Chauvinism. The belief that men are superior to women. This is closely associated with sexism and misogyny, and other forms of believing that women are inferior to men, especially intellectually.
Sexism. Prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex. Sexist attitudes may stem from traditional stereotypes of gender roles, and may include the belief that a person of one sex is intrinsically superior to a person of the other.
These are words the Captain is familiar with. Lord knows I’ve heard them enough!
Three related news stories crossed my bow this week that I believe are deserving of commentary.
First, the Disney Company announced it was going to change the look of Merida, the heroine of its 2012 hit cartoon “Brave”.
For those unfamiliar with the story line, Merida is the 16-year-old daughter of Scottish King Fergus, which means it’s time for her to be betrothed to a son of another leading clan. However, Merida is her own person and resists being forced into marriage.
Meanwhile, she stirs up trouble.
Okay, she unintentionally changes her mother into a grizzly bear!
Oops! My bad!
The movie unfolds with high adventure, and in the end Merida saves the day, making her the first Disney Princess that didn’t need a man to save her!
Strong-willed women – young and old – hailed the movie as a break-through.
But in order for Disney to add Merida to its line of “Disney Princesses”, it felt the need to change her look a little bit.
The proposed change resulted in howls from people around the globe, and within the week, Disney relented.
Why would Disney do this to a much-beloved cartoon character?
Speaking of the proposed change, a spokesperson for Disney noted that while Merida’s appearance was changed, she still maintained “her inner essence”.
What “inner essence” does a cartoon character possess?
What “inner” anything?
But I digress…
Which brings us to news story #2.
This is not a new story, but it keeps being revived. And since we collectively don’t remember anything that didn’t happen since this morning, we don’t remember that this is not really “news”.
Here’s the scoop: In a 2006 interview with Salon, A&F CEO Mike Jeffries was quoted as saying,
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. … Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
This should come as no surprise from a company that specializes in petite sizes. What better way to control who wears your clothes than by controlling the sizes?
A&F is not alone in this practice; it is just surprising to hear the CEO admit it publicly.
But this may be another reason Disney wanted to alter the appearance of Merida. Despite her "inner essence", she did not fit the A&F target demographic!
And finally, in the news this week, our good friend Pat Robertson, who is always good for a face palm!
Pat Robertson, the 83-year-old founder and host of television's “The 700 Club”, responded to a viewer’s question about her cheating husband with, “He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man. OK.”
Much to the dismay of his staff, he kept digging. “Males have a tendency to wander a little bit. And what you want to do is make a home so wonderful he doesn’t want to wander.”
So again, perhaps this is why Disney felt the need to change the appearance of Merida. She didn’t yet have a man in her life. But how would she ever find a man to rescue her and protect her if she continued as that scruffy, strong, independent-minded, little red-haired girl?
Friends, we’ve still got a lot of work to do when it comes to gender expectations in society. Most women I know today are quite capable of taking care of themselves. They are intelligent and capable of earning a living wage.
And, sadly for the modern-day Cro-magnon men, they aren’t looking for a man to either rescue them or protect them.
The First Mate has related often how she was told as a young woman that she would never find a husband if she continued wearing blue jeans. Her response was, “I don’t want a husband that won’t accept me as I am.”
That’s one of the reasons I married her!
One of the reasons!