Young women today don’t know squat about sexism. Women of my generation can certainly speak to it–all the more so when they still interact, on occasion, with male throwbacks: older, paleoconservative or paleolibertarian men. Why occasionally? Because such older men (or men who’ve continued the old “tradition” of sexism) indiscriminately recoil from the odd woman who is as smart as they are or smarter. In fact, these men have a hard time believing such women exist, even as we stare them in the face.
I’m no fan of things distaff, but individualism demands that one treat a female individual (who’s as smart or smarter than you are) with the respect accorded to a male colleague. I, categorically, have not found this to be the case (except with younger men).
In interacting with Old-School codgers or their acolytes, you’ll find these men talk down to you, scold you as though you were a child, and conduct themselves imperially, as if their un-charismatic, long-winded, me-me-me, solipsistic soliloquies are indisputably superior. How can people lack so in self awareness? Easily: Because many older men are pompous, grew up in an era when their superiority was a given, equate a PhD with intellectual superiority. And so on. Moreover, these Old-Timers are still fortunate enough to enjoy personal and professional support systems which reinforce their mindset.
A recent example that comes to mind (aside personal relationships which will forever remain personal) is an older radio host who asked this writer to come on his program, but not before severely scolding me for not studying (no less) the “work” of an obscure, unknown dabbler, who had recently written a book about … South Africa. The same host also demanded that the little woman (me) find a partner with whom to appear on his little-known show. Kind of like a “Cheech and Chong” duo, for I could not be expected to hold my own without a partner.
Likewise, I recall how Bill O’Reilly never invited Ann Coulter back on his show after the good lady failed to suppress her intellectual superiority and embarrassed Bill. The Fox News hosts are always more comfortable with younger, mediocre, conventional Millennials, who cannot outsmart the egos in the anchor’s chair. That’s the formula on Fox News.
I don’t praise young men enough. But the young editors coming online more than make up for their lack of literary and editorial sensibilities with a natural penchant for treating women as equals. Younger American men are the best in this regard.
The same thought, albeit applied to music, came to mind when watching the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Mary was the talent, the star: she had the voice, the stunning, exotic looks and the stage persona. Compared to Mary Travers’ striking looks and sonorous voice, the two strummers, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, sound and look anemic. Yet in many of the trio’s performances, Mary doesn’t even have a dedicated microphone and is treated as a backup singer. On her death, September 16, 2009, this major talent was still described by the New York Times as “the sex appeal of that group,” whose “voice blended seamlessly with those of her colleagues, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey.” Essentially, a backup singer.
Crap. Mary Travers was the star of Peter, Paul and Mary. By comparison, the two men (who?) were just plain, wimpy, bloodless warblers, with an annoying nasal twang, and a very average facility with the guitar.