Two recent stories about sexism have made me think about cookies. So I’m posting about them together.
1) When North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was running for the office, he was asked, “If you’re elected governor, what further restrictions on abortion would you agree to sign?” He responded, “none.”
He recently signed a bill that put further restrictions on abortion.
His response to protesters who were upset with him signing a bill he promised not to sign?
He gave them cookies. According to WaPo, “The cookies were returned, and it wasn’t because he forgot the milk. The note on the untouched plate read: “We want women’s health care, not cookies.””
2) Anita Sarkeesian just released the 3rd and final video on the videogame trope of Damsels in Distress. (Future videos will discuss other tropes in video games.) The video game development blog Gamasutra posted about it, to which many peopled commented.
Some of the comments stuck out to me because they were some of the clearest, most charitable articulations of why people see basic feminist arguments as untenable.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the ‘damsel in distress’ type of game. Sexism comes in from how you depict the damsel. I just don’t think that every example she gave of sexist games are necessarily as malicious as she makes them out to be.”
When another commenter points out that Sarkeesian does not accuse these games of being “malicious,” the original commenter replies,
“Maybe malicious is too strong of a word to use, but her tone is definitely condemning. Spelunky developers made it so the player could rescue a male or dog instead of a female and instead of even saying thanks for trying but its not good enough, smacks them back down and further criticized them for making the female replaceable. If you don’t want to say malicious choose a different word for publicly talking down to them because she did not approve of their attempted fix.”
If I understand this argument correctly and charitably, it is something like this:
Yes sexism exists, but if someone wasn’t explicitly trying to be sexist, they deserve a cookie and not condemnation. [suppressed premise: Because not f***ing up is hard. And public disapproval makes us feel negative. And sexism makes us feel negative. And aren't we trying to get rid of things that make us feel negative?] (Okay maybe that wasn’t so charitable. But accurate, I think.)
Takeaway ‘lesson’ from both of these stories: Cookies and niceness–as opposed to actually doing the hard work of swallowing one’s pride and working to fix the problem–are the better ways to approach sexism.
Other takeaway lesson: Some people think that equality for women is about making them feel warm and fuzzy; not about anything like giving them access to full agency and control over their image, their lives, and their destiny?
(Also they think women not being mad at them is more important than improving the lives of those women?)