We talk a lot about breaking down barriers online and offline, of building muticultural understanding and smashing stereotypes. The “N” word draws more gasps and condemnation than the “C” word. Clubs that ban people because of the colour of their skin (at least overtly) would be shut down. Governments are spending a load of money to help us all understand each others’ cultures and work towards social inclusion. So in all this open-mindedness — why is chauvinism still thriving?
I’ve been aware of chauvinism my whole life. Growing up in a small town in a conservative state in the 70s, I saw the neat little societal roles I was taught in my formative years give way to other options and (I thought) new ways of thinking.
But there is so much that hasn’t changed. Case in point — a new porno by the attention seeking Larry Flynt of Hustler that features a Sarah Palin look-alike and has the trademark classy title “Nailin’ Paylin”. Don’t get me wrong here — I am not a fan of the Alaska governor. But it really irks me that because she’s a woman who is relatively young, good looking and successful, a notorious mysoginist like Flynt has to beat her back down by portraying her as a whore. Look, I realise a porno featuring Joe Biden or John McCain probably isn’t going to be as popular and Flynt has always been in the business of producing rubbish that demeans women but sheesh.
This was going through my head when I heard a promo on the ABC for an adventure program. It talked about what “real men” do. You look at superheroes, video games, action figures — the female ones are always sexualised. The beer commercials featuring “man cans” and those poxy VB (Victoria Bitter) ads and those dreadful Solo lemonade ads. Scantily clad women at motor car races. All good fun, eh?
Now replace “a man’s drink” with “a white man’s drink”. Replace “man cans” with a narrow-minded, stereotypical physical characteristic of another race. Replace a show about “what real men do” with “what the superior race does”. Put non-white people in demeaning outfits and feature them as subservient to the race car drivers. Hmmm — not so funny or as much fun.
I think all of those examples are symptoms of a bigger disease. And until we put a stop to it, our society and the lives of our children – female AND male – are going to continute to suffer for it.