I don’t usually rant on here. Because that’s not something I like to do. I like to focus on pleasant things in the world. But sometimes, unpleasant things just need to be said.
Today, that unpleasant thing is sexism.
With all the challenges that face women in this testosterone-driven world, you’d think the least our society could do is pay you ladies a little respect, right? Well apparently not. Society is perfectly content to do much less.
Yeah, yeah we’ve all heard it before.
But seriously! I did not truly realize how little respect women get until this past Saturday, the day of the Miss America pageant.
As you know, I was very amped up for the Miss America pageant. To me, Miss America is the female equivalent of the Super Bowl. It is a major, big time event. And, as you might guess, I am rather put off by how it gets swept under the rug by the media. So this year, I took matters into my own hands. Like a football player preparing for the big game, I strategized. I studied film. I analyzed technique. I paid attention to detail. I honed in on strengths and weaknesses. I did jumping jacks. Okay, no, I didn’t do jumping jacks. But I prepared rigorously just the same.
Then came the big night. I announced my picks, and set off for my favorite vantage point — the bar at Chili’s. The place was busy. No surprise, given that it was Saturday night. Yet, I somehow managed to grab a prime seat in front of one of the four TVs in the house. Things were off to a good start. All I needed to do was comandeer a TV (i.e., get my waiter to change the channel to Miss America.) No problem, I thought. Wrong.
As I said before, I watched the Miss America pageant at this same Chili’s last year. Of course, I was there with an old flame. We had no problem getting the pageant on the main TV. They turned up the speakers in the bar, and soon it was the subject of everyone’s conversation. Then, more people started moving over to the bar area to see what was going on. Soon the place was buzzing with energy!
This year, a much different scene unfolded. Upon taking my seat, I noticed that all of the four TVs were on the NFL playoff game between the Packers and Falcons. No one seemed to be watching my TV; and I was the only one sitting in front of it. However, when I asked my waiter to put the pageant on, he looked at me like I was from Mars. (Or perhaps more appropriately, Venus.)
“Umm, I’m not sure we can do that — ” he stammered.
Next thing I know, I am talking to the manager. He tries telling me that they cannot put on shows “like that” — as an example, he pointed out that a previous customer had wanted to watch The Bachelor, but management felt the show was inappropriate.
Seriously? Was he really comparing the prestigious Miss America pageant — the fourth longest running television event in American history — to The Bachelor??
With a little patience, I managed to show him the light. He was a nice guy, with good intentions, but trapped in a mindset where TV programs fall into one of two categories: sports, and everything else. I explained how I’d watched it here last year with no problem, how the pageant is a timeless American tradition, how it only came on once a year, how each of the other three TVs were on the game, and how I didn’t own a TV and was at Chili’s for the specific purpose of watching the pageant. Indeed, I found it hard to believe that any of the TVs were on a mere divisional playoff game instead of the pageant, much less all of them. He stared at me blankly, as though I was speaking in a language he could not decipher.
Then, running out ammunition, I reasoned with him man-to-man. I said that I might — might — be able to understand if the Cowboys were playing. But who really gave a rip about a cheesehead game, anyway? This he understood. He switched the channel immediately. But under one condition — if anyone complained, he had to switch it back.
The fact that I had to practically put on a powerpoint presentation to get Miss America on my TV is quite telling about the respect feminine events are afforded in our mainstream society. Anyway, the show was on at last. I ordered a round of chips and queso, as the initial 15 finalists were selected. All seemed to be right with the world again.
Well, what do you imagine happened next? Some anonymous person supposedly “complained.” The TV had to go back to the game.
I really can’t say I was surprised. The manager felt bad. He called around for me, but none of the other restaurants had the pageant on. Better luck next year.
Annoyed, I drove down the road to Buffalo Wild Wings. This time I called ahead, to avoid making the same mistake. At first they told me they could put it on, but then they said all the TVs were taken. Finally, I convinced them to put it on one of the outside TVs that no one was watching, because it was a chilly January night. They said okay, but no sound.
So there I was. Sitting outside alone, shivering in the cold on a Saturday night, while I stared at a silent TV overhead. Perhaps the only TV on the strip broadcasting one of the most famous and enduring yearly events in America. Which just happens to feature only women. (Lord, I know this sounds pathetic.)
But seriously. This is the respect women get in our society.
If that point wasn’t driven home to me already, it certainly was by what happened next. Eventually, a woman came outside too. I was too busy texting and pulsing to pay her much attention. A few minutes later, five drunk guys also came out. To call these guys “douchebags” is too kind. They saw that the pageant was on and started making extremely vulgar sexual jokes. Jokes that would make a sailor blush. I just tried to tune them out. I wasn’t going to let their immaturity ruin the night for me, I thought.
And that brings me to the whole point of this rant. Yes, I can handle stuff like that, like most other guys. I find it distasteful and offensive (and several other adjectives), but when I’m out by myself, I’m willing to just ignore it. Good for me. But you know who had a much harder time handling it? The woman outside with me. It wasn’t until she stormed off after about the twenty-fifth consecutive vulgar joke, that I realized what had just happened. Here was a woman who had walked outside, in the cold, to watch the Miss America pageant at a restraunt with every other TV turned to sports, only to find herself alone with a bunch of drunk idiots who don’t even have the decency to keep their foul mouths shut for thirty minutes while she watches the end of the show.
And what do you think these a-holes did after she left? They made vulgar jokes about her.
This is the “respect” women get in our society.
Then, the next morning, I woke up and checked CNN on my phone to see the morning news. I was expecting the front page to have Miss Nebraska’s smiling face plastered all over it. When I didn’t see it, I scrolled down the headlines to see the article on the pageant. Nothing. Nada. Didn’t even make the headlines. Finally, I found the article buried in the entertainment section behind must-see headline stories like ‘Usher Cancels Concert In Germany.’
Seriously. This is the respect y’all get. You ladies deserve more than this!
Okay, I think I’m done ranting.
One final point. I am certainly not saying that sexism only cuts one way. Guys are often the victim of sexism, too. For example, one might argue that if I had been a woman, or had been with a woman, Chili’s would have let me watch Miss America. (They didn’t have a problem the year before, when I came there with a woman.) But isn’t that sexism too? (It felt like it to me.)
Anyway, enough for tonight.