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Dudeism for Chicks

Section: Sermons From the Sofa  | Date: March 16th, 2011

dudeist-chicks By Rev. Stella Quinn
High Priest of Zymurgy

So far Dudeism is a largely male religion. There are various opinions as to why this is. Some draw attention to the word "Dude" the cause, saying this implies a male-oriented way of thinking. I’m a native of The Dude’s blessed homeland of Los Angeles, and I can say that in my native dialect the term "Dude" is a gender-neutral title. I can say "Dude, let’s get a burrito" to anybody.

That being said, "Dude" does occasionally have more male connotations, but usually only when it’s specifically contrasted with a female word as in, "I know the chick who is dating that dude." Still, I’m doubtful that the gender imbalance Dudeism is experiencing has anything to do with linguistics. I think it’s got more to do with the fact that because The Dude is male, it’s easier for men to identify with him on a superficial level. It’s going to take a little bit of work to help special ladies look past the beard and find their Dudeliness.

Maude In feminist circles — those are folks who dig strongly vaginal stuff — it’s often said that you can tell if a movie is sexist or not based on whether or not there are (a) two or more female characters (b) who speak to each other (c) about something other than a guy. The Big Lebowski doesn’t quite achieve this. The female characters all seem segregated by the men in their lives. The two most important women in the movie represent the far opposite ends of the spectrum. Maude is cold, overly formal, and wants very little to do with men. Bunny is a selfish nymphomaniac bimbo. All we know about their relationship is that Maude despises Bunny. Admittedly, this is easy to understand but it doesn’t help that the only relationship we see between two women is a hostile one.

The-Big-Lebowski_Aimee-Mann_glasses_CU.bmp There are only a few other females in The Big Lebowski. Karl Hungus’ girlfriend, who has no name, allows her man to mutilate her. The uptight coffee shop waitress, who has no name, and doesn’t stand up for herself when Walter gets out of line. Walter’s ex-wife Cynthia is never seen but her invisible emasculating presence seems to be the root of a significant amount of what is wrong with Walter. The flick could easily be construed as being deeply misogynistic.

treat-ojects-like-women But let’s be fair. Although there isn’t really what I’d call a positive female role model in The Big Lebowski, the male characters aren’t admirable people either. Walter is abusive and unpredictable. Donny is a wimpy doormat. The Big Lebowski is a manipulative crook. The Dude, Walter and Donny are bound together as friends apparently only because of their shared love of bowling, because they don’t seem to have much else in common. With the exception of The Dude, every character in the film abuses or manipulates everyone else.

It’s The Dude’s ability to transcend the chaos with grace and patience that makes him the hero. These characteristics have nothing to do with his gender or what-have-you. His ability to float past the rough edges on the people around him allows him to, literally, "abide." This is the great lesson of The Big Lebowski; all of us have parts that are broken and some of us are sociopaths. The sooner we just accept that, the sooner we can coexist with those who are capable of coexistence and sidestep those who are not. So while The Big Lebowski is set in a predominately male world, the genders of the individual characters matter less and less as you manage to accept interesting, dysfunctional people for who they are. That’s the essence of abiding.

female elvis It will be, at least in the early years of Dudeism, problematic that The Dude is a male figure. Chicks have been screwed over by patriarchal religion for over 5,000 years now, and the sorts of special ladies that might really have something to contribute to Dudeism might be wary of a philosophical icon that might at first glance look like just another incarnation of The Man. After all, the maleness of all the dudes who started pretty much every other religion out there has been used as an excuse to exclude women from leadership and full participation. We’ve got to transcend gender and shift our thinking so that we don’t look at The Dude as being defined by a pair of testicles.

Dudeism represents an opportunity for a fresh start free of the harmful gender constructs that our society is still dragging around like a smelly old suitcase. When the most admirable character in The Big Lewbowski is a guy and all of the women are less than likeable, it taps into some deep problems in the way we’re trained to think about who we identify with. Female Dudeists shouldn’t be forced to compromise by identifying with Maude or Bunny. They aren’t the hero; The Dude is.

dudeist-feminism Differentiating between "Dudes" and "Dudettes" or "Chick Dudes" doesn’t seem to help much with this problem. The terms "Dudette" and "Chick Dude" places women in the category of "other." It reinforces the idea that the default gender is male, and women are lumped in as an afterthought. It’s hard to truly abide when you feel like an exception to the rule.

This is the new shit that needs to come to light: we’re all just Dudes. We can make the word, in the parlance of our times, a gender-neutral term. Dudeism has a lot to offer to everyone. The more we work to be sure we don’t use a subtle language of exclusion, the better.


[NOTE: One of the articles accusing Dudeism of being "phallocentric" here. Plenty of good discussion in the comments section. And our forum thread concerning the topic here.]

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38 Responses to “Dudeism for Chicks”

  1. Rev. Ed C on March 17th, 2011 2:12 am

    Right on!

    As I’ve always said, much like Buddhism is not about a specific Buddha, but becoming one yourself, so Dudeism isn’t about one ficticious character (aka THE Dude), but becoming a Dude, which is open to all takers :)

    As a great advocate of equality I use the word ‘man’ as a short version of human, not the male personage, a perfectly all-encompassing phrase. And so we do this with the term ‘dude’.

    The landlords who rent out Spiritual Bungalows aren’t biast, and neither is Dudeism. A level valley we all do live in!

    And, as long as no one’s centering on my phallus… fuckin’ A :)

  2. J.J. Vicars on March 17th, 2011 5:10 am

    No feminine role models? Maude goes about her business without fuss or fanfare. When she talks she gets straight to the point and explains in detail. Her more eccentric tendencies (flying through the air with paint) she more or less in private, ain’t going around bragging about it. Stiff? Yes, but when you get down to it she’s not putting on airs. Her father, in contrast, tries to come off like a bigshot to everybody. Lots of macho dick-waving. As the story unfolds it turns out she’s the real bigshot, we didn’t know because she doesn’t advertise, and her father is completely full of shit with no money of his own, embezzling from needy kids.

    And Wanda Jackson is “the female Elvis”. Still a good article overall. Dudeism is for all who abide, whether you wear your balls up high or down low.

  3. heidi on March 17th, 2011 5:25 am

    dude, i would buy a *carton* of useless shit with that last logo on it. and by that i mean useless shit for chicks like me. t-shirts, coffee mugs, hell, i’d even buy a bra with that logo on each lovely cup surrounding my fabulous female rack. yes, please. best dudeism logo i’ve seen yet.

  4. Rikki on March 17th, 2011 8:01 am

    I grew up saying the old school term “Man” as in “That’s cool, Man!” or “Man, that’s cool!”
    I’ve heard “Dude” used this way, “That car is so Dude!”
    Also heard, “That car is so Dude, Man!” Dude/Man is pretty much the same thing unless you’re talking about being oppressed, then “the Man” is not cool.
    Or “You the Man!”. Definitely not woman friendly.
    My uber feminist mother used to correct me when I said “Man!” Preferring me to say “Woman” instead. I found it very awkward and everyone made fun of me so I went back to saying “Man” when not in her presence.
    Unfortunately, misogyny is alive and well and it probably won’t go away for a long time but I hold my “high balls” up proudly in defiance!
    As a Woman, Wiccan and new Dudeist Priest (it‘s so cool! I can marry people!), I still use “Man” but also use “Dude” and I can live with that.

  5. CraftyAsh on March 17th, 2011 11:27 am

    Thanks for bringing this shit to light.

    As a woman, it is still nice to have a character you can relate to that is not a (white) man. When I first discovered dudeism, I really appreciated your ‘great dudes in history’ section and how it included women like Julia Child and Joni Mitchell. And yes, I do not want to be referred to as a ‘dude-ette’

    And for many women, (and this can also branch out to include many more groups and their respective struggles) it may be somewhat more challenging to “abide” in the same way as the (white) dudeist man, what with motherhood, patriarchy, sexual assault, lower wages, racism and what have you.

    Our abiding is and will be different, and perhaps it is ok to be different and not be dumped into a melting pot of white dudes. A black man, for instance, would have a rougher go of abiding in the same sense as the white dude. A first nations single mother, would have a different experience of abiding then a white dude…and so on and so forth.

    So as long as we continue to recognize the different “struggles for abatement” that we all face in this durned human comedy, maybe we’re on the right track.

  6. Cakebelly on March 17th, 2011 11:48 am

    Dude, of course it has something to do with linguistics – regardless of what a dictionary says – it’s what one hears on the street (so to speak) that creates our mundane reality. What colours/taints our perception first and foremost is language. I have said it before [on the forum – incidentally the link you posted does not lead to the original discussion or the secondary discussion – it leads to an aftershock, as it were. It would be helpful of me to post the correct links but I can’t be arsed to hunt the pages down] that I have yet to hear one (to use your parlance – language again, getting in the way) chick refer to another as a Dude. I am eager to hear it but have yet to experience that moment that would signify (for me) the coming gender-neutral Dudeist singularity. The place where we are all just Dude: grooving with the Dude multiverse (Creedence soundtrack optional).
    Now, LA may be yours and the Dude’s “blessed homeland” I am a newbie interloper – only been abiding in the County for coming up to 4 years – but I have to say again: I ain’t heard the words, Dude. Not in the media, not among the kids, not in the street or any freakin’ where. My wife/partner/no-tail is an ordained Dude – she’s a hellova lot more Dudely than yours truly – you guessed it: not heard her say it, either. The fact that the term Dude, in common usage implies a male (in fact it implies stupid and or drunk white male if we take Hollywood’s lead – the vast majority do) is inescapable – it just is. The fact that the main protagonist in TBL is a male and is called ‘The Dude” – well, you got yourself a double-whammy that is going to take a long time to unravel; with, I dare say, new threads being picked-up and picked-at all the time. I wouldn’t describe the movie (myself) as being overtly misogynistic, either: I do see it as a reflection – in the tarnished mirrored disco-ball of society – of our time and place and as such we must be aware of the imperfections, injustices and bummers that keep our Dudeliness from manifesting in it’s pure state. That is to say, we may draw on the movie for inspiration and such but we must identify and keep only that which is Dude (and we also need to clarify what exactly is Dude). He may inspire in us a desire to emulate his lifestyle but it ain’t so cut and dried. The Dude can only maintain his sense of equilibrium with the aid of a steady source of alcohol and herb. In our mundane world would this prove to be the case if everyone was a Dude? Would the demands and consequent stresses of living in the Capitalists Play Pen just fall away?

  7. Cakebelly on March 17th, 2011 11:49 am

    Whoa, veering of the trail there – I have my own take on your scriptual references:
    The Dude, in TBL does attempt to manipulate the situation with Jackie Treehorn – only to find, once he has wandered into the all-to-human state of avarice – that he’s out of his element. He only engages (or attempts to) engage with Bunny because, well she’s Bunny wearing (just about) a bikini: his tone changes but again, he’s out of his element (this time for want of a Dude-friendly cash machine). He loses his patience with Maude when he suggests that she should listen – she might learn something. I’m not sure that there is a sub-text that infers that Maude doesn’t want anything to do with men. She doesn’t want anything to do with anyone outside her social bubble. In most regards she is the just like TBL himself: coldly calculating, using people – outside her social sphere – as mere game pieces. The only difference between her and TBL is that she has an arty-slant to her character which somehow, through our own programming, kinda makes her behavior alright, or at least, not as bad as TBL’s. I am not sure, either, that there is a sub-text that infers Walter’s problems stem from his broken marriage. They quite patently stem from his experiences in Nam – which may have led to his marriage break-up. However, I see Walter attempting to abide with his issues by helping out his ex-wife in caring for the Pomeranian: in fact he abides with grace a lot more readily in this than the Dude, who would have said “go fuck yourself”. Donny too, abides – he abides with Walter’s abuse because, perhaps . . well, they are all friends. We do not know how long Donny has been on the scene (maybe they abide him because he’s an exceptional bowler) – but, as shown in the confrontation with the nihilists scene, Walter shows a great love for Donny by answering his questions in a calm and caring way and putting a protective arm between Donny and their assailants. The message (IMO) – and I dare say there as many as there are threads in The Rug – is certainly one of love and abiding.

  8. Cakebelly on March 17th, 2011 11:50 am

    Remember that to the majority of men who think of themselves as a Dude (in the non-COTLDD sense) your article (and these comments) would be dismissed as nothing more than the ramblings of deranged minds: possibly left-wing, lesbianic, junked-up, ne’er do-well loser-speak (but hopefully some of the lesbians involved have gargantuan, greased-up tits and may start wrestling in jello at any moment). I disagree that the female characters have been marginalized – they have set up the pins according to their own design (especially Maude). I agree (I think I may have said this before somewhere) that the characters in TBL could be of either gender – they do not display any significant gender-specific behavior that we have been taught to expect – this is a good thing, isn’t it? Well, it’s certainly a start.

    You begin your article by stating that you don’t think Dudeism suffers (gender-wise) from a linguistic point of view but end stating: “ the more we work to be sure we don’t use a subtle language of exclusion, the better” – so you agree that language is part of the issue (as well as the movie itself, a woeful history of bloody religious persecution, obfuscation, manipulation, etc). I am happy to hear that it is part of your (and your compeers) reality and with the continued use of your limber linguistic sabre of Dude-light we can look forward to a more gender-neutral terminology in the common-rooms of our shared reality. Dudos – long may you roll. Dudes, we have to do more than just will it.

  9. The Dudespaper on March 17th, 2011 11:56 am

    Hey Heidi (and others)

    You asked for em, you got em: http://tees.dudeism.com/Dudeist-Feminism/_s_419039

    Sorry, we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

  10. Rikki on March 17th, 2011 12:18 pm

    This is getting a little too heavy, Dudes!
    I still call my friends, male AND female, “Guys”.
    For instance: “Hey, what are you guys doing tonight?”
    And I do have proof that women call each other “Dude”. My women friends say and call each other “Dude” all the time.
    It doesn’t really bother me either way but if I have to choose, I choose what I grew up with. Most people my age get it and aren’t bothered by it.

  11. The Dudespaper on March 17th, 2011 12:25 pm

    I’m from L.A. and in my experience lots of women call each other “dude” and “guy”. But it could be a regional Sherman Oaks dialect. The Sherman Oaksians are fiercely protective of their language and traditions.

  12. CraftyAsh on March 17th, 2011 12:36 pm

    “Chicks” is not the preferred nomenclature, in the parlance of our times. This is certainly a flippant term for a woman; a baby chicken?! It sounds like a dudeist cheerleading squad.

  13. ElwoodVB on March 17th, 2011 12:38 pm

    well said, Dude! as long as you’re not bringing a “chick dude” agenda, we’re on the same page. Even if you are toting an agenda, we shall abide one another in the true spirit of Dudeism…..

  14. CraftyAsh on March 17th, 2011 12:40 pm

    I’m from L.A. too; as in Lethbridge, Alberta (Canada). Up here, women generally do not call each other dudes or guys (or chicks, unless you are talking down to her). You may refer to a group of people as ‘hey guys’ (but hey folks would be preferable), but you do not address a lone woman as ‘hey guy’ or ‘hey dude’. It would be quite awkward.


  15. Rikki on March 17th, 2011 1:12 pm

    Hey, Crafty Ash, I kinda don’t mind being called a chick. It’s better than being called Lady or Ma’am or worse, a C***!
    I won’t even say the C word unless it is the absolute last thing I can call someone and that goes for calling men C***s, too! :P

  16. Bill Zaspel on March 17th, 2011 1:47 pm

    OMG, that is so very well written that I am humbled. Not because it is written by a woman but because it’s so very rare that someone has the ability to cut through the crap and tell it so succinctly. Fuckin’ a, man!

  17. chalupa on March 17th, 2011 8:49 pm

    Dude I think you forgot a few female characters, man. What about Robin the cashier at Ralphs or Pilar? You also have a few other roles like the waitress at the pancake joint, all the chorine dancers, Sherry who just came over to use the shower, all those frolicking at Treehorn’s beach party, etc. You mentioned Walter’s ex, so that also brings to mind Mrs. Knudsen. I think there are more women in the film than are noticed at first glance.

  18. The Dudespaper on March 17th, 2011 8:53 pm

    Dude, I think the key to the whole movie was hidden in the kindly and caretaking heart of Pilar. She was our secret Mother Mary figure, now at the service of a dying mythmaker and his prodigal dunce.

    All hail Madre Pilar!

  19. chalupa on March 17th, 2011 9:12 pm

    The key to the whole movie was hidden in Pilar? That had not occurred to us, dude. I must think on this for a while.

  20. The Dudespaper on March 17th, 2011 9:16 pm

    pues, es solo mi opinion, mang.

    i had a vision! or maybe it was an occasional acid flashback.

  21. Cakebelly on March 17th, 2011 9:19 pm

    Ah! Much to my chagrin, Busmom (old apocalypse- arse other wise known gender neutrally as my spouse :)) informs me – amidst howls of derisive laughter – that she calls her pals ‘Dude’ all the time. I’m just never around to hear it – well, a custard pie in the face for me (fuck it). Still, er . .

  22. chalupa on March 17th, 2011 9:19 pm

    Opinions are what make the world go round. I’ve been of the opinion that Maude is the real puppet-master in this film. I don’t know if she draws a lot of water, but she certainly knows how to pull the strings. But Pilar?!? This is genius.

  23. The Dudespaper on March 17th, 2011 9:42 pm

    How about this:

    Arthur Digby Sellers, the arch-mythmaker (St. Paul) is dying and his prodigal son is unfit to carry on the legacy. Pilar is the stepmother (Mary), Jesus is her son. Everything is a debased form of Christianity. But the Dude is here to bring us back to the golden age. He’s actually the real son of elder Lebowski, like Moses or Luke Skywalker, the true prodigal son. So either he was banging his sister, in the parlance of our times (which is common in old religious myth), or Maude was adopted.

    Okay, acid flashback over.

  24. chalupa on March 17th, 2011 9:46 pm

    In the parlance of our times??? And Knox wasn’t jealous? Oh wait, he was just helping her to conceive, man.

  25. The Dudespaper on March 17th, 2011 9:50 pm

    Sorry about that interdudelude.

    Just like religious archetypes, words echo down through the ages of history. The arguments are opposed: are we better policing language to prevent misunderstanding, or are we better playing with it so as to create new understanding?

    It’s a complicated case. Lotta ins and outs. But just as religions tend to use the rhetoric and symbols of older ones, perhaps so should we look at the word “Dude” and its many meanings/interpretations in the same way that the early Christians took the ideas of previous gods (Osiris, etc) and refashioned them anew.

  26. Rev. A Da Fino on March 18th, 2011 12:24 am

    It can be that I’m completely out of my element but the main character of the movie calls himself Dude, we have a religion inspired by his approach to life which is consequently named Dudeism and as a wish and sign of respect we call each other Dudes. Everything unfolds pretty naturally in the spirit of Jeffrey Lebowski.
    Given that we make no distinction between genders, race, colors and a whole bunch of other things then the term Dude fits perfectly in this frame of reference. Also given our love for simplicity and economy of words using only one word to call each other again makes perfectly sense.
    I’m surely wrong but I have a theory that females find a bit more difficult than males to indulge in having a dude-approach to life, or another one is that given that the great majority of people around just stops at seeing the Dude as a slacker or a bummer this appeals much less to females. They not only conceive but are also concerned about the whole family stuff and if they don’t have the right frame of reference this could lead to a misunderstanding of what Dudeism, and a Dude, is.
    I think, based on my experience with Dudeism in Italy, that in reality female Dudes are around 50% of Dudeists only that they prefer to keep their religious point of view private. They are on our side but they just keep it for themselves probably due to the general superficial way of looking at our sacred movie.
    Am I wrong?

  27. Doctor Joe on March 18th, 2011 6:13 pm

    Quite a bit of zesty discussion on the topic. We forget about Dude’s landlord and his one man show, dressed in leotards and frill. I think the real message lies in that scene with the Dude, Donnie and Walter in the audience witnessing a transformation of some sort. Talk about hidden meanings!

  28. chalupa on March 18th, 2011 6:56 pm

    @Doctor Joe – You think Marty was turning into a proverbial butterfly?

  29. Rev Sally K on March 18th, 2011 10:09 pm

    We are all Dudes. It’s that simple. We are all Dudes.

  30. Rikki on March 18th, 2011 11:58 pm

    Agreed, Dude!

  31. Rev. A Da Fino on March 19th, 2011 12:03 am

    Fu***ng A!

  32. Doctor Joe on March 20th, 2011 12:36 pm

    I think Marty was in the middle of a metamorphesis, in the parlance of our times, and trying to find his “inner self”. Collecting the rent my be a ploy for a much higher calling. This has all the makings of a spin-off or a situational comedy.

  33. hiker on March 24th, 2011 4:02 pm

    Say what you will about being phallocentric but at least it’s an ethos.

  34. Reverend Liz on April 10th, 2011 2:17 pm

    Funny….as a feminist and an ordained Dudeist priest…I never considered the movie through the lens of feminism. Also…I never identified with the female characters. I appreciate them, but I tend to channel the energy of the Dude (and sometimes….I must admit, Walter). When I think of dressing up …it is the 2 of them that I consider first. I think this is a good sign…that I felt free to identify with whichever character I wanted.

  35. Reverend Liz on April 10th, 2011 2:20 pm

    @ Rev. A De Fino:

    Duuuuuddeeee…sooooooooo wrong. This does not abide.

    Rev. Liz

  36. Rev. A Da Fino on April 10th, 2011 8:58 pm

    Oh, well. :)

  37. Conie on May 10th, 2011 6:27 pm

    And at least the Dude doesn’t treat objects like women.

  38. Doctor Joe on May 22nd, 2011 7:06 pm

    I’m having an acid flashback as to what, or who, Marty will metamorphasize into. Maybe he has a touch of the feminine side in him leading to his one man act. Will anyone dare call him Dude?

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