Knitting and Sljivovica

Dec 18, 2011

There really is no difference between men and women's math abilities




I know my lovely readers knew this already, but thought it can never be reiterated too many times.

Now, researchers Jane Mertz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jonathan Kane of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater have performed the most comprehensive exploration yet of math performance. They took in data from 86 different countries, many of which had not previously kept reliable records of math performance and so their addition allowed for much stronger cross-cultural analysis. So what did they find?

First, in many countries, there’s no gender gap at all both at the average and very high levels of performance. Some countries, including the United States, do show a gender gap, but that gap has decreased substantially over the last few decades, and some test scores suggest American girls have already caught up to their male counterparts.

Take that, sexist stereotypes!

I love it!

I’ll still always be terrible at math, though. I can’t wait to take Calc I for the third time. Man, I really have no shot at med school. /despair

(via stfuconservatives)

Dec 9, 2011

Patriarchy and victim-blaming: In a nutshell.


When I was walking around town yesterday afternoon, I watched a student cross the road about 100 yards away from the lights and found myself thinking “really, you can’t just take care of yourself and cross where you’re supposed to and not put yourself in danger? If you get hit now, you’ll probably be blamed, and that makes sense.

And why?

Because we all accept that on the roads, cars have right of way over pedestrians. It is their understood right to drive right the hell on, and if you get in their way then you’ve knowingly put yourself in harm’s way.

Because we all knowingly accept that cars are all powerful on the roads.

So essentially, what you’re doing when you say “she should’ve known what she was getting herself in for when she wore that tight skirt, that’s just asking for trouble” is that men own the outside. Men are all powerful out-of-doors (and maybe inside, too, but I don’t have the strength to make that argument), so if you stumble onto their path, you’re putting yourself in danger because they have right of way.

This is what patriarchy means, in practice. This is why I can’t accept that you have any logical reasoning powers at work when you say that patriarchy is dead.

(via sanityscraps)

Dec 8, 2011

"In our actual lives, the imperialist white-supremacist policies of our government lead to enactments of rituals of white-male violent domination of a darker universe, as in both the Gulf war and the most recent war against Iraq. By making it appear that the threatening masculinity - the rapist, the terrorist, the murderer - is really a dark other, white male patriarchs are able to deflect attention away from their own misogyny, from their violence against women and children."

—bell hooks (via vsthepomegranate)

(via blueklectic)

Dec 2, 2011

Female Super-Hero Characters and Sex: Creators Explain How Comics Can Do Better

(Source: downlo, via glossylalia)

Dec 1, 2011

More on Whedon and ‘waif-fu’



On one hand, Thus Spake Kate is right in pointing out that Buffy and River Tam’s apparent frailty is written specifically into their characters to make certain, arguably feminist, points. Joss was trying to subvert certain genre conventions by casting Gellar and Glau.

On the other hand, there’s something awfully convenient about the idea that a petite, pretty girl can be credibly cast as an action hero. It’s a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation that sidesteps issues like the lack of roles for non-femme or butch-looking women, the fact that good roles nearly always go to the conventionally pretty women, and the unquestioning acceptance of what counts as delicate and/or beautiful (i.e. how often do you see a Black woman cast as a frail little thing?). It honestly reminds me of the ’90s Sex and the City-type of lipstick feminism that made wearing designer high heels seem totally empowering and unproblematically feminist.

Again, I’m a big fan of Joss and love Buffy, Dollhouse, and Firefly—waify female characters included—but I’m not about to excuse a  well-established pattern in Joss’s work and in contemporary pop culture in general. The ass-kicking waif is a very convenient trope since it allows Hollywood to present images of strong women who are also gender-conforming in every way possible.

In this edition of People Saying What I Was Trying To Say But Putting It Way Better.

To add: It is a good point to make about how WOC are coded, Glau’s body type is coded as “wispy” and “waifsh” making it easy to subvert common ideas about her character as someone (or rather something) that needs protection. Arguably, an actor like Zoe Saldana’s body type is very much the same, but she on the other hand is coded as “lithe” and “feline” when she shows vulnerability it is a plot point. Rodriguez and those like her get shitted on from all angles, she is a WOC, and while undeniably attractive she is also not “femme”. 

Oct 25, 2011

Why I have problems with the idea of sexual privilege.



I don’t doubt that something like it exists. Asexuals get erased all the time in our society, and are regularly treated as though they are mentally or emotionally defective. Not enough people know that asexuality even exists, and I see well-meaning people on my dash bring up the “debate” over whether or not asexuality is a “real thing”. That is something that needs to change.

But we need to really think about how we’re framing the conversation. Because being considered “sexual” is not the default, not for every sexual person, and definitions of sexual privilege which gloss over this reality bother me. Not every sexual person is considered worthy of the sexual impulses they do have, and only certain objects of one’s sexual desire are considered socially acceptable. 

A lot of us sexual people have had to fight for the right to be considered sexual beings.

When I was twelve years old, I got the sex talk from my grandmother. She sat me down, and very seriously told me that I should refrain from dating, “like the Americans do”. She told me that women are supposed to rise above the base sexual interest of men, and warned me to never be seduced by a man, no matter how charming he seemed. And then she told me about her sex life. About how painful and grueling it was to have to think about sex, about how she hated doing it when she was younger, how she gritted her teeth and got through it, “so that she could have children”. 

Is my grandmother asexual? Perhaps. But I doubt it. There’s too much negative socialization going on, right from birth, to assume that my grandmother was anything but massively repressed. Women raised in patriarchal, rigid societies, are socialized to be ashamed of their own bodies and their own desires. A woman in control of her own sexuality, a woman who likes to have sex — nothing scares a male-dominated society more. 

Asexual is what she wanted me to be. Asexual is what all the women in my family were supposed to be; without desire of our own, but allowing our husbands to do what they want to us when duty calls. Women who failed to meet these ridiculous standards were punished, with intense ridicule and shotgun marriages. 

Is it any wonder that I thought that I was a freak because I masturbated? I thought it was only something boys did, and I was sure that I was a disgusting pervert. We just don’t talk about the sexual desires of girls. The wants and desires of boys are celebrated in our culture, but female sex-ed is all about the negative consequences of sex — its a careful cost-benefit analysis meant to convince young girls to keep their legs shut. A girl is left wondering; why would anyone WANT to do this act in the first place? 

Sex happens in the dark, its a private act, but a lot of terrible things can happen when we don’t talk about it. Shame about one’s sexual existence can destroy your relationship to yourself, and leave you vulnerable to sexual assault. Convincing a woman to be terrified of her own body is the greatest tool that misogynists have working against us. 

Any kind of non-normative sexuality is threatening to the patriarchy, and not just female sexuality. Gay men can be considered acceptable in mainstream society, only as long as they don’t talk about what happens behind closed doors. Trans people have similar problems. The price of mainstream acceptance is far too often a denial of one’s sexual self. 

So, no, I don’t think its as simple as saying all sexual people have “sexual privilege”, and leaving it at that. There are battles surrounding sexuality that are still being fought on a very fundamental level. Sweeping all this complexity into one umbrella is profoundly unhelpful. 

Edit: I’ve addressed some common objections here

There’s an argument for sex positivity in there, for my anon.

This honestly reads to me like you’re conflating sexual privilege and cis-male privileges.  In my head, I compared it to intelligence - I am traditionally intelligent (and therefore have the privileges associated with that - a school system that generally works for my brain, tests designed with me in mind, etc.), but I am not a cis-man.  Since people don’t think that I am as intelligent as I am due to my gender, I miss out on some of the bits of intelligence privilege.  Therefore, there is no intelligence privilege!

Really, I still have lots of privileges because of my intelligence, I just lack cis-male privilege.  Similarly, I think we both experience sexual privilege, but lack cis-male privilege.  I grew up hearing all of the same messages you mention here, and feeling disgusting for having a sex-drive, but I still recognize that I am not seen as deceitful for being in a relationship on the basis of the amount of sex I want to have because I am sexual.

(Source: anedumacationisnomore, via anedumacationisnomore)

Oct 14, 2011

"When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?"


(via the-madame-hatter)

(via catladysoul)

I’m taking a class called The Archaeology of Sex and Gender (I’m an anthropology and art history major), and we were studying female figurines from the Neolithic era. Some girl in my class brought up the point that when male figurines with giant phalli were discovered, they were interpreted by academics as symbols of power. When female figures with giant vulvas were discovered, they were interpreted by academics as symbols of fertility. “Why can’t the giant vulva be a symbol of power too?” she asked.

It blew my mind and reaffirmed my decision to study anthropology and art history.

(via strugglingtobeheard)

Always seek knowledge

(via newwavefeminism, learninglog)

Always reblog. This is so awesome.

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(via your-nibs)

(via collectingapples) (via storybook)

Such a good quote.

(via edman)

This quote gives me chills every time I read it. Also, awesome story, strugglingtobeheard!

(via miss-education)

This reminds me of a conversation a friend and I had recently about our work. She’s in the very early stages of writing her dissertation on scribes in early medieval England, specifically female scribes. One of the things we vented about was the universal assumption that men copied the vast majority of manuscripts in the period, when there’s actually very, very little evidence to suggest that level of exclusivity. There are very few manuscripts we know for a fact were copied by men, and most are anonymous. And if you look at the nature of religious institutions in England and the status of women between 700-1000ish, 1.) quite a few monasteries were founded by aristocratic women; 2.) many were dual houses, which housed both male and female religious, and some of those houses were politically influential—and also headed by women—and thus were likely to have access to good libraries; 3.) there is evidence that women in important institutions were reading and writing correspondence in Latin; and 4.) there is also evidence that noble women were patrons of book production and literate themselves (in the vernacular if not in Latin), because wills from the period survive in which women bequeath their libraries to various people. None of this is concrete, but I don’t think it’s a leap to argue that it’s almost just as likely any given anonymous copyist could as easily be a woman as a man. But in manuscript studies, the assumption is always that, unless the text might have some “obvious” interest to women, the copyist is a man. Which is pretty damn ridiculous, and just another reminder that the effacement of women’s contributions to civilization and the transmission (and generation!) of knowledge is an ongoing process of willful forgetting, as well as ignorance.

(via dr-wtfox)

(via meatandsarcasm)

I can relate to the statues of women with giant reproductive parts being labeled as “degrading” or “fertility” when I thought it represented power.

Basically not everything revolves around 1950’s middle class/Victorian period gender roles people.

(via sandwichocracy)

(via zumie-monster)

The same thing goes in my field (Theology and Biblical Studies) except maybe even more so, because the Bible openly acknowledges women who held a great deal of social and economic power in both the Old and New Testaments- and yet they are routinely glossed over by scholarship and indeed erased in official translations*. We know so comparatively little about Ancient Israel that there’s no overwhelmingly compelling reason to suggest women could not have played a role in the composition of the Tanakh, and the New Testament itself makes explicit the importance of women within the early Christian movement, especially older, educated and wealthy women- so what’s to stop a woman being behind some of the New Testament writings (especially given that so many are disputed in authorship)?

*Easy way to detect if the Bible translation you own has a sexist bias: look up Romans 16:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8. If the former calls Phoebe a “servant” of the church but the latter refers to regulations for “deacons”, congratulations! The translators of your Bible deliberately chose to erase evidence of the ordination of women in the early church! Both verses in fact feature exactly the same word, diakonos, which certainly can mean servant, but is also the word for deacon, an order of Christian ministry that exists to this day.

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(via inkhead)

Everything people have said about this quote is purest. gold. Reblogging again for the bit on Biblical scholarship.

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(via feministslut)

(via horsechild)

Reblogging because this needs to be known.

(via bemusedlybespectacled

(via villiljos)

Oct 10, 2011

"And let’s not forget that the man-cave also has to do with the growth in size of the average American house, at the same time that family size shrunk. So, children have their bedrooms (and less and less do we have siblings sharing bedrooms, it is more and more individualized); fathers can get their man-cave. The only person not having an individual space is actually the wife / mother. Her space is either shared (bedroom) or a collective space (living room / kitchen) but the whole house is her space, right? So it’s all good. Because still to this day, a woman is a first and foremost a social being whose existence is not individualized and whose fulfillment is supposed to come through dedication to others whereas other members of the household are entitled to their privacy and individuality."