There’s a meme that goes around on my Facebook feed in which someone has her (or his) picture taken holding a sign that says, “I need feminism because …”

I used to sympathise with the camp that believes feminism is a dirty word. I believed it is anti-male. I thought that battle is over and won, so what are you women still complaining for?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the battle is by no means over and won. Progress has been made. But women still have an absurdly hard time making it into leadership positions. Viagra is health care, but birth-control is a religious issue. Strange how the math department has only 10% women on tenure track, but 80% in the the lecturer faculty ranks. You don’t want to get me started on trans-vaginal ultrasounds. Being pro-feminism has nothing to do with being anti-male and everything to do with believing women are humans, not inferior humans, but equal humans.

I’ve been reading Wen Spencer’s A Brother’s Price, part Western, part palace-intrigue, and 100% reverse sexism. Funny how the changed perspective makes things I normally take for granted all the more obvious.

This reminded me of another essay, Douglas Hofstadter’s
A Person Paper on Purity in Language, that turns gendered language into racist language. (The link is to a transcription of the entire article; go read it.)

There’s a note at the bottom of the Hofstadter piece above about a work by Bobbye Sorrels Persing and her story, A Tale of Two Sexes. I’d like to read that. A Google search led me to Why are there so few female computer scientists?
and Barriers to women in science and engineering. All these pieces are a bit dated. All of them speak loudly to the things I see today.

This brings up my disappointments with my own career. Did I ever really have a chance in math? I’m no Emmy Noether. And I’m not terrible at it. I know I’ve made many mistakes. I still feel like I’ve been shortchanged of many opportunities I should have had. Crying about it won’t do any good, but I sure hope we can change things for the next generation. Our female students, whom I’ve noted are consistently at the top of the class, deserve an opportunity to perform to their full potential, and to be appreciated as productive and complete human beings even they aren’t super stars. There’s a hell of a lot of excellent work done in academia by people who aren’t stars.

Sometimes we even get to see some small steps of progress, like this one. A Dad made it for his little girl: Donkey Kong, Princess-as-Hero Edition