I wonder how many of the automatic, clichéd challenges and quips that are made to solidify the cause of feminism fall apart upon inspection. Consider this interchange between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a journalistic inquisitor:
MODERATOR 1: Okay. Which designers do you prefer?
SECRETARY CLINTON: What designers of clothes?
MODERATOR 1: Yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Would you ever ask a man that question? [Laughter, applause]
MODERATOR 1: Probably not. Probably not. [Applause]*
Now that everyone has had his or her de rigueur anti-sexist moment, and we can collectively shiver with that all-too-familiar frisson of self-righteousness as we think less of the shamed moderator, consider the context ignored above: men are constrained by fashion to wear one kind of garment in high society, a suit — which is upped to tuxedo level only on very rare occasions — the differences among which are minuscule compared to women’s formal wear, to which “fashion” insists on a vast variety, and continued annual, even seasonal, novelty.
Women are asked about their designers because they have designers. Men aren’t asked because almost none of them do. Sometimes we hear about an off-rack brand, courtesy of J. C. Penney or Men’s Wearhouse, or, in upper crust circles, a well-reputed tailor. But a tailor is not expected to be as inventive as a designer, and his cachet is nowhere in the same ballpark.
It has been my finding that many of the typical tropes of anti-sexism prove witless when looked at closely. Like in this example, their exponents are just itching to defend women’s honor and standing via feminism just as, generations ago men rushed to defend women’s honor (and women reflexively expected it) in the context of a more sexually stratified society — though of course according to the diktats of chauvinism.
Sexism may remain evil, but sex will always be with us, and the biology of the two sexes determine much of behavior, helping (if not determining) the form “gender” expectations take in each culture. By deflecting our attention from the realities of not only sex but also of so much more, feminists have hijacked our culture. Anti-sexism has become corrosive.
It has become a cult.
* Townterview Hosted by KTR, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State. KTR Studio, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (December 2, 2010)
Images: At top, from E!, nabbed from http://www.theloop.ca/first-look-the-new-fashion-police-judge-away/; immediately above, from http://www.scarymommy.com/hillary-clinton-pantsuit/
Incidentally, Mrs. Clinton’s bizarre pantsuits puzzle many viewers, and were she a Republican, the ridicule heaped upon her would no doubt be enormous.