Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Questions...and answers

I've been running into a lot of casual misogyny lately, and it's kind of driving me crazy.

It doesn't really surprise me, I suppose. I've had experience with these sorts of attitudes ever since I was young because I started very young to answer the question, "So what do you want to be when you grow up?", with answers that were not considered the "right" answer.

You see, back in the Sixties, when I was growing up, little girls were still most often expected to answer that question with, "A mommy."

But that answer never came out of my mouth, as far as I can recall. Depending on when the question was asked, the most common ways I answered that question were, "A teacher." Or "A writer." Or "An astronaut." For a long time, I was convinced that I was going to be the first woman on Mars. Oh, well. For awhile, while I was a teenager, my answer was even, "Color commentator for broadcasts of Dodger games." No, really. I love baseball, as those of you who follow along here might have noticed, and I thought that would be a very cool job. I still think that would be a very good job.

Often, when I came up with one or another of those answers, the follow up question was, "But, don't you want to get married and have babies?"


I wasn't quite sure why everyone seemed so certain that being something else and being a wife and mother were mutually exclusive propositions. After all, my dad always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. My mom, not so much - I greatly disappointed her by never giving her any grandchildren - but even she didn't try to discourage me from the other plans I had.

As the women's movement gathered steam, gradually I ran into less and less of those attitudes, at least in some venues. On the other hand, I even left a church at least in part because they kept trying to shove me into that "wife and mother" mold to the exclusion of doing anything else. But, out in the world away from that particular circumstance, people seemed to be more willing to concede that a woman might want to do something else. Or something else, too. Sure, there was talk of glass ceilings and the mommy track, but it was at least admitted that women could do other things if they wanted to.

Now, though, I see more of the attitude that women should "know their place." And, yes, granted, that never really went away completely. But even in situations where women are part of the workplace, I see more of the same "know your place" attitudes directed at women - and not always just by men - than I did for a while. There is expectation - still? again? - that women are supposed to be deferential to men just because they are men. There is a lot of "mansplaining" going on, in which men seem to assume that women don't really know anything and have to have every little thing explained is overly simple terms, much like things must be explained to a child.

Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

I don't know. Maybe it's just where I live. But the fact is, I run into this crap on a regular basis, and seemingly more now than I did, say, ten or fifteen years ago.

When I came on this video clip shared on my Facebook page today, I decided I needed to talk about this and to share the clip. This is from several years ago, 2006, I think, but everything in it still holds true today. And it seemed appropriate since it grew out of the evolving answer to one question that writer and director Joss Whedon keeps getting asked and explains the evolution of his answer when asked. The question concerns why he keeps writing "all those strong women characters". Bear with the introduction to get to his explanation. It's worth the few minutes to get to the meat of what he said:

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