March 3rd, 2009

red panda eating bamboo

In which firecat discusses her isms

I've studied feminism for decades and have long believed that feminists—starting long before I was born and continuing today—have discovered some really important things about what my world is like and have done things to make my world better for me as a woman and better for a lot of other people too (although not all people).

Steeping myself in feminist viewpoints for a long time has made me pretty sensitive to gender-biased behavior among people I know, and gender bias in the media. (And has spoiled my enjoyment of a few authors I used to really like.)

Nevertheless, I have lived my whole life in a culture that privileges men over women and people of other genders in a number of ways, and I have internalized the assumption that the public sphere belongs to men. So despite decades of study, if someone mentions a person involved in making public policy, and I don't know who they are, and the name I hear doesn't strike me as "obviously feminine," I tend to assume they are male.

So I just saw a news headline, "Clinton stresses two-state solution," and my first thought is that Bill Clinton said it in a talk somewhere, and it takes me reading the first few words of the article, "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton stressed a two-state Israel-Palestine solution..." to realize who the story is talking about. *DOH*.

Despite decades of being involved with feminist thought, sexism is still so deeply rooted in me that I automatically envisioned Bill Clinton when I saw the name Clinton, even though Hillary Clinton is in a more prominent position in government now.

I have made some effort to learn about race issues but I haven't worked on that nearly as much as feminism. So I'm sure I have many more automatic assumptions about race than I do about gender.

When people who I think came from more or less the same upbringing as mine say they aren't racist or sexist at all, I really wonder where they got the module installed that erases all of the conditioning they received.
  • Current Mood
    embarrassed embarrassed

The assumptions, they burns us

This article was linked in a flocked post on my flist and I decided to bitch about it here rather than spewing venom all over my friend's LJ.

"Why The Smartest People Have The Toughest Time Dating"

First off, I know plenty of smart people who have no trouble dating. The fact that there is a stereotype of a certain kind of smart person having trouble dating does not mean that all smart people therefore have trouble dating.

precipitated by the endemic dating woes on the Harvard campus

If college students have trouble dating, it probably has a lot more to do with their being young, without much social experience, and trying to negotiate a culture different from what they're used to, than it has to do with their being smart.

Unless you actually convey femininity as a woman or masculinity as a man, you're not going to attract a suitable companion of the opposite sex.

I am laughing my butch kitty ass off here. I mean, I suppose it might be true at a gross statistical level, but I know so many people who are so far from conventionally feminine or conventionally masculine who have no trouble finding partners.

And maybe when you're really sloshed at a party and your whole frontal lobe is on vacation in the outer rings of Saturn, you've noticed that your lizard brain knows exactly how to grab that cute girl by the waist for a twirl on the dance floor. [...] Actually, just stop thinking altogether.

Telling people to find dates by getting drunk and not thinking is a great way to help them get STDs and unwanted pregnancies, too.

Generally speaking, smart people seek out other smart people to hang out with, simply because they get bored otherwise. [...] Well, congratulations -- you've just eliminated 95% of the world's population as a potential mate, Mr or Ms Smartypants.

Hey, I'm a woman over 40 and I've neither been (legally) married nor been killed by a terrorist! I must be some kind of miracle.

I care a lot that my partners are in the same general intelligence range as me, and it's very important to me that my partners appreciate me in part for my intelligence. But I've known plenty of smart people who don't care about either of those things.

Starting when I was in my teens, I was convinced that I was so odd and had such specialized requirements in a partner that I would never find a partner. Even though I have three long-term partners right now, and have been with other people who were good partners for me, on some level I still believe this. Silly, huh?