The XKCD Forum is all aflutter over Randall’s recent “Porn for Women” strip.
Some don’t get the joke, or flat out don’t find it funny. Some missed the point entirely. And then there is the really interesting bit. Something of a flame war is brewing between those who think it is a solidly feminist contribution and those who find it offensive and sexist, and whether or not men can (or should) properly identify sexism. Oh, and one person who finds the idea of sexism ridiculous, because, really, we’re waaaaay past all that 1950s silliness (seriously).
I think the root of this argument has to do with how the various parties define feminism. For me, it’s about freeing everyone from stereotypes and expectations tied to gender. I’ve discussed here before my non-standard femininity and strong distaste for attempts to box me in. Despite average differences between men and women, I think it’s crucial that we allow for outliers and eschew social pressures that stifle those who fall outside the norm.
From my point of view, this comic is spot-on. He portrays one woman’s opinion about the ridiculous “Porn for Women” books, poking fun at the idea that our culture, whether seriously or jokingly, expects women to be turned on by seeing men doing housework. Also, the hover text punchline nod to Galactica fanfic was guffaw inducing (though my personal preference is somewhat more British and takes place in a blue police box, mostly ;)).
Those who find it offensive seem to be coming from a view of feminism as something of a battle of the sexes in which women should present a unified front in the fight for equality, and in which men are the obstacle, however unwittingly, and as such can say nothing on the matter. They are offended that a male cartoonist has dared to point out something he finds to be a rather ridiculous understanding of female sexuality. If not that, they seem to be reading this one female character’s view on the matter as intended to apply to women universally.
Frankly, I find this view hard to understand, and maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe people on the internet just like to argue (what?!). In any case, I thought this might be an interesting discussion to bring over to Skepchick. Maybe you kids will have some insights that might shed some additional light on this topic.