One of the mildly annoying manifestations of anti-male sexism in our society is that when a negative quality is being portrayed, and it could just as easily be a male or a female behaving badly, it will almost always be the male. One example of this is editorial cartoons about Global Warming, which would make one think that only men pollute, consume, or have a carbon footprint. To see some examples, click here.
Newsweek had another example recently in Sharon Begley’s article Why Grandpa Says Inappropriate Things (9/25/07). The article’s point is that older people tend to have a harder time stopping themselves from voicing inappropriate thoughts, so they’re more likely to voice a racist thought than a young person. Fair enough, I guess, but Newsweek needed an example of a “racist” older person, and everybody reading this knows damn well that it ain’t gonna be an example of a racist woman–it’s going to be a racist man.
It’s interesting, too, that the example of racism here is a very poor one–an elderly man refers to a young African-American woman as “colored.” As the author notes, that’s probably just because the man was “raised in an era when ‘colored’ was acceptable.” Well, I remember as a boy that my paternal grandfather referred to African-Americans as “colored,” too, and it wasn’t meant as racist–that was the phrase he grew up with.
(I don’t know whether my grandfather was racist or not, but he did have a black truckdriver for his produce business, which in his town and in his time was a little unusual. My father often told me that my grandmother was racist, and would wring her hands every time my father, as a teenager, would go off on one of his favorite subjects–how America mistreats blacks. My dad and Buster, the black truckdriver, were big Brooklyn Dodger fans. In Jackie Robinson’s rookie year, 1947, my dad would listen to Dodger broadcasts so he could tell Buster how well Robinson did.)
The mildly annoying Newsweek article can be seen here.