So, there I was, gleaning Bob Dunning’s insight on the ongoing Linda Katehi controversy, and I noticed it: a pink box that floated down the page as I read, front and center, right in my face, announcing “Postmenopausal Women Wanted for Study.”
“How rude,” I thought, “to suggest that Katehi should just hang it up and go be part of a study or something, because who needs nasty old post-menopausal women anyway.”
Whoever placed that ad there is one snide little jerk. But, then again, I don’t know Katehi personally. Who am I to judge. Maybe she has it comin’. But then the floating pink box appeared again in another column Dunning wrote about Winters mayor/Assembly candidate Cecilia Aguiar-Curry. OK, that’s unacceptable. Like her or not, Cecilia doesn’t deserve such sexist ridicule.
It’s come to this? Visually assaulting women with sexist, ageist insults when we’re just trying to read our local news and commentary? We get enough of this emotional abuse at the grocery checkout line, where we must endure stacks of “beauty” magazines screaming, “Banish Your Butt!” or “Look 20 Years Younger!” or “Zap Those Wrinkles!”
Every time women turn around, they’re reminded that whatever their age, condition or situation, they’re unacceptable and need correction, and are provided with an image of the goal: a limber, lithe, air-brushed, photoshopped 20-something nymph with a tiny waist, huge bouncy breasts, and shining silky hair streaming down her shoulders. We get the message: As soon as we look like something that doesn’t actually exist in nature (because even the 20-something nymph doesn’t really look like that), then we’ll be acceptable.
It’s one thing to sell magazines on institutionalized female self-loathing, but inserting little zings about women “of a certain age” as they used to say (which is code for “too old to have sex with”) just seems unduly invasive and insulting. Katehi and Cecilia are accomplished, professional women, and it’s pathetic if it’s come down to thinly veiled hints to just “go away and be in a hormone study, you icky old hag. Go make your wilted old shar-pei body useful to science. Ain’t no wrinkle cream gonna help that.”
Be gone with you, Broomhilda! You make our peenies wither in horror!
Now, just as you recoil at the audacity of that line, consider that this is exactly the subconscious thought of every male when viewing a female past her mating prime. You see, regardless of species, males scan the available females, and focus on the ones they want to mate with. It’s a perpetual, thrumming endless loop of “must breed, must breed” at the back of their minds. But, don’t blast males for being so grotesquely simple and sexist. It’s all about biology. They’re hard-wired to be attracted to females that offer the best chance of successfully bearing their offspring and rejecting the ones who don’t.
How to spot the ones who don’t? Easy: thick in the middle. Women who are thick in the middle are usually either already pregnant or post-menopausal, and make the subconscious male mind stick out its tongue and go “blehhh.” I’m certain that this hard-wiring is the root of all the disdain for any sign of aging in women, and also why women frantically fight aging so desperately. For females, when you get down to it, it’s all about “will the boys like me or not.” And that, too, is just biology.
Theoretically, however, humans have evolved beyond their basic biological drive to procreate, and theoretically, most grown men recognize (consciously, anyway) that a woman is more than a vagina on legs, and are more interested in thoughtful, witty, challenging conversation with a woman than they are in grabbing both her breasts and chortling, “Honk, honk!”
I still rather suspect that, at some level, all men want to honk breasts.
My skepticism is validated by the plethora of advertising aimed at capitalizing on the female desire to remain sexually attractive to men, and if they can’t — well, just go away and have your post-menopausal hormones examined, you useless sack of “not with a 10-foot pole.” It wouldn’t be there if it didn’t sell. It’s beyond mere sexism and ageism — it’s misogyny for profit. And now, it’s infiltrated the works of my favorite columnist.
I had to let Dunning know about the floating pink square. Maybe he didn’t know. Maybe he’s like me and never views his columns on The Enterprise website, because the comments section is littered with irascible, querulous, contentious, self-important jerkwads, who rarely offer anything more useful than “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.”
Dunning replied that although he hadn’t seen that particular ad, he’d noticed them, and didn’t like how they broke up the flow of the text. However, floating ads are the latest strategy to keep those of us in the journalism industry out of the unemployment office, so we must grit our teeth and bear them.
I also objected to the strategically placed, subtly misogynistic ad in stories about women “of a certain age” to our McNaughton Newspapers technology wiz kid, and he confirmed that the ads are a necessary financial evil, but they’re controlled by internet searches, and I could go to Google and request this or that or whatever… I don’t really know what else he wrote because my mind made that screech like a needle ripping across a vinyl album and coming to a full, dead stop.
Wait. A. Freakin’. Minute.
You mean, my fair young friend, that those ads aren’t really there? Google places different ads for different people based upon our web searches? Ergo, that vile little floating box of misogyny isn’t aimed at Katehi or Cecilia but … me? “I” am the nasty old useless post-menopausal woman who should just go offer her body for scientific study?
I guess I have to stop googling “Christiane Northrup” and start googling stuff like “pigs in bondage” and “how to cook ferrets,” and maybe Google will upgrade its invasive insults.
On the other hand… I wonder if that study pays anything.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com