22 June 2006

Pussy

This morning, the sports report on my favorite radio show featured the story of Ozzie Guillen, who called Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti a fag. One of the DJs supported Guillen's defense that the word did not have the same connotations in his country, that it was a reference to a person's courage, not his sexuality. The DJ went on to say that Guillen should have used "the P-word" instead, since that's really what he meant.

Really? Really? So the female organ through which said DJ was birthed is an appropriate slur to apply to a coward? The female member of the radio morning crew, who happens to be pregnant, made no comment on the topic, so I can't know whether she was equally offended, or just so inured to that particular usage it didn't occur to her.

If it is clearly inappropriate to use sexuality as a means of insult, is it not equally inappropriate to use gender in the same manner? I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised by such an attitude when crimes against homosexuals are granted hate crime status (a ridiculous distinction in the first place), while rape, a clearly gender-driven crime, is not. It is still safe to belittle women, to use feminine terms to denote weakness and other character flaws.

I can only console myself by thinking this is all a little like the fable of the fox and the grapes. It's mighty tempting to think of something as inferior when you've spent so much time unsuccessfully chasing it.

9 comments:

Squee said...

I was delivering a package one day to a little car parts store (I work for UPS) and one of the two male employees saw me coming and said something to the effect of "Shouldn't you be home doing your husband's laundry?" Would this person have made a racist comment about picking cotton or busting caps with my homies if I had been black? (That's not even considering the immediate assumption that I was married, which he couldn't know since I don't wear my ring to work.) Racism has been made taboo (at least in public), but sexism is still acceptable--and often not even noticed. When I said that I'd rather be delivering packages than doing laundry and didn't play along with his bullshit, he acted like I'D offended HIM.

It's pretty obvious that there is a huge difference between the connotations of female gendered language and male gendered language and that most of these are due to sexist stereotypes. I don't think that it's about spending so much time chasing something though... I think it's just such a pervasive part of the culture that we are often desensitized to it, and a lot of people don't even see it.

I could actually blather on about this for quite some time and yank out psychological evidence for biases and their impacts on people, but alas, I have laundry to do before I go to my male-dominated job.

MY laundry.

lorelei said...

Sadly enough, these kinds of remarks are probably less dangerous than the more subtle manifestations of gender bias. I have been repeatedly criticized by male managers in my workplace for my "negative attitude," only because I discuss problems in a forthright and assertive manner. What they really mean is that I don't smile and bat my eyelashes every time I'm in a conversation with a man with whom I work. Apparently this is especially important if you happen to disagree with the man to whom you are speaking.

The good news is that I also work with men who are are not threatened if I rely on competence and logic rather than charm. Two of them supported and encouraged me when I complained about a supervisor who thought it was appropriate to give me the same advice about disagreeing with him that he gave his wife.

It's a shame there's more bad news than good most of the time, but the only way I know to combat a problem is to keep talking about the bad news so that it doesn't get overlooked.

I guess that's just a symptom of my negative attitude.

lorelei said...

Good grief, I'm technologically challenged. I'm having an online identity crisis.

lorelei said...

Testing, testing, am I Lorelei now?

Anonymous said...

What they really mean is that I don't smile and bat my eyelashes every time I'm in a conversation with a man with whom I work.

Who are you, and what have you done with the real Amy? ;)

lorelei said...

I'm sure you were trying to be funny, Mr. Anonymous, even if you weren't trying very hard to be anonymous, so I guess I'll forgive you.

I suppose having never worked with me you'd have no reason to know that I actually do take my job seriously. That's been true of nearly every job I've ever had. When it ceases to be true, I look for another job.

Pardon me if I sound a little miffed, but I think your comment was just as intended to undermine my authority as a professional educator as the comments about my negative attitude.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Miss Amelia, my comment had nothing to do with your professionalism, which I have never doubted, even though I do tend to hear the negative side, and as you note, I have never worked with you. I just meant that you have been known to be a shameless flirt, and I used that as a springboard to imply you would be no different in a professional environment - which I mean as a joke, of course.

Anonymous said...

The "XenEpik Anonymous" definition of the situation:

Desparastasis
Main Entry: de·spara·sta·sis
Pronunciation: di-'spera-'stA-s&s
Function: noun
Etymology: Esperanto
: a attempt by insecure males who fear equality or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organization, population, or group; to lower the rank or reputation by indirect means (as invidious comparison) : speak slightingly about : patriarchal dominated societies fear of powerful woman expressed through socially prevalent use of derogatory sexual connotations

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