Sunday, May 06, 2007

Marquette Philosophy Class: Capitalism & Catholicism at Fault For Oppressing Women

We recently blogged about the myth that there is a “pay gap” separating men and women. In reality, men and women make different choices, and those choices have consequences. Women, for example, self-select into lower paying professions, and often choose to subordinate career to child rearing.

Our post brought the following e-mail from one of our students, which is reproduced here with permission.
Dr. McAdams,

I read your blog post regarding the gender pay gap and I felt very compelled to respond. You’re right, women are more inclined to enter fields like education and the humanities than they are math or science, and yes, those fields pay less by nature. However, you failed to address why women would be attracted to those professions in the first place. The fact of the matter is that women are treated differently when they attempt to do a job that is generally considered a “man’s” work. The diagnoses of female doctors aren’t taken as seriously as those of male doctors. Strong female leaders are labeled “bitches” and are written off for doing exactly the same job that a man would be applauded for doing. Girls are told from an early age that they are worse at math than boys, and because everyone around them expects the stereotype to be true, it comes true in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Women who want to work in construction are labeled “dykes,” women who put their careers ahead of getting married and having a family are looked down upon by society for having their priorities wrong. In truth, women pick jobs like teachers and day care providers because women are expected to choose such jobs, and because the men who occupy the more involved and higher paying positions don’t give the women in their ranks equal treatment.

The same goes for men who want to do traditionally feminine jobs. You don’t think that seeing a male preschool teacher would make some parents think he’s a pervert? Look at the negative stigma attached to being a stay-at-home dad or a hairstylist. Men who do traditionally female jobs are labeled either gay or somehow less of a man because they aren’t out being the breadwinner and doing manly things.

The problem doesn’t stop at unequal pay. The problem is that society operates under a gender binary that insists that men need to be manly and do manly things, and women need to be dainty and emotional and do feminine things, and anyone who tries to transcend those boundaries is labeled a deviant and suffers social consequences. Other people who have a hard time at their jobs because of their gender: female politicians (I cite Hilary Clinton -- she’s labeled a “bitch” and an “ice queen.” What does she do that’s any different from any of her male counterparts?), male dancers, theatre actors, figure skaters (labeled gay -- the girls are labeled “artistic”), females in academic disciplines like philosophy and political science (they can’t possibly contribute to the knowledge creation process since they’re so emotional and emotions cloud rationality), and so on.

I just finished up an entire class on how patriarchy controls every structure in our society and how women are systematically prevented from being equal to men (Capitalism and Catholicism are among the most guilty parties). I’d be happy to discuss this concept with you further. I just read your post and felt I needed to point out the larger causes for the discrepancy in pay between men and women.

Choices regarding what career path to take aren’t necessarily being made autonomously when the societal standard is pushing you in one direction based on your gender.

-- Jess Cushion
The course that Cushion took was PHIL 143 - Feminist Philosophy, taught by Dr. Theresa Tobin.

The Philosophy Department, one should remember, is the one whose Chair tore down a Dave Barry quote from the door of a graduate student claiming is was “patently offensive.” And it wasn’t an impulsive action. Chair James South consulted with the Executive Committee of the Department before doing it.

There is so much wrong with the politically correct feminism that Cushion had drilled into her that we can’t possibly deal with it all.

We just wonder how Tobin thinks that Catholicism has been worse for women than Protestantism, Islam or Paganism.

And we wonder how she thinks that Capitalism has been worse for women than socialism, or worse than primitive pre-capitalist economies.

And has she noticed that socialism has crashed and burned?

Like much feminism, it seems we have here the rationalization of anti-religious and anti-capitalist political biases in terms of oppression of some politically correct victim group: women in this case, but gays or “people of color” in some other course.

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