Thursday, September 01, 2005

Men Need Not Apply

Multiple Choice:

iFeminists' Wendy Mcelroy takes on the complaints of some feminists about a man holding the job of:

(a) Towel boy at Shapes fitness
(b) Interim Director of a New England Battered Women's Shelter
(c) Body cavity searcher at Arizona's Maximum Prison for Women
(d) Supreme Court Justice Nominee

The answer is b.

Transition House, New England's first battered women's shelter, has started a search for a new director. The search is "gender neutral," and the interim director is a man. This has apparently riled up certain feminists.

Feminists who believe that gender must be a deciding factor in who addresses domestic violence and how it should be addressed, are appalled. They view the very prospect of hiring a male director as violating the "mission" of the shelter movement: to assist battered women and children.

In short, the "women-only feminists" believe males should be precluded from major employment and entry at shelters. Indeed, women's shelters often deny entry to male children over 12-years-old. (The legality of doing so at tax-funded shelters is dubious, to say the least.)
Transition House is getting some grief.

In a protest letter to the Transition House Board, the feminist organization About Women explained that the shelter must be a space where "women could feel safe from male intrusion and could openly unburden themselves of the experiences of male violence they had undergone without fear of censure, criticism or inhibition by male presence."
Apparently, the director does not even have to interact with women at the shelters. The argument about "some women" being so brutalized by men that the presence of men may be disturbing has some appeal, but the concept of denying someone an administration and public advocacy job because of gender seems inappropriate for an anti-discrimination group.

In fact, I wonder how far the logic could extend. If the abuser were of a particular race, would fear of "[insert race] men" be acceptable, or only "men." I recall once seeing an Oprah (many years ago) while home from school in which a women who had been raped by a black man talked about how any strange black man made her nervous. Oprah was indignant. That was racist talk. Not sexist mind you. Just racist.

Personally, I think the shelter should have some flexibility in its hiring practices on this subject, at least as to the law. I think this applies to other jobs as well -- prison guard jobs (for both men and women prisons) come to mind.

Nonetheless, I applaud Transition House's board though for recognizing the fact that not all men are abusive to women and can adequately run and advocate on the subject of domestic violence. Just because some abusers are men (as are some victims, and some women abuse women), men are not the enemy, and should not be excluded from jobs while advocating what is right.

The line of thinking of those opposed to a man being the director reminds me of a Henry Rollins Band song -- Wrong Man, from the album Weight:

You say we're all the same
You don't even know my name
Sometime somewhere some man hurt you
I'm one of them so I get stuck with the blame
You think you know about me
You don't know a damn thing about me

I'm not all men, just one man, I'm not all men

Of course, I'm not suggesting that Henry Rollins should be the greeter at the door of a battered woman's shelter.

I'm not sure he the right "look" for the job, though I'm sure he would perform the job just fine.


At 5:58 AM, Blogger Cassandra said...

It sounds to me like the ancient Persians had the right idea...what they're looking for something along the lines of a eunich.


At 6:34 AM, Blogger Pile OnĀ® said...

Henry Rollins looks all mean and tough, but inside, not even really deep down he is a pansy a**ed liberal dillhole. I am sure he would greet real good.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Cassandra said...

Oh Pile. Admit it - you are just, like, so jealous of his tats.

OK, he *is* a dillhole.


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