Finally, a Normal Father

All of the men I know in RL (colleagues, friends, relatives) are phenomenal fathers. This is why it bothers me to see that the blogosphere is inundated with seemingly intelligent, progressive people who nevertheless seem to believe that parenting is something that does not concern fathers.

Now that I have read the following post, however, I feel better:

After almost four months of being a parent I am under the impression that any left-wing heterosexual man who is able to keep his involvement in political work the same as it was before becoming a father for the first year of his child’s existence is someone who is not approaching child-care in an equitable manner.  Those men who continue organizing in the same manner as they did before their child was born are those men whose parenthood is dependent on the gendered division of labour––fathers who assume that the mothers will do most of the work and can persist as political subjects while their counterparts are relegated to the private sphere. . .  I want my child to grow up with parents who provide her with a progressive model of gender dynamics and so I need to demonstrate this model in practice.  A dad who talks about gender equity should be a dad who spends as much time as possible sharing domestic work.

This is SO true. I have seen crowds of men who blab endlessly about gender equality at meetings without giving a second thought to their isolated and beaten-down female partners who are making this meeting-going possible for them by assuming every duty of parenting. It is very good to see a male blogger and a father who is not oblivious to the basic hypocrisy of such a position. Of course, a big part of the credit should go to his female partner who is not excluding him from child-care.

These folks will raise one happy, normal girl with a healthy vision of gender roles who will never allow anybody relegate her to the private sphere as if she were a servant.

The Battle Begins: An Angry Literature Prof’s Manifesto

The first day of class in my literature course didn’t go well, and that’s putting it mildly. Students looked uncomfortable and terrified, refused to answer even the simplest questions, offered no reaction to my jokes, and stayed on the edge of their seats prepared to take off at any moment.

We, the professors, are to blame for this sorry state of affairs. We are so scared of our own area of expertise, so embarrassed by it, so apologetic about having chosen it, that this attitude always contaminates our own students. We are on our way to becoming a glorified language school and all we do brings this prospect closer to us. Like a person who believes s/he is ugly or stupid and communicates this belief to others, we transmit our doubts over whether learning literature is a worthy pursuit to our students.

And then we – the same people who dropped the word “literature” from the name of our department, who create one language course on top of another without having created a single new literature course for a decade, who “don’t have time” for research, who cringe with discomfort when assigning works of literature, who make endless excuses why students are still not ready to read a page in Spanish after taking language classes for 8 years – wonder hypocritically why on Earth the students are so reluctant to study literature. Yes, really, what a mystery.

It would be so easy to claim that big bad administration is to blame. That would not be true, though. None of the things I listed here were encouraged, proposed, or initiated by the Dean’s or the Provost’s office. We are doing this to ourselves.

I am done with this, people. I spent my childhood being embarrassed about loving books and hating athletics. I did not get 5 degrees in literary studies and publish 11 scholarly articles in respected, peer-reviewed literary journals only to find myself feeling embarrassed about loving to read once again. I am now declaring a battle against the belief that literature has no place at a university. I was part of the problem and now I will be part of the solution. If nobody wants to join me, I will be the solution.

And don’t think I’m just saying this. I have a top-secret plan that I have already started to put into effect whose goal is simply to teach literature and vindicate this pursuit. The plan is top secret because I don’t have the energy for yet another round of discussions (in person, by email, on Skype, on the phone) about how the students are not prepared and they will hate literature anyway so why undermine my career and spoil my life trying. My career is fine, my life is fine. Stop being so worried about the imaginary horrors that await me if I actually practice my profession.

To my colleagues everywhere I want to say this: stop feeling apologetic for what you do. Do whatever you need to convince yourself that you are not selfishly practicing a self-indulgent hobby but are doing something important. Do it now before you have apologized us all out of a field of learning and a career. You don’t need to prettify the teaching of literature or convince anybody it is useful. Just convince yourself already.

When Sexual Resentment Overpowers. . .

Why, oh why does a blogger who has quite a few interesting things to say feel driven to babble incoherently about one subject that betrays his sexual loneliness and relational misery?

I’m talking, of course, about the Last Psychiatrist and his strange obsession with regaling his readers with boring drivel about gender issues. This is one area where he has nothing of interest to say, yet he insists on trying. LP begins his most recent post on gender with a series of very bizarre opinions on why women wear make-up:

The only appropriate time to wear make up is to look attractive to men.   Or women, depending on which genitals you want to lick, hopefully it’s both.  “Ugh, women are not objects.”  Then why are you painting them?  I’m not saying you have to look good for men, I’m saying that if wearing makeup not for men makes you feel better about yourself, you don’t have a strong self, and no, yelling won’t change this.  Everyone knows you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, now you’re saying the cover of the book influences how the book feels about itself?

I warned you he was prone to babbling. Let’s leave aside the idiotic argument about a book whose feelings are not influenced by its cover (and probably by anything else as well), and observe how ridiculous people make themselves look when they make conjectures about the motivations of others instead of simply asking.

As a woman who loves make-up, let me tell you how I use it on a daily basis. Every week-day, after I get up and wash myself, I spent at least 15 minutes carefully applying my make-up. After that I stay at home working all day long. Alone. There are no men, women or children (or even house pets) to observe me in my make-up. The reason I wear it is simply that when you work from home, you need something to remind yourself that you are not on vacation, that this is a working day like any other. So I put on make-up and wear formal clothes during my work day at home. I know from experience that if I spend the day in pajamas, I will get no work done. Contrary to LP’s bizarre beliefs, this story demonstrates that my self is no way weak. His rhetorical question,

You are enhancing your outward appearance, which is great, but then you pretend it’s for internal reasons?

proves that his intellectual limitations make him incapable of recognizing that his understanding of other people’s way of being may not be as exhaustive as he believes. People do all kinds of things to their bodies for purely internal reasons. The reason why LP pretends he doesn’t know this is his contempt of women (Mommy surely did a number on this guy, let me tell you):

Ask it this way: how would you like to be in a world where men said,” oh, I feel so much better about myself when I’m wearing makeup.”  You’d run for the nearest totalitarian regime.

The poor guy would have a conniption if he knew how many men use things like a concealer on a regular basis. He also is faking ignorance of the many things men do daily to their appearance to achieve a variety of goals (including to feel good about themselves). Shaving is one such thing. Unlike make-up, shaving causes pain and discomfort to every single man I’ve ever known. Yet they keep doing that and nobody has ran away to a totalitarian regime as a result.

And this is just the beginning of an article that gets more and more incoherent and hysterical with every paragraph. LP regales us with the following bits of wisdom:

1. There are more women in Senate than ever before because Congress has lost all power and “is seen” (yeah, I know) as feminized and pathetic. Men are abandoning this useless organization to women and doing something more powerful. Like nursing. Seriously, go read the article. He actually says this stuff.

2. It should mean nothing to women to see other women succeed professionally. It should also mean nothing to racial and ethnic minorities to see people like them succeed professionally. And a white male LP will now explain to us all why we are all traitors to our gender and ethnicity if he have achieved something.

3. It also means nothing that women have won access to higher education because it really upsets LP to imagine any woman engaging in anything meaningful. Plus, male nurses have got all the power in the world anyways.

4. Women deserve to be paid less for the same work because we are weak, overly emotional, and pathetic. (Translation: LP’s Momma was ultra-powerful, cold, distant, and ate his balls for breakfast when he was five. Then she ate his Pappa’s balls when LP was 5 and a half).

5. Jessica Valenti is to blame for Sandy Hook killings. Ah, now you are agreeing with me about LP’s Momma, right?

6. Jessica Valenti and all feminists are evil because Huffington Post. Yeah, I know. Why not because ocean? Or because ice-cream?

7. Some TV show or movie called Girls is not feminist. I never even knew this work of Tv or movie genius existed but I could have told you it has nothing to do with feminism just based on the title.

8. If a skinny kid wearing eye-glasses is bullied at school by a gang of huge brawny jocks that’s not the fault of the jocks but of every other skinny kid in eye-glasses. Or, in LP’s words, when women are raped only women are to blame. (And when Jews are shepherded to the concentration camps. . . And when the Ukrainians are starved. . . And when children are molested. . . And when Africans are enslaved. . .). The argument is old and very well-known. One would have thought that a smart person like LP would recognize the good old victim-blaming, yet he is so blinded by his hatred of women that he presents it as some huge intellectual breakthrough of his own.

There is, however, I precious bit of wisdom among all this raving lunacy. One statement that I had to agree with in its entirety, namely:

Sites like Jezebel and Feministing are much, much worse than pornography.

Yes, this is true. For the purposes of achieving sexual arousal and release, these sites are completely and utterly useless. So much words wasted to tell us nothing but what we already knew: LP is one of those people whose intelligence crumbles to dust when a fresh attack of sexual resentment overcomes him.