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The Week In Patriarchy

The Journal of Epidemiology cited working mothers as a leading factor in childhood obesity; all the unemployed fathers were, presumably, too sad to cook. New York State is this close to letting couples divorce for no reason. Or because *ahem* one person did all the cooking. Katrina Rosin likened eating meat (“carnism”) to sexism.

A Pagan reacted to Hanna Rosin’sThe End of Men” by saying that men are in a “double bind:” They’re being rendered powerless by corporate society (except, he noted, for the fact that they run corporate society), and women are becoming more equal. Luckily for men, he said, they can regain superiority equality by channeling their feminine side. Contra the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dix P. Poppas, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Urology at Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian, both engaged in female genital cutting and seemed to have sexually molested young girls.

Jehmu Greene, President of Women’s Media Center, was fed up with the the media’s touting the “year of the woman” since political discourse is still dominated by the “men-in-suits mindset.”  Man-in-a-suit Ross Douthat cited the rise of women in conservative politics as “a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement,” and we wrote about it, along with everyone else in the women’s movement. Reviews were not favorable. Perhaps indicating British humor is too dry, fashion designer Julien Macdonald found plus-size models very funny.

Topless stripper piñatas in Texas caused outrage from passers by, but were redeemed by their timeless lesson: If  you beat a woman with a stick condoms and liquor fall out. Jacksonville police officers really needed to reach their traffic ticket quota for the month; they tackled and handcuffed a woman in labor in the ER to which they chased her. Louisiana wanted to guilt-trip women out of having abortions; it contented itself by joining 15 other states in simply lecturing them.

Breastfeeding?! There’s no breastfeeding in baseball! A court official in the French town of Nancy wanted to legislate proper breast size, showing that if you name your city after a lady, you can fashion your ladies after the city’s wishes. Nancy’s Latin motto (Non inultus premor) translates to “no one touches me with impunity.” Vicky Allan made a rational call to women to stop focusing so much on breasts.

The Public Intellectual of Pretoria despised women’s displays of sexuality, objectifying women instead as not-”sexy” and not-”tempting.” And Chloe Angyal reminded us that “all women deserve to live lives free of violence,” whether or not you think they are dressed like prostitutes. Come back next week to see if anyone listened.

12 Comments

  1. Oh man, when I read what you wrote about a pregnant woman being tackled I knew that if I clicked on the link she’d be black.

    It just rang the same bells as the recent incident with a police officer punching a woman in the face for jaywalking (also black) and also the same feeling as the year-ish back incident of a football player’s whole family who were on the way to the hospital to see a family member moments before they died and who were pulled over and almost shot for trying to see her (also black).

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  2. Emily wrote:

    I actually think A Pagan’s analysis is pretty right on. Patriarchy is hierarchy, and lower-SES men are subordinated under it similarly to women (though they still get to be a rung or two higher than women). Women have become more competitive in a society that increasingly values brains (where men and women are equally matched) over brawn (where men and women are not so equally matched, on average across groups). This means there is more competition for those low-status men to deal with. Patriarchy has always been about barring as many people as possible from competing with the elite for spots at the top: racial and ethnic minorities, women, people of the wrong sexuality, etc. The more people you can bar from the top, the less competition, and the easier it is for men of privilege to coast into the elite positions which they’ve viewed as their birthright. The more you level the playing field, the more these entitled men are forced to actually compete, which makes their insecurity and fear of failure flare up. The solution A Pagan advocates is for men to stop relying on the security of hierarchical patriarchy and then they’ll also stop being oppressed by it. Feminists figured this out long ago.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink
  3. laura k wrote:

    Er, reading about that show Vixens, I’m not necessarily sure I’d say those were simple “displays of women’s sexuality” that this so-called public intellectual was despising. There is really not enough information in that brief linked-to post, but that show sounds appalling, and if there were men licking and kissing a woman who obviously didn’t want to be licked and kissed, we’d probably be up in arms about it. Just, you know, saying…

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  4. BMICHAEL wrote:

    @laurak

    The pubic intellectual says, “If women want to be respected and not undermined and objectified, they have to react with shock and revulsion to these openly disrespectful and demeaning shows.”

    I took that to mean that if women don’t want to be objectified, they need to do, you know, what I [public intellectual] want them to do, and until they do that, I will continue to objectify them. There’s a suppressed premise, I think, that offers a concept-to-fact way of talking about sexuality. To wit, that women deserve to be objectified unless they conform to an acceptable idea of womanhood. Rather than treat women as women and then draw conclusions based on the state of affairs, the author seems to have an idea of womanhood already in mind, that s/he thinks these actors fail to live up to. Sure, they’re reality tv actors, but still–look at Angyal’s post, which offers an argument for why even so-called vixens should be considered as people rather than objects.

    “If women want to be respected” then other people need to treat them with respect.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Chris wrote:

    Quoting Emily, above: The solution A Pagan advocates is for men to stop relying on the security of hierarchical patriarchy and then they’ll also stop being oppressed by it. Feminists figured this out long ago.

    That’s what I got, too. Which is not to say that A Pagan’s piece was without error. I commented on two big ‘uns he made in his piece, but I don’t think, in the end, he was advocating any sort of male superiority. Especially as other of his pieces and the pieces he linked to for context are anti-macho-man patriarchy.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  6. BMICHAEL wrote:

    @emily@chris

    Yeah, I’m not super-critical of the piece, and of course most occasions will be subject-centered, I just found his description of the ‘double bind’ kind of curious, as well his deployment of the term ‘equality.’

    1. I fail to see this double bind that lots of people seem to talk about. I think men–while hit by the recession, losing manufacturing jobs, still not cooking dinner, & c. are on hard times, it’s not as if they’re not doing relatively all right. I mean, I don’t think.

    2. If women are gaining equality with men, then why do men have to do anything to gain equality with women? I feel like his use of the word ‘equality’ has more to do with superiority than equality in the normal sense. As in, Who can be more equal? As in, Who can be more superior?

    Of course, I could have taken the story more seriously, but I thought it was relatively lighter fare that introduced the story about the doctor shaving off pieces of young girls’ clitorises and then using a vibrator to stimulate sexual arousal in them, at around age six. That seems like the big story of this piece.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  7. Sady wrote:

    Allow me to quote at length from “A Pagan’s” article:

    “‘Feminine’ and ‘masculine’ refer to qualities, often analogous to yin and yang. In my view the easiest way to distinguish between them is how they relate to boundaries. Masculine values assert, define, strengthen, and defend boundaries. Feminine values blur, dissolve, open, and weaken boundaries. Both men and women have masculine and feminine traits because both are necessary for life to exist, but for reasons of a complex interrelationship of biology and culture, on balance and in averages, men are traditionally more masculine, women traditionally more feminine.

    “One of the reasons this distinction is so will not go away and I think shed light on Rosen’s article. So far as I know, in every society men have to earn their manhood, through initiations, warfare, being able to support a family (in the American case) and so on. Men often say joining the Army “made a man” out of them. I know of no woman who says the same thing about joining the military. Does any blog reader? One of the issues Rosin touches on, the increasing loss of male dominated jobs, and falling male incomes, strikes at the core of male self-identification, although she seems largely blind to this.

    “The reason, I think, is because women are more defined by a biological trait: having children. This trait is not earned. It comes as a rule to any woman who lives long enough.”

    Yeah. Dude is rock stupid. He’s sort of trying to make a point, but it’s grounded in about 9,000 forms of essentialism and a deep and holy cluelessness. I have no problem with making fun of him.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink
  8. Chris wrote:

    @Sady In the context of a lot of Pagan thought & mythology, a lot of those “masculine” and “feminine” traits do hold forth, but not necessarily in the way that Feminist thought defines those terms. As a Pagan myself, when I hear a fellow Pagan say that feminine traits “blur, dissolve, open, and weaken boundaries” I take that to mean that they break down traditionally-held boundaries and create new patterns. This is not meaning that women are weak– quite the contrary, they have the power to be mutable and transformative, whereas traditionally “masculine” traits tend to be far more rigid. Archetypally speaking (within the realm of many forms of reconstructionist & also Wiccan worship): the God tends to rule over things that have structure, while the Goddess tends to be an agent of change. So, basically, it’s not to be interpreted as “men are strong, women are weak.” That is not what he is saying at all, and such thought has no place in Paganism, which widely venerates feminine aspects of Deity. In fact… a couple of entries back, you’ll find that he has a post that basically says that, albeit in more words.

    …And therefore it is perfectly valid to say that all people must encompass both to be a whole person.

    (I hope, that from a spiritual perspective, that makes sense. When the focus of the blog is Paganism, I find that a little understanding of the path’s tenets & archetypes go a long way into diffusing what might otherwise be construed as incendiary language.)

    As for the part about the Army making a man and childbirth making a woman? Yeah, that’s totally bullshit, and I left a comment to that effect.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  9. Chris wrote:

    You know what? Nevermind. After reading his response to my comments, which, I shit you not, begins with “Whatever,” I can only conclude that he is being willfully obtuse about the things he’s flat-out wrong about, so mock away.

    Friday, June 18, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  10. At the risk of being somewhat irrelevant, can I invite everyone who reads the Nancy story to round off the ample meal of being completely appalled by the city’s chief prosecutor with the after-dinner mint of being dismayed by the Europhobia of the article’s sub-heading ‘Ruddy Europe wants to standardise everything‘?

    Because apparently Jane Fae Ozimek feels free to extrapolate from one city in France to a whole continent, despite noting in her own article that the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights (Ozimek has got the name wrong because, like many anti-Europeans, she hasn’t troubled to get her head around the admittedly complex assortment of different pan-European institutions) has disparaged any requirement for a trans person to have medical treatment before being officially recognized.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  11. Girl Detective wrote:

    I think Katrina Rosin’s point had validity. The aspect she was comparing was that to go with the status quo *is* an idealogy. Originally there was normal, default views, *the way things just are*, and feminism. And feminism said – the way things just are is not the neutral position, it is sexism. Rosin says that it is not ‘neutral’ and ‘vegetarian.’ Eating meat is just as much a choice as being vegetarian. In order to talk about vegetarianism fairly, you need to identify the alternate/opposite position. She’s trying to make the choice to eat meat an ideology which can be examined, rather than just the normal, how things are.
    The word ‘carnism’ is meant to equate to vegetarianism – choosing meat. NOT to sexism (prejudice based on type of meat). She may or may not think sexism is as bad as eating meat, but her argument was not about hat, it was about how to frame the debate, and I think that’s valid

    Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 4:02 am | Permalink
  12. Melissa wrote:

    I was just about to send you a link to the Dix Poppas “saving the world from the horror of little girls with big clits” story. It seems like there’s nothing some parents can’t be scared into putting their kids through.

    Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink