On the ‘Naturalness’ of Inequality by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oIn some regards, life on Earth seems to depend on some basic inequalities.  For example, differences in size, height, strength, speed and endurance advantages some and disadvantages others.  Depending on another for survival is another type of inequality. Being able to adapt to change increases one’s likelihood of survival as well.  

In this regard, inequality is natural, a normal part of existence.  In fact, the exploitation of such inequalities supports and perpetuates life on this planet.   Darwin said as much. Evolutionary theory does as well. At one point, we, homo sapiens, replaced our Neanderthal cousins.  Lions kill and eat gazelles. Some iguanas in the Galapagos Islands were able to become great underwater swimmers in order to reach edibles; those who couldn’t died. Continue reading “On the ‘Naturalness’ of Inequality by Ivy Helman”

On Difference by Ivy Helman.

untitled.pngThere is no correlation between difference and danger.  Yet, differences are regularly considered threatening.  In fact, much of Western society’s patriarchal energy is spent categorizing, controlling, managing and fighting difference.  Difference is so ingrained within the psyche that most differences are understood to be antithetical, perhaps even unbridgeable, opposites.  Good/bad, black/white, rich/poor, women/men and human/animal are just a few examples.  To further amplify this distinction, patriarchy considers one aspect of the difference more valuable than the other.  

Feminism seeks to end this value-laden, polarization of difference.  In its earliest days, many feminists were convinced that advocating sameness was the best solution.  Abolition, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the right to vote were parts of this liberal agenda.  While sameness worked in some respects especially in terms of ending slavery and gaining the right to vote, the sameness platform also, albeit perhaps unknowingly and considerably to a lesser degree, bought into patriarchal views of the dangers of difference.  For example, ending slavery did not end racism nor did gaining the right to vote mean that women were equipped or allowed to think independently of their husbands.  Other first-wave feminists who advocated women as pure and moral persons and elevated motherhood fared little better playing into the patriarchal ideals of biological determinism and essentialism.       Continue reading “On Difference by Ivy Helman.”

“Suchness” of inequality vs. the “story” of patriarchy by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaIn the TV film about American suffragists “Iron Jawed AngelsAlice Paul (played by Hilary Swank) says to a psychiatrist who came to prison to assess her mental state during her hunger strike:

You asked me to explain myself. I just wonder what needs to be explained. Let me be very clear. Look into your own heart. I swear to you, mine’s no different. You want a place in the trades and professions where you can earn your bread? So do I. You want some means of self expression? Some way of satisfying your own personal ambitions? So do I. You want a voice in the government in which you live? So do I. What is there to explain? Continue reading ““Suchness” of inequality vs. the “story” of patriarchy by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Justice for Mike Brown? by amina wadud

amina - featureI was born the year the Supreme Court of the United States of America began to hear Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; a case that ought to be known to all as a matter of US history. Here is a precise, but telling history of how that case came into being. This historical account lacks hyperbole, perhaps because one feature of legal-eeze carries the technical title (and appropriately so) of being a brief.

In case blog readers don’t do background research or follow footnotes, I raise these salient points: The Declaration of Independence states “all men (sic) are created equal.” At the same time as it was written and signed into law, the legal enslavement of Africans was in full practice. This incongruence required further legal action to change that in the form of 13th Amendment to the US Constitution which made slavery illegal.

It should be no surprise that “equality” did not result from this and thus the 14th and 15th Amendments attempted to address inequities in more specific terminology. All of these Amendments were ratified the 19th century.

The last decade of the 19th century, Plessy v. Ferguson reached the Supreme Court. Plessy was an unsuccessful challenge, attempting to point out how manifest inequality– the “separate but equal” doctrine in practice across the United States– violated the constitutional notion of equality before the law. Judge Brown sums up the majority opinion which went against Plessy:

The object of the 14th Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to endorse social as distinguished from political, equality..if one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane

It would take more than half a century before Brown v. Board of Education brought out the many subtle ways, over the century since the legal end of slavery, that the racial divide had been enforced. It started very early in life, in the form of separate educational systems that only perpetuated the impossibility of constitutional consistency and equality before the law.

We still have a long way to go. Continue reading “Justice for Mike Brown? by amina wadud”

Don’t Worry, I Won’t Marry Your Girlfriend: Sexuality, Identity, and the Easy Laugh

No longer having to deconstruct the larger cultural and sexual narratives, heterosexuals who do not support marriage equality or feel threatened by homosexuals return to their one source of power that reinforces the ideology that they are on the right path: the Bible. “Marriage is between a man a woman,” or “A man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman,” becomes the newly reinforced heterosexual rallying cry and the progressive progress that occurred in the past becomes nothing more than a joke.

johnI must say, I will be the first to admit that the recent outbreak of videos promulgating the idea that gay men will marry a straight guy’s girlfriend or lesbians will marry a straight girl’s boyfriend all for the sake of marriage equality left me stifling my laughter as I attempted to pay attention in class.

However, after the calamity died down I took a moment to reflect upon the intrinsically embedded aspects of misdirected norms of sexuality, gender, and misogyny latent within the laugh lines and the guffaws throughout each video. Continue reading “Don’t Worry, I Won’t Marry Your Girlfriend: Sexuality, Identity, and the Easy Laugh”

Please Excuse Me for Having a Penis: Taking a Back Seat to Privilege and Power by John Erickson

Male feminists must be aware that we not only engage in an ongoing struggle against sexual and gender inequality, but more importantly an ongoing fight with ourselves.

I have often struggled with that little voice, call it my conscience if you will, that speaks to me during times of distress.  Although I consider myself a proud feminist, I still struggle with aspects of what I call, internalized misogyny, or more aptly defined as a male born characteristic trait that imparts the idea that men are not only dominant but also more powerful than the other 50% of the species.

For many reasons, I believe religion is one of the main culprits of this growing evil, one that we all witnessed throughout this last election cycle.  However, instead of placing blame solely on religion and images of the male Godhead we have to begin deconstructing the sociological consequences these subconscious social, sexual, religious, and gendered norms have on men but more importantly men who identify as feminists. Continue reading “Please Excuse Me for Having a Penis: Taking a Back Seat to Privilege and Power by John Erickson”

Why Men (and Women) Can’t Have It All by John Erickson

Can women have it all? Possibly. Can men ever have it all? Maybe. Regardless of however we put it, the are ills to every good deed in the world and we need to get back to understanding how and why we use each other in order to fully understand that behind every good man might be a good woman but also behind every good women there might also be a good man.

Growing up, my favorite movie was The Associate staring Whoopi Goldberg as a woman at a Wall Street firm attempting to climb her way up the corporate ladder through hard work and dedication.  Her character Laurel Ayres does all the work and comes up with the ideas that clients eventually invest in, her partner Frank takes all the credit and eventually surpasses her at work by getting the promotion she had been vying for.  In a prodigious scene that I still vividly remember from my childhood, Laurel quits her job and starts an investment firm on her own; betting every cent and piece of property she has on the eventual success of her new business adventure.

In an attempt to break through the proverbial glass ceiling and play with the big boys of Wall Street, Laurel eventually discovers that although she can be (and is) the genius behind many of the great ideas that would save companies millions, she still needs to have her ideas expelled by a man she creates in order to win over clients, which eventually leads her to become successful.  However, while Laurel is reaping in the benefits of having Mr. Cutty, her made up business partner, by her side, she eventually learns that no matter what she does she will always be secondary to her male business partner. Continue reading “Why Men (and Women) Can’t Have It All by John Erickson”

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