You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2019.

Seasonal is the true organic.

We as a society should prioritize the safety and security of women (adult human females) over the gender feels of men.  This snippet from the Cambridge Radical Feminist Network expands upon this simple truth.

“Sex segregation in spaces where women are in positions of vulnerability is a legitimate and important precaution for women. Women exist in society where the risk of sexual assault is a simple reality of their lives — even young girls within UK schools are experiencing what has been described as an ‘epidemic’ of sexual violence from young boys. I could go into these statistics in more detail if it had not already been done countless times before. But the fact it has been done countless times before is the disturbing thing about the entire gender neutral toilets issue. Supposedly progressive commentators and politicians have seemingly decided that publicly supporting a postmodernist view of gender is more important even than these facts. Perhaps it is cowardice in the face of a vitriolic social-media ‘take down’ culture.

But perhaps it is something more simple, and depressing, than that: feminism — and other equality movements — have to deal with the difficult problem of ‘latent prejudice’. It can be tricky to tell when there is a true change of popular attitudes, or when instead there is a understanding that some attitudes cannot be expressed explicitly. Sometimes we only find out once people feel they have been given permission to express those attitudes. We saw that to some degree with the Bernie-Bro phenomenon — certain US leftists felt that their support for a ‘progressive’ Bernie Sanders meant they were able to criticise ‘not-as-progressive’ Hillary Clinton in sometimes violently sexist terms. The gender neutral and gender identity debates seem to represent something similar in the UK. Blatantly misogynistic tropes and a lazy disregard for women’s safety and concerns are being overlooked because it is in the service of a supposedly progressive cause.”

A good article overall, I recommend you follow the link back to Medium and read the entire piece.

 

 

 

Yelling at each other online is cool and what not (see the RPOJ) but past cartharisis for the writer, I’m thinking, not much is really accomplished.  Understanding the context and where people are coming from is an important skill to foster, and as Alexander Bevilacqua (from his essay on the Aeon Website) says, we should not entirely replace the adversarial aspects of our intellectual culture, but perhaps temper our expectations with a bit of empathy and appreciation for where the arguments are coming from.

“The call for empathy might seem theoretically naive. Yet we judge people’s intentions all the time in our daily lives; we can’t function socially without making inferences about others’ motivations. Historians merely apply this approach to people who are dead. They invoke intentions not from a desire to attack, nor because they seek reasons to restrain a text’s range of meanings. Their questions about intentions stem, instead, from respect for the people whose actions and thoughts they’re trying to understand.

Reading like a historian, then, involves not just a theory of interpretation, but also a moral stance. It is an attempt to treat others generously, and to extend that generosity even to those who can’t be hic et nunc – here and now.

For many historians (as well as others in what we might call the ‘empathetic’ humanities, such as art history and literary history), empathy is a life practice. Living with the people of the past changes one’s relationship to the present. At our best, we begin to offer empathy not just to those who are distant, but to those who surround us, aiming in our daily life for ‘understanding, not judging’.

To be sure, it’s challenging to impart these lessons to students in their teens or early 20s, to whom the problems of the present seem especially urgent and compelling. The injunction to read more generously is pretty unfashionable. It can even be perceived as conservative: isn’t the past what’s holding us back, and shouldn’t we reject it? Isn’t it more useful to learn how to deconstruct a text, and to be on the lookout for latent, pernicious meanings?

Certainly, reading isn’t a zero-sum game. One can and should cultivate multiple modes of interpretation. Yet the nostrum that the humanities teach ‘critical thinking and reading skills’ obscures the profound differences in how adversarial and empathetic disciplines engage with written works – and how they teach us to respond to other human beings. If the empathetic humanities can make us more compassionate and more charitable – if they can encourage us to ‘always remember context, and never disregard intent’ – they afford something uniquely useful today.”

There isn’t much to lose in trying a slightly different approach to arguing with other people, I think it is worth a shot.

  We humans are really bad at responding to the necessity of long term change.  It doesn’t help that we also happen to be locked into political systems that strongly bias short term thinking and solutions.  I’m thinking when most of Florida is underwater and New York City looks more like Venice the powers that be *might* acknowledge that we have a bit of climate situation on our hands.

Canada is not much better, Andrew Scheer leader of the Conservative party during a Town Hall:

“He promised tax reform and reiterated his opposition to the Trudeau government’s carbon tax, which he called “a cash grab, not an environmental plan.”

“Scheer had to get out of his vehicle and walk to the venue in Nisku, Alta., because of a 22-kilometre convoy of truckers protesting Trudeau’s carbon tax and environmental policies. Scheer sought to reassure people by promising to scrap the prime minister’s carbon levy designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Awesome.  Because the weak half measures started by Trudeau and the Liberal Government definitely need to go.  Why is it that when it comes to climate change conservative types all of suddenly need to compete to see how can fiddle the fastest while the world burns?

In Counterpunch John Davis writes this on our climate situation:

 

“Naomi Klein optimistically wrote, way back in 2014, in This Changes Everything, “There are ways of preventing this grim future….but the catch is these will involve changing everything….it involves changing how we live, how our economies function, even the stories we tell about our place on earth”.

Five years later, it is no longer a matter of preventing a grim future. The careless extension of what the American Sci-Fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson calls ‘The Dithering’ – those decades when we understood the atmospheric CO2problem but totally failed to address it – guarantees its imminent arrival. The catch now is that the climate is changing everything for us.  We have already liberated enough carbon in the atmosphere to put the weather on disaster auto-pilot for the next millennium. We can but batten down the hatches, stockpile provisions and close the fire-doors. The weather is the effective change-agent, not we nor our politicians. The pretense that humans are in charge has finally to be abandoned. We await our fate possessing only crude materials of resistance and, thus far, almost no political will to emplace them.

The most salient function of government is the protection of its people – our allegiance to the Republic depends on its successful manifestation. The present regime appears totally committed to the denial of our climate reality and its power to inflict terrifyingly real damage on our underfunded and aging infrastructure and to the people that that infrastructure supports. Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Maria, Harvey, Thomas, and Michael, should each have been a wake-up call, a weather 9/11. Instead, they have proven to be opportunities for official prevarication, dissembling and hand-washing. From George Bush’s, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”, to Trump’s notorious paper towel toss (in post-Maria Puerto Rico) there is a through-line that speaks of the government’s dismissal of the seriousness of these amplified weather events and their wider implications. The validity of the updated death toll in Puerto Rico of almost 3,000 was, predictably, denied by the president – while estimates of the toll continue to rise. A Harvard study now puts the number of Maria-related fatalities at over 4,500, as of year’s end. The climate has far exceeded the lethality of 9/11. Its death toll, in fire, flood, drought and wind is ever rising, as each season’s disasters inexorably add bodies to the statistical burial mound.”

The weather gives exactly zero fucks about borders and national security, and ‘rogue’ nations.  Every nation is going to have to work together to survive the coming up climactic upheavals.  I certainly hope our unerring dedication to fossil fuel industry will be worth it.

The central feature of patriarchy is Men’s relentless efforts to control women’s sexuality and reproduction:

“For females to be subordinated and subjugated to males on a global scale, and for males to organize themselves and each other as they do, billions of female individuals, virtually all see life on this planet, must be reduced to more-or-less willing toleration of subordination and servitude to men.  The primary sites of this reduction are the sites of heterosexual relation and encounter – courtship and marriage-arrangement, romance, sexual liaisons, fucking, marriage, prostitution, the normative family, incest and child sexual assault.  It is on this terrain of heterosexual connection that girls and women are habituated to abuse, insult, degradation, and girls are reduced to women – to wives, to whores, to mistresses, to sex slaves, to clerical workers and textile workers, to the mothers of men’s children”

And on patriarchy being the bedrock of oppression:

“Without (hetero)sexual abuse, (hetero)sexual harassment and the (hetero)sexualization of every aspect of female bodies and behaviours, there would not be patriarchy, and whatever other forms or materializations of oppressions might exist, they would not have the shapes, boundaries and dynamics of the racism, nationalism, and so on that we are so familiar with.”

  Both selections from The Willful Virgin.

 

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