Splitsider

 

On The Lost Roles of Gilda Radner

@Bradford Evans, it's patronizing to both genders, by definition of the word. But it definitely makes a difference what context it's used in. For example, there's a difference between Shane McGowan singing "Let me go, boys" in a Pogues song and someone saying the phrase "Boys will be boys," which (when people are talking about men, not actual boys) can be used to dismiss asshole behavior, but also implies men have no control over themselves. I don't like calling women girls (or calling men boys) in any context, but there's a difference between calling women girls just as a counterpart to "guy" and, say, using a term like "girl's basketball." I have friends of both genders who use the word the same way they would "guy," and while I don't like it, I don't find it as disturbing as when people use it in reference to a woman in a field hostile to them or where women have to claw through a lot of bullshit just to be taken seriously. I'm not an athlete or a comedian, but I sympathize a lot with women in those fields because they have to put up with more bullshit than what perhaps a woman doctor or lawyer would (although, I'm not a doctor or lawyer, so I could be wrong there). To be fair, what made seeing the word "girls" in your article frustrating to me is that I was coming to it from the context of knowing women comedians have to put up with a lot of bullshit, and you obviously just meant "girl" as "female guy." I know calling a someone in her early 20's a woman doesn't feel natural for most people, so the problem there is more that there isn't a "guys" or "bros" or "dudes" for women as it is blatant sexism. I think it was especially jarring for me to see the word right away in your article because even though Gilda Radner was the first person hired for SNL, she still had to deal with that "women can't be funny" attitude. I saw a doc about the show's early years that talked about how Jane Curtin couldn't stand John Belushi because he had that attitude, although he would say Gilda was an exception. We're both just looking at the word's use differently, which is not the worst thing in the world. As I've said I don't like the word in any context, but what people say isn't up to me (nor would I want it to be). We're not going to feel the same way about the word "girl." Not a huge deal. @Jason Farr@facebook, you're right that everyone should be mindful of what they say, but there's a difference between being careful that what you say doesn't stereotype an entire group of people and being careful that what you say doesn't come across as hostile to an individual. Both are nice things to think about, but when I see something that is condescending to a whole group, it's hard for me to give a fuck about individual feelings. Again, I think it comes back to the context you're bringing to it, and I think it's harder to understand that attitude of "Fuck it, I don't have to explain myself to you" when you're coming from a position of privelege. I honestly think it's really awesome that you talked to a friend about the calling adult women girls issue. Internet comment boards are a place where you can be an asshole with impunity if you want to, so it's refreshing to see you see an issue and actually think about it and discuss it. The fact is the woman you talked to isn't offended by the use of the word "girls" across the board and I am. She doesn't speak for me and I don't speak for her, and (I'm assuming) neither of us claims to speak for the other. As I said above, calling women girls and calling men boys is patronizing by definition, so when I say I'm bothered by the use in any context, it's for that reason, not that I think all women would agree with me. But I think you've hit the nail on the head about two things: it is a colloquially used word, and the tone matters. We're not going to agree about whether it's OK to use, and that's not a big deal. We'd probably be living in a post-apocalyptic nightmare at this point if it actually made a difference when people on the internet don't agree. But one last bone to pick: I don't think "this might not have been the best example of a man dismissing women" is a good enough reason for why I shouldn't say anything or be bothered by the sentence that I posted on initially. No matter what the issue is you see people discussing, it's almost invariably going to be at best a microcosm of a larger problem. If people only talked about or worried about the most egregious examples of social issues, we'd spend more energy trying to determine what the most egregious examples are, and worse, it sort of gives people a license not to think about what they say. I mean, you've pinpointed Hugh Hefner as someone who seems to dismiss women, and I doubt many women are clamoring to argue with you. But there's a men's rights movement out there with some members crazy enough to register feminists and post personal information about them online. (I think the site's called register-her.com. Trust me, it's not worth my energy to look it up.) It's INSANE, and it's certainly worse than anything Hugh Hefner could say about women, but does it mean I shouldn't worry about what good ole Hugh says now? No matter what the issue, there's always going to be someone saying something more offensive, but sometimes the problem isn't which idea is the worst, but which idea is the most widespread.

Posted on March 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm 0

On The Lost Roles of Gilda Radner

@Jason Farr@facebook I get what you're saying, but my original post only sounds aggressive because treating women like children is the norm. It's not as simple as referring to them as girls; it's also in things like assuming I'm going to be disappointed by finding out my having a problem with sexism makes me unattractive to random men who post comments on Splitsider. Yeah, it would sound less harsh to qualify the initial post with something along the lines of "I've read other things you've written and don't have a problem with you personally, just with your word choice here," but I don't look at as my job to be as sensitive as possible when pointing out something is wrong. If Bradford saw my comment and took a second to think about his wording or saw it and dismissed it as trolling, either one of those is his choice. But calling women comedians girls when they already have to deal with so much "women can't be funny" bullshit only adds to the myriad sexism they experience. I'm not going to lose sleep over the possibility that I hurt a guy's feelings for saying he wrote something sexist.

Posted on March 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm 0

On The Lost Roles of Gilda Radner

@Bradford Evans Calling women girls is patronizing by definition, so ... yeah, also sexist. And "2 Broke Girls" is racist to boot, so that one's a real winner. I love Gilda Radner and love seeing posts about her, but women comedians around today have to fight tooth and nail to be taken seriously just as much as they did in the '70s when she rose to prominence. To turn around and call them by a word used for children is patronizing. It doesn't mean you're being willfully sexist, but what's wrong with thinking about the words you use? Lord Haw Haw and Agent M, you've certainly shown me the error of my ways. I'll get right on not pointing out sexism so I can be more attractive to anonymous internet strangers.

Posted on March 23, 2012 at 4:44 am 0

On The Lost Roles of Gilda Radner

The female performers you're saying Gilda Radner influenced aren't "girls." It's sexist and patronizing for you to refer to women that way.

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm 0

On How a Female Comic Was Assaulted Onstage Last Night

But how many times at a comedy show do you see the male comedian aggressively hitting on women from the stage? It's abhorrent that this woman was victimized by a sexist asswipe, but it just shows that comedians and audiences alike are way too OK with sexism.

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 11:16 pm 0