Wednesday, June 11, 2008

American Idolatry - Barbs and Stingers

"Someday she'll make someone a good husband," my neighbor commented to my dad as I stacked haybales on the back of our pickup. I was within earshot, so I guess he meant it as a compliment. It stung, but I kept stacking.

I used to have a t-shirt that said, A woman's place is in the House....and the Senate. I'd wear it to school and get nasty comments. They stung but I kept wearing it.

Up until recently, well-meaning people sent me Hillary jokes. Daily. They thought I'd enjoy them, laugh along at the silliness. But they stung.

I'm not a fan of being politically correct. I've seen many good jokes die, choked to death by over-the-top niceness. I don't wanna be PC. I don’t want my sense of humor to die.

But this Hillary thing was different. Why?

I play sports. I can handle losing. I can handle having my team dissed for all sorts of nonsensical things. But this is bigger than a game.

This reeks of a smackdown. Of put-her-in-her-place, on-your-knees sexism. A t-shirt depicting Obama as a monkey was vehemently yelled-down as crude and racist, yet the "Iron my shirt" sign held up at Clinton's rally was merely giggled at. So KKK is taboo, but 'get-back-to-the-kitchen' is amusing?

Hillary the dominatrix. Hillary the nutcracker. Behind many of these jokes, there’s a deep-seated fear. Fear of loss of control. Sending Hillary back to the kitchen would mean back to good-ol-boy business as usual. The easiest way to put her there was to sugar-coat anger and pass it off as humor. Hillary in an S&M outfit sent the not-so-subtle message that if we elect her, men will lose control.

Things that sting:

  • being expected to laugh at jokes designed to remind me where I belong

  • getting paid 67% of a man's wage

  • getting labeled a liberal

  • getting labeled a feminist

  • getting labeled as having my period

  • getting labeled, period

No matter what you think of Hillary, she’s a great role model for a group that desperately needs one – young girls. Hannah Montana’s lovely fluff, but Hillary brings home the beacon and lights it up with a plan. She was within a stone’s throw of the Presidency. And she has quite an arm.

Is there a chip on my shoulder? Yes. It’s handy though, because it keeps my purse in place. You know, the pretty bag where I keep all my money.


Melody said...

Hi Annie,

I saw you on Dave Barry's blog.

Thanks for the insightful post about why Hilary jokes sting. I blogged on myspace the other day about needing to give Hilary and all women some respect about how close the democratic race was.

I think you're right about some prejudices being tolerated and others aren't. Women are still big targets and so are homosexuals. I love to laugh, but I'd rather laugh with lovely people then laugh at stereotypes that might hurt them.

Melody’s Silly Humor Site

KM said...

I think reaction and outcry tends to be more pronounced when a prominent personality is being an idiot. Like when famous news hosts said things that were sexist.

When some ordinary fellow does the same, people tend to not give it much publicity.

Think of the voters in West Virginia who openly said stuff like like "I dont want to see a black president". Just like the "Iron my shirt" guy, its idiots being idiots. One can do little more than just shrug and move on.
Just my 2cents. Great blog BTW.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Annie.

km, if we just shrug and move on, then aren't we letting the remark stand there? IMO, we need to speak up every time we hear a 'remark', whether it's by a 'somebody' or a 'nobody', because no matter who says it,someone hears.
just my 2 cents. :)


Red or Green? said...

It's the "shrug and move on" attitude that lets this type of nonsense persist. We can't fight every little thing, but the big ones need to be addressed.
Annie, I've been a Liberal for over 50 years and it is crazy how it has become an epithet in recent years. This is America and we are all entitled to a position on any issue, but the name calling, both subtle and open is very discouraging.
I enjoy your work very much and wish you the utmost of success.

I am a father and grandfather of Women and hate to see the nonsense that happened during the primaries.

Annie said...

In the early '80's, when I worked construction, I understood I was entering guy territory and there would be stuff to deal with, and I cut the guys I worked with some slack for being dealt a 'curve.' But I also strived to be the best role model I could for the women following me into the field.

25 years later we're dealing with the same derogatory stuff. Guess I was hoping for progress, hoping we didn't need gender-based role models anymore, but we do. Hillary's a great one. For today AND tomorrow.

km said...

Well, the original point was that whether by giving the "Iron my shirt" guy a free pass, the media or the nation was being sexist. I think thats not necessarily a correct assumption as demonstrated by the media's equally inert response the West Virginian "Dont want to see a black president" people.

So whether or not we agree that a "passive response to a 'nobody' being an a**" is a good thing, hopefully we might agree that the reaction from most people wasnt necessarily driven by sexism, but rather (right or wrong) a passiveness to these kind of things in general.

As for whether thats a correct approach to take or 'nonsense', although that is a little off topic, didn't someone once say "Never argue with a stupid person. First they'll drag you down to their level, then they will beat you with experience"?
There is absolutely *no* shortage of stupid people who will gladly come and say things that are outrageoulsy inane just to get on TV. If people did break into an outcry over that "Iron my shirt" fellow, we would just make a 'celebrity' out of him and encourage more jacka**es to follow. (Think of the interviews from 24-hour news media asking him "Mr. XYZ, many women's groups are outraged by your comments. What do you have to say to that?", and him basking in the limelight with a new opportunity to say more dumb things)
I think an approach like that would just give unnecessary and certainly underserved *credibility* to their worthless opinions. So we are better off ignoring them and going after prominent personalities who say such things instead. But again, thats just my opinion, and I realize that wasnt what your post was about Annie, so apologies in advance.

Annie said...

Thanks, km - I get your point about not publicizing idiocies, but how do you think I found out about 'iron my shirt' in the first place? Via the media, who for the most part giggled at it. The same media who were appalled at the 'monkey' t-shirt. The same media who went into a predominantly black hair salon and asked the women if they were voting their race or their sex?

The problem with being politically correct is that most people just watch what they say, not what they think. That is, of course, a way tougher thing to change.