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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “May 12, 2011”

Another Inanity From a Male Feminist

Ever since Hugo Schwyzer came to this blog to inform me that he’s had it with me daring to have my own opinions about his writings, I tried hard to abstain from commenting on his articles. It’s difficult, though, because he often writes things that make me think that I’d rather have no male feminists at all than ones who write this kind of stuff. See, for example, a recent post from somebody who, let me remind you, teaches about body image on a college level:

When I ask my female students, as I do every semester, “How many of you would say it’s easier to get along with guys than with girls”, invariably over half the young women in the class raise their hands. The reasons they give are always the same: “girls are so competitive”, “boys just have less drama”, “guys aren’t as critical.” Of course, not every woman feels this way – but plenty do. So it may surprise you to know that the research on eating disorders shows that critical comments from boys are much more likely to lead young women to start to diet or purge. In a major 2008 study called Family, Peer and Media Predictors of Becoming Eating Disordered researchers found that the hurtful remarks of male peers were more damaging to girls’ self-esteem than comments made by other women of any age, including peers and female relatives. Only the media had a comparable impact on young women’s self-esteem.

Leaving  aside the fact of how annoying it must be to shell out a huge sum for a college education only to end up in a classroom where you get your time wasted on condescending kindergarten-level questions, it is mind-boggling that anybody would honestly believe something as silly as this. Self-esteem is something that is created on the basis of one’s very early childhood experiences. After that, nothing short of extensive therapy can influence one’s self-esteem in any significant way.

A person with a high self-esteem can watch media images of skinny women and ripped men all day and every day for decades and remain completely unaffected. A person with a low self-esteem can go into a major bout of depression because s/he thinks that somebody might have looked at them in a critical way. If your self-esteem is high and you know for a fact that you are stunningly gorgeous, nobody will even try to insult you with nasty remarks about your appearance. Let’s say you want to annoy, offend or bug a person for whatever reason. Will you come up to them and say, “You have three heads”? I don’t think you will because something that is so patently untrue is not likely to offend.

When I was little, I was always surrounded by a group of adoring adults who would exclaim, “Here comes our beauty!” in unison whenever I would enter the room. Today, 30 years and many pounds and wrinkles later, I still hear this admiring chorus whenever I appear in public. I just took a walk around the block and tried to remember a single instance when “a girl or a guy” made a nasty comment about my appearance. I came up with nothing. So if you have little kids – or are planning to have them – just make sure they know that they are beautiful. If you do that for them, neither the scary media nor condescending male feminists will scare them. 

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>Since My Readers Are So Good at Giving Advice. . .

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. . . and since I have a tendency to be very clueless about very basic things, would somebody be so kind as to tell me where does a person go in a very small town in the Midwest if she needs a passport-size picture of herself taken? One could go all the way to St. Louis for that, of course, but it seems like such a waste of time and effort. Are there special places or something where one can go for that purpose? 
And to compensate you for the effort of thinking about this weird question, here is an absolutely true story about a phone call somebody I know got  from a recruiter.
Recruiter: Hi, I’m a recruiter with X company. I’ve seen in a your profile on LinkedIn that you are looking for a position in Y industry. Are you still looking?
Candidate: Yes, I am.
Recruiter: Your profile also specifies that you are looking for a job exclusively in the Midwest.
Candidate: Yes, only the Midwest.
Recruiter: That’s fantastic because we have a great opening for you. It’s in Hong Kong. 
Candidate (thinking of places like Toledo, Ohio and St. Petersburg, Florida): Hong Kong, what?
Recruiter: Hong Kong, the country.

>A Mystery

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If somebody can provide me with an answer to this mystery that has been bugging me for months, I will be very grateful. Why would a person come to the same post on this blog (always that one post) on 139 different occasions and on each occasion just sit there for hours pressing the Refresh button? Why would a different person from a different country do the same thing on the same post on 214 different occasions? The post was written almost a year ago. There is no discussion going on there. What do these readers want? And how can I give it to them because this is starting to get too mysterious.
In case you are wondering what the post in question is, you will find it here. But, please, don’t join the party and start refreshing it every 5-10 minutes, or I will go nuts.

P.S. And while I was writing this post, one of the people in question pressed the Refresh button on that post once again.

P. P. S. Another interesting detail: one of the readers in question is from Norway and another one is from Sweden. I wouldn’t confuse them with anybody else because the names of the towns they are from are very long and difficult to pronounce.

Here is a picture of the visits, too:

It’s much longer but I cut it because I don’t want to fill up the entire blog with it. And this is just one of these 139 visits, as you can see. 

>And When You Say "Economy", You Mean. . .?

>People seem to understand the word “economy” in the weirdest ways:

President Barack Obama’s approval rating has hit its highest point in two years — 60 percent — and more than half of Americans now say he deserves to be re-elected, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll taken after U.S. forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In worrisome signs for Republicans, the president’s standing improved not just on foreign policy but also on the economy.

We are all glad that Osama is dead, that goes without saying. But the economy didn’t improve overnight because the terrorist was killed. There are very serious economic problems plaguing this country. They need to be resolved by changing what happens within this country. While chasing down terrorists who are hiding in Pakistan is a very worthy goal that I, for one, wholeheartedly support, it doesn’t fix the economy.
In the two most recent elections, we kept hearing that this time people will vote on economy because that’s what everybody cares about right now. Today we are seeing what this caring about the economy actually amounts to.
Do you remember how I told you that one of Marxism’s tragic flaws is its reliance on the idea that people are motivated by economic factors? Does anybody need any more proof that people couldn’t care less about the economy even if they loudly claim they do?

>Princess Olga

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Princess Olga the Beautiful lived between 890-969. For almost twenty years she ruled Kievan Rus. Her very first act as a ruler was to take a bloody revenge against Drevlians, the people who had killed her husband, prince Igor. She burned down an entire town with all its citizens because her rage was so great. 
At the age of 45, Princess Olga gave birth to her only child and ruled in his name until he became an adult. She was a very active ruler who traveled incessantly around the country, trying to improve life in her realm. Emperor Constantine of Constantinople kept asking her to marry him but Olga remained faithful to the memory of her dead husband.
She was also the very first ruler of Kiev who converted to Christianity. The Orthodox Church proclaimed Olga a saint and considers her to be equal to the Apostles. The name “Olga” actually means “a saint”, so she was obviously destined for sainthood from the very beginning.

>How to Be a Language Snob: From Ktravula

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A friend and a fellow blogger just posted this brilliant list on how to be a perfect language snob. I just have to share it with everybody because it’s too good.

1. Whenever you meet someone from a different country tell them “I like your accent. You don’t speak like other _____________ (fill in country name) that I have met.”
2. After meeting someone for the first time, let your idea of a compliment to them be “Oh you speak good English.” For extra points, ask them where they learnt to speak it so well.
3. Whenever someone says to you “I like your accent too”, look insulted and ask in a high voice, “I have an accent? What do you mean I have an accent?” For extra points, be actually insulted by that.
4. Be disgusted by people speaking their local language around you. For extra point, go to them (whether you know them or not) and ask them to speak English instead. After all, they are in America.

As for me, I especially enjoy being told that my accent makes me sound even more exotic and sexy. 


>Texas Is Nuts

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Whenever I read any news from Texas, it feels like I’ve come in touch with an alternative reality. A really scary alternative reality. The lawmakers in this state have gone completely off the deep end mentally and are now seriously discussing whether to allow schoolteachers to beat students without asking the kids’ parents for consent:

Texas lawmakers voted against parental approval for corporal punishment Wednesday, allowing schools to spank students with or without parents’ say. Rep. Alma Allen, D-Houston, said she personally doesn’t believe in corporal punishment and noted that it’s no longer practiced in the state’s largest school districts, but said she wasn’t trying to end the practice. “This is a parental rights bill,” Allen said. “I do not like corporal punishment, but this bill does not abolish it.” An amendment from Todd Smith, R-Euless, would have allowed parents to give approval just once instead of requiring contact every time their children act up. Conservatives, however, rallied against giving parents the final say over educators.

The entire situation is so insane that one is wondering whether this is a report from a mental health clinic. A bunch of politicians got together to work out rules of how to abuse little children physically. And nobody is even trying to suggest that beating people is not OK. That anybody who assaults another human being belongs in jail. That nobody can possibly have the right to consent or not consent to another person being assaulted. 
I truly hope that every parent, teacher or politician who has ever hit a child will live to see this child grow up and beat them up in return. I, for one, would definitely consent to such people getting a beating.

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