Shirky argues that women should stop caring, be more arrogant, and act more like men do when it comes to securing career “opportunities.” Women are framed as being less skilled in the art of being jerks than men. Being a jerk, according to Shirky’s bizarro world view, is a good thing. In other words, women should be arrogant jerks in order to succeed. How twisted is that? What about changing systems so that no one has to be a jerk in order to succeed? Why settle for the current state of affairs? Mr. Shirky’s argument only thrives if we believe that things cannot be changed. The system, and the “rules” that currently govern it, need to be rewritten.
Shirky attempts to draw parallels to the movement amongst men to be more like women. According to Shirky, we “encourage men to be better listeners and more sensitive partners, to take more account of others’ feelings and to let out our own feelings more.” So according to Shirky, being an arrogant jerk holds the same value as listening, sensitivity and empathy. I disagree. This isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Adopting traditional patriarchal values (being aggressive / a “jerk”), from which sexism flows out of, is no where near the same as values (listening, sensitivity, empathy) that are about creating goodwill / creating community.
What if being a better listener, being more sensitive, and being empathetic were grounds for career success / opportunities?
If you hover over the “All Sports” link on ESPN and click the “College Basketball” link, you are taken to ESPN’s coverage of Men’s College Basketball.
The link to “Women’s Basketball” takes you to ESPN’s coverage of Women’s College Basketball.
ESPN is placing one gender (Men) over another (Women) by placing Men’s Basketball as the normative or neutral “College Basketball”. It’s a not so subtle difference…
Google engages in this gender-preferential activity too…a search for “Texas basketball“* lists the most recent score for the men’s Texas Longhorns basketball team. You have to search for “Women’s Texas basketball” to get information on the women’s team.
Title IX may have increased funding and the number of teams in women’s collegiate athletics. However, the above examples illustrate that men’s collegiate sports are still quite overtly at the “center” of mainstream media. “Women’s basketball” is seen as outside the norm and “basketball” as the domain of men.
Jay analyzes the inherent patriarchal oppression present in beauty pageants, Renaissance Fairs, Miss California and “opposite marriage,” heteronormative nomenclature, time machines, teleportation, and flux capacitors. Excellent.
Higher education has an image of being among the more tolerant and progressive parts of American society with regard to gender and sexual orientation. Colleges pledge to combat sexism and homophobia — and take pride in a variety of polices and programs that reflect this commitment.
Big-time athletics may be a little different. Even on campuses with large gay student groups, for example, openly gay male athletes are a rarity — and pretty much unheard of in football and basketball. Fans at universities that take pride in their inclusive campus environments think little of taunting Duke University basketball players with anti-gay slurs. At the University of Virginia, students debate why many of them feel obliged to assert their heterosexuality with a cheer at a key point when the song that follows Cavalier touchdowns makes a reference to “gay” (not in the sexual orientation way).
Research presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association suggests a possible reason: College students who are serious about their identification with their institution’s football and men’s basketball teams are more likely than other students to have homophobic and sexist attitudes.
College athletics, particularly football and men’s basketball, plays a large role in the experiences of students and the cultures of many institutions. A long line of research and theory suggests that athletics is the domain of hypermasculinity, sexism, and homophobia, and this study examines how those values manifest themselves in fans of college athletics. From a sample of 454 college students, identification with the athletic teams at their institutions predicted higher levels of both sexism and homophobia in the students. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.
A typical tactic I’ve seen deployed against those who bring up issues of race, sex, class, ability, etc. is for the speaker to be accused of “always seeing racism everywhere” or “promoting the feminist/anti-racist/anti-classist agenda” and therefore unable to provide an “objective” critique of something.
This particular tactic has been used against posts on my blog more times than I can count.
Frankly, we should be able to move beyond this stage into the stage where we evaluate the claims people make — all people, feminist, anti-racist or not — by the evidence used to support them, rather than seeking to destroy credibility of the people that proclaim them.
Well, it would certainly make my life a lot easier because I hear this phrase multiple times a day. I wish I could accept being referred to in terms that insinuate the whole population is male or that male terms are ‘neutral,’ but I can’t. When I hear ‘you guys,’ I don’t feel like whoever is saying/writing this is talking to me because I am not an f***ing guy!
Life@Lane is a “student moderated blog” at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I happened to stumble upon the site while checking out some summer classes at LCC. The blog is prominently advertised on the Lane Community College homepage.
I scrolled down through several posts and was intrigued by a post titled “Would The World Be Better With Women As Leaders?” The post basically says that women are emotional and therefore are not capable of being leaders. Jeffrey, the writer of the post and student at Lane, states in a response to a comment that “i don’t think my gender is superior i just don’t think women would be a good world leader.” Unbelievable. How can Lane Community College support this blog? How can Lane Community College stand behind this overtly sexist post/comment?
Here is the initial blurb about the blog via the LCC Marketing and Public Relations Office:
LIFE@LANE, A STUDENT MODERATED BLOG, launched from Lane’s homepage. Topics are generated by Lane’s Student Service Associates. Student blogs are common at four-year institutions. Lane is among the first community colleges to host a student blog. The purpose is to provide a communication tool primarily for current and prospective students and to increase “community” access.
How in the hell does this blog “increase ‘community’ access”? Student blogs are a common method of providing student insights into the student experience at a college/university. Student blogs are supposed to build community. They are not supposed to perpetuate stereotypes. It seems that Jeffrey, the student blogger at Lane, wanted to generate controversy and not build community. Marketing and Public Relations officials at Lane Community College should post an apology on the Life @ Lane blog, fire Jeffrey, and start moderating the commentary of the Life@Lane blog. I highly doubt that this is how they want life at Lane Community College to be represented.
I was in Waldo Hall about a month ago when I came upon a larger version of this poster. I’m a fan of inverted black and white posters as they remind me of my graphic design days in Chicago.
The poster was advertising a community forum to discuss “isms in media.” I moved a little closer and read the list of “-isms.” Sexism, racism, ableism and classism. Okay, those are all forms of oppression. What? Why was alcoholism on this list? It just did not make sense to me as it did not fit with the rest of the items on the poster. And where oh where was heterosexism? A list of institutionalized oppressions and a disease. I do not understand why alcoholism was included…?
The Daily Barometer, Oregon State University’s student newspaper, has had yet another year where the paper prints something racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. and then attempts to do a better job (usually folks of color start appearing in the photographs on the front page during Winter term). It’s a cycle and the pattern has occurred since I moved to Corvallis in 2004 and became a member of the OSU community. Year after year a student editorial board and their lackluster faculty advisor bring about copious amounts of harm to the community, apologize and then attempt to rectify what happened in the fall. I can understand that student editorial board members come and go, but the faculty advisor remains…
It always saddens me when I read a news report that focuses the lead paragraph on the public relations aspects of something awful instead of talking about the survival and recovery of those who have been victimized.
And seriously, WTF, when is it ever “proper” to “procure women”? What a mess.
The University of Colorado on Wednesday announced that it would pay $2.85 million to settle lawsuits by two women who said they were raped by football players, closing the book on a scandal that tarnished the school’s athletics department and led to the departure of its chancellor.
The assaults allegedly occurred in 2001 when a group of football players and recruits crashed an off-campus party at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Although no one was convicted in the attacks, the lawsuits contended that the incident was sparked by a hostile atmosphere created by the school’s use of alcohol, drugs and sex to lure top athletes.
During the height of the furor in 2004, seven women came forward to say they had been raped by football players since 1997. No charges were filed, but a university panel found that the school had improperly procured women and alcohol for football prospects. The football coach, athletics director, chancellor of UC Boulder and president of the entire university system eventually left.