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Post Socially Conditioned Misogynist Behavior
Created by John Eipper on 12/01/17 11:32 AM

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Socially Conditioned Misogynist Behavior (Helen Pitlick, USA, 12/01/17 11:32 am)

Just wanted to share my opinion, as a younger woman (and a feminist) on this topic and some of the emails I've seen from the men on the WAIS Forum:

What the f***!

There is no question that many (not all) men are "wired" to be attracted to "beautiful" females. I, like many (but not all) women, am attracted to hot dudes. John Heelan's and Istvan Simon's statements may seem really innocuous, but they're damaging. It's the packaging of women as both brains and "eye-candy," and men debating this, that bugs me--women can never just be people, and our appearance is always part of the package (even if you graciously agree that brains are more important).

As Phyllis Gardner wrote, sexism in the workplace isn't just "grab them by the pussy" and blatant discrimination--even today, it's also socially conditioned behaviors like interrupting, explaining things to someone that they already know, and presuming someone isn't as knowledgeable about something, something that studies show hold women back in their careers: https://hbr.org/2017/10/a-study-used-sensors-to-show-that-men-and-women-are-treated-differently-at-work .

I work for a large tech company in the Seattle area, and just yesterday, a mid-30s white man in a meeting said something like, "perhaps I'm an idealist, but I just don't know how sexist behavior can happen without someone losing their job." The women in the room shared their (recent) experiences of outright sexism ("Oh you have this room reserved? I think my biceps have something to say about that!"). Leadership was aware of these behaviors, but the offenders weren't disciplined because they're "good at their jobs."

I've had weeks where I'm mentally and physically exhausted from having my work and ideas questioned, my hobbies and musical tastes explained to me (poorly), being complimented when I do something basic right, etc. I have left online communities, stopped participating in activities I enjoy, and even drive to work most days instead of taking my van pool because of misogynist behavior. Some of you will say I'm being dramatic, weak, or playing the victim, but it's just so tiring. Women lose out on experiences, and men lose out on our knowledge and perspective.

I used to think that sexism would die out with the older generation, but given the current political state, I don't think that's the case.

Phyllis, thank you for blazing a trail for us! I can only imagine how tough it must be to watch your daughter facing issues you thought wouldn't be a problem by now.

JE comments:  I fear I'm guilty of interrupting in the workplace--but I do so with men as well.  What's more, the "JE comments" is an institutionally sanctioned interruption.  Always have to get in the last word... 

A question for Helen Pitlick:  do you see the present "reckoning" as (to paraphrase Churchill) the beginning of the end of the war to eradicate sexist behavior, or the merely the end of the beginning?


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  • Socially Conditioned Misogyny? (John Heelan, -UK 12/02/17 5:53 AM)
    With respect, Helen Pitlick (2 December) misunderstands me when she writes "John Heelan's and Istvan Simon's statements may seem really innocuous, but they're damaging. It's the packaging of women as both brains and 'eye-candy,' and men debating this." I took pains to emphasise the difference between brains ad eye-candy for that very reason. Or is it that "men debating this" in the male-dominated WAIS forum that bugs her? If so, I agree!

    Helen further commented that "women lose out on experiences, and men lose out on our knowledge and perspective. I used to think that sexism would die out with the older generation, but given the current political state, I don't think that's the case."


    I agree! The media and the White House persist in "eye-candy" marketing campaigns.  At the domestic level Helen can rest assured that surrounded, as I am, by two generations of bright female family members (with Honours degrees some 1st-class), I soon get slapped back into line if I inadvertently step into chauvinism!


    JE is right that WAIS needs far more female input to leaven the dough of elderly male opinions.


    JE comments: Helen Pitlick was critiquing the very fact that (some, not all) men should be discussing "brains vs looks" when it comes to women. Consider the absurdity of a WAIS thread, say, on the importance of looking beyond Stephen Hawking's physique to appreciate the "knowledge and perspectives" of his mind.


    Did I get that right, Helen?


    On the other hand, don't (some, not all) women also debate the merits of hunks vs cerebral, geeky dudes?  Or what about income?  There's something about Zuckerberg's $70 billion that makes him irresistibly hot.

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