Thursday, March 29, 2007

Language and sexism: a glimmer of hope

As regular readers know, I am chronically outraged that people are quickly called down when they make racist remarks and use racist language, but not when they make sexist remarks and use sexist language. However, a recent unpleasant incident in New Orleans actually has a silver lining.

Ralph Lupin, chairman of the Vieux Carre Commission, who--along with many others--is angry that Sanitation Director Veronica White will not budge in her decision to use a trash pickup system that is difficult to negotiate in the French Quarter. Lupin, speaking at a VCC meeting, said: "I don't understand Ms. White's obstinance, other than that she's a bitch."

In his always-insightful column, Jarvis DeBerry made the point that not only was Lupin's statement an example of misogyny, but--given that White is African American--it was also a nasty reminder of how men react when black women dare to be assertive. (Lupin, for his part, is oh, so upset at being called racist.)

And behold! Take a look at today's Times-Picayune letters to the editor, here, here and here.

Indeed, why aren't there more women's groups--all over the country--protesting this kind of remark?

By the way, the reference to the City Council spokeswoman who was fired for making an insensitive remark concerns a racist comment made by a public relations woman. She lost her job right away, but as a rule, you can say anything you like about women and girls and not even be reprimanded. You can even be a sex criminal and be elected governor of the largest state in the U.S. Anything goes. But at least, today, there is a little tiny bit of hope.

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