Why aren’t there any great women Xs?

A new (for me) answer to the classic question, Why aren’t there any great women Xs, occurred to me when I saw a website for a small company of composers specializing in music for dance troupes (all four composers were male) shortly after a male friend of mine confessed that if he wasn’t getting paid to do it (write a book – he’s an academic with a university position), he probably wouldn’t, and another male friend confessed confusion at the idea of composing something just out of his soul (everything he’d written had been for pay – soundtracks for video games and what have you). Until then, the answer to that age-old question seemed to go to merit and/or opportunity.  Now I’m thinking it goes to money. Read the rest of this entry »

Assholes or Idiots (take your pick)

Every now and then I hear something really insightful on tv.  What recently caught my mind was an explanation of the behavior of one of the alphas on, of course, Alphas. Rosen says that Marcus can see twenty moves ahead and doesn’t understand why others can’t; so when what they do harms him, he believes it’s intentional.

Yes!  I too—and many, many others, it’s not an alpha trait—can think ahead. I can imagine the likely effect on others of my actions. And I work through the ethics of my behavior. So when what someone else does affects me, I can only assume that they don’t care about others (and so haven’t bothered to think ahead about the effects of their actions, or work through the ethics of their behavior) or they do, and have, and consider what they’ve done to be morally acceptable. Or I must assume that, unlike me, they cannot imagine the effects of their actions; they do not comprehend the ethics of their behavior. Which means, in short, either they’re inconsiderate, egoistic, irresponsible, lazy assholes or they’re idiots.

And so when I point out that what they’re doing does affect me, invariably they respond with aggressive defensiveness.  Because, of course, I’m implying they’re either assholes or idiots.

(Pity they don’t apologize for their thoughtlessness and ask me to help them work through the ethics of their behavior. After all, I’m an authority on applied ethics. Don’t people seek expert opinion on important matters?  Yes, but not from a woman.  Who’s either a bitch or just crazy.)

Rules of Combat

Why are there rules of combat?  Rules apply to civil interactions and games.  Combat is neither.

Rules give the impression of fairness, decency, civility.  They thus make war permissible.

But if war is really about defending your loved ones, wouldn’t you do whatever is necessary?  Wouldn’t you ‘fight dirty’ if that’s what it takes?

Rules of combat suggest, therefore, that war isn’t about defending your loved ones.  Or even your land, your water, your resources.  As Allan G. Johnson points out, in the best analysis of men and war I’ve ever read (The Gender Knot, p.138-142), “war allows men to reaffirm their masculine standing in relation to other men….  It is an opportunity for men to bond with other men—friend and foe alike—and reaffirm their common masculine warrior codes.  If war was simply about self-sacrifice in the face of monstrous enemies who threaten men’s loved ones, how do we make sense of the long tradition of respect between wartime enemies, the codes of ‘honor’ that bind them together even as they bomb and devastate civilian populations that consist primarily of women and children?”  Good question.  So (and this explains the response to women in the military) war is really all about men getting together and hating, hurting, killing women.

Same old same old.

The Waiting-for-the-Elevator Thing

So I’m sure this has happened at least once to every woman.  You’re standing in front of an elevator, waiting for it, and a man comes up and presses one of the buttons.

Oh is that what those are for?  I saw the two buttons, one with an upward-pointing arrow and one with a downward-pointing arrow, and I understand that elevators go up and down, but you know, I just never put the two together!!

I was just waiting for it to know that I was standing there.

I thought I might try to push one of the buttons, but then I thought, no, I’m just not strong enough.

So I was just standing there.

Or maybe I did push one of the buttons (you know, I just don’t know?), but the system doesn’t recognize buttons pushed by people with uteruses.  Which is why you had to push a button.  You’ve got a penis!

So good thing you happened to come by!  I could still be standing there!

In Praise of Dead Air

People are uncomfortable with silence.  On the radio, over the telephone, in person.  It’s a curious thing.

We are obsessed with filling up the air space.  That sounds very male – the need to occupy territory (take a look at how men sit, their legs crossed open and their arms resting on the backs of the adjacent chairs, compared to how women sit, legs crossed closed and their hands in their laps).  But women too consider dead air problematic.

Is it that Read the rest of this entry »

Crossing the Line

I crossed a picket line once.  The Ontario Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OSSTF) in the Toronto area was on strike in 1983, and one of their demands was that union members be hired to fill night school and summer school teaching positions.  They were concerned about quality of education: they didn’t want these courses to become second-class courses as a result of being taught by second-class teachers who were unqualified and inexperienced.

Well.  I was qualified.  More qualified than many of the older OSSTF members who got their teaching jobs when you didn’t even need a B.A., let alone a B.Ed.  And I was experienced.  In addition to about ten years of private music and dance teaching experience, I’d had a half-time regular day school position for one year and had taught a few night school courses the following year.

But more than that, Read the rest of this entry »

The Road to Hell

I’ve reconsidered intent-based moralities.  They’re bloody irresponsible.  I’m giving new meaning to “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” (or maybe I’m just finally understanding it).

Intention-based moralities are for people too stupid or too lazy to consider the consequences of their actions.  “But I didn’t mean to” is the cry of an idiot.  (What did you think would happen when you put a firecracker in the dog’s mouth?)  “I was only trying to help” is an attempt to absolve oneself of the burden of figuring out the effect one’s behavior has on others.  (In what universe is that helpful?)

If you only meant to have a bit of fun, getting in your car drunk out of your mind and driving down the 401, if you didn’t intend to hurt anyone, well then, okay, you can go (you should go) — to hell.

Business Rules the World. Do we want it to?

One of the most common – and most serious – weaknesses of codes of ethics, and indeed, most ethical theories, is that they don’t prioritize values.  They’re fine for many of the simpler ethical questions, but when goods and interests conflict, when virtues and rights collide, they don’t provide a way to determine which interest, which right, is stronger.  For example, it’s all very nice to say that both customers and shareholders are valued, but which is valued more?  Do you opt for lower prices or greater profits?  And it’s all very good to say that loyalty and honesty are among the company’s virtues.  But what does an employee do when honesty seems to be a breach of loyalty?  Does the employee blow the whistle or not?  The code I begin to develop here is an attempt to solve that problem, an attempt to prioritize values.

First, I propose that Read the rest of this entry »

I’m too drunk. No I’m not.

According to the Canadian Criminal Code, (self-induced) intoxication is no defence against charges of assault (33.1): if you’re drunk, you’re still able to form the general intent to commit said assault.

And yet, with regard to the sub-category of sexual assault, belief that someone is consenting is cancelled if that someone is intoxicated (273.1(2)): if you’re drunk, you can’t consent to sex.

So if you’re drunk, you’re capable of forming the intent to assault, but you’re not capable of forming the intent to have sex? Given that it’s mostly men who do the assaulting, and it’s mostly women who do the consenting (and given, it’s my guess, that the lawmakers had men in mind for 33.1 and women in mind for 273.1(2)), is this some sort of ‘protect the weaker sex’ double standard?

Hey, if we expect men to foresee the effects of alcohol and to be responsible for their behavior while under its influence, we should expect the same of women. Read the rest of this entry »

A Little Less Evolved

Sometimes I wonder whether men have a defective chromosome: the Y was supposed to be an X, but somehow it ended up missing something – a case of stunted growth, or arrested development. This defective chromosome, uniquely characteristic of the human male, causes them to be a little lower on the evolutionary scale, a little less evolved.

Consider their fascination with movement. Read the rest of this entry »