Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Report: Women CEOs Make More Than Men<p> Americans are used to headline after headline about the gender pay gap when it shows men earn more, on average, than women. Feminists have even created a holiday for it&mdash;Equal Pay Day&mdash;to supposedly mark how far women must work into the next year to make up for the difference in what men earned in the previous year.</p> <p> But what happens when it is reversed?</p> <p> Comparing <a href="">median compensation packages</a> of S&amp;P 500 leaders who held the job for a year, 21 female CEOs received a median of $13.8 million compared to the $11.6 million median earned by the 382 male CEOs last year. This isn&rsquo;t new&mdash;women CEOs have made more than men in six of the past seven years. And three of the 10 highest paid executives are women.</p> <p> <em>The Wall Street Journal </em>headline is, &ldquo;Female CEOs Earn More Than Male Chief Executives.&rdquo;</p> <p> But just like the wage gap statistic, there is more to the story than the headline suggests. When it comes to female CEO salaries, it is a small pool so doesn&rsquo;t tell us much more than that some women have been able to earn a lot. Similarly, it is a median comparison and there are many factors that go into CEO pay&mdash;for example, performance and whether the CEOs are trying to transform their companies.</p> <p> The data behind Equal Pay Day&rsquo;s wage gap statistic is equally important.</p> <p> The&nbsp;<a href="">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>&nbsp;just measures median earnings of women and men in full-time wage and salary jobs to calculate the statistic used for the wage gap narrative, not two people in the same job. It does not take into account many of the choices that women and men make&mdash;including education, years of experience and hours worked&mdash;that influence earnings.</p> <p> And, in fact, the prominence of the wage gap narrative might be benefiting women CEOs. <a href=""><em>The&nbsp;Wall Street Journal </em>quotes</a> Robin Ferracone, the head of a company that advises board compensation committees, &ldquo;Boards don&rsquo;t want to shortchange their female CEO in today&rsquo;s environment, when pay equality is such an issue.&rdquo; They &ldquo;err on the side of being generous.&rdquo;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s great to see women CEOs doing well and they deserve to be compensated for their contributions. Women should applaud the success of working women at all levels of our economy. Yet we shouldn&rsquo;t fixate too much on statistics like this one that make good headlines, but don&rsquo;t tell us much of the story.</p> AgnessWed, 31 May 2017 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCompanies Are Offering New Mothers More Perks Without Government Mandates<p> Need help planning a gender reveal party? If you work at Fifth Third Bancorp, a Cincinnati-based banking and financial services institution, your first phone call might not be to your mother, but instead to your employer.</p> <p> Fifth Third Bancorp provides a <a href=";mod=e2fb">maternity concierge service</a> to help expectant employees and those with infants under a year with tasks such as rescheduling a baby shower, ordering birth announcements and picking strollers. The purpose of the program is to help mothers stay and advance in the workplace&mdash;Fifth Third Bancorp <a href=";mod=e2fb">found</a> that employees who have taken maternity leave in the last 12 months leave the company at almost twice the rate of all women at the firm.</p> <p> This program may or may not work. But it is a reminder that businesses are increasingly focused on trying to retain good employees, including those employees who may feel overwhelmed with the prospect of combining a job with parenthood or want to take time off to have children. Businesses aren&rsquo;t just doing this for the PR or to be kind. They believe it&rsquo;s in their business interest. Attracting and training talent is expensive, so investing in keeping great employees can be good for their bottom line.</p> <p> Fifth Third Bancorp isn&rsquo;t alone in offering more and more perks to women, and men, about to have a child. Some of these benefits are pretty creative and focus on easing the challenge of working with a new child at home:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="">Johnson &amp; Johnson offers</a> temperature-controlled delivery service for nursing mothers to ship breast milk back home when on work travel.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Start-up <a href="">Gusto</a> offers meal delivery and house cleaning.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Etsy Inc. and Ernst &amp; Young <a href="">offer parental-leave coaching</a>.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And <a href="">Netflix made headlines in 2015 when it announced a new leave policy</a>, allowing new moms and dads to take unlimited leave during the first year after a child&rsquo;s birth or adoption.</p> <p> ngIf: vestpockets &amp;&amp; !sidebar_expanded</p> <p> This is all without any federal government mandate requiring that they provide such support to workers.</p> <p> In <a href="">his much-anticipated 2018 Budget</a>, &ldquo;A New Foundation For American Greatness,&rdquo; President Donald J. Trump prioritizes paid parental leave. The budget includes a proposal for six weeks of paid family leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, using the Unemployment Insurance system and calling on states to establish leave programs. Providing paid parental leave was a theme throughout Trump&rsquo;s campaign, seemingly at the urging of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, a working mother of three.</p> <p> But before we have a national discussion of how government can help more expectant employees, it&rsquo;s important to recognize all that businesses are already doing. Even without the requirement that they must provide paid parental leave, the <a href="">U.S. Census Bureau found that</a> a majority, 56 percent, of full-time working mothers who worked during pregnancy used paid leave before or after the birth of their first child.</p> <p> And the <a href="">Family and Medical Leave Act</a> provides certain employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for the birth and care of a newborn or adoption or foster care placement.</p> <p> The Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics <a href="">National Compensation Survey</a> found that 91 percent of civilian full-time workers have unpaid family leave, 15 percent have paid family leave, 78 percent have paid sick leave and 87 percent have paid vacation.</p> <p> Businesses are already increasingly trying to find ways to support workers&mdash;but not all businesses are in a position to provide the same level of benefits and there can be real downsides to a one-size-fits-all mandate, which could make it harder for businesses to hire workers or lead to lower pay.</p> <p> As odd as it might sound to some to have your company reschedule your baby shower, this concierge service shows that many companies are making great efforts to retain mothers in the workforce without a government mandate&mdash;and that&rsquo;s a trend worth celebrating.</p> AgnessWed, 31 May 2017 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThis Is What It's Like Speaking As A Conservative Woman On Campus<p> Conservative speakers are under fire on college campuses. Here is my report from the front lines.</p> <p> The Arch Conservative, a campus journal at the University of Georgia, invited me to Athens to speak to undergraduates about feminism. I titled the speech &ldquo;Opportunity Feminism: How The Left Killed Feminism (and How The Right Can Fix It).&rdquo; It is a critique of modern feminism and discussion of popular public policy topics, such as equal pay.</p> <p> Before I even stepped foot on campus, students argued on the Facebook Event Page about my speech. One student wrote of my work, &ldquo;Open minded and directly rejecting data are very different things.&rdquo; To which a student replied, &ldquo;Her work is tragic smh.&rdquo; (&ldquo;Smh&rdquo; is short for &ldquo;shake my head.&rdquo;)</p> <p> As the comments heated up, The Arch Conservative responded on Facebook, &ldquo;We truly would like to emphasize that we WANT those in attendance to pose questions to our speaker; after all, there is no better way to learn than to challenge ideas.&rdquo;</p> <p> I took the pre-event discussion as a victory. Students were at least sharing my articles and considering the issues. Referring to one of my articles, a student posted:</p> <p> It kinda makes it sound like &lsquo;because women are lazy and don&rsquo;t work as hard as men&rsquo;, rather than &lsquo;women aren&rsquo;t generally offered the same projects and over time that men are offered and are expected to ask to be given a chance&rsquo;&hellip;Statistics are misleading but pretending you know the cure or cause for sestemic [sic] problems in our economy with only the proof of a well thought out argument isn&rsquo;t real proof and undermines what feminism is.</p> <p> She didn&#39;t get my argument. But I imagine this might have been the first time that this student and others read an article by a conservative woman on policy. Score a point for intellectual diversity.</p> <p> Students packed the classroom. Some students sat on the stairway aisle floors. The students hosting me arrived early and ended up sitting on one side of the room. Students who expressed outrage sat together on the other side. There seemed to be no middle ground&mdash;during my speech, I&rsquo;d look to one side and see smiles and the other and see frustration.</p> <p> Most of the students listened attentively. But one young woman with a scowl on her face kept raising her hand. The hour long talk turned into 90 minutes with questions taking up half the time.</p> <p> A young man asked the first question, inquiring how he could promote feminism as a man. He said, &ldquo;My female feminist friends tell me that I&rsquo;m privileged as a male, so can&rsquo;t talk about feminism.&rdquo;</p> <p> (This isn&rsquo;t the first time I have been asked this question. That this is a common question I get on campus signals that modern feminists stir up a war-between-the-sexes, us vs. them mentality.)</p> <p> A student voiced her disagreement with my remarks and asked, &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t it a problem that women are saddled with children?&rdquo; Our fundamental divide was that this student and some of the others just couldn&rsquo;t understand that many women make the choice to leave the workforce to take care of their children and love doing so. The student kept repeating that the patriarchy exists, so women actually don&rsquo;t have a choice. We went back and forth on this point and audience members chimed in with outbursts. One of the leaders of The Arch Conservative finally had to stand up to ask her peers to be respectful and stop interrupting.</p> <p> After a couple more questions, a student yelled out to me, &ldquo;You are perpetuating white feminism. You need to take a more intersectional look at feminism.&rdquo;</p> <p> In the last question of the evening, I was criticized for not discussing a whole host of issues, such as genital mutilation. I had limited time, so couldn&rsquo;t cover every issue. The student seemed dissatisfied with me pointing that out, as if not covering every issue was an indictment of me or my speech.</p> <p> The delegitimizing didn&rsquo;t end with the Q and A. After the event, one audience member took to Facebook with a 400 work post attacking my speech and expertise.</p> <p> The media covers political and free speech fireworks happening at one campus or another, but the fact of the matter is, outbursts by liberal students and efforts to delegitimize conservative speakers are all too common on campus.</p> <p> To speak on campus as a conservative is to be challenged&mdash;and sometimes ridiculed&mdash;before, during, and after.</p> <p> But it is also an opportunity to provide a point of view that is often missing and bolster the conservative students on campus.</p> <p> Despite some of the rudeness, I enjoyed the back-and-forth with the students, even those who blame me for perpetuating the patriarchy. I hope they did too.</p> AgnessTue, 9 May 2017 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhite House struggles to get out from under Russia controversy • On the Hill/Fox 5 DC AgnessTue, 11 Apr 2017 10:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Equal Pay Day Is A Flawed Holiday<p> Sheryl Sandberg and her&nbsp;<em>Lean In&nbsp;</em>circles have organized the #20PercentCounts campaign to give female consumers a discount on Equal Pay Day, April 4. This holiday created by feminists supposedly marks how far women must work in 2017 to earn what men did in 2016. The campaign is based on the idea that if women make 20% less than men, they should pay 20% less for purchases.&nbsp;</p> <p> Charging women less in relation to equal pay is not a new idea. Back in 2015, the Way Station bar in Brooklyn&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">sold drinks</a>&nbsp;to women at a 23% discount. This year,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">two businesses in Richmond, Virginia</a>&nbsp;are offering 21% discounts&mdash;Brewer&rsquo;s Caf&eacute; is giving discounts to women, while Chop Suey Books is giving discounts to all customers.</p> <p> What is new is that Sandberg&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">enlisted</a>&nbsp;300 local businesses in 25 cities to give 20% off discounts or other offers as participants in this campaign. National partners include LUNA, Lyft, Procter &amp; Gamble and Salesforce.</p> <p> &ldquo;We have to understand that the pay gap is happening to women and men with similar jobs that require similar skills and similar educational levels&mdash;and that has a real impact,&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Sandberg said.</a></p> <p> But that is not what the so-called pay gap statistic where the 20% number comes from measures.</p> <p> Modern feminists use the statistic that women make 82 cents on the dollar compared to men as evidence of rampant discrimination, but what the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>&nbsp;is actually measuring with the 82% number is the median earnings of women and men in full-time wage and salary jobs. This statistic does not take into account significant differences in labor choices. Specifically, the statistic does not factor in many of the choices that women and men make&mdash;including education, years of experience and hours worked&mdash;that influence earnings. For example, among full-time employees, men worked 8.2 hours compared to women working 7.8 hours,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">according&nbsp;to the 2015 American Time Use Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>.&nbsp;This statistic is not a comparison of two similarly situated people.</p> <p> Sandberg and her friends promoting the&nbsp;#20PercentCounts campaign overlook that sex-based pay discrimination is already illegal and has been illegal longer than she has been alive. President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, making sex-based discrimination in pay illegal. And Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination in the workplace based on sex illegal.</p> <p> Of course, the businesses that are trying to capitalize on the &ldquo;Equal Pay Day&rdquo; holiday are using a marketing tactic to appeal to female customers. But participants are perpetuating an unfortunate myth that women pay a 20 percent tax just because they are women. And unnecessarily pitting men and women against each other.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s not worth the 20 percent discount.</p> AgnessTue, 4 Apr 2017 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumChelsea Clinton Misuses Wage Data<p> Chelsea Clinton is the latest Clinton wrong on the wage gap.</p> <p> She&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">tweeted</a>&nbsp;out a&nbsp;<em>Business Insider</em>&nbsp;animated map video that &ldquo;shows how much less women make than men in every state.&rdquo; In Arkansas, where her dad served as governor, it is 21.1 percent. In New York, where her mom served as a senator, the gap is the smallest at 11.3 percent. The largest gap is in Wyoming, 35.6 percent.</p> <p> This presentation of the data makes it seem as if a man and a woman with the same educational background who work the same hours in the same job are paid differently, specifically that the woman is getting the short end of the stick. After watching this video, Wyoming women should be especially outraged and some might move states.</p> <p> But like with the statistic that is routinely repeated by feminists that women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, it is important to dig a little deeper. First, the actual statistic at issue has now increased to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">82 cents</a>, so the 79 cent statistic is outdated. Second, what that statistic measures matters. The 82 cent statistic is a comparison of the median earnings of women and men who work in full-time wage and salary jobs. It does not take into account individual choices&mdash;such as education level, years of experience, or hours worked. It is not comparing two similarly situated people.</p> <p> Chelsea makes the same mistake with the state calculations. The video she promoted states that the &ldquo;percentage reflects the average amount women earn less than men in each state,&rdquo; but fails to mention all the factors that the percentage leaves out.</p> <p> The calculations for the state wage gaps are based on the US Census Bureau&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">2015 American Community Survey</a>&nbsp;data on the median earnings for male and female full-time, year-round workers. Again, the data measures the average earnings of men and women, only this time in a specific geographic location. It doesn&rsquo;t compare two individuals, a man and a woman, and how much they each earn. The percentage calculations don&rsquo;t mean that a woman in Wyoming is making less than her male coworker who is doing the same job&mdash;though that is clearly what those hyping the findings and video want viewers to conclude.</p> <p> It is no wonder Chelsea is wrong on the wage gap. Her mom is as well. During her failed presidential bid, Hillary Clinton&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">raised the issue</a>&nbsp;with tweets such as, &ldquo;A typical woman working full-time is paid just 79% of what a man makes, but there&rsquo;s no discount for being a woman.&rdquo;</p> <p> While Chelsea Clinton&rsquo;s people have denied that she is planning to run for office, she has become a louder voice on Twitter and headlines keep popping up such as,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Chelsea Clinton fuels speculation of political run</a>. Someone, somewhere is trying to make Chelsea Clinton the elected official happen.</p> <p> One of the biggest stories of the presidential election was that Clinton&rsquo;s brand of victim feminism just didn&rsquo;t seem to resonate with young people, and more specifically, with young women.</p> <p> If Chelsea Clinton wants to win over the next generation of voters, she is going to have to rethink how the Clinton brand reaches young women. One step should be to stop misusing wage data to tell women they are worse off than they actually are.</p> AgnessWed, 29 Mar 2017 11:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy I Won't Be Striking On March 8<p> Expect to see fewer women in the workplace on Wednesday. The Women&rsquo;s March, the group that organized the January 21 protests, has called for a national boycott of &ldquo;paid and unpaid labor.&rdquo; Women who don&rsquo;t strike are encouraged to wear red. Participants are told to avoid shopping, except for small businesses owned by women or minorities. Organizers are billing this effort as, &ldquo;A Day Without A Woman.&rdquo;</p> <p> I am one of the millions of women who won&rsquo;t be striking, or wearing red for that matter.</p> <p> The Women&rsquo;s March claims that its goal is to send a message to the new administration that &ldquo;women&rsquo;s rights are human rights.&rdquo; But the group&rsquo;s real mission is to advance a progressive policy agenda.</p> <p> January&rsquo;s march was full of former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supporters who were disappointed by the election results. A&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">SurveyMonkey national poll</a>&nbsp;conducted January 26 through 30 found that 85 percent of marchers identify as or lean Democrat and 72 percent are self-described liberals. A large majority of marchers voted for Clinton&mdash;79 percent said they voted for Clinton, 8 percent said they voted for Jill Stein and 5 percent said they didn&rsquo;t vote. At most, then, 8 percent of marchers voted for President Donald Trump.</p> <p> Throughout the presidential election, many Trump voters spoke out against his awful comments related to women. According to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">NBC exit polling data</a>, 73 percent of all female voters said they are bothered &ldquo;some&rdquo; or &ldquo;a lot&rdquo; by Trump&rsquo;s &ldquo;reported treatment of women.&quot; Yet Trump won 42 percent of women.</p> <p> If this really was a march in support of the dignity of all women, it would have included much more political diversity, specifically those women who voted for Trump despite his comments.</p> <p> The Women&rsquo;s March movement is less about supporting all women and more about advocating for progressive policy positions on a wide variety of issues, from immigration to the environment. Pro-life women, for example, are not welcome. In January, the organizers of the Women&rsquo;s March revoked partnership with the New Wave Feminists because the group is pro-life. The Women&rsquo;s March&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">official statement read</a>, &ldquo;The Women&rsquo;s March&rsquo;s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one&hellip;.The anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women&rsquo;s March on Washington. We apologize for this error.&rdquo;</p> <p> &nbsp;Feminists proudly spoke up in favor of kicking this pro-life group out. Roxane Gay, author of the&nbsp;<em>New York Times&nbsp;</em>bestselling&nbsp;<em>Bad Feminist</em>,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">tweeted</a>:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That&#39;s not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> &mdash; roxane gay (@rgay) <a href="">January 16, 2017</a><br /> <br /> &nbsp;</blockquote> <p> The Women&rsquo;s March effort, then, excludes the 40 percent of U.S. women who believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a recent&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Pew Research Center</a>&nbsp;study.</p> <p> Even the roots of International Women&rsquo;s Day, which is the day the organizers picked to hold the&nbsp;&ldquo;A Day Without A Woman&quot; strike, are Leftist in nature. The first National Woman&rsquo;s Day, which became International Women&rsquo;s Day, was organized in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America in honor of the 1908 garment workers&rsquo; strike.</p> <p> Striking from the workplace and society on Wednesday won&rsquo;t advance women.</p> <p> If participants in the Women&rsquo;s March are truly concerned about being behind in the workplace, they could take concrete actions that would immediately be more productive for women. Marchers could mentor junior female colleagues, giving career advice. They could ask to meet with a boss to discuss ways to take on more responsibility and in turn, earn more money. Or they could work an extra 30 minutes. According to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">2015 American Time Use Survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>, men worked longer hours than women. Hours worked is certainly a factor considered in pay decisions.</p> <p> At the very least, dissatisfied women should think about how their participation in the strike will impact the next generation of women. The Superintendent of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools announced that their schools would be closed</a>&nbsp;on March 8 as a result of the strike.</p> <p> While organized under the banner of a broad &ldquo;Women&rsquo;s March&rdquo; to benefit all women, it is more accurately a progressive women&rsquo;s effort that excludes millions of women. So don&#39;t feel bad about doing work on Wednesday.</p> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> AgnessWed, 8 Mar 2017 05:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRetailers Pulling Ivanka Trump's Clothing Label • Boom Bust AgnessThu, 9 Feb 2017 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Women Shouldn't Try To Make The Future Female<p> Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is back with a message for women and all Americans. In her <a href="">first post-inauguration statement</a> for &ldquo;the glass ceiling breakers of the future,&rdquo; she said,</p> <p> Despite all the challenges we face, I remain convinced that yes, the future is female. Just look at the amazing energy we saw last month as women organized a march that galvanized millions of people all over our country and across the world.</p> <p> Recorded <a href="">for AOL&rsquo;s MAKERS</a>, a platform that tells the stories of women leaders, it is no surprise that she sought to inspire women attending the 2017 MAKERS Conference this week in California.</p> <p> But there is a difference between telling women that they are equal to men and telling them that they are better than men. She chose the latter.</p> <p> Instead of an uplifting message for everyone, she pitted women against men with her &ldquo;the future is female&rdquo; mantra. Inherent in this message is the notion that it is a zero sum game between women and men and we have to choose a future that is either female or male, rather than both. Her clear implication is that there is something wrong with men as men, and that we are somehow better off if men are pushed to the sidelines.</p> <p> These ideas are becoming increasingly prevalent in popular culture. Take the proliferation of a new set of verbs women use to complain about the way men interact with women&mdash;mansplaining (when a man explains something to a woman in a supposedly condescending way), manterrupting (when a man interrupts a woman) and manspreading (when a man spreads his legs when sitting so as to take up more than one seat on public transportation).</p> <p> And then there are these signals from celebrity icons, such as single actress <a href="">January Jones who said in an interview</a> that her 5 year-old son doesn&rsquo;t need a dad around:</p> <p> It&rsquo;s good to have strong women around a man. To teach him [her son] to respect women. He doesn&rsquo;t have a male person in his life saying &lsquo;don&rsquo;t cry&rsquo; or &lsquo;you throw like a girl&rsquo;. All those shitty things dads accidentally do.</p> <p> Actress Lena Dunham <a href="">tweeted out an animation in November asking</a>, &ldquo;How are you feeling about the extinction of white men?&rdquo;</p> <p> It&#39;s not the end of men, it&#39;s the evolution of men into better men. (beautiful animation by Sophie Koko Gate!) <a href=""></a></p> <p> &mdash; Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) <a href="">November 2, 2016</a></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> On campus, this anti-male attitude is apparent in the emergence of new programs to address &ldquo;toxic masculinity.&rdquo;</p> <p> The Duke Women&rsquo;s Center launched this school year the <a href="">Duke Men&rsquo;s Project</a>, a nine-week program to &ldquo;create a space of brotherhood fellowship dedicated to interrogating male privilege and patriarchy.&rdquo; One member of the leadership team said, &ldquo;[The goal of the initiative is to] critique and analyze their own masculinity and toxic masculinities to then create healthier ones.&rdquo;</p> <p> Of course, it is intellectually interesting to consider society&rsquo;s expectations for men and how those have changed over time. Yet that doesn&rsquo;t seem to be what is going on here. The message is that the traditional traits associated with men are bad and need to be suppressed. Such a message applied to women would be recognized as prejudice and discrimination at its worst. Why should this anti-male narrative be considered ok?</p> <p> For women to succeed, women don&rsquo;t have to stamp out men or see men as the enemy. For most women, much happiness is tied up in having great relationships with men&mdash;fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, friends and colleagues.</p> <p> Recognizing that society will benefit if we encourage both the best in women and men, the Network of enlightened Women (known as NeW), the organization I founded, launched <a href="">The Gentlemen Showcase</a> in 2010, an annual national contest to honor young gentlemen. Young men compete in two categories, the College Contest and the Under 30 Contest. Nominations are open throughout the month of February and national online voting begins March 1.</p> <p> In the nomination form for Andrew Sund, the winner of the 2016 College Contest, his nominator wrote, &ldquo;He always has a smile on his face. He makes everyone around him feel important. Andrew lives his life to serve others.&rdquo;</p> <p> The Gentlemen Showcase is a positive program to promote better relations between young men and women. Praising the men who treat everyone with the respect they deserve might just lead to more gentlemen.</p> <p> Secretary Clinton, the future shouldn&#39;t be female or male&mdash;but one of women and men working together. That&rsquo;s the real definition of equality.</p> AgnessWed, 8 Feb 2017 11:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAudi's Misleading Super Bowl Message To Young Girls<p> For many of the millions of Americans who will watch the Super Bowl, the entertainment is as much about the commercials as the football. Our collective memories of notable Super Bowl ads, from Apple&rsquo;s 1984 introduction of the Macintosh to Budweiser&rsquo;s frogs, often last longer than the highlights of the games themselves.</p> <p> As more Americans cut the cord with TV, and turn to commercial-free viewing options like Netflix, the Super Bowl provides a once-a-year occasion to grab the nation&rsquo;s attention, raising the stakes for advertisers.</p> <p> Companies compete for the attention of our diverse country. One hotly debated political question is the status of women in America, specifically when it comes to equal pay, and what actions the government should or should not take to benefit women. The post-inauguration Women&rsquo;s March in DC, for example, was littered with posters demanding equal pay for women.</p> <p> In its Super Bowl ad, Audi chose a side in this debate by perpetuating the myth that women make only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same job. The <a href="">ad features</a> a young girl relentlessly competing against boys in a cart race while her father&rsquo;s voice asks questions about the world in which his daughter is growing up:</p> <p> What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that her grandpa is worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets.&rdquo;</p> <p> Then the screen flashes, &ldquo;Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.&rdquo;</p> <p> The ad has already amassed more than 4 million views since being released on Wednesday. Audi has succeeded in getting the nation&rsquo;s attention. But not all of that attention is positive. There are 36,261 negative thumbs down reactions verses a mere 2,956 thumbs up reactions on YouTube where the video was posted.</p> <p> Some people slammed Audi for its message in the YouTube comments section&mdash;from calling the ad &ldquo;100% unadulterated liberal propaganda&rdquo; to one commentator writing,&ldquo;What do I tell my daughter? Tell her that if she wants to earn equal pay, she should get a degree in Engineering instead of Gender Studies.&rdquo;</p> <p> Another commentator responded back to the ad with a different set of questions:</p> <p> First, why would you ever tell your daughter that she is worth less than any man she would ever meet?&nbsp; And why would you ever insult your own wife and mother by telling your daughter that they were worth less than their male counterparts?&nbsp; Also, why would you ever tell her that a person&#39;s value is based solely on how much money they earned?&quot;</p> <p> They are right to critique Audi. Audi posted the video on Twitter with <a href="">this tweet</a>:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> Women are still paid 21% less than men. As a brand that believes in progress, we are committed to equal pay for equal work. <a href="">#DriveProgress</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Audi (@Audi) <a href="">February 1, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> The line that women make 79 cents on the dollar men make has been debunked. The statistic behind that line, which by the way is <a href="">now at 82 cents</a>, is a comparison of the median earnings of women and men who work in full-time wage and salary jobs. It does not compare women and men in the same job with the same education, years of experience, or hours worked, for example. These are choices that individuals make and choices that they should be able to make, even if a choice leads to a lower salary.</p> <p> When <a href="">questioned on Twitter</a> whether Audi pays women less, Audi countered that women are paid equally when certain factors are added to the equation&mdash;likely the very same factors that its ad ignores:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> <a href="">@TueborFrog</a> When we account for all the various factors that go into pay, women at Audi are on par with their male counterparts.</p> &mdash; Audi (@Audi) <a href="">February 1, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> While New England quarterback Tom Brady has desperately tried to keep politics, specifically his relationship with President Donald Trump, out of the Super Bowl, Audi has found a way to inject politics into the conversation.</p> <p> The Audi ad provides a powerful visual of a girl competing with the boys. No surprise, the daughter ends up winning the race. What could have been an empowering message is transformed into a message that young girls are victims in our society. Audi should have left the political message out and stuck to the racing.</p> AgnessFri, 3 Feb 2017 16:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe 10 Most Ridiculous College Protests Of 2016<p> As we close the book on 2016, it&rsquo;s time to look back on the year on American college campuses. It was <a href="">another year</a> filled with protests, many fueled by Republican Donald Trump&rsquo;s victory. Here are the top ten most ridiculous college protests of 2016:</p> <p> <strong>10. Cornell Students Hold A Post-election &ldquo;Cry in&rdquo;</strong></p> <p> Cornellians held a &ldquo;cry in&rdquo; over hot chocolate to &ldquo;mourn&rdquo; Trump&rsquo;s victory on campus. <em>The Cornell Daily Sun</em>&nbsp;<a href="">reports</a>&nbsp;that students, &ldquo;sat in a circle to share stories and console each other, organizers encouraging attendees to gather closer together and &lsquo;include each other.&rsquo;&rdquo; Additionally, students signed posters in protest.</p> <p> <strong>9. UT Austin Students Organize &ldquo;Cocks Not Glocks&rdquo; Protest</strong></p> <p> On the first day of classes at the University of Texas at Austin, students picked up and strapped on dildos to protest Texas&rsquo;s new &ldquo;campus carry&rdquo; law permitting licensed gun owners to carry concealed handguns on campus. More than 5,000 dildos, which were donated by sex shops, were <a href="">distributed over five days</a>.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active end ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> <strong>8. UMass Students Hold A &ldquo;Shit-in&rdquo;</strong></p> <p> For a week, students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst planned a &ldquo;shit-in,&rdquo; occupying restrooms <a href="">to demand more gender-neutral facilities</a>. The <a href=";w=1">&ldquo;shit-in&rdquo; sign up google form</a> gave protesters the option of sitting alone or &ldquo;with other sitters&rdquo; and the choice of a &ldquo;&lsquo;Men&rsquo;s&rsquo; rooms&rdquo; or &ldquo;&lsquo;Women&rsquo;s&rsquo; rooms.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>7. UC Merced Students Seek To Disarm Campus Police</strong></p> <p> Some students organized as Uplifting People Power to Resolve Issues of Spaces and Equity, known as UPRISE, at the University of California Merced protested in favor of disarming the campus police. Why? Because <a href="">the presence of campus police is &ldquo;harmful to the campus climate,&rdquo;</a> as reported by <em>The College Fix.</em></p> <p> <strong>6. Gettysburg College Students Sit Down Against Hate</strong></p> <p> Students at Gettysburg College gathered in November on the steps of Penn Hall to sit down in protest of hate. In a letter on behalf of the student participants, senior Joseph Charles Recupero III <a href="">wrote</a>, &ldquo;Tonight we will sit, because we cannot stand for hate.&rdquo; The students also apparently slept against hate. The Gettysburg Recreation Adventure Board (GRAB) gave participants sleeping bags. And they had the chance to meet with the president of the college. Acknowledging that they still had to figure out the next step to destroying hate, Recupero wrote,</p> <p> To be honest, I am still confused about what to do next. I have gathered all of these people, AMAZING PEOPLE, who simply want to acknowledged as equal, as worth more than the names they call us. Earlier this evening, someone told me that this is the original machine that destroys hate, and behalf of everyone out here, I am extending a hand in partnership.</p> <p> <strong>5. Smith College Students Host Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving</strong></p> <p> The Smith Students for Justice in Palestine group <a href="">hosted an &ldquo;Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving&rdquo;</a> to &ldquo;address the parallel struggles of the Standing Rock Sioux and the Palestinians of Gaza, who are fighting to protect their water tables from the poison of capitalist imperialism.&rdquo; The Facebook event details reminded potential attendees that, &ldquo;All of us&hellip; have seen or felt firsthand the pervasive physical and psychological violence of imperialism and colonialism.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>4. UChicago Students Block Michigan Avenue Traffic For Free Tuition Protest</strong></p> <p> Wearing caps and gowns, two University of Chicago students <a href="">were arrested</a> for blocking traffic by chaining themselves together to protest for free public college in Illinois. They blocked traffic outside of the Art Institute of Chicago to encourage a trustee there and major donor to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to support free higher education at public colleges. Nevermind that the University of Chicago is a private institution.</p> <p> <strong>3. Oberlin Students Demand Low Grades Be Abolished</strong></p> <p> It is no surprise that Oberlin students made the list again this year. Students signed a petition asking that all grades below a C be abolished. <a href="">It seems that they are struggling</a> to simultaneously keep up with the demands of their activism and classes.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> <strong>2. Hampshire College Students Lowered And Burned The American Flag</strong></p> <p> Hampshire College students lowered and eventually burned an American flag the week Trump won<em>. </em>After the flag was lowered, the administration, &ldquo;made the decision to leave the flag at half-staff on Thursday out of respect for the anguish they were feeling, even while recognizing that for others in our community the flag connotes very different meanings,&rdquo; <a href="">wrote Beth Ward</a>, the secretary of the college, according to <em>Campus Reform</em>.</p> <p> As a result of the flag burning, there was an empty flagpole on Veterans Day.</p> <p style="margin-left:37.0pt;"> <strong>1.&nbsp; </strong><strong>Faculty And Students Try To Silence UVA Founder Thomas Jefferson</strong></p> <p style="margin-left:.25in;"> After University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan&nbsp;sent out a post-election email that included a quote from UVA Founder Thomas Jefferson&nbsp;to calm the University community, UVA faculty drafted a letter demanding that Sullivan stop quoting Jefferson. <a href="">Signed by 469 faculty and students,</a>&nbsp;the letter <a href="">stated</a>,</p> <p style="margin-left:.25in;"> In the spirit of inclusivity, we would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson&rsquo;s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it.</p> <p style="margin-left:.25in;"> Yes, UVA faculty and students are trying to erase Jefferson from the university he founded.</p> <p style="margin-left:.25in;"> As college students and their parents prepare for 2017, let&rsquo;s all resolve to end the ridiculousness on campuses in the year ahead.</p> AgnessFri, 30 Dec 2016 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStop Creating Campus Bubbles<p> <em>Saturday Night Live&rsquo;s</em> recent sketch, <a href="">The Bubble</a>, offered hope for Americans depressed about the election&mdash;&ldquo;What if there was a place where the unthinkable didn&rsquo;t happen and life could continue for progressive Americans just as before?,&rdquo; SNL asked in the fictitious advertisement for a &ldquo;planned community of like-minded free-thinkers and no one else&rdquo; opening in January 2017.</p> <p> SNL deserves credit for poking a little fun at its loyal fan-base, which includes many would-be residents of &ldquo;The Bubble.&rdquo; Some Americans don&rsquo;t have to wait to live in bubbles. They are already living on college campuses.</p> <p> After Republican candidate Donald Trump won the presidential election, American colleges treated students as if their bubble had just been burst. For many, it had.</p> <p> Students across the country expressed their sadness, anger and a whole host of other emotions. Many campuses responded by coddling students. Consider the following examples from the Ivy League.</p> <p> Some students begged for exams and assignments to be postponed or canceled and some faculty obliged.</p> <p> At Yale University, a professor <a href="">made his Econ 115 exam optional</a> in response to desperate pleas from students who were &ldquo;in shock over the election returns.&rdquo;</p> <p> Harvard history lecturer Brett Flehinger, currently leading a course titled, &ldquo;American Populisms: Thomas Jefferson to the Tea Party + Trump,&rdquo; <a href="">said he</a> &ldquo;knew right away that he would be unable to teach&rdquo; the class as usual after Trump won. He said, &ldquo;People were emotionally not in a position to learn&rdquo; and &ldquo;Students were pretty emotionally knocked down,&rdquo; according to <em>The Harvard Crimson.</em></p> <p> The Engineering Student Council President at Columbia called for an extension on assignments and exams within the School of Engineering and Applied Science, &ldquo;given that the elections results have left people feeling triggered, anxious, and unwell,&rdquo; <a href="">according to the <em>Columbia Spectator</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p> <em>The Daily Pennsylvanian </em>reports that University of Pennsylvania Professor Sarah Jane McCaffery offered a makeup date for her Management 104 midterm exam, <a href="">writing</a> &ldquo;I have heard from an unusual number of students this morning that they are unwell. Seems like there&rsquo;s something going around&hellip;.I am not a health professional and feel ill equipped to judge who is and who is not well enough to take the midterm today.&rdquo;</p> <p> Other students planned public demonstrations.</p> <p> The day after Trump won the election, Cornellians held a &ldquo;cry in&rdquo; to &ldquo;mourn.&rdquo; <a href=""><em>The Cornell Daily Sun </em>reports</a> that students, &ldquo;sat in a circle to share stories and console each other, organizers encouraging attendees to gather closer together and &lsquo;include each other.&rsquo;&rdquo; Students could pick up tissues and hot chocolate. Also, they had the chance to sign posters in protest.</p> <p> Brown University students staged a walkout, during which they held signs, such as &ldquo;Declare Brown a Sanctuary Campus,&rdquo; and delivered a list of demands to the office of the Brown president.</p> <p> At <a href="">Dartmouth</a>, students joined a sit-in on campus that served as the starting point for a &ldquo;walk for love and justice.&rdquo;</p> <p> Still other students retreated to safe spaces.</p> <p> At Princeton University, while some students were protesting, others gathered, &ldquo;<a href="">not to seek solutions</a>, but to provide an opportunity to be vulnerable and to freely express feelings of anger and confusion.&rdquo;</p> <p> One dorm at the University of Pennsylvania set up a &ldquo;breathing space&rdquo; with cats, a puppy, coloring and snacks, so students could &ldquo;decompress in a low-key and low-stress environment,&rdquo; <a href="">according to <em>The Statesman</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p> The post-election reaction at universities across the country, including some of our top universities, is teaching students the wrong lessons about how to live with people who think differently, overcome obstacles and deal with defeat.</p> <p> Having your candidate lose is tough. Every American who has been loyal to one party over the last decade has experienced this. Many have gone through a range of emotions on election night and then returned to their jobs and lived their lives as usual the next day. Employees don&rsquo;t get deadlines pushed back or work canceled when their candidate loses an election.</p> <p> Our universities are doing students a disservice by coddling them. They won&rsquo;t be prepared for post-graduation life. Or worse, they will demand that their world after college be transformed into a new bubble.</p> AgnessWed, 30 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAt Thanksgiving, Sit Next To Someone Who May Challenge Your Opinions<p> Thanksgiving marks an annual pilgrimage home for many college students, and with it, uncomfortable questions on majors, post-graduation plans and significant others.</p> <p> One university is preparing students for an added potential worry this year&mdash;how to handle Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends who might have a different opinion.</p> <p> In Georgetown University Medical Center&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="">Thanksgiving Conversation Survival Guide Post-Election</a>,&rdquo; Georgetown University School of Medicine clinical psychologist Mary Ann Dutton offers seven tips:</p> <p> Avoid alcohol and substances that reduce ability to think clearly and to control anger</p> <p> Don&rsquo;t sit close to those who might challenge your opinions</p> <p> Remind yourself and others of areas of common ground</p> <p> Change the topic (&ldquo;What I&rsquo;d really like to hear about is&hellip;&rdquo;)</p> <p> Suggest talking at a later time</p> <p> Avoid disrespectful behavior and abusive language</p> <p> If you feel the conversation is going south, politely excuse yourself from the table</p> <p> College is supposed to be a place where young adults go to learn together. Part of the educational process is learning how to absorb, understand and engage new ideas. That includes learning how to discuss issues with people who have a different opinion on them. Sometimes the differences are small and agreement can be reached. Sometimes agreeing to disagree is the best course.</p> <p> Certainly, students aren&rsquo;t the only ones who sometimes find talking politics at Thanksgiving stressful. According to an <a href="">ABC News and SSRS</a> online survey, 45 percent of Americans anticipate politics will be discussed at Thanksgiving and 38 percent said the idea of talking politics is at least somewhat stressful&mdash;14 percent said it is very stressful.</p> <p> But disagreeing with an aunt or uncle while talking politics over turkey shouldn&rsquo;t immediately trigger students to experience uncontrollable anger or feel a need to leave the table. The tips on Georgetown&rsquo;s list are revealing of the campus environment today. Instead of fostering intellectual diversity, campus administrators these days often coddle students&rsquo; emotion and stifle dissent.</p> <p> This list is the result. Students shouldn&rsquo;t need a list of tips for how to handle life off campus. That is what college should be preparing students for every day.</p> <p> Colleges shouldn&rsquo;t create a campus bubble filled with people who all believe the same ideas.</p> <p> That one of the top universities sent out a press release advising, &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t sit close to those who might challenge your opinions,&rdquo; speaks volumes about the state of higher education today.</p> <p> Universities should be encouraging students to do the opposite: Go sit next to someone who may challenge your opinions.</p> <p> Ask someone older about their life experiences and what they have learned about the personal impact of policy changes. What is it like when the president&rsquo;s party loses the White House? What advice do they have when the candidate they voted for didn&rsquo;t win?&nbsp;What policies do they remember as having worked effectively under different presidents?</p> <p> We are about to have another major national conversation about health care. What worked well before the Affordable Care Act and what needed to be improved? The answers will vary.</p> <p> Americans disagree about politics and policy. We should all be thankful for the opportunity to live in a country where we can disagree publicly by, for example, sharing our political frustrations on Facebook. That is not the case everywhere. Facebook blocked about 55,000 pieces of content in about 20 countries between July 2015 and December 2015, according to <a href=""><em>The New York Times</em></a>. And the company is developing a new tool to allow geography-based censoring in a bid to get Facebook into China.</p> <p> Students should be able to listen, ask questions, offer an opinion and answer questions without ruining Thanksgiving.</p> AgnessWed, 23 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumUniversity Of Virginia Faculty Shouldn't Silence Thomas Jefferson<p> There are many instances of the silencing of speech and an instinct to censor at American universities.</p> <p> One bright spot is that the President of the University of Virginia has stood up to faculty who demanded that she stop quoting the Founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson.</p> <p> After Republican Donald Trump won the presidential election, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan <a href="">sent out an email</a> to calm the University community.</p> <p> This was no pro-Trump email. Sullivan acknowledged students might be feeling &ldquo;anxious about what the future holds.&rdquo; She diplomatically reminded the University community that our government includes a system of checks and balances and that our country has made it for more than two centuries.</p> <p> She encouraged students to &ldquo;use your imagination to conceive and create the world that you and your generation want for yourselves.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet, she made one big mistake in the eyes of some faculty members by quoting Jefferson. She wrote in her email,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;By coincidence, on this&nbsp;<em>exact</em>&nbsp;day 191 years ago&mdash;November 9, 1825, in the first year of classes at UVA&mdash;Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students &lsquo;are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes.&rsquo; I encourage today&rsquo;s UVA students to embrace that responsibility.&rdquo;</p> <p> To many UVA faculty, the mere act of quoting Jefferson was offensive.</p> <p> A member of the UVA faculty <a href="">drafted a letter</a>, which was <a href="">signed by 469 faculty and students,</a> calling on Sullivan to stop quoting Jefferson,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;In the spirit of inclusivity, we would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson&rsquo;s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it.&rdquo;</p> <p> The letter drafted by Assistant Psychology Professor Noelle Hurd continued,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotes undermines the messages of unity, equality, civility, and inclusivity that you are attempting to convey.&rdquo;</p> <p> <a href="">Politics Professor Lawrie Balfour said</a>,</p> <p> &ldquo;Again and again, I have found that at moments when the community needs reassurance and Jefferson appears, it undoes I think the really important work that administrators and others are trying to do.&rdquo;</p> <p> Sullivan didn&rsquo;t back down or apologize for quoting Jefferson.</p> <p> I earned two degrees from UVA. In our world of identity politics, I would be considered one of the excluded. After all, I am a woman and it wasn&rsquo;t until 1969 that the Board of Visitors at UVA voted to lift restrictions on admitting women.</p> <p> My seven years spent at UVA for college and law school were enriched because of Jefferson&rsquo;s presence at the University&mdash;I learned from his successes, failures, rights and wrongs. They were discussed openly and in great detail.</p> <p> I spoke on a panel at the UVA Law School on the future of feminism earlier this week. I mentioned to a student beforehand that I planned to include a Jefferson quote. I was cautioned that this might elicit a negative reaction.</p> <p> The students handled it just fine.</p> <p> But that this is even an issue demonstrates a change in the environment from when I was a student there a decade ago. There is much more of an instinct to find offense and then demand a silencing of speech.</p> <p> It truly seems absurd that the faculty of Jefferson&rsquo;s University would want to erase Jefferson from his own university. But that is where we are today.</p> <p> Jefferson once <a href="">wrote</a>,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &ldquo;This institution [University of Virginia] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.&rdquo;</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s not limit the intellectual environment at UVA. University faculty could host discussions on what Jefferson did right and wrong. But the UVA faculty shouldn&rsquo;t demand that all of his words be censored from UVA.</p> AgnessThu, 17 Nov 2016 13:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat A Fright: Counseling For Offensive Costumes At The University Of Florida<p> As Halloween approaches, Americans young and old are readying their costumes for a night of fright and fun. Besides the usual ghosts, superheroes, and witches, some people are likely planning creative costumes that make light of current events. Expect to see more than a few donning &ldquo;Make America Great Again&rdquo; hats or pantsuits and blonde wigs to imitate our presidential candidates.</p> <p> At the University of Florida, students who are offended by these or other Halloween costumes now have the option to take advantage of around-the-clock counseling.</p> <p> According to a <a href="">University of Florida memo</a>,</p> <p> If you choose to participate in Halloween activities, we encourage you to think about your choices of costumes and themes.&nbsp;Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people.&nbsp;</p> <p> The memo informs students that if they are offended, they can email the U Matter, We Care program and &ldquo;there is a 24/7 counselor in the Counseling and Wellness Center available to speak by phone.&rdquo;</p> <p> Furthermore, students can inform the Bias Education and Response Team, which is ready to, &ldquo;respond to any reported incidents of bias, to educate those that were involved, and to provide support by connecting those that were impacted to the appropriate services and resources.&rdquo;</p> <p> Intervening in Halloween costume choices is the latest example of college administrators treating students more like delicate children than mature adults.</p> <p> Unfortunately, the University of Florida isn&rsquo;t the first university to send such a memo.</p> <p> Last year, <a href="">The Intercultural Affairs Committee</a> at Yale sent an email to students&nbsp;on Halloween costume guidelines to discourage students from wearing offensive costumes. In response, Erika Christakis, Associate Master of Silliman College and Lecturer at the Yale Child Study Center,<a href="">&nbsp;emailed students</a>&nbsp;of the residential college, challenging them to think more deeply about the issue&mdash;about what is offensive, the role of the university and the role of students.</p> <p> Christakis wrote, &ldquo;we seem afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween.&rdquo;</p> <p> Her email continued:</p> <p> American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people&rsquo;s capacity &ndash; in your capacity &ndash; to exercise selfcensure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?</p> <p> Her comments outraged students and <a href=";list=PLvIqJIL2kOMefn77xg6-6yrvek5kbNf3Z&amp;index=3">upset students publicly confronted her husband</a>, Nicholas Christakis, the Master of Silliman College and a Yale Professor.</p> <p> The suggestion that Yale students should be able to think through Halloween costumes without intervention from administrators and deal with any costumes they consider offensive on their own was considered treason to many Yalies. Erika and Nicholas Christakis cancelled their spring courses and resigned from the residential college within the year.</p> <p> Some people make bad decisions about costumes. But the University of Florida and other universities should be working to cultivate an environment in which students make good decisions and can manage a situation on their own when others offend them.</p> <p> The role of the university is not to remove any and all distasteful or offensive occurrences from the students&rsquo; lives.</p> <p> Maybe a student will dress up as a mature college student this year&mdash;university administrators don&rsquo;t seem to think they exist anymore.</p> AgnessMon, 17 Oct 2016 14:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum