Let’s Stop ABiden Sexist Behavior

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joe-biden-stephanie-carterI believe Joe Biden when he says his touchy feely behavior with women is not sexual. To my knowledge, no one has come forward to claim Biden touched them sexually or planted an unwanted kiss on the lips. That doesn’t mean Joe Biden should get a pass for his “handsy” behavior.

Joe’s penchant for leaning over women, putting his hands on their heads or shoulders, and occasionally kissing the tops of their heads is an inappropriate and sexist tendency by a patrician male – one that no man would tolerate having done to him either in public or private.

Biden’s behavior with women is patronizing and condescending. The familiarity of touching a person in this way is a method of asserting dominance. It’s what an adult might do with a young child: squeeze her shoulders, ruffle his hair, plant a kiss on the head or cheek. Imagine Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaning over President Obama at his desk in the Oval Office and giving his shoulders a squeeze. It just wouldn’t happen.

When a man in a position of authority is overly familiar with a woman, it’s just plain sexist. He would never treat a man in his employ or in his sphere of influence that way. Men meet each other on mutual footing. They may engage in lateral back-slapping or a quick man-to-man embrace. But head-patting or shoulder rubbing from behind? Uh uh.

I have nothing against Joe Biden or his potential presidential bid. I do have something against the way he manhandles women. It displays a lack of respect for women as equals. Whatever his views on legal aspects of women’s equality, I’d like to see Biden – and all males for that matter – personally treat women as colleagues, not pets.

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Baby, It’s P.C. Outside

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On a recent long drive, I heard five different versions of the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” While the 1944 Christmas classic has always been played at this time of year, I suspect the reason for its renewed popularity is that some radio stations have banned it on the grounds that it references sexual coercion.

In light of the #MeToo movement and the conviction of Bill Cosby, who drugged women and raped them, the song’s lyric, “Say, what’s in this drink?,” has taken on sinister overtones. Critics argue that the woman in the song keeps saying no and the man keeps refusing to take her “no” seriously.

But the full context of the song paints a different picture. The woman is mostly worried about appearances: “The neighbors might think,” and”There’s bound to be talk tomorrow.” It’s clear she wants to stay: “At least I’m gonna say that I tried.” And she keeps accepting “maybe just a half a drink more” and later “a cigarette more.”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is an old song that reflects very different sexual mores. It would have been considered improper for a woman to spend the night at a man’s place. Her family would be upset, and people would gossip. There was also a double standard (which, sadly, still exists today) that men were expected to pursue women openly while women had to act demure and as if they were too virtuous to want sex.

So is the song sexist and retro? Yes! But I don’t think that is grounds for banning it from airplay. There are so many songs from the past that have sexist and downright disturbing lyrics. Take the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb.” It’s all about how the man has asserted dominance over his woman. Isn’t anyone offended by the lyrics, “the way she talks when she’s spoken to?” And how about “Run For Your Life” by the Beatles: “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man.” And don’t even get me started on the lyrics of a lot of current music.

I realize that part of the brouhaha over “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is that it’s supposed to be a feel good holiday song. I understand why people find it offensive. And certainly, no one should be forced to listen to it or any other song to which they object. But to ban it? I personally cannot watch the movie “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” due to the racist portrayal of an Asian character by Mickey Rooney. But I’m not interested in preventing others from watching it. Nor do I consider them racist for liking the film. The level of sensitivity to what offends us these days has gone overboard.

The irony of the “BICO” ban is that the song seems to have become more popular than ever. Obviously, people don’t want to be told what they should or should not listen to. So let’s lay off “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Frankly, I’m getting really sick of hearing it.

Sexism and Halloween Costumes

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“Sexy Middle Eastern Arab Girl Burka Halloween Costume”

There were protests when the above costume appeared for sale in Halloween costume retail stores. It is the perfect storm of sexism and cultural appropriation.

In the past, I’ve written about the harm of cultural appropriation and the need for whites to be sensitive to non-white cultures when it comes to dressing up for Halloween. While many scoff at the thin skin of those who might be offended by their giant sombrero or war-painted Indian costume, I think it’s important to be respectful of other cultures and religions. (For the record, I don’t think it’s cool to dress up as a nun for Halloween either.)

But this year, one mom’s protest against Party City’s sexualized costumes for girls caught my eye and reminded me that sexism is another problem with a lot of Halloween attire. Both young girls and women have a hard time finding a costume that isn’t either very “girly” or prefaced with the adjective “sexy.” You can be a sexy pirate, inmate, cop, nurse, etc.

I have no problem if a woman wants to dress up in a sexy costume or outfit of any kind. That is her prerogative. But the fact that it’s almost impossible to find women’s costumes of any other type speaks to a problem we have in our culture, and that is the objectification of women. That problem has even infiltrated our presidential election, in which we have heard Donald Trump talking about women’s bodies, faces, and weights, as well as his predilection for grabbing their genitals whenever he pleases.

I do have a problem with costumes targeted for young children and preteens that are sexualized. It’s one thing if your daughter has her heart set on being a princess for Halloween. It’s quite another to market a feminized or sexy version of, say, a police uniform, to a young girl.

Party City apparently took note and listened to that mom’s protest. This year’s website features the following police costumes:

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Sure, you can still be a sexy cop or wear a girlish police dress, but at least there are options for girls and their parents when they go shopping for that all-important Halloween getup.

As for me, I’m going for the female empowerment motif and dressing up as – you guessed it – Hillary Clinton.

 

False Equivalency

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Lately Clinton supporters have been accused of overusing the idea of “false equivalency” to describe what they say are the ludicrous comparisons between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Obviously, tossing back criticism of oneself by saying the other guy is worse is a time-honored tradition in political campaigns and on playgrounds.

However, there is one case of false equivalency that Donald Trump has been using that makes my blood boil. When an audio tape was leaked last week of Donald Trump lewdly describing his casual sexual assault of women to Billy Bush, even the many Republican apologists for Trump were appalled. So what did Trump do? Apologize and show remorse for such a callous disregard for half the U.S. population?

No. The Donald went on the offensive by bringing up Bill Clinton’s sexual peccadillos and the rape accusation that was leveled at him back in the 1970s. Even assuming the accusation (for which Clinton has not been prosecuted) were true, how is it relevant to Hillary Clinton’s campaign?

The conservative argument has long been that Hillary went out of her way to discredit and vilify these women. I would like to know just how Donald Trump would handle it if his wife’s infidelities were broadcast 24/7 and became part of a federal investigation. I doubt he would offer sympathy or succor to the men who had slept with his wife.

To trot out Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a cudgel against Hillary is the height of hypocrisy. Donald Trump himself cheated on his wife Ivanka before dumping her and marrying Marla Maples. And doing so highlights what Trump does best: deflect from his own massive deficiencies by distracting the public with decades-old stories about the Clintons.

The facts are not in dispute. Donald Trump has said numerous demeaning, sexist, and insulting things against women, not just in the past, but during this campaign. Now we catch him on tape admitting to sexually touching women against their will. Trump will never say “I’m sorry.” But we may be sorry if we elect this poor excuse for a man president.

No Privacy Rights for Presidents?

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44e69e7bd5c54f92b35558e9b5e8260fIn the latest episode of “Get Hillary,” Democrat(!) David Axelrod accused Mrs. Clinton of having a “penchant for privacy.” The nerve of her! The public has the right to know every time she sneezes, belches, or farts, by golly. And we want a full accounting of her sex life and movie-watching history while we’re at it.

I realize that the general health of a presidential hopeful is important to the public in deciding whom to vote for. But this Pneumonia Gate scandal-mongering needs to stop. If Clinton were a man, the media would be applauding her toughness and dedication in refusing to miss the 9/11 memorial in New York to take to her sick bed. Instead, we get speculation on what dire, life-threatening condition she might have that would disqualify her from being president.

I expect such shenanigans from the Trump campaign. But from Clinton’s own party? And a front page story in the Chicago Tribune with the headline “Clinton perpetuates unhealthy lack of trust”?  I guess if you say so, Trib, it must be true.

Hillary Clinton has gone through hours of grilling on her private email server and her performance as Secretary of State during the Benghazi attack. She has been investigated since her own husband’s White House days with a relentlessness few public figures could withstand. And yet here she stands, the first woman candidate for President of the United States, unbowed and unaccused of any wrongdoing – at least by individuals using facts and not rumor or innuendo.

Meanwhile, accusations against Donald Trump relating to his charitable giving, his apparently fraudulent Trump University, and his refusal to disclose his tax returns have all met with an indifferent shrug.

Political writers have been pointing out lately the dichotomy between Hillary’s approval ratings when she is running for office vs. when she actually holds office. The fact is that her popularity goes up once she is not competing with a man for a political position. Sexist much?

The Trump campaign loves the bashing Hillary bandwagon because it distracts from the myriad weaknesses of its own candidate. Let’s get off that bandwagon and start talking substantively about the direction the country should take and who is best qualified to take us there.

 

Dress Code Double Standard

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school_dress_codes-e1452017832686As part of her middle school volleyball team, my daughter needs a pair of navy blue spandex shorts to go with her uniform. While ordering them online, I asked her if she would like an extra pair for practice. She responded that the girls were not allowed to wear them to practice because they would distract the boys, who share the gym for after school practice.

This is just the latest example I’ve noticed of a double standard when it comes to school dress codes. Most of the restrictions fall on girls and seem to imply that girls’ dress is too sexually provocative. This is wrong on a number of fronts. First of all, it makes girls self-conscious about their bodies. When a first grader is told that her sundress is inappropriate and forced to cover up (houstonpress.com), she is getting the wrong signal about her body. Even older girls, who mostly just want to follow current fashion, are not trying to be sexually enticing. Furthermore, the stated intention of many of these rules is to avoid a distracting environment for boys. Such policies imply that boys are wild animals who can’t control themselves.

Girls and their parents are fighting back, however. For example, a high school student in Kentucky produced a film titled Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code, which led her high school to reexamine its gender-biased dress code. Similarly, a group of middle schoolers in New Jersey started a campaign #IAmMoreThanADistraction to draw attention to the issue. (neatoday.org, 1/6/16) And parents at a Chicago area middle school protested that a ban on leggings and tight yoga pants was sending the wrong message to girls and excusing boys’ sexist or predatory behavior. (HuffPost, 3/19/14)

There’s nothing wrong with expecting students to dress appropriately for school or to disallow threatening or derogative messages on clothing. But issues of inappropriate dress should be handled on a case by case basis instead of applying wide-ranging, strict rules that unfairly target half of the student population.

The tight spandex shorts girls and women wear for volleyball help their movement and performance on the court. They are not made for the titillation of males. I’m not sure why, but my daughter’s coach backed down from his prohibition of spandex shorts at volleyball practice. After all, these same girls will be wearing the spandex as part of their team uniform during games. Why should that be deemed appropriate when the same garb at practice is not allowed?

I plan to attend my daughter’s games and cheer on the fabulous, athletic girls on her team.  They will impress by their bumping, spiking, and setting,  and not by their spandex.