Herman Cain Says Having More Pizza Toppings Makes a Man More “Manly”

Add this to the ridiculous things Herman Cain has said.  In an interview in GQ, Cain says that “The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.”  Being a “manly” man, he is also against vegetables: “A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.”  Cain and his supporters (how much more of this can his alleged supporters take?) probably think he is being funny (I prefer thinking of him as a joke politician rather than a funny politician), but all that this shows is the way he feels about gender.  Does this kind of gender-stereotyping language give anyone a better feeling about Cain’s professions of innocence for the sexual harassment allegations?  Obviously not.  It again shows a base set of beliefs about the power of men over women.  For this and many other reasons, Cain should have disappeared from the national scene long before now.

Cain’s use of “manly” and “sissy” reminds me of a previous post I did on the use of the word “emasculate,” in which I argued that the usage should be eliminated.  Similarly, the tired gender-stereotyping words “manly” and “sissy” should also go away.

Let’s Get Rid of “Emasculate” and “Effeminate”

Since I live in the Washington, DC. Area, I constantly see media coverage of the Washington Redskins.  Because of the team’s poor performance this year, fans have been showing more anti-Redskin sentiment than anytime in recent decades.  Much of the unrest has been directed to the team’s owner, Dan Snyder.  Part of the drama is whether the head coach, Jim Zorn, should be fired. (Unfortunately, the anti-Redskin sentiment does not extend to the horrible name.)

Until last month, Zorn had been calling all of the team’s offensive plays.  The offense was ineffective and Snyder hired Sherman Lewis (a former offensive coordinator who had been out of football for five years) to be a “consultant” to Zorn about the offense.  Then, when the team lost again, Snyder forced Zorn to turn over all of his play calling to Lewis.

Repeatedly, the press referred to these events as Snyder having “emasculated” Zorn.  In other words, Zorn’s manhood was lessened by Snyder’s actions.  And then, today in the Washington Post, columnist Tom Boswell wrote of the 1970-s and 1980’s actions of New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and the “perpetual emasculating torture that defined the Yankees.”

For Zorn, what happened was that Snyder stripped him of his authority.  Do the media think that that is only a problem for men?  Do they think that women are not affected when they lose authority?  Obviously, there is no difference.  The use of the word “emasculate” should be eliminated.

(Of course, the use of the word “emasculate” is not limited to sports media.  For instance, when Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, bigot Rush Limbaugh argued that it was an attempt by elites in the world to encourage Obama “to emasculate the United States.”  And, in fact, in sports, the use of the word is not limited to male sports writers.  In 2007, Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote that “[Kobe Bryant] suggested the Lakers bring back Jerry West as a consultant, a move that would emasculate General Manager Mitch Kupchak,”)

Dictionary.com gives this definition of “emasculate”:

–verb
1.     to castrate.
2.     to deprive of strength or vigor; weaken.
–adjective
3.    deprived of or lacking strength or vigor; effeminate.

I’ll admit that “castrate” is reserved for men.  But “deprive of strength or vigor; weaken” obviously applies to both men and women.  Linking “emasculate” to “effeminate” is the real gist of the problem.  It means that people who use “emasculate” are really saying that a man has become more effeminate.

Here is how dictionary.com defines “effeminate.”

–adjective
1.     (of a man or boy) having traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy.
2.     characterized by excessive softness, delicacy, self-indulgence, etc.: effeminate luxury.
–verb
3.     to make or become effeminate.

Of course, I doubt that anyone ever uses “effeminate” as a verb, and, therefore, there is no direct female counterpart of “emasculate.”  But look at the stereotyping of “softness,” “delicacy,” “self-indulgence,” etc.  And what is “effeminate luxury”?

And look at this from synonyms.net:

Synonyms, Thesaurus & Antonyms of ‘effeminate’

1. (adj) effeminate, emasculate, epicene, cissy, sissified, sissyish, sissy
having unsuitable feminine qualities
Synonyms: sissy, bisexual, cissy, emasculate, effeminate, epicene, sissyish, sissified
Antonyms: manful, manly, manlike

The use of “emasculate” and “effeminate” is repulsive and helps to perpetuate stereotypes.  There is no need for either word.