Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sexism As A Joke

We've come a long way, baby. Sexism is now something Rush Limbaugh deplores in his programs. Sexism is now the quick come-back joke among the Liberal boyz. On the former:

Summary: Rush Limbaugh said of the investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's dismissal of Alaska public safety commissioner Walter Monegan: "This is pure sexism in Alaska on the part of these old boys trying to get rid of Sarah Palin, and she didn't put up with it, and she didn't bend over and let them have their way."

This is the same Rush Limbaugh about whom I wrote a long researched piece some years ago on this blog. A snippet from that:

One of my fabulous routines concerns a San Francisco men's club which lost its battle to exclude women from membership. The courts ruled that they had to admit women on the basis that businesswomen were being unfairly denied opportunities to do business. This is specious. How much business did women think they were going to get as a result of forcing their way in?
Anyway, after one year, the female members demanded their own exercise room. They were probably tired of being ogled by a bunch of slobbering men while they pumped iron in leotards and spandex. The men offered to install the first three exercise machines in the women's new workout room. The ladies were thrilled. When they arrived on that first exciting day they found, to their stunned amazement, a washing machine, an ironing board, and a vacuum cleaner. Heh, heh, heh. (The Way Things Ought To Be, p.142-45 Jul 2, 1992)

I don't have to go back to 1992 to find a sexist comment from Rush Limbaugh, of course. But to find him using sexism as an accusation, well, that requires looking only at the last few days.

That's the first way sexism has become a joke. The second one has to do with the responses to the first one: When Rush Limbaugh suddenly pretends to think that sexism is a deplorable, deplorable thing, who do you think will find sexism quite funny? That's right, the Libral Boyz. Now, admittedly they are reacting to the wingnuts' arguments that any criticism of Sarah Palin, however justified, is mere sexism. But at the same time the two ridiculing uses of the word "sexism" are doing real damage. The word is transmuting into something different, something laughable. And all the time real women in this world are dying because of sexist customs or beliefs.

When I sit down to think about what to write on this here blog these days I have a lot of emotional trouble. It's like I had been making a cake from a complicated recipe with lots of expensive ingredients and lots of labor put into it, and when I had finally iced it on a glass platter the whole thing slipped and crashed on the hard tiles of my kitchen. There it sits now, a mess of broken cake, glass shards and whipped cream. What should I do with it? Just throw it all into the trash? But then I lose all that effort and money. Should I pick the glass out carefully and then try to rescue most of the cake for reshaping? But then I'll cut my hand.

So I sit at the keyboard and don't get anywhere. Of course it's not feminist causes that I liken to a dropped cake here but the discourse we are having over this election campaign and the preceding Democratic primaries. That discourse might ultimately turn out to be of benefit for the feminist movement but not in the shorter run. Unless better bakers come in and rescue it right now.