obsenities/offense

aloisia schmid a-schmi at ux1.cso.uiuc.edu
Sun Mar 10 20:57:11 EST 1996


In article <4hhhec$ht8 at dnrserver1.dnr.state.mi.us>, Wildlife Biometrics
Computer 1 <CORTEVIL at wildlife.dnr.state.mi.us> wrote:
. I read 
> someone's message this morning saying that the comment about "women 
> barefoot and pregnant" makes some women extremely angry and others (like 
> me) just laugh about it. Some people may believe that it is a true 
> comment about women's place in the world, but what someone that ignorant 
> about the world says about women is truly insignificant. Live your life 
> the best you can (in all the unfairness that exists in today's world) and 
> try your best to make it better for those who will come after us. As a 
> woman, I am doing the best I can by doing what I want to do with my life 
> and ignoring those who think women have no place here. And I am trying to 
> make the path easier for the women who want to do the same things that I 
> do. I don't complain that I have it hard because of men...but instead 
> make sure that I am doing the best possible job I can so that I am as 
> good as or better than the men who do the same job. That way I will leave 
> the impression that women can do as well as ( or better than ) men, 
> instead of "women want to do the same things as men, yet expect to have 
> easier rules". We have enough of that stereotype going around- that we 
> claim we want the same rights as men, yet complain when we don't 
> have the ability to do something by saying "I'm just a female". I am 
> never "just a.." anything.
>  I would also like to see the stereotype that you have to be a really 
> nasty b*tch in order to succeed as a woman in the workplace disappear. 
> Stop being so competitive or critical of every other woman who is trying 
> to succeed/or is successful, and congratulate her. You are not in 
> competition with her. She is helping the image that woman are successful.
>  And before any woman who is not in the workplace accuses me of saying 
> that women who do not have a paying job are not successful, let me tell 
> you that one of the most successful women I know, works at home as a 
> mother and works hard at developing herself as an individual. She has 
> made an absolute success of it, and I hope someday to feel as confidant 
> as a mother and individual as she is.
> Anyway, did I answer your questions?

Dear Cortevil,

        Sorry, I lost your original message, so I no longer know your real
name and e-mail address.  But your response here actually coincides with
an experience I had on Friday and would like to discuss.

        A woman wrote a book and is out publicizing it right now, and it
is called "Nobel-Prize Winning Women in Science" and she gave a talk I
attended on Friday.  Which I really enjoyed.  I have a close-knit group of
women friends here, all grad students and post-docs and the occasional
faculty member as well.  I was asking to see who wanted to go with me to
this talk and got into a pretty heated discussion with one of the women
whose position I think she would agree can be summarized as follows.  She
believes that if you want to take a stand for equality for women in
science, then she is fully supportive of you doing that, in the sense that
she would never be critical of it.  However.  She doesn't like science
enough to ever want to work or fight for women's rights to achieve in
science.  She agrees that there are inequalities, but doesn't ever want to
have to do anything about it and basically feels she should be respected
in simply saying, "Screw it.  I don't give a damn.  If they won't let me
do this, I'll do something else."

         Now I understand that perspective and know that I have to live
and let live, and if people basically like it enough to do a what they can
find themeselves allowed to do, then i ought to mind my own business and
shut up about it.  But on the other hand, the women who DID attend that
lecture with me, were so struck by what these women went through simply to
be allowed to satisfy their own intellectual curiosity.  The life stories
described by the author (I apologize, I can't remember her name) were
AMAZING!  None of these women were ever paid salaries!  The only way you
could have a career in science was to have a trust fund or to be married
to another scientist.  You worked for him, and were classified as a
"voluntary professor" because there was no real appointment and no salary
involved.  The practice was fostered by the invocation of a mechanism
called "the anti-neoptism rules" which prevented a husband and a wife from
having faculty positions within the same university.  However, women were
the only ones who could be fired for that infraction.  At the University
of Illinois, for example, there was a woman who had tenure, lots of grant
money and married a new faculty member who had NO GRANT money and had been
a faculty member for less than a year--no tenure.  And she was fired,
while he was retained.  This happened in the late 50's.  

        Sp having heard all that these EXTRAORDINARY women went through, I
have to say that I acknowledge a person's right to say "This is not
important to me and I am not willing to fight for it", but at the same
time I am resentful of it because it strikes me as being weak and lazy. 
It implies to me that there is no social responsibility to making things
better.  

         So i guess that is what I am asking.  What exactly are the
responsibilities of women engaged in science in improving the status of
Woemn
Engaged in Science?  Are we required to work to improve things?  Do we
abrogate our duty in choosing not to?  Have we come far enough now to have
that luxury?

                          I am surprised at how much this really bothers
me, and am wondering what others are thinking.

                                                                                                                                                  
Alice Schmid

-- 
Aloisia Schmid
Howard Huges Medical Institute/Morrill Hall
University of Illinois
505 S. Goodwin Ave, 618 Morrill Hall
Urbana, IL 61801
Email: A-schmi at ux1.cso.uiuc.edu



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