How Many Things Constitute a *THING*?
Because this is often exactly how things like harassment, and sexism and The Patriarchy all work. That it's not just the one example that can be easily explained away, it's the repetition of these things happening over and over until you realise it is actually a pattern, and it's patterns that move to show intent as much as individual actions.
It happens like this:
-Link is posted to an article. It's always a *woman* columnist, she's always addressing some kind of aspect of feminism. (It happened with Laurie Penny today, it's happened before with Bidisha, with every female columnist or blogger ever from Lucy Mangan to "The Indie Professor".)
-ILX media-wannabes start circling the article, usually with this aghast "OMG, how is this dreadful columnist allowed to have a job at this paper!" (with the following "...and I don't!" never explicitly stated but usually implied) subtext.
-The resulting circlejerk usually takes on a slightly ad hominem tone, or rather, an ad-writing-style tone, whereby the writer's style, and "lumpen prose" and "jargon" (because, of course, the use of words like "patriarchy" and "heteronormative" in an article explicitly about feminism are jargon in a way that, say words like "offside rule" are so totally NOT jargon in an article specifically about sport) are implicated, rather than the actual message because *that* would mean they had to actually take the feminist principles being discussed seriously.
-The actual *content* of the article (hey, this thing! it's kinda sexist, huh?) is never directly addressed, but more the writer's whole ouvre is dismissed as being, oh you know, all the usual things like "PC" and "student left" and "humourless and strident" (we've never heard that one before, have we, ladies?)
And then all the mens get together in this giant circle jerk where they congratulate themselves on being so much more enlightened and politically aware and realist-cynical-ironic-snarky than that *terrible* strident, idealist, student-newspaper type woman-journalist. And in this masturbatory frenzy, they invariably somehow just forget to even *discuss* the actual, original *point* of the article. (This thing, it remains kinda sexist, you guys!)
But oh no, of course you can NOT go calling them out on this because oh noes, we do it to *male* columnists as well. Even though, actually, when they go in on terrible male columnists, for some reason, they are actually able to discuss, thoroughly, the on-point or off-point message of said male columnist's argument instead of just circling it like a bunch of squeamish teenage boys poking it with gingerly with the toes of their shoes because god forbid they might actually have to have a discussion of feminism which could challenge their own male privilege.
So, how many times does this approximate script have to happen before we can say, "Hey, guys, so this is actually a *thing* for you, right?" and call it for the subtle sexism it actually is?
Re: Fry himself. As I stated myself on the thread, "if I'd wanted sweeping gender essentialist pronouncements about the sexuality of women from men who, you know, never actually *had* sex with a woman, I'd have joined the Catholic Church. I have not actually read the Attitude interview he claims was misquoted, but I'm all too familiar with low-level "eeewwww, FISH!" misogyny which has been so popular among older generations of gay men. (You know, from before the memo went round that misogyny and homophobia are actually two sides of the same male-heteronormative-privilege coin.) So I'm prepared to write it off as a "horribly formed" "joke" from someone who turned the clocks back a little too far on Sunday morning. Because really, his descriptions of female sexuality bear little to no resemblance whatsoever to my own personal experiences or the experiences of friends and other women of my generation.
If people were to simply roll their eyes and forget it, writing it off as the kind of retrograde stereotype "white people drive like this, black people drive like this..." JokeFail, it would end there. What bothers me is the posters, usually men, who read this kind of thing and retort, uncritically, "LOL, this is the truuuuuuuuth" rather than countenance any kind of challenge of the stereotypes and the damage they do to all of us - all women (straight or gay), gay men, and also actually, straight men themselves, most of whom *do* actually have emotions and affections and the desire to form attachments, rather than *just* a penis.
But hey, that's the message that actually gets lost. And that's the real shame.