Todd Pettigrew’s Anti-Feminist Gymnastics

So, a male “journalist” by the name of Todd Pettigrew recently wrote an article for Macleans (puke) making in an (unfounded) claim that feminists are blaming children for women’s failure to succeed in the workplace. I apologize if you are all confused by the claim or how one can come to such a conclusion especially with no evidence to back up his claim. This man also does not seem to understand that not all women can juggle children, a career and a very demanding romantic partner all at once without mentally imploding or the fact that patriarchy enforces women to have children otherwise they are not “fulfilled.”  Let’s take a look at this beautiful pile of dung, shall we?

Pettigrew starts the article off with a very unnecessary disclaimer. I call this a disclaimer because he believes that if he says that he is “progressive” then the mean evil feminists will not get on his case about his very misogynistic views on women. He claims that feminists have “lost sight” of what is “reasonable.” If the following does not just scream misogyny, I don’t know what does.

As a progressive man, I see the value in diversity in the academic workforce. I also understand that reasonable employers should take reasonable steps to accommodate the particular needs of those employees. And sometimes that means taking a person’s family situation into account. But more and more, women in academia have lost sight of what’s reasonable when it comes to those kinds of allowances.

Yes, because feminists are the ones that don’t understand what it means to be a woman in Patriarchy or that women make all sorts of sacrifices for their families while men can prance through the tulips with a care in the world. Yep, we are the ones with the problem. It’s  not men or Patriarchy that are holding women back from succeeding, it is obviously the feminists! It is the fault of feminists that women are raped! It is the fault of feminists that women are still poor and prostituted. It is the fault of feminists that femicide still occurs across the world. Might as well pack our bags and head home, ladies. We have been found out. Pettigrew goes on with his spiel by citing a report that has hurt his poor feelings for stating a simple truth: that family life is demanding and this can often hinder their careers. That women who are mothers have a hard time getting their careers back on track because of a baby.

A recent article in University Affairs, for instance, reports on a study by Shelley Adamo who argues that women are underrepresented as biologists because they tend to be seeking jobs when they “are in their late 20s and early 30s and more likely to have a partner and young children. ‘That sort of handicaps them,’” according to Dr. Adamo.

First, as a married man I resent the claim that a husband or other life partner inevitably “handicaps” the career of a female academic. If your special someone doesn’t think your career is important, then find someone who does. And what about the life partners who support their academic spouses by paying the bills while their partner is burning the midnight oil?

This section of the article deflates his claim of progressiveness when he takes offense by a study that had nothing to do with him personally. He is also missing the point. It has nothing to do with the women’s romantic partner or that one is working far harder than the other. It has plenty to do with how the workplace views women who are becoming mothers and are trying to juggle motherhood and their careers. Last time I checked, we live in a patriarchal society. Where women are subjected to unfair treatment for simply possessing a vagina and many of these men who are in the leadership position at these jobs will fire these women for unknown but incredibly sexist reasons. Pettigrew doesn’t seem to know the percentage of women that lose their jobs because the women become pregnant and will have to take maternity leave for a year. There are also cases of discrimination against pregnant women, shocking isn’t it? Not really. Any pregnant woman would be lucky that she would be keeping her job after taking a year off to look after the baby. If he is so resentful to the claim then he should learn to understand that men shut the door in women’s faces when it comes to success in the workplace. Don’t believe me? Live as a woman for a few years then we will talk. Pettigrew goes on to demonize feminists who say that women should not have to be forced into motherhood and that we should not blame children for “lack of academic success.” Which is a straw-man fallacy because we never said that children are to blame for women’s discrimination though we have said that enforced heterosexuality and the “nuclear family” mindset is the problem, not children.

As for children, there are, to some extent, biological realities that would put extra strain on any woman trying to get to the forefront of her field. Still, feminists have been hammering the point home for over a generation now: women control their own bodies and should be able to choose whether or not to have children. But if that’s the case, then women can’t blame children for lack of academic success. If it’s a choice, then women have the choice not to have children if they don’t like the implications for their careers.

For these reasons, I cannot agree with Melonie Fullick* who has made a similar claim to Adamo’s recently in The Globe and Mail about graduate studies more generally.

Fullick, arguing for a more flexible grad student system, writes:

there are plenty of ways a student can get derailed. Some get caught up in other commitments like politics or activism, a job that takes time away from research, or a supervisor’s project that doesn’t relate to the dissertation. Sometimes a supervisor “disappears” for long periods, or decides not to continue working with the student. Personal events can intervene, such as the birth of a child, or illness or a death in the family. Many students struggle with financial issues that compound other problems.

Hey, I see no issue with flexibility in the case of pregnant women. If we can make a compromise for the psychically disabled employee why can’t we do the same for pregnant women? Especially when that woman might have no support systems to help her look after her child when she wants to relax after a hard day of being a mother? What would be the point of hiring her if we are going to at least be considerate of the fact that she might become pregnant in the future? This point is usually never brought up but MEN are the ones impregnating these women and refusing to take responsibility for the child HE created. He can impregnate as many women as he wishes and not worry about losing his job. I cannot testify on being a mother since I have yet to experience it but I will not argue against the point that motherhood is hard and women have to make plenty of sacrifices when she is a mother and a career woman. I sympathize with those women and I can only lend my support to them in situations where they need it. Pettigrew then goes on by stating on of the most misogynistic statements even put down on paper and taking no responsibility for the fact that women suffer where men benefit.

Of course, personal difficulties certainly can impede one’s progress in graduate school. But no one is immune from personal strife and everyone has to deal with illnesses and family problems. Such things would impact anyone in any endeavour. Indeed, the graduate student, with her flexible deadlines and independent work environment, is probably better able to deal with such things than most.

But what gets me is the way Fullick slips children into the mix of things that just happen to unsuspecting candidates: “Personal events can intervene, such as the birth of a child.” By the time a woman reaches graduate school, I expect that she understands the various mechanisms around pregnancy. Forgive me, then, but the birth of a child does not intervene.  If you choose to have a baby while a graduate student, that’s your choice. When I was a graduate student, my partner and I discussed it seriously and decided against it. No child intervened. And we didn’t get lucky. We decided.

Whoop-de-do! You and your partner decided not to have children, did you want a cookie or a gold star for your statement? Are you completely unaware of accidental pregnancies? And Fullick said “BIRTH OF A CHILD!” Not A CHILD but THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD! Are you that daft that you cannot comprehend the phrase “BIRTH of a child”? PREGNANCY can often be very psychically demanding and can also cause serious health problems for women. I am pretty sure that any women over the age of twenty knows how pregnancy works. She also has the right to talk about how it is unfair that women have to start from the bottom after taking a year off to look after a child while a man who has been away for a couple of weeks is in the same position at his job before he went to take a break. Good for you that you and your partner decided not to have a child but you have NO RIGHT to be a misogynistic asshole to women who face discrimination for various reasons, pregnancy being one of the major ones. Pettigrew ends his essay with a much louder misogynistic BANG! with these two paragraphs.

If you do want a child, and it makes your life more difficult—and from what I can tell, it will make your life a lot more difficult—well, that’s the deal. If you regret your choice, you have my sympathies. But don’t choose a difficult path and then rail about how the world has made things difficult for you.

In the end, I have a feeling that most of the women studied are not as upset about this as the writers mentioned. I suspect that they know that they have made their choices, and they are living with them. We should all respect that.

Trust me, I was speechless when he wrote that too. It’s like saying “oh, I am so sorry that you were diagnosed with a body-destroying illness but you shouldn’t complain about it.” or “Oh, I am sorry that you face discrimination for your skin color but you shouldn’t be complaining about racism.” Yeah, he’s one to talk about “difficult paths” when he never walked one in his whole damn life as a white, straight male. He has never had to deal with very claustrophobic social expectations based on sex or race. I guess if he ever meets a rape victim who was also impregnated that the logic would apply in that circumstance too? “You should have known better then to get raped”? He should feel bad about writing such sexist tripe especially since he has a female partner but he seems to have no shame for it and I am not surprised that Macleans has published this piece of trash since they also published and anti-feminist article a couple years ago along with an article about how “empty” the life of a teenage girl is.

I pity supposed “educated” men like Pettigrew. he thinks that since he makes no complaints about things that would never happen to him in a million years that women should not complain either. I am disgusted and I am done with this walking misogynistic black hole of emotionless trash.

P.S. In case he runs into this post: I would like him to read these articles before he decides to publish any more misogynistic crap! Here    Here Here Here and Here

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