Sunday, December 8, 2013
Do Maine reporters recognize sexism?
Cynthia Dill, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during the Maine Democratic Convention in June.
2012 File Photo/Kennebec Journal
We read: Cynthia Dill's "stridency ... has doomed her party's chances of winning the three-way race" ("U.S. Senate race: Democrat Dill stands her ground, then and now," Oct. 14).
Your characterization of her comes with news of the shooting of the Pakistani girl struggling for life after being shot for blogging about female education.
And the "dilemma" of men who paid for sex with a woman trying to prevent the embarrassment of publicity of their crime.
Heretofore, "A Sexism Primer" for your Sunday Telegram front-page writers (all men), editors (all men) and others who don't understand why describing the female voice as "strident" and paid for with her credibility are sexist.
Sexism is implicit:
• When the articulate, bright U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill is described as "strident" for speaking when others cower or silence themselves for fear of political reprisal.
• When a woman who speaks out is held up for public rebuke with demands that she prove her credibility, while the man is not.
• When a girl is shot for blogging about the need for education.
• When a woman in the sex trade video-documents that she is not the only participant, and males who were equally involved hire attorneys to make a legal argument that they weren't really there.
The sexist stereotypes:
• A woman turns people off when she speaks out, is tolerable when she doesn't, is less credible than the man, is deserving of public shaming and when she becomes intolerable can casually be seen as "of no use to anyone."
• Violence because the victim is a woman, in many cultures, is justified.
• When she is victimized, compassion is tempered.
I haven't seen one compassionate word for the woman who reportedly had as many as 150 sexual partners -- who was "pimped."
The cultural legacy of sexism tolerated in any form is sexism tolerated. Period.
Keep reproductive rights in mind at the ballot box
The hardest part of this coming election, for me, is the possibility that we could, if more social conservatives are elected, lose much our right to reproductive choice in this country.
I'm not sure that enough of us are thinking about this: access to contraception, birth control, family planning, sex education, reproductive health and abortion rights.
Not to mention what it was like before Roe v. Wade, in 1973, when it was hard for the young, the unmarried, the poor, the rural, to get contraceptive help, much less have an abortion if needed.
Abortions were dangerous and hidden, whether you were young and single, already had enough children, were in a place where a child would not be supported or chose a life without children. Whatever your reason, you were trapped, in a society that would not help you.
Younger women may not realize how serious this threat is, that the far right has been chipping away at family-planning clinics in many states, and succeeding in making it harder get contraceptives, and more and more difficult to have a safe early abortion. Many men think it is none of their business, or not as important as the other heavy issues we are dealing with.
But access to contraception, and safe abortion if that fails, is crucial to quality of life for women, the children they have, the men who care, their families and communities. It matters to the whole country, in health and savings and education, in people being better able to take care of themselves. Don't let us lose our family-planning clinics and access to reproductive choice.
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