Feminist Theory & "Women's Issues" Discussion Thread: All Gender Identities Are Encouraged To Participate

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Something of a companion thread to Feminist Blogs/Communities I Have Known... but less focused on blogs.

Also a space where we can have multi-gendered dialogue from the outset, so we don't have any confusion.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 22:56 (3 years ago) Permalink

I'm v v confused about gender and what it all means but that's p inherent in the discussion I guess?

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well, yeah - I purposefully phrased the title in a way that allows for those whose identity is not always recognised. I was initially going to include queer theory in the thread concept, as I've recently found myself with groups where feminism and queer politics are completely intertwined, but I don't feel that I should be the person to say whether or not this is a good place to discuss that.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

Actually, "completely" is not true. I think that would be impossible. But they work closely together, a lot.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

Ha ha no, I understood what you meant in naming the title that, I like the inclusivity of it. I'm mostly confused by mine own gender and ~what it means~ and always have been so I was just pointing out that confusion is inherent in the process for some ppl. (as recognised by the title)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yes. I've never felt like "I'm really a boy" but performatively I often feel more akin to males. But then, that's based around the socially constructed sides of gender, so it's less confusion, more rejection. I didn't always understand that, mind you.

emil.y, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

not to get all graduate seminar on this thread but: do we have a good definition of "gender" that isn't culturally essentialist? I'm sure it's out there but my reading in Feminist/Queer/etc theory is lacking. I don't necessarily have a problem with a culturally essentialist reading of gender, but i'd be interested in alternatives. For instance, where and when does the cultural proscribed notions of gender we have run up against actually being attached to, say, a penis? And how do you talk about this intersection without bogus and lame biological essentialism?

ryan, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

I really want to look at this question, because not having a satisfying answer to it is one reason why I'm really unhappy defining groups of people as 'men' and 'women' and setting policy accordingly.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

I certainly know that most working definitions of gender are crude and essentialist and problematic. I get that. But when talking about many of the blunt force issues I have to confront, I know the people who are perpetuating this shit on me are male bodied ppl who identify as male and a huge part of the reason they were doing it to me was because they perceived me as female and had a specific set of assumptions about what that meant, so it's really hard not tp talk about this stuff without using the shorthand no matter how clumsy it is. Otherwise you end up mumbling vague shut about kierarchy (lord knows how my iPhone will render that) and no one outside a graduate program knows what you're on about.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Sunday, 12 February 2012 23:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah that's a great point. I think one of the challenges in getting people to accept something like cultural determination of gender is that their first line of defense is a reductio ad absurdum like "is my penis [or whatever] culturally constructed?!?"

it's similar to the "well I know my grandpa wasn't a monkey" defense against evolution.

I think, at bottom, there's an enormous amount of anxiety that goes into gender identity (one might even say this is the entire purpose of gender) that's gonna always leads to exactly the kind of hysteria you see in homophobia and the like. so defusing that anxiety remains, i think, a big part of the goal.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

Like Deborah Cameron said in a debate I saw, utterly demolishing that Baron-Cohen "male brain" prick with her magnificent logic "The fact that women give birth is not in any way a Societal Construct. But what it ~MEANS~ that women give birth is completely a Societal Construct"

<3 D-Camz so hard, she cuts through so much of that Mars/Venus guff so effectively.

But um yeah, anxiety around gender is so damaging.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

I can see that a lot of the time the shorthand is unavoidable, but what I'm afraid of - in myself and others - is letting the shorthand frame the debate. I see so many people embracing these powerful narratives about what it means to be male or female, that exclude people's real experiences in horrible, damaging ways. In a space like this, where we can afford to be nuanced perhaps more than elsewhere, it would be cool if we could approach it with that in mind - and WCC I'd love to hear some of that grad school stuff if you can explain it to a psych graduate with little to no study of sociology under her belt.

I'm too tired to talk properly now, but anyway let it be known that I am very much looking forward to getting into this stuff with ILX0rs and I'm *grateful* for the clusterfuck.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 00:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hey just remember I didn't go to grad school, I'm an art school dropout I picked up much of this stuff in the library and on the web and from a friend who is doing a PhD in feminist linguistics or sociolinguistics or whatever it's called. I sm not an expert.

I get tongue tied up in this bcuz so much of my *need* for feminism comes from not conforming to trad expectations of "woman" and wanting to widen up the definitions of "woman" when maybe I should be getting rid of gender entirely? But back when I was 20 queer theorists didn't want to talk to me (bcuz bisexuality or pansexuality didnt ~exist~ back then as far as those individuals were concerned) but feminist theorists did so that's where I ended up.

I always want to widen the idea of "woman" not narrow it but that has a tension with the desire for a safe space bcuz who defines or owns the idea of woman? It's a recognized tension, we have to work to resolve.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

Sorry to go off topic, but I'm so tempted to take this out of context: <3 D-Camz so hard. You love David Cameron! You love David Cameron!

Back on topic, yes, grad-school discussion is more than welcome from my perspective: I know bits and pieces, from A Level Sociology, lit theory, and philosophy, but I could definitely do with more thinkers to pursue and avenues to contemplate.

emil.y, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

"A Level Sociology" is one clause there, I progressed some way beyond that in the latter two disciplines, ha. (Not braggin', just sayin')

emil.y, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

Deborah Cameron. Don't get over excited.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:30 (3 years ago) Permalink

what I like about that Deborah Cameron quote (i should look her up) is that it nicely points out that yes there is biology and whatnot but that we can't TALK or THINK about this stuff except within the parameters of MEANING...you'd dont get to crawl outside of cultural meaning using a ladder called "biology" or whatever.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

so yes there is an "outside" or limit to culture/meaning but we only have access to it as a kind of negative capability.

ryan, Monday, 13 February 2012 00:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

gender's odd. it's clearly a cultural construct, both in a hazy, general sense that exists outside any specific individual and in the various ways we all individually (re)construct & perceive it. but that's not all it is. unlike "race", there's a substantial biological component to gender. of course, as others itt have pointed out, we can only understand what this might mean at several levels of remove, as filtered through a thicket of complex constructions from which we can't even sensibly hope to extricate our perspectives.

i'm biologically male. for better or worse, i find that my subjective experience of gendered-ness squares pretty well with what my culture seems to describe as generic masculinity. i deviate from what i take to be the "masculine norm" in all sorts of ways, some trivial, some quite dramatic, but i assume that this is true of most everyone (everyone worth knowing, anyway), and i'm pretty happy with the space i've carved out between cultural expectations and the seemingly gendered aspects of my own internal landscape.

unfashionable as it may be to say, it seems to me that biological gender drives a great deal of human behavior and that these drivings do sometimes reciprocate those "dubious" cultural constructs we've inherited. men, for example, seem in general to be more openly and aggressive than women, to the extent that male violence is a serious problem the world over. would say the same with varying degrees of confidence about things like female nurturance and consensus-building, male vs female approaches to competition and "mating behavior", masculine self-sufficiency, etc.

while biological gender is generally self-evident, gender identification can only by known when it is communicated. we know that someone identifies as female when they tell us so. we also know that that the things people say aren't always true. perhaps for this reason, i suspect that many of us would have trouble accepting the presence of an apparently straight-normative biological male in a women's bathroom or domestic violence shelter simply on the basis of her reassurance that it's ok because she "identifies as female". much as we might like to reduce all gender to pliable constructs, it can be very hard to let go of the last shreds of biological essentialism.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 09:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

i am glad this thread is here.

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Monday, 13 February 2012 09:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

agreed

tmi but (Z S), Monday, 13 February 2012 10:18 (3 years ago) Permalink

Any time that anyone starts going on about the "substantial biological component to gender" I just want to refer them to Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine and Pink Brain Blue Brain by Lise Elliott (sp?) and just carry on repeating - outside the obvious physical documented secondary sexual characteristics (the girl/boy lego) the actual measurable differences in cognition, in brain function, in all that stuff that matters are TINY. Not only that, but even with the DOCUMENTED and measurable differences (for example, height) - the variation WITHIN each gender is often FAR GREATER than the "difference" between genders.

This isn't just one or two outlier studies suggesting this. There are HUGE bodies of work on this. Analysis. Meta-analysis. Meta analysis of meta analysis. The OUTLIER studies which suggest men's and women's brains are from different planets are the ones that get all the attention BECAUSE THEY ARE OUTLIERS. And they are often NOT replicable. Which is your guaranteed sign of being NOT SCIENCE.

I'm not just "deferring to a authority" here. I am saying, there is shitloads of evidence on this one if you even scratch the surface of doing research on it. There is, like, "Climate change is a real thing" levels of evidence on this one. And I'm just saying, in advance, that if anyone is going to continue to insist that gender is a ~biological~ thing, I'm going to treat them like a climate change denier, and just not engage with nonsense.

Gender is a construct. Just because something is a construct does not mean it is not *meaningful* or that it does not have real world consequences. (Money is also a construct, but try doing without that one in western society.) But construct means "we made up the rules" and it also means "other societies or other possible societies can put the rules in different places and in different orders." (Try walking into a shop in England and buying something with an American dollar. Money is a construct that means different things in different places.)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 12:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

that seems very otm. people who talk about aspects of humanity that are "outside of culture" shd probably point to some examples of humans that exist outside of culture. good luck with that.

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 13:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

I had to get off line to compose the next bit so this is a continuation of the previous bit, rather than a response to you, NV, but here goes:

i find that my subjective experience of gendered-ness squares pretty well with what my culture seems to describe as generic masculinity. i deviate from what i take to be the "masculine norm" in all sorts of ways, some trivial, some quite dramatic, but i assume that this is true of most everyone

This is the problematic bit with the whole "biological" conception of gender. It's not biological at all, it's what your culture says is "masculine."

And if you, as a Western (I think you're North American?) man who conforms fairly well to your culture's expectations of masculinity were suddenly dropped into, e.g. Ancient Sparta, you would be thought of as an effeminate wimp or e.g. 18th Century French Court you would be thought of as a rude uncultured boer (bore? boar?) who needed to sort out a more masculine wig immediately.

For *me* (specific, personal) the problem is not whether someone identifies with their visible biological gender (though I recognise for many, many people this is a completely valid problem and source of oppression) it's how arbitrary the divisions into "masculine" and "feminine" are - how *brutally* they are policed - and policed in the service or protection of *whom*?

But those are conversations you can't really have without the entry of that nebulous concept of kierarchy (which spell check tells me isn't even a word.)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 13:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

idk i'm kindof with that and not with it.

i know trans guys who have talked about the really visceral physico-psychological feelings of taking testosterone for the first time. and pretty much anyone who has ever been a teenager probably knows that hormones tend to do things to you. and yeah there are varying degrees of testosterone and oestrogen. and the binary of gender is culturally substantiated.

i mean i don't want to be misunderstood, this is not to say that we can understand some set of biological imperatives, primordial urges. i think its closer to what monique wittig meant when somebody asked her if she had a vagina and she said "no." i mean maybe i should explain that monique wittig was a lesbian and concluded that as she was a lesbian, she was not a woman because woman is something that is constructed within heterosexist gender relations. she's not insane, she wasn't denying that physiologically her body corresponds to a female body, but that the the body itself is something that is constructed by language and culture. still though, the matrix of signification is not one that is closed at the level of "culture" but that bodies are *part* of culture. folds of sensations, particular materialities, pleasures, warmth, movements, hormones. its not that these things are anterior to culture but it isn't the other way around either.

judith, Monday, 13 February 2012 13:35 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah sorry i certainly wasn't trying to privilege culture-and-nothing-else, just reflecting that the links are inextricable and not reducible to "this but not that" arguments

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 13:41 (3 years ago) Permalink

<I>"The problem with the word 'vagina' is that vaginas seem to be just straight-out bad luck. Only a masochist would want one, because only awful things happen to them. Vaginas get torn. Vaginas get ‘examined’. Evidence is found in them. Serial killers leave things in them, to taunt Morse . . . No one wants one of those."</I>

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 13 February 2012 13:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Though obviously my inability to click the "Convert Simple HTML to BBcode" button is due to Evolutionary Psychology.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah but that whole "men are just biologically different because: hormones!" ignores the fact that women also have a set of those exact chemicals sloshing around our bodies (except doctors call them androgens we have them) and not to mention the fact that it's even sometimes sold as a pseudo health concern by the kind of behavior police-y magazines all "OMG do you have an interest in maps and systems thinking? You might suffer from too much testosterone giving you ~male brain~ oh noes panic!" (This was an actual article I read in the launderette.)

And how things get interpreted like - I dunno, maybe I have an endocrine malfunction I should get checked out bcuz I totally get very male-coded aggro if I'm driving a car I get v aggressive about defending my territory (one of many reasons I don't drive) but when men do that, they have "testosterone" as their excuse but If I'm being all competitive in that pissing contest sense and male-coded, do I just do it bcuz I missed that particular bit of training in how to be ladylike? Or can I blame my ~androgens~?

I don't buy the "it's hormones" excuse entirely

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:09 (3 years ago) Permalink

I type so much less coherently when I'm on an iPhone. Don't know if the little screen makes me male brain or iv it's just the lack of ability to see the whole post to sense check it. That was almost incoherent. Sorry.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

that can apply to "personality" across the board tho. western society is increasingly big on medicalising personality in general - "are you like this? maybe the chemicals in your body need readjustment". there are maybe models for personality that rely less on societal norms - we can think about people's personal goals or happiness, ask whether their behaviours are self-limiting or destructive in some way - but a lot of hormonal/brain chemistry/genetic arguments have become standardised ways of looking at humanity and life experience. it's an excuse, as you say, and takes on virulent forms when used against women - lol PMT etc - but personality in general is increasingly policed, i guess, in ways that previously the power structures only sought to police behaviours.

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

and yeah there are double standards, sometimes we are at the mercy of our internal chemistry and sometimes it makes us who we are

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

...runs the argument

dayove cool (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yes, all that, too.

What I'm trying to say is, it varies within gender as well as between them. Some women are aggressive and competitive. Some men are warm and nurturing. (Most humans have some mixture of the two.) You can say "it's testosterone" or you can say "it's cultural conditioning" but the important thing is that it varies and that variance is OK.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hey Emily - Thank you. :)

wolf kabob (ENBB), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

gonna check in later because this will likely be a thread to learn from, just please do me a favour and explain/link any jargon ( "culturally essentialist" up there threw me, though to be fair it also took me three attempts at processing "climate change denier" before I realised it wasn't talking about sheerer stockings.)

thomasintrouble, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Anyone who takes potshots at the surreal typing lysdexia caused by my iPhone is gonna get a crack on the head for asking. Just saying, like. My spelling is gonna be all over the shop.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yes I am aware of the hilarity involved in an amateur Li ghost (that was linguist, iPhone - but I'm gonna leave that to show what this thing does to me) who cannot spell but chomski my Sapir-wharf hypothesARSE if u wanna rib me about it. ;-)

^^^^^ha ha this is all a clumsy joke but if you ever can't google something or want a clarification pls say "srs question" and I'll try to de-jargon-ify

It's not so much learning new jargon as learning a new language requires a new way of thinking coz replacing words w/o replacing the thought processes is not progress. It's trying to unlearn so many of the kierarchy's ideas which is often the hard part.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

Right, why is why "can't google" isn't necessarily the problem - a lot of this is going to be "but what do you mean by that word / in this context?"

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

the funniest iphone autocorrect i've seen is changing "sexting" to "destiny" :/

first period don't give a fuck, second period gon get cut (lex pretend), Monday, 13 February 2012 14:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

Yeah but there's a difference between "who is Dale Spender" and "what do you mean by kierarchy in this context" - happy to discuss the latter. Not so much the former.

I dunno, "cultural essentialist" seemed to be the opposite/corollary of "biological essentialist" and didn't really need clarification? But I guess maybe we should touch on how there are two (opposing?) schools of thought saying gender difference is the result of nature or nurture. Obv almost all arguments of this kind are at their heart an and/both proposition not an either/or.

But the biggest difference is that the Cultural crew believe that this stuff is nurture - and therefore can be changed and the Biological crew think this is impossible (and maybe even "against nature") to try to strive for gender equality

(see if you can guess which side I'm on, huh?)

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 14:56 (3 years ago) Permalink

if anyone is going to continue to insist that gender is a ~biological~ thing, I'm going to treat them like a climate change denier, and just not engage with nonsense.

biological gender IS a thing, and anyone who continues to insist that it isn't is simply wrong, full stop. in an overall sense, we can measure the differences between men and women any number of ways, not just in terms of the gross architecture of the body, but also in terms of more subtle things like its chemistry and DNA. we don't fully understand what all of this means, of course, and individuals vary greatly, but this doesn't mean that we can't scientifically "perceive" biological gender. we can.

of course and like i very clearly said before, we can only perceive and understand the significance of biological gender at a remove, as filtered through the understandings of gender that we've inherited. that's what makes this subject interesting. we know that we are driven both by biology and by the cultural constructs that compose our understanding, and there's no way to clearly distinguish between the two.

to repeat another thing i said earlier, we can see the workings of gender in male violence as a phenomenon. male violence exists and is a problem in every culture in the world, and this has always been true throughout human history so far as we know. you suggested that if i were dropped into ancient sparta, i would be perceived as a wimp. of course i would. in case you missed it, that was the entire point of the paragraph you were responding to: that gender is, to a substantial extent, a cultural construct. but it's worth noting that ancient sparta was no less dominated by male violence than our world is today. this does not conclusively "prove" that male violence is a product of male biology, of course, but it does incline me to suspect that biology plays a role.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 17:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

You're not *even* wrong.

You seem to inhabit this weird fantasy world where male power is not prized and rewarded at every turn, and female power is not demonised and punished at every turn. Where male violence is not *fetishised* and portrayed as noble and good and female violence is not denied in order to keep some wonderful "pure" vision of "femininity" as opposed to "masculinity."

This fantasy world where violent women from Boudiccea to Margaret Thatcher can just be handwaved away.

A fantasy world where structural inequality does not codify "male" supremacy over "female" at every step because the rules were written to keep it that way. These ideas are not reinforced with cultural narrative over and again until ppl believe they are true bcuz other views just don't get presented, or are actively derided by those w the most to lose?

And then you want to turn around and talk about this highly contrived and exaggerated version of "masculinity" as being somehow inevitable, even biological?

And I just call: bullshit.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:30 (3 years ago) Permalink

I've been looking for the past half hour to see if I can find any studies that strongly demonstrate even the simple premise that testosterone leads to increased aggression. Can't find anything. And conversely, if you google 'violent women' you get lots of hits about violence against women, a review of a book about Hollywood fetishisation of female violence, and a Daily Mail article about teenage girl gangs.

If the starting assumption for discourse is that men are perpetrators and women are victims, which it seems to be, it excludes from serious consideration the violence women do against men, the violence women do against each other, and the (sexual) violence men inflict on other men. I'll keep looking for biological underpinnings to the assumption, there may well be something, but I'm inclined to think it'll turn out to be by far the lesser factor.

Also unknown as Zora (Surfing At Work), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

I mean let's get this straight. I'm not denying that there's such a * thing* as male violence, or that male violence especially as used as a method of control against women (hello Chris Brown and domestic violence awareness) is not hugely problematic.

What I'm denying is this idea that violence is something automatically and essentially coded into masculinity from biological sex up - rather than something which is learned, reinforced and rewarded at every step of a man's life.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

i think you're responding to an imaginary person in your head, cuz it sure as hell isn't me.

of course male power is prized and rewarded at every turn. or course female power is demonized and punished i don't wave any counter examples away. but the history of human violence, not just in western culture but in every culture ever known, is predominantly the history of male violence. to my mind, in conjunction with what little we do know about male and female biology, this makes it reasonable (not certain, just reasonable) to suppose that male biology plays a role in male violence.

would say the same of many other ostensibly gendered characteristics and behaviors, that biology probably does play some role. again though, it's impossible to clearly distinguish between the urgings of biology and cultural conditioning. but the fact that we can't know exactly what role biology plays does not mean that biology plays no role. in order to understand such things clearly, we have to accept huge amount of uncertainty. i.e., if you align yourself with either "crew", Cultural or Biological, you're missing the larger picture.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

What I'm denying is this idea that violence is something automatically and essentially coded into masculinity from biological sex up - rather than something which is learned, reinforced and rewarded at every step of a man's life.

i suspect that both factors play a role, nature & nurture.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

Zora there's evidence that testosterone is released by men who are victors *after* the aggression is over but little evidence that testosterone causes violence or aggression. It's complicated, as all hormonal things involving humans tend to be.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

If the starting assumption for discourse is that men are perpetrators and women are victims, which it seems to be, it excludes from serious consideration...

i don't think you need a starting assumption. i think it's better to look at the available information and work up from there.

Little GTFO (contenderizer), Monday, 13 February 2012 18:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

Contenderizer you keep repeating the same things over and over as if you haven't read what I've posted (and certainly none of the books I've referenced) so you are also having a conversation with someone who is not me.

White Chocolate Cheesecake, Monday, 13 February 2012 18:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

not sure where to post it but i thought this article on spinsters was great

http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/on-spinsters

These many magnificent spinsters and their unnamed sisters expand the range of femininity far beyond the familiar territory of the cute, cool, or easily commodified, and ignoring or shunning almost all of this classic spinster pantheon — as Bolick does — has political consequences. Above all, it domesticates the threat that the spinster poses to normative systems of love, sex, and power. There is a reason the word “spinster” has long been a queer-tinged insult with a straight-slicing edge — a reason why Katharine Hepburn, one of cinema’s great spinsters (Summertime! Desk Set! The African Queen!), was devastated in The Philadelphia Story when her ex-husband called her a “married maiden” and her estranged father called her a “perennial spinster.” Historically, spinsterhood has meant a kind of radical unavailability to straight men, implying either rejection of them or rejection by them or both.

Merdeyeux, Tuesday, 21 July 2015 02:18 (1 month ago) Permalink

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/happens-talk-salaries-google/

4 days ago
6
@EricaJoy's salary transparency experiment at Google

j., Wednesday, 22 July 2015 00:26 (1 month ago) Permalink

But emotional labor? Offering advice, listening to woes, dispensing care and attention? That’s not supposed to be transactional. People are disturbed by the very notion that someone would charge, or pay, for friendly support.

In context she's offering up that viewpoint as being RONG, if u read it.

Orson Wellies (in orbit), Wednesday, 22 July 2015 12:23 (1 month ago) Permalink

lol

just sayin, Wednesday, 22 July 2015 12:28 (1 month ago) Permalink

@ no one reading that but still having opinions on it

just sayin, Wednesday, 22 July 2015 12:28 (1 month ago) Permalink

I love Herland, but my own favorite spinster manifesto (which doesn’t appear in Spinster) was written almost half a century earlier, in 1869. It’s a chapter in Louisa May Alcott’s misleadingly titled An Old-Fashioned Girl, a novel about being a youngish woman in Boston (which Bolick once was, but there the resemblance ends). Polly is an unmarried music teacher struggling with loneliness and depression; her friend Fan is an unmarried lady of leisure also struggling with loneliness and depression. When Polly suddenly becomes happier, Fan assumes her good mood must be because she’s falling in love with a man, but Polly corrects her: “No; friendship and good works.” Polly takes Fan to see her new spinster friends, whom she describes as “lively, odd, and pleasant,” and the young women share an improvised indoor picnic (“it’s so much jollier to eat in sisterhood”) and a riotous feminist discussion at the home of Becky and Bess, both artists, who are partners in a Boston marriage. As Polly explains, Becky and Bess

...live together, and take care of one another in true Damon and Pythias style. This studio is their home,— they work, eat, sleep, and live here, going halves in everything. They are all alone in the world, but as happy and independent as birds; real friends, whom nothing will part.

I love LOVE that book and that exact passage!!! Oh bless, bless her.

Orson Wellies (in orbit), Wednesday, 22 July 2015 12:36 (1 month ago) Permalink

But as a spinster who craves connection and community above all and who has found it outside of the standard couple form, I’ve come to realize that I owe an immeasurable debt to the intersecting groups of people who have historically been barred from the privileges of marriage by law and demography, and have learned to create intimate lives apart from it. In other words, I’m indebted to queer people and to African Americans, and to all who have seen their loves and families treated as nonexistent or pathological, and who have had marriage used as a weapon against them or as a compulsory straight and narrow path to equality. These people are more than “awakeners”: they have done the hard work of loving and world-making in defiance of the powers that be, and all unmarried people benefit from their centuries of emotional and material labor.

Goddamn that essay is brilliant.

Orson Wellies (in orbit), Wednesday, 22 July 2015 12:38 (1 month ago) Permalink

ya lots there v otm
slate review she links to is good too

drash, Wednesday, 22 July 2015 17:35 (1 month ago) Permalink

what I don't get about the emotional labor article is why the author finds being an emotionally giving person so annoying.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Wednesday, 22 July 2015 23:57 (1 month ago) Permalink

She finds it exhausting. And asymmetrical in practice--women perform it, men benefit from it, it's basically invisible. That article is right on.

horseshoe, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:22 (1 month ago) Permalink

i way over-identify with that article because emotional labor was my life and major source of identity while i was in graduate school. it is not worth it, trust me.

horseshoe, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:24 (1 month ago) Permalink

or it's more like, it's work that needs to get done, but it's not valued or even seen. it's the same people always doing it, it's invisible to most people, and it takes a serious toll on the people performing it.

horseshoe, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:26 (1 month ago) Permalink

now i am obsessively summarizing an article whose meaning is entirely manifest. clearly it struck a chord.

horseshoe, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:27 (1 month ago) Permalink

EMOTIONAL LABOR: DON'T DO IT.

(or force people to acknowledge that it's a thing and make its practice more shared somehow.)

horseshoe, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:28 (1 month ago) Permalink

agree
i didn't need to read it to know it was true
esp difficult when someone is required to do emotional labor for money (like as a teacher or in another caring profession) and then do the same outside of work for free
as i said, i think the hashtag is crass but there's no arguing with the idea of unpaid emotional labor

La Lechera, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:30 (1 month ago) Permalink

yes i think being a teacher has something to do with how hair-trigger i am about this.

horseshoe, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:34 (1 month ago) Permalink

it's probably part of why you were drawn to the profession in the first place -- me too! it's just that it takes a lot from a person and there's a finite amount of caring pie to eat and if there's only one slice left, i'm probably saving it for myself because i need some care too.

La Lechera, Thursday, 23 July 2015 00:39 (1 month ago) Permalink

#giveyourpietowomen

not a garbageman, i am garbage, man (m bison), Thursday, 23 July 2015 02:43 (1 month ago) Permalink

also i wanna say lauren chief elk is a rad writer and i like her ideas a lot

not a garbageman, i am garbage, man (m bison), Thursday, 23 July 2015 02:43 (1 month ago) Permalink

Almost every job where you care for others is paid poorly, whether it is physical or emotional assistance you are providing. My overly generalized, but most times valid, observation is that the more your job benefits a group of people that you can identify as individuals, and more tangible the benefits you provide, the worse your job is compensated. Doctors are about the only glaring exceptions to this rule.

Aimless, Thursday, 23 July 2015 02:59 (1 month ago) Permalink

that spinsterhood article is beautiful writing

lex pretend, Thursday, 23 July 2015 07:15 (1 month ago) Permalink

Bolick goes on to ask,

You are born, you grow up, you become a wife.
But what if it wasn’t this way? […]
What would that look and feel like?

with dramatic line-drops between each question, as if she is blowing our minds; as if these exact questions haven’t already been asked and answered by generations of women for decades or centuries. I couldn’t help but wonder: why does Bolick’s account of women’s existence seem so much more archaic than a book published in 1936?

sly

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 23 July 2015 09:51 (1 month ago) Permalink

Aimless did you read the article? The low wages of ppl in caring professions is not even remotely the point. That's obviously not news.

La Lechera, Thursday, 23 July 2015 11:50 (1 month ago) Permalink

In this post-Obergefell world we need to reclaim these terms.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 July 2015 11:59 (1 month ago) Permalink

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/science/chilly-at-work-a-decades-old-formula-may-be-to-blame.html?ref=topics

not sure if this is the thread for this, but this study has been tearing twitter apart today

usic ally (k3vin k.), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 01:21 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

chait's response. no fan of chait, but it seems pretty reasonable

usic ally (k3vin k.), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 01:26 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i sometimes forget that air conditioning exists outside of supermarkets

sarahell, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 01:52 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Is gender a more important determinant of core body temperature than weight and body composition? I think this article is risible clickbait and pretty effective too, A+

Treeship, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 02:27 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

The real reason Americans crank the AC so high is that we are a wasteful society. People find enjoyment in wasting resources, it's an end in itself.

Treeship, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 02:30 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

well that was m/l the point of the study

usic ally (k3vin k.), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 02:32 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

omg chait's response is basically soft MRA trolling.

where the sterls have no name (s.clover), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 03:14 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i have a fan at my desk. it kinda sux

mookieproof, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 03:23 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

office jorts

hunangarage, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 03:32 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

towards the abolition of jorts

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 13:47 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Don't know don't care crank that AC because I am a woman-shaped furnace.

Orson Wellies (in orbit), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 15:20 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

same, if slightly less woman-shaped

mookieproof, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 15:45 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

didn't want to read about chait's sweat stain today

Guayaquil (eephus!), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 15:54 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i'm ok wearing a sweater
this is a distraction

La Lechera, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 16:14 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

ooo girl let me hold that thread while u walk away

let's not get too excited w/ the ouches (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 16:36 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i guess as long as i can still feel my toes i'm ok

god i am so pissed about this PP spectacle. my friend's brother (and my longstanding nemesis) keeps posting this really offensive stuff to her fb wall to troll her and it's just like how on earth can he exist and have 7 children

La Lechera, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:18 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

one thing's for sure, "planned parenthood" had nothing to do with it!

e-bouquet (mattresslessness), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:21 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

like i literally think he is my nemesis
he has hated me since i was 15
if i were drowning, he'd be like "later, witch"

La Lechera, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:31 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

chait's article was stupid

there is no good reason as a culture that we can't loosen the dress code for men at the workplace

academia has already done it except for a few tweed holdouts. i wear an untuckted polo shirt everyday in the summer w/ sandals. i don't wear shorts but i probably could and no one would care

marcos, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:38 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

exceptional case, academics are slobs

j., Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:41 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

if men can't change the standards for men's attire and men are in charge of everything, who do they expect to get permission from? come on guys, just wear your sandals and deal with the fallout.

La Lechera, Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:47 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

ain't nobody in charge of nothin

except the a/c

the men are in charge of that

believe

j., Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:48 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

even at banks they normally have a 'summer dress code' where you can wear short sleeve button downs and khakis.

where the sterls have no name (s.clover), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 17:56 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

"women are always complaining about air conditioning and unequal pay. but they don't know how good they have it. men have to wear pants!"

where the sterls have no name (s.clover), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 18:01 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

shorts are great & feel great. no room for leg shaming in this sweaty world imo

welltris (crüt), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 18:03 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

"women are always complaining about air conditioning and unequal pay. but they don't know how good they have it. men have to wear pants!"

― where the sterls have no name (s.clover), Wednesday, August 5, 2015 2:01 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah i remember the bit about income disparity in chait's piece

usic ally (k3vin k.), Wednesday, 5 August 2015 20:14 (4 weeks ago) Permalink


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