I wanted to keep my feelings about the way the media has handled the Steubenville rape verdict private because to be completely honest I just feel too fragile when it comes to this topic. I think a lot of people do. It’s emotionally risky to engage in this discussion. For people like me, this topic is our china shop and most people who tackle it publicly are bulls. Sometimes they are raging ass-bulls but even the delicate bulls can do damage. For example, watching Joan’s rape in season 2 of Mad Men gave me nightmares for days. Don’t even get me started on internet commenters… or people who casually throw around the term “date rape”. Upon hearing that phrase, I’m always forced to take a beat in order to deal with my fury before I can move on. Why the “date” qualifier? It just feels like a way to remind the victim it was someone they may have chosen to trust; so, really, what happened to them is partly their own fault. Let’s not use that term anymore, guys. Speaking of qualifiers; what was with all that “legitimate” rape and “Vagina 2.0: Sperm Killer” talk this past election season?
Taking a beat…
It’s heartbreaking to watch people who should know better, our friends and our spunkily-named CNN newscasters, contribute to the life-altering shame felt by rape victims far and wide. These people are essentially aiding the rape culture narrative that teaches us victims should not speak up. Rape destroyed you, sure, but why spread that destruction to the life of an otherwise stand-up young rapist? Or spoil the fun for fans of a star athlete who is about to win their city the Super Bowl? Why are you so selfish? While we’re at it, why did you get drunk? Why did you make yourself vulnerable? You are weak, you failed to defend yourself and you deserve to suffer silently.
That narrative is painful.
I think the most frustrating thing about this country’s prevailing attitude about rape is the helplessness I feel. I almost added “as a woman” to that sentence, but I didn’t because I think plenty of men have watched the women in their lives deal with rape or rape culture and felt the pangs of helplessness in their own right. It’s helplessness so potent I can almost visualize it. It looks like being under water and it feels like drowning. It’s just overwhelming and the more rape apologist attitudes I see in the media, the further we all sink. We have to do better, you guys. We have to demand better.
Don’t pity these boys. They made a series of very deliberate choices and have only apologized for taking the pictures that got them caught. Let their moms comfort them or whatever. Why waste precious minutes of your life writing up reasons to feel sorry for them on the Internet or trying to invoke our pity for them on TV or in any place where you are sure to crash right on through someone’s china shop? Why are you doing that? Why don’t you take your clumsy bull self*, open your imperfect bull eyes and see if you can’t be part of the attitude change we so. desperately. need.
So that’s why this time I’m making my feelings about this slightly less private. Because I’ve seen other people say what I’m saying right now today (only better***) and these voices are comforting at times when certain talking heads in the country are letting us down.
*I don’t hate real bulls. They look pretty cool in person…. very majestic**. Keep on keepin on, literal bulls.
**However, they do smell bad.
One of my BFFs talkin’ bout his dream job! He’s a dream BFF, as well.
Senior Branding Correspondent at Billboard
“I ask bands to take their picture with me.”
What did you want to be when you were 13? A model who graduated from Barbizon? (Just me?) Andrew Hampp (left) has wanted to work at Billboard since junior high, and a handful of years later, he’s actually doing it. Andrew’s beat is the intersection of music and advertising, but the important part is that he writes cover stories and takes photos with famous bands. And FYI, Andrew swears that Gwen Stefani is a real, live person and not a Benjamin Button robot…allegedly.
Let’s talk about college. I’ve known that I wanted to be an entertainment journalist, specifically at Billboard, since I was 13. So I only applied to schools that specialized in magazine journalism, which is a surprisingly small amount of places. I wound up at Kent State, which was two hours from my hometown in Ohio and ended up being a great place to get hands-on experience with multiple student publications, including a daily newspaper where I wrote about music and arts in the Cleveland area for three years.
Because Kent happened to be the second largest school in Ohio—and the largest one without a fucking “The” before its name—I would use that statistic to lure music publicists into putting their bands on the phone with me and my writing team whenever they were coming through the area. It worked—Rufus Wainwright, Jewel, Rilo Kiley, the Scissor Sisters and the Barenaked Ladies are among the artists and bands whose members I was able to get on the phone over the years. I would follow up with their publicists by shipping copies of my articles to their offices so they had clips for their portfolios—a tactic that kept them loyal.
What was your first job? I bagged and carried out groceries at a local supermarket for a year and a half. You learn a lot about what people keep in their trunks and the smells that accompany them. Quite literally, you learn where the bodies are buried.
What about your worst job? A summer job in college at a costume shop called Mr. Fun’s. Because no one shops for costumes until October 1, you can imagine how much summer school homework I got done during work.
What’s your dream job? Well, I kind of already have it. But my other dream job would be to have Fonzworth Bentley’s old gig. Has that position been filled?
A job you would never want? The guy who has to review all the audition tapes for America’s Got Talent. It would be like watching YouTube clips with only 9 views all day long… but with less cats.
So, how did you get this job? I’d been working for Advertising Age for five years, covering entertainment marketing in New York and then LA, where I was desperate to move back East. Billboard’s editorial director had been looking for a branding reporter for a long time and heard my name from a mutual contact, so we had a series of meetings and negotiations before we were able to agree that I should be based in New York and lead Billboard’s branding reporting. For a guy who used to check out the latest issue of Billboard at the local library every week starting at the age of 11, this was a dream come true.
Follow Andrew on Twitter.
Jake Fogelnest is a “MA’AM”
A lot of comedians use their Twitter accounts just for jokes/self promotion. That’s what I do 98% of the time. That’s fine. Twitter is a “powerful social media tool.” That of course, is a fancy way of saying, “whee, fun time distraction party, yaaaaaay!!”
The other 2% of the time, it’s nice to throw out something serious. Something important. I don’t personally do it all the time, but damn do I want to have the freedom to do so if I choose. I choose to do so now.
While I think most comedians tend to keep it mostly funny, I’ve seen many tweet links to amazing blogs like 90 Days, 90 Reasons or retweet about Invisible Children (hey, that ended well), or any other various things that are important to them as a person.
Usually those “serious tweets” go ignored, occasionally people take notice, it’s just part of the conversation, 140 characters at a time. Very quickly, all of us move on to the next joke fueled by today’s TMZ coverage.
But I’ve noticed a phenomenon online whenever a female comedian tweets about women’s issues. They are always, ALWAYS, greeted with a chorus of people telling them to SHUT UP.
Well, I think that’s fucking terrible.
Sometimes it’s as blatant as that: “SHUT UP, JUST BE FUNNY.” Sometimes it’s more subtle, “Hey, don’t be so sensitive.” Sometimes it’s just sociopath gross shit straight out of the worst sub-Reddit: “Hey lady, I want to do boner stuff to you.”
None of it is acceptable.
To be fair, when men tweet about causes, they too will also be greeted with “SHUT UP, JUST BE FUNNY.” But that is ALWAYS where it ends for men. With women, “shut up, just be funny” is only the beginning.
For women, it’s rarely just, “Hey, I’m just here for jokes, doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, just make me laugh for free on this dumb thing on my phone!”
For some reason, not all the time, but a LOT of the time, women get this extra load of garbage attached. They’re being “too sensitive” or “getting hysterical,” when really they’re just darting off a tweet about something they care about.
By the way, this isn’t just about Twitter, this is about EVERYTHING IN LIFE.
No one ever accuses men of being “too sensitive” or “getting hysterical.” This is always laughable to me, because we’re usually the ones who are the hysterical, sensitive, lunatics! I mean, did you see Karl Rove on Fox News after Obama won?
I just know this shit when I see it and it’s unfair. It is so lamely dismissive to pull this, “Oh, calm down honey” stuff with women. Not just on Twitter, IN GENERAL. Can we relax with that dumb stereotype and maybe listen to what a woman is saying? When men do that, it interjects a whole other thing to deal with that ends up distracting from whatever was being discussed in the first place!
Women STILL, don’t have it as easy as men do. They just don’t. Is it better than it was 40 years ago? I don’t know, ask a woman. That’s the point. It’s not for me to fucking comment on, it’s for me to listen, respond and adapt. Just like women do for us, all the time.
If you think things are truly equal between men and women, why does this happen the other night:
A dude at a stand-up show, introduced a comedian by saying, “Alright, are you guys ready for a female comic?”
This blows my mind.
What if that guy said, “Alright, let’s keep the show going! Are you guys ready for a BLACK comic?”
“Hey, coming to the stage right now, it’s a GAY!”
“Are you ready for more show, let me hear you say YEAH! This next Mexican…”
Would any of us let that fly? No. We would think, “That’s the craziest fucking introduction I’ve ever heard.” At least I would.
DUDES! Come on. We’ve just got to do better. I’m not saying you’re anything but a wonderful sensitive person. I’m not saying you’re sexist. I’m just saying, take a second look. Not just at the behavior of others, but your own behavior.
Two years ago there was a blog on Jezebel about one of the late-night shows having a problem with women. Oh boy, did I leap to the defense of that show’s staff and get bloggy real quick!! “That’s not a boys club, there isn’t sexism, you’re CRAZY!”
Wow, do I feel AWFUL about writing that stuff now.
See, I was letting my fragile little baby male ego fuel whatever tirade I wrote and hopefully have now deleted from the Internet. I was reacting from a place of not liking the comedy of a person, but this wasn’t about the comedy. This was about what it was like to be a woman. And it was not my place to say ANYTHING about women’s experiences. I was incredibly dismissive of an incredibly real thing that women go through on a daily basis. And. I. Was. Wrong.
I was born a white middle class male. WOW, DID I GET LUCKY!! I mean, being a white middle class male is THE BEST. There is so much stuff I just don’t have to put up with automatically! Seriously if you can, be born a white middle class male. I highly recommend it!
And since I was born a white middle class male, there are just certain struggles I will NEVER know because of that. In times where I’ve been called on it, I let my ego get in the way. “Hey, I am a decent person! I own Bikini Kill records!” True. Perhaps I needed to listen to them a little closer.
The point is, I’m willing to learn. I’m willing to try. And I’m willing to call shit out when I see something I don’t like, even if it’s my own shit. I am urging other men to do the same. We need to be as on top of it with women’s issues the same way we are with racism and homophobia.
I don’t care who it offends, who it alienates, who disagrees — when it comes to sexism, racism and homophobia, you’re either against it or you’re an idiot. Pretty fucking cut and dry to me. I’m guessing that 99% of you will not be offended or alienated in the slightest by what I have to say. I think most of the people in the world are actually pretty smart and will get it.
But I am asking dudes to take a second look and to stand up for sexism the same way they would against other injustices. And I’m not just talking about when a comedian makes a dumb rape joke or that one guy on Twitter who is just a cartoon version of a misogynist. That’s low hanging fruit and you know it.
I’m also not interested in addressing the mouth-breathing dimwits who will now use this discussion as an excuse to respond, “FUCK YOU, THEY SHOULD GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN!” Those people are ridiculous and boring. They should concentrate on running their gross IRC chat rooms. This isn’t about you, adults are talking.
I’m talking about the real shit, which is sometimes very subtle. Just look at it again. Let’s call it out when we see it. Other comics, speak from the heart. That’s all I’ve done here. I don’t know if I sound like an idiot or what. I don’t care. I just had some feelings and put them down. It’s not that big of a deal.
It can never be a bad thing to say, “Let’s try to be better to each other.”
It’s nice when men get it.