An update on two Pasadena City College-related stories I've blogged about recently.
First off, I had a good meeting yesterday morning with the college's brand-new VP for Human Resources. We discussed the Yves Magloe situation (see here and here) It was our current VP's predecessor who chose to fire Yves after his mental break-down; the new VP assured me that he agrees that that was a very poor decision from both a moral and a legal standpoint. Our new VP has met with Yves and is committed to creating an environment here on campus where Yves can continue to teach, continue to enjoy job security, and receive the help he needs.
The veep and I agreed that we need to create a more open atmosphere on campus for the discussion of mental health issues as they relate to employment and teaching. I told him I was very grateful for his support. Bottom line: the good guys won on this one, folks. Yay.
Second of all, I posted two weeks ago about the student newspaper, the Courier, and its brand-new weekly column Eye Candy, featuring Playboy-centerfoldesque interviews with young attractive PCC students. The first three "eye candy" models were women. But today's issue has (for the second straight week) a young man for us to gaze at. The paper, mustering all the cleverness and excellence that might be expected of student journalists, calls it "Guy Candy."
Will this cause the complaints to die down? I worry that it will. Far too many folks assume that the solution to a culture that primarily objectifies women is to create a culture in which men are also objectified. If there's equal opportunity ogling, then there's no problem. I don't share that view for a couple of reasons:
First off, being perceived as sexually attractive -- particularly for young community college students -- is quite different for men and women. Hot "guy candy" dudes are less likely to be sexually harassed than their equally attractive sisters. They are unlikely to have their (mostly male) teachers staring at their well-defined chests and ignoring what they have to say. There's little sense that being perceived as hot hurts a young man's professional or academic aspirations. The same cannot be said for young women who are perceived as very attractive.
And more importantly, I've always despised the notion of "fighting fire with fire." The fact that men can be made into sexual objects doesn't lessen the pain of women who have to live with the consequences of their own objectification every darned day. The fact that some men get raped by other men doesn't mitigate the suffering of women who are also survivors of rape.
Belatedly including men in the newspaper's Eye Candy section is clearly designed to deflect feminist criticism. In the minds of some, perhaps, being an "equal opportunity offender" is better than singling out one sex. But committing a second murder doesn't lessen the pain inflicted by the first; insulting first blacks and then Jews doesn't mean that the former should be any less enraged because they've been attacked by someone whose bigotry applies to all, not merely to some. And similarly, objectifying men doesn't lessen the offense of objectifying women.
I think it was Audre Lorde who said "You can't dismantle the master's house using the master's tools." And fighting fire with fire will only burn the whole house down.