Wednesday, February 23, 2005


The extent to which I am willing to live in complete and utter sloth during midterms and finals weeks amuses and saddens me. Seriously. If my camera were working, I would take a picture. Soda cans everywhere, clothes strewn about, bits of paper all over the floor, cups and other eating supplies that ought to have been washed by this point... The kitchen is even worse. I try not to go in there anymore, otherwise I will be confronted by an overwhelming need to do the stacked up dishes. This weekend, I tell myself, I will get it all done. But, next week I have more essays and tests. If I can just hold out a bit longer--spring break is the week after next. Yes, then I will have a live-able apartment. More livable, anyway.

Teacher/student sex scandals

I find this interesting. Now, it's just wrong when a teacher has sex with a student. I'm totally not disputing that. It is an egregious abuse of power, especially when students are so young. The thing is, it seems like almost every case that I've heard about recently has been a female teacher with a male student. But, I would be very much surprised if it didn't happen the other way around just as, if not more, frequently.

I mean, I've talked to several people who say that it definitley happened at their schools. One person knows a couple who's been married for 10 years that first started having sex when he was a high school teacher/coach and she was in tenth grade.

So, I wonder if the greater attention given to these cases has anything to do with the fact that we view older male/younger female as somehow "normal" and aren't as weirded out by them?

I don't know... I have no clue if they are indeed more prevalent. I'm just guessing. It seems weird though.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Jennifer=Queen of Gender and Education! I was worried about my test. It turns out I had no reason to be! *is really happy*

But, alas, I have two more tests this week and an essay to write. Tonight. So I shan't blog for long. Off to write!

While not studying for my test...

I found this. It's about former Bogotá Mayor Antanas Mockus, a math professor who decided to run for mayor. The article talks about some of his programs, which I found really exciting.

--The city streets are notoriously unsafe for women. Mockus declared a "Night for Women" where men were supposed to stay home and take care of the children, while concerts and specials in bars and restaurants for women gave them a night on the town. It actually worked. The mens' curfew was voluntary, but many abided by it. The Mayor encouraged the men to use that evening to think about women's role in society.

--Water usage was too high, so he filmed a commercial of himself in the shower, encouraging everyone else to, like him, turn the water off when soaping up. Water usage subsequently dropped 14% and continued to fall.

--He asked citizens to pay 10% in extra, voluntary taxes. And they did it. The city brought in more than three times the amount of money it had in 1990.

--Mockus put mimes on the street to improve the traffic. The shadowed pedestrians who broke the rules, mocking whatever they did. They also made fun of bad drivers.

--To restore morale in the city, he dressed up as a superhero: "Supercitizen"

Seriously, this guy is the sort of creative leader that we need today. Maybe they don't have to wear red capes. Or air commercials of themselves in the shower. But, Mockus shows us that a little creativity can go a long way.


Something about the weather today is positively cheery. The birds are singing, there is a slight breeze. It's sunny, but not hot. But, more than that, it feels like spring. Today is, in general, a Very Good Day, and there's no reason why. Which is the best kind, really.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Jennifer the AMAZING Procrastinator, installment 2

This is an illustration to my last post. And, it is also another way to procrastinate. And use my nifty scanner.


Before college, I read voraciously. All during classes, at night when I should have been sleeping--I always had a book, and was transported to different times and places. I took on the roles of different people. Sure, I had "real life," but fiction was how I really lived.

Since I came to college, I got a real life. And I also got alot of school work. And alot of books. And I became totally and completley fascinated by sociology. When I read books in my spare time, they were sociological. I don't think I had read a fiction book that was not for class in three years (not a new one, anyway; I'd re-read books that I liked, but that doesn't count, really).

But, recently someone suggested Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to me, so, when I was in the library on Saturday I decided to pick it up. I started it yesterday, and finished it just now. Wow. I had forgotten the thrill that came with a good piece of fiction. The way time just soars by. You look at the clock and it's 2am, and the next time you emerge from the pages it's 5:30 and you realize that you ought to get to bed. That's what I miss.

The writing in this book was stunning. It would be easy to compare this book to Orwell's 1984 (which is due for a re-read!), but I think there is so much more to it. It, too, deals with the role of language in constructing our reality. Women in this future society are known soley in terms of their function: Wives, Handmaids, or Marthas. Their names denote their "owner." The narrator's new name is Offred (Of Fred).

In this new political system that emerges, womens' bodies are political tools. They are only good for reproductive labor. Handmaids are there for when upper class women are unable to have children (taken from the Bible). Marthas cook and clean. Women cannot vote, hold jobs, or even read. There is a strong "pro-woman" rhetoric that is belied by their constant oppression. Women are complicit in this. Given nominal bits of power over other women, they are complacent with their lot.

The narrator splices her tale throughout with fragmented memories. The reader is left with more questions than answers. The, ending, especially, is frustrating and at the same time satisfying. There could be no other ending.

I could go on and on. But I won't. I have homework to do. It's tempting to go check out some more fiction. Any recommendations? I'm afraid, though, that if I let myself back into the dark abyss that is fiction, I'll never find my way out again! I'm (mostly) kidding. But, I do have homework to get done and papers to write and (non-fiction) books to read...

Father Ted

The highest concentration of writing/study hours occurs, for me, on Sunday afternoons/evenings/nights. It's when I write the most essays, get the most work done on major papers, it's when I do the bulk of the reading for classes early on in the week. So, by 1am, I'm tired and quite in need of a break.

So, for at least a year, Sunday nights at 1:00am on the local PBS station, KERA 13, "Father Ted" has been my weekly ritual.

I never laugh out loud when watching TV by myself. It's not that I don't find things amusing, but rarely do I find them laugh-out-loud funny. But "Father Ted" regularly has me (not quite literally, but almost) rolling on the floor.

For those of you who don't know what it is (which, I suspect, is most of you), it is a British comedy that aired in the mid-to-late 1990s. It's set in Ireland, on Craggy Island, where Father Ted Crilly, along with the very, very dim Father Dougal McGuire and the perpetually drunk-or-asleep Father Jack, is the parish priest. They have a housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle, who loves making loads of tea and sandwiches, for everyone who doesn't want them.

The comedy ranges from totally immature to slapstick to character comedy to satire to anarchistic. It is all of these at once. It is hilarious! The very low-budget-ness of it all makes it even better.

They show it on PBS without commercial breaks at all, so it is only 20 minutes long. But, not until tonight, when I missed it by falling asleep, did I realize what an important part of my week those twenty minutes are. It's become a ritual. As those of you who know me are aware, I get into habits (good or bad) and it's hard to change them. This, somewhat unbeknownst to me, has become a weekly habit. I didn't miss it 'till it was (temporarily) gone.

Anyway, to get my weekly hit, I decided to go online, convinced that for such a wonderful show, there must be loads of websites about it. I was not disappointed. I now feel compelled to share some of the sheer hilarity of it with you, by giving you a few select quotes:

"Did you know you could praise the Lord, just by leaving the room?" --Ted to Dougal

Father Fitzpatrick: And this is the last known photo of Herr Hitler; he's signing a few death warrants there.
Ted: Funny how you get more right-wing as you get older!

Dougal: Sorry Ted. I was concentrating too hard on looking holy.

Dougal: God, I've heard about those cults Ted. People dressing up in black and saying Our Lord's going to come back and save us all.
Ted: No, Dougal, that's us. That's Catholicism.
Dougal: Oh right.

Ted: Dougal, don't you think that if we put this baby's moustache, this baby's head hair and this baby's sideboards together we'd get....Pat Mustard?
Dougal: D'you think the babies could be copying his style?
Ted: No, Dougal, I think Pat Mustard's been delivering more than just dairy products, if you see what I mean.
Ted: Do you?
Dougal: No.

Ted: I'm not a fascist. I'm a priest. Fascists dress up in black and tell people what to do. Whereas priests......More drink!

Re-reading those quotes just now, I realize that you may not find them as funny as I do. I have a few hypotheses about this. 1) Perhaps one must hear them in their context, both situational and thematic. 2) It is possible that I've chosen poor quotes. I've just picked these from websites devoted to "Father Ted." I can actually recall quite a few funnier things, but not well enough to quote them, so I didn't. 3) It's possible that the show itself is not all that funny. Rather, my enjoyment of it stems more from my context... I am watching it after spending hours and hours on academic-y things, so anything is funny. 4) We must always consider the option that you simply lack a sense of humor and thus don't appreciate the genius of "Father Ted" (or at least those select quotes).

Either way. I'm off to bed. I've gotten my Sunday night Father Ted fix.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A random rant (as promised in the title of this blog)

For many reading this (well, in no sense do "many" people read this, but many of those who do), my rant won't be anything new or shocking about the world. But, grr.

When men do things that women are "supposed" to do, they get extra credit for it. If a man cooks dinner, or if he spends alot of time with his kids, he's super-awesome. If a woman does it, well, duh. Isn't that her job?

This is not new or surprising, but in the past 24 hours I have seen like four blatant examples of this, and it's starting to annoy me!

First off, I was with two of my friends, and one was talking about a guy in one of her classes who is a single dad, raising a four year old son because the mom left as soon as he was born. The other friend said, "oh, that's awesome that he's doing that!" As if he's so special because he's taking care of his child. I mean, how often do we talk about how wonderful single mothers are? I pointed out that he didn't have that much of a choice in the matter. If the mom left, he was stuck with the kid. Not that what he's doing isn't tough, and not that it's not good that he didn't abandon the child or something--but I never hear anyone talking about how wonderful a woman is if she's had a child and the dad decides not to be present at all.

I guess alot of it has to do with the fact that we view pregnancy as a woman's "fault" rather than the man's. When teenage couples get pregnant, somehow it's the girls' fault, at least in society's eyes. They're the "gatekeepers." They're also the ones responsible for birth control. Now, I'm all for teaching birth control to every teenager, boys and girls. And I think that girls ought to know enough to prevent pregnancy. But so should boys. That way, when a man is raising a child alone, it's not seen as some wonderful, altruistic thing he's doing, while a woman in a similar situation is seen as reaping the consequences of her irresponsible actions. grr.

With this fresh in my mind, this sort of thing kept standing out to me all yesterday and today. While being a lazy bum and watching sitcom reruns on Nick at Nite rather than studying for my several midterms next week, I noticed it alot. Men are wonderful when they take care of the kids, cook meals, etc. Whereas women are expected to do it. We don't even notice it until they don't do it, and then we blame them for not doing their "job."

Anyway, sorry for going on and on and repeating myself.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Census follow-up

Well, as you can see below, I decided to take a census of my "readers." Here's the thing: it doesn't work if you don't respond. Now, don't worry going down there and quickly commenting to make me feel better. My feelings are already hurt.

Thank you to Kitty and Jeremy for actually responding. Those comments did provide the requested self-esteem boost because they're actually people I don't know in real life--who, at least once, looked at my blog!

As for the rest of you: four of you sent me a message saying, "hey, I saw your post. I read your journal!" For some (no doubt mental disorder related) reason, I need to see it in the comments to believe it. Was it really and truly a great big hassle to click on "Post a Comment" and say something like, "This is _____ and I'm reading right now." ?

You all disappoint me.

(But I still love you. And if you get blogs I will always comment.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dr. Daniel's blog(??)

Could this be for real? It would be sort of cool if it were.

In which the author seeks a self esteem boost

I've been told by an authority on the subject that a "proper blog" must be updated at least twice a day. I average around twice a week. But a proper blog has more than two readers. I'm not convinced that this one does. So different rules must apply here.

But, out of curiousity, I am going to take an official Random Rants and Ravings census. No matter who you are, whether you randomly stumbled upon this site or read it regularly (ha!), if you are reading this post, take a moment and comment. Just anything. Give me some confidence!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"Biblical Masculinity"

Tonight on the way back from Denison I was listening to the radio. I had intended to come home and rant on here about the right winger I listened to who was saying Bush was justified in cutting funding for Amtrak because government shouldn't be in the business of subsidizing transportation. Now, I don't know enough about the history/uses of Amtrak to say whether it was a legitimate cut or not. But, it's like, dude, come on. Think about the highway system, think about the billion-dollar bailouts given to the airline industry. We certainly subsidize transportation in this country, and that is a Good Thing.

And, no doubt, I would have gone on and on and on about this (and other ridiculous, living-in-some-alternate-reality stuff that he was saying (like, Europeans killing off Native Americans wasn't so bad because Native Americans had wars and were killing themselves off anyway... dude!)). But, I found something marginally more interesting and certainly more enraging.

Before I go on, I am putting this disclaimer here: I have never read anything by John Eldredge and my only exposure to his work was tonight on NPR and the page for his book, Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul.

So, the topic on Religion Talk tonight was "Are Christian Men Wimps?" John Eldredge came on to talk. His opinion was that, yes, indeed they are. We have "feminized" the church and taught men to become "really nice, sensitive guys" rather than the men (who are wild at heart) that God created them to be. Now, he starts off by quoting Proverbs 20:5, saying that it says "The heart of a man is like deep water..." Well, having a Bible there in the car (by this point I had already arrived back at my apartment and was just sitting out there listening to this story cause it was interesting), I decided to look it up and see its context.

The problem is that... oops... Eldredge totally 1) cut off the sentence it was in and 2) changed the meaning of the phrase!! Here's what it really says (according to the KJV I had in my car... weird translation to randomly have, but it was one of those little bitty ones that found its way in there somehow): "Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water." Umm. Not quite the same thing, Mr. Eldredge. Yet he says his entire book is premised off this verse. Makes me question the entire premise of his book, really.. :-)

But, this thinking has just now set me off on a tangent. Let's assume for one moment that Eldredge had actually not taken the quote out of context. "The heart of a man is like deep water." Are we to believe that this only applied to men, rather than to men and women? How did we decide this? Is every reference to "man" or "men" in the Bible solely meant to be for/refer to men? I can't think of a single person who would actually contend this. So, yeah, even if he weren't blatantly ripping off this verse to make his own point, it would still be suspect. How can we know that the author of this saying wasn't referring to "man" in the general, everybody, sexist way?

I also have issues with his rendering of the story told in Genesis for its gender implications. He talks about how man was formed before Eden (the super-cool, paradise-like place God gave humans before the Fall) and thus he has always had this longing in his heart for more. He was born in the "outback," (aka creation before it was "tamed"). Eve, the woman, however, had only known domesticated Eden, and thus lacked this innate desire for adventure and danger. I don't know whether he is viewing the creation story literally or metaphorically (he may say in the book, but he didn't in the interview), but his implications are troubling. Some people may have other, theological issues with him. He seemed to be suggesting that man (the gender-specific term) was better off (and in a more suitable environment) before God gave him Eden to live in. Only when man sinned (non gender specific) was he (again, meaning he and she) kicked out of this place that repressed his (now meaning just male) inner desires and put in the world, where he could fulfill his longings and desires.

Any theologians out there have opinions on this? Anyone read Eldredge? Did he just get way off in the interview, or does he believe this, and is this acceptable from a mainstream Christian POV?

He talks about God as "dangerous" and "wild," as men should be. He says that God took a "risk" in creating Adam and Eve, not knowing if they would obey or not. So, umm, God didn't know what was going to happen? God was surprised when man (non gender specific) sinned? Again, going back to what I believe to be mainstream Christian doctrine, I don't think many would say that God takes risks, because the very essence of risk is not knowing what's coming next and taking a gamble on it. But, the thing is, God (in the Christian worldview) is omniscient and omnipresent. Adam didn't shock or surprise God. This "dangerous" side of men that Eldredge wants to cultivate, this risk taking side, may be a very good thing, but, is it really godly (in the sense that it is god-like)?

I found Eldredge's numerous references to militarism very interesting, but will likely save that for another post about masculinity and militarism in general.

He made some interesting points about how we have "feminized" Jesus in the modern church. He didn't have anything much to say on that point, but I think it is a fascinating one. Certainly, people of all periods in time have constructed "Jesus" to their liking. I am not using quotation marks here to deny the existance of a historical Jesus but to point out that our view of his personality is deeply shaped by our culture. During the early 20th century, when America was having a bit of a masculinity crisis (not unlike now), we saw a tough, macho Jesus (similar to the one Eldredge wishes to present). At other times we see the suffering saint, sometimes it's the lover of children, sometimes it's the godlike, righteous man. Jesus, in some eras, takes on a "feminine" persona, and in others is given very masculine characteristics (we focus on his confrontations with demons, his turning over the temple tables, etc). I find this fascinating. I want to study (and I've been saying this for a while, so who knows when I'll get to it) representations of Jesus, and the divine in general, over time to see how different periods portray him. Any thoughts on this social construction of how we think about/relate to Jesus?

Now, on to my most broad point of argument with Eldredge. He talks about how men (gender-specific) are supposed to be like God and Jesus. Well, sure. No Christians would disagree. But, aren't women supposed to be like them as well? I mean, come on, it's not like God is a man after all. S/He has no gender!! I won't debate Jesus's biological male-ness, but that's sort of irrelevant to my point. Wouldn't Christians all say that Jesus is the role model for... all Christians (gender-inclusive)? Or should women take the long-suffering, patient parts of his personality and men take the table-turning, adventurous parts? Again, I can't think of a single Christian that would really contend this.

So, here is my overall challenge, to anyone who cares, Christian or not, theologian or not: What is Biblical masculinity? Don't give me some weak answer about imitating God/Jesus. Shouldn't everyone do that? Don't talk about "examples" of Biblical masculinity in abstract terms. Give me concrete, specific people and what they did that exemplifies how men (and, importantly, not women) should act. Better yet--give me adjectives: strong, adventurous, outdoors-y. But don't just give me adjectives. Tell me why you think what you think. How is "Biblical Masculinity" different from "Biblical Femininity"?

Or tell my why my question is silly/flawed.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Does this strike anyone else as ironic??

In talking about his "Passport to Manhood" program:

"We want to show an ideal of manhood that respects life and rejects violence," said Bush, who is leading the effort.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Smoking is bad... for your lungs and your job.

I just heard this on All Things Considered a few minutes ago. Basically, this company requires all of its employees to be smoke-free in a year or they're fired (or they can resign). The company has good reasons for this: employees who smoke drive up health care costs. The company offers to pay for programs and supplies to help quit smoking. But, if after a year you test positive to random nicotene tests... you're outta there.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a reasonable attempt by a company to 1)reduce costs, and 2)protect their employees? I agree that it's legal. We have laws protecting people from being fired/not hired due to race, ethnicity, gender, and even alcoholism (per the ADA, as long as it doesn't affect work performance), but stuff like this (private behavior) is out in the open. (Some states do have laws protecting from discrim. based on lifestyle, which would include things like this.)

Should companies be able to regulate private behavior? Can we not hire people because they eat junk food, engage in risky hobbies (motorcycling, parachuting), don't practice safe sex, etc? To what extent is this "okay" for companies to do?

Where would we draw the line? Any thoughts?

"Reading too much into it"

This is for all of you who tell me constantly that I "read too much into things." This is scanned in from an assignment for Gender and Education:

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Straight Pride Week

If you don't want to go read the article: basically, a bunch of College Republicans at a school in Oklahoma are having a "Straight Pride Week."

This reminds me of when people had the whole "Conservative Coming Out Day" on the same day as the National Come Out Day. Totally insenstive, really. Making fun of people when they are at their weakest.

Now, I've heard from a few people similar arguments, "What's wrong with being proud of being straight?" Nothing. I'm straight. And I'm "proud" (if you can call it that) of being attracted to men. However, "pride," in the sense of "gay pride" is less about celebrating one's attractions as celebrating one's ability to be oneself. It's celebrating how far our society has come (and recognizing how far it has yet to go).

Here's the thing though: if anyone says that this is about being "proud" of being straight, I think they're being disingenous. The point of this is not to celebrate attraction to the opposite sex. We celebrate that in our culture everyday. Going with the definition of pride in the previous paragraph, straight people have no need to celebrate the ability to be oneself. They always have that option.

Gay people do not. They can't talk about significant others at work. They can't have pictures on their desks.

No, the point of "Straight Pride Week" is to go against gay people. I can't really think of a reason that someone who wasn't anti-gay would really need a "straight pride week."

This makes me think of someone doing something like "white pride week." Is there anything wrong with being proud of one's heritage, white or not? Absolutley not. Is there a need for a "white pride week"? Absolutley not. White people have their history and heritage affirmed every day, on television, in the media, in text books, and in countless other ways.

Just like blackness, homosexuality is associated with threats of physical violence. Think of yourself as a black person in the segregationist south, where lynchings and assaults are common. Now, what would White Pride Week mean to you? It would mean a constant fear. Now, think of today, where reports about of men and women being killed and assaulted because of their sexuality (suspected or real). Just as then, most of these crimes aren't reported by the media. But they happen. And people are afraid. What does Straight Pride Week mean to gay people? It increases the fear, the threat level.

I'm sorry. But the very idea of this week is offensive to me. Not because of the idea of being proud and open about sexuality but because of the anti-gay sentiment that is behind it. I think the test would be is this: would this group be willing to have a "Gay-Straight Pride Week"? Would they be willing to celebrate the diversity of sexuality?

All year is Straight Pride Year. They aren't just the majority, they are the default.

But, yeah, go ahead and have your Straight Pride Week. Then your White Pride Week. Then your Rich Pride Week. I know how difficult it is to be one.