Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pinterest Bingo, part 1 of what will probably be many

Oh Pinterest, you are such a source of wonder and fucked-up-ness.

To wit:

Let's break this down a bit, shall we?

First off, PMS is a real thing in the world, that real people experience. Yes, women are real people. All people who have biologically female bodies are real people. RADICAL NOTION, I KNOW, but stay with me here.

Secondly, PMS relates to the changes in hormones female-bodied people experience as part of typical female-bodiedness. PMS doesn't make more things annoying: the pain, discomfort, and hormonal changes instead take away resources from dealing with other shit. If someone is angry at you for something while they're experiencing PMS, they're angry about it all of the rest of the time too, they just have less resources to put up with your shit at this time, so they're not going to play along and just swallow their discontent down.

Next, can we please get rid of the idea that emotions are horrible and weak and undesirable? We are humans. We have emotions. We're kind of supposed to. Propagating the idea that we should suppress them leads to a whoooole lot of really fucked up people, doing fucked up things. If we aren't allowed to have our own feelings and express them, no one else is allowed to have feelings either, and we're not allowed to have feelings for them. We're also not allowed to have empathy if we're not allowed to have emotions. And without empathy, you get to places where it's possible for someone to witness a rape and think "it's not my business to come forward", among many, many other things.

Plus, if we're not allowed to have emotions, that's an opportunity to recast anyone who does show emotion as weak and less-than. And it's often applied to women, but also to men. It's where we get the insults "sissy", "pussy", "crybaby", "oversensitive", etc. No one wants to be any of those things, right? Well, it's because the underlying assumption is that emotions are bad.

Also, can we please get away from from using bitch as a way to demean women who aren't doing what society tells them to, i.e. shut up and look pretty? Guess what kids. Complaining and calling attention to fucked-up-ness is part of getting the wrong things fixed. But while if women do it, it's bitching, but if men do it, it's seizing an opportunity for growth, and showing good analytical skills, and shit like that. Calling a woman who is pissed, who is not sitting demurely in the corner, who is calling you on your shit a bitch is just another way of rationalizing dismissing her concerns.

The joke also hinges not only on emotionalism and non-quiet women being bad, but on them OMG FINDING YOU. OH NOES, NOT AN UPSET WOMAN UP IN MY PIECE, NOOOOES. Seriously, the laugh is supposed to be that "ha ha that's funny because it's a little horrifying and scary to contemplate" laugh. You're supposed to laugh because it's what you don't want to happen, and OMG isn't it great those bitches DON'T have GPS? HAR HAR better not give her one for Christmas! Which, while being with someone who is upset, angry, crying, etc. may not be fun, per se, I really question the notion that it's so terrible that it should be avoided at all costs. I can certainly see where if you're not used to dealing with even your own emotions, it can be utterly terrifying, because you don't have the language and capacity to cope, but it's still not the worst possible thing in the world. And, is another example of how that lack of empathy and suppression of emotion can have a real impact.

So yeah, this is a huge post about one little picture. But this picture communicates some very specific messages. And pictures like these are part of how those messages propagate. This one is selling the message that women are bad, emotions are bad, and dealing with emotions is a terrible fate. Seriously, at least four sexist tropes in one picture. With the free space, that is totally bingo.

1 comment:

  1. First off, I like the "pinterest bingo" tag. Good addition.

    It's really rare that I PMS. It's possible that I only PMS when I ovulate, which would yeah, make it pretty rare. But you know what I've had a lot of? People, usually but not always dudes, who accuse me of PMSing or "being on the rag" when I'm angry, sad, or upset. Because there's no other reason to be angry, sad, or upset, right? It must be because I'm at the mercy of my girlish hormones.

    So using "LOL PMS" as a joke goes a long way toward diminishing the feelings and experiences of women as well. It's a way of countering whatever it is they're angry, upset, or sad about with an excuse that's THEIR fault. It's a way of making their legitimate feelings and experiences less than and irrelevant. It's a power play. It's not JUST saying "emotions are bad," it's saying "YOUR emotions are IRRELEVANT because you think with your UTERUS and are HYSTERICAL."