Sexism Today

Aug 06 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

I know I have said many times that (but can't find it) when I was in grad school I assumed that by the time I got to be old (hahaha) that there would no longer be issues of sexism and racism in our society and especially in academics. It's nice to know that I was as wrong about that as I was about Factor Analysis.

There is unpleasantness going on at Butterflies & Wheels, a blog at Freethought Blogs that I have followed for a while. The problems are about gender identity, trans women, radical feminists. While the problems I looked at when I was in grad school (simple ugly homophobia and What is the Role of Men in a Female Society) are still around, there are new problems and new issues and new ways to break your heart. For those interested in what is going on, here is one place to start, here is another and the comments go downhill from there. Here is PZ Myer's post on the issues in the context of the group blog.

I find these fights painful, in part because I remember versions of them from when I was most active in the women's movement, years ago. Is sleeping with a man, sleeping with the enemy? Is changing your name when you marry an act of defiance or of submission? To me, these seem quaint now, but at the time friendships dissolved in hatred over how you answered those questions.

The current discussion may be more fundamental: what is a woman? And who gets to chose?

I find the current arguments painful, because this is also part of a generation gap among women, which I have written about here, although that post is far more minor than who gets to be a woman.

I am not trans, and I do not know the pain that people chose or need or are motivated to have/change/adopt/re-find/ gender identities that are different from the standards in our society. But I wish to learn. I have read a lot lately about being an ally. (watch this, too).

I have followed and read Deirdre McCloskey for a very long time. I recommend her book, Crossing, and have written about her many times. She has written something about Bruce Jenner and trans issues that I thought was worth reading. Maybe because she is in her 70s (and that will make her irrelevant to many, so sorry). Maybe because she is a scholar and thoughtful. But here you go, emphasis mine:

... Stop thinking of gender change as being about sex, sex, sex. ... Whom you love is not same thing as who you are. You can love your dog without wanting to become a dog. You can want to become an adult, as our kids do, without having much of an idea of what it's actually like to be an adult.

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