Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Putin the Feminist

This is a really old quote that's been sitting in my "to write about pile for a few months, but I think it's just interesting enough to bring back. You may not have even noticed when it happened, since we've been privy to a whole mess of ridiculous things said by major world leaders, but let me draw your attention to one Vladimir Putin, who answered a reporter's question about what he does on bad days thusly:

I don't have bad days because I am not a woman.

This is one of those things that relies entirely on context. If you read that line without any indication of who said it, you can take it one of two ways: 1) This guys is a total misogynistic jerk, or 2) This dude is incredibly woke. I don't think there are too sentences that can be interpreted in such different ways. It's a real anomaly.

Now, I imagine that Putin is probably more in the #1 camp, given the kinds of things he's said about less powerful sorts of people in the past and his penchant for macho power games. This is probably not a social commentary on the plight of women in modern society.

However, let's say the quote isn't from Vladimir Putin, but maybe it's the opening line of Louis CK's new stand-up act. It comes across in a very different way. I think it's a laugh line for sure - he tends to put things bluntly and speak in unique ways. The very fact that this line can be interpreted differently makes it something worth laughing about.

You can just see how CK would be able to spin fifteen or twenty minutes out of how terrible women have it in society. He could contrast his shitty life with just how much shittier every part of it would be if he were experiencing it as a woman. It's entirely within character, and he'd probably be lauded for insightful social commentary.

I guess there's no real point to this post - other than to point out just how fraught the use of words really is. All those French post-modern philosophers who spent so much time basically rendering language meaningless and then meaningful and then meaningless again probably have more of a point than we're willing to give them credit for.

Maybe this is just the ultimate example of the medium being the message - in this case the medium being from which pair of chapped, wrinkly lips the line happens to spew.

You know, now that I think about, there is a point: in this world men, like me, get to waste time and energy writing esoteric posts about how some enfeebled misogynist might not be entirely wrong about women if you absent context, while around the world, women are actually dealing with a whole bunch of unnecessary crap just because they're women.


No comments: