Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Dynasty, Feminism, and Homphobia

Duck Dynasty was at one point at guilty pleasure of mine. I found the self-proclaimed rednecks endearing. However, as with many shows and movies, an inner battle of a moral and scholarly nature began. The show as funny, but it often came with underlying themes of sexism and occasional homophobia. The media is filled with such messages, and some show even try to fight against them, usually a futile battle that backfires as is the case with 30 Rock. So I stopped watching Duck Dynasty. I don't cease the viewing of all shows with any hit of an ism, but for me, it was too much to look beyond.

I never asked anyone else to stop watching. In fact, I have, admittedly somewhat guilty, purchased Duck Dynasty themed gifts for loved ones. If they choose to watch the show, I'm okay with that because it's just a TV show, and they are adults who can sift through the messages.

As many of you know, however, Phil, the patriarch, has been suspended from the show sharing an anti-gay message during an interview with GQ. I had no idea what an uproar this would cause. If I had, I NEVER would have posted this: "Finally he's called out on it. The show has its funny moments, but it's filled with sexist remarks as well as homophobic remarks" along with a link to an article about it on my Facebook page. But I did. And it blew up in my face.

So, to those who took issue with my post, I'm here to explain a few things. Duck Dynasty is laced with sexist and homophobic messages. This does not mean you should stop watching. I don't actually care if you watch the show. Second, feminism is not offensive. If you take offense to feminism you probably don't know what feminism actually is as a belief and movement. So, first up, let's discuss feminism.

Feminism comes in two forms: mythical feminism and feminism. Mythical feminism is an evil creature. She hates men. She probably hates everything except women because you see, she's a lesbian. Duh. She doesn't shave either. She hates make-up and high heels. She also thinks housework is stupid, and no one should like it. EVER.

Now feminism, on the other hand, is so complex, it can't be explained in one blog post or even an entire semester. For instance, I have a textbook that discusses Liberal feminism, Radical feminism, Marxist and Socialist feminism, Psychoanalytic feminism, Care-Focused feminism, Multicultural, Global, and Postcolonioal feminism, Ecofeminism, and Post Modern and Third-Wave Feminism. That's a lot of feminisms!

There are issues I care about from various sects of feminism (except radical feminism-- I don't have a clear understanding of that particular sect), but at the end of the day, I'm a third-wave feminist. I'm making an assumption here, but I think it's a safe bet if someone tells you he or she is a feminist, they probably are a third-wave feminist. Simply put, he or she seeks equality for women and men. Third-wave feminism is not that simple, of course. Thanks to the work of women in the 70s and 80s, feminism is more inclusive and diverse. So while we all care about equality, we might put emphasis on differing areas. For instance, feminism thinks women should be equals in the workplace, but they also think women should be allowed to be stay-at-home wives and mothers without judgement. One feminist might put more focus on equality in the workplace while another might focus more on the stay-at-home arena, even going as far as to fight for the inclusiveness of stay-at-home fathers. Others might focus more on intersectionality and LGBTQ issues. Some even focus on feminism and Christianity... because feminists can be Christians too! And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

But at the end of the day... equality is what feminism wants. So if you're offended by that... wow.

Now that we have somewhat of an understanding of feminism, here are examples of Duck Dynasty and its unfortunate sexism and homophobic innuendos.

1. "The more make-up a woman wears, the more she's tryin' to hide. Make-up can hide a lot of evil."(Phil)
2. "Take that skirt off, and start acting like a man!" (Jase)
3. "Willie is the only non-woman I know that gets excited about taking pictures."(Jase)
4. "Whether you're talking about bees, dogs, or women, pain can come upon you quickly from either one of 'em." (Phil)
5. "I think we for one with mother issues!" (Phil)

I only pulled a few quotes as well a link to a clip (it wouldn't let me embed the video), but they are perfect examples of the sexism and the anti-gay innuendos present in Duck Dynasty. At first glance, these statements may seem harmless, even funny. But they aren't. A common theme in society that is displayed in this show is that women are inherently broken or evil. We need make-up to cover up our wrong-doings, and apparently we are comparable to dogs and bees. There are so many problems I don't know where to begin!

Another common theme is the need for manliness. What many don't understand is feminism actually wants to undermine the common notion of what it means to "be a man" because while it is harmful to women, it's also harmful to men! Who is in charge of defining what it means to be a man? If you think about it, can you really define what exactly it means to be a man? You might say, "Well, it means taking care of your family, being strong, and doing things that men should do." What should men do? What constitutes taking care of one's family? If you ask Jase, it is not Willie's willingness to take pictures because apparently no man should be interested in photography. If men shouldn't take pictures, what should they do? I suppose you could say they should go hunting, but what if they aren't good at it? The idea of "being a man" is ridiculous. It's what makes some men feel bad or even get made fun of because their wives and girlfriends are better with a screwdriver.

As for the homophobia. Do I really have to explain it? I know you aren't stupid. I know you know what Phil means in that clip. He thinks the pet photographer is gay. He also appears to be bothered by the supposed gayness.

So yes, Duck Dynasty does send sexist messages and arguably homophobic messages. As for Phil's interview with GQ... oy vey. The man has a right to his opinion. He can say what he wants, when he wants. But that doesn't mean there aren't consequences. No one knows what was in his contract. Perhaps his words violated his contract. He's also a reality TV star and therefore a representative of his network. A&E has an image to maintain just like every other company. If you go against that image, you can be punished. It's a part of the job.

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