By LANI SHOTLOW-RINCON
Not only do we already have societal victim blaming and violence against women, now these issues are compounded by play acting that trivializes both the seriousness of misogyny and its effects on society as a whole.
Remember Dimitri the Lover? Well, he’s making a movie. James “Dimitri the Lover” Sears became an internet sensation in 2008 with his abrasive, bizarre ju-ju voicemail message to a woman named Olga. Currently on YouTube is a teaser trailer for a feature film starring Dimitri that is being developed by producer Brad Goodman of Borat and Bruno fame. The film ostensibly would follow Dimitri’s inane pick-up artistry and his attempt to create “real men.” Will this movie come to fruition? Based on the relative age of both his teaser movie trailer and YouTube interview with producer Brad Goodman, I hope not.
I wonder, however, whether Dimitri’s misguided opinions of women, the LGBTQ community, and masculinity is fabricated or genuine? Not that I am hopeful that there is truly a man out there who believes he can “enslave hot desperate sluts,” I find it far worse if Dimitri developed this persona precisely to sell snake oil to unwitting dupes. Although most people (hopefully) who view Dimitri’s website, newsletters, and rant filled tweets can see that his opinions are wildly bizarre, what we can’t see is how these erroneous messages douse us with chauvinistic, misogynistic messages.
When composing this post, I thought I would never find anything in mainstream media that could compare to Dimitri’s douchebaggery. Indeed, within a few minutes of watching television, I found similar messages of faux chauvinism. Axe’s new campaign “Even angels will fall” depicts female angels, ditching their halos for the man with the new Axe musk. Likewise, Keystone Light’s new television ads depict Keith Stone, whose smoothness with the ladies is used to highlight the beer’s taste. Viewers of these advertisements may be amused—in fact, humor is deliberately used to lead the audience to the product. Along the way we are made susceptible to messages that highlight men’s prowess and relative ease in seducing women, much like Dimitri the Lover. These messages highlight men’s struggle to fulfill the demands of narrowly defined masculinity.
As Dimitri, Keystone, Axe, and other media messages represent “real men” who know how to “awaken the slut within,” they create a culture of chauvinism that affects both women and men in the classroom, office, home, and on the street. When I think of the real life impact of these messages I needn’t look further than my own university to find their effects.
This week an email sent from a USC frat, Kappa Sigma, delineates how fraternity brothers or “cocksmen” can best go about soliciting sex from “targets” (women) and attempts to form a protocol to grade “pies” (vaginas) and “gullets” (throats) of targets. After I recovered from my “WTF” moment, I realized that although this email was created *hopefully* in crass jesting, it contributes to familiarizing us with extreme bouts of misogyny. In turn, I believe that this prompts people (like the author or the USC frat e-mail) to act out chauvinistic bits.
What is occurring here? Not only do we already have very real societal victim blaming, harassment, gender inequality, and violence against women and the LGBTQ community, now these issues are compounded by play acting that trivializes both the seriousness of misogyny and its effects on society as a whole. I fear that as we become more familiar with *humorous* misogynistic messages we will become less adept at perceiving very real, insidious forms of sexism. I think that as Dimitri the Lover and his minions continue to authenticate sexist tropes through ‘humor’, we all become unwitting victims.
Lani Shotlow-Rincon is a graduate student living in Los Angeles, California.