*** Women in the bull's eye: Degrading phrases skewer the subconscious ***

    The following article by Janet Castanos, a assistant professor of
education at United States International University, may be of interest.

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*** Women in the bull's eye: Degrading phrases skewer the subconscious ***

   I sat reading in my backyard patio while, on the other side of a large
hedge, my neighbors were playing a rousing game of baseball.  They were out
of eyesight but clearly not out earshot.  I cringed as the father
continuously berated his 10-year-old son for miscellaneous baseball errors.
"You're such a woman!" he spewed, "You play like a little girl."

   Being somewhat alarmed by his choice of invectives, I listened more
closely.  "You're a little wussy, aren't you?  You have no balls at all."
This was, he believed, the lowest possible verbal assault he could impart
on his son without resorting to profanity.

   I wondered how this young boy could grow up to be a husband, workmate,
lover, and co-parent to any member of the sex that was the object of such
scorn and ridicule.  The strongest lesson coming out of this father-son
activity was that women are individuals to be despised, belittled, degraded
and abused.

    Aside from the verbal abuse inflicted on this child, the most tragic
aspect of this episode was the realization that this is not uncommon.  Many
children are raised to believe that girls, along with their taste in
clothes, toys and recreation, are dumb.

   I've never heard a female teacher exclaim to a young girl, "You read
like a dumb boy.   Why don't you get some ovaries?"  Yet many a frustrated
coach will tell his young male players, "You're playing like a bunch of
stupid girls."

   If a mother does tell her daughter that she plays like a boy, the
comment would most likely be taken as a compliment rather than criticism.
Words and expressions like "tomboy," "She's got balls" and "You play like a
bunch of boys" are favorable statements.  However, it's quite the contrary
when the sexes are reversed.

   Terms to degrade boys such as "wussy," "sissy," "woman," "little girl"
and "no balls" are heard frequently in our TV sitcoms, movies, sporting
events and at miscellaneous other daily activities.

   Seemingly innocuous statements such as "Stop whining and be a man,"
"Show some balls," "Act like the man of the house," "woman driver" and "You
little girlie wimp" teach our future husbands, teachers, coaches and
politicians that women hold a lower-class status than men. [...]

   Certainly the parenting techniques used by my neighbor contributes to
this contempt for women, but the rest of us shouldn't sit smugly in our own
yards believing our children to be immune from such anti-female taunting.

   Coaches, teachers, and especially peers (both male and female) are
willing to degrade the female sex.  When my 9-year-old son joined a city
basketball league I listened in shock as the frustrated coach yelled out to
his team in front of all the moms and sisters watching in the stands,
"You're all playing like a bunch of girls!"

   I called out to the coach, "What's wrong with girls?"

   He looked at me and rolled his eyes in contempt.

   The coach's criticism of the boys wasn't, in his mind, an insult to the
females present.  Apparently, women should passively accept the status of
second-class citizenship.

   Later that week I casually listened to my two sons' lively conversation
through my open bedroom window as they played outside.  One son was
ridiculing his younger brother for not following the rules to their game.
In an attempt to belittle his brother he said, "You're such a girl!"

   I walked outside and said to my older son:"I was a girl and now I'm a
woman.  I don't find anything particularly unsavory about it.  I feel
degraded when you use the word 'girl' in a derogatory manner."

   "Oh," he said, "I didn't mean it that way."

   But that's the way it's etched into our subconscious minds.  We
shouldn't be surprised when study after study finds that women suffer from
low self-worth and depression  more often than men.

   What can be done to change this women-as-scapegoats mentality?
Intelligent, self-confident and non-threatend adults need to confront
others when degrading terms are used.  Coaches and others who work with
children should not be allowed to degrade any group of people - due to
race, religion or sex.

    Certainly, when blame is due, women can and should shoulder it.  But a
woman should never be degraded simply by virtue of her sex.



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