This brings to mind a book I recently read (on Kindle) that I would like to recommend: The Stories our Parents Found Too Painful to Tell. It's a translation of a memoir written (in Yiddish) just after the war by a Jewish man from Bialystok who survived the ghetto and more than one camp, and then made his way to Australia. It's, as its title suggests, painful reading, but emotional and beautiful (the occasional show of humanity from a Nazi, for example, and the overwhelming courage of the Nazis' victims) and also, I believe, an important historical document. I hope it shows up on university reading lists, along with Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel and Anne Frank. It certainly belongs in such company.
Interesting sidenote: Mel Brooks named the lead character in The Producers after Bialystok, Poland, as that was where his family lived before making the trek to the new world. Thankfully, they got the hell out long before the era of industrial genocide.
Slut Walk came about when a cop made a dopey comment (for which he, quite rightly, apologized) in which he implied if one dressed like "a slut" one was less likely to be safe from sexual assault.
Well, a bunch of women dressed up like "sluts" and went on a march and it's been going on since. In my opinion, it's completely stupid and far more sexist than the cop's misguided comment.
It is bad enough when men call us "sluts," and it is bad enough when we call each other "sluts." But when women call themselves "sluts" it is really, really pathetic. (And of course, there are always young men on these marches, but let's face it: they are there to be faux sensitive -- see below -- and to pick up girls -- see below.)
What have I long said? Feminism liberated men. Not women.
When I listen to President Obama speak to and about women, he sometimes sounds too paternalistic for my taste. In numerous appearances over the years — most recently at the Barnard graduation — he has made reference to how women are smarter than men. It’s all so tired, the kind of fake praise showered upon those one views as easy to impress.
Good Lord -- she is so right. My dad used to do this. It's very '70s, faux sensitive crap that men who are probably actually quite misogynistic want you to think they believe. Ooh, lookey me, I'm so sensitive! It's an unfortunate affliction of people overly-influenced by Alan Alda, I think; also of men who realize some women will sleep with them more freely if they spew this kind of drivel. Whenever I hear men talk this way I run for the hills (after holding back barf, obviously, as it is very barf-inducing talk).
I have been lectured, oh about a million times, by some of the men in my family -- and yes, these are men who will often say "women are smarter than men" -- about what it is like to be a woman, about what problems we do or don't face. I remember once, watching a Tory leadership convention with my brothers, and having one of them lecture me about how great Maureen McTeer was (because she kept her own name, which is fine, but how does that make someone great?) and how evil Mila Mulroney was because...get this...Mila was wearing pink! Yes, she was doing this -- the men in my family KNEW -- because she was placating the patriarchy. Seriously? I remember thinking, "Maybe she just likes pink."
Goodness knows I do.
Occam's Razor and all that.
The condescension still grates. It has been my experience that men who talk this way are the most sexist, and as Brown points out, condescending. Conversely, I often find that men who are "unsophisticated," shall we say, in this regard, are the ones who are the most respectful of the opposite sex. So thank you, Campbell.
In a not unrelated comment, I'd like to say how traumatized/disgusted I was with Joan's decision to prostitute herself -- literally -- on this week's Mad Men (a show that has really been terrible this season -- ham-handed and far too Jessica Pare-centric). First of all, this is not in line with Joan's character. Simply not. And for the record, Roger and Bert Cooper's reactions were not in line with their characters. Cooper would never give something like that his blessing and Roger, we know, loves Joan. He would have been the one who went to talk her out of it, not Don...if this season were at all on par with previous seasons. But second of all, it plays into this ridiculous view that somehow women had no choice but to do this in the '60s. Um, scusi? We are talking about 1967, not the court of Louis XIV. And actually, even in the Sun King's court, a woman had options. And Joan certainly has options. She is respected at the office and was greatly missed when she was home with her baby. The place went to hell when she left and the partners wanted -- no, needed -- her to come back.
What I'm finding awful is the number of people saying that what Joan did was "empowering" -- WTF? What she did was degrading and the considerable respect the men at SCDP had for her will now be shot. The other comments about this I am finding silly are of the "well, how is it different from Megan auditioning for a play and trying to be sexy, or account executives taking someone out for dinner and flattering them, or any other kind of job where you sell a service?" It's different because sex is different.
Call me old-fashioned, I guess. And I think all of that rationalizing and saying that Joan's decision was "empowering" or that "women had no choice" is akin to the "women are smarter than men" insincerity so many truly sexist men include in their self-congratulatory puffery.
Last year, I became obsessed with watching a nest of eaglets. Some research team or other had placed a camera on an eagle family and somehow I stumbled onto it and got hooked. Then, tragically, the eagle parents died and I seriously needed therapy. The babies were brought to a wildlife centre and reared there and eventually released, but I couldn't watch anymore.
So I resisted, this year, when my brother suggested I watch some bird nests being filmed and researched by ornithology students at a couple of American universities. Or rather, I resisted...for a while. And now I'm hooked again.
First, there is Hawk Cam. Three babies and two parents (though you never, or rarely, see the parents together). The babies are more like teens now, and one, in particular, resists being brooded. He clearly feels mom is embarrassing him with her affection. It makes me mighty nervous to watch the kids trying out their wings and hovering close to the edge of where their nest is built. Heck, it doesn't look that secure to begin with, but I figure mom and dad hawk know what they are doing when they choose a spot. Be warned that if you watch these guys, you are likely to see mom or dad show up with a rodent in tow, one that the babies quickly dismember (i.e., the rodent is not a guest, he is a meal). Ew. That is usually when I switch over to...
...Heron Cam. Five chicks (who used to look like little dinosaurs, but now look like herons with short legs) and two devoted parents. As the youngest in a big family, I can relate to the heron chick nick-named (by viewers) "Fiver." Fiver was the fifth and last egg to hatch and he gets bullied by the older kids all the time. But he is starting to fight back and it's making me really happy. On at least two occasions now I've seen him go on little rants around the nest, stomping his feet and yelling at his siblings. Good for him! Go Fiver!
Finally, there is Bluebird Cam. And actually, I shouldn't have left it for last, because it is the one you should watch these days, as the babies are, apparently, going to fly the nest by this time next week! They grow up so fast. There are five of them, hatched on May 9th, I think, and at first they looked like funny little lizards. What is quite Disney-like about them is when all five bright yellow beaks open simultaneously; one half expects singing to come out, but in fact, it usually happens because Mama Bluebird is nearby with a worm or insect for brekkie. They sure don't look like lizards now -- the nest hardly fits them, they have feathers and are stretching their little wings, trying to get a feel for the future, I guess.
Just like all of us, always. So tune in and prepare to become emotionally invested.