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    Fritz Fischer's curious usage of the word "ignominious"..., 2007-04-09 20:52:32 | Main | cooperating with north korea..., 2007-04-10 15:22:38

    Shorter Fritz Fischer's "Making Them Like Us", chapter 4:

    "Would the Marlboro women please refrain smoking."

    Chapter 4 is a really fantastic cultural window into mid-century managerial liberalism. In particular pages 91-100, in which the pre-feminist progressive 'anti-bureaucracy' of the new agency tries to cope with their mythical pioneering cowboy volunteers that happen to be incomprehensibly female. There's 10 pages of assorted quotes from male management's internal memos which - since I was born in 1977 and never took a proper womens studies course - is a laugh a minute tour of the white male patriarchy bumbling around without any of its fancy, post-modern sophistication.

    For instance, the PC evaluator in Turkey, Richard Starkey, reflects, "We should only send single females to cities - the only places they can function. ... the only good ones kept themselves busy by making their homes into showpieces." The key to success for the women volunteers can be summed up as "flirtatious and coy" - to quote another evaluation - and not get all "sullen" over, the evaluator simply conjectures, "being spurned". Evaluations are riddled with the kind of judgments one would expect from a beauty pageant, with tasteful comments measuring the worth of female candidates by how pretty they were when they smiled. And while abortion was of course strictly prohibited pregnancy amounted to an automatic discharge. You need to look good, but don't go around enjoying it.

    And then there's this:

    Another example involves a female volunteer who was assaulted and raped in New York just before her training began. The training staff stated that they were "particularly concerned about her strong desire to visit New York to talk to the detective involved in the case. They see this as evidence that she has not really come to emotional terms with her problem. While I was there, she was forbidden to go to New York with a group of other trainees who were planning a trip." To Shriver's credit, after reading this memo he jotted a note in the margin: "You'd better give this several second thoughts."

    This kind of tone deafness reaches into the program's efforts to recruit minorities and its approach to religion. One salient example, from an evaluation of a teacher in Cameroon: "She is very religious and told me that 'God had sent her on this mission.' I believe she has a mental problem and will have to be pulled out." If only we could have kept such head cases in the Peace Corps and out of the Whitehouse.

    The success of their multicultural recruitment campaigns can be summed up thusly: in the effort to recruit more Indians they used materials advertising the Peace Corps with romantic images of becoming pioneers and cowboys.

    Next chapter: "Mom, you wouldn't believe what I saw when we flew into Sadstan - they totally have an airport here already!"


:: posted by buermann @ 2007-04-10 01:56:42 CST | link





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