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Oct. 5th, 2009

Okay, quick feminism question.

If a self-described feminist calls Ayn Rand a slut, is this anti-feminist?


So, I usually like Michael Moore films as much as the next leftist, even if they are sometimes simplistic, seldom as sophisticated or challenging as other documentaries I've seen, and tend towards being as much about Michael Moore as they are about the subject he's studying.  But I'm really bothered that he chose to take on capitalism in his next documentary despite the fact that he's using capitalism as the primary vehicle for the movie.

Are we going to be charged ticket prices for this movie?  Will we be asked to exchange currency for the DVD?  Will we be subject to an endless advertising barrage trying to convince us it's a "must-see film!" by "one of the world's most-recognized documentary filmmakers?"  Yes, yes, and double-yes.  The entire edifice of this movie relies upon capitalism to get where it will get, and in the process won't really strike at the heart of capitalism at all.

Of course, I write this on a computer, looking out a window of an apartment I am paying for, surrounded by objects I purchased at a store.  But, then again, I'm not making public claims to be striking a blow at capitalism.

Maybe Moore is not really going to attack "Capitalism."  Maybe it's just a milder questioning of some capitalist mores, certain capitalist obsessions, and specific problems with capitalism, without challenging the whole edifice of the thing.  But as that is hardly how it's being marketed, I can't in my right mind compliment the movie on any level.

EDIT: I expressed the last sentence too forcefully.  I should have said that I couldn't compliment the movie yet, or something like that.  Don't know what demon of the late-night times made me say "on any level."

Sep. 11th, 2009

Vanessa brings up the issue of clergy sexual abuse at Feministing. I think she's appropriately humble regarding religion's role in creating the problem, but some of her commenters are less self-aware.

Stories like this just make me sad. Religious leaders act like little shits, proving the worst everyone always thought about them. Those religious leaders who support women’s rights, reproductive rights, gay rights, free agency, opposition to war, etc., they are forgotten, or worse, lumped in with the rest in the broadest possible denunciations of “religion.”

But what do you do about this?  I think the first thing is denouncing those who misuse religion so they can get off. They pervert not only the highest goals of the religions they purport to serve, but make it harder for the many people of faith who labor in obscurity for the betterment of society and our world. There are churches who take their youth on yearly visits to battered women’s shelters to learn about the problem of domestic abuse, churches who work soup kitchens around the clock with no expectation that the people they serve will ever attend a service, churches who fling wide their doors for homeless advocates, churches who proudly preside over same-sex marriage ceremonies. Sadly, these progressive, liberal endeavors for the betterment of the world are not nearly as attention-grabbing as stories about clergy sex abuse.

Continue ranting?Collapse )

Rethinking Gendered Noun Categories

I'm wondering if it's entirely fair to ascribe gendered senses to an ancient language.

Take Hebrew.  -ah and -ot endings are "feminine."  Lacking a prefix and -im are "masculine."

I can see that there are reasons to support the idea.  Many verbs that clearly relate to sex have the "appropriate" ending.  One could make a fair argument that the -ot or -ah endings were first used in words relating to these biological distinctions -- and such words are often the oldest words we have.

Yet other words defy the pattern.  The plural for fathers should technically end in -im, yet it is actually -ot.  The word for women in a group should theoretically end in -ot, yet it ends in -im.  On its face, this isn't surprising.  Living languages breed irregularities.  But the fact that two of the oldest words -- nashim for women and avot for fathers -- clearly betray endings out-of-sync with a "feminine" or "masculine" gendered system, despite the clear gendered relationship they would have had in Hebrew thought (and probably popular thought in the twenty-first century, too), is reason to make me wonder.  But these "irregularities" are only irregularities if you accept that -ah and -ot must mean women and -im must mean men.  Perhaps we've got it all wrong.

Is it possible that something OTHER than gender is guiding the patterns here?

Once more into the breach, dear friends!Collapse )

My new blog title

Goes out to Maggie Johnston!


My key livejournal questions...

I'm trying to decide whether to keep this journal and use it as a blog, or move those activities to a more blog-oriented platform like wordpress or blogger and use this as a tool to check in on folks.

But as I make that decision, I need to know -- is there a way to set up livejournal so it can accept comments from folks with google or all these newfangled bloggy ID things?

Also, I've noticed lots of you have your blogger name in the top, with a little subtitle that functions as a blog title.  How do I set that up?


Losing Misogyny in Translation

Over at his new blog, Questioning Certainty, Post Hoke (a blogger name he has admitted may not last the week) has a good piece on gendered language and translation, and I wanted to follow up on a particular notion he raises regarding the duty of translators to update outmoded language to modern idioms, especially when that language's original form privileges masculinity as the generic form for, well, everything.

In dealing with the idea, I'm going to try to stick with the languages I know.  I know English, have studied a bit in Spanish, and know enough Hebrew to be of absolutely no threat to anybody.  And I want to be clear that virtually nothing of what I'm saying is new; these are mainly thoughts that are derived from a host of much more intelligent and credentialed thinkers than myself.

Once more into the breach, dear friends!Collapse )

A word on style

So, this new style I have. I know. I do not like it much either. But I liked it more than other things.

I warn all my friends: I find livejournal remarkably confusing. I do not understand what I am doing. So if I make mistakes or things look stupid, please forgive me.

Also, suggestions are welcome as I figure things out.

Also, burbledygurble is a great word that means "why in the world is there not a Dead-Sea-Scrolls-Theme for livejournal?"

A blog I found and greatly enjoy

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

I enjoy this blog because, as a Christian, it addresses in many ways what I feel being Christian is all about.

It takes on many aspects of popular "subculture Christianity," addressing how these aspects of Christianity turn it into a sort of capitalistic enterprise rooted in what the author calls "Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship."

Once more into the breach, dear friends...Collapse )

Sep. 5th, 2009

This video is hilarious! The American people are precisely as smart as the dog! Especially when they turn away from the same carrot merely because they heard the words "Barack Obama!"

Could it be because each time he took the treat from "Barack Obama," "Mommy" smacked him with a newspaper?

And so this video is a BRILLIANT liberal excoriation; it exhibits modern American conservatism for what it is: a trained dog, unwilling to eat an offered treat simply because it has learned to associate a simple name -- or perhaps a label, the luscious, libidinous "liberal" -- with a base, instinctive, animal inclination to do what you've been taught without thought or reason.

And that, my friends, we call Art.