L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

05 February 2007 Blog Home : February 2007 : Permalink

Keeping Down the Uppity Women

A friend of mine sent me (because I'm on his email joke list) a link to a video which can be found here (and google gives various other locations if that one goes) about what the White House would be like if there were a female president. It is allegedly humourous and the joke is based on the idea that women get PMS and when they do they are irrational. Now I have myself told the feminist lightbulb joke once or twice (Q How many feminists with PMS does it take to change a lightbulb? A That's not funny you sexist pig!) so I'm able to sort of understand the mindset that thinks that this kind of thing is funny, but I found this particular video quite incredibly unfunny.

The script is more or less that in the 5 months since a woman has been president of the USA the country has gone to war 5 times (latest victim Switzerland) and that these events coincide with the president's period - there's even a weather forecast like graphic about menstural flow. Oh and the poor female is so worried about her thick ankles and she throws things when she gets mad.

This is, to put it bluntly, the sort of sexist stereotyping that should have been dumped along with the idea that women can't think stright and therefore can't be trusted to own property, vote etc. etc. It hurts for a whole bunch of reasons including the fact that it is factually wrong on fairly simple grounds of age. By the time someone makes it into the White House they are (well) over 50 - Segolene Royal will be 54 I think if she is elected French President in May, in 2009 Hillary Clinton will be over 60 IIRC, and Condoleezza Rice about 55 - and therefore it is unlikely that they are still having a period anyway. Menopausal hot flushes might work I guess but that seems to be a bit too subtle. Oh and the fact that women have demonstrably not suffered from PMS while running countries (e.g. Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi ...) or large businesses (numerous) makes it pretty clear that while PMS (and/or other hormonal issues) may limit some women, the ones who rise to the top are the ones that aren't limited by their hormones. Oddly enough the

But beyond the factual inaccuracy there is the way the sketch makes it easy for anyone who complains to be tarred with the humourless feminazi label, because if you don't find it funny then clearly you must not have a sense of humour. In this case thought it isn't funny to anyone with a brain in much the same way that treading in poo fails to be funny to people with ages in 2 or more digits.

However I think that what irritates the most is the way that it panders to just about every stereotype of the poor weak little woman who has been promoted way beyond her "Peter principle" level and collapses because of the stress. It occurs to me that this is not disimilar to the "mothers mustn't drink" meme that I read at feministe. In that one the message seems to go that any mother who even sips at a glass of wine in the company of other mothers is on the road, nay superhighway, to becoming an alcoholic and a danger to her child (unlike "real men"® who can drink multiple beers and change diapers or at least manfully tell the little woman to do it for them). The further implication that all women are unable to drive safely after one glass of wine and will therefore crash their car when they try to take their little tyke to hospital for some emergency is flat out nuts. As someone who lives in a country with a (relatively) high drink-driving rate, I can tell you that very few drunk drivers manage to have any sort of accident while driving under the influence (if they did France would be practically depopulated) and that when they do have accidents typically the injured parties are the pedestrians or cyclists they run down not themselves or their passengers.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin