When rabid sexism, like that demonstrated by the radio host (Peter Boyles, right) who called Representative Diana DeGette “Vagina DeGette,” is brought to our attention by the corporate media, I can’t help but wonder about what does not capture their attention — like, for example, female underrepresentation in government, or the fact that women are still not protected from discrimination according to the Constitution. Are most Americans even capable of seeing the more subtle, but far more damaging misogyny that pervades our society so thoroughly? Does the cartoonish and blatant help to illuminate the sophisticated and covert? Or does it serve as a way to cover up and discredit those of us who want to bring the hatred that dare not speak its name into the light?
Using a woman’s sexual organs to ridicule her is textbook sexism, reduced to its most basic level. On one level, I thank the ignorant and hateful people who do things like this, so that anyone can see that misogyny is still alive and thriving in America. It also gives feminists a great opportunity for activism and the ability to speak out about things we can all agree upon.
But in a larger sense, what harm does this type of sexism do? Is Diana DeGette’s career or reputation going to suffer because of this radio host’s idiocy? Is any woman going to be harmed because a 66-year-old adolescent seems to find her ladyparts funny?
On the other hand, the fact that women are underrepresented in government has done enormous harm to American women and men. As we see over and over again, when women make up 30% or more of a government, issues like violence against women, health care, child care for working women, and so many others, are suddenly on the table. Further, until women reach and maintain or exceed that percentage, those issues are not on the table. Logic would dictate that, knowing that these two things are true, a woman who cares about these issues should always vote for women, and only for women. Continue reading