Sunday, December 12, 2010

Feminism: CV Tells Women How to Think (Not Really)

I should probably defend myself right off the bat here.  (Gee, I do that a lot, don't I?)  I don't know if its fair to describe myself as a feminist, being male, but the shoe fits pretty good.  When I see a woman desiring to break into a stereotypically male dominated field or hobby, my first response is, "Awesome!"  Personally I think that having the guts to go against gender stereotypes makes someone impossibly attractive (which is probably why I tend to like tomboys), and if a girl wants to pick up a hockey stick or a video game controller, or whatever, I'll be the first one to welcome her.

But I hate feminists.  Okay, that's not true.  What I hate is those that do not grasp what feminism is supposed to be.  To me, feminism is about equality between the sexes, or at least coming as close to equality as we can manage between different genders.  (Because there are differences between men and women, and some things cannot be brought together, only bridged.)  In setting equality as the goal, I think that feminism is just as much about men's rights as it is about women's rights because there are several areas in which man are severely lagging behind women (divorce courts and custody battles for example).

I'm not trying to excuse the fact that women have historically gotten the short of the stick far more often than men have.  I understand the battles that had to take place to achieve many of the rights that seem like no brainers today, like the ability to vote, or equal pay in the workplace.  But that's just it, those things are no brainers today.  Those fights are largely over.  All we're really waiting on is the rest of the older, chauvinistic generation to die so some of their ideals that are still holding us back, die with them.  (Sorry if that's harsh.)

I understand that the man-hating feminist is a common caricature and more fiction than reality, but some of that attitude is existent throughout feminism.  I have to recall a conversation that I had with a friend in which she (shocker, right?) was ranting about Rush Limbaugh's term "feminazi," and how horrible it was.  Well, to be fair, Rush Limbaugh is a bit of an idiot, and comparison's to Hitler are usually stupid at best, but I think that there are plenty of feminists who completely deserve that moniker.  Just because women were at a disadvantage for so long does not mean they are beyond reproach, even if its coming from a guy like Limbaugh.  There are shitty feminists just like there are shitty members of every other group that has ever existed, but this fact seems to get lost.

I haven't taken a class on Feminism, but I wish that I had, and not just to be the token intelligent male that provides a dose of realism.  I can't say for certain, but based on discussions with friends who have taken those classes, they tend to devolve into support groups for women who want to rant on the little things that the men in their life do that piss them off.  To which my reaction is, "who cares if your boyfriend never puts the seat down, is this really a conflict that has any importance whatsoever?"

And I think there are a few important issues facing women, and facing feminists today.  Men are still at a huge disadvantage in divorce courts and custody battles.  These are things that feminists (if they believe in equality) should be racing to rectify, but they won't because they benefit men.  Title IX, the education amendment best known for evening the playing field in college and high school athletics is becoming increasingly obsolete.  With more women than men attending college, it is now the men that are being deprived of opportunities.  The basic criticism of Title IX is that while there's been an increase of women attending college, there hasn't been much of an increase in the percentage of those women that want to participate in sports.  Even with fewer men attending a school, an equal number, or even a great number of them tend to want to play sports.  However, Title IX states that the proportion of men's and women's sports teams must be proportional to the number of men and women that attend that school.  Huh?

It's like this.  Let's say you have a small university that is split evenly between men and women at 1,000 apiece.  The percentage of women that endeavor to play college sports is around 30-40%, and the percentage of men is higher.  I couldn't find exact figures, but I want to guess about 60%.  (If you want to lambaste me for using an assumption, that's fine, but when you consider your male and female friends, which gender has more avid sports fans?  Yeah, that's what I thought.)  So by Title IX's proportionality clause, that school must have an equal number of male and female athletes.  Since at most, 400 women want to play sports, and around 600 men do, that means 200 men get the short end of the stick as the school struggles to comply with Title IX.

I think that Title IX was a good thing during, and immediately after its inception.  It's real goal was to bolster the number of female college students as the men were enjoying a 60-40 advantage.  Now women enjoy the opposite advantage with the same numbers, and male athletes are suffering (I saw three men's teams get disbanded in my four years at Clarkson), but the outcry over this injustice is muted.

Where are the professed equality seeking feminists?  Are they too busy gloating as the tables are turned?  Is the core concept of feminism, gender equality, just a lie?

So I'm conflicted when I consider feminism.  I love when people step outside gender roles, and I love women that have the guts to break into male dominated areas.  But at the same time, I feel like a lot of women just don't understand what feminism is, or what it's supposed to be.  And that is just sad.

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