AIBU to think that men who declare that the reason for xyz structural inequality is "women's choices"...

(33 Posts)
AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Wed 18-Dec-13 21:00:38

... are in fact buying into that notion because they are deeply reluctant to recognise that structural sexism exists?

And the reason people don't want to recognise that structural sexism/ racism/ disablism/ insert ism here exists, is because they have a deep seated (sometimes subconscious) vested interest in keeping it there because they benefit from it but they can't bear to admit even to themselves, that they benefit from it because to do so would be to either change their mind and recognise it (which would be emotionally and intellectually challenging), or explode their own image of themselves as nice, reasonable, decent, fair-minded people?

But that in fact, unless they are very young and inexperienced or very uneducated indeed, they are simply nobs of the nobbiest variety?

I am really fucking sick of them. Really sick of being told that structural disadvantage exists because of the choices of the group who are disadvantaged within that structure, with no reference to the choices of anyone else, particularly not of the group who are the advantaged ones and who directly benefit from the structure.

Presenters and guests of the Today programme, fuck off. Friend's husbands, fuck off. Smug white middle class men who assume that they've been treated the same as women all their lives so the fact that they are now doing better than most women they know is solely because they are exceptionally talented people and being white, male, middle class and able-bodied hasn't helped them even one smidgeon, just please, fuck off. Apart from anything else, you are unutterably tedious.

Ah that feels better. grin

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 21-Dec-13 19:46:22

sashh It's good to hear that there are people who can do things different from how it was always done.

But where I work (v. male dominated industry) is very flexible too - as long as you do what you are supposed to do there is no strict rules about where and when you do it. Even so, when it comes to promotions I don't think we are immune to bias - in fact sometimes it's even worse, because they can't seem to get their act together about how to evaluate part-timers. hmm And the things I hear are the things that made the standard text about gender bias. hmm hmm Seriously, you could play stereotype bingo. And when it comes to networking, everyone is very friendly, but you had to brace yourself for the inevitable "politically incorrect" joke. Nothing very racy, just enough to make you feel the rage but only at the level at which you would be told that you are just being too sensitive and "I don't know why are you even upset at that". hmm

sashh Sat 21-Dec-13 12:40:07

OK can I just give you all a glimmer of hope.

Many many years ago (early 1990s) I worked at the Royal Preston Hospital. The hospital had a recruitment policy that stated that all positions would be offered on a job share basis if applicants asked, and the policy stated that this was to include consultants ie the heart surgeons amongst others.

They also allowed a 5 year career break after you had been there 5 years. It could be taken as an add on to maternity leave but was also used by people to go off and do a degree which may or may not be related to their work. This was before e-mail so we would get a news letter sating who had done what or was leaving to do something.

The department I was in we could, within reason (ie we had to cover certain things), pick our own working hours. I worked longer days Mon - Thu and had a half day on Friday. Someone else worked term time only.

emcwill74 Fri 20-Dec-13 11:44:11

Hear Hear OP!

People don't seem to realize how rude it is.

Though, love the image of you as a homing beacon for feral children.

HolofernesesHead Fri 20-Dec-13 09:31:39

Oh, the stories I could tell, LRD! One of my favourites is this: I was at an academic seminar which finished at about 4.30 in the afternoon. I was chatting to an academic, a world class scholar in his field, highly intelligent etc etc, when all of a sudden he stopped and said 'You have children, don't you?' Yes, that's right, I replied. He looked genuinely worried and said 'So who's looking after them?' well, I replied, they're at their after school club. 'Oh good', he replied, 'I just imagined them roaming around looking for you.'

Would that ever, ever be said to a man in an equivalent situation?

Something I notice a lot is that it's not just about actually having children. It's about the expectation that you belong to the gender who will have children and take time off.

Admittedly, I know other childless women my age who say they've never had this experience, but I've had quite a lot of often welcome, but unsolicited advice about when I should have children or how to manage children and a career, and the people who give that advice do not seem to be hurrying to say the same to the men in the room.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 20-Dec-13 09:12:32

Head I have two male colleagues who do see that and say so. I have 30 male colleagues. I suppose 6.7% is better than 0% ...

HolofernesesHead Fri 20-Dec-13 09:07:57

Two of my male, white, middle class colleagues have said to me that they know they benefit from structural sexism, one when his wife was pg and they were thinking about work and childcare issues (he works full time, she was a high earner but now a SAHM) and the other within quite an academic discussion of social change. They ate both intelligent and pretty sensitive people, sensitive enough to know that they are privileged.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 20-Dec-13 08:57:56

"I thought I'd been treated the same as all the men around me. Which meant that my not doing as well as I'd have liked was obviously down to my (lack of) ability. "

Yes. angry

I've wasted 10 years not questioning this. angry angry

But I'm going to start upsetting people by questioning it publicly in the new year. My new year's resolution is to be the most unpopular person around. I am looking forward to it. The thought cheers me up no end, strangely. hmm grin

funnyvalentine Thu 19-Dec-13 23:08:35

A lot of women buy into that explanation too, which is quite depressing. And I'd say that most people are really bad at seeing another way of doing things. Especially with something as well established as the workplace. I read recently that the 9-5 5 day working week emerged in the industrial revolution and hasn't changed since, even though it doesn't suit so many people nowadays.

It's only since I started paying attention more that I realised just how much society and structural inequality affects our choices. And the converse of what you say in the OP, I thought I'd been treated the same as all the men around me. Which meant that my not doing as well as I'd have liked was obviously down to my (lack of) ability.

Wish I'd heard more about all this when I was younger! I think even just being aware would have given me more confidence.

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 19-Dec-13 13:45:38

I agree BarbarianMum flexibility, regardless of who and why, is the ideal. For this to become a reality, people need to stop thinking that just because something is done a certain way right now, doesn't mean it has to be done that way.

Yes Basil all of this. If I hear my middle class, privately educated, white father complain he's persecuted and the victim of racism / sexism because of some goddam Boots advert I'm going to fucking lose the plot.

I've tried saying to him "know your privilege" but he prefers to believe he's the victim of a feminist conspiracy.

YoniMatopoeia Thu 19-Dec-13 13:18:25

Yanbu. And the reason there aren't more women CEOs. It's because they don't want that high pressure job hmm

BarbarianMum Thu 19-Dec-13 13:06:24

I get uneasy when I see equally shared childcare/work presented as the 'ideal'. I think the ideal is flexibility, regardless of gender and regardless (largely) of reason.

Where I work you can request flexible working for childcare or because you want to spend more time rock climbing. They will accomodate if the job allows. It's great but it cuts both ways - my desire to spend Christmas day at home with my kids is rated no higher than my colleagues desire to spend it at home sleeping off a massive hangover.

scallopsrgreat Thu 19-Dec-13 10:48:12

<applauds Buffy>

What always amazes me in these conversations about employment is the total inability for some to look beyond the structures we have now and look at how workplaces could be set up. Just because some professions require long working hours at the moment, doesn't mean they need it or it couldn't be redesigned another way. The workplace is a shining example of something made by men, for men, those men that do not have childcare responsibilities.

I am reading Woman on the Edge of Time at the the moment (which is great btw) and that has some amazing ideas about how an equal world could be designed (and some not so good!). For example every seven working years each person takes a sabbatical for a year where they can go off and travel or do another job or learn or whatever. That'd be great.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 19-Dec-13 10:39:45

Basil YANBU.

And I have noticed that I have been reluctant to recognise structural sexism because I did not want to admit that some of my friends are, as you say, nobs of the nobbiest variety and unutterably tedious. sad angry

But I had a corporate dinner thing last month with a small group of men, one of which held the others to account for being sexist. It does happen, not often enough, but it does. smile

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 19-Dec-13 09:34:31

Female dominated professions see their pay scales drop because due to maternity leave and family friendly hours they need more people to fill the jobs than they would if they were hiring only men

Yes, because only women are able to take time out or work flexibly to care for children once they are born. A man's penis just gets in the way. Come on ladies, it's so obvious I don't see why you're even discussing it. Nothing to do with structural sexism whatsoever. In fact, structural sexism is caused by women's choices.

If you have an important job available, say heart surgeon, peoples lives depend on that person actually turning up, there aren't many professionals at that level available to temp.

Yes, goodness me. A heart surgeon should work crazily long hours and have no time to relax or outside interests to balance their lives and safeguard their mental health. After all, a frazzled, exhausted heart surgeon is far better at saving lives than one who works fewer hours.

Before anyone leaps in to set my silly little girly self straight, I do realise that sometimes surgery takes many hours I watch Grey's Anatomy goddammit and doing a handover to another cardiac surgeon during a procedure would probably not be a shining example of patient care.

But aren't these white, middle class men jolly clever chaps? So if they wanted to work out a system whereby heart surgeons could work fewer hours overall and not compromise patient care, so as to combat structural sexism, they could, right? Because they're so jolly clever? And they want to break down structural sexism, don't they? Oh…

Oh yeah, I forgot. Structural sexism is caused by women's choices.

LittleBearPad Thu 19-Dec-13 08:38:26

Yes because of course you can't rely on a woman working part-time to turn up to her job can you Perlona. You'd need cover hmm.

Employing two people to work 35 hours between them versus one person to work 35 hours does not significantly increase costs to the employer and often means that in a crisis you have two employees to lean on not one.

Whether the heart surgeon is a woman or a man makes bugger all difference to whether they are at work or not.

And as Basil is saying women make their choices within the options society gives them.

Many women do work part time, often because they are the lower paid person in the couple and so if one parent isn't going to full time it makes sense for it to be the lower paid one to maximise household income. However it is often the case that women simply are paid less than men for doing the same or equivalent roles and so the cycle of childcare being women's work perpetuate itself.

And as for women enjoying housework. HA HA HA

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 19-Dec-13 08:19:19

Oh it's all because of maternity leave.

Oh yes, of course it is.

Because there is no such thing as sexism. We're all equal now and if we aren't, it's because of women's choices.

Thanks for clearing that up.

perlona Thu 19-Dec-13 02:27:15

Female dominated professions see their pay scales drop because due to maternity leave and family friendly hours they need more people to fill the jobs than they would if they were hiring only men. If you have an important job available, say heart surgeon, peoples lives depend on that person actually turning up, there aren't many professionals at that level available to temphmm.

Absolutely.

Wimmin just like this cleaning shit, innit? Of course, I could lift a finger around the house, but I'd hate to disrespect women's choices. I'm just that sort of feminist bloke ...

WoTmania Wed 18-Dec-13 23:18:37

YANBU (why can I not bold that)
I hate the inaccurate preconceptions, that shit about women 'enjoying' housework hmm or being better at it or just seeing it when men don't.
I hate the double standards and how what women and men do gets labelled negatively when a woman does it but not when a man does.
I could go on but I won't (because I'm female, obviously a man wouldn't feel the need to not go on at length)

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 18-Dec-13 22:48:15

yanbu! In fact I'm sick of hearing that women 'talk too much' when in fact, studies have shown that in mixed groups men talk more. Women nag, are shrill, hysterical etc hmm I've heard it all - even on MN in the last few days.

I cannot believe the sexism that is tolerated in so many circles. Twitter has been driving me batshit. Grrr.

scallopsrgreat Wed 18-Dec-13 21:46:07

Oh Basil I soooo needed this post today. Thank you! In fact can. I just stay cradled in the comforting arms of FWR and not interact with the nob end men out there who spout shite like that <nestles down with a blanket>

You are of course completely correct and here's some vodka for that cranberry juice you are squishing.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Wed 18-Dec-13 21:42:35

God it sounds head-bangingly awful Youmakemewanna

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