March 25, 1998 · Cavalier Daily

Gender Revolution Must Continue

This opinion article responds to a series of five articles in the Washington Post, entitled, "Reality Check: the Gender Revolution," which assert that gender equality places stress on men, women, and the family unit. This writer counters that women have proven themselves physically and intellectually equal to men, citing the successful integration of female cadets into the Virginia Military Institute. She argues that while sexual harassment is increasingly an issue, it should not preclude equality between the sexes.


1998-03-25 Cavalier Daily Gender Revolution Must Continue.pdf
Mimi Waters
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Gender Revolution Must Continue
Mimi Waters
ON SUNDAY, March 22, The Washington Post ran the first of a series of five articles entitled "Reality Check: the Gender Revolution." A project of the Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation and Harvard University, this series is based on national surveys conducted on contemporary issues. And it makes an appalling first impression.
The suggestion that the world would be better off if it never had progressed past the 50s in terms of gender roles underlies the article. "Kids aren't being raised, they're just growing up. Nobody's getting married anymore. There’s no respect between men and women [or from] children to their parents." Rose-Pierre Louis, a Brooklyn social worker, told the Post.
Many men and women complained in the article about the stress new terms of equality placed on them. According to statistics, many women have a hard time coping with both a job and the relentless feeling of "being on duty" at home. Some men also voiced this complaint. The problem, hints the article, stems from the growing number of women stepping away from the home to forge their own identities as opposed to strapping themselves to hearth and husband.
That is a mighty heavy burden to place on the shoulders of more than half the population. Despite the “stress" of gender equality on today's men and women, the idea of reverting back to the social norm of “Ozzie and Harriet” is absurd. The attainment of the equality today's minority groups enjoy was no cake walk, either. Bringing black slaves into modern society is a process that has taken over 135 years of toil. Although the barriers minorities face today pale in comparison to those of yore, the battle to fine-tune our attitudes toward people of other ethnicities continues with fervor. Advocating a return to the gender roles of the to the 1950s is like suggesting a return to antebellum America in terms of civil rights.
So why should we "declare a cease-fire" on gender issues, as suggested in the "Reality Check" articles? They are more biological in nature than those of race, but women consistently have proven themselves physically and mentally equal to men when given the chance. The first female cadets at Virginia Military Institute successfully reached the end of the "Rat Line" on Monday, March 16, marking their completion of months' worth of abuse at the hands of upperclassmen. Their achievement demonstrates the physical and mental capabilities of women.
When asked to comment on the success of VMI in the integration of women, Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the Women's Law Center - which monitors the women's assimilation - told the Post: “It would be foolhardy to make any judgment about how VMI is doing," taking a wisely cautious attitude toward declaring success or failure. While this may represent a crucial success in the war for gender equality, the military, as well as every other institution, cannot afford to let down their guard.
Deeper concerns about gender issues also must be treated with caution. One is the shadow of sensitivity, cast by the growing threat of sexual harassment over the work place. The number of such cases — which plague even the highest offices in the land — indicate the magnitude of this problem.
Case in point, former Sergeant Major of the Army. Gene C. McKinney, was tried on 18 counts of sexual misconduct and cleared on all of them. Even so, he has been stripped of his rank and pay-grade, and has received a reprimand for obstructing justice. This offense never would have occurred, however, without the initial accusation of harassment. It’s a tough pill to swallow, even for the most stoic of soldiers Though he and his lawyers would like to pursue his accusers for robbing him of his career and his happiness, they fall to take into account the pain and isolation those women suffered and still suffer in stepping forward and taking him to court. Moreover, such a pursuit would be a direct assault on the women's rights to due process of law and might force other victimized women back into the closet because of fear.
Sexual harassment is a huge gray area that begs for clarification. Though we have a long way to go before the system is perfected, we would shoot ourselves in the foot it we gave up now. Despite the losses both sides may incur, sexual harassment cases must be tried. They are the growing pains necessary to make the work place a suitable environment for the advancement of both men and women.
The issue of gender equality merits continued attention. Maybe we do need a reality check, but not the dismal kind the Post has in mind. America has come a long way in the fight for gender equality but now must continue on the never-ending road to perfection.
(Mimi Waters’ column appears Wednesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)
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Date Added June 28, 2016
Date Modifed December 23, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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