“The Colonel’s’s Lady and Judy O’Grady…

The title of this post comes from a Kipling poem that ends with

The Colonel’s Lady an’ Judy O’Grady
     Are sisters under their skins!

The poem reflects the easy racism and sexism of a powerful imperial country, as Great Britain once was.  It would, however, be a mistake to think that we’ve moved beyond the deep expectation that European women form the model for women around the world.  According to very recent research reported in the NYTimes, women are not all the same under the skin; the idea that they are may be a source of some harm in, e.g., medically assistedd childdbirth.

Look up the term “pelvic canal” in the typical anatomy or obstetric textbook, and you likely will find a description such as this: “Well-built healthy women, who had a good diet during their childhood growth period, usually have a broad pelvis.”

Such a pelvis, the text continues, enables “the least difficulty during childbirth.”

But such characterizations have long been based on anatomical studies of people of European descent. In reality, the structure of the pelvic canal, the bony structure through which most of us enter the world, varies tremendously between populations, according to a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The findings have implications for how obstetricians treat patients of color, the authors say. In the United States, racial disparities in maternal health care are prevalent. Compounding factors like interpersonal and institutional racism, poverty, poor health care access and environmental burdens disproportionately harm black mothers. These contribute to the risk of pregnancy-related deaths being three to four times higher for black women than for white women.

George Yancy: owning responsibility

From the NY Times

… That day I learned something about me. I didn’t respect her {my new wife’s} autonomy, her legal standing and personhood. As pathetic as this may sound, I saw her as my property, to be defined by my name and according to my legal standing. While this was not sexual assault, my insistence was a violation of her independence. I had inherited a subtle, yet still violent, form of toxic masculinity. It still raises its ugly head — I should be thanked when I clean the house, cook, sacrifice my time. These are deep and troubling expectations that are shaped by male privilege, male power and toxic masculinity.

If you are a woman reading this, I have failed you. Through my silence and an uninterrogated collective misogyny, I have failed you. I have helped and continue to help perpetuate sexism. I know about how we hold onto forms of power that dehumanize you only to elevate our sense of masculinity. I recognize my silence as an act of violence. For this, I sincerely apologize.

 

The international Day of the Girl

from the NYTimes:  A photo-journalism look at some young women around the world:

“This is 18” aims to capture what life is like for girls turning 18 in 2018 across oceans and cultures — in Mexico and Mississippi, Ramallah and Russia, Bangladesh and the Bronx.

But while girls have long been the subject of the photographer’s lens, they have far less often been behind it. So we asked young women photographers to document girls in their communities — taking the photos and conducting the interviews themselves. Each photographer was paired with a professional mentor to guide them through the process.

The result is a celebration of girlhood around the world — across 12 time zones and 15 languages, featuring 21 subjects and 22 photographers.

 

 

Anita Hill on the new allegations: thank you!

from CNN:

Anita Hill called on the federal government to implement a “fair and neutral” way to investigate sexual misconduct complaints after allegations surfaced against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week.

Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of workplace sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing back in 1991, said she has seen “firsthand what happens when such a process is weaponized against an accuser and no one should have to endure that again.”
Then a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had been sexually harassed by Thomas when she worked with him at the Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas denied the allegations and he was confirmed to the bench.
is it possible that the guys/politicians will even have the sense that they’re just doing the same thing again?

The most and least sexist states

from an earlier report in the Washington Post;

The examples are useful.

Sexism in a woman’s state of birth and in her current state of residence both lower her wages and likelihood of labor force participation, and lead her to marry and bear her first child sooner,” they find. Even more striking, the prevalence of sexism in a woman’s birth state seems to affect her later earnings and outcomes even if she moves to a place with less sexism.

The article maintains that political views and state-based sexism can diverge, which is certainly true in my recent experience.  That is, liberal guys in sexist states can be less supportive or tolerant of female assertiveness and disagreement.  OR so it seems to me.

Would that people thinking of jobs had the luxury of thinking of a state’s sexism.

“Was She J.D. Salinger’s Predator or His Prey?”

I expect the title comes from an NYT editor, but the article is by aJoyce Manard, who llived with Salinger for close to a year starting when she as 18 and he VERY much older.

 

He dismssed her at the end.  She understood that she was expected to keep mum about the famous recluse.  And she did for 25 years, until she didn’t.  The sky fell on her.

That season, at a rare literary event to which I had been invited, an entire row of writers I respected greatly rose from their seats en masse and, as I took the stage, departed the room. I like to think that had they stayed and listened to me that day, they might have questioned their assumptions.
For 20 years, I’ve lived with the consequences of having told that forbidden story, and though I’ve since published nine novels and another memoir, none of which involves Salinger, few reviews of any book I write fail to mention that when I was 18 I slept with a great writer, and, more significantly, that I later committed the unpardonable offense of telling that story, or, as it is frequently stated, of writing a “tell-all” — language that aligns me with tabloid personalities.

Maynard asks if the #me too movent would have provied her a different reception.

i don’t know the answer.  At the same time I am horrified at my memories of a time when women ‘using’ their relationship with a famous man were treated as Maynard has been.

Don’t quit yet:

A useful section from an email by Sabrina Joy Stevens

And if these hearings are going to proceed, we’re going to be there every step of the way, checking every attempt to dodge tough questions and helping you hold your senators accountable for stopping Kavanaugh from dragging women’s rights back to the Dark Ages.

We need to figure some of this out.

Another woman, Asia Argento, has been identified as at least a onetime sexual harasser. And she is prominant in “#Me too” movement.

The details of what she did are actually relevant, and in some ways quite different. He was underage and they had had in the past something close to a mother-son relationship. These are far from exonerating facts. The result was a financial deal; she paid him over $300K.

The situation and the non-hysterical coverage it got was still upsetting and, in an obscure way, shaming. I think part of my guilt was that I was, despite all I know about these things and my colleague’s great post preceding this one, I was not pacing around and demanding the perp be treated as a criminal, never allowed in Hollywood again, etc.

The present case seems to me, at least given what I know so far, about morally worse actions than Al Franklyn’s was while much, much less awful than Weinstein’s.  But I didn’t really know how to react to it.  I conclude that we need to figure some things out, such as

  1.  The legitimacy of the “no due process” complaints.
  2. Is our demanding or approving retribution is part of a crowd constituted punishment?  Are we approving a punishment or actually participating in a shaming that is part of the punishment?   And perhaps leading to more serious things, such as a loss of a career.
  3. What is the significance of the fact that most of the perps are men?  Is it, as many have claimed, that power is behind harassment and in general women don’t have much of it?  Or is there something else that women tend to do that is nearly as bad?  Perhaps kinds of emotional bribery and blackmail from women are also destructive and too prevalent?  In some arenas women can behave as bad as men, even if differently; think of abusive parenting.  Does the bad behavior “me too” is pointing at have an equivalent where women lack obvious power.

No doubt there are other things we should be thinking about.  And you may have some answer to questions I asked above.  Let us know!!