Campbell Brown, a woman I don't always think of as the sharpest tool in the shed, hits the nail on the head here.
When I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress.
Good Lord -- she is so right. My dad used to do this. It's very '70s, faux sensitive crap that men who are probably actually quite misogynistic want you to think they believe. Ooh, lookey me, I'm so sensitive! It's an unfortunate affliction of people overly-influenced by Alan Alda, I think; also of men who realize some women will sleep with them more freely if they spew this kind of drivel. Whenever I hear men talk this way I run for the hills (after holding back barf, obviously, as it is very barf-inducing talk).
I have been lectured, oh about a million times, by some of the men in my family -- and yes, these are men who will often say "women are smarter than men" -- about what it is like to be a woman, about what problems we do or don't face. I remember once, watching a Tory leadership convention with my brothers, and having one of them lecture me about how great Maureen McTeer was (because she kept her own name, which is fine, but how does that make someone great?) and how evil Mila Mulroney was because...get this...Mila was wearing pink! Yes, she was doing this -- the men in my family KNEW -- because she was placating the patriarchy. Seriously? I remember thinking, "Maybe she just likes pink."
Goodness knows I do.
Occam's Razor and all that.
The condescension still grates. It has been my experience that men who talk this way are the most sexist, and as Brown points out, condescending. Conversely, I often find that men who are "unsophisticated," shall we say, in this regard, are the ones who are the most respectful of the opposite sex. So thank you, Campbell.
In a not unrelated comment, I'd like to say how traumatized/disgusted I was with Joan's decision to prostitute herself -- literally -- on this week's Mad Men (a show that has really been terrible this season -- ham-handed and far too Jessica Pare-centric). First of all, this is not in line with Joan's character. Simply not. And for the record, Roger and Bert Cooper's reactions were not in line with their characters. Cooper would never give something like that his blessing and Roger, we know, loves Joan. He would have been the one who went to talk her out of it, not Don...if this season were at all on par with previous seasons. But second of all, it plays into this ridiculous view that somehow women had no choice but to do this in the '60s. Um, scusi? We are talking about 1967, not the court of Louis XIV. And actually, even in the Sun King's court, a woman had options. And Joan certainly has options. She is respected at the office and was greatly missed when she was home with her baby. The place went to hell when she left and the partners wanted -- no, needed -- her to come back.
What I'm finding awful is the number of people saying that what Joan did was "empowering" -- WTF? What she did was degrading and the considerable respect the men at SCDP had for her will now be shot. The other comments about this I am finding silly are of the "well, how is it different from Megan auditioning for a play and trying to be sexy, or account executives taking someone out for dinner and flattering them, or any other kind of job where you sell a service?" It's different because sex is different.
Call me old-fashioned, I guess. And I think all of that rationalizing and saying that Joan's decision was "empowering" or that "women had no choice" is akin to the "women are smarter than men" insincerity so many truly sexist men include in their self-congratulatory puffery.