The Most Sexist Moments of 2013
Here we were, thinking women were surely better off in the U.S. now that we were no longer in binders, had been promised free birth control, and Rick Perry had announced he’s departing public office. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Here it is, a non-exhaustive list of the most sexist (and exhausting) moments of 2013. 2014, do better.
Seth MacFarlane Makes the Oscars About Boobs
It wasn’t enough that he produced a TV Sitcom, Dads, which mostly relied on racist and sexist jokes for laughs. No, MacFarlane had to use his Oscar hosting gig as an opportunity to look past female actors’ achievements in film to the performances given by their breasts. Relive the whole thing above.
The New York Times Calls Lena Dunham Fat
Instead of just focusing on the clothes, the Times’ roundup of 2013 Academy Awards red carpet fashion compared Lena Dunham’s body to Claire Danes’, calling the former “abundant” in a culture that doesn’t exactly exalt a Rubenesque body ideal:
“What Ms. Danes lacked in pulchritude, Lena Dunham of ‘Girls’ supplied in abundance, wearing a coral-rose-patterned Prada gown that (somewhat sloppily) showed off her curves.”
Whether you think Dunham is an over-hyped navel gazer or “a voice of a generation,” or both, don’t go after her for her weight. It’s gross, and it’s a fight Dunham’s made clear you’re not going to win.
The video, specifically. Also Robin Thicke’s appalling Elle interview in which he revealed that his dad, Growing Pains star Alan Thicke, is probably responsible for his attitudes toward women. Really, all of it.
Paul Tudor Jones Explains Why There Aren’t More Female Traders
Ah, this was priceless. Hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones told an audience at the University of Virginia in late May that the reason there aren’t more women at the top of Wall Street firms isn’t about ingrained gender bias or sexual harassment or even the number of things working women have to juggle. It’s about biology.
“As soon as that baby's lips touched that girl's bosom, forget it … Every single investment idea . . . every desire to understand what is going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience . . . which a man will never share, about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby.”
Get that? Motherhood makes it nearly impossible to be motivated at work. Tell that to the women who are the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of American households. Jones apologized two days later.
Washington Post Covers White House Counsel’s Shoes
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler made a name for herself prosecuting the Enron case, but now “She’s known in the West Wing for her fabulous shoes,” as the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin wrote in May. To be fair, the paper had reported a few days earlier on Ruemmler’s role in protecting Obama from the fallout over last spring’s IRS scandal, but as Salon’s Irin Carmon noted, that piece also mentioned Ruemmler’s “shoe habit.” Why not just focus on her work?
Paula Deen Reveals How She Feels About Working Women
What a way to kick off summer 2013. When a former employee sued Deen and her brother, claiming she had been sexually harassed in a restaurant they owned and exposed to a hostile work environment, Deen’s deposition exposed her stunning deafness to her own racism, but it also revealed Deen as someone who thinks women’s jobs and men’s jobs are different things
and fires a general manager who’s sleeping with an underage server not because that’s statutory rape, but because, “If you think I have worked this hard to lose everything because of a piece of pussy, you better think again!”
BBC Commentator Says Wimbledon Champ Marion Bartoli Was “Never Going to Be a Looker”
When Bartoli won one of the most competitive titles in all of tennis, BBC commentator John Inverdale saw fit to raise the question,
"Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little, 'you're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?'"
Forget her athletic prowess (or Sharpova’s, for that matter): what really matters in women’s sports is the players looks.
This was the same Wimbledon after which lots of people got really excited about Andy Murray being the first Brit to win the Wimbledon singles final in 77 years … completely overlooking the four British women who’ve won the title since the last British dude snagged it in 1936. Because ladies don’t play real tennis, right?
Mayor of London Says Women Go to College to Meet Men
Women go to college because "they've got to find men to marry," according to Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. (Because joking about women wanting their MRS. degree makes you sound so tuned in.) Even better (read: worse), Johnson made this statement at the World Islamic Economic Forum in early July in Malaysia, where organizers were emphasizing the importance of women advancing in the workplace.
Big Brother, Season 15
Just, all of it. Season 15 was without a doubt the most offensive Big Brother yet. While the contestants’ shameless racism and child porn jokes were the worst of it, Spencer calling female house guests “c*nts” and Jeremy’s reference to Kaitlin’s “ meat wallet” earned BB15 a place on this list.
Russian Legislator Thinks Your Period Renders You Incompetent
So much so that in July Mikhail Degtyaryov, a member of the nationalist LDPR party, asked parliament to offer women two paid days off every month while they are menstruating. You see, Degtyaryov claims that during a period, “The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance” and that periods reduce women's efficiency and weakens their memories. It’s a miracle any of us ever made it off the fainting couch in the first place, right?
Erick Erickson Calls Wendy Davis 'Abortion Barbie'
You disagree with her politics? Weren’t into her awesome June filibuster in the Texas Senate to stop a bill that would effectively shut down the majority of abortion providers across the state? Fine, that’s your right, Erick Erickson of Fox News. But referring to Wendy Davis as a Barbie — top-heavy, empty-headed, made for dress-up and not much else — and "Abortion Barbie" at that — is not even remotely okay. And was Erickson fired? Did he apologize? No and no.
Texas GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Jeff Abott Thanks Supporter Who Called Wendy Davis “Retard Barbie”
For lack of an original idea, Twitter user @jefflegal tweeted at Texas Attorney General Jeff Abbott,
@GregAbbott_TX would absolutely demolish idiot @WendyDavisTexas in Gov race – run Wendy run! Retard Barbie to learn life lesson.
How did Abbott respond to yet another person calling Wendy Davis a “barbie”? With appreciation:
And this guy is the Texas attorney general. Always good to know your AG has such sound judgment.
TechCrunch Disrupt Gives Women Good Reason to Avoid Tech Jobs
You know how there’s a dearth of women in technology fields, attributed largely to how inhospitable those fields are to women? Two presentations at this year’s Tech Crunch Disrupt conference in September went a long way towards reinforcing that image. First, Jethro Batts and David Boulton presented a fake app called “Titstare” that would allow users to photograph themselves checking out breasts. Then another presenter introduced an app called “Circle Shake” by pretending to masturbate on stage. There was a 9-year-old girl in the audience. Yeah.
The Most Sexist Truck Decal Ever
Want to give your pickup a little extra flair? Why not decorate it with a photo of a woman bound and tied in the bed of your truck? That was the brilliant idea behind Texas sign company Hornet Signs’ production of this unbelievable decal. Hornet Signs apologized, burned the decals, and made a charitable donation, but many commenters said it was too little waaaaay too late.
Republican Congressman Mainsplains Things to CNN Anchor
When CNN’s Carol Costello debated republican congressman Todd Rokita about the government shutdown, Rokita decided that condescension was the way to win. In a conversation marked by references to how young Costello is, Rokita instructed her, "Carol, you’re beautiful, but you have to be honest as well." Because when you’re discussing the issues with a female professional, definitely bring it back to her looks, while accusing her of lying.
Paul Ryan’s 'Conscience Clause'
There were so many instances of GOP sexism this year that isolating a few doesn’t capture the whole picture, but this one will give you the general idea. Paul Ryan of 2012 vice presidential candidacy and P90X workout pic fame
was deeply concerned about Obamacare, specifically about the possibility that it might force religious institutions to cover employee contraception.
He was so concerned that he insisted that a “conscience clause” be added to the health care legislation, stating that an employer can opt out of covering a variety of health products and services for female employees if providing those services conflicts with the employer’s religious beliefs. When there was an opportunity to compromise on the budget, leaving the clause out of the healthcare bill but getting the country running again, Ryan refused, because evidently it’s better to keep the whole government closed than guarantee women the right to contraception and preventative health care. The Supreme Court will hear a case on the constitutionality of the Obamacare contraception mandate in March.
Want to Stop Rape? Stop Getting Drunk
If you read and love Slate’s Dear Prudence column, you know that Emily Yoffe is a skilled and engaging columnist. (She’s also a beautiful essayist — if you’ve never read her piece on her husband’s first wife
, go do it now.) But Joffe took what many felt was a wrong turn this year when she wrote an article encouraging college-age women to curtail their drinking
in order to avoid sexual predators. There are a variety of reasons getting so tanked you don’t know who you are is a bad idea, but let’s be clear: rapists cause rape. Suggesting that women change their behavior to avoid rape without suggesting how perpetrators might be better identified and prosecuted did seem to send the message that it’s women’s job to prevent rape, rather than perpetrator's responsibility not to commit it.
The New York Times asks, “Where Is the Great American Novel by a Woman?”
With that headline, the newspaper of record suggested in October that no woman has ever written a “great American novel.” Because Toni Morrison, Dorothy Allison, Amy Tan, Kate Chopin, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jennifer Egan, Louisa May Alcott, and so, so, so many others were just scribbling women, right?
Beijing Police Offer Women Driving Advice
It was no Saudi driving ban,
but the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau showed remarkable idiocy in late October when it posted a list on Weibo, the Chinese social network, titled, “Women Drivers Please Take Care to Avoid These Mistakes,” enjoining lady drivers not to wear heels while driving, forget to release the hand break, panic after an accident, or forget where they’re going, because, you know, women are hysterical and vapid, and their two X chromosomes predispose them to memory loss. This helpful advice was accompanied by a cartoon of a woman driving a car shaped like a red stiletto. Not a joke.
The Texas Abortion Bill
Although Wendy Davis’ famous and awesome filibuster succeeded, the Texas legislature ultimately passed HB2, the bill that will not die. Among other provisions, it bans abortion after 20 weeks and only allows abortion providers to operate if a doctor on staff has admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. In September, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a civil suit challenging the bill's limits on abortion-inducing drugs and its admitting privileges requirement, and things seemed to be looking up in late October when Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court in Austin struck the bill down.
Then the aforementioned Jeff Abbott, ever a friend to women, filed an emergency appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court, and the Court sided with Abbott, temporarily reinstating the law. When the bill was about to take effect in early November, Planned Parenthood asked the Supreme Court asking it to stop the bill. The Court ruled 5-4 that the law could take effect. There’s one more chance to strike down the law — Planned Parenthood's lawsuit goes before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in January — but that’s 2014. 2013 remains the year the Texas legislature curtailed women’s access to legal abortion and right to make decisions about their own bodies.