I’ve written about the racism of low expectations and ask why that persists. When a black person doesn’t get a call back for an interview it seems quite possible that it is about low expectations due to a negative stereotype. Why would the hiring manager worry about a threat to his hierarchy from an incompetent? The soft racism of low expectations is ubiquitous in our society. White people who consider black people incompetent so they must fix things for them are another example from a different angle. I never get a response to that premise from people and wonder why. Do they think that doesn’t exist any more? It is after all a fairly traditional form of racism. I’ve put a number of people on the spot by asking them why they seem to be treating person X like an incompetent when it has not been shown when I think that it might be racism.
The US Marine Corps has (or perhaps had now that Congress wants a kinder, gentler Corps) in combating racism. There were no assumptions of equality, go got trained and proved that you were competent. If you failed in the training for a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) you got trained in another one. Then you rely upon each other with your lives.
Now it is facing a similar test with women Marines. When I was on active duty there was a large number of MOSs that women could not have under the “free a man to fight” concept. Now there are many MOSs open to women that were not in my time. The Marine Corps has resisted women in infantry MOSs. They conducted large, expensive studies that showed reduced combat effectiveness and increased casualty rates in mixed gender units. Congress didn’t care and it is forcing it. There have been a few women make it through the school of the infantry. It’s going to happen, but in the Marine Corps way. Prove yourself. You might think that sexist but man are subjected to the same tests.
The Marine Corps is a very macho place with a hierarchy that is unsuitable outside of the Corps, but Marines are proud of it. Do some of the resistors feel that their place in the macho hierarchy is threatened? You betcha. Are some of the resistors sexist? You bet. I’m not a fan of women in combat but for entirely different reasons, the reasons that the trials showed. I believe they were honestly done.
Can women be effective in combat? Yes they can. The Apachie woman, WWII Russian snipers, the Night Witches. The female grunts will eventually be a thing, but on the Marine Corps terms. Being treated as equal is easy when you prove that you are.
Is there something to be learned outside of that type of hierarchy that you deplore? It goes to my thoughts on the racism (and sexism) of low expectations and what do we do about it. Yes, I know that women have had to prove themselves to gain acceptance for all the bad reasons that you site. And when they do it they are a part of creating a new norm. Some will feel discriminated against and some will be, yea, I did that!, with pride.
It’s part of my some things aren’t as simple and obvious as we wish them to be. That is not an endorsement of an across the board power structure because I agree with you that it is problematic.