so, I was reading the paper this morning, and happened upon this article, about a heated exchange live on talk radio between long-time NDP leader Alexa McDonough and deputy leader of the Conservative party, Peter MacKay (there's a link on that page where you can actually listen to the clip in question). MacKay actually told McDonough she should "stick to her knitting"! Can you imagine, telling the former leader of the federal NDP party, and the current leaer of the provincial NDPs, a woman who is so well-respected and formidable, that she should stay at home and knit rather than talk about the big issues of this election? He denied it was a sexist remark, but COME ON. Of course it was a sexist remark – you wouldn't tell a man to stay at home and knit, would you? The implicit suggestion to this comment is that women should stay at home where they belong and mind their manners, while leaving the hard decisions to the men.Yesterday, driving home I was listening to Freestyle on CBC radio. The two hosts seem to get along quite well, and have a good rapport. The woman was talking about Reese Witherspoon's Golden Globe dress, and how it was worn by Kirsten Dunst a couple years back to the same awards show. (In my opinion, it looked way better on Reese! Then again, I can't stand Kirsten Dunst!) She went on to say that "people have been talking" about the gaffe, and the male host interrupted to say, "No, people haven't been talking. Women and gay men have been talking." !!! So, I guess only straight men are people. Another example of the heteromasculine machine at work.
These things are subtle in a lot of cases, but I've really been noticing how much of our language is sexist, racist, and heterosexist – common turns of phrase denote how our society assumes white straight wealthy able-bodied christian men are the norm, the standard by which all others are measured. I've been trying to keep my language neutral, and sometimes it's hard not to slip into common patterns of speech that serve to reduce and demean other people – and even at times, the group to which you belong yourself.