Thursday, September 25, 2008

When it's OK to be sexist

All right, let me preface this with a disclaimer. I really don't like the Today show, I swear. There is always something on there that irritates me for the rest of the day because they are either freaking you out about the dangers of eating something (it will either make you instantly fat or poison you), or reporting on seriously lame scientific studies that later end up completely discredited. Unfortunately, I hate complete silence even more, and there is nothing on during the day, so I had Today on in the background while I showered and got ready during Sam's early nap. True to form, they reported on some lame "breakthrough" study that wasn't much of a breakthrough.
Here is the result of the survey/study/waste of grant money:
There are still some jobs out there that people prefer to see filled by a particular gender.
Insert eye roll here, and let me say "well, duh."
Look, I am all up for gender equality on a basic level of human rights, and am infinitely grateful for the strides made in women's rights over the past several centuries. If I lived 400 years ago, and said most of the things I say on a daily basis, I'd have been beheaded long ago. I'm grateful for the right to vote, my college degree, and being able to do anything I dream up if I'm willing to get off my lazy kiester. Women in history have died because they didn't have those basic rights and dared to speak up about it. I'm even more thankful that I live in a society where I can choose to work as a mom, or I can choose to stay home and raise my baby, although recent economic changes might make that decision for me.
With that said, at the risk of being ostracized from the female gender and having to join a marginalized splinter group, I have to say that when it comes to social science "equal" does not mean "exactly the same," and there are a few times out there where it should be acceptable to be a little sexist.
Are there people that stretch beyond the general limitations of their gender? Absolutely, just as there are people who stretch the normal human ramifications of intelligence and strength, and these people should be given a chance to excel. Do we, however, offer everyone a job at NASA because "if so-and-so is smart enough, everyone must be?" Do we tell everyone to pull a bus with their teeth under the guise that "If so-and-so is strong enough, everyone must also be?" No, because that is ignorant and dumb, but it is no different with regards to gender. I think Sarah Palin would make a great vice-president, but there is no way on the face of this earth I would vote for just any woman for the sake of having a woman in the job. Less visible jobs are no different, and I find it inexcusable that we live in a society where gender stereotypes are mocked in sitcoms and commercials (stupid man, doesn't know that one sheet of Bounty will clean up his mess, allow smart woman to save him from himself), but speaking of differences seriously and respectfully is practically a capital offense. Why is admitting gender differences such a taboo? In order to redeem myself in the eyes of angry women everywhere, I also think there are jobs where it's reasonable to understand why someone might say "I'd rather a woman does that," and to prove my point, I'd like to offer an example of each.
The study on Today specifically referred to the fact that people expect and prefer male police officers. They were acting like this was a crazy stone-age mentality or something. Seriously, its nothing personal against women, but if I am being attacked and am a victim of a crime, I want Goliath showing up to save me. I can admit it. Yeah, I know David won that fight, but in the heat of the moment, there's just no reasoning with my sympathetic nervous system. Find me the biggest, burliest man ever, preferably one with a temper and who recently quit smoking, and sic him on the creep! If Goliath is unavailable, yeah, I'll take David, but the last thing anyone wants is someone smaller (and cuter and skinner) than them showing up to save them from the bad guy. Now, on top of feeling like a mega-wuss who should have been able to take care of business myself, I also will feel infinitely guilty if 5'2" 100 lb Policewoman gets injured while 5'6" none-of-your-business lb me stands idly by. I'm sure it is even worse for a guy. Plus, I want someone strong enough to pull my fat self out of a crashed car if need be. I think women make great detectives (as anyone who has tried to find out which kid broke a family heirloom knows), and have the compassion for working with victims that Mr. Burly might lack. I know they are carefully trained in how to take out criminals, which I am not, but I just don't think societal awareness will ever overcome the natural desire humans have to feel protected by someone large and in charge when the chips are down. It's the reason animal packs tend to be led by the biggest and strongest, and I seriously think it is in our genetic code as humans to want to see Gigantor on our side in the midst of fear. In fairness, it's not just women I don't want to see coming up on an armed gunman in a dark alley, there are plenty of men who weigh less than I do (I married one of them), and who are better suited to computer programming than serving and protecting, and I feel the same way about them. Should women be cops? Yes, but be prepared to have something to prove and face a little bit of "I'm not so sure about this" from the people you save. Like I said, nothing personal.
On the other hand, I'm not exactly crazy about male labor and delivery nurses. Male nurses in general are still fairly uncommon, but as a woman, there are some places I'd just rather not see them at all. People who know me really well may be surprised to hear that, because I prefer to go to a male OB/GYN. I have to say, I prefer a male doctor for one reason, and one reason only--when I am in labor, whining and complaining about the agony of it all, I don't want a doctor secretly thinking to herself "For crying out loud, I did this seven times without so much as a children's Tylenol. You are such a priss." I prefer a doctor who has no idea what this feels like first-hand and is therefore willing to hand out an epidural the second I say "ow." Beyond that, my doctor was thoroughly "vetted" (as the politicians would say). I've known him since I was a kid, he delivered my siblings, he practices the same religion I do so I know his basic views on life and the importance of children. I wouldn't really care about the religion thing if it weren't for the fact that we do not drink, so I know that even if I go into labor at 11pm on a Friday, I'm guaranteed he won't be tipsy. I appreciate that, and as a worrywart, the less things I need to worry about, the better.
I don't however, want just any guy in the room when push comes to shove (no pun intended). I barely wanted my husband in there, and if it hadn't been for my desire to force him to share in my pain and feel bad for me, I might have kicked him out. I'd just prefer to keep the number of men who see that experience extremely limited. My father (or mother for that matter) are not welcome into the room, and I would hate to live in a world that has become so PC it is considered inappropriate to kick a strange man out of your hospital room when you feel exposed. You already have to chuck your modesty out the window to give birth, can't we have a shred of control back without being considered intolerant? If I don't have the time or ability to personally ensure they aren't perverts (even though I'm sure they're not), I don't want them anywhere near me.
There has to be a few places left in our world where it's okay to be a little unreasonable and sexist to protect our personal feeling of safety. Irrational feelings are part of what makes us human and we already have to spend a huge amount of energy overcoming them to be considered civilized (like not tackling the stranger in the grocery store who touched your baby's face with unwashed hands). I don't find it all that earth-shattering to find that most other people retain some of these feelings too, and I don't condemn people for it either. Meredith Viera might think you are a shocking caveperson, but I think you are normal, so take heart. Drop the guilt, Today show, people have enough to worry about!


Rachel and Jared Lautenschlager said...

This is my comment about anything related to sexism, prejudice, racial profliing, anything that falls into that catagory: if we would stop continually pointing out when it just might be happening and stop assigning it to any comment that might remotely appear prejudiced or sexist, I am betting it would not exist as much as people think it does. I could go on-but I won't in order to not rile up to many comments from those who might disagree with me. :)

Kymberlee Wade said...

Amen. I don't think Bryan should be allowed to stay home with our kids and his computer. It's a hazard to all their health. The kids have become rather independant because of it, but that has had it's dangerous downside. I should be the one at home. If the good paying jobs were given to equally qualified married men over a married woman, then more women would be able to stay at home to raise the children. Granted a single woman, with or without kids should be allowed to have a high paying job. Women who refuse to try to raise their family and will opt for a nanny can have the high paying job too. The adverage mother should not have to work. I think the dems/libers went overboard with the feminism and have messed up our economy completely. They don't want everyone to live the American Dream. They just want you to afford thier American Dream for them. Ba*tards!