“Female” Being Sexist and Tweets Being Racist Are Not Mutually Exclusive
“Female” and the sexist connotations with it along with racism having the backdrop of Cam Newton and reporter Jourdan Rodrigue are the focus of this piece I finished writing in 2017.
Cam’s Dannon ads have been pulled meaning he’s more famous and therefore has more to lose. Though the reporter may be racist, she did not seem to have a racist motivation for luring Cam into giving that stupid answer he gave. Still, she decided to escalate it through the media, and when your profile is heightened, you better be able to standby or disavow everything you’ve said or done. I hope she has learned that lesson.
The question wasn’t as bad as the language he used. Giving Cam the benefit of the doubt, he probably hasn’t had a woman ask him about the physicality of rout running. While the assumption is that she should have that type of knowledge as it is her job, his personal experience is indeed his own. His problem was in denying her humanity as a person and a woman.
Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu breakdown the problem with the usage of the term the way Cam did. It’s a scientific term that refers to the sex of a species that is capable of producing children. The term “woman” refers specifically to human beings, while “female” could refer to any species.
When you refer to a woman as a “female”, you’re ignoring the fact that she is also a human. It reduces a woman to her reproductive parts and abilities.
Also, not all women are biologically female, and the conflation of “female” to “woman” erases gender-nonconforming people and members of the trans community.
Clayton and Nigatu go even further:
It should be noted, though, that using “female” as an adjective can take a sexist turn when used in a case that isn’t notable. Referencing a “female firefighter,” for example, is appropriate only when her being female is pertinent to the story; otherwise, she’s just a firefighter. But if you’re talking about the first woman to become a firefighter, saying “the first female firefighter” is acceptable because her gender is relevant.
For more information on the appropriate grammatical uses of “female” and “woman,” click here.
Racism and sexism are both real. Her tweets were racist. She apologized. Cam’s comments concerning “female” reporters were sexist. He apologized. Both exist simultaneously and we must all work hard to mitigate them.