Gender, Race, and Publishing on the Left

charles brown cdehbrown at
Tue Jun 16 10:26:28 PDT 1998

Maggie Coleman writes: wojtek writes:
> I would add to it the whole issue of 'standards' used to define jobs ,
> responsibility, and work schedule that 'engender' work by making it
> 'suitable' for men or women - but without overly sexist overtones. To
> illustrate, establishing a standard that requires 100lbs lifting
> autmoatically excludes most women but does not look like overtly
> until we realize that the 100lbs standrad is arbitrary.>>
>Not only are weight limits arbitrary, but they frequently discriminate
>smaller men as well as women... I have some random thoughts on this
>of women and physical strength, so here they in no particular order:
>1. when one man can't do a job, they send a second man. When two man
>do a job, they invent a tool. when a woman can't do a job, they say
she's too
>2. Housework and child care frequently demand the lifting of very,
very heavy
>weights. So does nursing -- nurses routinely lift patients larger and
>than themselves. In fact, i think many women flunk weight lifting
>either because they think they should, or because they have not been
>(like nurses are) to lift heavy weights. Boy children are expected to
>strength from the getgo while girls are not. The naturally stronger
boy child
>develops his strength while the girl child develops her weakness. Two
>in point, one historical and one personal:
>a) with the opening of archeological digs in the Russian steppes, it is
>beginning to look like amazon women were not a myth. Graves of women
>have been found in several locations.
>b) For a year I worked in manhattan manholes a'la the phone co.
>maintenance on cables and trouble shooting). At the beginning of the
year, I
>was already a strong woman. By the end of the year, popping 3-5
>6-7) manhole covers a shift at 280 lbs. a pop (with a partner of
course) made
>me very strong. At the end of that year, I was lifting weights in the
>which were comparable with small/average men. Of course, I've lost
much of
>this strength since, but it certainly blew my own gendered
misconceptions of
>my own ability to develop upper body strength.

I can dig what you all are saying. Isn't another aspect that we should be arguing that men should have less weight to lift, not only proving that women can lift as much as men ? We let the boss off of the hook if our first protest is not that both men and women workers are being required to lift too much. We should use the occasion of the centuries long trend of more women in social production to abolish the mortification of the body which is toil, heavy labor.

But maybe I am too theoretical in this. Did the men lifting the "man"holes enjoy the lifting ? Did you and the other women enjoy lifting them ? I suppose to a certain point increasing your strength was healthy.

Charles Brown

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