I walked into the house today, and my mom was listening to a country station (Rockford's Country - Q98.5). She never does this, so I asked her about it. She said she had been trying to win something off the radio. A little later, I hear the DJ, Mark Charvat, say that it is a fact that women live longer than men. He proceeded to give some "reasons" that this might be true, and he encouraged listeners to call in with "reasons" of their own.
Mark's list, that I'm sure he did not come up with (these are close to, but not verbatim):
- If a woman has a crappy job and low pay, it's exploitation. If a man has a crappy job and low pay, he needs to get off his butt and work harder.
- If a man is promoted before a woman, it's obviously favoritism.
- If a man cries, he's a wimp. If he doesn't cry, he's an insensitive S.O.B.
- If a man buys a woman flowers, he's after something. If he doesn't, he's not thoughtful.
- If a woman has a headache, she's tired. If a man has a headache, he doesn't love her anymore.
I was first struck by the heavy sexist overtones of this segment, during which many people called in. Many of his "reasons" had absolutely nothing to do with living longer. Looks like it was just a thinly veiled attempt to throw some sexism out into the airwaves.
Notice how all the "reasons" listed by Mark portray a stereotypical woman who wants more money for less work, who complains when men do better than her, who strongly desires to be showered in gifts, and who uses physical pain as an excuse. And somehow, the use of this stereotype is supposed to make me feel bad for men? Sorry, Mark. Denying that women face injustice in this society is not funny. Especially when you try to spin it to make those who actually have the majority of the power (men) out to be the real victims.
Even better, after listening for a while, I finally got fed up and decided to call the radio station to let Mark Charvat know how I felt about his lack of taste. That was one of the most infuriating phone calls I have ever taken part in. The phone rang for a while, and when Mark answered, he said something along the lines of "Women live longer than men, but you know that, right?" I said no, I didn't, and that I found his segment to be in very poor taste. Without missing a beat, he told me that it was just a joke and that women were calling in as well. In vain I tried to explain that sexism is a very real problem for women, and that making light of it by joking about it only helps to further the problem by stripping it of its validity. Especially when it is done on the radio where countless people can listen in. But Mark Charvat probably didn't hear me as I tried to explain that, because he refused to let me speak in peace. He continued to try to talk over me the entire time until I finally got fed up with him not taking my concerns seriously and hung up.
"Jokes" like this are not funny. They only function as a distraction so that we as a society don't have to look our problems in the eye, own up to them, and work toward fixing them. Maybe if people were more considerate and actually listened when people voiced their concerns, I wouldn't be writing this post right now.
If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, follow the links at the top and tell the station how you feel.
EDIT: I was thinking about this, and I realized that I didn't address one thing that I'd like to say. Gender roles and expectations affect men, too. When Mark said If a man cries, he's a wimp. If he doesn't cry, he's an insensitive S.O.B., he did touch on (however accidentally) a real problem that men face within the limits of what is expected from their gender. But joking about it? Please. That's not going to solve anything.