Words carry a great deal of power. This is particularly true when you are talking about words that are misogynistic. The case in point today: the word ‘chick’ used to describe a woman. Whenever I see women referred to as ‘chicks’ or ‘broads’ or any other derogatory term, I am disgusted. These words are symptoms of the patriarchy and the misogyny that fuels it. These words are all part of a systemic level of discrimination against women.
Misogynistic words form the foundation of the rape culture that exists in our society. When children learn that it is ok to refer to women in such derogatory ways a very clear message is sent. Boys learn that they are better than girls and that really girls can be equated with young barnyard animals. Girls learn that they will not receive the respect they deserve and that they are not equal. This creates a power differential that allows women to be criticized on every front.
Quite often when I confront these things I am told that I am being too politically correct. What garbage! Our culture is rife with misogyny. If I pointed every incident of misogyny I would never have anything else to do. Use of this language by men who believe they are enlightened is even more disturbing.
When confronted, these misogynists will argue that none of their other female friends found it offensive. This argument is a complete non-starter. Perhaps they don’t respond because they don’t want to experience the same abuse I get when I say something.
There is a solution to this problem. It begins with children. It requires that adults not refer to women in derogatory ways. Children pick this up and then they feel free to do it themselves. It is never acceptable to refer to a woman as a ‘chick.’
I ended up in a discussion on Facebook about Apple products. The person who originated the discussion believes that Apple is evil. He did concede from a previous debate that they were innovators as well. So in his mind, Apple are evil innovators who just want to get our money. He posted a graphic that ostensibly compared an Asus computer to a 17-inch MacBook Pro. When I asked him for some evidence to support his statement he did not provide any but kept on bashing Apple. I don’t care if someone does not agree with me. However, what kept happening in this ‘discussion’ was a level of condescension that was completely unwarranted. They behaved as though I was stupid because I didn’t agree with them.
I am not going to replay the discussion here because it really does not matter. What is important here is the attitude that is displayed by at least one purportedly enlightened man. This kind of thing happens to me with alarming frequency especially when it comes to discussions about computers. Some men1 seem to look at me and assume that I know nothing about computers. Once we talk for a few minutes usually they come around and stop acting like know-it-all buffoons.
It is in situations like these that we see that women are still struggling to be on equal footing with men. Once we venture into territory they deem is theirs look out because they can’t stand the competition. Instead of treating us like the equals we are out come the assumptions. And this folks is the patriarchy in action.
Patriarchy as defined by Wikipedia:
“is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and is dependent on female subordination.”
We still live in a society where men are still seen as the primary authority figure. We see these systems throughout our society. Because men have control over the reins of power they set up systems that benefit themselves and exclude women. There is still a dearth of women politics and government because the atmosphere of competition is valued and compromise and conciliation is not.
What needs to happen in our society to finally allow women to be equal players? We would need to change the way we value people. Currently those who are white, male, heterosexual and educated are the most privileged people. Doors open easily for them and they can succeed without much effort. One only needs to look at George W. Bush for proof that this happens. Aggressiveness must never be rewarded instead we must seek to educate the next generation to be inclusive of all people regardless of gender, race, creed, religion, colour, sexual orientation and culture. We can all stand up and say: “I’m not a _____!” But how many of us will say yes I have ____ thoughts and this is how I am trying to educate myself. We all must acknowledge our privilege. Our experiences in our predominantly white, Protestant culture is much different than people who are visible minorities. If we can all become more engaged with what is going on around us perhaps we will finally start to see the demise of the patriarchy.