Living in Mexico, I remember sticking out like a sore thumb. Blonde hair, blue eyes, VERY white—I was the epitome of obvious. I didn’t have a car, so to attend school (and later on teach preschool) I was often walking miles at a time or taking buses. That meant that for significant periods of the day, I got cat-called. “Ehhhh güerita” (“ehhhh blondie”) was shouted my way, with men leering, jeering and gesturing sexually at me. All. The. Time.
That, my friends, is harassment.
Let’s pivot to Ashley Judd, who was also “harassed” at an airport. And by harassed, she means (and you can watch her Facebook live streams here) a security worker at a German airport greeted her with the word “sweetheart” and complimented her on the dress she was wearing. She also complained that the man “touched” her (which interestingly is never described in detail—but we’ll get to that in a minute).
Oh, the horror.
Never mind that “sweetheart” is a common term used by many men and women—so common that it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that a non-native English speaker (as appears to be the case here) would assume that most women would be fine with it. Yeah yeah yeah, it can be used as a derogative—but it’s just as often used politely.
Never mind that in Germany (which is where this purportedly took place) small talk for the sake of small talk is uncommon, and giving a compliment generally means they really mean it. So if the dude complimented her on her outfit, it was probably supposed to be high praise, and not a shallow attempt to hit on her. But let’s assume for a moment here that none of the above applies; that he was actually hitting on her because he liked her. Unprofessional? Sure. Unabashed sexism? That’s a stretch.
Never mind that walking through the security lines at virtually any airport (especially a large one) is going to get you physically touched at some point. For crying out loud, if you set off the wrong alarm you’re sent back to a room to be practically felt up. (Speaking from personal experience here.) Incidentally, never mind the fact that she doesn’t explain what the “touching” was. Did he grab her butt? Stroke her leg? I may be going out on a limb here, but given that it’s Ashley Judd, and given that she took the time to film not one, but TWO videos recounting her harrowing experience at the hands of this Neanderthal, if he had actually touched her in an inappropriate non-security way, you don’t think she’d be detailing that in all its sordid glory? I’m just saying.
Judd confronted the dude’s manager, tried to make him go on camera with her during her second Facebook live (calling it “her dream” to have been able to film him apologizing for his idiot underling), and basically made it look as though she had somehow struck a blow for women everywhere.
For the record, it’s really entertaining to me that the very same woman who just a few months ago got up on a stage and screamed about being a “naaaaasty woman”— describing the period “bloodstains” on her bed sheets and the various usages for her p*ssy is now clutching her pearls over the words “sweetheart” and “that’s a nice dress.”
As long as we’re talking about double standards, scroll through Buzzfeed, for example, and alongside scores of articles about female empowerment a la Ashley Judd, you’ll see just as many articles ogling men for their physique. Like, for example, this quaint offering: “34 Shirtless Guys that Made You Realize You Love Dudes and D*ck.”
But beyond the hilarity of the hypocrisy—Judd’s airport video rants are kind of significant.
Judd’s the proverbial boy (or feminist, I guess) who called wolf. She made a massive international issue out of something that more than likely wasn’t a serious problem. Or maybe it was a one-off problem, but by calling it “everyday sexism” as if this is rampant, she is creating a problem. She’s redefining sexism and bigotry—and quite frankly I’m sick and tired of it.
Look, Ashley Judd is entitled to her opinion. But can we stop and think about what this kind of over-the-top behavior and outrageous categorization of “incidents” like this do to our society? Where does, as one author put it, finding “sexism where it doesn’t exist,” get us?
It’s killing real feminism. This new brand of “feminism,” where virtually anything emanating from a male can be considered harassment is bonkers. Yes, I realize there were times in this country (and still today around the world) where women didn’t have equal rights in society (you know, voting, being looked at as equally capable of certain jobs, etc.). So yes, there’s plenty of nice things that came from feminism’s initial steps. Funny thing about this is, modern feminism not only silences the beautiful and unique differences between the sexes but strips away the whole general concept of “equality” in society and pushes for superiority over the other sex.
It’s killing chivalry. It’s a fact. Most men today are afraid to help women for fear of being accused of “mansplaining” something to them, or otherwise looking down on their abilities. One survey over in the U.K. found that over half of men would drive past a woman trying to change a tire for fear of being accused of sexism. Here’s the thing: physically (as in, born that way), men tend to be bigger and stronger than women—which is generally where we get the idea of men (gasp) carrying heavy items for women, helping them change a tire, or some other physically taxing task. Is it any wonder that today we find articles like this one, which (probably unbeknownst to the author) basically outlines chivalrous behavior as something rare and wonderful—and to hang on to that dude forever?
It’s killing men. We’ve spent decades screaming at men for being educated (because it’s not fair to women); for working hard and earning a good salary (because it’s not fair to women); and for their “toxic masculinity.” Is it any wonder that society is churning out males that are less educated than ever before—prompting some to bemoan the lack of college-educated, decent men for women to marry? And funny enough, our new crop of superiority-complex females are less likely to deign to marry someone beneath their educational status. Go figure.
Here’s the bottom line: yes, call out harassment where it exists—because it does (because we live in a flawed world).
But don’t cry wolf, and don’t whack-a-mole every guy that looks in your general direction or dares to be “male,” and then wonder where all the men went.
I’m just saying.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree