« Must Read Post of the Day | Main | The Song Ain't Still The Same, Game »

May 08, 2008

Finding Your Inner "Real Woman"

I can put the wash on the line
Feed the kids, get dressed
And be at work by five to nine

I can bring home the bacon
Fry it up in the pan
And never, never, never
Let you forget you're a man...

'Cause I'm a wooooooman

"Darling, a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your persona requires."

- Notebooks of Lazarus Long

What is a real woman? Via Tigerhawk, the question seems to be generating some interesting commentary:

...there’s really not a lot of mystery about what everyone agrees a “real” man is. We all know “real” men are:

Mentally, emotionally, and intellectually strong, even if not physically (crippled and elderly men can still be “real” men). Hardworking, honorable, honest, dutiful, protective of family and country. Brave, courageous, rational, reasonable, kindhearted, and respectful. Knowledgeable about how to survive in rough times and how to solve problems. And so on.

What I started wanting to know when I was about 16 was just how in the hell any of those things were (or should be) exclusive to men. I realized even then that in fact, they are not. All adults should have every one of those personality and character traits as a matter of course.

So then I started wondering why anyone bothered with the phrase “real man” at all. Don’t they just mean “real adult”? As a young girl, shouldn’t I strive to be exactly the kind of person I kept hearing a “real man” would be? I thought so, and I still do. Maybe that’s why you never hear me whining about how my butt looks in these jeans or crying that no one pays enough attention to me. Who gives a crap? I don’t need any reassurances about silly shit because apparently, I am a “real man”, secure in my own “manliness”. Even though I’m a woman.

Now, what the fuck? Why can’t I just say I’m a “real woman”? Because no one ever talks about that. Except in the context of how “real women” have curves and “real women” don’t look like Heidi Klum. Of course, of course it always comes back to looks and sex when you’re talking about women. Google it. The first result you get on “be a real woman” is a site that says stuff like:

A woman shouldn’t solve man’s problems. This prerogative is male. A man is the one supposed to take care of a woman.

A real woman can’t ever be had over the barrel. She is always well-dressed with her hair and make-up done. Be ready that anything can happen all of a sudden. You’ll say it is hard to look nice all the time – for a real woman it’s a habit.

A real woman always has a couple of really good and expensive dresses in her wardrobe. They play the role of a parade costume for cases when it’s necessary to make an impression.

A real woman can let herself twist men round her little finger. She may stay mysteriously silent, complain that she’s bored, act stupid or start a passionate scientific argument. Nobody can make a woman answer a question if she doesn’t want to, and nobody can force her explain the reasons for doing/not doing this or that. Acting so capricious and unbalanced is a simple way to get a man attached to a woman. Don’t hesitate to make a man spend as much money on you as he can afford – he will never leave an object of capital investments.

A woman knows her worth, but makes everyone believe she’s priceless…She knows how to make men dance to her tune and she really enjoys it.

Christ with a cigarette.

The other results you get from the search “be a real woman” are almost completely equally pointless or niche-like, nothing general about all women and what it takes to be a “real” one. There’s stuff about being a good chaste Christian woman, stuff about “real beauty”, and stuff about sex changes. By the end of the FIRST PAGE of results, the search phrase is not even found. But Google “be a real man.” It goes on and on, page after page, about honor and strength and hard work and discipline and how to fix shit around the house.

Once again I feel the most appropriate question to ask at this juncture is what the fuck?

You know what I think? I think women have utterly FAILED each other. It has almost nothing to do with men, at all. Men have this shit worked out, they have a code by which they judge each other, and it’s a good code for the most part. There’s no mystery among men about how to behave in order to be taken seriously and have a life you can look back on when you’re old and feel pride.

What do women do? We sit around and we either bitch about men or we bitch about other women. Men don’t do what we want them to do, and other women are competition for all those men we don’t even want because they don’t obey us, so we’re never happy.

What we don’t do, or at least I don’t see it very often and believe me, I’ve looked, is establish our own code for judging others based on qualities that really matter, like men have.

Oh dear. I'm about to say some things that are going to make a whole lot of people very, very angry.

Again. Yee ha.

First of all, I agree with Rachel to a limited extent. But I also take issue with part of her argument. She blames the difference in standards squarely on women, claiming that men have defined their own standard for themselves and that women have, unlike men, singularly failed to do likewise:

I think women have utterly FAILED each other. It has almost nothing to do with men, at all. Men have this shit worked out, they have a code by which they judge each other, and it’s a good code for the most part. There’s no mystery among men about how to behave in order to be taken seriously and have a life you can look back on when you’re old and feel pride.

But is this really the case? I don't think it's that simple at all.

Neither men nor women exist in a vacuum. We react to rewards and disincentives, to signals we receive in response to our actions as we interact with other human beings. These are all cues we use to adjust our behavior and bring it into line with what society expects of us. To the extent that some of us are adept enough to figure out how to give other people what they want (i.e., to trade what pleases others for what we want in life), we are "successful". We get hired, date, marry, breed offspring. And it's not a simple equation either. Mere physical attractiveness isn't the only thing that matters. We've all seen people who aren't all that good looking, but who charm their way through life by virtue of their vitality or their ability to win the affection of others. But at the end of the day, I have always suspected that what really drives all of this is biology.

So the "real man" qualities Rachel quoted:

Hardworking, honorable, honest, dutiful, protective of family and country. Brave, courageous, rational, reasonable, kindhearted, and respectful. Knowledgeable about how to survive in rough times and how to solve problems. And so on.

... they make a man a good husband, provider, and father, no? They insure the survival of the species and in the final analysis that's the most important duty of any human being. Left to themselves, most guys would just as soon lie around on the sofa drinking brewskis and watching Monday night football. No man in his right mind voluntarily scrapes his face at 6 am or spends Saturday mornings perusing 400 count sateen sheets at Bed Bath and Bored Beyond Belief. But thankfully for us female types, the prime directive directs our inner Neanderthals to make sure there are more little human beings to carry on the important task of sullying Gaia's pristine ozone layer with our noxious carbon emissions. And because men are, when one gets right down to it, such visual creatures, we ladies are valued (though it pains this writer to say it) more often than not for maintaining a pleasing outward aspect; along with the ability to appear helpless and in need of a strong pair of manly biceps:
A woman shouldn’t solve man’s problems. This prerogative is male. A man is the one supposed to take care of a woman.

Because - according to the biological imperative - men love the chase and despise anything won too easily we learn (sorrowfully, because duplicity is not our nature) to cultivate at least the appearance of being hard to get:

A real woman can let herself twist men round her little finger. She may stay mysteriously silent, complain that she’s bored, act stupid or start a passionate scientific argument. Nobody can make a woman answer a question if she doesn’t want to, and nobody can force her explain the reasons for doing/not doing this or that. Acting so capricious and unbalanced is a simple way to get a man attached to a woman. Don’t hesitate to make a man spend as much money on you as he can afford – he will never leave an object of capital investments.

I laughed when I read that. It conjured up my many "conversations" with Grim about how women only wear make-up or dress for each other. Sorry, but what a load of bunk. Let me say that again, just in case someone missed it: what a load of utter bullshit.

Oopsie. Did I say a bad word? Open an issue of Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, Maxim... guys, I can stop any time now. Are any of those women NOT WEARING MAKEUP?

Let me put this to you another way. HOW MANY OF THOSE WOMEN, IN PROPORTION TO... SAY, THE POPULATION OF WOMEN WALKING AROUND INSIDE YOUR AVERAGE GROCERY STORE (where we go to stare at each others clothes, hair, makeup, and enormous breasts, HAVE HAD THEIR BREASTS SURGICALLY AUGMENTED?

I rest my case.

Yeah. Women alter our appearance in often painful ways "for other women". Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

BULLSHIT.

We do these things for the oldest reason in the book: to attract men. Just as men learn to be "sensitive" for the oldest reason in the book: because women prefer mates who look like good husband material. We want a guy who will, at least occasionally, appear to listening raptly when we yammer on about our feeeeeeeeelings.

I think there is a 'real woman' standard.

I just think that it's harder to describe that the male one, because being a woman is not as straightforward as being a man. Women have many roles in life and unlike the way men deal with the work/home disconnect, with women everything in life is wrapped into one big ball. You can't separate the different pieces of our lives - we don't compartmentalize. Most of us don't go to work and "turn off" Mom/sister/wife/friend/lover mode from 9 to 5. There is no 'off' button to help us detach ourselves. We are constantly performing a mental juggling act: the regression equations are competing with Aunt Edna's tumor and little Joey's forgotten homework and our sister's failing marriage and the argument we had last night with our spouse. We can't help it. It bites, sometimes.

Carrie and I were talking last week about the problem of training young military wives to be more self-sufficient on long deployments. I observed that the Marine Corps does such a great job with training Marines. They obviously know a great deal about leadership, and yet they apply none of this knowledge when it comes to helping young women deal with family separation. It's puzzling: it's as though the Marine Corps views wives as somehow not fully human. But we respond the same way men do to inspiration and leadership. We are not children who need to be taken by the hand by the Nanny State and given Free BabySitting and Mental Health Counseling.

I will never forget the first year I was married. I was nineteen on my wedding day.

As a young bride with a newborn baby, I struggled to adjust to living far from home, family and friends. I had recently quit college and my job to stay home with the baby. Our parents (on both sides) helped us, but still we had very little money and only one car, which went off to school with my husband every day. It was as if I had been pulled up by the roots and abruptly left on the sidewalk somewhere like a forlorn little seedling someone forgot to plant. My husband was busy. He was taking a full course load and had a job, plus he played rugby and was in a fraternity. This did not leave a lot of time to massage my fragile ego: he had been thrust into a man's responsibilities at a tender age. Even then, I realized how lucky I was to have him. He is one in a million.

Back then, there was no calling people long distance. That cost too much money. There was no Internet or email. And we couldn't afford a television set. I laugh now when I read about young military wives struggling with loneliness and 'paycheck-to-paycheck' living. We had no health insurance. We had to pay the hospital a $700 non-refundable deposit just for the 'privilege' of not being turned away when I went into labor.

Been there. Done that. As I recall, there was no T-shirt.

I also recall not being all that miserable most of the time, even with four months of fairly bad undiagnosed postpartum depression that I got through just fine because I was too dumb and to know what was wrong with me. I just thought I was a big sissy until I quit nursing and the daily crying jags disappeared like magic.

The thing is, when I was first married I started off all wrong and it was my own damned fault.

I am a straightforward person. When I love, I love with my whole heart. And I do love my husband, so I threw my whole being into my new marriage. Every day he went off to school and I stayed home with the baby. And I was bored out of my mind, and a Bored Princess is a Very Bad Thing. I had been to an Ivy League school once. He was attending a very good college in Virginia. There had never been any doubt I am his intellectual equal, but now there was a bit of a disparity in our stations: he was in college and I was a homemaker. So I read voraciously and tried to make our little apartment welcoming when he came home. I took the baby for long walks and picked wildflowers to put on the table. I made elaborate meal plans and tried recipes (how many ways can you cook Armor chipped beef? Dear God help me, I can tell you). And the harder I tried, it seemed, the more strained things became between us.

Did I mention earlier that men like the chase? That they never respect that which is won too easily?

It's true, you know. It took me a long time to figure out what had gone wrong. It takes me an even longer time to lose my temper. A year and a half, to be exact. But on those extremely rare occasions when I finally do, the fireworks are generally worth the price of admission.

I threw a glass of Sambucca at him. Fortunately, I throw like a girl. I missed.

Did you know Sambucca eats holes in drywall? Or was that the glass?

Anyway, it made for one of those 'funny stories' that aren't funny at the time and I learned an important lesson about myself. It was that if you do something for another person, you must only do it because you enjoy the doing. Never because you secretly expect something in return. I see women do that a lot: we 'trade'. And men react by withdrawing because it makes them feel guilty. They know they are being set up, and they rightly resent being manipulated. Relationships have to be roughly equal. They won't survive long if one party or the other feels indebted.

Women, though, will often throw themselves into friendships, marriages, jobs without considering the personal cost. We are little builders. In an article I read recently, the author uttered a thought I've often had myself: we women often forget that it's awfully hard to help others if we forget to put the oxygen mask on our own faces first. This may well be the mother in us, and not all women are like this. In fact, we don't uniformly behave this way throughout our lives. As my children have grown up and my marriage has matured, I have found myself behaving less like a traditional female and more like a man (though I'll never be exactly like my husband).

And he has, in his turn, become far more thoughtful and considerate than the already remarkable young man I married all those years ago. This is the best thing about marriage; we take on the best parts of our partners, growing and changing over the years to resemble each other. The truly strange thing is that as traditional marriage declines in popularity, I believe societal pressure is beginning to effect the same strange transformation on men and women that matrimony once did. Women are becoming slightly more aggressive and outspoken and men are becoming more considerate and thoughtful. As long as it is not taken to an extreme and neither sex is made to feel ashamed of the essential qualities of femininity or masculinity, I do not think this is a bad thing.

As Rachel observed so insightfully, the "real" man or woman is, after all, a good adult. But I also think women have, for all the bashing they endure in the blogosphere (and it has become something of a spectator sport to bash women of late online) a bit harder job because, in general, we do more things in life. The real woman is expected to perform all the tasks a real man is expected to do. She is already expected to be hardworking, honorable, honest, dutiful, protective of family and country. Brave, courageous, rational, reasonable, kindhearted, and respectful. Knowledgeable about how to survive in rough times and how to solve problems.

You know this woman. After all, she raised you.

She is your mother, and she taught you everything you know about life. And after she raised you, or even while she raised you, she may well have held down a job outside the home, too.

The real problem is that in today's society, it is no longer fashionable to admire virtue, and so we neither recognize nor respect a real woman when we see one, unless she is cast in a male mold. Because women are expected (and rewarded) for doing everything men do each day and for doing these things well, but at the same time we are rewarded by mother nature for pretending to be fragile, feminine, and somewhat clueless, women are the Rodney Dangerfields of the world -- forever doomed to be loved, but to get no real respect.

What a shame. We don't even respect ourselves for all the very real reasons for which women deserve respect. Women are not men. They will never be men. But we have our own virtues that are worthy of admiration in their own right.

And until we learn to love and value ourselves, no one else will ever respect us.

Posted by Cassandra at May 8, 2008 06:12 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2126

Comments

I got in touch with my Inner Woman. She's a Forest Ranger in Tucson, banding rattlesnakes.

Uhhhh -- and she likes gurlz...

Posted by: BillT at May 8, 2008 11:59 AM

First off, screw fashion. If it's not fashionable to admire virtue, then who needs fashion? Give me a virtuous woman over some bubble-gum model any day. And virtue is not code for virginity here either. My wife was divorced prior to our meeting. I had no illusions as to her 'chastity'. But she was (and is) a woman of virtue. I sought a partner who was my equal. I dated women who met that standard, and some who fell short (I can NOT abide a stupid person, woman or man; but I have dated a few ditzes). But I married a woman smarter than I (and really, it shouldn't have been that hard to find one, except I needed one smarter than I that was willing to marry down).

A 'real woman' is NOT the fading hothouse flower that has the sole responsibility of looking pretty and being silent. A 'real woman' is the same as the pioneer woman. She had to defend the home when the husband was not there. She had to care for the young and make sure everyone was fed. She had to keep the books and watch the budget. And don't try and tell me that's demeaning, or less important than what the man does. It's different, and in many ways harder. Rasing children is NOT demeaning. I personally blame the women's lib movement that defined domestic work as beneath women, and cash earning as important. No, it's just different. And anyone who thinks domestic work is easier than cash earning hasn't really tried it. I was unemployed for nine months and was the stay-at-home husband while my wife worked. I cleaned, I cooked, I did the laundry, and I HATED it. Of a paid job and housework, I consider the paid job easier and less demanding. I wanted to work in some analogy to a mother bear working MUCH harder than a father bear, but I've talked enough.

Posted by: MikeD at May 8, 2008 12:03 PM

Bill darlin' there are times when you *do* scare me...

Heh.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 12:06 PM

And fwiw, I don't mean for a moment to suggest (because sooner or later someone will go high and to the Reich and decide that I did) that a woman must be a mother in order to be a real woman.

That was just one example of the type of woman who I find worthy of the title. I just get annoyed when people want to unisex womanliness.

I think most admirable traits are applicable to both sexes. But I also think men and women are different, and I believe the composite traits we find most admirable in men and women are probably slightly different, though there is a great deal of overlap.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 12:42 PM

"I think most admirable traits are applicable to both sexes. But I also think men and women are different, and I believe the composite traits we find most admirable in men and women are probably slightly different, though there is a great deal of overlap."

Typically, when I think of someone as admirable, man or woman, it tends to be those folks that are rational or experienced or practical enough to take care of themselves and those around them. I guess, as it is mentioned in the article -- real adults.

It isn't to say that I am a helpless waif, however, there is little in the way that scares me more than the helpless 'panicky' feeling that occasionally happens and usually accompanies the words, "What the HELL am I doing?!" So anyone who can move through those times smoothly and with grace or with little fanfare -- and without sticking their head in the sand -- are quite admirable.

Posted by: Kevin L at May 8, 2008 01:12 PM

Bill darlin' there are times when you *do* scare me...

That should be a constant.

*sigh*

I need more practice...

Posted by: BillT at May 8, 2008 01:14 PM

You know, I was persuaded of the strength of your feelings on the subject a few years ago. I don't think I've mentioned it since 2004.

My point (since you mention it) was only that women (like men) have social strata, and that how they look seems important in transmitting to other women where they stand; and that was why women take an interest in the subject that far passes male capacity even to understand or notice (my wife, for example, chided me just the other day for complimenting her pink blouse. "It's coral," she informed me). That attention to details far beyond male capacity suggests that it is female rather than male observers who are being considered; as does the fact that the issue is addressed at length when male preferences run strongly in the direction of efficiency (as, for example, going to the grocery store).

Nevertheless, you've argued so long (and with such outrage, over what always seemed to me more of an anthropological observation than any sort of moral judgment) that I long ago set the matter aside.

I am prepared to believe, or at least never again to argue with the suggestion, that all of this is done exclusively because you care about what men think; and that any discrepency in our ability to notice is simply because you care so very much that you go to the utmost lengths.

(Although, my sense of honest philosophy will not let me leave off without noticing: the Maxim etc. argument is badly flawed. Men also wear makeup for the camera, when they otherwise never would. It has to do with getting even skin tone even and whatnot, as you probably are aware. It can be overdone, of course. Maxim, from what I've seen, does horrid things to the women it shoots, esp. with their hair, for reasons totally lost on me; I haven't seen a copy of Playboy or any of the others in many years.)

Now, here's what I have to say about the Real Woman thing:

I suspect most men, like me, feel very secure about telling a man that he's a piece of trash (however politely), and being willing to fight to enforce that view if necessary. I don't feel the same security in enforcing a judgment against a woman.

In fact, some of the worst people I've ever known are women, but I've never said an unkind word to any of them.

Insofar as that experience is typical of what decent, successful men are like, 'real men' exist because we enforce the standard on each other (and for good reasons, not limited to the reproductive ones you mention: if a man's word is no good, I cannot do business with him, which has opportunity costs for both of us; or if I do, he steals; he makes a terrible neighbor; and so his viciousness impacts my life as well as his own).

Now, I realize that you hate it when I say things like, "Men won't fight girls," but really: at least I won't, and I've observed lots of other men letting bad women get away with their bad behavior, even in the military, but without question in civilian life. If a woman is bad to me, she gets away with it; the worst thing I will do is try very hard not to deal with her again.

Insofar as that observation is true (and I think it is true at least for the best men, the ones we'd want setting a standard), that does put it down to women to enforce standards on their own. To a certain degree, this strikes me as fair and equitable. Moreover, it's what I've been told by feminists my whole life: don't try to force your male values on us.

Which means that Lucas is right, more or less: if women want a standard for "Real Women," it's up to women to enforce it. The best kind of men won't be party to it; and the worst kind shouldn't be anyway. You don't want their values enforced on you.

Now, I do have my opinions, which are probably clear in my associations -- the kind of women I like are the kind I seek out as company, not the kind I avoid. That's as far as I mean to go, though; and my sense is that the kind of women I don't like didn't like or want me around anyway, so I don't think they're much bothered by my lack of attention.

So it's up to you. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 01:17 PM

But at the end of the day, I have always suspected that what really drives all of this is biology.

See, you womyn always bring a feminist debate around to size matters. Never fails!

I just get annoyed when people want to unisex womanliness.

Hmmmmm, I've never unisexed and considering I'm the resident pervert I seem to have a failing! Is there a book or video on how to unisex? I feel just so... so... so... INADEQUATE!

I feel like I should need a shower!

Ruh-Roh! :-o

Posted by: JHD at May 8, 2008 01:33 PM

Grim and JHD, together again, eh, old son? Poor Cass.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 01:41 PM

I'm not interested in a standard for real women :p

But then I've never been much interested in being defined by other people, or even in being defined by the fact that I happen to be a woman. I just thought that she was wrong to say that men defined their own standard all by themselves. I think it evolved in response to societal forces and biology - it's what "works" and is rewarded: the good father/husband model.

I think that what we view as the ideal woman, for the most part (or what we used to, before being virtuous fell out of fashion) was the good wife/mother model. Now, of course, it is simply not "done" to be a good wife. It is looked down upon.

Well screw that. I was a wife and mother for nearly 20 years. Now I have a career. I didn't feel at all "diminished" by my role as a homemaker.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 02:01 PM

Oh, and regarding your 'not having said anything on this subject since 2004'...

From a post you wrote in February of 2007:

This should settle forever the debate Cassandra began and I joined against my better judgment.

For those keeping score, the question was: women do terrible things to themselves in pursuit of beauty. Are they doing it for men (the bastards), or for themselves and other women?

The answer: it's not for men.

****************

Ummm.

Yeah.

That took me all of 20 seconds.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 02:04 PM

February 2007, eh? Seems like longer ago than that. Oh, well.

I never claimed that a powerful memory was among my virtues. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 02:22 PM

(With my luck, you'll now Google my blog and find that I once said, "Of course, as a powerful memory is among my many virtues...")

:)

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 02:23 PM

Anyway: you're welcome to assert that you don't want to be defined by other people; or that you don't want them defining you; or that you don't want to create a standard for "real womanhood." I've got no problem with any of that.

I'm not trying to do it either. I'm glad to leave the question of womanhood to women.

It's just, Lucas is maybe right to say that women choosing not to do this is why it doesn't exist.

Although I think you're right to say that the definition isn't what she proposes -- that there is some 'womanly' standard that makes 'real men' a different concept from 'real adult.' I just don't try to meddle in exactly what that standard might be.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 02:27 PM

It's like old times 'round here--subject and participants.

And as usual, I got nothin' to add to the conversation. :P

Posted by: FbL at May 8, 2008 02:33 PM

I would just note that my mother and my father taught me about life, and raised me. The basic traits of a good man are the same as a good woman, that is to say a good parent.

Posted by: Allen at May 8, 2008 02:41 PM

I am a real woman. I am not a clinging vine. I work hard every day and enjoy my life.

I agree that women are territorial and protect their territory with the way they dress and act.

They also dress to show their status as well.

I am not intimidated: I just don't care about it at this moment in time. I have other things to do. When some of that is finished, I will commence to be scary.

Until then, help yourselves to the chicken drummettes, spinach, strawberry and goat cheese salad with pecans and grilled vegetables.

Posted by: Cricket at May 8, 2008 02:44 PM

'Bout time you mentioned food.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 8, 2008 02:54 PM

Cass, I read your post and oh did it bring back some intense memories! Happy ones and some sad ones, but yes, you do grow to become the best of each other. I think that is part of the becoming one flesh (as well as the more obvious meaning).

My husband is honorable. To the point where less well informed induhviduals would call him stupid.

Three weeks ago, he was laid off. No biggie; we have an emergency fund and some food storage.
He went out and got a job within two weeks.

His dream job was given to a younger man. So, he
took what was available that he liked. The point of all this? He refused to let me look for a job because he wants me to finish school so I can put him through retirement.

He has always wanted to be a kept man...

Posted by: Cricket at May 8, 2008 02:55 PM

"And as usual, I got nothin' to add to the conversation. :P"
I've not marinated my Wolverines, nor even sautéed any onions to accompany my feet, so what fbl said works for me.

Posted by: bthun at May 8, 2008 03:15 PM

Oh shoot :p

I don't know whether I'm right or you are or she is. I just like to discuss ideas, Grim. Writing is how I explore what I think about things.

re: With my luck, you'll now Google my blog and find that I once said, "Of course, as a powerful memory is among my many virtues..."

Heh... Nah. I was relying on my memory for that other, and just wanted to twist your tail a bit :)

*****

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 03:15 PM

Everybody dresses to show status, male or female.

That is not the same thing as enhancing your secondary sexual characteristics (making your boobs look bigger, lips look poutier, butt look rounder, eyelashes look longer, etc.). In general, these are not things which enhance a woman's "status".

In fact, numerous studies of both men's and women's attitudes have shown that whether the viewer is male or female, they think less of a woman who enhances her appearance in this way, at least as far as social status, desireability as a job candidate, or intelligence are concerned. Now sex appeal is another matter entirely.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 03:20 PM

And that's why I've said over and over and over again that women don't do these things to impress other women.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 03:21 PM

Grim and JHD, together again, eh, old son? Poor Cass.

Oh no, not me. I'm just doing drive bys! ;-)

'Sides, you know how she is when she gets like this. And she's on a roll! :-o

Posted by: JHD at May 8, 2008 03:44 PM

Running low on egg salad? :p

Posted by: Princess Leia, Orange Danish Bikini, Extra Icing at May 8, 2008 04:01 PM

Running low on egg salad?

Since it's in theme with the discussion of ancient music at Grim's Hall, some lyrics from the Renaissance England ballad, "Watkin's Ale":

...

For I will, without faile,
Mayden, giue you Watkins ale;
Watkins ale, good sir, quoth she,
What is that I pray you tel me?

2. Tis sweeter farre then suger fine,
And pleasanter than muskadine;
And if you please, faire mayd, to stay
A little while, with me to play,

I will giue you the same,
Watkins ale cald by name,--
Or els I were to blame,
In truth, faire mayd.
Good sir, quoth she againe,
Yf you will take the paine,
I will it not refraine,
Nor be dismayd.

He took this mayden then aside,
And led her where she was not spyde,
And told her many a prety tale,
And gaue her well of Watkins ale.

...

4. When he had done to her his will,
They talkt, but what it shall not skill;
At last, quoth she, sauing your tale,
Giue me some more of Watkins ale,

Or else I will not stay,
For I must needs away,--
My mother bad me play,--
The time is past;
Therfore, good sir, quoth she,
If you haue done with me.
Nay, soft, faire maid, quoth he,
Againe at last

Let vs talke a little while.
With that the mayd began to smile,
And saide, good sir, full well I know,
Your ale, I see, runs very low.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 04:23 PM

All right Grim.

I am going to take on what you said earlier, because it is just about as wrong as wrong can be.

I am deadly serious about this.

I suspect most men, like me, feel very secure about telling a man that he's a piece of trash (however politely), and being willing to fight to enforce that view if necessary. I don't feel the same security in enforcing a judgment against a woman.

And I am about to tell you why I think that is not only grossly unfair but profoundly immoral on a number of levels, Grim. In fact, it made me so angry when I read it that it took me quite some time to regain enough composure to respond with equanimity.

In fact, some of the worst people I've ever known are women, but I've never said an unkind word to any of them.

Well, all I can say there is that I'm not sure what good you thought you were doing. Plato said that the greatest evil one human could do to another was to allow error to go uncorrected. Why on earth would you do that to another human being?

The answer, of course (and we'll see this in a moment) is that you don't really see women as your equals or as fully human. Hence my pissed-offness. I blame your upbringing.

Insofar as that experience is typical of what decent, successful men are like, 'real men' exist because we enforce the standard on each other

Oh really. And if "decent men" enforce the standard on each other because it is just and right and generally has a good effect, why on earth wouldn't they enforce it on women?

Care to 'splain that one? I thought not.

(and for good reasons, not limited to the reproductive ones you mention: if a man's word is no good, I cannot do business with him, which has opportunity costs for both of us; or if I do, he steals; he makes a terrible neighbor; and so his viciousness impacts my life as well as his own).

Ah yes. But women, of course, can be vicious and evil without hurting anyone?

Or is it that women don't need to do business with anyone?

Or that you simply will avoid doing business with women because everyone knows they cannot be trusted?

What, precisely, do you think the logical consequence will be if "decent men" like yourself all refuse to hold women to the same standard as themselves? Easy. No one will do business with them because they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Essentially you have relegated adult women to the realm of children.

Thanks.

Now, I realize that you hate it when I say things like, "Men won't fight girls,"

Only because it's patronizing.

but really: at least I won't, and I've observed lots of other men letting bad women get away with their bad behavior, even in the military, but without question in civilian life. If a woman is bad to me, she gets away with it; the worst thing I will do is try very hard not to deal with her again.

Thereby proving my earlier point. America is a free nation, and freedom includes the right to make bad decisions.

Insofar as that observation is true (and I think it is true at least for the best men, the ones we'd want setting a standard), that does put it down to women to enforce standards on their own. To a certain degree, this strikes me as fair and equitable. Moreover, it's what I've been told by feminists my whole life: don't try to force your male values on us.

Lovely. So now feminists speak for all women? Who in the holy hell gave them that power? Not me, that's for damned sure.

Human society is complex. It is made up of men AND women, and they interact, Grim. I don't buy that only men set male standards of behavior: that doesn't stand up to common sense. Every day I see men do things that men don't naturally do, and they do them to please the women in their lives. And vice versa. And men also do things to compete with and impress other men, and so do women.

Which means that Lucas is right, more or less: if women want a standard for "Real Women," it's up to women to enforce it.

Maybe she is right. I don't know. I put forth my idea and people are free to debate it.

The best kind of men won't be party to it; and the worst kind shouldn't be anyway. You don't want their values enforced on you.

Actually I don't believe in "male" and "female" ideas or values. They are just ideas. To the extent that they have merit or utility to me, I'll buy.

But it really bothers me when you assert this whole idea of how wonderful it is to "spare" women the onerousness of being held to standards you think good and right for men to be held to. Integrity is not just a male quality and I find it deeply insulting that you seem to think it should be.

Reasonable people (and friends) can, of course, disagree. But it's hard to see how a person could not take it amiss to be told that they belong to an entire class of people who are not expected to have any honor.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 04:44 PM

I didn't say it was wonderful 'to spare women.' What I said was that I didn't feel comfortable trying to assert standards on women. I feel comfortable smacking down a man who needs it, through argument if possible, physically if need be; I don't feel I have that perogative with women. I don't, in fact, want that perogative.

Oh really. And if "decent men" enforce the standard on each other because it is just and right and generally has a good effect, why on earth wouldn't they enforce it on women?

Care to 'splain that one? I thought not.

Why won't you? You said you didn't want a standard for "real women," that is, a standard of this type.

If you won't say that women ought to live by a universal standard, how should I, who has never been a woman, and has only a husband's understanding of their interests?

I'm sorry if it makes you angry, but here we are. You don't want to enforce a standard, one that defines how women should be; and I'm not going to take it on myself to try to tell women how to live.

Essentially you have relegated adult women to the realm of children.

Not so. I've given them the chance to do well or badly; and the ones who've done well, I've engaged fully. The ones who've done badly, I've left alone, which seems to be what they wanted.

I don't see how I can be faulted for that. Either way, I'm respecting their wishes -- which is what one does with adults, not children.

Some of the worst people I've ever known have been women; but also some of the best. I think Lucas is right to say that women have more freedom in that regard, because men won't enforce standards on them and women won't either.

Some choose the right anyway, which makes them the more praiseworthy because they were less coerced.

Some don't.

Who will make them? Not I: and if I did, all I would hear about it is what a misogynist I am for trying to force women to accord with my will.

Well, I won't. You're responsible for yourselves. Do right, or don't. Win my respect, or leave it on the table.

Your choice. I can offer you no greater respect than to give you a free choice, and let you have what comes of it.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 05:51 PM

Hell, I'm still trying to figure out how we're supposed to do a smack down on a woman and not get a lawsuit or end up in the brig. If we verbally tell them things the way we would a man we are harrassing them. Heaven forbid we should ever take a fist to one, we'd end up under the jail with the keys tossed. There IS a double standard and there should be. We treat men differently because...... wait for it...... THEY ARE!

I've never struck a woman in my life and don't intend to start now. None of my sons have either. If a woman pisses me off to that extent she ceases to exist. What would you have me do? Treat her like I would a man and whip her ass to within an inch of her life?

Does that men I respect women any less? No, it certainly does not but there is a double standard for behavior and there is no way I'd treat a woman the same way I'd treat a man. And you can blame that on MY upbringing as well. Although I see no fault in it.

Now if you're thinking as a sex toy or erotic object then yeah, maybe we can talk. ;-) (that was prevert humor in case you missed it!)

I'm really curious to see how you think we should bridge the "Great Divide". From what I gather you think it's alright if I cut loose on a woman the same as I would a man and that is not only inherently wrong in my book but it's genetically upside from every gene in my body. I don't know where I'd even begin to do that? :-(

Of course I'll tell a woman off if she deserves it. I'll put her in her place as I would a man but without the challenge. I'll challenge a man in a heartbeat and be damned if I care how he takes it. His choice of weapons. Not so with a woman. I find myself very carefully choosing my words and throttling back my emotions. Like a wary predator I will pay strict attention to what I'm doing. Not so with a man. You just simply cannot let the chips fall where they may in today's society with a woman. What really gets me is why would you want to?

I don't get it??????

Or I have missed the entire point again? Per usual?

Posted by: Neanderthal Man at May 8, 2008 06:47 PM

I'll echo that.

I carry a Bowie knife and a revolver for the purpose of "asserting my values" on other men. Not for no reason: something like 95% of violent crime is carried out by males, most of them between 15 and 35.

Women aren't the same thing at all. They just aren't. I've spent a fair amount of my life training to kill other men who need it. Because I've done so, and other men like me have done so, fewer men feel like they want to live the sort of lives that will bring them into conflict with us.

Women aren't like that. Better, worse, or just different, they're not. Women ought to have different rules. They ought to have different standards.

There's some who are horrible. But you can leave them be. There are some who are wonderful. You can love them.

I don't see a problem with taking that reality as we find it. We didn't make the world. But here we are.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 07:51 PM

I won't completely call BS on you, Neanderthal, b/c I happen to know who you are and I know that you have a habit of resolving personal disputes with your fists.

But the fact of the matter is that most adult men I know do not. I can't think of the last time my husband got into a fist fight. Or my father.

OR ANY OTHER ADULT MALE OF MY ACQUAINTANCE. PERIOD.

Now perhaps I travel in different circles than you do. I will grant that. But last time I checked, whether you and Grim like it or not, it is a crime to work out petty disagreements with your fists. You're supposed to try talking first. Personally I don't involve myself in any of this, and neither should the police unless someone presses charges.

No one was suggesting that you should punch out a woman just for crossing you.

On the other hand, I happen to think that anyone (including you) that resorts to fighting when words will do is missing something rather basic. Surely that is not what you meant?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 08:01 PM

And "asserting your values" with a Bowie knife or revolver in Georgia is likely to get you locked up.

There is absolutely no reason to stab or shoot anyone over a minor dispute. We have police, courts, and other means of resolving problems and if you're looking to me to cut you some slack on that one, you're looking in the wrong place.

That is not what we were talking about earlier and you know it.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 08:04 PM

You aren't getting the point at all.

Men kill. Women don't, or at least almost never -- you get an Andrea Yates who drowns defenseless children now and then, or a woman who poisons, like the wife of one of my old firefighter friends, who put antifreeze into his drinks for the insurance. But you don't get physical confrontation.

With men, you do. The reason I've had so few physical confrontations over the years is that I've been ready for them, not because it's odd.

I doubt I know a single man who's never been in a fistfight. I think I'd hold it against him if I knew he never had.

I can think of exactly one of them who ever got arrested, and that was for fighting a cop.

Alexandre Dumas wrote, "Fight on all occasions. Fight the more for duels being forbidden, since onsequently there is twice as much courage in fighting."

As far as I can tell, that's what young men do. And I don't think the law is in any way successful in restraining them. I think a great deal of the violence of society is completely masked from you, and others, because you have no way of recognizing how rarely the law is able to intervene.

When seconds count, the cops are minutes away. That's not just a piece of anti-gun-control rhetoric; it's a reality. The law is a myth. By the time the police arrive, everything is over; and they are too busy to find out tomorrow what happened yesterday.

You've lived in neighborhoods where that isn't true. Good: someone made them safe. I hope to put my own wife and children in safe places like that.

For now, my wife also carries a gun everywhere she goes. If you want to try your line on her, do so sometime.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 08:28 PM

Care to 'splain that one? I thought not.

That's real nice, hammering a guy for not answering a question he had not yet been asked.

And while Grim has answered it already, albeit indirectly, I'll "'splain it" directly.

There is an old addage: "Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes".

Any man would proceeds to tell a female she's not being a "Real Woman" will invariably receive some form of this one reply: "So...based on your *vast* experience of being a woman you think you know better than *me*, do you? Look, you don't know a F*&^ing thing about being a woman, now get the hell out of my face".

And you know what? She'd be right.

He isn't considered authoritative on the subject and would be dismissed rudely from presuming he was.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 8, 2008 08:30 PM

Don't worry about it, YAG. A lady can holler profanities at us -- "BS!" in response to an argument, and then say "Oopsie!" to give herself permission.

Just another way that ladies and gentlemen operate under different rules. We love her anyway; it's the way of things. I wouldn't trade her for ten of anyone else, in spite of it all.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 08:59 PM

*sigh*

That's not what we were talking about, though. At least I didn't think that's what we were talking about (criticizing a woman for not being a 'real woman').

This is what Grim said:

I suspect most men, like me, feel very secure about telling a man that he's a piece of trash (however politely), and being willing to fight to enforce that view if necessary. I don't feel the same security in enforcing a judgment against a woman.

The old movies are full of men telling women just that (i.e., that they are not worth a warm bucket of spit). They didn't have any problem holding a woman up to an ideal, because they respected both the ideal and women, generally.

And Grim, you're being patronizing again. That is annoying.

If you don't like something I do, say so plainly.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 09:05 PM

And by the way, if you have an opinion on a matter, you ought to be willing to defend it.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 09:06 PM

And you know what? She'd be right.

No, she wouldn't.

I know what qualities make a good man, but I'm not a man.

I know what qualities make a good police officer or a good President, but I've never been either. The idea that you have to have personally experienced a thing to express an opinion on it doesn't carry much water with me. There are plenty of subjects upon which it is quite possible to have a fairly informed opinion without have personally lived through something.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 8, 2008 09:10 PM

"The old movies are full of men telling women just that."

Here's my old movie.

"I guess I kissed you because you remind me of Destarti. Or maybe it's because I hate to think of your hair hangin' from the center pole of an Apache wikia. But a long time ago, I made me a rule. I let people do what they want to do."

So do I.

"If you don't like something I do, say so plainly."

That wasn't plain? How's this? I don't curse at you, woman.

"And Grim, you're being patronizing again."

As are you, dear lady. "OR ANY OTHER ADULT MALE OF MY ACQUAINTANCE. PERIOD."

Well, fine: but there's some of us who have, just from time to time. And women likewise.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 09:22 PM

HEY! I tweren't hidin'. Just being cutesy! (don't go there!)

And again you are wrong. I settle things with OTHER people's fist against MY face! And shoulder. And Back. And........ :-o

Like I thought, I absolutely do not understand your entire thesis. I'm just dense I guess. At no time would I NOT tell a woman where to get off. I'd just do it in a different way than I would a man.

Now I feel even more inadequate because I'm a man that doesn't back down when a line has been crossed? Just damn! Guess I ought to let all these punks run over my sorry butt and thank them for it eh? "Thank you Sir, may I have another?" Heh! Were it I just minded my own business and just allow the annointed ones to do just whatever the hell they please huh? I'm supposed to walk away because words won't suffice and not stand up for what's right? Personally I prefer throwing them through plate glass doors. It may be so old fashioned and out of touch with today's reality but they sure do make funny sounds when they hit the ground on the other side! That alone makes me smile. Heh!

Ah yes, you can take the boy out of the trailer but you can't take the trash out of the boy huh?

Thank God I didn't teach any of my old fashioned BS knuckledragging morals to my sons. Whew! They might of grown up to be friggin' Marines or Cops or RNs or Master Techs or something. I am quite sure they are ashamed of their old man but it sure as hell isn't for my propensity to not backing down.

Oh well, I'm just totally lost in all of this. I have that problem with you womyn anyhoo. Y'all never let me up when you're done! ;-)

I formerly surrender! :-)

Posted by: JHD aka Neanderthal Man at May 8, 2008 10:06 PM

I am a “real man”, secure in my own “manliness”. Even though I’m a woman.

Heh.

The answer: it's not for men.

There is social competition, though, Cass. When women start shaving their legs or wearing makeup, other women wish to be competitive and thus do the same things. They aren't doing it for each other, but social pressure does play a part.

I never claimed that a powerful memory was among my virtues. :)

Cass fees too strongly to ever forget notable.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 8, 2008 10:33 PM

A sandwich and a cold beer would be nice right about now.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 8, 2008 10:50 PM

Try my buffalo chili. And cold beer: We have that here, most days.

Posted by: Grim at May 8, 2008 10:55 PM

ooh Biiillll...I have had an epiphany. I love men. Especially ones with 27" zippers.

*toodle!*

Posted by: Snake Wrangler From Tucson at May 8, 2008 11:22 PM

The last time I saw a 27 inch zipper it was attached to the left leg of a cheap running suit. His clothes were pretty cheesy too.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 8, 2008 11:41 PM

I have a question for all y'all guys who say you'd never fight a girl. What if she started it? I've known a few guys who've said they won't throw the first punch against a woman, but if she started it, all bets are off. And, to a certain extent, I agree. You going to let a female beat the crap out of you because you "don't hit women"?

And, IMO, any "lady" who hollers profanities is no lady at all. I very rarely use profanities, even when I'm really pi$$ed off. I think there are standard for being a lady (or "real woman", or wharever you want to call it) - it's got nothing to do with social status and everything to do with being an honorable and respectful person. There's a scene from Blast from the Past:

Eve: Now hold on, hold on just a minute! In the first place I do not fall in love with weirdos who I've only known for four or five days!

Troy: Yes you do.

Eve: And I don't fall in love with grown men who collect baseball cards!

Troy: Yes you do.

Eve: Or pee in their pants when they see the ocean!

Troy: Yes you do.

Eve: Or have perfect table manners!

Troy: You know, I asked him about that. He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn't know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior. Oh and you know what else he told me?

Eve: What?

Troy: He thinks I'm a gentleman and you're a lady.

Eve: [disgusted] Well, consider the source! I don't even know what a lady is.

Troy: I know, I mean I thought a "gentleman" was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.

Eve: Where do you think he got all that information?

Troy: From the oddest place - his parents. I mean, I don't think I got that memo from mine.


I think those "real man" qualities are also part of it, and, as it was noted by Lucas, part of being a "real adult". There are universal qualities that make one a "real adult", but there are slight differences between was is (or should be) valued as traits of being a man or a woman. You don't go out of your way to be an a$$. You give others respect and consideration until they show they are not worthy of it. It's just that, in general, men and women who are "gentlemen" and "ladies" go about showing that respect and consideration in different ways...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 8, 2008 11:47 PM

There are plenty of subjects upon which it is quite possible to have a fairly informed opinion without have personally lived through something.

And there are plenty where you can't, as well.

And there are many more where you may, but which does not mean that your reproach will be well received. I have played many years of baseball. Some of which for pay. I can walk on most any baseball field with those credentials and have near universal respect with my criticisms. But that is not to say that I could walk up to the soccer fields and do the same thing without being treated rather rudely. In much the same manner, David Beckham, while being a soccer stud, could tell me my swing looks like shite, and my response would be to tell him to go the helk away. I don't exactly see anyone offering to pay him to swing a bat.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 12:03 AM

Or for another example: ask The Unit sometime what his reaction would be if some 20 year old hippie started to lecture him about Duty.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 12:21 AM

Dear Cssandra;

I'm afraid I'll have to go with Grim on this one. Men are generally fine with the idea of beating on each other if somebody dishonours a code of conduct. I know that I am prepared to back my words with my fists if necessary, although, as you point out, sometimes it is better to jaw, jaw first.

The fact of the matter, however, is that like it or not, men do treat other men and women differently. And women treat other women and men differently also. This is not a function of sexism or patronising; it is an acknowledgement that there are different standards to be upheld.

For example, and going back to previous blogposts of yours, men tend to be more ribald and, um, well, manlike, in their own company. And you yourself say that mens hould not behave like the Neanderthals they are when in mixed company - thus illustrating that in this matter, at least, there are different standards. Nor is it just public vs private - a pub/bar is as public a place as you want and I don't need to tell you what goes down in those places. No, it's same company vs mixed company. And oh, brother, women have very drastically different behaviours when in same vs mixed company also. I know. Man, do I ever know.

It's all part and parcel of the same thing - we don't generally hit back if girls start hitting us. At least, I know I would not. It's considered uncouth, unmannerly, and unmanly. Although, if you now say this is not the case, there are a few women who could do with a really good decking in my church, oh yes there are.

As for shaving, I do that at night, before I sleep, when I take my shower. Usually. On weekends, sure, I do it in the morning.

WRT the dressing up for other women, I know at least some of it (jewellery, wedding dresses, celebrity nonsense, etc) is true. Normal, everyday stuff, well, that's something else. Lesbians presumably dress for other women too, so, you know, it's not a universal law.

But beyond that, yes, I don't doubt there is a 'real woman' standard. It's just not normally a standard enforced by male standards.

Think about it. At least amongst my crowd, there is at least one unwritten rule NOBODY breaks - you don't f* with another guy's girlfriend. Failure to adhere to this may result in some breakage - and this is enforced by ALL the guys!

We're not going to see women do this sort of thing soon. There are probably more subtle, less 'manlike' in-your-face enforcement going on with whatever codes of conduct women possess.

Hmm, well, speaking of, do you know that for 5 years until last April, I was a woman? Quite interesting, since I didn't know it. But the almighty Immigration Department had decided I was and had my passport reflect that reality. On biometrically-chipped passports, too.

Maybe I should have exhibited some gender dysphoria and milked it for what it's worth. Ladies' Night, for instance. But the lines outside the women's is always so much longer...

Posted by: Gregory at May 9, 2008 12:30 AM

I dress because I'll get arrested if I don't....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 9, 2008 02:52 AM

The last time I saw a 27 inch zipper it was attached to the left leg of a cheap running suit.

We hang around in different milieux, spd. We don't usually run on the flight line unless the 122mm express is inbound.

Personally, I've got nothin' against the unisex look -- there are some *hawt* ladies in flight suits 'n' digi-cammo who drop by for coffee...

Posted by: BillT at May 9, 2008 03:19 AM

This is where we start to have a *huge* disconnect.

Grim has written (regretfully) several times about how he thinks the law ought to be changed to allow men to solve things by fighting it out.

So he is *clearly* aware that the vast majority of men do NOT do this now. Because currently, it is against the law for anyone, male or female, to use their fists (much less Bowie knives or guns) to solve interpersonal disputes.

This is not surprising because it ought to be common knowledge. Maybe I have been living on Mars for the past 48 years, but when I walk down the street I do not see men having fistfights, knife fights, or gun battles.

Go figure. So much for generously refraining from "hitting a lady" when she crosses you. Men aren't hitting other men, either. It's against the law and more trouble than it is worth in most cases (and obviously we're not talking about self-defense here - that is a special case - we're talking about using force to 'assert values'.) And in those places where people *do* use their fists, guns, or knives to "assert their values" on each other are really not worth living. Try Washington, DC. The obvious problem with using force to assert your values on other people is that they are also free to use force to assert their values on you. And you may not agree with their values. This is why we have laws.

I'm sorry, but in my experience, men simply do not go around hitting other men to "enforce standards of manliness on them". Grim is intentionally exaggerating to try and win an argument. And so are some of you.

When was the last time you saw a fist fight in your office? (JHD is disqualified :)

At the grocery store checkout line?

When was the last time you punched out a business competitor because you didn't care for his business practices? Or did you just pull your knife on him? Or was it a gun? If you have done, or regularly do, these things, I guess I am wrong.

About a lot of things.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 05:26 AM

To bring this back to reality, I'm not saying men don't ever fight.

Obviously they do.

My husband has been in fights, though not recently. There is really very little reason to get into a fight 99% of the time, but I do understand that there are times (especially for men, who have a different social code) when a man cannot back down from a confrontation with another man. But that is not at all what I was talking about earlier, and not what I objected to.

What I objected to in Grim's statement was his saying that he will let a woman get away with ANYTHING, just because she is a woman, but he cannot "afford" to let a man get away with the same thing because he has to do business with him and his dishonestly and viciousness affect the community.

Now JHD seems to understand what I meant (now) perfectly:

Like I thought, I absolutely do not understand your entire thesis. I'm just dense I guess. At no time would I NOT tell a woman where to get off. I'd just do it in a different way than I would a man.

I have no problem with that. None at all.

You don't have to treat men and women exactly the same.

But if you come up with some standard that says, essentially, that you will ignore destructive and unacceptable behavior from women but not from men, you harm your own community and treat women like children instead of the adults they are, and that offends me. I told my husband about this last night and his reaction was simple:

He has just said (essentially) that he does not care to work or deal with women.

That's exactly how I saw it. If you won't hold women accountable the way you would a man, you can't trust them and you can't make a deal with them. And that harms all women. It harms people like me who have to try and negotiate in their husband's names when they are deployed.

And I am sick and tired of dealing with people who have that unspoken attitude. You can't call them on it and you can't fight it without looking like a whiner. I've dealt with it all my life. You just shrug your shoulders and move on, but it makes me angry and I won't pretend it doesn't.

And yes, maybe I will swear a bit when I'm angry. Some people don't like swearing, and if that offends them, I am sorry. But, my place, my rules. I don't swear a lot, so it's hardly a constant diet.

And in any event, I did not swear "at" Grim. I didn't call him names. Let's just make that distinction. He has the right to his values and I respect them, however he does not have the right to 'enforce' his values upon me on my site.

Even with a Bowie knife :p And that is something I have no problem fighting over, even though, as he would be quick to remind me, he doesn't stoop to fight with 'girls' :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 05:43 AM

And Gregory:

Just to be clear (and to respond to your points) again, I have absolutely no problem with men treating women somewhat differently than they treat men.

Also, I don't dispute that women enforce certain standards amongst themselves and men do likewise.

What I'm arguing against is the proposition (which I think is extreme and wrongheaded) that ONLY women have an interest in policing the actions of women and ONLY men have an interest in policing the actions of other men.

That just doesn't stand up to common sense.

In fact, it sounds like something out of the Dark Ages. Society is mixed. Both women and men exert social pressures on each other, and there are good reasons for this. If Grim's idea were true, boys would only need a father and girls would only need a mother, but this isn't correct. Children need both a father and mother because the influence of both parents is needed to raise a healthy child. Children of both sexes need to learn to understand and get along with both men and women. I hardly think that this is a radical proposition.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 05:52 AM

There is a disconnect, that much is clear: I don't feel that I'm exaggerating at all. I think the disconnect is here:

A man who goes about armed has no business getting into fistfights, or escalating situations. Unless there is already violence happening, or an imminent threat of it happening to someone, he won't begin. He will simply be prepared to use force if the others don't stand down.

However, the fact that he is prepared to use real physical violence is itself coercive. It draws a line that will not be crossed. And 100% of that coercion, at least for me, is directed at men.

Why don't we have fistfights in the street more than we do? For the simple reason that enough men are armed that it is too dangerous. Social order is maintained by -- something I've written about often enough -- dangerous old men.

Look at the UK, where that is not the case, and you do have fistfights in the street, violent attacks, brawling, and otherwise deeply disorderly behavior. They've got lots of cops, lots of cameras, but violent street crime is very high. The same is true in China, where I saw the biggest brawls I've ever seen over things like who got to ride in a taxi. Again, there's no shortage of police, military police, and other authority figures. There's also no shortage of violence.

When I think about enforcing standards of behavior on men, I mean that I am willing to go all the way; and that I am likewise equipped to do so. That fact, spread across millions of American men, is why you have the peaceful and orderly society we have.

When it comes to women, I am not willing to go all the way; I'm not even willing to go halfway. The absolute most I will do with a woman to have an effect on her standards is just what I'm doing now: if I find one who is already good, I'll talk to her about questions of ethics and so forth.

Such a woman was already good when I got here, however. I'm not making her good. I'm not really even making her better. I'm just telling her what I think. Insofar as she changes her behavior, its because she wants to.

When I meet a woman who really is bad, I don't even do that. I just leave her alone.

That's the fundamental difference.

There is more violence than you apparently see, even at that -- ask your son the cop how many fights he's broken up lately; or how many he's arrived to find have already broken up. We probably do all know people who have been in fistfights within the last year, even though you may not be aware of it because it's not discussed in polite society. We probably all at least met someone who has been attacked with a knife at one point or another, though it is less common. I can think of several non-police persons I know who either have been shot or have shot people in civilian life.

American society is remarkably peaceful, however. A large part of that peace comes from the fact that, if a brutal young man breaks into someone's house or attacks them in the street, you're apt to get shot. Even if a young man just gets drunk and starts yelling and screaming at women or families in public, he's apt to find himself surrounded by peaceful-looking men, some of whom may have pistols under their coats, all of whom are prepared to use physical force, and they will tell him it's time to go home.

They likely won't shoot him. But if they don't, it's because they drew a line, and he didn't cross it. Violent coercion is present, and more, it's valuable.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 06:08 AM

When was the last time you saw a fist fight in your office?

Gotta disqualify myself. My *office* usually hosts fights involving high explosives and cyclic rates of fire...

Posted by: BillT at May 9, 2008 06:10 AM

"In fact, it sounds like something out of the Dark Ages. Society is mixed. Both women and men exert social pressures on each other, and there are good reasons for this. If Grim's idea were true, boys would only need a father and girls would only need a mother, but this isn't correct."

What idea are you talking about? I'm not aware that I'm defending a propositon that boys don't need mothers. I'm not even arguing that women don't have an effect on men, or vice versa.

I believe I'm only asserting that there's a hard standard for "real men" because adult men require it of each other, using means and methods that are far stronger than any employed to coerce women; and there's no similar, hard standard for women because neither men nor women do. That was Lucas' point, and I think that she's right that far.

I'm also agreeing with her concept that, if such a standard is desirable (about which I am neutral), women will have to enforce it on each other. I'm not prepared to do so, and in fact am completely unwilling to do so. The tools that underlie such a standard aren't appropriately directed at women, and I simply won't have anything to do with pushing women around.

Even if I think they're horrid people, which some women sometimes are (and some women always are). I just choose to associate with the good ones.

If your thesis is correct as I understand it, women modify their behavior to attract men; so that should be all I'd have to do. But I haven't noticed that the women I don't like really seem to want me around. :) So I'm not sure it's a very effective method of adjusting them -- not that adjusting them is my intention anyway.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 06:21 AM

and there's no similar, hard standard for women because neither men nor women do. That was Lucas' point, and I think that she's right that far.

Ummm.... anyone who thinks women don't enforce their values on each other has never been treated to the way women treat anyone who doesn't conform to what 'the group' wants.

This is why I refuse to hang around groups of women. In general, I rarely agree with their values and don't wish to subject myself to that kind of social pressure, because it is intense and unrelenting. My guess from the small peek I had at Ms. Lucas is that she doesn't hang around groups of women either.

That doesn't mean this kind of 'enforcing' doesn't exist. Women are extremely cliquish and they use the power of approval (or withholding of approval) to enforce their values on each other.

So I disagree with you there, too. I can't imagine where anyone gets the idea women don't use coercion to try and enforce their values on each other.

Re: ideas, I'm talking about the idea that most social coercion is of a non-violent nature Grim.

You are doing something that I find incomprehensible: you refuse to deal with women who are intractible.

To illustrate my puzzlement, let me use an example from a novel, Dune. In it, the young Paul Atreides is tested by the Bene Gesserit. He is ordered to put his hand inside a box. The box induces intense pain by nerve induction. If he removes his hand from the box, he will die by poisoned needle.

The test is to see if he can, by reason, master his animal instinct to withdraw his hand. She explains: "What is the difference between a human and an animal? If an animal is caught in a trap, he will chew his own leg off to escape. A human, on the other hand, would remain in the trap, hoping to catch the hunter unawares and remove a threat to its own kind."

In other words, the animal thinks only of itself and the immediate circumstance. The human thinks of the consequences to society and its own kind.

Applied to your situation, you assert that you 'cannot afford' to allow a man who is vicious or dishonest to go unchallenged because his vices will damage the community and moreover, you cannot do business with him. And yet you will allow a vicious and dishonest woman to go unchallenged.

"Let the women deal with her", you say. "It is not my place and I don't feel 'comfortable'."

I am frankly astonished that no one but me seems to be bothered by this. First of all, as JHD pointed out, there are many ways to deal with such a woman without resorting to violence, but ignoring the situation and saying "Let someone else deal with it" is not the right answer.

It would never in a thousand years occur to me, should a vicious or dishonest man cross my path, to leave him free to prey upon my neighbors because I'm a woman. I could certainly plead womanly weakness, but what kind of world am I leaving for my children if I turn away from trouble on such pretenses? The injury was done to me - to expect disinterested parties to take on the responsibility of righting that wrong not done to them seems naive at best. They might not even know of it. It is my job to take this person to court, bring in the police, tell him exactly what he has done wrong, do whatever I need to do to make it clear to him that his behavior won't fly.

I would never say, "Let the *men* deal with him. It is their business to attend to such matters." That is just pushing my problems off onto someone else.

And you'd best believe my problems *will* become someone else's, because that person will go on to do EXACTLY the same thing to someone else because they were never opposed when they did it to me. Nothing succeeds like success.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 06:54 AM

I think, as usual, that to some extent we're talking about different things here Grim.

I keep saying that I'm not talking about hitting or beating on women. I've made that point over and over - that most social and professions interactions do not culminate in violent exchanges. And yet somehow that is always where you end up. I don't get this at all.

I get your point that men are always prepared for violence. Fine. But the fact of the matter is that in everyday life (and during the entire span of an average person's life) the number of times that you get into a violent altercation just aren't going to be that many. And I'm sorry, but if you are constantly getting into violent altercations, I kind of wonder what the heck is going on?

I have lived in rough neighborhoods. I know that fights and stabbings and shootings go on.

I also know that you think it would be a "good" thing if more people could solve their disputes this way.

I disagree, because you assume there is a good-hearted basis for this. I happen (based on living in some of these crappy neighborhoods) to believe otherwise. What happens is that the bullies take over and terrorize everyone else. I happen to like being able to walk down a street and not worry about stray bullets whizzing past my head. Call me weird.

You are responsible and moral, but many people are not, and you continue to attribute your values to people who don't share them. Many good hearted people refuse to stand up for themselves. They are sheep, and unfortunately that means if you have laws that say it's perfectly fine to solve every dispute with a knife, it won't be the good people who mostly do this.

It will be the bullies.

I don't want to live in a country where I have no defense in law if someone decides to stab me because they wish to 'assert their values' upon me. What if I disagree with their values?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 07:13 AM

OK, let's look at this more deeply.

You mentioned your peaceable business types above. When was the last time they attacked each other over a business question?

Not often! Why?

Partially because they know other men won't permit it, as we were describing w.r.t. any other antisocial violence (as opposed to socializing violence, I suppose, the 'good' coercion I am talking about). Some men in the business world are not good people.

However, success in business really is more likely if you internalize these values. For that reason, many of them are the dangerous old men. They are the ones who have succeeded at internalizing the values well enough that they are now are the enforcers. They don't need to be made to do right anymore.

How did they get there? By having the code enforced on them from the time they were young, by fathers, father-figures, and older men. One of the chief messages they will have had enforced over and over is, "Don't hurt the girls." That's a critical element of the code in America: as is, "Don't bully," which means, don't take advantage of your strength to push around those who are physically weaker than yourself.

So you end up now in the business world, and you've got a bad woman. What are you supposed to do with her?

The whole model of confrontation is based on underlying physical threat, and you have been taught from birth not to use that against women. Plus, in most cases, the woman is physically smaller than you, so you don't wish to do things that might intimidate her.

If she's a good woman, you can engage her and try to talk her through this or that problem; but that relies on her being good to start with.

If she's genuinely bad, what am I supposed to do?

You make the point, sometimes, that in society we depend on each other. Well, we do: and sometimes we depend on each other by each doing different jobs. I depend on doctors to know how to fix my organs; I don't try to fix theirs, but I do serve in other ways.

I agree it's important: but it's not for me. I am restrained by the very code we are talking about. That code is good. It's valuable. It is the only way to produce good men, the men that society depends upon, the men who maintain society and defend her.

If I'm in a situation where a woman is being mean and cruel to someone, I don't mind to voice an opinion that they're being unjust. I'm not, however, going to try to fix them as a person. If I encounter a man being mean and cruel, I will. I will try to stand him down in a way that lets him know he can never do that again, at least not while I'm around; and that, if he wants to be respected, he'll have to do better.

Why won't I try to fix her? Because the model that I know rests on violence, even if actual violence is rarely necessary: and I won't use violence against women (barring extraordinary circumstances, of course; I might use limited violence to stop a woman from killing herself or someone else, but it would be strictly restrained to stopping the particular danger. The underlying problem, whatever it was, I would leave to someone else).

That means someone else has to be the woman-fixer. I'm not a doctor, but that doesn't mean I don't think it's important to have doctors. It's just that surgery is something that my training doesn't permit me to do.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 07:19 AM

I've made that point over and over - that most social and professions interactions do not culminate in violent exchanges. And yet somehow that is always where you end up. I don't get this at all.

I've addressed this, but it may be that the connection isn't clear or explicit. The model of male confrontation rests on violence. Even when actual violence does not take place, it underlies the model. The point is, when men confront one another, it is understood that violence is possible if a settlement cannot be reached.

A settlement almost always is reached, and in fact violence is rarely necessary. We've built huge layers of conflict-resolution mechanisms to prevent us from getting from "conflict" to "violence." But every confrontation between men includes the prospect of violence, if the several systems should completely fail. If a man absolutely refuses to abide by the negotiations, the agreements, the rules or the laws, eventually there will be violence. I may not perform it myself -- I may delegate the task to a policeman, who will violently arrest the other man and violently put him in prison. But the model is a model that rests on violence. Violence underlies everything, which is why -- as you said -- we always come to it.

That's one reason we value men who tell the truth, shake hands, and keep their word. It keeps the number of confrontations to a minimum. We value men who don't require it of us.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 07:25 AM

[shaking head]

I still think you are eliding past a point you don't like, Grim.

No one, anywhere, whether it be in business or in the social realm, would get much done if every confrontation escalated into violence. People manage to cooperate precisely because they learn to steer conflict into socially acceptable paths.

We have substituted law and the implied threat of police and jail for physical coercion between people who disagree. In this, there is really very little difference between men and women. Whether you pull a knife on a man or a woman during a dispute over a breached contract, you have still committed assault. We can argue about what happens next, but there is one definition of assault and you just committed it.

And what you said earlier (and I'm willing to grant that this may not have been clear, but I objected to what you said explicitly, not what you may have meant, which I cannot have known and I have several times pointed out my objection) was that you "won't even say an unkind word", even to a vicious or dishonest woman.

That doesn't seem to convey to me that you are even willing to oppose the actions of someone who would damage your community. And I think that's wrong.

No one asked you to "fix" her. No one asked you to treat her exactly the same as a man.

The objection was to your refusing even to deal with the situation because she's a woman. As you point out above in your 'model of male confrontation', most times the actual violence never takes place.

This is my point exactly: in modern society, 99.9% of the time police and courts are substituted in, and therefore there is really no reason for you to refuse to deal with a vicious or dishonest woman.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 07:39 AM

I don't say unkind words to vicious or unkind women. I say, "I don't think that you're being fair."

That's not unkind, is it? I still try to avoid it, because in my experience it makes them angry; and every woman I've ever encountered in that way has thereafter hated me forever. Even (especially?) if I was defending another woman that they were being cruel to or about. I have still done it on occasion, because I hate to see cruelty, but I certainly haven't benefitted from it. And I haven't seen that it's changed their behavior, either.

"We have substituted law and the implied threat of police and jail for physical coercion between people who disagree.... most times the actual violence never takes place."

I think this may be a fundamental difference of opinion between us; perhaps between male and female perceptions of the world. I would say we haven't substituted law for physical coercion; and I would say there is nothing "implied" about the threat. A letter from a lawyer is an actual threat, backed by the power of courts and armies of police, and is therefore real coercion. Just as the fact that you carry a gun and are ready to use it is violent coercion even if you never draw the gun, so is the fact that the courts really will seize your property and/or hurl you in jail also violent coercion. Even if it never gets that far.

The Japanese say, "Business is war." It's not for no reason that Sun Tzu and Musashi are bestselling books for Japanese businessmen (and American ones, back when we were worried about Japan). The male mind perceives all of this as a sort of maneuver warfare: a positioning of powers to achieve your aims. As in real maneuver warfare, the highest prize is to put your opponent in the position where you never really have to fight the war -- he is so badly outmaneuvered, and in such danger of utter destruction, that he submits.

Now, you may say, "That's foolish," but it's not foolish. It's the way the brain is wired. All of this stuff, in the male brain, is a form of violence -- not "actual violence," but a form of violence, with real armies (of police) and real threats (such as seizures of property if you default on your contracts). The parts of our brain that evolved for actual conflict are the parts that do the thinking about all of this stuff. It isn't, therefore, possible to conceive that this is "not violence" or "substituted for violence." It is violence -- at least, insofar as it is processed in the same way as violence, it is something we cannot separate.

The one thing that doesn't 'feel like' violence is when you talk something through pleasantly, come to an agreement, and shake hands. That's the model we want, but it doesn't always work. Every other type of conflict -- everything that might be called "conflict" -- is sorted out by the violence-handling part of the brain (I speak without having studied this by MRI imaging, obviously; but I do speak empirically, based on how it "feels" to think about these things. It feels like violence).

In fact, thinking about it philosophically, I'm not sure exactly where the breaking point would be between "law" and "violence." It's easy to see the extremes: the settlement of a difficult question by men in suits who, having finished, go to lunch together, versus terror and blood. What isn't easy to see is exactly where the one stops and the other starts. Law appears to me to rest so completely on violence -- threats that are real, not implied, if you do not obey the settlement -- that I'm not sure there is a real break between them. It may be a single thing, of which "law" and "actual violence" are the opposite ends of the scale.

I'm not sure we have a word for that -- "conflict," I guess, but that's not quite right either. In any event, as re: women, because my brain perceives all of this stuff as being a sort-of violence, I don't like to direct it at women. I'll use kind words if I have to, and I can contemplate using violence in extraordinary cases to address a particular problem; but I don't feel it's right to use it in the kind of heavy-handed way that I feel perfectly free to use on other men.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 08:06 AM

To put this in the terms of your favorite Men/Women video, all of this stuff goes in the Violence Box. And I was trained, carefully and by very good men, not to go to the Violence Box when dealing with women.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 08:25 AM

In any event, hopefully that explanation will resolve why 'these discussions always come back to violence,' and why you found that your male readers were all strongly endorsing a view that you considered a gross exaggeration. It may be that our perception of the whole issue is affected by the difference in male/female brain function. For us, it really all is part of the violence issue: it's a violence issue from the start. For you, violence is very far away from what you're talking about, and you can't understand why we keep mentioning it.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 09:19 AM

That may well be.

I can easily understand how the situations could be perceived differently. What continues to confuse me is that, regardless of where you may subjectively think any encounter might end up, the fact remains that 99.9% of the time it is not going to end up violently. Therefore, any rational actor weighing the odds ought to look at the situation and conclude that it isn't really all that reasonable to treat women in a radically different way (i.e., refusing to hold them accountable for fear of that .01% of the time it "might" lead to violence) on account of something that isn't statistically likely to happen.

The potential harm to your community from not acting outweight the potential harm from acting. That has been my point all along.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 09:36 AM

IOW, this seems to me an example of one of those many times where men are not acting in what I consider to be a particularly rational way.

Women are always accused of being irrational.

Well, to me when you look at this rationally, I don't see the "male position" (at least as stated) as very rational.

A woman confronting a vicious or dishonest man has more to fear from him because in that .01 percent of the time, he is bigger and stronger and she won't win the physical confrontation. And even in a non-violent confrontation, men are often more aggressive and she may not win. But I don't excuse her from her social duty to oppose vicious and/or dishonest behavior in men. She owes it both to herself and her neighbors to do so.

And so do men, when they encounter such behavior from women. That is my position. I think it a fair and just one.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 09:41 AM

Hmmmmm, Cassie? You're using your "literal" brain. Try using your "philosophical" brain. I actually get Grim's point from the philosophical standpoint but you want to take it as a literal interpretation. The two are vastly different.

Let's take the example of Paco, Taco, and the Five Illegal Burrito Brothers I had an altercation with as an example and dissect it. To begin with the chances are the young lady would've never been assaulted by American youths that have grown up in our society knowing men will not allow that type of behavior. Enforced either through the violence of police action or a physical confrontation on the spot. They are raised in a society where they know this to be true. It is a fact.

Now, the illegals I faced had no such upbringing. They looked on me as an old man and therefore easy prey. They did not have that American societal upbringing that should have made the warning bells go off in their heads knowing I would stand. In their world a sheep, which they considered me, would back down and be subservient. The speed to which I responded absolutely shocked them. They had no concept anywhere in their minds or experience of old Amurican guys that don't back down. I could literally see the shock on their faces and used it to my advantage. Sometimes violence and brutality are required.

Now, back to the philosophical. If those would've been American youths all I would have had to do was look at them in a certain way and there would've been absolutely no conflict. Maybe a word or two. A lot of puffed up peacock strutting and jawing yes, but the chance of physical conflict very minimal. They would know that violence lay beneath the surface and they would not chance the confrontation. Simply because they were raised that way and they KNOW how it works. See the difference? Very rarely do we EVER have to resort to physical violence because that threat IS there. Always.

I got to talking to Da Grunt when he got in this morning about violence and how much confrontation he sees. We even broke it down by affluent areas and age. Last night was a slow night and they only took in 11 guys for fighting. He's had as many as 38 in one evening. Of the 11 3 were from affluent areas. All were young. What can you draw from this? My interpretation is that these young guys are learning the cause/effect/consequences of outright confrontation. As they age the tendency to violent behavior is lessened by massive percentages because of what they learned from their actions this time. Conflict resolution develops into another arena entirely as they age and gain experience but the fact is simply that violence is always the underlying factor. Your definition of violence is literal and mine is philisophical.

Society's norms have got to be enforced. The fact that you do not see that happening as violence under the surface is a major difference between the sexes. I believe you understand it but it is not a part of you. Not so with us. Societal behavioral enforcement has been around since I first took a teradoctyl leg away from Bubba The Cave Man in my youth. ;-)

Now think about this society without this inner layer of enforcement. That should give you some food for thought!

And yes, I have restrained women before. I have confronted women before. I have put women in the same place I'd put a man before. But I would never treat a woman as I would a man. I did so totally restrained and without the force I would use with men. Men have a tendency to simply cut a bad woman out of the herd and close any doors of opportunity she may have had. Don't go away mad - just go away! We do the same with bad men but there is usually a high level of confrontation involved. And yes, that is a double standard. And no, I'm rarely condenscending to women as I would be to a man. The whole "Little Lady" thing is not me. I enjoy being around women. Y'all think in a way that would never occur to me as a general rule. Plus you have no "stand-by" mode in your brains. When you ask The Unit what he's thinking about and he replies, "Nuthin'", he means it. Women do not have that capability. We may go into standy-by at any given moment. Not so with y'all.

Your literal brains can be tiresome at times though. :-o

Posted by: JHD at May 9, 2008 09:41 AM

JHD:

1. That was a different situation. I specifically excepted self-defense from this earlier.

2. To extend your point on Paco and Taco though, what happens when no one opposes vicious and dishonest women?

You have lots of Pacoettes and Tacoettes running around. No, you don't have to hit a woman if you are not comfortable doing that (and in fact that would get you arrested most times). But you can confront her verbally. You can file charges if she has done something illegal. You can embarrass her so she experiences the negative consequences of her actions.

What you do NOT do is let her get off scot free so that she learns (as Paco and Taco did) that such actions will go unopposed.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 09:48 AM

And by the way, I am scared to death of men in a lot of situations. I have been intimidated any number of times.

But I will not back down when I think that I am right about something and I have found that no 'threat of violence' is needed. Even rapists do not pick on women who make eye contact with them, JHD. They don't want someone who looks like they will fight back. They go for the easy victim.

All that is needed is that people show they are willing to oppose such behavior. It is not on any one person to "fix" the perpetrator. But neither is it right to turn a blind eye.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 09:52 AM

It's not about where a situation may end up, but about what part of the brain is dealing with it. In other words, it's not that 99.9% of the time there's no violence; it's that, this is in fact a form of violence. I was raised not to use violence against women, and have internalized the rule so deeply that I now enforce it on others.

As a result, it's hard to do more without weakening the rule. In your calculations, then, you should probably factor in what it's worth to have men who firmly believe that it's wrong to use violence against women, and will restrain other men who don't believe that.

Now, that's not to say I am not willing to take more action; it's just, I don't know how.

What, beyond polite but firm corrections when necessary, and refusing to speak to or deal with the person, would you have me do?

That's a serious question. I saw a female Major in Iraq destroy her unit -- every single member of the unit she commanded is ETSing, rather than risk being assigned to an officer like her again. The only one who reenlisted was the one who was able to get a transfer out. She was treacherous, manipulative, had no care for her subordinates, incompetent, and prideful to boot.

I am absolutely sure that the reason she wasn't destroyed by her commanding officer was that he didn't feel comfortable destroying a woman's career. He is a very decent man, and just couldn't bring himself to do it.

So he tried to manage her, and to move her responsibilities around so she had less direct control over her soldiers' lives; but she still managed to destroy the unit. He did everything he could do to mitigate the problem without actually removing her from command or otherwise destroying her career, and it wasn't enough. He probably should have done the other -- perhaps it was even a duty, in the case of a military officer in command -- but he just couldn't.

So yes, I accept that this is a serious problem. I would very much like for there to have been a way for him to deal with her that neither weakened the rule against hurting women, nor left her in command.

What should a good man do with a bad woman, if it isn't what I do? The rule is valuable, and I want to preserve it -- I think it probably creates a greater social good than is outweighed even the harm we're discussing here.

But I'm willing to hear ideas. For the sake of these ideas, by the way, the example of an officer in command is probably not very useful -- that is a unique situation, because a commander has a special duty to command. Let's talk more about civilian life. I mean, what should I do, beyond polite disagreements and avoiding bad women?

Good ideas will improve the situation without making women in the workplace feel like I'm a man who suppresses women with whom he disagrees -- that (as you know) is something that women in the workplace are sensitive to, and so I try to be sensitive to their sensitivity, so to speak. The ideas also won't weaken the rule (or the strength of the example I'm trying to set for younger men about how to be respectful to women).

What do you think?

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 09:57 AM

I don't say unkind words to vicious or unkind women. I say, "I don't think that you're being fair."

Well actually you've told me on any number of occasions that you didn't think I was being "fair". And then you've proceeded to say something far harsher than I ever did :p

So I suppose that makes me vicious and unkind? :) And yet I didn't hate you. I merely said that I didn't agree with your assessment. Which is my right.

I might be hurt by your thinking that I am unfair, but there is no point in my getting my nose out of joint. You are entitled to your opinion, and in the final analysis your saying a thing does not make it true. My position is that I am either unfair or not. I take your opinion into careful consideration even when I disagree with it because I respect you.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 09:58 AM

I am absolutely sure that the reason she wasn't destroyed by her commanding officer was that he didn't feel comfortable destroying a woman's career. He is a very decent man, and just couldn't bring himself to do it.

Then he is derelict in his duty.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 09:59 AM

How many people did he hurt by his actions.

You have just proved my point Grim, and I rest my case.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 10:00 AM

Perhaps this might clarify things a little more.

When a person takes it upon themselves to correct another, there is always the risk that the person being rebuked responds to the criticism with violence or the threat thereof. I've seen it happen, quite a lot. Twice in the last 5 years, it has concluded in getting the police involved.

Therefor, if correcting another person takes the risk that violence may be used against them, the person doing the correcting *must* be prepared to defend themselves, violently if necessary.

The "Mancode", for lack of a better word, does not permit a man to fight back if the woman he has criticized resorts to violence unless that threat is life-threatening. Otherwise, he must take it.

Not so when dealing with a man. Any man who responds to correction with violence deserves the beating he takes.

Maybe it isn't fair, but it is the way things are. And dealing with things the way they are, and not as one would wish them to be is part of "being a man".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 10:03 AM

All that is needed is that people show they are willing to oppose such behavior.

Can I stand up and cheer now? That is the point we've been making all along! A woman that makes eye contact with a rapist is willing to do violence in defense of herself. "Underlying violence to enfore societal behavior." ;-)

And it tweren't self-defense. I instigated it based on their behavior.

I am scared to death of men in a lot of situations.

And that is simply wrong. Which is the "other" part of the argument. You should never have to be scared to death of any man.

Get it?

Like your example of the buttmunches that gave you a hard time growing up. If I was in skool with you at the time that would've never happened. Period. Whether I knew you or not if I witnessed that type of behavior. If I did know you then and you came to me with the problem it would've gone away. Instantly. "Underlying threat of violence to enforce societal behavior."

Why is it I like to be called, "Honey" by my favorite Waffle House waitress? Talk about your double standards and men being from Mars! Heh!

Posted by: JHD at May 9, 2008 10:04 AM

Cass:

It isn't only bad people who are sometimes unfair. I say that to you not as a last resort, but because I have faith in your decency. It's part of a discussion with someone I already respect, not someone I think needs to be "fixed."

As for resting your case, I think I was trying to conceed the point and ask for help. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 10:05 AM

I realize that's unusual behavior for me, so I can understand how you might have missed it. :)

But yeah, I'm talking about bad women, not good ones. Good ones you don't have to worry about -- they're good because they want to be. You can dispute with them all day and night. Women like that are one of the great joys of life, or at least my life; many of my best friends, over the years, have been women like that.

The bad ones are apt to hate me no matter what I do, but I want to look beyond that. I want to look for ways to deal with them that doesn't weaken the example I want to set for younger men, doesn't give other women (who are probably not bad) a false-positive on male chauvanism that might make them feel uncomfortable even though they aren't the target, and doesn't weaken the rule against using violence towards women. Just walking away -- cutting them out of the herd, as JHD says -- is what I've been doing, with a polite but firm rebuke at the limit (you say I'm harsh when I do that; believe me, I get a lot more harsh than you've ever seen :) ; you want something more.

I'm willing to talk about how I can do more, as long as these concerns are addressed.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 10:21 AM

Cass,

I think you've nailed the problem right there:
"Therefore, any rational actor weighing the odds ought to look at the situation and conclude that it isn't really all that reasonable to treat women in a radically different way (i.e., refusing to hold them accountable for fear of that .01% of the time it "might" lead to violence) on account of something that isn't statistically likely to happen."

Rational, reasonable, statistically likely... these are words of logic. But men DO perceive confrontations as potential violence. I mean that. I am a fairly passive guy. In my life I've only been in a handful of fights, and I tend to be more of a peacemaker. However, interpersonal conflict DOES fire off the fight or flight mechanisms. I've had disagreements with co-workers in my office environment where I've had the adrenaline start to flow, the heart begins to race, and that "smell of blood" that I always seem to get when a fight's about to start appears. Now there's no way in hell I'm about to start a fist-fight about which team's responsiblity it is to handle a particular project. But the key point is, my body DOES NOT KNOW. It reacts exactly as if I was about to fight. And in many cases, that prevents rational, reasonable thought.

And it is for that very reason that some of us will not verbally (even just verbally) confront a bad woman. Because it kicks off the fight-or-flight mode, and we've been raised NOT to use violence upon women. Even if it's not ACTUAL violence, Cass... it FEELS like it physiologically. And that's uncomfortable. Hell, I don't like confronting my wife when she's being unreasonable with someone else. But I have (because I feel a sense of responsibility for her actions). Even then, I have to approach it very carefully, or it feels like violence, and that's something I won't abide.

Call it misogynistic if you must, but I cannot stomach violence against women. But to answer Miss Ladybug's question "What if she starts a physical fight," I'd have to say I'd either withdraw, restrain her, or if all else fails, attempt to end the fight with as little force as required.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 10:27 AM

A woman confronting a vicious or dishonest man has more to fear from him because in that .01 percent of the time, he is bigger and stronger and she won't win the physical confrontation.

True, but the men present *would* respond with violence should that vicious or dishonest man choose that option. *That* is the threat of violence that Grim is talking about.

But I will not back down when I think that I am right about something and I have found that no 'threat of violence' is needed.

Not from you, because the threat of violence I just mentioned has already been ingrained that he dare not use violence against you.

However, If she is alone, I would not blame a woman for avoiding the issue at that point in time if she believes that proscription has not been sufficiently ingrained.

Even rapists do not pick on women who make eye contact with them, JHD. They don't want someone who looks like they will fight back. They go for the easy victim.

Right, because that eye contact sends the message *Threat of Violence* to the rapist. It says "I will fight back".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 10:28 AM

Damn, took me to long to read and respond, so I'm late... now I gotta catch up.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 10:28 AM

"And I was trained, carefully and by very good men, not to go to the Violence Box when dealing with women."
Indeed. I could easily image that Grim and I grew up in the same neck of the woods based on his comments in this thread. And since my Wolverine's have been soaking in an A1 & onion sauce overnight... I was on the verge of adding my 2¢ worth supporting Grim's and JHD's assertion that the male world view that influences male behavior is grounded in the potential for violence[1]. But at this time I do not think I could add anything other than to say that this was an excellent discussion ladies and gentlemen.

JHD, regarding paco, taco, and the burrito brothers, I'll affirm that you placed a square hit on that nail. Been there, got the enchilada.


1.Genus: Homo Species: yappus-metrosexualus - excluded as statistical outliers.

Posted by: bthun at May 9, 2008 10:29 AM

The CO of the female officer was derelict in his duty. It was HIS responsibility to run that unit and she deserved to have her career derailed. Why hold back because she was a woman? Physical violence was not involved here! He did more damage than he realizes in not treating her the same way as he would have a man. He also did a disservice to the women coming after--any women those male soldiers come in contact with in a similar position will now be judged by the standard that woman set before she even opens her mouth. What's wrong with judging (and dealing with) by the standards of the job she holds--and punishing violations of that standard with penalties already in place?

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 9, 2008 10:47 AM

To be fair, we are condemning the man after only hearing one side of it. As presented, yes... I would say he was derelict. However, perhaps we don't have 100% of the story? Could it be he counselled her and it didn't take? Could it be he feared a charge of sexual discrimination? Who knows. But I do agree, it is the responsibility of senior command to keep their junior leaders in line, and if they do not, then the failings of those junior leaders become theirs.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 10:55 AM

Seems simple enough to me.

I see huge ripple effects from a simple failure to enforce a consistent standard of behavior.

1. The service involved lost many qualified people.

2. There was tremendous loss of confidence in the officer corps (not just in this *particular officer*, but in senior leadership for not protecting junior personnel from her malignant influence.

That is wrong on so many levels that I just do not know where to start. Grim wrote a post calling Barack Obama a coward recently. To me, this was an act of moral cowardice.

3. His actions told the entire command that the rules are meaningless and will not be upheld by the officers to whom that task has been entrusted. Nice going.

4. His actions make it harder on his brother officers (the ones who actually try to do their jobs). People like my husband, who do try to enforce the rules regardless of gender and then get accused of racial or sexual harassment b/c of people who think of their careers or themselves first and the good of the command, last. If enforcement is lax, those who do try to enforce the rules face an uphill battle.

Again, nice going buddy.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 10:58 AM

As I said, I recognize that it can be a serious problem. The LTCOL's South Carolina upbringing, normally an asset, worked against him in this case.

I also agree that military life has special duties, which impose special obligations on any military officer -- male or female. Anyone who enters that profession has to accept its standards.

As for him being derelict in his duty, I suppose that could be debated. He didn't ignore the problem, and he did everything he could short of wrecking her career to mitigate it, encouraging her to quit smoking, and spending an hour or more a day talking with her to help manage her. He felt that this was the right thing for him to do -- to try to build her up instead of tearing her down.

It wasn't enough, and I don't think he did the right thing; but on the other hand, he is the one with constituted authority, and it was really his call and not mine. I agree with you, but in a very real sense, it's not for me to say so, and I have to respect the chain of command as a civilian advisor as much as I would as a soldier.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 10:59 AM

Mike, that's an excellent point, and I appreciate the explanation because I did not understand that.

However, I frequently feel very similar feelings when I have to confront men. I have shut the door to my office for an hour because I was crying and did not wish anyone to know during some unpleasant office situation. I have gotten the shakes so badly I had to shut the door until I was more composed.

But then I opened the door and faced up to whatever it was, anyway, once I got control over my emotions.

This was why I brought up the Dune example even though it sounds rather corny. It is actually very apt: it is a question of whether we can override our more animal reactions with the rational mind. And what you all seem to be telling me is that men can't do this?

Hmmmm...

I'll buy that it is hard to do. Absolutely. And I agree. And understand it, too.

It's hard for women not to cry in the workplace, but we still need to learn to do it. It's hard for us to stand up to guys when they talk right over us in public (which they do, all the time) or ignore us, without getting all emotional about it or taking it personally, but we still need to do it. I tell women these things all the time. Your mind is supposed to be in charge, not your emotions.

That is often easier said than done. And as I have so often maintained to Grim, men are just as emotional as women. It's just that you experience different emotions, and for different reasons. And both men and women need to learn to reign that stuff in in public and be guided more by reason than passion.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 11:22 AM

Well Grim, that's a perfect example of what Yu-ain and I were arguing about.

I don't think it's not your place to comment. You don't have to be a CO to see that if virtually every member of a command is getting out due to the actions of an officer who was not relieved of her command, something went very, very wrong. This isn't brain surgery. Relieving a commander can be done just b/c you've lost confidence in their leadership.

Clearly there were ample grounds here. There is no question on that score. None whatsoever.

It doesn't require an active duty military person, or even a person with military experience, to comment here. It is obvious that more should have been done and because the same standard was not evenly applied, great damage resulted.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 11:28 AM

I don't know what you mean by "the same standard was not evenly applied." The LTCOL applied the same standard to her that he would have to anyone else -- I don't think he would have destroyed anyone's career. You may be right to call him a coward, but he was certainly consistent, and consistently motivated by a certain personal sympathy and decency. I suspect he did for her what he'd have done for anyone under his command: tried to build her up to be better.

She was just, you know, warped.

I certainly discussed her with him: he smiled and said, "Shh." What it wasn't my place to do was second-guess his decisions once he made them. He was the CO, and unless someone in the chain of command overruled or replaced him, he had the right to try to fix her instead of 'cutting her out of the herd.'

It was painful to watch, though. More painful for her soldiers to experience. Heck, her Captain spent two hours ranting about her to me the first day I ever met him. For all he knew, I was her best friend and would go to her with all of what he said, but he was too angry to care.

That's what I mean by "destroyed her unit." She completely wrecked military discipline within it. Her colonel wanted to help her, as he would have wanted to help any individual soldier under his command; but I still think he should have helped her soldiers, and the unit, instead.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 11:40 AM

"And what you all seem to be telling me is that men can't do this?"
Not that I want to get in between you, Milady, and the other gentlemen here, but men do control the urge, all the time. But it's understood among men that there are lines. And once the lines are crossed there could be a little tete a tete, sans conversation.

This can be seen every day in Atlanta's traffic jams (and I'm willing to believe in almost any other large area), in parking lots, malls, and any other public place. It is much the same in the office. And while I've never had a fight in the time I worked in an office, I did have a couple of notable one-on-one, door closed discussions with other males concerning this very subject, that of acceptable conduct.

Posted by: bthun at May 9, 2008 11:45 AM

I have to say that I disagree with you.

A command is not a personal growth tour, Grim. A CO doesn't have the "right" to experiment with the welfare of junior personnel in the command by trying to 'fix' one person at the expense of wrecking the rest of the command.

He was charged with overseeing that command. Part of that duty is to ensure that the officers under you are doing their jobs, and if not, to counsel them and if that doesn't work, to replace them. He failed in that duty.

End of story. Officers don't get cut slack. That is why they get paid more money. It wasn't that guy's job to act the Southern gentlemen, or "help" her. It was his job to run the command.

He was confused about where his duty lay.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 11:48 AM

bthun, that was a rhetorical question.

I know they can control the urge. If they couldn't, there would be fights, no? :)

My point was (and not to punish Mike for illuminating the point, which he did admirably) not that men couldn't control their emotions at all, but that since they control their emotions in one instance they can learn to control them in another. It's merely a question of custom and usage.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 11:52 AM

I totally agree, Cass. I'm just trying to present what I think he would say, since he isn't here to defend himself. I believe he felt he was doing the right thing by her, and hoped to return to the Army a stronger officer than he inherited.

What he did instead was return a Reserve unit that was broken. And the next time we need it, it's not going to be there.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 11:53 AM

For what it's worth bthun, I have only worked FT for about 15 years.

And yet, I've already had a few uncomfortable confrontations behind closed doors to defend a principle I thought important, and one or two in public. If you believe in standing up for your principles, this is inevitable.

Moreover, one at least one occasion the person I've had to confront has been very senior to me. So there was the very real risk of being fired in addition to everything else, at a time when I could not afford to go without a paycheck.

It is never easy. Never. Given half a chance, I prefer to back away from confrontations. But when the principle is worth defending (and I should think the welfare of an entire command entrusted to you fits that definition) sometimes one can't avoid unpleasant situations. Oh well.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 12:00 PM

You make about as strong a case for him as can be made, Grim :)

I won't belabor the point! It just upsets me when I see women given a pass like that. Maybe he didn't treat her differently b/c she was a woman.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 12:03 PM

I've had a conversation like that once myself, in a civilian government job with two female superiors -- my boss, and her boss.

And you know what? I'm sorry about it to this day. I tried my best to be generous, forgiving, and kind. And shortly thereafter, my boss left the organization entirely.

I've always regretted that. And I said nothing even slightly unkind: in fact, just the opposite. I went out of my way to be kind. But I think she felt she'd lost so much face that she couldn't remain.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 12:07 PM

Well, as a woman I have this to say about that:

If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Working has been an eye opener for me.

I am the biggest baby in the world. I have very tender feelings. I am sensitive (yeah, I know, who knew?) and my pride is easily wounded. But that is not anyone else's problem. People don't have to walk on eggshells, and I long ago learned to shrug things off even when I feel hurt or embarrassed. This is part of being a grown up. Sometimes you have to grab yourself by the scruff of the neck and say, "LIGHTEN UP, FRANCES!"

And sometimes if you have a good friend, they will say that to your face, and you should thank God for their honesty.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 12:12 PM

It was a bad time for her, really; her in laws were in Venezuela, and it was back during the coup attempt. Naturally she was stressed out. I would have forgiven her for a lot more than she did. But she wanted to have the fight.

I saw her a few years later. She didn't seem to hate me, so maybe it worked out all right in the end. I was still sorry about it; I hate to hurt a lady, even gently, even when there's no choice.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 12:19 PM

"This was why I brought up the Dune example even though it sounds rather corny. It is actually very apt: it is a question of whether we can override our more animal reactions with the rational mind. And what you all seem to be telling me is that men can't do this?

Hmmmm..."

Actually, that's a fair point, and one I'd like to expound upon. Men (and yes, I'm certain a share of women too) have the capacity for great violence. It is this very instinct (like the animal in the trap) that we are taught to supress. In our youth, we are very strongly taught that we do not let that beast loose around the females, and to keep it controlled around males. Maturing we get into fewer and fewer physical altercations as we learn negotiation skills, but the beast is still there.

But in our adult lives, we do not like to confront women because confrontation is a violent act to us (a very mild one when only words are involved, but a violent act nonetheless), and the potential for escalation is there. And yes, the potential for physical violence DOES exist even in the office. And not just someone "going postal". I saw a disagreement between two co-workers almost come to blows (mostly because one was trying to rub the other's nose in a mistake and would NOT back down).

So I guess what I'm saying is that since we know we have the potential for violence during a disagreement, regardless of how logically remote that possibility is, to even engage in a disagreement with a woman is violating social taboos far older than I or my father are.

To be fair, it's also why I do not discipline other people's children. This is NOT to say 'women are children' or that I will treat them as such. I am merely stateing that violence to women and children are social taboos, so my behavior to them is different than towards males.

It's also true that my behavior towards my wife is different than towards other women. I hold her both in higher regard AND to higher standards. I expect better behavior from her than from someone else because her behavior is a reflection of me even though she is an adult and responsible for her own behavior. I know I don't need to specify that, but it's best to make things plain given the raw nerves that seem to be on this thread. I suspect Cass would hold her adult sons to higher standards than other young men out there. Not because they are inferior to other young men, and not because they can't make decisions on their own, but because their behavior is a reflection of their upbringing and therefore her.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 12:53 PM

It's also true for me that I have a different relationship with my wife than I have with other women. I think that you're supposed to. :)

I don't have a problem with disciplining other people's children. I wouldn't lay hands on them like I would my own, but there is a socially acceptable way to discipline children without invoking offense, which is to frame the issue in terms of their safety. "Stop doing that, because I wouldn't want to see you get hurt" will cover almost any childish offense with a little imagination, and no one can be upset that you wanted to keep children from getting hurt.

That's why I was asking Cass for suggestions on how to go about this disciplining of women. There may be a way to do it that is similarly able to avoid the pitfalls; but they're different pitfalls, because women aren't children (as you point out). A concern for their safety, even when genuine and deserved, is apt to be received as patronizing.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 01:00 PM

(To say nothing of a complaint of the type that we started with: "You're not acting like a real woman." I'm pretty sure there is no way to frame that which is acceptable. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 01:03 PM

Well, that makes eminent sense to me (for the most part), Mike. Maybe women don't fear confrontations escalating into violence for two reasons:

1. I think we may be better - or maybe just more experienced - at reading emotional cues, so we don't fear things getting out of hand so much, though we may fear confrontations more for other reasons (i.e., it's not the taboo aspect, but in feminine culture any kind of confrontation is a de facto taboo). You're supposed to minimize discord and maximize harmony. Actually, the way Grim's CO behaved was far more female than male! And still wrong, as Maggie so trenchantly observed.

2. Female culture isn't one where violent confrontations are as much an expectation, so yes, we would be coasting on the expectation that they wouldn't happen.

However, the fact is (sorry to belabor the point) that male or female, whether you may subjectively "think" of confrontations as "violent" or not, for the most part the vast majority are merely unpleasant, not actively violent. And I am not sure it is either reasonable or advisable in many cases (as the example Grim gave, even when it undermined his point, which was honest of him) shows.

I understand your points better now, though :)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 01:03 PM

Well, I expect to be treated as a person, not a female.

If I've done wrong I want to be told plainly without undue acrimony but also without undue shilly-shallying around. I expect whatever rules there are to be applied in the same manner to me as they would to a man, i.e., evenhandedly without regard to my gender.

I wouldn't be upset by a man being gentler to me in his manner because I'm female so long as the CONTENT of what he said was not in any way toned down. I'm not a child. I *am* a woman, which is to say I'm not male. So maybe he might not be so gruff with me, knowing that I am a woman, but he should not fear to give me his opinion straight out if I work for him.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 01:08 PM

"I expect to be treated as a person, not a female."

To ask to be treated "as a person" doesn't clarify much, I'm afraid.

For example, a child is also a person (and may also be a female); a woman is not a child. So I will treat you both "as a person," but in completely different ways. By the same token, I treat persons who are men differently from persons who are women.

And so do you. "Women are better at reading emotional cues," you say (and I believe you); but insofar as that is a useful skill, it's useful because it means you are modifying your behavior toward different persons according to relevant information. One piece of relevant information is always sex: it informs how we think and perceive at very deep levels, as has become clear even in this discussion.

So yes, you'll always be treated as a person when I deal with you. Also as a lady. I think that's the way things ought to be.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 01:31 PM

I'm not a child. I *am* a woman, which is to say I'm not male.

I'm waiting in pregnant anticipation for the "Hear Me Roar" refrain! :-o

Now just how the hell are we supposed to get all mad and stuff at you when you sit there in pink socks and capris holding a grandbaby? The ultimate picture of demure domesticity?

Frankly, I'm glad I'm from Mars. It's one hellova' lot more fun that way!

Ruh-Roh! :-o

Posted by: JHD at May 9, 2008 01:35 PM

"bthun, that was a rhetorical question.

I know they can control the urge. If they couldn't, there would be fights, no? :)"

Heheh, I know, but the bandying of points of male on male versus male on female accountability is darned near irresistible.

It's why I started soaking my boots in A1 & onion last night... Just so they would be tender today in case my antiquated opinions slipped out and I found them in that old familiar place. Well, not that place. =;^}

Posted by: bthun at May 9, 2008 01:42 PM

Hey, JHD -- did I tell you about the horse that was struck by lightning? I meant to tell you about that next time I saw you. Blew a hole right through her head, but it instantly cauterized it. When the vet got there, she was up walking around like normal.

Reminds me of someone else I know. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 01:42 PM

Blew a hole right through her head, but it instantly cauterized it.

Good thing I didn't get cauterized boy! Ex-Lax wouldn't have even fixed my exit wound!

Overshare! :-o

Posted by: JHD at May 9, 2008 01:46 PM

*sigh*

I did not express myself well, Grim. I should have said I expect to be treated as an adult rather than as a child. Does that work better?

Honestly, this is not rocket science.

People (adults) should expect to be treated fairly. That is not to say everyone is treated exactly equally, but in general one expects the same rules to apply. Naturally people adjust their manner to the person's personality and situation. But the same general rules and morals ought to guide your behavior regardless of whom you're dealing with. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 01:49 PM

Geez Cassie, you're interrupting my nap time! I've got to fish a night tourney on Lanier tonight but I keep coming back to watch you roll up your sleeves and duke it out with us (philosophically speaking of course - we wouldn't want to compare it to any underlying violence tendencies in womyn! - heh) mens. Kinda' like a moth flies into flame to his death.

It's fascinatin'! :-o

Posted by: JHD at May 9, 2008 01:57 PM

Sorry to bring this back from several comments ago. But I would very much hesitate to judge the LTCOL on his failings. Even as described, we don't have all the info. For all we know the junior officer could have threatened *his* career with a sexual harrasment/discrimination accusation. And have no doubt, the accusation alone can be adequate to destroy a career.

So now he does the "right" thing and tries to remove her, she retaliates and he invariable losses. Now his career's over and it's public knowledge that she's untouchable. She can't be removed *nor* can she be corrected. Unit dissolution is now guaranteed and you've also lost a senior officer.

Or he can do the "wrong" thing and try gentler techniques in the hope that it will prevent unit dissolution (no matter how slim a chance of success, it's better than the alternative which is 0).

So tell me, which is deriliction: Abandoning your most junior staff to a power mad officer and destroying a unit or working toward changing said officer and trying to preserve the unit?

Was that the option he was facing? I don't know. Maybe he could have removed her easily. If that was the case, then maybe she was a bad leader because her own leader was such a poor example of one himself.

But I certainly wouldn't presume to tell him that to his face. While I'm not exactly good looking I do happen to like the way my face is arranged at the moment.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 01:58 PM

Sorry, JHD, it's my fault. I got up at 0530 this morning wanting to come back and talk about this with her some more, and when I got here, she was already posting comments. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 02:07 PM

Are you seriously telling me you think it is right for a senior officer to place his own career prospects above the welfare of a command he has been entrusted with?

Wow. How about a little trust in the system here? You act as though there were a 100% conviction rate on no evidence. My husband has actually been both threatened with, and accused of, these things as have many other officers who have ignored such idiocy and gone on to do their duty. There's this sticky little thing called "evidence". Along with this other sticky thing called your reputation.

The option he was facing was to do the right thing and preserve both his self respect and unit cohesion. You can't control the actions of others, nor always the ultimate outcome. All you can ever do is the right thing.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 02:08 PM

Yeah, well JHD I am getting smacked around pretty well :p

As usual I'm the only one who either thinks what I think or is willing to say so. Yee ha.

Except for Maggie! Thanks!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 02:09 PM

I don't think the LTCOL was worried about an EO action in any event. This particular Major was the worst sexual harassment offender of any officer I ever saw. That is a can of worms she wouldn't have wanted to open up.

No, I think he wasn't trying to protect himself -- he was just trying to help her. As I said above, I agree with Cass that he should have protected the unit instead. I do think, however, that he believed he was doing the right thing.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 02:17 PM

"I understand your points better now, though :)"

And that's all I was trying to accomplish, ma'am! :)

But at the core, I think you're right, men and women are different with different 'reads' on situations, and different coping mechanisms with situations. Neither is right nor wrong in all situations, but where it gets iffy is when men and women interact. Women want to be treated as they would treat each other, which is perfectly understandable. And men generally like to be treated as other men would treat them. It's the cross gender interactions that cause issues. And where I see this the most is in young married couples who are freinds of mine. She gives subtle cues that something's wrong, and he doesn't catch them. He tells her something is bothering him flat out, and she wonders where the 'hostility' is coming from. I really enjoy helping them understand the 'cross-cultural' differences and I love seeing the lightbulb go on when they 'get it'.

I'm no marriage counselor, but I can share my experience with them and it seems to make things better. As I said, I'm a peacemaker (though not in Samuel Colt's definition). Enjoy! :)

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 02:17 PM

These discussions end up going nowhere, in my opinion (as always YMMV) because several layers of behaviour/interaction/cultural standards are not acknowledged but are conflated and discussed together as if they are the same thing.

Human beings are sexual, as is every other species on this planet that depends on sexual reproduction to survive. That means that each sex tries to attract the other to get laid. I would not be surprised to find that amoebae have cell walls that differ in attractiveness to other amoebae. In humans those means differ according to culture and time period. There are no men of my acquaintence who would be overcome at the sight of a well turned ankle or a bound foot, for instance. Women today do not undergo procedures to enhance their appearance for each other, they are enhancing what they already know men respond to. Women's responses to each other and to men (as are men's to each other and to women) are formed by what society has decided is the 'desirable' appearance. Men do this too--there are an awful lot of ads out there for 'male enhancement' and beards, body shaving, hair length, etc. Never mind GQ for the sharp dresser (and HE wants to dress well for whom?)The MALE ideal has also changed over time according to what society and women have decided they want too. There is no mystery here. There is no point in wrangling about it either. When enough people become uninterested or turned off by a particular practice it falls by the wayside and something else takes its place, as each individual is always free to choose what is personally attractive and to reject what is not (any guys here like to wear silk knee breeches, lace jabots, with long curly hair?). It's interesting to read that one "man" rule is never poach another's woman--and women have their "catfights" over stealing another's man. Different terminology (which I don't appreciate) but same rule--common ground for "Real Man" and "Real Woman?" However it is expressed the dance will go on and I don't see that there is that big of a difference between what men do and what women do to join in that dance--notice the increase in numbers of men undergoing cosmetic surgery, for instance.

There are also BROAD (notice I said broad?) gender differences, in that men and women react and behave differently, have different strengths and bond differently within their sex and without. At this point I have no idea (and I don't believe anyone else does either) as to how much of this is hard wired and how much is society based. I tend to believe that more is society based but that's my OPINION. I see a nearly straight line from the parfait gentil knight of the Middle Ages to the Southern Gentlemen or the Noble Cowboy of the west. Reasons for that are many and varied, but it's there. Woman are to be protected and not used violently (although the definition of violence towards women has also varied through time). Each sex tends to look down on the other's methods. I believe there is a good deal of overlapping common ground here but at this point I doubt whether each can truly understand how the other sex thinks--and I used to believe we could. The value judgement of male vs female methods needs to be dropped (and the "female" method IS viewed negatively) and in contemporary society more judgement used about what method fits the particular situation. And this needs to be done by both sides. As a woman *I* don't like some of what is going on either. I would prefer women stop the kneejerk distaste for "the way men do things" and men do the same toward "the way women do things."

So. We have centuries and centuries of men being the ones who settle things "directly" by violence, or otherwise force the issue. We have centuries and centuries of women being the ones protected--and their behaviour otherwise ignored as long as they fulfil their role in society and out of the way of real business. Men who could not protect their women either by force of arms or political machinations were scorned as weaklings (or worse--women) and women who used the same methods of either political machinations or force of arms to protect themselves or their own were scorned or disposed of. Tends to push the strays back in line, eh? Societal changes are ahead of changes in centuries old beliefs and things are still adjusting. I think this discussion itself is skewed a bit too, since it seems most of the posters are military or military connected--I suspect therefore that most are to the right of the average in this.

The problem comes today when social behaviour (and gut level belief/acceptance of same) runs smack into changing roles of men and women in society--and they don't always fit. Even perhaps 30 years ago the situation with the female officer would not have arisen because a woman would probably not have been in that position. She might have been "wife of" and run the shadow command of spouses by the same methods but the soldiers would not have been affected and would therefore have paid no attention. By the way, MEN behave that way too, personally run across a few--and officer incompetence is an ongoing issue in the military now, from what I read. Read myself about the damage a Master Sergeant with the same kind of behaviour did to a unit. Why is this particular case so unusual? Altogether now--because it was a woman. The difference here is that a man would not have hesitated to judge a male officer's performance and deal by "man's rules". Allowing societal/social rules to govern behaviour in a job like that hurts everyone, in fact it sets up a Catch--22 for women. A woman screws up, she's protected because she's a woman--and the next woman who comes in is viewed from the start as incompetent with special privaleges; simply because the previous woman failed it's "proof" a woman can't do the job. Been there too. Right now there aren't enough woman compared to the numbers of men in such jobs for a female incompetent to be viewed as the inevitable "bad apple" in a large barrel as a man would be.

Confrontations in a dark alley are not the same as turning a blind eye to shady business dealings. A woman pulls a fast one in business--sue. Same as what would be done to a man pulling the same fast one. A woman doesn't perform the job? Document it and fire her. Don't like her personal behaviour? Don't associate with her--same as a man. But when women are performing jobs in the workplace their WORK should be judged by the same standards used for males--to do otherwise almost guarantees long term failure of these changes. In the workplace I prefer to call it being an adult...

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 9, 2008 02:21 PM

Now, Cass, be fair to yourself. You should be able to put this up in your W column. We started off with me conceeding the 'why do women pay attention to their looks?' argument; and halfway here I conceeded that women can be horrible people who can't always be ignored when they're awful; and furthermore, I asked you for help in sorting out how a gentleman can deal with them without undermining the deeply important rule preventing gentlemen from using violence against women.

So that's two wins and a request for your help; you should feel good about today. :)

More importantly, I think we probably achieved some solid insights: I think you may understand now why violence comes up in discussions about propriety, when before you thought it was a rhetorical trick; for my part, I can see that men need to do more to smack down bad women correct improper behavior, as long as we can do it without undermining the effort to teach young men to show due respect to ladies. It's been one of our better and more productive discussions, I'd say.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 02:22 PM

Ah, the "strike" tag doesn't work here. "Smack down bad women" was supposed to be struck through, as a joke. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 02:23 PM

You're welcome, Cassandra! LOL

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 9, 2008 02:31 PM

Grim,

You raised something I kept forgetting to mention. How men handle improper behavior amongst women. I recall the old school way of 'disciplining' an unruly woman used to be to go to her husband/father/brother and having words with him on a man to man level. I can certainly see where this would aggravate a modern woman as "not treating her like an adult" by implying that her bad behavior is not under her control, but is the responsiblility of the male members of her family to straighten out. And that's the 'good' interpretation. The 'bad' one would be to compare that solution to the Middle Eastern tradition of husbands/fathers/brothers performing 'honor killings' to protect their reputations from the female's bad behavior.

By no means do I find the latter a 100% fair comparison. I don't believe my grandfather pulling his brother aside and telling him to discipline his sister-in-law was encouraging him to kill her. But I can still see the objection to the "get your wife under control" system.

On the male side of the equasion it makes sense. I can't treat my sister-in-law like a man, so I'll grab the nearest male relative who I can treat like a man and remind him that her behavior reflects poorly on him. But on the female side of the equasion, it looks like I don't respect her enough, or think of her as an equal enough to say "you're embarrasing yourself by acting the fool, knock it off."

So what's the answer? I don't know. I favor trying a more female approach to deal with a woman's bad behavior (i.e. social shunning/ostracism), but the problem with that is, men tend to be bad at that. This is where I think Grim's appeal for help is really a good idea. Cass? What do you suggest?

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 02:38 PM

I'm sorry,did I miss the part where I said the only thing to gain for the LTCOL was to save his own career. Cause I don't even remotely remember saying such a thing.

What I said was: Is it better to take an action which *will* knowingly sacrifice a senior officer and a unit while also entrenching a poor junior officer or an action which *might* save a senior officer and the unit, while also reforming the poor junior officer?

How did "and" and "also" become "only" or even "primary"?

The second option might not work, but, in the scenario given, it would be a better than the first option which will always fail.

I don't think the LTCOL was worried about an EO action in any event. This particular Major was the worst sexual harassment offender of any officer I ever saw.

Thanks grim for confirming we don't have all the information needed to draw a proper conclusion.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 02:52 PM

You're not going to like this, but all my life I have tried my best to ignore gender differences, inasmuch as possible, in resolving disputes.

What I mean by this is that I decide what is fair and right, then I talk to the person honestly and with respect (which is different from deference and is often uncomfortable). Now I might adjust my manner because I'm dealing with a man vs. a woman. But as I said before, I NEVER pull any punches or adjust the content of what I'm saying on account of the sex of the person I'm dealing with.

My husband often tells me I'm nuts :p He may well be right.

But I can't tell you how often I've had men tell me that they appreciated my candor. Now maybe they were lying to me. They have also told me they liked the fact that I trusted them enough to tell them the truth.

Now maybe they were also lying like labrador retrievers ;p

I am not dumb. There is very little in life that does not occur to me, including the knowledge that at times I make people uncomfortable. But that is me. I read a line in a book once about a character that I saw a lot of myself in. It went something like this (I don't have it exact): "...when she was uncertain, her instinct was always to slice to the heart of something, like a surgeon".

That is me. I can't change who I am. Sometimes I try to moderate it because I can't bear to hurt people unnecessarily. But always I think it is best to be honest and direct, if you can. And trust people, keeping in mind that they may not be worthy of your trust.

But give them the chance to surprise you. They so often do, in wonderful ways.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 02:57 PM

Grim, I also understand your position a lot better, which makes me happy.

I don't want to score points. A lot of this is me wanting to understand where you're coming from. I have to assume there is a reason. It's just that when I can see no good outcome from something you say (as in this case) it is disturbing to me. I always assume a good motive.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 02:59 PM

"But I can't tell you how often I've had men tell me that they appreciated my candor. Now maybe they were lying to me. They have also told me they liked the fact that I trusted them enough to tell them the truth."

Cass, I will put down money they were not lying. Men DO appreciate candor. They were more than likely shocked that you stated your opinion openly and plainly since that is NOT standard male/female interaction. The number one complain I have from the young husbands I am friends with is "she never says what she means." Guys... that's because she's not like you. She communicates without saying what she wants outright because women consider women who do crude and pushy. She does not yet understand that we men are too dense for hints to work.

So I will lay heavy odds they normally also have a pretty dumbstruck look on their face when they say they appreciate your candor, Cass.

More than likely, they are also trying to work out how to deal with it. Again, because you're not a man. If it's a harsh criticism, the standard reaction to a direct challenge is a counter-challenge. If it's constructive, then generally that mitigates it, but "men are touchy" because verbal criticism is normally taken as a dominancy challenge. When it comes from a woman, they really don't know what to make of it. So ten to one, they basically thank you and walk off.

And the "thanks for trusting me enough" line actually speaks volumes as well. You basically stuck your head in the lion's mouth to challenge him openly (in male terms). You're showing trust by making yourself subject to violence in a sense.

In a way, I think this is why men will accept critique from women more readily than from other men. It's not "threatening". Now, if the critique is abusive, then it's more likely to come across as "emasculating" than if a guy had done it (where it would be "provocative"). But at least the woman will likely avoid a violent response.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 03:26 PM

God, the more I talk about male/female interaction, the more I realize... men SOUND dumb. I know it isn't so, but lordy are we thickies.

Posted by: MikeD at May 9, 2008 03:28 PM

If it's a harsh criticism, the standard reaction to a direct challenge is a counter-challenge.

A local sports community forum is a perfect example of this. This community is fairly small, no more than 20 or 30 people who would be considered power players (in the political sense not the athletic one). Yet when someone is criticized it is almost always done anonomously. it is almost always responded to with "If you have a problem with me "Man Up" and leave a name". What's left unspoken is "So I know who to punch the next time I see you at the park."

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 03:49 PM

I'm sorry,did I miss the part where I said the only thing to gain for the LTCOL was to save his own career. Cause I don't even remotely remember saying such a thing.

Well, actually in my book, you kind of did:

What I said was: Is it better to take an action which *will* knowingly sacrifice a senior officer and a unit while also entrenching a poor junior officer or an action which *might* save a senior officer and the unit, while also reforming the poor junior officer?

How is there ever an action which will knowingly sacrifice a senior officer?

There isn't one. You can't assume the outcome of a charge of sexual harassment, and that's the implication I addressed. Weighed against that, he had an absolute duty to protect the personnel under her command.

He didn't have the right to take chances with their welfare, and he failed in that duty, with catastrophic results. There isn't really any more information we need to know, Yu-ain.

A commander is ALWAYS responsible. Period. That is why he or she is "in charge" and that is why he or she is immediately relieved if the higher command loses confidence in the CO's judgment. Sometimes it really is that simple.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 04:20 PM

I agree that a commander has a duty to protect their charges (in as much as that doesn't compromise completing the mission). However, if by attempting to remove the junior officer, he removes himself and entrenches her, how does that protect his charges? It doesn't. It makes things worse.

As for "You can't assume the outcome of a charge of sexual harassment, and that's the implication I addressed", I'm thinking a former high school coach of mine whose "contract was not renewed" and subsequently found it very difficult to find coaching jobs due to a "mere accusation" will take solace in your words.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 05:42 PM

"Posted by: Maggie100 at May 9, 2008 02:21 PM"
Well said Maggie100.

And Milady Cass, what MikeD said,

""But I can't tell you how often I've had men tell me that they appreciated my candor. Now maybe they were lying to me. They have also told me they liked the fact that I trusted them enough to tell them the truth."

Cass, I will put down money they were not lying. Men DO appreciate candor. They were more than likely shocked that you stated your opinion openly and plainly since that is NOT standard male/female interaction."

And from the congregation arose an AMEN!

Speaking for no one other than myself, I was quite awkward around females as a young fellow, think Curley Howard... Possibly because with the guys, the rules of interaction were crystal clear. No plotting 10 moves in advance. None of the mind reading, the inverse action principle or other half stated directives versus actions. Blunt, up front and to the point. No clairvoyance required.

Although truth be told, the acceptance of constructive criticism has in my case been an acquired taste that has become more palatable with age. Walkin' Boss has set me straight on more than a few occasions. And any other forms of criticism will probably not be so readily accepted.

"A commander is ALWAYS responsible. Period. That is why he or she is "in charge" and that is why he or she is immediately relieved if the higher command loses confidence in the CO's judgment. Sometimes it really is that simple."
And once again, that leadership thing rears its head... Which is mighty easy for me to say, sitting on my dusty carcass here versus being there, but you just might be on to something in that it is indeed that simple.

Posted by: bthun at May 9, 2008 05:45 PM

It's not like even if he got the axe, someone else wouldn't be put in his place, Yu-ain. They're not going to gap the billet.

And in the worst case, everyone would know what happened. They would be on notice.

How could any of what you're talking about possibly be better than what happened (an entire command destroyed?)

re: this --

As for "You can't assume the outcome of a charge of sexual harassment, and that's the implication I addressed", I'm thinking a former high school coach of mine whose "contract was not renewed" and subsequently found it very difficult to find coaching jobs due to a "mere accusation" will take solace in your words.

You are still talking a situation where he is putting his own welfare ahead of his duty, and that is unacceptable.

Answer: it couldn't. One or two officers are expendable and replaceable. An entire command isn't.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 05:46 PM

It's not like even if he got the axe, someone else wouldn't be put in his place,

No, but that new person would also be impotent to remove the problem. She would be untouchable. It would be viewed as retaliation "by the good ole boy network". Can't you see the headline? "Major Dismissed for Blowing the Whistle on Sexual Harrassment!"

So the command is already hosed, and now you want to wage a (losing) battle in the court of public opinion? How is that not worse?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 06:11 PM

You are still talking a situation where he is putting his own welfare ahead of his duty, and that is unacceptable.

No. I'm not. I'm arguing against your position that such action is risk free. If you were to have argued "You're correct, he's hosed, but he should do it anyway" I wouldn't have brought it up.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 9, 2008 06:23 PM

I've been at school all day, and it's taken me a bit to catch up on all the comments. Cass, Maggie isn't the only one who agrees with you...

Take the LTCOL and the destroyed command. By not removing her, he has done more damage to the faith of subordinates in the command than just the damage that the Major was inflicting: his actions (or lack thereof) told everyone in the command that more senior officers didn't care about fixing that known problem (ESPECIALLY if she had her own issues re: sexual harassment and wouldn't have wanted to "open that can of worms"). So, of any that were aware of the problems in that command (possibly members of other units that had dealings with it?), how many of THEM have lost confidence in the LtCol because he let this lone female officer off the hook at the cost of the entire command?

And, to take this scenario out of the military world: say you are a man employed in a senior managerial position, for which you are held accountable for the performance (with financial implications). You have a female junior manager (who you were not responsible for hiring/putting in that position), and she is beginning to cause rumblings of a mass exodus of experienced non-managerial personnel from the enterprise. Losing these experienced personnel is going to cost the enterprise (for which you have a fiduciary responsibility) to lose money: Yes, you might be able to hire replacement employees, but they don't know YOUR business like the employees who left because of the female junior manager - it will be quite a while before your enterprise can recover from this loss. Question: How long do you let this go on? YOUR boss might decide to fire you both, if you don't know the right thing and fire the manager (after all appropriate counsellings and documentation of such have proven fruitless), because you failed in your duty to do what was in the best interests of the enterprise.

I see that as no different that the LtCol's failure to do what was best for HIS enterprise: his command, and the portion of the military that he has been tasked with maintaining for the People of the United States of America. The damage he has done by his failure to appropriately deal with a bad officer (not a bad female officer, but a bad officer) has cost a very great deal that is not easily or quickly replaced...

It all goes back to what you said: I just want to be treated as an adult. If I do right/well, I want to be recognized for my accomplishments. If I do poorly/wrong, I should likewise be confronted (in a manner appropriate to the infraction) about that, as well.

And as for not wanting to correct "someone else's children"? I cannot more strongly disagree: society, as a whole, needs to start enforcing what is acceptable behavior at a young age. Not all kids get it from their parents. If I see a child behaving inappropriately and I am in a position to say something to that child, I will. I have cause to do this not just in my role as an educator. It is easier to train children into proper behavior at a young age than it is to wait until they become unruly adolescents. I've had the discussion frequently with my cousin's wife wrt their son: some of her friends with children have commented for a long time now (and the boy is not even two and a half) about them correcting his wrong behavior - they do not address that same wrong behavior in their own children. My second cousin is a good boy who is learning appropriate behavior at home, where it should be taught. The other children are not: the parents, I guess, are going to expect that appropriate behavior in their children will just magically appear when they turn five and begin kindergarten; either that, or they are expecting that their children's teachers should be the ones to do it. I think any responsible adult, when they see wrong behavior (in its many forms - both the benign and the more serious), it needs to be addressed, for the good of society...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 9, 2008 06:25 PM

Back to the inappropriate behavior of children...

As I said, I was at school all day (well, from about 7:30 until 3:15). I subbed in a kindergarten class. Let's just say, while not being my most trying sub assignment, it was no walk in the park. I was constantly having to STOP to regain control of the class. These children are almost first graders, but too many (there were 16 in attendance, with 4 absent) weren't behaving as such. Clips got moved, even AFTER reminding the class that they would get ice cream at recess, but ONLY if they behaved (I guess this is maybe a regular thing they do - it turned out to be Blue Bell mini ice cream sandwiches). One boy who was one of the ones I had to get after the most, was upset that he didn't get an ice cream sandwich at recess - he started to cry. I calmly explained to him that he had made choices about his behavior, and that he was now having to deal with the consequences of those choices (no ice cream, in addition to having to sit out 5 minutes of recess). I was only in that class for a day, but hopefully, I made an impression on him. There were things in the regular teacher's lesson plan that didn't get done today, but I would rather stop what I am doing, get everyone's attention, talk to them, and then get on with things than to ignore the bad behavior and end up with nothing but chaos in the classroom. Maybe is had a lot to do with the fact that it's Friday, and there is only about a 3 more weeks of school left, or the fact that (apparently) I wasn't the first sub in that class this week, but you can't just let it slide...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 9, 2008 06:36 PM

*clap clap clap*

You and Maggie are just outstanding :)

And not just because I agree with you, either.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 9, 2008 06:54 PM

Thanks! *grin*

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 9, 2008 07:16 PM

I don't disagree, but I would like to note that the subject has drifted from its moorings. The question we began with was "How could you enforce a code of who is a "Real Woman" like the code for "Real Men?""

Somehow that became an assertion that business leaders should fire bad employees. I'm not sure exactly how that happened. "You should fire bad employees" is not an objectionable principle, but it's not where we began. We were talking about women as people, not women as employees. It was there that I was defending the idea that women should be the ones to sort out what constitutes "Good Womanhood," if anyone does. (Cassandra, if I remember, was arguing that no one should try to define it for other women, which is fine with me.)

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 08:30 PM

No, Grim. You assert that you cannot confront bad women because it has, from a male perspective, a root in the potential for violence, so you are unable to enforce any sort of code. I argue that in many situations, it's not a "man code" or a "woman code", but an "adult code" - there are certain standards that should be considered universal for both men AND women, and those standards should be enforced against both, equally. You brought up the LtCol and his unwillingness to address the problem with a female junior officer, and that unwillingness was possibly rooted in the fact that he didn't "feel right" in enforcing an expected code of conduct against her, when, in all likelihood, he would have had no such reluctance had the junior officer were a man. "People" vs. "employees", is SHOULDN'T matter We are all adults and should be treated as such. Whether we are talking personal relations or professional (either in a "arms-length" transaction, or an employee-employer [or senior officer-junior officer]), certain standards should be considered universal and enforced by all against everyone, regardless of gender.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 9, 2008 10:22 PM

I brought that up to conceed the precise point that you're now arguing with me, which is that female bad behavior does sometimes need to be addressed -- to whit, in the case of the Major.

Which is fine -- I'm OK with firing really bad employees, especially in the case of military officers.

But it has nothing to do with the original discussion, which was about how to enforce a code of honor on people. That's not about shoving a bad employee out the door; it's about making people better than they are. That is what I'm not prepared to try to do with women: to force them to accord with my values.

Fire them, I suppose, if it has to be done.

As for "people v. employees shouldn't matter," I think that's entirely wrong. Of course it should matter if you're my employee, versus anyone else. It creates an entirely new kind of relationship, that would otherwise not exist; and it creates duties and obligations that also do not otherwise exist. I might have a duty (to the stockholders) to fire a bad female employee (although not to be rude to her while I'm doing it); I don't have a duty to fire a bad woman who is rude while she and I are shopping at the grocery store. "Fire" doesn't even make sense in that context.

Now, if a man is rude, I feel like I have an obligation to do something about it. With a woman, even if she's terrible, I'll tip my hat and move on.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 11:04 PM

Or maybe I do have a response. What Lucas was talking about, rereading her argument was this:

"What we don’t do, or at least I don’t see it very often and believe me, I’ve looked, is establish our own code for judging others based on qualities that really matter, like men have."

I don't really have a problem judging women. I just don't enforce my judgments on them. I might have a special duty to do so in cases where I was an officer of the country or a corporation; but I don't feel that I have either the right or the duty in general social interaction.

But if she simply means that you should have a code by which you know if someone is to be taken seriously or not, dealt with or not, ignored or pushed aside or whatever -- that, I've got. And while I'm not willing to be aggressive with women, I am willing to ostracize the bad ones (at least from my own company).

With a tip of my hat.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 11:21 PM

Grim~

You're not addressing the issue you yourself brought up about the LTC and the MAJ. THAT was basically an "employer-employee" relationship - as the Major's superior officer, he was (still is?) her boss. But, he failed in his (fiduciary? - he's working for the People of the United States, and his actions have cost us valuable resources) duty to do what was best for his enterprise.

There will be different situations, to be sure, between professional relations and not (personal, or even that b*tch you run across in the grocery store), but we should all be held to the same standards.

What was said earlier? Men shouldn't go after another man's woman? Well, women shouldn't go after another woman's man, either. Different sides of the same coin. Men should be honest and forthright in their actions? Well, so should a woman. I'm sure I could go back to "the list" of what makes a "real man" and make most (if not all) those standards work as something against which to measure a woman's conduct.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 9, 2008 11:23 PM

I suspect most men, like me, feel very secure about telling a man that he's a piece of trash (however politely), and being willing to fight to enforce that view if necessary. I don't feel the same security in enforcing a judgment against a woman.

In fact, some of the worst people I've ever known are women, but I've never said an unkind word to any of them.

Insofar as that experience is typical of what decent, successful men are like, 'real men' exist because we enforce the standard on each other (and for good reasons, not limited to the reproductive ones you mention: if a man's word is no good, I cannot do business with him, which has opportunity costs for both of us; or if I do, he steals; he makes a terrible neighbor; and so his viciousness impacts my life as well as his own).

How is "if a man's word is no good, I cannot do business with him" any different than considering an employer-employee relationship??

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 9, 2008 11:28 PM

ML:

The reason I'm "not addressing" it is that the whole reason I brought it up was to conceed the point you're trying to make. I'm not arguing against your point because I wanted to conceed it in the first place. That example proves that, in certain cases, it is important for men to be willing to correct women. I conceed that. That was the whole and only reason to bring it up -- to conceed the point.

The next step was to ask for suggestions on good ways for men to correct women, when necessary, without weakening the important rule; or the strength of the example to be set for young men.

The suggestion "everyone should be held to the same standards" directly undermines the rule. The rule rests on a recognition of that difference. It's a very valuable rule, one that underlies the problem that JHD was talking about -- how American youths don't aggress against women, and can be turned aside with a look; but certain illegal immigrants who come from different cultures do, and can only be dissuaded with force.

We need to maintain that rule, and to continue to bring young men up right in this regard. I'm not willing to abandon that principle.

So, I'm willing to meet you halfway. If you can help me find tools for correction that don't involve weakening the rule, I'll use them when it is appropriate. I want American young men of tomorrow to be the kind JHD describes today.

You've heard bthun and JHD and MikeD and others say that they were raised more or less the same way I was. I think it's fair to say that we're the sort of men you prefer, is it not? So when we say that this is an important point, a rule that we feel needs to be upheld, please listen. It does matter.

If you can help me find a way to correct women without weakening the rule, I'm at your service. But the rule must stand.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 11:40 PM

Okay--something MikeD said laid out at least part of the problem with waaaaaaaaayyyy fewer words than I used.

He mentioned that men might tend to go to a woman's husband if something she did was out of line instead of confronting her directly. This, along with the deference given to women on the basis of being the "gentler sex" DOES refer back to previous cultural habits that do NOT always work now in a changed society. I know where this comes from, at least in part, and it DOES go back to the idea that the man was the authority in the family and therefore responsible for the wife's behaviour. My father was born in 1926 and our family church was an ultraconservative Lutheran church that explicitly taught that women should have no authority over men, along with the old hierarchy Woman to Man as Man to God. I had an aunt that was a real stinker and he DID talk to his brother, not the aunt, nor did he ever confront her directly. He simply avoided her as much as possible, much as some posters here have already said they do in the same situtation because he was also raised with the belief that a man does not confront/challenge a woman. I was born in 19mumblemumble and raised with these ideas--which didn't last through college. I no longer belong to this church, either. My son was born in 1978 and my daughter in 1982--and I can assure you neither of them would think of using such an intermediary for this kind of reason because they wouldn't understand it on that basis. My son exhibits the deference at least socially to women (I'm sure he would talk to a friend about girl friend behaviour) but in his workplace he sees no reason to hold women to a different standard ONLY because they are women--nor, in my opinion, should he. I did not intentionally (or at least not always intentionally) teach either of them differently from this past model but I was a single mother while they were teenagers and they had seen me tile a floor, make a quilt, and work more than one job to keep things going. They had also heard me rant about idiocies on both sides and I will say his sister also smartened him up on some matters!

The problem is this system is what was--and in many cases still is--the norm for centuries and centuries and is not going to change in a couple of generations. I understand it and in social situations this system still holds sway, in most cases it's become watered down and is now called manners. But this is also what I meant about the collision of past cultural history being in conflct with the currently changing society. Personally, I feel like Cassandra has mentioned; I dislike confrontation, prefer to avoid it, and have had to hide for awhile myself now and then to avoid crying or being seen upset publicly. I can also still hear being told that "nice girls don't do that." But then I deal because that's what adults do.

This system of manners/interactions does NOT work in the emerging work culture that includes women in most fields now because, explicit or not, it assumes an inequality between the sexes in some manner and operates from that starting point. The result of trying to fit the old way onto the new is pretty painful to watch, actually.

I find it hard to articulate my thoughts on how to handle the current state of affairs for several reasons.

First, I don't see the problem with evaluating a woman's performance on the job. And it doesn't matter to me whether the job is firefighter, an office job, a nurse or in the military. It seems relatively straightforward to me--a job has requirements, if the woman (or the man) fails to meet them that's pretty clear and shouldn't need two sets of standards. That's why I prefer the term "adult." I lose points with women sometimes because I believe performance on the job is more important than getting a woman, any woman, in the position just for the sake of having a woman. Doing that can end up pretty ugly. And yet, sometimes men ARE a pain to deal with when woman are first coming into a traditional male field and there have been some pretty stiff and sexist barriers raised against women simply because they ARE women.

I do recognize the problem with this. As often happens with tidal changes the pendulum has often swung too far the other way. I've seen a nasty case where BOTH sexes were at fault in the interest of "sexual equality" and that's why I tend to view these discussions with a jaundiced eye whenever they seem to dump the blame on one "side" or the other.

The second problem is that I have no issue with the concept that men and women are different. There are times I think both sides are trying to force men and women into some kind of weird unisex mold. If deployed female troops want to spend some downtime painting their toenails and chatting about men, while deployed male troops work out in the gym and ogle girlie magazines--so what? What matters is how they perform on the job--and that should be a single standard.

A third problem is that I see this as all too often a comedy of manners, given the history of the human race. Women dying in combat? Woman have ALWAYS died in combat, they just didn't usually get to defend themselves. I don't recall the bombs in the Blitz worrying about killing women, and women suffered through the seige of Vicksburg. At the same time "Courtly Love" was taking hold during the middle ages men were allowed, even encouraged, to beat their wives into proper behaviour. I appreciate and value the ideal, I'm glad it took hold but at the same time I think now that it can work against both men and women in some ways. It leaves men without a way to deal with poor female behaviour and it leaves women without a way to be judged fairly.

I have no concrete suggestions for how to deal, other than to work at treating each other as adults. I think this is one of those that have to be worked out bit by bit over time. I do think everyone has to think about the basis of what we do, the reasons behind our behaviour, or we're not going to be able to make meaningful changes. Some things are hardwired, some are simply old customs and we need to distinguish between the two before it's possible to work out how to deal.

If this posts twice I apologize. My computer burped.

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 9, 2008 11:42 PM

How is "if a man's word is no good, I cannot do business with him" any different than considering an employer-employee relationship??

A fair question. Let me explain what I meant.

Most of the business relationships I've ever had have not been employee/employer relations, but relationships between businesses. Like two farmers, one who has cattle and one who has eggs, agreeing to make a trade -- that's not an employer-employee relationship, but a relationship between equals.

If you don't provide a fair value, I can't do business with you. That's too bad, because I might have liked to eat more eggs and not just beef all the time.

Our handshake agreement doesn't create a power relationship, though, in the way that you agreeing to work for me would. If you sign on as my subordinate in a corporation, I have authority over you that I don't have if you're just the other farmer down the road.

I frankly like this model a lot more than the corporate model, which is one reason I'm an independent contractor now. I don't like having bosses. I don't like having employees. I do like having friends and neighbors, with whom I occasionally do a little business for our mutual benefit.

Posted by: Grim at May 9, 2008 11:46 PM

An aside --

I've occasionally written about the independent contractor model's similarily to Jefferson's Yeoman Farmer model. I think he was right in his conception that independent farmers had a special contribution to make to liberty.

It does tend to give you the notion, though, that you're responsible for yourself, and so are other people. So when people start saying things like, "You need to do X, Y, Z, to enforce values on others," I tend to feel like maybe I really don't. Aren't they their problem, and not mine?

This has frustrated poor Cass on numerous occasions, on all sorts of questions. It's not a conservative impulse; though, neither is it a liberal one, unless it is Jeffersonian Classical Liberalism.

I feel like the value of preserving "the code" of honor -- which Maggie is quite right in drawing from the Knight to the Southern Gentleman to the Cowboy, and so forth -- is one area where there is a sufficiently compelling interest to justify my butting into someone else's business. But you've read "Social Harmony," so you know why I think so -- I believe the main part of our social order rests on older men being willing to do just that with regard to younger, untrained men.

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 12:06 AM

How about this idea?

Instead of developing a special standard for men's treatment of women, how's about we teach young men to notbe in a habit of physically bullying/coercing anyone who is physically weaker than they are. That could me women, children, the elderly or infirmed... Kind of a "with power comes responsibility" thing. If that "physically weaker" person makes an attempt to physically hurt another, use the minimum amount of force to end the immediate threat.

And, as far as employer-employee relationships, yes, in the workplace, the boss has some power over the subordinate. However, in most cases, the employee is free to terminate his own employment if he so chooses (I've only ever lived in "right to work" states, and I've not ever been covered by a union contract - don't care for unions, generally speaking; although when I secure a teaching job, I will have to sign a contract for that, which will be a new experience (although I don't expect it to be a problem - first year teachers are given 1-year contracts, which are generally renewed unless there is a real problem with how the teacher performs, and if I decide I don't care for a particular school, I can try to find employment at a different one for the next year). Anyhow, it's not really too different than two businesses having a relationship - if one part of the equation doesn't feel like they are getting value for what they offer, they are free to make a change in that relationship; If your boss' word is no good, go find another job; If your employee's word is no good, find another employee.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 10, 2008 12:27 AM

Anti-bullying is certainly part of the code, and even the Black Knight in Ivanhoe says that "to be a friend to the weaker party" is the duty of a true knight.

Even with that integral part, however, we've still found it necessary -- our grandfathers, I mean, the best men I've ever known -- to have a special rule for preventing violence against women. It's not really because they're physically weaker, which they aren't always anyway. It's because young men have very strong feelings towards young women that they don't have for anyone else. In inexperienced, but physically powerful young men, these can lead to many bad things. The bright-line rule is chiefly about that problem.

It's a unique problem, and it requires a unique solution.

Aristotle said that justice is treating relevantly similar cases the same. A lot of the reason-based arguments here are pointing at that principle: if this goes for men, why not for women?

Well, the reason why not is that there are genuine differences between men and women -- the question of whether you are one or the other matters, both in clear ways that need no explanation, and subtler ones we are only beginning to understand (such as the MRI studies mentioned earlier). There's nothing unjust about having different standards when there is a real difference in the cases.

Sometimes, that may not matter; in a case where the issue is theft, for example, sex may not be a relevant factor. But in human interaction, it very often is; and there's nothing unjust or unreasonable about taking it into account.

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 01:11 AM

Grim,

NOTHING I say here, or ask, is meant to disparage you or this rule you're talking about. I am also not sure that what I say is going to be entirely clear because I'm still trying to articulate for myself what bothers me about this, much less articulate it for someone else.

In its most basic form this rule appears to say that boys should not hit girls. In this society, where rule of law is held above rule of force I would say *people* should not hit one another--and basically this version is the practical, every day result of that rule of law. People are not allowed to beat up on each other, male or female, in the normal course of everyday life. If they do, there are penalties.

In the real world I appreciate the fact that there are SOME men who hold to this simply because it is a biological fact that most women are smaller than most men. I am 5' 4" if I stand real straight and maybe 110 lbs after several days of heavy meals. I would lose a serious contest. In the past physical strength made right. This led directly to the idea that women were the lesser sex simply on the basis of biology because they generally lost contests of physical force. And that ability to win physically was a survival trait in past centuries, still can be in some countries, therefore it came to have value. I THINK that our differing perspectives on this MAY be due to the fact that we are different genders and therefore view both this concept and the results differently.

To wit: American men, as a culture group, do not from my perspective universally hold this view. If they did there would be far fewer murders, rapes, and assaults on women. None of them can be held off with a look. Some men are determined to commit these acts; whether to "prove" they're a man, for power, just because they enjoy it, because they lose their temper, whatever. Therefore, while I value those men who do hold to this I don't assume it as a universal characteristic of an American male expected to be extended to a female--simply because she's a she. In all honesty I don't usually even think about it much in passing through daily life because unless it appears I might be attacked physically or I have more than a casual contact with a male it makes no difference. I don't have to know this about a man to pay for my gas or sell him the right shrub at work.

Now, since physical strength is still seen as a positive trait, and lesser strength seen as a minus, I THINK that the unconscious implication being conveyed is that men are holding back out of an acknowledgement that women are the weaker and therefore inferior sex. I am NOT saying that this is what is meant, I am talking about emotional reactions here, which are NOT always logical.

I get impatient at this point with the whole business.

From my point of view I cannot know if a man subscribes to this belief until I get to know him, and sometimes I may not have time to learn this about him before I find out the hard way that he does not. Therefore from my point of view it doesn't make much of a practical difference whether or not some men do. When looking at men I choose to associate with I do prefer those who do because that belief runs close to my own that those stronger should not assault those weaker, and because I can trust them not to assault me physically. And yes, it does pretty much come down to that for me.

In addition, from my perspective, this rule does not guarantee anything else. It is perfectly possible for a man to hold to this one and yet behave dishonorably in other ways. So, for me an honorable man needs to have several other qualities in addition to this one before I consider him a "real man" by man rules--or my own--and I don't automatically assume that he owns the rest just because he does follow this one.

Now, when it comes to the workplace I will admit right up front that I simply do not understand why this is a problem and I suspect this is where the gender divide is rumbling open into an abyss. In the simplest terms the job is the job. I do not see it as attacking a woman when she is not performing the job up to standard anymore than I see it as attacking a man who is not performing up to standard. This is where I lose the reasoning. It is also the point where it can in fact make me angry because I FEEL that when a man believes it necessary to hold back simply because of my gender I am seen as the lesser sex by the male, unable to withstand criticism or equal judgement on my abilities. I realize *intellectually* that this is not what's meant, once again I cite possible gender differences in POV and emotional reaction to a perception. And this is also where the problem lies but given what you've said I'm not sure what the solution is. From my perspective men cannot hold back from challenging a woman's performance in the workplace and yet it sounds as if the rule you hold to prohibits that.

It's almost as bad when the social arena is considered. This is where I am coming to believe that past cultural habits hold the most sway and are the least acknowledged. Why is it wrong for a man to tell a woman that a comment was rude? Or out of line? Or an action was dishonest? I truly don't understand how it is respectful toward a woman to hold that opinion of her actions and yet not say anything, even privately. I truly don't understand how holding back from this is protecting a woman from violence. How will telling a woman she blew it *automatically* lead to violence?

Does any of this make sense so far?

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 10, 2008 02:08 AM

I'm like Cass and Maggie - I dislike confrontation and will avoid it if I can, unless it is about something important. When I was a manager, I was informed I had an employee who needed firing. I happened to be on the road when the offending behavior was discovered (surfing porn in the office - and not a private one at that; his desk was just outside my small office, and I was able to see whatever was on his screen whenever I looked out the door which was almost always open - this newer employee's surfing occurred after I had gone of this trip). First, my boss asked if I wanted to give him a second chance that he was begging for (guess he didn't want to go home and tell the wife he got fired from his new job for surfing shemales-dot-com...). I said no - it goes to judgement, and I didn't want that kind of person in my office, especially when I might have to travel with that person - he didn't start giving me the creeps until after we'd hired him. Anyhow, my boss asked if I wanted to do it myself when I got back, or if I wanted her to do it. I let her... Anyway, I guess my point here is that instead of confrontation, I'm more the passive-aggressive type and would be more likely to ostracize someone (meaning another adult) who behaved in a way I thought unacceptable. That in itself could be a form of enforcement, so long as enough people object to a behavior and being treating the offender differently for it.

Also like Cass & Maggie, I don't like to let people see me cry from being upset (tears of joy or laughter don't count). I'm usually lucky enough to be able to cry alone. I'm not some delicate flower who will cry at the drop of a hat. Only once have I ever cried at work (from shear frustration more than anything else), and I hated that I did it. Everyone I worked with knew I was upset. What can you do, sometimes?? At least I wasn't like the guy in the office who would put his fist through the wall, and did, at work, on more than one occasion (until he really trashed the place and finally got fired). I'd rather cry than get violent... Sad thing was, this guy (who could be very charming) seemed proud and/or boastful of his temper tantrums. He could control it to certain extent - he never damaged anything truly expensive (he'd dented filing cabinets or put holes in walls with his fist, but he never touched the copy machine - that was until the incident that occurred when no one else (as far as I know) was at the office when there was insulation from above the ceiling tiles all over the place in addition to holes in walls.

Help me out here, Grim - give me a specific action, in a personal/non-professional setting in which you would react differently with a woman than if the same exact action were taken by a man. The things I think of are ones in which I don't really believe there should be any difference in the way they are treated...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 10, 2008 02:44 AM

Maggie~

Grim has conceded the point that in the workplace, this rule shouldn't apply.

But, like you, I have a hard time with the "all confrontation has the potential for violence" idea. I just don't get that. Very rarely have I ever been in a situation where I thought others were about to possibly come to blows. At least in American society, that isn't a necessary thing, and as you noted, society has said it's not acceptable to beat ANYONE on up, just because. Yes, there are wolves out there, but it's not the majority here and most of society follows the expected codes (for things governed by actual law, at least). I'm just having a hard time coming up with a situation in which identical behaviors in men and women justify different responses from a man...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 10, 2008 02:58 AM

I'm just having a hard time coming up with a situation in which identical behaviors in men and women justify different responses from a man...

1. Man walks into a bar and mistakes another man for the cad who stole his girlfriend and stabs him in the leg. Stabee winces and asks, "WTF was *that* for?" Stabber then attempts second jab, whereupon stabbee pounds him onto the floor.

2. Woman walks into a bar and mistakes a man for the CID agent who put her druggie boyfriend away and stabs him in the leg. Stabee winces and asks, "WTF was *that* for?" Stabber then attempts second jab, whereupon stabbee grabs her wrist, removes the knife from her hand and puts her in a half-nelson until the cops arrive.

Ta-daaaaaaa.

My leg healed quite nicely, BTW....

Posted by: BillT at May 10, 2008 10:38 AM

Well, I guess the reason I couldn't come up with that scenario on my own was that I just have experience with things like that - ANYONE coming up to ANYONE and stabbing them...

I do have a question, though - why is pounding *HIM* into the floor necessary? Or, is it a case of "using enough force to end the immediate threat"? In which case, the two scenes depart being alike with the second attempt... The initial reaction of "WTF?" is the same.

And I assume that it was the woman who stabbed you (wouldn't have pulled "CID agent" out of thin air, methinks). Glad to know you came out okay...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 10, 2008 11:30 AM

And, your example, I think, is a bit extreme. Your example starts out with violence. That is not going to be a typical encounter. What I'd like is an example in which does not begin with an assault - that is going to be a far more common occurrence, from my point of view.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 10, 2008 12:08 PM

Miss LB,

If I might respond to your question,

"give me a specific action, in a personal/non-professional setting in which you would react differently with a woman than if the same exact action were taken by a man. The things I think of are ones in which I don't really believe there should be any difference in the way they are treated..."
and
"What I'd like is an example in which does not begin with an assault - that is going to be a far more common occurrence, from my point of view."
Ok, does this casual encounter, assault with no battery incident fit? Please keep in mind that this is an honest confession of my youthful male, somewhat involuntary, or call it the training took over, response mechanism at work here.

My first symbolic slap in the face from a young lady (excluding the crunchy cookies incident, which were made of dried mud, given to me by a *trusted* neighborhood girl when I was all of maybe 3) came when I once received a severe you male pig, I'm not helpless dressing down from an anonymous young lady at one of the NSWC facilities around DC. The dressing down was for my being fool enough to hold the door for said young lady after I had just passed through the portal, looked over my shoulder and saw her approach. It was during the late 70's and was quite an eye opener. Did I respond? Nope, I simply stared at her like I might stare at a chihuahua gone mad. Would a man have felt free to tear into me for my attempted courtesy? Doubtful unless he wanted, at minimum, a dose of language concerning his ancestral lineage which was thoroughly cultivated and polished while I was in USN. It's just the way we seem to be wired.

Walkin' Boss has since taken much of the rough edge off of my primitive, involuntary response mechanism, but... For the cautious, the dressing up versus taking out old country boys rule still applies. Anyway the question is, have I since learned to respond to rude females with an honest,sharp but civil reply? Well, Walkin' Boss and I raised two daughters, so yep, you betcha! And I rarely use foul language in my advancing state of civility, so change is possible.

WRT the work place, I have always sought a professional view that sees only other professionals trying to perform their duties and earn their living. No race, no gender, no creed is considered, unless the person makes an issue of it. There are appropriate guidelines in place for dealing with males' females, and those in between (another story of a co-worker who after 40+s on the planet decided that their birth gender was FUBAR). Social, casual, off duty in the world, settings are where the old training and teaching take over, or get in the way, depending on your perception I suppose.

Maggie, again speaking for not a soul other than myself,

"Now, since physical strength is still seen as a positive trait, and lesser strength seen as a minus, I THINK that the unconscious implication being conveyed is that men are holding back out of an acknowledgement that women are the weaker and therefore inferior sex."
Inferior? Not a chance. Different, (generalizations follow so fire at will) more prone to be tender, supportive through thick and thin, appreciative of the beauty that a male such as I would miss altogether unless my better half rubbed my nose in it. Being able to perform the most amazing miracle of bring a new life into the world sorta goes without saying... Different in so many ways that I am not, that my natural instinct is to protect her and any like her.

I think my older sister first brought out this strong urge in me to always be protective of females. Me mum, bless her heart was a red-headed Irish lass who could cow many a grown man, so that instinct did not result from a perceived need on the part of mum. But would I have stepped between her and anyone threatening her? Absolutely, even if she were a stranger. As I mentioned, it's the way I was wired and trained from day one.

Or as some might say, it's ahhh, complicated...

Those Wolverine's must be tender by now!

Posted by: bthun at May 10, 2008 12:26 PM

Miss L,

1. Pounding him into the floor was necessary because I couldn't stand up long enough to disarm him without risking getting stuck again -- and he was *not* in the mood to discuss unilateral disarmament. I only used sufficient force to end the immediate threat, but it took rendering him unconscious to get him to stop trying to jab me.

2. Your assumption is correct -- her boyfriend couldn't have stabbed me because he was doing three-to-five in the Federal slammer at the time.

3. Yup, the examples are extreme, but I couldn't think of a common *innocuous* occurrence that would justify a different response, either.

Posted by: BillT at May 10, 2008 12:31 PM

Oh yeah, regarding holding back I suppose in my case it has more to do with the embossed class ring imprints in my scalp (stone turned palm down in order to apply punctuation!)from my dad and older brothers which resulted from my early transgressions against proper civility towards the fairer sex. As I said, it's a Pavlov's dog sort of training/wired issue with me now.

Posted by: bthun at May 10, 2008 12:32 PM

ML and Maggie:

I think that it really does come down to the brain issue. I'd like to talk a bit more about that.

You say:

"But, like you, I have a hard time with the "all confrontation has the potential for violence" idea. I just don't get that. Very rarely have I ever been in a situation where I thought others were about to possibly come to blows."

This really is a fundamental difference that is at work. I believe you, and Cass who has said the same thing, and Maggie also -- that in your minds, violence is far away from most confrontation.

Brain function deeply informs our conception of reality. It's very hard to think of the world as not being the way your brain perceives it. Absolutely nothing seems more natural than what your brain tells you has happened, what your brain tells you is important.

So, it's natural that you don't see the looming violence issue. For you, there is no looming violence issue -- violence is so very far away from what your brain is focused on. That's natural and appropriate for women.

You probably cannot experience this yourself, but that doesn't mean you can't understand. You'll have to listen to what the men are saying, though, and not try to put it in context of your personal experience, or life as you have known it.

This is how it is for men. Confrontation is explictly tied into the violence sector of the male brain. And that fact has consequences.

You might call this the "if you have a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail" problem. When you put a man in a conflict, it gets resolved by the violence-handling part of the brain. We know from MRI imaging, too, that men's brains largely shut down all the sectors not involved in a current operation. So, not only is the violence section what's handling this, but other sections that handle non-violent functions have vastly reduced processing capacity.

This is a key reason why almost all violence is carried out by men. Their brain responds to conflict by giving them a hammer, and taking away the other tools.

I completely understand that you can't see it that way. To a large degree, that's my point: it's a fundamental difference between men and women. It's one of those "relevant differences" that Aristotle was talking about -- the kind of thing that justifies having separate standards, because the cases really are different. Women aren't like this. Men are. Therefore, a just and wise rule set will address this difference.

What we're talking about here is the necessary training for young men, whose predatory behavior (if unchecked) is the principle cause for actual violence and violent crime in society. It properly trained, it produces good things instead -- but it is the core danger in human society. Almost every really bad thing that people do to each other comes down to this. Crime rates bear this out -- women commit crimes of any sort at a vastly lower rate, and violent crimes especially.

In any event, all I'm saying is, listen to bthun and Bill and Mike and JHD, and you'll see that they're saying just what I'm saying. There really is a fundamental difference at work; and this code arises from it. It's the code that made them the good men they are.

We need this rule. I have not saying this out of a desire to create problems for women in the workplace or anywhere else -- just the opposite. I'm on your side. I want women to be happy and successful at whatever they want to be able to do.

It's just that there is a real, a hard difference here. You can understand it, even if you can't experience it. We need this rule, because it is what minimizes the worst threats to our society as a whole.

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 01:13 PM

Now, Cass has said, "If that's so, why isn't there more brawling? Men obviously can control their use of violence."

Here you should reread the part about how business differences are viewed by men as a sort-of maneuver warfare. Yes, reason is involved -- but it's reason directed by the violence sector. It's about winning, outmaneuvering, forcing submission, creating safety or defeating foes.

In any event, it's all violence. It may not be "actual violence," but it's on the law-"actual violence" scale that I talked about. Reason is present -- this isn't about unreason or emotion, and in fact emotion may be suppressed and a certain ruthlessness brought to bear instead. The hammer is still the only tool.

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 01:19 PM

My head hurts

This discussion is fascinating to me because I'm an Elephant's Child and because I believe that to work out solutions to a problem people have to understand what is behind the perceived problem--hence the background has to be explicated. I have also tried to keep my discussion to the ideas and not allow my experiences to influence the discussion of ideas. I think now that was a mistake because everyone's life experiences are what drives their acceptances or rejections of ideas, in the end. I have been thinking about some comments that were posted, about grandfathers and fathers passing this on. I am forced to admit that I have a jaundiced view of this whole thing because I saw these same precepts passed down by the males in my family--but from my perspective they worked against the women in the end.

As I see it, there is more than one issue here.

You mentioned the MRI results. Yes, research is beginning to confirm ages old observations that men and women think differently. This is point one where men and women go awry. The research findings simply confirm men and women process information and may react differently. This is a fact, neither good nor bad. I am not bothered by the fact that my brain may process things differently than a man's. It's an 'oh well.' What bothers me is how society manages that difference when men and women work together. What I hear--which I agree might not be what you mean--is that I have to accept a male's decision on how he handles that difference even if I believe that method is detrimental to me (and sometimes to others by extension) in contemporary workplaces because it's for my own protection and his reaction is hardwired. I disagree at least in part due to what I have experienced.

These discussions always veer into how men are and how women are. This is not about how men are among men, or how women are among women. This concerns only how men and women function together in mixed workplace. Women have to leave behind some of "their" characteristics to do so and pick up others when moving into a lot of these jobs. Some of those characteristics have been labeled "male" the past--what women are actually doing is trying to find some mix of "male" and "female" characteristics that will allow them to function effectively in contemporary workplaces. What I hear (and not just from this discussion, Iv'e heard it for years) is that while women are expected to function with several different sets of protocols while in different situations men have only one and cannot alter it lest women be hurt. Again, this is not necessarily what is meant, only how it sounds to me through the filter of my life experiences.

The third issue is one of violence. This is really tricky because while I am female and was raised with what used to be traditional family values re men/womenI still give this one a maybe--and it's due as much to my personality which is very much like my father's as it is to my gender and own experiences. He was pretty laid back and considered fighting stupid most of the time--and yet one time he decked an aunt's abusive husband right on their front lawn. If my first husband had ever crossed the line to physical abuse I would have punched him right back with no compunction and then called the cops on charges of assault I would not have looked around for someone to do it for me. He knew that too--and his start into physical abuse was limited to his son (the incident was not serious and my son hit back which stopped it. I was making sure it didn't happen again). We were separated at that point so I fired my first shot--no visitation. He failed to answer back, instead stopped the behaviour. So threat of violence met threat of violence and I was not male. This is what I believe should be factored into the equation in contemporary society--or at least looked at--is that while my AUNT needed my dad's protection *I* would have done my own decking. Gender roles are changing and that due to changing society and the expectations and functions of both genders. And it's this point I suspect causes the most friction. I think this is why there is so much confusion about what a "Real Woman" is, by the way. These standards were built as much by the gender roles in society as much as by changing societal beliefs about what was right and what was wrong. When women may or may not marry, may or may not have children, or support themselves in what may or may not be a 'traditional female job, what is there to base the list for a woman on that is specifically and exclusively female?

I do understand that lawsuits, criminal charges, etc are forms of violence. Should I use them I do that in full knowledge that I am using a form of violence and I INTEND to do that. I totally agree that this can confusing for men because women's behaviour is not as uniform as male behaviour can be these days. There are women who want to be protected and expect it, and there are those who don't. I also concede the same point re women that I made about the military. Women who go into non-tradtional jobs are often at the far end of "female behaviour." But that female behaviour is beginning to appear now and has to be taken into account.

ONE anecdote:I was talking with a young recruit one day; he was complaining about how coed hockey leagues were no fun because he couldn't body check. I asked him if body checks were against the rules. No. Did any of the women ever tell him not to do that? No. Did any of the women ever hold back from playing hard otherwise? No. So, he was complaining about his fun being spoiled by women because he made a unilateral decision not to play the way he usually did. It wasn't a question of size either. He was a lanky 18 or 20 year old. Any female hockey players I've seen could have slammed him into the boards, at that time *I* probably could have. When I told him that if I was one of those players, and he was going to be that stupid, I'd MAKE SURE I got him every game until he learned. He had nothing to say. It got even better. We had a call for a car fire, although it turned out not to be much. Another firefigher and I started to push the car out of the way. Small car, I've pushed one that size on my own (I also weighed more then), we just happened to both be there. This kid cuts in front of me so fast and pushes that car that I nearly fall over with my hands outstretched. The firefighter with me just grinned and left me to handle it, he knew me. When we got back to the station I pulled that kid into a corner and tore a strip off him. He didn't do that again.

But this is why I have a hard time accepting the violence arguement and why I find it frustrating. And why I believe in the workplace we have to start learning to see each other as people and judging performance on its own merits, not on the gender. That kid tried to be a 'gentleman' I think, but the end result was he did the job FOR me in a job where I could not allow that to happen and still have any credibility in my performance. It's beginning to appear as if men have to understand that women--at times--can and do use violence (or at least understand it and play the right countermoves) and what is needed is a way for both sides to modify their "gender characteristics" to form something that will function in mixed workplaces. This particular portion of the "Real Man" evolved over time to fit changing expectations of a changing society then, this is simply the same thing evolving again to fit another changing society.


Posted by: Maggie100 at May 10, 2008 05:33 PM

So, BillT, have you been stabbed in a bar on *two* separate occasions, then?? If so, what are the odds??

bthun~

The woman (I won't call her a "lady") for whom you held the door was out of line. If I were you, I might have just stared, too, just in shock about her rudeness. Door holding is something I don't *expect* a man to do for me, but it is nice when a man *does* do it, and I don't get all bend out of joint, going off on him because *I can do it myself*. Reminds me of a business trip I had to Milwaukee in December 1996. It was one on the company dime (as opposed to the customer dime), so I wasn't getting a rental car, and was instead to be picked up at the airport by the field rep for that territory. For whatever reason, Sean wasn't there at the baggage carousel waiting for me. No biggie - I just did what I always did - waited for my luggage (in this case, two suitcases full of winter clothes for my 10-day stay and my carry-on). Sean informed me he was surprised by this - he was expecting some delicate Southern Belle who would need a man's help with that sort of thing. My parents raised me to be self-reliant. Yeah, there are some things I can't do, or do alone, but give me a break - I don't need help with my bags... That trip was also the first time I was ever accused of having a Southern accent. I guess if all you hear are fellow Wisconsinite, yeah, but if they thought I had an accent, they really hadn't heard anything...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 10, 2008 07:31 PM

I don't know what the odds are for Bill, but if it affects your perception of the odds, I'll add that I did once take a knife away from a skinhead girl who was holding it at another girl's throat.

I was very polite, though. I believe my exact words were, "Why don't I just take that?" as I gently but firmly removed it from her hand.

Even so, it's an outlier -- I don't think women resort to violence that often, and even in this case, I think it was more posturing than serious intent to kill. I just figured it was in everyone's interest to make sure the posturing didn't get carried on to the point that no one could back down.

This was in a coffee shop, too. Downtown Atlanta.

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 08:38 PM

Maggie:

"What bothers me is how society manages that difference when men and women work together. What I hear--which I agree might not be what you mean--is that I have to accept a male's decision on how he handles that difference even if I believe that method is detrimental to me (and sometimes to others by extension) in contemporary workplaces because it's for my own protection and his reaction is hardwired."

That's not quite what I'm trying to say. I hope, if nothing else, you come away from this with a less jaundiced view (as you put it) of what men are trying to do.

What I mean to say is that any negative effects on women are unintended side effects of what is generally a very positive and necessary concept. I have learned a lot from you and Cass and others about what those negative effects might be -- to be honest, many of them never occurred to me. My interest is in training good men, and preventing them from engaging in violence against women.

But apparently there are also some negative side effects. I'm willing to help address those, because I do want women to be successful and happy.

All I ask is that you help me find ways to do so that don't undermine the rule, the primary effect of which is of critical importance to our society. It is aimed at the single greatest cause of social turmoil, violence and crime: and it is broadly effective at limiting those problems.

It may be something that we need to think about for a while, because if there were easy solutions people would probably have hit on them before now. If we need to do that, I think that's fine.

Just let me say, as a final word, that none of this is intended to have any negative consequences for women. Insofar as there may be some unintended side effects that are bad, I am glad to help resolve them. The only non-negotiable aspect for me is what we've called The Rule, or The Code, because I think it is fundmantal to social harmony. As long as we don't undermine that, though, I am willing to ensure your concerns are met.

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 08:57 PM

Whoa. With all due respect, Grim, leave me out of your solution. I'm far too dim and circumspect to be part of any norm, but at the same time so completely self-absorbed and fundamentally clueless as to still believe that this whole fantastic dance is still just a tango for two.

And isn't that nice.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 10, 2008 09:29 PM

Oh, right. Strike out that part where I said, "And spd will help."

Posted by: Grim at May 10, 2008 09:33 PM

I don't know what the odds are for Bill...

I've found that old age and visible scars lend additional authority in moderating a debate, preventing it from escalating into a confrontation. Last situation I defused was a five-on-three, which could have been dicey if the five decided to switch targets -- my reflexes ain't as quick as they were ten years ago and I sure can't *run* with no meniscal tissue behind my patellae...

Posted by: BillT at May 11, 2008 01:39 AM

This is one reason I love my wife. I always know that she's right there behind me to provide supporting fire if need be. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 11, 2008 12:08 PM

So, BillT, have you been stabbed in a bar on *two* separate occasions, then?? If so, what are the odds??

Considering the interesting incidents which have punctuated an otherwise humdrum existence, I'd put the odds at pretty close to 50/50.

You don't want to be anywhere near me when the other shoe finally drops...

Posted by: BillT at May 11, 2008 12:30 PM

I figure the odds are 1 in 2: either it will happen, or it won't. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 11, 2008 01:29 PM

Y'all are bad at math... ;-)

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 11, 2008 02:09 PM

Grim -- you'll come out slightly ahead if you bet that something *will* happen to me.

Waitaminnit while I get this dust off the fiddly bits...

Posted by: BillT at May 11, 2008 02:09 PM

Y'all are bad at math...

Both us all or just Grim?

Ummmm -- what?

Posted by: BillT at May 11, 2008 02:44 PM

"Y'all are bad at math..."

Did you ever see this cartoon, ML? :)

Posted by: Grim at May 11, 2008 09:53 PM

Gosh, are we all done now? I go away for the weekend and look what happens... :)

As per the original blogpost, I would say that there are certain characteristics that would suit 'real adults' as opposed to just men. No argument there. But there are also certain qualities we watch out only from men. And I guess Rachel doesn't know what the equivalent are from women, because they don't get enforced 'in-your-face' enough for them to be enumerated.

Maggie, I think you have distilled the argument down to the essense - 'boys shouldn't hit girls.' Hockey or otherwise, I am not sure I would like to see a society where the men and women play equally rough with each other. OTOH, it's not so bad an idea from a personal perspective... But boys can hit boys. That's the essense of our interactions with each other.

Think about it. Why the handshake? It's basically a way of saying 'I have no club'. The British Parliament aisles between Government and Opposition are separated by two sword lengths - betcha you can guess why. The phrase 'come over here and say that again' is perhaps one of the most common phrases in all its incarnations, on and off the web. To this day, whenever I get ready to 'discuss' any topic, I rub my hands in glee and square my shoulders and prepare for battle. Look at our favourite sports - footy, rugby, boxing - basically all contact sports watching men pound each other to the ground. Heck, when we cuss each other out, you know, that's a form of aggression right there. Heck, let's go back to the handshake - some people make it a powerplay, you know?

Yes, when you have a mixed group there is now a problem, because we deal with things entirely differently, and that's why there's what used to be called 'company manners', where men pretend to be civilised for a few hours. There's still a remnant of that attitude, when we say 'Let's take this outside' and settle it in a more primal fashion. (I'm not dicsussing legalities here, just the male code, which may or may not tally).

Maybe we're still feeling our way through this one. For myself, I certainly wouldn't mind if we could hit girls, or alternatively, use the same weapons that I, at least, stereotypically attribute to girls (namely, emotional outbursts, illogical comebacks, fluttering eyelashes - yeah, that one gets me everytime - catty goss, etc). But this is not necessarily the best idea in the world, and I admit that I, too, am at a loss.

But really, if you now say that we can enforce 'real adult' conventions equally on men and women, in pretty much the same fashion and with the same underlying assumptions, oh boy do I know a few women I'd like to have a 'chat' with.

Grim's right. We NEED this code. Even with a society that's doing its best to feminise young men.

A personal anecdote that may help in this matter; Back when I was 15 and a mere 140 lbs I used to sit on girls who annoyed me beyond belief; one in particular I warned repeatedly before actually doing it. She stopped being so annoying after that, so it may have worked. A warning that we're about to get all midiaeval and start pounding on each other may help resolve conflicts - it requires overt recognition and may shock everyone in taking a couple steps back.

Posted by: Gregory at May 12, 2008 01:17 AM

I certainly wouldn't mind if we could...use the same weapons...

Not me.

Even if I were so inclined, I couldn't afford the surgery and the hormone treatments...

Posted by: BillT at May 12, 2008 02:18 AM

Joking, y'all. What are the odds that a person (not specifically BillT) would get stabbed on two separate occasions? Certainly a lot lower than 1 in 2....

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 13, 2008 08:29 AM

Okay, I was getting a bit het up and took a break because I still wanted to talk reasonably! For one reason or another I've been in mostly male environments for the most part and it doesn't bother me that men and women behave differently, they just do and most of the time the job is the key-rules for doing the job. For The Most Part.

Grim's comment about hard-wiring finally let me get an idea about what bothers me, once I finally stopped reacting and started thinking again.:D

Human beings, both men and women, ARE hard-wired for some things, just like any other member of the primate order. And, yes men and women do seem to think/react differently in some circumstances, anecdotal evidence is now being (apparently) backed up by science like MRIs, although I would contend that there is a large overlap in a lot of characteristics. My problem comes in after that.

How are these differences and hard-wired drives handled in always mixed society (and human societies are always mixed in some fashion)? And "in society" is the key to what makes me want to tear my hair out. Human beings handle these drives in interaction with each other, both single sex and mixed sex--in ways dictated BY society. And those methods and beliefs and dictates came from a very confusing mix of hard wire, mores, and culture, and it's impossible to identify with certainty what part caused which, it's a constant flux. Even more importantly those accepted ways changed when society changed. That's why I have a hard time accepting some of what's been said in these threads. Not because I don't understand the difference in the way men and women handle conflict but because those codes actually HAVE changed in the past to adapt to changes in society, hard-wiring notwithstanding, because society changes dictate what is considered an acceptable method of channeling agression (among other things). So why can't they change again?

I mentioned "the gentil parfait knight" myself and it actually is an example of the change I was talking about. What held BEFORE that ideal took hold? Might makes right was pretty popular and it made no distinction about weak or gender. Women were in fact considered "loot" in war. That concept was actually an adaptive change to what was considered "proper" male behaviour driven by a change in what society considered "right"; it directed male agression/drive into a more acceptable channel once society decided differently what was acceptable.

And that code changed even more over time, as society changed when different ideas of right and wrong became accepted. At one time duello was acceptable to avenge an insult--and over time it became codified--and then illegal (by the time Burr and Hamilton met it was technically illegal). The code didn't allow violence against women--except that husbands were allowed to beat their wives when "disobedient." Etc.

My point being that the code has existed for a long time--but not in the form we see now. Hard wired aggression still exists and always will (both male and female, btw) but it is being directed and channeled in different ways and uses different methods other than the point of a spear. Yes, lawsuits are a form of violence but they are a form that can wielded by both sexes. And society does not accept that losing a lawsuit is reason enough to physically attack/kill one's opponent. So why should a woman hold back from sueing because of male hard wired aggression? The court has taken the place of the jousting field, only this time it includes both sexes. Rules on the jousting field said loser lost when unhorsed--and a rematch, not killing, was the acceptable route even then. Directing agression but with different rules.

These days one of the ingredients in society's mix is changing--and that will demand changes in other areas, just as always. Not the abolishment, the adaption as before, to change. This time it's the role of women that is changing, followed slowly by changes in beliefs of what is acceptable for a woman to do. In our society women are allowed to live on their own--they do not need the absolute protection that their limited role allowed before, in fact now it can be a detriment. Therefore the code now has to change (NOT disappear) to adapt to that change. Now, keep in mind that I'm talking about rules for mixed workplaces.

There are two points that might help generating suggestions for dealing:

1)The demands of the job, and looking at each other as coworkers instead of a man and woman working together. The standards, the demands of the job, the cohesive of the team (if applicable) should be paramount, not the consideration of gender. This is the biggest societal change. Women were not allowed to be helicopter pilots, to be MPs, to be firefighters, judges, attorneys. It is crucial that these women face *equal judgement* on their performance, and in equal fashion as males or it diminishes both them and their job--not mention the fallout on everyone else. What has struck me in most of the examples given here of hard wired violence are individuals outside of a work enviroment. The female officer? Would a male subordinate actually have asked a higher ranking officer to "step outside and settle it like a man?" Or set him up for a "rethinking" session, private like? Or would that have an invitation to a court martial for the lower ranking officer? Think of the woman as the job--you're not criticizing a woman, you're demanding adherence to a workplace standard. This does allow a lot of leeway in how to do it, but the job is the issue, not the gender. If a woman is a judge then the quality of her work should be the point of the criticism and shouldn't be seen as a critique of her as a woman; that allows a poor female judge to escape criticism simply because it's "not done" to confront a woman on poor performance. That point is crucial; such avoidence in practice says that a woman's work is not worthy of evaluation on an equal basis, it allows woman so inclined to actually take advantage, and it can give an example of "proof" that women should not be judges. Never mind what a poor female judge unchallenged can do to matters under her jurisdiction.

2)Re-evaluation of codes "passed" on and evaluation of how personal experiences/upbringing tend to lag behind newer conditions--and I really, really hope that doesn't come across as preachy. My son is 30, a lawyer. He has no problem criticizing a female attorney's performance but would agree that he can't hit her if she wins in court. At the same time I know that he behaves very differently with his friends and that he did get in fights while growing up. From watching my kids and their friends it seems that today's version is already changing from previous generations. Go far enough back--maybe four generations--and we reach a society when husbands were allowed to physically enforce obedience at the same time a gentleman did not hit a woman. Vestiges of that are left and can be seen when men talk to each other about the behaviour of female relatives but I can assure you neither of my children would be so indirect. The code spoken of now is already changed from just a few generations previous. It still holds--but it's becoming more compartmentalized. There are workplace, personal, family, etc, sets of rules. Not just one set for women in general, and I think that's the key point.

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 14, 2008 12:21 AM

Gregory:

I have been making a distinction all along about "workplace" as distinct from any other venue. I am not talking about changing male behaviour outside of that particular venue.

My point about hockey was that the young man in question made a unilaterl decision to change his playing style--and then complained that women were "spoiling his fun." It was a coed league and he knew that when he joined. He also admitted that he made that decision on his own ( and no rules) without any imput from the women he accused of spoiling his fun. From my side any woman who joins a coed team to play hockey expects to play hockey--and hockey being the sport it is SHOULD expect to play hockey and not demand changes in pre-existing rules--or lack of them.

The other points you mentioned--they are all ways of racheting down the violence, and can be used by both sexes. Yes, I understand what they represent--and that's the point. They represent. Society has decided that men (or women) no longer should choose violence as as FIRST resort and so these have become symbols used by everyone and understood by everyone.

I never said we're all going to go medieval. That standard has changed for everyone because society has changed. I am talking about working together with workplace rules and I rarely see workplaces going all medieval. When they do the cops are called and attorneys get real busy.

The young always get physical with each other, btw. My son AND my daughter used to get after each other. When I caught them at it I pointed out he was BIGGER--not that he couldn't beat up on her because she was a girl. Quite bluntly, she would pull stuff on him and his reaction had the same effect that you mention. He grew to be protective of her with *outsiders* because she was littler and she was his sister, not because she was a girl--and I figured that works better in the long run for both of them. He learned to consider the person and she learns that she doesn't get excused from unacceptableon the basis of being female.

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 14, 2008 12:50 AM

Maggie, good for you! Children do need to learn limits and understand what they can or cannot do.

But as for the rest... well, I was not just talking about the workplace, because Cassandra's original blogpost placed no such limits.

Hockey or otherwise, men are brought up thinking that boys shouldn't hit girls (for whatever reasons given) and this gets internalised. To such an extent that no woman needs to put up her hands and say 'Please don't hit me' (I dunno how else to phrase this, but it's not like you need to put 'no hitting girls' signs everywhere - boys automatically understand). So, I'm not surprised your hockey player walked in with that automatic assumption (making an ass of u and me but that's how things are, mostly)

And I kinda though the other points I mentioned represented actual violence, or the threat thereof. The two-sword-length is because people actually brought their blasted rapiers or broadswords into Parliament, for instance, and there may have been trouble before people could be separated. In AFL (Aussie Rules Football), violence is the whole point of the game. It's been a little pussified, but that's because of the fear of HIV. Heck, look at Taiwan - actual violence there, you know, people throwing chairs and bashing each other up. I concede the women parliamentarians there give as good as they get.

As for going all Dark Ages... well, that's what most people consider violence to be, no? I'm the one who suggested it, not you, yes. I believe that violence/overt aggression/warlikeness is still the basis for all male interactions; however it is expressed, the abstract principle remains.

Posted by: Gregory at May 15, 2008 04:48 AM

Women parliamentarians....

Yes. What is interesting is that the arenas have changed, combat does not depend on force of arms in those arenas. And in large part it was men who made the rules that racheted the actual violence down in those arenas. That's been my point about workplaces all along, because that's where the bit about not attacking/confronting women because she's a woman comes into play. Different weapons that do not depend on strength are the ones often used. I appreciate the discussion!

Posted by: Maggie100 at May 15, 2008 10:07 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)