On sexism

I’ve been hearing this commercial over and over on the way to work in the mornings. It’s a McDonald’s commercial, involving a conversation between an Egg McMuffin and some Oatmeal. It begins with the Oatmeal (female voice) chastising the McMuffin (male voice):

“Stop undressing me with your eyes.”

“I’m not undressing you with my eyes, I’m reading your label. You’re under four hundred calories?”

Ha ha, it’s funny because she’s oversensitive 😐

“Yeah, so?”

“It’s kismet! I’m under four hundred calories too!”

“What, so because we’re both under four hundred calories, suddenly we belong together?”

Look at that feminist bitch get smacked down.

“…McMuffin? …What are you doing?”

“Undressing you with my eyes. It’s way more interesting.”

Ha ha, it’s funny because she forgot she only exists for the sexual gratification of the menfolk and thought she had a right to complain.

😐

I’ve also been rereading the complete library of my favorite author as a child, Tamora Pierce, mostly because Mark is currently reading it at Mark Reads. Her first quartet, the Song of the Lioness, was never my favorite; as a child, I internalized the idea of Alanna, but never really bothered remembering the specific plots. Looking back over it now, I can see it’s clearly not up to the standard of her later, and more beloved by me, fiction: the reading level was too low for me by the time I found them, and the pacing is sloppy, glossing over large portions of Alanna’s life in a few short sentences.

But man am I getting a lot out of them I missed as a child. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Like the fact that Alanna has sex with her boyfriend as a teenager. She’s disguised as a man, so she can’t broadcast her relationship, but the sex is written in casually. She wakes up, goes through training sessions, hangs out with her friends, makes love to her boyfriend, studies for her exams, and goes to bed. It’s just another part of her day. Even later when they break up, she never regrets losing her virginity or goes through any sort of karmic punishment for it. She just has sex. That’s all.

Or the reason why she later breaks up with her boyfriend. They were a cute couple, but he can’t get past his patriarchal misogyny. When it comes to dating Alanna, he seems to forget everything he knows about her and recast her as “some woman” who is clearly dying to marry him and bear his children (despite knowing Alanna doesn’t plan to do either anytime soon). He smiles in that condescending way after they have a fight, expecting her to be properly chastised for daring to fight with her man. He makes plans on her behalf without consulting her, expecting her to defer to his manly wisdom. And, when she says she needs time to think about his marriage proposal, he assumes that’s a coy way of saying “yes” and starts making plans for the wedding.

None of this is portrayed as positive; it’s all very rightly cast as incredibly annoying to Alanna. But neither is he cast as a villain; he’s still one of her best friends, and even unto the later books in the timeline, they’re as close as can be without being romantic partners any longer.

Alanna would have hated that McDonald’s commercial just as much as I do.

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