Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Why are feminists so hot?I like to read the feminists blogs becuase well... because I like lefty blogs in general, but also becuase it's great fun to read their rightous ire at popular right-wing mysogynists. Case in point, Amanda Marcotte riffing on Leon Kaas and Harvey Mansfield:
What's really weird is that men like Kaas and Mansfield manage to exist in our culture at all. I know that there are some pretty conservative areas out there but honestly, who hasn't internalized the idea that premarital sex should be a personal choice for women just like it has always been for men?
Update: Bonus story! Last time I was in
Word, Tommaso. Word.
Whenever I say I'm a "feminist," boys bristle, or they don't believe me. (I do, after all, have long pretty hair and shave my legs and stuff.) Feminism simply means that you think men and women are equal and should be treated equally. Note, this does not mean that you think men and women are the same, and should be treated as if they were the same.
It's sad but if men and women were treated equally in society, majorities of both men and women would be upset.
How so? Women wouldn't have car doors opened for them anymore? Men would be expected to do half the housework? I don't mind people being upset.
But your statement intrigues me. Do expound!
Anonymous wasn't me, but I suppose one major point of disagreement would be having women on the front lines. I don't know how men and women poll in this issue, but I wouldn't be surprised if both groups were against it. I personally wouldn't be bothered by it.
Are you being serious when you say men not opening doors for women would be a feminist victory? Is that like striking back against traditional "gender roles" or something? Most guys are assholes around other guys, but attempt to be nice around women. Is this a bad thing? If we're expecting for guys to behave the same in both situations, then I really doubt that guys are going to choose the "nice" side. Being an asshole is just so much more natural =)
I don't think Rebecca is getting upset that women would not have doors opened for them, she's just asking whether anonymous thinks people would complain about it.
If we ever get to the point where feminists (which includes men too) have nothing to complain about in the whole world besides men opening doors for women, then I'd say they might as well get a new hobby.
As for military service, I don't doubt that men may have a slight predisposition to being better soldiers, but we should decide that on a case by case basis. If the Iraq war has proved anything is that women in uniform can be every bit as useful as a man.
Tommaso wrote, "As for military service, I don't doubt that men may have a slight predisposition to being better soldiers"
Since most soldiers serve in clerical and support positions, I doubt that is the case. For the minority of soldiers who serve in the infantry, it probably isn't true either. Probably the strongest and most aggressive men and women are equally fit to serve there too. Not every woman would qualify for every job, but the same is true of men. The test has to be are men and women allowed equal opportunity to try.
As for unisex toilets, opening doors and all other red herrings that are trotted out by anti-feminists, they need to be recognized for what they are - distractions to avoid grappling with the real issues.
As far as I can tell, the major feminist issue facing the US at the moment is pay inequality. Why is it that women, on average, still earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men? I check the statistics every year, and there are still no occupational categories where women earn what men do. Even in the occupations most heavily populated by women (registered nurses, secretaries, librarians and bookkeepers) men outearn women.
I didn't realize car-door-opening was still alive, anyway.
"For the minority of soldiers who serve in the infantry, it probably isn't true either. Probably the strongest and most aggressive men and women are equally fit to serve there too."
Why do you believe this?
"If the Iraq war has proved anything is that women in uniform can be every bit as useful as a man."
More useful, if you ask PR dudes.
Beetle asked, "Why do you believe this?"
Because I've been through infantry training. It essentially requires physical stamina, an unquestioning ability to do as you are told, and the ability to kill without thinking. I know men and women who fit the bill, and men and women who don't.
Well I assume that, absent any you know *evidence* on your part BAD, we should assume Thinker has some extra credibility on this matter as he actually served in the military, right?
I neglected to mention this earlier, but I'd also like to point out that men outearn women with equivalent educational attainment too. You can find the most recent statistics for men here, and for women here.
Oh I DEFINITELY know women who could and would kill without emotion. There's no biological difference between men and women with that respect.
I lived in a college dorm and I know for a fact that women will be very upset about unisex bathrooms. In the dorms, some men were found videotaping women in the showers.
By the way, I open car doors for everyone, men and women alike. It's called being polite. I don't think men and women can really be seen as equals in society. There are some things guy-friends will only share with guy-friends and things only girl-friends will share with girl-friends. Men more often than not hide the things we really think about women and other men. And I'm positive women feel this way too.
As for the men outearning women, this is very true. This is because traditionally male jobs make more than traditionally female jobs. Think about how much secretaries, nurses, teachers, waitresses get paid. Luckily, women are slowly making their way into jobs usually held traditionally by men and vice versa. If women want equal rights of course I'm not opposed to that. Being treated equally in society is not going to be plausible.
Pardon me for not knowing the details of Thinker's personal life.
Anonydude, Thinker's stats actually noted the pay difference even within job fields, so "making their way into male-dominated jobs" isn't necessarily going to help.
But I'm curious: How do you open car doors for people? I mean, you stop driving, then you have to run around and open the door before the passenger inside figures "Hey, I'm going to get out of the car" on her own.
Perhaps a more interesting question than car-door-opening has to do with draft registration. I don't pay attention to the details of the feminist movement. Are they behind female registration? Should they be?
Well, NOW has been openly in favor of unisex draft since 1980 and the ACLU's women's rights project spent money trying to argue the case in court (to no avail obviously). Since the draft has become politically unthinkable (what with 18 year olds gaining the right to vote and all) I wouldn't blame feminists for working on things that actually matter.
You're excused Beetle. However, I don't consider my military service to be part of my personal life; just as I don't consider university enrollment to be part of yours. I also believe that I mentioned it a few weeks ago as part of a thread in which you were a participant.
But, more importantly, I want to expand a bit on the point you made to Anonymous, that " 'making their way into male-dominated jobs' isn't necessarily going to help."
That is true as far as the gender/pay discrepancy goes, but not so for the individual involved. Anonymous is correct that traditionally male dominated professions pay more than traditionally female dominated ones. So a woman lawyer, while earning less than a male lawyer, will earn more than a secretary (on average).
These pay discrepancies also hold true across racial lines. White men earn more than white women. Black men earn more than black women. Hispanic men earn more than hispanic women. But as groups, white men and women earn more than black men and women who earn more than hispanic men and women.
In terms of pay, we truly (and demonstrably) are a sexist and racist society.
Well, now we're getting into the definition of racism. One understanding (more popular among conservatives) is that racism requires racists and someone to blame. A broader definition may include “structural” racism, which might merely be having success correlate to race. Surely we can agree that in a perfect world, the color of your skin would have very little to do with your success.
Of course, at this point conservatives will chime in with the “culture” argument. They would say, “blacks have a culture which values being lazy”. The inference is that, well, culture is a personal choice and so it’s their own fault.
This has never been a very convincing argument for me because the fact is, culture is *not* a choice. Children growing up in Indonesian fishing villages don’t have the option of valuing education as much as a family of rabbinic scholars. Similarly, children growing up in inner city Oakland (like the kids my girlfriend teaches) generally can’t choose any values besides those with which they were raised. Add into this the fact that aspects of the Black American subculture are a product of a history of racial bigotry - which up until 50 years ago really did destroy the link between education and success - and the point is clear.
Fundamentally, the “culture” argument breaks down because you can’t hold a group of people accountable for their lack of success unless you argue that they deserve it because of a moral failure on their part. But the idea that a certain racial group would be more susceptible to moral failure is just absurd.
"Fundamentally, the “culture” argument breaks down because you can’t hold a group of people accountable for their lack of success unless you argue that they deserve it because of a moral failure on their part. But the idea that a certain racial group would be more susceptible to moral failure is just absurd."
A) I'm assuming where you said "racial group" you meant "cultural group" for the sake of parallelism.
B)I don't know what world you grew up in, but here in the real world responsibility is not a function of moral failure - it only has a moral component when applied to moral decisions.
C) Jews are more suceptible to Ty-Sachs disease. Why is it absurd that cognitive traits would follow the same route? Truth, notwithstanding. Or are you one of those people who believe in a soul?
Also, it is painfully obvious that you didn't read or hear Mansfield - either that or you make it a habit of using straw-men that would make L Frank Baum blush. Not only that, but you mischaracterize O'Rourke's mischaracterization.
" I think on a certain level, these two men cannot conceive that women might have subjective inner lives that would create conflict between them snapping easily into the Mansfield/Kass sexual fantasy of the virginal bride and living their own lives."
Give me a fucking break. I don't know much of Kass, but if that Mansfield comparison is apt, you are full of shit.
Anonymous (#1) wrote, "Oh but Asian men make more than white men. What is that?!?"
Thanks for pointing that out. Asian males earn more than White males, and Asian females earn more than White females. However, both Asian and White males earn more than Asian females.
I should have been clearer, anonymous,
A) That is correct.
B) In my world responsibility is a function of moral failure. If your house gets hit by an asteroid no one would say you are the one responsible for the destruction. If a child or retarded person commits a crime they aren't held liable if they didn't understand the moral choice. Perhaps we are working with different definitions of "responsibility".
C) This is 100% true and was something I glossed over in my comment.
I should have added that it is also absurd to believe that a racial group’s physiology has a large impact of their success or failure in the modern world.
The Asian male scenario is an example of how some minority groups make more than whites, diminishing the argument that minorities make less money than whites. However, I still do strongly agree that sexism still exists in our society.
What you say is true. You could also add the jews (when viewed as an ethnic group) also make more money on average. This however doesn't mean structural racism doesn't exist.
It could be that Asian men in America outperform others becuase they are culturally better prepared to succeed (the cram-school theory) or it could be a demographic trick caused by immigration from a particularly successful strata of Asia (the "anyone smart enough to escape communist China is bound to succeed" theory) or somemthing else I can't think of right now.
Most of those senarios don't require any racism (as in *rascists*) at all, and I would be hard pressed to describe it as structural racism either. I do think other cases do indicate a lack of success becuase of essentially unfair reasons.
Most of the time, the market determines wages and salaries in our culture; so, while race clearly seems to be a major indicator of what one can expect to be offered, it is not always whites that emerge on top. Perhaps Asians are the exceptions that prove the rule. It would be interesting to see when it was that Asians moved ahead of Whites.
On the other hand, gender seems to be a determining factor in almost all cases.
" I do think other cases do indicate a lack of success becuase of essentially unfair reasons."
There is also the possibility that many cultures themselves are not promoting education, which is unfair of course, but ultimately a problem the community will have to face.
Well that gets into the meat of the matter. Once you recognize the essential unfairness of a culture keeping people down the question of what to do about it comes up. its easy to say "Well, I'd like to fix it, but there's nothing we can do. It's all up to them." But I don't think it's entirely correct. Large scale changes in particular coutures have occurred even without the approval of the members of that culture.
Look at the sexual revolution in American popular culture. Here's a society wide change that was affected not because the members of society decided to change, but because the pill was invented. Similarly, Japan after WWII changed many parts of its culture due to outside influence.
I'm not saying I have some magical solution for giving cultures the tools they need to be successful, but I do think it's possible. No one wants to be poor. Everyone wants to live up to their potential. And I believe that poor parents want the tools they need to help their children succeed.
Unlike some I don't believe the "cultural problem" is that poor people don't value work or school. Indeed, I remember my girlfriend reporting that even in the problem kids at Berkeley high wanted to go to college even though it was clear that would be difficult for them. The problem is that these parents don't know how to teach their children study skills, or language, or reading comprehension. These are the cultural skills that need to be imparted.
I want to clarify that in the above comment where I sayPost a Comment
"A) That is correct."
I was responding only to part "A" of the comment which came before. Similarly for B and C.