Tagged: Women

Wednesday Word: What We Mean When We Speak About Women.

May I have a Wednesday Word with you?

Weeks later, and I am still thinking of Michelle Obama’s brilliant, master class of a speech in the wake of Donald Trump’s gross and vile statements recorded while he was working (and not palling around in a locker room). That’s a testament to how powerful her speech was. I also am thinking of the near-universal outrage expressed after the release of the recording.

But all outrage is not equal. And it was a reminder for us all to take greater care when we write and speak about each other as human beings. Take a look at the following quotes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”

how-not-to-sound-sexist

Illustration by Leah Goren for TIME Magazine

I appreciate their outrage, but look deeper at their statements. “As the father of three girls” and “championed and revered” lessen the impact of what otherwise would have been strong statements.

Why? Two reasons. The first statement makes it seem as if women only can be spoken about in relation to other men, as if it takes a man to validate us human beings. The “championed and revered” phrase in the second statement otherizes and patronizes women, as if we are some sort of odd creatures instead of–wait for it–human beings.

 

Emily L. Hauser perfectly captures this sense:

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