Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Average Joe Thinks Equality Unfair

Although at times frustrating, one benefit I find to engaging with anti- and non-feminist Devil's Advocate types who sometimes comment here is that doing so can really pinpoint a certain entitled mindset that some men have.

Take this post of mine, for instance, where I noted the instance of the accomplished female hockey coach of a successful women's team being fired for a having a salary that was deemed too high, even though her salary was lower than the less accomplished male coach's.

There, I was making a general point:

Wow, it's unfortunate that a female hockey coach who has more wins, championships, and longevity at a college was fired to save the college money, while her higher-paid male counterpart was retained. That sure seems unfair.

Furthermore, as I elaborated in the comments when commenter Joe stopped by, the unfairness seems especially compounded when we consider that the male coach of the men's team, by virtue of his gender and the gender composition of his team, is a beneficiary of the sport's world's historical exclusion, comparative lack of investment in, and marginalization of female athletes.

To my relatively lengthy response to Joe's rather simple argument that the revenue a sport brings in should be the primary determinant of a coach's salary, he simply retorted:
"I get it now. You're one of those who thinks every kid should get a trophy."
He chose not to comment further.

To me, the interaction was revelatory of a mindset that some men have. When feminists say that men benefit from certain privileges based on past mistreatment of women, what some men think is: Anything "more" that men have is actually due to men's superiority, so to suggest that women should have what men have is to give women something (like, say, a participation trophy) that they have not earned and do not deserve. 

They ignore all historical context, all other past and present explanations for unequal outcomes. They deem references to past oppressions to be unnecessary, touchy-feely dorkiness in a politically correct world gone awry.  And, even if, as in this case, the woman in question is objectively more accomplished than the higher-paid man, some men move the goal-posts and set new Objective Standards for what counts as The Best At Something.

Observation: When male sports fans talk about the greatest all time coaches, how often do you hear them talk about the coach in terms of revenue the team brought in? Never. They talk about championships, wins, molding great players and team synergy. Yet, when comparing and justifying higher salaries for male coaches compared to female coaches, team revenue is suddenly the all-consuming, numero uno criterion for coachly competence.

The lesson here is that some men can get really pissy when we stop collectively waving around the "Men Are Number 1" foam finger and start questioning their self-serving assumptions about their place in the world. Level the playing field? Nah - things are exactly as they should be. For them.

Lastly, as a meta-note and as I've said before, after 7 or so years of blogging, I've picked up a pretty good ability for knowing when a commenter is going to be a problem.  I'll try to share these patterns and clues with you all more often, because I think it could be helpful in many online interactions.

In Joe's first comment, he said:
"Why should she make as much or more than the men's coach? Do you think the women's hockey team at UMD generates as much revenue as the men's team? Honest question."
"Honest question."

To me, that qualifier of his purported motives told me that he assumed I would assume bad faith on his part. It's a similar approach to the infamous way some men precede their "un-PC" and "controversial" statements with feminists by saying, "Don't kill me for saying this" and "I'm gonna get clobbered for saying this."

It's an admission on the man's part that he thinks I, and other women, are not capable of interacting with him in a conversation about feminism in a respectful, reasoned, civil manner - and that we will, instead, react aggressively and unfairly toward him.

Nonetheless, I interacted with Joe in good faith, answering his questions, and giving him the opportunity to likewise engage in good faith. Quickly, his behavior, evasions, and immature retorts showed that his questions weren't honestly asked at all. When I engaged his questions with lengthy, reasoned responses he huffed out of the room with his "insult" about me supposedly being someone who thinks all kids should get a trophy.

His actions suggest that his real motive was, most likely, to play Socratic Question Master with me and others, leading the feminists to enlightenment with what he likely assumed to be his superior knowledge. He also likely wanted an aggressive reaction, as that - to him- would be self-fulfilling. When feminists don't engage men like him or "ban" them from our spaces, it cements in their minds that we aren't capable of objectively, reasonably, and civilly engaging their amazing, awesome Honest Questions.

The lesson is this - be wary of contrarian's who enter a conversation with 1 to 2-line retorts and who state their "honest" motives.  I find that the best way people show that they are engaging in good faith and honesty is by actually engaging in good faith and honesty, not by saying they are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blog Note

I'm going to be busy with some holiday and family stuff for the next week or so and won't have time to check in on the blog or comments during that time.

So, I'm going to set comments up so that they go to the moderation queue automatically.  I will approve comments when I'm back!

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Women's Hockey Coach Fired For High Salary, Made Less Than Male Counterpart

"Shannon Miller built the University of Minnesota Duluth's hockey program and turned it into a powerhouse. With five NCAA championships under her belt the last thing she expected was to be let go. 
"I'm heartbroken and I'm so disappointed that they would show me so much disrespect," Miller said. 
UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo said hard times forced them to make a hard decision. The University of Minnesota Duluth faces a $4.5 million dollar deficit. 
"We're at a point where we are not able to sustain the highest paid coach in Division I hockey's salary," Berlo said 
Miller's base salary this season is $215,000. Miller said she would have taken a pay cut but was never given a choice. 
The Bulldog's men's head hockey coach Scott Sandelin makes $265,000. Berlo wouldn't say if Sandelin will face a pay cut but did say the university reviews all contracts as they reach an end." (emphasis added)
Now, here I want to note that, oftentimes, in stories about women's sports, qualifiers are usually used to distinguish male from female athletes and coaches.

"The winningest coach in (women's) NCAA." "The fastest (female) runner." "The best (female) player."

Here, however, the UMD Athletic Director says that the female coach he fired was the highest paid coach in Division I hockey.  Yet, a mere two sentences later we learn that the woman in question, who has more wins, championships, and longevity at the college, still made significantly less than the men's hockey coach.

This situation is not unusual. It's just, of course, notable that her lower salary was deemed to be too high to allow her to continue on in her position, despite her many accomplishments.

Like I said yesterday, just another day in men being paid more than equally (or more) talented women.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shows About Men and Their Lady Helpers

My partner regularly watches Law & Order: SVU.  The other day, I noticed that Hulu describes the series like this:
"This hard-hitting and emotional series follows Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and his partner Olivia Benson (Emmy-winner Mariska Hargitay) of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Policy Department as they investigate sexually related crimes to bring the perpetrators to justice." (emphasis added)
Now, I've always thought of SVU as having an ensemble cast.  Or, alternately, if it's about any one cast member, it would be about Olivia (obvs). Elliot isn't even a character on the current season.

Yet, note how, by referencing Olivia in relation to Elliot, this description implies that Elliot is the center of the show and she's his sidekick.  The show, we are to believe, doesn't follow two detectives. It follows Elliot and "his partner." Who oh, by the way, happens to be an Emmy-winner.

Which, yes, also notable is that of the two actors, it is Mariska Hargitay who has far more accolades. Here, I counted 28 nominations (including Emmy and Golden Globes) and 8 wins for her. In contrast, Meloni has 4 nominations and 0 wins. But sure, it makes sense to center Elliot, because … um?

In related news:
"The ongoing Sony hacking scandal has brought many of the film studio’s secrets and transgressions to light, including one involving the earnings of the stars of “American Hustle,” the 2013 David O. Russell-directed film with local ties. In the latest leaked Sony e-mails, between Columbia Pictures president of business affairs Andrew Gumpert and Sony co-chair Amy Pascal, it was revealed that Jennifer Lawrenceand Amy Adams were paid less than their male costars despite both earning Academy Award nominations for their roles."
Just another day in men being centered and paid more than equally (or, let's be honest, more) talented female co-workers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Eric Puchner, in his article "Death Becomes Him":
Americans don’t like to talk about the inevitable: Our screens are filled with zombies, and yet speaking frankly about death is seen as “morbid” or “unhealthy.” Surely the recent Ebola panic is a product of this repression, a way of turning our own mortality into a foreign threat, an illegal immigrant landing on our shores. Death is embarrassing to us, even a bit unpatriotic. I’ve discovered this about my own fear of extinction. When I bring it up, people tend to shift in their chairs, as if holding in a fart. A look of impatience crosses their faces. Just as often, too, they can’t understand what the hell I’m talking about.
In addition to the substantive content of the article, in which the author accompanies a mortician on his day-to-day activities, I was drawn to the paradox in this quote.

We do seem to be a nation of contradictions.

Death is glorified and ever-present in our media, even as its inevitability is, in many, psychologically denied. Bullying is widely denounced in the wake of suicides and mass shootings even as any serious measures to address it are then later bemoaned as "political correctness gone awry." Women are pedestalized, and also terrorized and targeted online.  The troops are supported unless something more for them has to be done than stamping yellow ribbons on our cars.

I realize that even talking about these issues in a passive-voice sort of way is simplistic. The same people who do A aren't necessarily the same people who do B.

It seems, mostly, that the dominant, patriotic, (mostly) conservative narratives are not adequately aligned with reality. (I know, NEWSFLASH!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Who's Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition?

I started it last weekend and am enjoying it.  I prefer playing Dragon Age games as a Social Justice Warrior mage, usually human or elf.  In this case, I'm playing as a human mage.

I'm liking the bigger picture feature of The War Room, as well as encountering the new (and old) cast of characters. Yesterday, while playing, I encountered Krem for the first time, who's been getting positive reviews as a trans character.

For those interested, check out an article by Bioware writer Patrick Weekes, on the creation of Krem.

I know an "argument" against making characters in games more diverse, and not centering straight white cis dudes, is that games would henceforth suck and be ruined for all time. Here, when people say they want to see themselves reflected in games, critics sometimes respond by saying that then games wouldn't about The Game anymore, it would be about Political Correctness.

Yes, it's a silly, self-centered, and privileged view that many entitled dude gamers have.

The truth is, I wouldn't play Bioware games if the company didn't make great role-playing games.  I have quit games that I thought were bad or boring, within 15 minutes, never to look back if they weren't working for me.  For instance, Bayonetta - which, yes, has a central female character, but I don't like games that are just straight-up combat.  I like story, character development, plot, funny dialogue, and yes - fighting.

My gratitude to Bioware for trying and for, once again, getting it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reading Update

Okay, it seems it's December already, so I'm putting the final books of the year in my reading queue.

I had originally planned to finish the final book in Kushiel's Legacy next, but it turns out that I just found out Sarah Waters recently published a new book, The Paying Guests.  So, that will be next, likely followed by the Kushiel book!

Any other urgent book recommendations I should know about?  What are you all reading?

Finally, just as note regarding those who have been ScRuTiNiZiNg to find all of those hidden, sinister meaning behind my blog conversations, comment moderating, and moral values, I really don't know what else to tell ya, but, in general:

Oh Internet.