Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Perils of Thinking and Drinking

For a lot of young females, www.jezebel.com stands as the latest guidebook for a new wave of feminism. While reading www.huffingtonpost.com (a.k.a. my political mecca), I came across the interview that Moe Tkacik and Tracie Egan, two of Jezebel’s contributors, did with Lizz Winstead on Winstead’s Thinking and Drinking show. During the interview, an allegedly (and honestly, apparently) drunk Moe and Tracie proceeded to respond to some rather sensitive and serious matters in a manner that left me shocked, embarrassed, disappointed, and worried about the idolizing generation who consider these girls to be “feminist” role models.

In response to a discussion as to why she’s never been raped, Tracie said:

I don’t hang around frat guys.”

I think it has to do with the fact that I am like, smart

Other comments from Moe and Tracie include:

It's really hard to prosecute [rapists], so you should try to avoid them at all costs.”

The thing about the rapists of our generation, is that they all use drugs, they all have some sort of drug they use on you, so it's good to feel, and I don't know if this has happed to me or if I just drink too much.”

Before I proceed with yet another tirade, caveat: the ladies of Jezebel do not necessarily want to be viewed as heroes or role models. Rather, they just want the freedom to express their viewpoints devoid of censorship. Further, Moe and Tracie probably signed onto Thinking and Drinking under the assumption that the show was going to be light-hearted and comedic- no heavy artillery allowed. Perhaps Moe and Tracy were just mouthing off outlandishly and engaging in shock comedy in an attempt to make the audience “think?” And before I’m attacked, I read Jezebel frequently enough to be well aware that the ladies often engage in social commentary while using a rather sordid and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

However, I must say that after watching (rather than reading) Moe’s and Tracie’s opinions, their attempts at social commentary failed and were just simply in poor taste. On the subject of rape, is some sensibility too much to ask? Moe shrugs off and seemingly excuses her rape to say that while she was angry at her rapist (and who still happens to be her friend), she didn’t report the rape because “it was a load of trouble and I had better things to do, like drinking more. While it is one’s right not to report one’s rape, the indifference and the rather blasé delivery of such comments were demeaning and arguably disempowering for the majority of rape victims out there for whom just coping daily after such violence is a momentous task and damn near impossible.

I am choosing to be judgmental because I believe that when one is thrust (or thrusts oneself) into a public arena where they have the power to influence an audience or be that audience’s only source of information on a particular topic, a certain responsibility is conferred. Like it or not Moe and Tracie, you have become role models. There are very young and impressionable girls who read Jezebel and who actually take to heart what you say. Not everyone can make the educated leap from “I won’t get raped if I’m smart” to “oh, they’re just being wise-asses.”

I think these girls spoke carelessly and thoughtlessly but I will not go as far as some commenters to accuse them of single-handledly destroying the feminist movement. Simply because there isn’t an easy answer to define feminism. Perhaps feminism is on the same wavelength as Moe and Tracie and it is about being unapologetic for one’s actions and feelings. Then again, perhaps it is not. But I do firmly believe that the fundamental principle should be female empowerment and ensuring equality between the sexes. Moe and Tracie, feminism is not quite there yet. Think carefully next time because an individual act does not just demean the individual, it demeans us all.

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