Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Through a New Looking Glass: The Power of the Y

Okay I've been a bit out of it the last few days (major car trouble + sucky financial situation) so I know I'm a bit late on this whole Men in Power student organization that has started at University of Chicago. This just screams for me to compare my past perception of such a thing to my current perception.

Yesterday's Perception: Up until about 3 years ago I would have shrugged this off in disbelief. I mean really why do men need a student organization that focuses on their issues. Just one look at society would show you that men pretty much run everything. Most highend politicians are men. Most high end corporate positions are held by men. In short men are in control. Why on this good green Earth does there need to be an organization dedicated to men when the default of nearly everything is male?

Today's Perception: The answer to the question I would have asked 3 years ago is that the other things I would have said would only make sense if the male gender were a monolith that all talk, think, act, experience, etc...the same. But we aren't. Has anyone stopped to realize that just because there is a men's organization starting up they maybe, just maybe, actually have issues to address that are NOT being addressed by those male politicians, CEOs, and so on and they don't necessarily have the intent to hurt women? Contrary to what some may think we are not all connected by our Y chromosome and have the ability to just call up a man in high office and just tell him to fix a situation and we aren't all trying to oppress women. There are plenty of men's issues that need to be addressed that people are not talking about either because they don't know about it or because they don't want to acknowledge it and some of us are just trying to help ourselves out a bit.

So as you can see my perception has changed a good bit in the last 3 years and frankly they have changed for the better. However there are those that refuse to move beyond my old perception. Check this out. Its a small article from the online new site from the University of Washington. It would seem that some of the women on campus have already decided that such a group is unnecessary at best and misogynistic at worst. (The article also mentions "reverse sexism" which I will get to later.)

Chicago student Jessica Pan, president of the school’s Women in Business club, finds the club’s mission entirely unnecessary, telling the Chicago Tribune she wasn’t “sure [the campus] really need[s] another student organization that focuses on pre-professional development for men.”

Ali Feenstra, a third-year student and member of the campus group Feminist Majority, agreed. “It’s like starting ‘white men in business,’” Feenstra said. “There’s not really any purpose.”

The first quote is problematic due to the woman speaking goes with the assumption that the "other" student development organizations are dedicated to specifically men when they are not. Sure many of those organizations may end up being overrun by SUBSETS of men but just like any other organization they do not actually represent the entire gender. In order for Pan's comment to hold true those other organizations would have to actually be focused around men instead of assuming they are like she does.

The second quote fails. Feenstra invokes racism and sexism by trying to say that being white and male is some magical key to the kingdom that makes all of one's problems go away. I'm not white but I can say for damn sure that being male doesn't guarantee success as much as people may think and I've known enough white males to know that being white and male is not the magical key either. By making this statement Feenstra is trying to say that white males don't have issues and that is not right. I'm male and I for damn sure have gender specific issues that would not be wiped away if I were to suddenly become white.

Now I'm sure there are feminists somewhere tripping over themselves to get in a "what about teh menz?" cheap shot but if they would quit assuming that males have it made they would notice that we don't. I'm not saying they have to donate resources to men's issues I'm saying it would so them some good to stop thinking they already know everything about men's issues and the male perspective.