“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.” -George Carlin

UN Women’s new ad campaign came to my attention several days ago. It made me sick to my stomach, disappointed, sad, and angry. Let’s see how it makes you feel.

women cannot women need to women should women shouldn't

So, how do you feel?

The autofill content is based on real searches. I pulled up almost the exact same results myself. Google’s autocomplete technology works in several different ways. It takes into account the region and language, the user’s previous searches, popularity, and recent events. Interestingly, Google does try to block hate speech which makes me wonder just how prevalent such searches are. Exactly how many people question women’s abilities, their trustworthiness, their place?

I cannot help but notice the ones referencing church. Almost half of the results I pulled up on my own had to do with religion. Is it really any wonder? Centuries of religious and societal standards have told us that women are less than men. Women are starting to show up in leadership positions, but they still feel the sting of patriarchy.

feMALE

woMAN

huMAN

It may seem like a simple language quirk, but it goes so much deeper than that. Women are defined by their relationships to men. An AP style guide states that a widowed woman should be referred to as a widow, while a widowed man should simply be called ‘her husband’. Couples are announced as Mr. and Mrs. [husband’s name]. It is still common to hear an officiant call a newly wedded couple ‘man and wife’. When a woman is a victim of violent crime, advocates ask for her to be viewed as one’s own sister, wife, or daughter; it isn’t enough that she is a person.

Women are more than mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters. They are individual beings worthy of empathy and respect and should be seen as such. People are all too willing to declare that there is no need to fight for gender equality anymore, that women got what they came for. Not even close. Until we stop wondering whether women should drive or vote, we are no where near equality.

A friend suggested that I turn the search on its head. What do people think about men?

men cannot men need to men should men shouldn't

As always, patriarchy harms men too. It is more subtle, but the damage is clear. What men wear is limited by social convention. Their integrity as partners is constantly questioned. Where women are seen as sexual objects, men are told they cannot function without sex. These are harmful stereotypes which need to be amended. Still, none of the results for men suggested that they were undeserving of basic rights or that they shouldn’t be in charge of their own lives.

The ad made me uncomfortable because it reminded me of how far we still have to go. The last few decades have seen significant strides. Seeing girls like Malala Yousafzai proves to me that we can traverse the remaining ground. But only if we admit to ourselves that there are still miles to go. We cannot seek rest stops because the journey has gotten more comfortable. Every sexist comment and search should serve as a road sign, reminding us how far we still have to travel. Our destination is distant, but we won’t be at home until we reach it.

Feel the anger, agitation, grief, and pain. Then do something about it.


19 thoughts on ““Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.” -George Carlin

  1. I was saddened watching the original NYT’s documentary on Malala. It smacked of hypocrisy. Her mother never took part in the film, and was only seen on the very last day after being given “permission to be seen” by Malala’s father… and even then it was only her back, not her face. 14 year old Malala herself wanted to be a doctor but it was her father who demanded she become a politician. She didn’t like the idea but was submissive to his will. Odd.

  2. You bring to my mind the difference between my mother as spouse and my wife as spouse. My mom is very much of the “submissive wife” mindset (which is compounded by the fact that my dad is, too). I have watched throughout my own life the ways in which that is worked out on the ground, and the damage it can and does do. In short, it suggests that men have dreams and women have the responsibility to help them fulfill those dreams. Full stop.

    Tammy, on the other hand, made it very clear to me very early on that “submissive wife” was not on the menu, or anywhere near the table, or even in the same restaurant. That is one of the things I value most about her: she has dreams of her own which I have the privilege of watching her (and sometimes helping her) pursue; she knows what she thinks, and says so; and when I’m about to do something incredibly stupid (which I tend to do) she lets me know it.

    And to my fellow men: we’re doing it to ourselves, image-wise. If I hear one more jackass male comedian make a crack about just “bein’ a guy” as a justification for all manner of boorishness or immaturity, I will crawl through the TV screen and slap the crap out of him.

    1. You made me think of that phrase that ‘behind every man is a woman’. Sometimes the man is strong, sometimes the woman is rolling her eyes, sometimes the woman is in the kitchen. I can’t see why people aren’t content to simply be beside one another.

      We all perpetuate some stereotypes because we have grown up under their boots. That’s why it takes so much time for things to change. Even when we recognize the issue, actual change is hard to enact. Every generation gets a little better. We just have to make sure that we are encouraging the next them to be better, not to stagnate or go backwards.

          1. Honestly, I like the “them.” I think it makes the quote. We all blame stuff on “they” and “them” without stopping to think about our responsibility to “them.” Or the fact that we’re all somebody’s “them.” I didn’t even realize it was a typo…

  3. We are all humans….all of us are trying to figure ourselves out and come home on some level. I think men and women are equal and if we could all have healthy partnerships that gently encourages the other to pursue dreams… Whether that is a woman who truly wants to be a wife and mom or even a construction worker….or a man who desires to do hair… The sky is the limit! We all (no matter about gender) have limitless possibilities in the world… Could you imagine how much more beautiful the world would be if we were truly given the dignity of our own experience?

    Thanks for posting!
    Lindsey

  4. Love your George Carlin quote! It is so important to have this kind of campaigns since it reaches a lot of people. It is just as important that change starts in the families, in communities and within a culture. Thanks so much for posting 🙂

  5. Madalyne, as usual, you never disappoint. Another superb post. You wrote:

    “Women are starting to show up in leadership positions, but they still feel the sting of patriarchy.

    feMALE

    woMAN

    huMAN”

    Can you think of one female-based generic? I can’t.

    In 1986, philosopher Douglas Hofstadter wrote a parody of sexist language by making an analogy with race. In his article, “A Person Paper on Purity in Language”, he created an imaginary world in which generics, e.g., freshman, chairman, were based on race rather than gender. In that world, people would use “freshwhite,” “chairwhite”, mailwhite, congresswhite, etc. People of color would hear “all whites are created equal”. His point was that substituting “white” for “man” makes it easy to see why using “man” for all human beings has a subtle message that impacts the subconscious on a global scale.

    “Why Sexist Language Matters”
    http://www.alternet.org/story/48856/why_sexist_language_matters

    Thank you for sharing one of my posts. ღ

    1. Lady. But that one comes with the small, polite, meek baggage.

      Changing it to race really does drive the point home. You always point me to the best information.
      🙂
      Your posts are so very shareable.

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