Apparently. Or at least that's the subtext of Mark Starr's Newsweek opinion piece annoyingly titled, "Girls Gone Wild," a story about a recent hazing incident by the Northwestern Women's Soccer team. (Hat Tip: Pandagon) He says:
Once upon a time, the dream of the feminist movement was one of equal opportunity. They didn’t want to be like men, just to have the same chances. There was an implication, a faith inherent in that aspiration, that not only could they perform the same jobs, master the same subjects and play the same games but that they would do it in a fashion that might be better for our society. The conceit was that they would imbue all they touched with a women’s sensibility, which would be more nuanced, more empathetic and, ultimately, more humane . . .
. . . [T]he ascension of women hasn’t produced anything remotely as glorious as the feminists or I once contemplated. It turns out that power corrupts with no apparent regard for gender, that ambition can be indiscriminately corrosive, that competitiveness brings out the best in both men women—and, apparently, the worst. There is plenty of evidence now that women at the helm of a nation are every bit as tough and bloody-minded as their male counterparts, that female soldiers can also defile their honor codes, that women corporate bosses can be petty tyrants and that women athletes will resort to steroids and abuse their bodies to excel inand sports.
Well, I guess feminism failed. It turned out that we women are not more angelic than men. Therefore, there is no justification for us to run for office, sit on corporate boards, play sports, or participate fully in society. I will immediately give up my rights since they are clearly unnecessary.
Sigh. Yes, I know there is or was a strain of feminism that subscribed to the notion that women would exercise rights and power in a kinder and more humane way. I don't believe that that is the case, but who knows. Perhaps, a female-dominated society would be more ethical. We don't know because this is not a female-dominated society, even if a few women have ascended to positions of power. But I don't really want to find out if a matriarchy would do better than a patriarchy because I don't believe that one sex should ever dominate the other.
You see, equal rights need no justification. Why should women need to prove that they are worthy of being treated like full members of society who have ambitions to earn money and play soccer and engage in all the other activities available to men? The right of women as a class to do these things should never be contingent on women acting like sweetness and light.
Thus, I don't see any "irony" in women who have equal rights behaving badly, as people are wont to comment. There is no irony unless you believe that women's angelic behavior justifies equal rights. I don't think that women's angelic behavior is necessary to justify equal rights because I see equal rights as a good in and of itself.
As a side note, I also take issue with Starr's assumption that the women athletes on the Northwestern University Women's soccer team "appear to be mimicking the basest instincts of male athletes, embracing a pathetic notion that predicates acceptance on the willingness to share humiliating rituals." (Emphasis added). Boy, this guy just won't let us off our pedestal. Apparently, men have base instincts whereas women don't-- but we mimic them. Now, I am sure that the notion of hazing originated on male sports teams, but to reduce women's bad behavior to mere mimicry is another way of dehumanizing us. I see this assumption in a lot of different contexts, including the notion that women who engage in binge drinking, anonymous sex, or swearing are "mimicking men." It couldn't possibly be that women have base instincts too and that perhaps, just perhaps, some of us actually engage in binge drinking, anonymous sex, and swearing because these are pleasurable activities? While I don't necessarily recommend these activities (except swearing which provides a relief denied even to prayer), I resent the notion that women couldn't possibly want to do these things for themselves. Since we exist only in relation to men, the thinking goes, it must be that we are trying to be like them.
At Salon's Broadsheet, there is a take down of a similar piece by Frank Deford at NPR's Morning Edition. For some reason, I wasn't able to listen to the Deford piece but, according to Salon, he says: We had hoped when women started coming into sports in large numbers after the passage of Title IX that they would improve the institution, investing it with the finer feminine values. So far the results seem to indicate that instead sports has won, and womanhood has lost.
Turn in your cleats, girls. We wouldn't want womanhood to lose, would we?