A good friend of mine has an uncanny ability to completely ignore things that don’t fit with what he wants in his simple world. I could give examples but it would give away the anonymity and possibly get him in trouble…not that he would even notice.
Sam and I talk about it all the time. How nice it would be to have that talent. I use the word “talent” very specifically, because this is not a “skill” that you can be taught. It’s something you are born with. For many of us it doesn’t work, you can try to ignore things, to ‘let it slide’ to have the “gift of blankness” but it never lasts. And the reason is, we care.
It doesn’t matter if the issue is big or small; wanting help from your partner around the house, the way you believe children should be raised, how things should be organized in a cabinet, or how not to waste food. When you care about something, you are incapable of passivity. To tell the truth, when you make the effort to not care, it hurts. It feels like you are selling yourself out. There is a reason they call it “biting” your tongue. It is possible for short periods of time if there is payback, but this is not sustainable.
For me this is a particularly intense problem, because I care about so many different issues and those that know me, know that I have strong opinions about each. I am often swayed by the opinions of others and I enjoy hearing diverse opinions, if for nothing else than the sake of intellectual argument. But the manifestation of “caring” for me always boils down to the need for some sort of public policy. Policy does not have to be legislation, but when you care about something, you need to feel that you are doing something about it. Making a difference is pointless unless something becomes different.
That was a four paragraph intro to my next topic, which really doesn’t fall into the Rational Republican policy series, but is definitely a theme. I was called a “feminist” last night for posting that Beyonce should have worn more clothing at her Superbowl halftime performance. That is a first for me. While I think it was said sarcastically, it was definitely meant as a playful insult. As I think of the gender gap from the last election, I wonder how it is that the feminist movement (lowercase “f”) became so taboo that being branded one has become insulting.
Raising girls certainly places the world in a different context. Which means that statistically, more than 50% of men should feel the same as I. The fact that they don’t, actually forms the basis of this argument, but more to that later. Watching Beyonce last night punctuated my frustration here, and while I know I should shut up, this stuff bothers me…I care.
As the performer licked her finger and ran it down her cleavage Haley noted “Do they know that kids are watching this?” She is 10, and while I can handle the gyrating dance moves, it was the outfits, followed by the Two Broke Girls disaster, and bookended by GoDaddy commercials that really makes you wonder about the message we send to young girls. This is especially poignant from an industry that claims to seek more female fan participation. Is it strange that I am called “old” by my peers yet I am the one who really hates objectifying women like that (a historically ‘old-timer’ trait)? Yes Yes I know it is everywhere, and one Calvin Klein ad doesn’t create parity. Nor does it make the practice right. The goal of feminism is equality of the sexes, but how can you measure equality while acknowledging that objectification adds to the success of an action by one gender?
Beyonce gave a good performance with solid choreography. Was it better because she was wearing leather lingerie? As a friend noted, seeing all female dancers and female musicians was a positive image for my girls. But will water cooler talk today center on anything other than how hot she looked? Did anyone ever say that James Brown gave a better performance because he looked “hot?” Should we buy from GoDaddy because some chubby geeky kid made out with a hot blond sitting next to Danica Patrick? (repulsive fake sound effects included) Should attractive women that cry get out of speeding tickets? How do cheerleaders actually add to a football game when they encourage cheering at the wrong times (2 minute warning and end of quarters)?
Am I taking this too far? Maybe. But I am so sick of Lilly Ledbetter, how many women are appointed to a president’s cabinet and how few women CEOs there are, but we don’t talk about this stuff. Like it is some mystery why people argue there is sexism at a macro level, yet so many great examples when it is moot at the micro level. Queen Latifah is a great example (U.N.I.T.Y. or Ladies First). Juxtapose her lyrics to Beyonce’s. Great performance and great music, no need for being trashy.
We teach kids about earning ‘extra credit’ in school. When raw sex appeal leads to a higher qualification of talent, is that not another form of ‘extra credit’? In effect, we are teaching young girls to leverage their sex appeal, that it will give you a leg up. If I have an edge over a male colleague, you think I am not going to use it? Do we honestly expect attractive women in the same position to not use that leg up?
If you acknowledge these possibilities then you also have to understand that when evaluating a woman’s (singular) work on its own, you then have to discount the relative worth, because of sex appeal grade inflation. Of course this is patently obnoxious, but is there a rational response to this dynamic that wouldn’t naturally follow this course? Why do you think we are where we are?
As I noted, the fact that these trends continue indicates that there are fathers of girls who irrationally don’t want attitudes to change. I am a fan of beautiful women, but not as it pertains to them doing their job (unless directly germane, like modeling). Who you are is a measure of what you do, not how sexy you look while doing it. The two should be separate and distinct.
How can you want your daughter to grow up in a world where flaunting her body will contribute to her success? Is that really a measure of her self-esteem and worth? For women, if you recognize that your value is discounted because men (and some women) weigh your performance based on looks…then call out women that perpetuate that horrible trend! Tell Beyonce to put some clothes on and find value in her voice and dancing skills, not her curves.
I am a white male Republican, which means that calling out men’s hypocrisy here might be the death sentence of my political career. But eliminating the gender gap can only be executed by fighting the exact stereotypes that led to its creation. It is all the more powerful of a movement when those that had previously perpetuated that travesty find religion and now are zealots in battling it. For the stereotypical Republican male that doesn’t get subtlety, let me be painfully blunt, this is our Sister Souljah moment. We should embrace it, because in the end, we really do care.