When you think “female judges,” what or who comes to mind? Sandra Day O’Connor? Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor?

Hell, even the network television shows “Judging Amy” or “Judge Judy” would be plausible, especially if your brain is on summer vacation…  But, what about The Spice Girls.

In more evidence of the epic Reality/ The Onion Astro-Convergence that is currently underway, whereby the real world as presented in the media becomes ever more indistinguishable from the hilariously satirical articles in The Onion, Maryland’s Daily Record—a serious paper—describes a factoid about the growing number of female judges with a photograph and comparisons to… The Spice Girls.

I can see why the writer did this, since both groups have vaginas. That’s about where the comparison ends.

“That’s some GIRL POWER,” the article praises about the rise in female judges.   But those female judges—those “girls”— they wear boring old robes, not “leather pants and platform heels,” like the real paragons of power, The Spice Girls, to which other powerful women are logically compared.


A female writer posted this, which doesn't really surprise me. Girls and women increasingly do this sort of thing to each other. We don’t need men to treat us like sex objects and porn stars and baby dolls and trivialize us with girlish crap. Often enough, women  do it themselves. Sometimes it seems as if we're becoming a self-trivializing people.

Sure, it's a small thing. I know that.  But this nonsense is in a class with what environmental scientists might call "low-level insults" on the system that build up over time. 

ITEM 2, not entirely unrelated, comes from Washington, DC.  There’s a cyclist groper on the loose in DuPont Circle. This man, most likely a bike messenger with some impressive balancing skills, has been driving up alongside women walking on the sidewalks, sticking his hand up their dresses, fondling them, and laughing as he rides off.

One of the groper’s victims did think to report this. She first called #311. That interests me. That’s what this sort of offense has become for women—a “#311” matter, not a #911 offense. To her credit, the #311 operator urged the woman to call #911, since the matter was at least serious enough to deserve a police investigation.

And, once the woman posted a blog on the groping incident, many other women came forward. They’d not reported the incident at all but had also been molested by the roving cyclist.

Kudos to the women for reporting it.

From bizarre Spice Girl analogies to groper-cyclists, women seem to be putting up with a lot more by way of everyday humiliation, aggression, and belittling behavior, and don’t expect better.

There’s all this hype about women’s growing economic clout but, as I’ve written a few times before, women are gaining power with the one hand and giving it up with the other, when they get mired in demeaning personal relationships or don’t insist on sexual agency to go along with their newfound control over that bank account (such as it is, since women’s “earning clout” has also been overhyped).

I tend to think of things like bicycle-groping as a “gateway sexism,” akin to a “gateway drug” that leads to harder stuff down the line. Every time it’s tolerated, without the offender getting a firm swat across the face with a handbag, our standards are lowered, just a little bit.