1. non-working MOTHERS
Chet’s father was employed in the postal service and became a middle-class, senior supervisor. Despite his dad’s relative affluence, with seven offspring to feed and educate and a wife who did not work, there were still many times in Chet’s childhood when he was hungry.
- Affluenza, by Oliver James
The second sentence above annoys me, even though it comes in the middle of a rant about materialism with which I agree, because a woman with seven children works, dammit. She doesn’t do PAID work, and she doesn’t ‘work outside the house’. Although Oliver James is arguing that women should be paid for motherhood because it’s as worthy job as any other, he does the cause no favours by employing this ‘mother doesn’t work’ language. There are genuinely people around who believe that being a mother is not a form of work, but simply a relationship. Until everyone realises that mother, particularly to very small children, is an occupation and not just a family relationship, the status of stay-at-home mothers is unlikely to improve.
Mothers, themselves, can often refer to themselves as ‘unemployed’, when in fact the true definition of ‘unemployed’ should not be extended to mothers who have a full-time job caring for the young, not unless they’re registered job seekers who hope to then employ an outsider to work in loco parentis for the day shift. (Which is not a value judgement, by the way, on mothers who choose to do just that.)
My suggestion: … with seven offspring a a wife who did not do paid work…
2. ‘OUR WIVES AND MOMS’
Stop calling us ‘wives and moms’ is from Salon, regarding President Obama’s tendency to talk to men, rather than to women directly, about their wives, mothers and daughters.
3. ‘OLD LADY’ AND OTHER GENDERED WORDS USED AS INSULTS
It’s been around forever. Or at least since 1964.
“Tea used to be considered a beverage for sissies and old ladies. However, nothing could be further from the truth.” excerpted from To The Bride, 1964.
I’m sure every man here has, at least, once been called a girl as an insult. And every woman here would have overheard it. Maybe you’ve even wondered, as I have, why being a girl, or being a sissy, is such an insult. Likewise ‘old woman’.
Because girls and boys hear this message pretty much every. single. day. Adult me hears it every. single. day. Here’s yesterday’s sexism, from my Facebook feed (because you can’t choose your friend’s friends).
Call the bastards on it.
The Sissy Boy Experiment. Why yes, there was such a thing.
4. ‘FEMALE DOMINATED’ WHEN DESCRIBING PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Michio Kaku gave a talk called “The World in 2030″ which I should have found fascinating but which I instead found infuriating, not least for his assertion that ‘The Internet is now female’. Why? Because 51% of internet users are women and girls.
This reminded me of the question ‘Why Do Female Authors Dominate YA Literature?‘ posed by The Atlantic. Answer: They don’t. Ladybusiness pointed out that if women made up 40% of any other area in life then everybody would be congratulating women for almost achieving equality.
Let’s hit ‘female dominated’ on the head in relation to anything close to 50/50. This obfuscates the unfortunate fact that women are still far, far underrepresented in almost everything important, well-paid and influential.
5. JOURNALISTS POINTING OUT ‘ABSENCES OF GROOMING’ WHEN REFERRING TO FEMALE SUBJECTS
The Guardian recently reported on Lionel Shriver’s latest book. It’s not unusual for reporters to describe the way a subject dresses and acts, and that is true of both men and women working in creative industries, even when a photo is attached to the article.
What’s different about the way women are treated, however, is that first it seems mandatory to mention a woman’s appearance when a man’s appearance is more likely to be mentioned only if his image is unusual. Second, it seems okay to talk about what a woman hasn’t done (according to the journalist’s expectations) rather than what she has done to create a brand or a particular image for herself. In Lionel Shriver’s case, her lack of make up is worthy of comment:
But Big Brother, like Kevin, can only serve to fuel the cult of personality that has grown up around Shriver, a figure of fascination whose makeup-free complexion has become the female equivalent of Tom Wolfe’s statement white suit.
These are not equivalents. The difference between Shriver’s ‘makeup-free complexion’ and Tom Wolfe’s ‘statement white suit’ is that Tom Wolfe wore the white suit precisely in order to be different — he could have chosen to wear a regular office suit, and might therefore expect the white one to become his signature, to his benefit — whereas the choice for women seems to be ‘either conform to society’s very high expectations of you, spending valuable time in the bathroom, and money on overpriced cosmetics produced by companies with dubious ethics’, or we’re going to build it into your image for you.
In short: we are still talking about women’s beauty failures, even in ostensibly feminist articles such as the one in The Guardian.
But of course English speakers have an Anglo history chock full of inequalities, so let’s not keep looking or we’ll have to start speaking Esperanto. Oooh, hang on.
What’s in a name?—The Controversy Over “Manholes” from Inequality by (Interior) Design
Women Are Bitches, from The Rumpus.