MT VOID 03/05/99 (Vol. 17, Number 36)

MT VOID 03/05/99 (Vol. 17, Number 36)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 03/05/99 -- Vol. 17, No. 36

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-447-3652 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  732-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
Rob Mitchell  MT 2E-537  732-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.


I had an experience recently to which I have given some thought. Evelyn and I were visiting with some other couples. And I was telling a story about something that happened to me. I don't remember exactly what the story was, but it involved wearing socks. (Gee, how many stories could I have about wearing socks?) Anyway, I was saying that I went for some socks and realized that I was out. At this point in the story I seem to have hit a hot button in one of my listeners. One of the women in the group looked at me accusingly and said, "Well, YOU know where the washing machine is." Well, what do you say at a time like that? "Well, ha-ha, that is not really the point of my story?" "Hey, I do my share around the house." Anything I could say at that point would seem defensive and lame. After a moment or two Evelyn broke in and said pretty much the same thing that I would have, but not so defensively. She told our friend that I really do my share. (In fact, we each seem to think that it is the other person who does more around the house.) On the whole Evelyn and I are both reasonably satisfied with the equity of the breakdown of work in my house. Now if Evelyn had said that the toilets need cleaning would this woman have indignantly told her "you know where the toilet brush is?" I doubt it. I doubt anyone would have jumped to my defense. Many times in the past Evelyn has kidded me about my foibles in front of these people, or berated me over a stain on my shirt, or something of the sort and not once has anybody ever jumped in to the conversation to defend me. There is, I suppose, some remnant of the code of chivalry that says that men do not enter into disagreement with ladies, and that they defend them instead. And no male wants to be associated with this stereotype of being the male chauvinist who callously abuses women. On the other hand there is this belief among women that they need to band together and defend each other in sisterhood. There is a fortress mentality that women are constantly besieged by men and must constantly be looking for examples and fighting back. I do not really blame this woman since I am sure she has been told that this is appropriate even necessary behavior, but if this is not bias and prejudice I have to say that it comes out looking a lot the same. It is hard to tell from the old beliefs that "us whites have to stick together."

And this belief that women have to stick up for women no matter what shows up elsewhere. We had a diversity meeting at work a while back and in it there was an exercise. The men were sent to at easel at one end of the room, the women were sent to one at the other. Somehow diversity meetings always seem to involve people writing at easels. The exercise was to have each group list facets of how the work environment would be different if the proportions of men and women were reversed. Each side labored over lists thinking of the various characteristics they had perceived in women and in men workers. A lot of this was dredging up the positive stereotypes that we had gotten from previous diversity meetings, positive stereotypes were thought to combat negative ones. When we were all done the men's easel listed a collection of projected changes. If one removed the entries that were neutral then men's list was something like 75% positive, 25% negative. If one looked at the women's easel, if one ignored the neutral changes, the differences were 100% positive.

Now most peole would have left things like that. But as I suggested to the class, let us consider the answers in another light. Let us consider this an exercise in how ready, willing, and open-minded each gender was toward working with the other. The males had given answers that (after eliminating the neutrals) were 75% positive on the other gender 25% negative. The females had under the same restriction given answers that were 0% positive, 100% negative. Now both sets of answers were probably skewed by the fact that this was a diversity meeting and it was more or less expected that you should be saying things positive on women and negative on men, particularly white males. On the other hand, nobody says that everyone has to cooperate at these meetings either. Some people do stand up for their principles and go against the flow.

I still get mail from women with signature files that say things like "What do you call a handcuffed man?" "Trustworthy." I will tell you the truth, because believe it or not I do keep track of this sort of thing for diversity meetings. I have been told in the 1990s exactly one joke insulting to women and told to me by a man. That sort of thing has gone out of style, I suppose, and that is not at all a bad thing. But we still see a flood of jokes with an anti-male bias and it still comes from women who think that they are crusaders fighting for a better day. They feel that of course there are just a huge number of anti-female jokes out there and they have a right to counter them. In fact the vast majority of gender-bashing I have heard, just like the vast majority of profanity on the job, has come from the gender who supposedly is offended by such things.

I think we have to decide if we are really moving toward equality by encouraging or even acquiesing to what some may consider is a groovy and corrective bigotry on some people's parts. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 732-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become
     famous without ability.
                                   -- George Bernard Shaw
                                   (in days prior to the
                                    invention of the