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Betty Londergan Headshot

Oh Come On, Ladies!

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Is it just me, or does it seem like charges of sexism have recently been flying around faster than fleas on a pound dog? Now, I'm proud to be a woman and nobody's ever accused me of being too accommodating, but it feels that feminism is being used like a brick to beat people's heads in. Or maybe (a distinct possibility) the media is simply reporting all this in its ever-lovin' quest to rile folks up.

But here's a few things that have been amusing me lately:

Case #1: The Oscars. Seth MacFarlane, champion of adolescent humor, was specifically chosen to host the festivities in the hopes of attracting the frightening 18-25 year old male demographic. So naturally, Seth opened with a song and dance number esoterically titled, "We Saw Your Boobs." I laughed most of the way through it, particularly the ending where the lovely Kate Winslet was named for basically all her films. Two days later, succumbing to a tsunami of feminist outrage, even the inimitable Jane Fonda had to fake some good old-fashioned feminist ire. Come ON, folks. It's not like this tribute was some kind of revolting slander (can you imagine the fury of actresses who went topless and then were left out?) And by the way, nobody forced these actresses to take off their brassieres (I love that word). I'd call this a strong case of Much Ado About Nothing.

Case #2: Taylor Swift decides to take deep umbrage over Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's comment (at the ages-ago Golden Globes) about her propensity to date around and to slam old boyfriends in her songs. That throwaway comment is apparently now being construed as an anti-feminist attack, says Swift, using Katie Couric's "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women" line. Well, Katie should know -- she's pretty much in hell right now on ABC. But still, couldn't this all be construed as Taylor's misplaced PTSD anger at Kanye West? Why would you attack two of the most beloved and hilarious women in the business? And why would you bring up something that everybody's already forgotten, thus assuring the topic will be back on the table in time for the release of your next album, filled with bitter songs about your ex-boyfriends?

Case #3: The New York Times reports on a research study attempting to isolate the cause of Americans' steady gain in weight and girth over the last three decades. The study posited, among other things, that as women went to work -- or just went online -- the decrease in physical activity (including a 50% decrease in housework) might be partially responsible for weight gain. And women on the comments board went postal. Sisters, you're arguing with facts, not fat-haters. Women and men do less housework. Fact. Women and men are heavier than they used to be. Fact. Housework is physically demanding and burns calories. Fact. That's science, not opinion --and has nothing to do with men trying to lure you back to your vacuum cleaner and Ajax (although if they do, you have my permission to whop 'em with your feather duster). Which brings me to my final case...

Case #4: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo recently asked all telecommuting employees to start coming into the office, as opposed to working from home, beginning June 1. She is summarily crucified on the comment boards for being an anti-feminist mommy-hater. Which is ridiculous for a lot of reasons: 1) All telecommuters aren't women. A lot of men are also home, not doing housework. 2) As a new mother herself, Marissa brings her baby to work with a nanny in the next office, but apparently that's even more of a class-clobbering insult, making her the new Marie Antoinette. But since when did everybody start getting the same perks as the boss? If she were a male CEO getting helicopter rides into work with her entourage, it wouldn't even be a news story. 3) Mayer probably only brings the baby in to work to avoid the "Worst Mom Ever" label she got slapped with when she indicated she was only going to take two-weeks maternity leave. That sure wouldn't have been my choice, but then again, I don't have her job -- and getting two quality-time minutes to bond with your new baby is doubtless another "perk" of being the one in charge. 4) Finally, Yahoo is on life-support, staggering along trying to fight its way back into the ring with Google. Mayer has managed to increase shares of Yahoo stock about 50% since she took control of the company six months ago and made some fairly creative changes. Creativity works best when everybody's in the same room, rubbing up against each other and their weird ideas. I say, let the woman do her job and see what happens. Hey -- telecommuters might even learn to like getting out of their pajama pants and going into work. *

*And before you get offended by that last remark, I was a single mother. I went back to work because I had to; I wasn't getting child support. And I was a partner in an advertising agency. I know from experience that you can't have everybody working from home and have a thriving creative work environment; it just doesn't work that way. And now that I'm in pajama pants far too much of the day, I also appreciate the value of having to get dressed in the morning.