Today was apparently sexism day. At least for the news outlets. First up, a news story found by a friend:
In case you can’t or don’t feel like reading it, here are the highlowlights:
A veteran Russian cosmonaut, a rookie Italian astronaut and an American mother on her second flight blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday for a six-hour ride to the International Space Station.
So the first man is a cosmonaut. The second man is an astronaut. The woman is a mother. Actually, she’s a NASA astronaut and a mechanical engineer, which is far more relevant to the story, but instead they chose to label her as a mother. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a mother – I am one. But if you are writing a story about my professional accomplishments, then referring to me as a mother seems to be saying something that I am not quite getting.
It goes on to say:
She leaves behind her astronaut husband, Doug Hurley, and their 3-year-old son, Jack.
Wait, what? Do the men on the flight not leave anyone behind? Or is it that we as a sexist society feel the need to point out her sacrifice (or abandonment, depending on your level of sexism and/or misogyny)?
It may seem like a harmless thing, but it’s not. Every time you label a professional woman in a professional setting as anything other than her role as a professional, you diminish that role. And when you single her out for “leaving behind” her loved ones, you are making a judgment, intentional or not.
Then a few hours later, I came across this on facebook (from a local news station):
What the eff? If the “news” outlets really wanted to know what people think about this, they could have asked “What do you think?” Instead they chose to go with “Are you OK with [this]?” And that wording is what makes it offensive. Because by asking if people are “OK” with it implies that there is something to not “be OK” with. At the very least it reeks of a group trying to get lots of hit and comments by baiting people to stir up the ridiculous stay at home mom vs. working mom (non)controversy. With a little bonus misogyny thrown in for fun.
You want to talk about women in the workplace? Let’s talk about how – in 2013 – women still only get paid about 77% of compared to men for the same exact work. Let’s talk about how women make up the majority of those in low-paying service jobs and yet are nearly nonexistent in the highest paid and most highly regarded careers. Let’s talk about how although the gap between men and women receiving bachelor’s degrees is only 1.5%, yet the salaries of those men exceeds the salaries of those women by more than $26,000 per year. Let’s talk about how women make up 91% of registered nurses, but still make only 91 cents for every dollar that males in the same job make.
So let me ask you:
Are you OK with that?