Gender Differences

“Sex differences, on almost every psychological trait measured, are either non-existent or fairly small. Certainly they are much smaller than the differences in social situations. . . Their modest size would hardly register them as important phenomena if we were not already culturally cued to exaggerate them” (21).

“A great deal of research has now been done on the issue. The usual finding, on intellect, temperament and other personal traits, is that there are no measurable differences at all” (47).

Connell, R.W. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity P, 1995.

Everybody with even a minimally functioning brain knows this. But the numbers of people who possess such a brain are not impressive.

Weird Me

I’m a weird person, my friends. A weird, weird person. Last year, I was criticized pretty severely by the reviewers of one of my articles for sucking something fierce at the writing of abstracts. 

“This scholar seems to labor under the erroneous belief that abstracts should consist of sentences copy-pasted from the article,” one of the reviewers pointed out.

That was exactly how I wrote my abstracts because nobody had told me that this was not a good idea. I had no choice but to agree with the reviewers and decided to learn to write abstracts.

I thought that the way to do that would be to write a couple of proposals for collections of articles on different topics. “Nobody would accept the proposals, of course,” I mused, “but at least I will get to practice.”

So I sat down and wrote these proposals. To avoid the temptation of copy-pasting, I chose collections that addressed the topics I never worked on before. This was good practice for me and everything would be peachy, save for one little detail. Both proposals were accepted. 

I mean, that’s great and I’m honored. Both collections are being edited by people who are well-known in my field and whom I always wanted to impress. The problem, however, is that I now need to do the following things before August 1:

1. Write two articles for these two completely different collections on topics I never worked with before. This means that I now need to familiarize myself with theoretical contributions to the fields of a) masculinity and b) space in literature.

2. Write a talk for my Oxford conference (that’s the third completely different topic).

3. Keep writing my book on the fourth completely different topic.

As they say, be careful of what you wish for because you might get it. I wanted an intense research year and I will have it in spades. I have had to create a very detailed plan that lists the number of words I have to produce every single day between today and August 1. This will be intense.

Opinions

Yesterday, we had a meeting at the department because there have been tensions and people feel like they need to express their concerns.

“I feel like nobody listens to me and my opinions are not valued!” one colleague exclaimed.

“Yes,” another colleague agreed. “I have opinions, too, but nobody is listening!”

“Well, we are here now,” I said. “The floor is yours. Do express your opinions.”

“I have opinions,” the colleague responded passionately. “And I want to express them!”

“Yes,” another colleague said. “It’s important to express our opinions. Let’s set up a meeting where we will all express our opinions!”

“That’s a brilliant idea,” I lied. “But since we’re all here anyway, would anybody like to share there opinions?”

“Yes!” a colleague exclaimed. “It’s very important to express our opinions!”

Two hours more of this, and we could finally go home.

“This was such a useful meeting!” a colleague shared in the parking lot. “It’s great to have one’s opinions heard.”

Modern Family

Has anybody seen this horrible little sitcom titled Modern Family? Bleh, what a nasty show. I’m yet to figure out what’s supposed to be so modern about this cast of dinosaurs.

Yes, there is a gay couple, stereotyped to the extreme, but that’s it in terms of modernity. The Latin American prostitute, her sleazy Latino ex-husband who looks like a pimp, their obese child, the plastic parents of 3 who look like people who spend their lives at the surgeon’s and not at the playgrounds, the patriarchal mother whose 40-year-old daughter puts up with vicious bullying for no reason that anybody in 2015 can understand.

Sitcoms are not supposed to make sense, I know. But this one is just too out there.

Party for the Students

Students approached me to say that they wanted to organize a gathering at a restaurant for me because many of them are graduating and they want to do something to express their feelings towards me. 

There are 18 students altogether, and I thought that a restaurant is not a good idea because at a restaurant I’ll just get to talk to those who sit next to me while the others will not receive any attention. So I invited them all to my house instead. Of course, I announced that no alcohol will be served because, first of all, we never have any alcohol in the house and, besides, I don’t want to get into the whole checking of IDs thing, etc. And also, we all carry the baggage of our identity whether we want it or not, and a single beer at my place has the potential to transform into “a drunken bash at that Russian prof’s house.”

Back at Yale, we had this tradition where every last day of class took place at a professor’s house. And it’s a great idea because it allows the students to see the human side of the professor, which in itself is very educational.

Book Notes: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train

Year of publication: 2015

My rating: 4,5 out of 10

The Girl on the Train belongs to the category of trashy mega-bestsellers of the Gone Girl caliber. The “girls” in both titles are my age but the titles are not imprecise. These are not Bildungsromane. The adult protagonists live the results of the female development that pursues infantilization. The three female narrators of The Girl on the Train are not just infantilized. They are infants. These women refuse to reach at least the toddler stage and learn to form and retain memories. Their helplessness and neediness can only be compared to that of an infant. And the symbolic mother from whom they demand constant nourishment and comfort is, obviously, a man.

Men are needed to mother the infant-women but, at the same time, they are an object of intense rage and resentment if they fail to bring the nourishing tit to the screaming infant-wife the second she demands it. The men are all-powerful, mysterious forces who sometimes choose to torture the infants by keeping the crucial tit away. This process could not be more similar to the psychoanalytic description of the relationship between an infant and his mother’s breast. And, of course, the consequences of the breast staying away for too long are the predictable oral-stage traumas.

As trashy and devoid of any artistic merit as they are, these bestsellers are an important cultural phenomenon. The moribund Gender Studies programs could be reinvigorated if they started with a course on what actual women actually read, talk and care about so massively. There is absolutely nothing in today’s gender theory that would even remotely try to address the issues that preoccupy women today. Feminist theory (theory, not practice) has grown completely irrelevant to the majority of women. These bestsellers that I keep reading – in spite of their long-windedness, poor quality, and extraordinary repetitiveness – are enormously more valuable than the mountains of recent publications on gender that I study for work.

I can’t give The Girl on the Train more than 4,5 stars because the author is inexperienced, clumsy, and drags things out like’s she’s paid by the word. There is definite value in the book, however.

Pop-psyching Germanwings

It sounds like the Germanwings tragedy is about to be buried in a barrage of meaningless pop psych terminology :

Prosecutors investigating the Germanwings crash have said there were indications the co-pilot hid his illness from his employers.

If it’s a mental illness, you can’t conceal it. A person who is so crazy that he flies off his handle in the middle of a flight would manifest some symptoms before getting on a plane.

But the pop psych verbiage has entered the common usage and colonized minds. As a result, the employer did treat this malignant fellow as someone with an equivalent of a chronic common cold or persistent acne, and here is the result.

The Germanwings Tragedy

Gosh, people, did you hear that the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight seems to have crashed the plane on purpose? What was your very first thought when you hear that?

And did you hear that some freaks were posting disgusting messages, saying that the Catalan victims pf the crash deserved to die?

That’s some horrible shit right there.