The Sexist

Sexist Comments of the Week: Counter-Culture, Misogyny, and Weed

Picture 6

In "Weed Culture Is Boob Culture," I argued that women feel alienated from the pot advocacy movement because female stoners are marketed as objects (above) instead of heroes (every pot movie ever). Yes, boobs are used to sell everything from beer to hamburgers, but it's particularly depressing when misogyny rears its ugly head in the counter-culture.

Even as a woman, I don't need any special badge to drink beer or eat a hamburger—these consumption habits are, in fact, difficult to avoid in mainstream America. But if there's one thing America likes more than beer and burgers, it's boobs. Boobs are used to sell beer and hamburgers because mainstream America's ideal subject—the person those advertisements are speaking to—is a red-meat-eatin', six-pack-guzzlin', butt-rock-blastin' heterosexual male. Now, people who don't fit that ideal American subject—women, gays, vegans, people who reject pandering, etc.—turn to the counter-culture, where they can be given space to create their own subjective experiences.

Theoretically. Because time and again, women have knocked on the door of the counter-culture—the comic book authors, the emo kids, and yes, the marijuana users—only to be shut out of the conversation. And so, even in pot culture, an effective ad shows a woman laying naked, covered in marijuana, staring coyly back at you and not smoking. Again, the ideal smoker is a heterosexual male.


Booby writes:

It seems like everywhere I look, boobs are advertising EVERYTHING, not just fake weed and crappy vaporizers. Yes, our whole mainstream culture is sexist. Do I need remind you about the Coors girls?

The counterculture as whole, however, is much more feminist and progressive, especially when compared to mainstream culture. Hippies really don’t care what you look like, which is awesome. Any culture that supports hairy legs and armpits isn’t sexist.

Dunlap writes:

Sorry to say but this article is misguided. The key fact here is this – Correlation does not imply Causation. That is to say; the 18-25 year old males like weed. They also like tits. This does not mean that the two are related in any way.

The pictures you posted were all from one site, not that I doubt you could find others elsewhere, I’m just saying. does not sound like a “weed culture” site at all. In fact, they probably don’t want weed legalized, considering the fact that if something that actually got you high were legal, they’d probably go out of business in a heartbeat. This is marketing – and we all know that sex sells.

Now, again, I’m not at all denying that guys, and especially stoned guys, like tits. This is a given. But to say that it dominates the culture any more than anywhere else, to say that “Weed culture is dude culture” is totally unfair.

Hunter writes:

It was images like these that made me stop buying “High Times.” And it wasn’t just advertisements that were sexist; they were pictures (including covers) published from HT. When a woman wrote to the editor and complained about it, the editorial staff were total assholes – they told her to loosen up from her “repressed sexuality.” Finding images such as these offensive means you have a repressed, distorted sexuality? Please. I really didn’t want to support that magazine anymore. I do think using these types of images will aleniate some women (and some more progressive men) from some avenues to support the movement. (Note: it was quite a while ago; probably 7 or 8 years ago).

Kim writes:

As a female cannabis activist, I too am put off by the sexism. Even the local smoke shop down the street has huge posters all over the store of half dressed babes selling papers, pipes, vaporizers, whatever. They don’t get any business from me. It’s uncomfortable. And they obviously don’t care how I feel.

Old Corporate Boys Club…even here. Sad.

Numismatics writes:

Whether you accept it or not, the constant message that our ass is what matters is alienating, disappointing, and isolating. And it is UBIQUITOUS. Not only that, it really hammers home the message that this is not a woman’s domain-it discourages us from achieving. I’m not saying this because I am an angry feminist who hates men (I am an angry feminist who LOVES men!) but I am really surprised at how some men can NOT understand some of the mindfucks women go through (not that you don’t get your share, too) and then it occurs to me that many don’t seem to care, and many just constantly parrot “There’s no sexism anymore! It’s all better now!” Well, if that helps them sleep at night….

Ads that have this sort of advertising (and, more specifically, AN OVERREPRESENTATION of this sort of advertising) are really being blatant about the role women have to play in this context, and frankly, that’s a message many of us have heard enough of. I know it’s marketing; I know sex sells, but to me, boobs aren’t sex. And yet I am supposed to read them as such, everywhere I see them. Like, is that supposed to turn me on, too? (Don’t answer that.) Getting to define ’sexy’ is a power I would like to have, too. But I am not encouraged to do so–I am encouraged to cover my face with paint and keep my body as thin as possible. Sex being used to sell has a lot of pernicious effects on our minds and bodies, and by ‘our’ I mean both men and women.

Steven writes:

Your arguments are unfounded and from what I have read of your blog thus far, often taken out of context. You’re not helping the movement at all, whether that be for the females or the female pot smokers. Dunlap really covered most of it but to simplify things, we can assume from the marketing that more men are going to read high times or the ads in the back than women. Perhaps more guys are interested in Legal Buds than women are. So the companies are correctly marketing as such. But to say that weed culture is dude culture or imply that the movement or the culture in itself is inherently sexist is simply not backed up at all.

There’s plenty of sexist things you can fight against in this country. If Legal Buds, Coors Light and Carl’s Junior want to market their products towards men, they have every right to. Men respond to images of the female body and sex. That’s what we like. Leave pot and pot culture out of this debate.

Also, have you ever been to a pot rally? Anecdotally, I know just as many female stoners and activists as male ones. Do some research before you make these claims, I’m glad you’ve received the comments you have, this simply is not good journalism.

Cash writes:

It is really telling, when reading through the comments, that most of the commentators who think this is a nonissue are men, and the ones who say this DOES have an impact are women. Its just interesting how women come out and say “I am put off by this kind of advertising. It does have an effect on me, and on the women I know” and then the men come here to basically say “No it doesn’t! I don’t see sexism anywhere! You’re wrong!”

  • recursiveparadox

    The fact that the defenders' best defense is, "but they're marketing it to men, it makes sense!" shows they left most of their reading comprehension at the door.

    That's the bloody point, you idiots. They're marketing it to men! What about pot smoking women? You know they're out there. Steven up there even mentioned them! Why don't we get any love from the advertisers? Why is it all tits tits tits? The market is not just men, stop pretending it is.

  • Mike Riggs

    A little curious as to why you cited a 2003 article about a very small portion of Chicago's emo/post-rock crowd as indicative of emo as a whole.

    It's 2009: Jimmy Eat World, Brand New, Moneen, Thursday, Saves the Day, Senses Fail, Say Anything and boatloads others have more female than male fans. And with good reason: Males head all of the above bands, but a lot of their songs are about their own shortcomings, the things they've done wrong in relationships, the things they wish they could do better. Hell, most of the songs speak for emo as an identity group against the world. There's no room for alienating people based on their gender or sex in that scenario. They've a movement to preserve.

    I can't tell you how many emo girls I know who are into this music, and I'm guessing it's because the lyrics are often gender neutral (emo singers use the word "you" far more often than the words "she" or "him"), and thus make just as much sense (relationship wise) to women as they do to men.

    Ergo, I'm calling cheap shot.

  • Christina

    Steven I think you may have misread the article. I don't think the implication is that women aren't into weed or weed culture, it is the alienation of women from the advertising.

    Numismatics made a GREAT point in pointing out that this type of advertising tries to tell you what's sexy. I think the fact that I am beat over the head with the "blue eyed blonde with lot's of make up image" advertising that I find myself least visually attracted to women that fit this discription.

    Originality should at least be a catalyst for a different form of energy. Comedy sells too!

  • Amanda Hess

    Mike Riggs:

    I cited it because Jessica Hopper's essay made a ton of really great arguments about Chicago’s emo/post-rock crowd which have a wider application in the context of misogyny in the counter-culture as a whole.

    That's not to say that misogynist counter-cultures STAY that way---the point is that we work toward them not staying that way, right? The other link I cited was about comic culture in the 1960s, but history can be really helpful to recognize when the same shit happens on a different day. It's not a cheap shot to remember stuff!

    I also don't really buy that emo has completely turned around in the past six years. I'm not an emo kid myself, but Jessica Hopper's essay has endured for a reason---girls are still reading it, because it's relevant to them, even if it's not relevant to you (a 20-something man), or your favorite bands (which may have female fans, but not-so-many female musicians). There are still problems.

  • Jessica Hopper

    Mike is actually wrong. The article is about emo as a whole, (there isn;t even a chicago band referenced), rock history and how women are portrayed in emo, and why that is alienating. I think it holds for some contemporary emo, for sure. It's all still about boy pain, boy vision of girls, etc.

    Counter cultural dudes often hold themselves above sexism--like, they couldn't possibly have an unliberated though in their heads because they don;t catcall women on the street, which means major gaslighting as soon as you call them on it.

  • Mike Riggs

    Forgive me, Jess: I thought Braid was a Chicago band. (Champlain, Chicago, they both start with "Ch".)

    Brand New and Senses Fail are what come to mind right off the bat: The former has grown away from singing about women (especially on The Devil & God and Daisy), and the latter has always sung almost solely about depression/drugs. I see them both as great emo bands that make equal sense to men and women.

    And yes, I ignored the part of Jess' article about rock being almost exclusively male made, because it's completely true and also totally sucks and I have no answers for how to make it different.

  • fully engaged fem

    Reading the comments to the posts here is always sad... the 'hey man this is just capitalism!' replies that completely ignore the women who are sharing how this crap disenfranchises them.

    Comic culture definitely has its share of issues, but thankfully I was at SPX this weekend where more women are representing... not just as attendees but as comics with a wide variety of voice. R. Crumb will always be exalted (I feel conflicted about his work for sure) but the longest line at the event was to see Kate Beaton.

  • loislane24q

    I don't think the naked woman imagery can do anything but set the cause back.

    With any kind of counter-culture issue like marijuana policy, it is a big struggle to be taken seriously. We have to be super-extra-anal about how we present ourselves. When a major publication related to the issue subjugates women, it alienates lots of people and feeds into the stereotypes.

    Why allow an important cause to be marginalized for such a dumb reason?

  • Christina

    All this talk about female rockers is leading me to shamelessly promote my band. I do a good chunk of the writing and singing for it and we also have another girl in the band We're playing at FIGHT CLUB tomorrow at 8, you should come out!

  • Baked Life

    ooh i already wrote a lengthy reply at on the last article. It's a really good comment too.

  • EveLibertine

    Emo is an excuse for teenage boys to promote their so called "male masochism" and has therefor tricked stupid little girls into becoming the housewives of the future. We need a riot grrrll revival to combat this more than ever. Who's with me on this?

  • OldHippieChick

    I'm a female pot grower - I only grow for personal consumption. I am in no way a threat to any male growers. I was saddened and offended yesterday when on a growers forum I was referred to as a "split tail"???? WTH? I'd like for some male to tell me what's the difference in being called a "split tail" or a C*nt or a HO? Of course when I raised hell the post was deleted but I am offended that not a single male had any objection to the post. The cry baby arguing males who chant "get over it - sexism doesn't exist" are just making up lies.

  • Bump City Baller

    I think that there's some truth to both of the ideas being kicked around here. There's a ton of advertising for weed-related products that is obviously sexist. It's in no way unique to weed culture, which has been stated multiple times before. As many commentators have said, the way advertisements use boobs to sell this stuff is really not that classy.
    I think that the problem that most of the men have with the idea that the weed movement is sexist is assuming that the weed culture as a whole is sexist. I know tons of guys who smoke, and a decent amount of girls as well. The guys I know all wish that more girls our age (21-22) smoked weed. Most men in the movement want more women to smoke weed, or at least to meet the ones who do. I don't think there's this "boys club" mentality, this isn't a country club or something. I think that we're letting a few guys who make advertisements speak for a whole movement, which is bulls%$*. When would the weed movement ever let a business like an advertising company speak for it? The only people who have any interest in that are people who are discreetly selling bongs, pipes, etc. or fake weed that no real stoner buys anyway.
    How are we (men and women), the weed movement, supposed to control what a private business does?
    Keep in mind, considering that these businesses aren't huge, they probably aren't hiring the best advertisement companies anyway, hence the s%%$ty ads.