Thursday, March 29, 2012

A baseball bat, now that's funny.

Society: The community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations. That’s a fairly decent definition for my purposes, but really it can be boiled down a bit further, Society: a set of rules to live by, so we don’t constantly want to hurt each other.

The reasons for some of those rules are not always completely clear. Like why do I have to apologize for my natural bodily functions like burping? It’s not like there is some elite group of humans, that don’t get gas, I should be trying to emulate. Guess what I burped, big deal. Why is it polite to “bless” someone when they sneeze? Is there some deep rooted fear that in that moment of weakness that some demon is going to come possess the person? Or why can’t I wear white after Labor Day? Is it some ploy by the Closet Builders Union to get me to expand my closet space? The world may never know…

Other rules are quite easy to understand, and generally fall under “things I wouldn’t want to have happen to me”. Things like murder, or drunk driving. These things are shunned and punished, and are not seen as humorous. Frequently, if not always, they are moral imperitives, or what is right, verses what is good. It might be good for me to kill you and take all your money, but it is not the right thing to do. As it turns out, when it comes to how we should treat other people, finding these sorts of “moral imperatives” is as simple as child’s play. In fact, I can almost guarantee that as a child you were asked to do this, and that’s simply to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

The reason we should all play this game is as simple as the game itself. It is because you are that other person, in every way. When you are born, you are dealt a hand of cards. Some of those cards you can never get rid of, some of them you can change, and others will be changed for you, but the object of the game is the same for everyone, to make the best hand out of the cards you have. The thing is, the cards you got were simply luck of the draw. If you are reading this, chances are you hold the “born in a first world nation” card, quite the lucky draw. You also hold either “I’m rich enough to afford a device to read this on” or the “I have access to a device and a functional electric grid” cards. Additionally you hold the “I’m literate in at least one language” card, something that over half the world’s population doesn’t have.

So when you honestly put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to the very best of your ability, you have to exchange all those cards you can’t change, to the ones THEY can’t change, the color of your skin, eyes, hair, whether you are male, or female, your sexual orientation, etc. etc. Now imagine what it must be like, with the cards they cannot change, think about what is being done to you, what has been done to you, as that person, or as part of that group of people. Were you subjugated? Segregated? Put down? Berated? Made second class? Assaulted verbally or physically for things like the color of your skin, or your sexual orientation? If it doesn’t feel right to be them in this society, for the things THEY cannot change, then the problem isn’t them, it’s how society views them. If something is being done to that person, that you wouldn’t want done to you in that situation, 99.9% chance it quite simply isn’t the right thing to do. How easy would it have been to have the tables turned on the cards you can’t change, or to have drawn different cards entirely? That is why I say that you are the other person in every way, you may have gotten lucky, but luck has been known to change.

Using that reasoning, some conclusions are pretty easy to come by. You don’t want to be murdered? Me either! How about being hit by a drunk driver? Oh yeah? Amazing! We agree! Those things aren’t the right thing to do, Cheers! In general, when it comes to having physical or mental trauma inflicted on us, we don’t like it. It’s counter intuitive to our own survival. So much so, even implying that trauma has been inflicted isn’t funny, because we would just as much like to avoid the idea, as the actual trauma… “Hey, did you hear Bob was killed in a car accident last night? What? HAHAHA, he’s fine, just joking!” …It’s precisely the reason, and to poke at the ad I’ll get to in a moment, we don’t see ads depicting someone holding a bloody axe with full garbage bags at their feet saying “Belvedere vodka, because you won’t even remember where you buried the bodies”, or a cop leaning in someone’s car window with a caption like, “Belvedere vodka, so smooth the cops can’t smell it on ya!”

So why then is it “socially acceptable”, to depict a man with a shit eating grin, restraining a woman, who is obviously trying to escape, wearing a look of abject terror on her face, with the caption, “Unlike some people Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”, where only implication is that he is going to sexually assault her? When I say socially acceptable, what I mean is: A.) That this is not the first time, nor will it likely be the last anytime soon, that an ad like this has been published. B.) That knowing the corporate world, it wasn’t just one guy thinking he was being funny. This came from a brainstorming session, with likely tons of other ideas on how to sell their product to men. Then it went all the way to production and publication, as being a brand positive idea, cause that's the point of advertising. C.) People, almost entirely men, openly, meaning without anonymity, defend the ad as being “Just a joke” and if you don’t like it, that you should “lighten up” or that you are a part of the “Wussification of America”, the quotes being taken from actual comments about the ad. Here is the actual ad if you haven't already seen it:

So… as a guy I’m supposed to find that shit funny? Really I can’t find a good way of separating someone who defends that as a joke, from someone who would rape and then justify it after the fact with shit like, “she wanted it anyway” or “with the clothes she was wearing, how could I resist”. I know the adage that “guys think with their dicks”. Shit, god knows I don’t exactly control what goes on down there. It doesn’t exactly come with an on/off switch, or if it does, it would have been really fucking nice to have received the instruction manual a long time ago. But between there, and any action someone takes, is a brain capable of reason and logical decision making. It’s one of the very few things that separate us from the rest of the animals. That means acting on what your dick wants, is a fully conscious choice. That means if someone says no, or stop, or isn’t capable of saying those things, you decide not to. It’s really that simple. …So… Oh yeah! As a male, I’m supposed to be finding the rape ad funny, I almost forgot… So he’s going to force himself on her, probably beat her if she resists, possibly get her pregnant, more than likely leave her with PTSD, and why not throw in an STD for good measure? …Fuc. King. HILARIOUS.

Right, right, I just need to relax, I’m being uptight, it was just a joke after all…So… the most recent study I could find, conducted by the government, says that 1 in 5 women in the U.S. have been victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Personally I am aware of more than a few women in my life who have been raped. I have two daughters, and statistically, unless attitudes change, like say… not making the man the victim, or making it easy and acceptable for the actual victim to come forward and report the crime, or say… not having rapey liquor ads reinforcing the idea that it’s an “O.K.” thing to do, odds are pretty high that one of them will be raped too… So for argument’s sake, let’s say you have a girlfriend or wife, a sister, a mom, and two grandmas, statistically one of them has probably been raped, or had someone try and rape them. Why not try asking one of them why the ad isn’t funny? …Yeah, you’re right… that is kind of an awkward question to ask, and not an easy thing to talk about…

I Know! Why don’t we play my shoes game and put ourselves in the ad? Ok great! …probably need to change it up a bit though… Maybe the guy has a lubed up baseball bat, and is ready to go to town with it. Just imagine the pain that thing is going to cause! That’s pretty funny right? No? …yeah a bat is a bit big. How about a broom handle? That would make for a nice funny rape ad to sell us some vodka! No? …Right, the ad is far more personal than that. Got it, how about we take out the frat boy and make him one of those alpha-male, all I did was work out in prison for the last fifteen years types. He’s got our faces slammed against a cold wall, can’t really move. Can feel his breath on our necks, and all we can smell is the cheap booze coming out of every pore on his body. He’s probably saying something to us like “I know you want it anyway”. Oh, and we can put a cute little caption above our heads to let everyone know it’s just a joke, like “Belvedere, start pounding it after your pounding stops”. Now that’s a funny rape joke between men if I ever saw one! What? Still not funny? That’s odd, because when it was implied that the guy was going trying to rape the woman… Oh, that’s right, it’s not funny when you can actually visualize yourself as the victim. So why should it be acceptable when someone else is?

Shit, next time someone needs to shoot me an article on kite making, or paper mache or something, so I don't get an aneurysm.

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