Sunday, July 30, 2006

Help a Technical Virgin!

Did you see the classic sex ed parody videos from the now-defunct "Technical Virgin" site a few years ago? If not, they're still out there -- on the internet, nothing funny ever dies -- so go have yourself a look! It's the weekend, so the fact that they're borderline unsafe for work shouldn't be a problem. (Here's the other one.) Then come back and click below the fold, because there's something you need to do.

Melanie Martinez of Technical Virgin fame indeed went on to a bright future as the host of the "Good Night Show", a PBS Kids program for children 2 to 5 years old. Last week, she was fired for the seven-years-ago indiscretion of having made the video you just saw. PBS' ombudsman said the following in his petition about PBS officials' decision to fire Melanie:

There is probably little doubt that they would have been hammered by a much larger group than wrote in defense of Ms. Martinez had they taken no action, since the videos, which do have a shock effect, are now pretty easy to find on the Web.

I like what one grandparent wrote:

Once again, it appears PBS has preemptively silenced someone based on fear that America’s Right Wing will not like you. I have an important message for you: AMERICA’S RIGHT WING WILL NOT LIKE YOU AS LONG AS YOU EXIST. You can fire hosts like Bill Moyers and Melanie Martinez until the cows come home, and America’s Right Wing will not like you. They fear the truth, and to the extent that your programs reveal the truth, you become the enemy. I suppose if you fill the entire broadcast day with “Antiques Roadshow” and “The New This Old House Hour”, they may find you no longer the enemy. But they still won’t want to see any CPB money flowing your way.

So what can you do about this? At the very least, sign the petition. Probably the best place to go for updates, and advice on further action is

One more thing, on a slightly more personal note. There's very little in the world that makes me as angry as seeing men disparage a woman for having a colorful sexual past. This case involves even less than that -- it's merely that she acted in a few 30-second parody videos dealing with sexual topics. I look forward to the day when people who disdain women with exciting sexual histories are generally shunned, the same way that explicit sexists and racists are shunned today.


Rousseau said...

That's funny.

I originally thought "ironically promoting anal sex is going to get you kicked out of any sensitive public job. Politicians and teachers have been dealing with this for years, so can Melanie".

But seeing that Blues Clues hired someone who played a Sniper in Homicide, and being reminded of George Carlin in Shining Time Station, reminds me of how hypocritical a double standard we have about women and dirtiness.

PS: I originally posted this comment at Ezra's, but for someone reason it was identified as comment spam and wouldn't let me post. Go figure.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Identified as comment spam? Goodness! Tell me if this happens again.

My crusade is a broad one. Nobody -- politician, teacher, or kids' show host -- should be in trouble for promoting anal sex, ironically or otherwise.

ku said...

I'm in full agreement with you about this case, but perhaps not the broader crusade.

I definitely think it's a shame that there is a double standard when it comes to how people treat a woman with a certain sexual history, but perhaps it would be okay to pass certain judgments on both men and women with a certain sexual history. Now, in nearly all cases, I don't think this would be relevant to the "public" realm of employment or political positions. But certainly I think there's nothing wrong with making certain private judgments that might also affect your private choices regarding that individual based on their past sexual history.

Probably anal sex isn't one of those things that matter, but I can see for instance how promiscuity could be symptomatic of certain negative things like low self-esteem or weakness or just low standards. In fact, given this perspective, maybe even some sex-based differences in judgment could be justified if for instance, certain behaviors are generally indicative of different underlying emotions and motivations in men and women.

But maybe you just meant to restrict your claim to putting intrinsic weight on certain sexual histories rather than the work being done by other problems of which the sexual histories could be indicative.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Certainly there are some private judgments one could make, if it seems that particular sexual behaviors are signs of deeper character flaws. Sexual practices suggestive of cruelty often concern me in this way, even if they're consensual. I don't know how much I should be concerned in the particular cases, since I don't have the knowledge that it'd take to support beliefs about the general psychological traits of people involved in various sex practices.

I tend to see low self-esteem as a mere weakness, like a lack of physical strength or a lack of knowledge due to poor education. People with these problems deserve our assistance. Low self-esteem doesn't occasion any negative moral judgments like cruelty (for example) would.

Amanda said...

I don't tend to see promiscuity as the result of low self-esteem that it's often rumored to be. Women I know with low self-esteem tend to be serial monogamists of the worst sort, jumping from one boyfriend to another without assessing the worth any individual one. But "girlfriend" is a higher status that "fuck buddy", so it makes sense that women with low self-esteem would grab at the girlfriend title first.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Really, if there is a connection between promiscuity and low self-esteem, the most plausible way I can see it coming up is that promiscuous women are scorned and mistreated by lots of people in society, which will reduce their self-esteem eventually.