Friday, August 24, 2012

A war on two fronts


Usually I leave the politics stuff to FreshSnaps, AletheaKairos and Catty, but this smacks of a fundamental misunderstanding of word usage and by gum, I will defend the rights of semantics everywhere.

Rebecca Solnit, has a nice article on Salon, "Must men be patronizing?" about why some men feel compelled to hold court and explain things to women. Now Solnit is incredibly succinct and is a lover of facts by profession, but I'm going to state first that not all men are enamored with the sound of their own voices and that women can succumb to this kind of smugness and entitlement as well. (Phew, that's out of the way), but "the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is", according to Solnit, "gendered".

"Self-doubt is a good tool for correcting, understanding, listening, and progressing," suggests Solnit, "though too much is paralyzing and total self-confidence produces arrogant idiots." She goes on to say, "This syndrome is a war that nearly every woman faces every day, a war within herself too, a belief in her superfluity, an invitation to silence, one from which a fairly nice career as a writer (with a lot of research and facts correctly deployed) has not entirely freed me."
"On two occasions ... I objected to the behavior of a man, only to be told that the incidents hadn’t happened at all as I said, that I was subjective, delusional, overwrought, dishonest — in a nutshell, female ... Billions of women must be out there on this 6-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever. This goes way beyond Men Explaining Things, but it’s part of the same archipelago of arrogance."
Why am I going on about this? Because I agree with Solnit that "at the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible."

Yes, that's right, this is a post about Todd Akin and the use of language when discussing rape (Thanks to the NYTimes for the the link).

Kelly Whitman's has some excellent things to say about talking about and acknowledging rape in her "Using the Right Words About Rape" post at her Mocha Momma blog. As a young mom and a teacher, she tries to speak naturally and organically with her children about their bodies and how to discern abuse. Why can't we do the same thing as a nation with our laws and with the adults we have elected to Congress?

"Most women fight wars on two fronts," Solnit tells us, "one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being. Things have certainly gotten better, but this war won’t end in my lifetime."

And thanks to bors blog for the "The Avenging Uterus Vs. Todd Akin" Strip!

1 comment: