New political cartoon: Bitch If You Do, Broke If You Don't

Click on the cartoon to see it bigger.

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47 Responses to New political cartoon: Bitch If You Do, Broke If You Don't

  1. 1
    Joy-Mari Cloete says:

    Yip. I, too, had been duped into believing that women frequently don’t ask for raises and don’t know how to negotiate. I — and the blog authors — forgot about systemic sexism.

  2. Joy had a point about the “systematic sexism”

  3. 3
    PG says:

    Reminds me of this post from Fugitivus.

  4. 4
    Andrew says:

    Well, there’s also the fact that women take jobs and college majors that pay lower than men. Pretty much anyone with a BA in English is going to make less than anyone with a BS in Computer Science, regardless of gender. Also, many of the skilled trades that are predominantly male pay more than many college majors that are predominantly female, not because of “sexism”, but because knowing how to fix pipes or wire a house is worth more to other people than analyzing post-modern literature and art. A lot of it’s just a matter of choice.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Andrew, are you saying “the wage gap is caused by a mixture of different choices and direct discrimination, and so anyone who thinks that direct discrimination by employers is the only cause, is mistaken”? Because if that’s your point, then we agree.

    But if what you’re claiming is “discrimination isn’t significant, the wage gap is pretty much entirely caused by women’s own completely free choices,’ then you’re mistaken.

  6. 6
    Tom Nolan says:

    Wouldn’t a woman who took the message of this cartoon to heart simply refrain from asking for a raise on the grounds that it would never be granted anyway? Is telling a woman that it’s worse than pointless to ask for a raise, as her employer will not only refuse to accord it to her, but will also regard her as a pushy bitch – is that likely to help or hinder her?

  7. @ Andrew: I don’t think you are aware of the discrimination may be because it never affected you anyway, if it has in anyway, you will notice that it has nothing to do with choice. There are women as qualify as men in their profession and yet they get pay less cuz of their gender. This is very true and it has nothing to do with “choice” as we are talking about same carrier field here.

    @ Tom: I think I am missing your point. So, you are trying to say that you as a person did not recognise the message this carton is trying to pass? The carton just pointed out a discrimination. Or you don’t know that this is one of the ways to call attention to an issue. What do you take women for? So, you think a woman will work up to her boss and say ” well I saw this carton, now I need a raise”. Come on!
    When people are not afraid to take bold steps in their lives, they see that they break barrier, so, a woman that needs a raise and knows she deserves a raise need not be afriad to ask and any boss that will see such woman as pushy bitch need not be in a leadership position!

  8. 8
    PG says:

    Tom,

    I’m guessing by your name that you’re a man. Have you considered what the message of the cartoon might be to men, particularly those who are in a managerial position? Indeed, given that women sometimes carry the same sexist biases as men, what about the message of the cartoon to women who are in managerial positions?

    In short, I think you might misunderstand who the cartoon is intended to “educate.”

  9. 9
    Sailorman says:

    It’s a good cartoon.

    I think that another aspect of the problem comes from the “do as I do” concept. Personal interactions are actually much harder than they look. Someone who thinks “well, I’ll just say what Janet said” is setting herself up for a fall. Because after all, it’s not just Janet’s words, it’s her body language and volume and timing and tone and pronunciation and what have you.

    It’s why the pickup artist stuff doesn’t work.

    I’m not in any way suggesting that there isn’t sexism in play. Of course there is: it is inherent in the years of past history that make the woman in the cartoon not have already asked for a raise. But if she didn’t already know how to ask, she may not have done so as well as the man.

    Surely we’ve all seen that happen, when someone tries to act like they have a social skill which they’ve never developed to perfection. I can teach my wife to negotiate with salespeople until the cows come home, but I’ve (surprise!) been a relatively fractious negotiator all my life and she’ll have to practice for years until she can do what I do. And of course she has a variety of skills which I don’t possess and can’t do worth a damn, and I’d have to practice for years.

  10. 10
    Dianne says:

    I’m not sure if this is intentional, but it seems to me that the body language of the woman asking for a raise is apologetic, like she’s not sure she deserves a raise and is not comfortable asking, whereas the man asking for a raise looks certain that he deserves and will get it. Another part of the intrinsic sexism, perhaps: Women are raised to believe that they aren’t as good and don’t deserve what men get, regardless of the situation. So even when trying to be assertive and “like a man” they still come off different, less certain. Less competent appearing, perhaps? (Thus allowing the boss to believe that it’s not sexism that motivates him to give the man but not the woman a raise.)

  11. 11
    leah says:

    @Andrew: But what is cause, and what is consequence? As a field gets coded pink-collared (i.e. when it turns from male dominated to female dominated), the wages and prestige of that field decrease. There are numerous historical examples: Reporter/Journalist (english major), Medical doctor (biology/medical degree example here), Biomedical engineering (engineering degree), to name a few. Also, from here: ” Surprisingly, the differing occupations of men and women explain only 10–33 percent of the difference in male and female earnings. The rest is due to differences within occupations”

  12. 12
    Joy-Mari Cloete says:

    @Diane

    I’m inclined to agree with you but why then does the boss think she’s being pushy?

  13. 13
    Sailorman says:

    Looks like Dianne and I posted sort of on the same thing.

    In retrospect, the best way of saying it is that someone who has “decided to be ______” or who is “trying to be ____” is going to act differently than someone who is naturally _____.

    So when Dianne says

    Thus allowing the boss to believe that it’s not sexism that motivates him to give the man but not the woman a raise

    It might not be. It is certainly sexism that is responsible for the result of the woman not getting a raise. But it’s possible that sexism is present mostly in its affect on the woman’s attitude and/or presentation, and that the boss’ evaluation of her is objectively correct.

  14. 14
    PG says:

    he boss’ evaluation of her is objectively correct.

    What Joy-Mari Cloete said: if her presentation is apologetic, where the hell does “Pushy bitch” come from?

  15. 15
    Sailorman says:

    I didn’t say “apologetic,” so I haven’t the foggiest idea.

    Having seen people of both sexes try to model self confidence, assertiveness, dominance, and the like, it rarely comes off as apologetic. It’s more likely to be too much aggression.

  16. 16
    PG says:

    Sailorman,

    Sorry, I thought you were agreeing with Dianne’s comment, which very much said that the woman in the cartoon appears apologetic.

  17. 17
    Dianne says:

    I’m inclined to agree with you but why then does the boss think she’s being pushy?

    Because she had the audacity to state that she deserved a raise. She may have put it in the least “offensive” (i.e. least clear and assertive) manner possible, but she is still asking for a raise. A man saying, “I deserve a raise, give it to me or else!” is a go-getter, a woman saying, “Please, I think I might be doing well enough to possibly get a raise given that I’m bringing in twice as much income as any other member of the department. If it’s not too much trouble.” is being a bitch. It’s just another level of the same point Amp is making overtly: even when she’s apologizing for asking, she’s still being “bitchy.”

  18. 18
    Raznor says:

    Good ‘toon. I’ll leave the political points for others to discuss and just note that the determined face on the woman in panel three while she thinks “The internet is right” keeps making me chuckle.

  19. 19
    Tom Nolan says:

    Standtall

    So, you are trying to say that you as a person did not recognise the message this cartoon is trying to pass?

    Of course not. How could I be construed to be saying any such thing?

    Come on!
    When people are not afraid to take bold steps in their lives, they see that they break barrier, so, a woman that needs a raise and knows she deserves a raise need not be afriad to ask and any boss that will see such woman as pushy bitch need not be in a leadership position!

    I’m having some difficulty making sense of this. The cartoon makes it plain that a woman in our sexist society who asks for a raise will (1) be refused the raise and (2) be regarded as a pushy bitch by her boss. If that analysis is correct, then there can be no incentive for her to ask for a wage. Agree, disagree?

    PG

    Have you considered what the message of the cartoon might be to men, particularly those who are in a managerial position?

    It doesn’t matter who it’s directed at (though far, far more women employees are likely to read it than male bosses – on this site at least). It’s what it actually demonstrates that matters: that a woman asking for a raise can expect nothing but contempt as her reward. You can’t legitimately say: “Guys, especially those of you in an employer-position, take this criticism seriously: you are preventing women from achieving pay-parity by refusing them their just financial desserts – and furthermore you have the temerity to consider them pushy bitches for even asking!” and then whisper out of the corner of your mouth: “Psst. Girls, don’t take all that too seriously – there’s no reason you shouldn’t ask for a raise. We actually want you to – we’re feminists after all!”

  20. 20
    Ampersand says:

    I’m not sure if this is intentional, but it seems to me that the body language of the woman asking for a raise is apologetic, like she’s not sure she deserves a raise and is not comfortable asking, whereas the man asking for a raise looks certain that he deserves and will get it.

    I did consciously choose to make the woman’s body language in the final panel apologetic; my intention was to highlight how ludicrous the boss’ reading of her as “pushy” was.

    But your right, it did create a huge contrast between the male employee’s body language and the female employee’s body language.

  21. 21
    Ampersand says:

    Tom, I reject the idea that because acknowledging problems might discourage people, we therefore shouldn’t acknowledge that problems exist.

    Another possibility is that talking about problems will help people to recognize and work to change those problems.

    This could happen, for instance, through collective action. Or perhaps (continuing your conceit that some woman somewhere is going to make decisions based primarily upon reading this cartoon — a premise I find, and this is a gargantuan understatement, unlikely, but for argument’s sake I’ll go along with it) a woman, having read this cartoon, will be more likely to recognize what’s going on in her workplace as discrimination, and after being unfairly turned down for a raise will sue.

  22. 22
    Tom Nolan says:

    Amp

    continuing your conceit that some woman somewhere is going to make decisions based primarily upon reading this cartoon — a premise I find extremely unlikely, but for argument’s sake I’ll go along with it

    It’s not a conceit, Ampersand: you don’t, I take it, draw your political cartoons on the understanding that they will have no effect? And though you are quite right, of course, to say that a single cartoon – or a single post or a single comment, for that matter – is unlikely on its own to determine a woman’s decision to ask for a raise or to refrain from doing so, the cumulative effect of many reiterations of the notion that she can expect nothing but hostility from her male superiors if she demands a higher wage may well be to discourage her from even putting the matter to the test.

    a woman, having read this cartoon, will be more likely to recognize what’s going on in her workplace as discrimination, and after being unfairly turned down for a raise will sue

    I would be very pleased if she did so, but I doubt that she would find a cartoon entitled “Bitch if you do, broke if you don’t” to be any kind of call-to-arms. I don’t doubt that you meant the cartoon in the positive way you describe, I just don’t think that it is likely to be understood that way.

  23. 23
    PG says:

    I would be very pleased if she did so, but I doubt that she would find a cartoon entitled “Bitch if you do, broke if you don’t” to be any kind of call-to-arms.

    Tom, given that you’re making assumptions about the audience of this blog, do you really think the women who read here are the type to be scared off enforcing their rights by the title of the cartoon? Or do you think it’s going to heighten their sense of the injustice they face and that they should go ahead and be aggressive by fighting for their rights through litigation if necessary, especially having already been labeled a “bitch”?

  24. 24
    Tom Nolan says:

    PG

    Tom, given that you’re making assumptions about the audience of this blog

    I made the assumption (based on years of reading this blog) that more women employees than male bosses read it. Is it an assumption that you do not share?

    do you really think the women who read here are the type to be scared off enforcing their rights by the title of the cartoon?

    I think that plenty of them take it for granted that nothing good for women can be expected of the patriarchy (or the kyriarchy, or however we want to term society as presently constituted); that women constitute an oppressed class and that there can be no point asking a representative and beneficiary of the system, such as a male boss, for help in putting its iniquities right – in this instance by granting a justified wage increase. The cartoon can only reinforce in them an (in my view exaggerated) sense of impotence – pending, of course, the final destruction of the whole patriarchal establishment. But till then it’s “Bitch if you do, broke if you don’t”.

  25. 25
    leah says:

    I think that plenty of them take it for granted that nothing good for women can be expected of the patriarchy (or the kyriarchy, or however we want to term society as presently constituted); that women constitute an oppressed class and that there can be no point asking a representative and beneficiary of the system, such as a male boss, for help in putting its iniquities right – in this instance by granting a justified wage increase. The cartoon can only reinforce in them an (in my view exaggerated) sense of impotence – pending, of course, the final destruction of the whole patriarchal establishment.

    And here’s where you took a left turn off the highway of correct assumptions.

    We’re here to challenge and fight the patriarchy, not go “Oh! Woe is me! My womanness makes it impossible to do anything so *sigh* why bother!”

    Hell. No.

  26. 26
    Tom Nolan says:

    Leah

    And here’s where you took a left turn off the highway of correct assumptions.

    Leah, I didn’t say that you thought these things – I said that plenty of Alas’s readership did. Many women who comment or have commented here are fans of blaming the patriarchy Twisty-style: an ideology which emphasizes the notion that the Patriarchy cannot be reformed but must be uprooted, and that until this happens women can expect to be either exploited or corrupted by the system.

    Be assured that I did not write what I did with you in mind – indeed I know nothing about you. On the other hand, you are not in a position to speak on behalf of Alas’s readership, and your personal credo doesn’t prove my assumption wrong.

    Putting all that aside, however, if any woman of any political stripe whatsoever were to come to you, saying “I really want a raise, and I think I deserve one – advise me!”, would you show her a cartoon entitled “bitch if you do, broke if you don’t” if you wanted to encourage her?

  27. 27
    PG says:

    Many women who comment or have commented here are fans of blaming the patriarchy Twisty-style: an ideology which emphasizes the notion that the Patriarchy cannot be reformed but must be uprooted, and that until this happens women can expect to be either exploited or corrupted by the system.

    Tom, I don’t know anyone, including Twisty, who thinks “the system” is so useless to women in its current form that there’s no point in, say, filing a complaint with the EEOC or bringing a lawsuit if you are discriminated against at work. You’re creating a straw-woman.

    Putting all that aside, however, if any woman of any political stripe whatsoever were to come to you, saying “I really want a raise, and I think I deserve one – advise me!”, would you show her a cartoon entitled “bitch if you do, broke if you don’t” if you wanted to encourage her?

    Uh, if she already thinks that, she’s probably gone to ask for it, and either gotten it or been rejected. If she’s been discriminatorily rejected, then I think the cartoon would be great for pointing that out to her (as she’s walking away from the boss’s door thinking “Hmm… maybe I didn’t ask the right way?”) and helping her feel justified in complaining to an agency or the courts. Lily Ledbetter had a lower paycheck than her male colleagues for years and didn’t even know it until someone anonymously sent her the information.

    But in any case, I don’t usually advise my friends solely through the use of political cartoons. If you do, I’m shocked your friends still ask for advice.

  28. 28
    Tom Nolan says:

    PG

    Tom, I don’t know anyone, including Twisty, who thinks “the system” is so useless to women in its current form that there’s no point in, say, filing a complaint with the EEOC or bringing a lawsuit if you are discriminated against at work. You’re creating a straw-woman.

    PG, this is what Twisty has to say about the patriarchy:

    patriarchy is a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission. Patriarchy’s benefits are accrued according to a rigid hierarchy at the top of which are rich honky males and at the bottom of which are poor women of color.

    If you believe that, then you are never going to accept that a male boss could give a female worker an even break: he’s a winner according to the “rigid” patriarchal system and she’s a loser and never the twain shall come to equitable terms. Twisty goes so far as to deny that he has any real choice in the matter, the patriarchy being “an invisible social order” resting on – if we are to take her seriously (and lots of people do) – an “oppressive paradigm of class” etc. In other words, her beliefs and those implied by the cartoon are fully consonant.

    But in any case, I don’t usually advise my friends solely through the use of political cartoons. If you do, I’m shocked your friends still ask for advice.

    I can’t help feeling that you’re evading the question. I grant that the cartoon was probably intended to shame the male employers who, as Ampersand believes, unjustly refuse women the higher salaries they have a rightful claim to. But what about its effect on women? Would it be more likely to encourage them to ask for a raise or to discourage them from doing so?

  29. 29
    Ampersand says:

    Tom, there are a couple of problems with your use of Twisty as an example.

    First of all, Twisty isn’t typical of “Alas” readers. “Alas” has very few radical feminist readers nowadays — and maybe none at all.

    Secondly, and more importantly, I have no idea if Twisty would consider taking legal action if she was unjustifiably denied a promotion, and neither do you.

    However, I can say that this:

    patriarchy is a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission. Patriarchy’s benefits are accrued according to a rigid hierarchy at the top of which are rich honky males and at the bottom of which are poor women of color.

    Is extremely similar to Catharine MacKinnon’s version of feminism. MacKinnon writes in an academic style, but if we put the style aside, this could have been written by her.

    And yet MacKinnon’s attitude is hardly the “why bother, it’s all doomed before we begin anyhow” attitude you’re describing. On the contrary, she’s spent her entire career using legal tools to try and help women fight the patriarchy. And she’s far from unique. There are a lot of radical feminists who have made careers out of using the legal system to try and help women.

    In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about, Tom.

    I think the problem is that you have a shallow, uninteresting caricature of what “feminists” are like. Your caricature is unrealistic and ignorant, and suggests that for all your years of reading feminist sites, you don’t have any actual understanding of feminism, and you don’t think of us in any but the most shallow, stereotypical ways.

  30. 30
    sally says:

    Let me represent as a woman with a Masters in Computer Science…yet I find it hard to get a job over much less qualified men. It seems I’ve risen and gained enough experience to where they can’t hire me for the entry level, yet when it comes to hiring me for management or lead…they can’t quite bring themselves to do so if a guy needs a job. And especially if there are panel or team interviews, I cannot count on all the men voting for me (and in most places, it is all guys). So I’ve earned a good salary for a while (hey almost like a guy), but now I find it hard to get a job – either a regular low level job (where I’m sitting with guys right out of college coding) or a high level job (where I lead teams of men…but they can’t picture that either). People talk about how many men have been laid off, but in professions dominated by men, a whole level of women have been eliminated, and there are so few of us. Send good energy my way. I hope to be employed and hired, and hopefully for a great job soon.

    But I do have to concur that women sometimes do limit themselves in career choice, sometimes to poverty. Sometimes they limit themselves thinking “I only need this and this much, and I don’t need to push for more” particularly if they have a partner bringing in more income or the benefits. In some marriages, it’s like the guy has the earning job, while the gal has the donation job. You know, where she practically donates her time for the little she earns yet works very hard. Sometimes I see this as businesses and orgs clearly taking advantage and it makes me angry when the guy is groomed and pushed along to lucrative positions, but the gal is left as helpmate. It’s very insidious, and like a frog in slowly heated water, a young woman will hardly notice it at first, particularly because society pets the good girl, the nice, helpmate girl. You can get slapped for asking for more, but you surely will be cheated all around if you don’t. So doing nothing is not without consequences either. And sometimes, you have to move to another job altogether.

    And in this economy I have seen some women re-evaluate their choices in job when their income is reduced when their partner is laid off. They may have been happy at their job that earns little and offers little or no benefits. All of a sudden, they need to be sure to have benefits and earn enough – what they are fully worth – to be financially secure. You know.. what they are really worth. Corporations, business, even non-profits (who may compensate a few VERY well) are frequently in a position to compensate many better, and a woman outside of that compensation may well ask herself…why not me? I work hard. Why do I have to be a beggar at the door?

  31. @Tom: we sure did not interpret this cartoon this same way. I do not agree that this cartoon is saying the society at large will react like that to a woman asking for a race but this is a scenario that fit into some outcome of a woman asking for a raise and this carton is trying to point out the discrimination and it’s left to use as human beings to try and not be discriminatory in dealign with men and women. It’s left to us to base our decisions on merit and not on gender.

  32. 32
    Tom Nolan says:

    Amp

    First of all, Twisty isn’t typical of “Alas” readers. “Alas” has very few radical feminist readers nowadays — and maybe none at all

    You do yourself an injustice, Ampersand. It is quite correct that many of your one-time radfem commenters no longer post here, but they still read this blog, bet your life on it. But none of that addresses what I said, which was

    Many women who comment or have commented here are fans of blaming the patriarchy Twisty-style

    which is to say there are plenty of women who read Alas on the one hand and read with approval I Blame the Patriarchy on the other – Mandolin would be an obvious example.

    I have no idea if Twisty would consider taking legal action if she was unjustifiably denied a promotion…extremely similar to Catharine MacKinnon’s version of feminism…MacKinnon’s attitude is hardly the “why bother, it’s all doomed before we begin anyhow” attitude you’re describing. On the contrary, she’s spent her entire career using legal tools to try and help women fight the patriarchy

    But all that shows (or would show if Twisty were to follow MacKinnon’s suit) is that their actions are not consonant with their professed beliefs. One cannot sincerely hold the belief that the patriarchy is

    a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission

    and conclude that a woman, living in a patriarchy as she does, can successfully demand wage parity with her male colleagues. That would be like defining the USA as a totalitarian Marxist state in which individual economic enterprise was ruthlessly and necessarily suppressed and then adding, as an afterthought, that US citizens should go ahead and open their own businesses if they want to.

    But leaving the inconsistency between MacKinnon’s professed beliefs and her behaviour aside, what do you think that the effect of the verbal expression of those beliefs has on her female readers in particular? Is it not the case that any woman who took to heart the notion that patriarchy is a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission. Patriarchy’s benefits are accrued according to a rigid hierarchy at the top of which are rich honky males and at the bottom of which are poor women of color would conclude that there was nothing to do but wait for the patriarchy to come to an end (as a result, presumably, of its internal contradictions)? Conversely, if she did everything in her power to improve her financial and social position within society as presently constituted, would that not demonstrate that she did not take the above analysis seriously?

    Which brings me back to the cartoon. I take PG’s point that it was probably directed against male or male-oriented employers; but it can only strengthen the women employees who are likely to see it, and who take its lesson to heart, in the acceptance of their present position and salary – though they could console themselves with the knowledge that it was the system that was keeping them down and not their own lack of initiative.

    In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about, Tom…I think the problem is that you have a shallow, uninteresting caricature of what “feminists” are like. Your caricature is unrealistic and ignorant, and suggests that for all your years of reading feminist sites, you don’t have any actual understanding of feminism, and you don’t think of us in any but the most shallow, stereotypical way

    Perhaps that’s true, but wouldn’t it be better to actually demonstrate this rather than merely to affirm it?

  33. 33
    groggette says:

    On the other hand, you are not in a position to speak on behalf of Alas’s readership…

    And you are?

    I don’t understand how someone can acknowledge that patriarchy exists but then the only logical outcome of that (according to you) is to just shrug your shoulders and say oh well. I know patriarchy exists. I know I am mistreated in many situations solely because I am a woman. I don’t just sit back and let that happen though, I fight it when I am able. Fighting back does not mean I don’t actually believe there is a patriarchy and it is tyrannical and nearly invisible.

    Please explain feminsm to me Tom, I’m obviously doing it wrong.

  34. 34
    PG says:

    Perhaps that’s true, but wouldn’t it be better to actually demonstrate this rather than merely to affirm it?

    I would have thought all of the feminists showing up to tell you that you’re wrong about what their reaction to this cartoon would be might have provided some empirical evidence on the point. You haven’t produced a single feminist — radical or otherwise — who has said, “Yes, Tom Nolan understands how I think!”

  35. 35
    The Czech says:

    I am not impressed by Tom’s low opinion of women’s cartoon-reading abilities. Nor his conjectures as to what women think. I don’t come to Alas to hear men tell me how feminist women, or women in general think. I have Dennis Prager for that. Now if he had said “I interpreted this cartoon this way, did anyone else?” that would have been fine. But his concern that clueless women would happen upon it, subsequently not ask for raises, and this cartoon would become responsible for perpetuating women’s lower wages…. what’s the point of such a position?

    Also, what leah said in #11. My dad is always using the argument that it’s simply women’s life choices that account for our low wages. It’s women’s fault, no sexism here! What a handy argument. Also, since he is male, his perspective is objective whereas me, being female, have only a skewed perspective on the topic. He is totally unaffected by his male privilege and any desire to protect it! Isn’t that neat?

  36. 36
    chingona says:

    Is it not the case that any woman who took to heart the notion that patriarchy is a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission. Patriarchy’s benefits are accrued according to a rigid hierarchy at the top of which are rich honky males and at the bottom of which are poor women of color would conclude that there was nothing to do but wait for the patriarchy to come to an end (as a result, presumably, of its internal contradictions)?

    No, it’s not the case. I am truly baffled as to how you can conclude that the only possible outcome of believing a system is tyrannical is to NOT struggle against it and just accept it. That definition is a call to arms, not a call to take a nap.

    Conversely, if she did everything in her power to improve her financial and social position within society as presently constituted, would that not demonstrate that she did not take the above analysis seriously?

    Again, no. All it would mean is that various constraints under which women operate affect different women differently and that we ought to be cognizant that our own personal life circumstances not be the be-all, end-all of our feminist analysis.

    Let me put it a different way: If Hillary Clinton were our president right now, it wouldn’t mean sexism and misogyny didn’t exist anymore, anymore than Obama’s election means we’re living in a post-racial utopia.

  37. 37
    Ampersand says:

    One cannot sincerely hold the belief that the patriarchy is “a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission” and conclude that a woman, living in a patriarchy as she does, can successfully demand wage parity with her male colleagues.

    Of course one can. It’s just that the views of feminists such as MacKinnon et al aren’t nearly as one-dimensional as your analysis assumes.

    Perhaps that’s true, but wouldn’t it be better to actually demonstrate this rather than merely to affirm it?

    I believe you have demonstrated it, Tom.

  38. 38
    lonespark says:

    No, it’s not the case. I am truly baffled as to how you can conclude that the only possible outcome of believing a system is tyrannical is to NOT struggle against it and just accept it. That definition is a call to arms, not a call to take a nap.

    This.

    And the fact that there is a man drawing cartoons indicating, “I get it, you are not crazy, this double-bind exists and sucks and is an additional challenge you deal with” is a nice thing to take affirmation and strength from, the better to fight the patriarchal status quo.

  39. 39
    leah says:

    Leah, I didn’t say that you thought these things – I said that plenty of Alas’s readership did.

    First of all I am not so conceited to think you were writing about me personally, but by making incorrect assumptions about woman readers of this blog, you made an assumption about a class of people to which I belonged. So when you make a sweeping generalization about a group of people to which I belong, I counter that no, as a member of that group it is my experience that your generalization is patently false, then you dismiss me in a condescending manner and say I don’t count as the group you were talking about when clearly I fell under that banner? The illogic…it is staggering.

    Be assured that I did not write what I did with you in mind – indeed I know nothing about you. On the other hand, you are not in a position to speak on behalf of Alas’s readership, and your personal credo doesn’t prove my assumption wrong.

    Funny, you are not in the position to speak on behalf of the readership, either, yet you did (and the woman readership at that). So you, a man (and I’m guessing an anti-feminist one), can talk for the female readership yet me, a woman reader of this blog and feminist, can’t? About feminism and feminist’s views on it? It’s laughable when the wielding of male privilege is so blatantly obvious and so obviously ignorant.

    I am a woman reader, and a fan of Twisty, BTW, so stop trying to school me in patriarchy blaming when I could teach you a thing or two about it (but thanks for assuming my ignorance on it). Now, you can dismiss me as only one reader, but you know what? Pretty much every respondent to your false claims has backed up my “personal credo.” So…my point proven. I’m done with you and your dismissive, condescending tone.

  40. 40
    Tom Nolan says:

    Amp, I mispoke and should have expressed myself more clearly. When I wrote

    One cannot sincerely hold the belief that the patriarchy is “a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission” and conclude that a woman, living in a patriarchy as she does, can successfully demand wage parity with her male colleagues

    I should have been clearer and said “One cannot reasonably believe etc.” It is possible that MacKinnon does indeed believe that the patriarchy is violently tyrannical, all-powerful, rigidly hierarchical and so forth* and at the same time and with equal sincerity believes that it’s a system content to give women their due if they are only willing to pursue their goals by legal means. In other words it’s possible that she does give credence to two mutually exclusive propositions. The point that I was trying to make is, that it is impossible reasonably to accept both of two mutually exclusive propositions. But you are quite right to point out that experience shows there are plenty of people who manage it nonetheless – those not bound by what you call “one-dimensional thinking”.

    The Czech

    I am not impressed by Tom’s low opinion of women’s cartoon-reading abilities. Nor his conjectures as to what women think. I don’t come to Alas to hear men tell me how feminist women, or women in general think.

    It is my belief, Czech, that if you tell any rational agent that if they do X they can expect a bad outcome, then that rational agent is unlikely to do X. If you put up a sign saying “don’t touch this wire: high voltage” only a tiny fraction of those who read it will go ahead and touch the wire, and if you tell women that if they ask for a raise they can expect only opprobrium as their reward, then (if they take your strictures to heart, that is) they probably won’t ask for a raise. It really is that simple. The only assumptions I am making about the women who read this blog are that they are (1) rational agents and (2) agree with the cartoon’s analysis. Accept both of those assumptions and you have accepted also that they won’t ask for a raise. Conversely, if, having seen the cartoon, they go on to ask for a raise one or other (or conceivably both) of those assumptions would be necessarily incorrect.

    Leah

    by making incorrect assumptions about woman readers of this blog, you made an assumption about a class of people to which I belonged

    I made no such assumption. I merely said of the readers of this blog that

    plenty of them take it for granted that nothing good for women can be expected of the patriarchy; that women constitute an oppressed class and that there can be no point asking a representative and beneficiary of the system, such as a male boss, for help in putting its iniquities right – in this instance by granting a justified wage increase. The cartoon can only reinforce in them an (in my view exaggerated) sense of impotence – pending, of course, the final destruction of the whole patriarchal establishment

    That is by no means a generalization. It merely states something that you acknowledge to be true and of which you are in fact an instance. To wit: that many of this blog’s readers (not all by any means, or even a majority) are feminists of the Twisty persuasion and that such feminists are naturally receptive to a cartoon which reinforces the belief that the patriarchy will thwart women’s just pretensions at every turn. Are you telling me, in all seriousness, that – believing as you do that the patriarchy is a violent, rigid, omnipotent power-structure one of whose primary directives is to do women down, and believing also (in line with the cartoon) that a woman asking for a raise will not only not receive it but probably do her career serious damage by doing so – that you’d go ahead and ask for the raise anyway? As you say, the illogic is staggering…

    So you, a man (and I’m guessing an anti-feminist one)

    Guilty as charged on the first count. Does that in any way alter the validity or otherwise of the arguments I have been making? Would they be one whit stronger or weaker if I had been a woman? Not guilty on the second. My concern with the likely effect of the cartoon is, in fact, a feminist one: I believe that any obstacle to women’s full participation in the workplace is a bad thing for both them and the workplace, and I think that the cartoon, in its admittedly small way, is such an obstacle.

    I’m done with you and your dismissive, condescending tone

    Just trying express myself as clearly and justly as possible. But I accept that we’ve taken the conversation as far as we profitably can, and I too am signing off.

    *That she shares Twisty’s views is something you suggested: I’m in no position to say.

  41. 41
    Jake Squid says:

    Here’s the thing, Tom. We don’t know whether the man or the woman in the cartoon actually receives a raise. All we know is the manager’s initial reaction to the request. This is one reason why your conclusions are being questioned. Nowhere in this comic does it say that, even if they ask, women won’t get increased compensation. In fact, the title implies the opposite – don’t ask and you’re broke, ask and you’re a bitch. Not, note, a bitch and broke.

    Nor does the MacKinnon system of belief exclude the possibility of a woman getting a raise if she asks for one, so far as I understand it. So there’s a second reason that your conclusions here are faulty.

  42. 42
    Tom Nolan says:

    Jake

    We don’t know whether the man or the woman in the cartoon actually receives a raise. All we know is the manager’s initial reaction to the request. This is one reason why your conclusions are being questioned

    The first bit is right: we don’t know – maybe the woman does get the raise she asks for. The second bit is wrong: that’s not one of the reasons my conclusions are being questioned – no one to the best of my knowledge brought the matter up before you did just now.

    With regard to the possibility that she does get the raise, though: might I ask what is the point of suggesting that a woman who successfully asks for a raise thereby provokes the judgment on her boss’s part that she is a “pushy bitch”? This is not something anybody can know unless the boss actually confesses to such feelings (something he is unlikely to do in the light of the fact that he conceded the raise). It is, in fact, a mere imputation. Given that women tend to be socialized to avoid provoking the bad opinion of others – especially of those in authority – the cartoon is, effectively, giving them a spurious reason to reconsider asking for a raise: “you might get the money, but you’ll be thought a bitch.” Do you see that?

    Nor does the MacKinnon system of belief exclude the possibility of a woman getting a raise if she asks for one, so far as I understand it

    Actually it is Ampersand (comment 29) who has been attributing Twisty-style beliefs to MacKinnon: I don’t know whether she (MacK) actually holds them or not, and I have no reason to indict either of the two of hypocrisy. I don’t accept that Twisty’s professed beliefs are consonant with the expectation that women can be given a raise according to their merits on an equal footing with men, but then, so far as I can see, she’s never asked for a raise on those lines. Similarly, MacKinnon’s attempts to fight for women’s rights in the courts would be inconsistent with Twisty-style beliefs – but I have only Amp’s word for it that she holds them.

    And now I really have done: last word to you.

  43. 43
    Quill says:

    @Tom
    I’m another woman who reads this blog, though I comment infrequently.

    I am truly baffled as to how you can conclude that the only possible outcome of believing a system is tyrannical is to NOT struggle against it and just accept it. That definition is a call to arms, not a call to take a nap.
    Thirded.

    Thus far, no woman who reads this blog has commented saying your interpretation of her thoughts is accurate. I sincerely doubt that one will.

  44. 44
    chingona says:

    Thus far, no woman who reads this blog has commented saying your interpretation of her thoughts is accurate.

    Yeah. I’ve noticed this as well.

  45. 45
    Lis says:

    I’m another woman who reads this blog and doesn’t comment much, and thought I’d step in. Tom, do you think there aren’t women out there who have asked for raises, been thought a pushy bitch, and faced that backlash? Bosses certainly will say they think you’re too pushy, that you lack people skills or tact, or will tell other people they think you’re an arrogant bitch who’s “riding [their] ass” for a raise. Amp isn’t just pulling this out of the air, here.

    This cartoon isn’t trying to be prescriptive. It’s descriptive, and it is validating to me, as a woman who has actually encountered these problems (which I don’t think is an experience you share) to see it described. Once the problem is pinpointed, we can start coming up with solutions for it.

    If you think the radical feminist view of the patriarchy is incompatible with believing anything good can happen ever to women, then what would you suggest as a more realistic view of the patriarchy?

  46. 46
    Ampersand says:

    It’s descriptive, and it is validating to me, as a woman who has actually encountered these problems [...] to see it described.

    The current argument aside, it was really nice for me to read this. Thanks!

  47. Pingback: Interesting posts, weekend of 9/19 « Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction