Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Political Correctness Gone Wild

Yesterday, Larry Summers, the President of Harvard University, resigned due partly to some comments he made that some interpreted as sexist. The comment in question is as follows:

"So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong."


Well, I don't really see anything there that is in itself sexist or upsetting. I consider myself a "new feminist" which could be described in the vernacular of an old car commercial, "Not your father's feminist." What I mean is that I am comfortable in my femininity and my feminine strengths and weaknesses. I acknowledge that as a female there are some things in which I don't have the same aptitude or abilities as most males. I like math and science a lot and might have a higher aptitude for those things than the 'average' female, but I'm not offended or bothered that many males have a higher aptitude in those things, and therefore have more jobs in those fields.

In contrast, I have greater aptitudes for some things than most males. Nurturing and understanding interpersonal relationships and knowing how to make others feel better are some of my 'female' strengths for which most males have lower aptitudes. Is that a sexist remark? Perhaps I will reword Summers' remark:

"So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of parenting and nurturing, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong."


Now am I going to be attacked as a sexist for saying that females have certain other higher aptitudes than males and that explains why more women are stay-at-home parents than men? I hope not. I hope that people will get over themselves and think rationally about these things. Watching the Olympics has reinforced my understanding of intrinsic aptitudes and variabilities of aptitudes. As I mentioned in a previous post on the Olympics each sport has a particular body type which facilitates excellence in that sport. The downhill skiers are generally tall, heavily muscular people. The figure skaters are generally shorter and have more muscular legs and butts. The speed skaters have those huge thighs. It seems that people who are genetically predisposed to a particular body type and stength are the ones at the elite levels of their sports. We (collectively) don't seem to have a problem acknowledging that particular body types have a higher aptitude for certain sports. So why would we think that our brains are any different in that respect? Why are people so frightened to acknowledge differences in mental aptitudes?

Part of the answer to that last question probably has to do with the aptitudes that we place high value on in our society. And that point is covered in the Summers quote when he mentions "socialization and continuing discrimination." And those issues are being examined and studied. I hope that eventually we all can learn to appreciate our own strengths and weaknesses and stop belly-aching over the ones that we don't have. I learned in my years of figure skating that I didn't have what it takes to be a world class skater. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I say that I was being discriminated against? No, that would have been ridiculous. Do I have the aptitude to be a brilliant physicist? No, but I don't let that stop me from trying to learn as much as I can.

I suppose I might sound like I'm singing that "Let's Celebrate Our Differences" song. Well, what's wrong with that?


To end with a little humor, here are some new Politically Correct terms:

HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT WOMEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT:

1. She is not a "BABE" or a "CHICK" - She is a "BREASTED AMERICAN."

2. She is not a "SCREAMER" or a "MOANER" - She is "VOCALLY APPRECIATIVE."

3. She is not "EASY" - She is "HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE."

4. She is not a "DUMB BLONDE" - She is a "LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY."

5. She has not "BEEN AROUND" - She is a "PREVIOUSLY-ENJOYED COMPANION."

6. She is not an "AIRHEAD" - She is "REALITY IMPAIRED."

7. She does not get "DRUNK" or "TIPSY" - She gets "CHEMICALLY INCONVENIENCED"

8. She does not have "BREAST IMPLANTS" - She is "MEDICALLY ENHANCED."

9. She does not "NAG" you - She becomes "VERBALLY REPETITIVE."

10. She is not a "TRAMP" - She is "SEXUALLY EXTROVERTED."

11. She does not have "MAJOR LEAGUE HOOTERS" - She is "PECTORALLY SUPERIOR."

12. She is not a "TWO-BIT HOOKER" - She is a "LOW COST PROVIDER."

HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT MEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT:

1. He does not have a "BEER GUT" - He has developed a "LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY."

2. He is not a "BAD DANCER" - He is "OVERLY CAUCASIAN."

3. He does not "GET LOST ALL THE TIME" - He "INVESTIGATES ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS."

4. He is not "BALDING" - He is in "FOLLICLE REGRESSION."

5. He is not a "CRADLE ROBBER" - He prefers "GENERATIONAL DIFFERENTIAL RELATIONSHIPS."

6. He does not get "FALLING-DOWN DRUNK" - He becomes "ACCIDENTALLY HORIZONTAL."

7. He does not act like a "TOTAL ASS" - He develops a case of RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION."

8. He is not a "MALE CHAUVINIST PIG" - He has "SWINE EMPATHY."

9. He is not afraid of "COMMITMENT" - He is "RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGED."

10. He is not "HORNY" - He is "SEXUALLY FOCUSED."

11. It's not his "CRACK" you see hanging out of his pants - It's "REAR CLEAVAGE."

9 comments:

Footprint said...

Er...Rae...failing to see how this is sexist, how it ties in with corporations and families and why do we have a Congressional Chaplin...

Connect the dots and call me back....

Rae Ann said...

footprint, I'm not sure what you're saying. I didn't see Summers as sexist, and I don't see male/female aptitude differences as the huge topic that some people have made it. Corporations and families? Uh, my generation of women has watched our mothers die trying to be men. And the Congressional Chaplin? Tradition.

Kat said...

Yay! I'm a new feminist! Hold that door for me sir, but don't talk to me like i'm an idiot. lol

You're funnies cracked me up. Apparently my husband is a sexually focused guy with follical regression who often has rectal-cranial inversion.

lmao.

Luke said...

I sometimes wonder if what we are dealing with here, in the case of the PC harpies I mean, and a lot of other over-the-top lefties, are a bunch of adults who hated their parents (likely for justifiable reasons) and have transferred that animosity onto society. Don't know this for a fact, but find myself grasping for "psychological" explanations.

Rae Ann said...

kat, I'm definitely 'reality impaired' sometimes, and I think 'sexually focused' can apply to women too. lol

luke, good points! I do think that generationally different psychologies are part of that answer. Most of the PC crazies are a certain age, it seems, so something in their growing up must have 'soured' them. They are just a bunch of bad eggs! It's really difficult to separate the biological and environmental and social factors of their development (or lack thereof). Surely there has been some study on this by now?

DHammett said...

I'm not certain that I'd agree that most of the PC crazies are necessarily of a certain age. I think it's societal conditioning. And lawyers. Let's blame them, too.

In corporations and the government we've brought political correctness to the fore, constantly bombarding employees with "training" for how to recognize sexual harassment, disparate treatment, when one's rights are being compromised and so on. And this is an offshoot of successful lawsuits, many of which are spurious. The effect, though, is that corporations and the government are running scared because of their potential liability.

So what do they do? They "train" their employees. And the employees become more sensitive. So there's more training and more sensitivity until, finally, when somebody levels constructive criticism, somebody else becomes offended and we're off to the courts and arbitrators.

Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off!

Quooba said...

Hey, can I copy your politically-correct terms and put it on my own blog?

Those are too funny! :)

Rae Ann said...

dh, all great points as always! But I do think that the whole PC thing started with my parents' generation and that they were able to brainwash some of the younger generations, as you referred to with that 'training.'

quooba, of course! I can't claim authorship of them. They came from an email. Thanks for stopping by!

Anne said...

Those PC terms were hilarious! :)