Monday, November 26, 2012

Say it, sister.

Bit of intellectualism here today. Okay, a lot. This is a long entry, but it’s important.

Sooo, an article showed up on Fox News' website today. It was written by a woman named named Suzanne Venker.

And I have a few problems with the article.

But a word of introduction. The thing is, both my husband and I are feminists. (Yes, my HUSBAND and I.) More people are than realize it, I think, but that's because feminism, in this day and age, has many branches. There's a whole spectrum, from men-hating, angry feminists to those who would simply like the genders to be seen more equally. People hear the word "feminism" and just think of one end of the spectrum. But I love men. I think men and women are both valuable. I was raised by strong men and strong women, and continue to be surrounded by them.

To help you see where I'm coming from, Jacob and I's particular tenet of feminism includes these basic ideas:
1. We don't believe in abusing men in order to reclaim the feminine spirit, because we're against the entire idea of abusing anyone, especially on the basis of gender.
2. Women and men may be fundamentally different in a few ways, but they are still equally valuable to society.
3. The "fundamental differences" between men and women are fewer than we'd like to think, and the majority of them are dictated by society and are pretty arbitrary. (Hairy legs doesn't make me "less feminine.")
4. Women are still being objectified in society, to the ultimate harm of society, and it needs to stop.
5. This is getting super-intellectual, but a great deal of sexism is inherent in the bipolar pairings of "male" and "not-male." Society's views are problematic because they often fail to see women as women. They instead just see them as "the thing that's not men."
6. We don't have any problems with what men and women ARE. We have problems with what society says women and men SHOULD BE. 

The rest of my thoughts on the subject will be apparent as I respond to this article. I've included it here in its entirety, with my responses interspersed in blue type. (NOTE: I'm not the only one who has problems with this article. Another strong response can be found here.)


The battle of the sexes is alive and well. According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.

Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.

The so-called death of good men (read: marriageable men) has been a hot subject in the media as of late. Much of the coverage has been in response to the fact that for the first time in history, women have become the majority of the U.S. workforce. And yet the national average shows that women still earn only 77% of what men earn doing the same jobs. Women earn less than men across all racial and ethnic groups. Women are still more likely to work stereotypically "feminine jobs" like nursing, teaching, secretary work and housekeeping. They’re also getting most of the college degrees. The problem? This new phenomenon has changed the dance between men and women. So...should women NOT be educated?

As the author of three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture, I’ve spent thirteen years examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles. During this time, I’ve spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women. And in doing so, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who’ve told me, in no uncertain terms, that they’re never getting married. When I ask them why, the answer is always the same.

Women aren’t women anymore. Okay, hang on. Has the rate of hermaphrodite babies increased? 'Cause I might not shave my legs or wear makeup, but if I go to a doctor, she/he will still take a look at me and check the box labeled "female." This is getting into that whole society-defining-gender thing. These men who don't want to get married because "women aren't women anymore" might need to reexamine their definitions of womanhood.

Also, if women aren't women anymore, when were they women? What age of feminine definitions would you like to see society return to?

To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically.

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Okay, before I say this, I should note that I know a lot of really great men. In fact, most of them aren't rapists (as far as I know), if not all of them. BUT, let's not forget that somewhere between 1 out of 4 or 5 COLLEGE-AGED women report surviving rape or attempted rape. Since their fourteenth birthday. My freshmen year in college, I sat with a group of 11 or 12 girls talking about this, and I asked if any of them had ever been sexually assaulted. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM RAISED THEIR HANDS. And none of them were assaulted by other women. I recognize the danger of saying "men are the enemy." I don't think it's just men that are the problem...I think it's society in general--what society tells men they should be. But it's still a huge problem. Most men don't realize that the goal of not being assaulted is a part of the average urban woman's DAILY routine. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal Oh, you mean that pedestal that MEN created for THEMSELVES throughout history? (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) Okay, if we're gonna start talking about pedestals, we better really talk about who built them, who put men and women on them, and what they're made of. I'm fine with pedestals when every pedestal is the same height and when they're all made of things like "human beings all have inherent value" and were built by everyone. I know it's tempting to point fingers and accuse feminists of pushing men of their pedestals and destroying women's pedestals and stuff. But if the pedestals that this author is talking about had anything to do with economic laws, employment laws, divorce laws, or the objectification of women, those pedestals were outdated and disenfranchising. and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs. So...what's not rightfully mine, as a woman? The right to own a home? The right to sue if a man at work only offers me a promotion if I show him my boobs? The right to hold a job? The right to vote? The right to be granted a divorce if my husband hits me? Pretty sure those are all things that ARE rightfully mine.

Now the men have nowhere to go. But up.

It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. I'm gonna get a little pretentious-sounding for a moment, but forgive me. Helene Cixous and Jacque Derrida talked a lot about binary pairings in their works. Throughout the world's history, and in many places throughout the world today, the pairing was/is "men good/women bad." Feminism movements within the last 50 - 70 years have sought to challenge this idea. And yes, some of them have been a little radical. I think either pairing is harmful. But written into this statement is an inherent flaw. The author is claiming that the dynamic of women good/men bad has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. But...would restoring things to the men good/women bad dynamic RESTORE the relationship between the sexes? Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry. Heck, men have been to blame since feminists first took to the streets in the 1970s. I don't have a specific comeback, but I am just going to point out that this is a hasty generalization.

But what if the death of good men, and ongoing battle of the sexes, is – hold on to your seats – women’s fault? Lemme tell a little story. I'm a student teacher at a high school. At the beginning of the year, I was sitting in on a class and didn't have a chair. One of the young men in the class came and brought me one and someone said, "Thank you, what a gentleman! There aren't enough of those around." A young man quipped, "Maybe the reason so few boys aspire to be gentlemen is because so few girls aspire to be ladylike." Everyone laughed, but then I replied, "But a TRUE gentleman is a gentleman whether a girl is ladylike or not." This story encapsulates so much that I have to say about this claim: "The death of good men is women's fault." I should not be responsible for a man's behavior. I should not have to EARN respect. Good men should be good men because it's the RIGHT THING TO DO, because they want to be good, because it will make the world a better place. I refuse to accept that MY behavior as a woman, good or bad, justifies a man's behavior. And I feel this goes both ways. If a boy doesn't hold a door open for me, I should still treat him politely. (Note: However, if a man attempts to rape me, I think I have every right to defend myself. Just as if a woman attempts to rape a man, he has a right to defend himself.)

You’ll never hear that in the media. All the articles and books (and television programs, for that matter) put women front and center, while men and children sit in the back seat. Do they? Do they really? Let me introduce you to something called the "Bechdel Test." The Bechdel Test was popularized in 1985 by a cartoonist named Alison Bechdel. Here's the test: A film/article/book/tv episode must have: Two women characters with names. Those women must talk to each other. And they must talk to each other about SOMETHING OTHER THAN A MAN. You'd be surprised how many films FAIL this test. At least the ones you've heard of. Some feminists argue that the conversation that's not about a man has to last a full minute or longer, but by those standards, almost NO movies pass. Some movies from 2012 that HAVE passed include: All I Want is Everything, Foreign Letters, Jack and Diane...notably, blockbusters like "The Avengers," while fun movies, totally fail. That doesn't really sound like "putting women front and center" to me. Unless you mean "front and center" in such a way that objectifies women. Then I'll agree that they're "front and center" in the media. But after decades of browbeating the American male, men are tired. This is just poor grammar. Maybe I'm getting nitpicky, but the subject in this sentence is incredibly unclear. Tired of being told there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. So are a lot of women. Tired of being told that they are fundamentally ill-equipped for leadership. That their value is based on their appearance. That they are the weaker vessel, better suited to decoration than use. Tired of being told that if women aren’t happy, it’s men’s fault.

Contrary to what feminists like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, say, the so-called rise of women has not threatened men. It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

WHAT?!!!?! This whole paragraph is problematic. Okay, first of all—how are men justified, how is ANYONE justified in being pissed off at “the rise of women”? Shouldn't that be CELEBRATED?! Second of all...geez, I don't even know where to go from here. Okay, second of all, the "rise of women" means the world has a more diverse group of people making the decisions, and with all those perspectives, better decisions can be made. No one should feel undermined. Furthermore, there's this idea. What if a woman doesn't get married? Because of whatever reason--lack of opportunity, whatever. As a Mormon woman college student, I felt this conundrum. Do I go to college, knowing my degree will be wasted as I get married to someone who will bring home the bacon? But if I don't get married, I want to be able to provide for myself. But if I get a degree, will men see me as undermining their ability to be the supporter of a family? Luckily, I managed to find and marry a man whose willing to take things as they come--supporting a family will be a responsibility that we share in whatever way works best for us. And that doesn't make him any less of a man.

And regarding that DNA claim, SHOW ME THE EXACT GENE. Show me where that gene is. Show me the gene that is in charge of the desire to provide for and protect their families. THEN, show me the scientific, genetically-based proof that women DON'T have this gene, and then show me the scientific, genetically-based proof that men are inherently BETTER at this than women, and THEN show me why that means women SHOULDN'T be educated or in the workforce.

It’s all so unfortunate – for women, not men. Feminism serves men very well: they can have sex at hello and even live with their girlfriends with no responsibilities whatsoever. Wait. I think that's the sexual revolution. Related to feminism, but not the same thing.

It’s the women who lose. Not only are they saddled with the consequences of sex, by dismissing male nature they’re forever seeking a balanced life. The fact is, women need men’s linear career goals – they need men to pick up the slack at the office – in order to live the balanced life they seek. I can accept that women and men will have better, more balanced lives with one another. That’s part of the reason I’m a feminist. But I will not accept that women need men to pick up the slack at the office in order to be happy. I do not accept that “linear career goals” are inherently in men’s natures. I do not accept that asking to join the workforce (especially if a woman is unmarried) dismisses anything about the nature of manhood.

So if men today are slackers, and if they’re retreating from marriage en masse, women should look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they’ve played to bring about this transformation.

Fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs.

Again, who’s defining this nature? How accurately do these feminine and masculine natures reflect the reality of men and women? This last paragraph rings so false to me. Inherent in it is this implication that if I’m more feminine, I’ll find a husband. As in, if I wear make up more often, if I don’t get an education, if I express no interest in the workforce. But this definition of “feminine” is NOT ME. And ain’t I a woman? If I did these things to snare a husband, I would be doing so under false pretenses. I don’t want to lower my standards in my definitions of a marriageable man in order to find someone to marry. Good men are out there. The marriageable men are those with whom you can be yourself. Not those who will want you more if you wear heels. They can still LIKE it when you wear heels, but it shouldn't be a condition of attraction. 

If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork. And they might be crap husbands since they needed women to fulfill an arbitrary, societally-based definition of gender to feel good about themselves.

*  *  *  *  *

I know I said a lot. And some of it was snarky. But one more word. I feel that this article is disrespectful to and/or ignorant of women's issues throughout the rest of the world. This article seems to be focusing it's attack on a particular branch of "man-hating feminists," but feminism is bigger than that. Before you start pointing fingers at the general world of "feminism," let it continue its work in countries where women can be jailed for reporting rape, where women suffer genital mutilation (or "female circumcision"), where women have no voice and no face. Millions of women throughout the world are still victims of societies that do not place value on them. And I, for one, am proud to align myself with the feminists who are seeking to right these wrongs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The toker

This is why I'm still in love with my husband. Because he says things like this that totally crack me up: 

Jacob was all wrapped up from head to toe in a quilt on our bed, with just his face showing. I came and hugged him, smiled and said, "Aw, you're a cute little burrito!"

He smiled back and replied, "Actually, I'm a roll of weed."

I said, "Like...a joint? You're a joint?"

He smiled and nodded. And then I laughed for a long time. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Take you me for a sponge, my lord?"

Jacob and I had a vision this morning. We want to produce "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." And we want to cast the cast of House MD.

I'll let you think about that awesomeness for a minute.

Okay, now that you've let that percolate for a little bit, here are the specifics.

Hugh Laurie

Robert Sean Leonard

Jesse Spencer

Jennifer Morrison

 Lisa Edelstein

 Michael Weston
(doesn't he look dodgy?)

Peter Jacobson

Omar Epps

Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn, Anne Dudek

We don't know if we have enough tragedians, and we don't know which of them will play Alfred. But we kind of don't care. 

Now we're just really sad that this probably won't actually happen. Who knows, though? Anyone have the contact info for the casting folks for House?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's evolution, baby

So I've got this great post forthcoming about my sister's ability to make CRAZY faces in photos, but it's taking a while to put together. So in the meantime, enjoy this series of alarming pictures that highlight the earth's flora, fauna, and phenomena. You may alternate between horror and amazement over the next few seconds.

First of all, doesn't this look like a water dragon?

Well, it's not a water dragon. It's an octopus consuming a seagull.

 And speaking of ocean life, this is what shark scales look like under a microscope:

I think they look like space ships. Made by aliens. Who also make underwater crop circles! J/K, these are made by a Japanese puffer fish:

And speaking of fish, check out the Sarcastic Fringehead!

RAWR! Apparently, these guys are very territorial. (And they also have one of the coolest names ever.)

AND speaking of "territorial," cat got your tongue, or is it Cymothoa exigua? These parasites destroy the tongues of fish and replace them with...well, themselves. 

Doesn't he look smug? Also note the terrifyingly human-like teeth the fish possesses. But he's not the only one. Meet the pacu fish!

But I guess teeth are still kinda scary in humans too. Like when you examine a child's skull before they lose their baby teeth:

But the human body is not all scary! See, look at this high definition super close up of a human eye:

Cool, huh? Oh, and hey, here's what your nervous system looks like:

So after doing this post, I'm realizing that 6 out of the 9 pictures are from the ocean. Apparently, the ocean is freaking awesome. And terrifying. And awesome.

And I tell you what, if there were more fish with names like "sarcastic fringehead," I might MOVE to the ocean.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The thing in the drain

You never realize how much you appreciate long, hot showers in the winter until you can't have them for a few days.

So, our tub has been draining kinda slowly lately. This happens every few months, so we lift up the trap, clean it out a bit and move on. Yesterday, I had the day off from school, so I thought I'd tackle the drain. I cleaned it out, but the water still wasn't draining very well. On to the plunger method! Still not much drainage. Next weapon: baking soda and vinegar! Still not much drainage. Run to Walmart, grab a home pipe-snake and run that! Still slow. Drain-O Gel! STILL slow. If anything, it's gotten SLOWER. We give up and call the landlady, who gets us in contact with a plumber. They run their industrial pipe-snake and...STILL slow. Plumber's acidic drain-cleaner stuff? Nope, still not working.

So as of last night, we had about an inch of standing gunky water that took five hours to drain, and cancerous fumes from the acidic drain-cleaner stuff flowing through the house on a night when it's 15 degrees outside. I mention the temperature because it means we couldn't open the windows for very long. I mean, we DID open the windows, but we left the house for like, two hours. But our shower/tub is out of commission, until at least Monday. At which point, they'll be knocking out a wall to fix the plumbing.

And the thing is that in the summer, I hate showering. It's too hot, and you just have to do it again in a day or two, and it takes time away from being outside. But in the winter, a hot shower is emotionally therapeutic. It says to me, "You will be warm all the time again soon. If not forever, then for these few minutes, you can be warm." I know it's technically still fall, but around here, fall lasts about a month, and it's pretty much winter here now.

Anyway. More later. I'm going to grab my shampoo and run over to my inlaws' house.

image via

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Guys, I never realize how many documentaries I really watch until I do these blogs.

Here are a few educational gems to indulge in, if you've got an hour or so to spare, or want something running in the background while you fold laundry. Happy viewing!

Atlantis: The Evidence
I've watched a lot of documentaries about Atlantis, but this one was the most comprehensive. It took all the historical theories about Atlantis and covered each of them. It's based on the idea that Plato wrote about Atlantis as a cautionary tale against wealth, creating this world from snippets of surrounding cultures. Fun documentary, and a great introduction into the legend.

The Beauty of Maps
There are several parts to this documentary, but I've only watched the first bit about Medieval maps. (I'm not sure if the other bits are available of these days, I'll find 'em and watch 'em.) This first documentary focuses on the Hereford Mappa Mundi, which is one of the oldest complete maps in the world. I hadn't thought about this before, but this documentary caused me to realize that maps don't just give us a location...they give us a world-view. That line "here be dragons" was actually used on a real map. Maps also had a role in "othering" peoples...they could be portrayed as lower class in a map.

Cracking the Maya Code
Okay, first of all, this documentary features this screenshot:

 so, that's fun. Also, linguistics is fascinating. So are the Mayans.

Do We Really Need the Moon? 
Okay, EVERYTHING about our entire existence is tied to the moon. Not just the tides. Heck, if it wasn't for the moon, life on earth might not even exist. You might find yourself looking up every time you go outside at night for a while after watching this. Or wishing you had a telescope. Or both.

Greeks: Crucible of Civilization 
Favorite parts about this? Story of the marathon, and learning more about Socrates. Greece really was the crucible of civilization. Can you imagine how incredible it is that democracy was born? No one had EVER done that in the world the Greeks knew about at the time! Seriously...without a handful of black and white stones on some steps in Athens, the U.S. as we know it probably wouldn't exist. Man, the Greeks were awesome. (Okay, so they didn't treat their women very well, know.) 

Revelation of the Pyramids
You guys. Aliens totally built the pyramids. This documentary PROVES it.
Okay, so it's a little heavy-handed on the conspiracy angle. Interviews are interspersed with these intense image/music sequences. But the math behind this whole pyramid thing is pretty crazy awesome. And I like the parallels with other cultures that it draws.

The Science of Dogs
Okay, besides being fascinating, this documentary also features, for about two minutes, the expertise of a guy named Dr. Morten Kringelbach, which should be reason enough to watch. If that isn't enough for you, you can be drawn in by the interesting history of domestication and how/why dogs seem to communicate so well with human beings.

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive
This is a slightly heavier documentary than those I usually recommend, but it is EXCELLENT. Stephen Fry, that gem of a British entertainer, has suffered from manic depression for most of his life, but has chosen not to be medicated. In this 2-hour documentary, he shares his story and interviews handfuls of others about their experiences with this often misunderstood condition. There are a lot of brave people who deal with the challenges of manic depression, and they are each even more courageous for sharing their stories. I feel that I learned a great deal both about the medicine and the humanity of manic depression.

We the Tiny House People
Have you heard of the Tiny House movement? People moving away from space-wasting/spacious living and finding joy in 400 square feet? There's also a blog about the phenomenon, and I am totally enchanted by it. Jacob and I's current apartment is only about 700 square feet...probably a little less. But I was totally inspired by the simplicity with which the "Tiny House People" live. One aspect of tiny house living that I especially love is its eco-friendly nature. Less space = less stuff, fewer emissions, less electricity, and more alternative energy. Even if you're not inspired to give up all your worldly goods and move into a shed, you may be inspired to go through your home, get rid of a few things and make some changes to smaller living. (Oh, and there's a charming hippie lady who lives on a delightfully colorful houseboat, and there is a part of me that wants her life. And her houseboat.)