Monday, November 12, 2007

Here We Go Again!

Pharyngula has a couple of links to a couple of so-called "manly men" trapped in the days before real manhood evolved in Western culture. It always amazes me that someone could think that forcibly dominating a dehumanized, demoralized human being who happens to have a vagina makes them superior. Perhaps it's the Native American in me, but I always thought that conquering one's self was far more manly (and far more womanly). Hell, conquering one's self is just plain more mature.

I'll say it again: When women are demeaned, men are lessened. (And vice versa) When we women are infantilized and objectified, you men are infantilized and animalized. Personally, I think more of men (most of them anyway) than to accept that they are nothing more than children or animals, without the intellectual or emotional maturity that comes with human adulthood.

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Sort of off topic, but it reminds me of something quite funny. When the Jamestown colonists landed, the women stayed on the boat while the men prepared the fort. When Powhatan's scouts saw these strange pale humans building houses, they were amazed that they'd brought no men with them! In Native societies, for the most part, women built the houses, tilled the fields and, where necessary, dismantled and moved the village to the next location. Female warriors, sachems and chieftains were not the norm by any means, but they were quite common. In fact, amongst the 32 werowances (or minor chieftains) who ruled the 32 villages that made up Powhatan's domain, two were women (at the time the colonists landed).

6 Comments:

Anonymous ross k. said...

There's an important article on MSNBC today saying that the FEMA trailers for Katrina survivors have toxic levels of formaldehyde gas.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21725858/

9:39 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Thanks, Ross.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Canardius said...

When Xerxes saw his ally, Queen Artemisia, using her ship as a ram to the Greek Navy, he is said to have exclaimed, "my men have become women, and my women men."

8:54 AM  
Anonymous ross k. said...

Hey, conquering oneself is hard! That's why no one does it. Regarding this: "When women are demeaned, men are lessened...When we women are infantilized and objectified, you men are infantilized and animalized." Yes. The older women get, the scarier they get about trying to baby men and pass on self-hatred to young women. I'm thinking of my grandmother and other members of the WWII 80-plus set.

Because so many of them were abused and codependent for so long, their need to swaddle men (and prejudice young women against men) is all-consuming. It may seem like a bonus at first that they're always trying to fix meals for you, but they will try to STOP you from fending for yourself, and then you realize something is wrong.

They're always trying to turn men into infants so that they can see us as powerless and harmless and they can control us. It's their counterattack. In order to feel some self-worth, many of them HAVE to believe that men really would starve if they weren't around trying to wrap us up in widdle blankies.

Not only that, it's the oldest women that young women really asborb all the nastiest fear and self-loathing from. Men often abuse women, it is true, but a lot of the psychodrama women struggle with and act out is actually passed on by older women. There's an old chestnut in psychology that the parent you lionize (usually the same sex parent) is the one you truly have the problem with. In my case, it was easy to hate my mom, but I did not admit any fault with Dad; however, all relationships go two ways, and Dad LET Mom do what she did, so he was equally responsible. Likewise, in the cases of several women friends I've had, and in my mom's case, they are quicker to dump on men, but their real conflict is with women--with their mothers and all the baggage they've passed on. But that is exactly what they don't want to deal with.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Ross, I'm heading to bed, but a quick point.

I agree that some women baby and demonize men unnecessarily. I also think we women often ignore our own bad behavior and our contributions to so many social ills. However, what I was referring to is this:

If, for instance, we present women as sexually dangerous, as sources of irresistible temptation to evil, we present men as unable to submit their physical impulses to the control of their higher capacities. Women in Muslim societies, for instance, wear the Burqa because they are "too much temptation" for men who would apparently just run off half-cocked or fully-cocked if they got the merest glimpse of womanly flesh.

The same goes for the blame the victim nonsense with rape. "She wore X, so he had to rape her." makes me think of a dog sniffing a bitch in heat and having no option but to mount her right there next to the garden gnomes.

Men are capable of more than that, I think. To pretend otherwise, to excuse male behavior by demeaning women, is insulting to both men and women. I also think some of the anti-male ideas don't make women look very good either but that's a subject for another day.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous ross k. said...

I hadn't thought of it in terms of the traditional Islamic world, Burqas, etc. That's a very good point. I saw what's closest to home for me. But yes, our semi-liberated women over here are commodified and fetishized enough as it is. No one should have to have every inch of her body covered or risk some kind of reprisal.

You can see traces of that fear from the same expectation in most older women today. The WWII generation edged over more toward Burqas than we do. Even when they were young, those covered up way more than young women do now. My grandmother was married to a paranoid and jealous man who didn't want her to wear a bathing suit at the beach. So they would go on beach vacations and...she wouldn't swim. The double standard, of course, is that he cheated on her. Young people today are less repressed (and sexist and racist, etc.) than their grandparents; their grandchildren will be less of all those than they are. Those gradual drifts in the culture are just that, gradual. They take a lot of time.

I see now in previewing this post that I'm still keeping most of my attention on women when you're trying to get me to talk about men. Where's that "override" switch...

12:54 PM  

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