I am currently designing sound for a production titled Mothergun, which opens June 3. You can get more information from www.emergencytheaterproject.org.
If you are in the NYC area, check it out and let me know what you think!
I may put up their boxing game tomorrow so you can hit me as well. Check out PlayMyGame and you too can be shot at, punched, and have cakes thrown at you!
Oh, and btw, if you ask really nicely, I’ll tell you why I’m wearing a multi-colored beanie cap in this photo. But you have to ask really really nicely. 🙂
So I was reading the May 21 edition of Newsweek and, in an article about transgendered people, came across this passage:
Genesis set up the initial dichotomy: “Male and female he created them.” And historically, the differences between men and women in this country were thought to be distinct. Men, fueled by testosterone, were the providers, the fighters, the strong and silent types who brought home dinner. Women, hopped up on estrogen (not to mention the mothering hormone oxytocin), were the nurturers, the communicators, the soft, emotional ones who got that dinner on the table. But as society changed, the stereotypes faded. Now even discussing gender differences can be fraught. (Just ask former Harvard president Larry Summers, who unleashed a wave of criticism when he suggested, in 2005, that women might have less natural aptitude for math and science.) Still, even the most diehard feminist would likely agree that, even apart from genitalia, we are not exactly alike. In many cases, our habits, our posture, and even cultural identifiers like the way we dress set us apart. (Link)
While I think the article is, overall, a fairly balanced look at transgender issues and people, this passage bothered me for a number of reasons that I would like to share.
1) The language disparity between “fueled” and “hopped up on” is telling. For men, the verb is active, for women it is not only passive, but also connotes dependency and drug addiction. How difficult would it have been to construct a sentence that didn’t propagate the very stereotypes it claims to be exposing?
2) Genesis set up the initial dichotomy? So, before the the Jewish nation invented Yaweh there was no dichotomy? Before the Bible made it to India or China or South America there was no dichotomy? Of course not. While religions often promulgate differences between men and women as inherent and unchanging, this reference to one specific religion as a causal agent is unnecessary and simplistic.
3) The stereotypes faded? Really? Why are women still paid less than men? Why are women who display typically “manly” traits often viewed as “bitches?”
4) What is so difficult about realizing the difference between genetic and cultural differences? Larry Summers was not called out because he noted a difference in how, culturally, women are often trained to think and behave differently from men. He did not look at the statistics and ask questions about the gender disparity in the disciplines of math and science, nor did he pause to examine how those disciplines might be structured with a gender bias. He was called to task because he made an assumption about the basic genetic makeup of women that implied a “natural” inferiority. Political correctness be damned, if you think that half the species has some sort of genetic inferiority then you shouldn’t be President of a major University in this day and age.
5) The conflation of genetic and cultural is furthered by the last sentence. Of course habits, posture and cultural identifiers are different but that has nothing to do with “natural” differences and everything to do with how girls and boys are treated differently in every culture on the planet.
As I said, the article is fairly balanced, if not terribly nuanced and I applaud Newsweek and the authors for the piece. For many the points I raise here are minor and nit-picky, but I firmly believe that it’s the little things that we say and write that reveal the deeply entrenched structures of sexism that still pervade our culture.
Technorati Tags: feminism
So my sidebar is missing. In every browser EXCEPT for Firefox.
This is not good. But I can’t figure out how to fix it. The WordPress forums are not helping (at least not that I have found so far).
If you could help in any way, or point me in the right direction to fix this I will be eternally grateful – and you can have either a piece of my soul or my firstborn. Or I’ll buy you a beer.
Thanks for any tips or ideas you might have.
I don’t know when my blog broke, but things are definitely wonky around here and it will take me a day or two to figure out the whys and wherefores.
Either it just happened, or nobody really cares.
Hmm – maybe it’s a GoDaddy thing. I’m thinking of switching hosting services to www.bluehost.com – anybody have experience with them?
Seems like an obvious statement. In the eighties we would have said “no duh!” Yet, the fact is, most cultures–ours included–have created structures that serve to alienate, denigrate, punish, contain, stultify, objectify, and just plain use women. Media helps propagate these structures.
Sometimes it can bring attention to those structures, and to the injustices women face simply because of their sex. To whit, this essay by Joss Whedon:
A few of you may know that I took public exception to the billboard campaign for this film, which showed a concise narrative of the kidnapping, torture and murder of a sexy young woman. I wanted to see if the film was perhaps more substantial (especially given the fact that it was directed by “The Killing Fields” Roland Joffe) than the exploitive ad campaign had painted it. The trailer resembles nothing so much as the CNN story on Dua Khalil. Pretty much all you learn is that Elisha Cuthbert is beautiful, then kidnapped, inventively, repeatedly and horrifically tortured, and that the first thing she screams is “I’m sorry”. “I’m sorry.” What is wrong with women? I mean wrong. Physically. Spiritually. Something unnatural, something destructive, something that needs to be corrected. How did more than half the people in the world come out incorrectly? I have spent a good part of my life trying to do that math, and I’m no closer to a viable equation. And I have yet to find a culture that doesn’t buy into it. Women’s inferiority – in fact, their malevolence — is as ingrained in American popular culture as it is anywhere they’re sporting burkhas. I find it in movies, I hear it in the jokes of colleagues, I see it plastered on billboards, and not just the ones for horror movies. Women are weak. Women are manipulative. Women are somehow morally unfinished. (Objectification: another tangential rant avoided.) And the logical extension of this line of thinking is that women are, at the very least, expendable.
I would urge you to read his entire post. I would also urge you to check in with the following sites for information on issues that effect over half the human species.
Thanks to Amanda at Pandagon for bringing my attention to the Joss Whedon piece.
From the ever amusing The Onion, an oldie but still appropriate parody of feminism being co-opted by various market forces:
“Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does”
As recently as 15 years ago, a woman could only feel empowered by advancing in a male-dominated work world, asserting her own sexual wants and needs, or pushing for a stronger voice in politics. Today, a woman can empower herself through actions as seemingly inconsequential as driving her children to soccer practice or watching the Oxygen network.