World & Nation

Opinion: Insulting ‘Jeopardy!’ category just the tip of a misogynistic iceberg

Columnist Jonah Goldberg recently wrote that the “war on women” had ended long ago – and that women had won. Oh really?

Forget, for a moment, the big issues of our day that continue to put women at a disadvantage, among them unequal pay, pregnancy discrimination, the motherhood penalty, and restricted reproductive healthcare.

Just look at this week’s misogynistic mishaps sprinkled about casually across our cultural landscape.

Monday’s episode of the game show “Jeopardy!” for example, included an intriguing category: What Women Want. Only problem is that instead of covering issues of consequence or any relevance, the show veered into ridiculously outdated topics such as vacuums, clothes and exercise. As actress and activist Sophia Bush tweeted, “For a ‘smart’ show, you just got srsly stupid.”  Hear, hear sister.


The problem with such a sexist category, as Jezebel’s Tracy Moore explains, is “it proves that many people don’t recognize that there ARE bigger issues for women than how they look, how tight their Pilates game is, or where the tea is, and that it even matters when you reduce them to such trivialities.”

Meanwhile, in the world of local politics, the College Republican National Committee thought it might be a good idea to appeal to female voters with a “Say Yes to the Dress” spoof. Because young women can’t understand politics unless it’s described to them in terms of frilly white lace. Ugh, gag.

“Seriously. That’s how the GOP plans to win women over because all women understand is saying yes to a wedding dress/man,” writes Sarah Jones in PoliticusUSA.

Speaking of this preposterous idea that a woman needs a man: Who thought this horribly sexist Batman T-shirt was a good idea? And why would parents buy their daughters a top that says, “training to be Batman’s wife”? As HuffPo’s Jessica Samakow points out, the T-shirt is sold out on Amazon. Shaking her head, Samakow writes that “by insinuating that girls aspire to marry ‘superheroes,’ DC Comics seems to miss the very important fact that young girls want to -- and should -- see themselves as superheroes.”


Next thing you’re going to tell me is that a men-only conference to discuss gender equality is in the works. Oh.  Iceland, what are you thinking?

Certainly feminism, propelled in part by celebrity feminists Beyonce and Emma Watson, is back in the zeitgeist, but how much of an impact is it actually having?

That’s what Meghan Daum asks in her most recent column: “Is feminism’s current moment all slogan and no change?

“I sometimes grow cranky and impatient when I see [feminism] revived in a way that can seem more reactionary than responsive,” Daum writes. “I’m also wary of ‘movements’ that don’t go much further than slogans, whether it’s Lean In-style corporate ladder climbing or hashtag activism.”

But if this week’s stories of casual misogyny show us anything, it’s that we have to keep pressing on. In addition to the big battles we’re up against, we still have to fight nonsense distractions like kids’ T-shirts with 1950s-era messaging. Sadly, sometimes it’s the small things, like a silly campaign ad, that lead women to believe -- or, worse, to accept -- that they’re lesser than. So we have to speak up and complain. As Susan Rohwer wrote Wednesday, “Feminism is not just about women’s rights. It’s about demanding human rights.”

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier

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