Please let me focus

Library of Congress_Stanton and Anthony_download

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated, and Susan B. Anthony, standing. (Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov)

One comment on my last post moved me to respond.

I struggle with the “women only” classes.. to exclude on the basis of being inclusive… is a difficult logic puzzle. While I recognize the issues of sexism and bias (overt and unconscious) I also don’t see how creating separate spaces, brings people together. It feels in a way a declaration of war that one group is “Bad” and rightfully excluded.. today because of the sins of the father in our culture, and an admission of defeat, deciding that women are incapable of working with men so need their space. The Boy Scouts evolved… this movement seems to go the wrong way.

Thank you, reader, for grappling with the subject at hand, which demands finer distinctions than are often made in contemporary discourse. I hope that what follows will shed some light on the matter.

For decades I, too, rebelled against the idea of woodworking classes limited to women. As a woman trained in the City & Guilds trades system in England beginning in 1979, I took for granted that my woodworking classes would include primarily be made up of men, so I wasn’t at all surprised that I was the only female in my cohort. In most of the shops where I’ve worked since 1980, I continued to be the only woman–a laudable exception being the shop of Wall-Goldfinger in Northfield, Vermont, during the late 1980s, where women made up between 25 and 30 percent of the shop-floor workforce. (Kudos to John Wall, Michael Goldfinger, and David Haber, and also to their wives.)

Over the past 20 years I’ve encountered the argument that women-only classes are necessary because some women learn better in a setting without men, where they’re freed from having to compete with men or be insulted by them.* Until recently, I resisted those arguments. “In the real world of professional woodworking, most women have to work side-by-side with men,” I told Megan Fitzpatrick when discussing this subject in 2017. “Women just need to get used to it.” She disagreed, and because I respect her (greatly), I tried to figure out why. As another commenter put it: “You have given [me] more to think about beyond the above. I’m comfortable in my positions and beliefs, and am not threatened by trying to see through different eyes.”

As I tried to see Sarah’s project at A Workshop of Our Own through different eyes, I remembered that I’d gone to a women’s high school. I didn’t choose the school; my mother and grandparents did. They chose it because they were convinced that my sister and I would be better able to focus on learning, instead of on socializing. Of course, children who go to mixed-gender schools are also learning about gender relations, in addition to their subjects of formal study. That can be valuable. But because of the circumstances that had culminated in our parents’ divorce, they thought we needed to spend less time thinking about boys than about algebra, the Periodic Table, the life cycle of Taenia solium and the question of whether all animals are equal or some are perhaps more equal than others.

It’s undeniable that one of the lessons girls and boys learn in mixed-gender schools concerns how they’re expected to behave if they want to be attractive to others. There’s nothing wrong with that, at least in principle–unless it discourages boys from taking sewing and cooking classes, or from cultivating their gentler side (I’m really grateful that my husband did not get that memo), and girls from applying themselves to their studies and publicly acknowledging what they know on the grounds that being smart or skilled might be is often considered threatening.

Only after I gave my high school experience some serious reflection did I begin to understand the rationale behind classes, or even an entire school, for women only. (For the record, I also kicked myself for having been tone-deaf to my own privilege as a beneficiary of single-gender high-schooling. One thing about privilege–it’s easy to take for granted.) It’s not about excluding men, but about creating an environment where students can simply focus on the subject at hand.

Some people excel at multitasking. They can dictate the draft of a doctoral dissertation into Notes on their i-Phone while jogging through traffic with their dog. However, most of us function best in relatively controlled conditions. One friend of mine swears she’s incapable of writing unless her desk is clear of clutter. Another says he writes his funniest stories at night, after the rest of his family’s in bed. Another “cannot function” without coffee first thing in the morning. All of these are examples in which we have no trouble acknowledging that controlling select aspects of our circumstances, whether social or physical, aids focus.

Again, the point is not to exclude men, nor to vilify them. Nor is anyone claiming that women are “incapable of working with men so need their space.” Beyond the doors of those classrooms is a world where the same women who sign up for the classes speak, work, ride the subway, eat, and in many cases, have children with men. But it’s also a world in which graduates of those classes may feel just a little more confident asserting themselves because they did not have to deal with fellow students who resented their presence in a woodworking class/golf club/voting booth/branch of government and expressed their resentment by calling them vulgar names under their breath, defacing their work in the dark of night, sending anonymous threatening letters or complaining to the instructor about their underarm hair (while finding their fellow men’s underarm hair completely normal and inoffensive).

This is just a tiny sampling of the stuff that still, amazingly, goes on in 2019. Some of us deal with such behavior by filing it under “desperate stuff some people do when they feel threatened or impotent”–i.e., compartmentalizing it with a degree of empathy–and moving on. Some of us report the behavior in the hope that those institutional cultures that (still?) silently overlook it will change. But can I now understand why some women respond by shaping their circumstances so that they don’t have to waste their time or emotional energy reacting to this kind of stuff? You bet.–Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work

*Please don’t read this as implying that all men insult women. Clearly they don’t. Nor am I denying that women sometimes compete with and insult each other.

About nrhiller

cabinetmaker and author
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46 Responses to Please let me focus

  1. Joseph Kulak says:

    Nancy, having read your book I feel I know a little about where you’re coming from. As an older male who’s gone through the early days of “women in their place”, then on to 20 years of Corporate sensitivity training. We have arrived at the point of the male of the species being relegated to second class citizenship. I find that while having women’s only classes may give them the environment of better learning, it now smacks of having “men in their place”. If you tried to have men only classes would the uproar not be loud and unforgiving? I for one have no problem with women’s only classes. I also have no problem with men only classes or mixed gender classes. The purpose of my response, which I do no do lightly is to point out that maybe we all over think this just a little too much. I love everything about Lost Art Press, from the authors to the products. Over the years Chris has made me think on more than one occasion. Hopefully in this case I can return the favor.

    Liked by 2 people

    • emjayb says:

      I don’t believe that we have arrived anywhere near “the point of the male of the species being relegated to second class citizenship.” That will not even come close to happening until women’s pay is equal to men’s, which, unfortunately, seems many years down the road, if it ever happens.

      As for having “men only” classes, isn’t that usually what is happening in most circumstances? It isn’t overtly stated, but a lot of times that is the atmosphere that is present in the class.

      Like

      • Joseph Kulak says:

        It is amazing how your perception is different than mine. But isn’t that the point of the discussion. I never intended to antagonize or belittle Nancy’s commentary. I only wanted to point out that it “feel’s” like the tables are turning. Is it okay that the only way to make things right in this day and age is to turn the tables? I am excited to see more women in woodworking. They seem more patient, creative on their own, and driven to quality. Those are all qualities that bring about great work. Don’t get angry or defensive if I feel the way i do. You’re allowed to and so am I. I feel sad for the way my gender treated females in history. I cannot do anything about that except be different today. Enjoy your day.

        Like

        • loxmyth says:

          It isn’t ok that the need exists. It wouldn’t be OK to ignore that fact. Sometimes a bit of assistance _is_ called for to help correct historical biases.

          If you’ve ever gotten assistance, pay it forward. That’s what makes a society worth living in.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Brian N Hall says:

        Why is it that “women’s only (fill in the blank)” is enlightened, and “men’s only (fill in the blank)” is sexist?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Brian N Hall says:

        FWIW, I just completed a weeklong 8 person woodworking class with one woman among us. The rest of us were unanimously excited to see more women pursuing a passion for woodworking. We offered her nothing but encouragement. This was a rather advanced class and she had only begun her journey in woodworking a year ago. In her work, she was careful and deliberate and demonstrated a natural talent for creativity and alternate methods of work. The men in the class varied in age from mid-thirties to late-sixties and there was a wide cross-section of culture and talent.

        I agree with Joseph that men sometimes feel under attack and assigned as some sort of sub-human variation of our species…what is clear to me is that men are far more willing as a group to welcome women into formerly male-dominated roles, than we are given credit for.

        Liked by 2 people

        • loxmyth says:

          Many, perhaps most, men are a lot better than used to be the case, certainly.

          There is still a gap to be closed.

          In any case, the guys’ opinion really doesn’t signiy here. If there are folks who are feeling excluded, we should do what it takes to fix that.

          Like

          • Joseph Kulak says:

            I’m done getting beat up for having an opinion in this string, but I just have to know. What does the word signiy mean? Is it a mis-spelling?

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            • nrhiller says:

              I don’t think you’re being beat up, though I do understand how easy it is to feel that way. Most people who have had their work published can appreciate the truth behind the saying “stick your neck out, and someone’s bound to chop it off.” No one’s opinion is going to be universally popular. It takes guts to state yours. I appreciate your comments and the entire conversation.

              Like

  2. nbreidinger says:

    Thanks for expounding on the topic. I’m happy to see the original commenter express an opinion without being belligerent and seeing a kind and well thought out response. It’s refreshing. I hadn’t thought of women only woodworking classes as kin to single gender schools. I have heard that the academic results tend to be better in those situations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bscalled says:

      When I was learning to teach I was taught the science suggests middle school girls perform better in single sex classrooms, and middle school boys perform better in coed classrooms. The science isn’t definitive, and I don’t have the books now so can’t give cites. But that little nugget lodged in my head; an interesting conundrum.

      Like

  3. Jerry Spinks says:

    I have no doubt that what Nancy Hiller says, really happened to her. I saw it myself (once and only once) in my job when a woman was promoted into a position no woman had previously held within the company. As an “old” man, I sometimes feel unwelcome by young female woodworkers, who seem to view me with suspicion, although I have never given reason for that suspicion, possibly because they “expect” me to bring old attitudes to the table due to my age and maybe their experience. As a seriously deaf woodworker I frequently feel somewhat excluded by my peers, male and female, because of communication problems. In groups, I have difficulty following conversations, therefore I am frequently eased out of discussions, even by friends, and while I understand, it doesn’t make the experience less painful. I refuse to dwell on it or to let my feelings be hurt. It is what it is. Nancy apparently thinks her experience was not fair, just as some might think my experience was not fair. I learned long ago (1964 to be specific) as an 18 year old machinist apprentice, that the youngest or most different or whatever else I may be at the moment, is going to be the target of everyone else in the shop until someone younger, less experienced or more different comes on the scene. Personally, I decided as a youth not to be defined by what someone else, ANYONE ELSE, thinks about me, but to be and do and act the way that suits me. Nancy Hiller has proven herself more than capable in her chosen profession to all watching, so it seems she has chosen to prolong a battle she long ago won.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nrhiller says:

      For what it’s worth, I am fine with my own experience. I didn’t consider my treatment unfair at the time, and I’ve dealt with it very much as you have. It was just the way things were, as you yourself state. This post I wrote today is about some of the younger women (and women my own age who who are newer to woodworking than you or I) who are *still* dealing with resentment simply *for being women in a field traditionally occupied by men*. Personally, as one who has made her living in this field for decades, I am gobsmacked that this stuff is still occurring. The specific expressions mentioned here occurred in the past two years. Really, I thought we’d long gone beyond this.

      I am not prolonging a battle I won long ago (though I honestly appreciate your perception of me as somehow victorious). Rather, thanks to Chris and others at Lost Art Press, I am doing my best to give a far-reaching voice to others (what a concept) whose voices–not “shrill,” not “histrionic,” just reporting for duty–are not being heard. Because some of us are writing and working on behalf of others, not just ourselves.

      Like

      • I, for one, appreciate this long overdue topic. And, very much appreciate that you and others are speaking for a larger mass at this time. I don’t think a woman can hold enough accumulated years of experience to let go of what may seem like a prolonged battle to others and still occur and reoccur in the present time. Especially when it becomes very publIc like in a teaching position when it can even happen with students and other male instructors. So, it is still an issue that needs discussion and to see some of the thoughtful sensitive responses from men who really understand and are witnesses themselves. All important in this discussion.

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      • Jerry Spinks says:

        Living in Charleston, SC, generally a kind, gentle city (except possibly those who are from “off” and haven’t fully acclimated) I may have missed the point of the initial post in my early reply. I rarely see discrimination against women in woodworking here. Of course, we have a world class classical woodcarver (Mary May) and a world class turner (Andrea Harwood). My adult daughter and I have taken classes together and she sometimes is bothered by men who think she doesn’t know anything because she’s a women (they’re wrong). They generally change their minds quickly when they see her in action. In addition to being a competent woodworker, she is also a blacksmith and a Master Craftsmen metalworker. I do understand why sometimes women might want a separate class. Thirty years ago I was on a vigorous physical workout routine and was no slouch, however there were two power lifters who, when in training, were working with weights two and three times what I was. When they came into the gym I was embarrassed for them to see my normal workout routine, so generally just called it a day. That was my own insecurity. They never said anything to me. If women are more comfortable with their own woodworking classes, at least in the beginning, I say go for it!

        Like

  4. wardtw says:

    I have no problem with a women only class if you feel it necessary although it is unfortunate that as adults we still have the need to segregate by gender to acquire knowledge. I think that adult educational gender education is a bit different than elementary or secondary education for young people. Children and teenagers are still developing their value systems and same gender segregation may have a role at that time of our lives.
    It really is all about respect for another human being. We should respect each other even if the playing field is not level for money, intellect, appearance, experience, or gender. When I first realized that nhiller was a female I gave it about 5 seconds of conscious thought and then refocused on the informative work of hers that I was reading. Men and women are different in many ways but equal in what really matters. It is not that complicated if we respect each other

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jack says:

    “Tone deaf to my own privilege…” that sums up your response, sir.

    I think, as white men, we need to wear the other shoes, for a minute. Or, for that matter, go barefoot. This is not a case of reverse discrimination! To say that we’re being “put in our place” is absurd. That would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years being wrongly considered subhuman!

    I’m glad to be a member of the next generation. I was at a class, recently, taught by a wonderful woman, in a town in northern Kentucky. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. Anyway, it was disgusting to hear the jokes tossed her way! Openly, I might add…

    Out with the old!
    -jack

    Liked by 1 person

    • johncashman73 says:

      Some of my favorite advice is, “Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Then, when you criticize them, you’ll be a mile away. And you’ll have their shoes.”

      Liked by 4 people

  6. dodies says:

    I’m so glad you write these things. Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin with explanations. Clarifications. Rebuttals. In general terms, personal experiences. It can be daunting, and I find myself reaching wayyyy back. Only to find I didn’t have to go far at all. Sigh… 59 and female
    Of course women only classes are a benefit to women, there is an absolute natural camaraderie. I do believe that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eric from Dayton says:

    Another point of view is that if men are present then it is assumed that they will be helping the women, if nothing else, to do the heavy lifting. I think women only classes are good for now, as it enlightens other women observing that women can indeed do the work without men. Perhaps in the future there will be enough teachers and classes to teach all that are interested. In the end, we will all benefit.

    Like

  8. Peter Mich says:

    Thank you for being a leader on this issue by standing tall and making your voice heard. Your words ought to encourage each of us to think and act in ways that foster a more fair and equitable place for all.

    Like

  9. johncashman73 says:

    Your line “One thing about privilege–it’s easy to take for granted” is key. It’s very easy to think that being male, being financially secure, being white, being middle-aged, or whatever, has no value. All of those things do. Recognizing it is important.

    I have no doubt that woodworking classes for women can only help elevate the craft. For women, AND for me. It seems like an obvious win, and it costs me nothing. I applaud the effort, and hope it continues.

    I’ve been woodworking since I was in my teens. I have all the magazines — literally — and a ton of books. I was cutting wood before the internet existed. I’ve observed a lot, and I’d like to toss a couple of things out there.

    When Megan started at PopWood, she was a writer/editor, and pretty new to woodworking. I had been making mountains of sawdust before that. But new faces are always refreshing, and it was great fun to see her progress. In just a handful of years she had gotten where it took me a couple of decades. Sadly, I saw a lot of potshots taken at her because she wasn’t a “real” woodworker. Part of that was her newness, but a big part was because she was a woman. What nonsense. Her experience was more real than the hordes of male woodworkers whose primary experience was theoretical online forum woodworking.

    But I saw similar prejudice against Chris Schwarz. Many said he wasn’t a “professional woodworker,” only a mere writer. Horsehockey. Utter nonsense. It goes back to privilege. In this case, people trying to protect what they percieve as their own value by trying to tear down others. What I’ve learned in middle age is that sometimes people are prejudiced. Sometimes they are misogynistic. Sometimes they just plain suck.

    I apologize for the length, but if anyone has read this far, I have one more thing I’d like to say, in case people are in doubt about the reality women in woodworking have to deal with. Let me preface it by saying I’m an extremely mediocre woodturner. I do just enough to finish a project to my satisfaction. I’m slow, I scrape too much, and sand wayyyy too much. When I see someone who really excells at turning, or anything else I don’t do well, I really admire the hell out of them.

    I won’t mention who, but there is a young woman on Instagram who is an amazing turner. If I chained myself to my lathe tomorrow, in ten years I wouldn’t be half as good or one-tenth as fast as she is. I’ve seen delicate work no bigger than a toothpick, and giant work many feet in diameter. I’ve seen her turn out pieces as fast as a CNC might. I am in awe. But far, far too many comments are extremely sexist. Some people have no grasp even of double entendre. I’ve seen more subtle things written in the stalls of a men’s room. It’s just inconcievable. I really wrestled with going off on these dolts, but she doesn’t need me to rescue her. And I have no desire to start a shitstorm in someone else’s parlor. But it disturbs me deeply. And if this is at all an indication of what women woodworkers have to deal with, having separate classes is still a necessity. Maybe they won’t be in another genereation or two. But not yet.

    Like

    • Greg M. says:

      The fact is, John, being a white male is no longer rewarded with privilege. Just ask any young man high school senior applying for college or scholarships. Reverse discrimination is rampant in the guise of leveling the playing field for gender and racial equality. The pendulum swings awfully fast in this age of instant communication and social media and going too far in the other direction is pretty much unavoidable.That is just as pernicious as the injustice perpetrated on women and minorities in the past. We are in revolutionary times and not all the consequences are good. Just look at the French Revolution. We all know how that turned out.

      I completely agree with you about the young woman woodturner and not posting a diatribe on her Instagram site. But, what you could do is report those posts to instagram and my guess is that Instagram would find an abusive pattern for those boorish idiots and they might actually do something.

      We are living in turbulent times and there is a lot of anger out there. That has had a negative impact on everyone’s peace and happiness and that is our greatest loss.

      Like

      • emjayb says:

        And when all is said and done with the “reverse discrimination” that is supposedly leveling the playing field for gender and racial equality and the ones receiving the supposed advantages do live up to the advantage by getting excellent grades and then go out in the work world and are consistently offered starting wages that are lower than the men who were “discriminated” against and whose grades were no better than theirs — where is that equality??

        I know this is kind of long and rambling but I couldn’t really find a place to break up the thought…

        And it seems to me that being a white male is still being rewarded with privilege.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. johncashman73 says:

    Although I love Stanton and Anthony, a better image for this group would be of Carry Nation. Rumor has it that she is related to Peter Follansbee, but the only reason for that is because I started the rumor. Here’s a picture: https://cdn.britannica.com/s:300×300/62/9862-004-166D0ABC.jpg

    Like

    • Nancy says:

      Laughing out loud at that image. I really hope that you and I will get to meet in person someday.

      Like

    • Carrie Nation (different than Carry Nation, which is what we are inching toward) is a local hero. We even have a restaurant named for her that has a hatchet as the door handle.

      “Between 1900 and 1910, Carrie was arrested 30 times for her ‘hatchetations’ until she arrived in Cincinnati. Receiving word of her impending visit, Over-The-Rhine bar owners braced for the worst. Yet upon her arrival Carrie took one step onto Vine street, turned around and left. When asked why she did not follow her usual path of destruction, Carrie’s response was:

      ‘I would have dropped from exhaustion before I went one block for all the bars in this city.'”

      Like

      • johncashman73 says:

        Ha! I had never seen that quote. I love it.

        Like

      • Gregory Medis says:

        Carrie actually sold souvenir hatchets engraved with the catch phrase: “Death To Rum”. My guess is that if Crucible Tool produced a run of replicas, they would sell out fast.

        Liked by 2 people

    • emjayb says:

      Looks like she is ready to start work on wooden utensils…

      Like

  11. ctrega says:

    You must’ve been able to focus on your english lesseons back then because you can really churn out the written word.

    Like

  12. Steve says:

    So presumably all-male classes would be acceptable? If not, why not?

    Like

    • johncashman73 says:

      Let’s make it an all white male age 50-60 class.

      Wait, I’ve taken that class. Over and over.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Brian Hall says:

        Clever reply, but doesn’t answer the question. The remedy for discrimination is to STOP labeling one another into different groups based on gender, ethnicity, race, etc. As long as these labels exist, division will exist.

        Like

  13. Steve Dixon says:

    Studies have been done which clearly demonstrated that girls in “All Girl” math classes (Late Jr. High) achieved at a higher level than girls in gender mixed classes. However, the schools response to these studies was to end the “All Girl” classes for some sort of gender bias reasoning. I taught chemistry and physics for 38 years in public school and I searched teaching methods which demonstrated improvement regardless of gender-benders or anything else. One of the most effective policies I observed was keeping students in last years home room if they did not pass the previous year. Students who had never cared much about school became home work machines. Naturally when a prominent family objected the policy was scrapped. Learning must never be compared with the value of Prom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nrhiller says:

      There’s nothing like applying yourself to your studies to make for success, and I know from personal experience that going back over material a second time, with extra motivation and focus, does wonders for learning. How dismaying it is to hear that this proven strategy was scrapped at your school, as it has been in so many schools. Ugh.

      Like

  14. Scott Maurer says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would get upset about a women only class. If it helps bring more women into woodworking isn’t that a good thing? It isn’t like it diminishes my opportunity to learn and it expands the pool of people who can come to inspire me and bring a new perspective to the craft. Besides which, every single woodworking class I have ever taken has been all male, not by design, simply by default. Having all male classes would then be pointless because they all are anyways.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Scott Barron says:

      Fear. Fear that they (straight white men) are going to be treated the same way women and minorities / other marginalized groups have been treated since, well, always.

      Liked by 2 people

      • tsstahl says:

        Maybe because segregation and denying opportunity are pretty good indicators of negative intent? Doing things the way they’ve always been done, but with a different focus is what raises the ire of folks. See my below post for more information.

        Like

    • tsstahl says:

      The following is based on centrist views. I’ll never try to figure out those on the rim of the bell curve. Nobody really believes the outcome to be bad, but the way to get there is where lies the fertile ground to grow ‘upset’. I’m generally against _only_ X in just about anything. Absolutes are idiotic, except for gravity and vodka. It’s all about equal opportunity, not equal outcome. Reading above, John has apparently taken the same class many times. I’m guessing he’s pretty stupit, or they don’t trust him with the sharp things. 🙂 Sorry, had to take that easy shot at John–the thought of him needing to take classes boggles my pissant woodworking pea brain. Back on track. Where X, in this case woodworking classes, are in short supply, limiting them for any artificial reason is a Bad Thing. Tapping the market with a new offering that is limited for any artificial reason is a Bad Thing. These are examples of limiting opportunity, which no matter how you slice, dice, and rhetoricize about it is a Bad Thing. Wedding cake litigation has demonstrated this to be also illegal in certain jurisdictions.

      When you have a finite resource, again woodworking classes, and you tailor them for broader appeal, it is a Good Thing. In this instance more opportunity is created, though less numbers of any category can use the resource. The pool at my local Y is a great example. I can’t just show my badge at the door and plop my fat arse in the pool any time I choose. I have to surf the schedule to work around like 8 youth age categories for swim lessons, geriatric water sports, physical therapy sessions, lap only, and who knows what else I can’t remember at the moment. Some acrimony might be generated because some personal schedules are ‘inconvenienced’. The point is, it might not be on my terms, but that damn pool is still available to me. Back to woodworking, if an instructor, or facility, I really want is not available at all because I wear New Balance sneakers, that garners a hearty WTH! and I am totally against that situation.

      My market in Chicagoland only has like a dozen woodworking educational opportunities off the top of my head (yea, I’m being totally facetious here). If somewhere in the mix are classes tailored to women, or whatever artificial reason, I’m not bothered by that. Again, the point being the resource–opportunity–should also be available to me. Which brings us full circle why I _really_ like Nancy’s initial post about broadening the universe of woodworking by creating more opportunity through the literature.

      Like

  15. kaunfried says:

    The people who make comments under there breathe about women arn’t men they are boys who can’t stand on there own. I’ve been blessed by learning life lessons as well as wood working from wonderful people, not just men but women. This is not a threat to my masculinity or should it be a down play on there feminism. We are here together and neither will survive without the other.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jeff says:

    I have a difficult time parsing my thoughts on this issue, but I’m going to give it a shot, come what may. This might get long so I’ll just say in advance, I’m Sorry!!
    I have an issue with the idea of “women only” anything, for no other reason than were I to declare anything as “men only” I would be taken out to the nearest social media public square and eviscerated for being a sexist, out of touch old man. Now I’m about the same age as Chris so I’m not old to the extreme, but I’m certainly feeling like there are those who think we should be put out to pasture (or taken out and shot).
    I grew up in New England and was blessed with the benefit of a four year education as a cabinetmaker, graduating in 1983. Part of that education involved teaching underclassmen. I worked with everyone, both male and female, and never made any distinction between the two. I never looked at the girls as less capable, nor do I know of anyone else who did, so I guess I have a hard time envisaging that reality.
    Now, Nancy explains that she is writing more about young women of today so maybe I just wasn’t a part of that societal evolution. Or maybe it’s just the way I was raised, I don’t know. I spent most of my life working in a union environment where men and women were paid the same money for doing the same job. There were no “men only” jobs. I am aware, however, based on my experience in the Air Force and a few years in law enforcement, that that was probably the exception and not the rule.
    So it is that reality which informed the way in which my wife and I raised our daughter. She and our son were raised with the same rules, the same opportunities, the same benefits and the same support system. It really had nothing to do with male or female. Though I’ll admit to maybe being a little more protective of my girl, ‘cuz that’s just what dads do. 🙂 We must have done something right though, as she’s a few months away from completing her MBA, and on a fast track to an Asst. Dean position at her University where she’s worked since her freshman year. She’s blown through every dream I ever had for her, and her successes surpass mine by leaps and bounds. And it’s because she was raised to understand and believe she is equal to anyone else. No better, no worse and she presents herself accordingly.
    My point in this apologetically lengthy tome is that I don’t think the answer to this very real problem is segregation, but rather education. Women only, men only things may be a good idea in the hormone infested environs of high school, but in the adult world they serve only to deepen the chasm of misunderstanding and create greater animosity and resentment. Maybe we all need to take that next step; stop being so sensitive and stop looking for reasons to be offended. At the end of the day, if we can’t sit in the room together and find the solutions together, we’ll never fix anything. Maybe that’s the lesson we should be teaching our children.
    As Antonio said to Sebastian: “Whereof what’s past is prologue; what to come,
    In yours and my discharge.”

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  17. bendur says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s always good to learn about experiences and perspectives beyond my own.

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