“We are right, they are wrong and the other side is picking on me”

17 Jan

I was late the other morning for two reasons. The first was that I started reading blogs and checking on who had posted what in a few different groups on Facebook while drinking coffee. The second was because my youngest had apparently “borrowed” my shoes and it took me a bit to find them. The blogs are more to blame than my child and here is why….which way

As I was sipping coffee and enjoying a few quiet moments after the kids left for school, I stumbled upon a post in a local Republican group titled “The Real Feminist vs. The Liberal Feminism Facade“.  The title was interesting and the woman who posted it, I often agree with……so down the rabbit hole I went.

At first I was agreeing with the author who wrote that young conservative women are often “looked down upon” by more liberal women as not as savvy and that feminism should be about all women. However, the author’s inflammatory language and some gaping holes in her example choices left me disappointed.

I sent the link to Gayla, my trusty “liberal” friend, with no comment other than “Thoughts?” It sparked one of the conversations that led to the creation of the Leadership Voices project. Gayla, who was sitting in a pediatric dental office waiting room, and I spent the next several hours emailing, texting and calling back and forth discussing feminism, academia, political parties and bias in language, institutions, and general ideological thought. We both had experienced pivitol moments in our college years where self-declared feminists had treated us differently because we choose to get married, espouse a conservative stance on an issue or for me just because I was a Republican. Gayla & I then moved the conversation towards perceptions and bias which led us to the discussion of academia and bias.

We will tackle the issue of feminism in another post. We need to write that one together.

Gayla sent me several blog posts regarding bias against conservatism in academia as a point of reference for the liberal vs. conservative Women’s Studies debate.  The idea that academia is biased against conservative thought is not especially new if you factor in the history of the Church vs. Science starting in the 16th century, but the identification of its causes has been studied much more in recent years.

“(Liberal) Academic Self-Selection” by Scott Jaschik addressed the idea that it is more an issue of self-selection than discrimination – we choose career fields, friends, places to live and political parties based on where we feel the most comfortable.

“Liberal bias in academia?” by Massimo Pigliucci  however, was as inflammatory as the post I had sent Gayla and brought me to the following conclusions:

We all seem to believe that the other side is biased “against” us. What is wrong with having a different way of viewing the world? Scientists must fundamentally question the status quo or they do not make new discoveries. If no one had challenged the idea that the world was flat, we would never have figured out it was round. Conversely, if no one conserved the knowledge and traditions needed to practice the techniques that were successful to grow crops or forge metal, we would not have developed as we have either. So that begs the following series of questions: Is it liberal to question and conservative to accept? Why is one better than the other? Why is one considered smarter?
The other point here is the myriad of definitions and PERCEPTIONS. Pigliucci attacks the brilliant minds on Wall Street (there are a few left), inferring that they are all nothing but greedy materialistic people. Again, the inflammatory language keeps the discussion from being useful. WHY is it bad to make money, be successful, create wealth and write RFQ’s instead of publish papers? The funny part to me is that almost all of academia requires a sponsor or patron to fund their quest for knowledge. You cannot have a thriving academie without a thriving economy to support the government or private sponsorship of research.Think about it. So many great discoveries, scientific breakthroughs, explosions of art/music/culture, and explorations of our world have been funded by strong economies.
So if we accept that people are different, think differently, see the world differently, have different types of knowledge, and EACH HAS VALUE, we might be able to do something. Gayla tested this theory with me by sending the following link http://www.tricycle.com/feature/one-dharma. She prefaced it with a comment regarding her being my “hippie” friend and that a passage in this post had spoken to her regarding our conversation. She did not tell me what passage and I read the entire article. One Dharma by Joesph Goldstein made me think and more importantly made me put my money where my mouth was – Tricycle is not on most conservatives active reading list. Goldstien wrote “Even when our opinion is based on some experience, it’s still limited. When we don’t hold on to our viewpoints quite so tightly, it allows for the possibility of seeing from other perspectives. We might actually learn something from someone else.”
So let’s take a step back and listen to others because women of all view points and belief systems can be a part of the solutions we need. When conservative women attack liberal women or visa versa in any arena we chase our tails and accomplish nothing. Please understand I am NOT advocating that either side has to compromise on every point however we need to have respectful conversation that leads to a positive outcome for all parties. This is no different from political partisans who claim “we are right, they are wrong and the other side is picking on me” and I know we can do better than that.

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