Throughout the history male leaders have been the most common. Even now, in the 21st century the majority of corporations are led by male CEO’s.

This can be due to the fact that a large percentage of women have to take time off when they are expecting a baby and spent the first weeks, months or years after the birth caring for the child instead of pursuing a career. This costs a lot of time and results in not working at all or not being able to effectively socialize and network during office hours (as we read in the article for today, Women and Leadership). Apart from not having the ability to become leaders, maybe women are just not suited to become leaders.

Female (aspirant) leaders are often thought of as either too masculine or too feminine. Sarah Palin, for example, was seen as too much of a female and wasn’t taken seriously. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton was criticized for not being stereotypic female and therefore being too masculine.

Is masculinity a necessary characteristic to become a leader? Males are often more competitive and assertive than women are and those traits are often found in good leaders. But I am sure women can have those characteristics as well and still be very feminine. I think that women operate as better leaders in certain companies and men can be better leaders in others.

So, if we assume that there are more companies a male boss would fit best, then that could explain the higher amount of male CEO’s. It wouldn’t surprise me if there would be a high percentage of male bosses in masculine firms (with a lot of male employees) and a high percentage of female bosses in female firms (with a higher amount of females). It wouldn’t always be right for a masculine company to hire a female boss. If you look at magazines, it would be surprising if a female became the CEO of the Playboy, just as it would be quite a change if a man became the CEO of the Vogue.

- Caroline Mathijssen

Affirmative action is something we often associate with minorities or women, rarely is it mentioned in the same sentence with white men or even just men. In the article "Too Many Women in College" we discussed today by Phyllis Rosser, I discovered that recent gender gaps in universities have caused many of them to adopt "affirmative action policies" for males. 

Current statistics from the U.S. Department of Education shows that college campuses are still around 57% female and 43% male, in line with numbers quoted by Rosser six years ago. And since the cause of this disparity is due to a rise in the number of females attending college and not a drop in the number of males attending college (since college enrollment is at a record high), does it still make sense to try and balance the sexes?
 We must keep in mind that while male enrollment is not dropping, inevitably every spot taken by a female is a spot that could have been taken by a male, especially in highly selective institutions). And if we assume affirmative action is ethical, and it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish (because this debate has too many complexities to really get into in the scope of a blog post), then I feel like it would be right to have some sort of affirmative action for males. When it is apparent that a certain group of people are underrepresented in some category, the answer has always been affirmative action (e.g. minorities in higher education or women in science and math), I don't think that the case should be any different now that we're talking about males. 

Although we should probably be more specific as to which males should receive the benefits of affirmative action. As Rosser noted, the majority of the gender gap occurs in the lowest income bracket (households making less than 30,000/year), while men and women attend college in equal numbers at the highest income bracket (households making more than 70,000/year). Thus in order to ensure that affirmative action is not taken advantage of, it should only be applied in the case of lower income male applicants. Under these circumstances, I don't see anything wrong with affirmative action. 

Posted by Chengchao Luo

I think (or at least, I like to think) that most people in our society would agree that women deserve the same political, social, cultural, legal, and economic power as men. By at least one definition of feminism, that would make them feminists. But is being a feminist really that easy?

In one online forum that I frequent, there was a thread asking the community whether they were feminists. People generally responded in support of feminist ideas, yet the poll (with a total of 143 votes) stated that over a third said they weren't feminists. Why might that be?

Several posters discussed an idea that, after much thought, I eventually agreed with: the mere belief that society should aspire to achieve gender equality is not sufficient to qualify a person as a feminist. One must also make conscious efforts to achieve it. This would involve deconstructing ways that sexism pervades society, and giving heavier consideration to the voices of those most adversely affected.  For those privileged, this can be a challenge.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing inherently wrong with having privilege - after all, a person with privilege is still a person. But it does mean that it's harder to recognize things like sexism when you have it. As a feminist, I have to give weight to a woman's opinion when she claims something is sexist even when I don't immediately recognize it as sexist.

Accepting the responsibilities of "qualifying" as a feminist can be hard. Ironically, as a bisexual Chinese male, I think the transition was made easier for me thanks to being privileged in one way yet disadvantaged in another. But, in my opinion, it is a necessary step toward the cherished goal of  true equality.

Posted by: Anton Li
I must admit that before taking this class I didn’t give much thought about transgender identity. This is probably due to the fact that I have never personally had any experience (that I know of) with someone who considers him or herself transgender and to me it seemed like a very rare occurrence. However, after watching Transgeneration, I began thinking about how often people with transgender identities are seen in the media.

For example:

·      Thomas Beatie, the infamous pregnant man

·      Chaz Bono, son of Cher, currently on “Dancing With the Stars”

·      Isis from “America’s Next Top Model”

·      Katelynn on “The Real World”

·      Amanda Lepore, model and performance artist

As I came upon more and more examples in the media, Sexing the Body, and other readings, I realized that the percentage of transgenders in America must be way more than I initially imagined.  A study in the spring of 2011 by The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law found that an estimated .3% of Americans are transgender. While that may not seem like a lot, it is in reality around 935,400 people, and almost three times the population of St. Louis.

While the transgender population grows in numbers and in recognition, so does the struggle for equality and acceptance in today’s society. We all saw the daily problems and the weightier problems Raci, Lucas, Gabbie, and T.J. faced in Transgeneration. We know how difficult college can be already, imagine having to worry about which bathroom to use or whether or not to disclose your “past” gender with new friends. Thankfully, state legislatures are beginning to finally recognize these struggles and are signing transgender rights bills into law. On October 10, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two of these bills:

·      The Vital Statistics Modernization Act streamlines the process for trans people to receive a new birth certificate or other identifying documentation that reflects their current gender.

·      The Gender Nondiscrimination Act “provides clarity to those who are victims of unlawful discrimination as well as for business owners, employers and other entities required to comply with the anti-discrimination protections by explicitly enumerating gender identity and expression as protected categories in a number of state codes.”

California is not the first and certainly not the last to pass transgender rights laws. Hopefully we will see the LGBT movement grow as a whole and acceptance become more widespread. Discrimination is ignorance and I imagine that the only thing more difficult than knowing you were born as the wrong gender is being discriminated for having the courage to address your true self. 

Posted By: Madden Hodes



                   Having just finished our gender atypical act papers, I feel that it would be appropriate to discuss gender equality in academics, or the lack thereof. I could easily get into a discussion about how the ratio of male to female professors differs greatly between different departments and what that says about gender equality in various disciplines. Yet, I am more interested in the inequality of the sexes that we see from student-professor interactions in the classroom every day. Some of you who are reading this might be thinking “what in the world is this person talking about? I definitely do not feel like I am at a disadvantage in school because of my gender.” I was thinking the same thing when my professor, Dr. Frey from the WUSTL chemistry department, brought up this topic in a seminar for academic mentoring. However, the longer I looked at it, the more apparent the discrimination became.

                 One of the key points Dr. Frey made in her lecture was that teachers/professors (both male and female) tend to call on male students more often than female students in class. Furthermore, teachers will wait longer for a male student to respond and even coach male students to develop their thoughts by giving them more extended feedback to their responses. Interestingly, the teachers are not intentionally biased. They do not realize that they treat their male and female students differently. If that is the case, does that mean it is the students’ problem?

                   While most students are brought up in an environment that promotes gender equality, males and females do in fact develop different communication styles. In most situations, the female style is disadvantageous. For example, girls tend to present their statements in a more hesitant fashion and often use qualifiers like “I guess” and “I was wondering”. Though it may be a sign of politeness, statements made in this manner are less likely to be taken seriously. Furthermore, in a large lecture class, female students are less likely to speak up and so males tend to dominate the discussion. Again, this kind of behavior is unintentional, but it is easily observed. Why does this happen? And perhaps more importantly, how can we stop it?

                    The underlying mechanism is the problem of gender construction in culture. It is a process that begins from birth and includes mundane things such as naming and color association as well as more subtle acts like social interactions with people. As functioning members of society, we have become successfully enculturated and so we have behavioral tendencies that seem to go against gender equality. This is not our fault, but it can be if we choose to ignore this fact. Culture is not easily fixed, but it can be changed as long as people in a society are aware of cultural issues. Therefore we must consciously watch ourselves and correct certain behaviors that we know go against our personal beliefs. For teachers, that may mean taking note of who you are calling on and making an effort to “count” the number of boys and girls you pick. For male students, it might mean encouraging your female peers to speak with more assertiveness and not overshadowing their opinions. For female students, it could mean not being apologetic when you speak, even if you are not completely sure of the answer. After all, if you are going to be wrong anyways, might as well be confidently wrong.

Posted by: Elizabeth Fang

Our society depicts the homosexual man as completely lacking masculine characteristics, however in my experiences gay men can be some of the most masculine.  However ubiquitous stereotypes about gay men portray masculinity and homosexuality as entirely dichotomous, leading to entirely misconstrued views of homosexuals in our society – an issue which is detrimental to the acceptance of homosexuals in society.

This video shows 20 stereotypes of Gay men, including a few which are particularly relevant to the discussion of masculinity:

-          Gay men think sports are boring

-          Gay men are obsessed with fashion

-          Gay men love to dance

-          Gay men are incompetent running machinery

-          Gay men always have a trust girl-pal by side

-          Gay are whinny bitches

-          Gay men are catty

-          Gay men are drama queens

-          Gay men pepper their lives with Pop culture references

These stereotypes are largely untrue, as no gay man I have ever met has encapsulated more than a handful of these characteristics.  There is also the fact that many of these traits may also just as easily be applied to straight men as they may to gay men, showing that if masculinity were to be determined by the adherence of men to every single stereotype of masculinity, true masculinity would be unequivocally rare.

Gay stereotypes portray homosexual men as being incapable of masculinity; however these stereotypes are drastically exaggerated in popular culture although they apply only marginally more to homosexual men than they do to straight men.

Curtis Eisen

Nobody ever likes to admit to oppressing anyone. That's like admitting to being a chain smoker while being a pulmonary doctor. In our politically correct world, especially in upper middle class suburbia, nobody oppresses anyone, right?

I say wrong. We don't even realize when we do it, because the concept of social hierarchy isn't usually something we wake up one morning and decide to believe. It's something ingrained in us. From the time we're little we are given pictures of other types of people and told "this is what you are" and "this is what somebody else is" and that "you are different." 

Who decided that we were different in the first place? It's just like bell hooks' description of the little boy who came up to her and asked what nationality she was. Who taught him to think that nationality had anything to do with skin color?

Perhaps it's because we feel most comfortable with those whom we see as being most similar to ourselves. It's interesting how we're slower to judge those with whom we most identify than those with whom we identify less.

It's also interesting to me how people will only face racism and classism when it's fed to them in a certain way. 

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is a great example of this. Here is a book that gained nationwide popularity and touches on serious issues including the oppression of black maids in the Jim Crow south by white housewives. 

Yet as Dr. Wanzo, a professor here at Wash.U points out in her review of the book for the huffington post, ( this book "makes Jim Crow palatable."

First of all, the heroin/main protagonist of the novel is a young white woman. Stockett could have made the main protagonist either of the two main characters in the story who are black maids, Aibleen and Minnie. 

Secondly, Aibleen is an older, matronly figure portrayed kind of like Mammy, the happy slave in Gone with the Wind. She still seems to enjoy her job and only criticizes her employer for not giving her own daughter affection. Why couldn't Aibleen dislike her job? It seems that do endear Aibleen to the public, Stockett finds  it necessary to make Aibleen a somewhat passive older woman who evokes sympathy from us because mostly because she's old, not necessarily because she's 

Thirdly, Minnie is typefied as the typical "sassy black strong woman." She bakes a feces-filled pie for her former employer in retaliation for the horrible way in which she is treated.

Out of curiosity, I went onto to see some reviews of the book verses the movie to find out what people thought of each. Two comments particularly fascinated me. One woman commented only that  she'd seen the movie and not read the book. "I don't think Stockett needed to include that pie thing. Couldn't it have been something else?" Clearly the pie made her uncomfortable, yet I would have hoped that the racism on the part of the white women made her uncomfortable too. Why didn't she bother to mention anything about the way the white women acted towards the black women? I'm pretty sure accusing someone of stealing and putting them out of a job is just as bad, if not worse, than baking a feces pie.

Another woman commented later on that she was African American, her great grandmother was a domestic servant in the Jim Crow south, and that she thought Minnie did just the right thing by making the "pie."

If all of the horrible things done to black women not only during the Jim Crow south, but before and after were to be turned into pies, well, I'd say we'd have a lot of baking to do.

             “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.”  So, do you recognize this quote? I would guess most of you do; Mean Girls anyone?  Regardless of its not so serious origin, Tina Fey may have actually been onto something when she said this line in the notorious comedy. 

            We often throw around these terms without thinking or considering the weight behind them.  The inspiration for this blog came while reading Oppression for homework, when a particular paragraph caught my eye.  Marilyn Frye speaks of the fine line that women must tip toe on to avoid either being too prude or just outright slutty. 

            It’s interesting to examine the effects these words can have whether coming from a male or female.  These derogatory terms have become so desensitized that it is basically unsurprising to hear them. 

            Used by a girl:

        ·     A joking, teasing term used between friends

        ·   OR a jealous, spiteful way to isolate another girl

            Used by a guy:

        ·   To brag to his buddies, sound “cool”

        ·   To unfairly label and belittle females

            Regardless, to be considered “easy” is not a desirable trait, no matter what it’s source.

            For fear of being labeled these things, girls often have to make very difficult decisions and must be much more careful about what is appropriate at each stage in a relationship.   I truly do believe that in most aspects of American society today, women have achieved equality, but this is a double standard that I do not predict disappearing any time soon.

            Unfair as it is, there’s basically nothing we can do about it.  Perhaps just think twice before calling that girl a whore, even if she did hook up with your ex-boyfriend. 

            By Sara Bower

Food for Thought…*tches+Get+Stuff+Done!

    The ferocity with which friends and foes fight over feminism is frightful.  Facilitators foster talks to battle fallacy and forge paths of fervent fondness towards the female sex, and yet to be “feminist” feels forbidden.  Firmly believing that feminism is firstly forceful and ferocious is simply false.  Females, non-females, foster-fathers, first cousins, family financiers, friends, firemen, fisherwomen, football fullbacks, according to Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, should not fear the feminist within.  

       Feminism:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

By this definition, followers of female equality should be free to fasten “feminism” to their identities as they see fit.  And yet, from fear and societal forces, feminists, me included, find it formidable to accept feminism forthrightly.  Instead, we fashion fancy definitions to fit our phobia, filled with qualifiers to furnish the phrase in fleeting hopes to flatter a word so frequently forbidden.   Baumgardner and Richards foresee women forgetting their flamboyant and failing forespeaking and instead forge a way of feminist acceptance.  I for one fickly foster a frustrating friendship with the word “feminist”. Though I am fixated on the fundamental freedoms of all females, I fluctuate between feminist and follower, finding flaw with qualifiers but forced to focus on the foul reputation of “feminist”.  It is foolish to flatter those unfair notions, but this stereotype finds following with the frail and friendly, since the notions are based on fundamentals of second wave feminism.

                Despite my flaky feelings, I am faithful to my feminist family.  While the term “feminist” may not flatter in the present, the future must focus on functionality.  The force, the power, is not in the word “feminist” itself, but the fabulous leaders finding equality for females.  If feminists, those who believe in social equality of the sexes, forever foil foolish fights of fixated foes, they can create filial forces and find equality and freedom.  Fulfilling the dreams of the movements’ mothers and fathers through functional equality, the movement that has no name will fill the foreground.  Finally, the faction of feminists will fail to falter; felicitously featuring “feminism” as first name to a fruitful frame of mind, one which will further fix former failures and “feminism” ,the word ,will no longer fall to farce.

Feminism is the F word?  Fuck that. 

In Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female, Frances Beale draws attention to the plight of the African-American woman by highlighting a list of injustices she has suffered. The things she said about economic disparities with respect to gender reminded me of another reading I had in my Medical Anthropology class, in which it was demonstrated that gender also plays a role in health disparities around the globe. We were assigned to read Culture, Poverty, and HIV Transmission: The Case of Rural Haiti, a chapter from the book Infections and Inequalities by Dr. Paul Farmer.

In the passage, Dr. Farmer analyzes the patterns of HIV transmission in the rural village of Do Kay. Prior to 1956, the people of the village were relatively prosperous because of the various crops they could grow on the fertile banks of a nearby river. However, the construction of a hydroelectric dam downstream of the village flooded the banks of the river, forcing thousands of families out of the area with little or no compensation for their loss. With no land to cultivate, the younger generations began to try their luck getting jobs in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and a hub of HIV/AIDS distribution.  It was then that the transmission of HIV into the village began.

Poor, hungry, and uneducated young women often went to the city to find jobs as domestic workers, and while they were there, they entered into short-lived sexual relationships with men who were slightly more financially stable, like truck drivers and soldiers. In terms of economics, it is clear that this would be considered a good move. Unfortunately for the women, these men often had unprotected sex with multiple partners. After the relationships dissolved, the women returned home with a little bit of money and asymptomatic HIV infections, which inevitably got passed on to their future partners and children.

The ability of these young women to protect themselves from HIV infection was and is greatly diminished by the gender imbalance that has been perpetuated irrespective of the “when” and “where” of the societies in which it has been observed. In the doubly weakened role of their relationships, it would be extremely difficult for these rural women to persuade their partners to use condoms. Worse still, the condoms that everyone should have been using may have been scarce and expensive in impoverished Haiti. The surprising and saddening observations of Dr. Farmer’s study serve as a vivid reminder of how the far-reaching power of sexism has a myriad of complex and unintended effects. 

--Sheri Balogun