Dear President Trump,
Yesterday on my way home from church I saw a sticker in the back window of a pick-up truck that showed two universal stick figures and a gas pump. The words that were big enough for me to read from a distance were “Ass or Gas”. Apparently I live under a rock because when I got close enough to read the rest of the text, it felt like the air was punched out of me when I read the words “nobody rides for free.” When I got home I realized I couldn’t remember if both the figures were depicted as “gender neutral” (i.e., male) so I looked up the “ass or gas” part and found hundreds of similar images on stickers and T-shirts, all of which showed or implied a female figure being entered from behind by a male figure. And since she was almost always reaching for the gas pump handle it’s really “ass and gas,” apparently.
I imagine that if you were to actually read this letter you’d blow off my concerns about the sticker and write me off as an out-of-step feminist prude. Be that as it may, I think it is legitimate to wonder out loud about the impact of such imagery and messaging on girls and boys and women and men. I also think it is legitimate to wonder at the one-sided nature of such imagery and messaging. Except for the occasional reclining fat man silhouettes parodying the naked girls on tire flaps, there are no images demeaning men. There are images of Calvin demonically peeing and now apparently there are images of anal rape, but nothing depicting women or girls engaging in gendered power moves. It’s not that I think the answer is for women and girls to just flip things and engage in reverse discrimination or domination. But just consider for a minute how it would feel to see an image of a male figure being subjugated by a female figure when you are driving back to Mar-a-Lago from the golf course. It might be a bit of a downer, right? It might feel like your dignity as a man was eroded just a little. Actually, if you see a traditional “ass or gas” sticker, your dignity as a man should also be eroded, but not just a little bit – a lot bit. This is more of the kind of crap men need to notice and need to recognize diminishes us all.
May we all be safe to drive down the road without having our existences insulted.
May we all be happy to call out sexist bullshit when we see it.
May we all cultivate healthy relationships based on respect.
May we not resort to revenge in trying to right old wrongs.