Monday, June 13, 2011

Odds 'N Ends

1) Martial Artist and self-defense instructor Susan Schorne has an interesting take on the juxtaposition of male violence with the female "princess" role, as illustrated by the costumes on display at the Royal Wedding:

"William's brother, Prince Harry, also wore military dress, as did the princes' father, Prince Charles—likewise the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent. Maybe a few other gentlemen as well. Somewhere among the 1900 guests there surely was at least one woman with military experience who was entitled to wear a uniform, but if so, no one took a picture of her.

Everyone seemed to think it quite proper, and not at all odd, that Kate Middleton's fairytale dress should be paired with Prince William's military couture. The nod to the Irish Guard was approved by all. Certainly the troops in Afghanistan should be remembered, even in the midst of a national holiday—especially in the midst of one. And it's not like anyone carried weapons (they were in church, after all).

Still, the mix of sacramental romance and codified violence struck me as a little peculiar, if only because everyone else seemed to think it was so natural."

Yet another face of traditional marriage.

2) Last week, I wrote about the alleged kidnapping of (alleged) Syrian-American lesbian, political blogger Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari. Soon thereafter, The Washington Post reported that questions had emerged about whether the blogger's identity was real:

"Syrian activists maintained Wednesday that they were sure Arraf existed, that she had been detained and that she had been using a fake identity to protect herself, as do most of the activists engaged in covert activity against Syria’s government at a time when the country is in the throes of a widespread popular uprising."

Then, on June 12, a strange apology was posted to "Amina's" blog by Tom MacMaster, a heterosexual married man claiming to be "the sole author" of all blog posts on the Gay Girl In Damascus site.

I hesitate to even link to it as I'm not sure what MacMaster's motives were in creating the persona and writing the blog. However, because the blog and "Amina's" situation manipulated many people's feelings, perhaps including some of yours, I wanted to bring this new information to your attention.

3) Over at Women in Theology, Elizabeth aptly compares an experience with a mentally-intrusive male dentist with being told to smile in public. In part, she writes:

"I do not contend that this kind of exchange in and of itself has a parity with the kinds of unspeakable violence men perpetrate against women all day, every day, but I do think it is noteworthy as a kind of 'microaggression,' or minor exchange expressing and reinforcing sexism, racism, heterosexism, classism, age-ism, able-ism…and any other kind of ‘ism.’ These exchanges function as microcosms of larger patterns of subordination and control and are rendered by even supposedly benevolent agents. They also seem so minor that when people discuss them, these people are often perceived as “whiny” and complaining about something that doesn’t matter. That’s pretty clever, if you ask me. Namely, finding subtle ways to marginalize and stigmatize those who perceive themselves to have been belittled by others. For sure, there’s the danger of people becoming overly-sensitive, but in my opinion, we haven’t done enough to examine to the quotidian and minor-league forms of oppression occurring in our lives. (And it’s complicated; we’re both agents and patients of microaggressions all the time, in complex and often interlocking ways. So we have to learn to name microaggressions both rendered to and by us.) Here’s the truth: we cannot combat the forces of sexism and these other -isms unless we are willing to look at the nitty-gritty details of human interchange. The devil is in the details, and it’s all of a piece."

Although it happened more frequently when I was younger, I too am familiar with the experience of having men I don't know order me to smile. It's as though some men don't realize that women are beings with our very own internal lives and that we therefore might have reasons to not be smiling at any given moment.

So, I'm going to echo Elizabeth's call: Men, if you do it, and no matter how pleasant you think you're being, stop commanding women to smile in public.

No comments: