Language Matters

Benevolent sexism. The sexism of those who think they are honoring women by continuing to treat them by different standards than they do men, albeit in ways they perceive to be complimentary.

I am a fan of Jon Katz’s blog; in it he seeks to discuss and honor the women in is life; he also seeks to discuss and honor the animals in his life. But I’m growing frustrated on his insistence of speaking of both groups in the same terms, as if they are similar enough in his esteem to be discussed as one. His wife Maria, along with her pony Chloe, are both praised as being wonderful “creatures.” Fate and Zelda (and dog and a ewe) are both described as determined “women.” His dog Red, on the other hand, and donkey Simon, have never been referred to as “strong and determined men.” His friends George Forss and Scott Carnino have never been referred to in his writing as forthright and creative “creatures.”

How big of a deal is this? In the grand scheme of things, not very; I know that the intentions behind his writing are honorable. There is no doubt about that.

I guess the problem is that, because Jon Katz is one of the good guys, it’s especially discouraging to see these patterns persist in his writing. A double standard, after all, is still a double standard.