Monday, August 22, 2005

Battle of the Sexists

There's an interesting article on Alternet today:

Transition House, New England's first battered women's shelter, has always been known for its cutting edge work helping women and children escape abusive homes.

Recently, however, the
Boston-based 30-year-old organization has set a precedent that makes some feminist activists uncomfortable. The board has not only hired a man as the interim executive director, but they are doing a gender-neutral search for a permanent hire set to conclude August 30th.

full article

What I'm curious about is if the feminist activists quoted in the article as saying that the director has to be a woman are doing a disservice to the shelter. The first two people who posted responses to the article were female, and they actually supported the choice of a male for the position. I posted the following response to them: "Although I can empathize with the desire to have a woman run this organization in deference to the victims themselves, I would like to thank the last two posters for pointing out that not all men are inherently violent and/or greedy. I was raised by a single mother (my father was abusive until she left him) and find violence against women to be one of the most disgusting and purile practices imaginable. It seems to me like this organization is looking for the best person for the job, regardless of gender. I commend them for that. "

I guess I was curious if this is really about what is best for the shelter, or if it is sort of a case of reverse sexism. I do understand that this is a male dominated society, and that no matter what liberal lip service is paid to sexual equality, women really aren't yet completely equal. (Just one example: Twiggy wrote an excellent paper on the lack of marital rape statutes in most states; as if a woman can't be "raped" by someone she's married to. I'll see if I can get her to post it) But I also believe that two wrongs don't make a right. It is well known that it goes the other way; I imagine every day highly qualified women are overlooked for jobs in favor of a less qualified man. This is neither right nor fair, especially in this "enlightened" day and age. But in this example, say that a man was the most qualified applicant for this position... would it be any more right or fair to overlook him just because of his sex? Isn't that staring into the abyss and then becoming it?
To me, the most persausive argument against hiring a man (which I opened my post with) is that the victims might be traumatized by a male in a position of authority. But the article points out that the postition is primarily administrative with very little interaction with the residents. I reiterate my closing remark: the best person for the job should be the ultimate goal, regardless of gender. Be that as it may, in my heart of hearts I think this job probably should go to a woman. I think a woman would have a better understanding of the problems facing the residents of this shelter, whether or not that's a correct assumption. I am mostly playing a bit of devil's advocate. I personally was raised by a single mom who is an intelligent, successful, extremely strong person, so my view of women is maybe a little different than most. There are a couple of digs in the article saying the only reason men want to be involved in the Domestic Violence community is because they can make money. This bothered me a bit. I often find myself trying to defend my gender against this sort of stereotype. Believe it or not, not all heterosexual males are greedy, misogynistic, skirt-chasing assholes. Some of us fully and totally believe in feminism, gender equality, and women's rights in general. So all I'm really trying to say is don't automatically write us off. Some of us are actually on your side.
I blame my mother. Thanks mom! =)


Blogger Twiggy said...

I blame your mom too! I should take her a batch of cookies as she lives near by to thank her =D

Ill post that paper in a day or two. Ill have to edit it down a bit for the site... maybe that's what I can do after class tomorrow.

9:52 PM  

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