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August 16, 2010

Random Gender Related Rants

A lot of thoughts have been building up inside my head lately. I've mostly skirted around the edges of what's bothering me, but I'm beginning to feel like my head will explode from all the things I haven't written about. So, dear readers, though it may prove to be a mistake I'm going to put a few of them out there for discussion. Feel free to argue with me because I do value your opinions. I will ask that we adhere to the usual VC standard of civility.

Nota bene: In the following post, "you" does not refer to anyone here at VC specifically. It is a general pronoun that refers to "people who make this sort of argument". During the first 4 or 5 years after I began blogging, I often wrote about the excesses of radical feminism. I did so for two reasons:

1. Unevenly applied standards (arguing that men ought to be held strictly accountable for their misdeeds but that excuses should be made for irresponsible or misbehaving women, or that women are fully equal to men in all respects yet we need special laws that "level the playing field") will rarely if ever find favor with me.

2. I despise over broad generalizations that blame an entire class of people for the misbehavior of a few. If you don't like the way *some* men behave, take it up with those men. But don't tell me that all men suck because you'll only convince me you're an oxygen thief.

After several years of ragging on radical feminism, I simply ran out of fresh things to say about it. An odd thing happened then. About the time I got bored with complaining about the "all men suck" school of feminism, I encountered the exact same victim mentality from an unexpected source: men.

Obligatory disclaimer time. I have absolutely no problem with men or men's rights activists lobbying or seeking to change existing laws they deem unfair. If men want to change the laws, they will need to make arguments that appeal to a majority of voters (some of whom will be female). It's up to each of us - male or female - to stand up for what we believe in. Fighting for what you believe in is a healthy response and in the case of family law, arguably a necessary one. What I don't care for so much is hypocrisy and double standards. If your best argument for any policy change begins with "Women always...", "All women...", or the especially entertaining, "All American women..." (inevitably followed by an exhortation to check out ads for Russian mail order brides) I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're trading in the same unthinking bigotry radical feminists have employed for decades.

If you seek to blame every negative social development of the 20th and 21st centuries on women or feminists, you can rely on me to point out that women are only one half of the human race and none of the changes you deplore could have taken place without the active support of men.

If you argue that men are strong, hard working, principled, and rational (while women are lazy, weak, amoral, and dominated by emotion) it's probably not a good idea to claim that men only went along with Those Evil Feminists because they didn't want to sleep on the sofa. That's hardly strong, principled, or rational behavior. And you probably shouldn't try to tell me that getting laid is so important to the male of the species that men will gladly bargain away their souls for sex. That kind of weak minded and idiotic behavior doesn't inspire respect, and if men are guilty of it (your argument, not mine) then they're equally to blame for the changes you object to.

Before 1920, women possessed no Constitutional right to vote. For six decades afterwards, women voted at lower rates than men. Conservatives love to slam liberals for "giving" women the vote. The truth is that it was the Republican Party who championed women's sufferage:

Only after the Republicans won control of congress in 1919 did the Equal Suffrage Amendment pass. It found favor in the House of Representatives in May and then passed the Senate in June.

As the 19th Amendment was circulating for ratification, the states with Republican legislatures passed the amendment. Thirty-six states ratified the Amendment. Twenty-six states had Republican legislatures and easily ratified the Amendment. Nine states voted against its ratification—eight of those states had Democratic legislatures.

Even before the Amendment was part of the Constitution, twelve states, all with Republican congresses, had conferred suffrage rights on women.

Conservatives also enjoy reminding progressives that the Civil Rights act would never have passed without the overwhelming support of the Republican party. When it comes to women's rights, though, suddenly they're ashamed of fighting for equal treatment under the law. Go figure.

Here's another inconvenient fact for those who think voting Democratic is primarily a function of gender: for the first 5 decades after women gained the vote, they were more likely to vote Republican than Democrat. There's a simple reason for that. Until recently, married women outnumbered single women and married women (like married men) have always been more likely to vote Republican.

Looking at the outcome of presidential elections in the 20th Century reveals some interesting insights. Women didn't gain the vote until about 40% into the first half of the 20th century. Even after we gained the vote, women voted at lower rates than men and most of them voted Republican. Given these facts, one might reasonably expect the number of presidential elections won by Republicans to greatly outnumber those won by the Democratic party.

One would be wrong, however. For the first half of the 20th Century when men dominated the vote, the ratio of Democrat to Republican terms was roughly equal (7D to 6R):

power_sharing.jpg

If women voters throw the balance of power to the liberal side, shouldn't we expect to see more Republicans winning elections when men dominated the voter roles and more Democrats winning elections as the number of female voters increases? That would make sense, but it's not what happened.

During the second half of the 20th Century the number of female voters rose steadily and yet the ratio of Democrat to Republican victories holds fairly constant (changing from 7D-6R to 5D-7R). In 1964, the number of female voters exceeded the number of male voters for the first time. By 1980 the proportion of women who vote exceeded the proportion of men who vote. And yet the ratio of Democrat to Republican terms didn't change significantly. If anything, as the number and proportion of women in the electorate increased, the balance of victories tilted even more strongly to conservatives.

The trend of Republican domination of the White House continues in the 21st century with 2 Republican terms to 1 Democrat term so far - this despite record numbers of female voters and the lowest participation of male voters in recent history. Those who argue that female voters are tilting the balance of power away from Republicans and towards Democrats have some 'splainin' to do. The future may well prove them right but the past 100 years certainly do nothing to support their case.

For years I've argued that there are fundamental differences between men and women. Contrary to the arguments of identity politics groups, I believe that some of these fundamental differences merit exceptions to my usual insistence on equal treatment under the law. I've never believed men are as likely as women to want to stay at home with small children. Neither do I believe women are as likely to voluntarily go into highly technical fields. If you don't believe that lower numbers of women in these fields is prima facie evidence of unjust discrimination, it seems to me that you're on shaky grounds arguing that lower numbers of men being granted primary custody of their children after divorce is prima facie evidence of unjust discrimination.

It's impossible to evaluate the overall fairness of custody awards without asking how many men pursue sole or primary custody of their children? And it's impossible to evaluate the overall fairness of hiring (or degrees awarded) in technical fields without looking at the number of women who actively pursue jobs or degrees in those fields. When feminists trotted out horrifying anecdotes featuring evil men who victimize innocent women, both men and women properly pointed out that isolated anecdotes do not prove the existence of systematic (must less unjust) discrimination. Without unfairly presuming the outcome, I think the same logic ought to apply regardless of whether this week's victim happens to be male or female.

Men have some very legitimate complaints with regard to the excesses of feminism, but they do themselves no credit when they stoop to tactics they previously argued were unprincipled and illogical. One of these tactics is labeling everything in sight, "misandry". Misandry is hatred of men, as opposed to disagreement with a man. Feminists who accuse everyone who disagrees with them of misogyny are arguing from emotion - they can't possibly know what motivates their opponents. Simple disagreement with feminism or the goals of feminists doesn't prove hatred of women. Likewise, simple disagreement with men's rights activists or their goals doesn't prove hatred of men.

Another phrase that chaps my ass is "shaming language". As this humorous commercial suggests, men have used that kind of language to dominate each other for centuries:

The real irony here is that in the world I grew up in, men regularly used "shaming language" on each other and anyone who complained about this was viewed - by men - as weak and unmanly. The military is arguably the last bastion of traditional male standards and it's no accident that "shaming language" is more common in the military than it is in society at large. You have to admit there's a palpable irony to pining for the return of the good old days when men were men ... by men who can't stand up to the kind of abuse they were expected to take in stride during said "good old days".

My final rant involves the soft bigotry of low expectations. Via Retriever comes this case in point. The article, entitled "Why It's OK for Men to Judge Women on their Looks" essentially argues that "it's OK" because that's the way the world works.

Contrast this article in which a woman who finds her boyfriend's excess avoir du poir offputting is excoriated for not being able to see the beautiful person lurking behind her man's beer belly. The truth is that the world would be a better place if both men and women looked at the whole package rather than just the outer wrapping. The world isn't that way, though.

Biology is used all the time to excuse male behavior. I have rarely (if ever) seen biology used to justify female behavior. If normal and natural male irrationality is to be excused by a breezy, "That's just how we're wired", shouldn't the same excuse be extended to women who are just following their instincts?

The real tragedy here is that the single thing I've always found most admirable in men of my acquaintance is not biology, but the self-discipline and integrity that allows men to rise above their base instincts.

We can be no better than our worst instincts or we can choose to be something more. Something human. Which is it to be?

Posted by Cassandra at August 16, 2010 01:10 PM

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Comments

Gee, your disclaimer takes away my right to whine and bellyache. That's no fair. And I must take issue with your remark that women are only half the human race. Actually, women are about 51% of the species, and the species traces its lineage back to Lucy, not to Luke. So it really is all your fault.

Smartass remarks aside, you've presented a very good history of the situation and its political outcomes and implications. What is there left to discuss?

I see the whole history of relations between "us" and "them" as an evolution in fits and starts. The "granting" (as opposed to finally recognizing the existence of an inherent right) of the right to vote to women, followed by the Civil Rights legislation, followed by continued evolution of the rights of women, et al., are, I think, just episodes in a progression. They are not qualitatively different from each other.

It's the low expectations bit that pushes a button on me. Women do, or don't, some things, and men do, or don't some things. How much of this is biology? Some. How much of this is how we raise (socialize, to use a current term) our children? Some. How much of this is what we expect out of those around us? Some. But there's very little hard, objectively collected evidence that allows us to assess, even generally, which "some" might dominate. And when we can make that assessment, what will we do with the information? Will we change our raising practices if that's what turns out to dominate? Will we walk away from the matter, saying no problem after all, if it turns out it's biology that dominates? Will we alter the expectations wse levy on those around us? The likely answers worry me. One of the things I learned early on as a USAF officer was the power of expectations. People will perform up to, or live down to, what's expected of them, especially by authority figures. I set very high standards for myself and my people. Some thought they were impossible to meet. Until they met them. And the level of self confidence that exploded out those successes was wondrous to behold. We get the same thing in our schools. Girls should go to Office Occupation Skills classes, and boys should go to VoTech (I'm exposing my age...). Crap. Can anyone say Marie Curie? And the second best Weapons Controller in Europe was a woman--I taught her. Cooking is women's work? With all the great male chefs? It's expectations. We do what we think we can do. We're unconscionably lazy--even cowardly--if we settle for that. Robert Browning had this one right.

And the expectations bit has got to apply to both sexes, not just one. We're discussing the Constitution in another thread. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection of the law. That's good moral sense as well as good law.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 06:48 PM

About the time I got bored with complaining about the "all men suck" school of feminism, I encountered the exact same victim mentality from an unexpected source: men.

Why unexpected. It was always predictable that one thing leads to another. What goes around comes around. Disrupt society and society becomes disrupted in the whole, not just in the specific sector it started going insane at.

When a pack leader becomes rabid and insane, it is predictable that everybody in the pact will become rabid and insane too. Such is the same with human hierarchies.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 16, 2010 07:04 PM

Mostly, this is all quite reasonable and easy to accept. However, I do have a few reservations.

1. I am generally not opposed to unequal standards when we are treating unlike things. It is normally the case that relevantly similar cases should be handled similarly. It may happen to be the case that two relevantly different cases are best handled similarly; but it also may well not be the case.

For example, we've talked about -- and, I think, agreed on -- how giving women access to the opportunity to serve in the military necessarily changes the obligations on men. There's no road to 'equal treatment' here, because there's no chance of real equality. Add another man to the headquarters, and nothing needs to change: he can live by the extant standards. Add a woman, and nearly everything about the environment needs to change, by simple virtue of the fact that she is female.

So, in general I think that sex is a relevant difference; and I'm willing to accept acceptably different standards for men as for women, or for single- versus mixed-sex environments.

This is one reason I dissent from Mr. Hines: I think the 14th Amendment is at the root of a great deal of the trouble we face, and should be repealed. We're better off with the states having liberty to find solutions that may seem unjust two states over; but with people also having the freedom to move to which state they like.

2) The historic voting patterns by party are regularly fielded by Republicans to show that Republicans have been on the right side of every question (slavery, women's suffrage, civil rights). The implication is that somehow conservatives are being slandered.

The fact is that the Republican party espoused a very different ideology in 1866, 1919, or 1964 than it does today. In fact, there's no real connection; only the party name has happened to stay the same. By the same token, Democrats used to believe a lot of things they don't anymore.

The truth is that conservatives -- whichever party they have belonged to -- have very often been wrong, and willing to use violence and law to enforce their wrong-headed ideas. So am I. The true argument for conservatism is that the injustices it leads to don't rise to the level of Nazism or Communism: that is, that it is the lesser of evils in a fallen world.

Of course, if you can get people to accept that they live in a fallen world, you've normally already made them conservatives.

3) Shaming language of the sort you are speaking of, directed at weak men, is an unmitigated good. If you want to improve men, the first thing to do is to take the handcuffs off the good men who are no longer allowed to dominate and control the rascals. Here as elsewhere, you get more of what you subsidize.

Posted by: Grim at August 16, 2010 07:11 PM

shouldn't the same excuse be extended to women who are just following their instincts?

They called it PMS.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 16, 2010 07:15 PM

Women do, or don't, some things, and men do, or don't some things. How much of this is biology? Some. How much of this is how we raise (socialize, to use a current term) our children? Some. How much of this is what we expect out of those around us? Some. But there's very little hard, objectively collected evidence that allows us to assess, even generally, which "some" might dominate. And when we can make that assessment, what will we do with the information? Will we change our raising practices if that's what turns out to dominate? Will we walk away from the matter, saying no problem after all, if it turns out it's biology that dominates? Will we alter the expectations wse levy on those around us? The likely answers worry me. One of the things I learned early on as a USAF officer was the power of expectations. People will perform up to, or live down to, what's expected of them, especially by authority figures.

Amen. In case you can't see, I'm standing up on my office chair applauding!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 07:18 PM

Shaming language of the sort you are speaking of, directed at weak men, is an unmitigated good. If you want to improve men, the first thing to do is to take the handcuffs off the good men who are no longer allowed to dominate and control the rascals. Here as elsewhere, you get more of what you subsidize.

Here's an interesting question though (and one that bears on the post I'll write tomorrow): when women shame weak men, does that improve them too?

I am not sure that shaming is always an unmitigated good.

When raising my boys, I did use shame but I balanced it out with a LOT of love and lavish approval when my boys made me proud.

Too much shame breaks the spirit, even in males.

It may well be that men can't tolerate shaming from women as well as they tolerate shaming from men. Certainly it seems to hurt them more.

I believe shame is an important social tool and the "shaming" of those who use shame is a big contributor to the decline in morals. At the same time, it's only one tool and like spanking, ought not to be a first resort.

What do you think?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 07:23 PM

Shaming behavior is a better social control tool than any law ever was. True fact. And it applies to both women and men.

The problem is defining the line - when is it beneficial and when is it an aggregate wrong?

When I had my first daughter (in high school), it was still embarrassing, but not the end of the world as it would have been not too many years before. I was able to collect myself, go on to college, and be successful enough (for my standards). I would not have been able to do so had I committed the same sin twenty years before.

On the other hand, I also believe that the lack of stigma associated with the very same issue that I had has led to the meteoric rise in single parenting.

So, really, any position I take on the matter makes me a hypocrite.

Posted by: airforcewife at August 16, 2010 07:31 PM

Um, who are we spanking? I think I need to know that to judge whether or not it's the first resort.

I think women can shame weak men in a way that improves them -- if the woman is herself of good character, of course. Imagine the woman who, observing a cowardly man allowing some innocent to be victimized, informs him on his next attempt at being social with her that "I will have nothing to do with cowards." That strikes me as wholly to the good.

Posted by: Grim at August 16, 2010 07:34 PM

Um, who are we spanking? I think I need to know that to judge whether or not it's the first resort.

Kids, smart a** :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 07:43 PM

Air Force Wife:

Recognizing that disapproval influences behavior isn't hypocrisy. I have more problem with the folks who excuse their unwillingness to live by the rules they advocate by blaming others who don't share their supposed reverence for such rules! Someone who doesn't believe in morality and behaves in accordance with his beliefs may be immoral, but he's not hypocritical. On the other hand, someone who behaves immorally and urges others to do so as well (all while claiming to support stricter moral standards) is not only immoral but a hypocrite as well.

It often strikes me that people who blame feminism for every social ill don't really want to go back to the way things were before feminism.

They are "cherry picking" history. For instance, I find it hard to believe that men who go on and on ... and on... and on... about how wonderful it was in the days before the sexual revolution would like living with the sexual mores of yesteryear.

You're right - shame was a HUGE factor in the world I grew up in. I can remember going to dances where teachers roamed around and forced us to maintain an "appropriate" physical distance (no touching torso for you!). I can remember teachers carrying a ruler so they could measure how short our skirts were (and sending us home if we didn't pass muster). Scantily clad women and women who had sex before marriage were frowned upon, as was the type of man who slept around or preyed upon unattached women.

People just love to rewrite history. Behavior that is considered normal these days would result in a person being ostracized when I was growing up. It cracks me up to hear men act and talk in ways that would have earned them a black eye when I was growing up, all while lamenting that the world has become feminized. If they think that behavior is wrong, why are they engaging in it?

Self control begins at home, but societal disapproval matters. People who pine for the good old days would be a lot more convincing if they actually modeled some of those "good old morals" they keep yammering on about.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 08:01 PM

1) For example, we've talked about -- and, I think, agreed on -- how giving women access to the opportunity to serve in the military necessarily changes the obligations on men....Add another man to the headquarters, and nothing needs to change: he can live by the extant standards. Add a woman, and nearly everything about the environment needs to change....

?? In what way, exactly, are the obligations on men changed? Adding a woman to HQ: (Probably) add a female toilet. After that, it's just a matter of the facilities keeping up with both populations. This is trivial. What in the HQ environment must change by adding a woman?

2) The trouble we're having with the 14th Amendment is not from its equal protections clause, but from the courts' unwarranted expansion of the original meaning of that clause--and the courts' disregard of other clauses in the Amendment.

3) The true argument for conservatism is that the injustices it leads to don't rise to the level of Nazism or Communism: that is, that it is the lesser of evils in a fallen world.

That's the same argument made by liberals--they just use a different boogieman. The outcomes are different between liberals and conservatives, in a critical way. Liberals agree that we exist in a fallen world, but they insist that improvement/rehabilitation/redemption is impossible, and so the unwashed masses require the firm guidance of their betters. Conservatives insist that improvement/rehabilitation/redemption is eminently possible, and so we need small, non-interfering governments staying out of our way so we can set about that improvement/rehabilitation/redemption.

4) ...when women shame weak men, does that improve them too?

Goes back to one of my earlier questions: what are the expectations and how were the individuals raised? Unequivocally, yes, a woman's shaming _can_ improve the man. My high standards: the coward of Mr Grim's later response probably isn't worth the trouble.

As to shaming generally, two things: a) the carrot and the stick both are necessary. Either alone is, at best, suboptimal, and most likely a miserable failure. b) If the man--or the woman--can tolerate the shame--or any other remonstration--than the tool is useless. The whole point of applying a sanction is the inability of the sanction to be tolerated, so the targeted behavior changes.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 08:03 PM

What in the HQ environment must change by adding a woman?

I can think of a lot of things. In a mixed gender environment, everyone has to show greater self restraint. Young men (and young women) have to deal with the distraction of the opposite sex at work.

Sadly, superior officers and NCO's can't treat women or minorities the same way they treat white males. That's exactly what I've seen in my husband's career - the possibility of a discrimination or harassment complaint is a very real consequence of simply enforcing rules that are *supposed* to apply to everyone.

When my husband made Colonel, we discussed screening for command. My advice to him was never to take a HQ command. If you enforce the rules even handedly (which is the only way I've ever known him to behave) you're just begging to be accused of something untoward.

Usually such complaints are dismissed for lack of evidence but they're still stressful and distracting.

You also have pregnancies (in addition to the myriad other "disabilities" that make people unfit for duty), adultery and fraternization in the ranks, sexual harassment and rape complaints...

Need I go on?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 08:16 PM

Mr. Hines,

Perhaps things are different in the Air Force; my earlier conversation with Cassandra about this had to do with a combat arms (Armor) unit from the US Army. We had a headquarters that was one way, in terms of banter and environment, the relations of men to men and so forth; and then we added a Civil Affairs unit that had a female sergeant, and everything had to change. It was not that she asked for anything to change; in fact she asserted that she was ready to be 'one of the boys'. It's just that... everything had to change.

This is not a bad story, or anything like that. Everything did change, smoothly and with no protest, and with everyone understanding why it had to be the case. She stood on no privilege, and no one else pretended that her claim that nothing needed to change for her would justify behavior that was inappropriate in a mixed-sex environment.

The Air Force may have a different culture, but that's how it was in an Armor HQ, in Iraq, not so very long ago.

Posted by: Grim at August 16, 2010 08:19 PM

Mr Grim, Ms Cassandra,

You're describing what currently is--and yielding to your own objection to espousing one thing and doing another. The USAF is no different from the other services in this regard--the HQ environment, in the present example would, indeed, make the same adjustments, for the same reasons, you've described.

Some of the changes would be for the better. Most are BS. The earlier claim was that things would have to change. You've only said that they do--and the reasons boil down to convenience of the leadership, with all due respect to your husband and to Mr Grim's leadership. You haven't established why these changes are necessary, are driven by the simple fact of two genders present for duty.

With particular reference to Ms Cassandra's examples (and I'll take them as representative for the sake of exposition), the distractions and command hassles can be transitory as the services grow up and do a proper job of incorporating women into the organization, or the problems can be permanent as the services only pay lip service to their personnel.

My mobile TACS units in Germany had coed units and we had coed tent-based deployments. We didn't have any problems due to the coed-ness of the environment. We had problems based on the whiny-a*ed cry baby beefs of those who didn't want to live in a tent during a German winter, or city persons [sic.] who thought they couldn't hack a tent at all, or [pick an excuse to bellyache], but we didn't have any mixed-gender related problems.

In my opinion, there is only one valid criterion for membership in the military (and, in fact, in any other endeavor): is the person up to the task, or is s/he not? This includes both physical and mental. Not smart enough? Sorry, you can't be here. Not physically capable for the combat arms? Sorry, you can't be in the combat arms, and since the military is all about combat, you can't be eligible for command track, either.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 08:39 PM

Eric, I can't respond at length right now but I will. I disagree with you regarding your statement that problems caused by mixed gender environments "disappear" if the service pays attention to their personnel.

My experience has been that the problems never go away. Human nature is unchanging and a lot of discipline problems between the sexes can be attributed to simple opportunity (something that is not present or minimized in a single sex environment).

Problems are often glossed over by simply ceasing to enforce the rules or by enforcing them unevenly. That's not a solution - that's just window dressing.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 16, 2010 08:53 PM

Problems are often glossed over by simply ceasing to enforce the rules or by enforcing them unevenly. That's not a solution - that's just window dressing.

Nor am I suggesting this. I'm holding out for strict, even enforcement, based on the behaviors involved. Not at all based on the gender of the actors.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 09:16 PM

I'm reading and thinking. Cass, your comment about human nature, mixed gender, and opportunity, above, is the only thing that gives me pause about homosexuality in the military. I can see how it could -- not would -- lead to problems.

Posted by: htom at August 16, 2010 09:23 PM

Make them live up to their own book of rules, Mr. Hines? I've heard that's a good way to kill any given system of order.

Flexibility is necessary for a human system to remain humane. Insofar as you succeed in what you are holding out for, you end up making the system unfit for human beings to live in; and therefore, after a while, they'll break it.

The beauty of what I was describing was that it was a perfect act of humanity. People wanted to do things one way; so they did. Another person came in who would be made uncomfortable. She honored the group by claiming they did not need to defer to her; they showed her honor, in turn, by deferring to her.

If there's a better solution, I've never seen it.

Posted by: Grim at August 16, 2010 09:46 PM

Flexibility is necessary--when it's not capricious or arbitrary, Mr Grim. What you described with the female sergeant sounded like a voluntary mutual accommodation--and that's as it should be, and it was an entirely appropriate set of accommodations. What I don't want is a mandated different treatment based solely on the accident of who this or that person is. What I don't want is uneven enforcement based solely on the level of convenience of the enforcement. When the cop catches me speeding and lets me off with a warning but catches someone else and writes a ticket, is he violating the Constitution? You bet he is, in a strict narrow interpretation. Is he acting wrongly? That depends on the totality of the circumstances surrounding the warning and the ticket. If that totality boils down to I'm white and the other person is black, or I'm male and the other person is a woman who should be home cooking and hanging out in the bedroom, that's wrong. If that totality works out to other, probably more nebulously articulated, yet clear sets of discriminators, it's entirely appropriate. We pay--or we used to pay--well trained cops to exercise that judgment. And we all are capable of making such judgments. Dogmatism rarely works for any length of time.

Equal enforcement, but let the players exercise some judgment. But before the judgment can be informed, it must be informed by what constitutes equal enforcement. It's arbitrary capriciousness if we're not deviating deliberately from a known baseline.

Incidentally, no one should have been surprised by Alinsky's rules, or their use. It's just Sun-Tse 101.

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 10:21 PM

By the way, I'd like to clarify an earlier post of mine. I described coed tent-based deployments. I don't mean to imply the tents were coed; just that the deployments were. The men and women slept in separate GP Mediums. (And that winter it snowed every night and rained every day, and the tent my group got clearly had lost a knife fight the day prior to our deployment.)

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 16, 2010 10:25 PM

It seems obvious to me that the different services have different cultures. For one thing there are too many jokes about that for it not to exist to some degree.

But the other reason I believe that are my close family members in the various branches. For one, my husband is a Marine who finished his career in the AF because - as he puts it - he wanted a civilian job.

My oldest daughter was in the Army and married to her college sweetheart who was in the AF. Before they got married they discussed the possibility they would end up living apart for years at a time, but what they never discussed, because they really didn't know about it, was that the cultural demands of the two services would be the wedge between them. They never had to live apart as both services honored their assignment requests. (That would likely not have been possible long-term.)

It really was like he had a civilian job. He wore the dress uniform, carried a briefcase and had M-F 8 to 5 hours. She wore BDUs, left for PT at 5am most mornings and was often in the field for days or weeks at a time.

Their marriage may not have made it if they'd both been civilians or if they'd both been in the same service, or any other combination, but the cultural differences certainly made it harder.

Posted by: Donna B. at August 16, 2010 10:31 PM

"The real tragedy here is that the single thing I've always found most admirable in men of my acquaintance is not biology, but the self-discipline and integrity that allows men to rise above their base instincts."

*stands and cheers in agreement*

Now to go and read the comments... ;)

Posted by: FbL at August 16, 2010 11:20 PM

To address the idea of how many men pursue primary or sole custody of their children, it's important to realize that those who did often got it, at least from the 60s. The idea that this only happened if the mother was "unfit" is because, unless that was the case, the fathers often agreed that the mother was best equipped or able (or whatever term you choose to use) to raise the children.

Remember Bonanza, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and My Three Sons? One idea presented was that men could raise their male children by themselves quite well (as long as someone like Hop Sing, Uncle Charlie, or Mrs. Livingston was around to handle pesky domestic matters like daily meals and clean clothes.)

The other idea presented was that the man should get married again if only a woman as perfect as the dead wife/mother was could be found.

A decade later, Ann Romano was proving to TV audiences (One Day at a Time) that a single mother could raise daughters as long as someone like Schneider was around to handle plumbing problems.

As silly as it was, The Brady Bunch captured actual family dynamics better... both men and women recognized the importance of the other in a family. However, those pesky domestic chores still required the help of an outsider, no matter how much a "part of the family" he or she becomes.

Or... let's go back to the 50s with Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best. Even in those shows where Mom adequately handled the pesky domestic matters in high heels and with ease, the ultimate message was that Mom knew best and simply relied on Father to enforce it. Oh, and to provide the income to sustain it.

No matter how much the 50s are maligned, that situation is the model for many modern families... no matter what "feminism" says.

Posted by: Donna B. at August 17, 2010 12:39 AM

Another excellent post from Cassandra, and captivating, intelligent comments. Cassandra, your blog just keeps getting better and better!

Aside from that shameless sucking up to the blog princess, I have nothing to contribute to the main post or comments except to say "Bravo!"

Posted by: Charodey at August 17, 2010 12:48 AM

In an email conversation among a group of people, I (mostly in jest, given who the group is) asked that the group to consider not responding to the (obvious) sexual innuendo. It went back and forth a bit in fun, but when someone asked "why?", I responded with "why not?". The person didn't take kindly to that, implying I was making judgments about what was appropriate behavior. Shaming people into what I think is appropriate behavior (especially in "mixed" company, whether in person or in cyberspace - I know the "boys will be boys", but the same can be said of women - there are things that can be appropriate discussion within single-gender circles that shouldn't really fly when the circle is mixed gender) doesn't work like it used to. I often think I am too old-fashioned and that I don't fit in well with many people (regardless of gender) because of my views on what is appropriate behavior. I'm a chaste woman, I hardly ever drink anything alcoholic (I can still count on one hand the number of times I've gotten tipsy, never mind the one time I got what could be considered actually drunk). Seems that many people these days don't have a problem with promiscuity/extra-marital sex or with consuming copious amounts of alcohol, and they make negative judgments about me because of the views I hold and generally live by. Makes me wonder sometimes why I bother trying to maintain them, if no one else seems to give a damn.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 01:17 AM

I have been tremendously bemused by your brand of conservative feminism, as it is so different from my brand of conservative feminism. Maybe I benefit as a member of a younger generation that didn't have to listen to the feminist arguments of the 60s and 70s. Some of them are still around but their excesses are easily ignored.

But this comment made me laugh: "the single thing I've always found most admirable in men of my acquaintance is not biology, but the self-discipline and integrity that allows men to rise above their base instincts."

I'm sure it is tragic if men are losing such admirable qualities, and your point is certainly about men. But both men and women of my acquaintance possess admirable self-discipline and integrity. It would have never occurred to me to name either of these as traits particularly possessed by men. These are simply admirable traits, no more or less.

Further, I don't see why it places a particular hardship on men to have to be among women day in and day out. Men always have to be among women, in both military and civilian environments. Single-gender environments are hard to come by these days. But even if being around a woman was the most trying thing imaginable, you'd think that such hardships would lead to more...self-discipline and integrity. No?

Anyway. Men and women will never be exactly alike, but the thirty-year effort to treat them more alike has resulted in a real increase in opportunities for young women like me, and like yourself. I enjoyed going to a once all-male school, and pursuing a once all-male profession. I like to think I did and do just as well a man in my position would have done and that such performance is now utterly unremarkable. I call this progress.

My husband has on occasion stayed home to raise our children and he honestly does much better with them than I do. I think if we stopped expecting that our boys must be breadwinners instead of caretakers, we would discover that many more of them than thought (certainly not all) would prefer caretaking.

Posted by: alwaysfiredup at August 17, 2010 01:36 AM

alwaysfiredup, I'll leave Cassie to explain herself, but I thought that quote referred not to characteristics that were exclusive to men, but the way that men use those characteristics to counter their base instincts. Good women must do the same thing with whatever their baser instincts lead them to do.

For example, in my mind one of the sexiest things about men is their capacity for great physical strength complemented by great tenderness and control of that physicality. Besides hands, my favorite male body part is the arms because when a man wraps his arms around me I feel both the gentle affection and the power at the same time--a similar situation to what it is like when a woman realizes a man desires her with complete focus and yet does not overpower her.

Of course this applies to situations other than sexual, but my point is that I saw Cassie's comment in that light: a man who wants something and yet is not rude or overpowering or hurtful in trying to get it. The same could be said of a good woman who does not use what is within her power to get her desires because that would be cruel and hurtful.

Posted by: FbL at August 17, 2010 02:48 AM

...I encountered the exact same victim mentality from an unexpected source: men.

Awwwwww, the po' babies. They're probably the same ones who want to wear the Daddy Pants, too...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqos3j07jzc

Posted by: BillT at August 17, 2010 03:27 AM

...both men and women of my acquaintance possess admirable self-discipline and integrity. It would have never occurred to me to name either of these as traits particularly possessed by men. These are simply admirable traits, no more or less.

I may have expressed myself poorly there.

FBL mostly gets what I was trying to say - not that self-discipline and integrity are qualities uniquely possessed by men but that, of the many qualities possessed by men, it is not their biological instincts that I admire, but the self-discipline and integrity required to rise above them when that's needed.

I'm sure I'll get in trouble for that one, too, because that comment could be taken to mean I think male instincts are low and contemptible :p

That's not what I think at all. Speaking in broadly general terms, both men and women have instincts that are quite valuable from a survival perspective but that, left unchecked, are destructive in a social setting.

Let me use women as an example so I don't get myself into trouble. I have observed that even tiny girls begin to practice the art of seduction almost as soon as they learn to crawl. Now obviously they are not inviting sexual advances. They are simply practicing a set of skills women use to gain cooperation from males. Such skills can be put to very good use in certain situations (for instance, I have used them at work to defuse confrontations and soothe frayed tempers).

They don't have to be used in a strictly sexual sense, but the very same behaviors - observing other people and their reactions and using this knowledge to invite a desired response from them - is essentially what a woman does when attracting a mate. The process doesn't work if the other person feels coerced - the response must be voluntary.

The self discipline and integrity parts come in when a woman refrains from using her skills to the detriment of others. She shouldn't seduce or try to attract another woman's husband, for instance. She shouldn't use them to cheat on her husband, or use them to trick or manipulate others for personal gain.

The instinct can be used for good or it can be used to do evil. Of itself it is neither good nor bad - rather the use to which it is put is good or bad but the fact is that when people have a drive or an instinct it is there to be used and they will tend to use it. Resisting that urge when instinct is inappropriate is what I admire - not the instinct itself.

I hope this makes some sense?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 05:02 AM

Makes me wonder sometimes why I bother trying to maintain [my views], if no one else seems to give a damn.

Miss Ladybug, you adhere to your views because they're right for you. No one else gets to tell you what you should believe, the power of peer pressure notwithstanding.

This is the personal responsibility of which Thomas Paine wrote. Never underestimate the power of greed to do good in the world. It's the engine of a capitalist, free market economy that makes everyone better off than does any other economic technique. Creative selfishness is what drives one to take care of oneself first--on the premise that a person cannot see to the welfare of others efficiently and effectively unless that person is, him/herself, up to snuff.

These polemics are to illustrate my point: enlightened self interest is what gives us the strength and resources to help others where that help will do the most good.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 07:46 AM

I'm sure I'll get in trouble for that one, too, because that comment could be taken to mean I think male instincts are low and contemptible

Well, that's the duality of compliments. If we say something nice about someone, are we necessarily saying that they ordinarily behave badly, and so a good act warrants comment, rather than that good act being the norm?

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 07:49 AM

Aha--now I understand why Cassandra uses :P. My post just above was supposed to be a smarta* remark, but the angle bracket g angle bracket that I used got interpreted as an HTML tag was was omitted....

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 07:55 AM

When I first got onto the Internet, emoticons of all kinds annoyed me no end.

I've obviously changed my mind quite a bit since then, though. I started using smiley face thingies b/c I have a tendency to be sarcastic and I noticed how often even remarks that seemed obviously meant in fun were taken amiss by others. This doesn't just apply to my comments - I see it happen all the time to other people too.

Even in real life, I tend to pick up on sarcasm a lot quicker than most folks around me.

I worry a lot about hurting people's feelings unintentionally or being misunderstood, so when I'm playing around with someone I nearly always use one emoticon or the other to signal that I mean no insult or harm. In a way that has backfired on me - my friends are so used to seeing them on emails and comments that if I forget they tend to think I'm mad!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 08:19 AM

Eric~

I don't really get how my views on sex and alcohol consumption have anything to do with greed doing good. If I were aiming to be greedy to get what I want, I would more likely abandon my moral views on such. I'd probably be viewed by others (men in particular) as more fun to be with, so I'd either have more male companionship, or "a man of my own" by now.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 08:33 AM

I worry a lot about hurting people's feelings unintentionally or being misunderstood...my friends are so used to seeing them on emails and comments that if I forget they tend to think I'm mad!

You see? There are advantages to being a curmudgeon and an ... . Nobody misunderstands me when I leave out a symbol--that's generally my normal attitude.

I used to think the power and clarity of my writing would enable serious readers to discriminate between my sarcasm and irony on the one hand and my seriousness on the other. But in a world where emoticons are ubiquitous, the mechanics of communication have changed, and I have had to rethink my position on emoticons. That, and perhaps a better understanding of the level of power and clarity actually present in my musings.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 08:39 AM

I don't really get how my views on sex and alcohol consumption have anything to do with greed doing good.

Another example of the power and clarity of my writing. The two don't have anything to do with each other, except through the analogy I was trying to draw. Greed--and selfishness--in this attempt were intended to be (extreme) examples of seeing to yourself first as a necessary prerequisite to seeing to others, rather than sacrificing yourself to see to others. Just as hewing to your own beliefs, no matter their apparent unpopularity, must come first as this is the manifestation of your integrity and so maximizes your likelihood of getting a better long-term outcome than adjusting your beliefs according to the local winds.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 08:50 AM

I used to think the power and clarity of my writing would enable serious readers to discriminate between my sarcasm and irony on the one hand and my seriousness on the other.

I'm not sure it's simply a matter of power/clarity or the lack thereof, or even a change in communications style. Humor and other communication subtleties are often shared via tone of voice and body language. WHen they are expressed simply through words, there is often an introduction or other context that signals what the intention is. In settings like this where you are communicating either to a number of people who know you to varying degrees, or are writing briefly/casually, I think that lack of tone and body language needs to be compensated for somehow.

Just my $.02...

Posted by: FbL at August 17, 2010 09:09 AM

Cass, the only point I could find any objection to is an extremely minor one:

Conservatives love to remind progressives that the Civil Rights act never could have passed without the overwhelming support of the Republican party. When it comes to women's rights, however, they're not so proud of standing up for equal treatment under the law. Go figure.

While I've definitely seen the former (mostly because it's true) the latter I've never seen. Not once. And I understand you're explaining the contrary position, but outside of whackos like Roissy the statement 'Conservatives love to blame liberals for "giving" women the vote' has no basis in my experience.

I emphasize the "in my experience" simply to stress that you should never confuse my beliefs/perceptions with facts. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. I'm just saying I've never seen it. So even as a "generalization, but your results may vary" I don't really see that as true.

And I do understand that folks like Eric and Grim and Bill and I are not the target of that, but it just struck me as odd and a touch incongruous. As for the folks from Spearhead and Roissy et al, well... calling them conservatives is like calling Lyndon LaRouche a conservative. Sure, if all you've got is a left/right scale, they're on our end. But just like a pool, there's a deep end, and they've gone off it.

Posted by: MikeD at August 17, 2010 09:22 AM

Since this has not seemed to be random enough for me, I think I will be a wise guy...or is that smart ass, and add some randomness....

"You smile upon your friend to-day,
To-day his ills are over;
You hearken to the lover's say,
And happy is the lover.

'Tis late to hearken, late to smile,
But better late than never;
I shall have lived a little while
Before I die for ever."

Just dealing with issues of mortality and the absolute unknown beyond the next click of the second hand on a clock. Working on SRP packets and had to review my own will and all that great DoD paperwork. Always makes me reflect a little.

Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.

Home is the hunter from the hill:
Fast in the boundless snare
All flesh lies taken at his will
And every fowl of air.

'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.

Pretty random, I must say...

KP

Posted by: kbob in Katy at August 17, 2010 09:39 AM

Even if it's not gender related....:oP

Posted by: kbob in Katy at August 17, 2010 09:42 AM

...calling them conservatives is like calling Lyndon LaRouche a conservative.

Does anyone remember John Birch? I think LaRouche is a little bit left of center by comparison....

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 09:54 AM

You know what I was thinking of when I wrote that, Mike?

1. Two posts written by different female conservative bloggers recently.
2. Several times when guys (not necessarily bloggers - just commenters) have made remarks like that on blogs I read.

I actually wasn't thinking of any of those PUA blogs (not surprising b/c I don't read them unless someone sends me a link). I'm always slightly shocked when I see guys openly bitching about how much better the world would be if only those (*&^ women didn't have the vote. I can't even imagine a circumstance where I would say the world would be better off if men didn't have a voice in government and if I did, I would hope other commenters would stick up for men.

As a woman (not to mention a woman who has voted solidly Republican) it is pretty depressing to read that the world would be a better place if I couldn't vote. It's even more depressing that no one seems to see anything wrong with that stance but I guess that's just the way it is.

I've noticed that conservative female bloggers are, if anything, more likely than men to come out with statements like that. I don't quite get that. I have definitely noticed that if you're a female blogger, there's no easier way to have your readers tell you what a wonderful and wise human being you are than to criticize women and praise men.

Oddly, though, if you praise women, men will object vociferously. And if you criticize men they do the same thing.

In all the years I've been writing, there has been only 1 time when a woman wrote me to say that I'm too hard on women. I have lost count of the times men have told me I'm too hard on men and I can't recall a single time when a man wrote me to complain that I was unfair to women.

That's pretty remarkable when you consider the things I've written about rape and abortion and feminism.

The reactions I get have definitely made me much more conscious of what I write - I now make a conscious effort to be more balanced in both my topics and my treatment of both men and women. I am also much more reluctant than I used to be to comment on annoying things women do because I've noticed that when I do that I get nothing but praise. But when I write about annoying things men do, I catch hell :p

I guess the contrarian in me says that the reactions ought to be a bit more balanced.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 10:18 AM

Working on SRP packets and had to review my own will and all that great DoD paperwork. Always makes me reflect a little.

That's understandable. I always hate having to go over that stuff before a deployment. Thanks for the poems :) We women like that sort of thing...

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 10:21 AM

So far, it seems hewing to my beliefs is actually preventing me from getting what I want: male companionship, hopefully of the forever kind.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 10:30 AM

Humor and other communication subtleties are often shared via tone of voice and body language. WHen they are expressed simply through words, there is often an introduction or other context that signals what the intention is. In settings like this where you are communicating either to a number of people who know you to varying degrees, or are writing briefly/casually, I think that lack of tone and body language needs to be compensated for somehow.

I definitely agree.

Being online has really shown me how much I rely upon nuances like tone of voice and body language when interpreting things people say. After meeting other bloggers and commenters, I always feel so much more confidence in my ability to read them correctly.

Weird, no es verdad?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 10:38 AM

So far, it seems hewing to my beliefs is actually preventing me from getting what I want: male companionship, hopefully of the forever kind.

I don't know what to say MLB. Certainly flexibility is an important part of relationships with the opposite sex. But that said, you can't really be untrue to yourself either.

I guess it just depends on how important these things are to you. If they are a core part of who you are then you should not compromise your values.

In any relationship, each party will tend to be interested to the extent that they think it will fulfill their needs and desires. I think that there are men out there who are willing to respect a woman's desire not to have casual sex, but there's also the possibility that some guys might interpret that desire as lack of interest.

Most of the women I've known who have found someone later in life started out as friends rather than in a dating situation. Many of them were friends with the man for a long time before dating him and the romantic interest grew as the friendship did. Certainly that was the case with one of my sisters in law. Her husband told me that he had no romantic interest in her at first but after getting to know her at work, he gradually found himself falling in love.

Perhaps that's the right model for you?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 10:46 AM

The reactions I get have definitely made me much more conscious of what I write - I now make a conscious effort to be more balanced in both my topics and my treatment of both men and women.

To this I must object. You write an opinion blog; you're not pretending objectively to report the news. You have no requirement to be objective, or balanced. For my own sake, I hope you present your opinions informed by facts and logic (which you already do), but no reasonable person should expect you to be _balanced_.

To thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Nor, umm, any woman....

If any are offended by your opinions, well, no one is sticking a gun in their ear and making them read you.

I'd rather have your honest, logical, fact-based opinion to chew on and perhaps to argue with you over, than balance for balance's sake. Hopefully my reasoned demurral will provide any needed balance. And should we agree, well, that's all the balance required.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 10:50 AM

I don't think I have ever been tempted to write anything I don't believe (whether from a desire for approval or a desire for balance) :)

We all have our innate biases, though. One of mine has always been that I do tend to see men through rose colored glasses. Just being on the Internet has shown me a lot of things that I sometimes wish I had never seen. The thing is, though, if you refuse to see life the way it is then your view is distorted. That's what I mean by balance.

I'm very aware of confirmation bias (the tendency to go out looking for - and cherry pick - information that justifies what you already think). I'm as prone to it as anyone else. Sometimes it takes the form of selective attention, and I do try to overcome that when I become aware of it.

Since one of my main reasons for writing is to explore ideas, I think it makes sense to try not to confine myself to an intellectual rabbit hole. That's one reason I like it when people point out where they think I'm wrong (not flattering to the ego, but if I wanted my ego massaged I wouldn't say a whole lot of things I've said over the years!). I learn quite a bit from some of the arguments you guys make, and often even if you don't change my viewpoint entirely, your arguments shift it slightly and as a result I see/understand things I didn't understand before.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 10:59 AM

So far, it seems hewing to my beliefs is actually preventing me from getting what I want: male companionship, hopefully of the forever kind.

What Cassandra said; she beat me to the punch. I'll just add this bit of cold logic. I'm happily married. But suppose I met this woman, and I wanted to take up with her. So I acted on that desire. Having just demonstrated my level of integrity, how could this second woman ever trust me not to cheat on her? And having demonstrated her level of integrity by taking up with a married man, how could I ever trust this second woman not to cheat on me? And so what kind of relationship could we two look forward to, when necessary trust is so blatantly absent?

This is not to suggest that promiscuity, or sexual relations in one or a very few committed relationships (to use just one aspect of your ethos for an example), are somehow inherently dishonest. What would be dishonest would be violating your core beliefs to engage in such behaviors--whether for the convenience or fun of it, or to break down and engage in this to get a man. In the end, you cannot trust a person who forces you to violate your own ethics as a condition of gaining that person's congress.

Sometimes it's hard to hold your head up in a crowd. But the outcome is well worth it in the quality of man you will get. I was the first man in my family in five or six generations (including my siblings) not to be married by the time I was 21; although I had met a couple of women that would have suited me well (I thought at the time). I made out like a bandit, though, by waiting. My daughter followed in her father's footsteps in that "tardiness." She's married to an outstanding man, one who is far better than any of the worthies she'd been with earlier.

Hang tough, and have patience. And hold to your integrity. The payoff is worth it.

And my advice and $4 will get you an adequate cup of coffee in a Starbucks, so I'll sit down and shut up, now.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 11:06 AM

I don't know, Cass. Maybe I'm misinterpreting things. It's not like I have recent relationship experiences to draw upon. In college, it seems to be the girls who would fool around (to what extent, I'm not sure - I wasn't asking) that the guys showed interest in. I've been the fat girl, which I'm sure didn't help matters. I'm not the fat girl anymore, but I'm not a skinny girl, yet, either. I feel much better about my appearance with all the weight I've lost. But still, I don't seem to be able to attract any male attention, and I've not just been sitting around the house (though I don't get "out" as much as I would like - I prefer to not do things alone and some of the things I'd like to do that I might do alone cost money I don't have). "Serious" online dating (meaning for people looking for "relationships" and not "hook-ups"? Not getting anywhere with that, either. I wish someone could tell me what I'm doing wrong. Obviously, I am doing something wrong, else I wouldn't be in the situation I find myself.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 11:11 AM

Well, I WAS going to comment on this:
I guess the contrarian in me says that the reactions ought to be a bit more balanced.

But you yourself covered it:
I'm very aware of confirmation bias (the tendency to go out looking for - and cherry pick - information that justifies what you already think). I'm as prone to it as anyone else. Sometimes it takes the form of selective attention, and I do try to overcome that when I become aware of it.

Personally, I find it hilarious when various folks show up in your comments for the first and last time posting some nonsense about how you're a rabid, man-hating, left-wing, feminazi who hates men and is left-wing. Oh... and rabid. Nothing is quite so funny as their oh so earnest statements that you're a misandrist. No one, and I mean NO ONE who has read more than one of your posts on gender and comments following thereupon would confuse you for a man-hating she-devil. She-devil, maybe. ;)

Posted by: MikeD at August 17, 2010 11:13 AM

I learn quite a bit from some of the arguments you guys make....

Ooh--no sexism here. So you learn nothing from the arguments the little women make, eh? :P

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 11:25 AM

When humans were striving to survive, it made sense for the sexes to conduct a specialized biological role for males and females. Males would go on the hunt, together, and females, because they were together at home often times, created their own hierarchies to organize so many activities.

Evolution has hard wired these solutions and reactions into males and females. Thus when males get together to do any activity in the modern world, those instincts are put to good use. They were never designed to solve modern technological or social problems, but they were designed to solve problem in all male groupings. The same is true for female activities, although not as much. While it made little sense to bring females on hunting expeditions or trading runs with other (dangerous) tribes, it did make sense to keep a few males, young ones, around at home to help with the work. Those too young, or old, for field work, stayed at home to defend the women or help with stuff.

But when you mix women and men together in activities crucial to the race's survival, what you get is a conflict between social activity and survival activities. All the hard wired instincts for males and females were designed to focus them to work on a single goal, when separated into all male or all female company.

Humans are adaptable, surely. So one or two males in an all female company won't be a terrible disruption. However, we're not in a situation where one or two special females are with males, who are all working together to achieve a goal of survival.

Our civilization's rules aren't based upon hunter and gatherer customs or rituals. Yet it makes our jobs a lot easier if we didn't have to go babysit people who are ignorant of how to function under society's rules, because they are either anti-social or they have personal problems they can't solve by themselves alone. When we're dealing with millions of people, you can be guaranteed that "friction" resulting from cross purpose application of instinctual behavior adds up over time.

The American society matrix can absorb a lot of change at a relatively quick pace. But the matrix is not infinite in its flexibility. Beyond a certain point, it will not bend, but break.

Patriarchal societies, like Islam, that fear women and need to keep them locked up, cannot even tolerate one female being in male company unrelated by blood. More flexible societies can tolerate one or two women going out of their normal boundaries. More flexible and free societies can absorb even greater changes, such as voting for females or property ownership by females.

But all societies have a point at which additional change will be the feather on the camel's back.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 17, 2010 11:31 AM

I wish someone could tell me what I'm doing wrong. Obviously, I am doing something wrong, else I wouldn't be in the situation I find myself.

False logic. It's not at all obvious that you're doing anything wrong. Maybe you are. Maybe you're contributing, but not solely to "blame." Maybe you're doing everything right, and the payoff isn't showing up, yet. There are too little data in this thread to make any assessment--and it's not appropriate that you provide those data....

Life is a crapshoot, and nothing ever works out according to a schedule. The best we can do is do what we think is right and try to influence flood tide of the Universe a little bit.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 11:32 AM

So you learn nothing from the arguments the little women make

Grim learns from that, then transmits the knowledge to Cassandra.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 17, 2010 11:36 AM

I've discussed my situation on other threads in the past. I know I share things here I wouldn't share in a face-to-face conversation of mixed company. If there were an actual "schedule", I'm damn near running 20 years behind...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 11:41 AM

I do understand what you mean about the trust issue. I would never knowingly get involved with someone who was already involved with someone else, whether it be because of marriage or just a "serious" relationship. One reason I try to scope out a guy's left hand if I think I might be interested. From where I sit, all the good ones are already taken (or far to young to be appropriate mates).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 11:47 AM

After meeting other bloggers and commenters, I always feel so much more confidence in my ability to read them correctly.

Weird, no es verdad?

Not at all. Makes perfect sense. Once you've spent time talking to someone in person, you "hear" their tone and cadence while reading their words, making you more sensitive to possible subtleties such as humor/irony.

Posted by: FbL at August 17, 2010 11:56 AM

From where I sit, all the good ones are already taken....

That assumes you've met all, or even a large per centage, of the good ones. That's doubtful.

The ring finger bit is misleading. Lots of men routinely don't wear wedding rings at all. Because of an old knuckle injury, I wear my wedding ring on a chain around my neck (appropriately enough, on an old dog tag chain of my wife's...).

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 11:59 AM

Maybe I should rephrase: all the good ones I've come in contact with are already taken (or far too young).

Oh, and I know some men don't wear rings. But, odds are if there is one, I should consider them off the market. Eliminates getting one's hopes up unnecessarily.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 12:03 PM

Usually men of your age, Ladybug, go for younger women because they want a family and someone that can do the housework required for it, while they just keep on building business or career.

For you, it would be better to have an older man who either seeks female companionship or is a widow. Such would play your strengths, rather than seeking to offer something comparable to what younger women can provide.

I agree with what Cassandra said. Romantic love is easily for the young. Things tend to progress differently for those more experienced. In the sense that first you share common life interests or activities, then the interest goes. Rather than the interest hitting first, and then finding out what common interests are linked together between the two.

I've noticed that conservative female bloggers are, if anything, more likely than men to come out with statements like that. I don't quite get that.

That's due to women focusing more on women behaviors. Women just tend to notice how other women act, even if men do the same things. Women have a biological instinct to help them do that. While they pay attention to men they are attracted to, they pay attention to all or mostly all women, especially the ones directly competing with them in the same activity, blogging.

Then there's the issue of how women are expected to understand women, but not men. And men are expected to understand other men or male behaviors, but women are not. There's a credibility gap as well as a interest gap.

As for getting rid of male votes, as I said before, I wouldn't be against the nullification of a whole slate of male politician's votes. But that's not enough. Because the one man, one vote, whatever times thing is obsolete given modern technology and circumstances.

I'd rather see a direct reform of the voting system and how votes are approportioned. And it won't be based on sexual profiles. For example, the military usually has a disproportionately low count due to various considerations, yet they are also the bulwark of the republic. So their proportional representation in the modern US, is not proportionate. Back before the Civil War, it was proportionate because there was no professional US army around. Yet. So a citizen model was more than adequate to represent those in the military as well. Now a days, not so much. Those that died in Iraq, won't ever vote again. It would make sense if their unit voted as one block or had a block of votes... sort of like unions, so that they can have representation proportional to what they contribute to the Republic.

And the reward for good conduct in America should not be money or political patronage, but more votes. Just like a corporation. Whoever has the most shares, controls things. Thus if you reward virtue in America with voting power, that is its own reward in the long term. Because it benefits everyone, not just the single virtuous individual.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 17, 2010 12:12 PM

I've noticed that, Ymar. My 10.5 year younger sister married a man only 6 months younger than me. My other sister (14 years my junior) is in a long-term relationship with a man 8 years older. I know a man my age (an internet acquaintance) engaged to be married to a much younger woman he refers to as his "child bride". Stuff like that pisses me off, but there's not much I can do about it.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 12:29 PM

It would make sense if their unit voted as one block or had a block of votes... sort of like unions, so that they can have representation proportional to what they contribute to the Republic.

By that, I also mean the votes of the dead comrades as well. A proxy vote. A block vote. You put you vote to your proxy so he can vote for you. Even if you are dead.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 17, 2010 12:43 PM

Thanks Cass. It looks like I misread you on that. You said you rarely women criticize you for being anti-woman. I was totally going to complain about how anti-woman this post was, until I realized that you are presenting your argument to a very different audience than mine.

Most men I interact with are liberals who have no idea they are being sexist pigs at times, so the only challenge is in convincing them that the "sexist" label applies. They usually choose to correct their behaviors because to a lib, sexist=bad. I didn't have to create this association (and regret many feminist tactics in getting it into the public consciousness). But since it's there already it's easy to have the discussion.

You, on the other hand, most likely interact with conservative men who reject that they ought to do anything about being a sexist pig at times because "everyone knows" feminism is just liberal claptrap. You also agree that much of feminist theory is liberal claptrap and so have to defend the part that isn't while condemning the part that is.

I think your task is much harder than mine. After all, I just have to convince liberals that part of their own body of social theory applies in a particular instance. You have to convince conservatives to be more "liberal" without advocating actual liberalism.

(Even though there's nothing actually liberal about noting that American/Western laws and societal norms historically favored men, that eliminating some of that favoritism has revealed much that we didn't previously know about the innate abilities of both genders, and that there are still remnants of that favoritism scattered throughout our laws and customs. The liberal/conservative divide appears when we debate what we ought to do about it. [steps off soapbox]).

And in case you were wondering, I love your blog and come here often. Keep it up.

Posted by: alwaysfiredup at August 17, 2010 05:19 PM

I'm late to this but I had to chime in on:

As a woman (not to mention a woman who has voted solidly Republican) it is pretty depressing to read that the world would be a better place if I couldn't vote. It's even more depressing that no one seems to see anything wrong with that stance but I guess that's just the way it is.

Yes, this is depressing. It's also puzzling. I find it hard to imagine a conservative blogger or commenter being applauded for even hinting that the world would be a better place if African-Americans (who vote overwhelmingly Democratic) or American Jews (who tend to vote Democratic) couldn't vote. This is a great mystery to me: Why are comments like this acceptable when they're made about women?

Posted by: Elise at August 17, 2010 05:55 PM

I find it hard to imagine a conservative blogger or commenter being applauded for even hinting that the world would be a better place if African-Americans (who vote overwhelmingly Democratic) or American Jews (who tend to vote Democratic) couldn't vote. This is a great mystery to me: Why are comments like this acceptable when they're made about women?

I'll drag out my Psychology Today degree and offer an idle speculation on this. Part of my speculation goes back to an earlier point that others have made about the evolutionarily developed separation of tasks into male and female tasks, with the inherent grouping/separation of the genders. Men are more likely to encounter other groups of men than other groups of women. And it's always been easy to kill anything different from ourselves, whether the death sentence was justified or not. So we got used to hating males who were different, while the wimminfolk became irrelevant in this. Never fear; as alwaysfiredup has pointed out, the differences disappear today as we all grow up, lose the artificial differences, and the genders begin to attend to each other more generally. We'll start killing women who are different, too.

Another aspect of this is that, while we can kill all the other males for the crime of being different, if we did that to the females, that would bear negatively on species survival. So we won't kill _all_ the females who are different....

:P

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 06:21 PM

Wow :) A lot of food for thought there.

On the conservative side of the blogosphere, "feminist" is something of a dirty word. Some of the women here at VC (Texan99 comes to mind) admit to being feminists but T99 considers herself to be more of a libertarian than a conservative. Righty men love to bash feminism and righty women love to bash it even more! I've done my share of bashing, but I try to balance the criticism with recognition that the world I grew up in was a very different place. In many ways, it's better now and in some it's worse. Tradeoffs.

I can't honestly say that I've ever thought of myself as a feminist, even in my youth when I was very liberal and it was common for men go on about about how women couldn't be trusted with any job that required more brainpower than using a paperclip b/c... wait for it... when we get PMS, we get little flames behind our eyes and try to single-handedly invade small South American countries :p

I always attributed remarks like that to being a loudmouth rather than to systematic sexism. Certainly my Dad never said anything like that.

My Dad is pretty conservative but he also urged me to go to college and get a law degree. His aspirations for me were pretty much the same as his hopes for my brother. He never said anything in my presence that wasn't respectful of women and has always treated my Mom with respect for her intelligence and tenderness.

According to my Dad, there was nothing I couldn't do if I really wanted it badly enough. So I didn't grow up with the resentment or dislike of men I see in some (not all) feminists.

My husband is old fashioned. He thinks it's important that "someone" stay home with the children when they're small but then I did too so we didn't butt heads over that. It sometimes bothered me that "someone" was assumed to be me, but it just so happened that I would have felt cheated if I'd had to leave them in day care. I don't think my husband ever felt that way. So it made sense for me to stay home. Tradeoffs again :)

From the vantage point of 3 decades things really have changed, though. Both my sons married women with degrees (one daughter in law has her Masters', so she's more educated than either of my sons) and career aspirations. My DIL with the Masters' is conservative and chose to stop working for 5 or 6 years to be at home with my grandsons. My other DIL is very liberal and (I think) feels conflicted about balancing motherhood and her career. So it will be interesting to see what develops.

As far as my experiences with conservative men, I haven't really run into much sexism and I really haven't noticed much difference between liberal and conservative men in that regard. We women can be sexist too. I don't think either sex does it on purpose - it has always seemed to me that we just don't see things through the same pair of eyes. I suppose I am leery of attributing to sexism what could also be explained by our differences.

Of course my definition of sexism might differ from yours. I work in a male dominated technical field and have always found that (in my presence at least) the vast majority of men are delightful to work and talk with. I sometimes wonder whether the ones who aren't, understand how they sound to women? Sometimes I get the feeling people like that just don't see us. But again, I've seen some pretty clueless behavior from women.

I will admit that I do not like to see men making gross sexual comments about women online. I would be equally uncomfortable if I saw women making those kinds of remarks but that hasn't happened yet. As MikeD said earlier, doesn't mean it never happens - just that I've never seen women do this. I'm not sure if this is "sexism" or just a general decline in morals and manners?

And I will admit that I get uncomfortable on blogs that post links to porn or photos of nekkid and semi-nekkid women all the time. To me, that is fine in private but is something one doesn't do in mixed company. In that respect I am very much behind the times, though. I mostly keep my opinions on that subject to myself.

I don't know what to make of feminism. I think that having women enter the workplace to the degree they have has been harmful to children. I know you may not agree, but I see way too many couples where neither one of the parents is paying attention to raising their children - they are being raised by strangers, the Internet, TV, and computers. That really, really bothers me.

Women have traditionally had a huge impact on society through the rearing and moral education of children. If we don't do this job, who will? I think it's incredibly important and it plays to our strengths. I also think we've largely lost what influence we once had. What we gained was freedom and an expanded range of choices.

It will take us a while to figure out how to deal with those choices and for the world to adjust.

I was totally going to complain about how anti-woman this post was, until I realized that you are presenting your argument to a very different audience than mine.

I tried very hard to be balanced in writing this post but you're always free to point out where you think I am wrong. Often I don't have time to word things as precisely as I might and sometimes I'm just wrong (or leave something out).

One thing I am really proud of, though, is my readers. There isn't much I can't write about - even highly charged subjects. Even when the guys disagree with me, they provide thoughtful feedback. And I'm really pleased that more women comment these days. I can remember when there weren't nearly so many women and I think they add something to the mix.

But I don't think it's right to say to women, "This is always your job. You have to stay home." I think women should have the same choices, but I think they should be willing to pay the costs of those choices.

I suppose I think there will always be some aspects of life that are "unfair" to women just as there are some aspects of life that are "unfair" to men. Raising two boys and loving my husband has given me a real appreciation for the difficulties men face - one that I didn't have in my younger years. Still, we are kind of stuck with biology and I

I don't think parenting is a responsibility that can or should be delegated by either parent. It's up to both to make sure their children are raised and educated properly.

Anyway, I'm glad you're reading. I do like to hear different viewpoints and if you've been reading you know that we don't agree with each other a lot of the time!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 06:26 PM

I find it hard to imagine a conservative blogger or commenter being applauded for even hinting that the world would be a better place if African-Americans (who vote overwhelmingly Democratic) or American Jews (who tend to vote Democratic) couldn't vote. This is a great mystery to me: Why are comments like this acceptable when they're made about women?

Elise, you have a knack of saying things I think to myself all the time (but rarely say).

And I wonder about that too. All the time.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 06:27 PM

Just a comment on the running commentary....

Thought provoking and mentally stimulating. Just as it should be. No hostility, a bit of passionate discussion. As it should be with civilized adults in a discussion.

I applaud all of you and our hostess for only sipping at your adult beverages or other refreshments while participating. Seriously.

I learned something today here. And that makes today another good day on this side of the bowling green.

KP

Posted by: kbob in Katy at August 17, 2010 06:36 PM

I think a lot of what you've talked about in this last post is more about courtesy and respect for the other person, generally, than about the "proper" way men and women should interact. And today's world, for all its PC-ness--perhaps because of all its PC-ness--has lost a lot of old-time gentility.

On feminism, I see a broad, high-level analogy with unions. 100 years ago, unions served a valuable purpose in that they forced the pace on what businesses already were starting to do because it made for good business, which was treat their employees better. Then being anti-management, forcing concession after concession, and so on, became an end in itself, and today we get the failure of the auto industry and of our educational system at the combined hands of unions and weak management. 40 years ago, when feminism sprang up (at least in my perception), that, too, served a useful purpose in drawing attention to artificial inequities and forcing the pace on correcting same. Now much (not all) feminism also goes too far, with shrillness and finding fault being ends in themselves. None of this means unions or feminists don't still have legitimate beefs, but much of that gets lost in the persistence of yesterday's techniques, appropriate to yesterday's problems, but that are counterproductive today, with its different audience and problems.

I also see what seems to be bigotry generally as largely a matter of ignorance rather than actual ill will. To be sure, there's plenty of ill will--too much ill will--yet extant. But I offer two anecdotes to illustrate the ignorance aspect. My grandmother grew up 110 years ago, and as recently as the '50s, she still was talking about "darkies." There weren't any bad thoughts about African Americans anywhere in her heart; that was just how she was raised. She thought that all African Americans should have the same rights and and opportunities as whites, even if they might need some help to fulfill their potential (again, it's how she was raised). Today, we've learned better on both counts. The other anecdote is alwaysfiredup's liberal, sexist male acquaintances. When apprised of the error of their ways, they often correct.

Would that the learning curves were a bit more quickly climbed, and more broadly so.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 17, 2010 07:08 PM

Great post and comments, as usual. One of the many things I love about your blog, Cass, is how the commenters nudge each other, and lily pad hop and actually discuss as oppose to the kinds of ad hominem attacks that usually characterize discussions of this gender stuff on many other blogs.

Like many, I'm inconsistent on all this. I posted the link on women looking good because I thought the guy was a callow twit, and yet I think women are naive if they don't realize that a great many men feel just as he do. Men who aren't as shallow as he is.

I was raised by an extremely conservative former Navy dad who ceaselessly harped on me about women's work and roles. But who was also deathly proud of my tomboyish ways and my building forts, playing war games and my being fascinated by military history and reading the same G.A. Henty books, Knights of King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc. as he had as a kid.

I looked like him, I was a good dancer like him, I was incredibly patriotic like him, I was academic like him, got into the same college as him, and even got onto the same college newspaper as him, and into the same dorm as him. Like him, I majored in government and international relations. He alternated between lecturing me to "Go and help your mother..." and talking to me for hours about international politics and sighing at times how he wished I had been the boy (my brother was artsy, into acting and film, not athletic).

When I ran the Marine Corps Marathon after college my dad bragged to all his friends about me passing husky young Marines "What a waste that she was a girl".

He was appalled when I went to seminary as he thought it stupid to take religion seriously. But he was furious when my home parish (largely gay)wouldn't sponsor me to be ordained because I was female. By that stage of his life he had decided that if a female could do the job (ie: preach, teach, lead worship and counsel people) nobody had any right to hold her sex against her. We were not Catholic, I mean no disrespect to those who are.

Back and forth, back and forth. I ended up serving as a chaplain for years, then got married. When we started our family and I gave up my profession to stay home, my father told me I had done the right thing. And I knew I had, before he told me so.

I do believe that regardless of education and work before children, mothers should stay at home full time with their children until they go to school full time. Ideally at least part time after that. If economically possible. There are some individual exceptions, but I nursed our kids 24/7 til they were over 2 years old, and one of them was autistic and only I could manage him until he was 3. My husband has always doted on our kids, but was flummoxed by them at times, and couldn't take more than an hour or so of them at a time, and couldn't multi-task the way a mom can (hold baby with one hand, put dinner in Crock pot with other, then hand paints to toddler, then go check up on overly silent kid crayoning on wall in bedroom, then let cat out of closet that toddler has shut her into, etc.)

I personally am very grateful to my spouse that his hard work in his youth and the early years of our marriage made it possible for me to stay home during our children's early years. We were very hard up then, but they were precious years, and good for us as a family. Completely traditional.

I worked several years part-time in my profession of the ministry when the kids went back to school, but it was hard on my husband because he was unemployed, but I was very much known in the community (a local church) and people would greet me on the street, and talk about a sermon of mine, or the like. I worked evenings and weekends and was paid very little but would stay up all night sometimes working on sermons and projects and tho the kids didn't suffer, he felt the housework did, and that since I was having "fun" it was my fault. I would say this was partially because he grew up in a more sexist household than mine, and is a little older than I am.

Eventually, as he continued unemployed, and my kid became more disturbed, I had to quit the church job and take a day job with health benefits just in time as the kid was shortly hospitalized for months, etc. I used to tell myself that I felt like the wife of a Crusader whose husband had gone off to the Holy Land who was having to run the castle in his absence...I suspect this kind of story is playing out all over the country now as it seems to be easier for women to find and hold onto jobs these days than men (perhaps because the women's jobs are lower paying on the whole??)

The point is, our household might superficially seem to be modern : wife the breadwinner, husband at home, kids. But it is in fact still traditional. Wife does all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, emotional tending of everyone, etc. We are all conservative (except one of the college kids). I do intone tediously to my girls that they must be sure that they only marry a man who is going to be willing to provide for them during the years that they are having babies and looking after small children. As their father did.

I do occassionally wonder to myself what's the point of educating women if they do as I have done. 12 years of school, Ivy League undergrad and grad school, high powered jobs, then just home to be a mom for eight years, and beyond part time work in my field for a while, the last 13 years in pink collar work. Of course all work is honorable, if honest, as this is. But an education is a valuable resource.

I actually think Cassandra chose the best timing, however inadvertently, for her family, work path, and one that best honors our evolutionary and individual differences.

If one gets educated and works before having a family, one is so old by the time the kids are launched that one is too old to go back into one's prior profession (at least I am).

Sorry to blather on.

Only other thing I would add is that nowadays in an economy as difficult as ours, the best laid plans of mice and men....a traditional couple like my family's may end up having to change a lot simply because of the original breadwinner's troubles finding work in their field. This may happen more and more in future. When I go to the library in my lunch hour, it is PACKED with unemployed people, mostly men.

Posted by: retriever at August 17, 2010 08:13 PM

12 years of school, Ivy League undergrad and grad school, high powered jobs, then just home to be a mom for eight years,

Somehow I doubt the skills and knowledge gained through those years had no role in shaping the environment in which your children were raised...

Posted by: FbL at August 17, 2010 09:55 PM

I have to agree with FbL on that last...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 10:15 PM

I posted the link on women looking good because I thought the guy was a callow twit, and yet I think women are naive if they don't realize that a great many men feel just as he do. Men who aren't as shallow as he is.

That is no doubt true. I also don't doubt that a great many women feel the same way. But comparing a woman who is overweight to a man (Clooney) who deliberately lets himself go and refuses to keep himself clean and groomed was just bizarre.

I understand the feeling. What I don't understand is arguing that it's "OK" because everyone does it. Saying, "Get used to it - that's the way the world is" is one thing. When reading his post I couldn't help thinking to myself, "People commit murder, rape and robbery too. Are these things OK because that's the way the world is?"

Of course not. People do need to live in the real world but that seems to me like a far cry from saying that whatever is, is "OK" :)

On your other comments, I have observed that being a father to girls sometimes causes a man to look at the world differently. It sounds like that's what happened with your Dad.

The problem of who will raise the children is a difficult one. On the one hand it's a tremendously important job and one that most women seem to be more suited to than most men are.

On the other, it's such a time consuming job that it doesn't leave much room for women to develop their talents. My mother is a gifted artist but she doesn't draw or paint. She gave those things up to care for her family. I know so many women who have made similar choices.

Blogging was something of an epiphany for me. For the first few years I was so full of passion and energy. Heck, I had 25 years of pent up thoughts and frustrations to work out! My bete noir has always been that I'm not happy unless I am learning or doing something challenging.

I don't regret for a moment staying home with my sons. Under the circumstances it was the best choice. But there have been times when I wished we could have arranged things differently. I wish we could have shared some of the responsibility - and the joys - of parenting.

Women, I think, are torn in a way that most men don't seem to be. Part of us wants to do all the things that men do - stretch our wings, work hard, build a career or a life's work. But our families are so important too and for many of us something dies if we become too disconnected from the ones we love.

The only solution I see is for us to think about our priorities and choose wisely, realizing that every choice has a price tag.

When I look at my husband's life I see all the sacrifices he has made for us and I realize that everyone pays in one way or another. I can't help but think it's a good thing that we have more options now, and if our biggest complaint is that the choices are difficult ones, hopefully we'll work that out too.

Sounds kind of Pollyanna-ish, doesn't it? I guess that's just me. I just know that whenever I've felt trapped or been tempted to feel cheated, all I have to do is ask myself, "What in your life would you give up if you had it all to do over again?"

I've never found an answer that satisfies me, which in its own way is an answer.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 17, 2010 10:50 PM

If I had met someone much earlier in my life (when I was young, I expected I would meet my future spouse during my college years), I am pretty sure I would have tried to be a stay-at-home mom to any children of such a union. At this point, if I do manage to find a husband, I'll be lucky to be able to have a child of my own, and you damn well better believe I'd be a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 17, 2010 11:51 PM

I suspect this kind of story is playing out all over the country now as it seems to be easier for women to find and hold onto jobs these days than men (perhaps because the women's jobs are lower paying on the whole??)

Businesses don't want to get sued for sexism or what not in this economy. Women were always better in the service economy, and it's the technical skills sector that is losing jobs that are usually predominantly male dominated. Since women don't go for those jobs anyways, losing that sector doesn't really affect employment opportunities.

I think that having women enter the workplace to the degree they have has been harmful to children. I know you may not agree,

But it was a necessary sacrifice, Cassandra. After all, how could social security and economic recovery in the 50s go into full speed, if women weren't employed and paying taxes. It was all necessary for the Cause.

More people working means more serfs that the government can tax to enslave those that are still free.

After all, Obama just put into effect a small business law that says such businesses must declare everything they buy. No more "black market" economy where people are sitting around where their net worth isn't counted. House wives are not good precisely because they have no income. Thus cannot be taxed.

I can remember when there weren't nearly so many women and I think they add something to the mix.

Zombies chased em away?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 18, 2010 07:59 AM

"...when we get PMS, we get little flames behind our eyes and try to single-handedly invade small South American countries."

Cuz that's where the good drugs and tequila are.

Posted by: Snarkammando at August 18, 2010 10:22 AM

Just to clarify, I deliberately used the phrase "being sexist pigs at times" because I don't believe that most people are innately "sexist" or "racist" or what have you. They're just used to things being a certain way, as Eric said. When confronted with a fact pattern, sometimes conclusions are reached that are based more on custom than fact. I believe the proper buzzword here is "patriarchy" but it's a terribly loaded term.

I do think you are more feminist than you claim, Cass, but that's because my definition of feminist includes any woman who believes she has the same ability and right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else. You don't have to go around hating on men and demanding that someone give you special treatment in order to be a feminist.

I also don't think conservative men act sexist any more or less often than liberal men, it's just that the arguments one must make to highlight a bogus conclusion are different depending on the audience. (And plenty of women can be sexist at times as well, no argument there. Social norms affect all of us.) In business I'm constantly trying to get people out of habitual ruts that don't function anymore. That's kind of how I see feminism today: If you step on my foot and injure me, I'm going to tell you so that you don't injure me again later. If you really didn't realize it, then we are perfectly friendly. If you are repeatedly ignoring my protests, then we may need to have a longer argument. I can also distinguish between animosity and teasing; for example, when I promote Palin for president to my (very liberal) husband and I've deflected each of his arguments for why she wouldn't be a good choice, he often ends with "But she's a woman!" just to needle me. I usually roll my eyes and drop it at that point, as I do possess a sense of humor.

I don't necessarily believe that women in general are innately more suited to caretaking than men in general, but some women surely are more suited to caretaking than their husbands and so one cannot claim that all women choosing to stay home are somehow brainwashed by the patriarchy. That's just silly. Staying home to raise children is a perfectly reasonable choice. We thought it important for our boys to have a parent home in the first few years. Hubby did it for a while and loved it. I did it for a while and hated it. That's our personalities and has nothing to do with gender.

My only concern is that if the wife stays home, that she actually chooses to stay home with the kids and isn't pushed into a default position by her family or anyone else. Sometimes social pressure can be very subtle. But you're a smart lady and obviously already know this. :) I still agree with your dad: you should go to law school. I loved it and you probably would too. Many of my classmates were turning to the law as a second, third, or fourth career, so age is no obstacle. And since the gov't cancels your student loans when you die, law school may be a great choice for retirement!

Posted by: alwaysfiredup at August 18, 2010 12:52 PM

I do think you are more feminist than you claim, Cass, but that's because my definition of feminist includes any woman who believes she has the same ability and right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else. You don't have to go around hating on men and demanding that someone give you special treatment in order to be a feminist.

Well, by that definition I most definitely would qualify as a feminist :)

My main quibble with mainstream feminism (the radicals are so out there that I have always dismissed them) has been with the proposition that only government can (or should) force social change.

I do think there's a place for government. I would just prefer to see gender neutral laws that allow individuals some redress (as opposed to laws that, IMO, create protected classes of persons). I think that when we make it too easy to sue, the law itself becomes a vehicle for harassment.

FWIW, I don't think all women are better suited to caretaking. I just think that, whether as a result of biology or social conditioning, more women seem to be drawn to professions like nursing, homemaking, counseling, etc. I'm not even sure it matters why this is, so long as no one is coerced.

My brother in law is a Navy Nurse. There are outright quotas that discriminate against men in place that are, IMO, shameful and ought to be illegal for a federal employer. It's bad enough when human beings choose to discriminate but when the federal government does so as a matter of policy I think things have really jumped the shark.

re: law school. We're trying to figure that out now. My husband has GI Bill benefits that he can now transfer to me. Who knows? If he doesn't use them perhaps I will!

Posted by: Cass at August 18, 2010 01:09 PM

Go Cass! I'm visualizing you as a stern judge above a swaggering gangbanger, sending him away...or telling some bimbo whining scrounged to stop making excuses...seriously, tho, what kind of law appeals to you?

Posted by: Retriever at August 18, 2010 02:30 PM

I like nuclear missile law.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 18, 2010 02:58 PM

It's bad enough when human beings choose to discriminate but when the federal government does so as a matter of policy I think things have really jumped the shark.

The federal gummint is the biggest violator of the age discrimination in employment laws in the US. Go ahead -- tell me you're surprised at that.

Posted by: BillT at August 18, 2010 03:03 PM

I couldn't agree more with Cassandra that someone needs to stay home with kids. I used to work with a lot of married couples who both worked and who essentially relied on the nanny to raise the kids, and I never wanted that for myself. I also knew a handful of couples where the husband stayed home with the kids, in part because the wife (typically a lawyer) was making more money. The latter households seemed to work out OK, though it wasn't clear that the guys were any more thrilled about it than the traditional woman was when she didn't feel she had much choice. But it sure seemed better for the kids than the marriages in which both parents not only worked but worked all the time, and traveled a lot too.

My husband and I split up the duties in the way that makes the most sense to us. Neither of us seems all that encumbered by assumptions about gender roles. On the other hand, there's nothing "feminized" about my husband in the sense that many conservatives now decry. I have an extremely liberal friend who epitomizes the odd attitude toward men that Cassandra has mentioned: my friend so detests anything smacking of aggression that she can't tolerate anything like what I think of as an ordinary, attractive, likeable guy. I like guys who are guys. And that's the case even though I wouldn't last long with any guy who was "traditionally male" in the sense of needing me to live up to what he considered a feminine ideal.

I prefer people who are emphatically themselves without needing me to be anything other than what I am, either. I don't want them to be like me, or to expect me to be like them.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 18, 2010 03:54 PM

my definition of feminist includes any woman who believes she has the same ability and right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else. You don't have to go around hating on men and demanding that someone give you special treatment in order to be a feminist.

You sexist. :P That definition applies to this male 18th century Liberal, too. And I don't go around hating women for not being submissive screamers whenever I grace them with my presence. That (the submissive...) might appeal to my adolescent ego, for about five minutes, then it just would become stultifyingly boring.

I'm not even sure it [women in "traditional" women's jobs] matters why this is, so long as no one is coerced.

We have to mind the nature of the coercion, though. Overtly forcing you into a particular role is one form of coercion. A more pernicious form of coercion (which arguably isn't really coercion) is the expectations levied on the woman throughout her life, in particular her formative, child years. If she's "guided" into traditional roles (the Office Occupation classes I mentioned a while ago) rather than being allowed--encouraged--into other areas (e.g., VoTech, or today the Engineering programs, or the hard sciences, then she's going to be more likely to choose traditional women's roles and jobs as an adult when she has "free choice" (I recommend BF Skinner's Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at August 18, 2010 09:03 PM

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