Undead Sexist Cliches: Men are the grown-ups, women are the children

A little over a year ago, I discussed Scott Adams’ (of Dilbert fame) assertion that men shouldn’t argue with women about equal rights for the same reason “you don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner.”
The nature of Undead Sexist Cliches is that they don’t go away, so it’s no surprise that Michigan state representative Wayne Schmidt made use of it recently. To give some background, two Michigan reps—both women—objected to the latest state effort to restrict abortion clinics. One rep. pointed out that in her branch of Judaism, abortion is permitted if it’s to save a life, so weren’t the restrictions taking away her religious freedom? The other rep actually used the word “vagina.” The legislature’s response was to ban them from speaking any further in the debate “to ensure that the proper level of maturity and civility are maintained on the House floor.”
Hullabaloo quotes Schmidt explaining that this is perfectly justified: “It’s like giving a kid a timeout for a day.” Because yes, a woman wanting to speak out about a bill that has a big effect on her gender and diddly-squat on the male side is clearly like a kid speaking out of turn.
I’d suggest Schmidt is the one who needs a time-out. He appears to be a whiny brat who’s horrified that they’re letting girls into the clubhouse—and not only that, they’re actually not letting guys be the boss! Oh noes!
Dahlia Lithwick suggests the obvious solution: Legislate against the words instead of the body parts.
In other sexist notes:
•A piece in the Daily Caller explains that we should ban effeminate gay men from the military, recruit lesbians and then let the male GIs rape them to turn them straight. In fairness, this is titled “an immodest proposal” after one of Jonathan Swift’s satires, so I doubt it’s a serious proposition—but I still don’t find it funny.
And embedded in the article is a shit-ton of other cliches, which are apparently intended to be taken as fact, such as men are naturally horny and promiscuous because of evolution.
There’s also an off-hand observation that male gays shouldn’t be in the military because gays might look at their fellow soldiers and find them hot, and guys shouldn’t be subjected to that horror (lesbians aren’t turned on by looks, so that won’t be a problem). This is a point that’s been raised a lot over the years and in other contexts. Michael Medved argued that sports teams should be able to discriminate against gays because players won’t want That Guy checking them out in the shower.
I’ve yet to hear anyone who advocates this position suggest this is true of women: That women should be able to keep guys in some fashion from staring at them. A lot of time it seems to come from the same sector of punditry that thinks women objecting to sexual harassment is totally ridiculous whining. Although Medved thinks it’s fine to restrict say, fat ugly women from places where they might lust after men because the men will be grossed out and that’s not fair to them.
The opposition to men looking at men seems to ultimately hinge on the fact that it’s men who are supposed to have the right and the power to gaze upon women, and women have to suck it up; if ugly women or gays start looking at men, that places the man in the “female” objectified role. And for some pundits, that’s a horror beyond conception.


Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

5 responses to “Undead Sexist Cliches: Men are the grown-ups, women are the children

  1. A really excellent post. If anything, I’ve found myself noting that these cliches are far from simply not-dead; they are coming back to life with a vengeance. Some of these points of view haven’t been so openly expressed since perhaps the 50s or early 60s; there seems to be a sense, primarily among politicians, that they can get away with things again that they haven’t gotten away with in a long time. Maybe people are afraid because of the poor economy? Too busy trying to make ends meet to get “up in arms”? Anyway, nice post.

    • frasersherman

      Thanks. And yes, I agree the right-wing antiwoman push is becoming more and more overt. I think partly it’s a push back against women’s continued progress (I discussed that in a past post: https://frasersherman.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/why-misogyny/) and the general rightward drift in politics. If Reagan ran today, he’d be substantially to the left of the current Republican candidates (and the Dems in a lot of ways).

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