By Jessica Englund
While browsing Feministing this morning, I came across a post by Jessica who linked an article from The Harvard Crimson. The article was “No Need to ‘Fuck the Man'” written by Justine Lescroart. She also wrote the article “Beyond a Women’s Center”. Both of these articles illustrate the beginnings of a feminist attitude, however, some of her sentiments and statements fall a little short. Within “No Need to ‘Fuck the Man,'” she discusses an invitation she recieved to a ‘Fuck the Man’ party hosted by feminists. The invitation states that it is not an anti-male slogan and that ‘the Man,’ as the author clarifies, is simply a group or individual who had power and oppresses others through that power. What upset me was the authors statement:
Of course, a slogan is just a slogan, but it does represent something about certain aspects of modern feminism that doesn’t quite sit well. After all, in portraying a feminist party as opposed to “the Man,” the slogan, like many strands of feminism, seemed to promote a sense women’s “otherness”—a feel-good approach to feminism that ultimately hurts women more than it helps us.
I don’t quite understand how the understanding of the ‘otherness’ of women is harmful. I have studied Simone de Beauvoir’s work and her views on the woman as the ‘inessential’ or the ‘other.’ By recognizing the ‘otherness’ and oppression of half of the population, one can begin to move forward and try to change the the societal norms. Through simple recognition of difference and the treatment of ‘others’, change can be made or seen possible. Moving forward in the article, Justine states:
…many women accept secondary, passive roles all the time, asking a man to decide things for her, to fix things for her, to tell her who she is. Doing so is often easy because it relieves a woman of the otherwise inevitable weight of making wrong decisions, of not fixing things, of not always being sure of who she is or what she believes in. While that was understandable a hundred years ago (and still is in many less developed parts of the world), modern women have little excuse. We voice awareness of male-female equality, but nonetheless act in ways that perpetuate the conception of a man as “the norm” and a woman as an aberration.
There are two parts to this statement. The first that I want to take issue with is that she suggests that women ‘inevitably’ make wrong decisions without the help of a man. I surely hope that that isn’t the way she meant that statement. I also do not quite understand why she added the unnecessary ‘(and still is in many less developed parts of the world).’ Oppression and ‘otherness’ as the societal norm is not strictly in ‘less developed’ countries. It is present in many of the more powerful countries as well.
In the second article I mention that Justine wrote, she proposes that Harvard ought to hire a woman president. Although I agree wholeheartedly that it is time for more women leaders, I do not with some of her supporting arguments. Most specifically,
Candidates for any job should always be considered as individuals, and to deny that a person’s sex is a central part of who he or she is would be blatantly false. A 2005 study in the journal Social Behavior & Personality found “a gender bias in hiring and firing decisions…at the final-choice stage.” In today’s gender-conscious world, intentionally or not, an applicant’s gender will be a factor in the hiring process. Why not admit this—and admit that the sex of our president is going to have some obvious side effects?
I do not support using sex or gender as a means to hire someone. Rather than using discrimination in a reverse fashion, why not target those who believe discriminatory behavior is okay? Or, why not try to educate persons of proper behavior during a hiring process? I know that I am probably sounding naive at the moment, but that statement did not sit well with me. I believe that there are better means to accomplish goals. Thoughts?