Who died and made men the default for everything?

women statue
“Of the 100 statues in Statuary Hall (in Congress), two from each state, only seven are of women (and yes, the states could replace statues if they wanted to). A marble statue celebrating the suffragettes was gifted to the U.S. Capitol by the National Woman’s Party in 1921, only to be moved underground to “The Crypt,” where it remained until 1997, when Congress voted to move it back to the Rotunda.”

And another thing that has me so, so angry about how that guy treated AOC and how her response to him was analyzed – even the analysis is sexist.

Warning – this post is kind of a mess because I am writing it in bits and pieces throughout the week. I sort of have a point but this is not one of those thesis/three supporting paragraphs/restatement of thesis posts. It’s rambling. Forgive me.

Here’s a quotation from The Cut’s analysis of the sexism in the Times’ piece:

As the Times put it: “Republicans have long labored to cast Ms. Ocasio-Cortez as an avatar of the evils of the Democratic Party, a move that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has used to bolster her own cheeky, suffer-no-fools reputation.”

She’s “cheeky?” When is the last time a male politician was described as “cheeky?”

And another quotation, this one pointing out that it’s unusual for women to challenge men. Which – isn’t that what the entire women’s movement has been about? For the past few centuries?

The Times’ story on the speech bore the headline “A.O.C. Unleashes a Viral Condemnation of Sexism in Congress” and kicked off by noting that Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in Congress, who arrived there in 2019, “has upended traditions.” It called her speech on Thursday “norm-shattering” and described supporting speeches made by her colleagues — including one in which Pramila Jayapal recalled being referred to as a “young lady” who did not “know a damn thing” by Alaska representative Don Young — as a moment of “cultural upheaval.

All these words somehow cast Ocasio-Cortez and her female colleagues as the disruptive and chaotic forces unleashed in this scenario, suggesting that they shattered norms in a way that Representative Yoho’s original, profane outburst apparently did not. (Perhaps Yoho’s words weren’t understood as eruptive and norm-shattering because calling women nasty names, in your head or with your friends or on the steps of your workplace, is much more of a norm than most want to acknowledge).

You know what this reminds me of? This idea that AOC is shattering the status quo?

(Which – considering they didn’t have a women’s restroom in the Senate building until the early ’90s OMG don’t even get me started on women’s restrooms – maybe she is. )

The cover article that Time magazine ran in the early ’90s called, “Why Are Women Different?”

And now when I google the article, I find that it was called, “Why Are Men and Women Different?”

But I could have sworn when the story was published, it was called, “Why Are Women Different?”

There was a huge backlash – we were so angry.

(I am almost positive it was called, “Why Are Women Different?”)

And men didn’t even understand why.

Fish don’t see the water.

We were angry for the same reason I get annoyed that only non-white characters in a story have their ethnicity identified. How often do you read a description that includes that someone is white?

(And what is it that Black men are so often characterized as “dignified” and Black women are “sassy?” Isn’t that a bit stereotypical? Not to mention bad writing? Show, not tell, people.)

That I get annoyed that it’s only when the person is a woman that her sex is defined: a female judge/pilot/detective/coroner.

The default is assumed to be male.

The default is assumed to be white.

If you don’t know the sex and color of the person in question, the default is white male.

The Times story (did they change the title of the story? WE WERE FURIOUS) – or at least the title – implied that men are the standard against which women are measured.

And white male power – or, as it’s called in the piece in The Cut, “power” – is looked at the same way. It’s the standard against which other power is measured and it’s the power pie from which others (not white, not men) take it.

White male power is so assumed as to be wholly indistinguishable from what we simply recognize as “power,”

I mean, we know men are the standard to which the world is built. Thank you, Caroline Criado-Perez for writing that amazing book, Invisible Women, where she shows us how – where she confirms what we already knew! – that the world, including furniture, seating in public transportation, gym equipment, temperatures in public spaces, medication, medical research, and pretty much everything else is designed for men and not for women.

We know it’s true.

It’s just that we are so tired of being reminded about it and having to fight it.

 

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