Slate’s XX blog published a post by Amanda Marcotte on Friday – Jake Davidson Asking Out Kate Upton Isn’t Cute. It’s Creepy. – the crux of which goes something like this:
The lesson learned: You may be a rich and famous model, but any random man can, just by making a video, force you to do a little song and dance about how delightful his attentions are. Instead of applauding Davidson for this, adults should be appalled. All that’s been taught here to young men is that they are entitled to women’s attention simply because they ask for it.
This entitlement we teach men crops up all the time for women, and it’s rarely as cute as a silly comedy video: When a man demands that you stop on the street to entertain his proposal of going back to his place and then follows you for blocks because you pretended not to hear him. When a rape victim is told that if she didn’t want to have sex, she shouldn’t have gone to the rapist’s hotel room. When a woman files for a restraining order because she’s afraid her abusive husband means it when he says that if he can’t have her, no one can.
Taking XX’s allegations at face value for a moment, it doesn’t sound like Marcotte thinks Davidson’s video is creepy – it sounds like she thinks it, and everything it represents about male entitlement, is downright dangerous.
I can’t say I found Davidson’s video all that delightful or wonderful or charming, but I also think this reaction is a little bit of an over-reaction. And not just because the idea that Kate had to respond is a bit of a stretch, or that the fact she did has any broader societal significance. After all, there’s no shortage of marriage proposals (that’s five) to T-Swift on Youtube and elsewhere, and to my knowledge, she hasn’t felt compelled to respond to a single one of them (though I suppose there might be a song lyric out there just waiting to be decoded).
Obviously, street harassment, rape, and abusive husbands are not something we should be encouraging.* But I don’t see how this incident – or at least, Davidson making his video in the first place — is going to do anything to encourage those things. Creepy, maybe. Dangerous, probably not.
*The fact that I had to write that sentence might be a good indication this is probably not a topic I should be writing about.
And I don’t think Slate truly believes it is either. I searched the website’s archive and confirmed that XX had nothing to say about that time Justin Timberlake famously got asked out, also via Youtube. Sure, the Marine Corps Ball is hardly Jake Davidson’s high school prom – or as Slate put it, “one of the most awkward and embarrassing nights of your life, where you have to socialize with teenagers while being paraded around like a show pony” – but I don’t imagine Slate would take the position that street harassment and rape are OK as long as they’re perpetrated by Justin Timberlake or Jon Hamm and not pimply teenaged Jake Davidson.
Indeed, speaking of Jon Hamm, XX published another interesting piece on Thursday – the day before the Kate Upton piece – with a title that speaks somewhat less for itself, Jon Hamm Is Being Treated Like an Actress. He Hates It. As usual, I have extracted for you the crux: