Male Chauvinist Pigs

Male chauvinist pigs. They are the bigoted sexists caricatured in the 1960s or 1970s who thought the only thing women were good for was cooking, cleaning and bearing children. Women have won many battles against the male chauvinist pigs in the past century. They have gained the right to vote, the ability to have a variety of careers and the possibility of financial independence.

Yet in the 21st century it looks like the male chauvinist pigs won the war after losing all those battles. Consider these three ways.

Women are sex objects at their beck and call.

The syndicated “Annie's Mailbox” advice column recently featured letter-writers who were trying mightily to make pornography look like a benign part of life. But one letter-writer's opinion cast a pall over the others:

“Personally, I like porn because I don't like live women. I find females to be obnoxious [and] demanding ... At least with porn, when I'm done watching the video, I can turn it off. Women don't come with a shut-up switch.”

However you try to explain it otherwise, in the end, the (mostly) male consumers of pornography come to it with a purely chemical interest and are trained by it to disrespect women. And the (mostly) women who are its subjects are mostly miserable.

The Evening Standard of London recently reviewed a documentary that attempted to make the claim that women in the pornography industry found the job exciting and empowering.

But the writer starts to wonder if the documentary isn't just propaganda. “When one of the women ... talks with miserable precision about her traumatic and exhausting experiences ... and says, ‘Inside, you're screaming,’ it comes as a surprise. When she goes on to talk about how she regrets what she does ... you start to feel rather uncomfortable. But that discomfort is all very quickly smoothed over as the editor cuts to an enthusiastic [performer] telling us how she loves her career.”

The huge pornography industry (it makes more money than football, basketball and baseball combined) is just the most obvious manifestation of the 21st century's treatment of women as sex objects. The movie Searching for Debra Winger highlights Hollywood's sexism: Careers for women actresses, even talented ones, are likely to end when their sex appeal ends. A similar movie could be made about the music industry.

Nothing could be better for the male chauvinist pig.

Even fatalities don't deter society's embrace of abortion.

In this week's National News section, Andrew Walther reports on the deadly effects of abortion. Worldwide, medical journals are starting to admit the toll abortion takes on women, physically and emotionally. According to one study, women who have had an abortion in the past year are 76% more likely to die than women who haven't been pregnant at all. They are also 102% more likely to die than women who miscarried and 252% more likely to die than women who carried their babies to term.”

Feminist leaders claim abortion is an empowering choice that allows them to follow their chosen paths unencumbered by unwanted children. The male chauvinist pig likes it for the same reason — in the words of one bumper sticker, “Irresponsible Men Love Abortion.” One men's pro-choice Web site echoes feminist language in its statement of support for abortion: “It should not be my problem, your problem or the father's problem. It would be hers. Her body, her choice — her life, her decision.”

Women left in poverty.

Last, in the old days, the male chauvinist pig was blamed for keeping women down by preventing them from seeking financial autonomy. Today, women have more opportunity to establish their own incomes, but men also have more opportunity to force women into situations where they must.

According to the Census Bureau, in 2001, only 6% of married-parent families lived in poverty, compared with 33.6% of single-parent families.

“Lone-mother families are at increased risk of psychosocial difficulties,” said Dr. Ellen Lipman in a letter in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Single mothers “constitute a large segment of the population [and] experience extraordinarily high poverty rates and are at elevated risk of depression and other mental-health problems.”

Women being used as sex objects, women dying in the most common medical procedure performed on women under 50, women forced into poverty when their husbands leave them. These are things only a male chauvinist pig could love.

Catholics should take the lead in defending society against them — and against their enablers, whoever they are.