Help From Polish Readers Needed

Dear speakers of Polish,

how do you pronounce the following last name “Cukrowicz”? I’m specifically interested in the first consonant. Is it pronounced as an [s] (like in seven) or [k] (like in cat)?

This is for a play with Polish characters that a colleague is directing.

Thank you!

Talks With My Husband

Clarissa: Something unbelievable happened today in class! A student spilled her drink and it stank of alcohol. I can’t believe she had been sitting there sipping a cocktail all class long.

Clarissa’s Husband (completely seriously): There is no need to assume the worst. This didn’t have to be an alcoholic beverage. Maybe her mug contained window-cleaning solution.

Hypocrisy or Maturity?

Another silly article by an immature creature who doesn’t see a difference between hypocrisy and maturity:

In a YouGov poll of 1,000 voters last August, [political scientist Michael] Tesler found significantly more support for targeted killing of suspected terrorists among white “racial liberals” (i.e., those liberal on issues of race) and African Americans when they were told that Obama supported such a policy than when they were not told it was the president’s policy. Only 27 percent of white racial liberals in a control group supported the targeted killing policy, but that jumped to 48 percent among such voters who were told Obama had conducted such targeted killings.

There is nothing hypocritical in the phenomenon it describes. If people accept that they don’t have the requisite knowledge to understand certain issues and prefer to leave them in the hands of professionals they elected, that’s not hypocritical. Just like it isn’t hypocritical if I trust the opinion of a doctor I have chosen and whose qualifications I like and don’t trust the opinions of an illiterate quack.

Or let’s say, a qualified plumber who has demonstrated on various occasions that he knows what he is doing tells me my pipes are shot to hell and need to be replaced. I will trust him and agree it’s a good idea. But if a person who has no qualifications and who has already messed up the pipework of every neighbor in the street tells me the pipes need to be replaced, I will simply shoo him away.

Division of labor is not hypocritical. It is normal. Mature individuals have no problem with letting qualified professionals do their job.

Classics Club #10: Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth

Edith Wharton must have been a very courageous writer if she populated the pages of her first novel with a cast of irredeemably trivial, unattractive characters. The worst among them are the two protagonists of The House of Mirth.

The female protagonist, Lily Bart, is the most vapid literary character I have ever encountered. Her only goal in life is to avoid making a living, and Lily is prepared to do absolutely anything to achieve that goal. She attempts to sell herself in marriage, and when nobody wants to make the costly purchase, she prefers to wheedle money out of her friends’ husbands, act as a beard to an adulterous friend, and even die in order to avoid doing an honest day’s work. Lily spends the entire novel sighing coyly, “Ah, what can I do if I’m so useless. . .” and despising women who achieve financial and professional independence. I’m sure you can imagine by now how much I’m likely to admire this type of character.

As unattractive as Lily is, Selden, the male protagonist of the novel, is even worse. He is a self-important, self-involved turkey of a man who sees in Lily’s unrelieved stupidity an opportunity to feed his vanity. He appears every once in a while, dupes Lily into feeling evil in comparison to his vaguely defined virtue, feeds his sense of self-importance on her impotent cooing over him, and disappears, leaving the silly young woman to deal with the consequences of his need to feel wanted.

I never read anything by Wharton before but I have to say that this novel is absolutely brilliant. More than anything else, its beauty lies in how timeless it is. There are worthless, insipid creatures who drift through life like discarded furniture in every society and in every era.

Is the Term “Feminist” Sexist?

The quality of writing in Inside Higher Ed has become so poor that I am now convinced the publication is run by a bunch of academia-haters who want to make all academics look like brainless flakes. See the following excerpt, for example:

I’m most concerned with the knee-jerk negative response to the word feminist among otherwise liberal (particularly women) students. Recently a conversation with my brother got me thinking about the term in a different way. My brother, also a social scientist who’s pursuing his PhD, replied to a comment I made about gender inequalities in academia with “there’s no room in my academia for sexism.” That’s nice, I replied, but far from the reality of the situation–I jokingly quipped, “of course you think that; you’re a man.”

No, he replied, you’ve got it wrong. The word “feminist,” he argued, is itself sexist, and further divides women from men, which is counter to what you’re trying to achieve. Given that I know that my brother really does believe that women are equal to men, I decided to think carefully about his point.

No, lady, your brother despises women. And so do you because this “I was confused about something but then a man appeared and explained things to me, so now I see the light” is the trademark of every self-hating woman out there. So please, take your fake concern about the future of feminism, your sexist of a brother, and your impotent brain away from people whom you embarrass with your utter lack of analytical skills.

Yet, the flake persists in proving she is even more flaky than we could have suspected:

Is the word “feminist”—with its root in “feminine” (or rather, the French féminisme)—a sexist term? I considered other “isms” that reflect exclusions: racism, classism, ageism, and ableism (and the list does go on…).

This is a very curious choice of “isms”, given that one could have easily chosen heroism, socialism, individualism, capitalism, realism, modernism, atheism, agnosticism, or my favorites – literary criticism and Hispanism. If a couple of words ending in -ism refer to something negative, this doesn’t mean that all such terms do. One would think that  professor at Northeastern U would know that all poodles are dogs but not all dogs are poodles, but no such luck, it seems.

So to answer the title question, no, the word “feminism” is not sexist. Unless you consider the existence of females an act of sexism on the part of nature, God, universe, or whatever it is you believe in.