Re: Numbers (was:Re: Osborne response - Cyberfeminism)


Subject: Re: Numbers (was:Re: Osborne response - Cyberfeminism)
From: Linda A Seltzer (lseltzer@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 20:44:31 EST


I'm not sure what Mirian was referring to. But as for feminism in the late 20th Century and early 21st Century, I can speak from personal experience about post-suffragette feminism in the U.S.

Until the mid 1970's, when the anti-discrimination laws were passed in the U.S, newspapers ran separate classified ads employment, Help Wanted - Male, and Help Wanted - Female. Also, the career placement offices at colleges and universities (such as the University of Pennsylvania, when I graduated with a B.A., had separate job listings, interviews, and placements for man and for women. This was completely legal. Feminist activism was necessary to work for laws against what is now called intentional discrimination. Such a need for equality under the law was the motivation for the feminist movement in the late 60's and early 70's. Of course, there were cultural changes coompanying this. For example, university women did not want to be called "chicks" any longer.

In order to enforce court orders agaunst intentional discrimination, the concept arose, and some corporations, such as AT&T, instituted Affirmative Action programs. During that period I was a member of the executive director's affirmative action
program for our business unit of AT&T. The affirmative action program reviewed the statistics on the hiring of women in the company, but there were no set quotas. The program was similar for minorities. The main activity of the affirmative action program was to handle complaints of incidences of harassment of minorities and women.
Most of the complaints were from minorities. For example, an African American male manager requested a lock for his office door because someone had entered his office at night and slashed a photograph of him and his wife on vacation. Another African American man was receiving objects, such as a douche bag, in the company mail. There was a group of four women who said that their supervisor had not given them a performance review according to the company's rules. Affirmative action was later phased out in favor of non-discrimination. Quotas are largely illegal in the U.S., but employment statistics in large companies can be used in discrimination cases.

One of the next phases of feminism is fighting against sexual harassment. This battle is still ongoing. There are still other issues concerning women being treated with respect in the workplace.

There are still battles that feminists have to fight in the U.S. The U.S. Social Security payments for the elderly are based upon the salary of the principal breadwinner in the family. Statistics have shown that women are paid less than men for the same jobs, and the wage gap is perpetuated by the glass ceiling and the tendency for women to not obtain the same jobs as men. The executive positions in high technology are almost exclusively filled by men, except for human resources management. Therefore, women receive lower Social Security benefits than men. Women
who depended on a husband may lose eligibility for benefits due to divorce. Social Security is an example of discrimination that is systematic, rather than intentional.
Women have to write letters to their Senators and Congressmen about this issue, which is discussed in Hillary Clinton's book. This is an example of how systematic discrimination has to be overcome with policies that promote equality.

Another issue of crucial concern for women in the U.S. is that the age for Medicare was raised to 65. However, many women of the baby boomer generation will not have access to health insurance through employers, and the situation is reaching serious proportions for women aged 50-65. Many women (and possibly men, also) do not know where to find affordable health insurance between the 50's (when industry starts laying people off, and the age of 65, when Medicare kicks in). I personally have met too many women in this age group who do not have health insurance.

I have discussed only the economic issues and not the reproductive issues or cultural
and social issues. There is still a great deal for feminists to accomplish in the U.S.

As for Mirian's comments, which I don't really understand, I don't see how any of these issues cause any destructiveness to men. This is especially true in the areas of Medicare and Social Security in the U.S. As for the wage gap, men have seen that having women in the workforce only helped them when the recession hit. When the male IT professionals were laid off, all of those nurses they were married to still had their jobs.

Socially, there are still some men who feel threatened by intelligent women and who need to have bimbos and trophies. I don't think such men are in the majority any more. They may as well be ignored, unless, of course, a women gets stuck having to work for one of them.

Linda Seltzer



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