There have been many descriptions of the debate between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio that took place this September. They have come from the media and from voters who watched it on TV. All highlight the part of the debate where Lazio walks over to Clinton's podium with a paper in his hand and issues a challenge for her to sign a pledge against the use of soft money.
Some say that he "waved it in her face." Others said that he "invaded her space." But no one faulted the moderator, Tim Russet, for not enforcing his debate rule that each debater was to stay at her/his podium.
Women generally saw Lazio's actions as harassment, but not women who hate Hillary. Most men expressed the opinion that it was all part of the political game. You do what you have to do to win the votes and if your opponent can't take it, SHE should get out of the game.
We have written several articles on how individuals are trained to think and act according to their gender. A confrontation like this one is a classic case of the double standard fostered by our culture. When we examine how people would have felt if Clinton had approached Lazio in that manner, the whole scenario changes.
Aggressive women are just not tolerated in our culture, especially by other women. We expect women to be lady-like. If they aren't, we have labels for them like domineering or castrating bitch. A real woman [as defined by men] would not act that way.
By the same token, if Lazio had been on the receiving end and had backed away or teared up, he would have been called a sissy. A real man [as defined by men] would not back down to a woman. To make sure no one got that impression, Lazio went too far.
Women are in a double bind, damned if they do and damned if they don't. To add insult to injury, their greatest critics are other women. If they play by male rules, they are unfeminine. If they don't, they are losers. They must walk a fine line to get elected. Looking strong and competent while not perceived as threatening or assertive.
Whatever do we get out of these kinds of rigid gender role models that makes us cling to them despite our declarations that we want gender equality? Do they afford us some kind of protection because we still feel vulnerable? It has been said that "Giner Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did but she did it in high heels and backwards." Her performance didn't count for much in our culture -- because HE led.
Women have the vote and they will decide who will be the next president, and which political party will control congress. However, we still have not obtained the critical mass that we must have in order to mainline our issues. We must have more and more women running for government offices.
It has always been apparent that women's issues have never been high on most male candidate's radar screen. This exemplified by a frightening exchange between a woman and W. Bush at a Pennsylvania Town Meeting Q and A. At this point in his campaign, Bush had declared that he was seeking to regain the gender gap he'd recently lost to Al Gore.
The woman asked if he would support the reauthorization, now pending, of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. He answered, "Is it up for reauthorization now? Give me the facts," Bush told the woman, later saying, "I need to know more about that. Give me your name and address and I'll write you a letter." Obviously women's issues were not a priority for his campaign advisors so they didn't prep him -- a candidate actively seeking the women's vote.
Meanwhile, violence toward women continues to be sustained in our culture. Just check out the latest NIKE ad. And a seemingly innocuous publication called Men's Health magazine, ranks the most male-friendly and anti-male schools in America in a recent article filled with misinformation on sexual assault.
"Cranky Women's Studies Departments" that "produce angry young women" is a criteria the article uses for calling a school anti-male. Male friendly schools are defined as having winning athletic teams and attractive women. Men are advised to attend a school that "gives free reign for fraternities" and "have a tolerance for excessive drinking."
Excessive drinking? Since when has that been healthy for either males or females?
Looks as if this article and the publisher's information comes from a similarly-named anti-female organization active on the WEB, where fathers are kings and women are here to serve them:
http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/ is a DC male supremacy political group (oops "educational organization") that doesn't seem to actually focus on "men's health" except as a side issue to its general purposes. They do anti-VAWA, anti-feminist, anti-welfare, anti-divorced mother, etc. lobbying in D.C. and they've been affiliated with some of the other groups featured on http://www.gate.net/~liz/fathers/ such as the American Coalition of Fathers." [liz]
Not really the type of "health information" you'd want to bring home to the men and boys in your life, is it.
[For more on the Men's Health article, see here.]
Copyright 2000 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M
ACTION ALERT: Are Sexual Assault and Alcohol Abuse Good for Men's Health?
reprinted with permission
September 15, 2000
The September edition of Men's Health magazine features an 8-page "special report" ranking the ten most "male friendly" and "anti-male" schools in America. Much of the article can best be characterized the way author Lawrence Roy Stains describes UC Santa Cruz: "Mean, with a trend toward ugly." But some of it is downright dangerous, as when Men's Health presents misinformation about sexual assault.
To Men's Health, colleges are "anti-male" if they have "cranky" women's studies departments that produce "Angry Young Women." The magazine backs up a claim that Santa Cruz is "Male Hatred USA" by noting the school "boasts of having one of the largest women's studies programs in the nation."
Disturbingly, the Men's Health article counsels men to avoid colleges with strong policies against sexual assault; such schools "redefine rape so that all men are guilty" and have disciplinary systems that are "rigged against men." The magazine attacks schools that "parrot the feminist myths" about sexual assault. Bates College, for example, distributed a sexual violence handbook "repeating a long-discredited feminist canard--that one in four college women has been the victim of a rape or an attempted rape."
Actually, the 1-in-4 statistic came from a scientific survey conducted in 1987 by Dr. Mary Koss for the National Institute of Mental Health, which found that 28 percent of women in college experienced rape or attempted rape, and 15 percent had experienced rape, since age 14. While Koss' work has been attacked (Extra!, 11-12/93; Extra!, 9-10/94) by anti-feminist writers like Christina Hoff Sommers -- whose opinions are prominently featured by Men's Health -- Koss' findings, far from being "long-discredited," are corroborated by a 1999 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found that 1 in 5 female undergraduates had been raped in their lifetimes and 15 percent had been raped since age 15.
Men's Health goes on to cite Department of Education statistics from 1994 showing that "there was actually less than one forcible sex offense for every 1,000 students." This is an apples-to-oranges comparison, counting only reported, completed assaults that took place at college -- not all attempts since age 14. Most law enforcement agencies agree that sexual assault is a vastly underreported crime; the Senate Judiciary Committee has estimated 84 percent of rapes never get reported. Moreover, the Department of Education's one-time survey was hampered by many colleges tallying only those rapes brought to the attention of campus police, disregarding assaults disclosed to counselors or health services providers.
Men's Health requires comparatively little from "male-friendly" schools, suggesting they have winning athletic teams, attractive women ("We've never met an ugly girl from Texas A&M") and, as in the words of one Washington and Lee student, "a testosterone atmosphere... that permeates the whole environment." They should have "more courses on the Great Books than on 12 oppressed womyn writers of Borneo," since classes addressing gender are generally "nothing less than frontal assaults on men."
Students should look for schools that give free reign for fraternities and have a tolerance for excessive drinking; at a "male-friendly" school, "you can play beer pong without campus security confiscating the Ping-Pong table. (It happened at Middlebury.)"
The fact is that most colleges have cracked down on drinking games and fraternity hazing because of concern for male and female students' safety after years of alcohol-related injuries, assaults and deaths on campuses across the country, such as two alcohol-related fatalities at MIT and Louisiana State in 1997. "We have a policy against destructive drinking games, like ones where players have to drink until they fall down, to protect our students' health and safety," Middlebury spokesman Phil Benoit says. "Alcohol abuse is a very serious instigator of other problems -- sexual assault is more prevalent when alcohol is involved; also, students can become alcoholics early in life from abusive college drinking. We don't want that for our students."
It is ironic that a magazine supposedly dedicated to keeping men physically and mentally healthy would advocate against policies promoting safe and responsible alcohol consumption, consensual sexual activity, and diverse intellectual challenges.
More ironic is that the stated mission of Men's Health's publisher, Rodale, is "to show people how they can use the power of their bodies and minds to make their lives better." Rodale's website (http://www.rodale.com) features glowing rhetoric about an "ideal" world "guided by the spirit of cooperation," where "centered, self-reliant people...are capable of creating a better world for themselves."
ACTION: Write to Rodale and ask them how an article attacking women's studies departments, sexual assault policies, and limitations on alcohol abuse serves their vision of individuals cooperating to create a healthier world. You might also request that Men's Health run an article examining alcohol abuse and sexual assault as actual threats to healthy life on campus.
As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone.
Please cc email@example.com with your correspondence.
Chair & CEO, Rodale Press, Inc.
33 East Minor Street, Emmaus, PA 18098-0099