In news of the "my Google Alerts brings me the darndest things," I recently came across this article, where a man bemoans how feminism has turned women into snips and snails and puppy dog tails. He writes:
"Once upon a time, women were considered the 'fairer sex,' the 'better half.' Stewardesses were talented and beautiful. Wives were softer and gentler. Men fought for their honor. Feminism crushed all of that.
It is a testimony to their movement that in today's post-feminist entertainment media, part of what makes television so corrosive and sour is just how piggish the women have become."
First off, I want to note the irony of a blogger with a tagline that claims to be "the voice of essential liberty," policing gender in this way. Perhaps some types of liberties, namely the ones concerning the Proper Behavior Of Men And Women, aren't as essential as others.
Secondly, despite the widely-held view that it's feminists who hate men, notice the author's view of men. In a society that frames men and women as "opposites," when women are the "fairer sex" it means that men are the "less fair sex."
If women are "the better half," men are the "worse half."
If women have become piggish, does that mean all men already are piggish?
If stewardesses are "talented and beautiful," does that mean male stewards are untalented and ugly?
If wives are "softer and gentler," are husbands hard and rough?
All of them?
Third, I am actually in agreement with the author that it's problematic that "not only do the men speak badly of the women on these shows [like Jersey Shore], but also the women speak badly of each other and of themselves....While terms men[*] used for each other were often viewed as complimentary -- big man, dawg, superhero, MacGyver, winner. Women used far more degrading language when talking about other females[*] -- rodent, skank, slut, ho and much worse."
But, isn't there a happy medium with respect to the treatment of women, one that requires neither degrading women nor putting women on a pedestal? The harms of degrading women should be obvious to most. Pedestal peddling, less so. But, both are restrictive and unfair.
Placing women on a pedestal of "the fairer and better sex" is not only unfair to men, but it suggests that all women have certain fixed, submissive, and moral qualities about them, and that those who do not are inauthentic women. By fixing essential womanhood as something that is sugar and spice and everything nice, it suggests that women who use their free will to figure out what kind of women they really are aren't doing womanhood right if they decide they don't, or don't want to, possess those qualities.
That doesn't sound like liberty to me.
*Speaking of degrading language: Outside of clinical and research settings, I'm not a fan the use of the word "females" as a noun, to refer to human women and "males" to refer to human men. There is something dehumanizing about it. It is also striking when, as the author above does, people pair "females" with "men" as though they're equivalent terms. They're not.
In this case, I notice that the author begins referring to women as "females" once he kicks the MTV women off the pedestal of True Womanhood, as though he's observing specimens in a zoo rather than humans. Throughout the piece, he never refers to the men as "males." Just an observation that parallels his men speak well of other men, but men and women speak degradingly of women observation.