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Episode 68 — Feminism


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#1 Earwolf Admin

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 11:01 PM

Men & Women, this week’s Professor Blastoff is for you! We check in with the professor and get into the topic of Feminism with our guest Sascha Cohen! Sascha joins Tig, Kyle, and David to discuss marriage today, gender roles, and the many end goals of feminism. Oh yeah, there’s poo & pee stories in here as well!

#2 Brendan H

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 08:31 AM

Fact check time! Sascha stated "so many jobs that are female dominated, like teaching and nursing and childcare are paid very low wages."
The avearage annual salary in the US is $47,000. Registered nurses earn, on average, $50,000 per year, and certain specializations easily average $80,000 per year, even up to $135,000 per year. The average salary for a teacher in the United States is $56,000 per year. Both of these jobs also usually have good benefits as well.
Child care pay is low, averaging under $20,000 annually, but women often get into child care while they have young children of their own, which enables them to work out of their own home and take care of their own child/children while earning income caring for other children. In addition to the financial benefits of working out of their own home, it also means they don't need to pay for childcare themselves, which would be necessary if they had a different job. And there are the intangible benefits of staying home to care for your own children. So only one of the three occupations Sacha listed would be considered "very low paying" in my eyes, and the one job that does pay very low can have added benefits aside from its salary.

Sorry if that all seemed a little unnecessary, but that statement bugged me, and I wanted to clarify the facts. Still love the Blastoff!

#3 Amanda

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 10:47 AM

"Ethical"! That's what the Whole Foods coral product isn't! I think. Just takin' a stab.

(I sure hope that doesn't come up somewhere in the podcast, because I will feel mighty silly. And/or delete this post.)

And yes, I am ashamed to say I created an account specifically to post this. Shouting at the laptop didn't seem to get my point across.

#4 Brendan H

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 11:53 AM

I remember the same feeling of anticipation Tig mentioned with the CBS "Special" rotating graphic and music. So I just googled it, and found it on YouTube:



Hope you all rock out to those Latin drums for five seconds too!

#5 Dan Engler

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:06 PM

View PostAmvk, on 04 September 2012 - 10:47 AM, said:

"Ethical"! That's what the Whole Foods coral product isn't! I think. Just takin' a stab.

I'd wager Tig was going for "sustainable".

#6 scozzie

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:14 PM

Gotta say I found David embarrassing in this episode.

In his pondering on male vs female artists and architects. He asked, "is it just because men are better at these things?" just ignoring centuries of sexism.

I think a very succinct illustration of sexism (at just 1 point in a career) is given by studies that examine the difference between blind and non-blind orchestra auditions (whether the judges can see if a musician is male or female):

"Using data from the audition records, the researchers found that blind auditions increased the probability that a woman would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 percent. The likelihood of a woman's ultimate selection is increased several fold, although the competition is extremely difficult and the chance of success still low."


Now multiply the non-blind version by many events over the woman's life. When thinking of famous artists of the past include much more severe sexism than today and think about whether the gate keepers (in training, buying, judging) of the time would accept on merit "blindly on merit" the work of female artists vs male artists. (As just one example, the churches were very important early art buyers, I am sure the all male power at the top of churches were especially eager to support female artists who were equally talented to men.)


David made many cringeworthy statements throughout this episode. I think several times he described women as being (I can't remember if he used the word "obsessed") with diamonds and dresses.


I hope you guys will consider having some other feminists on (Sasha Cohen is probably great but she didn't seem to want to delve into anything and seemed to comment more on the different views about feminism and different types of feminism.)

#7 Sascha C.

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 02:10 PM

Hey, it's Sascha Cohen...I thought I'd join in on the comments here!

Brendan H - It is true that some teachers and nurses can make solidly middle-class salaries, depending on the cost of living in their region as well as other factors (such as whether one is teaching kindergarden, high school, or college, if one works for a public or private institution, etc). It may have been more accurate to describe these jobs as "relatively" rather than "very" low-paying. Also note that teachers are typically not paid for the non-classroom hours they spend grading papers and planning lessons, time-consuming tasks that are required for the job.

The other issue that I didn't go into on the podcast is that the professions I mentioned are considered low-status jobs and are undervalued in our culture (see, for instance, the prestige and respect that doctors are given compared to nurses, the demonizing of teacher's unions, the assumption that effectively taking care of children is so easy that teenage babysitters can do it, etc). Interestingly, this relates to something else you mentioned: the "intangible benefits of staying home to care for your children." One of the reasons female-dominated professions are not compensated as well as male-dominated ones has to do with the idea that things like child-care are inherently rewarding for women and thus do not need to be as financially rewarding. You do not find similar justifications for jobs that mostly men perform.

#8 pterodactylcackle

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 03:29 PM

I agree with scozzie in that David said a few things that made me cringe. I really don't think it's a fault of his, but there does seem to be a tendency among white men to not see their own privilege and to as a result say ignorant things. There can be a sense of "well, men are victims of sexism to the same extent that women are, and therefore female rights issues have no ground to stand on" (case in point: Reddit). It's true that sexism and gender roles can hurt men, too, but to say that men and women have had equal opportunities and representation throughout history and even today is simply not accurate.

#9 Steven Yates

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 04:03 PM

I thought Sascha did a great job as a guest! As an old fart who was raised in another time and place, I won't embarrass myself trying to sound knowledgeable on this topic. I am for equal pay for equal work.

I agree with Dan Engler (above) that Tig was searching for the word "sustainable". Am I wrong to feel the tiniest twinge since I was the guest on the "Sustainability" episode?

I continue to be blown away by Tig's grace and courage in sharing her thoughts and feelings at this time. I pray for her every day and urge others to do likewise (or send out good thoughts and vibes). Kyle sounds like the best friend a girl (or guy) could have. No disrespect to David and Aaron. Love to all in the hatch.

Welp, that's been comment.

#10 billygg

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 06:37 PM

I thought Sascha did well too. There are a lot of things to criticze about our western patriarchial society, and she outlined a bunch of them, but it's a comedy podcast so she couldn't get too solemn or didactic. I think someone unaware of the issues faced by feminism would have taken away some good things from this episode, plus it was very funny. Good luck Tig!

#11 onlyrocketeer

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 07:51 PM

I thought Sascha was really interesting, and you could tell that she knew what she was talking about. However her response to something David said bothered me. David said something along the lines of: Most feminist don't actually believe women can do everything men can do because they're biologically/physically inferior (our bodies are not as big). Sascha agreed with him, but my understanding is that many feminists challenge the idea that women are biologically inferior to men and are physically limited to what they can do.

I remember this topic being discussed in a women & gender intro course I took. The text argued that perhaps the reason women cannot perform physically the way men do is because they aren't encouraged to be as physical, to play sports and lift weights, to challenge their body's limits, the way men are. Men are taught to be physical and active from an early age, while girls are taught to be soft (not too muscular or "masculine looking") and delicate. They looked at the records for track runners (I think), and it showed that over decades, women continued to break records that showed substantial improvement year after year, where as men sort of plateaued in what they could achieve physically, with only slight improvement over time. So basically, as time went on and it became more acceptable for women to participate in the same kind of physical activities as men, their physical capabilities continued to increase substantially. It's possible the only reason women's bodies aren't as big or strong as men is because women have been conditioned through culture for hundreds of years not to be this way, and biology has nothing to do with it.

I'm saying this all from memory, but I think I got the gist of it down. I couldn't tell if Sascha was trying to correct this by explaining gender essentialism. I was just confused when she readily agreed with David because it had not been my experience that most feminist accepted biological inferiority.

#12 Diggums

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 08:16 PM

Sorry...I have to go with Jim Carrey's Jimmy Stewart forever and always.



#13 Sascha C.

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 08:34 PM

Hi onlyrocketeer - I don't think David meant biological "inferiority" as much as "difference." (At least I hope not!) And I think it's pretty hard to argue that men and women are physically the same in terms of stature, musculature, hormones, etc - the questions are whether these differences should be used to limit women's opportunities in the world, how pronounced and meaningful they are, and if they mean that one sex is somehow "better" than the other one. I may be shorter and less physically strong than a man but that does not mark me as "inferior." And there are also plenty of women who are in fact taller and stronger than many men, so human variation is something to take into account as well.

I agree that most behavioral gender distinctions can be attributed to socialization and culture, but I cannot reasonably say that the biological, physical differences between male and female bodies are also results of that. How could this be proven anyway? I'm not aware of feminists who would argue such a thing, but if they exist we would probably disagree!

#14 Kevin Irmiter

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Posted 04 September 2012 - 11:47 PM

View PostSascha C., on 04 September 2012 - 02:10 PM, said:

Interestingly, this relates to something else you mentioned: the "intangible benefits of staying home to care for your children." One of the reasons female-dominated professions are not compensated as well as male-dominated ones has to do with the idea that things like child-care are inherently rewarding for women and thus do not need to be as financially rewarding. You do not find similar justifications for jobs that mostly men perform.


There is also the fact that men are more likely to put priority on making money, and gravitate towards jobs that pay well. They're also more likely to be competitive and push to get their own salaries higher.

It gets messy when you talk about differences between men and women beyond the physical. People have a tendency to see differences as absolute when really we're talking about a statistical difference. For example, men are taller than women but we all know that it doesn't mean every man is taller than every woman. And yet when it comes to things like "women are better at housework and cooking than men" or "men are better at driving trucks than women," we just assume it means that all women should do housework, or all truck drivers should be male. But even if there are overall differences in abilities, you still have to judge everyone as an individual.

When it comes to things like, say, housework, I don't believe it should be about everything being 50-50 so much as about the people involved doing the amounts that makes them happy. It's okay if the woman is doing more housework, as long as the man is making sure that she doesn't feel like all the burden is being unfairly placed on her. Like maybe he works in other areas, or maybe it's just a matter of the woman saying, hey, I know you hate this a lot more than I do, so I don't mind doing most of the housework, but every once in awhile just do a little bit to give me a break? I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that, as long as it's a conclusion that two people, in an equal relationship, come to and are satisfied with.

And it may be that the ratio that works best for society overall is 55/45. or 60/40, or whatever, but in the end I don't think that's what's important. I think that shouldn't be important so much as that women and men should feel that in their household, both parties have equal say in how much of the housework is done, and both parties need to have it in their head that they want to make sure this is fair to everyone.

Same thing with jobs. Obviously a lot more men than women want to be truck drivers or steel workers, so we will probably always have more men in those jobs than women. To me the actual ratio is not important so much as, are women given the same chances as men based on their qualifications? Are the industries making an effort to make the environment friendly to female employees? These are the questions we need to really look at.

EDIT: I also am a fan of Gloria Steinem! I love that she is this really intelligent woman, but not afraid to say batshit insane stuff every once in awhile. Like, it shows that she isn't holding herself back. And yeah, she has said some things that go over the edge sometimes, but it does get people's attention and there usually is some truth behind it. I wish we had more women (and men) like her that were smart, but didn't sugarcoat the parts of their views that can be kind of messy or weird-seeming at times. I hope this doesn't come off as a back-handed putdown, either, because I really do love the woman.

EDIT #2 (I keep thinking of things!): On the topic of "sexual power," I had the thought that a lot of this supposed power is really men deciding to give their power to women they find sexually attractive. So while it can give women an advantage within the male-dominated power structure. I think it's very rare that women actually use their sexuality to make men do anything against their will. And of course, if we had more women and fewer men in power, this would be greatly diminished.

#15 Gym Sockerman

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 01:19 AM

Wait a minute...Tig saw...more movies? How has this bombshell been so glossed over?

Another reason to abolish weddings: They are a huge waste of money and boring for almost every person involved in the ceremony.

Loving the episode so far. Sascha's a fantastic guest for PB. Well-versed on the subject being discussed and still realizing that it's a comedy podcast. Perfect fit.

#16 onlyrocketeer

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 06:31 AM

Thanks for responding Sascha. I think this text was presented to me as way to combat against the argument that women are physically weaker or limited, and using that as a way to justify keeping women out of certain jobs. It could be the case that my professors had me read this text, not as something scientifically proven, but as something to think about, that there are possibly other factors that contribute to biological, physical differences between men and women.

I'm 98% sure I'm not making this up off the top of my head. If you're interested in seeing this text, I can look into it. :)

#17 Luke HENDERSON!

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 07:52 AM

View Postscozzie, on 04 September 2012 - 12:14 PM, said:

Gotta say I found David embarrassing in this episode.

David made many cringeworthy statements throughout this episode.


View Postpterodactylcackle, on 04 September 2012 - 03:29 PM, said:

I agree with scozzie in that David said a few things that made me cringe.



Just remember guys, I've heard David in the past say that his role on the podcast is to be the devil's advocate on all topics. He's always the one who says the unpopular thing or brings up a point that may be 'cringe worthy'.

#18 Elenisima

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 09:22 AM

David stated that women have power because men pursue them for sex. I honestly don't know what men are thinking when they say things like this. I have never met a woman who uses her vagina to wield power over men. What does that even mean? That we get offers if free drinks from guys who may or may not rape us and kill us? That could all be rich hookers if we wanted? If the vagina is so valuable and gives us so much power, why aren't women in charge? Why don't they own all the property and make all the laws? It's disturbingly telling that David could think this, much less say it aloud. The first time a strange man asked me to have sex with him (for money!) I was 11. It did not make me feel powerful.

#19 Kickpuncher

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 10:08 AM

I don't have a whole lot to add to the discussion, just wanted to say that it's great to see the guest pop in and participate in a good, thoughtful thread.

#20 Brendan H

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 10:57 AM

I think we can all agree on one thing:

Women be shoppin'!

Eh? Eh? Am I right? Who's with me?





I'm sorry, I'll show myself out...