Sexual Politics, 2011

Sexual Politics, 2011
The Image Doesn’t Lie, Though It May Distort

By  A. G. Moore   May 11


   The U.S. Senate 1868

News articles about the weather are inescapable: someplace on earth, every day, people are buffeted by violent natural forces.A graphic on the Op-ed page of the May 11 New York Times captures one such event – flooding on the Mississippi River.  In the graphic, six men are scrambling up a tree to escape in-rushing waters.  Six men.

I looked in the accompanying article for specific reference to men, something that would justify the gender-exclusive characterization of flood refugees.  But the author of the article describes residents, not men, who are flood victims.  So once again I must reluctantly address an issue that has made me weary, but one that has not gone away. – the intransigence of culture-based gender preference.

Freud is supposed to have said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  It might likewise be suggested that sometimes a picture of six men running from a flood is just that.  Unfortunately, a simple exercise will knock the wind out of that argument.  Try putting six women in the tree without wondering about the artist’s meaning.

It’s a funny thing about a line of thought – once it starts it just keeps flowing.  And so it was with me this morning.  I looked at the front page of the Times.  Seven bylines. Six by men and one by a woman.  The world seen through a male prism.  Suddenly I saw before my mind’s eye that picture of the White House Situation Room when the hunt for Bin Laden was in its final stages. Thirteen visible faces – eleven men, two women.

The Feminine Mystique was published 48 years ago. Gains of women since then have been significant.  College graduation rates of females exceed males at this point.  Women serve in the armed forces and lead multinational corporations.  So what’s going on?

I don’t know.  I can recite all of those reassuring statistics, and then  look at the graphic and at Hillary Clinton, a lone woman, at the table in the Situation room, and I have to ask: what do you believe, the statistics or your lying eyes?

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