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Davis Journal

The double standard of gender comparisons

Oct 03, 2022 10:02AM ● By Bryan Gray

When we speak of a polarized country, we normally think of our politics.  But I think the same polarization can be seen on issues of gender, especially how men see women.

A colleague recently told me she felt uncomfortable confronting males in the workplace. That could stem from a “give the benefit of the doubt” to the patriarchy, a common belief in Utah. It could also be that too many women view their role in society as being likable rather than assertive.

Most men, if asked, would say that women should be treated equally. But that doesn’t jive with reality. Not only do many females earn substantially less than their male counterparts, even when performing the same or similar tasks, but women are held to a different standard.

Look at the internet vitriol splashed at powerful women like Nancy Pelosi or Kamala Harris. Neither of them are my favorite elected officials, but their public image shouldn’t be more tainted than Sen. Mike Lee’s (comparing Donald Trump to Captain Moroni) or Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (vowing that the most pressing issue for our country is making sure a Democrat president is “unsuccessful.”)

Or how about the reaction to female country music artists voicing political opinions? Star Maren Morris received death threats for her progressive views, resulting in a barricade and added security presence at her recent Salt Lake concert, The Dixie Chicks were removed from radio playlists and Roseanne Cash was told to “shut up and sing.” We didn’t see any of this reaction when testosterone-bulked country acts wrapped themselves in the flag and jumped on the Trump bandwagon.

National columnist Ruth Marcus put it best in a recent piece.

“When it comes to appearance, women can never catch a break. If a woman is too attractive, she risks not being taken seriously. If a woman is not attractive enough – or has the nerve to get older and let it show – that works against her too.  

“Men, by and large, don’t have to put up with this crap, and women are too often cowed into silence. If we’re quiet, then abuse continues; if we complain, we are strident harridans.”

If a woman dyes her hair, she’s not being authentic. If she lets it turn gray naturally, she might as well make a reservation at an assisted living center…If a man has a paunch, it’s a sign of virility and the “good life.” If a woman puts on a few pounds, she’s a fatty…If a man drinks a beer or a whisky shot, he’s just being sociable. If a woman downs a glass of wine after work, it just shows that women don’t know how to deal with stress.

Muhammad Ali’s criticism of the Vietnam War was accepted more lightly by conservatives than Jane Fonda’s. When conservative author Michael Medved wrote about actress Candace Bergen, he just had to mention critically that she had played a lesbian in a movie. Jackie Gleason’s obesity was “in character,” whereas actress Mae West’s waistline was compared by a male writer as an “overfed python.”

I’ll give columnist Marcus the last word: “Sometimes, it’s OK to be mad as hell.”  

Bryan Gray, a long time Davis County resident, is a former school teacher and has been a columnist for more than 26 years in newspapers along the Wasatch Front.λ