foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa at Psychology Today has some, ah, interesting views on feminism:
First, modern feminism is illogical because, as Pinker points out, it is based on the vanilla assumption that, but for lifelong gender socialization and pernicious patriarchy, men and women are on the whole identical. An insurmountable body of evidence by now conclusively demonstrates that the vanilla assumption is false; men and women are inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different.

My, oh, my. Inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different, eh?

Dr. Kanazawa, let me introduce you to what must be your first venture into gender role theory from a scientific perspective: The Gender Similarity Hypothesis by Dr. Janet Shibley Hyde.

Don't let the word 'hypothesis' fool you. The GSH is one bad-ass meta-analysis of more than 2,000 cross-cultural studies of gender differences, and it is quite possibly one of my favorite documents in the known universe. Occasionally you'll hear me bemoan the vast divide between conducting research and actually applying it; not in this case. The GSH speaks for itself.

-At least 78% of all gender differences are so small they don't even matter.

-There were two gender differences with large effect sizes: motor performance (specifically, throwing things) and sexuality (but ONLY in frequency of masturbation and attitudes of casual sex). There was a moderate effect size for physical aggression.

-Y'know that pervasive myth that girls suck at math? Indiscernable difference.

I encourage anyone psychologically or statistically minded to read it. It's not perfect, but it's well executed.

It is also not true that women are the “weaker sex.” Pinker documents the fact that boys are much more fragile, both physically and psychologically, than girls and hence require greater medical and psychiatric care. Men succumb to a larger number of diseases in much greater numbers than women do throughout their lives.

Ah, so now there ARE genetic differences? There's this saying I'm trying to think of... something about having your cake and eating it, too...

It's true that boys are physically weaker than girls at birth. Psychologically? That's a new one. I could dig up some research on this, but I have a feeling the only reason Dr. Kanazawa made this claim is because of an illusory correlation. Us silly feminists know that men are much less likely to seek health care throughout their lives because they are socialized to function independently and not ask for help. Could this large gap of disease-related deaths be because of--gasp!--gender roles, and not genetics?

Finally, modern feminism is evil because it ultimately makes women (and men) unhappy. In a forthcoming article in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania show that American women over the last 35 years have steadily become less and less happy, as they have made more and more money relative to men. Women used to be a lot happier than men despite the fact that they made much less money than men. The sex gap in happiness (in women’s favor) has declined in the past 35 years as the sex gap in pay (in men’s favor) narrowed.
Just a humble guess, but could women's increasing unhappiness have anything to do with the fact that--in addition to all that money women are apparently making now--women still do the majority of housekeeping and taking care of the children?
The feminist insistence that women behave like men and make as much money as men do may not be the sole reason for women’s rising levels of dissatisfaction with life; a greater incidence of divorce and single motherhood may also contribute to it.

And here all this time I thought I was walkin' and talkin' like a human being.

There are multiple reasons why divorce is so much more common these days: Western culture is incredibly individidualistic; sex ratios are lower, which encourages men to be less committed to any one partner; the stigma against divorce isn't nearly what it used to be, etc. I'd also like to note that it takes two to get a divorce. Married couples are still together as long as they've always been. The difference is that, instead of dying at younger ages, they're still alive and kickin' for a good long while. Until recent history, we've never had to adapt to living a monogamous lifestyle for any extravagent length of time.

Tell me, if until recently marriages were typically ended in one partner's death, and men are typically more likely to die at younger ages than women, why is it that divorce is now what makes women oh so unsatisfied?

The underyling notion behind this article is nothing more than misogyny. It's important to keep in mind that Dr. Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist. Ev psych has the amazing ability to connect the dots in ways other fields of psychology can't or don't. However, consider an evolutionary psychologist's motives: traditionally, we have been divided into a male-female world, and this divide has been maintained for thousands of years. It's easy to assume that the gender roles we come to expect in our day-to-day interactions are steeped in genetics simply because some of them may have once supported the human race's survival.

This is a tricky bridge, one I'm personally wary of. It's one thing to say "this is how were once were." It's another thing to say, "this is how we once were, and how we still are."


That said, light the candles! I'm 20!

foreverlasting: (Logan/Veronica)
I exist. I swear. In between rewatching the final episodes of Veronica Mars and preparing for finals and sweltering in my non-air-conditioned apartment, I've been sleeping. Occasionally. My professor dumped some graduate-level reading on us last week. I'm not a graduate, in case you were wondering. And I've been baking. I made brownies over the weekend and breaded macaroni last night.

Done with my classes on Thursday, and then I'll be back.
foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

I got into an interesting discussion with my Romantic Relationships prof during break today, but first, a flashback to a Washington Post article from 2008. It was published shortly after the final Twilight book hit the shelves. 

"Yet on some level, it seems that children may know human nature better than grown-ups do. Consider: The fascination that romance holds for many girls is not a mere social construct..."

Yes. Yes it is. 

"...it derives from something deeper. In my research on youth and gender issues, I have found that despite all the indoctrination they've received to the contrary, most of the hundreds of teenage girls I have interviewed in the United States, Australia and New Zealand nevertheless believe that human nature is gendered to the core..."

No. No it isn't. I don't care if thousands of uneducated, hormone-driven teenage girls tell you it is; it's still not gonna be.

And for the record, would someone like to point me in the direction of the big flashing sign that says, "GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, YOU ARE WHO YOU WANT TO BE"? No? What do you mean it doesn't exist, and so this mythological indoctrination of anti-gendered ideals couldn't possibly exist either?

More to the point: If teenage girls haven't been subjected to social norms depicting more than two possibilities for gender, or told that gender doesn't actually exist, how could they ever believe otherwise?

"...They are hungry for books that reflect that sensibility. Three decades of adults pretending that gender doesn't matter haven't created a generation of feminists who don't need men; they have instead created a horde of girls who adore the traditional male and female roles and relationships in the "Twilight" saga."

They seek out books that reflect gender roles because we teach them from birth that women and men are opposites and can only function when divided into separate boxes. They adore these roles because our media tells them exactly what they need to look like, be like, and act like. People like to laugh when I tell them that our media is teaching young girls that they should grow up to be saved by men, and then I point out shit like Twilight. Throughout the entire series, Bella doesn't do a damn thing for herself. Meanwhile, Edward controls her, operantly conditions her be with him, renders her utterly dependent on him, and Meyer portrays this as love. Teenage girls think this is love.

Let me state this simply.

ABUSE IS NOT LOVE.

Taking advantage of someone due to an inbalance of power IS NOT LOVE.

Now to get to what my professor was saying: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is the perfect reflection of the average teenage girl's romantic fantasy.

It's natural to obsess over a partner in a new relationship and part of the process. It's self-serving, because we constantly think about them, constantly want to be with them, which protects and promotes the relationship. This is fine, in and of itself. Where it becomes dangerous is when we combine this obsession with gender roles and effectively give the male-identified individual in the relationship more power than the female-identified individual.

We teach girls to obsess, to focus all their energy on being in a relationship. We. Teach. Them. We do this to them, we tell them that this is who they should be. And we tell them over and over and over again. Obsession might not be inherently negative, but when a girl/woman trades in her identity and free choice for a boy/man's and does so because society has been telling her she should since she could walk, we have a gender-based problem. Brushing it off the table by saying "Look here! Proof that this is what they want!" does nothing to address the issue.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Jacqueline Carey is quirky and funny. Apparently she was a psych major (!!!) and found that useful for writing. No joke. Among many, many other things, I'm a fan of Holly Lisle's use of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to brainstorm conflict. She read an excerpt from Naamah's Curse, as of yet unpublished sequel to her newly-released Naamah's Kiss, which unfortunately I still don't posess. However, I did recently finish Santa Olivia and she signed that. Written by any other author, I would have found the first couple chapters boring, but her writing style sold it for me. She said during the Q&A that there would be a sequel, though I don't know how I feel about that. I feels more like a one-shot to me.

A friend and I discussed Carey's Kushiel series on the way home. She's written 6 books, 2 trilogies, and has started a third trilogy, all within the same world. Continuing in the universe and sometimes with the same characters is tough. All too often it feels like--and I say this tentatively--authors write more than one book because that's what sells. Particularly within the SF/F realm. If they're smart, they'll leave a couple doors (or windows, as Jacqueline Carey says) open and when it comes down to a three-book deal, they can write more than one book, and the series will be fluidly connected. It's easy to pick out when authors, especially first-time authors, don't think they're going to be writing more than one book in that world or with those characters. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is one example (more on Twilight in another post). I have a strong hunch that Melanie Rawn did not intend for Dragon Prince to evolve into 2 trilogies. Not because the series itself was bad (it's amazing), but because the first book was so self-contained. I could be mistaken, but as it was her first published book I'm guessing she wrote it as a stand-alone, was at some point offered a multi-book deal, and went from there. The smooth transition from stand-alone to series is testimony to her skill as a writer above all.

Trilogies or series are what sell. When readers get hooked in a particular world, that's all they want to read (hence some of the outrage over Jacqueline Carey's switch to writing Santa Olivia, a completely different kind of book from her Kushiel series). Somehow, can Carey write an evocative series without it becoming trite or redundant (see: anything by Laurell K. Hamilton these days). Color me impressed.

Unfortunately, as much as I worship Anne Bishop's writing, I don't think the Black Jewels series needed to be continued past the trilogy timeline-wise.  I appreciated Dreams Made Flesh because it gave some closure and answered some questions, but Tangled Webs (albeit funny) seemed like a... complete tangent. The Shadow Queen seems like more of a return to her style in The Invisible Ring, but because it's after spoiler ), it's not the same world. The desperation that drove the characters in the trilogy and The Invisible Ring isn't there anymore. The characters may still have needs and conflict, but it isn't anywhere near the same scale. I'm still going to buy her books for as long as I can, especially if she switches to writing another, new world (don't touch Tir Alainn. Don't touch it. It's done, it's perfect, leave it alone). I still love her writing style. She's still my favorite author. But I think it's obvious that she didn't plan for these books past the trilogy, and her newer Black Jewels books don't resonate with me in the same way as the originals.

That said, meeting her was a buzz. She signed the copy of Daughter of the Blood I've been carrying around with me everywhere for the past 6 years, and a new copy of The Invisible Ring for a friend who introduced me to the books.

It's been a crazy week.
foreverlasting: (Butterflies)

Quick drive-by update for the curious:

-I met Anne Bishop on Thursday and must have babbled at her about how awesome she is for a solid 60 seconds. She read from The Shadow Queen and her voice sounded exactly like I could imagine Cassie's being.
-After getting back to Bellingham the next night at 7PM, I turned around and went back down to Seattle an hour later for salsa dancing at HaLo.
-Yes, I am crazy. Yes, I am going back down to Seattle again, tomorrow, this time for Jacqueline Carey's signing. Oh my.

Back to analyzing Romeo & Juliet  through a reactance theory lens.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
My first final was at the grudgingly early time of 8AM. Not a fan, but I think I passed. Afterwards I crashed in bed to the sound of Kiki packing and dreamed of faeries and curses. When I came to, we had the following conversation:

Kayla: "You're so weird."
Kiki: "Like you're not? You're a psych major."
Kayla: "I'm justified. You're not."
Kiki: "Who're you to judge me?!?!"
Kayla: "...a psych major."


On an unrelated note, I've been the victim of hiccups off and on all day. The record is currently at 5 separate sets.

I'd also like to note the significance of the 5 typed as a number, rather than spelled out. This, ladies, gentlemen, and gender-benders, is the direct result of becoming a slave to the psych department. I used to be well-versed in MLA. Now, I practically breathe APA. I know, I know; it's saddening.


I was browsing Carolyn Jewel's site this afternoon, and ran across this pretty:

"By and large, Romances are written for women by women and historically and presently, the efforts and contributions of woman are culturally denigrated across the entire social spectrum. Professions once traditionally male often see a decline in prestige and wages when women enter the profession. If men were to read and/or admit they read, romances, the reputation of the genre would soar. Romances exist in a ghetto and a lot of readers simply never take notice of them because they're not mainstream fiction. Romances need to leave the ghetto."
 
From a feminist standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. I more than agree that romance as a genre is a powerful, pro-woman industry. Unfortunately, every time I read a romance and I find myself mocking the characters for their trite and over-played gender roles, I have to wonder whether romance novels leaving the ghetto will honestly do any good. It's may be a female-run industry, but is it truly feminist?

More on that when I have my thoughts in order. Back to studying for Stats.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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