Monday, July 14, 2014


         A bogus "war on women" has been employed as a political rallying cry of the left and its captive Democratic party for decades.

           The shrill feminist advocates of this canard are oblivious to the fact that this purported nationwide conspiracy to deprive American women of equal opportunity in education, business, and the workplace bears no relationship to current reality -- or to the simple logic of practical necessity in the American economy.

           The women who are supposedly targeted by this invidious discrimination are the wives, daughters, partners, sisters, nieces, and girlfriends of the males who are supposedly perpetrating it.  American families of all stripes are increasingly dependent upon the capacity of women, no less than men, to find, maintain, and succeed at jobs of all varieties.  The notion that the males of America are erecting barriers to the success of the very women on whom their children, and in many cases themselves, are so heavily and mutually dependent borders on the ridiculous.

                          Pioneer Female Drummer Who Didn't "Get" the War on Women

           Regardless, for almost a half century federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws -- including Equal Pay legislation and Title IX-- have penalized employers, educational institutions, and governments not only for any deliberate discrimination against women, but also for entirely innocent practices that have any incidental discriminatory impact on women.  Having defended companies against such "disparate impact" claims during his years as a  litigator, SR can personally attest to the rigors of the sex discrimination laws and their cogency in forcing American companies to eradicate outdated vestiges of anti-female bias in the workplace and the executive suite.  Although sometimes over expansive in coverage, there is no doubt that these laws have facilitated and accelerated society's inevitable acceptance that artificial barriers against the entry and success of women in the workplace, arts, sciences, and professions simply makes no sense.  Equal rights for women are now an established legal and societal reality.  Far from waging a war against women, our nation's laws and policies have successfully waged a war on behalf of women.

           Perhaps the most striking and definitive refutation of the "war on women" mentality is found in the almost astonishing evidence of how females have surpassed males in gaining the crucial benefits of higher education.  A rather stunning assessment of this phenomenon published in Forbes in 2012 demonstrated that females began to surpass males in college acceptance and attainment in the 1970's and that female superiority in that respect has now reached stunning proportions.  See D. Borzelleca, "The Male-Female Ratio in College," Feb. 2012,

          This report showed that females outnumbered males by 56.4% to 43.6% in public universities, and by 59.3% to 40.7% in private universities.

           Those stark figures indicate not only that the benefits of secondary education have favored females, but also that females will have a decided advantage in obtaining adult employment due to their superior educational attainment.  

            Women have also moved forward to a position of essential parity with males in entering such critical professions as medicine and law.  Women now constitute roughly half (about 47%) of those attending both medical school and law school.  In the law schools, moreover, women students are surpassing their male counterparts in attaining highly competitive positions on the elite law reviews, which are a ticket to the most desirable and lucrative positions in that profitable, if disreputable, profession.  The ABA's annual report on Women in the Law shows that 54% of those now selected for law review at the nation's Top 50 law schools are women.

            So much for the so-called "glass ceiling."  Women are doing just fine, and it looks as though it is the young males of America who need a bit of a boost, at least in terms of higher education admissions and attainment.

             But I digress.  Over 40 years ago, a young lady who was then pioneering in her own highly visible profession offered a more straightforward and unpretentious refutation of the more shrill proponents of what was then called the "women's lib" movement, and which now brandishes the false slogan of the "war on women."

             Anyone familiar with rock and pop music knows that, apart from vocalists or "lead singers," the instrumental positions in bands or groups are dominated by guys, and certainly were in the 60's and 70's. And no instrument was more of a male-dominated preserve than the drums.

            But entirely without fanfare or pretense, Karen Carpenter established her chops as a jazz, pop, and rock drummer starting at the age of 16.  She first played jazz drums with her brother and another partner in the group that won the prestigious Battle of the Bands at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966.  She then continued as the drummer in various iterations of the groups that ultimately evolved into the Carpenters, the best-selling American pop or rock group of the 1970's.

                            Lady Drummer in Action:  Karen Carpenter (from YouTube)

           Of course, Ms. Carpenter is primarily known as one of the great female vocalists of the 20th century, but she continued her role as an outstanding drummer for most of her career (which ended prematurely at the age of 32 due to the fatal effects of anorexia nervosa).  To the vocal disgruntlement of some of her male drummer peers, Karen Carpenter was chosen as the top jazz/pop/rock drummer in Playboy magazine's 1975 reader's poll. Popularity and name recognition undoubtedly played a large (and probably decisive) role in Ms.Carpenter's selection, but that is always a factor in such polls.  In any event, the Playboy honor validated Karen Carpenter's status as the undisputed pioneer of women drummers in popular music.

          Unlike many of her pop/rock contemporaries, Ms. Carpenter was not very political.  She was (like her brother Richard) reportedly a moderate Republican, however, and exposed herself to the scorn of many in the leftist/hipster musical coterie when she and the rest of the Carpenters provided the entertainment for President Nixon and West German Chancellor Willy Brandt at a White House dinner when the Watergate scandal was breaking.  She gave a charming little talk after the performance, in which she unabashedly declared what an honor it was to perform at the White House.

                         Carpenter working her Ludwigs at the White House (from YouTube)

        But what Karen Carpenter lacked in political sophistication she more than made up in common sense and personal conviction.  The so-called "women's lib" movement was much the rage in 1973.  With her prominent status as the first woman to achieve super-stardom as a pop/rock drummer, Karen was apparently approached from time to time to lend her voice to the chorus of feminists advancing the doctrine that women were the hapless victims of systemic discrimination in employment and career advancement.

        As evidenced by the following excerpt from a 1973 interview in Star magazine, Karen Carpenter would not take the bait.  Even in the male-dominated and testosterone-driven field of rock, jazz, and pop drummers, Ms. Carpenter was convinced by personal experience that a determined woman could succeed on her own initiative and drive.  As she explained to the interviewer in the disarmingly blunt and unsophisticated language of a self-assured young lady who had achieved enormous success in the harshly competitive environment of the U.S. recording industry:

          NANCY: You find the role for a woman changing> Do you see more opportunities for a girl to do things that she really wants to do?.

          KAREN: Oh yeah! But that's another thing...this bit about Women's Lib.  People always call me because they think that being a chick drummer, I'm a woman's Lib fanatic, and I'm not ! Besides, I don't know that much about what they're fighting for.  For myself, when I decided what I wanted to do, I went ahead and did it. Nobody got in the way. If they did, you had to figure out a way to get around them. I think anybody who has enough self respect and enough brains can do what they want to do and the bit about blaming it on somebody else is just garbage!   There's nobody that's going to stand in the way of somebody if they really want it - male or female!.

          NANCY: Good, I'm with you.

          KAREN: Its stupid you know, just because you're a what?.

          NANCY: RIGHT ON!.

          KAREN: We've got as much brains as anybody else. You see a lot of dumb guys around too! This bit about me being a successful girl drummerI'm not a successful GIRL drummer, I'm just a drummer that happens to be a girl that's happy! I have a ball!.

Quoted from "When I Was Sixteen," telephone interview in "Star" magazine, March,1973.

          Contemporary sophisticates are still locked in abstruse intellectual debates over the purported subtleties and complexities of the strangely illogical and counter-intuitive "war on women."  But over 40 years ago, a straight-shooting young musical pioneer from the suburban backwaters of Downey, California, cut through all the political sophistry to make the simple case that a determined woman could succeed on her own even in a male-dominated profession, thank you -- even while standing firm for the principle of female equality.


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