Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rampant sexism on the Left?

Well okay, "rampant" is hyperbole. Still, it's worth pointing out hypocrisy whenever it occurs. And when it comes to jokes that involve stereotyping, that hypocrisy is usually found among liberals and progressives, who are always quick to jump on the "dehumanizing" nature of such things, when they're being employed by their ideological adversaries. I noted some of this after Clint Eastwood's much-mocked--by the Left--appearance at the GOP National Convention. Then, I noted how ageism had apparently become acceptable, though still not racism and sexism:
The upshot of all of this is a particular self-congratulatory mindset that exists on the left, wherein they are the only ones--ideologically--who care about human dignity, who worry about minorities and protected groups, their feelings and the way they are treated by the hate-mongers on the right. Romney's joke about his birth certificate was no joke at all in their minds. It was implied racism. Really, there are no jokes in their minds, when it comes to who people are, where they are from, what religion they practice, what sex they are, who they sleep with, what color their skin is, how they dress, old they are? 
All stop. 
Apparently, age-related jokes are now allowed, don't cross any lines, don't dehumanize their targets, don't deprive the elderly of their human dignity, or anything of the sort. Well, I should qualify that: they are allowed when the target is a conservative or a republican. But wait, you say? Not all of the comments about Eastwood mention his age, explicitly refer to him as "an old man" or the like. Well, if "angry" is racial coding, what exactly is "incoherent, mumbling, and creaky"?
Fast forward to yesterday morning's "Morning Joe" (at 6:00 am) with Joe Scarborough and guest John Heilemann. The discussion was about Susan Rice and her meeting with Senate detractors McCain, Graham, and Ayotte. Scarborough suggested that Ayotte had been added to the group because Lieberman was unwilling to go along with McCain on this issue (McCain's criticism of Rice), that the Republicans needed to have three people for some unknown reason. Heilemann agreed and offered more (my boldface):
They need a third amigo at all times. So now they have — now two of the three are women — now at least one of the three are women.
The middle comment sent Scarborough into a fit of laughter. The meaning is clear: Heilemann is making fun of Senator Graham's first name--Lindsay--by suggesting it's a girl's name. A rather pathetic and unfunny joke, in my opinion, but an attempt at humor to be sure.

So the question is, was it in poor taste or not? MSNBC has apparently decided that it was--at the very least--something that made the network look bad, as the line has been edited out of the discussion for future broadcasts. Watch the exchange below, followed by the edited version:

For a point of comparison, here's Heilemann arguing that opposition to Obama reflects a "persistent racial animosity" among the President's detractors. Apparently, a persistent sexism among Obama's supporters--and indeed Obama, himself--is no big deal, nothing we should concern ourselves with. Seriously, it boggles the mind, such a stupid display of sexism on the part of people who side with those arguing that criticism of Rice is based in sexism and racism.

Tangentially, I'd also note how the particular source of Heilemann's ill-fated attempt at humor--the name "Lindsay"--is a great starting point for a discussion of trends in naming, how they change and evolve with respect to gender, socio-economic status, ethinicity, popularity, and a number of other things (many of which are discussed in Freakonomics). Suffice it to say that name "Lindsay"--like the names "Carol" and "Leslie"--were traditionally names for boys, not girls. They've since jumped to girls, where they are likely to remain as such jumps seem to mostly be one way.

Cheers, all.

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