How to reinforce stereotypes in the classroom…

Context: a discussion of personal injury cases in a tort law class…

Student:  Wasn’t P v. Q the one where the victim’s sexual performance was affected?
Lecturer:  No, P v. Q was an infection.  And anyway, the victim was a woman.

…laughter all round, except not from me.

At the time, I took the lecturer to be implying one of two things:  (a) only men have (or do?) ‘sexual performance’ so if the victim was a woman there could have been no effect on sexual performance, or (b)  women also have/do ‘sexual performance’ but even if it was affected it wouldn’t count as an injury.

Help me out, here: is there a way to understand this such that it doesn’t reinforce some pretty scary stereotypes about women and sex?

Facebook Horrors

You know how it goes… You sign up for Facebook, and pretty soon people you knew back in school are asking to “friend” you. You think “I couldn’t stand this person back then, but I should give them a chance. I wouldn’t want to be judged on who I was back in high school. I’ll bet I’d really like them now– I’m sure we have a lot in common.” Next thing you know you’ve got “friends” who are fans of Fox News, Joe the Plumber and Benjamin Netanyahu, and who spend inauguration day “with a stomach ache because the Democrats are going to ruin the country”. Oh, and they love the Left Behind series (with no hint of irony), and have written books about angels. Aaarghhhhh. What do you do? Un-friend them? Write bitchy (possibly gloating) comments? My response has generally been to cringe, then quietly congratulate myself on the good taste that led me to dislike these people even back when I was young and had bad taste in other matters. Share your thoughts, and your facebook horror stories!

Yay Iceland!

OK, they haven’t been doing so well lately financially, But they’re well out ahead of the pack on this one. They look likely to get the world’s first openly gay Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir. Hurrah!

(Of course, the confluence of economic crisis and social progress reminds me of the Onion’s great “Nation Finally Shitty Enough to Make Social Progress”. Bad Jender. Stop thinking of that.)

But back to the celebrating: Hurrah– another barrier falls! But, wonderfully, the Icelanders themselves apparently don’t consider her sexual orientation at all newsworthy.

“No one has ever talked about Johanna (Icelanders always use first names) as a gay person,” an Icelandic friend and a prominent journalist told me this morning. “She’s not hiding it either, the name of her spouse is on her Parliament and Ministry web pages, it’s just that nobody cares about it, any more than people cared in 1980, when Vigdis Finnbogadottir ran for president, that she was a woman and a single mother to boot.

“Johanna is very smart and not afraid to tackle difficult issues, and I think she can unite us,” my friend added. “Reasonable, sane people are not going to care about people’s gender or color. They just want the best person for the job.”