Patrick Collins: What is your opinion about sexism in our current society? Do you feel that women are treated unequally (if so, how?)? Do you experience this personally in your day to day life? What is your view on feminism and feminists?
Rhio: Yes, there definitely is sexism in our society. I have been confronted by it in many subtle ways. (But, thankfully, not very often). Personally, I don't think it has worked against me too much but it has been there in some situations. I think it hasn't worked against me because I did not allow it to damage me or change or deter what I wanted to do, or to bias me against men in general.
Some women unfortunately, when they are repeatedly confronted with sexist types of attitudes will take one of the following avenues.
1) they become very pro-feminist, kind of militantly anti-male. This is unfortunate, because by doing this, they have allowed the actions of a relatively few ignorant males, change them forever. Of course, they may have run into more than their share of these ignorant males.
2) They eschew their femininity and think that by dressing more male-like and acting more male-like, they can fit in better in the corporate world. This is very sad, because women have a lot of very human sensibilities that they could bring to the corporate world to humanize it more. Instead, some of them join the enemy in a manner of speaking. If women were allowed to express their sensibilities in the corporate world, perhaps some major changes could be made there so that the bottom line wouldn't always have to be profits and next year more profits and each year, up and up and up, and profits above all. That's their God. That paradigm is very destructive to people, to fairness and integrity in business, to the environment, etc., but it is the nature of corporate values at this time.
But women can do what they want you might say. No, they are made to feel inappropriate if they step out of the corporate mold. If they dress in a feminine way, American men think it is inappropriate for the boardrooms of corporations. (Not so much in Europe I've been told). Big hair, dangling earings, medium short skirts, a little cleavage are viewed as not appropriate for those situations. So they tame back their hair, take off the earrings, lower the hemline and cover up to conform or most of them don't get past the double doors. Then when they even get past the double doors, if they dare say anything that is not proscribed — they don't get promoted further. It's an insidious game of do what is expected or else you don't go up. No room for creative thinking, no room for real true feelings, no room for suggesting changes to policy — they've joined the "Good Old Boys Club." And the opportunity to make a real difference is lost. A few very strong women have survived, femininity intact, in this corporate world but not many. Just look around and you will see it. Most women of power are playing a man's game in a world mostly created by men. The exception here would be women in show business who are allowed to keep their femininity intact – in fact it is a necessity for them.
I am not against men because of this mostly male created world situation. I feel that women have to be more courageous in coming up against the status quo. Women have to not be afraid to speak out and get passionate and emotional. That's another thing, if you get emotional because an issue moves you – that's a no no. A woman can be accused of having PMS and not being able to think straight because of it. Another very sexist attitude.
Through various surveys it has been shown that women earn less money for doing the same job as men. That is sexist. Why shouldn't women earn the same money for doing the exact same job?
Recently at a Portland Raw Food Festival, I showed up for a panel discussion. On the panel was Howard Lyman, Dr. Douglas Graham, Dr. Tim Trader, Tre Arrow and Robert Miller . . . all male — and then there was me. Some women would be intimidated by this. Why weren't other women invited onto the panel? There were intelligent, capable, and knowledgeable women there. The organizers were mostly women. You see, women cooperate in this separation themselves, perhaps unconsciously.
I don't consider myself to be a feminist — but I do believe in many feminist issues and support those. I don't feel like a feminist because at the core I think that male and female sensibilities are the same. The differences we see have been imposed on us from a very early age by the prevailing attitudes of the society in which we live.
Male and female should be coming closer together, rather than this idea of women against men.
Men also have been constrained against expressing their true humanitarian values – through negative training and programming, through peer pressure, through fear of not fitting in and advancing in their professions – men are made to feel inappropriate if they don't conform.
In general I just think that all people have to be more courageous when coming up against long held staunchly ingrained and detrimental attitudes no matter what they are. Speak for truth and let the chips fly where they may.