Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Misogyny at the Oscars

I was fast asleep in my wee little bed when the red carpet unrolled this Sunday, but since then I've heard more than the usual mumblings and grumblings concerning the host. Seth MacFarlane and his particular performance that evening are scrutinized in this brief article.

Nota bene: the e-responses to this piece are, unsurprisingly, polemical and frustrating. I advise skipping that portion, as one's time can more fruitfully and delightfully be employed by partaking in things of this nature.


p.s. On a more personal note, I look forward to contributing regularly and more substantively to BtheB in coming weeks, as life has slowed from a quasi-relativistic Doppler-shift-inducing pace to mere busyness.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Conferences and photo ops

In this month's glossy magazine for my field, I found a photo montage with snapshots from the recent Annual Conference.

Now, if one were to describe the roles women play in The Field by looking at the photos, here's what one might say.  Women, judging by these photos:

  • Sell books
  • Listen to men and diligently take notes
  • Have men point to a large map and explain things to them 
  • Drink wine
  • Serve cake
  • Buy books
  • Sit in cafés

In these pictures, the men:

  • Walk and look important
  • Talk into a microphone
  • Lecture
  • Explain things
  • Think Deep Thoughts
  • Drink beer
  • Use smartphones
  • Buy books
  • Walk other places looking important
  • Lecture again
  • Interview for jobs

There are twenty-five photos over three pages.  Not a single photo shows a woman giving a paper.  "Oh, I know," quipped a colleague, "they must be at a conference where only men are allowed to speak!"  I'm terribly tempted to write a scathing letter to the editor... but I want a job.  I don't dare.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A sobering Valentine's Day

Distressed by the news from South Africa this morning, I spent a few minutes on google; how frequent is murder by a partner or ex-partner, I wondered.  Here, for your perusal, are some chilling statistics from the UN:

Women aged 15-44 are more... at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.

Half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo approximately 1,100 rapes are being reported each month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every day. It is believed that over 200,000 women have suffered from sexual violence in that country since armed conflict began.

Between 100 and 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.

So I spent today not celebrating love, but mourning for those whose lives have been broken by that violence.  And, as sad as it made me, it somehow felt more productive than resentfully flicking candy hearts across my desk and into the wastepaper basket.  Kyrie eleison. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A poem for today

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

From T. S. Eliot's "Ash Wednesday" 

Read it all. Or, alternatively, listen to the man himself read it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Plus ça change...

"Do you know any man who sincerely admires a woman for her brains?"

"Well," said Harriet, "certainly not many."

"You may think you know one," said Miss Hillyard with a bitter emphasis.  "Most of us think at some time or other that we know one.  But the man usually has some other little axe to grind."

"Very likely," said Harriet.  "You don't seem to have a very high opinion of men -- of the male character, I mean, as such."

"No," said Miss Hillyard, "not very high.  But they have an admirable talent for imposing their point of view on society in general.  All women are sensitive to male criticism.  Men are not sensitive to female criticism.  They despise the critics."

"Do you, personally, despise male criticism?"

"Heartily," said Miss Hilliard.  "But it does damage.  Look at this University.  All the men have been amazingly kind and sympathetic about the Wome's Colleges.  Certainly.  But you won't find them appointing women to big University posts.  That would never do.  The women might perform their work in a way beyond criticism.  But they are quite pleased to see us playing with our little toys."

Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night (1935)

Sorry for the brief descent into bitterness.  I'm trying -- and obviously, not being wildly successful in this -- to spend less time in bitterness mode.  But that's where we are tonight, folks.  And, as usual, Dorothy L. Sayers says it very well indeed. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Busy at the Béguinage

Oh friends, we're sorry for the radio silence of the past few weeks.  The béguinage has been swamped with, in no particular order, international travel, dissertation chapter deadlines, job interviews, grant applications, and the winter doldrums.

More anon.  Promise.  x.