(Kyle Duffey ’19 wrote this for GSS 201: Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies.)

There exists an often obvious inequality between men and women when viewing the ways in which women are incorporated into previously male environments.  This is, to some extent, understandable (although it is becoming less and less acceptable), as complications often occur in moments of change due to resistance to the transition.  There is a fundamental error which occurs in the movement towards inclusion.  For a male-dominated group, such as business managers or owners, the introduction of a female into the group has the intention of enlarging the group such that it will include both men and women.  Instead, the female manager becomes something of a vacuole within the group of managers, failing to act as a representative of all women who wish to inject themselves into the group and instead becoming isolated from both the group of women who wish to enter the managerial field and the current male-dominated group.  The result of this, among other factors, is a stripping of the power that allowed the first woman to enter the group from that woman, assisting in the prevention of her true inclusion into the group.  It is worth considering that the concept of “this first woman” may be harmful to the empowerment of women as it results in this isolation.  Perhaps there exists a better method of infiltration by women into male-dominated groups which would not result in this isolation and failure to integrate. (This may not truly be regarded as a failure, as, over time, more women may join the group, growing their vacuole until its membrane is stretched thin enough to allow the fluids of equal treatment and pay to seep through.  Perhaps, as more time passes, more women will join until the vacuole becomes too large and bursts, and women and men will truly be integrated indistinguishably by workplace treatment and pay.)

One may also consider the scenario in which a male attempts to penetrate a female-dominated group, such as the historically all-female (but not exclusive to females) belly dancing student group.  The dynamic that exists between the female-dominated group and the penetrating male is significantly different from that of the male-dominated group and the introduced female.  First, the man who auditions for the belly dancing group with the intention of becoming the centerpiece of performance (perhaps claimed to be for the sake of symmetry) is attempting to engulf the female group entirely rather than infiltrate it.  The man is thus establishing an exterior, male-dominated group of belly dancers (initially a group of one) outside of the female-dominated group.  Unlike the female manager, the male belly dancer is not cutoff from his fellow men on the outside.  The connection remains, possibly erasing a small part of the connection the female belly dancers have with their fellow women.  The male belly dancer is empowered by his success and commended by his peers for making it where “no man has been before,” in drastic contrast to the experience of the female manager who becomes isolated from her peers.

Alternatively, a male may audition for the belly dancing group with the intention of being integrated directly into the group.  If he were successful, then the aim of enlarging the group to be more inclusive would be successful as well.  It is worthwhile, however, to take note of the fact that, although the initial goal of gender inclusion may be fulfilled, the only successful option is due to the power held by the male belly dancer.  He makes a decision to be integrated or not. The female manager, on the other hand, has no outcome except isolation and subordination.

Works Cited

Eglash, Ron. “Race, Sex, and Nerds: From Black Geeks to Asian American Hipsters.” Social Text 20.2 (2002): 49-64. Print.

The model of joining a “group” with the aim of causing that group to grow to become more inclusive (and its failure) that I use in my manifesto was taken conceptually from Eglash’s article.  I wrote it with this article very much in mind, so I figured I should probably cite is seeing as it is my origin of a concept which is a central part of my own work.

Advertisements