She Pop: John Mayer Embraces His Inner Tucker Max

A while back, a commenter raised the issue of why I had focused mostly - in fact, almost entirely - on female artists in She Pop. There are a few reasons for this. First, the way that female personalities are packaged and sold, and the way people react to them, is a more interesting topic for analysis than just pointing at a sexist male pop star and being like, "look! He's being a sexist!" You might actually arrive at a conclusion you hadn't planned on, for one thing, and the discussions tend to be more complex and interesting, and you don't get stuck at that "I agree, he IS a jerk" round-table consensus level of Conversation Death. For another thing, many of the male pop stars working today are boring, at least in comparison to their lady counterparts. There are just too many worthwhile, interesting female pop stars, providing too much food for thought, for the men to compete. 

But today, I intend to begin rectifying my shameful omissions. By providing you with INCREDIBLE TRUE STORIES of DUDES WHO HAVE BEEN JERKS! Dudes in the realm of MUSIC, no less! 

Beginning of course, with John Mayer. Perhaps you have heard about his latest episode of jerk-like behavior? 

Delightful rogue that he is, he gave an interview to New York Magazine. An interview in which he basically complained non-stop about the interviewer's questions, and refused to answer them, and told the interviewer which questions to ask, and basically came off as a less self-aware version of Tucker Max. Less self-aware, because, even though Tucker Max is a gigantic jerk in the name of "humor" (the Mayer interview is full of "humor," I am told! But, you know, I'm dour and disapproving, and have to pass all jokes through my committee of 13 cats before I can recognize them as such, so perhaps it was lost on me) and is prone to calling interviewers "dumb bitches", even he probably knows enough - after multiple protests and the failure of his movie - not to threaten someone's (female!) editor with rape, whether as a joke or as anything else:

These are questions my editor wanted me to ask. I'm trying to build my journalistic career here.
You're not building a journalistic career. You're making yourself look like a moron and you're not a moron. Who's your editor?

Jada is making you sound like a moron in front of people... [blah blah blah I have an album it's gonna be awesome] your editor made you ask stupid fucking questions! You're standing in front of me acting as if these questions are fair [blah blah my awesome album].

What concept [will your next album have]?
More political things, worldly things.

Such as?
Nothing rhymed with public option.

You don't always have to rhyme, though.
I'm going to forcefully sodomize your editor.

Here's the thing. There's probably an audience that has the luxury of finding this funny and not at all disturbing. I'm going to refer to this audience, for the sake of convenience, as "dudes." Maybe some very lucky women fall into this camp, also! (The interviewer, going by byline, would seem to be a lady. What her personal thoughts on the matter are, I do not know! And cannot pretend to speak for her! But I can speak from my own experience, so I will.)

But the vast majority of women have had experiences of being undermined, condescended to, or intimidated by men - harassers on the street, angry customers at a shop or restaurant, bosses or coworkers. They are aware how uncomfortable it is when someone leans in and does the "listen to me, little lady, you need to stop doing your job and start doing what I WANT you to do" routine. So, it's not "funny" so much as "intensely uncomfortable to witness." Men can and do work to intimidate women, especially when there's a difference in social power, in ways that they wouldn't try to intimidate another man. Not to say that men never have altercations! Of course they do! But there's something at work here, a combination of the fact that lashing out (the way another man might) would be Unladylike, and the fact that you're at work and literally are not able to respond in an uncensored, honest manner without endangering your job, that makes this experience uniquely enraging and uncomfortable. It's like being hit in the face while your hands are tied. You can't defend yourself. If you've ever known one of those people who works out his frustrations by yelling at waitresses (or if you've ever been a waitress) then you know the feeling. 

Even if it's intended as a joke, well... it's in print, for one thing. Suffice it to say "joke" is not the message that comes across, especially when devoid of any body language or other non-verbal communication. What comes across is a guy who is in a position of public power, as a celebrity, trying to undermine someone in a position with less power. Maybe just because he could. And, as far as "jokes" go, this one is just so vastly out of touch with the potential life experiences that your audience (or, hey, the person you are "joking" with) might have had that it is really, really stupid and insensitive. And, as you may have picked up, I don't necessarily prize "sensitivity" in humor! I tend to like jokes that are a bit dark, or mean, or whatever! But this - at least in print - is so tenuously poised on that blurry, ever-shifting line between "funny" and "harassment" that it's not remotely worth making. 

All this BEFORE we get to the "threatening rape" portion of the show. I know this will deeply threaten and wound everyone who feels that his or her life would not be complete without rape jokes, and/or feels that they are "cool" enough to "handle" rape jokes and everyone else should be also, but as a joke or not, threatening rape just does not work. Rape jokes, in general, especially when they're aimed at one particular woman but also just in the real live world where there are lots of sexual assault survivors around, aren't cool. Telling rape jokes with the expectation that people won't be hurt or offended by them is like asking someone to lead you blindfolded into a random room of a hospital so that you can tell some jokes about cancer. Do the people around you have cancer? Are you in a waiting room where a family member was just informed that their daughter has cancer, or that their husband has died of cancer? Are you in the Nobody Here Gives A Crap, Tell All The Cancer Jokes You Want section of the hospital? YOU JUST DON'T KNOW. Unless they are close friends and family members - and maybe not even then - you never know what the people around you have been through, or what they can take in the way of talking or thinking about it. Some rape survivors don't respond poorly to rape jokes; some survivors MAKE rape jokes; some find rape jokes deeply traumatic; you don't know who your audience is until you've already hurt someone. (Similarly, not all cancer patients are uncomfortable with cancer jokes! Some love them! My metaphor is not perfect! But I trust you get the point.) So you just don't do it. At least, not if you care about hurting people. You might do it if you are a jerk. 

So! This has been an INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY of a DUDE WHO WAS A JERK! A jerk in a sexist way, no less! I aim to please. 


by Sady Doyle
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Sady Doyle is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is the founder of the blog Tiger Beatdown and the author of Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock and Fear, and Why. Her writing has appeared in The GuardianThe Atlantic, The Awl, Buzzfeed, and all across the internet.  ​

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15 Comments Have Been Posted

I really really really hate

I really really really hate John Mayer. No joke. It's not dislike. It's hate. I don't think I've ever felt so passionately about someone I've never met. And this is just the icing on the cake. It's kind of unbelievable how detached from reality he must be to not realize (or give a shit) what the consequences of his words might be.

"But the vast majority of

"But the vast majority of women have had experiences of being undermined, condescended to, or intimidated by men - harassers on the street, angry customers at a shop or restaurant, bosses or coworkers." - I'm pretty sure this is true of men as well. Men certainly do threaten each other with sodomy, and most are more likely to make violent threats against other men. Having been a waiter I've had the misfortune of meeting those angry losers who take things out on service people which left me with the experience that both men and women have uniquely nasty ways of being assholes to other people. Take for example women who threaten to falsely accuse a man of raping her.

None of that excuses John Mayer from being an asshole, don't assume because I'm a dude that I find rape funny.

Link in article is not working, the interview is here:

Link is fixed! Thanks for

Link is fixed! Thanks for pointing that out.

What I may never be able to fix: your belief that women go around falsely crying rape all the time as a part of their diabolical revenge schemes, and your unwillingness to read the post - which pointed out, not that dudes UNIVERSALLY find this sort of stuff funny, but that they tend to be the perpetrators of it more often from everything I can observe, and have the LUXURY of finding it funny because rape (among other things) is far less likely to happen to them personally - and instead go on about your aggrieved dudehood.

Just your helpful dude of the day

Why hello there, let me make my case by implying a false equivalence between false rape accusations and sexual assault/harrassment. 1.5% of reported rapes being false means less than 1% of the dude population is going to suffer from being falsely accused of rape. This definitely deserves the same amount of attention as 1 in 6 women being the victim of sexual assault. Please remember this, lest you continue to tax the dudes in reminding you about it in every single comment thread about sexual harrassment and sexual assault ever.

Just remember, any time you discuss the ladybusiness, you also have to give time to ways in which the dudes have it bad too. Even if the pseudo-corresponding Dude Issue is several times less common, damaging, or in this realm of reality. It's your duty, because there are not enough people in the world paying attention to men's concerns.


Hmmmm Heather's grammer and structure reads very familiar to me. I would bet money that 'Heathermae' could be Mr. Mayer in disguise. If you've ever logged onto his twitter page and read a few rows of his tweets, you'd see what I mean. All in the verbage and choice of words.
Rock & Roll! (in a socially responsible manner FFS)

hey now!

Most false rape accusations

Most false rape accusations are made by males close to the "victim," and practically all of them are the old stranger-in-a-dark-alley type scenario, not the "gray/date rape" situation that seem to keep the MRAs and the frat choads lying awake nights.

Most false rape claims aren't made by "Males".

That isn't even close to the truth. "Males" don't make the majority of false rape accusations. You might do a little research before you make ridiculous claims like that. My website is the foremost site dealing with false rape accusations, and I can guarantee that "males" don't make the majority of false accusations, by a long shot. And the vast MAJORITY of claims name a specific individual, not a stranger. I would highly recommend you do a bit more research into this topic before making unsustainable claims, such as you have.

E. Steven Berkimer

You ought to be ashamed of

You ought to be ashamed of yourself. That is the most atrociously offensive site I have ever read. While I am certain that somewhere, at some time, someone has lied about being the victim of rape or sexual assault, and that somewhere, at some time, someone will do it again, a website such as yours is so unbelievably problematic for our society, I am actually speechless. The government's statistics are completely meaningless, but YOUR superior studies show far more accurate numbers? Gee, E. Steven Berkimer, some might say your bias (you know, considering you run a website on false rape claims) puts you in maybe not such a great position to be doing studies like this. That's just one of the MANY other problems with your "facts." I kind of wish this post wasn't over a year old, because I really wish SD were around to investigate how problematic it is and put it into eloquent writing like I never could.

The problem isn't so much that its facts are bogus and completely off-base, but it's more that a website like this exists at all, making broad generalizations and claiming to debunk false rape reports. Like I said, people have lied about it, and people will lie about it, and those falsely accused may "suffer" (I find it difficult to talk about the accused, whether guilty or not, as suffering considering, you know, we're talking about victims of rape who, oh I don't know, maybe actually suffered), and whether that's a small number or not, publicizing such incidents takes so much away from women who have actually been raped, and women who will actually be raped in the future. It doesn't mean we blindly lock up every guy who's accused of rape, or that we are a bunch of diabolical, vengeful man-haters who believe a woman over a man every single time. It means when a woman comes forth and says she's been raped, we listen to her. Because the possibility it didn't happen is insignificant in the face of the probability that it did and that she's been wronged and that she's suffering. Further, we live in a society that unfortunately stigmatizes rape victims more than their accusers, so the prospect of a woman wanting to put herself in the position of being humiliated and ostracized (not saying she SHOULD feel that way, just that women are often made to feel that way wrongly) in front of family, friends, complete strangers, is so so so inane. The legal system does make it possible to lie about rape, but it doesn't make it desirable.

I'd also say your logic about a man's tarnished reputation is wrong. If a woman falsely accuses a man of raping her, and he's acquitted, he walks away. She's, again, left with the stigma. She's known as the girl who cried wolf, and that's not something she should have done, and she's going to be reminded of that forever. She's labeled crazy, rash, vindictive and diabolical. (I would argue that women found to be lying deserve the same amount of attention as those found to be telling the truth, because their false claim might mean they are hurting in some other way and need help. Not to mention the good hard look our society deserves, to determine why something like that can and does happen.) I'm trying to see how the man falsely accused has "suffered." The best I can come up with is that he's probably mildly inconvenienced, maybe having to go to court for a day or whatever it is. Then he gets to walk away the strong, innocent man, just a "victim" of this demon woman's insane ways. Who gets the worse reputation after that? Kinda seems like the woman. Again.

Basically, the problem with your website, aside from that it's complete BS, is that it takes away from women who are not lying. What you're saying with the site is that the suffering of men who are falsely accused is somehow greater, or even comparable to, the suffering of actual rape victims. Personally, I'd rather investigate every rape claim with full integrity, even if that means inconveniencing a few men who are actually innocent, than let a rape victim go unhelped. Victims of rape often never tell anyone about the incident(s) at all, and we should be fostering an environment where they feel comfortable and supported enough to get the help they need and the attention they deserve. Women are shamed into silence every day, and your website is keeping more of their voices unheard.

I agree. He IS a jerk!

I never cared much about John Mayer one way or the other. But he really seems to be throwing his weight around here. I get the impression the interviewer might be somewhat underconfident and he's power tripping on being able to push her around.

"<i>Take for example women who threaten to falsely accuse a man of raping her.</i>"

Oh, I bet that makes a dude's blood run cold with terror, because all a woman has to do is say a guy raped her and everybody will take her seriously. That's totally how it works.

1 good jerk does not desever another

Look, John Mayer is an asshole. He seems to think if he says something as a "joke," we are the fools if we misinterpret and don't "get" him.

Even though the NY Magazine interviewer herself is known to be a bully, harasser, and provoker, someone who has been quite viscous toward other women in print and in person, rape jokes are absolutely despicable. Although Mayer's comments were directed toward the editor, whom he apparently assumed to be male, someone needs to muzzle this guy and stick him into an intense re-education program.


Well, he knew the editor's name was "Jada," so I doubt he thought she was male. I can see why people would assume so, though, since he said "sodomize." I wonder if he did that because he thought it was more or less offensive than a vaginal rape threat (might shock some more, doesn't have to use the word "rape.") Not that either would stop it from being misguided and downright horrible...

Well... in a lot of cases...

Well... in a lot of cases... that IS totally how it works. Just because it didn't work for you... doesn't mean it isn't the norm.

This site, is one of the THE MOST sexist sites I've ever had the displeasure of laying my eyes upon.

You fail.

Good day.



I can no longer listen to

I can no longer listen to his music, and I will certainly never buy another album.

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