Monday, January 13, 2020

Short Posts On Defining Womanhood And Women's Proper Places

1.  There's going to be a real mansplaining conference

This conference is aimed at us ladies.  The audience is expected to be full of vagina-bearers!   But worry not, the speakers are all men from the misogynistic manosphere sites, and the speeches will tell women how to be great women again!  An important first step is to get rid of feminism, of course.  Then there will be speeches about how not to get fat (1), how to be an obedient wife, and so on.

In short, its a conference about the kinds of docile and well-trained wives alt right misogynists want to have (given that they don't see women as full human beings).   It's a bit as if someone created a conference for domestic dogs where humans explained to dogs why dogs shouldn't be free and why they should obey their masters and eat crappy dog food only and so on, all couched in terms of the "innate biological nature" of dogs.  And of women.

Sigh.  This shit happened when I began blogging, sixteen years ago, and it is still happening.  But fear not, things are in some ways even worse today, as the next piece explains (2).

2.  Andrea Long Chu, a rising literary star and a trans woman, has written a book entitled Females.  Based on reading Chu's other opinions, though not this book itself, Chu views femininity, perhaps even femaleness, as submission (3).

That stance, if widely adopted, would of course kill feminism (splat!  like a mosquito meeting the flyswatter), because a submissive class of human beings obviously won't mind being subjugated.

Also, Chu writes, according to this review:

I transitioned for gossip and compliments, lipstick and mascara, for crying at the movies, for being someone’s girlfriend . . . for feeling hot, for getting hit on by butches, for that secret knowledge of which dykes to watch out for, for Daisy Dukes, bikini tops, and all the dresses, and, my god, for the breasts. But now you begin to see the problem with desire: we rarely want the things we should.

I'm trying to screw my face (bare of lipstick and mascara) back on the right side of my face.  When I manage to do that, I guess I will have to take a course on all those essential bits of being a woman I never knew anything about.

3.  The mansplaining guys' conference would have loved Japan of the past, but things are changing:

A record 61 percent of the public believe women should be able to continue working “even after giving birth,” according to a recent government survey. 
The rate was up 6.8 percentage points from the previous survey in 2016, and the highest since the government launched the survey in 1992, the Cabinet Office said.

“It was principally driven by increasing employment rates among women and growing awareness regarding female empowerment,” a Cabinet Office official said.
The rate was only 23.4 percent in the 1992 survey.

4.  But are things changing among the US Mormons?  The following quote is about (Mormon, I assume) graduates of Brigham Young University:

But while secular women may see education as a route to a more lucrative or successful career, most of BYU’s female alumni never work outside the home, despite having attended a top university. 
The messaging starts early, Kelly says: Throughout Sunday school and other forms of Mormon education, Mormon girls are explicitly told that their college education is predominantly a back-up, “if ever accidentally your husband were to die or you found yourself in a position where you had to earn a living. But otherwise you are not to use it.” 
Statistics bear this out: Male graduates of BYU earn 90 times more than their female peers, with a median income of $71,900 by the age of 34. Female graduates, on the other hand, earn on average $800 per year. 
Even the wage gap at other religious universities is not quite so extreme. Female graduates of Huntingdon University, Baptist Bible College, and Maranatha Bible University earn between about $15,000 and $20,000 a year at age 34. It’s a little more than a third of their male peers’ salary, or more than 20 times more than female BYU grads.
The linked article has more to say about Mormon views on the proper place of women.  What makes those views particularly impractical is that most families have trouble getting by on one salary.

For me those views are another example of the conservative religious views about women, easily found in Islam, Christianity and other male-centered religions, and the reason why I often write about the clash between women's rights and religious freedoms.  And it's not a coincidence that women have had little chance to participate in influencing the creation of the religious tenets which curtail their participation in life.

5.  In UK, teen girls refuse to be silent about menstruation.  This new movement is necessary, it seems (4).  Kate Bowen-Viner, a researcher of this topic, explains the need for this movement:

When she asked pupils why they had taken time off school while menstruating, many talked about fear and embarrassment rather than medical need. They also reported poor access to toilets and products at school. “They spoke about smuggling tampons and pads to each other during lessons and feeling unable to put their hand up and ask a teacher if they could go to the toilet.”
Even at breaktime, pupils said they felt stressed about using toilets if the sound of a packet opening could be heard outside the cubicle. “If boys were stood outside the toilet, they worried about going in.”
You can read more about this movement in the Guardian.

6.  Because this post reeks of my frustrations (5), I will end it with something wonderful:  The clitoris!

Here's a three-dimensional model of the clitoris from a 2016 Guardian article:

The visible part of the clitoris, the part we were all taught was all of it,  is that little pink hook at the top.  The rest is hidden from view.

Understanding the actual size of the clitoris is important, and not only for those who carry out labiaplasty.

For some weird reason I keep thinking of that picture as a very nice Labrador retriever holding the "sit" command beautifully.


(1)  Not sure what the session on obesity might be about, but remember that this conference is not going to talk about men's obesity, nosir.  But if the arguments are anything like those frequently aired on certain misogynistic manosphere sites, men there view marriage as a contract where they have bought sexual services and the provider of those services must not get fat and unattractive.

(2)  Groups like those organizing this conference are of marginal real-world significance, of course (though their online footprint is size 14).  But their influence is not benign, and depending on the type of misogyny they spread it can be extremely dangerous.

It's also worth noting that all extreme right-wing groups, including conservative religious groups (ISIS, say), hold similar views about women's proper place (at home, obedient) and rights (none, really).

(3)  Apparently of a widespread sexual nature (or romantic nature, but really sexual and somehow extending to all parts of life).  Even if this aspect of "femaleness" is assumed to be universal in humans (a kind reading of Chu), it would still be true that it would be much more common among those who already have a lot more "femaleness" by virtue of being female.  Thus, this kinder reading does not rescue Chu from coming across as very much an anti-feminist.

(4)  I have read quite a bit about the problems girls in, say, India,  have with coping with periods when going to school, but I hadn't realized that the problem can be found in the UK.  And probably other countries, too.

(5)  The post is not intended to give a balanced view about everything happening to women's rights and status.  It's tilted toward the negative. 

That's because I picked the topics from items I have gathered together during the recent past as causing the same feeling of exasperation in me.  We are not moving very fast on many of these issues, are we?  And in some ways we are stagnant and even going backward.