Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Respect and Privilege

This weekend a male friend of mine commented about things he doesn't like about women. Now he was talking to three women who are is good friends, so I think he felt safe to express his feelings.

We were walking along a trail near his house and he commented that it really bothers him when women assume that a man alone might be a threat. He wants women to be OK with looking him in the eye and saying hello. I explained to him that women are conditioned to think of themselves as victims and to be mistrustful of strange men. It would be logical if women where a little more confident and men were a little more scared because men are frequently crime victims as well, but things get twisted around in the cultural washing machine.

Then he went on to his second theory, that the reason women don't get ahead more in business is that they don't look people in the eye and give them a confident handshake. The problem with this theory is that even when women do those things they aren't treated in the same way as men. Women who are confident and outspoken are labeled bitches. Where can we point the finger of blame? Can young female professors be blamed for acting uptight when they are constantly challenged and disrespected in ways that male faculty never are? Are women in business treated differently because they act differently or do they act differently because they are treated differently?

I love my friend, but can you say "white male privilege?"


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Even the fact that a good firm handshake (needs strong hands, no?) and looking someone in the eye (needs equal height, no?) are androcentric requirements.... Why not a hug or a high-five??

Poker Room Bonus said...

You have hit the mark. Thought good, I support.