Monday, June 25, 2012

Miniver Cheevy: Consent

Miniver Cheevy: Consent
Thinking about the rules of the game of Lets Get Laid.
The following comment appearing there is dependent on that post and comments.

I think the major problem for both men and women is "Getting laid." That is there are two types of sex. The patriarchial patterns are based on men sowing their seed wildly in their youth and (theoretically) more responsibly in their maturity. But in any event the woman is always a rapee. Willing or not.

The idea of getting laid, that is recreational sex with no seed sown either due to infertility or a barrier of some sort is a very recent phenomenon. As recently as my youth (1950's) there was no such thing. Both men and women have learn the new rules of recreational sex. The most important part of Niki's post was the last line "Still, I think all people must face that shame and confusion and embrace the awkward confusion that sexual communication creates." Learning the rules of a new game particularly when they are being written over the rules of the oldest games in The Book are never easy, and communication is the key. A lot of empathy helps also.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gender Inclusive Pronouns

Back in the mid 20th Century the feminist movement tried with some success to ban the generic use of "men" and "man" as in "All men are created equal." In current vernacular they have succeeded quite well. In some Churches led by UUs they even succeeded in removing male references to God in large part by eliminating the pronoun alltogether, resulting in some rather weird hymnody with repetitive use of God and some strangled syntax to eliminate references directly to God.

I was frequently involved in God discussions at that time and found the effort of avoiding the Pronouns for God too much effort and found the shock of using Hesh and Herm in reference to God a useful result in my discussions. Typically it generated the assertion that God was male and that the proper Pronouns were He and His. This generally derailed the discussion into a useful discussion of God's testosterone levels.

When I came to beliefnet I continued the practice and for a long time linked on the words to a discussion on the old Gender and Sexuality boards. When I began to see "hesh" and "hir" or "herm" in the popular literature without explanation, (I admit to noticing each time) I quit linking particularly on this and the UU boards as everyone could figure out what I meant without the link from context although fundamentalist Christians and language conservatives continue to protest its use in reference to God.

As a card carrying male feminist I also eliminated the gender specific pronouns from my vocabulary as a general pronoun and use "hesh" and "herm" as my pronouns of choice when the gender of the referent is not known. This is particularly useful in calling attention to gender specific terms like "Actor," Waitress," or "Chairman." Traditionalists be damned. They need their consciousness raised. If it jars their reading or hearing of the term, they still need the consicousness raising.

More recently I have been using the terms when the referent is of known gender but the gender is not relevant in context. Reference to the author of a scientific paper was beat into my head by my then wife whose papers in a male chauvinist academic profession were referred to as "HER" papers as if they were therefore less important than "his" papers. They in fact were less important than "his" papers, even though in general they were signifiicantly better. It is no accident that women in science generally publish with initials only. Those who are members of misogynic religions need to have their consciousness raised. If they are offended by having to think about gender, too bad. They need to. Particularly the sexist males. They can be sure I intended to insult them with the gender inclusive pronoun.

As for the ESL issue, some languages particularly Asian languages are non-sexist in that the pronouns are non-specific. I live with Asians and have become used to hearing "she" and "her" being used as a pronoun for anybody. I don't bother to correct them as they are on my side. I suspect Asians would have more trouble with "he" and "she" in writing and speech than they would be with "hesh" and "herm."

Other languages are inherently sexist. I was at the installation of a new department head couldn't even introduce his staff because his native language didn't have a word for a female collegue. He did all right with the men, but the female who outranked the men caused an embarrassing for all search for an appropriate honorific.

A Buddhist on immortality

I didn't have a lot of words of comfort for my dad then, but if he were here now, I'd tell him: you are going to live forever. Not floating around on a cloud, or at some bizzare feast with harps and angels, but in the actions of those you touched, and the people they touch, and so on.

I'd heard this concept before from humanists and such, and it always seemed kind of thin to me, sort of a "salvation lite" attempt at comforting the bereaved without bringing a god into it. But since my father's death, I've seen this in action, and I am here to testify, it is real. I see it in myself, when I catch a stranger's eye and smile. That's not someting that's native to me, or something I learned from a book. It's something my dad taught me by modeling it over and over, and I've seen it have profound effects on relationships with other people. I see it in my niece, when she plants a garden anywhere she stops for awhile, and when she shares the fruits with friends and neighbors. I see it in all my family, when we forgive each other again and again for our differences and misunderstandings, and stand beside each other when it counts.

I don't know if I am conveying this very well, but this revelation is meaningful to me. I can see it, I can feel it, I can watch people pass it on. It's immortality of a fine and active kind, and all of us can have it. We just have to live like it matters, and people around us will take care of the rest.
These thoughts are why atheists generally have days of remembrance or celebration rather than funerals, so we can share those little, and big influences the deceased had on our lives and the society of which we are a part.

While many of those influences are anonymous, those that are important know but it doesn't really matter. While you are alive you know, and that is a more certain immortality than any little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the over decorated balcony can provide.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Funny thing is that reality has a "liberal bias". Steven Guy