@LoloJones and the men in her life: an ode to sexism and Beyonce
I have no interest in sports and perhaps, even more specifically, no interest in hurdling. However, after reading New York Times writer Jere Longman’s scathing indictment of US Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, I became Jones’ fan—nay, dare I say, champion.
Few things bother me more than seeing a woman of achievement maligned by a man who doesn’t like her outfit. However, it is possible that Longman thought his attack on Jones was in someway feminist—as if what he was really saying was that women should be respected for their achievements, not their appearance. If this was what he meant to say, his words surely failed him.
Not to worry, because a few days later, another man, this time from Fox News, came to Jones’ rescue. Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, wrote:
Longman’s column, however, may say more about him—and those hostile to all trappings of true gender identity…”
The good doctor would know about things like hostility to “true gender identity,” will we next read his case study on hysteria?
Ablow didn’t stop his ill-conceived defense of Jones there, he continued:
Mr. Longman objecting to a beautiful athlete posing in sensual photographs, while remaining silent about female boxers who look androgenous, beating up one another in a boxing ring, until they fall down, is worth noting.”
Someone thought the above section was particularly good, as it was used for a pull quote. Ablow seems to be saying that the real problem (as usual) is women who do not conform to gender roles, not pretty girls like Jones who show a bit of well-toned flesh.
Ablow ends his article with a particularly astute observation, his emphasis, not mine:
Mr. Longman has gone long on trying to turn Lolo Jones into a man. I’m not his psychiatrist, but to me, that sounds like it merits a few sessions.”
I will now give you a few moments to digest this ridiculousness.
I will now ascend to my soapbox.
It’s been said once, and I will say it again. If you are an older white man, nine times out of 10, you aren’t helping a woman when you come to her defense.
I am not trying to racial profile here, but if it works for New York City cops in high-crime areas, maybe we should try it on journalists?*
Not only do these public debates about the place of a woman and the role of a woman’s identity smack of sexism, but to hear this kind of trash from fellow writers drives the smite of these malformed arguments even deeper.
I am reminded that women must be as good (if not better) than men, while remaining “feminine,” but not too feminine so as to seem weak, but not too strong so as to avoid being seen as bitchy or “androgynous.” We must do all this for a fraction of the salary and sometimes twice the work. We are not allowed in the NFL, we do not play Major League Baseball and we have never been President or Vice President of the country.
If we are young, we are inexperienced and if we are old, we are used up. We are the ones with the delightful task of childbirth and the associated costs of femininity–just think of all the toilet paper we use in a lifetime.
Women’s haircuts cost more and so does health insurance, dry cleaning– you name it. On top of all this, men are apparently still paid to opine on our status and behavior in widely read publications that even the most talented among us (ahem, me) can’t get a job at.
This would all be too much to bear if we didn’t run the world, like Beyonce says.
Jere Longman, of NYT and Dr. Keith Ablow of Fox News; Lolo Jones Courtesy KD Sanders
*we do not support racial profiling.