Monday, January 30, 2006

It's the Message, Not the Tone.

Happy news first: I have been added to the "churlish feminist list" for taking issues with the Self-Appointed Captain in Charge of the Monitor and Correction of Feminism's Tone's tone. God, that feels good. Thanks to all the believers, and especially to Happy Feminist and Redneck Mother for sending folks my way to witness my arrant ceorliscnes for themselves.

Less Happy Non-News:
With all the kerfuffle(love that word) surrounding feminism's tone and its negative effect on feminism's efficacy, etc., there has been little talk of the message the various feminisms are sending. Those of us who are churlish :-) have already recognized that our tone is completely bloody irrelevant when dealing with people who don't wish to hear our views. Our views are inconvenient; our facts are inconvenient. You can't believe yourself to be a pro-feminist man while knowing that your wife works 60 hours a week outside the home, then comes home to make dinner and do the laundry while you read the paper and continue doing nothing about it. Feminism is a pain in the ass when it forces you to see how you benefit from, or are taken advantage of by, rather arbitrary sexist roles and beliefs. I could tie that information up in a little pink bow, and it would still be unpalatable.

An example from real life:
Last week in a cross-listed Women's studies and Rhetoric class here at Microburg U., a young man who considers himself pro-feminist presented an argument he considered a defense of an early feminist writer, and based on his assumption that the patriarchy is now dead. The remainder of the class listened to his argument respectfully, as is appropriate in a classroom setting, then very calmly told him that the patriarchy may not be as open as it once was, but in fact lives on. The others provided the young man with unemotional examples of how sex differences and prejudice still inform some aspects of our everyday lives. Because he and I had spoken several times in the past, he looked at me for affirmation of his argument, which in this case I couldn't give him. I did give him the rueful look/nod combination that is standard for telling someone you'd like to help, but in this case you can't. His argument was based on a fallacy, and was therefore false. As far as I was concerned, we were a group of academics sharing information to better our understanding. Flash forward to today. The young man has quit the class because he "doesn't need to listen to rabid feminism." There was no rabidity. As men were not mentioned, there was none of the "man-bashing" that is the standard cry against feminism. The information was simply inconvenient to this young man.

Flash back several years:
An undergrad sociology class I took. The professor set up the class so that we would look at one social issue from every possible angle for the entire course. The first half of the course we read men sociologists, and for the second half of the semester we read women sociologists. The women attended class throughout the course, but the men simply stopped attending when it was time to read women sociologists, because "they didn't need to listen to rabid feminism." Hm.

Aside from the fact that I would still be in fifth grade if I left class everytime an idea that was insulting to women came up, these men are not responding to the tone of the women speaking. The tone in both these classes was information sharing among equals. The information is the problem. Hearing a viewpoint that doesn't, like every other thing in the world, validate you more than everybody else is more than these young men decided to handle. Tone had nothing to do with it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Swá we eác settað be eallum hádum, ge ceorle ge eorle

(So also we ordain for all degrees, whether to churl or earl - From the Laws of Alfred, translated in Bosworth-Toller).

Imagine my delight when some punk with some serious entitlement issues blog-published his evidence of "churlish feminism," to prove to feminists that their (our actually, although I'm not even mentioned. Damn it!) complaints would be better received by the patriarchy if they were dipped in chocolate, sprinkled with non-pareils, and presented on a satin pillow along with a suitably subservient apology for interrupting the important business of football season. Imagine how my delight became ecstasy as aforementioned punk claimed that he was not either suggesting to women that they be ladylike, like all those mean churlish feminists said. He was just trying to help n stuff. Gee!

There are very few moments that can reasonably be described as feminist medievalist heaven; this is one. In responding to this "nice guy," I get to talk about Anglo-Saxon society, words, and unintended irony. And I get to do all of this while asserting a feminist's right to use whatever damned tone she pleases. Christmas has been extended this year! Yay!

See, yonder punk, for all his protestations of rhetorical superiority, does not attend to language. If he did, he would know that the word churl (OE. ceorl m.) is historically, and currently, loaded with class distinction. In fact it was a class distinction. Just like the word lady (OE. hlafdige f.) was, and is. To oversimplify, there were three classes of free *men*(neither slave nor royal) in A-S England; ealdormen (later eorls, upper nobility), ðegns (petty nobility, they held less land, were most often warriors in a greater lord's service, and could rise to ealdorman status), and ceorls (small land-holders, primarily concerned with farming duties, although they were also permitted to carry weapons, participate in community gatherings, and redress grievances). Ceorl could also be used to simply denote "man." A single woman was ceorlleas (man-less), the verb denoting women marrying was ceorlian (literally, something like "to acquire a man").The adjective churlish (ceorlisc) however, carried with it then as now the distinction of being proper to the common man, i.e. vulgar. When it was applied to women, however, it meant that the women were behaving in a manly fashion, and that was unseemly. Unless it wasn't. One compound of ceorl was the word ceorlstrang (strong as a man), used to describe exceptional women and boys.

The wives and daughters of ceorls were not hlafdiges, they were simply wifs. To be a hlafdige, a woman would have to be attached in some way to a ðegn or better.

In using the word churlish to describe feminist behavior he doesn't like, this non-noble man who is admonishing Twisty, BitchPhD et al. is saying "be weaker," or "be less like men," or "be more like the wives and daughters of highly ranking men." In short, "be ladylike." To which I say, "no."

But perhaps Ancrene Wiseass' cries of "churl power!" are even better.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What's That Got To Do With the Price of an Intact Hymen in China?

It seems that exporting bad food and groundless optimism to China is not our only cultural contribution to the next superpower. Now that women are beginning to be treated with some semblance of dignity in the east, two fine examples of Chinese patriarchy have come together to get around the wild new world of free-ish women by encouraging wealthy men and properly virtuous and malleable girls to marry each other.

As reported by the NYT, Women who "applied for the job" of being married to billionaires responded to the shock expressed by others around them with these gems:

"Isn't the purpose of saving our virginity to get a good price?"
No, darling, the purpose of saving your virginity is to have sex only when you want to, and with a man you're interested in fucking.

Another woman defended her application thusly:

"Things are different from before because everyone has a right to choose," said the applicant, Wang Yue, who said that in a physical relationship, feelings could always be developed later. "If Americans can be liberal, why can't Chinese?

Young lady, I think it my duty to inform you that accepting and pursuing the commodification of your hymen as that which makes you valuable is NOT liberal. Consider what happens after the first sexual encounter in your marriage. Will you only be a valuable woman for that one time? You're being played, and you don't even know it. I want to give you some advice my great-grandmother gave everyone she could get to stand still for 7 seconds: When you marry for money, you earn every last penny. Consider the implications of that before filling out any more applications. I hope you will see the size of the bullet you just dodged by not being chosen.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

What's Missing in this Picture?

This is a picture of BushCo signing the "Partial-birth abortion ban" (a.k.a. late-term abortion ban, if you're one o' them evil scientific "facty" types) into law in 2003. How happy all those present seem to be in putting an end to the millions of late-term abortions that occur every year because women don't like stretch-marks. What's that you say? These are generally emergency procedures, occuring only when the life of the woman is at stake? This illegal law doesn't provide a reasonable exemption for the life of the woman, you say? That can't be so, because these people are all pro-life. Ask them, they'll tell you. Except they aren't pro-life, and they aren't pro-human sanctity either. What they are is anti-female autonomy. Period. This aggression towards women shows itself as a moral opposition to abortion, or contraception, or sexual education that educates people about sex, or even social programs that make pregnancy and child-bearing less frightening, but it all stems from a central thesis: women and their bodies rightfully belong to men and/or the state, and must be governed by men and/or the state. There's an astonishing lack of uteri in this group. And that is very much the point.

Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the United States 33 years ago today. In re-legalizing abortion (which had been legal in the US prior to xenophobic concerns in the middle 19th century), the Supreme Court of the time recognized that women, much like people, are people. The wingnuts and their little kinglet have spent the time since trying to get an American woman's right to bodily autonomy revoked. They are frighteningly close to achieving that goal.

This will not be the best post, because I cannot begin to adequately express the rage I feel when pro-birthers speak. I recognize their hypocrisy for what it is, and I resent the insult to my intelligence. I do not consider it incumbent upon me to prove my own humanity to my legislature, nor do I for one second believe that my legislature would demand that every healthy citizen donate blood for the benefit of another citizen who will die without it, so the whole "a fetus has the right to live regardless of the woman's wishes" argument does not fly with me. Nor does the adoptive home argument. I owe nobody a baby.

There are, however, a few things I can and will say. Should this, my country, decide that it has the legal right to co-opt my body for its own purposes, to declare me a less-than-human less-than citizen because I was born with a uterus, I will no longer consider the laws of this land applicable to me. Period. Should the democratic party continue in their "roll over and play dead strategy" of declaring women and their rights "fringe issues," rather than fighting for the civil rights of all citizens, the democratic party will no longer recieve my votes. Period.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Doing My Part for Corporate America

via Majikthise, in turn via Miscellaneous Heathen

Even if Hefeweizen is just plain nasty beer, this ad is a must-see. As Majikthise says, Reinheitsgebot & cute sells.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fun for me!

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Heo Cwaeth!

  1. When provoked, Heo Cwaeth will swivel the tip of her abdomen and shoot a jet of boiling chemicals at her attacker.
  2. Heo Cwaeth, from the movie of the same name, had green blood.
  3. You can tell if Heo Cwaeth has been hard-boiled by spinning her. If she stands up, she is hard-boiled!
  4. Medieval knights put the skin of Heo Cwaeth on their sword handles to improve the grip.
  5. Heo Cwaeth has a bifurcated penis.
  6. The colour of Heo Cwaeth is no indication of her spiciness, but size usually is!
  7. Heo Cwaeth is actually a vegetable, not a fruit.
  8. Heo Cwaeth is picked, sorted and packed entirely in the field.
  9. You should always store Heo Cwaeth in an airtight container in the fridge.
  10. New Zealand was the first place to allow Heo Cwaeth to vote!


I'll spare you the saga of graduate-school funding (yea or nay?) that I've been dealing with for the entire break, because the program hadn't figured out whom they would hire as late as last Monday. I'm sure many of you have dealt with the same situation. And, while I find this non-information epically rude as a professional practice and extraordinarily insensitive to the basic needs of students from an educator's perspective, I've accepted that my department is a slow-moving beast. I know that first year grad students in my department are not funded, but rather hired on a semester basis, as needed, and at a greatly reduced rate of compensation. (Still, a person would like to know whether they need to seek employment and funding elsewhere before, say, it's too late.) I've even accepted the fact that the ability to blow shit up is demonstrably more valuable to our society than the ability to think, speak, and write well. Humanities folks learn that early on.

What is driving me absolutely mad is the dedication the department has to graduate student ignorance. I have been confused. I have directed simple and pointed questions to people who have the answers to those questions. In return, I have received gentle smiles and circumlocution. Still confused by the original problem, and now irritated at the insult to my intelligence (I'm a GD Language and Lit major, people, I know when you're distracting me with non-answers peppered with football scores), I have consulted others in my peer group who have received demonstrably false information when they pressed for answers to their questions. Playing the good little simpering half-wit with which my professors clearly prefer to deal, I have smiled right back and pretended I'm satisfied to wait until they deign to come up with an answer, even a plausible lie. Others, knowing these ropes, do the same. Department meetings are as filled with code-words, expected mannerisms, and profoundly unpleasant pleasantries as the average Jane Austen novel or DAR function.

Let us assume for a moment that the answers to my questions, and those of my peers, might be hurtful truths. This is reasonable to assume when one sees another fidgeting away from answering a question, I think. Wouldn't it be nice if we, as students, were told what exactly was going on, and why? Even if it hurt? Wouldn't it be much more instructive, if momentarily unpleasant, if those we had charged with assessing our performance in this portion of our educational journey would say "You've done this poorly, and you failed to do that well. Here's how one goes about fixing these problems"? If the answers are not hurtful truths, just inconvenient ones, then wouldn't it be ultimately kinder to explain whatever the situation is, so that we are not left paranoid about our own abilities?

Seriously, folks, playing simpering half-wit while being openly lied to or equivocated with is extremely bad for my blood pressure. I'm not sure how many false smiles I have left, and I really don't want to release the Kraken this early in the game.

Hence, one cranky Heo.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gilead Goes International

Proof that Margaret Atwood is not so much talented as she is prescient is beginning to pile up in the United States, but with the Bush administration's "global gag rule" already killing uppity poor women all over the world, conservatives feel it's time to really get moving in the *Christian* third world. (Remember the womb wars are between the Muslims and the Christians now, rather than between brown and pink people like they used to be. Brown people who wear crosses are OK now. Mark your charts.)

From the NYT article Conservatives Step up Activities Overseas:

"...U.S. advocacy groups are now waging their culture war skirmishes worldwide as they try to influence other countries' laws and wrangle over how U.S. aid money should be spent.

''We don't expect to see the United Nations change, or Western Europe change,'' said Joseph d'Agostino of the Population Research Institute, a Virginia-based anti-abortion group. ''But with the Bush administration, pro-lifers feel there's a real opportunity to stop the U.S. government from promoting abortion and sex education and population control in the Third World.'' "

That's right, not only is abortion and population control wrong, but so is sex education. Because giving people accurate information about the way their bodies work is unacceptable. If one develops a boil on one's ass, one should be told it's a punishment from God. For Jesus' sake we must never tell them that they've been sitting too long and their sweat glands have become clogged. It's not as satanically scientific as that, but rather all their evil has been concentrated in one area by God's command.

"Activists on both sides trace the rise of overseas conservative action to the mid-1990s, after anti-Communism faded as a cause and anti-abortion, anti-feminist groups began engaging in major U.N. conferences -- often taking stands in opposition to the Clinton administration.

Now, with Bush as president, they feel empowered. Carmen Barroso, director of International Planned Parenthood's Western Hemisphere Region, said conservatives have been particularly active in Latin America.

''They are very organized, with lots of resources and powerful allies in the White House and the Vatican,'' she said. ''Whenever there's a major initiative to liberalize laws, they marshal their forces against it. In the past, it was one or two isolated efforts. Now it's a massive effort.'' " (Emphasis mine)

That's right. With most of the Native Americans dead, most of Europe allied to the United States, and nearly dead communist ideology, the conservatives were searching about for an enemy. Just like Jesus told them , they began throwing stones at women. You know, now that I think of it, there may have been a condition placed on that Jesus-approved stone-throwing, but we know that conservatives aren't much for inconvenient details.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Welcome, New Folks!

Imagine my surprise a few days ago, when I checked my E-mail and discovered that suddenly more than a handful of folks were dropping by! And people told me my temper was off-putting. Pshaw!

Anyway, for those of you coming from Ancrene Wiseass (adopted sister feminist medievalist, yay!) , or through her from Redneck Mother (best blog tag line I've ever read), pants that fit, Mind the Gap, and Gendergeek, welcome. I hope it was worth the trip over.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

In Which I Finally Address Medieval Studies

I've been blogging around for several months now, discussing everything from my grad student angst to the modern Chinese legal code. I have not yet discussed medieval studies, which is an odd choice when one considers the name of this blog. Much of this reluctance to write about things medieval comes directly from grad student angst, actually. I have much yet to learn, and I know it. Eventually, I may even come up with an original idea, which would be fabulous. (It doesn't help that certain medievalists keep publishing well thought-out articles about my ideas before I have them. I'm looking at you, John D. Niles, Sassypants Professor of English at University With Better Weather Than Mine. Go camping for a second, would ya? Give a person a chance to think. Geez!) Ahem, anyone wondering why this blog is pseudonymous should now fully understand. Anyway, in celebration of my 50th post, I have decided to take the advice I have so often given and make the title match the content to some extent.

An Anglo-Saxonist's Complaint:
As you may have guessed from the blogname, my primary area of interest is literature from Pre-Norman England. It's the absolutely perfect mix of literature, language, history and general cultural anthropology for me. I especially enjoy the decoding language portion of the exercise. This area of specialization occasionally causes confusion between me and people from other (sub-)disciplines, because I classify many things as "a little modern for me" that others consider not-so-modern. Like November, 1066, for example. I'm being slightly hyperbolic, of course, but it does twist my knickers a little when people learn that I study Old English, and respond by sharing their thoughts about Shakespeare. Shakespeare's plays are both old and English, and many of them are very good, but they are not written in Old English.

A demonstration:
Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum, Si þin nama gehalgod. to becume þin rice, gewurþe ðin willa, on eorðan swa swa on heofonum. urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg, and forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum. and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge, ac alys us of yfele. soþlice. <---- Old English (Lord's Prayer)

If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipped out of my contemplation: but it is no matter; thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be thy direction till thy death! then, if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corpse, I’ll be sworn and sworn upon’t she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen.
(Troilus and Cressida, Act II, sc. iii, l.5 ff.)

See? There's a bit of difference there; Shakespeare is way snarkier. Also, I defy you to find a linguistic expression cuter than "swa swa" (aka 'so' or 'as') anywhere!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Speaking of Viragoes ...

I've been meme-tagged by Dr. Virago of Quod She. This, my very first meme-tagging ever, is the meme of fours.

Four Jobs You've Had:

1. Women's clothing store clerk. (H.S. Nine Months. I was fired for telling a customer that I admired her bravery in verbally abusing a 17 year-old girl who was paid to pretend that customers could never be stupid. SO worth it!)
2. Nurse Assistant. (I can now tell anyone, anywhere that I have changed diapers on people older than they. Good curmudgeon practice, that.)
3. Telemarketer. (I was young, I needed the money.)
4. Secondary School English Teacher.

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

1. The Princess Bride (Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die! ~ that never gets old.)
2. The Sound of Music (PSA: If you sing any part of "Do-Re-Mi" on the streets of Salzburg, the natives will pelt you with Zemmeln. The more you know...)
3. Pretty in Pink
4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Four Places You've Lived:

1. The wrong side of the tracks in a snooty town on Long Island.
2. A basement apartment on the right side of those same tracks.
3. A Levitt-constructed L-Ranch in a town that was all "wrong side."
4. The upper portion of a Tudor-revival duplex. No tracks around here. Weird. I don't know who I am.

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch:
1. The Gilmore Girls (Dr. Virago watches this one, too)
2. Charmed
3. The Daily Show
4. Lost (Again, Dr. V. watches this. Hot guys without shirts, I mean c'mon!)

Four Places You've Been on Vacation:

1. London, England
2. Berlin, Germany
3. Ireland with a rental car ... everywhere I could go without risking getting shot. PS - All roads really DO lead to Dublin.
4. White Mountains, NH (a-yup)

Four Blogs You Visit Daily:

1. Ancrene Wiseass
2. Quod She
3. Mixing Memory
4. Bitch PhD.

Four of Your Favorite Foods

1. Anything involving shrimp or scallops, or shrimp AND scallops.
2. Black Forest Cherry cake.
3. NYC street-vendor pretzels.
4. Lasagna/Stuffed Shells/Manicotti

Four Places You'd Rather Be:

1. NYC
2. Aachen (getting my hands in all of Charlemagne and Alcuin's stuff)
3. The Burren, County Clare
4. Oxford, England

Four Albums You Can't Live Without:

1. The Best of - Simon & Garfunkel (shut up)
2. ABBA - Gold (Shut up, I said)
3. Wicked - Original Cast Recording
4. The Joshua Tree - U2

Four Vehicles You've Owned:

1. 1990 Chevy Cavalier - gray
2. 1980(!) Mercury Zephyr - red
3. 1996 Volvo 850 - red
4. 1986 Ford Crown Vic - beige (My mechanic calls this "the last of the Land-Yachts")

Four Taggees

1. Mixing Memory
2. Evil Li-Brul Overlord
3. Toad in the Hole
4. Anyone else who wants to play.

In Defense of Bitterness

Caveat Lector: This post is long. Pack a lunch.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an anti-feminist jackass in possession of a public forum, must level charges of bitterness. To be fair, the charge is often correct. This does not win anti-feminists any awards for perspicacity, however. I'm afraid it doesn't take a brain surgeon, or a dental hygienist for that matter, to deduce that those who are protesting what they perceive to be the ills in society are at least momentarily disgruntled, if not thoroughly embittered. Unfortunately for anti-feminists, while declaring that one's opponent is bitter may be a valid observation, it isn't the "look at me, Ma" hands-down argument-stopper they present it as. "I've sussed you out, person with a complaint, and I've decided you're dissatisfied" really isn't that stunning a point to make. If feminists were completely happy with the status quo, we'd be off somewhere doing things other than pointing out how unhappy we are with the status quo. We're smart like that.

What Anti-feminists Assume Are the Causes of Feminists' Anger or Bitterness:
Where anti-feminists (hereafter AFs) fall far short of reason is in their diagnoses of the causes of feminists' bitterness. It's rather amusing to hear/read the causes listed, actually, because in AFs standard-issue determinations of the reasons behind feminist dissatisfaction exists a veritable parade of their ignorance regarding the nature of feminism. So, let's start with the dictionary definition of feminism, shall we?

1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : the movement organized around this belief
- fem·i·nist /-nist/ noun or adjective
- fem·i·nis·tic /"fe-m&-'nis-tik/ adjective

Fairly clear-cut, I think. Nowhere in that definition does it say that feminism considers it a prerequisite for membership that one is: fat, ugly, lesbian, man-hating, shrewish, whorish, or frigid. Yet these are the causes most often cited as the cause of a woman's feminism. These alleged causes of feminism are often combined in fun, and unexpected ways. (On one memorable occasion I was told that my feminism is secondary to my being a frigid whore. While I'm certain that being a frigid whore must be a truly unpleasant experience indeed, I am not one. Nice try, though.) Men, of course, are considered to be either emasculated in some way, or desperate for women's attention if they are feminists. Those aren't in the definition either. For the moment, however, I'd like to concentrate on the perceived causes of feminism in women. In most of these terms, the supposition is that a woman is unable to get a man's sexual attention, and therefore seeks self-esteem as a replacement for a man's (very limited, sexual) esteem. Yet the most basic premise of feminism is, again, that women are, or should be, the political, economic, and social equals of men. It is not that women are acceptable substitutes for the much-more-desirable men who are either unavailable or disinterested. Let's talk about the "Oh, that'll shut her up" words one by one.

- Fat: I am sure there are feminists who are fat. Approximately 50-60% of the adult population of the United States is fat. It stands to reason that some of those fat people will be feminists. However, if we assume that fatness causes feminism, then it reasonably follows that Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell are feminists. See how silly that is now? Feminists have no problem seeing fat as a personal health issue. It is the AFs who consider a woman's girth political, based on their supposition that it is incumbent upon women to be decorative, and the current fashion in developed nations for women to be thin. Because fat women do not meet the AFs current requirements for women to be essentially fuckable art, AFs consider it their right to abuse fat women. Feminists reject the idea that women exist solely for the viewing pleasure of men; when AFs try to punish women for their personal health issues, feminists will oppose them.

- Ugly: Ugly is highly subjective, but the standards of physical beauty are such that most people, man and woman alike, fail to meet them. So, most people fall somewhere along a continuum from "not beautiful" to "who is that person being hunted by angry villagers with pitchforks?" The statistical probability is that some of those unbeautiful people will be feminists. Again, the basic philosophical differences between feminists and AFs with regard to women's beauty are present in this accusation. Feminists reject the idea that women exist for decorative purposes. When AFs attempt to punish women for being ugly, feminists will oppose them.

Just for fun, let's see if you can pick which one of these two people wrote pro-feminist arguments based on their personal beauty.
Hint: If you picked the ugly guy, boy are you ever wrong.

- Lesbian: Ah, lesbians. The simultaneous dream and nightmare of the patriarchy, and I'm afraid the patriarchy's slip is showing a bit in the openly expressed fear that women can find sexual fulfillment in each other's arms. Some women can, but if you're an AF, and you can't get a woman to agree with you, or to sleep with you, you really shouldn't assume that the woman in question is a lesbian. She may very well be, but statistics show that the sexual preference that's preventing you from "getting any" is most likely an aversion to cretins. Just so you know. To my knowledge there has never been a study on this, but I would hope that the vast majority of lesbians are feminists. Correlation is still not causality, however, as we have seen with Messers Limbaugh, Falwell and Schopenhauer. AFs assume that women's sexuality rightfully belongs to men; women who make an end-run around male sexuality must therefore be somehow "bad." Feminists reject this notion, and posit instead the radical notion that women, as free adult humans, own their own sexuality, and may share that sexuality with any other willing adult human.

- As for the man-hating business; let's not feel so special, huh? Hatred is hard work, and women, just like other people, like to know that their work is going towards a worthwhile cause. There are precisely two men in the world whom I hate, and those men had to work long hours over a period of years to earn such devotion from me. Feminists view most men, like most women, as neutral others until they have said or done something to elicit some sort of emotional response. The response varies according to the behavior and the feminist's preferences. Simply having been born male is rarely sufficient cause for feminists to begin the labor-intensive work of actively hating you. Ironically, while there are women who simply despise any all men, those women are rarely feminists. They are generally the passive-aggressive avowed non-feminists that AF men consider so safe and charming. The kind of women who consider men congenitally idiotic, and incapable of, say, knowing that socks live in the sock drawer are far more likely to hate men than the average feminist. Some random moron who says a transparently misogynistic thing to me in passing can hope for my disdain, or even shock if s/he's exceptionally gifted in the art of misogyny, but evoking true hatred will require a much more concerted effort and real commitment on the part of the misogynist. No claiming the prize if you haven't done the work, Sparky.

- shrews/bitches/viragoes/termagants, etc.: These terms denote ill-tempered women. AFs have wed themselves to the notion that women must be absent of will and mood, all the while assuming that any expression of emotion from a woman must eminate from an unwell uterus. The word Hysteria means "illness of the womb," which is how doctors used to diagnose women's anger before feminism forced them to consider the wild possibility that some women have justifiable anger. It would certainly benefit the patriarchy if women were so easily categorized as having no right to emotion, nor any physical abiltiy to generate emotion when in a healthy state, so that any expression of emotion could be termed an "outburst." Feminists reject the philosophy that women are meant to be ever chipper and docile, and instead assume that women are people, and that people often have emotions. (I am particularly fond of the word "termagant," so if you're an AF reading this post, do feel free to use that word as a descriptor for me.)

-Whores/sluts/tramps, etc.: Ah, yes, the fear that feminine sexuality, when not properly contained and controlled by a single man, is likely to rip a whole in the time-space continuum causing the universe to collapse in on itself. Like lesbians, women who take control of their own sexuality, using it for their own purposes rather than the breeding purposes of the church, government, or extended kin-group are truly frightening to the average AF. I cannot prove this, but it has long been my belief that fears of sexually free heterosexual women and of homosexual men stems from the same basic philosophy of the AF: Heterosexual men are the sexual power in the world,proven by their ability to gaze upon objects of desire, and occasionally stick their phalluses into those objects. When heterosexual men become the subject of the lascivious gazes of those who are by default lesser, or those who welcome phalluses into their various orifices, masculine authority is threatened. Feminists reject the link between the phallus and the eyes, recognizing that those humans born with vulvas also have eyes. Feminists similarly reject the notion that sexuality is, or should be, a purely male heterosexual privilege.

- frigid: There are people in the world who cannot respond sexually, regardless of stimuli. These people are rare. The charge of frigidity is based upon the notion that women's sexuality is purely passive, and that women should respond to any man who finds them attractive enough to elicit an erection. This notion has served the patriarchy well over the centuries. When women were traded as property in an institution known as marriage,for example, which was always far less sacred than profane, and generally involved some sort of real estate deal between a woman's husband and her father. This notion continues to serve the patriarchy in what is known as the rape culture. Men don't have to feel responsible for assaulting unwilling women if all women are willing, do they? But when a woman appears who is demonstrably unwilling, a wrench is thrown into the patriarchal works, and this situation demands explanation. The explanation given is often that the unwilling woman would be medically incapable of sexual response in any circumstances. This logic is similar to saying that a person, upon being offered spinach once and refusing, is medically incapable of enjoying Ice Cream. Feminists reject the idea that female sexuality is either passive or non-existent. Feminists also reject bad logic.

The Actual Causes of Feminists' Anger or Bitterness:

As previously defined, feminists believe that women and men are, or should be, political, economic, and social equals. Feminists become angry or embittered when evidence presents itself that women are being treated as lesser beings than men, and therefore as lesser beings than they themselves are. This evidence is still ubiquitous in modern society, and therefore feminists have ample opportunities to be angry. As I have said in comments elsewhere, there is a belief in this society that it is somehow still OK for people to say things about women that would earn them a much-deserved FBI file were they to say those things about any other subset of humans. Imagine David Brooks demanding that white men, or native americans, or black people refuse to educate themselves, refuse to find paying jobs, and stay at home in the kitchen "where the real power is" and tend to children, for the good of the children, and because those white men, native americans, or black people really like doing service work better than being educated and paid workers, and that he has scientific surveys that prove that those white men, native americans, or black people really can't do the high-powered, public work they've been doing for the last forty years or so. Besides, other people would find their ignorance and penury sexy, and that's always good. Let's assume that Steven E. Rhoads, asshat professor of political science at UVa published a book demanding that the public treat melanin differences seriously, because he did a study proving to him that black people are better child-care workers than white people. Imagine aforementioned asshat were telling black students in his university that they should major in something that would help them do the serving jobs they were designed by God to do even better, as he admits to telling his women students. These are recognizably outrageous ideas, and demonstrably false, but are ideas being put forth with regard to women by elderly white men on a regular basis, all the while being justified as "science." Except that scientists disagree, recognizing that the modern Eugenicists are both "proving" things that are contrary to experience, and are using studies which fail to consider any philosophically inconvenient possibilities.

After hundreds of years of struggle, women continue to be told that they are not smart enough or strong enough to do "men's jobs," and when it is pointed out to AFs that women clearly can do men's jobs, because they've damn well been doing them for centuries, we are told that we shouldn't do them "for the children." Except that half of our children are daughters, and the other half are sons. And we believe that both our daughters and our sons benefit from a world in which men and women are treated as well as their actions and characters demand they should be, and one in which both men and women are educated to the extent of their ability and interest. So, when you tell a feminist to quit school, and bake cookies for the children, she gets angry. And she thinks about her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother all going off to work in the world, all getting the best education available to women of their time, and all leaving her with a torch to pass to her own children, and then she gets angrier still. And all that anger is good for her, because it tells her that she has not internalized the poor self-esteem that our society works so very hard to instill in her, and that she has a chance to bring up children (or not, as she pleases) that will also regard themselves with an eye to reality, rather than patriarchal fantasy. It's inconvenient for AFs that feminists continue to be angry, and express that anger, but feminists reject the notion that we exist for the convenience of our ideological enemies.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Umberto Eco

And one slightly less well-known proto-medievalist, who couldn't write fiction even if the government were holding her dearly beloved in an underground bunker only to be released upon completion of a thoroughly mediocre, flash-fiction type short story
--Deep Breath -- and who is also slightly freaking out because she is now officially older than any of the following people got to be:
Alexander the Great
Richard II (of England)
Christopher Marlowe (!)
P.B. Shelley
All of the Brontës except Charlotte (Even the drunken painter brother)
Franz Schubert
W.A. Mozart
Jesus Christ(No, that's not a cuss. I'm older than that kid from Nazareth.)

Serious catching up to do ...

Sunday, January 01, 2006