Posts

Actress Alison Becker Sends Racist, Sexist Tweet

It’s yet another example of Trump-era celebrity derangement. Comedienne and actress Alison Becker attacked me via Twitter recently, saying I “have absolutely no authority on inequality as a white, cis male.”

Becker, a host on Fuse and VH1 who has also appeared on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, had some hostile intent Feb. 1 in tweeting that an article I wrote “is ignorant, offensive, and misses the point.” She didn’t indicate what piece raised her ire (I write a lot), but the only article of mine published that day was titled “The Equality Con: Why Income Gaps Don’t Matter” and made the snowflake-melting assertion that inequality is “irrelevant.”

Whatever upset little Alison, though, she perhaps feared her own increasing irrelevancy — it appears she deleted the tweet in question. But here it is:

selwyn duke tweet

The irony of presenting oneself as a champion for equality while claiming that a whole group defined by race and sex has no business even talking about it apparently eluded Becker. But I don’t blame her for nixing the tweet. Using the word “cis”? Really?

For the uninitiated, that’s short for “cisgender,” a silly term for someone who, shockingly, actually identifies as the sex he was born as. That’s awfully presumptuous of Alison, though. How does she know I’m cis? Maybe I aim to supplant Milo Yiannopoulos as the new fabulous thing on college campuses.

Speaking of which, it’s bad enough when college-age lunkheads use the term. Becker is 39 years old. Not only that, but when I mocked her for parroting the cis nonsense and, uh…impugned her intellect (okay, I called her an airhead), she responded with the following:

selwyn duke tweet 2Actually, Alison, I’m getting people to notice you! It’s interesting that this Mensa genius can’t figure out that every term was made up at one point or another and that “cis” is new enough so that, for example, my Word program flags it as a misspelling. And this is a woman who calls President Trump a “stupid, ignorant, incompetent a**” on her Twitter page (so she’s eloquent, too).

But given Becker’s defensiveness about her intellect, if she herself ever decides to graduate from cis status, maybe she can play the following role in some future remake of The Godfather Part II.

So, newer Fredo: “I can handle things, Mike! I’m smart! I’m in MENSA!”

Whatever the case, don’t worry, Alison — you’ll make it one of these days. If Sarah Silverman and Madonna find their happy place in a rubber room, next year’s Women’s March may need a featured shrieker.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

RELATED ARTICLE: Left uses violence but decries ‘speech as violence’

How Sexist Is Your Office Temp? by Sarah Skwire

My Facebook wall is bursting with people arguing over a recent article from theWashington Post that claims that air conditioning in the office is sexist.

Women, argues Petula Dvorak, are naturally inclined to suffer more from the cold, so office thermostats set at 68 or 70 degrees keep men comfortable, but make women miserable. Her article strongly implies that this is done because men lack consideration for the comfort of others and because women are denied the power and the agency to get temperatures set where they want them.

I am a small cold woman who keeps two blankets in her office. I sympathize.

But despite my sympathy, I think Dvorak — and most of my Facebook friends — are missing an extremely important point: The fact that there are women suffering in overly air-conditioned offices is not a sign of how oppressed we are. It is a sign of how far we have come.

The economist Claudia Goldin has written persuasively about the long-term changes in women’s work over the course of the 20th century. She notes that the soaring rate of women’s labor force participation from the 1950s-1970s is part of a greater, century-long revolution. And it is that revolution that means that there are more and more women who are able to be in an office to begin with.

Once we’re in the office, we’re cold. But let’s not allow the chill to lull us to sleep. We can complain so loudly about the A/C because women are present in working environments in increasing numbers. That’s a good thing.

Dvorak gets a lot of mileage from her outrage over men’s office attire. They wear suits and ties and broadcloth shirts and are thus comfortable in air conditioning, while women dressed in seasonally-appropriate attire shiver from cold.

Why, she wonders, don’t men simply dress more appropriately?

Office dress codes are certainly part of the answer, but a larger part of the answer seems to be that women got a revolution that has missed men entirely — a revolution in dress.

Underneath her conservative suit, the working woman of the 1950s would have worn something like the Playtex Living Girdle, made of perforated rubber, and designed to produce the sleek figure required by the fashions of the time.

Rubber girdles certainly did that. But they were also hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable. Women who were freed of them by the new fashions of the ‘60s and the invention of pantyhose were nothing but grateful.

And the current generation of women — who have rejected even pantyhose as a relic of the past — are freer than ever… and colder. Ditching girdles and hose means that we have fewer layers between us and the office air conditioning. We’ve burned our foundation garments, but the fire hasn’t kept us warm.

I certainly don’t suggest returning to girdles or leaving the workplace in order to stay warm.

But I do think it’s dumb to blame the patriarchy, as represented by the guy in the next cubicle, for the fact that we’re cold.

We’re cold because we won the revolution. And now we have the power to request more equitable dress codes for our male colleagues, or to design offices with individualized climate controls, or to recognize that the world isn’t perfect, but that sometimes a little sweater can help.

Sarah Skwire
Sarah Skwire

Sarah Skwire is a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis.

Liberal BBC Asks, “Is Sport Sexist?” While Promoting Inequality

It long ago became clear to me that, despite all the pretense, protesting and politicking, no one who has ever seriously thought about equality actually believes in it. When making this case, one could point to how Eric Holder’s DOJ is currently suing the Pennsylvania State Police for treating women equally (how dare they!), but there’s perhaps no better example than a recent BBC writer who asks, “Is sport sexist?”

The author, Aimee Lewis, poses the question because there are still sports where the women’s categories don’t precisely correspond to the men’s; for example, she mentions how women gymnasts and swimmers don’t always compete in the same kinds of events, the no-contact rule in women’s lacrosse and how in tennis, “While men play five sets at Grand Slams, women can only compete over three sets.”

Now, the last example well illustrates the convoluted thinking underpinning much of the equality movement. Is the correct way of framing this that “women can only compete over three sets”?

Or it is that men must compete over five?

This is especially relevant since the equality police long ago lobbied for, and succeeded in getting, equal prize money for women at the Grand Slams (Wimbledon, French Open, U.S. Open, Australian Open). In other words, the male players must now work longer for the same pay and thus are actually earning less per hour than the women.

Equality?

The head of the Women’s Tennis Association, Stacey Allaster, was asked about this recently, called it “an old discussion” and said, “[W]e’re ready, willing and able to play five sets if that’s what they’d like us to play.”

Question: Years ago, did Allaster merely say, “We’re ready, willing and able to accept equal prize money if that’s what they’d like to offer”?

No, she zealously lobbied for it.

Why isn’t she lobbying now for equal work for her players’ equal pay? Sure, it’s human nature to want the benefits others have but not their liabilities. But if you really believe in Equality™, you don’t just shout the word in an effort to institute a different model of inequality, one that benefits you or your agenda.

Having said this, I agree with Lewis’ implication: sport is “sexist.” After all, there is a separate realm of athletics that’s protected from the best competition and is only available to one sex. It is, of course, called women’s sports.

This isn’t just snark. There’s a simple answer to any feminist complaint about inequality in sports: You want the men’s money, exposure, standards, respect or something else?

Compete in men’s sports.

And women have the opportunity. Golfers Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie have received “sponsor’s exemptions” to play in PGA (men’s) events. Women have tried out for the NBA and have attempted to work their way up to baseball’s major leagues through the farm system. The door, Ms. Allaster, is open — you just have to be ready, willing and, most importantly, able to walk through it.

The point is this: It’s silly and hypocritical to lobby for equality within an inherently unequal system while simultaneously supporting that system. And if you do, do you really believe in equality in principle? Or only as ploy?

To arbitrarily say that female athletes should earn the same as male ones is like saying that lightweight boxers should have the same purses as heavyweights. It’s like saying the best handicapped “differently abled” athletes (as in the Special Olympics) should not only get paid, but they should earn the same as the able-bodied. And what of elite high-school athletes? The mile record for 15-year-old boys is better than the women’s world record, and the boys’ American high-school record is considerably better. And with some variation, these gaps hold across sports, yet most of these hard-working male athletes will never succeed in the men’s professional ranks and will never earn even what the women do. Should these young sportsmen not only be paid but be compensated as handsomely as the pros?

The answer is simple: If the market — which is just economic democracy expressed through purchasing decisions — valued events for the handicapped or juniors as highly as it does professional men’s sports, those arenas would command the same revenues. The same is true of women’s sports, of course, but in that case we’re expected to offer a special dispensation from the market forces that apply to anyone and everyone else. We’re also supposed to ignore professions in which women are paid more, such as modeling, in which 2013’s 10 top-earning female models commanded 10 times as much as their male counterparts.

Equality?

The reason why heavyweight boxers have always received more money and exposure (satisfied the market more) than lightweights is because the heavyweight world champion is the world champion. This is the same reason men’s professional sports command greater revenue and exposure than athletic arenas for juniors, the handicapped or collegians — or for women. The best male athletes are the best athletes. Other sports categories exist to provide other people with opportunities to compete, have fun and build character. They are not jobs programs.

The truth is that not just sport but all of nature’s and man’s world is a place defined by varying degrees of quality, not equality. This is no doubt why the Bible barely mentions the notion, except when referring to weights and measures. It’s also why I tend to doubt that anyone who has ever pondered equality deeply actually believes in it. It sure is a great rallying cry, though, when trying to overturn the status quo and institute a special-interest-group favoring system of inequality.

For this reason it actually would be beneficial to eliminate sex-specific categories in sports, let everyone compete together and allow the cream to rise to the top. After all, to use a twist on Lincoln’s observation about laws, the best way to eliminate a bad social movement is to apply its tenets strictly. If we actually had to live with the reality of “equality” instead of just its rhetoric, lobbying for equality might go out the window really, really fast.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com