Friday, September 19, 2014

It's A Man's World

That's a ridiculous statement, isn't it?  And yet, when I was young, it was uttered without irony.  People said it and believed it.

We still have gender-discrimination today -- but it's more subtle.  Less obvious than in the past.  Back then, one could say something extremely sexist and expect to get away with it.  Rarely was sexism challenged.  Today, a woman might object to rude remarks so men have learned to keep those beliefs hidden, trotted out only in the company of other prehistoric cavemen.

I was contemplating this societal development last week when I read an interesting article in The New York Times by critic A.O. Scott.  Noting that our culture is reflected in its entertainment, Scott observed a shift in male roles on television:

"TV characters are among the allegorical figures of our age, giving individual human shape to our collective anxieties and aspirations.... Tony [Soprano], Walter [White] and Don [Draper] are the last of the patriarchs.  In suggesting that patriarchy is dead, I am not claiming that sexism is finished, that men are obsolete or that the triumph of feminism is at hand.... In the world of politics, work and family, misogyny is a stubborn fact of life.  But in the universe of thoughts and words, there is more conviction and intelligence in the critique of male privilege than in its defense, which tends to be panicky and halfhearted when it is not obtuse and obnoxious.  The supremacy of men can no longer be taken as a reflection of natural order or settled custom."

It's easy to recall other common statements from the past.  I remember this one:

"It's nice to have a man in the house."  Why?  So he can sit on the couch and ignore the pile of dirty dishes while watching football?

To be sure, sexism hasn't disappeared.  Lately, women have been protesting street harassment which still exists.  Smart blog posts like this one ( Kiersten ) address the subject with serious concern.

How do you feel about sexism?  Do you believe it still exists?


  1. Unfortunately there is still a lot of sexism out my country - Italy - there is still a lot, way too much for my tastes ! That old advertising you posted is incredible...Hugs !

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  2. There is also a lot of sexism here in SA. But funnily enough we had a male staff member put a grievance in against his female manager because she said that she prefers to employ women because they work better. This young guy is a problem child so it was even funnier that he decided to take his manager on.

    1. As someone who works in staffing, I actually see a LOT of sexism on both ends. Certain companies will NOT hire women even if they are capable of doing the job, simply because they feel like it is a man's job. I've also watched men been turned down time and again for "women's" jobs like receptionists and admin.

  3. There will always be sexism as long as men and women are still conditioned to be so. The answer is simple but somehow to educate about the root and cause of the problem instead of simply blaming the victim or result seems to be a lot harder for people to understand. That song is a joke. Men may have built machines and done impressive things but that's only because by law made by men, women were barred from doing so in the first place, not because women could never do it in the first place

  4. Of course there's a lot of sexism in the world. It's funny but I didn't notice it nearly as much when I lived in Canada. After having moved to Poland I realized just how much of it exists and is prominent in everyday life.

  5. I was taught by a very erudite professor of Western History that sexism resulted from both biology and cultural norms. Fluent in 5 modern languages and 2 ancient languages (he said he was dodgy in Old English), he said a long lifetime of study led him to conclude that people are hard-wired to seek control over their personal circumstances -- beginning in the home, expanding to the workplace, then the community and the countryside. He gave one open lecture a year "A Historian Looks At History", in which visiting dignitaries sat on the steps of the hall to record his remarks which began with "Civilization is a fragile construct requiring constant maintenance." RIP Edward Bastian

  6. I am inclined to agree with Beth and her history prof. In general the strong win, might makes right, and men have been stronger longer. Human beings want to feel they are in control and for many of them that seems to also involve impairing the control of others. There are gains in the trek towards equality but there are setbacks too. I am not sure we will ever get there but we should always be trying to.

    Love this quote: "Civilization is a fragile construct requiring constant maintenance."

  7. I think it does exist.
    You can imagine in Latin cultures even more - its a feeling of continuously having to prove yourself. To some it comes easier than to others - the issue is it is something we should have left behind a long time ago.