Sick on a Sunday

Men’s Department of Redundancy Department at the University of Chicago

Posted in isms by jamiemarie on May 29, 2009

Knowing that feminism is my current “ism”, Eric was nice enough to post this Chicago Tribune article on my Facebook.  Basically, an upper-middle-class white dude got all butthurt that there were women’s groups on campus, but nothing focusing on the menz, so he formed his own group – and called it Men in Power.  (Uh, because there’s a shortage or something?)   There is too much wrong with this for me to come up with a cohesive argument, but there are some specifics I’d like to address.

Feminism in its purest form is the pursuit of gender equality, so it would be awfully hypocritical of me to begrudge dudes the right to form their own gender-inclusive group (and yes, women are allowed in Men in Power) focusing on the issues they face.  So, as a disclaimer, I’d like to mention that I support the general idea of a group that focuses on men’s issues. Things like gangs and neighborhood outreach.  Or the fact that 1 in every 18 American men is incarcerated, compared to 1 of 31 people in the general population.  

However, these issues focus on the poors, so how would this dude benefit?  So onto specifics.

1. The name Men in Power.  Hey, I forgot, is our President male or female?  What about 43 before that?

I just did a Wikipedia search for “female senators” because I wanted some actual numbers to back this up, but I think the first sentence of the entry nailed it: There have been 37 women in the United States Senate since the establishment of that body in 1789. That averages to 0.0072 a year – a number so small that my calculator gave it to me in scientific notation.  Okay, sure, times have changed.  Or have they?  There are still only 17 women in the Senate.  For those of you either weak in Legislative Branch basics or incapable of math, that’s still only 17%.

Moving onto the financial and business sectors, only 12 Fortune 500 companies are headed by women.  That’s 2.4%.  Last week, Xerox named its new CEO, Ursula Burns.  She is the first black woman ever to head a Fortune 500 company.  Still feeling threatened, white dudes?

According to the Tribune article, “[The group’s founder] said the group would host pre-professional groups in law, medicine and business.”  To which another U of C student countered, “I’m not sure we really need another student organization that focuses on pre-professional development for men,” noting that, in just the area of business, there were five or six students groups.  Redundant, much?  

2. Women out Masters Degree-ing Men 3 to 2.  The article mentions that there are more government and corporate initiatives aimed at getting young women into college.  I’m currently in school for my Masters and even the $500 Riviera Garden Club scholarship I got after high school wasn’t aimed specifically at women.  In fact, the year before, the scholarship recipient had been a dude.

And look, that whole gap in unemployment rates (which has got nothing on the wage gap, but that’s a whole other issue) probably has something to do with this.  The male-dominated industries that were hit the hardest by the recession – manufacturing, construction, etc. – don’t require advanced degrees.  On the other hand, female-dominated industries – education, healthcare, etc. – typically do require those degrees.  Why is it that women have gone into jobs that deal with dainty things like children and paperwork?  That wouldn’t be because of an extensive history of patriarchy, would it?  Oh, wait, yes.

Also, it’d be quite a slight to the feminists of prior generations for women to lay down their picket signs and just have babies and make dinner or whatever.  After fighting for these rights for generations, we’re going to practice the hell out of them.  I doubt that Southern Blacks continued to sit in the back of the bus after the Montgomery boycotts.

3. “Access to women” Direct from the article: “We are competing directly for access to women and jobs.”  

Let’s skip over the blatant sexism implied there and play along for a second – what physical, cultural, or socioeconomic construct is limiting men’s access to women?  I see, touch, hear, and interact with several dudes on a daily basis.  They are rarely competing.

And back to the sexism.  What this sentence should say – to support their point – is “We are competing directly with women for access to jobs.”  However, the way this is actually worded implies that women are a resource or a commodity.  Sorry bro, access denied.

4. The Yankees vs. the Cubs The group’s founder makes the following analogy: “It’s like saying ‘is it OK for the Yankees to keep recruiting new players because the Chicago Cubs have not won as often?'”

Let’s see, the Yankees consistently make more money to buy better players, thus winning more consistently (except this season). The Cubs, on the other hand, well, I hear it has something to do with a goat.  Point is, the Yankees have always had more opportunities to win World Series championships – so sure, that half of the analogy could be considered accurate.  The other half, however?  I don’t think women have been disadvantaged because of a goat curse.  Also, the Cubs have only been on a losing streak since 1945.  Women’s disadvantages stem from centuries of cultural “tradition” and oppression.

Besides, the Yankees are in the American League and the Cubs are in the National League, so this analogy is null and void.  On the other hand, the Cubs made it to the playoffs last year – on their own, with no “special initiatives”.  The Yankees didn’t.  So in that sense, maybe the analogy is on the right track.

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One Response

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  1. ubuntucat said, on May 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I’m glad you have the patience to reason this out. I just get angry.

    Groups for women, minorities, and LGBTs naturally form as a reaction to injustice.

    It seems a lot of these groups for men, whites, and straights form artificially as some kind of simplistic childish kneejerk reaction of “They have one, I want one too. Waaah!”

    I like to use the example of injury. If your right arm is injured, you should attend to the right arm and try to heal it from the damage it received. You may even give it (*gasp*) special treatment you don’t give the left arm (which received no such damage). It doesn’t mean your right arm is not equal to your left arm. It doesn’t mean if your left arm were injured that you wouldn’t also treat it. Equal treatment does not mean simplistic same treatment. You have to look at where the fires are and put them out.

    If the fire happens in my house, give me water. If the fire isn’t happening at your house, water will only damage the house–not save it.


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