Take it like a man!

One of my pet peeves, particularly in the summer, is that female attorneys seem to try to get away with dressing so casually as compared to the men.  The male attorneys that I see are universally in coats and ties, and usually in suits.  (Makes it a lot easier to spot the pro ses and clients.)  But the women often show up, even when they are arguing motions, in sleeveless tops, slacks, unstructured skirts, skimpy sandals, etc.   They don’t look lawyerly; they look like they’re heading to the mall or a casual dining restaurant. 

The way I see it, if you want to be treated like a man, and I’m sure that these female attorneys do, you should ensure that you are presenting yourself as professionally as the men are.  I know it’s hot, but, for crying out loud, be thankful that you aren’t expected to wear a tie! 

Anyway, on that note, one of my new favorite blogs is Corporette, which bills itself as “a fashion and lifestyle blog for over-acheiving chicks.”  They generally discuss things to wear to work, and also foray into work-related dilemmas, often with an emphasis on the female perspective (for example, a guest blogger did a post on breast pumping at work, and a recent discussion went into how to control your tears if you feel the urge to cry at work).  I think it usually strikes a good balance between recognizing the uniqueness qualities of being a woman but not expecting special treatment or worship because of sex. 

The Corporette comments very often mention the book “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,” recommending it as a warning against things that professional women tend to do to hurt their chances at workplace success.  Since I’m going to be out in the “real world” of law pretty soon, I thought that might be a good read.  After all, I’m always told that I am nice.  (For example, recently, on Althouse, I told a commenter who was going on about Sarah Palin’s “big tits” to stfu with the misogyny, and commenters chimed in that if I was telling him to stfu, he must really be out of line.  If I’m known as “the nice one” when using an assumed name on an internet political blog, I must be an absolute peach in real life.)

Anyway, I was looking at buying the book, but then I thought, would a man read a book called “Nice Boys Don’t Get the Corner Office”?  That sounds kind of lame; men, particularly successful men, don’t usually navel gaze like that.  Or, if they do, they don’t let on.  So, maybe girls that get the corner office don’t read books like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office?  Now I’m torn.

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What would a “real black president” do?

I would expect that he would do one of many things, depending on the type of president that he is and situation.  Because I believe that black people are individuals who can think for themselves.  Bill Maher, however, thinks that all “real” black people are a cartoon stereotype

“I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt so you can see the gun in his pants. That’s — (in black man voice) ‘we’ve got a motherfu**ing problem here?’ Shoot somebody in the foot.”

Now, I realize that Maher is just a shock jock without the radio show, and we’re really just giving him what he wants by paying attention to him, but I really want to know when society is going to stop finding these types of stereotypes funny or “edgy” or whatever adjective is describing Bill Maher these days.  We’ve had two black Secretaries of State.  We have a black Attorney General.  We have numerous black CEOs, bosses, neighbors, and employees.  A black man (yeah, he’s real!) is the president of the United States.  None of them act like a cartoon stereotype. 

The other day I caught the movie “Soul Plane.”  (Dont’ ask why.)  While it had a few funny parts, the whole theme was that, if there were a “black” airline (why, 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, would we even want such a thing?), it would be like this cartoon stereotype (but with more degrading images of women).  If I could count all of the times that I’ve heard the N word in my life until then, it wouldn’t be as many times as it was said in the movie (and I live in the south).  Throughout the weekend, I’ve been trying to think of something that I could say about this movie that wouldn’t be racist, and I couldn’t.  If I believed that blacks were really like they were portrayed in the movie (which I absolutely do not), I would want segregation, too.  And I’m sure that the producers of that movie weren’t a bunch of honky redneck southerners. 

Why do people keep snickering and accepting these ridiculous portrayals of black men?  How much does this impact our ability to move past thinking judging people by the color of their skin?  And why does this stuff keep coming from people who are supposed to be “enlightened?”

“Family Responsibility Discrimination” is not the same as Sexism

I’m all for equality, but for equality of opportunity, not some feel good, “let’s move all the targets around so that everyone in the special groups gets a prize” equality, so things like this from a Slate article about Working Mother Magazine’s list of best places to work, frustrate me to no end:

Novartis isn’t alone in having serious dissonance between its official policies and the experiences of its female workers. Thirty-six companies that have been on Working Mother‘s 100 Best Companies list have faced “family responsibilities discrimination” suits filed by employees who are pregnant or care for young children, sick family members, or aging parents, according to Calvert. Plaintiffs prevailed in 15 of those cases, including in suits against Deloitte & Touche and Ernst & Young, two accounting firms often heralded for their efforts to retain women by instituting family-friendly policies.

In many ways, Novartis fits right in with patterns observed in this emerging legal area. With more than 2100 family responsibilities discrimination cases having taken place so far, lawyers in the field have begun to make classifications among them, coining terms like “maternal wall discrimination” to describe cases involving working mothers, “new supervisor syndrome,” in which a working parent doesn’t run into trouble until a new boss comes along, or “second child bias.” (Ditto, except it’s a second baby that comes along.)

I”ve done a lot of research on employment discrimination, but I have to admit that I have not seen the term “family responsibility discrimination” before.  I don’t understand why, if an employee has other responsibilities, whether they be to family, a second job, a hobby, or anything else, that interfere with the job that the employer needs done, the employer is somehow wrong for taking that into account.

Women will never get ahead as long as they keep claiming the mantel of family responsibility for their own, because an employer who needs an employee in a high level position needs that employee’s responsibility to be work.  Obviously, in most families with small children, there are going to be important responsibilities that must be attended to, and those responsibilities will sometimes have to come before one person’s job.  This is why it is foolish to think that a two people can both be full service parents and high achievers in their career as well.  One member of the family must put his or her career on pause occasionally, which may mean, and should mean, that you will be less important to your employer.  Unless you happen to be married to a senator, an employer simply isn’t going to pay big bucks for a job in which the employee is not vital to the organization. 

Individual families must work out which party will carry this role, or find a way to divide it, with both the family positives and the career negatives going to each party.  Someone’s career must suffer if there are family responsibilities to attend to.  Women do themselves a sexist disservice to assume that that person must always be the woman, and to expect employers to simply ignore and absorb the resulting costs.

Looking for Hate in All the Wrong Places, Part II: A Walk in the Park

(Note: Part one of this piece is here)

     

Here’s what I didn’t see at the Chattanooga Tax Day Tea Party.  I didn’t see a single person questioning the president’s birth certificate.  Although I went deliberately looking for it, I saw absolutely nothing that indicated or implied violence. I not only saw no racism, I saw no references to the president’s race whatsoever.  There were no depictions of the president as The Joker (although I’m still unclear about why that’s offensive), a monkey, Hitler, or a witch doctor.  I neither saw nor heard any hint of vulgarity, save for one speaker who mentioned that the group has been called “teabaggers.”  I didn’t even see a confederate flag, and, in this area, it’s hard to drive down the interstate without seeing one of those.    

No one made threats (besides those of retribution at the voting booth), no one threw eggs, no one was arrested.  Beyond any doubt, no one crashed this Tea Party.  The most hateful sign I saw was one carried by a 12-13 year old boy, a quickly made creation of poster board and a black marker, which stated “Keith O. is the worst person in the world.”  (Just in case you’re not one of the approximately 6 people who watch Keith Olbermann’s show, he does a regular segment naming someone he disagrees with as “the worst person in the world.”  That is, he does this when he’s not giggling like a schoolgirl that people he disagrees with are transgendered or deserve to be called misogynistic names.) On the whole, it was like any other springtime event in the park.  The crowd was mostly elderly folks or families with young children; they sat in camping chairs or on blankets, some with umbrellas to hide from the hot sun.  Children and adults played Frisbee or tossed footballs, kids cooled off in the nearby fountain.  The perimeter was dotted with booths: vendors sold buttons and tee-shirts, local restaurants supplied food and drinks, candidates for office sold themselves.     

 
 
 

A few folks were on the kooky side, no doubt.  One man wandered around in a Captain America Halloween costume, complete with lumpy muscles, holding a sign which stated “Cut Spending Immensely Demons of Congress.”  Another, dressed as Jesus, if Jesus had been known to wear a dirty bathrobe with a leather belt and Birkenstocks, held a sign that read “Jesus: Libertarian.”  A man dressed in motorcycle leather, representing the Constitutional Defenders, preached some rather dubious tales of alleged liberty violations to all who would listen.  A group of several elderly mall-walkers held a sign proclaiming “Don’t Tax Me, Bro!”     

 
Jesus + Captain America= Awesome!

 Although we had no crashers, we did have a tenacious group of counter-protesters.  Well, “group” might be too strong a word; a college-aged hipster and a middle aged woman waved signs that said “Tax the Rich” and “Troops Home Now,” while another young man or two meandered about nearby, apparently too shy (and by shy, I mean embarrassed) to join in.  These folks were periodically confronted by elderly men, clearly veterans, who asked them if they had served, pointed out that they have worked for what they have, and otherwise told them what’s what.  The oldsters supported their right to speak, though, and no hard feelings seemed to follow.     

Even while disagreeing, they still got along

   

We didn't have crashers, but folks were certainly ready for them Even while disagreeing, they still got along

   

Counter-Protesters- Cute!

   

The event was unbelievably well-run.  Numerous volunteers, many in tee-shirts that read “Tyranny Response Team,” wandered the crowd.  They forbid politicians from politicking away from their booths, handed out booklets containing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution like they were Gideon New Testaments, and warned against yelling when the conversation between the counter-protesters and vets got louder to avoid being drowned out by the din.      

The speakers were mostly ho-hum local media folks.  The winner of an essay contest read his piece, someone spoke on the Second Amendment, another on the Fair Tax, another on liberty.  A ladies choir sang.  The crowd was so polite that I often felt bad about walking around to take pictures or updating my Twitter feed during the speeches.  The announcer warned us to respect the children and families by keeping our signs and comments polite and not to engage any crashers, but, in this crowd, there was clearly no need for concern. One the whole, the event was incredibly nice.  It was not a bit like the protests of my beloved sixties depictions, and it was nothing at all like the hate filled images that anti-tea partiers would like for you to believe.  It was, I dare to say, even a little bit boring.  More like a fair than a rally, more like a local park event than a protest.  I’d take kids to it in a heartbeat.  Heck, I wouldn’t take my grandparents, because they would come off too rowdy and vulgar.  (To be fair, they are Italian).  I went looking for bad behavior; I found absolutely none at all.    UPDATE: This piece is published in NewsBlaze here.  If you’re wondering where the right place is to look for hate, look no further than the French Quarter following a fundraiser for LA republican Governor Bobby Jindal, where a young volunteer and her boyfriend were savagely beaten in an attack that was apparently politically motivated.  I’m sure ABC, NBC, CNN, and Bill Clinton will be right on it.  I’m sure that all of the Dems in Congress are going to condemn it, just as soon as they get around to it . . .

Maybe a Woman Can’t Handle It

A review of What Sex is a Republican? Stories from the Front Lines in American Politics and How You Can Change the Way Things Are Terri McCormick, M.A., former Wisconsin state congresswoman.  Published by The Capital Press. 

Everybody knows that politics is broken and filled with corruption.  Everybody wants to change the way things are.  Terri McCormick entered the world of politics with the intent to do just that. 

Ms. McCormick started her political career by working to get a charter school law passed in Wisconsin, working against a great deal of opposition from teachers’ unions and other groups dedicated to the status quo.  She tells several harrowing tales about the resistance she faced from those who wanted to retain the status quo.  Particularly disturbing is a tale about her daughter, apparently because of her mother’s activism, had her desk moved to the back corner of the classroom and filled with boxes, presumably at the hands of a teacher who wanted to single her out.  On another occasion, an anonymous phone call warned her to check under her car before strapping the kids in.

Although these incidents are striking and legitimately disturbing, most of the rest of Ms. McCormick’s war stories fall flat.  Ms. McCormick presents virtually every case of opposition against her candidacy or her propositions as if it as well were a personal and unfair attack against her.  One incident, for example, involves her publically disagreeing with the Joint Finance Chair’s criticism of the governor.  Although she presents this issue as if she faced some sort of harsh and unfair retribution for daring to speak out, the story culminates with nothing more than a couple of her party members being critical of her.  Similarly, when describing her visit to Washington in an attempt to run for a national seat, Ms. McCormick spends a great deal of time decrying one sitting senator’s unethical behavior, which turns out to amount to nothing more than him telling her that he would be supporting her opponent.  Her outrage at the party and its treatment of her simply does not ring true, and is difficult to sympathize with, leaving me to wonder whether her lack of success was the result of her own weaknesses and thin skin, rather than any unfair outside forces. 

Throughout the book, Ms. McCormick presents herself as a populist, and asserts the values of grassroots-based populism.  However, in stark contrast to her expressed love of “the people,” Ms. McCormick makes numerous attacks on the credibility of bloggers, always speaking in broad generalities with no specific examples.  She ignores the extraordinary number of times that the “elite” media has mislead its viewers, and makes a case for us to trust the media based only on its alleged credibility.  In my mind, this reads as if Ms. McCormick has a chip on her shoulder about bloggers and is somewhat disingenuous about her love of populism. This, when combined with the stories above, lead the reader to question whether her biases are only based around those that have supported her verses those who have not. 

Indeed, the title of this book is perhaps most misleading.  Although she occasionally pays lip service to ideas involving sex and gender, and sometimes, when describing so failure of support, she throws out the question (without an answer) “Was it about sex?”, she never once gives a credible reason to believe that any of the actions against her were based on her gender.  In this way, her assertions appear no different from Obama supporters asserting that opposition to his policies are founded in racism.  From a description of the book provided by the publisher, some opponents of the GOP may hope that this book will reveal some hidden sexism that pervades its ranks.  They will be sorely disappointed. 

Approximately the first three quarters of the book are largely devoted to Ms. McCormick’s stories from the front lines of politics.  The remainder, however, is devoted to explanations and guidelines devoted to the second promise, how we can change the way things are.  Although many of the examples given are generalized and somewhat uninspired (“get involved!” “vote!”), she also provides a great deal of explanation as to how a political campaign is actually run. She encourages all who are interested to get involved and run for office at the local level.  She encourages people who want to make changes and solve problems to run for local office based on grassroots efforts.  Where all of that encouragement would be nice but somewhat banal, she separates this book by actually providing an action plan that describes, from start to finish, how such a campaign can be run and won.  Additionally, she provides examples and instructions involving how bills can be written and passed in order to allow her readers to take action.  These instructions and examples, things that I have always been curious about but do not believe to be widely available, could make this book unusually valuable to those who are interested in making a difference.  This may make up for the book’s other weaknesses.

It drives me crazy that this is a trend now

My husband and I got engaged during my sophmore year in college, and married the summer between my junior and senior years.  He had dropped out of college, with 4 semesters under his belt, the year before we met, but has held a couple of retail management jobs that he excells at, as his subordinants and superiors alike never miss an opportunity to tell me. 

So we had always at least considered the idea that I would be the primary breadwinner and higher earner.  But when I graduated college with a B.S. degree in the truest sense of the word, and no clear idea of what to do next, we sort of hit a standstill.  I got a good but not great job at an insurance company; he continued to manage retail; we earned similar salaries and were happy and good, but stagnant and stuck.

I had always excelled in academia, and when I flirted with the idea of law school, he supported me wholehartedly.  The insurance job was fine, but neither one of us could leave to raise children, and as we matured, we had begun to both take on a Dr. Laura-like attitude that day care was certainly no place for babies.  So I would go to law school; I would get a lawyer job, and he would raise the kids.  (At least to those completely unable to anticipate the disaster that would hit the legal market), it made perfect sense. 

Most of my law school classmates gave it lip service as a good idea, but I could see that they thought it something that they  would never do; after all, the females would marry up, ot at least equal, and shun the “lower classes” who lacked a degree. 

But now, the New York Times tells me that everyone’s doing it.  (via Ann Althouse) And, of course, that it is full of problems we must analyze and navel-gaze to death. 

Related: Dr. Helen writes of an article about “operational sex ratios” (where one sex outnumbers the other, as is found among college-educated women). 

The rest of the article seems to go on about how women cannot find guys suitable enough for them because they (the women) are too highly educated and too “high level” [my words] for the men they date.

Hmm, so if I were in the market today, with a J.D., I would have a world of lesser-educated fellows for the taking?  Damn. 

Kidding, kidding.  Since I met my fellow when I was a mere freshman in college, and he’s still the one I would pick, no question, I must have won the freakin’ lottery.

Breast-possesser Wins Oscar

This article from NewsBlaze is basically a summary of the Oscars, but the headline caught my attention: “Kathryn Bigelow Advances Achievement of Women with Hurt Locker”

Now, to be fair, I’m glad that Hurt Locker got a lot of good attention.  I personally haven’t been to the movies since Sweeney Todd was in theaters (what can I say, I’ve got a thing for offbeat, uber-violent musicals.  And Johnny Depp*.  I’m not asking you to understand.)  But I’ve heard pretty good things about Hurt Locker.  If I wanted to see a movie, maybe I’d consider that one.  (OK, I do really want to see Alice in Wonderland, but we’re getting off track.) 

It’s just that I want the best director to win; not the best woman.  Was the academy swayed by the urge to pick the first woman winner?  I guess we’ll never know whether Ms. Bigelow legitimately earned this award. 

* It’s not that I find him attractive; I don’t. Far too pretty for my tastes.  I just like him.  Again, not asking you to understand.