Friday, March 02, 2007

Still a Ways to Go

A friend of mine just came back from a visit to Duke University the other day. She informs me that, when about to meet with one of the professors there, she perused the comics that were posted on his door, and came upon a certain familiar Top Ten list. This, in and of itself, wasn't so surprising. The list has circulated the internet a few times before I ever got it, and did so a few more times after I posted it for an International Women's Day event last year (side note: March 8 is right around the corner again. To learn more about International Women's Day, follow this link), and it subsequently appeared in an edited form in the Christian Century. What was surprising was that the list was credited to this blog. Once again, I'm amazed at the recognition that particular piece got. I wish I could take proper credit, but as I've said earlier, I got that from Dr. David Scholer, and he himself didn't actually write it, but got it elsewhere. Each of us has made an edit or two to fit our own purpose or context, and no doubt this will continue elsewhere. Anyway, this helped my friend to make a connection with the professor (whom she had not previously met), and I'm certainly happy about that.

While driving to work with my wife this morning, we were talking about some recent events that make it look like we're actually moving backward, rather than forward, when it comes to treating women with respect. For example, during a sermon my wife had to listen to while serving as a Teaching Assistant in a Homiletics class, one person made several particularly sexist comments that needed to be addressed, one smugly suggesting that his wife "didn't yet know" that certain housekeeping-related wedding gifts were intended more for her than for him. For another example, one of the contestants on last night's Survivor, while going off on a tirade, berated certain men for being too "sensitive" and specifically said that it was behavior that he'd previously seen or expected only in women. Let me tell you, his quickly adding "no offense" to his remarks did absolutely nothing to lessen the offensiveness of them.

Most people simply do not realize how deeply ingrained some of these sexist attitudes are. I can hear the responses already: "but men and women are different." Yes, they are. That does not make it acceptable to make statements about a person's behavior on the basis of that person's gender. If you are berating someone for behavior, specifically calling attention to the fact that you expect that behavior in women, how does that not berate women in general (even if said behavior is more common to women, which is debatable)?

I wish I could offer some kind of "magic solution" to this problem, but obviously it's not that simple. But I would definitely encourage people to stand up against people who make sexist statements like these. It's just not right, and only proves how far we still have to go before people are truly accepted for their own talents and abilities, rather than for expected stereotypes based solely on their gender.

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