Why I am Protesting the Appearance of Dirt Nasty at Northern Arizona University, and Why You Should Too.
October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness month. To celebrate the meaningful gains that many groups and organizations have made on NAU’s campus and in the Flagstaff community, concerning the awareness and prevention of sexual assault, domestic and relationship violence, the University is using student funds to pay for a performance by Dirt Nasty.
Normally, when I come across someone that is an offensive counterweight to the positive growth so many people have helped to cultivate in our community, I do my best to ignore them. However, the idea that a public university concerned with the safety, well being, and personal growth of it’s students, as well as a vested interest in the community of Flagstaff, would use student money to fund the proliferation of sexist, racist, and homophobic messages, is intolerable to me.
Troubling of all is his trivialization of sexual violence. Putting a gun to naked woman’s mouth, punching a woman to the backdrop of lyrics promoting rape, and sexual assault are not uncommon in Dirt Nasty’s lyrics. Sexual abuse of mentally handicapped women, wanting to have sex with extremely young girls like Hannah Montana, lyrics promoting images of graphic sexual violence such as “I tear up her pussy like a savage beast” and “Take off your top bitch” are not uncommon themes in songs such as “Nasty as I Want to Be,” “Rape Somebody,” and “Suck My Dick.”
Some might argue in his defense that he is raising awareness on these issues, or that he’s being sarcastic; he’s just poking fun. If that is the case, his approach is way lost on me. What I see is an attempt to normalize sexual violence and sexual assault through a sort of sexism that conflates violence with sexuality. Some might further argue that his messages are so over the top that most people know it’s a joke. But some will not. I’m concerned about those people, however small their numbers are.
Again, this show is for college-aged students, a time in many people’s lives where ideas about morality, values, and identities are constantly being shuffled and renegotiated. Also, during this time between 1 and 4 and 1 and 6 women will be assaulted and/or raped. I dare you to ask those women if Dirt Nasty’s rape jokes are funny.
I’m further concerned that many men, particularly those with developing sexist and homophobic tendencies (which is unfortunately, quite common at this age as most NAU instructors know), will feel validated by Dirt Nasty. The real question is, how will they perceive and treat the real men and women in their lives?
Having Dirt Nasty perform is furthermore a slap in the face to organizations, clubs, infoshops, and coalitions that have, often with the help of ASNAU funds, worked hard on very limited resources to counteract sexism and violence in our community. It is a ridiculous waste of ASNAU’s resources to fund the proliferation of sexism and violence, then turn around and fund organizations trying to stamp it out. Considering how painfully slow it takes harmful cultural norms to be extinguished, these organizations have it hard enough.
The primary function of the dominant, consumer driven culture is to sell us products, but it also sells us ideas about sexuality, and among much more, ideas about what it means to be a man in this culture and what it means to be a woman. In Dirt Nasty’s world, these roles are polarized, whereby men are sexually aggressive and women are, well barely women at all. Quite literally this culture conditions men to be sexually predatory, and women to be submissive and to perceive the men in their lives as potential rapists. After all, it is established that 80% of all rapes are perpetrated by acquaintances – that is, most women are being raped by their friends, people they trust, people perhaps likely to accompany them to see Dirt Nasty. Most men, straight men anyway, will never know what it is like to know that the friend sitting next to you, cheering on Dirt Nasty, is likely imagining raping you.
Of course, most men are not rapists. Most men, in fact, are disgusted by the idea of rape and violence against women. Many men love women, deeply and meaningfully. We love our moms, sisters, aunts, and cousins; we love our friends and girlfriends for the absolute singularity of who they are, rather than how society would have us think of them, that is, as body parts and orifices to be used and abused as it suites our most selfish and narcissistic self interests. There is a growing number of men, like me, who are deeply disturbed by the idea that the women in our lives are conditioned to think of us as potential rapists. Many men are fed up with the tired and outdated, yet culturally acceptable idea that men must be violent, dominant, homophobic, and sexually predatory in order to be a “real man.” These stereotypes are not only harmful to men and women in terms of how we view one another but, frankly, in 2010 these stereotypes are embarrassing.
If it is Northern Arizona University’s goal to facilitate a safe atmosphere that promotes intellectual growth among students and local communities, it is in the University’s best interest to prohibit Dirt Nasty from receiving student resources to perform. If you cannot cancel the performance, perhaps, at the very least, we can invite Dirt Nasty to a forum where these issues can be discussed in an equitable and meaningful way.
these are my personal opinions, and should not be associated with all MARS Project members or Northland Family Help Center….although, they would all likely agree :)
UPDATE – October 13, 2010 -
The first twenty comments (starting from the top) of this were what I thought was a reasonably respectful debate during the week prior to Dirt Nasty’s appearence at NAU. The next 150 comments or so are those I subsequently received within the next 24 hours. And it should be pretty apparent that any comment past the twentieth, claiming to be me, isn’t.
I’m keeping these comments up because this is a tremendous example of what cyber-bullying looks like, and I’m hoping this post might be used as a good teaching tool for those inclined to use it. Further, it is a clear example of what feminist theorists call “compulsory hetersexuality,” where insecure men are overly-concerned with having to “prove” their heterosexuality in a way that denigrates other men and women. It is also proof of a kind of “cyber-homoeroticism” where men bond and find allegiances through hyper masculinity and the verbal subjugation of women. Other than that, Dirt Nasty believes what he does is satire, yet it is clear from the comments that his biggest fans – those who came out of the cyber-woodwork from all over the country to defend him – clearly don’t get the joke. And in fact, the comments reinforce everything I wrote in this post originally. Dirt Nasty would do well to consider these realities and take responsibility for the influence he has.