Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Opening myself for attack by the fairer sex

If you come here often, you know that I prefer to tell old, tired stories of minor encounters with b-list celebrities and blowjobs of days gone by. I'm going to break a rule today. I'm going to talk about an -ism.

Aunt B. is organizing a camp for teenage girls. The "make me a sandwich and fetch me a beer," jokes have already begun in the comments. (It even sank into grooming of the scrotum. That one came from me, I admit.) That's what makes this sport of blogging so fun.

But I want to say something, and I have to do it here, because if I try to do it over there, I'll just be bitch-slapped by all the feminists until I give up my argument. Believe me, it happens. I'll give you an example in a minute.

So you are having a camp for teenaged girls to help their self-esteem. That's great, but what if a boy wants to go. The answer is he can't go, it is only for girls. It seems to me that it isn't fair.

And that's exactly what I would tell him. "No, you can't go. It may not seem fair. It's not. This is a camp for girls. You can't go. Get over it."

Over at Aunt B.'s place, about a week ago, she argued that Major League Baseball should allow women to play if they are good enough. I made a point that the LPGA doesn't allow men to play golf in their league if they are good enough, nor does the WNBA in basketball. So why should we force Major League Baseball? These are the rebuttals I got, which completely avoided the point.

"I kind of think that things like the LPGA and the WNBA are stupid. (On the other hand, I don't think women's sports in high school and college are stupid, so that's just an internal contradiction I haven't bothered to resolve.)" -Aunt B.

"I like women's basketball a LOT more than men's basketball. It's strategically different, with more dependence on passing, screening, and speed rather than a slow big guy standing under the basket to block another big guy driving up the lane. Men's style of play is not necessarily the superior version of the game for many of us. If there's a market demand to watch women play sports (which is the reason that women's pro sports exist), why would it stand to reason that men would be the preferred athletes if only they were permitted to join the WNBA?" -bridgett

You missed the whole point. I didn't ask whether or not the leagues were stupid. I didn't say that men would be the preferred athletes for the WNBA. My question was simple: Why is it OK for women's leagues to specifically, in their bylaws, exclude men, but it is a major social injustice if a men's league excludes women?

So have a camp for girls. I think it is great. Honestly. I want may daughter to be able to go to a camp like that if she wants to. I applaud everyone involved for what you are doing. But I want the same courtesy afforded to our boys. Being against letting girls force their way into the boy scouts isn't anti-female, it's pro boy scouts.

Aunt B. wants desperately to make me a feminist. It won't happen, because I am already an "equalist." So, to me, feminism is a sub-set of a philosophy I already subscribe to. Then again, maybe it means I already am. Jobs, housing, pay, all that stuff, I adamantly believe in equality. I always have. And I've always lived my life that way. I did the Mr. Mom thing for two years, because my ex-wife made a lot more than me, and it made sense. I'm glad she was able to make that kind of money. Does that make me a feminist?

Equal access is not a black and white issue (no pun intended.) There are gray areas. What if someone forced you to let his son into an all-girls camp, and he ended up sexually assaulting a girl? Or you forced a girl into a camp for boys learning how to properly and respectfully deal with girls, and it ruined the entire experience for the boys, because they couldn't open up about how they felt about girls, because there was a girl there? There are situations where blanket equal access doesn't make sense. It's like pornography, I don't know how to define those situations, but I know them when I see them.

I already tell my little girl she can do anything she wants with her life, and I mean that. Within reason. She can't go to an all-boys camp when she is a teenager. She may feel like that's not fair. It isn't. She'll have to get over it.


At 12:17 PM , Blogger Aunt B said...

I think saying that I desperately want to make you a feminist is a bit of a hyperbole. Let's say that I'm enthusiastic about it.

Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't feel like you got a straight answer to your question of why it's okay for women's leagues to exclude men but it's a major social injustice for men's leagues to exclude women. I thought "women's leagues are stupid" was a straightforward answer.

I'd draw a distinction between social clubs and other forms of recreation--like the Boy Scouts or soccer leagues around town--which should be able to be made up of whatever groups of people they want to be made up of and professions, which should be open to whoever has the required skills, regardless of gender.

So, I do think that it's bullshit and not okay for men to be excluded from the WNBA, since that is a profession.

But I'm not a man, so I don't go around pondering all the ways the world's unfair to you. If you feel you're being wronged and you want someone to stand with you against it, call on me, brother.

But it's not my job as a feminist or just as a person to anticipate what men need and try to meet those needs.

Y'all have to articulate what bothers you and ask for help.

At 12:26 PM , Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

Well, knowing that you draw the line at social clubs and soccer leagues is good news.

"Y'all have to articulate what bothers you and ask for help."

But it doesn't bother me. Not one bit. I don't mind gender-specific professions when they make sense. (I'm about to go to strippers . . . must . . .avoid . . . stripper . . . reference)

Plus we're genetically incapable of asking you for help.

At 12:54 PM , Blogger Aunt B said...

Yeah, I know. When I typed that, it was all I could do to not add a "Ha. Ha." after that.

Anyway, under what circumstances, other than when your profession is based on your ability to sell sex or squirt out milk, sperm, eggs, or babies, do gender-specific professions make sense?

At 1:21 PM , Blogger bridgett said...

Okay. I'll bite too.

Here's what you wrote, in response to B:

B: "Let the women compete with the men for the available slots."

NK: OK, then let the men compete for all the available slots in the womens leagues.

Then they would become minor leagues for men, with just a couple of women, and nobody would watch and they would go out of business.


Well, you might have not meant to, but you did argue was that men would be the more desireable athletes and would replace women, or how else would they become "minor leagues for men." (You know, a less talented version of the Bigs, where men who can't really make it in the Bigs would be able to develop their skills while triumphing over inferior women athletes.) I simply noted what you already know -- that women's basketball is a business because some people prefer to watch women play and therefore it's a dubious proposition to think that men would be snapped up. (Good lord, I'm actually suggesting that the market would take care of it -- alert the libertarians! But yeah...like a male stripper isn't going to really turn the motor of a man looking for KanDDi, a male basketball player probably won't do it for someone who loves the WNBA. )

I am still thinking this through and I might yet change my mind, so thanks for returning my thoughts to this. Right now, I'm struggling with the costs and benefits of separatism as a strategy; it seems to me that single-sex social groups often confer significant economic and cultural advantages (the whole "who does the boss like to golf with and who gets the first nod" thing) and since the majority of wealth-holding in the country is still dominated by men...well, it seems to me that more harm is done by keeping women out of men's organizations than in keeping men out of women's. But I'd need to actually (gasp!) do some empirical research before I went further with that surmise.

I didn't mean to make you feel blown-off. Sorry about that.

At 1:30 PM , Blogger saraclark said...

Awww geeeesss. You just put them up there for me. My last big rant on gender equality----strippers and porn.

I want more male strippers. Why are there not nightclubs with men performing year round? Why do I have to wait for a special road tour and pay extra? Why would I have to go to a "gay" club in SF to see some man-tang.
I want as much full male nudity in our culture as we have female. Just balance it out, I bet suddenly there would be less gratuitous female nudity if parity was required(movie, tv, print, etc).
Finally porn. It's getting better but in order to see some man-tang I usually have to see a lot of naked females with it otherwise it's again mostly man on man action and I'm not into that all the time either. It's all so fake and for every 10 types of send in your amateur photos, only 1 is of men.

All else aside, I think in the bigger picture that you get the whole equality/feminist thing. If nothing else, being a father to a little girl brings all these issues up, because the first time someone limits her or tells her she can't do something because she's a girl, you'll be all over him.

At 1:44 PM , Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

Well, now you've gone and made me think about it. I think that a lot of entertainment professions fall under the category of allowing gender specific jobs, where, if the government or protesters or whoever gets involved, a lot of legitimate businesses will be forced to close. And sports teams and leagues fall squarely under the umbrella of entertainment.

Here's a crazy example:

A lot of people like to pay to see drag queen shows. Let's say there were two drag queen show clubs across the street from each other, and one had all the best queens in town and was getting all the business. So the other club, in a desperation move started secretely hiring female female impersonators, who were even better than the male female impersonators across the street, and took all the business.

Would you be mad that:
Club number one wouldn't hire women as female impersonators
Mad that club number two falsly advertised drag queens when they were really just putting on a female revue.

Probably neither. I doubt there would be any "activists" who chose that as a battle to fight over. I just like the thought of female female impersonators.

Here is a real one:

There is an actual show that tours the country called "Naked Boys Singing." It is exactly what it says it is, Sixty young men standing on stage naked, singing show tunes. Thier target audience is gay guys and women. Are you mad that they refuse to hire women and change the name to "Naked People Singing?"

These examples are a little over the top, but to me they illustrate the fact that there is a line. It does exist. It isn't in the same place for everybody, but it is there, somewhere. The Nashville Symphony obviously shouldn't have a gender bias. If I want to start the Nashville Ladies' Symphony or Nashville Men's Chorus, and pay them as a profession, I think I should be allowed to do so without someone getting mad about it.

At 2:30 PM , Blogger Aunt B said...

I'm a little jealous that the man named "Knucklehead" has all the smart feminist discussion at his place and a woman just recently called an overwrought hyper-feminist has the discussion that's devolved into "how do my nuts smell?"

Okay, onto your real topic. Here's what I find so fascinating. You say "I think I should be allowed to do so without someone getting mad about it."


Here's the problem, though. How will you know there's a problem if people don't get mad? I mean, it's just human nature (not limited to one gender or another) to continue to do things in ways that work for you. And if things work for you, you aren't going to change them unless you have proof that those ways really hurt another person.

If you cut off anger as a way to express hurt, how will you know when we're just bitching and when there's a serious problem?

I mean, really, that's a fascinating part of the women's movement here in the States. You start out with Abigail Adams saying "Oh, honey, don't forget to let us white women vote" and then having to just eat it when John was all like, "Oh, dear, you don't need the vote. You have real power--you run the home--unlike us men who just have the fake power of running the world" because it was unseemly for her to get angry.

But then you have Sojourner Truth standing up there at Seneca Falls being pissed off, demanding to be recognized as a person, demanding to be recognized as a woman, and all this time later which is the more stirring refrain--"Remember the ladies" or "Ain't I a Woman?"

So, I guess, I disagree. You can do whatever you want, but you can't ask that people who feel hurt by it not get mad.

Anger is a potent weapon for change.

At 8:52 AM , Blogger Exador said...

And then Aunt B, they were given the vote, and our country went to hell. The government became a Nanny, welfare state.

Thanks, a lot, Sojourner.


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