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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Making Men the Weaker Sex


I was humbled and amazed by the huge response to my article last week “Feminism and the New Rape Culture,” where I gave the conservative spin on feminism.  I was shocked specifically by the number of men that responded via Twitter to say that the article struck a chord.  Apparently, as a woman, I said what they could not.  Yes, if you haven’t noticed, these feminists are brutal.

What do feminists think about men?  The conclusion I reached after I perused their blogs and hashtags, is not much.  The best is how they continually have to explain that they “are NOT man haters.” That should tell you something. I guess it wouldn’t be so disturbing if I thought this sentiment was from a small faction on the left.  Unfortunately, I am seeing posts from regular stay at home moms about the “rape culture.” I fear this thinking is seeping into middle America.

All of this puts men in an awkward predicament.  They are completely unable to defend themselves in this situation.  What many men find frustrating in the debate, is that there is no debate. Any man that comments on “women’s issues” is quickly put in his place.  This is one topic for which men have no right to an opinion or a voice.

Despite what the feminists think, men need a seat at the debate table.  These cultural shifts are impacting them more than many realize. As women are on the winning end of these changes, men are ultimately losing.  I had several guys send me the recent statistics on boys today.  They are so bad, I sought to verify them.  According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, as reported by PBS:

“Boys are 30% more likely than girls to flunk out of school.

56% of bachelor’s degrees and 55% of graduate degrees are earned by women.

Boys make up 2/3 of students in special ed, and are 5 times more likely to be classified as hyperactive.”

It seems as society has focused more on advancing women, we have been ignoring our sons.  One book that addresses this phenomenon is “Manning Up, How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys” by Kay Hymowitz.  You can read an interview with her discussing her book here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2011/03/03/rise-of-women-turned-men-into-boys-manning-up-kay-hymowitz/  It has given me a lot to think about as I look at my own children. For example, if I am participating in “take your daughter to work day,” could it ultimately have a larger impact on my son?  What is the message he takes from staying behind?

Men are on the receiving end of what women have complained about for decades. I am glad that I don’t face the same challenges of my grandmother’s generation, but I don’t believe that for women to succeed, men have to fail.  A woman’s strength is not dependant on a man’s weakness.  We can celebrate our differences, instead of creating a “gender neutral” society.  We need strong men in the world, whether feminists want to recognize that or not. It is through their strength that we may ultimately find ours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feminism and the New Rape Culture


I am a recovering feminist.  I grew up in a household that bought everything the democratic party was selling, and part of the sales pitch was feminism.  If you look up “feminism” in the dictionary it sounds like something that everyone would and should embrace.  Word web defines it as “a doctrine that advocates equal rights for women.” Why would anyone be against that?  When I went to college and started my career, it was with the full expectation that I would have the same opportunities as a man.  Indeed, my life has worked out that way.

My early career was not without its challenges.  I worked in male dominated businesses.  I personally experienced inappropriate comments, uncomfortable situations, and full on sexual harassment in the workplace.  I became stronger, and succeeded in spite of it.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know I get it, I have lived it, and I am here to tell you the liberals have feminism all wrong these days. It has started with women throwing themselves up as the sexual football, pulling it away like Lucy in the Charlie Brown comic strip, which has resulted in the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

As Time Magazine reported, before Rodger Elliot went on a shooting rampage in Santa Barbara, he put out a YouTube video where he ranted about how women ignored him, and ultimately he would get his revenge. http://time.com/114043/yesallwomen-hashtag-santa-barbara-shooting/  As a response to his rant, women took to the internet to unload about how they are constantly victimized by men, using the #YesAllWomen hashtag.  This went viral and caused another discussion within liberal circles of “the rape culture.”

The end of my feminist rope came when I finally stumbled upon this article entitled “A Gentleman’s Guide To Rape Culture.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zaron-burnett/guide-to-rape-culture_b_5440553.html  The article starts like this: “If you are a man, you are a part of the rape culture…You’re not a rapist, necessarily,  But you do perpetuate the attitudes and behaviors commonly referred to as rape culture.”  He goes on to write that women basically are in constant fear of being attacked, or raped by men.  Men should go above and beyond to make women feel safe and secure so that they know you are not a rapist. Even better, he curses through the whole article, dropping a few “f” bombs.  Hey, isn’t the “f” bomb PART of the rape culture? I’m so confused!

I find all of this so ironic. Isn’t feminism supposed to be about the empowerment of women? Is the left truly saying that the only way women can feel safe is for men to make them feel that way? You know they would never suggest taking a self defense class or worst yet knowing how to use, and/or carry a weapon.

The other part that struck me was the lack of personal responsibility among women. Tweet after tweet on the hashtag discussed how women were being violated after they had put themselves in precarious situations. No one deserves to be raped, but certainly some situations can increase the likelihood. I guess it’s hard for me to reconcile #YesAllWomen and the spring break party culture for example. 

It's easier to be treated like a lady if you act like one.  When women have respect for themselves, and act like ladies, I think they have firmer ground to stand on.  I am living proof that wearing a conservative suit won't protect you from sexual harassment.  However, women need to face the fact that we contribute to the problem when we send mixed signals.  We haven't come THAT far.  If you dress and act like a porn star, you will probably be treated like one.  (That's why our parents always said "if it looks like a duck...") When women blur the line of what is acceptable, they shouldn’t be upset when men don’t know they’ve crossed it.
My real wish is for the conservatives to take over the feminist movement.  This may be the perfect time to do it.  Conservatives hold the message for real female empowerment, whether that comes through self protection, self advancement, or self awareness.  The conservative message for women doesn't rely on men to make our world safer, or rely on government to negotiate our salaries as is the case with Equal Pay.  We make our own world safer, make our own opportunities, and succeed in spite of adversity.  Conservative "feminists" don't create blurred lines, we create finish lines. We need to own the race we are winning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Are Kids Tuning Out By Plugging In


I have two children and live in a state that has embraced the common core full force.  The complaint many have had about the common core is that there is no experience using this curriculum.  They were even writing some of the lesson plans as they were teaching them this year.  They have no idea what the long term impact these changes could have on their students. 

One of the biggest changes I see in the name of “advancement” is getting rid of handwriting, and the addition of technology. Specifically, they are no longer teaching children to write in script, and they are embracing technology via iPads and computers.  I guess the rational is that if students are primarily typing, and no longer writing, note taking will be obsolete, and so will their need to know script. 

My local school has adopted both of these ideas.  They only teach children to print, script is no longer taught in the school.  They are also implementing a pilot program in the elementary school to give the children each a tablet-like device in kindergarten through 5th grade to “facilitate learning.”  I have been skeptical of both cutting handwriting, and giving small kids tablets, it has just been a “gut instinct.”  My concern was validated when I read two recent articles about both.

I was surprised to read the recent article in the New Yorker titled “The Case For Banning Laptops In The Classroom.” http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2014/06/the-case-for-banning-laptops-in-the-classroom.html which discusses information retention by students who take notes on computers.  Ironically, at Dartmouth, the computer science professor was the first one to ban lap tops in his class.  Students were just too distracted. The temptation was too great for many students to surf the net during class. But what about the kids who aren’t surfing the web, and are actually just taking notes? Studies show that students who take handwritten notes have better recall of a lecture than those taking notes on a computer.

Personally, I am a note taker.  I remember things better when I write them down by hand.  I actually have to write a note, as typing the same note does not allow me to retain the information as well.  Why are the studies showing that others have the same experience?  What is it about handwriting?  Is there a connection made between our hand and brain? Dyslexic kids are often taught to tap out words on their arm to imprint the spelling. What are our kids losing if they are no longer writing by hand?

The New York Times recently published a great article entitled “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=0 which debunks the notion of the common core, that learning handwriting is no longer necessary.  According to the article, new data is showing evidence that there is a connection between handwriting and educational development. They link handwriting to the generation of ideas and information retention.

The biggest frustration I have is that the direction the government is taking to educate our children is the wrong one.  Numerous studies are showing that plugging children into technology, and pulling back from handwriting is actually detrimental to their retention of information, and their critical thinking development.  Even liberal publications that have traditionally supported the common core curriculum, such as The New York Times and The New Yorker, are recognizing the flaws in moving in this direction.  If the school systems don’t make changes now, and abandon their plans for technology implementation, it seems instead of plugging into learning, kids will just be tuning out.

 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oh, The Places Graduation Speakers Will Go


It’s graduation season, and time again for memorable and not so memorable speeches to take place at our fine universities throughout the country.  I was driving along, listening to CSPAN when they announced they were going to play Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech to the graduating class of NYU. 

If I told tell you that upon first hearing that Yellen would be speaking , that I didn’t let out a little groan, and think about changing the channel, I would be lying.  (Full disclosure, my groan was rather loud.) But, I do regularly listen to points of view that I can not stand, which frankly fuels my writing.  I gave it a go.

Yellen surprised me as she gave the graduates “tools for intellectual growth.’  One of the tools she mentioned was “listening to others.” She said, “These days technology allows us access to a great breadth of perspectives, but it also allows us to limit what voices we hear to the narrow range we find most agreeable.  Listening to others, especially those whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs.  It forces us to recognize, with humility, that we don’t have a monopoly on the truth.”

Yellen went on in her speech to discuss challenges at the fed, giving students advice to never give up. When The New York Times heard the same speech, the headline they took was “Yellen Tells N.Y.U Graduates To Expect Failure and Learn From It.”  Not surprisingly, the Times glossed over the best point of her speech.


Imagine my surprise, right after the speech from Ms. Yellen, when I heard Bloomberg’s speech to the Harvard graduates.  This time the newspapers had no choice but to address the message of balance.  Bloomberg blasted universities like Harvard, who should be the pinnacle of open debate.   He pointed out how skewed the faculty and staff are, 96% of them donated to Obama’s campaign.    He went on to say that “Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.” 

I encourage you to watch Bloomberg’s speech in its entirety, you can do so here: http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2014/05/30/transcript-and-video-of-michael-bloombergs-speech-at-2014-harvard-commencement/
As many of you know, I have strong opinions about the direction this country should take, but I do follow the advice of Yellen and Bloomberg and stay open to the other side of the debate.  I agree strongly with Yellen (this may be the only point on which we actually agree) that listening to those with whom we disagree tests the validity of our convictions.  It is by reading the New York Times and listening to MSNBC on a regular basis that I actually become a better conservative and a better writer.  Hopefully these recent graduates, and those running our universities will take to heart the words of Yellen and Bloomberg.  This country is counting on it.