Feminism Friday: When stuff you like is sexist

You shouldn't say that, Josh, you've got a great body.
You shouldn’t say that, Josh, you’ve got a great body.

As part of my resolution to call stuff out, I’ve been, you know, calling stuff out and one of the responses that bugs me is this one: “I’m a huge fan of [TV show, toy, company]. I see no problem with this.”

The first time I got a reply like this, I wanted to say well bully for you. Oh, if you don’t have a problem with it, person on the internet, then it must be fine. You’re right and I’m wrong. I’ll shut up now. But I didn’t say that – actually I kind of did, I messaged it to a friend, but I didn’t say it publicly. Publicly I said “I’m also a fan of [this thing] which is why I’m disappointed that they did [this sexist thing] and I want them to do better.”

Questioning or criticising something doesn’t mean you don’t/can’t love it. The West Wing is still one of my favourite TV shows of all time, even though there are quite a few moments in the show that make me wince from a feminist perspective (and one – in my all-time favourite episode, Celestial Navigation, that makes me shout “WTF, Josh?!” every time I watch it).

If you like something does that really mean you have to blindly like every single little thing about it. No matter what? How is that even possible? I mean, I love my husband and kids more than anything, but they do things that annoy me pretty much every day. If I went through life pretending they didn’t, saying “I love them! I have no problem with that! Everything’s fine!” people would worry about me. And rightly so.

Plus if you love something, why wouldn’t you want it to be the best it can be? Why wouldn’t you want the writer/company/whatever to look at what’s upsetting people and address it. Actually, that’s another point – just because you may love something so much that you’ll forgive anything, that doesn’t mean everyone has to. If other people have a problem with something, what use is you denying that? Isn’t it a bit *fingers in ears* “La la! I’m not listening!”

Anyway, I found this brilliant blog post – How to be a fan of problematic things – that explains it much better than me.

10 thoughts on “Feminism Friday: When stuff you like is sexist

  1. I clicked on this thinking ‘Argh, I keep meaning to talk to you about that thing in Celestial Navigation’ and ‘I read a brilliant thing about this exact thing a while back, let me see if I bookmarked it’.

    I like how we don’t need to actually have conversations to have conversations. (And when we meet up we just shout ‘YES’ at one another like dorks.)

  2. As I read the title of your post, I immediately thought “like Josh Lyman?” so I guess we’re on the same wavelength! (As an aside, though, it’s Sam who full-scale pisses me off in TWW – Josh KNOWS he’s a jerk, and occasionally tries to listen and fix himself a bit, whereas Sam is so condescending, even when called on it repeatedly, that it makes me hiss out loud. And don’t get me STARTED on Leo. “These women” my ass…).

    Gah, yes. I have this conversation a lot as people can’t quite get feminist Disney fan. Hell, I know how they feel. But I’m not pretending that everything I like is perfect!

  3. Brilliant post, Keris, and (as usual) you’ve articulated some vague thoughts I’ve been having ever since becoming a more active and aware feminist… Also, please direct me to the bad Josh moment (and I know he has many!) in that ep… I’m trying to remember and it’s driving me nuts!

  4. I have a blog about sexism in pro wrestling that I keep meaning to publish but am too much of a coward…

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