Actress’s punishment is no test case for bias
Beth Teitell’s front-page Oct. 4 article “Just one more thing for a mom to do: Time” implies that women are being treated unfairly in the college admission scandal. The piece is both internally and externally inconsistent. Teitell suggests that Felicity Huffman was sentenced to jail time, while her husband, William H. Macy, was not, because of gender bias. Yet a female former prosecutor quoted in the piece notes that Huffman’s husband “seemed to have been less involved in the [criminal] conduct.”
Then, in the Metro section of the same day’s paper, an article notes the sentencing of a father in the scandal while the man’s wife sat in the packed courtroom (“Lawyer gets month in jail in college cheating scandal”). No one suggests that his wife should be prosecuted or sentenced to jail time. That is likely because she was less involved than her husband.
Talk about a double standard.
This inequity argument does disservice to women
Re “Just one more thing for a mom to do: Time”: Being the one man in a family of professional women, I have as much understanding and sympathy for the inequities women face in our society as a person who is not a woman can have. But the cause of women’s rights is not helped by pointing to cases that do not show any actual bias toward women.
In the college admissions scandal, individual women have been charged about as frequently as couples, but less than half as frequently as individual men. Felicity Huffman’s husband, William H. Macy, may not have been charged or received jail time, but Huffman received less than half the jail time of the male parents who have been sentenced so far.
In such circumstances, offering the treatment of Huffman as an example of bias is a disservice to women. Doing so provides fodder for misogynistic critics who will argue that if this is the best example of bias that can be found, then all claims of bias are concocted fictions.
So yes, women are maltreated by society; but no, this is not an example of that.