I’m not so much outraged by Joseph Epstein’s recent commentary about Dr Jill Biden, as just plain bored by outdated, sexist rot.
Epstein’s opinion piece referring to Dr Jill Biden as ‘kiddo’ and expressing his view that ‘Dr Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic,’ is just another mundane example of the overtly sexist commentary high profile women are subjected to. While there are literally thousands of men with similar (exceptional) educational doctoral qualifications that Mr Epstein could have directed his commentary towards, as a woman in the public eye Jill Biden it seems was far too easy a target.
And what message does this send our daughters? A very, very mixed one – because from the time they are born our daughters are inundated with a never-ending barrage of messaging telling them that as females, not only can they have it all, but they deserve it all. Anything boys can do they can do too — the messaging states — because girls are as smart, as brave, as capable and as deserving to win the scholarship, to be the CEO, the managing director, the partner of the law firm, the next astronaut to orbit the earth, the leader of the country, or the doctor.
You want it – they say – then go and get it! Ostensibly, there are no barriers to what women can achieve because all things being equal, we are equal.
And yet, biology (and perhaps misogyny?) got in the way. We have wombs, you see, which means we are the only ones who can grow and spit out the babies. And from the moment that little sprog takes hold, the messaging to young mothers (by both women and men) suddenly changes.
Now, it’s not so much, ‘You can be the CEO’ — it’s more, ‘How long are you going to take off work?’ (Really!? Just six weeks?! Is that all? But how will you bond with the baby?); ‘Breast is best you know — are you planning to breastfeed your baby?’ (Really? You are going to formula feed? Goodness, is that good for the baby’s immune system?); ‘You must be looking forward to having a break from work?’ (Oh, a nanny? I sometimes wonder why some women have children at all!).
This change in messaging is an assault on everything we have been positioned to be and to achieve. We thought we were being judged on our brains, not our breastfeeding boobs. We thought we were admired for our ability to hold our own around the boardroom table, not our ability to set the dinner table.
It’s time to stop mixing the messages. Enough is enough – this lowbrow, shock-jock, headline grabbing drivel is not so much offensive as just plain boring.
Written by Kate Christie.