Every week, blogger and columnist Sahar Shiralian explores a different aspect of popular culture through a feminist lens.
Men everywhere, take note: your masculinity can still be preserved while embracing feminism. Feminism is, in fact, a sexy quality and can even help you snag a worthy woman.
The fact that feminist men actually exist seems to be counterintuitive; when I inform girlfriends of the many men out there touting gender equality and educating themselves about feminism, many of them respond with incredulity. I cannot blame them for their skepticism because men are simply not a conspicuous, vocal part of the feminist movement – feminism is traditionally viewed as the realm of women. A number of men eschew feminism in order to appear more “macho” or “cool” and mistakenly believe that they must forfeit their masculinity if they decide to join the feminist cause. Sexist, degrading comments are encouraged by enabling cohorts, and men who are sensitive to and educated about women’s issues are depicted as “soft” or “effeminate” in the media. The male proclivity to “closet feminism” explains the dearth of male feminist figures in pop culture.
Four years ago, the Berkeley-grown eccentric comedian Andy Samberg appeared on Spike TV (the television channel geared towards “masculine” entertainment prone to sexism and the objectification of women) donning a National Organization of Women T-shirt. Admittedly, the Saturday Night Live regular is a major celebrity crush of mine, and I truly hope he was not being satirical and that this fashion statement was made with good intentions. Samberg has claimed that he was “totally sincere,” in a talk with Nerve.com, giving me cause to rejoice, for somewhere a feminist man could be waiting for me! Samberg’s decision to publicly embrace feminism on a male dominated TV channel that indulges in testosterone laden activities that often lead to the hypersexualization of women is extremely powerful and speaks volumes for the feminist cause. More importantly, he has enhanced the visibility of feminist men. Although many of my girlfriends do not consider Samberg a sex symbol like I do, they definitely believe that his feminism renders him more attractive than ever.
The N.O.W. T-shirt is not the only positive thing that Samberg has done for feminists everywhere. His comedy troupe, The Lonely Island, has produced a plethora of music videos and songs that ostensibly lampoon sexism and, more specifically, egoistic and sex crazed men who believe that the objectification and dehumanization of women is not only the norm, but can lead to social and sexual success. The video “The Creep” attacks the figure of the male voyeur. We all have encountered a male voyeur at least once in our lives: the man who believes it is perfectly acceptable to lewdly ogle a woman on the subway, on the street, or at the workplace. Lasciviously staring leads to unwanted flirting and other “creepy” behavior that make women overwhelmingly uncomfortable. And in “ The Creep,” Samberg establishes an indispensable precedent by inciting men to practice the easy task of self-control.
The video “I Just Had Sex” pokes fun at sexually inept men who are concerned only with their own sexual satisfaction and ignore the pleasure of women. The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone states that his lover “kept looking at her watch,” but he didn’t care because he at least had sex. In this video, men are portrayed as sex obsessed hunters that are constantly searching for their next conquest.
Premature ejaculation is the subject of the appropriately titled video “Jizz In My Pants,” which has been viewed over 111 million times. Samberg’s most notable quote in the video, “don’t discuss it your friends or I’ll call you a slut, in addition it’s your fault you were rubbing my butt,” is a direct response to slut-shaming and the blame women have taken for centuries when the problem of male sexual dysfunction arises.
My favorite SNL short, “Dick in a Box,” features Samberg and Justin Timberlake as libidinal, clueless men who believe that their sexual prowess is peerless. These men only use their so-called sexual gifts to impress women and believe their significant others should be grateful for just merely receiving their members. In “Dick in a Box,” Samberg demonstrates that he understands that women need more than penetration and the visible display of male genitalia. By creating some of the most laughable, ridiculous, and memorable characters in the SNL digital short series, Samberg exposes many of the mistakes men make in the dating scene and in relationships.
Breaking and fusing many societal boundaries, Samberg is a visible Jewish feminist male comedian. These subcategories may seem irreconcilable, but Andy successfully proves that anyone can be a feminist and that feminism can be a desirable, socially acceptable quality in men. Samberg truly is a catch: not only is he a hilarious, nice Jewish boy, he is a feminist Jewish boy.
If you are interested in viewing a comedic, male feminist perspective, all of The Lonely Island videos and Samberg’s SNL digital shorts are available on YouTube.
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