You Want To Drop The Sexist Language Right Now, Bub. You Can Leave It At The Door With Your Unresolved Mommy and Wife Issues.
Yesterday, I had lunch with five really smart men, moderate to serious political junkies and moderate liberals all of them. I was, as is fairly common in my work life, the only woman at the table. After doing a post mortem of the midterm election, the talk turned to the 2008 election. Hillary Clinton's name was mentioned and, with the exception of the one twenty-something guy, there was so much head shaking and groaning you couldn't believe it. "She's so political," was what it came down to. One of the nicest guys there said to me and the twenty-something, "It's not so much the gender issue . . . ." at which point I interrupted and said, "Oh yes it is. You all don't want to admit, even to yourselves, that it is the gender issue, but it is. Listen to you: 'She's so political.' WTF? She's a politician. Name me a male politician who isn't 'so political.'" Crickets. And, it IS (as my lunch partners grudgingly admitted) the gender issue. We're used to men being "political," but it still sort of upsets us when a woman is because we're not yet used enough to seeing it. Even when women are "political" they're supposed to hide it, to pretend that they're really not trying to influence things.
However, this post isn't really about Hillary; I'm using my lunch conversation for illustration. This post is about the fact that men, even many liberal men who would decry sex discrimination sincerely and loudly, really don't like to listen to women be forceful and assertive.
Take, for example, today's David Broder column in the WaPo. Broder, after spending most of his column attempting to convince everyone that he knew this Democratic victory was coming (imagine how it would sound if a woman did that!), really shows his colors when he turns to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: Pelosi's performance at her debut as leader of a congressional majority was pitch-perfect, calm, confident and blessedly free of the screeching tone of some of her stump speeches. Ever been damned with faint praise? Every single powerful woman has. Geez, Nancy, could you not, you know, "screech" so much? You sound all "shrill" and "strident" when you do that. It's so much nicer if you'll play the woman's role and be "conciliatory."
Lest you think that Broder's is an isolated example or perhaps just made a poor word choice, consider this from Chris Matthews, whose id is always under much less control than almost anyone else's: Discussing the victory speeches of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) during MSNBC's special election coverage on November 7, co-anchor Chris Matthews told Republican pollster Frank Luntz that Clinton gave a "barn-burner speech, which is harder to give for a woman; it can grate on some men when they listen to it -- fingernails on a blackboard." Matthews then noted that Pelosi, who will likely be elected House speaker now that the Democrats have gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, will "have to do the good fight with the president over issues" such as the minimum wage and prescription drugs. He then asked: "How does she do it without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?" Matthews later returned to criticizing Clinton, when, during a conversation with co-anchor Keith Olbermann and with a clip of Clinton's victory event playing in the background, Matthews stated that Clinton's "clapping" was "not appealing" and that "it's Chinese or something," as Salon.com's weblog The War Room noted. Matthews added that former President Bill Clinton, who was standing behind Sen. Clinton at the podium, was a "gigantic guy behind her and he's just there," adding: "It's a strange sight."Media Matters has the transcript.
Look, men. We get it. You really, on some primal level, don't like to hear women talk. You wish we'd shut up and just look pretty. And you REALLY don't like to hear us talk about important issues because you grew up believing that those were YOUR affairs. And you REALLY, REALLY don't like powerful women and you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don't like it when powerful women give powerful speeches and deliver them with force. We know.
And you know what? We don't fucking care. You'd better get fucking used to it.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."