Thursday, January 21, 2010

We can't empower our daughters by pretending they are powerless

Women are special.

There. I've said it. It's something we've always known, but a lot of us have been fearful of admitting it aloud or even to ourselves.

Women are special, and, of course, special people are subject to special rules that don't apply to regular, testicle-bearing people.

You know exactly what I'm referring to. There are a thousand examples of it, too many to chronicle. When a young couple dates, he's expected to pay even if they make the same amount of money; when women decide to start a business, they are awarded financial benefits not available to men simply because they are women; colleges cling to their Women's Centers and insist there's no need for Men's Centers even though women far outnumber men on campus; colleges take athletic scholarships from men and give them to women far less interested in playing sports; when women work with men, the men are told they can no longer talk like men, they must talk like women so as not to "offend" the opposite sex; when teens the same age have consensual sex and her parents find out, she's the victim and he goes to prison for statutory rape; when young adults get drunk and have sex, she's the victim and he goes to prison for rape; when men and women commit the identical crime, she gets a much lighter sentence; when a couple divorces, she generally gets primary custody if she wants it; when there's a war, she gets to stay home and he becomes cannon fodder. On and on it goes.

You see, we, as a society, have hit upon the ingenious notion that we can manufacture equality between the sexes by heaping special advantages on women, and by insuring that they are not accountable for their actions.

In short, we empower women by pretending they are powerless. Since they are powerless, they need all these special advantages.

Now, let's talk reality. The fact is, we can't manufacture equality. The more we "empower" women by heaping artificial advantages on them and by excusing them from accountability for their actions, the more we reinforce the notion that true equality is a lie, that it doesn't really exist. When you let your kid beat you at Whiffle Ball, you're still the better player.

The only way to empower women is to treat them exactly like men -- as responsible adults endowed with the full capacity to live with the consequences of the decisions they make.

But that's not what happens. Western Civilization has come to resemble my local golf course where the women's tee box is on average 50 yards closer to the hole than the men's.

The women's tee is such an apt metaphor for what I'm talking about, I decided to find a picture of a woman golfing to use with this post. Wouldn't you know it -- I stumbled across a report of a study that led me to conclude that the women's tee isn't just a metaphor, it actually highlights the very truths I'm trying to get across. It turns out the greater the distance between the men's and women's tee boxes, the fewer women there will be in management and marketing, and the less money women will make in the locale of the golf course. In short, the bigger the "victim" sign a woman wears around her neck, the more special advantages heaped upon her just because she's a woman -- the less chance she will be accepted as an equal.
If women want true equality and not just the pretense of it, they need to line up with the guys at the men's tee, join in the raunchy language, and take their best swings. You know what? They probably won't hit it as far as the guys, but they'd be one of the boys. And they might just end up running the company.

That's if they want real equality and not just the pretense of it. Lots of women want the former; most women's groups are content with the latter.