Thursday, November 21, 2013

Let Us Celebrate Achievements, For A Change

Contents of first three links:  Essentialist and religious arguments about women's most suitable roles.

Sometimes this "work" I do is incredibly hurtful*, anger-causing, and frustrating.  What is most tiresome of all is the fact that the same jaded arguments crop up, again and again, pretending to be brand new and exciting and very troothy**.  It doesn't matter how many times some tiny goddess on some isolated blog has responded to them, tugged at the hem, cut out a seam or two, pointed out that the emperor might be just a teeny-weeny bit naked.  It doesn't matter at all.  Just be prepared to do it again.

It's very much like doing the dishes again and again,  by hand, except that there are piranhas under the soap bubbles and you have bare hands.  The minute you finish drying them (with your bleeding paws), the sink is filled up again.

That's pretty good.  I stuffed into two paragraphs two female metaphors and began the whole thing with the generally-accepted greater emotionality of women.  Though naturally getting attacked a lot might make all sorts of people a bit emotional or angry.

So let's talk about something worth celebrating.  For instance, the first four young women who passed marine infantry training.  I love the photo at the link, because it is a happy one. (Added later:  Only three graduated because the fourth one was injured.)

Or consider the newly unveiled restored Vatican frescoes which some argue show female priests.  Then, of course, others argue that the women in the frescoes are not priests at all.  Still:

More controversially, the catacombs feature two scenes said by proponents of the women's ordination movement to show female priests: one in the ochre Greek chapel features a group of women celebrating a banquet, said to be the banquet of the eucharist. Another fresco in a richly decorated burial chamber features a woman, dressed in a dalmatic – a cassock-like robe – with her hands up in the position used by priests for public worship.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, which includes women who have been excommunicated by the Vatican for participating in purported ordination ceremonies, holds the images up as evidence that there were female priests in the early Christian church.
But Fabrizio Bisconti, the superintendent of the Vatican's sacred archaeology commission, said such a reading of the frescoes was pure "fable, a legend".
Even though the catacombs' official guide says there is "a clear reference to the banquet of the holy eucharist" in the fresco, Bisconti said the scene of the banquet wasn't a eucharistic banquet but a funeral banquet. He said that even though women were present, they weren't celebrating mass.
Bisconti said the other fresco of the woman with her hands up in prayer was just that – a woman praying. "These are readings of the past that are a bit sensationalistic but aren't trustworthy," he said.

How interesting that readings of the past in something like evolutionary psychology are not held to the same rigorous standards.

Or how about this YouTube video?  Given that the ability in three-dimensional mental rotation is the new secular equivalent of St. Peter's key to the gates of heaven, it looks like a very good idea to give young girls more practice in it.  Boys get that practice in their games, girls not so much.

Gloria Steinem received the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday:

The first time journalist, organizer, and Ms. magazine co-founder Gloria Steinem graced the podium at the National Press Club, it was as the first woman ever invited to do so. However many points one might give the club’s members for having chosen the country’s most famous feminist for that honor, some must be subtracted for their having handed her what was then the standard thank you gift to Press Club speakers: a man’s tie.
When Steinem took the podium on Monday, it was to mark her impending receipt of a far more welcome piece of neckwear: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to be bestowed on her by President Barack Obama at the White House Wednesday. “There is no president in history from whose hand I would be more honored to receive this medal,” she said.
“I’d be crazy,” Steinem told the Press Club audience, “if I didn’t understand that this was a medal for the entire women’s movement. It belongs to Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug and Patsy Mink.”
She noted that President Lyndon B. Johnson declined to give Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger the medal because, Steinem said, “he feared reprisal from the Catholic church.”

She stated in her speech:

You know, people often ask me, at this age, who am I passing the torch to? And I always say, first of all, that I’m not giving up my torch, thank you very much,” she said to appreciative laughter from the audience. “But also, I’m using my torch to light other people’s torches. Because the idea that there’s one torch-passer is part of the bonkers hierarchical idea—and if we each have a torch, there’s a lot more light.”

And a lot more to light with the torches, I guess.
*Well, not hurtful for me, anymore, because I have read all those arguments so many times.  But the situation itself is hurtful, because it is seldom reversed.  We do not often discuss what might be wrong with men's brains.

But we do discuss how women's brainz might stop them from all sorts of stuff and how that naturally  limits their lives in various fascinating ways, even when debating the whole issue is extremely premature, given the existing levels of genetic evidence (and the whole current research into epigenetics, how genes are turned on or off by the "environment" etc).  This discussion is expected to be polite, calm and collected by all participants, both those whose brainz are discussed and those whose brainz are not  discussed.  Any show of emotionality just proves that women are too emotional.  But not to show any emotionality (on my part, say), doesn't prove the opposite.

So the setup is rigged and that is what is hurtful about it.  When there is an article with one of the few reversals, men in the comments tend to get very, well, emotional.  And I don't blame them.

**No good word for the usual setup which is to tell a story either about the divine will or about something which is argued to have happened in the distant past but which cannot be witnessed, verified or falsified today, as "truth."