Getting it Pegged

So, last night on The Twitter, geeky film favorite Simon Pegg said:

“…Also, I’ve got a thing about cosplay girls. They’re like zombie stormtroopers, a glorious combination of beloved things.”

Followed by:

“*makes noise like Homer Simpson thinking of donuts*

Twitter user  @cnstoker called him out on his tone of objectification, which consisted of this:

OMG @simonpegg, that is gross. Cosplayers do not actually exist to fulfill your sexual fantasies. #cosplay

Female geeks, even Leia cosplayers, are a part of the geek community. NOT DECORATION. @simonpegg #cosplay

You may think you’re being funny, @simonpegg, but you are objectifying geek women & discouraging more from identifying as geek. #cosplay

His response was “Boring”

To which she responded:

I don’t think making a safe and comfortable environment for women in our communities is boring.

Yeah, because sexism is just so *interesting.* How edgy and new of you!

There’s a thoughtful post and recap on it here

Obviously I agree with @Cnstoker’s larger point – that women who get involved in the cosplay community aren’t just doing it to entertain men, and they deserve to be treated with inclusivity and respect; she’s also done academic study of the culture of women in cosplay, so her bullshit detector is probably finely calibrated in this particular area. Women get treated like crap in a lot of geeky arenas and it sucks and they don’t deserve it.

But I also think that just because they aren’t doing it to entertain men doesn’t mean men aren’t entertained by it. And that women who dress up probably have some enjoyment out of the way they look, or they wouldn’t do it. I further know that because of a history of misogynistic treatment and women being an oppressed class, a male celebrity commenting the attractiveness of an entire group of women (instead of, to paraphrase @Cnstoker, their passion, dedication or their creativity) has a weightier significance than a female celebrity expressing the same sentiment would.

Treating a group of fans as though they were only there for your amusement would be objectifying and gross. But I’m not sold on the assertion that’s what Pegg was doing.

The moral of the story is that @cnstoker wasn’t wrong to sense objectification on Pegg’s part, and Pegg wasn’t wrong to defend his statement since it was just expressing appreciation for two things he likes – women and character costumes. He’s allowed to like both. He’s even allowed not to care about the creativity and just appreciate the eye candy (but appreciating the eye candy isn’t mutually exclusive with appreciating the creativity! One can do both, even if one can’t do justice to both sides in 140 characters).

Here is the surreal part. What happened next was a shitstorm – Pegg called @Cnstoker a humorless militant, her twitfriends got involved, his followers got involved. Within minutes, Pegg’s followers were tweeting at @cnstoker with rape threats, misogynistic slurs, and generally telling her to sit down and shut the fuck up. As though her disagreeing with Pegg (even if they didn’t see her point, or agree with her assessment, or whatever) was some sort of actual attack with actual consequences. As thought she wasn’t respectful (albeit in a strongly worded way). And she got the crap mention-kicked out of her for it.

Just like people who objected to Daniel Tosh’s misogynistic asshatery did by Tosh’s friends, comedian colleagues and defenders.

And this is what I don’t understand. You can believe feminists are humorless, you can believe an activist is missing the point or misguided, you can even think that Simon Pegg can do no wrong.

But why must the dissenting voices be silenced? And silenced by you in a threatening, hurtful way? Why do you have to pile on with assaults and insults and degrading comments and dismissiveness? If you don’t like it, block the offender. If you don’t like it, click to a different tab. If you don’t like it, shrug and say “well, that’s a point of view I don’t agree with.” If you don’t like it, sit this one out.

The insistence on silencing, repressing, shutting down and squelching feminist anger (especially with threats of sexual violence) is where the misogyny comes from. Not from appreciating a woman in a Leia costume.

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5 Responses to Getting it Pegged

  1. Logan says:

    I do not comprehend at what point “I think you are humorless” could possibly translate to thinking threats of sexualit violence are a good idea. Is there any better way to shoot yourself in the “I’m not a misogynist!” foot?

    • mkpheartsnyc says:

      Yes, exactly! I don’t understand this escalation. Even if your reaction is “Meh, lighten up,” (and fine, say that. It’s annoying, but fine) how can you then be all HAMMER OF MASCULINE WRATH at someone.

      I think feminists in general are so used to having their really important battles diminished and dismissed that we tend to go to the mattresses whenever we feel a threat incoming. It doesn’t mean we’re oversensitive, it means dudebros are insensitive and don’t get why being told to calm down is enraging when you spend your life caring about things other people tell you aren’t worth the fight.

  2. Logan says:

    *sexual, not sexualit.

  3. I thought it was to Pegg’s credit that he RT’d her storify but to his naïveté that he didn’t see the Dudebro coming. I think he learned something about aspects of his fandom. I took his RT as an acknowledgement of her POV, as I think he intended. As I said last night, and you say here, they were both right. The DudeBro army was, as always, completely wrong.

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