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Richard

Feminism to me means anger, bitterness, intolerance, and generally bad karma. Like you, intellectually I know these things are not universally true. I know there are good people who call themselves feminists, and that feminism has some very worthwhile principles and objectives. But that's not how I feel about the word. The women I am most likely to admire and respect are the ones who assert their dignity and practice their self-respect without reference, either explicit or implicit, to their sex or the sex of anyone else. This is not to say they are naive about all the ways humans often use and abuse power, but this is not a defining struggle for them. Their sex is neither a crutch, nor a hammer, and they don't see themselves as potential victims because they are too busy succeeding at life. It's like meditation. If you "try" to meditate, you can't do it right, because the very act of trying makes success difficult. The most successful "feminists" are ones who don't focus on feminism. Their dignity and self-worth are so instictive and natural that they automatically command respect.

David Thompson

Leaving aside the whole question of whether a genuinely "happy" feminist can exist outside the company of centaurs, krakens, and other mythical creatures... do you (Happs, not Richard) consider yourself a masculist in the same way you consider yourself a feminist?

Ismone

Richard,

That certainly is one coping mechanism--pretending that the discrimination doesn't exist--and it is one I've even used while in very sexist environments.

But the simple fact is, if I am not allowed to fairly compete, and it is because I am a woman, I'm not just going to sit back and take it. There is no other way to combat discrimination against women than by pointing out that you are being treated unfairly. Because you are a woman.

For example, the wage gap does not just reflect differing abilities or different jobs. As Ampersand of Alas points out, there is a 6.8% pay gap between male and female professors in the same field AFTER differences in experience and credentials are accounted for (before that, the difference is 21.8%)

See http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2006/04/18/inside-higher-ed-on-the-gender-pay-gap/

How can that problem be solved without gender consciousness?

TangoMan

The problem can be solved by removing gender consciousness! Check this study.

The results are usually spun like this:

In one such study, 238 academic psychologists, 118 male and 120 female, evaluated a résumé submitted in application for an assistant professorship that was randomly assigned a male or female name. Both male and female participants gave the male applicant better evaluations for teaching and research and were more likely to hire the male applicant

Yet buried in the paper, and left out of feminist analysis, is this finding:

In contrast, when men and women examined examined the highly competitive curriculum vitae of the real life scientist who had gotten early tenure, they were equally likely to tenure the male and female tenure candidates and there was no difference in their ratings of their teaching, research and service experience.

And deeper in the paper was this observation:

These cautionary comments include such comments as, “We would have to see her job talk,” “It is impossible to make such a judgement without teaching evaluations,” “I would need to see evidence that she had gotten these grants and publications on her own.” Such cautionary comments on the male tenure candidate’s vitae were quite rare.

So, when you advocate that the solution is to raise gender consciousness, I will counter by scrutinzing female performance to a higher degree so that I can ascertain whether her accomplishments are the result of her own hard work or whether she was the beneficiary of mentoring, affirmative action, diversity goals, and also whether her supervisors benefitted from meeting management targets for reaching gender targets, etc. I've been privy to management discussions where a Black women wasn't peforming to standards and word from on high was that she needed to be kept on staff in order to meet management targets. Her manager was simply directed to assign her to a make-work project and the organization accepted her presence as a cost of doing business.

This same principle applies when you see Black students on the campuses of selective colleges. We know that they are admitted under relaxed standards so the operational assumption is that they're less qualified. Now the injustice of this situation is that there are a few Black students who could qualify for admission simply on their own merit and they are unfairly stigmatized as Affirmative Action Babies.

Once I can trust that a woman's resume completely reflects her own merit and that she isn't riding the gender diversity bandwagon then I judge her on her own merits, just like what was reported in the study when the issue came to tenure decisions and the adjudicators had substantial evidence which testified to each applicant's individual accomplishments.

If you want to live by the sword of gender consciousness then be prepared to die by the sword of gender consciousness, for others will know how the game is played and they will counter with rational strategies.

Ismone

TM,

But to treat her resume the same as you treat a man's, you have to be aware in the first place that if you didn't think about it you would treat her differently BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. I'm not saying we have to "raise" gender consciousness--if you're already correcting for it, that is hunky dory by me. Or if you have someone blank out the names. Whichever you prefer.

But once you hire the candidate, you can't blank out the name. So you do have to ask yourself if you are treating her differently because she is a woman to achieve the results you are advocating. That means having, at some level, gender consciousness and a desire to correct inequalities.

A few things on "relaxed" standards for minorities. First, we also relax standards for other reasons--if you are older, if you are ex-military, if you are poor, if you've had an interesting professional life, if you are a first generation college student, if you were born or have lived abroad, if you are an athlete, if your parent attended the institution, if you come from a different part of the country, and now, if you are male.

See the 2000 Time article, for a discussion of pro-male affirmative action.

http://www.time.com/time/education/article/0,8599,90446,00.html

When I've talked to admissions officers about this issue, they have all told me that minority and other diversity candidates (those listed above) are not admitted if they do not fall within the range established for all candidates. But, particularly in graduate school, they recognize the need for all kinds of diversity, not just race.

Regarding your claim that diversity admits makes you skeptical of people's credentials if they are a minority/female--I don't follow. You've previously argued that GPA and SAT's aren't very good predictors of undergrad. grades. So if you are looking at a woman's or a black person's resume, why would you assume they were any worse than a white man from the same institution from the same grade? Would you want to know who the legacies, jocks, non-traditional students, rural farmers and poor were so you could discount their resumes as well--not based on their academic achievement, but how they got there?

What about the great essay writers whose verbal creativity made up for lackluster grades and test scores?

I won't fall on the sword of gender consciousness. If women and minorities aren't treated as well as their merit demands, you have to be gender and race conscious to deal with the problem. That doesn't mean you assume, without proof, that there always is a problem. Instead, you study and research and see how men and women are treated, and where they are treated differently, you correct for it. There is at least some case law suggesting that men who take family medical leave are punished for it more than women are. The idea is that men are not expected to/encouraged to/allowed to be caretakers. That's just wrong. Generally, as a feminist, I would frame it as women being expected and practically required to be caretakers, but the principal works both ways.

TangoMan

That doesn't mean you assume, without proof, that there always is a problem. Instead, you study and research and see how men and women are treated, and where they are treated differently, you correct for it.

A very reasonable perspective.

So you do have to ask yourself if you are treating her differently because she is a woman to achieve the results you are advocating.

I realize that the following comment is likely to be minimized or excused as lacking relevant consciousness, but once I and my male colleages ascertain the quality of work that a candidate produces there is no gender bias in the interactions. Yes, I know that the standard response is that we're simply impervious to recognizing our own inherent bias, blah, blah . . but all we really care about is competence and we don't really like an all male workplace.

That said though, I differ with the viewpoint that equality is a desired goal to be worked towards. Don't get me wrong, I think that it's an excellent result, but more as a byproduct than a goal. Instead of stressing diversity I'd rather stress choice, and if some organizations choose to purposely handicap themselves by excluding talented people, whether parsed by gender or race, then the loss is theirs, for other organizations will snap up these capable people. I absolutely detest having to meet diversity targets for I think it makes some people the equivalent of tokens. Remove that diversity obligation and I would hire the most capable people without having to have race or gender consciousness intruding upon the staffing decisions. If a manager is so stupid as to purposely turn away more talented women in order to hire less qualified men then the organization will surely suffer when their competitor organization hires the talented women that they've rejected. In the end, competence will trump bias, and the less qualified organization will falter and the biased manager will be out of work.

The Happy Feminist

Richard, you are terribly off base, yet again.

For these wonderful women who "don't see themselves as potential victims because they are too busy succeeding at life," how nice it must be to be utterly oblivious to centuries upon centuries of human history that undeniably continues to play out around the world. How nice it must be to have forgotten that within OUR lifetime, women's basic rights and dignity were ,i>severely constrained in this country (not to mention around the world). How nice it must be not to care about the on-going battle in this country to limit women's rights to control our own reproductive destiny.

I am thrilled to death that the circumstances in MY life are in place such that I have every opprtunity to succeed on the same basis with men in many, if not most, ways. But that doesn't mean, I walk around with my eyes closed. And I frankly don't see how keeping an eagle-eye on my rights (and on the rights of women in other situations than mine) is at all inconsistent with being "busy succeeding at life."

The most successful "feminists" are ones who don't focus on feminism. Their dignity and self-worth are so instictive and natural that they automatically command respect.

You mean they command YOUR respect because they don't bring up issues that you dislike? Look, you can have all the "instinctive" dignity and self-worth in the world, but if you are, say, forced to bear a child against your will, or precluded from playing certain sports just because you're a "girl", or automatically assumed to be a liar if you make a report of a sexual assault upon your person, or (as in our mothers' era) denied credit or forced to quit your job upon marriage because of your sex -- well, all that "instinctive" dignity and self-worth is worth approximately nothing.

The Happy Feminist

David,

I addressed the "am I masculist" question in response to a comment from "ballpark" in the thread below. I'll try to grab a few minutes to address it in a post at some point today.

The Happy Feminist

Another thing Richard, in my comment above, I have accepted your assumption that these wonderful successful women to whom you refer do not consider themselves "feminists." Of course, I should point out that for all you know, they close their office doors from time to time to pop out a few posts on their secret feminist blogs . . .

Paul

Feminism for me means that I can feel free to be what I am -a male.

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