Friday, September 3, 2010

* My Mama Done Tole Me . . .

Barbara Ward Keane and son circa 1949 (my brother)
The Yale Daily News

Brodsky: A serious need for casual feminists

No artist, no musician, no warrior, no statesman, no politician ever created a work as infinitely complex and beautiful as a human baby, especially in the short order of nine months.

Men are, and continue to be, subconsciously OVERAWED by the miraculous capacity of women as artists of the highest order, painting the ENTIRE canvas of CREATION itself.

Sexism is men’s bluff:

A conscious attempt to repress that awe and to overcome the inherently un-level playing-field onto which they are and have been thrust since the Garden of Eden: Women bring them onto the planet and women ensure that their genetic code will endure after their departure from the planet.

Men’s contribution to this process can hardly be called art.

Men could not EXIST without women and they know it.

Sexism is envy.

Sexism is anger.

Posted by theantiyale on September 2, 2010 at 5:40 a.m.

Afterthought: I should add "no athlete and no scholar" to that opening 'catalogue of creators,'
Posted by theantiyale on September 2, 2010 at 5:52 a.m.

antiyale: your comments are an example of exactly the kind of extremism the author means to combat.

Alexandra: Great article, well-crafted, entirely necessary.
Posted by MC13 on September 2, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.

Maybe so. Sadly, it doesn't make it any less true. I wish those well who seek to make a better world. PK
Posted by theantiyale on September 2, 2010 at 4:22 p.m.

It's examples like this that make people not take claims of sexism seriously.
Posted by FailBoat on September 2, 2010 at 4:53 p.m.

Theantiyale: As a woman who does not wish to have children, and on behalf of women who physically cannot have children, I find your comment extremely disgusting.

It is condescending and closed-minded to essentially say that women should be praised because we gestate. I also think it is misguided to say that men oppress women because they are jealous of this talent. And comparing human gestation to human creativity is naive at best.

I'm sorry, maybe this is a reactionary comment, but I am more than a uterus.
Posted by curlysiren on September 2, 2010 at 8 p.m.

 I did not say women SHOULD be praised because of X. I said X makes males envious and angry SUBCONSCIOUSLY

I do not have children and do not wish to have children. Who says women HAVE to HAVE children?

And who says it is a TALENT? The artistry I am talking about is a cosmic artistry.

It is women's CAPACITY (not TALENT) to reproduce another human being and men's INCAPACITY to do so that I am talking about.

I understand that in the not too distant future males will be able to have a zygote implanted in their lower intestine and bring it to term.

Perhaps this phenomenon will end sexism once and for all.

 Okay, Freud. I guess you wanted to sleep with your father too.
Posted by wtf on September 3, 2010 at 10:36 a.m

Trivialize Freud all you want. His is one of the three great minds of the last 200 years: Einstein, Darwin, Freud. This is not even susceptible to a sliver of debate. PK
Posted by theantiyale on September 3, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.

Theantiyale: I understand where you're coming from, I just don't agree with your claim that THAT is the reason men oppress women. Also, I only meant to point out that your statement is incredibly triggering to women who cannot have children and, to a lesser extent, women who choose not to have children.

Freud's theories were, at the time, quite groundbreaking. We should respect him because of that. However, he, and his theories, are not infallible. Both his and Darwin's theories have since been reevaluated and edited.
Posted by curlysiren on September 3, 2010 at 6:18 p.m.

****Hi curlysiren, Your last post was a much friendlier tone. Look, my mother was one of the first feminists in my small community of Mt. Carmel of the 1950's eleven miles up the road from Yale. That's MORE than half a century ago!!!!! Her feminism looks pale by comparison with today's feminism, but we are talking about a woman who wore slacks when to do so raised eyebrows about "lesbianism"; who drove a seatless, stand-up ten ton truck (with a five-gear floor-stickshift) , in an emergency to get plumbing supplies for a plumber, reluctant to abandon a metaphorical dyke he was plugging against a plumbing-flood at our house; a woman AND MOTHER who got a job when I was 14 because raising children was driving her crazy with boredom; who refused to sign a despicable neighborhood petition protesting African Americans moving next door to us in 1961 in our split-level WHITE neighborhood in West Woods and INSTEAD brought a casserole over to their house the day they moved in as she always did to welcome new neighbors on moving day. (My mother didn't give a damn what people thought.) Small but powerful examples of EGALITARIANISM to an impressionable child who adored his mother (moi). My point? I'm WITH you not AGAINST you.

But give me the benefit of the doubt and a little breathing room---I'm probably old enough to be your grandfather!! PK****
Posted by theantiyale on September 3, 2010 at 8:36 p.m.

I was never trying not to be friendly. I am also not trying to jump down your throat. I understood in the first place that you understand and respect feminists; I just didn't agree with your point. I respect where you're coming from, and while I can learn from those older than me, those older than me can learn from me as well.

Thank you for sharing about your mother. That was truly very interesting. I love hearing about people who stood up for what they believed in, no matter what.

Posted by curlysiren on September 4, 2010 at 1:21 a.m.

Thanks curlysire,

The reason I post here is I DO LEARN from the give and take of challenging assumptions. Age has zero to do with it. Attitude is the msot important factor, whther 19 or 91/

It's a lot more authentic and intense on the YDN posting-board than the NYTimes posting-board for example which is a bunch of stuffed shirts with ZERO give-and-take. Although I gotta say the new YDN website's posting board format has LOST its ZING .

All the home-made headlines are GONE and the username looks like the "ingredients" section on a Hershey Bar with about as much visual impact.The little genderless shadow-cameo-icons look like Monopoly pieces without their color or charm.

The whole thing is washed out, standardized and cookie-cutter eye-monotony compared with the previous posting-board. WHAT WAS YDN THINKING?

I'll keep an eye out for your username. And thanks for getting past the "disgusting... closeminded...and ... condescending " reaction.

Be well,
Posted by theantiyale on September 4, 2010 at 1:41 a.m.

.. link text

PS: The mother of my childhood (1940's/50's) lived at a time when a man could beat his wife with impunity for not being "ladylike".

Wearing slacks, driving a ten ton truck with stand-up gear shift, clutch, breaks and accelerator, and defying racism DEFINITELY WERE NOT LADYLIKE. See her photo in link above. Unfortunately, she's in a dress!

Posted by theantiyale on September 4, 2010 at 2:43 p.m.permalinkeditsuggest removal..

The Yale Daily News

Brodsky: A serious need for casual feminists

I came to Yale sure I could retire from my role as an angry feminist. I had stumbled across my political inclinations accidentally in my early schooling; I was a bossy, opinionated kid, and couldn’t quite figure out what being a girl had to do with anything. Gender equality struck me as such an obvious, logical necessity and I was sure Yalies would all be on board, so I could redirect my attention to more interesting problems.

However, my first few days proved me wrong. After the old “Sex Signals” workshop — which has thankfully since been changed — one classmate expressed confusion as to why it was OK for a girl to change her mind about sex after taking off her shirt. In Econ 111, I was rejected by two all male problem-set groups. In the Davenport dining hall, I was told that history was determined by great men, and maybe women just didn’t have it in them. I had come to Yale to try on a million different hats, but I found myself forced into an old one, shouting in vain — often literally.

This is a disappointing memory I share with many Yale women and one which I suspect many freshmen will soon carry as well. Unfortunately, it was also no exception to the pattern of subtle, ingrained misogyny, veiled by an air of enlightened liberalism, that I have continued to find for the last two years — a status quo that is both inherently harmful and which lays the foundation for more serious, dangerous sexism.

However, I strongly believe that this need not be the case for the next two. And for this, I turn to the class of 2014: We need you to be casual feminists.

Such a rallying cry might sound anticlimactic, but a large population of individuals each claiming a small stake in combating campus misogyny is exactly what we need. Of course, Yale must have its diehards, and I encourage all freshmen to run for the board of the Women’s Center, join a member group, write for publications like “Broad Recognition” or “Manifesta,” and contribute to discussions about reforming the University’s absurd sexual assault and maternity policies (columns for another time).

But those of you who will probably don’t need my encouragement.

The rest of you have just as important a task: Speak up. Women and men of the class of 2014, protect your friends who are targeted, and call out the insensitive. This doesn’t have to be dramatic; you don’t have to make a sign, change your attitude toward shaving or become a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major. If your entire class keeps an eye out for each other, sticking up for those affected by prejudices based on sexuality or gender, you can make Yale a safer place while debunking the myth of the separate feminist species.

Why do we need to move towards universal ownership of feminist concerns? First, when we leave all the shouting to those who are most offended, the point is easier to ignore. If a casual feminist called out classmates making sexist remarks in the dining hall or sitting around a common room, the disrespectful friend would likely reconsider his or her action. Yet currently, often everyone is silent or the token feminist at the table is forced to take on the responsibility. And when a message from any source becomes repetitive, it fades into white noise. This is particularly true at Yale, where the feminist is seen as a separate type of student, with a concrete wall dividing those who take on the title and those who do not. It is disturbing to see the number of students who genuinely support women’s rights but, because they don’t fit the stereotype, are reluctant to brand themselves as feminists.

The second reason such a shift is needed on campus is that the Women’s Center has better things to do with its time than wage dining hall war. I am not a member of the board and cannot speak to its views, but have as much a stake as any student in its functions. Clearly, the subtle sexism of Yale students is dangerous and requires a response. But seriously, we live in a crazy world and dedicated individuals shouldn’t feel they have to waste their time destigmatizing campus feminism when there are more pressing problems facing women at this school, in New Haven and around the world.

I must admit that, in addition to these two reasons, I hold another hope for this atmosphere of casual feminism at Yale. Fighting for our rights is about expanding opportunities, but for feminists on this campus, it can sometimes seem like each time we speak out, our options are narrowed. Class of 2014, you should be able to forge whatever identity you choose. Your concern for women’s rights should not limit your activities or predefine you in your classmates’ eyes. If everyone does their part in combating misogyny at Yale, feminism can be just another perspective students bring to all corners of campus, rather than a characteristic restricting young men and women to specific circles.

Class of 2014, if you start early, it can be done. We’re counting on you. Casually.

Alexandra Brodsky is a junior in Davenport College

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