Dispatch #47 January 11th 2019
Day 796 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 721 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
So YEAH! we have an unprecedented number of women in the Congress, and gloriously we have Nancy Pelosi wielding power again as Speaker of the House. However, recalling the euphoria that greeted the election of Obama as well as the ensuing white supremacist backlash that belied the proclaimed-post-racist-ness, we must know/understand that the midterm elections represent just one step away from fascism and toward equity.
Regular Dispatches Readers are well-informed about how women’s human rights are denied in our misogynistic structure of power and privilege. Living in white patriarchy, women understand from birth that they must abide by certain rules and maintain certain behaviors or they will suffer severe consequences. Misogyny does not, however, require universal gendered-violence such as rape to enforce oppression (aka sexual harassment). The pervasive and toxic nuances of misogyny are equally if not more effective in policing and dehumanizing women, hobbling their hearts and minds.
At the outset of 2019, two years since the ascendency of white supremacy and misogyny, I am heartened by the emergence of ongoing commentary/awareness about Misogyny’s insidiously toxic breadth and depth.
In her December 30th 2018 article titled What It’s Like to Be a Female Movie Critic in the #MeToo Era, Manohla Dargis offers a bracingly honest assessment of her years as a New York Times movie critic while also being female.
Among other things, this year’s torrent of truth-telling has underscored how much ordinary, unremarkable sexism — not just extreme or criminal behavior — women need to deal with just to get through the day. It’s pervasive. It seeps into your home and work, and shapes monumental and seemingly trivial choices as well as your art and your entertainment. The movies may offer us the promise of fleeting escape, but any woman can tell you that this getaway can feel distressingly, depressingly elusive when a film is in lock step with the worst the world gives us.
What I know from a life of watching and reviewing movies is that outrage is tedious, and exhausting. Sometimes it is just easier to go with the flow, though much depends on what’s happening onscreen and off. Sometimes, I don’t want to let a movie’s banal, casual sexism ruin my good time. So, I make expedient and strategic bargains with myself, glossing over some of the sexism and ignoring things that bother me (or trying to).
It’s not that I’m noticing sexism more; I always noticed. It’s that I’m not gliding over the insults and insinuations, the snickering and unmotivated female nudity as easily — as resignedly — as I sometimes did. Years ago, I thought that accepting a certain amount of sexism in movies was the only way I was going to be able to continue loving them. And I couldn’t stay angry all the time; I didn’t want to live that way and still don’t. That was the right call even if it is also true that accepting — or acquiescing to — a degree of subjugation is instrumental to how sexism works: it depends on women getting along, and going along, with their own oppression.
It wasn’t until powerful men were accused of sexually dehumanizing women that the industry’s sexism seemed on notice. Yet as time has passed, too often the focus has shifted to these men, with stories about their falls and potential next steps. I don’t care what Weinstein is going to do next; I’m interested in the women he allegedly assaulted. (He has denied the allegations.) I am also interested in the systems of power that permit male abuse and demand female (and male) silence in return. When we talk about industry sexism, the discussions often earnestly turn on words like representation and inclusion, but what we are talking about is an industry that systematically sees and treats women as inferior. This sexism demands moral outrage too. www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/movies/female-movie-critic-metoo.html
Shifting to the power arena of economics, a January 10th 2019 New York Times article, titled Female Economists Push Their Field Toward a #MeToo Reckoning, reports on the growing power of women to force the economics profession to acknowledge and rectify its traditions of misogyny.
The economics profession is facing a mounting crisis of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying that women in the field say has pushed many of them to the sidelines — or out of the field entirely…. Leading male economists offered an unprecedented acknowledgment of harassment and discrimination in the field.
Many male economists long dismissed claims of bias and discrimination, arguing that gender disparities must reflect differences in preference or ability. They pointed to theories that predict that, in the simplified world of economic models, discrimination on the basis of characteristics like gender and race would disappear because of competition.
In recent years, however, a growing body of research has found evidence of discrimination at virtually every stage of the profession, from undergraduate enrollment to tenure decisions. Erin Hengel, a University of Liverpool economist, has found that women are held to higher standards of writing and research than their male colleagues. Alice Wu, then an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, made waves two years ago with a paper documenting rampant misogyny and hostility toward women on a popular online forum for graduate students. www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/business/economics-sexual-harassment-metoo.html
Pioneering warrior for equity and women’s rights as well as universally lauded as the Godmother of Title IX, Dr. Bernice Sandler died at age 90 on January 5, 2018. Her obituaries urgently remind us about the toxic tentacles of structural Misogyny that continue to constrain and dehumanize women as do burqas or corsets.
In 1969, her newly earned doctorate in hand, Bernice Sandler was hoping to land one of seven open teaching positions in her department at the University of Maryland. When she learned she had been considered for none of them, she asked a male colleague about the oversight. “Let’s face it,” was his reply. “You come on too strong for a woman.” When she applied for another academic position, the hiring researcher remarked that he didn’t hire women because they too often stayed home with sick children. Later, an employment agency reviewed her résumé and dismissed her as “just a housewife who went back to school.”
Trained in psychology and counseling, Dr. Sandler devoted decades of her life to documenting, analyzing and stopping the forms of discrimination — subtle and overt — that held women back academically and professionally in educational settings.
When she began her advocacy efforts, many university departments arbitrarily limited the number of women they would hire. Others hired no women at all. Some disqualified married women. Some colleges barred female students from chemistry and other departments that were deemed more suited for men.
She sought to draw attention to what she and a fellow researcher, Roberta M. Hall, in a widely read 1982 academic paper termed the “chilly” classroom environment for women. Female professors, she found, were more likely than male professors to be challenged on their credentials. Those with PhDs were not consistently addressed as “Dr.,” and students expected greater leniency from women when they failed to complete their assignments. Female students, for their part, were more likely to receive an “uh-huh” from a professor when they participated in class, rather than the more engaged response that might greet a male student.
“When Title IX was passed, I was quite naive,” Dr. Sandler said. “I thought all the problems of sex discrimination in education would be solved in one or two years at most. When two years passed, I increased my estimate to five years, then later to 10, then to 50, and now I realize it will take many generations to solve all the problems.”
Sexist practices, she recalled, seemed practically part of the natural order of the world. “When I applied to college it was openly known that women needed higher grades and test scores in order to be accepted….No one complained — it was just the way things were.” www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/bernice-sandler-godmother-of-title-ix-who-championed-womens-rights-on-campus-dies-at-90/2019/01/07
Women have only just begun to attack and tear away at the restrictions required by the Patriarchy. Our outrage cannot be dulled by preliminary victories against the war on women.
Like many women at that time,” Dr. Sandler recalled “I was somewhat ambivalent about the women’s movement and halfway believed the press descriptions of its supporters as ‘abrasive,’ ‘man-hating,’ ‘radical,’ and ‘unfeminine.’ ”
Nonetheless, Dr. Sandler was galvanized and outraged by the casual and unapologetic misogynistic behaviors that defined women’s experiences in academia.
She vacuumed up data on rampant discrimination…such as quotas, like one at the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, which admitted two women a year, regardless of how many applied. She found that many academic departments across the country had no women faculty at all and that women were often denied scholarships if they were married.
In 2007 she concluded that Title IX had precipitated a social revolution comparable to the Industrial Revolution. Women and men, she said, “are far closer to equal than they have ever been in the history of the world.” But, Dr. Sandler added, “We have only taken the very first steps of what will be a very long journey.” www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/obituaries/bernice-sandler-dead.html
During the Golden Globes, women from Glenn Close to Lady Gaga to Patricia Clarkson to Regina King consistently called out the industry’s misogynist lens; the drip drip drip of casual disdain that wears away the soul. Out-rage will fuel the long journey for equity, women collectively demanding justice will prevail.