Monday, April 23, 2007

Is This How We Talk To Women Now?

Just having endured Don Imus' dismissal of talented young female athletes as "nappy-headed hos," I was particularly depressed by Alec Baldwin's rant against his 11-year old daughter in which he called her a "thoughtless little pig."

It all seems of one piece to me.

I was talking with my sister yesterday about a friend of ours whose husband is controlling, insulting and hyper-critical. Our friend is considering separation or even divorce. My sister and I were talking about the fact that times have changed a lot, and women no longer feel that they have to be married for social acceptance or for financial survival. Therefore, they are less likely these days to tolerate verbal abuse and constant harping on their imperfections. They want a supportive partner, but here's the thing... they also want to be treated as a cherished woman, in that specifically romantic hetero-fantasy mode that we've all grown up with.

I'm not sure the hetero male world has figured this out yet. But let me explain it. Fellas, it's not either/or proposition where either you get to be the big macho lug who treats your "little lady" like a fragile, dependent flower OR you get to have an equal partner in life who doesn't need all that old-fashioned girlie stuff, and with whom you can be sloppy and coarse as you wanna be. The fact is, women -- even feminists -- still appreciate good manners, and even -- I'm giving away a big secret here! -- a tiny bit of the princess-on-the-pedestal stuff.

But at the very least, we don't want to be called pigs, bitches and whores.

Could you all talk amongst yourself about this? Thank you, PB.


Anonymous uuMomma said...

It isn't how anyone should talk to their or anyone else's children, at all. Alas, there are times when we become wholly human in our interactions with our children. I actually grimaced when I read what Baldwin said (haven't listened to it) ... not in horror, but in recognition.

There's a reason I'm not a minister ... I can't walk the talk all the time. But I am learning about the grace of asking for forgiveness when I behave badly and granting it when my children behave badly. And I'm grateful I'm not famous enough for anyone to save and post a recording of me yelling anything at my children.

Blogger Mrs. M said...

You know, these examples are definitely about gender (and I'm not going to argue that that's an issue), but I suspect that it's also a basic human respect issue. Anyone who could say the things that Imus and Baldwin did can't possibly have a lot of respect for people, period.

As a society, one of our biggest forms of entertainment is humiliating people. We have enormous problems with respect.

Anonymous Z said...

I've tried to talk to them, PB, but they keep calling me a sissy. So, I guess they will have just have to eventually learn the hard way.



Blogger Bill Baar said...

I'm not sure the hetero male world has figured this out yet.

I've been in the midst of EEO compliants and lawsuits filed by woman employees stuck in a homo male world. You haven't spent much time with gay males if you think this a hetero thing.

I haven't listened to the Baldwin tape and have no plans too but I don't think there is much of a link between Baldwin and Imus other than than they're symbols of the smallish sorts we make into celebrities.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point well taken, but I think you're (lamentably) wrong to imply that all women reject the degrading treatment you refer to. The feminist era has hardly put an end to the widespread appeal of 'bad boy' males.

Anonymous Higginson said...

Two of the three derogatory words in question--"bitch" and "pig"--associate the female with an animal. This is a common move in patriarchal societies--associating one "lower" group with another(bitches, dogs, foxes, pussycats, minxes, etc.)

Ecofeminists have long said that we can't get past any prejudice until we understand its connections to the others.

Along those lines, PeaceBang, the Today Show just did a a smashing piece on frou-frou vegan accessories that would blend in far better at a ritzy dinner party than a commune. Am I seeing a future column on "No animals were harmed in the making of this fashion statement?" See the video at

Blogger ann-marie said...

". . . we don't want to be called pigs, bitches, and whores."

what a concept, huh? what happened to common courtesy and, oh, i don't know . . . manners? it's not just a male thing, either. i can't tell you how many times i hear high-school girls, who walk through the campus of the university at which i work, curse and insult each other (and their male friends).

no one respects anyone any more, and that makes me sad.

Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

I didn't think the Baldwin tapes were news. I was at my grandmother's house helping her with some things and she had the tv on. In a 60 minute period, I heard some reference to Alec Baldwin and his nasty voice mail to his kid at least six times. And at least half of that time, it was the evening news that was on. I was DISGUSTED.

Every day parents yell at their kids or spank their kids or whatever. Sometimes they do it viciously, and sometimes it's out of frustration. But all this story demonstrated to me was how vapid our mainstream "journalism" has become.


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