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Monday, December 05, 2005

Sexism in Language -- II

In my first post on language and sexism, I noted that all too much of our language makes females invisible and treats males as the norm. These are fairly pernicious influences. Our language is also biased in how it characterizes the roles of males and females. But before going on I must make this a disclaimer: highly general claims about how we use language are always dangerous since usage can change very quickly and there is always variation in usage at any given time. I hope that commenters will free to comment in variations they are familiar with.

We have only once had a woman as a major party Vice Presidential candidate, namely Geraldine Ferraro, and we have never had a woman as a major party Presidential candidate. It would be interesting to see how our newspapers would characterize a second female VP candidate today. The first trime around they didn't cover themselves with glory. The Wall Street Journal, a respectable, even if conservative paper started off their main story with the heads and sub-heads:
Mondale's Choice Ferraro
Spunky And Natural, Moves Into a
Tougher League
The reference to Ferraro as being "spunky" and "natural" are so sexist that no editor of that paper today or any other respectable paper would describe a female candidate that way. It reflected our background presuppositions about women -- assumptions that were subconscious in nature. The term "spunky" is normally reserved for old men, women, children, and small dogs -- in short humans and animals that are not seen as strong by nature. We would laugh at anyone who described Arnold Schwarzenegger as "spunky" in The Terminator. But the kids in the Home Alone series of movies could fairly have been said to have been spunky. Rottweilers are not spunky but Pekingese can be. "Feisty" is another term that is reserved for the more aggressive humans or animals on the bottom half of our potency scale.

Even more telling about our attitudes toward women was the use of "Natural." This term made clear that Ferraro was seen as playing a role that one would not expect a woman to be able to pull off in a natural way. She was, in short, acting "out of role"as a VP candidate as sociologists might say.

At the site associated with the Title link it is said
he gender stereotype of women as warm, nurturing, and caring and the corresponding stereotype of men as cold, competitive, and authoritarian may have contributed to a popular perception that women are less effective than men in leadership positions, though in fact they are equally effective.
This suggests that male views of women have been changing very slowly where they have changed at all. What has changed is what men write and say for public conception. My book on the Language of Politics has some other examples of how newspapers presented this news item.

Where do we get these differential perceptions of men and women? I suspect we get them from every kind of source -- from children's commercials where boys are treated as leaders and girls as followers, from the toys and books parents give their children, from nursery rhymes, and from what they hear at school and at home, and from their friends say, etc.

In regard to school, our daughter came home when she was quite young chanting a little ditty that concluded.
boys have the mussels
and girls have the sexy legs.
My wife (a professional with a Ph.D.) and I were amazed -- fortunately, the role model presented by her mother and my own aggressive nature (my daughter when about 6 or 7 said "I like your style" to me to explain why she wanted to be like me) kept her safe from this sort of crap. Of course, we also had to battle the differential representations of boys and girls in the nursery rhymes, commercials, and her friends.

Many of the influences mentioned that operate to differentiate the roles of men and women are quite overt. Some are more subtle. The most effective would be the influences that we are scarcely aware of -- that are, in a way, subconscious or out of explicit awareness. IMO, how we characterize males and females through our use of language can have this sort of "subconscious" effect on the perceptions boys and girls acquire as to who and what they are.

Women are still seen primarily as sex objects (in the heterosexual world to which I will restrict myself) and this shows up linguistically. In the wonderful movie "When Mary met Sally," Billy Crystal tells Meg Ryan that males cannot be with an attractive woman, even one who is "officially" just a friend, without wanting to have sex with her. He -- or rather, his character -- is very probably right about most of us. To our everlasting disappointment all too many women "friends" don't feel that way about the males they hang out with.

Suppose someone says of some person, Terry, whom you had never heard of before, tbat this person was a virgint. I am betting that most of you would think instantly of Terry as being a female. Note that the very recent movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was about a man who had not lost his cherry, not a woman. His friend's see his virginity as a problem he needed to rid himself of. No one would make a movie about a 40-year-old female virgin whose friends try to help her get laid for the first time though movies about women who are struggling to become active socially after a divorce or death of a husband are not uncommon. This asymmetry speaks to the asymmetry in roles of males and females sexually. Males are looking to get laid for the most part and women, while obviously not uninterested in sex, are looking for something more more substantial.

This asymmetry pops up throughout our language about sex. If I say, "Terry is a slut," most of you will see Terry as being female though one sometimes hears promiscuous males being refered to as sluts. That is a double put down since it equates the male with having a quality normally associated with females. Before Aids being a promiscuous male was seen as a good thing by many or even most men. In my day, this made you a "cocksman" or "stud." My dad actually said one time, "You cut a wider swath than I did," which he meant as a compliment. I can't see my mom saying that to one of my sisters.

Aids has changed things but I suspect that our attitudes about male and female promiscuity have not. Back in the "bad old days," being a whore was a bad thing but being a gigolo was not nearly as bad. I had thought that "gigolo" had dropped out of the language until the Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalow movie came out. ("Male" was redundant in the movie title, of course.) But "whore" has definitely not dropped out. These days, one finds many references to "male whore,"suggests that being a whore is quintessentially a female vocation with male whores being the non-normal or exceptional cases.

The worst instances of the use of language to put women down are the pejorative terms used by men (normally) to refer to women. Some fifteen years ago or so, I went on a camping trip to Canada with three other men where we planned to do a lot of canoeing. One of the men used the term "bitch" and its plural virtually every time he referred to women. This drove me absolutely crazy but it illustrates a point. The negative terms that we use with women are great in number and are much too frequently used by men in talking to other men. I have in mind the use of terms like "slut," "whore," "cunt," and "bitch," and the like. Little boys who hear this sort of talk, as we all did in my time and as boys surely do today as well, cannot help but derive some fairly negative images of women. It is hard to see how boys would learn to respect women when they hear that sort of talk.

And, men use female terms to put other men down, as when they say things like "John's a pussy," or "throws like a girl," and the like. In comments to my first blog on sexism in language, some examples like this were given. Answers.com says of "bitchy" that it can be used offensively in reference to "A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing" or "A lewd woman" or "A man considered to be weak or contemptible." The notion of females being the "weaker sex," if only because women are generally physically weaker than males, is likely to be with us for a very long time. The sad thing is that physical strength is not much of an asset in a world in which being smart and educated is of critical importance for success. And we will surely also put men down by using terms suggesting that they exhibit properties normally associated with women. Only if we use our brains are we men of much value in this world except to chop firewood and other mindless physical tasks.

One last note, which I find very funny. Mothers and fathers have have very different roles in our lives normally. Interestingly, when used as verbs they also have very different interpretations.. One can say "Terry mothered the children of the village" even when she was not the biological mother of any of the children. However, "Terry fathered the children of the village" is way different and is consistent only with his being the biological father of all of the children. Where it gets quite funny is when one contrasts "Terry mothered her kittens" with "Terry fathered his kittens."

I have noted in comments to the other blog that there are women who are comfortable with sexism. That is too bad. It doesn't do women or men or the society at large any good.

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44 Comments:

Blogger Dancing Crow said...

I re-entered the site now the comments are working, good.

M. Medved has quite a bit to say about the influence of Hollywood on our (tongue firmly in cheek)culture. I would suggest some looks at his body of work may be of interest.

While feminists have made great strides, it is apparent to me, they have not had enough success in Hollywood. The objectification of women and the over-valent concern with their physical attributes over their mental attributes continues unabated.

Your post has more indications of that lack of success. You note several movie influences on modern morality.
Mistreatment of women IS a moral issue and as such deserves serious attention.

As long as people do not read and do not pull their heads out of the "box", we will see a continuation of negative attitudes. We, as a society, allow TV to much influence over us.

It is almost unfair to blame the males in our society for their rotten attitudes against women, they see it every time they fire up the old TV set.
Notice This! I said ALMOST, I can still say their choices in entertainment are the problem. They choose of their own free will to immerse themselves in that soup of poor ideas known as "prime time". Young women are also being immersed in the septic soup as well and far too many are buying into the portrayed ideas. Perhaps this is the reason why more women are not becoming femenists.

READ A GOOD BOOK! FER DA LUVAMIKE!

I recommend Gloria Steinem's essay with the title "I want a wife." as a good starting spot.

12:47 PM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Asymmetry. Of course in the context you put it, true. But, ness. wrong? what if you flipped it around & said, "Oh, poor Terry, being a man he is only thot of as biological, & not nuturing!
You make the assertion that the world sees the female in a negative light. We get it. But, why?
What about assentation? do you think it is wrong of the 'Weaker' sex to assent to the pysically stronger? Prehaps it stems from survival, & prob. is an instinct of women. Women do have ways of 'Dominanting' are we supposed to be like men or are they supposed to be like us? I still say I like being a woman & i sure don't want to use men's tactics to get my way. Women are not ness. forced into their 'role'. A lot is biological I think. After all, we are still the only ones capable of giving birth. If women were not women, we'd prob. starve the poor little buggers to death or all children would grow up to be war-mongers.

1:12 PM

 
Blogger Phil said...

"Aids has changed things but I suspect that our attitudes about male and female promiscuity have not."

Perhaps not in all quarters. this article in our paper today about the "friends with benefits" (I was tickled to death the first time I heard that locution) syndrome seems to indicate that the participants strive, at least, to remain on an equal footing.

Also interesting in that article are some new additions to the language, like "DSP" (Disposable Sex Partner). It was a woman in the article that used it.

5:17 PM

 
Blogger S.R. Deardorff said...

man creates god

man says, "god made man in god's image"

man thinks, "i'm like god"

man acts like god to maintain his

conclusion that he is like god

man attributes all his behavior to god,

thinks, "my behavior is god like,

look at all i create, destroy, and

control!!!"



man likes being god


man does everything to maintain

god-like status, even owns other men,

kills other men, and takes what man

wants



man labels anything that goes against

god as evil--that way he can still

think, "i'm good, those against me,

bad"



man fights until 2005 a.d. to maintain

god-like superiority...after all,

it's been such an effective lie

all this time---->>>and, look

at all the THINGS man has!!!!



why stop now that people are beginning

to realize that man is nothing like

god?



who knows?

who knows?

peace n whatnot,

sean

p.s. i am god, and if you don't

believe, i will damn you to hell

for all eternity....good luck....

6:03 PM

 
Anonymous Kate said...

I agree that the English language does use words that signify females as adjectives, verbs, etc to indicate something negative. Do other languages interchange words that refer to 'female' and 'negative' as frequently?

Also, perhaps it is just me, but I think it depends on the type of negative connotation being used. I often hear and see associations of men with laziness, stupidity, and aggression while negative associations with women seem to be mostly in terms of: physical strength, emotional control/manipulation, and sexuality.

Is it possible to be sexist against only one gender at a time? Or whenever a sexist comment is made is it actually hurting both sexes?

7:30 PM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

I seem to remember that in the TV show "Soap" Billy Crystal played a character that wanted to "make the trip to Stockholm", but I didn't think this had anything to do with the movie with Meg Ryan. ; )

Really liked the mothered/fathered egs. And I agree completely with your last paragraph: as long as enough women put up with bad behavior (from language use to outright physical abuse), men and society in general will have no reason to change.

8:34 AM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

Phil, "DSP's" is one of the great concepts of modern life.

9:05 AM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

Gigolo! The Brits call these men toy boys.

In Russia doctors typically have been women all along. So they feel no need to say "woman doctor." However, they may feel a need to say "man doctor." In Italy, barbers are women, not men. So no one says "woman barber" in Italy.

It is not okay for a young man to be a mama's boy. It implies that he is not grown up and is weak. But it is okay for a young lady to be daddy's little girl.

There is a saying that goes like this: A son is your son till he takes a wife. But a daughter is your daughter for the rest of her life."

Another saying that comes to mind is: "Boys will be boys." How might that apply to men when they are say with their fishing buddies?

3:47 PM

 
Blogger SusieQ said...

Correction: It isn't Italy where barbers are predominantly women. It is the United Kingdom and Taiwan.

Sorry about that.

12:05 AM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

SusieQ, you make a good point -- language use is clearly a function of culture, as is virtually every language use phenomenon. This is especially true of politeness phenomenon. I can't remember whether I have touched on that or not but if not I will.

7:52 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

Friendship with women. -- Women are quite able to make friends with a man; but to preserve such a friendship - that no doubt requires the assistance of a slight physical antipathy.
From Nietzsche's Human, all too Human,

I have nothing in common with Nietzsche but I do take his observations into consideration on occasion. (Even a stopped clock can be right twice a day) This observation about women being friends with men has held true for me. I do have friends that are men and I have no intention of having sexual relations with them. I am not physically attracted to them but sometimes I do enjoy their company.

Sometimes while talking with other supervisors from other locations in my comapany, I will be addressed with male pronouns. This is done completely unintentionally and for the most part it is not meant to be a slight. Men are so used to dealing with men co-workers and having to deal with a woman in a man’s position is unfamiliar to them. For those that do not know me it can be quite uncomfortable at times too. I had a newly trained man call my location for information about how to restart a locomotive that had shut down over the weekend. I attempted to guide the man step by step to get the locomotive started but he was very uncooperative because he knew that a woman was telling him how to do his job. Finally I had to reprimand him and call his supervisor to go out to the remote location to get the job done. I did not write him up and I asked his supervisor (a good friend of mine) not to write him up but to instruct the man that it does not matter whether it is a woman or man that is throwing out the life line, just grab the line and get saved. There are some cultures here in the United States that make it much more difficult for women to do their jobs as I explained to my fellow supervisor, “I’m not a “ho” and no one is allowed to refer to me as such or imply it”. I have plenty of options of making that behavior stop and none of them very pleasant.

I was given a very nice reproduction print by my friend Diane. The print was a depiction of the jobs women filled on the Pennsylvania Railroad while the men where away fighting WWII. There is a conductor (not a conductorette or conductress) collecting fares on a passenger train. The woman was wearing a very stylish uniform and looked very nice. There was also another depiction of a conductor “pinning up” a draft of freight cars, hanging from the handholds, giving hand signals to the engineer putting a freight train together (a very dangerous job). This image makes the point I was trying to get across to the new man. It does not matter what gender, race, religion a person is that is giving signals, instructing or supervising. There is a general atmosphere of not wanting to get hurt or killed to override personal prejudices. It is more important to know the person you are working with understands what they are doing and you can communicate well together. I’ve learned to look past all the mistakes of formalities and come home safe with all my limbs and fingers and so have the most experienced people I work with. If someone has a gripe it can wait until the move is completed and the train is tied down.

11:04 AM

 
Blogger mizfit said...

hello, this is my first visit here and i am already impressed to read what you have written. espcially since i addressed the same issue in my blog post named "abuse the women".

3:08 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are women who, however you may search them, prove to have no content but are purely masks. The man who associates with such almost spectral, necessarily unsatisfied beings is to be commiserated with, yet it is precisely they who are able to arouse the desire of the man most strongly: he seeks for her soul -- and goes on seeking.

7:51 AM

 
Blogger thinking girl said...

LG -

you limited yourself to language in heterosexual society - eg. men being referred to by terms that are normally reserved for women as an insult. I would like to offer that not only does this reinforce women as being tacitly inferior to men, but it also reinforces heterosexuality as an institution in our society. Another sure-fire way to insult a man is to refer to him using some derogatory term or other normall reserved for gay men. (Another, more puzzling to me, is to refer to that man's mother as a "whore" or a "slut". I digress...)

Maintaining a picture of men as both masculine and heterosexual seems important in society today, to keep both women and gay men in check. Lesbians appear to be completely forgotten (as are bisexual people) - perhaps because the lesbian is most threatening for male dominance by suggesting it is actually possible to live one's life without any dependence on a man?

On that note, I find lesbian feminism to often be going too far in its directives of replacing men completely; I am an equality-minded feminist. However, I do think lesbian feminism is very important; without the viable option of lesbianism, women would have no choice but to live in intimate relationships with men, the very ones who oppress them. (not necessarily saying that people choose their sexuality... don't want to commit to that ridiculous notion.)

anyway, thought I'd present that as an idea...

8:56 AM

 
Blogger S.R. Deardorff said...

There are women who, however you may search them, prove to have no content but are purely masks. The man who associates with such almost spectral, necessarily unsatisfied beings is to be commiserated with, yet it is precisely they who are able to arouse the desire of the man most strongly: he seeks for her soul -- and goes on seeking.
============
surely this /\/\/\ applies/\/\/\to some men also and the women who seek them...

10:27 AM

 
Blogger jo_jo said...

I agree with Sean, both men and women can suffer from a fear of intimacy.

In general on this post, LG, I have worked in very macho environments where nothing was ever said to me about the effect on my career of being a woman. However, both the men and women in those systems have very effective ways to enforce gender roles without resorting to sexist language. The fear of legal action is the only thing that stops them from overt sexism.

My experience was that this sexism was much harder to fight it when it was pushed underground - because I simply couldn't believe it was happening! Once I had accepted the reality, there was no place to grab it and address it. Very frustrating.

11:54 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

something has come clear to me reading thinking girls comment. It's a question of balance. If a society is geared to hetrosexual males then the balance is in their favor.
In my veiw, whoever has the edge would have the balance in their favor, is it realistic to think that it will change? What would be the downside of a society dominated by strong feminist women? would the sexist terms just flip over? Would the men complain that the women were treating them as 2nd class citizens?

it is interesting to me that you(L. Guy) say that some of us women are comfortable w/sexism. I don't think comfortable is the right word. Compliant is more like it. Us compliant women will never rule the world. We will just keep nuturing those who do.

Optimist that I am, I think men & women will learn to appreciate one another when they can see each other in a more humanist veiw. Which is what usally happens in a good relationship, anyway.

11:57 AM

 
Blogger thinking girl said...

hmmm, jo jo makes an interesting point.

from my end of experience, I have worked for most of my professional life in a career dominated by women, providing services for women. I have been surrounded by women, and had very few male co-workers. (I'm an aesthetician and makeup artist, and decided to return to university two years ago.) my experience has been very different: any time I ever stood up for myself at a job, I have been sniped at, reprimanded, gossipped about, called names, etc. I guess standing up for myself is too masculine a trait, and a sign that I'm not following the feminine rules... and it hasn't mattered if my boss was a man or a woman, although every woman I have ever worked for has tried to exact authority by means of emotional manipulation. Perhaps a trend exclusive to my industry... I don't know.

Interestingly, the men I have worked with - either gay hairstylists or straight massage therapists - have always had an exceedingly easy time in working environments everyone else found very difficult; they also made a hell of a lot more money. Even in a female-dominated profession, men still get treated better.

l>t's got a good point too. It does seem to be all about balance, and relations of power between groups. what I hope for is not a society dominated by women. I hope for a society in which relations of power are equally balanced, and no one dominated anyone else.

"you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one..."

2:05 PM

 
Blogger J_G said...

The language that the men use around my work place would probably send some of the women that post here running for the Civil Rights Department. Even though the men I work with try to curb their sexist behavior and try to be a little more civilized when I am in their presence, they are nonetheless, men. I don’t have a single problem with that. I just ask that they not use certain words while I am communicating with them. You know which ones they are, they know not to call me a bitch, or to go f--- myself and especially they ALL know that in no circumstances are they to use the word c--t. We get along as well as any work group can be expected to as long as everyone understands what the limits are. There is some sexual joking (against company policy) and there are times that I have to bite my tongue about them acting according to certain parts of their anatomy. My group (gang) and I have been working together for many years and we watch each other’s back. I have the gift of being persuasive and being able to stand up for the men against the powers that be. That’s how I have won their respect. It would be completely different if I had been transferred there and they were told they have to work for me that would be a hard and bumpy road.

One evening I had to go out on the main tracks about five miles from our shop to help a disabled train. The old and grizzled Conductor was on the ground waiting for us and when we got there he saw me and just rolled his eyes and said the brakes were locked on one of the axles and they had worn the wheels flat. My partner and I got underneath the car and examined the situation and came out to tell the conductor that car had to be left there because it was unsafe to move with passengers aboard. He looked at me and asked if this was true and wanted to know if this was my assessment. I said yes and at moment got on the radio to tell the dispatcher of the situation. This old and experienced Conductor understood that if someone would crawl underneath a railroad car to look at the brakes along 125mph main tracks this person was someone to listen to. He thanked us and started on his business of moving the passengers forward and to get the car uncoupled.

While the conductor was getting his train set up for its new configuration a woman wearing a very nice business suit opened the door of the car the passengers were being moved to. The woman identified herself as Vice-President of Such and Such department of the railroad we work for and that she was being made late for a meeting. The woman asked the Conductor if he could just back the train up back to Philadelphia (25 miles) so she could get off and catch another one. This time the grizzled old Conductor looked at both of us and rolled his eyes and said to the woman Vice- president of Such and Such Department in a stern and commanding tone of voice,” Madam, I have a job to do so please do what the assistant conductors are instructing you to do and please move forward and find a seat, Thank you” I stood there kind of giggling and he winked and went about his business.

It’s all what you make it. The words you use, the loyalty you show, and your dedication to learning and being the best you can be, man or woman. Women do have to work harder and be more conscientious to be able to compete in a man’s work environment but it can be done. That woman vice president had no idea of how a railroad works and she is why men get angry because they think women like that get a job like that because of her gender status. Women that behave that way only confirm the men’s belief in that.

8:51 AM

 
Anonymous pf said...

I think the more women want to be like men, the less attractive they are. But that's just me. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent".

4:37 PM

 
Blogger porchwise said...

Lookey here now, you gals spend too much time on this subject. It's cut and dried here in Alabama: Women should be kept barefoot and pregnant, cook and clean house and do what their husbands tell them, in and out of bed. Workin' outside the home ain't a womans place.



LOL, sorry, couldn't resist as I'm retired here in the midst of the Bible pounders and this seems to be the mindset here...although economic circumstances in this state have most women working although very few in executive positions of in-state businesses.

Enjoyed the lively debate that turned into a debacle in the comment section of your 'A Note on Intelligent Design'. What a hoot.

5:37 PM

 
Blogger demondoll said...

Since reading this and the previous post on sexism, I've been paying more attention to the books my 5 yr old reads. He likes books on transportation and construction. I make a point of showing him the females in the pix and how they contribute to the tasks. I think some childrens' book publishers are making an effort to balance participation.
Just a small observation.

2:43 AM

 
Blogger S.R. Deardorff said...

yes porchwise, it's true, i helped degrade the convo between me and the other cracker to a elementary joke--->>> i don't care--->>>fed up with hugh's righteousness...

at any rate; i need a break from ID; i like sex more anyway...

on that note ; P

j/k

but, seriously; does anyone else believe that the source of sexism's continued existence lies in the God=Man debacle (speaking of debacles)???



ALSO---L.G. you officially received the top spot on my link list!!!

i luv u man!

peace out n shit!

sean

p.s. i'd be more academic if pop culture hadn't kicked me out of the university!! since then=I DON'T GIVE A SHIT!!!!HAHAHAHAHAHA! but i love you all anyway, muah!

4:27 AM

 
Blogger S.R. Deardorff said...

Oh...btw...b/c i'm gone for my first christmas celebration this weekend:

"HAPPY CHRISMAHANAKWANZIKA TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD DRUNK!"

peace n love,

sean

4:28 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

Well, L. Guy, one thing you did achieve. I have never in my life spent more time on this subject of sexism. I've been in the dictionary. read theroys by feminists. heard other peoples opinions. Argued my own. watched for signs of sexism everywhere. & will reconize it when I see it.
Thanks, for the enlightnment.

9:07 AM

 
Blogger Dancing Crow said...

I have observed a sort of double standard that is constant in TV land.
Has anyone else noticed this?

The males look, well... ordinary, the women look like, well... models.

So you keep seeing these slender aspiring model looking women lusting after "Joe da gut slob". At least you see it in the shows.

What is this? Women have to try and be the absolute best in condition and conformation just to capture the attentions of "gut slobs". Sounds like more sexism to me.

This is just one of many of the "messages" to be found in movies and television. In light of these messages is it any surprise that you will find women going bulemic and men acting like they are the good God's gift to the human race?

9:54 PM

 
Blogger thinking girl said...

dancing crow I have also noticed this. It was most apparent on Friends, when Matthew Perry bloated up to humongous proportions with his drinking/drug problem on two different seasons, while Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox got slimmer and tinier and their hair got smoother and sleeker and they simply just became more and more beautiful. Also, Everybody Loves Raymond - Ray is just an average looking guy, you know? nothing handsome about him, but his wife, played by Patricia Heaton, is beautiful. Same on King of Queens - Leah Reminy is beautiful, her hubby, not so much.

Anyway, I think it supports the myth of masculinity in a way: you doesn't have to be handsome, or in great shape, or make a lot of money, or sweet and thoughtful, or smart (just funny apparently) - but look, this normal average guy got a beautiful woman, and so can you!

8:41 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

I read not to long ago that the average woman in America is a size 14. I guess that qualifies me to be less than average. I'm usually a size 12. Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 but she was much older than me :-)

Most of the men I have dated can call me the little woman. That makes most of them the size of Paul Bunyan. He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK ;-)

I like the men I date to act in the traditional role of a man. I can’t be dominated but I like the man to take the lead.

Feminist lesbians, I know quite a few and some of them are my friends even though we can tend to disagree on political issues.

Someday Americans will elect a woman president but the only woman qualified to be president now is Condoleezza Rice. The Democrats won’t be able to bring themselves to vote for her because she is African American so her chances of winning an election are slim for right now. A Republican African American woman that is in a genius class of her own is something that really offends most Democrats. Race and gender are things that divide that political organization for all the bellicose ranting that you hear from that group.

Condi is the true American success story; this woman has overcome so many obstacles and is able to grasp things that most of us can’t even imagine. Condi is also a concert pianist. People of her caliber only come along once in a lifetime. It takes a lot to impress me but Condi Rice is an amazing and gifted person and there will be partisans that will attack me about this but they are both stupid and jealous. If Condi runs for president I would vote for her. Hillary Clinton is nothing but a political panderer with no merit to call her own.

There have also been women to hold Governorships and a couple of women come to mind when that subject is mentioned. Christine Todd Whitman. I didn’t agree with her and I wouldn’t have voted for her if I lived In New Jersey. Catherine Blanco, do I really need to say much about that blithering idiot? (And I don’t that blame it on her gender)

Sexism is real and there is still an accepted practice in some quarters but it can be overridden by hard work. There are generally accepted traditional roles that are assigned to each gender and are a good thing when dealing on a personal basis. When it comes to employment, politics and other public responsibilities there has to be a responsible and fair treatment of both genders.

8:53 AM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Ah, where to begin?

...the only woman qualified to be president now is Condoleezza Rice.

The first time I heard someone mention pairing Condi & Hillary in 2008, I chuckled myself buttless. The more I hear it, though, the less funny it becomes. Qualified? Why bother using the word anymore, since it's obviously been redefined into meaninglessness in this context. Hell, if the current recumbent works, who isn't "qualified" for the job these days? (For serious reflection, what should the qualifications be? In addition to the "native-born", "over 35", and "14 years resident" constitutional givens, that is.)

Condi...is able to grasp things that most of us can’t even imagine.

Like where to buy the good shoes and bags in NY? And how a Secretary of State attending to personal fashion could possibly be justified during a developing national crisis? Right, definitely out of my league.

...partisans that will attack me...are both stupid

Here again we're obviously working from different dictionaries. Any number of negative labels could probably, deservedly, be applied to me, but in my own humble opinion stupid is not among them. And to be clear, this attack is against what you wrote, not you personally. (By way of touchstone, this is personal: It's a difficult distinction, I know, but do try to make the effort, eh? And by the way, the first few paragraphs of your comment...more than I ever wanted to know, really. Why not save it for you own neglected blog? The new pic is more flattering, though.)

...and jealous.

Yes, I've always wanted to be a chic African-American chick.

If Condi runs for president I would vote for her.

Count your vote cancelled, then.

By way of further clarification, I will be first in line at the booth to vote for a woman (or African-American of either gender) for President. When one qualified for the job (my definition) is put forward as a candidate. But not simply as part of an agenda to get the country past these stupid (my def, again) "woman" and "black" hurdles.

(Got to hand it to you, LG: I remain in awe (but not envy) of your ability to bring them out of the woodwork! One critical comment/question, however: Are you not cleaning up the post for some reason?)

1:00 PM

 
Blogger J_G said...

IbaDaiRon said... deservedly, be applied to me, but in my own humble opinion stupid is not among them.
Ah, how wrong you are IbaDaiRon. Condi is the only woman that is even close to having a run at it. As for you "stupid is as stupid does".

12:54 AM

 
Blogger Unsane said...

All of this sexism is so alien to me. Mike (husband--due to formal need regarding immigration status)and I live behind what he refers to, only a tad ironically, as "an iron curtin". This is his socialist way of saying that we are inclined to switch off from most of the prevalent values of our contemporary ideological world, and create our own, unique world.

Also, it's very hard for him to see me as in any way a passive "thing" because we kickbox.

http://unsanesafe.blogspot.com

2:52 AM

 
Blogger L>T said...

The sitcom thing. Yeah, that's right. & I never even noticed. Acually, regular men are fine with me. & I like looking at pretty women.
I think L.Guys gone AOWL.
What if he just left & the whole thing just went on forever?
j-g could keep it going, I think.

10:24 AM

 
Blogger demondoll said...

IMO the entertainment media creates shallow, yet unattainable goals for women. The money people are on the look out someone thinner,prettier, or younger to display.Actors generally have a chance at career longevity through determination and tenacity. There are fewer roles for actresses, and most of them are for "babes". Performers like Doris Roberts but not Doris Roberts need not apply...

11:10 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

IbaDaiRon said... Like where to buy the good shoes and bags in NY? And how a Secretary of State attending to personal fashion could possibly be justified during a developing national crisis? Right, definitely out of my league.

I hate repeating the obvious, this is an examble of ignorance, stupidity and sexism. This is exactly what we are talking about Good job Iba, just what we expected.

1:57 PM

 
Blogger J_G said...

Oh yeah Iba, almost forgot. Speaking of my new pic, notice the Christian cross I am wearing it's there because I am a Christian.

2:00 PM

 
Blogger J_G said...

After a some thought about my last comment, I apologize. It's not right for me to want to pick a fight with my use of me being a Christian. If you disagree with me (as most commenters here do) then disagree with me on the merits of the argument. Using my faith to pick a fight is just plain wrong.

3:13 PM

 
Blogger musicalchef said...

Well written!

4:55 PM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

I don't think l>t was serious, you know.

So, there was a retraction of the shopping story that I am ignorant of? We've already established my stupidity, so let's move on: If the topic had been Cheney instead of Rice, would it have been sexist to bring up that he was on vacation and fly-fishing? (Lazy, hedonistic men!) You mean "shopping is a chick thang" is a complete misconception inculcated into my mind at a tender age by a sexist society? (Not to mention foisted on women by the same?) My apologies, then!

The resolution is such that I can detect nothing Christian in the image I get of you. Symbols are useful in making clear affiliations that are not otherwise apparent, though. I'm a bit confused (Stupid lil ole me!) as to why you're playing the religion card on this one. Bit of a "Jenn d'Arc" thing going, seeing comments that aren't there?

(By the way, if you want to minimize me orthographically, I prefer IDR.)

5:47 PM

 
Blogger Dana said...

Your examples and arguments seem generally sound. I realize that you were addressing sexism in language, but I would be interested in a post about sexism in "body language." Ever count the amount of "violence" against men on tv shows compared to violence against women? I know some would argue that pouring a drink on a man's lap who has said something the woman did not like is not "violence," only comedy and deserved pay-back. But, if what you say about words repeated being a conditioning factor in training the young has merit, and I think it does, then what of the sex role stereotyping of behavior seen over and over on television? Count some evening. Pillows are hurled by the girl at her date. Drinks are poured on his lap. Coffee is poured. A cake is pushed into his face. Spaghetti is dumped over his head. Or he is pummeled by her tiny little fists as she hurls words and he laughs or hollers for her to stop. And the laugh track in every instance is loud! Does that not "teach" both girls and boys how to behave?

12:37 AM

 
Blogger J_G said...

IDR, I just wanted to pick a fight so I used what most here consider offensive but using my faith was degrading to me and others that believe as I do, I sincerely apologized because I can start and argument without degrading myself or the others that believe as I do. Wow, I hope I don’t have to always spell everything out for you.

Now pay attention closely IBR, this may be a little complicated for you to follow (And I don’t blame it on your gender because I know plenty of intelligent men) Yes, Condi is without a doubt one of the premier Secretary of States and has assisted in negotiating the agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinian terrorists to give back the Gaza (a very delicate and complicated process). That is not her only accomplishment, she has many.

Year after year I watched the incompetence of the former Secretary Madeleine Albright. I do not assign her incompetence to her gender but to her faulty ideology of passivity. We now have the threat of terrorism nationwide after we have already been attacked due to this faulty and almost criminal negligence. I called the threesome of Sandy Berger (the classified document thief and former National Security Advisor), Madeleine Albright (Secretary of State) and William Cohen (Secretary of Defense) as “the three blind mice”. How right I was after everything was said and done.

I remember LG had mentioned Geraldine Ferraro. Her candidacy was made moot by something her husband was accused of (and later convicted of) without even mentioning her running mate was totally unelectable. Ms Ferraro’s husband was accused and convicted of making illegal real estate deals and she paid a big political price for that. If the tables had been turned would the results have been the same. Is the husband responsible for the sins of the wife and visa-versa? In politics they are, it goes both ways, so to speak.

Dick Morris, the man behind the successful elections of William Jefferson Clinton has written a book called “Condi vs. Hillary”. Mr. Morris also believes that Condi is the only woman that is electable in the next presidential race. If Dick Morris can get a person of Clinton’s caliber elected to the highest office in the land not just once but twice then I think his opinion needs to be taken seriously.

I think whether it is a man or woman, repeating platitudes without at least giving some kind of reference or example just perpetuates misunderstanding.

I’ll busy with Christmas this week. My blog has been neglected also but after the holidays I will be back perpetuating understanding. Hopefully I will even get men to understand better of just what is really going on. :-)

Merry Christmas

8:45 AM

 
Blogger Language Guy said...

dana, nice post. I actually did mention the stereotyping on TV but only in regard to children's TV advertising.

When I did the study of TV advertising language, I found that all voice over announcers were male (the voice of authority) but when it came to typical household purchaces -- drain cleaner, cold remedies -- women were represented as smarter than men. I think they did that because women tended to be the shopper for that sort of thing.

I have nothing on body lanugage. I suspect someone has something sensible to say about it but it is not an easy thing to study reliably.

8:54 AM

 
Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Well, this is going to be like beating a dead horse to water with a carrot, but what the hay!

I hope I don’t have to always spell everything out for you.

I'd be overjoyed if you could spell even one thing consistently. IBR?

And it's SecretarIES of State, like in Due to the onset of schizophrenia in the old bird, he found himself face with fifteen mothers-in-law.

Ye gods, I'm bored....

10:26 PM

 
Anonymous Jay said...

When I was first introduced to this debate on sexism in language, I was skeptical that the issue might be trivial, but ethically I was concerned there might be something worth considering and actioning.

A "whitepaper" on this topic convinced me of the existance of sexism in language, and I wanted to share it:

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

The link above is a reprint of “A Person Paper on Purity in Language” by Douglas Hofstadter, which is a farcical diatribe ultimately about sexism in language. It is written in a counter-factual world where the concepts of racism and sexism in language are reversed. By doing so, the paper applies the reader's anti-racist-speech emotions to sexist-speech.

11:18 AM

 
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12:21 AM

 

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