Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Question of Nature

(In the as-if-anyone-cares department: Real Life caught up with me & I had to disappear for a while. Sorry. Also, I'm burned out on writing about music for the moment, so I'll try some other things and see what happens!)

A moderate while ago (a few hundred years or so), there was a general consensus that women were rather worthless 'creatures'. They were unsuited for work, any sort of stress was dangerous to their health, they had 'hysterics', and the best treatment for women who were sick was to remain immobile in be, thus rendering them weaker! That was the Nature of Women. (All this was only applied, of course, to white, affluent women... but that's another topic)

Since then, most people (early feminists, especially) noticed that those ideas were so much crap, and revised them to "Women are weaker physically, but equal mentally - and perhaps more 'moral'". Even more recently - having become certain of the mental part and dropping the moral part - a few optimistic statisticians noticed that female athletes were improving much faster then male athletes, and predicted that women would become physically equal to men by the 21st century.

This proved to be a bit too optimistic. It hasn't happened, and the current general consensus among politically correct people is that women are equal to men in every way (and to speak otherwise is anathema) except athletically. With regard to that, of course, we know that men have more testosterone, so they'll always perform at a higher level. That's the natural way. End of discussion, sorry girls!

But somehow, nobody ever seems to ask why.

The title of the linked article above is "Women athletes will one day out-sprint men", according to 'scientists', despite that the article actually favors the opposite. By 'scientists', then, they mean "people who know how to extrapolate data points", not "experts in women's athletic performance"; thus their foregone conclusion.

As someone who knows how to extrapolate, and who also knows when not to, I have a question: So, men have higher testosterone levels; why is that so? Why shouldn't women have high levels and men lower levels? There's even an animal (the Spotted Hyena) for which this is true. Why is the opposite 'natural' for humans?

The answer, on the face of it, is 'evolutionary pressure'. For most of human history (thanks to short lifespans and other pressures in pre-industrial societies) a woman's ability to pass on her genes was mainly determined by her ability to have more children, and to care for them effectively, not by her physical strength. The two, it seems, are not synonymous.

So! I'll admit that men are physically stronger than women. For that matter, it might be true (assuming these have a genetic component) that men are smarter, or more stable emotionally, or any other measure of human superiority you care to name. I'll admit - not without a fight, but admit - it's possible that men are naturally better than women in every aspect other than child-rearing ability. Perhaps the anti-feminists are correct...

Here's the thing: Being natural doesn't make it right!

To reuse a trite example: Let us say that someone cuts in front of me in line. I might feel an urge to bash their head in. That doesn't make it right. Furthermore - I probably feel less of an urge than my ancestor did 2000 years ago, as random, female, head-bashers don't last long in most societies.

In the same way, we know that there's something wrong with inequality, so why not try to stop it in all forms? Who cares about natural?

Now that the pressure for women to select for child bearing ability has been mostly removed, might not things slowly equalize? It will take thousands of years, perhaps, but it seems possible, even probable. For less obviously sex-linked traits, their evolutionary erasure is certain.

I'm not an expert, though - I've been looking for real genetic studies that examine this, and haven't been able to find anything. (If someone is a geneticist, or geneticist adjacent, leave a comment!) So, I could be missing something important. It does seem very sensible...

In the meantime, why do so many continue to fight about the natural, when 'natural' is so uncertain? We must learn to value all people equally, whether masculine women or feminine men, masculine men or feminine women - not to mention all arbitrary-gender-sphereoid-point arbitrary-sex-identities of all sorts.

'Natural', as it turns out, has no useful meaning.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Thank you, Burger King...

...for making me want to shoot myself.


(H/T Bridget)

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Rest in Peace, Legends of my Childhood...

I'm not ashamed to say that, glorified pin-up girl or not, I adored Farrah Fawcett--especially as Jill on Charlie's Angels, but also the hair! And she was only 62... Rest in Peace.

And Michael Jackson, at 50, on the same day. Sigh.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Feminist Flashback #42

What is marriage? Grover wants to know...

(H/T The Bilerico Project)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama, DOMA, Dean and Maddow

Or, the long-form alternative title for this post: Yes, Obama, changing the Civil Rights page on the White House website after your election and then defending(!?!) DOMA is not only ridiculous, but also downright insulting.


I haven't said much here yet about Obama's atrocious record so far when it comes to LGBTQ rights, mostly because I was abroad for three weeks and simply didn't have time...but also because I haven't been properly able to channel my outrage into coherent sentences. I'm still not sure I can manage the latter, but I can at least post here with a link to CREDO's newest petition, asking the Justice Department and the Administration to apologize for its abominable and hypocritical defense of DOMA. Please read and sign.

If you need to know more before you commit to a signature, Rachel Maddow and Howard Dean discussed the issues on Maddow's show last Monday (h/t AD Miller):

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Better Off Ted

ABC's work place sitcom, Better Off Ted, returns tonight and I, for one, couldn't be happier. It had a short (six episode) run in the spring and has since been approved for another limited season. I think the show's pretty hilarious, and I'm especially fond of its quirky, over-the-top sense of the humor and the fantastic characterizations. It actually reminds me a bit of Andy Richter Controls the Universe, but better, and hopefully with a longer run.

Oh, and did I mention that the show co-stars Portia de Rossi, who is absolutely hysterical (meaning funny, not literally hysterical) as the megalomaniacal, matter-of-fact Veronica, the eponymous Ted's boss. But don't take my word for it; below, Portia de Rossi explains the show:

Ted's definitely the "straight man" of the show, while characters such as Veronica, Ted's co-worker Linda, and scientists Phil and Lem engage in all the comic hijinks. How nice it is to have a television show where all the jokes aren't at the expense of the women (and, when they are, it's never because they're women) and where the male protagonist doesn't feel the need to put down the other characters in order to be funny.

Anyway, check it out. Better Off Ted airs on ABC Tuesdays this summer at 9:30/8:30c.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Good Wife

So, I was sitting and watching television and minding my own business last night, when a very short teaser-type ad for a new CBS show called The Good Wife flashed by. Now I wasn't really paying close attention, so I only caught the tail-end of the preview and had an immediate gut reaction to the show's title that amounted to something along the lines of what the...hell?! But I decided I shouldn't pass judgment so quickly without having any idea what the show was about and went online to find out more. What I discovered is the video below, a 3-minute combined trailer/interview with cast and crew discussing the show, and I have to say that, despite the dubious title, the show actually sounds like it might be quite compelling (and, dare I say, feminist or, at the very least, a show with strong female characters)...if it's done well.

From the limited information given in the below preview, what do you all think?

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Feminist Flashback #41

Melissa over at Woman and Hollywood wrote a really interesting post the other day in which she weighs the pros and cons of paying to see Sandra Bullock's new film, The Proposal. I totally get where she's coming from as I'm also a huge fan of Sandra Bullock, but I think the previews for the The Proposal make it look mediocre at best and potentially insulting (to women) at worst. That said, Melissa's post--particularly the excerpts she provides from some revealing interviews with Bullock--convinced me that I should give the film a chance. If nothing else, I know that Bullock herself will be good...

...which leads me to my 'catch-up' feminist flashback (a make-up for the one I missed the week of June 7 -- and then I'll do this week's on Wednesday and be all caught up!), the trailer of one of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies, a film decidedly in the genre of 'feminism in surreal places', Miss Congeniality:

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Target Women x2 (a.k.a. watch this while I get my groove back)

I got back from Europe late Friday night, after a long international flight, a delayed flight out of O'Hare (where we sat on the tarmac for two hours while lightening flashed around us), an hour drive home from the airport, and then, finally, spending the hour and half after returning home battling the moth invasion that had taken over in our absence (over 40 of them...I counted!). Suffice it to say, yesterday was spent in a state of full-body exhaustion, and today I'm just starting to get back on track.

I actually have a whole list of things about which I'd like to post in the next couple weeks--including two feminist flashbacks I need to catch up on--but, for now, as a sort of buffer while I get back on my feet, here's Sarah Haskins' two latest. Funny and insightful as ever!


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