Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Just Can't Shake My Frustration

Melissa at Shakesville has this post up today with photos of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a visit to China, including this one (via Getty Images) which caught my attention.

When I first started reading Melissa's post, I felt a swell of pleasure, pride, and emotion at seeing Secretary of State Clinton meeting with women activists in China. And I will confess to having a few seconds where I wished she was President Hillary Clinton. Perhaps these photos would have been of Secretary of State Obama while President Clinton was home in the US getting some shit done!

It was a lovely fantasy. Then I clicked below the fold and was astonished by the change of direction, and I suppose the post title, Today in Trailblazing and Misogyny: Photos of the Day, should have given me a clue. I was about to be shaken from my trailblazing fantasy.

The "misogyny" springs from this Getty Image:

Yes, I shit you not. But then, maybe my definition of misogyny is outside the norm.

Thus begins Melissa's rant.

Aside from invoking other memorable "Look—disembodied ladyfeetz!" images like this one, are you fucking kidding me with the phallic boom mic inserted between two women's lower halves?!


I don't for a moment believe that there wasn't a single person along the path from photographer to photo editor to publisher, at either photo agency, who didn't notice the unfortunate implications of the above image.

Yeah, it's a "little thing," but it is the pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable "little stuff" that creates the foundation of a sexist culture on which the big stuff is dependent for its survival. It's the little things, the constant drumbeat of inequality and objectification, that inure us to increasingly horrible acts and attitudes toward women.

As Melissa accurately points out elsewhere in her post, the Getty photographers do seem to have a "thing" for photographing boom mics. Maybe it's a weird fetish. Maybe it's an inside joke, or a bizarre tradition, within photographic circles. Who knows.

I, with my little pea-sized manbrain and insufficiently feminist credentials, am clearly unable to discern the blatant conspiracy at work here to reinforce the sexist foundations of our culture, simply because I only see a nothing-to-write-home-about photograph of a boom mic with blurry ladypartz in the background. And it's not like someone staged the photo in order to have the boom mic appear to be shoved up in some asshole's crotch! (Gee, thanks for that one, Getty!)

Rather than walk away from that post with a President Clinton fantasy, and a momentary positive feel-good distraction from all the truly heinous shit going on in the world right now, I left feeling anger. It was not anger directed at any perceived or real misogyny, but anger at the blatant attempt to manipulate me into agreeing with a premise and to accept that as a fact without question, while my dumb mangut tells me it is a crock of reeking feces.

And in questioning the validity of Melissa's assumptions about such boom mic photography being representative of misogynistic foundations, I am therefore, by default, incapable of seeing the reality. I think the expectation is that I should be having an "oh wow" moment: Of course it's misogyny at work. How could I not have seen it? And then of course I should accept that I have so much more to learn from my great teacher. I should throw my teacher some praise and support, and maybe a few bucks.

It's a damn good thing my commenting privileges were revoked at that blog many months ago. If they hadn't been, they would be today. Because I do question Melissa's points, as do others, I would be disregarded as a concern troll. And I'm still being far nicer than some have been.

I guess that's what I get for going below the fold. I should have just wallowed in my Clinton-as-President fantasy, admired her for representing the United States so well while overseas, and moved on along, blissfully ignorant of boom mic photography and the dark evil undercurrents thereof.

It is an event which has rendered me with little desire to visit that blog again. And the irony is that the post didn't even come with a trigger warning.

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