The Meliorist – It takes you…

Well, for anyone out there who has been reading, I apologize for the absence.  I’ve been moving from one end of California to the other and it has been a little bit of a tech upheaval.  And then there is the packing and unpacking.  And the new job.  So, I’ve been a little bit overwhelmed with it all.  But, today I read a post over at Feminist Philosophers that was a good kick in my pants to get me posting again!

 The blog entry is actually indicting a recent study finding that adult color preferences match up with those stereotypical color choices that our culture has assigned by gender.  The blog entry refers to readers to Bad Science to see all the problems with the study.  But, the most interesting thing to me in the blog entry was the following line:

A quote from Ladies Home Journal, 1918:  “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” 

First of all, the fact that there was a “great diversity of opinion on the subject” is interesting.  I guess I never really thought about the root of all this color assignment – and people sitting around justifying certain color choices for certain genders.  But I did find it interesting that in 1918, pink was “a more decided (?) and stronger color” than blue.  It doesn’t seem that pink has changed as a color.  So, I guess perhaps arguing against using pink for girls is actually taking a step backwards in the gender wars!  I will definitely don my pink clothing with a little more gusto now. 

I always thought pastel green and yellow were nice colors for babies.  I haven’t gone through the birth of a child yet, so I can’t speak from experience.  But, I found this all very interesting!


Under the investing guidance that you should buy stock for the stores where you shop, I bought Wal-mart stocks a few years back.  I know, I know…it isn’t very local economy responsible of me.  But, I was not making much money and there was one right next to the apartment I was living in.  Sounds like a pretty lame excuse now, but at least I am willing to admit it.  I sold them, soon after, when I heard they were being sued for paying women less than male counterparts serving the same roles.  And if not then, I would definitely have sold them after reading Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in AmericaSo, I have divested so-to-speak.  I only owned a few shares at the time and I was happy to get out.

Well, it seems that Wal-mart is still performing their dirty deeds against female employees.  The following is from Yahoo! News on June 20:

A pharmacist who claimed she was fired by Wal-Mart after asking to be paid the same as her male colleagues has won a nearly $2 million award against the retail giant.

A Berkshire Superior Court jury concluded Wal-Mart discriminated against Cynthia Haddad and awarded her nearly $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages Tuesday.

“It sends a message that you can’t treat people poorly because of who they are,” said David Belfort, Haddad’s attorney.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said Wednesday that the retailer was studying the verdict and has not ruled out filing an appeal.

“We respect the jury’s decision, but we feel it did not reflect the facts in the case,” Simley said. He said Haddad “was dismissed for numerous violations of company policy.”

Haddad was fired in April 2004 after more than 10 years at a Wal-Mart store in Pittsfield. She claimed in court that she was fired because she asked to be paid the same as her male counterparts, including a bonus given to pharmacy managers. The company paid the bonus, then fired her two weeks later.

Lawyers for the retailer said she was fired because she left the pharmacy unattended and allowed a technician to use her computer security code to issue prescriptions during her absence, including a fraudulent prescription for a painkiller.

Haddad’s lawyers argued that the prescription was filled 18 months before she was dismissed and without her knowledge, and that more severe infractions by male pharmacists went unpunished.

Will they ever learn?

In one of my many newsfeeds today, I came across this article and just had to write something on it.  It is important to realize that it was published in The Christian Post, but the research it is reporting on is from an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of VA, W. Bradford Wilcox.  It seems that his research has found that feminism is bad for us because of its “androgynous impulse.”  In this article, this impulse is equated to the expectation of fathers to participate equally in the responsibilities of raising children and the expectation of mothers to have both a career and a family.  Following are a few choice quotes from the article:

Wilcox traces this “androgynous impulse” to international bodies associated with the United Nations. He documents the role played by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW]. “This committee has called on countries like Armenia and Belarus to end public policies and practices that support distinctive maternal roles for women, such as Mother’s Day and maternal leave policies,” Wilcox reports. “Instead, it and other proponents of this type of feminist agenda would like to see public policies that promote an androgynous parenting ethic where fathers and mothers devote equal amounts of time to parenting, and parent with essentially the same style of parent-child interaction.”

In Great Britain, this is currently a matter of hot controversy. The British government is considering legislation that would equalize parental leave policies for men and women – and would encourage men to stay at home with their young children so that their wives can re-enter the workplace. Similarly, the current government in Spain has argued for making paternal leave mandatory in order to equalize male and female roles.

Now, I can figure out from the tone of these passages and the context in which they are delivered that they are viewed as some kind of affront to society and families.  Again, his conclusion is clear, equality of male and female roles is bad, but I’m not sure of his reasoning.

But fathers also play an important role in the raising of girls. The research indicates that fathers fulfill a very important function in minimizing the likelihood that their daughters will be sexually active prior to marriage. As Wilcox explains, “Fathers also protect their daughters from premarital sexual activity by setting clear disciplinary lines for their daughters, monitoring their whereabouts, and by signaling to young men that sexual activity will not be tolerated.”

It was difficult for me to figure out exactly what Wilcox’s argument was behind these conclusions.  Why can’t a mother be assertive enough to discipline a child effectively or protect their daughters by knowing their whereabouts?  It all seems rather specious to me.  So, I did some research. 

First off, I think that there needs to be more feminist reaction to this research.  In a proquest database search for Wilcox and feminism, only one source popped up:  a book review by Darren Sherkat in Social Forces, which definitely had a critical view of the text.  Shocking. I also did some google searches without much result.  Then I came across a very interesting blog.  The CBE Scroll.  Subtitle: Blog Voices from Christians for Biblical Equality.  A post from September 26, 2006 discusses an article by Sally Gallegher, “The marginalization of Evangelical Feminism,” and indicts views attacking the link between evangelical feminism and androgyny as representative of the fear in the evangelical church.  Fear of losing their evangelical identity and fear of critically thinking about scripture and its relationship to culture.  The entry ends with the following:

Evangelicals talk a lot about being “set apart” from the world. But that distinction often seems to be based in fear—a strict definition of what we are not rather than what we are. When discussing the evangelical identity as set apart from the broader culture, Sally Gallagher suggests that evangelicals could accept mutuality and still be distinguished from the “secular” world if:

“…they were demonstratively more egalitarian than the broader culture in sharing responsibility for, and not just helping each other with, paid and unpaid family labor.”

What if the church was about radical equality—where Christians practice mutual submission characterized by love, humility, and selflessness, where Christians’ gifts are used for the glory of God, and where gender is neither blurred or stereotyped, but celebrated? This sounds like the example of the early church. It also sounds like a way that evangelicals can set themselves apart from the rest of society—a way that evangelicals can still be evangelicals.

I like this idea of “radical equality”.  Whether driven by religious belief or simply feminist ideals, what if more couples were to embrace “radical equality”?  The reaction from the greater evangelical movement to this is obviously a big N-O.  If you do a google search for “radical equality” most of the entries fall into two distinct categories: (1) historical reference and (2) conservative christians lambasting anyone who holds this belief. 

Much of why I have been unable to embrace institutionalized religion falls in this area.  There are very few churches that seem to embrace this idea of “oneness in Christ,” with no one serving a more important role than any other person.  I have never been anti-religion persay, but institutionalized religion and much of what passes itself off as “preaching” or “sharing God” comes across to me as exclusionary and demeaning at times.  I just never really wanted to have a view of God that reduced what I had always saw as a powerful force for good to a humanized patriarchal, hierarchical and exclusionary force. 

I still pray.  I even read the bible sometimes.  I have nothing against religion itself, but I do resent the way it is weilded as a tool to dominate, to oppress, and to excuse unacceptable behavior.  I’ve read A Woman’s Journey to God and really felt like I connected with her message.  And of course there is The Woman’s Bible: A Classic Feminist Perspective by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

So, although at first glance, Wilcox’s findings and the Christian Post’s praise of it may make me feel like turning away from any religious beliefs, I almost feel like a rebel to be able to say, your God may not be my God, but I have access to God all the same.  I feel like to be fair and just in my criticism, I should go and read the book written by Wilcox instead of others writing about the book.  Perhaps I will see if I can get a copy of it and update this post after I have read it, in his words, so-to-speak. 

This relates back to my earlier “Are you a Feminist?” post and the discussion that happened.  I have a feeling that Veiled Glory is a big believer in confronting the androgynous impulse…and then destroying it.  I for one, say bring the androgynous impulse on, confront it, take what is good from it (more equality in both home and work life, “radical equality”, a better understanding of who we are as individuals rather than as social constructions) and move on. 

Broadsheet had this review of a new documentary about the fourteen women serving in the Senate in 2006.  A trailer of the film is available here.  It looks like an interesting film.  Although our current society has a lot of cynicism (rightfully so) toward politics, it looks like this film might show some of the positive things politicians are able to do for their constituents.  It also seems to show that politics is not as easy of a job as we might sometimes think it is.  I am definitely going to put it on my watch list!

{June 26, 2007}   Beauty in many forms…

A relaxing video…representations of feminine beauty throughout history.  Many shapes and faces, but lacking in color…but, still interesting to watch and notice the differences in the women’s faces, adornments, hair, etc. 

{June 15, 2007}   Are you a feminist?

You Are 91% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn’t mean you’re a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It’s a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Are You a Feminist?

This is perhaps one of the worst quizzes I’ve ever taken and the fact that some people might score less than 50% on it is a little disturbing to say the least (sorry CaraMichele).  I guess I never really consider that there are still (probably a lot of) people who still hold such traditional views….I guess that just makes it all the more apparent that feminist activism still needs to occur.  I try to remain somewhat open to ideas that do not agree with mine and I can certainly see a couple of these questions being answered in the negative by large portions of the public (e.g. the one about two women being able to have and raise children).  I think it would be interesting to explore the REASONS behind the responses given…but, that’s a little complicated for Blogthings to handle, I’m sure! 

After working with young adults in the college context at both a large public university and a small, Christian university over the last decade, I realize that feminism may be backsliding.  I think that so much of our society today takes for granted the equality of women that the real story often disappears behind a veil of ignorance.  Take for example the recent findings reported by the AFLCIO:

In 2007, women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Economist Evelyn Murphy, president and founder of The WAGE Project, estimates the wage gap costs the average full-time U.S. woman worker between $700,000 and $2 million over the course of her work life.

Is this fair?  Are women still only 2/3 of a person in the work world?  I have heard repeated complaints that men are losing out on good jobs to women simply because of their gender.  But, if this is true, how are women still only making 2/3 of what a man does?  Could it be that women are getting hired for “good” jobs because they are just as qualified but won’t have to be paid as much in the end?  Could it be that women are getting hired because they are even MORE qualified but willing to work for less?  I guess I’ll continue to be a feminist (or at least 90% of one) until I can honestly say that women are treated as a whole person, not just 2/3 of one in our society.

So, are you a feminist?  Or at least 2/3 of one?

et cetera