Recently, we at PBH have come under fire for our name and our logo. After Liberally Mirth cross-posted my post from Peace Tree (it was here, but has since been removed), the owner of the site sent me an email regarding her hesitations with our site, particularly our title and logo:
I want to feature your blog at LM, but its title and, especially, its logo of a woman being spanked make me hesitant. I’m sure I simply don’t understand their meaning. When you have time and nothing better to do, could you tell me your thinking about them?
Which was interesting because Kit and I had discussed clarifying what PBH was about as we anticipated as we became more popular, people would be more speculative about the site. We both fired off essays regarding our positions and why PBH was not intended to offend. I sent the following back to Mirth:
No problem, you actually sparked something that needed to happen for a long time — which is an explanation of our site, its name, and its purpose. There are two extensive entries dealing with both of your questions:
Thanks again, and if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
This was followed by a quick response from Mirth:
Thanks for the reply. I read your posts. Ok here it is, straightup. I have a couple of friends who are into the deconstructionist thing. They express, much as you, wanting to avoid a bleak future as if they have no choice in how they will live their lives! I find their talk sorta interesting but obscure and a little fuzzy and, thus, I don’t get much from it.
In the case of your blog logo, why would would choose to go back to a 50s stereotypical and degrading image? You seem to reject one set of standards, yet choose another even more oppressive.
I’m not going to link pbh because 1) I find a woman being spanked by a man offensive and 2) my readers will find a woman being spanked by a man offensive. I don’t mean to be insulting, but it’s just a little too frat boy for us.
But, judging by the one poem of yours that I have read, I dig your work and I’ll be looking for more at The Peace Tree.
To which I replied:
Best addressed by a paragraph in Kit’s post — “The sharpest tool for rendering the sacred ordinary is humor and wit. The image of the superhero spanking the woman attacks both traditional and Modern sensibilities. It mocks the idea that a woman could be treated as a petulant child while also mocking the idea that these images are verboten. While the traditional interpretation may be that the superhero represents all men and the woman all women, in a postmodern world couldn’t the superhero represent the abstract ideal of the written word, and the woman represent all mankind?”
Thanks again for the link and I enjoy your blog as well! Keep up the good work.
Followed by the last email communication.
Here’s what a nearly 20-year age difference will do to opinions:
I don’t think your logo mocks anything. I think it perpetuates stereotype and oppression and isn’t females alone that are degraded by it. And I’m guessing Kit is not female, so add in gender to the difference thing. I also think the logo cheapens what I’ve seen of your work. But that just me, being all blunt & stuff.
Fair enough — I wouldn’t agree with any of her assertions, but it was a normal, clean conversation. Frankly, her point of ‘I don’t think your logo mocks anything’ is wrong — we created this image and this blog, and we know the reasoning behind it. We didn’t come up with convenient excuses because we are secretly misogynists in waiting, we sincerely created a logo with a superhero hitting a woman in the butt with a newspaper because it is nonsensical, non-traditional, and funny (because superheros don’t exist, and if they did, I presume they wouldn’t spend time hitting woman in the rear with newspapers). Though the irony of bringing up the sex of the author as a means to attack the idea as sexist was apparently lost on her, I would like to point out that two of our five regular contributors are females, and I don’t think any of our viewership had yet to explicitly find issue with our content.
Then I decided to comment on one of her blog posts dealing with a woman who thought she got sick from electrical appliances — nothing too controversial, just a typical comment spewing from me — “Mirth: Nice find. I need that headgear so I can finally get a full nights sleep without having to worry Dick Cheney will swoop through my window and suck my blood”, which included my avatar (the same image as the logo) and a link to my WordPress blog. And that’s when the floodgates opened (for a PDF with the whole transcripts of the thread, click here:
She wants a public debate on my ideas about PBH. Not a problem, someone already elicits support for our “everything goes” mentality. This is when the debate turns into a disagreement before I’m even given a chance to respond with Mirth beating the drum for our supposed misogyny (and by the way, before we even could get to this point, there were ten comments by the blog frequenters relating to hitting each other in the ass and who would like what):
And here you have it, we are of a 1950’s attitude and secret Republicans, and if you don’t see what’s terribly wrong with PBH, you probably are too. And, I’m not comfortable with women having power, or comfortable with women in general. All of this easily assumed by looking at the logo for our website. This is when I enter with a nice bit of sarcasm that pervades on PBH in attempt to get others to understand our brand of humor:
So, in a free and permissive society, we are free and permissive to do what we want as long as my expression doesn’t step on your sensibilities. Yet, everyone’s evidence of our supposed ignorance and offense is my avatar and our website name. Not once do they find any posts on our site that propose or encourage violence against women (or anyone else for that matter as we are all pacifists).
And now, we are down the full path of enlightened discourse. You see, it’s only taken a little bit of bullying and eye-opening to jump to the conclusion that YES, PBH is in fact secret women-hating Republicans who harken back to their grandfathers days when a woman would be perpetually making dinner. And from the preacher comes the final gospel:
So in one thread, we went to a reasoned discussion on the merits of having a SUPERHERO hit a woman in 50’s get up as a logo to discussions about how we were frat boys making light of child abuse and posting jokes about 9/11. In fact, the only post that came after mine was from Kit, who wrote an excellent rebuttal to the arguments presented by the LM crew:
The fact of the matter is that it is a superhero hitting a woman in the behind with a newspaper. Let me repeat that just because I think that is hilarious, maybe if you say it out loud you will hear it. It’s a superhero hitting a woman in the behind with a newspaper.
Why do you relate to the woman being hit with the newspaper? Has a superhero hit you in the behind with a newspaper? Because if I ever saw that, that would be hilarious to me. Also hilarious to me:
* Men being hit in the behind by superheros
* Dogs being hit in the behind by superheros
* Inanimate objects being hit in the behind by superheros
Basically any cartoon which involves a superhero paddling something with a newspaper, I would find funny. Honestly, a superhero hitting something with a newspaper?
Now to the point. Obviously domestic abuse is not funny. No one should live in fear of someone who supposedly loves them. That’s bullshit.
But really, if my dad were wearing a superhero costume and paddling my mom (dressed in a 1950s dress) with a newspaper, domestic abuse is not the first thing that would come to mind.
This comic is pure patriarchal kitsch, just like Soviet kitsch. Unless they hate Jews, nobody really wants to live under Stalin. But Soviet stuff is just a funny reminder of a bygone era of false ideals and failed dreams.
The white picket fence. The home cooked meal waiting for the man returning home from a long day at the office. The Ozzie and Harriet spotlessly clean and modern home.
“What did you do at work today honey?”
“I oppressed you and millions of other women dear, simply by conforming to our traditional way of life.”
“That’s nice, the kids are playing baseball down at the field.”
This is as false of a past as the glorious triumph of global Communism. People don’t really want that shit. People want true equality, the ability to make a life of their own. But what does that mean?
Where is the women’s right movement today? Burning bras? Struggling to escape the kitchen? The truth is that the clear cut discrimination of the past is over with. No one should disrespect a woman for any choice she makes. And for the most part, no one will.
As I mentioned in my post on PBH, in order to properly understand the present and coming future, we must reexamine the baggage of the past. Why does the superhero represent all men? Why does the woman represent all women?
So the question Prose Before Hos asks is, are you a prose writin pro? or a ho-baggin ho? I identify with prose, and I hope you do to. The answer has nothing to do with sex.
A wise man once said do not trust anyone over 30, and with reason. But a wiser man would say, don’t trust anyone to laugh at something when they are consumed with taking out their personal problems on others, because a superhero hitting a woman with a newspaper is fucking funny.