The Irony of the G.I. Jane Joke

Enough of Women And Children Attitudes

Jeffrey Kass
3 min readApr 2, 2022

Group Of Business People Having Board Meeting Led By A Woman
Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine reminded us of the oft-used phrase we tend to employ during conflict.

Women and Children First

This maritime phrase was supposed to be used when a ship was sinking to make sure the women and children aboard were saved first. With the exception of the Titanic, it wasn’t really employed in real life. Most of the time it was every man for himself that prevailed.

Yet today, every time people are in peril, we move quickly to save the women and children.

There are even websites about how you can help the women and children in the war.

I get it when it comes to kids. Children are not typically able to fight for themselves. We have numerous laws to protect kids from the awful behavior of some adults. We should keep and strengthen such laws.

But putting women in the same category as children? Is that the message we want to give our daughters?

This same type of unconscious thinking was abuzz when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after his G.I. Jane joke.

“Good for Will! He stood up or his woman,” is a common refrain on social media. Many of my closest and dearest friends clapped for Will Smith’s manhood. Female friends of mine posted “I want a man who will stand up for me like Will did.”

Set aside for a second that Chris Rock is a comedian and not our president. Of course we all want partners, male or female, who have our backs. We want teammates. We want people who won’t tolerate disrespect of our partners.

Yet we can’t exactly preach the empowerment of women. Teach our young girls that they can achieve the same things men can achieve. Let them know they can be doctors, lawyers, scientists, artists, astronauts and the like. All if we continue to put women in the same category as children.

Women aren’t helpless and, slapping justified or not, Jada Pinkett Smith could’ve slapped Chris herself. She is a strong intelligent, highly capable woman. She’s no child.

Indeed, before the Oscars Jada herself told the world:

I don’t give two craps what people think of…

Jeffrey Kass

A Medium Top Writer on Racism, Diversity, Education, History and Parenting | Speaker | Award-Winning Author | Latest Book: Black Batwoman V. White Jesus | Dad