Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday Coleslaw: The Finnish Cabinet, A Rose, The Female Bomber Pilots in WWII and Conducting-While-Female

This post is full of random stuff, like a coleslaw.  Enjoy.

1.  The new  Finnish cabinet has more women than men. 

It does not mean that  now patriarchy will be tipped on its head, even in Finland, and nobody will come around with gelding shears.   Honest.

Rather, one day future governments, all over the world,  will have women and men in percentages which over the long-run end up matching the percentages of women and men in the relevant populations.   Some years there will be more men, some years there will be more women, and some years the numbers are roughly equal.

A goddess can dream, in any case.

(Now I suddenly imagine a cabinet created by all those people with Trump masks on.  That's the kind of dream Trump dreams:  Himself, eternally, in power.  And fuck the rest of the humankind.)

2.  The story about "the night witches," Russian women who flew bombers in WWII is fascinating.

3.  Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead a major US orchestra, describes conducting-while-female as follows:

Despite the progress made in recent years, she said, female conductors were still judged differently from their male counterparts while on the podium. “The thing about conducting is it’s all body language,” she said, and “our society interprets gesture very differently from men or from women.”

A delicate touch from a woman, for example, is often seen as weakness, when the same gesture from a man is seen as sensitive, she said. Unlike men, women conductors are “required to think twice about gesture because it’s not just the gesture, it’s how the musicians interpret the gesture.”

I found that fascinating, because it's a concrete example of the frequent pattern many of us have observed:  Women are held to different standards in, say, politics and business, because their behavior and statements are interpreted with added expectations about how women behave or should behave.

This phenomenon may well have to do with fields where women are a minority, and might fade away when women stop being minorities.  On the other hand, I may be wrong about that.

4.  The first rose opened in my garden.  It's a David Austin one, with a difficult metallic tone of soft orange (if that makes sense), and tends to clash with the purple-pale-yellow-white-and-pink colors of the June garden here.  So I isolate it with lots of lady's mantles (visible in the picture as the small yellow flowers).


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

On Political Allies. In Housecleaning

A recent UK Guardian article, about even liberal and progressive men not sharing housework fairly, has a bizarre headline*:

Want to be a male ally? Start by cleaning the house.
It's bizarre, because it suggests that doing one's fair share of housecleaning is a way of being a political (?) ally, but to whom?  The class of women?  One's own female partner?

That headline is like asking the readers to go  around several blocks and then to come into the (messy) house through the backdoor, while the front door (the simple explanation) is wide open and the shortest way in: 

Sharing paid and unpaid work equally** is what fairness in a relationship requires.

Okay.  So I am a curmudgeony goddess who has trouble accepting some of the jargon on both the right and left political extremes.  This particular example is about the meaning of the term "ally" on the political left***.

It's not the same as the dictionary definition about alliances between nations or people, such as this one, even though it initially might look the same:

a person, group, or nation that is associated with another or others for some common cause or purpose: Canada and the United States were allies in World War II.
The difference is that the Guardian headline asks the reader (presumably a man) if he wants to be a male ally.  In other words, it's closer to the following definition:

Rather, it's closer to this one:

2 : one that is associated with another as a helper : a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle a political ally ... —often now used specifically of a person who is not a member of a marginalized or mistreated group but who expresses or gives support to that group

Bolds are mine.

The two bolded sections explain why I disliked the Guardian headline:  The male partner should not be viewed as a "helper" of the female partner when it comes to housecleaning or child-care or other chores.  The male partner, in this context,  is not someone outside the "marginalized or mistreated" group ( of women, here, or just his own female partner?) who is just expected to give support.   He is inside the group "partnership" with his female partner, and his role is not that of a helper, but of an equal participant.

I wonder if that's clear...

*  Since most headlines are not written by the authors of the articles, this  headline probably wasn't picked by Moira Donegan who wrote the article (which is worth reading, as is this one on house cleaning).

** Absent health problems etc.  Note that there are different ways of sharing work and household chores fairly, but when both partners work equal hours, it's not fair to expect only one of them to take care of all unpaid work as well.

***  The list of the duties of a political ally can be psychologically very onerous.  There are good reasons for making sure that the eager allies won't just take over and get the whole movement centered on their wants, needs, and desires, which makes those lists understandable.

Still, I am not sure that the allyship-concept in politics is ultimately a productive one (in terms of gaining many supporters in various fights for justice) because it signals that different demographic groups really are like different countries, and unless potential allies can prove otherwise,  they are assumed to be citizens of an enemy country (from the angle of the oppressed group).

Monday, June 17, 2019

Today's Granola Post: A Study on Women's Advancement in British Universities.

Granola posts are good for you!  I'm the parent who is making you eat your granola, because it will help you grow big and strong and smart.

A British study examined why male faculty members in the UK tend to rise higher in the academic hierarchies than female faculty members.  The study controlled for (1) variables which roughly measure the idea that women's advancement is hampered by the traditional gendered division of labor within households, and it also controlled for age (as it takes time to climb to the top) as well as research output (papers published in peer reviewed articles, grants obtained and conference papers presented,  all in the last five years).  The study abstract: