Sunday, January 6, 2019

Grown women aren't girls.

Copyright dimaberkut | Depositphotos.com
Few things get me worked up quicker than hearing a man call a woman a "girl."

I even wrote about it in Mom's House. On this occasion, my brother was mad at both my mother and me because of something that had happened earlier in the day. He felt the need to retake control of the situation, so first he needled Mom about her clutter, and then he declared we were going to the grocery store to get boxes in order to pack up some of her stuff:
So we all rode in Lar’s car to Al’s at Karwick Plaza. “You girls stay in the car,” he said. “I’ll go in and ask.”
I bristled. “I know you didn’t mean that,” I said warningly. He pretty much ignored me.
Later, Mom asked me why I was upset about Lar calling us “girls.” “We’re girls, aren’t we?” she asked. I just stared at her, speechless. How to explain thirty years of women’s liberation to an eighty-seven-year-old woman? 
I know there are women who, like my mom, don't see a problem with grown women being called girls. But trust me when I say that in this instance, my brother was not using an endearment. He was emphasizing that because he was the man, he was therefore in control -- something we had no business trying to be.

I bring this up because this has been an extraordinary week for the U.S. Congress. For the first time ever, 102 out of 438 members of the House of Representatives -- nearly a quarter of the membership -- are women. Eighty-nine of these women are Democrats; of those, 35 were elected just this year. They are diverse. Two are Muslim; two are Native American. And one is under the age of 30: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Perhaps you've heard of Ocasio-Cortez. She stunned politicos last spring by staging a primary upset, upending the career of a Democrat who was rumored to be in line to become Speaker of the House. Then she went on to win her seat in Congress. She gets a lot of criticism from the right, and when it happens, she claps back hard. She's more than capable of handling her trolls herself. But I saw red on her behalf when I heard today that GOP strategist Ed Rollins had called her a "little girl" with a mouth on her.

Rollins is 75 years old. He has had a long career in national politics dating back to the Reagan administration. In short, he is just the sort of old, white guy who would see a young, smart, popular woman as a threat. And it's clear that in this instance, he did not use "little girl" as a term of endearment.

Ocasio-Cortez wasted no time in responding. She tweeted, "If anything, this dude is a walking argument to tax misogyny at 100%" and followed it with a winking emoji. I'm glad she can laugh it off, but I'm tired of making excuses for men who are old enough to remember Women's Liberation but would rather ignore it.

Stop with the misogyny already. Grown women aren't girls. Knock it off.

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These moments of furious blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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