When I was a little girl, I remember wanting to do everything my brother did. Not anything that involved dirt, of course, because that is taking it too far. But I noticed he got to do things my two sisters and I did not get to do.
When I got up the nerve to ask my daddy why he got to go camping and other fun things, his response was always the same, “because he is a boy and you are a girl.”
My daddy was not sexist, just very protective of his girls and wanted to make sure we were safe by keeping us close to him. But my little girl self only saw unfairness.
As I look back, I don’t know if it was that childhood experience or any suggestion thereafter that I could not do something because I was a girl that made my goal to succeed in the male-dominated newspaper industry so important.
Today, women hold all kinds of powerful positions and yet are still treated differently than men who are in positions of power, and not out of a sense of concern for their well -being.
A recent incident in Washington, involving Representative Ted Yoho and Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminds us of the ugliness of misogyny.
According to a reporter Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez “crazy” and “disgusting.” As Cortez was walking away from the confrontation Yoho reportedly call her an “fxxxxx bxxxxxxx.” For the record, that does not stand for fruit basket.
Later when Yoho pretended to clarify his comments, his excuse was the same old tired, worn out rhetoric about being married and having two daughters. He went on to say the words attributed to him were never spoken and “if they were construed that way, I apologize for the misunderstanding.”
Now, which is it? He never spoke them, or his words were misconstrued? It cannot be both. I think we all know which one it is.
Cortex later delivered a powerful speech about the confrontation. She called it the latest example of men engaging in a culture of abuse toward women. Cortez decried misogyny in Congress and questioned the example Yoho and others were setting for men. She said she would not be the daughter her parents raised if she did not stand up and say it is not ok to speak to women in such a manner. I applaud her courage for calling it like it is.
Congress is overwhelmingly dominated by men. Only 24 percent of House members are women.
Condescension is a favorite tool used on powerful women and if that does not work, then the insults to her looks or wardrobe are next. But this is nothing new. In 1917, when the first woman Congress member, Jeanette Rankin was sworn in, the headlines read, “Congress woman likes nice gowns and tidy hair.” No mention of what the male members like.
Next, is the old standby that has been used repeatedly. The woman ‘sleeps around.’ When Nikki Haley was running to become the first female governor of South Carolina, two men claimed they had affairs with her, one claiming a one-night stand. She would later become United States Ambassador to the United Nations, which led to rumors of an affair with Donald Trump. These types of accusations are an attempt to discredit women for their years of service and dedication, and to deprive them of their sense of achievement.
You never hear anyone say, “I wonder who HE slept with to get this job.”
Women are called all sorts of insensitive and abusive names. If they dare register a complaint, they are accused of being ‘too sensitive’.
Senator Chuck Grassley said he had a difficult time recruiting women for the Judiciary Committee because it involved a lot of hard work. He needs to try carrying another human being inside him while working a full -time job before he spouts about hard work.
The reality is some men are comfortable demeaning and verbally abusing women because women are conditioned by society to rarely let themselves show anger or explode.
We know these men do not talk to each other the same way they talk to women or we would have a serious dental problem in Congress.
Cotez should be commended for her actions.
It is not acceptable for women to want special treatment, but it is not unreasonable to demand to be treated respectfully.
More women need to push back and speak out when they are being dismissed or demeaned and stop being so nice about it. Women need to stand up for themselves and each other.
There is a fundamental need for mutual respect in United States politics. Common decency should be standard regardless of gender or any political differences or personal feelings.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.