Equality v. Recompense

From: edequity@phoenix.edc.org
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 14:11:56 EST

This is a response to an email that I received from a member of this group.
I will publish neither the text of the email that was sent to me nor my
response that directly addressed the email because I feel that would be in
bad grace considering the email was sent privately. I would, however, like
to ask the following questions not only of the person who sent me the email
but also of anyone else on the group who would like to comment. Thank you.

You seem to be advocating from the vantage point not of "equal treatment
for all" but for preferential treatment for girls to make up for past
unfair treatment. In other words, you do not appear to want EQUALITY in
the here and now, but rather you want RECOMPENSE for the past. I have a
few questions about this if you could indulge me please?

1. People not associated with the feminist or masculist leadership or core
movement, the "regular plain Janes," as it were, seem to associate feminism
and it's attendant "equity" movement with a movement centered around
EQUALITY in the here and now, and that is one of the principal reasons why
the "equity" movement has become such a political powerhouse. Given this,
what do you think the political power of the "equity" movement would be if
these ordinary folk looked behind the mask and saw a desire for RECOMPENSE
instead of EQUALITY? Would these people, who are in favor of the "equity"
movement that they view as being one of EQUALITY in the here and now be
supportive of the "equity" movement if they knew that it is one of
RECOMPENSE for the past?

2. How do you reconcile your goal of RECOMPENSATORY "equity" with the
language of Title IX? The text of the law reads: " Nothing contained in
subsection (a) of this section shall be interpreted to require any
educational institution to grant preferential or disparate treatment to the
members of one sex on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect
to the total number or percentage of persons of that sex participating in
or receiving the benefits of any federally supported program or activity,
in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of that sex in
any community, State, section, or other area..." (20 U.S.C. 1681(b)) This
appears to be a direct rebuke of your espoused principle of RECOMPENSATORY
"equity," yet you have stated in the past that you strongly support Title
IX. How do you reconcile this apparent discrepancy?

3. Relative to your apparent valuation of RECOMPENSE for the past over
EQUAL TREATMENT in the here and now, do you not see a vicious cycle
beginning to form? We live in Period A, in which society gives girls more
privileges and advantages to make up for the privileges and advantages that
boys had in pre-Period A times. In Period B, immediately following Period
A, society should compensate the boys for the suffering they endured in
Period A by giving the boys special advantages and privileges. In Period
C, give the girls special privileges to make up for what they endured in
Period B. In Period D, give boys.....on and on and on until the end of
time. Do you see this as a positive direction for society to be heading,
recompense for the recompense for the recompense...on and
on...? Or do you believe that it would be best to acknowledge the sins of
the past, learn from them, put a period, and move on with EQUAL TREATMENT
in the here and now?

4. Again with respect to your suggestion that girls are entitled to
special privileges to make up for disadvantages they had in the past, this
doesn't appear to hold true when you examine things in the context of
immediacy of experience. For example, there is a nine year old boy and a
nine year old girl, twins. Now, Exclude Your Sons Day comes around, and
the daughter is invited to go spend a day at work with her parent. This
boy has enjoyed no advantages over this girl (one might even argue that the
girl has enjoyed advantages over the boy, but that is a wrinkle in the
argument that tends to draw away from the point), yet she gets this
privilege that he is not allowed to share.

    Taking the argument from the limited scope of Exclude Your Sons Day to
the broader scope of the "equity" movement in general and the focus on
RECOMPENSE over EQUAL TREATMENT, this point is made to show the flaw of
RECOMPENSE. The girls to whom you would grant these unfair advantages in
order to make up for past unfair treatment DID NOT ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE this
unfair past. Furthermore, the boys whom you would penalize for having
advantages in the past DID NOT ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE these advantages. Girls
of today did not experience the disadvantages of yesterday, and the boys of
today did not experience the advantages of yesterday, so why compensate and
penalize them, respectively, for what they did not experience?

If you could answer these questions for me I would very much appreciate it!
Thank you very very much!

Miss Amber V. DeWine (soon to be Mrs. Amber V. Tower!!!)

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