Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Sexism is the 'gateway 'ism'', that makes all other 'isms' possible.  It precedes all other forms of discrimination, setting the example that there are some people that view others as inferior and they use brutality upon them.  What I mean by that is that because our family and society models are built around the model of inequality, injustice and brutality - we accept that behavior as normal.  So, too is racism, classism, speciesism and any other oppression by one group toward another.  The behaviors of sexism are the behaviors of bullying, injustice, intolerance and cruelty.

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

Sexism is everywhere, all the time.  Sexism is there from the moment we are born.  It is in every country regardless of technological or educational conditions.  It exists in boardrooms, bedrooms and one room farm houses.  It permeates every society and every conversation on the planet.  Laws, religion, music, politics, philosophy and commerce are so interwoven with sexism that I dare say that sexism is the foundation for human existence. 

Don't believe me?  Pick any aspect of human existence and prove that women don't have a worse deal than men.  You may think you know of an exception to the rule, but I would wager that upon asking any woman who you think has the upper hand whether or not she is favored over men and she would show you how that is not so. 

Women are raped, beaten, cheated, denied education, denied healthcare, sold as slaves, killed for men's 'honor', tortured, swindled, threatened and abused - all for the sole reason that they are women.  It's not just women.  Transgender, gay, lesbian populations are all targeted 'as women' by men.  They suffer heightened abuse because their numbers are smaller.

It is so pervasive, so accepted as the 'norm' that it invisible to millions of people.  Mind you, the inequality and injustice are not invisible to the targets of sexism because they suffer the impact in their daily lives.  However, sexism often goes unacknowledged as the direct cause of their misfortunes. 

Religions call it God's will.  Entire cultures call it tradition.  Laws identify women in terms of property and livestock.  Language itself is ingrained with sexism in overt (male & female voice) and covert ("mankind") reinforcing messages of gender based inequality.  What it is really is brute force, bullying.  Men are bigger and their domination of women begins with violence.  Violence whether applied or implied is the origin and when the 'sales pitches' of religion, tradition and law are challenged by women, then violence is brought back out as a last resort. 

I tend to look at history through the lens of economics. When examining human behavior, I ask who and what were gained and lost?  So the endurance of sexism in society is because the patriarchal, military model of empire wants it to continue.  Men benefit from it and so it endures.  Sexism is a cycle of assumptions and behaviors that have been crafted and performed for 5000 years and probably even longer.

Sexism starts in the family.  The family unit is the breeding ground for societal behaviors.  Societal institutions are structured to reinforce the family as a unit.  Family and Society act to support and maintain each other.  The strengths and weaknesses of the family are borne out in larger numbers as the strengths and weaknesses of society-at-large.

In the family, the father exercises rights, privileges and status above women and children both. The family is the first empire.  Father outranks mother and children.  Boy child outranks girl child and eventually grows to outrank mother and finally father.  The cycle repeats.  This model gains support from legal definitions of property, entitlement and inheritance and these were written largely by men.  Religions (corporations run by men) also support this model as intended by god. 

I mentioned economics, so to examine the issue of sexism, please consider this following.  Mammals need 6 things for survival: food, water, shelter, space, warmth & sex.  5 of those needs are legally traded commodities.  Indeed, they are the basics of economies around the world.  In a relationship, men and women can legally engage in a conversation or transaction for food, shelter, water, warmth or space.  There are women who sell sex, but often that is illegal and these women are not the spouse of the man in the family unit.  The woman in a family unit is not allowed to legally negotiate the terms of her relationship with her husband.  The wife and her sex is viewed as a 'right' of the man via the institution and tradition of marriage. 

This is no trivial point.  It is the primary relationship between men and women and the omission of legal rights in this arena pave the way for the abuses of women that permeate our world.  Women are denied a voice or a say in the eyes of the law in the most intimate and personal relationship - the central relationship in any family.  This model of a woman's voicelessness is repeated in the family dynamic.  Boys grow up expecting to be in a relationship where the woman will have no voice and girls grow up believing that there is no alternative. 

Commerce is a dialogue between two parties to a negotiated transaction.  It cannot exist if one party is unable to negotiate.  Given the pervasive role of sexism in society and families, I do not think it any coincidence that the women have no legal recourse in the most central, intimate and defining arena of their lives.  If sexism is to end, then relationships need to become negotiable and legal. 

Here is a chance for society to help break the cycle of sexism.  If relationships are made into legal and enforceable contracts, then women will have an alternative in their families.  The family as empire model will no longer be the only game in town.

What would the lives of women be like, if they could legally negotiate the terms of their marriage like any other business contract?  What would dating be like if men who promised women things to entice them into sex or intimacy - were legally bound to fulfill on those promises?  What would marriage be like if it were to become a renewable contract, based on performance by both parties?

Sexism begins in the family and it when it ends there, it will finally die out. 

At this point, you may ask: "What about negotiation in marriage today?"  It's a black market.  Why do black markets exist?  Who do they benefit?  If the idea of real commerce is acceptable, why not allow it to be contracted?  The answer is that black markets exist because the governing body seeks to deny an equal, legal voice to a transaction.  When the transaction includes a societal ill (like weapons, drugs, etc.) it can be a good thing.  When the transaction is the sexist oppression of womens' voices as equals - it is a bad thing.

Prostitution only benefits men.  Period.  Look at the law in design and practice.  Prostitutes are punished, 'johns' are not.  Prostitutes are abused by police in ghastly numbers.  Transgender prostitutes (often forced into the job by society's outright rejection of them as human beings) are abused more than anyone.  Murder, disease, abuse from pimps and blame from society for its own failings are the all too common rewards for prostitutes.  They are denied healthcare, education, workers' rights and dignity for their participation in the 'black market' economy of the sex trade.

I think that until women have a legal, enforceable voice in their core relationships, sexism will not be defeated.  The larger, societal ills of institutional brutality, oppression and inequality will not diminish until sexism is no longer the all-pervasive example.  Patriarchal, military empires expressed in government, religion and consumer capitalism will be the death of us all.

We need to choose between sexism and survival.  There are too many people, too many guns, too much poison, too much disease and too little room for brutality to be our core value.

- gadfly

Tags: Abuse, beating, bully, children, civil rights, conservative, Discrimination, empire, equality, exploitation, feminism, gay, Gay Marriage, hatred, Hillary Clinton, hypocrisy, illness, injustice, Intolerance, LBGT, lds, LGBT, massacre, misery, Mormon, persecution, Poverty, relgious intolerance, religion, Religious intolerance, rule of law, sexism, Slaughter, slavery, Society and Culture, straight, women's rights (all tags)



mojo, etc. n/t

by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: mojo, etc. n/t

"Sexism is the 'gateway 'ism'', that makes all other 'isms' possible."

Can you prove this?

by Lolis 2008-12-31 05:28AM | 0 recs
When did National Gadfly become Nancy K?

I mean, I'm against sexism, too, but I'm not sure what the purpose of this diary is.  "Men are bad, mmmkay?" is not a useful discussion.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-30 11:44AM | 0 recs
my purpose

is to suggest that we commoditize sex/marriage.  I believe that the entire model of marriage needs to be revisited.  There are too many built-in sexist beliefs, values and assumptions in the existing marriage contracts, conversations and language around marriage.

I am saying that marriage, as it exists to day is part of the problem.

Men are not bad.  Sexism is.  I say that after 4000 years of 'tradition', it is time to change.  Nothing is beyond question.  Not authority, not marriage.

Brutality, discrimination, poverty, denial of healthcare and education, human rights offenses are all rising against women throughout the world.  What institutions do all societies share that define the lives of women?  How are these institutions contributing to the worsening conditions for women in this world?


by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 03:18PM | 0 recs
Oppression Olympics GO!

by JJE 2008-12-30 11:49AM | 0 recs
Wow, a lot to chew on

First of all, I pretty much accept your analysis. it's a good one, and you make a good case.

My disagreements would come with your solutions. I know you're throwing stuff against the wall to see what works, but a couple of things stand out.

First and mainly is the part about negotiating dating relationships. This is actually an area where the woman already has equal bargaining power (I assume we are not discussing date rape, etc.). Neither party has anything that is required by the other, and so it's hard to see the basis for inequity.

Marriage is less clear, but isn't it already a negotiated contract? My wife could certainly leave me for not doing the dishes, or any reason. I'm not sure where the law stands on distribution of assets in that case, so it is murkier.

From a wider perspective, the ability to negotiate does not immediately convey greater power. How many of us have gotten screwed by a fine-print-laden cell phone contract, or warranty? The ability to negotiate contractually doesn't in and of itself convey power to either side.

Nor am I sure it should. I do not want my daughter telling me that she still owes the guy she broke up with 3 episodes of sex. Gah.

So, interesting analysis, not so sure on the conclusions.

by Neef 2008-12-30 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, a lot to chew on

Thanks for your measured response.  I appreciate it.

On dating, I question whether the dating negotiations are enforceable.  Your point about past due sexual acts certainly brings up a negative.  My idea is that if the marriage contract was like a work contract: renewable, performance measures, etc, and not only based on sexual acts (include income targets, family activities, healthcare...anything that any partner in the marriage want to negotiate for).  If that was present in the parental and societal behavior, then how would girls and boys date differently?  That's the real question.  Would the only difference be that they 'negotiate' in good faith with the idea of practicing an equal relationship as they grow into their adult selves.  That's where I was going with it.  

But, thanks again for your response.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 12:14PM | 0 recs
In other words

you want to explicitly codify the normally implicit expectations of each partner. But does that really change the dynamic?

There are already implicit expectations within a relationship, some of which would realistically never be expressed ("you must maintain a nice ass/pecs"). And healthy couples, in my experience, are already pretty explicit about what they need from each other - failing that, you get the "she should have read my mind" arguments.

The only thing that you could really change would be the penalties, which currently amount to termination of the relationship. If you added actual fines or jail time...but that gets weird fast.

I think the real, workable solution is to raise a family and show your children how a loving, equitable relationship works. Lakrosse implied this later in the thread. When you show your sons and daughters better examples, you automatically improve the lot of the people they come in contact with.

Unfortunately, you can't control every other family's examples, but I don't think there's ever going to be a way around that.

by Neef 2008-12-30 12:32PM | 0 recs

I meant LakersFan implied this later in the thread. mea culpa!

by Neef 2008-12-30 12:34PM | 0 recs
yes, I do want to codify.

however, I want more than simply classification.  I want the expectation that goes with commerce, that both parties need to agree on articulated points.  

You mentioned 'implicit expectations' and I ask why does it need to be 'implicit' v. agreed?  Specifically, I ask why is it not?  I think that the answer is that it serves the status quo of sexism.  Usually, in business when someone wants a verbal understanding instead of a contract, it is because they have something to hide from the other party.  Perhaps they are looking for 'wiggle room' and a way out of the agreement that carries no enforceable punishment, payment or responsibility.  Perhaps something else, but the intention is almost never good news for the other party.  Given the pervasive and relentless history of sex & gender abuse throughout history, I am 100% skeptical of any grey area where I am expected to 'trust' the other party.  I think women should be too.

The laws that exist today around marriage are mostly ways out.  They're not performance based or ongoing.  The contract itself is non-renewable.  So, it's a vague promise, good for life with no performance incentives and no overt negotiation.  Would you sign a contract like that for your business?  I sure as hell would not.

Anyway, thanks again for reading.  I like your thoughts.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: yes, I do want to codify.

I think there's certainly value to being explicit about one's expectations before going into a marriage - any counselor would advise you to do the same. However, marriage by definition was intended to have some notion of permanence and commitment - why even bother marrying otherwise?

Certainly there are marriages that occur based on falsehood - and for these, divorce and annulments are already an option. But marriage isn't simply about what one can get out of the other, as are most contractual obligations - it's also about giving and self-sacrifice, emotional bonding and support, trust and - one would hope - love. You must love first, in order to be loved.

I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would sign a pre-nup, never mind a renewable contract. It implies an obvious lack of trust - and if there's no trust, again, why bother with marriage? Any kind of business contract, clauses and all, can be worked out if all you're looking for is a roommate with benefits. I'm not sure how many takers there'd be, but that kind of relationship is certainly already an option.

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-31 03:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, a lot to chew on

It's not entirely clear to me, but it seems like you mean relationship agreements should be "enforceable" in the sense that an outside authority like a court would actually enforce their terms.  I think there's a certain societal squeamishness about having the government get involved in policing home life like this.  In the past, this notion was taken to extremes in that issues like domestic violence were wrongfully treated as "private matters," but still, I don't think it's advisable to tear down the barrier completely to the point where a court order tells you that you have to wash the dishes tonight or have sex twice a week.

Of course, there is a legal recourse for anyone who feels like their expectations aren't being met in a relationship, and if it's a marital relationship we refer to that recourse as divorce.  I'm a supporter of no-fault divorce and I think having the option of termination available makes a lot more sense than trying to affirmatively enforce promises that one party to the relationship no longer wants to live up to.  If, like Jennifer Aniston, what we really want is for our partner to want to wash the dishes, no court can ever decree that.

Maybe what you're urging, or what you ought to be urging, is just a societal paradigm where people are clearer about what they expect from a relationship and the fact that there's going to be some give and take.  I would agree with that in concept, but with the caveat that every relationship is different and it's really hard to lay down a set of bargaining rules that is going to work for everyone.

There's definitely some interesting food for thought here.  A lot of progress still needs to be made where sexism is concerned.

by Steve M 2008-12-30 12:47PM | 0 recs
I see what you mean

What I want to convey is that marriage as a contract currently needs more than the separation language.  I mean to say that the negotiation status of women is currently disadvantageous.  I suggest that if negotiation were there for the creation of the marriage as not only a contract but as a construct, then women would be operating with a voice they do not currently (or previously) own.  

So, my belief is that 'out clauses' are useful only in termination.  What of creation?  Is Marriage a one-size-fits-all product?  Do marriage laws, which were drawn up from chattel laws regarding property and livestock - help to sustain sexism?  I think they do.

I agree with your point about a paradigm of give and take.  But, I hold firm that the end result will be little different if women are still operating within the framework of laws designed by men for their rights to property and livestock.  I would much rather sign a business contract where I was able to negotiate my own terms inside a law that did not view me as a cow that has been granted some rights.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 05:30PM | 0 recs
Jism: The mother of all 'isms'.

I'm struck by the fact that the diarist is an obvious jismist.

And for the record, I'm no "Johnny Come Lately" to this site. I read it often from my Bedroom-cum-computer room. And I graduated Summa Cum Laude from University.  

by Swan 2008-12-30 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

I'll be curious to see if this goes over here any better than it is over at DKos.

by jsfox 2008-12-30 12:01PM | 0 recs
Whose family are you talking about?

In the family, the father exercises rights, privileges and status above women and children both. The family is the first empire.  Father outranks mother and children.  Boy child outranks girl child and eventually grows to outrank mother and finally father. The cycle repeats.

Not mine, that's for sure. If you want to end the cycle of sexism, there's no better place to start than your own family. From there, you can expand out to the rest of society. But if you're allowing this to go on in your own home, you certainly can't expect to cure society's ills.

by LakersFan 2008-12-30 12:07PM | 0 recs
So, you got any suggestions?

Nancy K suggests ONLY WOMEN should be elected, appointed, serve.

Really, I think some version of Amazon Island straight out of Wonder Woman is Nancy's perfect solution.  No men, no way, no how!

When pointed out to her that was sexism as well , she ducked that point (well, to tell the truth, she ducks every point...)

So, maybe you will do what she refuses to do.

my take is, you are over-simplifying complex issues and looking for a single bad actor:you blame everything on patriarchly systems.

I think you can blame crime, even crimes like Rape as much on Class and Poverty as the powerlessness of women.

Do rich white women get raped in anywhere near the numbers that poor and minority women do?

They are stuck in the same types of patriarchly system? They may be powerless serfs to their rich men, but they don't suffer the kind of crimes the poor do, so there is SOMETHING else besides just the partiarchy at work?

This paints a monotone one size fits all picture, it's the penis that is the source of all world problems.

But, let's leave that aside and, ask simply:

Do you have a solution?

Pointing out an obvious problem, hyperbolically claiming it is the cause for everything and then some, then ending with

"we need to choose between sexism and survival" is hardly a battle plan for generations to come?

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: So, you got any suggestions?

Well, to clarify: I'm not advocating Amazon society or that men = bad / women = good.  What I am saying is that brutality is brutality and bullying is bullying.  

What I suggest is that marriage become a renewable, negotiable contract just like any business contract between two entities.  All items negotiated, including sex, but mostly for everything else.  

I'm suggesting that we really examine why of all mammalian / human needs, only sex is excluded from commerce in the vast majority of cultures.  Outside of infidelity and other breach clauses, how is a marriage contract a commercial contract?  There are pre-nupt contracts and I think that may be a start.  Although, the few I have seen in my life were primarily pre-divorce contracts for the retention of existing assets.

Anyway, thanks for responding.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 12:42PM | 0 recs
I'm not sure that's true.

I'm suggesting that we really examine why of all mammalian / human needs, only sex is excluded from commerce in the vast majority of cultures.

If I walk six blocks, I will be in a district that directly refutes this hypothesis.  Sex is a huge industry in every culture... the only question is whether or how much of it is legal.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-30 12:52PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure that's true.

It's like you didn't even read the diary.  The fact that it's illegal is what's specifically under discussion.

by Steve M 2008-12-30 01:08PM | 0 recs
It's like you missed my point

The sex industry IS legal, or various portions of it at least.  I'm directly refuting a statement Gadfly made.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-30 01:10PM | 0 recs
the legal sex industry

is a few things.  First, it is not an internal apparatus of marriage.  Second, it is a minority when compared to illegal sex trade.  My point is not that there is no such thing as legalized prostitution.  My point is that the terms of prostitution are dictated by men and support sexism.  Most prostitution is illegal.  In most, if not all societies, prostitution is regarded with scorn.  Prostitutes are vilified and abused, even the legalized ones.  Religions, governments, families all look at prostitution as a sin or a crime or some sort of ill.  

In some societies, prostitutes have more say, more money and more control over their own lives than married or single women.  This is my main point, that the women who are able to exercise dominion over their own bodies, their own relationships and their own intimacy are only able to do so outside of the construct of marriage.

Thanks for reading.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 07:39PM | 0 recs
Fair enough

I'm a proponent of legalizing prostitution for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of my distaste for human traders... pimps, you could say.  Nobody has the right to own another person.

I agree with you that attitudes need to change; we diverge on the rationales and methodologies, I guess.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-31 04:32AM | 0 recs
You're welcome

BTW, I think this is the best diary on this subject for a while on these boards, thanks for breaking up the monotony of Blago and Caroline K!

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 01:13PM | 0 recs
I've had it with Caroline K diaries, too! n/t

by the national gadfly 2008-12-30 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Wait!  Did you say the MOTHER of all isms?

Shame on you. You're undermining your own point. If we take you at your word then it's the Father of all isms, no?

by Swan 2008-12-30 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

"Pick any aspect of human existence and prove that women don't have a worse deal than men"

Answer: Sex women can have multiple orgasms and alas men are limited to one at a time. :)

by venician 2008-12-30 12:34PM | 0 recs
I love your answer...

But, the real answer to that is, bearing children?

I mean that sincerly.

It is the one great experience I as a male am denied by nature.

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 12:38PM | 0 recs

I always tell my daughter her mother has known her longer than I have. Bizarre thing is it's true.

Of course I usually pull out that line when I'm playing peacemaker, so I think a little distance grants perspective =).

by Neef 2008-12-30 12:44PM | 0 recs
Nice call, V.

I was also going to say that the choice between pants and skirts must be great.  If I showed up to work in a dress, I suspect my job would be downsized shortly thereafter.

Also it's far more acceptable for a woman to be gay in our society than for a man to like other men "in that way."

Gadfly will probably tie that to PRON or something, but there are distinct and palpable advantages for women that men do not get.

by Dracomicron 2008-12-30 12:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice call, V.

Also it's far more acceptable for a woman to be gay in our society than for a man to like other men "in that way."

I believe 100% that is because men are WAY MORE worried about their sexuality then women are.

I think most Homophobia, at least from the male side, is because of that insecurity men have about their sexuality, their virility, their performance.

Hell, I think half the dumb white a-holes hate black men cause they think they're bigger.

A lot of men are just stupid and insecure in general, and about sexual issues in particular; on that I might agree with Nancy and Gadfly.

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 12:55PM | 0 recs
Oh, totally

There's no question that's true.  The problem that Gadfly is having is that he's presented an obvious argument, now we're sitting here wondering, "Alright, you have me so far, what are we supposed to DO about it?"

Contractualizing all of human relations is not an appetizing idea; relationships are mercurial and hard to define as they are... would soap operas be interesting to their fans if they were just about people writing clauses into their contract with their best friend? ("Party A will not switch babies with Party B after a plane crash...").

by Dracomicron 2008-12-30 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Nice call, V.

I don't understand why guys are so worried about their sexuality.  Almost everyone has or has had homosexual tendencies at some point in their lives.  I don't think men are stupid about this but more insecure.  I would have to equate this to an issue like womens' self image.  I think it has a large part to do with how things are portrayed to us.

by selfevident 2008-12-31 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Except that is not true. Sorry you have been so deprived.

by LakersFan 2008-12-30 02:26PM | 0 recs
I have often wondered

Would it make ALL that much difference if we could throw a switch and make the world essentially a matriarchly society.

From personal experience, I have worked for more female bosses then male, and most of them were every bit as ruthless, cutthroat and unfair as their male counterparts?

Was that because they were caught in a corporate world, with the rules already in place?

On the other hand, my Girlfriend works at a non-profit where at least 85% of the managers are women; it makes sense, they are in the health field, reproductive issues, etc....

But, observing HER work life compared to mine a couple of things stand out.

Everyone there makes less money, probably by choice of a trade-off, then if they were in the commercial profit world.  

Anyone of these women, highly degreed, pretty much type A personalities, could do very well in the straight commerical world.

So, though they make less money, for example, everyone gets 8 weeks of vacation.

All the women, when have kids, either get 100% child care paid for, or they simply bring their kids to work, which most of them do.

The company has almost ZERO turn-over, they only hire folks they think will stick with the company for the key jobs, then they intentionally have jobs they hire folks into, telling them, you will only work here for probabably a couple of years, build that resume, then we expect you to move on.

I make twice as much as my girlfriend.  

But, no comparison who has the better job.

So, what would the world be like, if we could throw that switch?

I am not sure I know.

It's not like Golda Meir or Maggie Thatcher were arbiters of a new femine age of kindness and peace?

I had co-workers at other companies that worked for Carli Forini at HP, and they all detested her
(btw, not all men, two were women that worked in marketing, and they just LOATHED her...)

So, it's not such a clear cut issue.

Still, would be in interesting switch to throw....

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 12:49PM | 0 recs
Ah, good one

Here's a thought...say someone's about to throw your "matriarchy switch". Women will be in power for the next 12 months (I assume it would be implemented by making US have the kids).

So, 5 minutes until matriarchy. How you feel - frightened, curious, blase?

Frankly, I think I might feel slightly relieved, although I could not say why.

by Neef 2008-12-30 01:02PM | 0 recs
Wait a minute..I just made it to empty nest status

Now, you tell me, I am going have the KIDS!


Seriously, it would be very interesting, and I mostly would be curious, not frightened.

Think for example, of the Muslim world.

What if all of sudden, those women were in power instead of the men!

Wow, would that be entertaining to watch!

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 01:11PM | 0 recs
Now THOSE men

should be scared shitless. WSB, you may just have invented a (mental) sexism-meter.

by Neef 2008-12-30 01:15PM | 0 recs
One thing I'm sure of..

A world run by women would be different.

My significant others all worked for organizations that were dominated and run by women; their office politics were strange and often alien to me. The affairs would at times take on the appearance of a real-life soap opera, with alliances being forged and abandoned with regularity. But in ways that I could never understand or imagine, most issues got worked out and civility was maintained.

However, were the world to spontaneously flip matriarchal, the same issues would continue to concern me - not that women were in charge, but which ones.  

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-31 03:09AM | 0 recs
Good points

Would Sarah Palin being in charge differ significantly from GWB? would Carly Fiorina differ from Al "Chainsaw" whats-his-name that chewed up Sunbeam?

by Neef 2008-12-31 05:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

As the married father of two grown women, I'd like to say that it cuts both ways. I often feel that I am tolerated with condescension bordering on scorn when we are gathered together as a group. They whisper behind my back ALOT! And for 25 years the only financial transaction I've been allowed (required, really) to make is to endorse my paycheck for deposit to the 'joint' account.

Not that I'm bitching about it.

by QTG 2008-12-30 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Not that I'm bitching about it.

Glad you know your place in the hierarchy!

(spoken as a dad of a 19 year old daughter...)

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-30 01:58PM | 0 recs
I suggest you use direct deposit. It'll hurt less.

by louisprandtl 2008-12-30 03:08PM | 0 recs
use direct deposit.

I'll try to bring it up when she's in a good mood.

by QTG 2008-12-31 07:58AM | 0 recs
You're sure she is not reading this blog...?

by louisprandtl 2009-01-01 07:09AM | 0 recs
i don't agree with everything in this diary....

but i like it and thus:  recommend.

by canadian gal 2008-12-30 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Or overweight-ism, or asymmetrical-face-ism, or...  This is pure lulz-ism.

by username 2008-12-30 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Pick any aspect of human existence and prove that women don't have a worse deal than men.

How about child custody, post-divorce?  Not that that outweighs all the other stuff...

by freedom78 2008-12-30 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

What would the lives of women be like, if they could legally negotiate the terms of their marriage like any other business contract?
Likely, lonely.

I suspect that both men and women prefer the implicit and more romantic tradition of "for better or for worse / till death do us part". Further, contracts are hardly likely to favor the female participant alone. How many women would care to sign on to legal stipulations governing what they would be required to do by law - say, stay a size 4 - to keep up their end of the contract?  

What would dating be like if men who promised women things to entice them into sex or intimacy - were legally bound to fulfill on those promises?

No different than it is today: they'd avoid those requiring such a contract. You can fantasize all you care to in defining your expectations, or in forcing them to be legally binding - but you still have to find a real-life partner that can be pursuaded into signing up to fulfill them.

What would marriage be like if it were to become a renewable contract, based on performance by both parties?
No different than an escort service, I'd imagine - and not something that I, or anyone I know, would care to participate in.

The problem with this diary - and with many others on sexism - is the premise that optional human relationships can be somehow controlled through legislation. What's missed is the reality that your partner can always choose to exercise their options with someone else.

by Sumo Vita 2008-12-30 10:14PM | 0 recs
Not too buff your behind too much

But your posts on these boards are always dead-on, even if I disagree with you, I always have to stop and think.

You are one of the reasons I stay here, you and others who put the effort out to make it real.

Happy New Year and thanks for all the good stuff in 2008.

by WashStateBlue 2008-12-31 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Not too buff your behind too much

Thanks for that, and for your contributions that I've immensely enjoyed as well. A Happy New Year to you too!

by Sumo Vita 2009-01-01 04:32AM | 0 recs
I appreciate your reply

and I want to question some assumptions.

Why would loneliness ensue if women were equal negotiants in their own relationships?

How do you, we or I know that men and women prefer the 'implicit' relationships of 'til death  do us part', with no alternative to compare it to other than divorce or singlehood?

What would a woman be willing to 'stay a size 4' for in return?  What would a man be willing to sacrifice for his 'size 4' dream woman?  

I think that if the choice existed for contract marriage, there would be plenty of takers.  Even the existence of the concept would alter the conversations around marriage for those not choosing such an arrangement.

You may not know anyone who would care to participate in.  Is that the bellwether for the whole of society?  People that you know?  It had better not be people that I know.  My point is that neither your or my social circle is all encompassing.  Society is not one-size-fits-all on anything.  Why is marriage, a ritual that dates back thousands of years and is based in a language of women as property or livestock - be unchanging?

I don't want to legislate marriage.  However, it already is legislated with desires do so even more.  We live in a society of laws.  The question I ask is whether we the relationship between marriage and the law treats women as equals and gives both men and women equal voices?  The answers vary from society to society, but I can think of no society where women hold an uneven advantage over men via marriage.  

So, I suggest that we open it up for discussion and no longer kowtow to the word 'tradition'.  Maybe everyone is really happy with it.  Every single man and woman on the face of the earth - but I seriously doubt that.  In the process, I think we end up with less sexism in the structure of marriage.

Thanks for reading.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-31 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: I appreciate your reply

I'm going to jump in here and question some of your assumptions.

Why do you assume everyone kowtows to "tradition"? I don't know what your version of "tradition" is, but very few people I know have marriages similar to their parents'.

Why do women need a renewable/renegotiated contract? Women are free to not have sex with their husbands, have extra-marital affairs, or divorce their husbands if they're not satisfied with their existing contract. How would your proposed contract change things?

Why do you seem to think women are forced into a marriage contract is detrimental to them? Everyone is free to not get married, and people (both men and women) who are unwilling to compromise for a relationship should not get married.

What makes you think people would be happier without marriage? The anecdotal evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.

Do you really think that a different type of marriage contract would make people make better choices about who they marry? The people who marry for love, would still marry for love and get all the misery that goes with love. The people who marry for other reasons would still marry for those reasons and get all the misery that goes along with that choice.

What about the current language of marriage has you so hung up on the fact that women used to be treated as property? Modern laws treat both parties in a marriage the same. I just don't know what you're getting at here.

by LakersFan 2008-12-31 10:57AM | 0 recs
good questions, one and all.

Let me see if I can articulate my views and answer you.

First, I am starting from the question of 'Why not allow renewable contract marriages?'  Two year, four year, 10 year, etc.  If I don't want to engage in one with my chosen spouse and she agrees, then we don't.  If someone else does, then they can.

Second, although sex can be one of the negotiated terms, it will not be the only one.  Healthcare, retirement, travel or any other desire from either the male or female can be negotiated.  Too often, a stay-at-home mother is sacrificing fiscal and career benefits to raise children.  If she returns to the workplace after years of being at home, she is at a competitive disadvantage due to issues of experience, age and skills.  What if a mother negotiated benefits, retirement funds, continuing education benefits for herself?  If a woman wants that now, she has no legal apparatus in a marriage contract to provide it.  This is part of what I refer to with my comments about out-dated language in marriage law and concept.

Third, you and I are likely to live in a 'developed' legal system that I would categorize as 'more fair and more modern' than in other cultures.  Because of the overwhelming and growing population living in poverty around the world, there are more marriages defined in the archaic terms of 'barefoot breeders in the kitchen or fields'.  Married women are still viewed as property for millions of women around the world today.

Fourth, I am asking if there can be alternatives to the current marriage other than divorce or singlehood?  

Finally, I simply ask 'why not?'  Why not experiment with marriage?  Why is questioning marriage bad?  Why is changing it, bad?  I am not saying that people would be happier 'not married'.  I am saying that some people might gain great benefit from changing it.  I'm saying that women may.  I'm saying that not only won't I stand in this idea's way, but I endorse and support it.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your Lakers.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-31 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: good questions, one and all.

Thanks for the answers.

Okay, I just assumed you were talking about marriage in the U.S. I completely agree that women are treated as property by other countries' laws.

Where my opionion differs is I think marriage is a contract that is renewed/renegotiated by both parties every single day of its duration. I just don't see the need for 2 or 4 year terms when either party can unilaterally terminate the contract. The fact that there is no legal apparatus to negotiate benefits is a limitation cuts both ways. Similarly, there is no legal apparatus that a man can use to guarantee hot meals on the table, sex, or offspring. Marriage is a very risky venture.

I understand your example of a stay-at-home mother, but I think the situation is the same for any married person who sacrifices career or other opportunities for the sake of the family, regardless of their gender or the nature of the sacrifice. That's what relationships are all about. Yes, women are often at a competetive disadvantage upon returning to work after having children, but I don't see this as a flaw in marriage -- I see it as a flaw in our employment laws. Because mothers in this country aren't provided with adequate maternity leave or pay, many women feel forced to make a choice between their families and their careers. I do think mothers should consider the many ramifications of leaving the workforce before they do (as anyone leaving the workforce should). It's often assumed that the mother will leave her job to be the primary caregivers, but that assumption is based on "tradition" and all modern parents should definitely question that tradition and consider what's best for their particular family.

Basically, I agree with a lot of what you say, I just don't think we need any fundamental changes in our marriage laws. I do think we need fundamental changes in our attitudes about marriage, and employment laws to protect people's jobs while they raise their families. I am also a huge supporter of universal health care, which would eliminate that disparity for non-working parents.

by LakersFan 2008-12-31 11:13PM | 0 recs
Re: I appreciate your reply

Why would loneliness ensue if women were equal negotiants in their own relationships?

As others have rightly pointed out, women are already equal negotiants in marriage. In what way are they not?

You asked what would the lives of women be like if they could legally negotiate the terms of their marriage like any other business contract. Finding mutual attraction and compatibility in a prospective mate is an arduous enough task, without compounding it with a "business contract" that many would find offensive. In further whittling down your choices, it it more or less likely that you will end up successfully partnered? Ergo, my "loneliness" conclusion.

How do you, we or I know that men and women prefer the 'implicit' relationships of 'til death  do us part', with no alternative to compare it to other than divorce or singlehood?

We don't know for sure that men and women prefer the romantic form of marriage - but that is certainly my perception, is it not yours?

What would a woman be willing to 'stay a size 4' for in return?  What would a man be willing to sacrifice for his 'size 4' dream woman?

Forgive me, but I find this comment more than a little naive. Do you believe that "staying a size 4" merely requires the willingness to do so? Do you believe that partners retain the same attitudes, desires and needs as they age? Life is a journey - and it isn't just the outside scenery that changes along the way.

I think that if the choice existed for contract marriage, there would be plenty of takers.  Even the existence of the concept would alter the conversations around marriage for those not choosing such an arrangement.
These explicit contracts you speak of would be perfectly legal today, of which prenups are a close example. If they were all that desirable, why aren't they already in widespread use?

You may not know anyone who would care to participate in. Is that the bellwether for the whole of society?  People that you know?  It had better not be people that I know.  My point is that neither your or my social circle is all encompassing. Society is not one-size-fits-all on anything.
The race is not always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way you bet.

There will always be exceptions to the rule, but you need to first frame your argument within the appropriate context. I can't prove that my views are the bellwether any more than you can - but I'm certainly willing to claim them as such.

Why is marriage, a ritual that dates back thousands of years and is based in a language of women as property or livestock - be unchanging?
Marriage is not unchanging. People are entirely free to do whatever they care to with their marriages - and all evidence points to the fact that they do. Short of a quasi-representative survey on the matter, you're not going to get much better than opinion on a blog.

The question I ask is whether we the relationship between marriage and the law treats women as equals and gives both men and women equal voices?
Yes, that is the question you asked. And what I still don't see is how your contract marriage represents any measurable difference to that end.

by Sumo Vita 2009-01-01 05:36AM | 0 recs
thanks again for responding

It seems that you do not see validity to my position.  I can accept that.  We may have to agree to disagree and there is nothing wrong with that.

In response to your points above, let me summarize my differences.  I do not attempt to change your view or even dispute it.  I just want to be clear in mine.

I don't think that loneliness is a byproduct of contract marriage.  

I don't think that term marriages are already legal.  Maybe in some US States but across the globe...not at all.

I only brought up the 'size 4' in response to your mention of the topic.  I'm not naive enough to ever ask for it, nor would I believe that it is possible or even a good thing to ask for.  

I am not betting any money, so your analogy of strong/fast does not apply to my view on this.  My desire is to question the institution of marriage, precisely because it is majority given and majority held.  I believe that if the majority of the world is run by men (and it is) then the institutions of law and society will reflect their views.  I think that there is something to be gained by this discussion.

I am not claiming that my views are the bellwether.  Nor, did I.  I am saying that no one's views are, not even the majority's.  

Thanks again for reading and caring enough to respond.


by the national gadfly 2009-01-01 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: thanks again for responding

I appreciate both your measured disagreement and your gentle validation. I'm still confused as to the purpose of this diary, which you have clarified as questioning the institution of marriage, and even more so with why you consider it sexist. But I'm willing to agree to disagree on the matter.

by Sumo Vita 2009-01-01 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: I appreciate your reply

My responses above might have come across as short, for which I apologize. There's a fair amount of frustration I feel with arguing over minutiae, when I disagree with the larger premise of this diary on so many levels.

We can start by examining the frequent and facile generalizations made about what "women" think, feel, want. The desires of an educated suburban mom from Long Island have little in common with those if a high school dropout in South Central LA; single young women in Tampa are unlikely to share the views of retired seniors down the street from them; and almost all of these women are going to be thinking along very different lines from the mother of a starving family in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The grievances I often see attributed to all women are usually those of a much narrower demographic defined by age, geography, and financial and marital status - from childless baby boomers feeling irrelevant to discontented wives feeling trapped in their marriages. Yet all of these issues tend to come neatly wrapped and packaged as "sexism" - to the point where it's difficult not to have a visceral aversion for the term.  

There are real womens rights issues requiring urgent redress, for which there are legislative solutions - domestic violence and child support, payscale inequities, sexual harassment. I really don't see a similar urgency to toy with an institution that already implies an optional contractual relationship, and within which I have yet to see evidence of any real, discernible gender bias.

by Sumo Vita 2009-01-01 10:26AM | 0 recs
no problem

I don't think any apology necessary.  Really, you did not come off as 'short'.

You see other problems as more real and the solutions that are offered for them.  You see this as minutiae.  I see this as an inquiry into the question whether or not marriage as an institution of sexist societies, laws and language is itself a framing element of sexism.  

Be well,


by the national gadfly 2009-01-01 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Sexism: The mother of all 'isms'.

Isn't saying that sexism is the "mother" of all isms a sexist statement in and of itself? Why can't it be the "father" of all isms???  ;-)

by John in Chicago 2008-12-31 08:57AM | 0 recs
the title is facetious

i.e. the mother of all bombs.  the idea being that I would point out the all pervasive destruction of society by sexism and play up the hysterical grandeur of people who claim that any one thing is the mother of all others.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-31 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: the title is facetious

Yes, I understand. I was just trying to be a lil facetious myself.

by John in Chicago 2008-12-31 09:55AM | 0 recs
I kind of missed that... :-)

I needed some coffee.  I see it now.  Never mind.


by the national gadfly 2008-12-31 10:09AM | 0 recs
Of course, this is a wonderful abstract discussion

But, reading through again, one reason this will never actually happen, the idea of a renewable contract for marriage, is, too many people make money from the existing system.

Personally, that renewal ability would have saved me probably 3/4s of a million dollars, which is what my Ex got in the house, all the 401Ks and the high alimony for 10 years. (that is what happens when you marry someone with a large descripency in education and earning power...the trick is marry someone richer then  you...too bad I figured that out later!!!)

Also, each lawyer made in excess of $30K.

The family court system, the judges.

Marriage is big business, but so is divorce in the US.

by WashStateBlue 2009-01-01 10:18AM | 0 recs


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