Ain't I A Person?

So I was reading the discussion about the Rick Warren benediction pick and also an article about the Christian Reconstructionist ideals of gender and these bits jumped out at me:

Vision Forum's product line includes the Beautiful Girlhood Collection, which, "aspires, by the grace of God, to the rebuilding of a culture of virtuous womanhood. In a world that frowns on femininity, that minimizes motherhood, and that belittles the beauty of being a true woman of God, we dare to believe that the biblical vision for girlhood is a glorious vision."

- Frederick Clarkson writing about the Christian Reconstructionist vision of proper gender roles.

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"I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

- Pastor Rick Warren, 2008

Both reminded me of a quote that largely defines feminism and gender issues for me:

... That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? ...

- Sojourner Truth, 1851

It was not that long ago when the blogosphere and much of the political establishment was ablaze with talk of how wrong and divisive it was to claim that certain groups of the citizenry were "real" Americans. If the class of all people who are American citizens contains a smaller subset defined as real Americans, the people outside that subset are ... wrong? anti-? inauthentic? fallen? rejected? cast out? disowned? excommunicated? imaginary? fake? What? What, we all wanted to know, (though of course we already knew,) did they mean by that?

Right wing religionists have a very particular view of what constitutes a real person, but more precisely, a real man or woman. From those definitions, ones that all of us more or less understand, follow the views of what constitutes a real relationship.

A "real" man is in control, of something at least. He is not given to womanly displays of emotion, which implies being governed by logic, but actually means giving oneself over to jealousy, easily bruised pride, a will to dominate, and disgust towards those who would live otherwise. It begets a constant need to defend one's prerogatives in a role-based hierarchy that assigns people value based on their fulfillment of certain parts in a nonstop morality play existence.

A "real" woman is delicate, dammit! She understands herself to be the rightful property of a man, an adornment and accessory for his life, and her emotions don't matter at all so long as every conversation ends in, "Yes, dear." She is structurally, perpetually, a child. Albeit a child that it's all right to have sex with and employ as an unpaid domestic. Think about this every time one of the wingnuts compares a consensual, adult relationship between two men or two women to pedophilia and consider yourself encouraged to grimace disapprovingly at said wingnut.

These definitions of "real" manhood and womanhood take subsets of men and women as being exclusively worthy and leave everyone else out in the cold. The types of relationships that these real men and women are supposed to have are then taken as the definitive "real" relationship.

There's more...

Writing about politics does not make me a man

At Talk Left I saw a reference to the Gender Analyzer, which uses artificial intelligence to "determine if a homepage is written by a man or a woman." You enter the address, and in an instant it scans the text, giving you a prediction. When I checked my blog home, Bleeding Heartland, I got this:

We think http://www.bleedingheartland.com is written by a man (79%).

How about the home page of frequent MyDD diarist canadian gal?

We think http://kickinitwithcg.blogspot.com/ is written by a man (88%).

The computer program hedged its bets with Iowa blogger Lynda Waddington's Essential Estrogen:

We guess http://www.essentialestrogen.com/ is written by a man (59%), however it's quite gender neutral.

I admit I assumed Digby was a man for years, but that was mainly because of the illustration of a man shouting on the front page of Hullaballoo. Without scanning images, the Gender Analyzer makes the same false assumption:

We think http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/ is written by a man (74%).

Hilzoy's place, Obsidian Wings, yields a similar result:

We think http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_ wings/ is written by a man (84%).

In fact, I've been unable to find any political blog by a woman that the analyzer can recognize as such:

We think http://iddybudjournal.blogspot.com/ is written by a man (81%).
 
We think http://www.feministing.com/ is written by a man (60%).

We have strong indicators that http://leftylane.blogspot.com/ is written by a man (91%).

BlogHer does register as being written by a woman, probably because of the posts about shopping, food and fashion.

Bleeding Heartland commenter ragbrai08 looked up the details and assumptions underlying the Gender Analyzer. You can find the pdf link to the paper "Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging"at the bottom of her comment.

The analyzer mostly ignores the content of blog posts, except for certain key words. Computer programming and gaming words, along with some words relating to politics and the economy, are tagged as "male." Female words include "shopping,""cute,""pink,""freaked," and "husband." The analyzer also looks at elements such as sentence structure ("male bloggers use more articles and prepositions") and the number of hyperlinks (male bloggers use more).

So, just about any blog with a bunch of hyperlinks and political words will be deemed a man's blog by the Gender Analyzer. I have to agree with ragbrai08's assessment:

The only thing this algorithm is telling you is that the political blogosphere is dominated by male authors.

It would be interesting for some researcher to study a large sample of political blogs only, to see if politically-oriented male and female bloggers write differently or use hyperlinks differently. I suspect that a content analysis of political blogs would reveal a lot of overlap but also significant differences in the subjects covered by men and women.

Please share any relevant thoughts and opinions in the comments.

Speaking of gender issues, if you missed this in Natasha Chart's linkfest yesterday, go read about life as a female reporter.

There's more...

"We Are All Pakistani Women Now!"

In an article entitled "Equal share in land, property for women urged" by Sikander Shaheen in The Nation(Pakistan) details a campaign by ActionAid within Pakistan, urging equal property rights for women.  (ActionAid is an international anti-poverty organization that has been in operation for over 30 years.)

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

There's more...

Palin, Sexism, and Feminism

I am tired of hearing of the term "sexism" being thrown around. Can a woman be president? Sure, why not? Correct me if i am wrong, but i don't remember seeing that having a penis is a requirement. Nor do i remember there being a cap of the amount of melanin in the skin of a candidate for presidency. These are physical attributes. The real fight comes down to personality and the role that plays in the decisions made by said candidate.

There's more...

Hold your tongue, Serena Joy

It's always funny, ha ha, when the female enforcers of gender repressive groups come out to complain about sexism. My mental hamster wheels crash. Laughing rodents can't run.

Like Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who praises Hillary Clinton while 'defending' Sarah Palin. Oh really, Blackburn?

As a trailblazer in her own right, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was not impressed with Hillary Clinton's crybaby performance following the most recent Democratic presidential debates.

... "For women to achieve as men achieve, we have to realize we have to be smarter, think faster, work harder," said Blackburn. "A term that I use a lot is -- leadership is not as it appears, but as it performs."

She said that while leadership can be assigned, the action required to lead is earned -- and when it comes to "piling on" -- she said, "sometimes you have to hold your tongue and work your way through it." ...

And Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin needs to be defended against the same things that were done to Hillary Clinton, whom she admires so very, very much. Funny though, Palin didn't seem to think Clinton was being attacked at all back when she was running, and certainly not that she should have said anything even if it were true ...

Palin says, "When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or, you know, maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, man, that doesn't do us any good. Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. I don't think it's, it bodes well for her -- a statement like that."

These conservative women do this all the time. They attack other women for arguing against sexism, ignore actual sexism, then when people confront them with their records, they lie about being attacked in a sexist way. They're always against feminism, until they're for it, but only because it allows them to be against it. And still, still, they ignore the sexism practiced and spoken by the men in their cohort, like John McCain.

John McCain, to crowd: "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."

John McCain, to wife: "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt."

You can come up with your own guesses as to why women who like to call themselves feminists support a man who finds rape authentically funny. I say it's because conservatives just don't understand what feminism means, and seem to confuse it with freeloading, though conservative women would probably miss feminism if it were gone. And not just because they have fun using it as a club to beat people who protect women's rights over the head with.

Update [2008-9-10 13:21:53 by Natasha Chart]: Both Gov. Huckabee and Howard Wolfson disagree with Sean Hannity about the meaning of Obama's use of the common trope, 'lipstick on a pig.' And one of McCain's press aides used the phrase as the title for her book on political spin.

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