Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Greatest Failing of Feminism

Over the last few days, friends have forwarded me two interesting news stories. In the first, a woman wrote about "yes sometimes means no." The premise is that sometimes a woman affirmatively consents to sex, but doesn't really want to have sex. Her premise is that the very idea of consent is "...a privilege, and it was built for wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculinity." So we're clear, she's claiming if a guy wants to have sex with her and she says "yes", it's still considered rape because saying "no", apparently, is something only wealthy, heterosexual, cis, white, western, able-bodied masculine persons can do. 

In the second story, four women met an apparently attractive, young dude online, then agreed to meet up for completely consensual blindfolded "50 Shades of Gray" sex in a dark room without having ever actually met the dude face-to-face. As you can probably guess, the dude turned out to be a 68 year old man. He's being charged with "rape by surprise." I'll be the first to say the dude's actions were completely shitty and I suspect he's a terrible human being. But that doesn't change the fact that these women readily agreed to do this

Both of these issues highlight a trend I've seen repeated again and again and again. Too many women seemingly don't understand that decision-making is power, and with that power comes responsibility. 

I know a lot of you white knights and irrational feminists are reading this and your Spidey sense is tingling because we've been taught to frame this sentiment as misogynistic sexism. Unfortunately, that's the very sentiment that creates the issue. 

I'm pretty sure she was capable of stepping over the stream...

For a long time, I've wondered about the exact nature of the glass ceiling (imaginary boundary that keeps women from advancing to positions of power.) The traditional explanation usually revolves around men creating a "good 'ole boys club" that intentionally works to concentrate power among themselves. Talented women are seen as a threat, hence they are excluded. 

But is this really what's happening here?

There's a flip side to the glass ceiling known as the "glass cellar." These are dangerous jobs that are performed by men almost exclusively. Think working on oil rig workers, welders, roofers, and waste management workers. There's very little prestige in these careers, hence they have very little power. Why are women excluded from both of these types of jobs?

I have two hypotheses.

First, most men have a "protection" drive that compels us to protect women. This is most obvious when a man steps in to protect his significant other from physical harm (like a mugger or home invader), but is also apparent is the aforementioned white knight behaviors. It's hard for most of us men (myself included) to see our girlfriends, wives, or daughters get hurt. For me personally, I feel far more protective towards my daughter than my sons, even though my daughter is probably the most capable of taking care of her own shit (Shelly is a phenomenal role model.) This protection instinct makes us bristle whenever we see women in danger, which is part of the reason the glass cellar exists and we have mixed feelings about women serving on the front lines in the military. 

Second, positions of power or danger require a vetting process regardless of gender. The CEO of a company has to make a lot of important decisions that directly affect the welfare of a whole lotta people, including those below them. A good example is downsizing. If the company is facing a situation where the company will either go out of business or fire half of their employees, the CEO has to be willing to give those people the ax. That could mean many people would not be able to feed their kids. Not everybody has the courage to make that call, hence the vetting process.

In glass cellar jobs, the same principle applies but for a different reason. Many of these jobs require employees to look out for each other (I've had a few of these jobs.) You could literally have another person's life in your hands. These jobs require trust, and that trust has to be measured and earned in some way.

The Purpose of Hazing

Enter hazing. Hazing is often seen as a silly, useless activity guys do for no discernible reason, mostly because it makes absolutely no sense. Unless you look below the surface. Hazing does two things - it tests and it conditions. Male hazing is just like a shit test. Whereas women may be testing to see if a dude really is a confident, assertive, compassionate provider, dudes haze to make sure the other dudes have the capacity and willingness to cover their back. Evolutionary speaking, hazing is how guys assure, no matter what, the other dudes guarding the perimeter of their tribe will be willing to stay and fight. Mutual survival requires that dedication. 

Hazing also conditions by "toughening" each other. This is why guys are always mocking each other and punching each other in the balls. It desensitizes us to emotional and physical pain. Not surprisingly, the more dangerous the endeavor, the more intense the hazing. We can expect dudes deployed in Afghanistan to haze a lot more than male French literature professors at Yale. 

Sort of off-topic but kind of important: A lot of bullying behaviors can be explained as misguided hazing. In other words, sometimes bullying isn't about the bully having low self-esteem or being a complete sociopath (though that does happen.) In many cases, bullying is an attempt by the bully to "toughen up" those around them. This is relevant because, in my role as a teacher, some bully intervention strategies fall flat. In almost every case, the methods fail because the people doing the intervention do not recognize the bullying as a form of hazing. Once it's reframed that way, the problem gets A LOT easier to solve. 

So What Does This Mean For Women?

I would go as far to say the greatest failure of feminism has been the failure to teach women that the power the comes with decision-making requires one to take responsibility for said decisions. When you make bad decisions, you have to live with the consequences. You don't get to claim victimhood. THAT is the nature of power. That's what the women in the "yes really means no" situation fails to grasp. That's what the women that fucked the anonymous online dude failed to grasp. In both cases, the women are making decisions but are not willing to accept the consequences of their decisions. 

It's worth noting this is not a male and female issue. There are plenty of men that also do not take responsibility for their actions. Not surprisingly, those men also to not rise above the glass ceiling nor do they fall below the glass cellar. More significantly, there are a lot of women that DO accept that responsibility and thrive in positions of power of high danger. Shit, my wife is one such person.

When Shelly and I started training at our mma gym (doing jiu jitsu, boxing, muay Thai, and mma), we immediately noticed we were mostly ignored. Nobody bothered to learn our names, most people would be pleasant, but clearly distant. At first, we just thought everyone was kind of rude. Then we assumed it was just a "California thing." 

Once we got past that stage and were accepted, we realized those behaviors were for a very different purpose. It was a form of passive hazing. While we were being given the cold shoulder, people were also testing us physically. Could we take a punch? Could we tap out when put in a dangerous position? Did we release submissions when someone was tapping out? Were we hotheads that couldn't control our tempers, or were we calm and collected under pressure? 

All of that was necessary because we're doing a ridiculously dangerous activity. If we're choking someone out and they don't tap, they'll lose consciousness after a few seconds because there's no blood flow to their brain. If we don't release the choke immediately, there's a good chance they could suffer irreversible brain damage or even death. Same deal with boxing and muay Thai. Essentially, we had to prove to everyone that they could trust us with their lives. 

The operative part of this - they treated Shelly exactly like they treated me. Our teammates punch her just as hard as they punch me. Sex was irrelevant. Our ability to survive the test is all that mattered. I see this with my female friends that occupy positions of power. They first had to prove they could handle the shit they are forced to handle as part of the endeavor. They take personal responsibility for their actions. They don't blame someone else. They don't play the victim card. Decisions have consequences. Male or female, if you're not willing to accept those consequences, the people that rely on you are not going to trust you.

All too often, my hard-core feminist friends will demand women have access to institutions that are seemingly exclusive to males. What they fail to realize is that you can't demand people trust you because that trust is critical to the other people that are part of that institution. Many women seem to believe men automatically get a free pass, which is ridiculous. Any man will tell you he has to prove himself to become part of these power or danger-based institutions. What right would I have to go into my gym on the first day and demand to be treated exactly like the people that have been proving themselves for years and years? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

What Needs to Happen

Equality, whether it be gender, racial, age-related, or whatever) should involve a simple idea - everyone should have the same opportunity, same possibility, and same responsibility. If a woman wants a job in upper management, she shouldn't get a free pass to the front of the line. She should have to prove herself just like the men. If she can hack it, great! If not, try something else. 

In the event the ARE actual barriers based on gender that aren't part of the vetting/hazing process (and these DO exist), those absolutely should be removed because they violate the above principle. However, considering the vetting.hazing process as a barrier is flat-out stupid. That process exists for a good reason. It's intended to keep out the unqualified regardless of gender. 

I do not want my kids to grow up in a world where we give people power or place them in dangerous positions just because they make the most noise. I want people in those positions because they've proven they can handle the responsibility of the situation. THAT is what equality is all about.


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