Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Man! I feel Like a Woman! Or not.....

The conference I attended last week was for work. My profession is historically and currently predominantly (~90%) female. Usually the conference attendees are more than 10% male because academics tend to be drawn to these sorts of events and the percentage of men is higher (~20%) in academia than in the profession as a whole.

Today at our faculty meeting when we were discussing the conference, a male professor commented on the selection of music played by the band at the opening festivities. One of the three songs the band played was Shania Twain's "Man!I Feel Like a Woman".

The male professor said that he thought it was a poor choice of songs given that we were not all women. He commented "You can bet the reaction would have been different if it was a song about being a man."

I commented that I noticed that and looked around to see how the guys in the audience reacted. Many appeared uncomfortable. I commented to my female co-workers at the time that coupled with the choice of the butterfly festooned lanyard upon which our event tickets hung, that the choice of music was not very man-friendly.

One of my female colleagues (she self-identifies as a feminist) said "I just thought of it as a popular song".

One of my other male colleagues replied "You're not thinking of it from a man's point of view".

The female colleague then rolled her eyes.

I said, "There's a shocker, (our professional organization) didn't consider the perspective of men."

My female colleague then said to the two male faculty who commented "If you don't like it, get involved in leadership. Oh, that's right....men can't manage to get elected."

I said, "You don't have to be a man to consider a man's perspective. Somebody just didn't even consider it."


Since my clinical profession is largely female there is always some sort of feminist ideology to wade through, particularly in some more active elements of leadership. Two years ago I attended a session where we were reviewing the proposed changes to official documents of the profession which outline the terminology we use to describe what we do. One of the proposed changes was to remove the word "roles" from our terminology. This stirred much discussion and confusion in the session because those of us in attendance could not understand why the word "roles" was problematic. The session moderator explained that "If we would examine the feminist literature we would see ther the word "roles" is opressive to women". Lest you think the entire profession is so silly, there was a great deal of eye-rolling and "you have got to be kidding me" from the attendees of the session, both male and female. There was also much debate with the majority of those in attendance finding the idea that the word "roles" was opressive to women to be ridiculous. Thankfully when the final version of the document came out the word "roles" remained.

39 comments:

Ame said...

feminism is one of those things that, once you recognize it, you always see it. it's getting people to recognize it that is frustrating.

and i agree ... one does NOT need to experience something personally in order to be understanding of their position or who they are - that's one of my soap-boxes, so i'll stop here :)

Learner said...

it's getting people to recognize it that is frustrating.Amen to that Ame!!

Anonymous said...

Nikita Kruschev said the west will fall without a shot. Feminism is based on Marxism as were many 60s ideas. They came in on a "Trojan Horse"-Norm

Learner said...

Hi Norm,

Thanks for the comment. The Trojan Horse is a good analogy. It really is incredible the degree to which feminism has infiltrated daily life.

Jonathan said...

I think Shania is overrated. And that song is very annoying. I'm glad I didn't have to cope with any of that. I don't deal well with silly people.

Roci said...

Sounds like your male collegues are pansies and so immersed in feminist ideology as to wish to apply its shallow arguments to their own lives.

I am very male and do not take personally anyone elses choice of music at public events. I even have the song in question on my Ipod and listen to it without feeling either uncomfortable or inclined to sing along. IT IS JUST MUSIC.

I would not select that song for Karaoke except as a joke.

Learner said...

Hi Jonathan,

I am not a big country music fan myself, so I have never been much of a fan of Ms Twain's.

I hope you have a great time camping!

Learner said...

Hi Roci,

I may not have expressed it very well in my post, but I think the song was really just a symptom of the larger problem. The problem is that there is a feminine orientation and lack of consideration of the masculine point of view in the profession coupled with exaggerated concern for the femenine point of view (that was what I was unsuccessfully trying to get at with the "roles" bit).

Too bad we can't have audio comments, or we could have Karaoke and you could sing the song :) When it was my turn I would probably sing "Country Roads" and then everyone would be sorry.

catwoman said...

A "feminine orientation" and a "lack of consideration of the masculine point of view" in a profession that's mostly female would be expected, just as male dominated professions will always have a somewhat masculine orientation that tends to flout the feminine -- and its own exaggerated needs to protect those things, be they traditions, rituals, etc. I think these things do change over time, as more males enter traditionally female occupations, and vice versa. But when things don't change quickly enough and the political correctness monitors start nit-picking, well, that's when the eyes getting rolling, since people have been long sick of it.

I'm glad most of the people in your session saw through the ridiculous issue over the word "role". Sensibility (usually, eventually) wins.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

When it comes to male dominated professions or organizations there is pervasive pressure to consider the feminine perspective that does not exist when the roles are reversed. This pressure is not present in female dominated professions.

For example, there is concern that there are fewer female than males in some fields such as engineering and some sciences. Governmental and institutional programs and policies have been developed to address this "disparity". This concern, and the dearth of programs that address and lack of men in female dominated professions stands in contrast to this.

For example, in my profession there is much discussion about "diversity" with regard to the lack of ethnic minorities and what we can do to recruit ethnic minorities to the field. There is no such concern for the recruitment of men, even though they are a minority and limit the diversity of the profession.

Elusive Wapiti said...

While I find that song a bit more than slightly annoying, I'm not sure I'd make a big deal out of it.

Unless, of course, I was surrounded by feminists who don't practice what they preach and failed to consider the male perspective the same way they demand that guys consider the female perspective. If that were the case, you'd bet I'd raise the issue. Men can play the "offended" and "hostile environment" game just as easily.

The "men can't manage to get elected" comment is pretty funny coming from a feminist. And little wonder that a man can't get elected when the professional organization is chock full of women who vote on the basis of sex.

She's the same as she derides; a sexist in a skirt.

What a hypocrite.

"Roles" are oppressive to women the same way that "logic" and "vertical thinking" are.

Novaseeker said...

This has been my perspective as well.

My perception is the following.

Feminism wishes to colonize the male space (thereby all the diversity seminars and the bending backwards to ensure female perspectives are included), but when it comes to the female space, feminism seeks to consolidate its domination, and attempts to silence male perspectives.

In this way, I think it is fair (I know many will disagree, but I think it is fair) to describe *current* feminism as a female power movement: gaining parity or better in previously "male" space, while vigorously defending female advantage (and prohibiting male perspectives) in the current space that is female dominated.

That, of course, is not something most men would support, if they are rational. But if men express a lack of support for it, we are next accused of wanting women back in the kitchen and bedroom.

It is kind of a no win situation for men, really.

catwoman said...

"When it comes to male dominated professions or organizations there is pervasive pressure to consider the feminine perspective that does not exist when the roles are reversed. This pressure is not present in female dominated professions."

Well, I can't speak to affirmative action, since it's quite limited where I live compared to the US. Nor do you hear men complaining of the "pressure" to consider the feminine in male dominated environments to consider the feminine any more than female complaints about the masculine climate. As for the mostly female environments welcoming men, you should have seen my office before the merger when we had all women and one man -- it was like Joey from "Friends" and his adoring sisters!

Learner said...

EW,

Well, feminism is nothing if not logically inconsistent.

It is commonly said that the reason why there are fewer men in my profession is that they lack the "interpersonal skills" necessary. This suggests that there are differences between men and women, right? But, yowza, you should have been at the session a few years back when a guy suggested that we need more males in the profession because men tend to be more comfortable with risk than women and that would be a useful trait. Why, it was sexist to suggest that men may possess useful trait to a greater degree than women!

Learner said...

Novaseeker,

Thanks for the comment.

In this way, I think it is fair (I know many will disagree, but I think it is fair) to describe *current* feminism as a female power movement: gaining parity or better in previously "male" space, while vigorously defending female advantage (and prohibiting male perspectives) in the current space that is female dominated.I would say that is a fair description.

Learner said...

Does anyone know why recently when I use html code to put a quote in italics and then hit return a few times and add a comment that the comment squashes itself up against the quote in italics? It didn't used to do that.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

Perhaps what women consider a welcoming environment isn't as welcoming from a male point of view as it is from a female point of view?

How much more limited is affirmative action in Canada? I see that you guys have the Status of Women Canada, a federal government organization that promotes the status of women. Canada also has the Canadian Employment Equity Act that requires employers to proactively improve employment opportunities for groups including women. In some territories women also get preferential treatment over men when it comes to employment (http://www.hr.gov.nt.ca/employment/affirmativeaction/)

Roci said...

I understood your point as you intended. I was making the additional comment that men who are peeved that their non traditional roles are not being embraced by their profession are acting like women. If they wanted to work in a more gender neutral environment, they should have chosen one. Expecting other people to accomodate your unrealistic expectations is a feminine trait. In a traditional male field, these guys would have been mercilessly ridiculed for their sensitivity about such a meaningless object. Women in sych an environment get placated, but not taken seriously. They more they complain about such trivia, they less seriously they are seen as professionals.

Learner said...

Thanks for the clarification Roci. I like having men in my profession because I think they have qualities that are good for the profession and good for the people we serve (which include as many men as women). So, I suppose that it annoys me that certain elements in the profession who are so quick to complain about the opression or marginalization of women roll their eyes when a masculine perspective is even considered. It's hypocritical.

It is also hypocritical for a profession to call for diversity in their workforce and work to be "culturally competent" and "sensitive to minorities" but then not be willing to consider the perspective of men.

I guess I don't find it unrealistic that people not be hypocritical.

Roci said...

most of us men recognized a long time ago that the drive in the office place for sesitivity and equality was never really about either. Real men understand that life is not fair and we are not equal. No one is. How you deal with that knowledge is what defines you.

It does not upset me at all when someone acts true to their character. The very definition of feminism, as well as similar race politics advocates, is "good for me, but none for thee".

Learner said...

Roci,

"Real men understand that life is not fair and we are not equal. No one is. How you deal with that knowledge is what defines you."

How do you suggest a man deal with that knowledge?

catwoman said...

"Perhaps what women consider a welcoming environment isn't as welcoming from a male point of view as it is from a female point of view?"

That could often be the case, with the genders reversed as well.

"How much more limited is affirmative action in Canada?"

"I see that you guys have the Status of Women Canada, a federal government organization that promotes the status of women. Canada also has the Canadian Employment Equity Act that requires employers to proactively improve employment opportunities for groups including women. In some territories women also get preferential treatment over men when it comes to employment"

SWC is pretty small potatoes compared to similar operations in the US. There are no "quotas" with the EEA, which is more about large employers keeping records on employee demographics and coming up with strategies for removing barriers that might hinder the range of applicants for jobs. The territories up north (NWT, Nunavit) have a large Innuit (eskimo) population with limited self-government, so there may be special things they are doing up there. Other than for native peoples, there's not much support in Canada for affirmative action, especially since there are so many well-educated immigrants and urban women. Maybe some isolated ivory tower pockets, but like I say, small potatoes.

Come to think of it, when I look at the States, everything seems big, bigger and more, more, more. The cars are bigger, the stadiums are bigger, the people are bigger, there's the super-size thing, even the feminine hygiene products seem to have more perfume in them down there. And the billboards!

It sounds like you have a BIGGER kind of FEMINISM going on there, too!

Learner said...

Catwoman,

"there's not much support in Canada for affirmative action, especially since there are so many well-educated immigrants and urban women"

Why would the number of educated women have anything to do with affirmative action? I wonder because I doubt there is much difference in the level of education between Canadian and American women, so why would it influence Canada and not the US?

Roci said...

How I deal with it:

1. I recognize my limitations within the society I live and seek constantly to push the boundaries.

2. I seek the opportunities where the limitations are less appearant.

3. I do not whine and complain about things that are not under my control (much).

4. Despite limitations on financial success and the power I might attain in society, I can still be a valuable friend and contributor in my community.

Kathy Farrelly said...

I love your honesty, sincerity and common sense approach, Roci.
And, your cheeky sense of humor, too!
How come you don't have a blog, mate?

Learner said...

Hi Kathy,

:) How's it going?

Learner said...

Roci,

Hmm, so you don't think there is a place for pointing out issues? Or is it that you think that it is useless to do so?

catwoman said...

"Why would the number of educated women have anything to do with affirmative action?"

I would surmise that the general public would be less likely to support affirmative action if they perceive target groups (like visible minorities and women) as not really disadvantaged. Because there are so many well-educated entrepreurial immigrants from Asia who succeed economically without special treatment, Canadians are less likely to think that affirmative action programs for visible minorities are justified. Same for women, since so many of them living in our cities are well-educated, it's like, they're doing fine, why should they get any special help?

"I wonder because I doubt there is much difference in the level of education between Canadian and American women, so why would it influence Canada and not the US?"

Maybe there's a difference in the perception of those target groups.

Kathy Farrelly said...

Hi ya L.
I'm fine.
You'd love our weather here at the moment. It's going to hover around 82-85 degrees for the next week.
It's a beautiful, still crisp morning. Sun is shining, birds are singing.

Have just fed the one legged Raven that turns up on my porch at meal times(well, anytime really, 'cause he is always hungry!)I'm a sucker for strays and injured animals. I once cared for a one eyed female Australian Magpie Lark. Had to have her put down in the end as the other birds would attack her. It would have been cruel to keep this wild bird in a cage.

Anyhow, I'm rambling. The kids are still asleep.( Yippee)Peace and quiet for another hour, maybe.

I've had my coffee Now it's time to "make hay while the sun shines"
put on a load of washing and stitch up shirts that my son ripped whilst at school this week(don't ask!)
As you know I can't sew very well.
Now, if only you lived closer L, I could have popped over to your place for a few sewing lessons..Lol!

Hope you guys are enjoying some beautiful spring weather..


End of ramble..

Learner said...

Catwoman,

So you are saying American women with the same level of education as Canadian women percieve a greater degree of descrimination?

Learner said...

Hi Kathy,

If you lived closer I'd definitely teach you to sew! :)

catwoman said...

"So you are saying American women with the same level of education as Canadian women percieve a greater degree of descrimination?"

No. I'm not talking about how those target groups perceive the degree of discrimination they do or do not experience. I'm talking about how the general public perceives the degree of discrimination those groups do or do not experience.

Learner said...

Catwoman,
Hmm....so when you said "Maybe there's a difference in the perception of those target groups." you meant how the groups are perceived by others, not how they perceive themselves...I see.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Does anyone know why recently when I use html code to put a quote in italics and then hit return a few times and add a comment that the comment squashes itself up against the quote in italics? It didn't used to do that."
I don't know why, but it's doing it pretty much everywhere to everyone as far as I can tell.

Learner said...

EW,

It is pretty annoying. Around the same time I noticed that when I post a picture on my blog that instead of the picture appearing in the message body, the html stuff appears in the "new post" window.

Roci said...

Learner:
By profession I am in the business of process improvement. So I certainly believe there is a place for pointing out issues. That place ought to be logicaly focused on measurable improvement, not on the unquantifiable and dubiously beneficial like "empowerment" and "equality".

Kathy,
I had a blog. I couldn't keep my big mouth shut when needed and hurt the people I loved. Summary: Women troubles.

Learner said...

Thanks for the reply Roci, and your patience with my questions.

I don't think I ever read your blog, which is a shame for me because it would have been interesting, I am sure. I'm sorry about your blog/woman troubles.

Roci said...

WoMEN troubles.

Learner said...

Oh...woMEN troubles....sorry dude