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Of men, women, Wizard's First Rule, feminism, patriarchy, egalitarianism... oh, and a disclaimer! - GROWL
ifritah
ifritah
Of men, women, Wizard's First Rule, feminism, patriarchy, egalitarianism... oh, and a disclaimer!


I was inspired in writing this after reading several different writings on patriarchy and feminism. This is not an attack on anyone. This is just me stating some things that have been on my mind.


Awhile back I mentioned reading Susan Faludi's Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man. I'm not even close to half-way done (It's quite dry, but that's the sociologist's calling), but so far I've gotten one thing out of it.

Men of the earlier generations met a harsh blow in a few different ways. The war brought a lot of crazy changes, and the world was transposing before their very eyes. Women began to fight for a change in their roles and men balked. There were roles. Expectations. Men made the money, women stayed home and kept it cozy and a place for warmth and child-rearing. That was the way it was. It wasn't questioned. It wasn't abnormal. It was the way it was. And then it changed.

And men were left reeling. Women were now trying to take over their roles! The world was turning upside down! Divorce went crazy, jobs went nuts, and men were losing confidence in themselves and what they were supposed to do with this new predicament.

American society did a 1-80 where nothing was familiar, nothing was safe. For either sex.

New territory was touched by both genders - women competing for the right to have the opportunities that men have, men confronted with a new way of life completely alien to their fore-fathers. Everyone had to make adjustments. It wasn't a walk in the park for anyone.

Decades later, I'd say we've made some remarkable progress. Things are certainly still requiring betterment, but the anarchy of the past has lessened to quite a degree. Women can vote. Women can keep their own last name if they wish. Women can make decisions in our government. And a new generation of men that aren't used to one kind of a tradition came into adulthood.

There are many things that women still should fight for. Egalitarian ideals to replace patriarchal ones aren't found over night. Sadly, it may never be found.

But the battle isn't against men. It isn't identifying the problem, growling incessantly, but then never looking to a solution.

What are the solutions? Hey, look, I'm all sorts of creative when it comes to novel ideas, but this isn't really my forte. But when I hear a good one, and I agree with it, you can bet your sweet ass I'll do what I can to help it along.

But when further change occurs (and it will), it's not going to just affect women. It's going to affect everyone. It's going to cause both positive and negative reactions. It won't be painless. And it will take both men and women to bring about equality. Not men stepping up and saying, "Well, damn, I'm sorry about that patriarchy thing that I'm a part of by being born with a penis" but there being a true compromise of the sexes. Where everyone feels that they have a place, that it's respected, and everything is hugs and puppies.

... Okay, maybe not hugs and puppies. But you get my drift.

And before I go off with a bout of sarcasm or dry wit from being all serious and political on LJ as a defense mechanism, I'm going to rush off and push the post button now!

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

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Comments
schneeble From: schneeble Date: February 1st, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Egalitarianism is great, but given the fact that only women can give birth I think there will be certain social constructs that are not likely to change dramatically.

Take the workplace as an example. Would a woman have to provide proof that she is (naturally or surgically) incapable of having children in order to prove to a potential employer that she will never need to take more time off than a man might for reasons of childbirth and family?

My question isn't meant to be inflammatory or pessimistic, but when I hear or read about modern feminism from most sources, this major point is often left out.
malakim From: malakim Date: February 1st, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes. Being the being here at work that has to handle most of the FMLA junk, I know all 'bout this stuff.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 1st, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
How often does that come up at your job with the FMLA files? Compared to other illnesses?
malakim From: malakim Date: February 2nd, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
See info in reply below.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 1st, 2006 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a good question.

As a woman who plans to never have children, it's a bit out of my element of thought. However, it's certainly an issue that needs to be confronted.

My first thought is that it is uncertain what any person's future health will be when they begin a job. Will Janet get pregnant? Will Bob have a heart attack that keeps him hospital ridden for weeks? Will Jill find out that her entire family was eaten by wolves and now has to take a leave of absence to get over the loss? Will Billy find out he has cancer and have to take frequent leaves to have treatment?

I realize that pregnancy is assuredly one of the more likely situations that causes a person to have to leave work for a time, but it is by no means the only cause. Personally, I would find a betterment in the health care system along with companies working to bring more security to their employees as a really good first step.

Just saying, pregnancy is not the only cause for someone to have to leave work for a time. How to make things fair in the workplace that'll make everyone happy? I'm not really sure. But I would hope that employers wouldn't look at a woman and have his inner thoughts be, "Shit, she might get pregnant someday" just as I would hope that same employer to look at a man and think, "shit, he might get prostate cancer someday".
schneeble From: schneeble Date: February 1st, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also hope that's not what employers are thinking, but at the same time I think that they often do consider that factor, because pregnancy is not an illness. I know that's not what you were saying, and it's probably not the most tactful way I could phrase my point, but...

When an employee of either gender becomes ill or injured, it's generally assumed that they are equally likely to come down with a condition that interferes with work, and that--as you suggest--quality medical care will minimize the employee's down time. Also, most people try to avoid getting sick or injured seriously enough to interfere with work (something that isn't necessarily true with pregnancy).

When a woman gets pregnant, high quality medical care will help to ensure that she recovers from the rigors of childbirth as quickly as possible, but maternity leave generally allows for time beyond the hospital stay anyway. So while health benefits are useful, they don't really insulate an employer from the risk of having an employee leave for months in a row.

On the other hand, pregnancy is a process, so a woman isn't likely to call in from the hospital and say "I woke up this morning with a late-term pregnancy, I'm going to need a year off." An employer has time to arrange for transitions into and out of a maternity leave.

That being said, even without the traditional social model of feminine housewives and masculine breadwinners, there is at least some pressure on employers to prefer male employees over female.

One potential way around this social impact of biology (and this is just a brainstorm idea), is to take the little-used idea of paternity leave and expand on it to make it an equivalent of maternity leave.

I don't know what the other implications of that might be, it's just a thought.
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 1st, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Paternity leave might be a very good thing for society in general, too. Like a government endorsement of men taking the time to bond with their kids. It might make some people think about the importance of that.

One thing *I* would like, personally, is if children weren't the only thing people had a legal right to take leave for. What about writing a novel, or traveling, or getting some education? I can't see how these things benefit the employer any more or less than bringing another life into the world.
schneeble From: schneeble Date: February 1st, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree. More or less, anyway. It always struck me as a little odd that professors seem to be the only workers for whom a "sabbatical" is at least allowed (if not encouraged).
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 2nd, 2006 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I once temped at a company that encouraged people to take unpaid leaves of up to 6 months for pretty much anything. I never fully understood the policy, but the exec who explained it said someone had taken off time to write a book, someone else had taken time for travel. I'm just not sure on how often they were allowed to do this, or how the company filled in for them without replacing them. I think it's doable, though, and so are things like telecommuting (which would also reduce traffic and polution), and we need to start thinking outside the box. There might be a lot of simple changes that would make life much nicer for everyone, and we're just too mired in the status quo to embrace them.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 2nd, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I completely agree! If I could take a leave from work to write a novel, that would be AWESOME.
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 2nd, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes. My only fear is, they'd demand to see the novel at the end, and I'd only have 3/4 of a draft done because I'm the slowest writer since some one-armed guy carving in stone at the very beginning of civilization.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 1st, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd be curious to find statistics on how much sick leave/leave of absenses occur in hour amounts between men and women at work. I think research like that would be very helpful for this debate. ... And because the sociologist in me wants to know!

Paternity leave has been very successful in other countries. I think it's an excellent way to even the amount of fairness in work leave. Very lovely brainstorm! ^_^


malakim From: malakim Date: February 2nd, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is something that FMLA tries to correct. Basically it's federal law that states that if you are unable to work for a period of time (for any reason, as long as you're under a doctor's care), your job is protected for up to 3 months (IIRC). We usually have about one or two women a year using FMLA for pregnancies, but we also have people out for various surgeries and other medical issues.

As a side note, guys can also use FMLA to get up to two weeks off from work with no illness or medical problems if their wife has a baby, for bonding with the newborn.

Any other questions?
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 6th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the info! ^_^
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 1st, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unfortunately, women are already penalized en masse for the potential to get pregnant. The costs gets spread over all women by keeping women's salaries at 78 cents to a man's $1, here in the US. I kinda wish my employer WAS allowed to ask if I plan on getting pregnant, because then I could offer a doctor's diagnosis that I'm infertile, and I'd get paid what men get paid.

The only problem with that logic is what Ifritah pointed out: there are a LOT of health concerns that keep people out of work. By this reasoning, smokers should be banned from employment altogether because the vast majority of them take lots of extra long breaks throughout the day that must add up to weeks of lost time per year. Compare that to actual time lost for pregnancy, and I think the results would startle employers.
schneeble From: schneeble Date: February 1st, 2006 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
The point that I was trying to make was that the pregnancy "penalty" is already built in, as you say. I agree that it would help to be able to say "I can't get pregnant, okay?" and have that improve one's pay. Similarly, I figure there's nothing wrong with penalizing people for smoking... especially since smoke breaks are expensive both in the short and long term (especially if the employer of said smoker is subsidizing the smoker's health insurance).
betacandy From: betacandy Date: February 2nd, 2006 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I was agreeing with you in pricipal, too. The problem I foresee, though, is where do we draw the line about things you can penalize people for strictly on the odds that they will happen in the future? I don't like the idea of anyone having opportunities limited on the basis of something that hasn't yet become an issue, and might never. And yet it's impossible for businesses not to consider future possibilities. There's definitely no simple answer.
malakim From: malakim Date: February 1st, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
No hugs and puppies? ;_;
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 1st, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww. Well, there MIGHT be hugs and puppies! I mean, I can't say for sure. But there's still hope!
malakim From: malakim Date: February 2nd, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's okay. I like kitties better than puppies anyway.
ifritah From: ifritah Date: February 6th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me too! ^_^
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