Friday, February 13, 2009

Why, on earth, are men offended merely because hotels regard them as potential rapists?

Men are getting second class treatment, solely because they are men, in some of America's most prestigious hotels: "Women-Only Hotels Heat Up." The Premier Hotel in Times Square is one of several major hotels with "women-only floors." The double "X" chromosome rooms are replete with oversized bathtubs, curling and flat irons, bath salts and loofahs, nail files, a vanity kit, yoga mats and women's magazines (O, Self, Cosmopolitan) -- all at no additional cost.

Nice, eh, guys? Women get their own private "no men allowed" floors with rooms that have more amenities than the rooms men are permitted to stay in -- at no additional cost -- just because they are women. In places of public accommodation. Hmm. I wonder how that works from a legal perspective . . . .

"'These women work very hard, and this might be the only time they will get to soak in a big tub and read a magazine,' says Premier marketing director Maureen O'Brien."

Of course men don't work very hard, do they, Ms. O'Brien? And no man in America likes to take a bath, especially in a big tub; nor do we read magazines, especially magazines geared to men. (In the rooms that are not for "women-only," do they have Popular Mechanics, or Maxim or any number of car or men's health magazines? Oh, I would bet a sizable sum of money they don't.)

It gets better: "That doesn't mean safety doesn't play a factor. Most female-only floors have added extra security--usually a key-card door and a female-only staff. 'It's nice to know that you won't have a gentleman walking on the floor, and, if you do, you know he's not supposed to be there,' says O'Brien."

Thank you, Premier Hotel, for stereotyping all men as potential rapists. She might as well have said "it's nice to know that one of them isn't walking on the floor . . . ." You know, one of us sub-humans.

Let's think about this critically. When was a rape last reported in the Premier Hotel? Or any of these other hotels? I suspect . . . never. Even the article concedes that the hotel "wasn't getting too many requests from female solo travelers looking for protection from male guests . . . ." (Which, I would guess, means that the hotel has never received any such requests.) In any event, we're constantly told that the vast majority of rapes are of the acquaintance variety, so isn't it fair to assume that the women who are in the most danger in these hotels are the ones who happen to be staying with -- oh, no! -- a dreaded male? Perhaps that's the real solution here: erect cages in the rooms where women can lock up their men -- you know, while the women enjoy all those free feminine amenities.

I'd like to hear a mother explain to her son why some places are off-limits to men, his daddy included. "Well, Timmy, you see, men can't all be trusted around women, and people like your sister, Susie, and I need to be protected from them." Wow! I mean, do we care at all what message we send to our sons? Or our daughters? Or do we delude ourselves into thinking that maybe they won't notice things like this?

If you're not convinced that this apartheid for women is unnecessary, unfair to men, and a step in precisely the wrong direction for women after all the progress they've made kicking down gender barriers, then ask yourself this: how far must society go to placate the members of one group who harbor fears -- irrational though they may be -- about another? Suppose, for example, that whites insisted on "whites-only" floors in hotels for security reasons -- since we're constantly told that blacks commit more crimes than whites on a per capita basis. What do you imagine would be the reaction to that? Or suppose women wanted to ban Mexican housecleaning personnel from their "women-only" floors -- due to fears that Mexicans supposedly steal more than whites. Wouldn't it be nice to know that "one of them" isn't walking on the floor?

Ridiculous you say? Unfair? Of course it is. And wholly unAmerican, too. It attributes to individuals the worst traits of the class he or she was born into; it's the worst kind of bigotry.

But it's no more ridiculous, no more unfair, and no more unAmerican than segregating the genders in a place of public accommodation due to exaggerated -- and, yes, dare I say it, irrational -- feelings of insecurity. One group's irrationality should never trump another group's right to equal access -- even if the former are women and the latter are men.

And, seriously, what other group in America, aside from males, would tolerate being unfairly stereotyped in this manner with hardly a complaint? For now it's relatively isolated things like hotel rooms, but many cities of the world already have women-only buses and train cars. Maybe that's what's needed to wake up those chivalrous men who have no problem with women-only segregation: just wait to see their reactions when they are forced to stand at a freezing bus stop for twenty minutes while two or three women-only buses stop to pick up the -- ah -- more deserving passengers.

Perhaps such segregation is needed in some cultures, I don't know. I do know that in this country, it is an hysterical overreaction based on irrational fears, and that it manages to accomplish the improbable by slandering two genders at once -- it unfairly says that men can't be trusted around women, and that women are defenseless and need to be protected from men. Mainstream feminism doesn't like these segregation attempts, either, precisely because they tend to reverse the gains women have fought to achieve tearing down these very barriers.

For those less progressive women who just want to keep the menfolk at bay, be careful what you wish for, because you can't have it both ways. Sometime, somewhere, some men are going to decide to exclude you from some place or event, like they used to, based on rationales every bit as hysterical or silly or irrational as the ones posited by these hotels. We all know how you'll react to that. And rightly so.

This article has been referenced at various sites -- check out the comments here and here and here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eight years ago today, Brian O'Neill missed the implosion from my office

Oops! Another photo op bites the dust

By Brian O'Neill
Thursday, February 15, 2001

Take an intelligent woman and a reasonably intelligent man, marry them, and you have the dumbest person on Earth.

That's my experience anyway. Take this past Implosion Sunday. A friend of mine has an office in the Trimont. (I'll pause here while you say "Well, lah-dee-dah.") He was nice enough to invite my whole family up to see Three Rivers Stadium go down.

So my wife and I were up at 6 a.m. and had the girls in the station wagon by 6:50 a.m. We took the back way up Mount Washington from the West End and drove past thousands of hardy souls lining Grandview Avenue, desperately looking for a perch, any perch, from which to see the big boom.

The poor cold saps, I thought, as I beeped the horn at the Trimont garage to open the doors for me and mine. Heh, heh.

I didn't know anyone at this party besides our host, but everyone was nice, the coffee was hot, and they had my favorite breakfast pastries: free. I went out on a balcony off the kitchen to take pictures of Three Stadiums River in the last moments we could still call it that. Then I came back inside and planted my freeloading butt in a warm conference room with more than 1,000 square feet of windows facing Downtown.

I was justifiably proud. After many e-mails back and forth, here I was, in the perfect location for the memory of a lifetime.

Then, with about five minutes to go before the blast, my wife asked where she should be if she was to photograph this thing. I'd asked that she bring her camera, for reasons that escape me now. At this point, I'd rather see a proctologist than another implosion photo.

Anyway, she said she needed to be outside if we wanted to get a good shot. That sounded right, but I said we should all stick together. So we went to find what our host had done with our coats. I tracked those down and then came the customary struggle of getting them on the 16-month-old and the nearly 3-year-old. That done, we started carrying them toward this overlook outside the kitchen.

That's when the implosion began. In an office where there were 30 windows, eight rooms and three balconies facing Downtown, we were somehow near none of them.

When we got to the balcony, we saw smoke. We saw what appeared to be a stadium under that smoke. But we missed the quintessential moment when Three Rivers made its cataclysmic shrug.

"All this hoopla for 18 seconds," some woman said.

What was she talking about? As a man, that makes perfect sense to me.

I stood in the cold and watched the enormous cloud of concrete dust blow across the people in Point State Park, but even that didn't cheer me up. Why couldn't we have left well enough alone?

We screwed up because we're married with small children. We're so busy presenting a united front we don't notice or care that we're making less sense than Dr. Seuss. If either one of us had been alone, or even alone with the children, we wouldn't have missed the implosion, because we would have realized how dumb it would be to move from a perfectly good spot. But together, we managed to reassure ourselves into idiocy.

My wife went out later that afternoon to the video store to feed our older child's Disney addiction. She also rented, at my request, "The Bridge on the River Kwai." She'd never seen it, so we sat down to watch it Sunday night after putting the kids to bed.

I thought it would be nice way to wind down from the day, watching a bridge blow up and a train fall into the river as a bunch of soldiers shot at each other. But we never made it to the end of the movie. I guess we're just not the imploding kind.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Go Steelers!