You get a puppy at the start, because you need to have a happy place to return to if this post makes you angry at the world or angry with me. So that should serve as a WARNING. This is a post about a couple of things. It is a parenting post describing my outrage at the implication that my son had no right to speak his opinion. And it is a post about feminism, social justice, and sexism.
In my previous post, I briefly described what had happened to my son in his Debate class the other day. To recap what happened: My 16 year old is a Junior in high school. In debate class, discussion turned to giving more weight to submissions (I believe it was a writing contest – but I could be wrong on that detail) from women than those of men in order to have equal representation from the two sexes among the finalists. My son said quickly spoke up and said he believed each work should just be based on its own merits. His teacher said, and I believe this is a direct quote, since I’ve heard it from 3 people separately – “Do not open your mouth; you are a man.”
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is so much wrong with this. But I am pretty sure I know people who would side with her. I believe their argument is something like this: because men come from a position of privilege, they are incapable of seeing the world from the position of the Other (in this case the oppressed woman), and that if he recognizes this position of privilege he should let women only speak in this matter since they, as the oppressed and discriminated against are the only ones who can properly define the problem and educate him on what the world is really like. This is probably a derisively toned version of the argument, but I have difficulty taking it seriously.
Effectively, this is sexism. Because you are a man, you have no right to speak. Righting one sexist wrong with another only creates a larger wrong. “Your sex oppressed my sex for so many centuries, now I get to tell you to shut the fuck up in return.” Talk about sins of the fathers and all that. Sounds like revenge to me.
We have always tried to teach both our boys that everyone in the world deserves equal opportunity. I am a Libertarian. I believe in personal liberty both socially, morally, and financially. This also means that I have a very strong belief in equal opportunity. I believe that affirmative action is a form of discrimination in itself. My oldest son applied to every Ivy League university, but we knew he had next to a zero chance of admittance because of those universities’ discrimination against white males who are not in acute financial need. They fill their affirmative action quotas first, THEN they look at people like my son. I’m not saying my boys are not privileged, but they are also at a distinct disadvantage in that sort of situation.
We have actively tried to prepare them for this. But I never prepared him for the sort of “shut up – you have no right to speak” situation he was placed in the other day. I am proud of how open and accepting my sons are. They meet most people with an open mind, and try to judge on merits, not gender, sexual orientation or color. Or accent for that matter. But that viewpoint is not valued. It is dismissed as not even worthy of a voice.
The fact that it was his DEBATE teacher who shut him down like this only makes me angrier.
He has asked me not to say anything at or to school. He would rather not have an uncomfortable school year, and he really enjoys debate – so I will not make a fuss. But I am angry.
I know my viewpoint is not popular amongst many of the people I interact with. But tough. Comment away if you want, but hateful comments and trolls will be cheerfully deleted.