Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Doing The Double Standard Shuffle 

Nancy Hopkins is my hero. Who else has done so much to prove working women can be just as professional as men?

Doing remarkably little to combat the stereotype that women are emotionally frail and constitutionally incapable of dealing with stress, Professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT told the Boston Globe that she had to leave a lecture delivered by Harvard president Larry Summers because if she didn't she would have "either blacked out or thrown up."

What caused this damsel Hopkins to hie to her fainting couch? Why, the mere suggestion that there might be inherent differences between men and women when it comes to aptitude to the hard sciences.

You've gotta love today's totally chillin' rad-Feministas - they don't take any guff from the male of the species. The Modern Woman is equal to men in every way, and she lets you know it by demanding to be treated with kid gloves:

Navy Lt. Bryan D. Black, a U.S. Naval Academy faculty member, thought he was just shooting the breeze when he told a midshipman that getting on a battleship turned him on.

Unfortunately for Black, among the midshipmen was at least one sensitive female. He also made some other equally spicy comments about his ex-wife, of whom he apparently is no longer fond, that were overheard by, but not spoken in front of, female midshipmen.

Now he faces a special court-martial and three criminal charges.

Break out the smelling salts ladies. The gender feminists are on the warpath again.

But in the battle of the sexes, some combatants are more equal than others. Enter Rep. Louise Slaughter (D, NY), who recently drafted a 95-page bill proposing a special Office of Victym Advocacy at the Pentagon. This womyn’s empowerment office (that's “OVA” for short) will defend strong, capable, fully-equal women who can’t wait to join the Combat Arms from big bruising hulks who wound their delicate sensibilities with sexual innuendo and the kind of mean-spirited poopy-headedness we normally expect from Republican Senators.

Let me assure you, the inherent irony in this situation is lost on the kind of folks who would name a women's advocacy group "OVA". Lest you be in any doubt that OVA will have an agenda, the signs are ominous:

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, reports that the Pentagon contracted with the Wellesley College Centers for Women to study the idea of an OVA and make recommendations. Wellesley has submitted a report for which it was paid $50,000, but the Pentagon has not released it.

Maybe that's because:

Despite ongoing concerns about sexual harassment, complaints are, in fact, down, according to recent surveys, including one published, but not highlighted, by the Department of Defense (Service Academy 2005 Sexual Harassment and Assault Survey). Moreover, a 2004 report by the Defense Department Inspector General found that fraudulent complaints are considered a problem by 73 percent of academy women and 72 percent of men.

That's probably no surprise to Lt. Black. His accuser, Samantha Foxton, and the Navy Lt. Commander who investigated her complaint, are "too busy" to make an official statement:

Meanwhile, we'll have to wait until Jan. 30, the court-martial date, to learn what really happened as Black waxed poetic last fall, because Foxton and Whisenhunt have declined to be deposed under oath. Why? Because they "just don't wanna," says attorney Gittins.

It must be really special able to whine and cause a whole lot of trouble and then refuse to allow the accused and his attorney know exactly what they’re facing in court. But they say it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. And while today’s feminists are quick to remind us that Sexism is Bad, women are fully the equals of men in every respect, and it's Gender Discrimination to treat woman differently than men … all that is subject to change without notice if it’s to their advantage:

The story started in 1998 when the Virginia High School League (VHSL) decided to let girls play in the Boys’ State Golf Championship. The goal in affording this opportunity was to encourage more girls to play golf, something that must be absolutely necessary for personal happiness and fulfillment. What was the problem? Well, the chivalric school officials decided to allow the girls to play from tees that made the course twenty-percent shorter for them, a difference that amounted to about sixty yards per hole.

This is where Suh, the best female high school golfer in the state, entered the picture. After competing in the tournament a few times, she finally won it in 2002, causing a firestorm of controversy. Many of the boys complained (How dare they!) that if girls want to play in the same event, they should play by the same rules. I guess those boys hadn’t learned THE rules yet.

After this brouhaha the VHSL mandated that girls who wished to play in the boys’ event must play from the same tees, although it was just a wee bit too late for the second-place competitor, who finished one stroke behind and was denied his chance to win the event.

Moreover, a couple of curious contradictions were left unexplained. For one, how is it just to allow girls entry based on an equality argument but then cast equality to the winds during the competition? Then, if it’s wrong to discriminate based on sex, why were the shorter hitting girls given this handicap but not the shorter hitting boys (some boys who compete in such events are younger and less developed)?

Good question. I don’t suppose it would be helpful to observe that females have been unfairly faulted for lacking strong logic skills?

Didn’t think so.

Strangely enough, I’m a woman who has done quite well in courses which required strong logic and critical thinking skills. As a matter of fact, as a returning adult student I tutored my male classmates in College Algebra, Statistics, and Calculus. Yet it seems obvious to me that if women are just the same as men, then we shouldn’t need protecting from the harsher vicissitudes of life. We ought to be able to take on the same slings and arrows dealt to our male brethren.

If our relatively smaller physical size and lesser strength present obstacles to job performance, it behooves us to accept this and seek occupations where these handicaps are not an issue. Women have many strengths that make us uniquely well-suited for many occupations. If the goal is equality, a truly gender-blind society would have the same standards for men and women – not a higher standard for men and an inferior standard for women that effectively dooms us to be regarded as wanna-bes and second-class citizens who can't measure up unless we're given unfair advantages and a head start to the finish line.

But perhaps strictly-enforced equality of outcome isn’t the right goal after all. Maybe that is the problem. Logically (there’s that word again) it would seem that the place to enforce equality would be at the standards level, not at the outcome level. Maybe, if equality is really the goal, we’ve going about things all wrong. If the feminists are correct, they should have no problem with equal standards. Women cannot go on indefinitely demanding mommy-friendly workplaces, shorter work weeks, less “toxic” work environments (when is the last time you heard a man complaining about profanity or sexual content at work?) and less strenuous physical and professional standards without realizing that they are undercutting every claim to equality made by the feminist movement. We cannot be different – lesser – but still equal. Even for a woman, this simply does not compute.

I happen to think that accommodating families with children is a good idea. I think children are the most important thing in the world – they are our future. But to pretend that a parent (male or female – it makes no difference) who divides his or her time between small children and a full-time job, and a hard-charging workaholic who regularly puts in 60-hour weeks are putting in the same amount of time at the office is simply ludicrous. Women need to live in the real world: to realize that our families and our children are extremely important to us, and that as a consequence, whether or not we want to, we often bear the lion’s share of child care and home responsibilities. And this has an impact on our careers. It is a real-world trade-off. It's not always fair. But then life isn't always fair, is it?

Adults face tradeoffs squarely: they occur when one thing of value is traded for another. We may not always like them, but they are inescapable. There were many times when I was through my own choice at home with my children, when I wondered why it was that I was the one who “had” to stay home. But in the end, I valued raising my sons over the stimulation of having a career. I have never regretted that decision, and I was lucky to have the choice.

Feminism was supposed to be about giving us more choices. To a large extent, it has been successful in that endeavor. I cannot imagine a woman trying to succeed in a technical field in 1966. Yet today, I deal predominantly with powerful and well-educated men who call me on the phone for advice and listen respectfully to what I have to say. That is a huge advance, and something that I can thank the feminists of yesteryear for.

But fighting yesterday's battles when the war has been largely won is both a quixotic and, ultimately, a counterproductive venture. It often threatens to undo everything feminism has achieved. Women do have choices now. They can stay home and raise their children, as I did for many years, or they can work. Or do both. But the one thing we cannot do is become men. Nor should we try. The day when we truly win the Battle of the Sexes, I believe, will be the day when we finally learn to love ourselves for what we are: women. Uniquely feminine, not exactly like men, in some ways weaker, in some important ways far, far stronger. But always essentially womanly, with all the wonderful things that entails.

Tradeoffs included.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 11, 08:22:00 PM:

Of course, liberals are exempt from these "kid gloves" rules. Look at the way Kennedy, Leahy, and Feinstein put Martha-Ann Alito through the wringer today.  

By Blogger Dymphna, at Wed Jan 11, 11:09:00 PM:

Feminism was supposed to be about giving us more choices. To a large extent, it has been successful in that endeavor. I cannot imagine a woman trying to succeed in a technical field in 1966...

...and yet they did. Not in the numbers they do now, but they did manage to excel despite the obstacles.

Now the pyrhhic victory has been achieved. There are now more women than men in colleges. And it's biological -- wherever you have more women, men tend to drift away. Not in deliberate choices to avoid women, but just because it doesn't seem as compelling anymore.

So now more men will gravitate to IT and places where academic degrees don't carry much weight. For the first time ever, last year people with 2 year technical degrees are making more than those with 4 year B.A.s.

The feminists in our country are a joke. They're trivial and unserious, and they have estranged many men with their hatred and animosity. They thrive in their academic ghettoes but not in the real world.

Meanwhile, they complain because only one per cent of pipefitters are women and it's not fair. They ruined intramural college sports with that ridiculous Title IX nonsense. Their Muslim sisters are dying, being sold into slavery, mutilated and stoned...and all the American feminists can do is look for tiny sins here.

I have disliked feminism ever since the early '70's, when I realized it was merely a middle-class, spoiled brat narcissism, full of ignorant cant. The first time I heard "herstory" substituted for "history" I knew these people were intellectually limited.

When they abandoned poor women in favor of complaining about "glass ceilings," I knew they had no integrity.

They emasculated men by making it very unpleasant to be around them in the workplace.

And now they've gone full circle, back to fainting spells when anyone says something "unfair."

Larry Summers has obviously handed over his testicles to Ms. Hopkins -- sorry, Dr. Hopkins. He could maybe ask for a position with OVA. He's certainly earned it.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Jan 12, 05:08:00 AM:

Well I agree with about 95% of what you just said Dymphna.

I did, however, think it fair to acknowledge that some of what we enjoy today is due to the work of feminists, even if I may not always agree with either their rhetoric or their methods. It's all too easy to take for granted what we have now and forget what things were like then, but I can remember what an uphill battle it was even working in the late 70's, early 80's.

I was the best manager in my District (according to my District manager) at the tender age of 21. But he wouldn't give me the store I wanted because, he admitted, I was a woman. I wanted a lumber center and he said none of the contractors would deal with a woman.

One of my employees openly refused to "take orders from a woman". I regularly had guys harassing me (sexually) at work. I dealt with it non-legally, but it was a fact of life. I couldn't afford to lose my job.

It's very hard to imagine that sort of thing taking place at work now, but it was part and parcel of the working environment then. Things have changed. I like men a lot. I've always been able to get along with them. I was able to handle even the situations with the guy who didn't want to work for me and the ones where guys would put their hand on my tuckus after hours or get fresh without it getting rancorous because I hadn't invited the attention and I didn't hurt their pride or make too big a deal over it.

But not everyone has the skills to do that, and they shouldn't have to put up with that kind of crap.

What sealed it for me with that company was the day I learned I was being paid less than a guy I was training for a job one step down from mine. And he was incompetent.

I asked my boss why, why I'd had NO training whatsoever, this moron was getting paid MORE than me to train for a job I learned by doing. After all, he'd just told me a few weeks before that I was the best manager in his District and the best one he'd ever seen. He admitted the guy was a loser.

But, you see, he was a man, and I was a woman.

Yes, I replied. But he was 27 and still living with his mother, and I was 21 and had a husband and baby and was saving so I could afford to live in the same (*&^ state with my own spouse.

Oh, but you see, that wasn't the point. Someday my husband would be able to "take care" of me. The man needed to have his income "baselined" now so he could "take care" of his non-existent family someday.

That's when I finally walked away.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Jan 12, 05:14:00 AM:

Another interesting note re: pre-feminism careers for women:

Both my grandmothers had college degrees and careers. That's kind of unusual!

My Mom chose to be a homemaker, I think largely because my father was in the Navy, but by all rights she really ought to have gone to college. She has a fine mind and is one of the better-read people I know. She was a huge influence on me, growing up.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 12, 12:31:00 PM:

Thank you Cassandra for noting the inherent injustice in advocating lesser standards for women. I have a son who is in law enforcement. He is 6'-1" tall and built like a brick. They always team him up with smaller guys or girls because experience has shown that two short officers have more trouble. There is something deeply unnerving about starting trouble with someone you are looking up to. He says that many of the shorter officers are every bit as capable as him, but many are not. The officers know who they want at their back in a fight and they don't like having less capable men or women there to appease some feminist's idea of what law enforcement is all about. It is difficult to have someone you love strapping on a pistol every day he goes to work. He has assured me that he is not out there alone and he has plenty of great backup whenever danger appears. What if, however, when he really needs someone, he gets backup from someone who got the job to fill a quota? What will all of the feminists say to me and my family?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 12, 12:42:00 PM:

"Reverse discrimination" also hurts. Years ago I was passed over for promotion after three years of on the job experience and a college degree. The woman who got the job had nine months of experience and no degree. She lost us a major account and left after a year. I eventually surpassed her old position but it would have really helped to get the promotion earlier. Everyone I talked to said the same thing. She got the promotion because they had already promoted "enough" men.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Jan 12, 04:05:00 PM:

My oldest son is also a police officer.

He has had some interesting experiences on the force. One of the toughest cops on the force is a tiny woman... :) But there are a few real goldbrickers as well. He, ironically, is not large but people don't seem to mess with him either. At least so far. I think it is his manner - he's like his Dad. There is just something about him, though he doesn't weigh much more than I do (and I'm small).

He lifts weights and eats like a horse but he will never be a big man. He has a deep voice and a level gaze and is pretty strong, so I put it out of my mind and try not to worry.

re: the promotion thing

I wish they'd just stop with the quotas

That's why I hate big companies. They just start acting ridiculous after a while. You wouldn't go out and buy a dog when what you wanted was a cat. Find the right person for the job and don't worry what gender/race/nationality they are. Of course this doesn't work in a world where Ted Kennedy is waiting around the corner to bloviate about how you're "depriving" someone of a job (as though it was their right to have it, instead of your right to pick the person who best fits the position).


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