Undead sexist cliches: Women are so dumb. So emotional. Also: Girls.

John Hawkins of Pajamas Media asserts that “Women are complicated because they have: A) a layer of logic, B) laid across that a mood, and C) on top of that an ever-fluctuating stream of emotion.” Oh, and “depending on their mental state, there are a lot of women who can break into tears if a waiter brings them the wrong kind of salad dressing.”
Curiously, although I know a great many women I’ve yet to observe that.
Closely allied to the “women are just crazy emotional” is the argument that women are out and out stupid, as expressed by Charlotte Allen in 2008: Women have smaller brains than men! And they watch Grey’s Anatomy which is a stupid show! And they read chick lit! So why not let men be the boss, huh, ’cause they’re sooo much smarter.
It’s really jaw-dropping that belief in women’s mental inferiority still exists when it’s so easy to find smar twomen.My primary-care doctor is a woman. My brainy wife is a woman. Women work as graphic designers, IT professionals, chemists, historians, writers, bio-ethicists, bloggers…but Allen has a simple explanation for that: They’re “outliers.”
Which is, of course, one way cliches refuse to die: Discount every woman who doesn’t fit the stereotype as an outlier or assert “she thinks like a man” and no amount of contrary evidence can topple your belief.
Likewise, Allen asserts that guys watching Grey’s Anatomy (the male audience is there) only do so because their women make them. Because anything else would upset her view of reality, so it can’t be true (she also provides no reason why it’s a worse show than Two and a Half Men, which is one of the top five shows for men 18 to 49?
The same selection bias applies to the “women are emotional” approach. I’ve read several articles that argue at least some of that assessment is a double standard. A man gets angry, he’s asserting himself. A woman gets angry, she’s a bitch, or PMSing, or unstable.
Or there was comics writer Dave Sim’s explanation of how he learned women are not logical: He’d make a logical observation and the woman would disagree (this apparently happened a lot)! Since he was logical, a logical women couldn’t possibly disagree.
Beyond stereotyping, of course, women and men often operate from different frames of reference. A female coworker of mine came in to work ecstatic one morning because she’d found the right shade of foundation for her skin during a rushed shopping trip. She pointed out to me I had no idea what it was like.
And that’s true, I don’t. And if I assumed my reactions were baseline normal and completely logical (as Hawkins apparently thinks his are), maybe I’d class her delight with crying over the salad dressing. As is, I don’t find it any stranger than guys obsessing over football games.
And sometimes it’s easier to write off a woman’s feelings as something incomprehensible than try to understand them.
Unfortunately, it’s also part of the rationale by which sexists excuse sexism. Allen specifically asserts that women should concentrate on taking care of children and men and “make a house a home” as that’s all their good at (unfortunatley, she isn’t quitting her writing to do that). Hawkins asserts that most men don’t think they’re part of the patriarchy (true, I’m sure) or oppressors so a woman should never tell them otherwise or she’ll hurt their feelings (does he think that a man who doesn’t believe he’s sexist can’t be sexist?).
Other writers have used men’s supposed logical nature and lack of emotion to rationalize that women should do all the emotional work in a relationship: Men are innately too insensitive to pick up when there’s a problem so women should fix it themselves or just shut up.
I think both articles are absurd. If I ever see a restaurant full of women crying over salad, I’ll reconsider.

11 Comments

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

11 responses to “Undead sexist cliches: Women are so dumb. So emotional. Also: Girls.

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