Can you be guilty of faulty earthquake prediction…

Sorry for the interruption in you regular feminist broadcast but I read something this morning that I cannot ignore… and as you can imagine it is informed by my ecofeminist thinking.

In Italy seismologists are being charged with manslaughter because they failed to predict a 2009 earthquake that killed 300 people.  This just seems absurd to me. Have we truly become so egotistical that we think we can know everything – particularly about the behavior of the earth?  I mean please, Al Roker  and his meteorologist buddies can’t even nail down snow storms until their right on top of us – so how on earth do we think that a bunch of guys with gadgets that are thousands of miles above platonic faults are supposed to know that the ground is shake.  Also, can we sue Al – charge him with the death of a homeless man who got caught out in a storm? Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it.

Sometimes people die and it’s horrible. But there is not always some one to blame. Earthquakes happen. Just like the lion might eat you if you muck about in his territory. There are things that are nature that science can’t predict.

Paula Gunn Allen wrote and essay entitled “The Woman I Love is a Planet and The Planet I Love is a Tree,” in which she implies that perhaps we have inflated the importance of the human being by forgetting that humans are just a part of a larger system – the ecosystem. For Gunn Allen, we are a part of the earth, rather than the earth being something we can control, and any mistreatment that we inflict on our own bodies is mistreatment of the earthly body. So hating ourselves, starving ourselves, hating our bodies is hating the earth.  Gunn Allen also notes that like our bodies the earth goes through changes – she likens the earth’s current state to menopause – and argues that ultimately her (the earth’s) changes with trump our desires and our science – because really in comparison to her we are no more or less significant than ants.

I mention Gunn Allen because I see a link between the information she is trying to impart and the lunacy of thinking that a scientist’s prediction could outwit the earth. She (the earth) will do as she pleases – and really, we are at her mercy. She was here before us and she’ll be here when we’re gone.

Do you Think They Practice in These Uniforms?

With a nod to the thesis of Ariel Levi’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, (quite an interesting read by the way) I present you with images of the players in the Lingerie Football League:

I am sorry but WTF? Really! Is this how women athletes expect to be taken seriously? It is images like these that prove I will never be a third-wave feminist. (I am talking about this a lot lately, aren’t I?) I might wear make-up and love it or occasionally feel sexy in some sassy/naughty/sexy attire (pick the term that most satisfies), but I will never see this show of skin as anything but a mockery of female empowerment. Not to mention the fact that I would be hard pressed to call fully dressed football empowering – I am thinking about ideas that are similar to my recent post regarding mothering – which included a little Simone de Beauvoir diatribe – football is a staged enactment of violence – much like the less staged Roman gladiators.  This staged “football” violence is interested in dominance, not equality or peace. It is a game constructed in a violent framework, which teaches domination and destruction as the desired goal.  Literally the goal of a foot ball game is to “beat” the other team, to win, to prove your domination over them. Traditionally associated with hegemonic masculinity and patriarchical mastery, domination represents a false road to empowerment because it is about individual success rather than equality.I know this may seem a little heavy-handed – but I can’t help myself. There are even moments when I see football – much like basketball – as continued reinforcement of the horrifying sexist, racist and almost suicidal elements of hegemonic masculinity. No one seems to care that football has been linked to the early onset of dementia, sexual assault  (second article on this), and increased sex trafficking.  Despite its violent nature, football plays the role of  a masculine right of passage in many American communities.

My mother (and favorite feminist) sent me a link to an article by Natasha Thomas-Jackson last night. In the article entitled “Why I like my Feminism Gray,” Thomas-Jackson writes:

The ultimate goal is to create a world where women can be whatever they want to be, whenever they want to be it, without limitations imposed by gender and sexism. I think that any idea, institution, or person that tries to deny a woman this full range of expression is an enemy to feminism.

Looking at this quote the rest of the  article it is clear that Thomas-Jackson is a third wave feminist – and obviously women should “whatever they want to be, whenever they want to be it, without limitations imposed by gender and sexism,” but the question is do we live in a world where that is possible?  Or are we so contained and constructed by the social moray of our particular cultural groups that we have never genuinely ventured to know what would allow us to be  free of the “limitations imposed by gender and sexism.” I would guess but I can’t say for sure, that the women pictured above enjoy what they do and are appreciated for it  but why are they appreciated. Is it because they are great athletes? hot bodies? genuine intellects? individuals? Or are they just objects – jokes in comparison to their male counterparts?

But mostly, Really!@??? Gross.

Is it a girl or a boy? Does it matter?

Today the blog  Feminist Philosophers turned me on to some articles about a Canadian couple who have decided to raise their child without a gender… And a usual there are people who are upset by their choice.

As those of you who are close to me know, I am guilty of gendering babies myself. I would say that fixing cars and gendering children are the issues about which I slide on most when it comes to my feminist bent. I rely on my husband to always  take the car to the dealership or auto body shop, so much so that you would think I was allergic, and I want to buy girls pink things! But I’m not sure I’m right – in fact I know I’m absurd. What does pink have to do with girls? – other than the social association of female with all that is “pretty,” which ultimately condemns us to a future of the body image issues and princess obsessions. (And perhaps even a state of disempowerment).

Not sure. Not sure. I know one thing though – This totally makes me want to move to Canada. Too bad it’s so cold.

Tell me what you think…

Social Justice is about everyone, isn’t it?

So lately I’ve been encountering some troubling stuff. Stuff that makes me question myallegiance to the feminist tribe. (Well, sort of.) In particular I have encountered three conversations with feminists that make note of the idea of limiting the sphere in which one can truly be a feminist.

The first instance was a comment from a good friend – one I know to be an active advocate for social justice of all kinds. In fact, I would argue that I have almost never hung out with her without discussing some way in which the current social systems are hurting or inhibiting the needs and desires of honest hard-working people or animals.  A few years ago she had a baby – a beautiful strong-minded little girl – and after much toss and turn – she decided that she was not going to return to work as a teacher. So now she is a stay at home mom.  Her comment to me was that most of her feminist friends no longer respect her. REALLY?!! I was shocked – horrified even. This is like the best mom ever, a woman who studies and thinks out all her moves as a mom – what food her daughter should eat, what fabrics should be close to her skin, how much television is too much television – or is she better off with non at all?  This woman who washes her own diapers because she’s worried about the earth and yes, she has a partner – who happens to be a man – who works day and night so that she can stay home and raise their daughter in the way she thinks is best.  This is a job, and important one, is it not?  It is also a job she loves and one that she feels has great meaning for her.

I’ve done some research and there are definitely women who rage against this idea. Like this one . And this one. But, I will continue to defend women who choose to stay home.  Mothering is a key element of society. It is a valuable and honorable profession. Viewing childcare as a less than scenario relies on philosophical framework of importance or success that  is defined by the masculine identity – in other words one of the key issues, early on for feminism was the idea that men’s lives are defined as free – potent and subject oriented. 

Ringing in the second wave of Feminism by writing The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir, explained the nature of women’s cultural standing. She said, “man represents both positive and neutral, as is indicated by the common use of man to designate human beings in general; whereas woman represents only the negative.”   In other words, masculinity is perceived as the norm or the superior state of humanity and femininity exists as “inessential” opposition to this norm. Beauvoir’s theory on implementing male/female equality was grounded in the understanding of womanhood as a limiting state.  Beauvoir advocated the rise of a woman from subordinate to dominate by becoming more like a man, i.e. disconnecting from her connection to ‘her own nature,’ her physicality, particularly her womb and the job of child rearing.  Later feminists recognized a fundamental flaw in Beauvoir’s perspective. In “Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics,” Iris Young explains, “Beauvoir does not call into question the definition of being human that traditional western society holds, and she devalues traditionally female activity in the same way that the patriarchy does.”  In other words, Beauvior’s perspective equates the true state of humanity with masculinity. In light of this understanding, it is my contention, that femininity is not the problem, rather inequality is caused by the “the denial and devaluation of specifically feminine virtues” (Young). The road to compassionate equality does not require that women become more like men, but rather that we cease to devalue and define femininity and masculinity as constructs in opposition, with hegemonic masculinity functioning as the superior form and femininity an inferior reflection.  This idea can be explored further in the works of Val Plumwood.

I am off on a tangent from where I began…So let me just circle round a bit. While I’ve focused on this discussion of stay at home mom’s, I mentioned that there were three conversations that threw me for a loop. The second conversation occurred with Gail Dines and some of the current  key players in FAU’s Women, Gender and Sexuality department at the Florida Consortium for Women’s Studies Conference. The topic of the actual discussion eludes me by the basic premise was a number of female  feminists met to discuss pornography and anti-porn strategies and the told a transgender feminist that her attendance was not appreciated. Ouch…REALLY! Isn’t the ultimate goal empowering and accepting each other as we are and want to be? 

My final issue was a conversation with friends about sexuality – one friend, who is in a long-term relationship with a man but used to date only women – mentioned that when she started dating a man all her lesbian friends disowned her. REALLY!  – I can’t really say that the women who disowned her are feminists, but I can say that they bear the burdens of unequal social justice issues – wouldn’t they want to let people be and choose whatever makes them happy? Obviously not.

What is that? 

I am a proponent of the morality detailed by the principles of feminist care ethics, i.e. acknowledging and examining how one’s personal background, experience and viewpoint affect one’s moral choices, focusing on responses that are person and situation specific, and creating solutions that focus on care and empathy for others. If you are interested in these ideas read Maternal Thinking: Toword a Politics of Peace by Sara Ruddick. I guess my point here is that in the end, the ultimate goal, breaking down abstract prejudice and oppression is the only goal – and these behaviors – judgement and criticism of the choices people make – these are the behaviors of the oppressor.