Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Citadel & Shannon Faulkner

She has her own less than a half a page entry on Wikipedia.  When this woman was a girl, she fought in court for the right to be admitted to The Citadel, an all-male state-supported Military Academy in South Carolina.  The state carelessly gave her exactly what she wanted in 1995 without regard for success of the operation or the social era.  She essentially quit within 4 hours and the cadets celebrated with catchy phrases such as, "Save the Males."  Congratulations, gentleman.  Even though in 1996 they had to let women in anyway... the Citadel has lagged behind the other Academies in terms of female integration.

However looking at the case... every so often there must be some male who isn't fit for the Citadel who quits in less than an hour (we do after all have prospective cadets quit within the half hour at West Point, and usually there is a cheer as the first person to figure out this is not their route quits... but there is not usually a derogatory statement made about that person)... and no one will remember that failure.  No one will remember why he did not become a cadet at the Citadel because he did not have to challenge a system, an academy, a state, or cherished tradition in order to be allowed his chance to show up and fail utterly.

So Shannon Faulkner quit and ended up becoming a middle school teacher according to Wikipedia, and is still a source of mockery and a target of sexist ridicule in South Carolina... but why?  All she did was show up... all she did was ask: why not?  And it wasn't for her... but the same men who will admire the quote by Theodore Roosevelt about the man in the arena, don't realize she was the one in the arena.  For all their bravado... the men  really shouldn't have cheered at all because that only showed how petty they were... and as was pointed out to me by someone else, the greatest leaders are not the overt sexists.  A man who is so insecure he cannot stand the thought of a woman co-existing with him in the workplace, a boy really who is too childish to let anyone in his "boys" club and who throws a fit when the door is opened to women... he isn't really the type of leader I care for, but I wouldn't generalize on all of mankind for his foolishness or his "cold and timid soul".

Theodore Roosevelt's Man in the Arena Quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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