So you might have seen a video floating around Facebook recently– and, honestly, I get why it’s so popular. The first time I saw it, I found it amusing enough to make me chuckle. But, after a minute or so, I grew a little annoyed with it, so I didn’t watch it all the way through, and every single time I saw it pop up in my feed I grew somewhat frustrated because I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why it was bothering me. But then Elizabeth Esther mentioned that she was bothered by how it targeted women, and a lightbulb went off.
So I went and watched it again, and then I watched it a few more times today and I think she’s right: it’s sexist.
When I first saw it, I recognized that the video seems intended to lampoon a pretty common lack of authenticity in the way Christians can behave on social media– and, being a person with Christian friends who use social media, I get it. I scroll past a lot of inspirational quotes on Pinterest and the devotional pictures on Instagram, the out-of-context Bible verses posted as Facebook statuses, and I feel the temptation to roll my eyes. Because of that, I understand why so many people found this video entertaining, and I’m not telling any of you that you’re horrible sexist people for thinking it’s funny.
However, there’s a few problems with the video– namely, it doesn’t really have “Christians can be so fake, amiright?” as its main message, but “Women are just so shallow, can I get an Amen?”
First of all, this isn’t the video’s creator first rodeo. Back in April 2013 John Crist— the creator– wrote a post for Prodigal that was supposed to be “satire” but fell completely flat on its face because he did nothing except mock women in extremely sexist ways. I would link to the post so you could see for yourself, but Prodigal (now branded as Common Oath) took it down. Crist cried “persecution” and claimed that feminists got upset because he was just “speaking truth” (sound familiar?).
So, the man responsible has a history of being sexist and then ignoring criticisms for his sexism, and then he makes this video. Already not impressed.
But, it’s important to treat the work standing on its own, because I think the video would still be sexist even if he hadn’t been the one to make it: it would still be sexist because isn’t not really poking fun at Christian-ese inauthenticity, but the way women in particular are supposedly inauthentic, and a part of what is happening is that Crist presents to us some things that aren’t necessarily inauthentic, but take on that feeling because it’s a woman doing it. There’s already a general feeling in our culture that women are “shallow” and “fake,” and that traditionally feminine interests are not valuable contributions like manly interests are.
Take fashion, as an example. For most of fashion’s history men were the ones who seemed primarily interested in fashion, but at some point that shifted, and it became an industry targeted mainly toward women, and that’s when it became perceived as inconsequential and a little silly. Because it’s supposed to be “for women,” it’s not regarded as serious art. Like “chick flicks” and “chick lit” and any number of other examples. The same thing happens with women-dominated career fields, like teaching— or even being a doctor in Russia.
That is part of what is happening in this video. For example, he says that “girls” (even though the person featured in the video is a grown-ass woman, thank you) should always wear their purity rings. Wearing “purity rings” isn’t something that only women do, but it’s somewhat unusual for men to wear them. However, the entire time I was wearing my purity ring and had it on in pictures, I wasn’t being “fake”– and I’d argue that most of the women who happen to include that feature– regardless of how intentional/obvious they’re being about it– aren’t doing it because they’re begging for attention. If they’re anything like me and the countless women I knew who wore one, it was simply a natural part of their lives. They might never even take it off.
But he’s playing on that stereotype: women supposedly spend their entire lives dying for attention.
There’s an additional problem with this video, because it engages in something that happens way too often in American culture: hating teenage girls. They’re viciously attacked from so many corners when the reality is that teenage girls are awesome and spectacular and wonderful and I love them. It seems like every day I read or notice something about another teenage girl doing something fantastic, like taking on slut-shaming at their school or, I dunno, winning a freaking Nobel Prize.
And, let’s just be honest: we mostly associate the things shown in this video with teenage girls– things our culture paints as insipid. But, instead of even attempting to see the best in this, we assume the absolute worst: she’s not sharing that verse because she genuinely got something out of it, but because she’s shallow and vapid and is only posting it for the likes.
I’m just as guilty of judging them for this as anyone else.
However, one of the things that has become so valuable to me is that my feminism means having their back. I’m not here for us to make fun of them, to mock them, to belittle their interests or hobbies or likes just because society has taught us to see that as inconsequential and stupid.