Happy Gregorian New Year, everybody!
On a completely different note, here are a whole bunch of very serious and upsetting links.
1. Just after Katrina, a white militia formed and used the event as an excuse to happily kill as many black people as possible. Absolutely. Fucking. Sickening.
3. A link round-up about the recent Israeli bombings of Gaza. More links in the thread.
4. Panel recommends reparations for people forcibly sterilized under state eugenics programs. Horrifyingly, North Carolina only ceased these sterilizations in the 1970s. This is the first time reparations have been suggested.
5. And over at Alas: We Know How To Stop Prisoner Rape.
2. Rick Warren to give inaugural invocation–Bad move!
3. So, what to do about the fact that Warren is doing the invocation. This is the message I sent to Emmett Beliveau, director of the inaugural committee:
I am appalled that Rick Warren has been chosen to give the invocation at President-Elect Obama’s inauguration. This is a slap in the face to women and LGBT people. I can’t imagine that any person so callously promoting the hatred and oppression of any other groups would be chosen to have such an important role in this or any ceremony of the Obama Administration.
I thought the Obama Campaign was about change for everybody. Apparently not — bashing LGBT people and denying women control of their own bodies continue to be just fine on Obama’s watch.
Selecting Rick Warren is not an act of inclusivity. It’s a clear message that marginalized people will continue to be excluded, while the farthest fringe of anti-liberty, anti-equality, pro-theocracy fundamentalists will continue to be pandered to.
Contact Beliveau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline Ryan, you are a cruel, selfish, and incredibly unabashed idiot. I am amazed by your callousness and lack of empathy. Your article does more for the case against routine infant circumcision than almost anything else I’ve ever read.
If you’re not able to respect your lovers’ bodies as they are, you should not be having sex. If you can’t stop yourself from ridiculing another person’s genitals, in print no less, you should not be having sex. If you think that someone’s genitals being able to feel sensations is bad, you should not be having sex. If you would prefer your lovers to be unfeeling machines instead of human beings, you should not be having sex.
At least not with anyone else.
I’m thinking today of the mythical Amazons. I say “mythical” not to make any statement about their actuality, but because I’m thinking specifically of the mythology. That is, what does this mythic idea mean?
The idea is of a woman warrior, but she’s more than that. She is a person who occupies the space between sexes. She cuts off one breast, the better to shoot arrows, but leaves the other: a combatant who can nurse children. All her life is dimorphic. Women are her friends and comrades, men her enemies; her daughters are treasured children, her sons left out to die.
I am being somewhat ahistorical here. I’m interpreting this idea from my vantage point as a 21st century dyke, wondering what the symbol means today — I find its simple endurance as an idea noteworthy — and, to a lesser (and less informed) extent, what it might have meant once, what purpose this idea serves.
So. The Amazon is, I think, the visceral reaction to the gendering of violence. We code violence as male and tenderness as female and, therefore, men as dangerous and women as nurturing. Trapped in such a system, people respond in many ways — most frequently by performing these roles and behaving as if they are natural and inevitable. But I don’t think of any of us is truly comfortable with this incredibly reductive picture of human nature. The life of the Amazon is a life of both protest against this system and capitulation to it: a rejection of the system on the system’s own terms. The Amazon is following an older, crueler Golden Rule — treat others as they treat you. In a world where men, and only men, are brutal, and women, and only women, are kind,* the Amazon, in an imperfect stand against cruelty, becomes callous to men and considerate to women.
This is a profound assent to the premises of the gender system — she accepts that women are one way and men another. But it also, inevitably, gets her kicked out of that same institution. As soon as she practices both violence and tenderness, even in her sexist way, she is no longer qualified for membership in the group “woman.” This contradiction embodies the essence of life under this regime: we are trapped and re-trapped in the system even as we are constantly kicked out of it, constantly deemed unworthy of our assigned class. And that’s the real cruelty of it.
Even in exile there is no escape.
* This is not the real world. It is the world the gender system tells us we live in, though.
Cross-posted at Revolutionary Act.
1. Great Expectations — Melissa McEwan on the importance of expecting great things of the Obama administration.
2. Taslim Solangi–links at Off Our Pedestals.
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4. Two posts at Echidne of the Snakes on the Wall Street bailout. Echidne recommends reading about this alongside Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. As someone doing just that, I couldn’t second that recommendation more eagerly.
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From Feministe, this gave me chills. I think think the only word for it is righteous. Her name is Sonya Renee.
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It’s a post about the fact that the percentage of alimony recipients who are male is slowly, slowly creeping up. Because the press just can’t resist, they’ve given this phenomenon a stupid, cutesy name: “manimony.”
For reasons I may never understand, the post’s author, one James Hannaham, decides to go ahead and use “manimony” like it’s a legitimate word. It’s not a legitimate word. It’s an annoying little moniker designed to simultaneously mock men who receive alimony payments and delegitimize women who out-earn their male partners, as if either phenomenon is objectionable or ridiculous. Using the word sanctions these sexist ideas. Why would someone do that on a feminist blog?
Finally, Hannaham closes with this:
. . . Men still have advantages over women in business, but certainly not all women, and perhaps not the women they married. So the question becomes: Does maleness always create enough of an advantage that manimony will turn into the new reverse racism? Or should we pretend that equality already exists so that, one day, it will?
What the hell kind of question is that?
Yes, undoubtedly, men in general are privileged over women in general in business — that’s why, as the article notes, women are the higher earners in about one-third of straight marriages, men in two-thirds. But what bearing does that have on a given couple in which a wife makes more money than her husband? What if a male partner deprioritizes his career to support his wife or girlfriend? What if a male partner is the primary caretaker of children, thereby sacrificing some of his earning power? Why should that man be treated any differently from a woman who makes the same choices? (Answer: he shouldn’t be. Women who out-earn their husbands are just as capable as any man of paying reasonable alimony — that is, women can be financial providers. It’s really anti-feminist to suggest that women shouldn’t or can’t.)
And as to the second question — “Should we pretend that equality already exists so that, one day, it will?” — how, exactly, would not allowing men to receive alimony further the quest for equality? You know what we do by having higher-earning (ex-)wives pay alimony when appropriate? We smash right through the idea that men are breadwinners, women caretakers. We smash through the idea that marriage is a financial transaction in which women become their husbands’ property. And we affirm the idea that women can and should succeed in their careers, and that men can and should be free to pursue other goals. We affirm that making money and being supported are gender-neutral activities.