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Sexism (something for everyone)

Dec 20, 1996 07:45 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

After staying out of this one for weeks, I can't help making a
few comments.  Mostly in support of JRC's contention that the
twentieth century will be recognized in the future as the time
that the polarity between the sexes dramatically shifted, and a
reharmonization in a new mode of equality began.

Although I have agreed with Liesel, Kym, Ann, JRC et al far
more than with Tom, there are some subtleties in all this that
I think worth mentioning.  For one, sexism is not a set of
attitudes and behaviors imposed *on* women *by* men.  Women are
very intricately involved in their own oppression; for example
Anita Hill was disbelieved by just as many women as men, and
the female jurors in the Simpson trial concluded that spousal
abuse had absolutely nothing to do with the case.  Someone else
has mentioned that women executives may be just as biased in
favor of hiring men as men are.  As I recall,
male support for the ERA was higher than female, and the same
goes for abortion rights.  (Probably in both cases because the
Christian right has more female than male supporters, like any
church-related movement.)  Finally, although men wreak far more
physical harm on women and children than vice-versa, and murder their
partners more often, research has shown that women are
physically abusive to their mates and children at the same rate that men
are.  Lesbians are particularly prone to this problem, from
what I read in the gay/lesbian press, with higher rates than
heteros of either sex, or gay men.  So it isn't so much that
male *persons* are running amok as that the male *principle* if
you will is doing so in *both* sexes.  For example,
more than once I have seen women ignore, or throw over, a
sensitive, egalitarian, kind man in preference for a brute who
is guaranteed to break their heart, if nothing else.  Even when
the nice guy is better looking and richer than the brute!

I don't mean to shift blame here, or maybe I do.  It's *all*
our problem, and not one in which all the guilt is on men.  I
once lived in an apartment above a fighting couple, and she
always started screaming at him the minute he got home from work, getting
more and more abusive, until I'd hear things crashing, and
assumed he was hitting her to shut her up.  I called the police
three times and both of them denied there was a problem
when the police arrived.  I moved out soon.  A tragic situation indeed.
If we believe in reincarnation, we know that this godawful
situation between the sexes is one that we *all* have
constructed together, and we all need to work together to heal.

Another weird and counter-intuitive research result.  Actually,
TTT, handsome men are much more advantaged in business than
beautiful women.  This came out several years ago, and I don't
remember the research design, but do recall that it was really
striking-- like a handsome man having twice the success rate at
getting hired than an ugly one, but a beautiful woman having
absolutely no better success than an ugly one.  (Cocktail
waitress jobs were presumably not part of the study-- this was
just the business world.)

Another comment, and I will close.  Male nurses and librarians
are every bit as financially disadvantaged by belonging to a
"traditionally female" occupation as female physicians and
lawyers are advantaged by belonging to a "traditionally male"

We're in the same boat, sister.

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