There are the obvious laws: various attempts to figuratively and literally get inside women's reproductive systems, Wisconsin's regressive non-equal pay shocker, and other legislation that baffles the mind. There's the mud-slinging and conversation that goes along with these things: Limbaugh and other horrible trolls, that cracked.com article about misogyny, Amanda Marcotte's lovely response. In the SF genre, there's this thought-provoking take on the Christopher Priest rant. And many, many more.
I can almost handle most of these things, filing them under "discourse about important topics." In fact, many of the responses do an amazing job of delineating oft-invisible things. But lately I feel like that kid in The Sixth Sense. Except instead of seeing dead people I see sexism. All the time. Some of them don't even know they're sexist.
|"So, I should judge her by her attractiveness?"|
But really, a lot of them do.
Like the beer commercial that just came on, which ended by saying: "Why are we focusing so much on our brewmaster's hands? Because she's not an attractive woman." Facepalm. I can almost see the makers of this commercial thinking they were subverting expectations by having the brewer be a woman. Maybe they were so shocked by their own daring that they retreated into the comfortable zone of judging women by their appearance.
Or the diet soda commercial, rife with stereotypes about "male" movies, that says explicitly that the product is not for women. I mean, really?
Now that I'm seeing sexism, I see it everywhere. It's on my bookshelf, both in the authors I've read and, as it turns out, in the covers. It's in superhero poses, and embedded in our language. It's in my friends' casual comments--without intent, I'd like to believe. It's in the television.
|Finally, a realistic portrayal of male sexuality.|
Mad Men is back on the air, and I like the show as much as the next person, which is to say rather a lot. The fascination we collectively seem to have with bygone years has puzzled me since I started raiding my mom's vinyl collection in high school. But now it's downright upsetting me. I don't think I need to explain that the show is rife with casual sexism. It's so overt that it's easy to look at it from our evolved modern perspective and dismiss it, congratulating ourselves on having come so far. Or it was easy, until we started RUNNING backwards. Until I'm living in a world in which senators say things like, "money is more important for men," or compare women to livestock.
And this is the part of the blog post in which I try to clumsily bring it back to fiction. Because TV shows like Mad Men are fiction, are entertainment, are escape. For these things to be popular, they must be giving people something that they crave.
|"Tee-hee! I'm just an object."|
Retro clothing? Sure.
Unlimited boozing and smoking and extramarital sex? Why not?
Sexism? Please, please no.
I don't know what to do. I can't just help the ghosts avenge their deaths (or whatever) and make them go away. Help me, Bruce Willis! . . . Wait, that didn't sound very empowering, did it?