How Men Treat Women

How Men Treat Women

I read a lot of books and occasionally write a review of some of the books I read.  I do this mostly for my own amusement and because my memory seems to fail me every time someone asks, “have you read anything good lately?”

Before this new blog, when I posted new reviews, I informed my limited distribution list via email. Last time I did this, I got a little exercised about a book and used, shall we say, some colorful language in the review.  With tongue firmly in cheek, I introduced this review in my email by providing the warning that “Adult Language is Possible.

I punched send on the email and not 30 seconds later I got a text from one of my daughters with the single line “Adult Language is Possible:  The Dan Finkelman Story”.  I guess I have a reputation.  I laughed out loud for a long while.

And then I really thought about that reputation.  I worked hard for that reputation, particularly from my daughters.  It was purposeful.  For better or for worse, I decided early on in my parenting career that I wanted to raise daughters who would be confident and unafraid, who would not be and could not be surprised and/or intimidated by the likely idiocy thrown at them by the male of the species.  Whatever they might hear out of the mouths of some of the Neanderthal males who inhabit this planet, I wanted them to hear it from Dad first, so they would never be shocked, taken aback, or stymied.

From an early (but, in my opinion, appropriate) age I exposed my daughters to male humor, to expletives that mostly get deleted elsewhere, to honest explorations of the male teenage mind (if you can call it that).  I pulled no punches and no topic was taboo.  I often made my wife wince by bringing up topics that were not popular while using language that could get my kids kicked out of school.  Apparently, it worked.  One daughter recounted some raunchy (and more than a bit aggressive) “joke” told by some guy at a frat party clearly aimed at getting a shocked reaction.  When asked what she thought of it, her reply was, “My Dad tells that one better”.  Completely disarmed the aggressive jerk.  Mission accomplished on this very small front with this small but significant victory.

I went to high school in the early ‘70s and graduated from college in the late ‘70s.  I had women friends.  When my wife went to business school in the mid-80s, half her class were women.  The women in my business school class (early ’80s) were accomplished, bright, and strong.  One of those women (now, sadly, gone from this world) gave me the best interviewing advice I have ever received and which helped immeasurably throughout my career.  My first boss out of college was a woman and I learned a lot from her.  A lot of my managers since then have been women.  I had no issues working with, or for, women.  I spent my career believing that I treated women equally and fairly — though my daughters have raised my consciousness…I now know that I undoubtedly carry implicit bias but try to fight it.

Things have clearly changed, and not for the better.  In the world of business schools, the percentage of women in my wife’s alma mate’s classes dropped as low as 30%, and women students at my alma mater have banded together to protest their exclusion and treatment in the classroom by male students.  I have watched “mansplaining” unfold in my meetings.  I hear my wife and my daughters tell me how they are treated in various forums. How they have had to tolerate subtle and not-so-subtle condescension, dismissal, and unwanted sexual entreaties from their male colleagues. And this is from strong, confident, accomplished, smart, and talented women.

This is wrong. In the spirit of this “Adult Language is Possible” blog, it is absolutely fucking wrong. Got your attention?  Good.

It is up to women’s male friends, colleagues, partners, spouses, to start to speak up.  I have started. The other day, in a social setting, a friend started a story about his office and how they had discussed the ‘fuckability’ of various women in his office.  I told him to stop.  I told him that I was the father of two daughters married to a woman I love and respect and that if he were talking about them we would be having a lot more than just a serious discussion about this.  I told him that he was teaching his young adult sons this shit and that he should stop.  He looked at me with that wry, “you are not serious” look to which I responded, “I am as serious as a heart attack.

We will never make progress if fathers of sons do not begin to teach their sons how to behave. Time to start, like right fucking now, Dads.

Adult Language is Possible.  I’m going to continue to use it to point out and bring attention to topics of note, of interest, and stuff I find humorous.  And the colorful language will continue.

More to come.

Addendum: Perhaps I need to widen the scope here.  I just read the attached from the Chronicle of Higher Education:  Civil-Rights Official Apologizes for Saying 90% of Campus Rape Cases Stem From Regret.  This from Candice Jackson, acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the US Department of Education, which is headed by a woman, Betsy DeVos.  Ms. Jackson added that “in most cases, accused students never really overrode an accuser’s wishes.”  WTF?  This from a woman who was a rape victim?  I am going to take the huge step of assuming that the majority of the “accusers” (some of us would term these people as victims, but we’re working with Republican double-speak here) are women.  Thus, this rape victim woman said that 90% of the time, these women were simply sorry they slept with the guy and then later decided to make the rape accusation.  This is, of course, total bullshit as she had not one fact to offer in support of her ridiculous, idiotic, and insulting assertion.  Better yet, when the reaction to her stupid fucking comments began to roll in, her backtracking appeared to occur at the speed of light…”what I said was flippant and I am sorry”.  That’s bullshit too.  She said what she believed and she meant it.  The apology, backtracking and other ass-covering maneuvers are simply trying to save face, but the reality is that this is what the assistant secretary for civil rights in the US Department of Education believes about rape on campus.  Epic fail. Women should be fucking outraged.  This man is.

7 thoughts on “How Men Treat Women

  1. Right on. Good topic…good read. However, you do realize that your intentional parenting strategy would have cost you your job or generated public outcries for your head, had it been displayed/observed by others…perhaps excluding Candice Jackson. Which comes first….the chicken or the egg?…the rules or the behavior they’re intended to stop? My personal observations from my 35+ year career in human resources management is that much progress has been made on this topic…but gender relations is an issue deeply rooted in all societies, many religions and our biology that will likely never disappear entirely from our experience…and perhaps shouldn’t. How do we support a broader societal definition of appropriate gender relations that is inclusive of more “traditional” roles for men and women, since there are many who mutually prefer such a relationship?
    Good job, Dad.

    1. Bob, thanks for the thoughtful response. While I agree that eliminating all gender based differences is neither likely nor necessarily desired, the treatment of women needs to be inclusive of how we, as men, would want to be treated, regardless of whether we embace a “traditional” or “non-traditional” role and regardless of who is creating those definitions.

      1. Yep…the “Golden Rule” should always apply. Enjoying your blog…keep it up!

  2. Good job, FinkelDan! I can attest that you (and Patricia, too) have been incredible parents to your daughters. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  3. Excellent post. One thing I’ll criticize is where you say “Things have clearly changed, and not for the better.” Nothing has actually changed. Mansplaining, this mistreatment in classrooms, etc, has always been there, but things are actually getting better: because ~women are speaking up about it~ (and some men are listening). It’s just a wording choice, but it’s an important one. When I tell my mentors, my older family members, professors, etc, who are women, about the things I’ve protested with my friends, the things we’ve marched against, the things we fight in public and in forums about, they say “that’s always been happening.” and I say, “That’s true, but women are no longer prepared to take it.” More and more insidious everyday sexism is being exposed, and that’s a great thing, even if it’s hard to face.

    1. When I say “nothing has actually changed”—obviously things have changed, I just meant that mansplaining in all spaces and mistreatment and exclusion in academic spaces are nothing new.

  4. I was really referring to my own business school experience when I said “things have changed”, but I am mindful of both my memory (faulty at times) and the reality that, back then, I was probably much less aware than I am today. Most likely, Leah, your are more right than I am in this. If any of my female business school classmates read this, I would be most interested in their recollections.

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