The Mismeasure of Woman

Great op-ed in the New York Times in regard to measuring the status of women in light of the recent Shriver Report. Here’s an excerpt on a topic that really riles me up:

The mismeasure of woman

…The Internet gave everyone a soapbox. The louder, the more offensive, the better.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that exactly at this moment, women began losing ground — and not just in measurable ways, like how many women make partner or get jobs as chief executives.

I’m referring to how we are perceived. The conversation online about women, as about so many other topics, degenerated from silly and snarky to just plain ugly — and it seeped into the mainstream.

Recently, before a TV appearance, I did an Internet search on one of the interviewers so I could learn more about her — and got a full page of results about her breasts.

This was hardly an isolated incident. Whether it’s Keith Olbermann of MSNBC calling Michelle Malkin, the conservative blogger, “a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it,” or Glenn Beck of Fox News suggesting that “ugly women” are probably “progressive as well,” women these days are portrayed as either witches or bimbos, with pretty much no alternatives in between.

I’ve been puzzled by these screeds, which are so at odds with the real achievements documented in the Shriver Report and elsewhere. And then it struck me: Part of the reason we’ve lost our way, part of the reason my generation became complacent, is that many of us have been defining progress for women too narrowly. We’ve focused primarily on numbers at the expense of attitudes.

I’ve “boycotted” radio stations for their lewd comments on breasts, been offended by commercials in their stereotypes of women, been outraged by movies for their sexual exploitation, and, more recently, been left incredulous at TV stations’ bashing of women.  It’s perfectly okay to call women hos, whores, skanks, baby mamas, bitches, etc. on TV. Why is this okay?! Moreover, it’s leeked into print media. My local paper recently referred to women as #@%#$#. WTF is up with that? It’s a newspaper, not a forum for female hatred. Attitudes need to change…and we all know how long that takes. So it’s time to get to work – for the sake of future generations if not our own.