Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Taking a Ribbing with "Manly Firmness"

I have a bone to pick SC State Senator Tom Corbin, who got more than a little sexist in his recent engagement with colleague, State Senator Katrina Shealy, a fellow Republican, who he suggested was just years away from barefoot, and whose umbrage was deflected by pointing out that Eve was taken out of the rib of Adam--and was thus a lesser cut of meat.

I'm going to allow that he thought this would be taken with a grain of humor. But a lot of women can't take that humorously because the implication is that women shouldn't be heard because we are somehow not as good and that men are only suffering us to appear wherever we happen to be visible. What we say can be safely ignored, because who are we to insist on any authority? And if men are good enough to let us sometimes vote or hold property or offices, should we not return the favor by listening to them and letting them have their way because of their beneficence?

Regular commenter Formerly Amherst made the great point regarding the debate of theism vs atheism that a lot of the debate between even fairly educated atheists or theists like Hitchens and D'Souza existed at the 101 level of apologetics and religious criticism. Point taken--a lot of people don't engage with either their faith or lack thereof on the same level as people who have made a special inquiry into the field of theology or comparative religion. And I would add, in interpersonal relations, one of the damaging things that causes people to be wholly at odds is that many regular people have no grasp, at all, of Feminism 101.

Feminism has become a dirty word in some circles because we're looked at as the main driver of all the "PC" stuff--I think that's why Rash Lumbago has his whole "feminazi" spiel, I mean, apart from his actual open naked misogyny. To me, feminism is transparently positive--it's about women being treated as people, openly and equally and with all the same rights and expectations as men. But having to argue that women are not barefoot emotional savages is straight out of Mary Wollstonecraft. I mean, you have to go back 200 years to find the pushback against this kind of thinking--so why does it still exist in "alleged" joke form?

I guess my question would have to be--is State Senator Corbin acting on the 101, literalist level of the Biblical interpretation of womankind's place in which she is denied "headship" over men, in actual fact? Or is he just being a jackass? In any event, how is he preserving a fossil of how women are viewed that is two centuries out of step with how far we have come?

And I don't pretend I know the answer to that. And I suspect he wouldn't be able to elaborate, either, because he's never actually checked his privilege, or because a joke that needs to be explained isn't actually funny.

Which sort of takes me to another interesting use of language--a call for the repeal of the ACA with "manly firmness".  "Manly firmness"--meaning being in favor of the ACA is "unmanly" which is womanly, which is, ahem, again, less-than? Because being manly is a virtue, and womanliness isn't? Because there is a stereotype of males being hardened against aiding the weak, but women are supposed knee-jerk nurturers, which makes our (alleged) instincts to serve others "lesser" and unsuitable?

(Leaving out the advanced feminist course in how this whole exercise is absurdly gender-reductionist--but seriously: "barefoot" and "manly"? Can working politicians be that ignorant of how to not use speech? This isn't even PC--just common sense. But retrograde notions of "a woman's place" are revealed in language used by lawmakers all the time.)


mikey said...

1.) This argument that the modern 'angry/activist atheist' (among whom I wholeheartedly include myself) is somehow unsophisticated when compared to a more nuanced understanding of religion or (even worse) 'comparative religion'. 'Religion' is mythology, an imaginary creation story often written by people hundreds or thousands of years ago who had zero understanding of the actual world or universe. As such, 'studying' that sort of just-so story is no different than studying video games or comic books, with the bizarre exception that it's practitioners are permitted to 'believe' what they are studying is a real part of the universe they occupy.

2.) Feminism is, at it's root, obviously an -ism. That is, a derived word describing an adherent to a particular ideology, movement or philosophy. In this case, it was adopted to address the actual oppression and subjugation of women in western culture. The women who resisted their status became known as feminists - and like any movement against the status quo, battle lines were quickly drawn as to whether this was a good thing. I see the relegation of women to a second class status as something larger than simple misogyny or religious doctrine, although they obviously play a very large role. I see it more as something akin to white supremacy - perhaps we should call it 'white male supremacy' as a more complete descriptor. Power structures, once defined, do not give up their inherent power and all the benefits that accrue from that readily, so these kinds of 'equality' efforts are always generational.

3.) Yes - if you want to insult a man, call him a woman. You can call him a 'pussy' and smile, but if you want to start a barfight the magic word is 'bitch'. It is meant to convey weakness and helplessness, certainly, but it is something more than that - it is a vile insult, as if being a woman made one something vile and loathesome.

As someone who loves women, who was raised entirely by women, I find this far beyond understanding, but it still very much a part of our culture...

Vixen Strangely said...

1) Public debates regarding the "reality" of noumena just plain have a bad signal-to-noise ratio--the way I see it, debate regarding the existence of God is hard to separate from the existence of the concept of a deity itself, and I'm really more interested in how people (of which I'm one, and I'm pretty sold on my existence)are supposed to get along on this planet. I'm fascinated in general with trying to understand "faith" as a part of human consciousness, but for the most part, it's a dispensable issue.

2) One of the things that has often disturbed me about anti-feminism is the existence of women like Phyllis Schlafly, who seem gleefully spiteful about other women--but recognizing the part she serves with relation to a male-dominated structure makes her somewhat more understandable, if no less repellent.

3) Most misogyny seems like an extreme disavowal of femininity because of a pathological need to prove one is not, in fact, a bitch.

mikey said...

the way I see it, debate regarding the existence of God is hard to separate from the existence of the concept of a deity itself

Oh, I absolutely agree. In the last 100,000 years of human history there have been many tens of thousands of different creation myths, all with different canons, beings and histories. The thing that ties them together is the use of something supernatural or extra-human to explain natural processes and events that they lacked the scientific understanding to discern.

So it is the concept I find myself at war with, not any one given execution of the concept. Each is silly in its own carefully manufactured way, but each ultimately depends on believing something impossible without evidence, and since that always requires deep manipulative and/or coercive indoctrination, is obviously not healthy for humans to do...

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, I have a shameful confession to make. My undergraduate work was in philosophy. There. I've said it. Embarrassing? Of course. A bit later I became multidisciplinary.

In philosophy “God” is discussed as an Absolute or Pure Being or Substance. In philosophy, Substance does not refer to material, but to whatever the ultimate nature is. The thing or quality that exists as a prior condition to anything else. This was Spinoza's idea, and much of his work is based on the Qaballah without attributing it to the Qaballah. Descartes also argued for it.

The disciplines philosophy scrutinizes are epistemology, teleology, ontology, cosmology, and metaphysics. There are proofs of “God” in all of them. The argument for design that you hear today is actually the epistemological proof of God borrowed from philosophy. This proof follows an understanding of the cosmological proof of “God.”

Probably the philosopher who has made the most difference throughout many disciplines and whose arguments have become a central part of Western culture is Immanuel Kant. In Critique of Pure Reason elevated him to more or less the status of an Einstein or a Pascal. His Categorical Imperative demonstrated the existence of “God” on moral grounds. The list of philosophers who argue for an absolute would be a long one. Most of these philosophers were Rationalists.

It's amusing to note that Crowley echoed Kant to an extent in his Little Essays Toward Truth which may be his best writing. In his chapter “Man” he writes, “Man is a microcosm: that is, an image (concentrated around the point of consciousness) of the macrocosm, or Universe. This Theorem is guaranteed by the hylo-idealistic demonstration that the perceptible Universe is an extension, or phantasm, of the nervous system.”

Kant said that we “cannot know things in themselves,” because the images and sounds that we hear are the product of light waves or sound waves that are translated in our brains to what we think we see or hear. Since the days of those writings neuroscientists and philosophers have realized things about the apparatus of our senses and central nervous system in relation to incoming photons that really go some distance toward Crowley's idea of the Universe being a phantom of the way our central nervous system inadequately deals with photons moving almost at the speed of light.

It must be sufficient to mention that I get an enormous amount of wisdom out of mythology and am a fan of Joseph Campbell. But it must be stated that philosophy is based on drawing conclusions without reference to mythology. I believe that there is an absolute nature to our universe and that it is a divine nature. It should also be mentioned that the heads of philosophy departments at Ivy League universities are not naive about science. In philosophy we discuss things and occasionally come to conclusions. There is no evangelical outreach, and religions distrust us as much as they distrust atheists. There are also atheist philosophers who challenge every contention that those of us who believe in a divine reality advance. But these atheist philosophers are not like Madeleine Murray O'Hare, nor are they angry about anything.

The gracious and lovely Alicia went to a prestigious private university and while there attended a lecture by Kate Millett. Alicia was a feminist then and joined the voices arguing for equal pay for equal work and equal treatment by the justice system. As time passed and these objectives were secured she noticed that the feminist movement seemed to be angry with men, and she liked men. Also in the Fortune 500 companies she worked for as a techie, she saw women treated fairly.

I have to object to the movie 50 Shades of Grey. The reviews suggest that a feminist finds her fulfillment in life by being brutalized. If this is the fulfillment of feminism, then God help the young women seeing the movie and trying to understand how they fit. My view is that this movie should be rebuked. The idea, ladies, is not to volunteer for being an abuse victim.

Vixen Strangely said...

I have to object to the movie 50 Shades of Grey. The reviews suggest that a feminist finds her fulfillment in life by being brutalized. If this is the fulfillment of feminism, then God help the young women seeing the movie and trying to understand how they fit. My view is that this movie should be rebuked. The idea, ladies, is not to volunteer for being an abuse victim.

I'm not sure to what extent she's being alleged to be feminist so much as "liberated"--but it's still pretty disturbing. "Fifty Shades" really isn't my bag because it strikes me as still being in the "romance" genre, no matter how gussied-up with BDSM and sexual politics it is. (Sexual politics...speaking of Millett...)And even if well done (which I'm not sure this is)--I like more plot than can take place between the sheets for my literary taste.

I'm of two minds about the phenomenon, having written some pretty raunchy fanfic myself once upon a time--I demur from Dworken, MacKinnon, and Millett from viewing "porn" as necessarily exploitative and demeaning to women, because it can be written for women, and the popularity of something like "50 Shades" shows that the interest is definitely there. Readers and movie-goers should be competent to distinguish fantasy from reality, and there is in some respects a sense of liberation in the fantasy of being dominated in that it removes certain guilt-aspects from kink--but that only really works in fantasy. In reality, there has to be some control.

Even though I'm not thoroughly familiar with the books, reviews I've come across to make me think it's problematic in that we're presented with a highly asymmetrical relationship between an inexperienced middle-class woman and a handsome, dominant billionaire. She's not shown as being in a position to be fully articulate about her desires; he is shown as having very particular ideas about what he wants and doesn't seem to have much concern about overstepping her boundaries or ignoring her consent if that's what he feels like. I've seen a picture (which is worth a thousand words) made by a feminist of where she dog-eared the page whenever an instance of emotional or physical abuse occurred in the trilogy--it looks like there's something objectionable every handful of pages.

That has very little to do with current feminism, which urges positive consent and communication. It also isn't even very realistic kink--because communication of boundaries is absolutely necessary for partners to ensure they aren't doing damage, just having a good time.

Not to audit other people's choices in entertainment--but yeah, as a feminist, I don't think it's a good representation of a healthy relationship. We see from examples like Bill Cosby or Jian Ghomeshi where people in asymmetrical roles can do harm in their relationships with women, and I see feminism in part as teaching girls to have situational awareness.

In a peculiar aside, I've read a few articles drawing a conclusion that the popularity of the books and movie might be resulting in an uptick in ER visits from people misusing sex toys. I don't know how real these articles are being because it sounds very click-bait-y: Pop Culture + Something sexual = "Everybody reads this article!" On the other hand, this is disturbingly in line with my observations of human nature in general.