This morning I attended a keynote that prompted a rather lengthy Twitter rant that I feel I must explain further.
The speaker asked the audience who watched “Grey’s Anatomy”. I, for the record, do watch “Grey’s Anatomy”, but there was no fucking way I was raising my hand to admit it. Apparently no one else was willing to do so either.
The speaker said, “Oh, this joke isn’t going to work at all! Usually when I am on the coasts a whole bunch of guys throw their hands in the air and I say to them, ‘Hey, you’re watching a GIRL’S show!”
I tweeted my displeasure at this remark and the conference organizer very kindly asked me to speak with him later about why this offended me.
I have been percolating on this for a few hours, and I have a better explanation about why this bugs me.
I am not going to argue that “Grey’s Anatomy” is a great show. It is an overwrought melodrama whose characters should probably have all died many years ago. I watch it because when I have been breaking my brain all day trying to understand how a GPU works and how to program what goes on my screen, I don’t give a fuck. I just want something on that I don’t have to think about and “Grey’s Anatomy” fits that bill very well. I also appreciate the fact that it has a multi-racial cast and that the primary relationship in the show up until now was the relationship between Meredith and Christina. The dearth of programming on TV showing female issues and friendships is appalling and I applaud someone for actually talking about it.
What I am going to argue is that none of those reasons were given as to why someone should be ridiculed for liking “Grey’s Anatomy.” The reason for ridicule is because it was made for girls. Not even women, girls.
Our society has a very negative response to anything that has been tainted by being liked by girls. Certain professions, like programming and film editing, used to be primarily occupied by women because they were seen as being like either a secretary or a seamstress respectively. It has only been since those professions have been masculinized that they receive large paychecks and the respect that come along with them.
There was a “Friends” episode where Ross is ridiculed for wanting to listen to Kenny G and take a bath. The criticism: We’re old, we’re not WOMEN. Women is a dirty word.
In spite of the fact that so far this looks like yet another feminist rant (which I absolutely fucking hate to write, by the way), I am not speaking for women right now. I am speaking for men.
Men have a very narrowly defined scheme of acceptable behaviors. Men are not supposed to cry. Men are not supposed to hug other men or have platonic physical interactions. Men are not supposed to wear pink. Men are not supposed to like anime.
My co-author, Chris Adamson, made a joke on App.net once about men’s fashion. He said he goes to Eddie Bauer and buys five identical shirts in different colors, then goes to JC Pennys and buys five pairs of cargo pants and he is set for a decade.
This breaks my heart.
I like to express myself through what I wear. The idea that I would be constrained to wearing one kind of thing for the rest of my life or else be considered socially deviant crushes my soul.
I know that Chris is somewhat open about his love of cartoons, but I know that it took him a very long time to feel comfortable sharing that love because men are not supposed to like cartoons. I am proud of the fact that he is willing to be open about that love because there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking Madoka Magica, or Tanto Cuore, or anything else. I am super stoked by the fact that so many men are into “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” and are willing to be brave enough to say, “Yeah, I like MLP. So what? Fuck you.”
I think it is absolutely shitty that our society punishes men for displaying any characteristics that could possibly be tainted by femininity. In the recent anime, “Wake up, Girls!” the drill sergeant guy yelling at the little girls “Don’t rest! Don’t complain! Don’t think!”
Watching that, you feel terrible that these poor girls are being treated this way. In reality, this is the way we treat our boys. Real boys don’t cry or play with dolls. Real boys fight and play various contact sports.
Crushing little boys and making them feel ashamed for what they like and who they are is toxic to our society. We need to stop doing this.
So yeah, I didn’t raise my hand when he asked who watches “Grey’s Anatomy.” I was embarrassed. Now I wish I had. I am not going to be ashamed of liking what I like.
“Grey’s Anatomy” is a girl show. It’s about relationships, compassion, emotional and professional struggle, and just trying to get through life with as little emotional damage as possible. If more men were allowed the same thoughts we would all be a lot happier.