Some things I’ve looked at lately just didn’t fit in my recent papers. That doesn’t make them unimportant.
I love words, so this blurb on gendered double-standards in English intrigued me. I cherish the word avuncular, and would absolutely have a use for its female equivalent. The “boss vs. bossy” binary is another example.
I was also fascinated by this essay arguing against the term “slut-shaming” to describe misogynistic double standards.
The stereotype that an entire gender is predisposed to being “crazy” is bad enough. Even if you aren’t concerned about the ablist language, it elides the corellary pointed out in “When men are too emotional to have a rational argument.”
Pop culture and art
There’s also the ironic way in which superhero-focused comics often address the fear of being different but ALSO marginalize, tokenize, or omit women, LGBT people, or people of color. Here’s an article on how that operates in the X-Men. There are exceptions, but they tend to be small press or indie. (Please consider Strong Female Protagonist, Nimona, Supercakes, The Legend of Bold Riley, and Sidekick Girl. There are even more indie options if you venture outside of the superhero genre.)
Art is often a protected space in which artists can point fingers at society’s failings, but performance artworks by Yan Yinhong show how even parodies and protests about misogyny or sexual violence can be thwarted by the same. It’s pretty disturbing.
In her case, she was actively ready to speak out. Just how obligated is a person to speak out against injustice? This is connected to the concept of tone policing. Sometimes a person just isn’t ready to talk about distressing dynamics, and sometimes they are ready to do so but not in a polite and nonconfrontational tone. “Feminists are not responsible for educating men” by Cecilia Winterfox explores this idea. The essay addresses sexism, but it absolutely relates to racism, ablism, and other ills as well. A privileged party waiting to be painlessly and effortlessly introduced to an opposing point of view is a dead end.
There have been some pretty interesting efforts to bridge that communication and experience gap.
Deena Shottenkirk’s Kitsch is a funny thing raises some important questions and issues about parody while giving one of the best rundowns of kitsch I’ve read.
Netflix is streaming “Miss Representation.” It’s worth watching.
On the subject of trends in pop culture, there’s also Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency. I found the Damsel in Distress: Tropes vs. Women videos particularly poignant. (The parallel backlash against Sarkeesian and that against Yan Yinhong’s performances is no coincidence.)
In other news, I’m delighted to hear that Jane Austen will grace British currency. Maybe currency in the US of A could follow suit? (Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea are awesome and all, but what does it mean when women only appear on coins that everyone already dislikes?)
Shaving also falls under the category of body image issues in modern society. I quit shaving my legs over a decade ago because I realized that I had blindly accepted the idea that my own legs were monstrous and nauseating in their natural state. At the time, my motivation was mostly to see whether I could challenge my own preconceptions. Now, I have heard and considered many other reasons to challenge this pseudo-hygienic standard.
When I saw the tumblr “Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train,” I wondered why I never thought to document this. Not all of these photographs really sell the theme, but I have lived it often enough to find this hilarious and poignant. When I ride on any sort of mass transit (airplanes, buses, subways, or carpooling), I catch myself taking that last big breath of freedom to brace myself for the upcoming purgatory of squeezing myself as tightly as possible to make room for other people. It is one thing to minimize the space I occupy to make way for a number of people or for a person who is simply much larger than I am. To do so simply so that the other person can avoid having any part of their body touch another part, or so they can stretch out fully, relabels my attitude from “considerate” to “doormat.”
The images in “Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train” assume a certain level of prior awareness and give very little commentary. This article on “Gender and the Body Language of Power” might be a better first introduction to the concept that privilege is embedded in our very posture.
None of us are going to be perfect in the near future. What are we going to do about it?
“A Better Way to Apologize” describes the difference between insincere apologies (that only delay or escalate a confrontation) and effective apologies (that are much more likely to smooth things over for good). It is phrased in terms of teaching this to children, but I and a few other adults could use the reminder.