.
posted by dubusadus at 8:22 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


zizzle - i'm just saying that people are misrepresenting the basic facts. also, she did playboy first, during, and as a career boost in her older years. her covers are '94, '96, '96, '97, '05, and '12. some people are acting like she did one nude pictorial that went mostly unnoticed 20 years ago and only sexists would bring it up. the fact is that nude (and not exactly nude but definitely highly sexed) work is part of her larger career - a bigger part than just the thing that launched her.
posted by nadawi at 8:27 AM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think the internet might be the worst possible place for that shitty-thing-said-ironically shtick. Which is a mega-bummer, because it also seems to be the place it's most popular.
posted by box at 8:29 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jenny McCarthy's previous views on vaccines are ridiculous enough that they can be pointed out on their own, regardless of her physical attributes. I would think it be easier to skillfully take those views down without hitting below the belt with even a satirical comment that includes 'tits'.

Similar to the way that I think I can take Clarence Thomas' views down without having to result with a pithy ending of 'and he speaks so well'. Which you know, might be considered funny considering that he's relatively silent on the bench, but would be ugly because it reduces him to the stereotype that is something we are clearly as a nation still struggling with.

And if I actually had the nerve to parry any objections with 'Hey look at the whole comment! I think you need to understand satire/irony', I'd entirely understand if someone asked me to rethink about the cost of that satire/irony. It isn't free. Certainly any woman here can disassociate herself from the 'tits' part of the comment, but I ask any woman here to consider how you'd respond if anyone - anyone - decided to degrade your views not on their merits, but on your tits when you were making an argument - regardless of how nude you've been in the past or what you do to make your living. Is that what we as a community want to allow?

In short, you can take McCarthy down a peg by a 'nice tits' quote, but know that the cost of that joke is to also decide that in some situations it is totally okay to disregard a swath of women who may have ideas that you disagree with by commenting on her body part. It doesn't matter that McCarthy 'started' it by modeling nude - we're following her. She didn't say - as a person who shows my tits, I think vaccines are bad. She said as a mother, I think vaccines are bad.

And perhaps someone needs to understand metafilter enough to appreciate that oh, the intention wasn't sexist, it was satire. But sexism isn't always about intention.

So great with the cheap shot, Senor Cardgage. Apparently, you are a skilled satirist. It makes me angry to note how many people are apparently okay with laughing/tolerating your comment, even though it's based on such an ugly sentiment. But that's not entirely your fault, as it really says something more about the MeFi community than it does about you.

Because while I do think your quote is funny it's also unnecessarly ugly. I'm always disappointed at how many people are willing to overlook the ugly for the funny, but then realize that they often do only because they have the privilege of doing so, or at least think they do. (In the vein of: Oh yes, that song is totally offensive towards women but it has a great beat AND I'm sure the artist doesn't mean me). Perhaps Senor Cardgage, next time you might strive to make a point that is on point and funny without the ugly?

I'm with Lalex and cairdeas on this one: Should have been deleted.

Ugh.
posted by anitanita at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


i'm also in no way saying that woman couldn't have jenny mccarthy's career and then go to med school or whatever. i have never thought someone's nude work mattered to later careers. i'm just pointing out that to some her nude work is very much part of her career and to some it's not and both of those groups are part of her anti-vax fans.
posted by nadawi at 8:33 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Similar to the way that I think I can take Clarence Thomas' views down without having to result with a pithy ending of 'and he speaks so well'.

This is so extraordinarily dissimilar to the comment that was actually made that it's sort of blowing my mind
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Like if I posted something about how Hillary Clinton shouldn't be taken seriously because boobs, then that would be significantly different than daring to point out that a model became famous because of her appearance.

Think what you want about the comment. But don't be disingenuous.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:52 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


So long as we can all agree that Jenny McCarthy is a terrible person, at least.

Maybe it's because I am getting crotchety as I get older, but once I've decided that someone is a "horrible person," I don't much limit my rhetoric. Maybe that makes me a bad person.

for the people who keep saying 20 years ago - you do know she's been on the playboy cover 6 times, most recently last year, yeah?

Yeah, but she did this based on her merits.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on July 16, 2013


i'm just pointing out that to some her nude work is very much part of her career and to some it's not and both of those groups are part of her anti-vax fans.

Her anti-vax fans are fans of her because she is anti-vax and famous. There is no separating the two. If she had never caught her big break and become famous, if she were just a person with a blog, she would not be the face of the modern anti-vax movement. Her fame is built on the foundation of having been a Playmate -- without that, she wouldn't have been on Singled Out; without Singled Out, she's not in movies or on TV at all. Because her fame is a direct result of her Playboy work, it's not at all spurious to claim that she has accumulated her anti-vax fans because of being in Playboy, regardless of whether those fans have ever seen her in Playboy.

This is nothing to do with the comment that birthed this MeTa, which was shitty at best and ought to have been deleted for being disingenuously sexist -- the "People who disagree with me sound like this HURF DURF" trope should die.
posted by Etrigan at 8:54 AM on July 16, 2013


"...if you want to see where men actually stand on the opinions of women, present them with a woman whose opinions are almost diametrically opposed to their own, and observe the language used in their criticism."

Abso-fucking-lutely.

That something is ironic does not mean that it avoids promulgating its superficial message.

Truffaut said that it's not possible to make a truly anti-war film — presenting abhorrent opinions as a means to criticize them is nevertheless presenting them and this is especially problematic with satire because the effectiveness of the satire is proportional to the dissonance, and the dissonance is a function of how strongly an unsympathetic audience responds positively to the abhorrent message.

You want to trigger an acceptance of that abhorrent message and then have the audience recoil from it — that's how this sort of irony works. If you choose something to satirize that doesn't resonate at all with the audience, it doesn't work. So these sorts of attempt at satire require care and judgment.

But not only that, this sort of satire can be merely a facade for presenting the abhorrent message in a plausibly deniable form.

And even given all that, choices about what and how to satirize can themselves be objectionable. That's is the essence of many of the complaints above.

It's a bad comment that should have been deleted.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:54 AM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


Etrigan - i was just saying that i believe that some of her anti-vax fans (and pro-vax haters) have no clue that she posed nude lots of times (or even what singled out or candies shoes are). yes, she's listened to and given a larger platform because she's famous. for some, she's just a pretty woman who is famous and for some her nude/glamour model-type work is a huge part of her fame. i'm not sure if you just quoted my comment as a jumping off point, or what - but you're arguing a point i was making or disagreeing with.
posted by nadawi at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2013


"The joke doesn't work unless you acknowledge that showing your tits at any part of your life somehow makes you stupid or incapable of knowing anything.

It actually does work without acknowledging that — that's an inference that's been made several times that's not in the joke explicitly, and it's definitely arguable over whether it's there implicitly.

I do think that Nadawi is on to something about reference frames — like Pam Anderson and Carmen Electra, my frame of reference for McCarthy is Playmate of the Year first, and sort of a long sputter afterwards. It seems kinda baffling that people are all like 20 YEARS AGO but then referencing Singled Out, which is what, like 15-18 years old?

Anyway, ironic anything is a risky act, but I think this one was funny and while I understand the difficulties some people are having with it, I don't think it should be deleted.
posted by klangklangston at 9:00 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her fame is built on the foundation of having been a Playmate -- without that, she wouldn't have been on Singled Out; without Singled Out, she's not in movies or on TV at all.

This shoddy line of reasoning reminds me of Alfred Kinsey's lament about how the media consistently referred to him as an entomologist despite all this work with humans.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:00 AM on July 16, 2013


Steve Martin got his break writing jokes for the Smothers Brothers. But I think any plain-as-day contention that this is the primary thing he is famous for would rightly be regarded as absurd.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:03 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's also the idea that not all jokes or satires succeed. I'd rather keep making the jokes and step on my dick on occasion than to start living safely. That's not nearly as fun.

This said, I'm not defending the original comment. I just don't think the site needs to be sanitized if every comment that someone gets het up about. From what I am reading, the majority of people here find the comment somewhere between distasteful and abhorrent, but that's a lot of area of gray.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:04 AM on July 16, 2013


did he continue to write for the smothers brothers for his entire career?

it's more like insisting that steve martin is a banjo player and any mention of his comedic work is a smear to his musical prowess.
posted by nadawi at 9:04 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Steve Martin got his break writing jokes for the Smothers Brothers...

What, that he writes jokes?
I know his banjo playing is decent but he still is famous for writing jokes.
posted by edgeways at 9:05 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Truffaut said that it's not possible to make a truly anti-war film — presenting abhorrent opinions as a means to criticize them is nevertheless presenting them and this is especially problematic with satire because the effectiveness of the satire is proportional to the dissonance, and the dissonance is a function of how strongly an unsympathetic audience responds positively to the abhorrent message."

To be fair, there's also a legit argument that all war films are anti-war films (though I admit not being able to source that to an authority like Truffaut) — it's hard to claim that All Quiet On The Western Front or Dr. Strangelove are pro-war in effect. As such, I think that's an apt reminder that making sweeping claims about the effects of irony is at the least problematic and prone to exceptions.
posted by klangklangston at 9:06 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The satire in the comment, it should be noted, isn't about Jenny McCarthy. It's about the weird way people transmute their interest in a celebrity into a perception of authority when said celebrity speaks up on an issue. The "tits" angle was noisy and uncouth and distracting, but I do think it bears mention that the contempt in the comment was for the hypothetical speaker, with the choice of "tits" as the speaker's area of interest intended more to be damning to him than to McCarthy herself.

The more I parse this thing out, the less I like the framing of the comment, and the more I see that it was a poor choice by the commenter in the sheer number of ways it provided for people to get tripped up or pissed off.

But given that my default mode at MeFi is benefit of the doubt, I'm still inclined to assume the intent wasn't quite so nefarious and that declaring this thought as The Place Where Sexism and Evil Lives is fairly hyperbolic. I get where people are coming from more after this MeTa, though, and it will probably cause me to double check my own occasional snotty satires for potential land mines I didn't intend.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:07 AM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Maybe it's because I am getting crotchety as I get older, but once I've decided that someone is a "horrible person," I don't much limit my rhetoric. Maybe that makes me a bad person.

Maybe. But more to the point, it's been my experience that this sort of judgmentalism—deciding someone is "horrible" and adopting a "gloves are off" attitude—tends to result not from age per se, but from prolonged narrow experience. It's not quite the same as being sheltered, because the narrow range of experience can be mostly good (rich, privileged, etc) or mostly bad (poor, oppressed, etc). What matters is that it's narrow and prolonged. Some people get older and their life experience broadens and deepens, and this sort of attitude tends not to go hand in hand with that.

More relevant to a MeTa context, "taking the gloves off" doesn't make MetaFilter better. It's an amusing phrase actually, and it gets at the point: you aren't talking to Jenny McCarthy. She has no idea who you are and she'll never read your comments, ever. The people in this ring with you are fellow MeFites. Maybe keep the gloves on for their sake, regardless of what you think of her.

if you want to see where men actually stand on the opinions of women, present them with a woman whose opinions are almost diametrically opposed to their own, and observe the language used in their criticism.

I don't disagree, except for one point: it's not just men. Many women are just terrible toward other women who have worked in sexualized contexts. In my experience the gender disparity lies on the other side of the equation, the targets. Men who have worked in sexualized contexts tend not to receive anywhere near the same level of scorn and disdain.
posted by cribcage at 9:13 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


yeah - to be clear - as much as i think the reading of the joke depends on how much you know about her whole career and what your reference points are - i very much do not agree with a "you're a terrible person, gloves are off!" mentality.

for instance - i don't think anything any woman does makes her deserve gendered slurs. i understand that some people who view the joke as deeply and obviously sexist feel like calling sarah palin a bitch and referring to jenny mccarthy's tits are the same thing. i just want to say that i think (probably in a different place than metafilter) the joke is fine, but employing sexist attacks just because you disagree with someone is not fine by me.
posted by nadawi at 9:23 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, maybe the Steve Martin analogy isn't airtight. Maybe I just wanted to talk about Steve Martin.

But I'm glad, anyway, that the general mood here is one of agreement at the very least that objectifying and sexist language is never OK, even towards people whose ideas truly and deeply bother us. For my part, even "ironic" sexism/racism would be included there.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:25 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


cribcage: " To my understanding, that's what we have. I also think you're overestimating the importance of flags according to what mods have said about flags for years—but here maybe we have a "we're both right" situation, because in my opinion mods have often placed more importance on flags in specific situations than they've said they place on flags in the abstract.

*nod* The mods delete posts every once in a great while because the post is framed poorly and the subject is a touchy one. But for the most part, they don't act with a heavy hand. In borderline situations they are often guided by community input. It's not absolutely required for them to act.

The first link is broken.

It's actually not. It's the current record holder post for "Most Mefi Comments." It does, however, take a long time to load. Which was actually part of my point: the thread was huge, and turned into a very long and in-depth discussion.

The second goes to a Ted Haggard thread that begins with "ha ha ha ha," a suggestion that priests be permitted to solicit prostitutes, and "Christ, what an asshole." So no, I do not find myself impressed with the community's mature handling of subject matter, and I do not think MetaFilter's rich tapestry would have been poorer for that deletion."

The Haggard thread is another exceptionally long thread. And yes, it was an extensive argument which became heated at times. It also featured quite a few people talking about Haggard's track record, Christian beliefs across various sects and the intersection of politics, civil rights and religious belief.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that Metafilter has a rich tapestry and one thread's presence or absence doesn't negate that. But I would be very wary about asking for discussions to be shut down automatically and without community input merely because they have a greater possibility of turning ugly.
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2013


Sadly there's no vaccine against stupid.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I disagree that it is ironic enough to stand on its own, as if it were a guy, I highly doubt the comment would be about his posing for a nude magazine. Yet because McCarthy is a beautiful blonde woman who posed for Playboy, she is a cheap target.

There's a little more than that going on, and some of it is based on her public persona being crude and dumb, so it's easy to say that there's not much to her except boobs and fart jokes irrespective of what she's actually like.

I mean, there are lots of actresses who've appeared nude. If for whatever reason Helen Mirren became the next anti-vax spokesman, I doubt that the derision we would rightly heap upon her would be based on displaying her body, since her public persona isn't that of an idiot.

Likewise, if Fabio (I'm too out of touch to know who the current male models are) had become an anti-vax spokesman, I expect we'd ridicule him in much the same way that we ridicule McCarthy (whether he's done naked stuff or not), since whatever his actual self is like, he seems like there's not much to him except a chest and hair.

None of this means that I don't think sexism plays a role in how we treat McCarthy, or that it didn't play a role in why she set up her public persona the way she did.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:28 AM on July 16, 2013


part of what's going on, and why men wouldn't receive the treatment that mccarthy does - is that due to our sexist culture, (besides maybe fabio), there aren't really glamour type models who are men with footprints as huge as anna nicole smith, jenny mccarthy, pamela anderson, etc. playgirl is not analogous to playboy for a million different reasons. i can't think of a single man who has become famous for nude pictorials and manged to mine that source of fame for over 20 years. there's a whole huge conversation about how women are objectified and men aren't, but it's not as simple as just saying that we don't talk about tom cruise's bulge but do discuss mccarthy's tits.
posted by nadawi at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think I can take Clarence Thomas' views down without having to result with a pithy ending of 'and he speaks so well'. Which you know, might be considered funny considering that he's relatively silent on the bench ...

Famously taciturn, Justice Thomas, once bet that he wouldn't say more than a dozen words during the next case, replied "How'd this pubic hair get in my coke?"
posted by octobersurprise at 9:42 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Examining why she gets pilloried and Carrey does not is a Good Thing.

I thought the consensus was Jim Carrey is a nut and possibly a troll? Anytime I hear about him it's because he's stepped in it saying something stupid. I don't think anyone even pays attention to him. He's a guy who's 50 years old and expresses himself like this: "Asslt rifle fans,I do not agree wth u,nor do I fear u but I do love u and I'm sorry tht in my outrage I called you names." I mean, the opposition to assault rifles thing is something I agree with and I still wish he'd shut up. Furthermore, Jenny McCarthy is much, much deeper in this whole thing than Carrey. She has published books and has a non-profit dedicated to this cause, and gets on camera to discuss it at every opportunity. It is her thing that she does, her cause. I don't believe it's Jim Carrey's thing to anything close to the same extent, but no, I don't take him seriously either.
posted by Hoopo at 9:46 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not being disingenuous, showbiz liz (assuming your comment is directed at me.)

I also did not say anything about daring to point out her career choice. There is nothing daring about it.

She is not saying that vaccinations are terrible based on her career choice. So I don't see her career choice as relevant to her point. In the same way that a response to Clinton's thoughts on the middle East should not be met with a retort about her tits either. It is not relevant to her thoughts on politics.
posted by anitanita at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2013


FWIW, a mild digression, but I actually love Brad Pitt because of an interview in Premiere I read years ago around the time of Seven Years in Tibet, where he not only resisted but openly mocked the idea that celebs should be taken as authorities on serious issues simply because of their fame. Asked about the political situation in Tibet, Pitt said, "Who gives a shit what I think? I'm an actor. I'm a grown man who wears makeup and plays pretend. Read a newspaper."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:55 AM on July 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


really the analogy would be better served with bringing up clinton's law career when discussing foreign policy - as it's a job she has had and built her later careers upon.

if it's a joke about stacy dash and someone brings up her tits - that out of bounds and sexist. stacy dash, while an attractive woman, has never been a playboy/maxim/posters in teenage boys room type of model.

if it's a post about jordan/katie price's books or offense over jokes made about her son, bringing up her glamour modeling career isn't out of bounds. that's the thing she's chosen to base her career on.
posted by nadawi at 9:56 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what?

That entire post could have been way more interesting well beyond just The View hiring. A lot could have been said about her dabbling in the Indigo Children movement before she suspected her son of having autism. Then when she jumped on the anti-vax movement made that her cause, there'd be some interesting tie-ins to how she got there. Now that it looks like her son doesn't and never had autism and that she slightly changed her position on vaccines (I can't find the link now, but I read something that she went from absolutely no never for anyone to they should be researched more pretty recently), there's a lot to discuss about what she could do now since so much of her life was focused on this one thing that turns out to not have impacted her family the way she thought it had and what that may mean.

Then throw in the View hiring as a possible career changer for her. Voila! A fabulously interesting post about a really controversial person.

The current post as it stands is just.....not good.
posted by zizzle at 9:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I thought the consensus was Jim Carrey is a nut and possibly a troll? Anytime I hear about him it's because he's stepped in it saying something stupid. I don't think anyone even pays attention to him."

I wouldn't take vaccination advice from Fire Marshal Bill either.
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2013


Absurd, isn't it, when you're talking about men.

No, actually still kinda funny.
posted by bongo_x at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2013


late to this party. i have never flagged anything ever (well, intentionally anyway--there've been a couple "fat thumb" accidents)--just don't for some reason, i guess partly because i read things usually days later and all the shit gets deleted by then--but i flagged that comment. surprised it's still around.
posted by ifjuly at 10:42 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's naive to say that because most MetaFilter members don't appear to hold sexist views, that somehow jokey sexist comments should be taken as innocent jokes and somehow divorced from our larger (i.e., offline) culture. Plenty of people in the world at large actually do believe that women with large breasts are automatically stupid, and will say so quite readily in very non-ironic ways. Seeing those comments here, even in scare quotes, still reminds me that I'm being judged on my appearance, unrelentingly, and that my intelligence will always be secondary to my bra size in many, many people's minds.

The idea that "We're all in on the joke, so we can say racist or sexist things with impunity and they don't affect people in the demographic being mocked" is, in my opinion, generally unjustified no matter what the group, but is certainly unjustified in large public groups.
posted by jaguar at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


I wouldn't take vaccination advice from Fire Marshal Bill either.

LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING ABOUT AUTISM
posted by Hoopo at 10:55 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, wait...Melissa McCarthy and Jenny McCarthy are cousins? Mind blown.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:56 AM on July 16, 2013


Now that it looks like her son doesn't and never had autism and that she slightly changed her position on vaccines

She has not changed her position on autism in the slightest, for whatever that's worth.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on July 16, 2013


She has not changed her position on autism in the slightest, for whatever that's worth

It's worth a far more interesting discussion, that's for sure, than the one the post is about.
posted by zizzle at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2013


I think it's naive to say that because most MetaFilter members don't appear to hold sexist views, that somehow jokey sexist comments should be taken as innocent jokes and somehow divorced from our larger (i.e., offline) culture.

That's a fair point. But do you get that the commenter was not speaking these words himself/herself but was giving us a scarequoted mock comment from a fictional McCarthy fan, a figure for whom the commenter clearly has contempt?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:26 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


For my money, we could probably have avoided this whole conversation had the commenter more clearly framed the "I suppose this is what assholes think" part.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:28 AM on July 16, 2013


I still would have flagged it.
posted by chrchr at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


She has not changed her position on autism in the slightest, for whatever that's worth

It's worth a far more interesting discussion, that's for sure, than the one the post is about.


I'm not really sure how introducing fake nuance to her views makes anything more interesting.

Deleting the tits bullshit probably would have, though - I see it's still shitting up the thread.
posted by Artw at 11:32 AM on July 16, 2013


But do you get that the commenter was not speaking these words himself/herself but was giving us a scarequoted mock comment from a fictional McCarthy fan, a figure for whom the commenter clearly has contempt?

Yes, of course, I'm not actually incapable of parsing scare quotes. I still think the comment's "humor" (see what I did there?) relied on sexist beliefs and that the comment therefore reinforced the sexist beliefs rather than undermining them.
posted by jaguar at 11:37 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because look at the literal reading you're giving the comment: Only contemptible people would actually listen to anything said by a big-breasted woman.

Completely setting aside her professional career, McCarthy is the mother of a son with some sort of disability. People take advice from parents of disabled kids about those disabilities all the time (I suspect someone could dig up a number of examples on AskMe alone). It's not inherently contemptible to take advice about raising children with disabilities from someone who's raising a child with a disability.

It's stupid, of course, to take advice from people who don't know what they're talking about, as is the case with McCarthy. But that has nothing to do with her modeling, her acting, or her breasts. Treating it as if that's the only reason anyone's listening to her -- even just to mock them for it -- signals, to me at least, that the mocker's incapable of seeing McCarthy as an actual person, and, by logical extension, incapable of seeing any woman with large breasts or any woman who poses nude as a person who might have any experience or knowledge worth sharing.
posted by jaguar at 11:45 AM on July 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


The post should have been deleted from the get-go.
posted by gwint at 11:48 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's stupid, of course, to take advice from people who don't know what they're talking about, as is the case with McCarthy. But that has nothing to do with her modeling, her acting, or her breasts. Treating it as if that's the only reason anyone's listening to her -- even just to mock them for it -- signals, to me at least, that the mocker's incapable of seeing McCarthy as an actual person, and, by logical extension, incapable of seeing any woman with large breasts or any woman who poses nude as a person who might have any experience or knowledge worth sharing.

She is famous for being a model, that's the one and only reason she is in the public eye, and that is the only reason people listen to her about vaccines.

Apparently pointing out this extremely obvious fact means I have contempt for all women but I just don't see the 'logical extension' there.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:53 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sure, there are tons of parents who promote the whackadoo anti-vax line, but they certainly haven't gotten the mouthpiece stature that McCarthy has. And why has McCarthy gotten that stature over those other parents? Why is her opinion more relevant to public consciousness than theirs? I'd guess because she was already famous to certain degree. How did she get famous?

I don't like the comment, but I don't think anyone's really saying that she's incapable of providing valuable social commentary just because of her former career. But, if there wasn't a famous mouthpiece for the anti-vax woo, it might not have gained the traction that it did.
posted by LionIndex at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because look at the literal reading you're giving the comment: Only contemptible people would actually listen to anything said by a big-breasted woman.

This is the trumped up nonsense reading put forth by people finding cause to object, yes. The actual obvious reading is more along the lines of: Only contemptible people would listen to things said by a big-breasted woman solely because she has big breasts.

You're saying that big breasts do not disqualify a woman from having a worthwhile opinion. This is true. They also do not qualify her to have that opinion, and that's the entire message of the comment - that people who think they do are idiots. Why is this a point of contention?
posted by kafziel at 11:57 AM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't like the comment, but I don't think anyone's really saying that she's incapable of providing valuable social commentary just because of her former career. But, if there wasn't a famous mouthpiece for the anti-vax woo, it might not have gained the traction that it did.

Let's be clear - this woman has the blood of children on her hands.
posted by kafziel at 11:58 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apparently pointing out this extremely obvious fact means I have contempt for all women

I think it's unlikely you can point to a comment in this thread making that argument. On the other hand, I think it's very likely somebody could explain the difference between American social attitudes toward baseball players and Playmates without needing caps lock or the word dumb. It wouldn't be unproductive to dial back a notch.
posted by cribcage at 12:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Apparently pointing out this extremely obvious fact means I have contempt for all women but I just don't see the 'logical extension' there.

You can either choose to engage with the actual discussion (modern science vs woo) or you can choose to slag off on a person using rhetoric not that far off from problems MetaFilter has had in the past over language and the way it's used to portray women. But obviously it's your choice on how high you want your level of discourse to be.
posted by dubusadus at 12:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it's unlikely you can point to a comment in this thread making that argument.

Perhaps "Because look at the literal reading you're giving the comment: Only contemptible people would actually listen to anything said by a big-breasted woman"? Which is a shockingly inaccurate interpretation of what people are actually saying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


She is famous for being a model, that's the one and only reason she is in the public eye

Well, that and an actress. And she's published nine books. And most of her modeling has not involved her taking her top off. So she was sort of unfairly being reduced to one particular piece of anatomy. I'm not a fan, but I know her more from stuff she's done other than modeling. Mostly from cohosting on MTV.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not a fan, but I know her more from stuff she's done other than modeling. Mostly from cohosting on MTV.

Same here, but that was still sort of trading on her looks. I didn't know about the books until this thread, perhaps unfairly. I'd guess most people wouldn't know about them either.

I actually thought she could parlay Singled Out into something better, because she definitely seemed to have TV hosting chops, so maybe the View thing will turn out OK for her aside from the vax stuff.
posted by LionIndex at 12:16 PM on July 16, 2013


She is famous for being a model, that's the one and only reason she is in the public eye, and that is the only reason people listen to her about vaccines.

I hear what you're saying, but another reason some listen to her is that she paraded her sick child in front of the public, as (to her) a demonstration of the effects of vaccination. It is a pretty powerful emotional plea and one as old as bread and circuses.

Apparently pointing out this extremely obvious fact means I have contempt for all women

I hear you, but it's partly a reading comprehension problem and partly angry people deliberately looking for anyone to label as sexist.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Perhaps "Because look at the literal reading you're giving the comment: Only contemptible people would actually listen to anything said by a big-breasted woman"? Which is a shockingly inaccurate interpretation of what people are actually saying.

I'm not talking about what "people" (actual quote, not scare quote) are saying, I'm talking about the original comment. Which is why I mentioned "the comment" (actual quote, etc.) when parsing the interpretation DirtyOldTown was giving it.

Other people are making wildly varying interpretations of the comment, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't.
posted by jaguar at 12:23 PM on July 16, 2013


"I hear you, but it's partly a reading comprehension problem and partly angry people deliberately looking for anyone to label as sexist."

No, it's neither one of those things. Maybe lalex didn't recognize the irony, but everyone else who's objected understood it.

And, no, it's not "angry people" "looking" for "anyone" to "label as sexist". For fuck's sake. What site am I reading this on? Did I wander into an MRA site by mistake?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


And most of her modeling has not involved her taking her top off.

while her top is firmly on in some of these shoots (probably nsfw depending on your settings) it's still the same career as her playboy stuff. i really wish us americans used the term glamour model more (or had a term for it) to make this easier to discuss (although that would probably just introduce more daily mail type bullshit in our culture). most (all?) of her modeling has been playboy/maxim/lad mag type stuff, not high fashion contour stuff.

i don't think there's anything in the world wrong with nude/bikini/etc modeling, i just think it informs the discussion that her career has simultaneously been the autism stuff and the glamour modeling type work. she didn't do playboy and then completely change her career around and do something else. this type of modeling was a current part of her resume as recently as last year.
posted by nadawi at 12:40 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


the anger at Jenny McCarthy for being a woman of questionable honor with an opinion

Blasdelb, that's reaaalllly reaching. Why such an uncharitable reading? When you have to take what is actually said and then twist it all up and spit out something completely different to make your point in a debate, that makes it glaringly obvious that your argument itself is flawed.

You know the anger comes from Jenny McCarthy spewing psuedoscience which has influenced impressionable (and possibly also desperate) people to refuse needed vaccinations for their children. She is not a scientist. She is trading off her celebrity to spread misinformation. It's like the ridiculous commercials: "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV!"

I would think that, as a scientist yourself, you would be annoyed by a layman trying to pass herself off as an expert in immunology, too.

Whether people think it is immoral for Jenny McCarthy to have posed nude several times in and in the cover of Playboy magazine has NOTHING to do with either the joke that was made, the anti-vacc thread or this Metatalk. That's just ridiculous.
posted by misha at 12:46 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Let's be clear - this woman has the blood of children on her hands.

I FEAR THAT YOU HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD WHAT HAPPENED IN THE DRUGSTORE SCENE OF JENNY MCCARTHY'S SELF-PENNED LAFF RIOT DIRTY LOVE! THE BLOOD IN QUESTION IN THAT SCENE WAS ACTUALLY SEVERAL GALLONS OF HER OWN MENSTRUAL BLOOD. THIS IS A COMMON FIRST MISTAKE IN DIRTY LOVE STUDIES.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:46 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


while her top is firmly on in some of these shoots (probably nsfw depending on your settings) it's still the same career as her playboy stuff. i really wish us americans used the term glamour model more (or had a term for it) to make this easier to discuss

While that's totally fair, my opinion is that adding terminology would make discussion less productive. I think this sort of thing ("Let's examine how firmly her top is in place, to correctly label her modeling") is too close, both in kind and in context, to the analysis that often happens in American discussions of rape or sexual harassment ("Let's examine how long his hand lingered, to correctly label his action").

It's productive for semantics' sake, and among a group of linguists that's a totally reasonable conversation to happen. But in other groups, more often, it isn't productive and its effect is to derail a different conversation that might have led to changed attitudes on wider issues.
posted by cribcage at 12:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since the argument is that because McCarthy is trading on her sexual attractiveness to be famous, her antivax activism is enabled because of her fame, and so satirizing a sexism-based claim that she's credible is acceptable because its relevant and ironic, then there really isn't any limit on how offensively sexist the statement is that's being satirized.

"She's credible because she's good-looking", that's fine. "She's credible because she has nice breasts", that's fine. "She's credible because she has nice tits", that's fine. "She's credible because women are only good for two things: showing their tits and the science of vaccination", that's fine. "She's credible because I want to fuck her", that's fine. Or how about "I want to fuck her", because, really, the satire is that the person making this statement is only paying attention to McCarthy because of her sex appeal, so why not boil the satire down to its essential?

It's irony and McCarthy is known for her sex appeal. Any possible statement that is both ironic and based around the fact that she's known for her sex appeal is, by this argument, acceptable and not sexist. That's the principle being argued.

If you're not willing to defend that absolutism, then you've agreed that satire of this sort is problematic and that somewhere in there acceptable shades into unacceptable. It's fine to argue that in your opinion this example is on the acceptable side of the line. Others of us argue that it's not.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


edit: everyone in this thread, including me, is responding to imaginary worst-case-scenario interpretations of what everyone else said and I'm gonna stop participating in it
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:08 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's something I can never decide about Jenny McCarthy, even if I try to put aside her destructive antivax advocacy. Is she a canny, self-made woman who shrewdly leveraged her initial sex appeal-based fame to build a career in TV and books and to advocate for issues she cares about? Or is she an odious product of celebrity culture who has leveraged the familiarity brought on by her ubiquitous nude pictorials to become famous for the sake of being famous, effectively using her breasts to open the door to an extended career and prominent public activism, despite few discernible talents and little apparent knowledge of her topics of choice? Is it more destructive to feminism to say the second of these things or the first?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:08 PM on July 16, 2013


For the record, I think McCarthy can do whatever she wants with her body, and I have no problem with it at all. More power to her for taking limited skills and parlaying them into a career that has spanned a quarter decade simply by occasionally taking her clothes off, for a whole lot of money. If she had not gotten into anti-vacc activism, I'd be a fan.

I also think that when you have chosen--and it was her choice--to use your body to get money and celebrity, it IS fair game for others to point that out, ironically or not.

In fact, you could argue that it is sexist to assume she had no idea what she was getting into. She's an adult. Surely she is aware that by posing naked she is opening herslef up to every reaction from adulation to masturbatory fodder to criticism. I think she can handle herself.

My problem with the joke was that it it created this crude strawman that missed the mark completely. McCarthy rose to celebrity on her looks, but her anti-vacc efforts are targeted to (mostly) heterosexual Moms like herself who are (probably) not making decisions based on her "Nice tits".
posted by misha at 1:12 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


the contempt in the comment was for the hypothetical speaker, with the choice of "tits" as the speaker's area of interest intended more to be damning to him than to McCarthy herself.

Well, I have contempt for racist assholes, but I'm not going to go into the Zimmerman verdict thread and make an ironic scare-quote comment in the voice of a racist asshole speaker, using the shitty language they'd use.

"See, this is what a hypothetical sexist would say, get it?, haw haw haw" is kind of unnecessary because, you know, we're all real familiar in real life with the shit that real sexists say. Constantly.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


There's something I can never decide about Jenny McCarthy, even if I try to put aside her destructive antivax advocacy. Is she a canny, self-made woman who shrewdly leveraged her initial sex appeal-based fame to build a career in TV and books and to advocate for issues she cares about?

I don't know how self-made anyone is, but of course Jenny McCarthy is canny. It's weird to think otherwise, even if she had only ever been a glamour model. She very much has a distinctive career of her own. Her whole thing has been as the pneumatic blonde with a "mook" sense of humor. Taken purely as a performer, I've never had a problem with her. I've never been a "fan", but I could easily list hundreds of less talented people in Hollywood.

...

I agree that "(mostly) heterosexual Moms" are not into Jenny McCarty because of her "nice tits", but there is a connection there. Love her or hate her, Jenny McCarthy has done a fine job of rebranding herself. I guess her image is sort of like your old college party buddy who's as surprised as you are that she's suddenly a mom.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I also think that when you have chosen--and it was her choice--to use your body to get money and celebrity, it IS fair game for others to point that out, ironically or not.

I am fairly close friends with a woman who has built a career as a serious film and TV actor. A few of her earlier projects were, while not pornographic, certainly rather salacious. Also, she has posed in underwear for a few entertainment magazines. It's likely that the advice given her, and probably the reality, is that those were necessary steps to build a career out of her passion for acting at all.

I know for a fact that she would not describe herself as having "chosen ... to use [her] body to get money and celebrity" and would feel extremely insulted and uncomfortable if anyone described her career in those terms. I also know that in comment sections discussing her work, she is routinely reduced to an object.

As a result, I am very suspect of any belittling of a woman's entire career in entertainment in this way. Although my friend hasn't relied on modelling to the degree that Jenny McCarthy has, I wouldn't want to take it upon myself to draw the arbitrary line between any two such women's career paths.
posted by gilrain at 1:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "
If you're not willing to defend that absolutism, then you've agreed that satire of this sort is problematic and that somewhere in there acceptable shades into unacceptable.
"

"Drinking water is good for you."

"But, if you drank all of the water in the world, it would kill you. If you're not willing to defend that absolutism, then you've agreed that ingestion of this sort is problematic and that somewhere in there acceptable shades into unacceptable."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:26 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Look, Ms McCarthy has no qualifications to be pontificating on TV other than she was willing to display her tits in magazines and video. That she took these meager qualifications and used them in her crusade against vaccines is very relevant. She has no standing to lead this movement other than her fame as an attractive woman who is willing to show off her naked body. If she were out there leading as a trained scientist it would be another thing, and then we would have to address why her training is relevant and whether her science is sound. It is very much fair game to point out that, rather than being a trained scientist, she is a woman whose claim to our attention is based on her great-looking breasts and her willingness to bare them for the world's pleasure. I have no animosity toward her or any woman for being willing to do this, but if she's going to claim some sort of authority because she's famous, then what she's famous for becomes extremely relevant. If it were for baking pies, I would point that out instead, because that qualification is equally irrelevant. Just because her claim to fame is something that pushes buttons for other reasons is no argument for ignoring them in relation to their utter disqualification from expertise on the safety of vaccines.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:27 PM on July 16, 2013


Woah.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:29 PM on July 16, 2013


edit:

Gentle reminder, do not use the edit function to rewrite or replace a comment. If you regret a comment, totally understandable but just say so in a followup comment; if you want a comment removed, write us a note at the contact form and we'll take a look at it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Look, Ms McCarthy has no qualifications to be pontificating on TV other than she was willing to display her tits in magazines and video.

I'm not surprised that questioning the wisdom of ironic sexism has resulted in blatant misogyny as a response. You know what they say about scratching an ironic *ist...
posted by gilrain at 1:33 PM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Or how about "I want to fuck her", because, really, the satire is that the person making this statement is only paying attention to McCarthy because of her sex appeal, so why not boil the satire down to its essential?"

Well, no, that's pretty much the line where you've abandoned any semblance of a satirical claim. The "because" implicit is necessary.
posted by klangklangston at 1:34 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have no animosity towoard her or any woman for being willing to do this

You should know that your language suggests otherwise. For instance, your comment leans pretty hard on the word "willing"—every time you mentioned her modeling, that's the word you used. And your counterexample, if she weren't a model, is, "What if she baked pies?" That certainly sounds sexist and maybe a bit misogynistic. (See also, "What if she were really awesome at being a secretary?") I'm not a mind reader and I can't know what's in your head, but you might consider whether your language is sending the message you want to send.
posted by cribcage at 1:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally, Senor Cardage's comment was just on the OK side of the line, while Mental Wimp's seems way over into misogyny territory.
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or how about "I want to fuck her", because, really, the satire is that the person making this statement is only paying attention to McCarthy because of her sex appeal, so why not boil the satire down to its essential?

I'm willing to defend that the society that promotes McCarthy's views ahead of all other mothers with the same views is inherently sexist and that a good number of people that let her views influence their decisions are doing so for what are inherently sexist reasons, whether they understand that or not, and that's what the comment is crudely satirizing.
posted by LionIndex at 1:41 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually thought she could parlay Singled Out into something better, because she definitely seemed to have TV hosting chops

Wait, WHAT?! Did you ever watch that show? Let's be clear on something - McCarthy has always banked on her looks, developed a persona around it, and had little talent for anything else. From her modeling to her comedy and even her writing. The reason she got the the Singled Out job was because she looked good and could make stupid jokes, not any kind of supposed chops. Her humor has always revolved around the idea of "pretty girl doing gross humor". Here was typical McCarthy on Singled Out, and yes that was the extent of her talent: making fart jokes and stupid faces. That is the persona that McCarthy cultivated, even in her writing. Seriously, go watch Dirty Love and keep in mind she wrote that only six years ago. Or go read one of her books, where the whole premise is McCarthy talking about herself and the her tribulations with a heaping dose of grossness on the side.

BUT I don't hold any of that against her, and actually think it makes her smarter than the average person with a pretty face because none of them were able to successfully bank on their looks, and thereafter their persona, for so long. I also don't think it makes her anything special beyond any other B-Grade celeb who did the same thing. McCarthy will probably do fine on The View though, because, hell, Hasselback got the job because she was on a reality tv show.

So to get to the comment in question, I was actually surprised it wasn't deleted. Yeah, I get the joke and all that, and I understand there isn't a hard and fast rules around here, and that different mods will make different calls, but let's be honest there have been comments half egregerious as that one and have been deleted with a note left about sexism. What I'm saying is that people kind of expect a some kind of line for everyone to follow, and if some wacky comment like "great tits" no matter the context or the person saying it gets a pass then that line gets kind of skewed.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 1:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hmmm... No. Basically you're saying "Here's what a stupid person would think because of sexist garbage but actually you should think the opposite because of different sexist garbage." - sexist garbage remains a constant.

Sorry of you think you're doing something different, but you're not. It should have been deleted.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


This actually reminds me of the discomfort I feel when watching even truly skillful satire like the Portlandia Women and Women First sketches. I enjoyed them in a sort of squirmy way for a while, but then a few of my more conservative acquaintances started watching the show and just loved those sketches. They weren't laughing with feminists, though; they were laughing at them.

And then Mike Krahulik linked to that sketch as an example of what he imagined when people took him to task for being transphobic on Twitter. That sort of ruined my enjoyment of that sketch.

And the comment under discussion ain't at a Portlandia level of satire, so I won't even trouble myself to feel very conflicted about that sucker.
posted by gilrain at 1:50 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


No. Basically you're saying "Here's what a stupid person would think because of sexist garbage but actually you should think the opposite because of different sexist garbage." - sexist garbage remains a constant.

The first part, yes, but let's put it into the actual terms being discussed here.

"Stupid people/media pay attention to McCarthy's anti-vax views because of sexist garbage" - I'm with you there. "You should actually think the opposite because..." I don't know the sexist garbage that's supposed to fill in the blank there in lieu of "medical science as advocated by qualified professionals". Are you implying that I'm saying that we should discount McCarthy's views because of her modeling work? That's not what I'm saying.
posted by LionIndex at 1:55 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That may not be your intent, but that is what you are saying.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on July 16, 2013


I think this sort of thing ("Let's examine how firmly her top is in place, to correctly label her modeling") is too close, both in kind and in context, to the analysis that often happens in American discussions of rape or sexual harassment ("Let's examine how long his hand lingered, to correctly label his action").

so let me get this straight - you're saying that i, a sexual abuse survivor, who is pro-porn, pro-nudity, and have been careful in my descriptions of her chosen profession, am slut shaming jenny mccarthy because of her modeling choices and that's exactly like victim blaming a rape victim? are you kidding me?

i was responding directly to someone who said that most of her modeling wasn't of the topless variety and i was pointing out that was splitting hairs when you look at her body of modeling work. pointing out that there are different kind of modeling jobs (and different shitty sexism rules and effects) does not make me a rape apologist.
posted by nadawi at 1:56 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Please explain. I don't see it.
posted by LionIndex at 1:58 PM on July 16, 2013


it's more like insisting that steve martin is a banjo player and any mention of his comedic work is a smear to his musical prowess.

I believe that is Billy Bob Thornton you are thinking of.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


> the scare quotes don't change those words or their meaning.

Scare quotes? Here I thought they were grocers' quotes, for emphasis. "Ground Chuck" "Specl Reducd Price" "Today Only" "!!"
posted by jfuller at 2:06 PM on July 16, 2013


1. Saying people should agree with her because she's shown her tits makes it about her showing her tits.
2. Saying people should not agree with her because she's shown her tits makes it about her showing her tits.
3. Saying 1 "ironically" or "satirically" but meaning 2 still makes it about her showing her tits.
4. Making it about her showing her tits is the sexist part.
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


There was a recent FPP deletion about transgender and feminist issues because of poor framing, and because it wasn't going well. I was okay with the deletion, basically trusting the mods. But leaving this up really bugs me. Being satirically disrespectful to women, satirically objectifying women, is okay? I got the context. And maybe it was accepted because the woman being disrespected has cashed in on her nice body, has probably had her body enhanced so she could cash in more. Also, she's an easy target in the thread because her views are willfully stupid and harmful. It's really inconsistent, and I ask the Mod Squad to review their deletion practices.
posted by theora55 at 2:09 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


while Mental Wimp's seems way over into misogyny territory.

I disagree with this. Hash words do not make misogyny. Referring to someone trading on their looks doesn't either. The comment doesn't feel generalized enough to really qualify. JM trades on her looks -- the "tits" reference is a way of (deservedly) minimizing *her*, not women in general.

They weren't laughing with feminists, though; they were laughing at them..

So? It's not like feminists are a homogenous group. I'm sure idiots conflate W&WF with all feminists, but idiots do a lot of things.

There was a recent FPP (deleted) that referred to a set of comedy sketches about "triggering". I thought it was amusing, but not well executed. But what I didn't expect was how many people here seemed to take it super personally. That's normal, I guess, satire can be cutting -- but it seemed like on overreaction to something that was obviously absurd.

Likewise, this callout seems kind of crazy. Most mature adults can handle the word "tits" and JM is very deserving of dismissive language, so I don't get where general misogyny is involved.
posted by smidgen at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


...while Mental Wimp's seems way over into misogyny territory.

Well, yes, if by "misogyny" you mean "great anger at a self-promoting glamour model who used her notoriety to do irreparable harm to many children."
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The argument "This is what an asshole believes: 'X => Y'" certainly invites the reader to conclude that X => -Y even if it doesn't explicitly state it. For example, the quip "I'm a big hypothetical asshole who thinks that raising taxes on the poor will stimulate the economy" is nudging you towards the conclusion that raising taxes on the poor will have a detrimental effect on the economy. Likewise, the comment being discussed in this thread is inviting the reader to conclude that breasts disqualify McCarthy from having a valid opinion on vaccination. You can of course argue that what you meant was only "-(breasts => qualified)" and not "breasts => -qualified", but I think this form of ironic statement advocates for the latter even if you did not intend it to.
posted by Pyry at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


We should discount her views because she has no scientific training or expertise, whatsoever. Her celebrity, which derives directly from being an object of sexual lust for heterosexual men, grants her no qualifications to speak with authority on the safety or efficacy of vaccination. That this notion should still somehow be controversial speaks to degree to which we unfortunately value celebrity over all other considerations — even, apparently and sadly, on Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't really see that much of a difference between "Senor Cardage [...] making a comment as if he were saying something awful and sexist" and Senor Cardage saying something awful and sexist. Because the same thing is said in either instance - the scare quotes don't change those words or their meaning.

I think there is an enormous difference between Stephen Colbert saying ignorant things in character and a person who says them and really believes them. But that's just me.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Her celebrity, which derives directly from being an object of sexual lust for heterosexual men, grants her no qualifications to speak with authority on the safety or efficacy of vaccination.

Yet, she clearly believes it does.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. Saying people should agree with her because she's shown her tits makes it about her showing her tits.
2. Saying people should not agree with her because she's shown her tits makes it about her showing her tits.
3. Saying 1 "ironically" or "satirically" but meaning 2 still makes it about her showing her tits.
4. Making it about her showing her tits is the sexist part.


I'm not saying either 1 or 2, I'm only pointing out that she has the platform she does, which has influenced a number of people's decisions, based on her fame. Her fame for most people is ultimately derived from her modeling work. And yes, that's sexist.
posted by LionIndex at 2:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The comment doesn't feel generalized enough to really qualify. JM trades on her looks -- the "tits" reference is a way of (deservedly) minimizing *her*, not women in general.

Well, this feels like it sets an awkard precedent. Henry Kissinger is of Jewish heritage. Robert Mugabe is of African origins. Those guys are pretty unpopular with a lot of people. However, there are fairly well-understood bright lines about what can be used to minimize them.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:17 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


[sexist for her views to be promoted based on her modeling work]
posted by LionIndex at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2013


That this notion should still somehow be controversial speaks to degree to which we unfortunately value celebrity over all other considerations — even, apparently and sadly, on Metafilter.

Nobody is going to start taking her seriously just because we don't act like shits. If anything it has the opposite effect of making people think she might have a point.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Likewise, the comment being discussed in this thread is inviting the reader to conclude that breasts disqualify McCarthy from having an opinion on vaccination

Not really. I see what you're getting at, but you have to bring some baggage to the comment to read that, in either direction, IMO.
posted by smidgen at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I think there is an enormous difference between Stephen Colbert saying ignorant things in
> character and a person who says them and really believes them.

Just to restate my last comment divested of all traces of irony, ironic sexism posted over a given username is indistinguishable from actual sexism posted over the same username on text-only sites because there's no way to be sure the user is supposed to be in character.

Maybe pb could give us a way to put scare quotes around our usernames when we feel the urge to post ironically.
posted by jfuller at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2013


{/}
posted by chrchr at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2013


Well, this feels like it sets an awkard precedent. Henry Kissinger is of Jewish heritage. Robert Mugabe is of African origins. Those guys are pretty unpopular with a lot of people. However, there are fairly well-understood bright lines about what can be used to minimize them.

I was unaware that Kissinger is famous because he is Jewish, or that Mugabe is famous because is African.

(Also, are we saying that Jews are merely "of Jewish heritage" nowadays? Speaking as a Jew who doesn't even like Kissinger, I'm going to say "no thanks" to this trend.)

...

I grok that many people don't want ironic sexism on this site, and if that's the site culture, then that's fine with me, and that should be enforced on the mod level. However, the arguments against this comment are growing thinner as the thread goes on.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:29 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yet, she clearly believes it does.

It is actually worse than that — she proudly parades her ignorance as a qualification ("University of Google") to tap into and monetize a current of latent, populist anti-intellectualism. I'm sure that consideration for hiring her for The View was based partially upon her current Everyday Mother persona. I'm surprised to see people here buy into that (or at least look the other way) because of sexism at large, and that she is a woman somehow grants her special protection from any and all critical thought about her words and actions, let alone her target audience.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I believe as the site has grown the community has become less tolerant of jokes casually employing sexism/racism for ironic effect.

Wow. That's some virtuoso deployment of the passive voice right there.

*golf clap*


There is not a single instance of the passive voice in the quoted statement.
posted by languagehat at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


Marina Baker, Page 3 girl and Playboy Playmate of the Month for March 1987, who went on to write for various UK newspapers, is a local politician and environmental advocate who stood for Parliament as a Liberal Democrat.

So, would we be okay with a conservative member of MeFi satirizing the progressive support of Baker with "As someone whose tits we've seen on a number of occasions, Marina seemed like the right person to defer to regarding business regulation and economic policy. Sadly my son Schuyler killed himself when he lost his job at the local factory. Still...great tits though" ?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


that she is a woman somehow grants her special protection from any and all critical thought about her words and actions

Yes, that's totally what people are saying. *eyeroll*
posted by kmz at 2:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ivan, I admire your intent, but as has been established multiple times in this thread, McCarthy didn't pose nude once, then enter into a career of achievement and accomplishment like Baker. She posed nude, then spent the subsequent twenty years shuffling along as a grade C celeb, posing nude in Playboy five more times (including last year) as needed to prop her career up.

I certainly agree that one nude pictorial ought not preclude a woman being taken seriously later in life. Similarly, I wouldn't trash talk a musician with a long and accomplished career because their debut single was a novelty song. But I'd have no issue with snark about a one hit wonder whose entire career was predicated upon a novelty song and who re-released the thing every few years when they were afraid of dropping out of the public eye.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:41 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


[…]awkard precedent. Henry Kissinger is of Jewish heritage[…]

We know that HK/RM didn't get a claim on being authoritative on policy matters/(genocide?) by *just* being Jewish/African, as far as I'm aware. But even then, the analogy doesn't hold up. The comment isn't referring to the fact that JM is claiming qualifications because she is a woman (that would also be weird, but would not really justify the comment).

So, would we be okay with a conservative member of MeFi satirizing the progressive support of Baker [ex-playboy model]

No, because it doesn't actually address the issues she's raised and she appears qualified. On the other hand JM is a dumb entertainer who gets jobs and attention because she has a good looking body. She uses that attention to say very dumb things. The situations are not equivalent in any way.
posted by smidgen at 2:45 PM on July 16, 2013


did marina baker pose naked last year? did she continue her glamour model career alongside her political career? does she go back to her roots every time she wants a career bump?

that's the difference. jenny mccarthy's current career is talk show host, questioning-vax advocate, author, personality, and nude/bikini model. it's not something she did 20 years ago to start her career and has never done again. when mary carey ran for governor the story was about her as a porn star because that was her job. she didn't have 15-20 years of political experience after her nude days.

to say again before i'm accused of being a slut shaming rape apologist, i have zero problem with mccarthy posing nude. she could do her job on the view every single day naked and i wouldn't think that would be a reason to ignore everything she says (her terrible opinions and loose grasp on facts are reason enough). but - it's fair play to mention her current job when discussing her other current job.
posted by nadawi at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's fair play to mention her current job when discussing her other current job.

. . . if her job has some bearing on her current other job, but in this case, the fact that she makes a living by being attractive has nothing to do with her views on vaccines. There's just no connection.
posted by chrchr at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Ivan, I admire your intent, but as has been established multiple times in this thread, McCarthy didn't pose nude once, then enter into a career of achievement and accomplishment like Baker."

Well, first of all, Baker posed nude in several different publications and that's how she gained her fame. But, second of all, it's not clear to me what the standards are for how much "not about sex appeal" public work someone who built their career on that basis has to do for it not to be legitimately a target. It seems to me that a natural result of this reasoning is that we'll criticize our opponents on this basis but be offended by such attacks on our allies.

"did marina baker pose naked last year?"

If she had, would you be okay with that comment? Imagine a post to MeFi about her and imagine that she'd posed naked last year. And imagine someone posting that comment to the thread.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:53 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was unaware that Kissinger is famous because he is Jewish, or that Mugabe is famous because is African.

And... McCarthy is famous because she is a woman? That's not, I think, where the conversation should be heading. It's certainly not an appropriate gotcha for the situation we're in at the moment.

However, I think by that logic it would be OK to quote-unquote diminish someone who trades on their Jewishness, or their blackness? I think you get the same problem, though. Who decides that? At what point is it OK to break out the hate speech big guns, to take down this one person?

Essentially, I've seen a lot of people - usually straight white dudes - deciding at a certain point that it's OK for them to use homophobic, misogynistic or racist language against a specific person, because the person they are using it against is such an asshole that they are totally justified in doing whatever it takes to take them down a peg or two. I've rarely seen that turn out well, and it's not something I think should be encouraged, even at the lolboobz soft end. There are so many lines of possible attack on McCarthy - how productive is it to go for this one?

(Misha's point is also worth noting - the other problem with the "here's how I imagine stupid people respond to Jenny McCarthy" is that the people who are inflicting suffering on their children because of anti-vaccine activism are generally not horny working-class men but mothers, often ill-informed middle-class mothers, who are probably not basing their judgements on her jiggle quotient.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:58 PM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


if she were an active page 3 girl while running for parliament with no political qualifications besides being bad at facts, then i think it could be brought up. i've always said a number of times that i don't think that joke was right for metafilter even if i don't think it's obviously, egregiously sexist.

if katie price runs for office of some kind, is it out of bounds to discuss her modeling and reality show career where she traded on her looks and grating personality to find the fame she was hoping to parlay into a career someone is supposed to be actually qualified for? is it wrong for people to have pointed out that mary carey ran for governor as part of a publicity stunt for her porn career?
posted by nadawi at 2:58 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think the recentness or amount of Baker's posing would be the issue - it would come down to whether she's actually demonstrated expertise in the areas where she's proposing or arguing for/against legislation (insert appropriate UK term if necessary), and if she lacks that expertise, whether the party or media is holding her up as a figurehead for any movement. Posing certainly wouldn't disqualify her from a political position, but if that's all she's basing her political career on, that's another issue.

We could make the same argument with the female politicians put into power by Berlusconi, where I think the analogy is a little more accurate.
posted by LionIndex at 2:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


. . . if her job has some bearing on her current other job, but in this case, the fact that she makes a living by being attractive has nothing to do with her views on vaccines. There's just no connection.

But there is a connection: her celebrity derives almost entirely from that job and her status as a public advocate on vaccines derives solely from her celebrity. THAT'S what the joke in the comment was about: how absurd it is that celebrity, once attained, is often permanent and transmutable to other forms, even undeserved authority on public issues.

I've gone out of my way to listen to and respect dissenting viewpoints on this, even to the point of basically shifting my personal take from 60% "I see what they were going for with the comment"/40% "that was kinda shitty" to probably 60/40 the other way. But come on, even if you disagree with the execution and think the comment should be deleted, is it still entirely incomprehensible to you that it might not have been meant as a sexist attack?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


mccarthy has always had a good sized (non-gay) female fan base even when her career was solely about her looks and humor. like i said up thread, i personally know people who were fans of hers in the 90s (through her playboy, howard stern, candies ads, etc work) and because they felt she was something to be aspired to, they picked up her child rearing books when they had kids and are anti-vax.
posted by nadawi at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reading Marina Baker's Wikipedia page, it is unclear how much of analogy can be drawn between her and Jenny McCarthy, since Marina Baker appears to have an activist background and worked in lower levels of government for many years before trying to become an MP.

So her qualifications are actually based upon her experience and work in that field. And that doesn't even get into how Liberal Democrat is neither "liberal" nor "Democratic" as those terms are understood by Americans.

Specious example all around, I think. Unless her Wikipedia page is a complete fabrication, I have no idea why she even continues to be part of this conversation — her career seems really almost nothing like that of McCarthy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can criticize the hell out of McCarthy without implying that the only reason people listen to her is that she's pretty and sometimes naked. The point of the Marina Baker derail is that we wouldn't like it if the shoe were on the other foot. People use similar critiques against Obama and Hilary Clinton and we think those people are jerks.

Thing racists say: "Liberals only vote for Obama because he's black."

Thing that comment says: "People only listen to McCarthy because she is pretty and sometimes naked."

Satire!
posted by chrchr at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


As a culture, we've had plenty of jokes about Romney winning because of his hair though, too.
posted by LionIndex at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2013


If people with silly hair were an oppressed class, that would be inappropriate. For instance, if he were bold (not really an oppressed class, but a bit closer), I would be less comfortable with making fun of his hair.
posted by gilrain at 3:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, if Paris Hilton starts making waves with her opinions on chemtrails tomorrow, I sure I hope I'm not precluded from calling her a dumb rich asshole with a sex tape talking bullshit about something she knows nothing about, simply because she has parlayed the fame she has gotten from being a dumb rich asshole with a sex tape into some lousy tv shows and a line of couture.

Because being famous for being famous is just obnoxious. And even if you manage to leverage that ill-gotten fame into some other checks you can cash, when you go about life in that way, you are and remain an odious person. And even if you manage to make that fame permanent, it doesn't make you a worthwhile person, and it doesn't make me automatically interested in your opinions on issues or any less infuriated by people who are.

(By all means, though: try and score a victory for feminism by defending Paris Hilton.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:15 PM on July 16, 2013


Thing that comment says: "People only listen to McCarthy because she is pretty and sometimes naked."

Until nadawi's last comment I had no idea that there would be any other reason. And why go to McCarthy for parenting advice? Are her books good? Or is it because she's famous for being pretty so she can get a book deal?

Otherwise, why do people listen to McCarthy over others?

If people with silly hair were an oppressed class, that would be inappropriate. For instance, if he were bold, I would be less comfortable with making fun of his hair.

No no, AWESOME HAIR.
posted by LionIndex at 3:17 PM on July 16, 2013


> So, would we be okay with a conservative member of MeFi satirizing the progressive support
> of Baker with "As someone whose tits we've seen on a number of occasions,

Not that any true Scotsman conservative ever would, because manners.
posted by jfuller at 3:19 PM on July 16, 2013


And why go to McCarthy for parenting advice? Are her books good? Or is it because she's famous for being pretty so she can get a book deal?

Now that's a great discussion to have.

I think it's because (a) she has a really affecting personal story that is related to the issue and (b) she says things that are attractive to people. The vaccine theory of autism is a lot more satisfying to people than the science theory, which is "We don't really know what causes autism."
posted by chrchr at 3:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found somewhat relevant, incidentally, this piece by Emily Hill on nude modelling and its longer-term effects. Pull quote, from a conversation she had with her photographer about nude work:
...somehow the conversation took a turn to another model who had done some nude work for him. Incredibly beautiful, the woman in question is also a phenomenally talented gamer; so gifted, in fact, that she wound up winning a popular new reality show that targets the geek in all of us.

When she was filling out paperwork prior to her participation on the show, there were a number of pre-screening questions that needed to be answered: had she ever been arrested, had she ever committed a felony, had she ever taken illegal drugs, had she ever done nude photography (as if nude photography is even on the same level as being arrested for any sort of felony, but I digress momentarily).

She called the photographer in a panic to make sure that her art had never been shared publicly, which it hadn’t; a true professional doesn’t share work without consent. Her work never made its way into the black hole that is the Internet, and she ended up winning the show and the $100,000 prize that came with it. Nonetheless, had she confessed to nude work, she would never have even made it through the screening.
It's worth remembering, I think, that McCarthy is one of a fairly small number of women who have built a solid media career after starting out as a glamor model, and that for a lot of women early-career glamor modelling becomes either a bar to progress or a problem that needs to be managed later in their careers. What she's done with the platform provided by that media career is awful, obviously, but stigmatizing glamor modelling is going to hurt other women a lot more than her.

(Same applies to Paris Hilton, actually - say what you like about her, she's still going to be an heiress looking at a billion-dollar fortune. However, if "what you like" is heavily gendered, that's probably something worth looking at.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


(By all means, though: try and score a victory for feminism by defending Paris Hilton.)

I'm glad you've finally got around to establishing that the hill you guys apparently want to die on is that when it's been established that someone is an OK target you should be able to insult them however you like.

It's a really dumb, ugly hill.
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [20 favorites]


(By all means, though: try and score a victory for feminism by defending Paris Hilton.)

My fucking pleasure.

Paris Hilton can have sex with whomever she wants in private or on a tape and she is still entitled to have her ideas and opinions evaluated on their merits.

Easy.
posted by chrchr at 3:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [32 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that this argument isn't about whether it's okay to criticize McCarthy for trading on her looks for credibility as an antivax crusader. It's about how one criticizes McCarthy for this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:23 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are her books good?

I read part of Belly Laughs in a bookstore while waiting for a friend. I was pregnant at the time, and I found it chuckle-worthy and fun. Not fun enough to buy, but definitely a book that was a book for real, not just an attempt to ride the coattails of a previous modeling career.
posted by KathrynT at 3:24 PM on July 16, 2013


N.B. that book was published before all the crystal child / anti vax / autism / indigo mom nonsense, it was just a funny book about pregnancy and childbirth.
posted by KathrynT at 3:25 PM on July 16, 2013


Do you think she's well-known enough among women for the books alone (like, someone would read her book based on a recommendation from a friend) that someone would be surprised to find out she was ever a nude model? Or is she way past the point where that's possible?
posted by LionIndex at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2013


As someone who was having babies while she was becoming known as a mom author, I think that's definitely possible. A bunch of women my age and younger know her as Funny Mom Author Jenny McCarthy, who had a previous television and acting career.
posted by KathrynT at 3:28 PM on July 16, 2013


I didn't say for a moment that Paris Hilton is incapable of doing or saying anything worthwhile because she's a dumb rich asshole with a sex tape. I said we ought not pretend that the fact that she has leveraged a career entirely out of being a dumb rich asshole with a sex tape is anything other than a perversion of celeb culture and not in fact, proof that she is an accomplished person now above reproach and inherently worthy of being consulted in the issues of the day. And if she develops horrifyingly stupid opinions on something which then become inescapable solely because of this fame she achieved through being a dumb rich asshole with a sex tape, that will be entirely fair to mention.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:28 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's about how one criticizes McCarthy for this.

Exactly.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2013


I didn't say for a moment that Paris Hilton is incapable of doing or saying anything worthwhile

Sure, but you said the moment she does something worthy of insult you'll throw the sex tape in her face. Is it okay to slut shame all women, or just women you disagree with?
posted by chrchr at 3:35 PM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Funny Mom Author Jenny McCarthy, who had a previous television and acting career.

Also, her books are all over Amazon's recommendation engines if you are looking at anything even vaguely "alternative-birth" oriented.

N.B. that book was published before all the crystal child / anti vax / autism / indigo mom nonsense, it was just a funny book about pregnancy and childbirth.

Yeah, and that might be part of the problem here: she'd already left her modelling career behind and become a parenting author. The other stuff may have started in part as an attempt to salvage that career after it became clear that she didn't have a neurotypical child.

In some ways, the sexist reactions to the modelling may have helped drive her descent into anti-vaxx quackery.
posted by Wylla at 3:39 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I probably should have taken my own advice and not used an analogy. Analogies never play on MeFi.

I have zero interest in slut shaming Hilton or anyone else. My point was that the legitimization of people who come to fame through no particular achievement as public figures entitled to speak on issues is a perversion of celeb culture. And cashing checks based on being famous for the sake of being famous is an unconvincing way of feigning achievement.

If someone plays the "Listen to me on this, I'm famous" card it's entirely fair to point out why they're famous.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:43 PM on July 16, 2013


Celebrity as voice of authority just galls the shit out of me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2013


I should amend my previous statement. There's two levels of sexism being complained about.

The first is the use of sexist language, even as satire.

The second is that criticism of women who are public figures is very frequently targeted at their sexual attractiveness (or purported lack).

It's mostly on the basis of the first that I think the comment should have been deleted.

I find the second to be a much more ambiguous issue. I see merit in the argument because even though McCarthy's career involving her sexual attractiveness is relevant, it's a long way from being the only or even the best way to argue against her credibility. I'm uneasy with it, but wouldn't advocate for deletion on that basis.

I don't want to diminish the concerns of those who are arguing the second point — but I think that had the comment not been a sexist slap in the face that was, oh yeah, satire, then there'd be much, much less objection to it here.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My basic reading was that the comment was calling people that follow McCarthy's views on vaccinations sexist, but I guess that's been pretty well stated now.
posted by LionIndex at 3:50 PM on July 16, 2013


My point, as clear as I can put it is this: in current popular culture, fame--no matter how you get it--can be nurtured and extended into fame for fame's sake. Stay famous long enough and people will listen when you have a strong opinion on things, no matter how godawful and ill-informed said opinion is. This offends me.

As a first corollary to this, I see no issue with mentioning in case of a famous for the sake of being famous person, how they got famous, since they have been trading on it ever since.

As a second corollary, no matter how long or lucrative a string of flimsy achievements a famous for the sake of being famous can string together, that's not accomplishment. That's just fame maintenance paying off.

Marina Baker, to use an example from above, is accomplished. Jenny McCarthy has ridden the fame train. Not the same thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:53 PM on July 16, 2013


My Paris Hilton example was ill-advised. Much like the original commenter, I made a poor choice in that my point, while not hard to from, was surrounded by stuff that could easily piss someone off.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:55 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


DirtyOldTown, I say this as plainly as I can: Jenny McCarthy is legitimately an author. She legitimately wrote books. I am not the target audience for her books, and even if I was her bizarre pseudo-science claims would put me off them, but she's written five books about parenting that AREN'T about her whackadoo nonsense. That is definitely an accomplishment.
posted by KathrynT at 4:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems like we're often being told that attractive women have trouble being taken seriously, and now a bunch of people in this thread are telling us that people take this woman seriously only because she's attractive. It's almost as if there's no way to win!
posted by chrchr at 4:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


So no one thinks it’s weird that this a call out, using the word "repugnant", about someone making a satirical joke using what some think is sexist language, and the title of this call out is "great tits!"?
posted by bongo_x at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


DirtyOldTown, I say this as plainly as I can: Jenny McCarthy is legitimately an author. She legitimately wrote books. I am not the target audience for her books, and even if I was her bizarre pseudo-science claims would put me off them, but she's written five books about parenting that AREN'T about her whackadoo nonsense. That is definitely an accomplishment.

Yeah, and that would eventually give her some credence among parents for her eventual whackadoo turn. So, that's what I learned today. [shooting star icon]
posted by LionIndex at 4:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


My Paris Hilton example was ill-advised. Much like the original commenter, I made a poor choice in that my point, while not hard to from, was surrounded by stuff that could easily piss someone off.

Exactly. Why is it necessary to even reference the sex tape or the Playboy posing or anything? All you have to say is: This person has no qualifications and no idea what they are talking about, and no one should listen to them because of that.

What other job or qualifications they _do_ have is irrelevant, and it's hard not to feel that bringing it up in a case like this is sexist. Just because hypothetically it could have been about her being an actress or a writer or whatever is also not relevant, because it wasn't, and it's strange to me to pretend that the comment is neutral in this regard. Its possible that this was unintentional, sure, but its a pretty suspect association to me.

It _feels_ like the intent is to reinforce the "no qualifications" by using the general, sexist idea that women who pose nude are stupid. I think its a stronger statement than "She's an actress" or "He's a pilot" or whatever other non-medical-related job could be used in the joke, and I think that is at least subconsciously part of the joke, which is why it reads so badly to many of us.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:05 PM on July 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


My basic reading was that the comment was calling people that follow McCarthy's views on vaccinations sexist, but I guess that's been pretty well stated now.

Which would merely make no sense, so there's that.
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on July 16, 2013


My wife read Belly Laughs. Me too. It was piffle but it was okay. But if you want to see what a real angry feminist looks like, I have some friends in publishing you could try telling, "Jenny McCarthy's books were published solely on merit."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:07 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


All you have to say is: This person has no qualifications and no idea what they are talking about, and no one should listen to them because of that.

What other job or qualifications they _do_ have is irrelevant, and it's hard not to feel that bringing it up in a case like this is sexist.


Exactly. When Bruce Springsteen endorses a political candidate, nobody responds by saying, "Don't pay attention to him because of his tabloid underpants pics and that song about cunnilingus."
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Thing racists say: "Liberals only vote for Obama because he's black.""

I would have no problem saying something like, "Man, these new Obamacare exchanges are awesome! Glad I only voted for him because he was black!"
posted by klangklangston at 4:10 PM on July 16, 2013


I never said they were published solely on merit. But there's a big difference between Belly Laughs, which as you say was piffle but OK, and Pamela Anderson's "novel" Star, which is both "co-authored" and so awful that Bea Arthur read it aloud at Anderson's celebrity roast. Even being famous will only take you so far.
posted by KathrynT at 4:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Exactly. When Bruce Springsteen endorses a political candidate, nobody responds by saying, "Don't pay attention to him because of his tabloid underpants pics and that song about cunnilingus.""

Springsteen's kinda known for decades of political work and being a "serious" musician. If it were Howard Stern, I'd have no problem saying, "Wait, we're taking endorsements from a guy who almost named his book 'Penis?'"
posted by klangklangston at 4:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which would merely make no sense, so there's that.

Well, there is more than one step to the logic.

A) she's famous in large part due to her looks
B) other anti-vax advocates are not
C) people/media follow/broadcast her views because of her fame (again, largely based on her looks)
D) following someone's views because of their level of attractiveness is sexist

Now granted, I wasn't aware of the parenting books or their popularity. But how does McCarthy get the platform to spew nonsense that she has without her modeling career? Other than the faulty scientist guy, can you name another anti-vax advocate that anyone else would know? Why is that? Why do people listen to McCarthy's nonsense more than anyone else's?
posted by LionIndex at 4:21 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen an analogy or literal reading of the joke I can agree with so far, because however tasteless it is it actually is a joke. It's condensed, using synecdoche on a couple of levels: the body part stands in for the person and the element of a career stands in for the whole career, which itself includes a lot of crude jokes. It's hyperbolic, exaggerating the extent and the effects of someone listening to its target. And it's allegorical, offering a comment not necessarily only about people who objectify the target but generally speaking any of those for whom Enlightenment has been a failed project such that they're swayed by irrelevant authority and furthermore persist in sexism and naïve doubts about basic medicine regardless of the worst possible negative result.

Yes, it's a poor joke. The same points could have been made less harshly using more quaint vocabulary. The same points could have been made with no joke at all. The quotation marks are just a little fig leaf of propriety. Its rhetorical elements are otherwise ambiguous and invite as much speculation about misogynistic bad faith as about any other allusive content of the joke. If you're going to make your audience model some ugly, harsh, or disagreeable thought, it should be to make a pretty good point you couldn't just say clearly, not one that superficially reproduces the worst sort of commentary. And ordinary categories or qualities of human social identity deserve special consideration that raises the bar for joking especially high.

I have no problem with having things like that filtered away. Given how this discussion has gone, I wish it had been. But I really don't think it was as simple and uncomplicated a statement as 'people voted for Obama because of his ethnicity' or 'people agreed with Jenny McCarthy because she posed nude.'

(*ponders the wisdom of dashing this on a phone in a rush--decides to live dangerously*)
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


No. You guys were right. I wasnt intending it to come from a sexist place and as far as I thought when I typed it that wasnt what I was doing, but Ive read everything in this thread and was simply mistaken in my judgement to make that joke that way using those terms.

My apologies for feeding into any sort of larger sexism through my use of admittedly ham-handed ironic voice. It was dumb and I'll choose my language differently going forward. It was really just a tossed-out gag comment but I can see from the ripple-effect that it touched a nerve that was never anything I would have predicted or would have wanted it to when I half-assedly typed it.

Again, I take responsibility and apologize and if the mods want to delete it, thats up to them though I realize that something staying up or getting pulled has nothing to do with the wishes of the author.

But on the slim upside, we did get to have this great discussion about it all and I learned a lot as a result.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [65 favorites]


Jenny McCarthy is legitimately an author. She legitimately wrote books.

I think the point is that she was famous first. When she started having kids was a point at which most people who knew her through her modeling and MTV fame started having kids and so it probably wasn't exactly a hard sell to publishers.

She's also a "legitimate" screenwriter, but I say in all sincerity if you want to really understand what kind of garbage she is able to spew unmitigated by an editor, then go ahead and watch Dirty Love.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 4:27 PM on July 16, 2013


I wish that Monsieur Caution and Senor Cardgage had commented first because then we could probably have wrapped this up a lot sooner.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well I didnt know if it was bad MeFi etiquette to come in here and discuss my own comment that sparked it. But that's probably all for the best anyway since it gave me the opportunity to read so many different points of view.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would be more concerned that people interested in Jenny McCathy's stupid views on vaccination dshould be examining whether those views to make sense than that they audit her publishing history to make sure it is strictly meritocratic and not "sexist".
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


But that's the point, Artw -- I think her well-selling parenting books are probably a much greater contributing factor to people's willingness to give her stupid views on vaccination credence than her history as a nude model, even if her publishing career would have been a non-starter without her existing fame.
posted by KathrynT at 4:41 PM on July 16, 2013


Why do people listen to McCarthy's nonsense more than anyone else's?

There's also Dr. Oz. Two peas in a woo pod (if you ask me). The only difference is one actually has a medical degree (and presumably a medical license).
posted by cjorgensen at 5:09 PM on July 16, 2013


A set of scrubs.
posted by Artw at 5:11 PM on July 16, 2013


she'd already left her modelling career behind and become a parenting author.

no. she has not even at this point left her modeling career behind. in fact, it seems three of her playboy covers coincide with her books being released, one of those being belly laughs (and one of those being her latest book). she actively uses her modeling as promotion for her as a personality/entertainer/etc and part of that is her mommy-activist stuff...much like tom cruise is actively both an actor and a anti-psychiatry scientologist.

I'm glad you've finally got around to establishing that the hill you guys apparently want to die on is that when it's been established that someone is an OK target you should be able to insult them however you like.

nope! but that's a beautiful man made of straw - put a flannel shirt on him and it might just scare the crows away. some of "us guys" have explicitly stated that is not the case. also - no one is dying on any hills.
posted by nadawi at 5:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd add painfully lacking in self awareness and weirdly obsessive to the verge of creepinesss.
posted by Artw at 5:20 PM on July 16, 2013


You mean Tom Cruise?
posted by klangklangston at 5:24 PM on July 16, 2013


It was dumb and I'll choose my language differently going forward. It was really just a tossed-out gag comment but I can see from the ripple-effect that it touched a nerve that was never anything I would have predicted or would have wanted it to when I half-assedly typed it.

Like I wrote above, I prefer humor that occasionally fails rather than people needing to aguish over every sentence to insure it's not construed in a negative light. I believe the default here is that we are supposed to make a good faith effort to assume people are coming from a place of good faith and are participating under the same auspice.

I'm glad you've finally got around to establishing that the hill you guys apparently want to die on is that when it's been established that someone is an OK target you should be able to insult them however you like.

You're talking about about a person who is more than likely responsible in some part for the death or illness of many children. I don't feel a compulsion to insure the words I use to describe her are civil, just as I don't feel a need to be civil when discussion Rupert Murdoch. Some people cross over into an area where I don't give a shit about their lives.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I consider basic sense-making a requirement even when talking about Hitler, sorry. We can do better than "this person is on the hate-list therefore any-random-old-shit".
posted by Artw at 5:49 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah - i see that some people are saying that - just pointing out that it's not a 2 side thing where everyone on one side thinks one thing and everyone on the other thinks the opposite. i believe there are ways to defend the concept behind this joke (but maybe not for metafilter) and think sexist attacks are not ok just because you really hate someone. i totally get that there is disagreement on this point - just laying out there, again, where i'm coming from and how there is no "you people" here.
posted by nadawi at 5:53 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


We can do better than "this person is on the hate-list therefore any-random-old-shit".

No, but when a person is a monster the world would be better without I don't see why we need to be civil about that person when discussing him/her. Some people are shitheels. There's no use pretending otherwise.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:21 PM on July 16, 2013


Yeah, but attacking a woman -- even an awful woman -- in ways that are fairly specific to womanhood has a way of bouncing back on women generally.
posted by chrchr at 6:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


We can, however, choose not to insult them in gendered ways. It's not that Jenny McCarthy doesn't deserve to be discussed uncivilly; it's that when you choose gendered slurs, you ALSO insult a lot of people who AREN'T Jenny McCarthy.
posted by KathrynT at 6:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


You're talking about about a person who is more than likely responsible in some part for the death or illness of many children. I don't feel a compulsion to insure the words I use to describe her are civil, just as I don't feel a need to be civil when discussion Rupert Murdoch. Some people cross over into an area where I don't give a shit about their lives.

Pretend Richard Murdoch were black. Would you use racially motivated slurs against him? Same with McCarthy. Pretend she were a topic you actually care about, race, class, whatever. Would you use common slurs against her too, completely unrelated from the topic at hand?
posted by dubusadus at 6:28 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can see how making fun of McCarthy in such a way can be interpreted as a smear on all women / all women who have posed nude, but to me that demands a lack of context and/or missing the point on purpose.

I feel like one can make fun of a shit politician like Reagan by referring to his Hollywood career while still admiring Al Franken.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:40 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ronald Reagan and Hollywood would be a valid comparison if being in Hollywood movies has historically been used to denigrate a minority group.
posted by chrchr at 6:43 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I consider basic sense-making a requirement even when talking about Hitler, sorry. We can do better than "this person is on the hate-list therefore any-random-old-shit"."

Man, I dont care who hears me say it FUCK HITLER.
posted by klangklangston at 6:51 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, worst president ever
posted by klangklangston at 6:54 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's nice that the takeaway from this is probably going to be Captain Cardgage's mea culpa. There was plenty to learn that got him there.

But it'd be nice if some of the folks insisting that this HAD to be sexism and a slam against women would note that yes, the people who said the commenter probably didn't intend that and maybe the benefit of the doubt was in order were spot on. Not so much because I give a shit whether I and similarly minded others were right, but because a little bit of faith might head off the next angry MeTa on this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter what intentions are in these situations. No one said "Captain Cardgage is a horrible horrible person who deserves a horrible horrible death because he's obviously trying to denigrate all women." A comment can be problematic without the commenter being a bad person.

There's a reason that the usual analogy is, "If you accidentally step on my toe, I still expect you to move and apologize." People (including me) accidentally say sexist and racist and homophobic stuff all the time. Intent doesn't matter at that point, I still expect myself to recognize the mistake or miscommunication and apologize.
posted by jaguar at 7:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


But it'd be nice if some of the folks insisting that this HAD to be sexism and a slam against women would note that yes, the people who said the commenter probably didn't intend that and maybe the benefit of the doubt was in order were spot on.

As I tried to say in my comment, it can both be sexism and be unintentional. Thats part of the whole thing with racism/sexism, it pervades society in ways that make us choose things subconsciously based on those stereotypes/attitudes. I thought it unlikely that it was _intended_ to be sexist, but I think its unlikely the comment would have been "As someone who has a degree in mechanical engineering, Jenny seemed like the right person to defer to". That is where the sexism element comes in, and its not always something people choose. Which is why discussion about it is good, because thats the only way people realize these things and sotp them. I've certainly been guilty of similar things myself, I think its normal for these things to happen, but that doesnt mean its not sexist.
posted by wildcrdj at 7:34 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I totally know he wasn't trying to be sexist. I still think it should have been deleted, and I'm glad we had a discussion about it. I don't think there are bad people in this thread at all. Just people trying to do their best, right?

And honestly I think the same thing of Jenny McCarthy. Her views are stupid and harmful, but man I think she probably actually misguidedly believed that vaccines caused autism. A lot of people believe stupid, harmful things.

Note: Everyone needs a hug.
posted by chrchr at 7:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not disagreeing with the idea that the comment was problematic. I've been saying that since WAY WAY upthread. But there's saying it could be done better and there's saying it was shitty and sexist. This MeTa tended heavily toward the latter.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:38 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


While I basically agree chrchr, there is a world of difference between "could have been said better" and "encourages behavior that leads to dead kids."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:41 PM on July 16, 2013


You're right. I realized after posting that that could be read as equating Cardage and defenders of the comment with McCarthy and that wasn't my intention. I could have said that better.
posted by chrchr at 7:44 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


But it'd be nice if some of the folks insisting that this HAD to be sexism and a slam against women would note that yes, the people who said the commenter probably didn't intend that and maybe the benefit of the doubt was in order were spot on. Not so much because I give a shit whether I and similarly minded others were right, but because a little bit of faith might head off the next angry MeTa on this.

For whatever it's worth, DirtyOldTown, I also didn't think Senor Cardage intended to be sexist. The point of much of what I wrote upthread is that something can be harmful to women in general even if you didn't intend it to be at all. Because of that, I still would have wanted the comment deleted or for there to be a MeTa.
posted by cairdeas at 7:44 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


You could do a lot worse than habitually giving the benefit of the doubt to people on Metafilter.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:46 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I also didn't think Senor Cardage intended to be sexist."

Same here.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, pace Jay Smooth I read the criticism ITT as "that thing you said was sexist" and not "you personally are sexist." I'm happy Senor Cardgage took it that way also.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:51 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's positively embarrassing how verklempt I get when MeFi threads end with everyone learning and growing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:54 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


A wealth of people said flat out that the comment was said with sexist intent. Saying otherwise requires a selective rewrite of history. And I'm not trying to come down on anyone who hated the framing/phrasing of the comment. It sucked. I've said so since forever. But all kinds of stuff was said about the comment's intent and for the record, the "obviously deserves the benefit of the doubt" camp had it right. That's just how things are.

That doesn't mean I'm trying to negate anyone's criticism of the framing of the comment. But the entire tone of this debate has been about shouting down the supporters of sexism. It certainly bears mention that positively no one ever intended to be sexist. There are still valid parts of the debate pertaining to inadvertent sexism, but it's kind of crappy to see what Senor Cardgage wrote and then retroactively claim it was a debate about framing and not intent. At some point, it probably behooves people to say, "Yeah, I probably accused you of a whole bunch of shit you didn't intend."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:09 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or not. Maybe I was reading a different MeTa.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:11 PM on July 16, 2013


But I think there are some liberals who voted for Obama because he is Black, (i know some), just as there is a contingent of people who will only listen to this woman because of her looks. I think that those folks are what's being mocked in this comment, imo.

Personally, I'm fairly oblivious to celebrities, and so i'd never heard of this woman, but I still got the point of the joke, and I still don't think the joke was meant to insult talk show lady for being a playboy model.
posted by windykites at 8:16 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like if you can get the point of the joke (IE, she's a pretty, irrelevant woman w. delusions of grandeur) without knowing who she is, that's indicative of the kind of generic sexism informing the joke itself.
posted by spunweb at 8:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


or maybe there are different interpretations of the joke depending on your points of reference. as has been said - it was tossed off and maybe didn't consider the broader implications for people with a different frame of reference, and is a bad fit for metafilter - but there are ways to read that joke as making fun of the people who specifically trust her advice because of her whole persona which includes cashing in on her looks.
posted by nadawi at 8:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’m not sure "different legitimate points of view" is a popular concept here. Good and Evil is big though.
posted by bongo_x at 8:40 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are way more alignments than that, dude. Come on.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am myself neutral cheepy.
posted by winna at 9:54 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The offending comment currently has 69 favorites. Coincidence or blatant misogyny? Hmmm...
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:59 PM on July 16, 2013


> Her celebrity, which derives directly from being an object of sexual lust for heterosexual men, grants her no qualifications to speak with authority on the safety or efficacy of vaccination. That this notion should still somehow be controversial speaks to degree to which we unfortunately value celebrity over all other considerations — even, apparently and sadly, on Metafilter.

It's not controversial, and no one here, in either this thread or the original one – unless I missed something – has argued that Jenny McCarthy has "qualifications to speak with authority on the safety or efficacy of vaccination". This discussion is about whether supposedly ironic, and maybe actually ironic, sexist or racist comments about people who are despised by most MeFites should be OK or not. This discussion does not boil down to 'which side are you on, pro-sexist or pro-woo?'
posted by nangar at 10:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


At some point, it probably behooves people to say, "Yeah, I probably accused you of a whole bunch of shit you didn't intend."

Not to get all tu quoque here, but you did characterize people who you thought were taking the joke too literally as being "willfully obtuse" and "spoiling for a fight," which is not particularly charitable.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Personally, I'm fairly oblivious to celebrities, and so i'd never heard of this woman, but I still got the point of the joke, and I still don't think the joke was meant to insult talk show lady for being a playboy model.

Thing is, it does insult talk show lady for being a playboy model. The fact that it 'borrows' somebody else's voice to do so (and insults them too in so doing) doesn't change that.
posted by Dysk at 12:41 AM on July 17, 2013


Not to get all tu quoque here, but you did characterize people who you thought were taking the joke too literally as being "willfully obtuse" and "spoiling for a fight," which is not particularly charitable.

But it really does seem like sometimes people are spoiling for a fight.

I think we do have a very strong, aligned contingent of feminists on Mefi. I'm glad we do. But I am sometimes put off by how antagonistic it feels in some of these threads. It's like people are expecting conflict, so they come with a defensive attitude, and that attitude actually creates the conflict in a self-fulfilling prophecy, and so on.

I really admire Senor Cardage for being so gracious here. I would like it if more often the users who ascribe sexist intentions where none were intended apologized for reading too much into stuff, too.

Ivan_Fyorodovich and I --I hope I don't cause offense by alluding to this, IF--we used to get pretty combative. Now, more often than not, I find myself favoring his comments. And even those times when we might not agree, his comments read honest and thoughtful to me. I can tell he has really put the time and effort into considering the issues and weighing them carefully.

I think only one thing has changed, really. Because we had clashed in the past, I think we got in the habit of assuming ill intent where there really was none, and that got in the way of our actually listening to each other. At least I think I may have been guilty of that.

I find that the more I come into a thread and actually parse what others are saying instead of making assumptions, the more likely I am to realize that I agree with the majority of what they have to say, and the rest is maybe not worth getting worked up about.

So maybe we could all benefit from doing more of that?

Just a thought. I will step down off my soapbox and shut up now.
posted by misha at 12:51 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seconding Misha. It's something I have to remind myself often, as a rampant opinion-clutcher, but I do try to remember that wisdom often comes through "strong opinions, weakly held".

It's a shame because even that phrase is easy to misconstrue (WHAT? YOU WANT ME TO JUST BE SWAYED BY ANY OLD TOSS?) but to me it means always remembering that whatever your opinion to start with, it can only gain quality through the incorporation of others' perspectives and experiences.
posted by greenish at 2:42 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


o_O
posted by de at 3:37 AM on July 17, 2013


I think we do have a very strong, aligned contingent of feminists on Mefi. I'm glad we do. But I am sometimes put off by how antagonistic it feels in some of these threads. It's like people are expecting conflict, so they come with a defensive attitude, and that attitude actually creates the conflict in a self-fulfilling prophecy, and so on.

Please. It's ridiculous to blame "feminists" for having a bad attitude and thereby "creat[ing] the conflict". Of course it's true that there wouldn't be a conflict if people didn't object to offensive comments, but nitpicking the precise way that people object is implying that it's not valid for them to object at all. The commenters in this thread have been polite and reasonable to a fault, and they are still being slammed for being a bunch of fighty humorless man-haters. It's ridiculous. There is no way to be polite enough that someone won't make this nonsense argument.

I'm coming to believe that shifting the conversation to "intent" is a dogwhistle for bigots. It's always irrelevant. What's in your heart doesn't matter, your actions and their effects in the world matter. When commenters are focused on that reality (the way a comment affects the conversation), switching the conversation to focus on the good intentions behind a comment is a derail. It's an attempt to draw attention away from systemic problems (if you don't think that focusing on women's appearance instead of their achievements, opinions, books, or literally anything else about them other than appearance is a sexist thing that happens then you're not paying attention) and making the conversation about what happened to be personally happening in one person's brain at one instant. It's denying the whole concept of societal problems.

This happened a lot recently with Paula Deen's racist comments and behavior. The primary defense her supporters give is that she didn't intend to be racist and is a good person in her heart. Who the fuck cares? Her behavior had the effect of perpetuating racism in the actual world where behavior actually matters. So it's reasonable that people react to her as a racist.
posted by medusa at 3:37 AM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


I also want to add that I'm surprised that there isn't more discussion of how "trading on appearance" is one of the few options women have to become rich and famous. I'm a woman and I want to be famous. Would you advise that I get a PhD, write a bunch of academic papers, and hope for the best, or pose for photos with my shirt off? It's not surprising when some people make the rational choice to use that path. The idea underlying the criticism of people like McCarthy and Hilton is that it's contemptible to pursue fame if you are a women. Men who are unaccomplished fame whores are not subjected to the same level of ridicule.
posted by medusa at 3:52 AM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


the commentors in this thread... are being slammed for being a bunch of fighty humorless man haters

I don't see that. I think, generally, people on both sides have been a mix of rude and polite. I don't see anyone calling anyone else a "man-hater". I get that this is a hot button issue for some folks, but come on. Nobody's said "yay sexisms", more debated whether or not there were sexisms, which is something that reasonable people can disagree on.
posted by windykites at 4:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So this attitude that women who seek fame are contemptible is out in full force in this thread about Amanda Palmer.
posted by medusa at 4:20 AM on July 17, 2013


To be fair, I think the (rather boring and predictable) grief in that thread is AP-specific. We get the same thing in Cory Doctorow threads, and he's not a woman.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:27 AM on July 17, 2013


So this attitude that women who seek fame are contemptible is out in full force in this thread about Amanda Palmer.

That's not really true.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:38 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


i don't think it's fair to cast this thread as the feminists against the non-feminists. i'm a very strong feminist (some would call me militant in some regards) and i disagree with the "this is obvious and rank sexism" line. i think we're all just going to have to agree to disagree about the particulars.
posted by nadawi at 6:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone actually think that McCarthy's position in society is solely due to her (nude) modelling career and sex appeal?

FFS, she sells books to moms about childrearing.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:12 AM on July 17, 2013


there is afp specific grief that i still think is informed at a base level by sexism - but that is something that a majority of metafilter won't agree with me on.
posted by nadawi at 6:14 AM on July 17, 2013


FFS, she sells books to moms about childrearing.

Next time you are in a bookstore, grab a dozen books on childrearing. Look at the author photos. Let me know how many unattractive women are doing well in the childrearing genre.

This isn't a gender based phenomenon. Sebastian Junger started what was referred to as "beefcake action adventure."

To pretend that looks had nothing to do with where McCarthy's at is disingenuous.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:16 AM on July 17, 2013


solely due

looks had nothing to do with


Who's pretending here?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:17 AM on July 17, 2013


her modeling career has gone alongside her mommy-author-activist career and she has used one to promote the other on multiple occasions. some people think this is unfair to bring up or should have been brought up in another way, others disagree.
posted by nadawi at 6:18 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I'm coming to believe that shifting the conversation to "intent" is a dogwhistle for bigots.

Just so we're clear, are you accusing misha of being a bigot? Because it sure seems like that's what you're doing.
posted by languagehat at 6:37 AM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


medusa: "The commenters in this thread have been polite and reasonable to a fault, and they are still being slammed for being a bunch of fighty humorless man-haters."

Can we get a citation on that? I'm pretty sure that's not what people are saying.

As for me, my civility meter has swayed some in both directions during this. But for anyone keeping score, you'll notice I initially thought the comment should stand, then came around before long to the idea it should be deleted. Its poor construction was always destined to piss people off.

It still frustrates me a bit that there was a context for reading the original comment that wasn't sexist that way, way, way far down thread a lot of people won't acknowledge. That doesn't matter to me for the sake of the comment or even for the sake of the conversation. It matters to me because I see MetaFilter as a group of largely like-minded people, many of whom are friends/potential friends.

And stuff like this makes me sad:
I'm coming to believe that shifting the conversation to "intent" is a dogwhistle for bigots. It's always irrelevant. What's in your heart doesn't matter, your actions and their effects in the world matter. When commenters are focused on that reality (the way a comment affects the conversation), switching the conversation to focus on the good intentions behind a comment is a derail.

I don't really know how to process that. I can engage with you, come to agree with you, and still if I insist that another user of this heavily progressive, empathy-focused community probably didn't mean to be a sexist and might not be an awful person, and that maybe that should affect how we talk to each other, the only possible explanation is I'm derailing as a dog whistle to bigots?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:49 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd guess that depends on the definition of insist. Medusa's comment didn't speak to disagreeing about intent, only "shifting the conversation" to that tack.
posted by cribcage at 7:03 AM on July 17, 2013


nadawi: "i don't think it's fair to cast this thread as the feminists against the non-feminists. i'm a very strong feminist (some would call me militant in some regards) and i disagree with the "this is obvious and rank sexism" line. i think we're all just going to have to agree to disagree about the particulars."

You gotta be careful with that. I'm pretty sure the people breaking it down like that have me in the non-feminist camp, and that would get howls of derisive laughter from anyone who has ever seen me tear up a wedding invitation for calling my wife "Mrs. [DirtyOldTown]" or sent my kid to his room for calling something a "boy's game."

How you stand IRL can be less important to people in these debates than how perfectly you agree with them in this post and these comments right this minute.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:09 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not for nothing, but I always regret my username in topics like this, because I worry people think the "Dirty" means dirty. It's a folk song about the factory town, Salford. It's a nice song. Nothing untoward about it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:12 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


cribcage: "I'd guess that depends on the definition of insist. Medusa's comment didn't speak to disagreeing about intent, only "shifting the conversation" to that tack."

Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's me that's being called a dog whistler to bigots.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:14 AM on July 17, 2013


eh, i have a long enough history of strong feminism on this site that if anyone wants to think i'm not a feminist because i read a joke differently than they did, that's their own problem.
posted by nadawi at 7:15 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


en forme de poire: "Not to get all tu quoque here, but you did characterize people who you thought were taking the joke too literally as being "willfully obtuse" and "spoiling for a fight," which is not particularly charitable."

No, it wasn't. And while I've absolutely come around on the criticisms of the comment itself, I'm still pretty much behind those two characterizations. If you'd like to disagree with me on that, just scroll past the part where it's being argued that intent isn't even worth considering and then past the part where it's explained about the secret dog whistling the bigots are doing around here.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:18 AM on July 17, 2013


I worry people think the "Dirty" means dirty. It's a folk song about the factory town, Salford.

FWIW, I've always thought "The Pogues !!" when seeing your username.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the people breaking it down like that have me in the non-feminist camp

I think part of the strategy for being effective in these situations is to realize that only you know what's in your heart and if some people have it wrong after you've done what you consider to be a good faith job at explaining yourself, that maybe there's just going to be a disconnect and everyone needs to move on.

I'm a feminist. I didn't delete that comment. If people think that makes me a non-feminist (and I'm not saying anyone is doing that) then we'll have to agree to disagree and move on from this. My general actions, in summary, here and in the world at large, are okay with me and consistent with me being a feminist. That means I can accept that people got unhappy and they have some valid points, and they need to accept that I made a choice and that I have some valid points.

Sometimes people state things fairly strongly here (oh let's be honest, often this happens) without really thinking that the strong statements they are making that could apply to people that they are right here talking to, might turn the conversation into something it's currently not.

If people really think there are people here who are bigoted, that is a thing they should say. Barring that, my feeling is always that language and the people who use it are sometime imprecise and people here are most likely not laterally calling people bigots in some sideways way when they could just come out and say it about you if they meant it about you.

More to the point DirtyOldTown, this risks turning this thread into being about you and you may just want to take the bigot question up with medusa over MeMail if they're not responding to you here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:20 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually, I think I'll probably just let it go. That stuck in my craw for a minute and I got mouthy, but no, I definitely don't want this to be about me. I apologize. Thanks for the discussion, everybody.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:22 AM on July 17, 2013


Not for nothing, but I always regret my username in topics like this, because I worry people think the "Dirty" means dirty. It's a folk song about the factory town, Salford. It's a nice song. Nothing untoward about it.

The first time I saw your username, I recalled the Roger Whittaker recording of this that my mother played often when I was growing up. Love that song.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone actually think that McCarthy's position in society is solely due to her (nude) modelling career and sex appeal?

FFS, she sells books to moms about childrearing.


The people that know about those are probably recent parents, and even then, some percentage, certainly not the whole lot. Prior to this thread, I had no idea, and I'm probably not alone. So yes, I think it's pretty safe to say that a large number of people that have McCarthy on their radar at all do so because of her modelling and TV career.
posted by LionIndex at 7:42 AM on July 17, 2013


I'm honestly baffled as to why intent seems so crucial to DirtyOldTown's understanding of the comment and this discussion. The only analysis where intent could possibly matter is the one where there's a presumption that the comment wasn't ironic, or that it was faux-ironic for plausible deniability.

Pretty much no one (except maybe lalex) thought the comment was in earnest. I obliquely raised the issue of faux-irony but not, I think you'll see if you re-read my comment, as an invitation to suspect it in Senor Cardage's comment but rather as part of my argument that ironic sexism can be very problematic in general.

So if you don't think that Senor Cardage wrote the comment in earnest and was, instead, being ironic, then we've all agreed about his intent.

Now, it may be that the comment was still sexist. This is where I think that DirtyOldTown is going awry. Something can be sexist, or racist, without any intent that it be. And, no, I don't mean this just in the very obvious way in which, for example, someone who's blatantly "racist" or "sexist" genuinely seems to believe that they're not. I mean this in the much more ubiquitous way that's true for pretty much everyone, including probably every one of us here — racism and sexism and the like are institutions and patterns of thought and habits that are endemic in a society and we participate in them without realizing it. It's unavoidable. That we've done so, or find out that we've done so, does not make us a "racist" or a "sexist".

It's a serious problem that complaints about racist or sexist speech or behavior is functionally equivalent in many people's minds to an accusation that someone is a "racist" or a "sexist" in this very pejorative sense that is very much an attack on someone's character. It's seen as an accusation that someone is a Bad Person. Sure, of course, there are people who fit that mold. But most complaints about these things, and especially within the context of comments and discussion within the MetaFilter community, are not at all like that. They're much more like, hey, that thing you just wrote has all sorts of racist/sexist stuff mixed in with it — you probably didn't intend it, but it's there.

Now, when we start arguing about this stuff people get angry. I don't want to excuse hurtful things that we write when we're angry, but I think we should understand them. On one side, feeling like you're being accused of being a "sexist" or a "racist" — that is, a Bad Person Who Should Be Shunned — naturally makes people feel really defensive and angry. And, usually, they're not really being accused of this, but per the previous paragraph, it's how it works, nevertheless. And, on the other side, you have the cloud of the silver lining that most people aren't actually "racists" and "sexists" — that is, most of the racism and sexism that people have to deal with every damn day is the stuff that's not done by those ogres who are "racist" and "sexist". It's done by well-meaning, ordinary people. Good people. So, if you deal with this stuff all the time, you get really frustrated that although what's it's really all about is what people are actually doing and saying, the discussion ends up being about what they intended. But that's rarely at issue. And when you speak up and say, hey, that thing right there isn't right, then almost without fail there's a barrage of typical responses that minimize, divert, and attack.

Earlier, misha wrote about how she and I had a bad patch where we didn't get along. In fact, I lost my temper and was an asshole to her. Ideally, we'd all take her advice and be much more charitable with each other and assume good-faith and so never be angry jerks in the first place. I think that this is more possible for less highly emotionally charged issues, though we should make an effort in these more difficult circumstances, too. But what happened with misha and I was that she forgave me for losing my temper and being shitty. In turn, that built some more trust between us and now even when we irritate each other we can return to a more congenial footing.

So, in these sorts of more difficult conversations, I think that we should accept that people are going to lose their tempers and be jerks — we need to be able to forgive them for this. Because on the one side, being the target of sexism and racism and the like really sucks. How much patience can we expect people to have? They're going to lose their temper. It's human, it's okay. And, on the other side, our culture has deeply stigmatized racism, and to a lesser extent sexism, and so any complaints about these things unfortunately put people far more strongly on the defensive than they should be. What people hear is that they're really bad people. They're going to feel embattled and they're going to lose their tempers. It's human, it's okay.

This is all true about homophobia and transphobia, too, of course.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:21 AM on July 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


LionIndex: " The people that know about those are probably recent parents, and even then, some percentage, certainly not the whole lot. Prior to this thread, I had no idea, and I'm probably not alone. So yes, I think it's pretty safe to say that a large number of people that have McCarthy on their radar at all do so because of her modelling and TV career."

I believe she's written nine books (well, 8, plus one on autism co-written with a physician,) most of which have made the NYT Bestseller list. Six have been about parenting. Her last book was about growing up poor and Catholic, and the one before that was about dating and relationships.

She's been in the public eye for a long time for a variety of reasons.
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, but I think there's still a decent percent of the population that doesn't know about the books. I think that's what informed the originating comment. So, if the original comment is just factually wrong, that's fine, but for someone who's unaware of her books the attention that gets paid to her vaccination opinions is absolutely mystifying. But I can see where the books got her a toehold of authority in the parenting sphere and that led to her being trusted with the anti-vax stuff.
posted by LionIndex at 8:47 AM on July 17, 2013


I'm curious to know why my comment in the latest Amanda Palmer thread, contrasting the way we treat Jenny McCarthy and her nudity and the way we treat Amanda Palmer and her nudity, was deleted.
posted by themanwho at 9:03 AM on July 17, 2013


Because it's needlessly dragging the existing Jenny McCarthy drama over to a new thread for no apparent reason and without any real substance, basically. It's okay to not care about Amanda Palmer but just skipping the thread is probably a better plan than crossing live wires like that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:06 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


She's been in the public eye for a long time for a variety of reasons.

Not really. Modeling is pretty much the sole reason she has a career at all, including her writing career. As far as I can tell no one ever said she was a bad bad person for modeling, just that she has relied upon modeling to prop her career up and that she lacks any other real talent. People can keep saying she is a writer and yeah great she is, but I've had experience with her writing and I am of the opinion that she is terrible at it. Sitting down and writing stories about yourself isn't hard, especially if you have a great editor to lean on, getting published is the hard part.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 9:18 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


but I've had experience with her writing and I am of the opinion that she is terrible at it.

Other people disagree, probably. I mean the ones who read her books.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:23 AM on July 17, 2013


Yeah, i've read through a bit of her first book out of curiosity. But maybe you're confusing good writing with good sales. Have you read any of her writing?
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 9:35 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


A wealth of people said flat out that the comment was said with sexist intent.

I... did not get that. I mean, I don't know what number constitutes a wealth, but I don't think this has been coming through strongly in this thread.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:35 AM on July 17, 2013


Modeling is pretty much the sole reason she has a career at all

I don't know how much value there is in continuing to mine this point after a few hundred comments; but on the off chance there's any, maybe it's worth noting that even people in this MetaTalk thread, which you'd think would be a pretty self-selecting audience, have said they didn't realize she had posed for Playboy. She's a celebrity and people recognize her, and that has value. That's why Disney (or whatever) buys her books.

I also think you're underestimating how difficult many people find it to sit down with a blank piece of paper. I've never read anything by Jenny McCarthy and I have no idea whether she uses ghostwriters, but writing nine intelligible books is no small task totally irrespective of getting them published.
posted by cribcage at 9:38 AM on July 17, 2013


Modeling is pretty much the sole reason she has a career at all

We all gt our start somehow. Stripping is the sole reason Diablo Cody has a career, but that doesn't detract from the fact that she won an Academy Award. Being a thug is pretty much the sole reason Danny Trejo has a career, but that doesn't detract from his extraordinary filmography. I mean, hell, Chaning Tatum was a stripper.

I don't think it's fair to minimize somebody's career because they got a start doing something we disapprove of. McCarthy doesn't claim Playboy as her credential when discussing parenting -- she claims her own background as a mother, and nobody actually says "Oh, she was in Playboy -- that must be how she's an expert!" Instead, they said "She's a mother of children with autism."

Of course, the didn't turn out to be meaningful, or even true, but I think that's where we should address her, rather than focus on parts of her career that we consider especially easy to mock. The issue with McCarthy is not that she was a nude model, it's that her arguments are bad.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:42 AM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


Tom Friedman is the worst writer ever and he sells a shit ton, and its because people like his writing. I suspect the same is with McCarthy.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:45 AM on July 17, 2013


I also think you're underestimating how difficult many people find it to sit down with a blank piece of paper.

And I think you're overestimating how easy it is for some people to tell other people about themselves.

I don't think it's fair to minimize somebody's career because they got a start doing something we disapprove of.

I don't think it's fair to wedge that into the conversation when nobody has done that here. Btw, she's still modeling.

I suspect the same is with McCarthy.

In the same way that Snookie was responsible for huge sales of Gucci bags, I suspect McCarthy's celebrity status has much more to do her book sales than her writing.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 9:55 AM on July 17, 2013


If someone were to dismiss the scientific achievements of Hedy Lamarr because Lamarr was also an actress renowned for her beauty, that someone would be rightly denounced as a sexist douchebag. That douchebaggery doesn't suddenly become okay if we disagree with or dislike the woman it's being directed at. Sexist statements don't stop being sexist just because they're made with noble intentions.
posted by Mo' Money Moe Bandy at 10:01 AM on July 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


We all gt our start somehow. Stripping is the sole reason Diablo Cody has a career, but that doesn't detract from the fact that she won an Academy Award.

And if she'd gone from modeling to writing academy-award winning screenplays or inventing spread-spectrum communications technology, people would respond to her differently than in this timeline, where she went from modeling to playing a crude bimbo version of herself on Singled Out, to portraying other bimbos or other crude bimbo versions of herself on other shows until she started writing parenting books in between her newer acting gigs, which I haven't seen but would bet a nice meal consist of either portraying bimbos or bimbo versions of herself.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:23 AM on July 17, 2013


Sexist statements don't stop being sexist just because they're made with noble intentions.

So are you saying I'm a sexist douchebag because I admire McCarthy for being smart enough to bank on her looks for so long, or for simply pointing out that I don't think she is talented as a writer or a comedic actor?
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 10:25 AM on July 17, 2013


bimbo version of herself on Singled Out, to portraying other bimbos or other crude bimbo versions of herself on other shows until she started writing parenting books in between her newer acting gigs, which I haven't seen but would bet a nice meal consist of either portraying bimbos or bimbo versions of herself.

Well, that's kind of going to overlap with "what roles is she going to be given". It's not like she has ultimate agency in determining what roles people will pay her to play. Maybe she doesn't get considered for other types of roles in the first place and she feels a need to keep her name in the limelight and does what she can to do so. Maybe the View position will change that.
posted by LionIndex at 10:33 AM on July 17, 2013


Except when she wrote Dirty Love for herself while her husband directed and produced the film. Although I don't think bimbo is such a great term to use, but if BU really wants to talk about diminishing women then he now has an actual reason.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 10:43 AM on July 17, 2013


Please. It's ridiculous to blame "feminists" for having a bad attitude and thereby "creat[ing] the conflict". Of course it's true that there wouldn't be a conflict if people didn't object to offensive comments, but nitpicking the precise way that people object is implying that it's not valid for them to object at all.

Medusa, I see I expressed my opinion badly here. That's on me, because I did a poor job wording it. I should have taken more care to explain that I felt the conflict comes from all sides.

I also feel that feminist threads especially are problematic in this regard because passions historically have gotten so heated we are all expecting conflict, and so come in with chips on our shoulders. I feel like we could all try to view others on the site with a less biased eye, instead of coming into them expecting a fight. ALL of us. Not all the feminists, but all of the site members.

I feel like showing willingness to aplogize can only add to greater understanding and agreement, especially when people who are not sexist but feel they have been labelled as such are feeling defensive. I feel like that's what arguing in good faith is about.

Of course it's true that there wouldn't be a conflict if people didn't object to offensive comments, but nitpicking the precise way that people object is implying that it's not valid for them to object at all.

This is what I am talking about, right here. Nowhere have I, or I think anyone in this thread, said it is not valid to object to comments if you find them offensive. The question is whether comments should be deleted for being offensive, and that is why context counts here.

I understand that sexism is a problem that you have to face on a daily basis, as I do, and that you are concerned with it being swept under the rug entirely, like it doesn't even matter.

But do you truly not feel that it is a leap at all for you to go from what I said, no matter how poorly worded, to accusations of bigotry? Or the contention that feminists in this thread are "being slammed for being a bunch of fighty humorless man-haters"? Really?
posted by misha at 10:46 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


is channing tatum still a stripper? does diablo cody go and do a feature tour of topless clubs when it's time to promote her movies? the point that's important for me (and might not be to others, but is the sticking point in a lot of the analogies) is that she is still actively a model who uses her modeling (and the persona attached to her as a model) to promote her books. i don't see anything at all wrong with her doing that. if i looked like jenny mccarthy i would ride that pony 'til the wheels fell off. i just think it means it's ok to discuss how her modeling informs her mommy-author-activist stuff, and how because she's pretty and rich, some people are more likely to think she's an authority on stuff she has no business discussing. i'm still not saying the joke was a good fit for metafilter, just commenting on why i think the larger discussion of her modeling isn't a derail in a thread about her books or media jobs.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Voting for deletion here, FWIW.

Instead of jumping into the specifics of the content of the comment, I think it's just wise to try to avoid satire on the internets. Too often its open to misinterpretation, and it's really hard to do satire in text. Just avoid it (I occasionally break this rule, and don't feel great about it when I do).

"In some ways, the sexist reactions to the modelling may have helped drive her descent into anti-vaxx quackery." - Wait, the death of the children is now the fault of the commentators on metafilter? I think that's going a bit far.

"Tom Friedman is the worst writer ever and he sells a shit ton" - Hold on, lets not leave Dan Brown out of the list, that's just not fair.
posted by el io at 11:29 AM on July 17, 2013


Well, Channing Tatum did make a movie about being a stripper, and stripped in it, so sort of?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:29 AM on July 17, 2013


and while doing so, basically the entire story was about how he used to be a stripper. and while diablo cody was promoting he book about being a stripper, that was the topic as well. still, the point remains, those are former careers that they draw on artistically later which makes it a different case that mccarthy since she's doing modeling simultaneously along side, and using it to promote, her writing.
posted by nadawi at 11:33 AM on July 17, 2013


And how would that influence whether her arguments are worth a damn or not?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2013


But the notion that her modeling lends her credibility is pretty weird. Yes, it makes her famous, but I have a hard time believing anybody is actually like, "She's a model so she must know about
vaccines." It is a pretty weird motivation to assign to anyone.
posted by chrchr at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anybody feel the modeling lends her credibility? It forward her in the public eye, but her case for credibility is that she's a mother, and she did coauthor the autism books with (what I presume to be a very bad) doctor.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:41 AM on July 17, 2013


It only supposedly lends her credibility as part of a hugely shakey chain of arguments that posits that it's the only thing she is known for and therefore anyplace the poor chump anti-vax mums who pay attention to her bullshit are "sexist" and slut shaming her is okay.

It's a house of cards constructed to support this one shitty joke, basically.
posted by Artw at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


her celebrity is her credibility. her celebrity is created originally and continuing to be informed by her modeling. i've already said up thread a few times that i personally know straight women who are fans of her modeling and of her mommy books. not all of her books are mommy books or about autism. the non-autism books she seems more likely to promote using her modeling, and those books help promote the autism books. it's all connected.

it's not about whether she should be taken seriously or not because she takes her top off, it's that some people do seem to think that because she's famous (for being pretty) and rich (so she can afford the best treatment) she must be right about the vaccine stuff. it helps that her whole persona is based upon saying f-you to the man - in her modeling she was the pinup girl for people who like a girl who didn't mind burping or telling a dirty joke. in her tv appearances and howard stern interviews she put forward the persona of being super fun and loving sex and being very much not what the establishment wanted from the women it oogled (that she was part of a whole movement of this is neither here nor there). the anti-vax stuff is another extension of that (and why you might find overlap in her fanbases) - she's been bucking the status quo (or selling that story) the whole time, so some were more likely to trust her "don't trust the doctors" stuff.
posted by nadawi at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


And why would people WANT to construct a house of cards to support one shitty joke? Because she is disliked and everything should be fair game, apparently.

It's a shitty attitude and anyone who cops it is no better than a freeper.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


still nope! and it's starting to become really grating that you keep insisting that's the only motivation for defending the sentiment behind the joke (since nearly everyone still participating in this conversation agrees the joke is a bad fit for metafilter).
posted by nadawi at 11:55 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well we've gotten rid of the notion that "satire" was the issue so if we keep knocking away at it maybe we'll get somewhere, eh?
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on July 17, 2013


Does anybody feel the modeling lends her credibility? It forward her in the public eye, but her case for credibility is that she's a mother, and she did coauthor the autism books with (what I presume to be a very bad) doctor.

As a point of information one of her collaborators, Andrew Wakefield, is a doctor in the sense of having an MD, but is not a doctor in the sense of being able to practise medicine in the country where he is registered. He was struck off by the British Medical Council in 2010, over his research into the MMR vaccine's link to autism and bowel disorders.

I don't know what her other medical collaborator Jerry Kartzinel's line on the link between vaccination and autism is - he appears to be primarily involved in autism therapies rather than vaccination (i.e. is not a competent authority on vaccination, although as an MD might know more about the basic science than the man or woman in the street). However, there is a saying about lying down with dogs and waking up with fleas which probably factors in here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2013


Bunny Ultramod: "...with (what I presume to be a very bad) doctor."

I looked him up. His name is Jerry Kartzinel. Bio. He's a pediatrician. An MD who now says he treats (and cures) chronic diseases in children. Runs an website called mending autism and a small line of food additive products, including enzyme powders, fiber powders, Omega-3 oils, etc. Seems to promote an "holistic" approach to medicine. In the 'combining allopathic and naturopathic treatments' sense common to many board certified physicians who branch into alternative health care.

His fourth son has autism. The bio says that diagnosis triggered his shift from 'traditional to alternative' medicine. Again, branching into alternative medicine / health care is not an unusual choice for many folks who have been diagnosed (or had their kid diagnosed) with a chronic disease.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2013


Really, nadawi, I don't get it. I've read everything here. Maybe I'm dumb, but I don't understand the rationale for her ongoing modeling career having anything to do one way or another with her anti-vax advocacy. That's not your problem or anything, but it's where I am.
posted by chrchr at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: " (i.e. is not a competent authority on vaccination, although as an MD might know more about the basic science than the man or woman in the street)."

One would hope that someone who had practiced pediatric medicine would at the very least understand their value, mechanism of action and track record.
posted by zarq at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2013


It's a shitty attitude and anyone who cops it is no better than a freeper.

And they vote Republican!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on July 17, 2013


Honestly, if you can only think in terms of teams and side taking and all other actions are arbitrary you might as well vote Republican as all things are equal.
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on July 17, 2013


Honestly, if you can only think in terms of teams and side taking...

...and freepers and non-freepers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're so very close to getting the point there Blazecock.
posted by Artw at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2013


tom cruise's acting career is pertinent to his anti-psychiatry activism because without his celebrity, which he continues to grow through his acting, he gets bigger and bigger platforms to tell us all about the dangers of taking medication for post partum depression. sometimes while promoting his acting he also promotes his religious woo.

mccarthy's modeling is one of the ways she enhances her celebrity and she uses her modeling to promote her books. her modeling and celebrity have given her a much bigger platform than most mothers with children who have health difficulties. also, some of her modeling fans became her anti-vax fans. there isn't a big bright line between those two ongoing careers. the rationale for discussing them together is that they are linked. that's about as plainly as i can say it. i'm not slut shaming her because she shows her body - i'm saying that she shows her body to promote her whole line of work, mommy activism and all.
posted by nadawi at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2013


can you two get a room or something?
posted by nadawi at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


zarq: Oh, absolutely - although the "MMR vaccination causes IBD and autism" stuff grew out of gastroenterology originally, and Wakefield then became a pathologist to pursue it.

(The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Family Physicians are strongly of a mind that childhood immunizations are a good thing and should be done, but there's no sanction, as far as I know, for a member expressing a heterodox view.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:18 PM on July 17, 2013


can you two get a room or something?

Seriously, be done with this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: " Seriously, be done with this."

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2013


Is fame value-free? And is credibility?

For a lot of ordinary people, seeing another person as "famous" comes without much examination of why they are famous. It allows celebrities who have transgressed to get a seat on talk shows alongside those who have done good for their fellow man.

If fame really is value-free, then that would explain why McCarthy gets to sit next to a doctor on television and assert her opinions with as much credibility as a trained epidemiologist. But if fame is not value-free, then I could be forgiven for saying, "This person gained their fame -- and maintains it -- for something with little redeeming value. I should not automatically ascribe equal weight to everything that they say, in every domain of knowledge, just because I recognize their face & name."

Note that this is not the same as immediately discounting everything they say, like "Oh, the pretty lady? Nah, she is pretty so everything she says must be wrong."
posted by wenestvedt at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


If fame really is value-free, then that would explain why McCarthy gets to sit next to a doctor on television and assert her opinions with as much credibility as a trained epidemiologist. But if fame is not value-free, then I could be forgiven for saying, "This person gained their fame -- and maintains it -- for something with little redeeming value. I should not automatically ascribe equal weight to everything that they say, in every domain of knowledge, just because I recognize their face & name."

And there are millions of ways you can do that without slut-shaming or adopting a manichaean philosophys where slut-shaming is acceptable when performed by the "good" against the "bad".
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


running order squabble fest: "but there's no sanction, as far as I know, for a member expressing a heterodox view.)"

True. Even when Mark Geier had his license revoked, his pediatric board certification was not, as far as I remember.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Note that this is not the same as immediately discounting everything they say, like "Oh, the pretty lady? Nah, she is pretty so everything she says must be wrong."

This idea is what certain people still have trouble understanding, again and again, it appears.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Very well put, wenestvedt. I think "fame is value free" is where I'm not seeing eye-to-eye with some people in this thread. Thanks.
posted by chrchr at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2013


Seriously, be done with this.

Believing Freepers and "nonfreepers" to be the same bar team colors and that the same statements can come from either so long as its directed at the opposite team color is exactly the problem here, so it seemed appropriate to respond to that.

Anyway, the mod has spoken, shitty cheap shots have tacit approval, and I am done with this thread.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on July 17, 2013


But the notion that her modeling lends her credibility is pretty weird. Yes, it makes her famous, but I have a hard time believing anybody is actually like, "She's a model so she must know about
vaccines." It is a pretty weird motivation to assign to anyone.


Yeah, it isn't particularly rational, but it really is a thing.
posted by logicpunk at 12:48 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


shitty cheap shots have tacit approval

Considering that much of the recent discussion has been a bunch of pot shot arguments against shadow men, that's kind of a surprising turn.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2013


I did not understand whether jessamyn's comment was directed at ArtW and Blazecock Pileon for the back and forth or at nadawi for suggesting they get a room.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:56 PM on July 17, 2013


That was a quotative "hear hear". Getting a room is what needed to happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:59 PM on July 17, 2013


Huh. I read it as "stop suggesting to two people having an argument that they are actually hot for each other and need to have sex"...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:06 PM on July 17, 2013


just because it came up - when i said it i wasn't thinking of them having sex at all - it was an actual request that they take it somewhere else, a room, memail, etc and stop fogging up the thread with their "no, you" silliness.
posted by nadawi at 2:10 PM on July 17, 2013


Yeah, sorry, mod comment was not an endorsement of some sexualized read on that. "Get a room" has been pretty thoroughly neutralized for me at this point as a plain suggestion to make a discussion private.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:14 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, OK - as a data point, I still hear it as explicitly a Beatrice-and-Benedick move, so it's useful to get that insight into the local idiolect.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:31 PM on July 17, 2013


or at nadawi for suggesting they get a room.

Whoops, sorry not that at all. Apologies for being not clear. I was with nadawi on this one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing anybody is actually like, "She's a model so she must know about vaccines."

I suspect there is a little of "She's a model, so I know she's not part of the big pharma/allopathic medicine conspiracy" feeding into it, though. And also a little of the "I feel I know her like a friend", too.
posted by ambrosen at 3:03 PM on July 17, 2013


Jenny McCarthy's sister went to high school with the sister of a friend of mine. At her basketball games, opposing fans would chant "Playboy" to humiliate her and throw her off her game. Which is pretty much the same thing that's going on here, except I guess the sister wasn't "guilty" of posing nude.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:45 PM on July 17, 2013


Vaccine debates cause oughtism. As in you really ought to get a room.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


*groan*

Spiggott, this thread was juuuust keeping its head above water until that pun. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!
posted by wenestvedt at 4:37 PM on July 17, 2013


Beatrice-and-Benedick move...

Off to google.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:47 PM on July 17, 2013


Oh, that Beatrice and Benedick.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:48 PM on July 17, 2013


Is it OK if I still have a huge crush on her cousin?
posted by jonmc at 4:48 PM on July 17, 2013


I understand those who see the comment as objectifying (because bodyparts). But how is saying "nice tits" slut shaming?
posted by misha at 8:00 PM on July 17, 2013


But how is saying "nice tits" slut shaming?

It's demeaning her for showing them to the public. It also reduces her worth in any other capacity (actor, author, activist, etc.,) to "someone whose claim to fame is showing her breasts."
posted by zarq at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


But how is saying "nice tits" slut shaming?

The comment starts with, "As someone whose tits we've seen on a number of occasions, Jenny seemed like the right person..." It's not just about "nice tits" but about "We've seen your [nice] tits, and so we're dismissing you."
posted by jaguar at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


*sigh*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:02 PM on July 17, 2013


People can keep saying she is a writer and yeah great she is, but I've had experience with her writing and I am of the opinion that she is terrible at it.

Some of us really enjoyed Blood Meridian.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:34 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Irradicated is probably not the word to use in place of eradicated, but I agree there are better ways to point out McCarthy's sex object celebrity status doesn't alone qualify her for anything other than being a sex object.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:43 PM on July 17, 2013


"The View" distinguished itself with the broadcast journalism cred (and star power) of Exec. Producer Barbara Walters, and noises have been made (sometimes) about the hosts having news credentials...but that's a bit of a red herring, since the whole premise is the presentation of a discussion based on the hosts' personal perspectives/opinions.

But c'mon, these shows are like the fantasy football league version of our not-entirely-voluntary/highly situational social connections. So I think it's silly and yes, sexist to assert that Jenny McCarthy's modeling qualifications, i.e., her nice tits, make her any more or less qualified than any other daytime talk show host to bloviate on any given topic in a semi-staged discussion featuring built-in interpersonal drama for our entertainment.

(Related: anyone can write book without any professional subject-matter qualifications, as long as there is a marketable, non-fraudulent angle that will move the title.)

IMO, this is pretty squarely a "The World Is Sexist" issue, not a "Sexism On Metafilter Policy Problem." I think this could have been legitimately argued in thread just fine in a totally on-topic way and that the comment called out wasn't so egregious as to call for deletion, given that a similar sentiment leaked out all over the place in other comments.
posted by desuetude at 10:47 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"*sigh*"

I can only guess what you meant by this, but I assume that it's that you think that jaguar is criticizing the comment as if it were in earnest and not satire.

What we choose to satirize in our enemies says a great deal about ourselves.

The best way to understand this is just to step back from satire and look at how we choose to attack our enemies directly. As mentioned early on in this thread, it's very revealing how progressives will attack conservative women. It's very common to be extremely sexist in ways that they'd otherwise never be. I've been guilty of this with Ann Coulter. I defended that choice here years ago, and I was egregiously wrong. The reason that people do this is because we quite naturally use what we intuitively know are the sharpest weapons available. Racist, misogynist, and homophobic language and insults often are.

When it's more subtle, when we're satirizing or when we're just more self-aware, the same thing is still often going on — it comes out in what we choose to target in our enemies, what we choose to satirize.

The larger context here is that women who are public figures are attacked for their appearance, for their sexual attractiveness. It can go either way — they can be attacked for being ugly, or they can be attacked for being attractive in the sense that they shouldn't otherwise be taken seriously. Such attacks are prima facie suspicious.

In this case, of course, we have an example where a public figure has unambiguously traded on her sexual attractiveness. But it's not clear that this is an especially justifiable means to criticize her — it's not as if being a sex object is any more unrelated to medical and scientific competency than is being an actor, or a journalist, or a politician. It's not as if there aren't a great many other public figures acting as advocates without any clear competency in the topic. Sure, we can specifically say that what she's known for has nothing to do with vaccination. But dwelling on it ... that's very questionable.

And satirizing her supporters by emphasizing it in the most vulgar, sexist way? That's extremely questionable.

That something's ironic doesn't mean that it's immune from criticism and this is because there's significance in what one chooses to present ironically. If I choose to satirize a racist attack on Obama and use the most offensive language and stereotypes possible, that's significant and I'm not immune from criticism for those choices just because it's irony. One would rightly ask why I felt the need to put those precise words, that particular expression, in someone's mouth.

Were I to write something like that, does that make me a "racist?" No, because probably what I think I'd be doing is presenting the awfulness of the people who hate Obama in the most emotionally-affecting terms possible. But my choices would reflect the racism in our culture, there's a reason why I would make them.

And this sort of thing is even more dangerous when it's not satirizing opposition to our allies, but satirizing support of our enemies — it's more dangerous because we're putting words in someone else's mouth that apply to someone we dislike. So there's both animus and a lessened responsibility for what we've written.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:15 AM on July 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Would the comment be acceptable if McCarthy was on "our" side?

I believe that if McCarthy was pro-vax and an anti-vaxxer came in with the same satirical comment but directed at the other side, MeFi would (rightly) be all over the commenter. We would be happy that someone in a position of cultural power was taking a stand for something important, regardless of their credentials and we would excoriate the commenter for reducing her to her "tits".

Though i recognize the questionable value of a hypothetical, this rings true to me. And it says everything about the comment at hand: insofar as people give the sexism in the comment a pass it is because they disagree with her opinions and actions.

The sexism is still there, though.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:32 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


is anyone arguing at this point in the thread that joke was a good fit for metafilter? or is it just fun to argue against points no one has made in the last couple hundred comments?
posted by nadawi at 7:41 AM on July 18, 2013


The comment in question retains it's potential sarcasm to a degree because Ms McCarthy continues to market herself as that particular type of sexualized personal. On the new years eve broadcast she was an announcer with a particularly non-intellectual repartee, the big payoff was would a random sailor or solder be the one to get to have a midnight kiss.

People that go to great marketing effort to play down their analytic abilities to some degree make themselves fair game for sarcasm, especially when there is so much potential for harm to children.
posted by sammyo at 7:55 AM on July 18, 2013


Sarcasm, sure, but gemdered attacks aren't necessary.
posted by chrchr at 9:42 AM on July 18, 2013


Sarcasm, sure, but gemdered attacks aren't necessary.

Is that like Bedazzling?
posted by bongo_x at 10:09 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, actually. It was a typo and I meant to say "gendered".
posted by chrchr at 11:26 AM on July 18, 2013


Okay, I was a garr garr garr for a day, and had to calm down before I could compose this comment calmly:

MetaTalk is full of "why was this deleted?" posts. Usually, the posts reference comments that were tone inappropriate, however provided an important piece of information. The resulting MetaTalk is therefore a discussion of whether the information should be sacrificed in favour of removing inflammatory tone, or whether the information should stand in spite of it's poor delivery. I agree with these discussions and think that we really do need to have them, even if I tend to find them a bit repetitive and annoying at times.

Yet here we are, heavily debating a comment that has no nutritional value. The Greek Chorus of Mefi unanimously agrees that the post was sexiest on some level. If the post also happened to provide a concrete piece of information, I would say that this Meta would be worth it, but it isn't. The comment was a crass attempt at satire that failed in both intent and execution. The thread and community would lose nothing by its deletion.

That's not to say that I'm assuming bad faith on the part of the original commenter. I don't think that he/she meant to light a fire under MetaFilter. She/he probably was just as upset at the rampant sexism in the media as the rest of us, and tried to convey that with humour. Even in that case though, global media sexism isn't new and the comment wasn’t conveying anything that everyone didn't already know.

I just can't see a good reason not to delete it. In my opinion, the only reason to keep it up would be to calm the "all posts need to stand because I'm afraid of nanny-state takeovers and have a persecution complex" people as well as the "I have been silenced all my life"ers.
posted by Shouraku at 11:31 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shouraku - the reason it wasn't deleted is answered pretty immediately by a mod. at this point, when a comment has been there for a while and is a larger part of the thread and also spawns a metatalk thread it is very unlikely to be deleted. it staying at this point isn't an endorsement by the mods, just the way it all shook out.
posted by nadawi at 1:12 PM on July 18, 2013


Nadawi - I don't believe that it's endorsed by the mods or expect that it will be deleted, but I did want to offer my opinion on the matter, which is what I assume that MeTa is for.
posted by Shouraku at 2:29 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the comment is being tolerated by a lot of people because the part about Jenny McCarthy's tits is balanced by the part about the dead child -- (even though the dead child in this case is fictional).

It's the thing about how you're allowed to transgress the usual boundaries if your boundaries have been transgressed.

This has been said or implied by some of the earlier comments. But I haven't seen the principle itself questioned yet in this thread (forgive me if I missed a post where it was).

What it makes me think of is the capital punishment debate. Some people are against capital punishment because the wrong people are often executed (i.e. a technological argument, which e.g. DNA testing works to solve). But the deeper argument against capital punishment is a moral one: does it become morally sound to execute somebody because they killed somebody first? Or do we have to keep refraining from killing people (unless we are in immediate danger from them) no matter how bad the "other side" is?

Personally I did not like the tits comment and would have been happy to see it deleted, but I think this larger issue (is there such a thing as "balancing out" sexism if the person herself is crappy enough (in either a sexist (Playboy model; sexist TV show; whatever) (the "tit-for-tat" model (SORRY)) or any other (in this case, anti-vaccine) way?))
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:06 AM on July 19, 2013


DMelanogaster: "is there such a thing as "balancing out" sexism if the person herself is crappy enough"

No. Just because a person is vile, it does not make attacking via sexism ok, because that's attacking an entire class of people who are not related to that person's vileness.

That concept only works if you think of sexism as only a violation of politeness, rather than problematic in it's own right.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:28 AM on July 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sexism is bad.

The joke was a satire of the sexist culture in which the US lives. It was an ironic voicing of the male gaze, especially when it pertains to celebrities, MOST ESPECIALLY women, and how easily manipulated our sexist culture tends to be even on subjects in which the sexual appeal is CLEARLY dissimilar / distinct from the factual appeal.

The joke itself isn't sexist, really. It is something a sexist person would say in this culture, and is spot on. Twenty-something MRA dudes are not the demographic of The View, it is true. But the ironic voicing in the joke is exactly what our misogynist, celebrity-worshipping, science-denying culture represents.

Irony and satire do not translate globally and effectively on the web.

A lot of this thread seems to be to be tilting at sexist windmills. That's okay with me, sexist windmills are shitty windmills and deserve tilting. I find it hard to believe that so many people don't see the obvious nature, to me, of the joke - giving voice to the default shitty perspective that is White Male America.

When I read it, I said in my head - "Yep. That's what the guys I knew in high school in the 90s would say, and that kinda sucks." not "Yep, women who choose to be publicly sexual have no valid opinions."
posted by lazaruslong at 12:14 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I find it hard to believe that so many people don't see the obvious nature, to me, of the joke - giving voice to the default shitty perspective that is White Male America.

I find it hard to believe that you don't see that absolutely everybody sees the obvious nature of the joke. They are objecting to the joke itself. They are saying that even if it is "giving voice to the default shitty perspective that is White Male America," it is doing so in a way that is offensive to women. The person who posted the comment has acknowledged that and apologized for it. If you still don't understand it, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by languagehat at 12:17 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


After more than a decade on the web, I never find it hard to believe when someone doesn't see what is crystal clear to me.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think absolutely everybody does see the obvious nature of the joke, no. That seems fairly obvious from this thread.

I guess there's a disconnect between ironic

"yeah, that's sadly true and sucks and let's be in solidarity about its suck-itude via this jokey voicing"

and

"that perspective remains offensive even if it's done ironically to give a voice to the clearly shitty nature of our misogynist society".
posted by lazaruslong at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2013


I don't believe that it's endorsed by the mods or expect that it will be deleted, but I did want to offer my opinion on the matter, which is what I assume that MeTa is for.

oh, absolutely. i wasn't trying to silence you or anything. when you said :

I just can't see a good reason not to delete it. In my opinion, the only reason to keep it up would be to calm the "all posts need to stand because I'm afraid of nanny-state takeovers and have a persecution complex" people as well as the "I have been silenced all my life"ers.

it sounded to me like were expecting it to be deleted unless the mods were afraid of backlash or something - so i was just explaining, in case it wasn't clear or you weren't aware, why this comment would almost certainly stand at this point and that the reason had nothing to do with with calming people with a persecution complex.
posted by nadawi at 12:36 PM on July 19, 2013


....and upon re-reading that statement, I now realize that while I am a privileged white male and therefore don't have that perspective on this particular issue, I am also a survivor of childhood sexual assault and do not appreciate or enjoy ironic voicings of rape issues.

Retracted and rescinded, and apologies for my initial ignorance.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I am also a survivor of childhood sexual assault and do not appreciate or enjoy ironic voicings of rape issues."

Yeah, that's a good example for illustrating how problematic this is. It's really tempting to use irony to call attention to an offensive viewpoint but there's all sorts of ways you can unintentionally end up reinforcing that viewpoint in doing so. I, personally, am not angry at Senor Cardage or anyone else who acts on this rhetorical impulse. I've done it. I've done worse and also from good intentions.

I think it's unfortunate that this thread has had any sort of chastising tone or whatever because I think it's unnecessary and mostly beside the point. Sometimes, of course, we're definitely concerned here about calling out someone's bad behavior. But in this case, it's just a bad comment that was unintentionally bad. It happens. I'd prefer that it had been deleted, but it's good that we talked about it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:04 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Yet here we are, heavily debating a comment that has no nutritional value. The Greek Chorus of Mefi unanimously agrees that the post was sexiest on some level. If the post also happened to provide a concrete piece of information, I would say that this Meta would be worth it, but it isn't. The comment was a crass attempt at satire that failed in both intent and execution. The thread and community would lose nothing by its deletion.

We're not losing anything by having it stand. In fact, we gained a mostly well-behaved metadiscussion about this particular moderation decision and some of the issues at play. There is room for comments that some people think are not very well-stated and/or disagreeable. Looks like the system is working just fine.
posted by desuetude at 5:58 PM on July 19, 2013


great title!
posted by telstar at 11:52 PM on July 19, 2013


At this point, Paris Hilton is famous for things other than being the child of wealthy people - offspring who used family money to hire people to help make her famous. None of the things she has done subsequent to that can overshadow the starting point or should be ignored. (If she does something new that’s worth noting, perhaps that would overshadow her entre into the world of being famous.)

In our glorious past, Dr. Joyce Brothers, who was a PhD, became famous initially by cheating on a game show. That was her real breakout. And then she spent decades being a famous Dr. on TV.

Jenny McCarthy built and spent much of her career banking on the idea that people wanted to see her body and see her be a certain type of woman. When she had a child with special needs, she switched over to the "I am the most specialist snowflake of all/because I’m a MOTHER" pastiche of femininity.

When it comes to comments about her being nekkid, my view is, she started it. I'd rather ignore people who want to be seen in the nude and also the people who want to look, but they seem to be working in concert and they are as much a part of my life as people who put that gross dyed relish on hot dogs.

“Who to pay attention to” – Americans don’t do this well.

(Very close friend worked on the TV show with Ms. McCarthy back in the day. She was a pleasure to work with as a human being. Not an especially strong humor bone.

People in the childrens health field tell me that there are clues here and there indicating that her son has a certain type of seizure disorder and is being properly treated for that – which suggests that she does or should know darn well what is really going on with her son but has another story for the public. I would not enjoy working with her on her child’s regular medical issues knowing the disconnect between how he appears to be treated and what she advocates for other people’s children. So, for doctors and clinicians, perhaps not a pleasure to work with?)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:57 AM on July 28, 2013


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