Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Encounter Some Sexism!

In this chapter, Moran explains why sexism exists by summing up thousands of years of human history:

  • men are stronger than women.
  • they don't get pregnant and die in childbirth.
  • they don't get cystitis.
  • simple biology gives them the advantage.
To quote Moran directly:

"Let's stop exhaustingly pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative on an equal with men, that's just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn't. Our empires, armies, cities, artwork, philosophers, inventors, scientists, astronauts, explorers, politicians, and icons could all fit, comfortably, into one of the private karaoke booths in SingStar. We have no Mozart; no Einstein; no Galileo; no Gandhi. No Beatles, no Churchill, no Hawking, no Columbus. It just didn't happen." (p.130)

She continues on to say that women have not yet begun to be the creative individuals that they have the ability to become.

My first reaction when I read this chapter was to think "WOW! Her education was neglected. What about these famous women:

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine (spent over a decade in prison because her second husband was afraid of her).
  • Elizabeth I of England (couldn 't risk getting married since her husband would then try to rule for her).
  • The abbess Heloise (confined to a nunnery after she had a child by Peter Abelard, she was a brilliant scholar who was not allowed to raise her child or marry her lover because of the conventions of the time).
  • Hildegard of Bingen (a brilliant composer who once again became a nun and spent her days in isolation).
  • Jane Austen (the famous writer who never married).
  • Virginia Woolf (who committed suicide).
  • Veronica Franco (a talented Venetian poet forced to become a courtesan to support her own children and those of her brothers, she was tried for witchcraft by the Inquisition).
The problem with being a famous woman is that there always seems to be some kind of catch - you cannot marry, you have to enter a convent, you have to give up your children, you must become a prostitute, in order to create. Whereas people like Rembrandt and Mozart, even if they did have fits of depression, also had wives who ran their households, paid the bills, and did the laundry and cleaning; as a result, they had enormous amounts of uninterrupted time to create.

Even today in the UK, where Moran lives, women still do the bulk of housework and most of the childcare. Even in the US, women do most of the cleaning and housework
even if they work. Although industrialization has eliminated the strength differences that have kept women in subserivent roles, the responsibility for maintaining a home still falls on them. It will be interesting to see how much ruling and creating that women do in the 21st century.

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