Bernice Sandler was born on March 3, 1928. She studied psychology at Brooklyn College and the City College of New York. From 1951 to 1952 she was a research fellow in clinical psychology at City College. She got married in 1952 and had two children shortly after marrying. She ultimately divorced in 1978. After taking a break from her schooling due to her family life and moving around to accommodate her husband’s career she returned to school in the mid-1960s and got a Doctorate in counseling from the University of Maryland in 1969. After getting her Doctorate Sandler hoped to get a tenure-track appointment in her University department but was thwarted on account of her sex. This is what launched Sandler’s lifelong career as a feminist activist. Her big claim to fame was helping to craft and promote what would become Title IX which was signed into law on June 23, 1972. Title IX outlawed gender discrimination in any educational setting receiving federal financial assistance.
In a lecture Sandler gave on March 3, 2013 at Creighton University Sandler recalled some parts of her early life:
We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, but Not Far Enough
3:05 to 4:09; 8:19 to 10:18
“I want to start going back to the 1960s which is well before most of you were born or all of you were born. The women’s movement was only a few years old. There’s very little awareness of sex discrimination throughout the nation, we don’t have the word “sexist,” we don’t have the word “sexism,” we don’t have a word for “sexual harassment,” the word “date rape” hasn’t been invented yet, so it’s a very different time. Even the words “sex discrimination” are brand new. . . . Most people who did notice what we would call today “sex discrimination” often did not even realize it was wrong. It seemed natural, it seemed normal, it seemed the right way to do something.”
“In 1969 I got my Doctorate at the University of Maryland, I had been teaching there as a part-time lecturer, and there were 7 openings in the department; a really big expansion. And they didn’t even think of me, and I was concerned and I went to one of my faculty friends and I said “How come they didn’t even consider me for any of those positions?” because I knew I was a good teacher, I had good evaluations and so forth. And he didn’t even skip a beat and he said “Well let’s face it, you come on too strong for a woman.” and I didn’t know it at the time but those five words, too strong for a woman, is where Title IX really begins. I didn’t know that it would not only change my life but change the lives of millions of women and girls and boys and men as well because they would ultimately lead to the passage of Title IX. Instead I went home and I cried. I blamed myself for speaking up a few times at staff meetings, I said I had spoken too much at my graduate classes, in short I accepted the assessment that indeed I was too strong for a woman. I have to tell you however at that point in life I was not very strong, maybe for a woman I was, but I was really very interested in being lady like, it was one of my ambitions in life to be lady like. I got that as one of the things I wanted to be. But that was what I wanted and I was seen as just coming on too strong. It was my then husband who helped me understand what was going on. He actually said “Are there any strong men in the department?” and I remember myself weeping saying “Yes, they’re all strong men.” and then he said something, he said “Well then it’s not you, it’s sex discrimination.” and I was really puzzled by that and it took me awhile to realize that yes indeed it was sex discrimination, and it put me on the road to Title IX.”
At the Women in Secularism conference held from May 18 to May 20, 2012 Sandler had some interesting things to say about the differences between men and women. Sandler offered a comparison between Leslie, a man, and Pat, a woman, in terms of how the man and woman are viewed by others:
The Chilly Climate
0:52 to 2:21
“Leslie is aggressive; Pat is pushy, hostile, abrasive. Leslie is a stern task master; Pat is very hard to work for. Leslie takes charge of a very difficult situation, Pat’s very bossy. Leslie has to be tough to get the job done, Pat’s hard and cold. Leslie worked very hard and got the job because of talent and experience, Pat got the job because of affirmative action and maybe Pat slept with the boss. Leslie gets angry; Pat is bitchy and emotional. . . . Leslie is closed mouthed, Pat is secretive. . . .Leslie isn’t afraid to say anything but Pat doesn’t know when to quit. Leslie drinks because of the excessive job pressure, but Pat is a lush. And this is the last one; Leslie has very good judgment and what does Pat have? Intuition. And that’s not quite as good, good judgment means next Tuesday I can count on you [the man] because you have good judgment. But I cannot count on you [the woman] because I don’t know if your intuition will strike at that point.”
Later on in Sandler’s presentation she described the different ways men and women are reacted to by others in any kind of social situation (8:47 to 11:17):
“It happens everywhere. It happens in schools, it happens in the work place, it happens in social situations. . . . Everybody looks more at men than women. All of us do this. It didn’t take me too long to sort of find out where the men were sitting here, I do this almost automatically and I have to say to myself “Look at the women as well and not only at the men.” Women get much less eye contact. We’re all somewhat more responsive to men, we give them more attention, more praise, more criticism, more help. Men get a dialog when they say something in a meeting sometimes like this or in committee meetings. They get a lot of coaching such as “tell me more, that’s really interesting” and women are more likely to get “uh huh.” And what does “uh huh” say? It says you said something and I heard you, period. It gives no feedback. Women get much less feedback and I’ll be talking about that again. There’s even research that shows when women are speaking more people are likely to frown than when men are speaking and I have been watching to see people frowning. So far you’ve all been pretty good. Men are called by their name more often and being called by your name is important. Think, if you’re in a large organization and the top guy knows your name it is very nice. When he, usually a he, says “Hi Jim” or “Hi Mary” rather than “Well high there, how are we today” kind of thing. There’s even research that we wait longer for men to respond to a question before going to someone else. You can look at some of these things in committee meetings that you go to. There’s even research that shows men and women may be asked different kinds of questions. Men are more likely to get thinking questions; women are more likely to get factual questions. So this is the difference between being asked “When did the revolution occur” and “Why did the revolution occur.” You can really sparkle and shine on “Why did the revolution occur” but it’s hard to sparkle on just the dates. We see that incidentally in interviews where people, male people, are more likely to be asked questions like “How did you get interested in this area” and women are more likely to be asked “What is the title of your last job.” and those are two very different kinds of questions which come up with different kinds of answers.”
I find it amazing that Bernice Sandler as a feminist is so able to tell the differences between men and women. Apparently a lot of research has been done on this subject of how men and women differ in social situations and Sandler has probably thought a lot on the subject of “gender stereotypes.” Sandler’s descriptions of the differences between men and women ring very true to me. The thing is Sandler is on a mad mission to try to eradicate these differences between men and women and is on a crusade to micromanage social interactions to an amazing degree in a vain effort to eliminate the differences between men and women “at their very root” as it were. If only we could punish men who interrupt women in conservation and keep women from scanning the room to see where the men are sitting and convince workers that in spite of the “stereotypes” male and female bosses are really the same then at long last we will have gender equality!
Sandler admits that before feminism came along the very ideas of “sexist” and “sexism” and “sexual harassment” and “date rape” and “sexual discrimination” were not part of the popular imagination; that all these terms are things the feminists manufactured for the purpose of promoting their political agenda. Not only that but when people did identify a practice that the feminists would call “sexual discrimination” the ordinary people of that time simply viewed the practice as natural, normal, and the right way to do things. It’s amazing that Sandler thought she had the right to radically overturn society just because the University she worked for didn’t want to hire her to a tenure-track position. If her University psychology department didn’t want to hire a bossy and aggressive woman that is their right; on what basis does she have the right to impose herself upon a workplace that doesn’t want her?
Hopefully the sanity that prevailed in society before the feminist revolution will come again.