March 11, 2009
Oh For Pete's Sake...
President Barack Obama invoked the travails of women in his family as he signed an executive order on Wednesday establishing a new interagency panel devoted to the concerns of women and girls.
“I sign this order not just as a president, but as a son, as a grandson, a husband and a father,” Obama told a mostly female audience of activists and lawmakers in the East Room of the White House. “I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling—how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.”
Obama credited his wife, Michelle, for “juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know.” But the president said he was also aware that those burdens often weighed on his wife.
“I also saw how it tore at her at times. When she was at work, she was worrying about the girls. When she was with the girls she was worrying about work,” he said.
There's a convenient solution to that. It's called staying at home with the kids.
If women are fully equal to men in talent, industriousness and intelligence (and I happen to think we are) we shouldn't require special commissions to study why we can't compete with our equals in the workplace or why we can't handle the tradeoffs inherent in any life choice.
Posted by Cassandra at March 11, 2009 05:28 PM
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There's a convenient solution to that. It's called staying at home with the kids.
Or you could choose Michelle O's way, have your mother raise them while you pursue your bliss.
Posted by: MathMom at March 11, 2009 05:42 PM
But her own choice tore at her!
Posted by: I Fail to See How This Conversation Helps Michelle's Children at March 11, 2009 05:47 PM
What he hasn't told us is that Mrs O is now on the payroll (for about $350,000 give or take) to *study* this..You know, to make up for the *salary* she lost from the non-job she had when she was struggling as a woman and mother.
The insanity from the WH continues.
Posted by: brat at March 11, 2009 06:53 PM
Is there anyone who *won't* be a victim in America when these folks are done?
Aieeeee!!! I'm free to mess up my own life! Someone save me from the consequences of being ME!
Posted by: I Fail to See How This Conversation Helps Michelle's Children at March 11, 2009 06:55 PM
Is there anyone who *won't* be a victim in America when these folks are done?
*waving hand wildly in a manner reminiscent of Arnold Horshak*
I'm a white male, so I *can't* be a victim!
Plus, I'm not in America.
You guys are probably SOL, though...
Posted by: BillT at March 11, 2009 07:42 PM
Obama's quote: “I saw my grandmother work her way up to become one of the first women bank vice presidents in the state of Hawaii, but I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling—how men no more qualified than she was kept moving up the corporate ladder ahead of her.”
Not meaning to be disparaging or nitpicky, but if Obama's grandmother was raising him without his mom being around and while she worked as a bank VP (he moved in with her when she was 49), I am not convinced there was a "glass ceiling" that prevented her from moving up. He said in another interview that she had no college education. So, if she was "working her way up" while he lived with her, she was well into her 50's by the time she achieved the VP position. I think her accomplishment of becoming a bank vice president quite remarkable, for anyone male or female, without having earned a college degree (or have "any" college education whatsoever, as Obama said). I am unconvinced that she was discriminated against because of her gender. Maybe it was her age, her lack of college, any other number of job-related flaws or failings on her part. Who knows? But I don't find the the woman-held-back argument as convincing, especially during the 1970s, the height of the Women's Liberation Movement.
Lesson here should not be that women are weak, perpetual victims that the government must once again help (as I think this bill does in a subtle way), but instead, emphasize that if ANYONE wants to go beyond their peers in business careers, to reach a higher level of success in many jobs, a college education or extended training or education, while no guarantee, is an imperative. Working your butt off at work and showing initiative, creative ideas, yada yada, is also imperative. And that goes equally for men as well as women.
Do men get a similar bill/study investigating the problems they have moving up in the workplace? Nah, didn't think so.
Posted by: ClassicFilm at March 11, 2009 08:51 PM
All those women's oppression studies are a load of old codswallop. we'd have said when we were growing up in England, pining for the US again.
Love your blog, wh I found ages ago via Maggie's Farm. I write about very different subjects myself (more touchy feely, psychological),but they are always from a conservative Christian, patriotic and pro-military perspective. So your topics always interest me. Plus, I have a poor oppressed daughter (choke) in ROTC. OMG Poor victim!
Posted by: retriever at March 11, 2009 10:07 PM
I think it's strange that Obama as a father never worries that he's doing what is right for his daughters.
Posted by: Anonyma at March 11, 2009 10:22 PM
I saw this, and it was like *click* the halogen lights came on....
Seems like this has been his MO for a while....
Posted by: CW4 at March 11, 2009 10:52 PM
> If women are fully equal to men in talent, industriousness and intelligence (and I happen to think we are)
I disagree, although I don't believe that should be reflected in the basic opportunites available to all of us. I do believe that there are certain types of roles which male physical,emotional and intellectual qualities predispose us towards, and vice versa for females.
Sorry, firemen and EMTs should be pre-disposed towards husky males -- You have to lift a bleeding, wet, and unconscious 300 lb person out of a space-limited, tightly constraining shower stall, do you want three 120 lb women or three 275 lb guys? Can I hear a "Fuckin' DUH!" ?
There are also differences in internal goals which are applicable -- men are more willing to sacrifice family time for work, women are less willing. And this can certainly lead to disparities in pay and promotion which aren't the result of sexism but of the value of an individual worker towards the goals of the company.
These natural predispositions lead to a number of disparities in the workplace, with male-dominated and female dominated fields, and indeed, an apparent "glass ceiling" (and I do mean "apparent") and a far less commonly noted "glass floor" of dirty, shitty, undesirable and dangerous jobs women won't touch, or at the least tend to be assiduously avoided by women.
That's not an argument for excluding women from any job they can meet sensible qualifications for -- but it does mean that statistical disparities are not necessarily tied to "inappropriate" sexist job rules or behavior on the parts of workers and employers.
There are reasons for such which can easily and often do apply which have to do with inherent differences between men and women.
And Cass, while I'm fairly sure you realize that, it should always be noted when considering such a topic, especially in the context of Big O's Commission, which we know is almost certainly going to be a witch-hunt/kangaroo court blaming men and sexism for all these statistical disparities which are in most, if not every case, due to anything but.
Odds are not a single "doubter" of that presumption of sexism will be on this commission. Contrary arguments will never be made or heard.
And THAT is flat-out wrong.
Posted by: Obloodyhell at March 11, 2009 11:21 PM
Obama credited his wife, Michelle, for “juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know.”
I guess His Majesty has already forgotten about Sarah Palin, who has three more kids (one with Down's Syndrome) than he does, and who continually manages to get things done as Governor of Alaska.
But then, facts are irrelevant things when you think you're an Emperor, aren't they?
Posted by: MarkJ at March 12, 2009 12:01 AM
Sarah Palin is an idiot snowbilly, don't you remember? She doesn't count.
Posted by: MathMom at March 12, 2009 05:45 AM
You are answering a different question than the one I answered. And actually, you are addressing several issues at once:
1. Are women equally suited for every job out there, regardless of aptitude or physical strength?
Of course not. But then neither are men. Women have better manual dexterity (on average), for instance. And we're more verbal. But we have much less upper body strength and we're typically less aggressive and more risk averse (drawbacks in several careers).
2. Do women make the same life choices men do?
No, on average. But when you control for having made the same life choice (i.e., your career comes first, no children, etc.) women are paid the same as men - and actually more than men - in most white collar professions.
My statement was made independently of those other issues; in other words, I was looking at what men and women bring to the table before we make career choices. Both men and women are free to make decisions that affect our salary and promotion prospects but if you purposely choose a career that doesn't fit your natural aptitude or lifestyle choices, you're not going to be as competitive.
This is hardly a surprise. Being competitive in the job market assumes you're smart enough to leverage comparative advantage. If you can't be bothered figure that one out, odds are you're not focused on being competitive.
Case in point: in my job, I have zero trouble competing with men in the area of technical competence. And I put in as long or longer hours than my male co-workers.
But I don't get paid as highly as they do. That's a personal choice: I have chosen to avoid certain career paths that I don't find intellectually challenging/rewarding. Now is that a lack of intelligence, aptitude, or industriousness?
No. There is no one better at the things I have chosen to do, and I work as hard or harder than my male peers. However, I have leveraged my ability to get what *I* want: autonomy and freedom from what I view as onerous tasks. As long as I don't whine about a freely made choice and the consequences that naturally flow from it (I traded higher pay for increased autonomy/freedom) I don't see a problem.
A man, on the otter heiny, probably would have traded away his autonomy for higher pay and status. These are things I have no need for.
Posted by: I Fail to See How This Conversation Helps Michelle's Children at March 12, 2009 05:48 AM
IOW, equal does not mean "the same". It's quite possible to have a rough overall parity between two things which are unlike. It's just that each has its advantages and drawbacks.
Posted by: I Fail to See How This Conversation Helps Michelle's Children at March 12, 2009 05:49 AM
Amusing sidenote: one of my relatives by marriage is a male RN.
He regularly experiences sexism in the workplace. It hasn't held him back too much but it's there.
I think there is still sexism in the workplace for women. I just don't think it's as bad as everyone makes out (IOW, it can be overcome in many instances). I've been recommended for certain jobs I enjoy (IMO) precisely because of the female traits I bring to the table. I'm quite good at gaining the cooperation of even hostile or uncooperative clients, for instance, where some of my male co-workers have run into the slight natural antagonism/one-upmanship that crops up between what you might call 'alpha' males.
I don't have that problem. And it has a lot to do with both my abilities and the fact that people react to a woman differently than they do to a man. There are times when that's a decided advantage and times when it holds me back. But it's generally not dispositive, or at least it hasn't been in my case, when I want to get something done.
When a particular situation calls for what I'd call aggression or assertiveness and it's a job anyone could do, on the other hand, I have no problem calling in one of the guys b/c that not a thing I do as well as they do. I *can* do it (just as the guys can foster cooperation) but I'm not as good at it and I don't have the type of job where I generally have to show anyone I'm the "boss" :p
Posted by: I Fail to See How This Conversation Helps Michelle's Children at March 12, 2009 05:56 AM
"Obama credited his wife, Michelle, for “juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know.”
That's a backwards compliment if I ever heard one.
All the women who work and "juggle" kids should be pissed. On another note if Michelle's mom really raised the kids then she ought to be pissed too. Obamhole: what a tool.
Posted by: Red at March 12, 2009 08:44 AM
My husband and I have had a conversation like this many times, particularly when I realize how much money went into a college degree I'm *really* not using at the moment (although I have hopes for the future!).
The fact is, though, I always had a choice. I've also had to live with the consequences of what I choose. When I go back into the full time workforce, I cannot - CANNOT - expect to earn as much as my male peers who have put in 10 years while I was at home with my children. That would be wrong.
In effect, I took a work sabbatical and will have to cough up for that in seniority and pay differentials.
On the other hand, my husband spends about six months of every year (when he's not deployed and it's a whole year) gone. I could have made the choice to do that, too. But I didn't.
You can't have it all - no one can. Men don't have it all. What they have is a choice in what they DO have. Women have that choice, too. We should really stop complaining when the consequences of our choices suddenly rear up.
Posted by: airforcewife at March 12, 2009 11:01 AM
particularly when I realize how much money went into a college degree I'm *really* not using at the moment
Sure you are. One of the major motivators for me to go back and finish school was the fact that my husband had just earned his Masters degree.
Even though I wasn't planning to work at the time, I have always thought it unwise to allow too large a disparity between husband and wife when it comes to personal growth. He kept telling me that because I read far more than he did, we were still on a par mentally.
I didn't buy into that. College makes you study all sorts of things you wouldn't on your own. It broadens your horizons. So even if you aren't working at the moment, it's not a waste. Consider it an investment in your marriage :)
Other than that, I agree with everything you said. I considered a career in the military but rejected it b/c I wasn't willing to be separated from my children for long periods of time and I didn't want to forego having children.
I don't mind his deployments so much b/c that gives me back some time to myself. So it worked.
Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 11:17 AM
I think it is unfair to characterize Sarah Palin as an idiot. Maybe lacking any intellectual curiosity....say about birth control. Or teen pregnancy. I am confused...seems part of the posts suggests Michelle Obama stay home with the kids rather than seek a professional career, yet Sarah Palin is brought out as the model of combining both elements successful....one child later, and a teen daughter who became pregnant, admitting abstinence alone doesn't work.
Posted by: Miguel at March 12, 2009 01:05 PM
It's not terribly confusing if you stop to think about it, Miguel.
Sarah Palin isn't the one complaining that she misses her kids (or is "torn") about being separated from them while she CHOOSES to work. This mindset indicates an inability to accept tradeoffs that ought to be apparent to any rational human being (i.e., if you're doing A, it takes time away from doing B).
This isn't rocket science.
If a woman wants to work but *doesn't* ever want to be separated from her kids, she needs to either work in a day care center where her kids can be with her or get a firmer grip on reality.
And Palin isn't confused about teen pregnancy. She understands it happens, understands HOW it happens, and just happens to believe that people ought not to have unprotected sex if they don't want children and shouldn't be having sex at ALL if they're too immature to handle the consequences of their own mistakes.
As someone who got pregnant when she was not much older than Bristol Palin and dealt with the consequences of my actions, I find that position not at all unreasonable, as you might if you bothered to review the number of young people using birth control (as I was) who manage to get pregnant anyway.
Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 01:17 PM
Maybe it wasn't a glass ceiling, maybe managment wisely held Grandma back from a top position because she was such a raging racist, as Obama noted while defending Rev. Wright?
Posted by: Joe Doakes at March 12, 2009 02:32 PM
Or maybe she had told her boss at some point in time that she wasn't willing to work the 70 hours/week that the job would require.
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 02:47 PM
In any case, I'm with Anonyma, Why wasn't Obama worried about his daughters while at work and about work when with his daughters?
Is he a bad father or a bad worker? I mean if it was Michelle who was doing things right...
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 02:52 PM
I was attempting to be wry and ironic with my "idiot snowbilly" statement. Sarah Palin is far from intellectually incurious. Her sister said that she read constantly, even though the sister was older, Sarah had always read the books she was assigned in the higher grades. Her sister also said she read the newspaper from the top left to the bottom right every single day, and discussed what she'd read with her parents. Her crime is that she's conservative.
She is what Hillary Clinton pretends to be. The name Hillary Rodham wouldn't be known outside of Wellesley if she hadn't married Bill Clinton. She rode his coattails to her position, and she would absolutely not have had what it took to get elected dogcatcher without his influence. She pretends to have gone hunting with her father, to keep from scaring the gun-rights advocates. Sarah Palin can field dress a moose.
As to her daughter becoming pregnant out of wedlock - so did John Edwards' mistress. She was certainly old enough to know better. Abstinence absolutely works as a method of birth control, 100% of the time. However, one must practice abstinence, and that is not always easy to convice people to do.
Posted by: MathMom at March 12, 2009 03:04 PM
Your comments hit a nerve with me. I remember the same feeling when I stayed home to raise my kids rather than write code for oil companies. I made a lot of money as a systems analyst, but as I told my husband, none of my programs ever smiled at me.
If you feel guilty that you're not hauling down a paycheck, ask yourself this: Who do you think should raise your children? Someone dumb? Someone with a Spanish accent? Someone who may like them, may even grow to love them, but would not be their mom? I think you use your education every day with your kids, probably reading to them, asking questions of them, showing them things in the world that matter to you. This is the way you raise curious, interested, interesting children.
Some people make the choice or have the need to leave their children to work. I think kids do better when someone holds still for a few years, so that they can anchor to that and grow with confidence. Your turn to start moving again will come. In the meantime, be their anchor, and their teacher, and their mommy, and treasure the way they look and smell and behave. Because soon, they start growing beards and need deodorant, and they think they need to be away from you. It happens very fast. Don't miss the good stuff.
Posted by: MathMom at March 12, 2009 03:21 PM
"I sign this order not just as a president, but as [a pussy-whipped girly-man]"
Posted by: Tony at March 12, 2009 04:50 PM
MathMom, that was tremendously sweet. Thank you!
Posted by: airforcewife at March 12, 2009 07:24 PM
You're welcome. It's true.
I used to look with envy on a mom that came to pick up her child from Montessori school when I'd pick up my son. She was a lawyer, dressed in two-piece suits and carried a briefcase, looked like a million bucks. I was in my uniform, blue jeans and a t-shirt. It really ate at me when I'd see her, because I used to look like that. One day I told her I was jealous of her, and she said she was jealous of me. She said she was working to pay off her law school expenses but all that she wanted was to be with her kids. She said she missed her kids every minute of the day and would live in a tent to be able to be with them all the time.
That cured me.
Posted by: MathMom at March 12, 2009 08:34 PM
> I don't have that problem. And it has a lot to do with both my abilities and the fact that people react to a woman differently than they do to a man.
I think this does happen but probably far less than many women realize. It's a question of socialization rather than sexism.
The accusation is often made that "a woman who was just as demanding and aggressive as a man is considered to be bitchy and domineering".
I am sure that there are cases where this is true, but in many of them, I'd argue that men know how to interact in a superior/inferior manner -- in particular, for the superior -- to read certain cues and to send the right cues in response.
I would argue that women often fail these tests, and are thus treated no differently than a man who was failing at the same measures. The terms may be different "asshole" for "bitch" and so on, but the underlying perception is much the same: Both are lousy as bosses.
That doesn't mean ALL women fail such tests, but I would lay you odds that any woman who is not perceived so would have similar success at most venues -- because it's not sexism at the workplace saying a woman can or can't be a boss -- it's her own failure to learn how to read and send the subtle nonverbal signals that a boss should know how to send.
And anyone who doubts such subtle signals exist really, really doesn't pay much attention to what goes on around them. There is, for example, a "tone of command", and it's important possess it when you have authority over people, and to avoid using it when you don't. And to realize when it's appropriate to use it and when not even in those situations in which you have authority. And that's just one example of that which I speak.
Posted by: Obloodyhell at March 16, 2009 08:23 AM
> "I sign this order not just as a president, but as [a pussy-whipped girly-man]"
Isn't that synonymous with "Democrat"?
While it did not always be the case, I believe that, if you get a voter's registration card with a "D" on it, and don't turn in your dick to the nearest female authorities, and they find out about it, they void your voter's registration.
Sure, sure -- there are such with "R"s on their VR, too (look at Aaah-nold, a Dem in spirit, if not on his VR), but if you have a "D", it's a given. Any exceptions are only those who haven't been noticed yet.
Posted by: Obloodyhell at March 16, 2009 08:29 AM
Soooo, OBH, does that mean that those *female authorities* are really nothing more than a typical bar wench -- having to constantly deal with dickheads while working for tips?
Posted by: Snarkammando at March 16, 2009 03:07 PM