Some mansplaining on women’s access to the workplace
A whole lot of the discussion going on in the threads of my Erick Erickson posts is making me cringe. I honestly can’t tell if people (read: men) are being purposefully obtuse to score debating points, or if the position of privilege from which they speak is really that lost on them. Regardless, in the hopes of preventing getting further lost in the weeds I thought I should make a short list of things men seem to not understand. I can’t believe I have to clarify these, because they seem so self-evident. But it appears I do, so…
Guys of the world, listen up:
- Saying that a woman should be allowed the same opportunities to be successful in the workplace as men is a different thing than defining what makes a woman successful. Yes, there are other things in life than money, and yes, your saintly mother who stayed at home was just as successful as that double-x chromosomed attorney that just made partner. That’s not the point. The point is that women should be allowed the opportunity to be successful outside of the home, or inside the home, or both – just like you.
- A man might well feel uncomfortable seeing a women achieve success in the work place – but that is not a justifiable reason for not allowing her to achieve it. And yes, it really is the same as saying that just because some white people are uncomfortable with blacks being allowed to live in certain neighborhoods it doesn’t mean that blacks should not be allowed to live in them. Yeah, yeah, I get that one is skin color and one is sex/gender – it’s still the same.
- True, a husband making more money than a wife is not a case of oppression. Declaring that because a measly 23% of the nation’s wives now earn more than their husbands, our society is threatened and something “must be done” to correct it actually is. Or at the very least, it is a call for oppression; whether or not you have a problem with that call doesn’t actually make it any less oppressive.
- Saying that the reason many people are poor is due to “lifestyle choices” made by women, without (as best as I can see) any discussion as to men’s role in those same choices, is actually pretty sexist. And that’s just glossing over the part that if modern women’s “lifestyle choices” were the primary source of poverty, poverty would be a pretty new thing, rather than as old as civilization itself.
In short: It’s pretty easy for people who are allowed access to all the paths of wealth and power in a society to find justifications for why other groups should have those same paths limited. This is the main function of existing power: to justify itself.
I might suggest that a little bit of empathy is called for in matters like this. Were we to live in an Amazonian society, the same arguments I’m seeing making men make would be pretty offensive and frustrating to those same men, I suspect.