I begin with an apology: I'm not sure yet for what, but having been a male for seven-plus decades, I do know — when treading into women-stuff territory that some might say I have no business treading into, it's always best to start out seeking forgiveness. A recent YouTube video perpetuates the erroneous notion that female sexual exhibitionism somehow jeopardizes women's professional advancement and overall credibility. The video acknowledges: “There was a lot to celebrate this year for women.” It portrays among other accomplished women Taliban-targeted Malala Yousafzai; top women directors, coaches and athletes; and new PBS “NewsHour” anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. It came out too early to note Mary T. Barra was named CEO of General Motors and Janet Yellen appointed to head of the Federal Reserve. The video didn't mention UNESCO's 2013 outstanding American scientist Professor Deborah Jin, or Nobel Laureate in Literature Alice Munro. Guess they're not shiny enough for this bit of fluff.
It goes on to bemoan “some things aren't changing fast enough” and skips through a mélange of “too many cringe-worthy moments” including photo shopping models to mold the “perfect” body; a scantily clad woman suggestively biting into a huge Carl's Jr. cheeseburger; and bikini-clad females frolicking on beaches and scampering across pool tables to sell everything from Axe to Radio Shack. To be fair, it also justly criticizes several snide, patronizing and outright sexist comments by men. Its mistake is in equating the two. There's a difference between disrespect and ogling. In trying to make something profound out of something frivolous, the producers merely come off as political-correctness fanatics. Entertainment, advertising and pop culture can't be held to the same standards as, say, politics, business and the professions. In the latter, it's expected women be respected for their seriousness, grit and effectiveness just like men. Unfortunately, that doesn't always occur, but not because some women choose to exploit their sexuality by providing the kind of eye candy the market rewards. Hot guys do the same thing and women have been “objectifying” male media “heartthrobs” and “beefcake” since at least Rudolph Valentino and it hasn't put a dent on men's success. Women aren't discriminated against because a few choose to flaunt too much skin. They're discriminated against because of archaic male attitudes. Blaming men's titillation for misogyny is a red herring. Titillation's been around since there were men and women. Most assuredly it needs to stay out of the workplace, and unwelcome advances in any circumstance are always verboten. It's one thing for men to make ignorant political remarks about women's vaginas, and another to make randy comments about starlets' derrieres. I assure you most men can distinguish between Miley Cyrus-like bawdiness and Janet Yellen-like competence. Scolding men for ogling in frivolous venues only irritates them and chances losing potential allies in the real battles over equal pay and glass ceilings. Besides, it's one of the few pleasures many of us have left. Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.