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221: The Rise of Women

KMO welcomes Eric Boyd and Tara Holste back to the program to discus a recent Atlantic article, 'The End of Men' by Hanna Rosen. Are women better suited than men to excel in the 21st century corporate workplace? Why would parents looking to select the sex of their children choose girls three times out of four? Even if women do make up the majority of the workforce and continue replacing men as the big kahunas in the corporate dominance hierarchy, is that necessarily good news?

Music by Sea Couch.

Eric made repeated reference to The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law by Deborah L. Rhode and The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves By Matt Ridley.

At the end of the podcast, I read from this page on Riane Eisler's website.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2010 03:42 am (UTC)
An Extremely Long Response to the Response to Me
Ha, if all that is true about the men I interact with looking down on me because they are awed by my beauty and don’t know how to react, that puts a whole new perspective on my daily interactions at work. Though I’d have to disagree if only because I see how the same men treat male students, and it’s very similar- in general I think the attitude is that youth has nothing worth saying, and it doesn’t help that I literally look like I’m barely 18. I’m sure being “attractive” doesn’t help.

I have heard this concept of young women, especially attractive young women, having all this power, and I have to say it has always baffled me. I feel that I have power in some respects- certainly I have long since puzzled out how to get men to buy me drinks. Someone once told me that attractive women have no consciousness of their own power because they could get ANY man to sleep with them. And I have to say that this a) is categorically untrue and b) why would you want them to? That kind of power has very little real value, and gracious, if the only way you can gain power in your life is to throw around your good looks and bat your eyelashes and get a man to literally pay for you, I don’t know how that’s supposed to make you feel better about yourself.

It’s an odd time to be a 25 year old girl because on the one hand I’ve always been told to disguise my brain, because this would turn men off- and I have hard evidence from college of men who would literally walk away from me if they found out my GPA. On the other hand I have been told that to do something traditionally feminine, like be a homemaker (my deepest desire), would be a complete waste of my intelligence. And at the same time I and many other females are still beset by men who don’t seem to think it is in any way detrimental to our self esteem to shamelessly tease, whistle, catcall, and otherwise make us feel as if we are nothing more than a pretty face- especially when in most cases it is vastly inappropriate for them to be giving that kind of attention.

I think it’s funny that the only people I ever hear saying that girls in their 20s have power are men. Except, apparently, this one friend of Eric Boyd’s.

I do feel that I was promised a lot, and told I could do a lot of things, and especially that I could use my looks to get a lot of those things. But when it comes down to it I still feel that my choices are wage slave on one hand and wage slave on the other- or, I suppose I could marry someone who would be willing to support me. But I’ve always hated being dependent on others. It doesn’t seem so great to be a girl when my only choices are to join the hierarchy or- well I don’t even know what the other choice would be. But as KMO expresses at the end of this podcast, it’s not men who are keeping me down. I have long since lost any illusions that this was the case. It is the abusive power structure of this society.

Sep. 2nd, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
Re: An Extremely Long Response to the Response to Me
Tara's response to Eric's response continues as follows:

I am totally perplexed though as to how women have benefited the most from corporate consumerism. I fail to see how being saddled with more work and more debt and more shit on your plate, when it comes down to it, is a benefit. I remember reading an article when I was a kid about how the modern woman just keeps going and going- she’s such a good multitasker that she gets all her work done at her job plus picks up the slack from everyone else (which I frequently see women doing in all the places I have worked), then she dashes to the dry cleaner, and picks up the kids from soccer practice, and brings them home and cooks dinner, and cleans up the house, and entertains her husband, and gets the kids to bed- all while she is suffering from the flu or something. Of course this is to a large extent a fantasy, but it is the fantasy of the modern woman. There is a commercial for some kind of juice box that I think demonstrates this exact scenario, maybe minus the flu. But there is this new stereotype that women are just supposed to get it all done, and you do see it in advertising, and maybe some people would call that power, but I would call it abuse- to expect women to be responsible for everything, and to be thrilled about it in the process.

Maybe there are women who enjoy it. It is not a stretch to imagine that there are plenty of women out there who like the feeling of control. But I don’t think this is something you can blame on women. I think it’s just another example of- you guessed it- the abusive power structure! If you look at the women in the past few decades who have been reduced to nothing more than consumers- and I know many of these women, they are my friends’ mothers- they are so empty. They suffer depression and anxiety and have almost no self worth, because the only choice they have is to consume and then consume again- and they may not see this as the cause of their suffering, because they have been taught to go out and buy more things to make themselves feel better. That they will feel better if their house is more picture perfect. If they have the perfect place setting. The perfect curtains. The perfect high heel.

It’s not just women, either, but it is much more acceptable for women to go out and stress shop (comfort shopping, some people call it) than it is for men. It’s in fact encouraged and expected, in many ways. Women are expected to take care of their families. Women no longer know how to sew, or darn socks, or can food, or prepare food that didn’t come in a box, for that matter. How else are they supposed to make sure their families have their needs met other than to consume? And when you’re bombarded on all sides with the message that you aren’t taking care of your kids if they don’t have a playstation, what then? And how to afford all of this other than to go out and work?

This clearly is getting a little long. I will probably have to write a few blog posts on it.

I have to conclude with this observation though- even though I want a daughter, because I want to have the same kind of close relationship I had with my own mother, I will still worry always for her, because no matter how many women are in the workforce, I guarantee you almost every single one of them will be afraid to walk alone down a dark street at night.
Sep. 19th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
Re: An Extremely Long Response to the Response to Me
It's too bad that you just discovered Men aren't keeping you down because It's rather overdue babe - by about forever. That perspective that men have or conspiring are keeping you and all women down in turn is in fact very much oppressive on men FYI. Have you ever thought of that???
Also even if men were the only one saying that girls in their 20's have power over men - WERE only men (which they are NOT including the friend of Eric Boyd's) - that doesn't discredit the idea or argument - because men aren't some kind of put down FYI. Furthermore weather you are personally attracted to men and the idea of having sex with them appeals to you the point of the statement that " That kind of power has very little real value" or that it won't "make you feel better about yourself" seems like anything but another victimization statement and another put down on men - are you saying that we are valueless? The point nonetheless that if one has the ability to get any man to sleep with you at the drop of a hat - your influence over them is complete and you can pull their strings like a puppet master to your fulfillment to use and take advantage of everything they are and have to offer.
Perhaps you are wise enough to know that that kind of power isn't satisfactory and perhaps that is what you meant by saying it won't help you feel better, or that it has no value. But to me to say that that power has no value whatsoever is a total disrespect for that power and those effected by it - and a license to therefore abuse it - consciously or not.
The unconscious bias against men is very strong in our society - we've never been worth a damn to anyone except for our slave productive abilities. There is very real oppression going on against men (in fact the only oppression in my view) and it has frankly always been that way. Feminism appears to be just the latest software version of this very old if not ancient form of hegemony. Finally I don't think you or any girl is better off being able allowed or encouraged to oppress men. In fact I think you are only oppressing yourselves by doing so. Men have ever been for women from the dawn of time. It's very sad to see such a coldness and constant guilt trip and "guilty till proven innocent" attitude laid down on us men in a such sassy confrontative if not violent and hateful manner that has been going on for the past few generations in almost every way public sphere. Very sad.

I wish you and all you ladies well.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
i just read this> http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/28/women-in-tech-stop-blaming-me/

looking forward to this installment.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
I think one of the weak links in the "End of Men" article was the introduction. Parents who sex-select having more girls and fewer boys does not necessarily mean that such parents think girls will have a higher quality of life (though it would be interesting to see a survey on those expectations alone). Some alternate explanations:

1. Parents who sex-select may be a biased sample of all parents. Why would such a bias favor girls? I can think of one hypothesis that has to do with the existence of X-linked genetic disorders. If mom's a carrier, only sons have a 50% chance of getting the disorder. So a large part of that trend could be more awareness of X-linked genetic disorders and more genetic testing.

2. There's also the belief that daughters are easier to raise (don't remember if you referenced that in the podcast. (Putting aside arguments on whether that belief is true, false, or technically true but self-perpetuating.)

The time-cost of raising a child is more significant if both parents have to work, as is the case when necessities are expensive and debt is high. (Alternately, the time-cost of raising a child is more significant if both parents have other meaningful and fulfilling things they can do, as is the case when the standard of living is very high and credit is easily available.)
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