Ingrid and I flew out this weekend to see our new niece (baby pictures coming soon!), and as is the way of our people, we picked up a copy of Us magazine at the airport to read on the plane. (To be more accurate, Ingrid picked up a copy of Us magazine to read on the plane, and I mocked her mercilessly for it and then read it over her shoulder. As is the way of our people.)
So there was a bit about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt taking some sort of driving trip... with the parenthetical remark, "Jolie drove!"
And I've been in a pop-culture snit about the remark ever since.
Why the fuck should that be in any way remarkable? Why should it be surprising, or even worth commenting on, that the woman in a hetero relationship did the driving on a family trip?
It's the exclamation point that really got my goat. If there were simply a parenthetical remark saying "(Jolie drove)," it might have just been a passing remark to set the scene in more detail for a celebrity-obsessed public. It's the exclamation point that makes the meaning clear. Wow! How strange! How fascinating! A movie-star couple went on a driving trip -- and the woman drove the car! Heavens!
For fuck's sake. This is the sort of thing I'd expect to see in a movie magazine from the Fifties. It's straight out of the era of woman-driver jokes.
And I think that's why it got my goat. I'm used to your garden-variety early-21st-century sexism -- the hyper-critical body fascism, the glass ceiling, the "have it all" pressure to be successful at work while keeping a perfect happy home while maintaining a flawless personal appearance, the denial that sexism is still a problem, yada yada yada. And I'm used to the kinds of sexism that have been around for decades and indeed centuries: the virgin/whore complex, the contempt and hostility towards female sexual assertiveness, the characterization of powerful women as unfeminine shrikes. Again, yada yada yada. They tick me off, but unless they're unusually egregious, I rarely feel inspired to blog about them.
But this was so dated, such a trope of sexism from another era, that I felt like it didn’t have any excuse. It's not one of those forms of sexism that's so prevalent it's invisible. If it is invisible, it shouldn't be. This is the sort of sexism that shouldn't even be an issue anymore. This is the sort of clumsy, obvious, ham-handed gender rigidity that I thought our culture was at least making a token gesture towards avoiding.
For fuck's sake.