The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘sexism’

Sexism, The Olympics, and You

I love the Olympics – that much talent, drive, ambition? The heartbreak, the glory? It’s all great. (The tape delay coverage of only events where the US medals can be a little frustrating, but I do appreciate a canned summary style approach since I can’t watch Olympics all day every day. Although that would make for an amazing and ironically lazy vacation.)
This year for the first time that I have seen the Olympics coverage is getting heat for some sexist coverage.
I am going to admit something that I don’t want to admit. A lot of times when I read things about something sexist happening, my instinct is to dismiss it. My first thought is usually that someone is crying wolf or needs to get over it (in my defense, I feel like I tend to react to most articles thinking that people are too often on the side of dumb and dramatic. In other words, I’m no stranger to being mean and/or judgmental.)
I say that about being dismissive in case you are like me, to maybe lend credence to my words. I am going to share with you my reaction to a comment I heard the other night during a US-Sweden beach volleyball match.
Announcer: “and the mother of three comes up with another huge block!” (or some sort of fantastic play, Walsh Jennings is a beast.)
Me: I bet that’ll be a comment that is dissected for being sexist.
Counter-Me: But is it sexist? I mean, she had three kids and she is THAT fit and athletic. Having kids takes a toll and is a massive time commitment, so that is just plain  impressive.
Me: Yeah but would you ever hear, who was that cornerback in the NFL with a crap ton of kids from different ladies?, ‘And so and so, a father of seven, with an amazing pick!’
Counter-Me: No, but that doesn’t take any effort. If he was a good dad who spend tons of time with the kids, that’d be one thing. But being pregnant and having a kid is a whole lot more physically tolling than providing one ingredient for the recipe.
Me: But isn’t there sort of an implied thing there? Moms work harder than dads?
Counter-Me: Well … yeah, but that’s true most of the time, right? How is that bad?
Me: Maybe it’s not bad. But consider this. The implication that moms work harder than dads also means there is something of an expectation there. That it is ‘weird’ for a dad to stay at home after kids enter the picture but not for a mom. And if it’s not weird for a mom to stay home, does that mean it’s weird for a mom to NOT stay at home?
There are just all kinds of possible subtle expectations when you have assumed roles for men and women. I mean, just think about how many veterans are committing suicide – could that be influenced by the fact that women are expected to show emotions, and men aren’t? You have all these guys with incredibly trying and possibly awful experiences and they come home and the ‘normal’ thing to do is say, “I’m fine,” crack a beer, and move on?
Counter-Me: Ok … so, what? Everything is sort of secretly biased?
Me: No. It’s natural, when someone points out something that you might be doing wrong, to take that to an extreme. ‘Oh I OFFENDED you?! I OFFENDED YOU!? Well, let me just NEVER TALK AGAIN!’ All I’m saying is, when someone says something is sexist, or racist, or whatever, ask a bunch of questions, try to relate it to something personal, think through it slowly and if possible without emotion. Give it a proper smell test.
Counter-Me: So what if the announcer had said, “another huge block from Kerri Walsh Jennings! It’s incredible, the talent, the drive, the effort she has. She is a caring mom to three kids and the fact that she can balance the kids and the volleyball is impressive.’ … Would that be ok?
Me: Yeah I think so. But the thing is, it doesn’t need to come up that often. Say it every once and a while, but for the most part marvel at each play as it stands. Imagine how much more annoying NFL announcers would be if they brought up the players life outside of football every other play.
Ok, that concludes my thoughts I suppose. All I’m saying is – try to be aware of your words. And if I have said something crazy, or stupid, please let me know via email ( or comments.
Lastly, as a reminder, because this word has a lot of negative connotations I think.
Feminism, in case you are unaware, is defined as the following, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Those who are not feminists are OK with the idea of a man flipping burgers for X dollars an hour, and a woman flipping burgers at the same skill level to earn less than X. To me, feminism represents being fair.

Murder is Cheap, and Other Ruminations

I just finished reading Murder is Cheap, which was originally called The Scarlet Button. It was published in 1945. I bought the book because it has a dramatic cover and it says in smaller letters above the title “Only suckers pay blackmail!”

Murder is Cheap

Who could resist such a charming read?

I was hoping for a great noir story full of phrases I wish I could use in every day conversation without sounding like a tool.

“Hey Brad, how’s your Thursday?”
“The day is all aces and eights. Not good enough to play. Not bad enough to fold.”
“Uh … Ok.”

Instead, as I was reading the book, which was written by Anthony Gilbert, I couldn’t help but notice blatant sexism everywhere. At first I took it in stride because the book was written in 1945 and life was different then … But the sexism came at parts where it didn’t even make sense.

Mr. Stout thought that if he used that expression again he’d go womanish on him and scream.

I decided to mark some of the sexist lines just to see what they add up to in the end. I sat down today having finished the book, all ready to write a post where I have looked up this Anthony GIlbert character and dive into what made him so sexist when … Oh, it turns out Anthony Gilbert was a pen name and the real author was Lucy Beatrice Malleson. In other words, a lady.

Malleson wrote 51 novels with Arthur Crook in them (a lawyer with dirty hands but a pristine record when it came to his clients).

My claims of sexism then were probably misplaced (gee, ya think). Malleson could have written the sexist lines with a smirk on her face, a Stephen Colbert approach of heavily agreeing with the opposition and seeing how far she could push it to show just how absurd they could be. Thinking about it, the insults to women were given by men while the two female characters were strong, independent, helpful (though one seemed like an overbearing mother figure) and the men in the books relied upon them all the while saying nasty things.

What’s my point? I suppose it’s that I’m too quick to judge, or that authors are crafty devils and (almost) every book deserves a re-read. Imagine now if I went back and read this book knowing this tiny bit about the author. Sometimes when I read what is considered a “great” book I can’t decide if I want to look up hidden meanings, symbolism, themes, etc before so that I can look for it and see it in action while I read … or wait until after I’ve read the book to see if I discovered for myself some hidden meaning(s).

The main thing to know is: No matter how you cut it, no matter how you read it or how much you know about the author, Fifty Shades of Grey was still awful. (Read my review full of amazingly bad quotes from that book! Or my mock version, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4! Self-promotion, yay!)

Lego, You’ve Let Me Down

I can’t believe I said that. And, ready for another statement that doesn’t fit me? Today, I’m going to write a sincere post. Criticizing Lego. Lego!! I love those toys! But, they’ve ticked me off.

Recently Lego has introduced “Lego Friends,” Legos designed to appeal to girls. Check out their homepage versus Lego’s – and already it’s annoying.

Where to begin? I guess I’ll start with a disclaimer. I’m a white dude in the US, so I’m the worst possible source when it comes to talking about feeling like anything is stacked against me. Nevertheless, here I am about to complain about a new Lego marketing scheme and how I find it sexist.

When I was in high school, I wrote for a local paper that was written entirely by teenagers. Another writer for it now writes for Time, which is just plain cool. I was trying to think of an article for the paper, and my sister suggested an idea. Look at the colors at a toy store, how the aisles are so clearly steered towards boys or girls. I noticed and thought, yeah that stinks but it makes sense. Kids get their idea of what they should be doing from their parents, and society, and I don’t want to get too far into that but frankly I think people should play with whatever toy they want to.

I didn’t write an article on that because it was a sincere, intelligent topic, and I don’t think I’m well-enough equipped to do that. I brushed it off as it-is-what-it-is and moved on.

It really stinks, though, with science toys. Science toys are boy colors! Yes, science and engineering fields are dominated by men, but you know what?, steering girls toward kitchens and boys toward super cool beakers that when you add stuff oooh it’s changing colors or bubbling or check out this volcano stuff explodes out of it!! kind of reinforces that trend.

Legos are boy colors. But, they’re Legos!! Everybody loves them! When you go in a Lego store, it’s all happiness! Look at these things!

Then, one day at work, I found out about Lego Friends. These purple-draped boxes assault the eyes when you walk in the store. Yes, Legos were already “boy”-oriented colors but by having a set that is so catered to girls, the whole store is now divided. Those awesome Star Wars, ninja, Harry Potter, pirates, and city Legos are for boys, and these purple-boxed houses, and puppies and sunshine are for girls.

That really annoys me.

You can make a house, and puppies, and sunshine in the same colored boxes as the other Legos! Why do they need to be different colors!

I was saying this rant at a store just a week or two ago when I actually looked closely at one of the boxes. You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Check out the Lego here, versus the traditional Lego.

They have thinner arms! Well, the whole thing is different. The arms stuck out to me the most. There are girl and boy figures that come with the set, and both have the new build (so Lego isn’t saying girls should have thinner arms than boys), but I still find it obnoxious.

I wrote this because I’ve already given this speech to a couple friends in real life, and I’m still annoyed, so I figured I’d rant on my blog (how appropriate). I am still going to be happy when I look at Legos, and occasionally buy some despite being an adult without the excuse of having children (although if ever questioned I always say it’s for my nephew). BUT, I would be happier if Lego would drop the new color scheme.

Shoot, put all the Legos in plain, boring-colored boxes. They’re LEGOS! They’re still the coolest toy out there right now.

Oh, and also, Lego, if you’re listening, when you put an age range on the box, you don’t need to specify an upper age. I’m an adult buying Legos, I already know I’m a grown child, you don’t need to reinforce this by telling me I’m buying a product intended for ages 6-12, I’m well aware.

I’ll be back to the regularly scheduled mindless drivel tomorrow.

%d bloggers like this: