Some people send me a ton of forwards, and for over a year I’ve been letting them accumulate in a folder in my email. Over the last month I’ve been going through them; I’m down from about 800 to 150. If I read one that’s really funny, I pass it on to a few select people. If I see something really stupid, I usually delete it without a thought. But every now and then I come across one that is in really bad taste, making me wonder why it was sent to me. Here is an email I just encountered which falls into the latter category:
A New Mouse for Women
After years of research, scientists have discovered that women do not like the standard mouse given away with PC’s. Scientists found that there is not a physical reason for their aversion; It is more of a Psychological problem.
Some women reported that their mouse ‘just didn’t feel right’ in their hands. Based on the research,a new mouse has been designed especially for women.
Various field tests have been carried out on the new design:
Julie from Hounslow said:-
‘It feels so much better. More comfortable, more like how it’s supposed to be’
Susan from Chelmsford added:-
‘I think mice were originally designed just for men, but this new type is definitely made for women. It fits right in with my lifestyle’
Hillary from Kent :said –
‘I took to it like a duck to water, every woman should have one’!
Sally From London Said –
“It feels so natural”
Now I know it’s supposed to be something stupid that you read quickly and then ignore, but I don’t want to let this one go. This email is problematic because it is perpetuating stereotypes about women. It’s women who are supposedly having this “psychological problem.” Yet I know of some guys who are more apt to iron something than I am. Why should they be excluded from this mouse which is supposedly just for women? And why should this mouse be designed especially for me because I am a woman, even though I do not iron clothes? I think I’ll stick to a normal mouse, thank you!
Here is an example of another mouse I found. You can bet money that this one wasn’t designed with women in mind:
There is nothing “natural” about the feeling of an iron in your hand, be you male or female. But by saying it is natural for women to be using an iron is perpetuating stereotypes about women being the ones to take care of the domestic work in a house. But really, why should I complain? Women can have their iron-shaped mice, and guys can have their sports-car shaped mice, right? This is another good example of just how robust patriarchy is. Both of these mice are stereotyping people, women as domestics and men as car guys. There is nothing wrong with a woman liking cars and a man liking ironing.
We need to be aware of such stereotypes and try to keep them from spreading.
When I first read Klages’ chapter on Feminism, I was a bit confused by the idea that women, being further away from the central controlling influence of the system, have more play. Weren’t women stuck with narrowly defined roles in the past, which they weren’t able to eaily break out of? I’m thinking of the idea of the housewife, or the idea that women cannot leave the house without an escort/being veiled/etc. And don’t men have equally strict roles (the breadwinner, the one who has to deal with the problem, etc)?
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it is tue that women have more play; it’s just not in the way I was originally thinking. It’s okay if a girl is a tomboy; people aren’t really bothered by it. But if a boy is more feminine, then he better watch out! Boys are still encouraged to be “manly,” while there is a lot more leeway for a girl to go against the gender norm.
Today we discussed Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto. During the discussion, we started talking about how we are cyborgs because of the devices which become a part of ourselves, or the medication which we use. Our discussion focussed mainly on cell phones, ipods and Facebook. Well, I’ve got one device that I think fits the bill even better than a cell phone: my insulin pump.
This is my current pump, a Minimed 522.
I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for almost 20 years. With Type 1, your pancreas completely stops making insulin, which is why you have to go onto insulin injections; Type 1 is not lifestyle related, so you cannot control it with diet or pills. Several years ago, I decided to go onto an insulin pump, which has made my life a lot better; for all intents and purposes, I can now eat whatever I want whenever I want. Whenever I eat something, I push a few buttons and the pump gives me insulin. My pump functions like the pancreas of someone without diabetes except for two things: I have to tell it how much insulin I need when I eat, and it is on the outside of my body.
A few years ago, my pump died on me and I had to go back onto injections for the few days while the new one was on its way; those were the most miserable days of my life! I couldn’t believe I used to deal with injections on a regular basis – it was so much more regimented! That incident showed me just how much my insulin pump has become a part of me. My insulin pump is like a slightly annoying body part – it’s with me all the time, and when it’s not getting caught on door knobs, I rarely think about it. And while it isn’t implanted in me, I think it definitely qualifies me for cyborg status.
This morning, my alarm woke me up with the song “Never Again” by Nickleback. I’ve heard this song lots of times and don’t really pay attention to the lyrics all that much. But this time, they did catch my attention. For example, here are the first two verses:
He’s drunk again, it’s time to fight
She must have done something wrong tonight
The living room becomes a boxing ring
It’s time to run when you see him
Clenching his hands
She’s just a woman
I hear her scream, from down the hall
Amazing she can even talk at all
She cries to me, Go back to bed
I’m terrified, That she’ll wind up dead
In his hands, She’s just a woman
After our discussion about patriarchy in class, I thought this song was a particularly well-timed example of the ideology of patriarchy. First of all, it demonstrates violence against women (or a repressive state apparati, to use the terminology from the course). Her boyfriend/husband/father/whomever is drunk and beating her up. But more insidiously, this song also demonstrates an ideological state apparati: the line “She’s just a woman” appears over and over again, implying that the woman is inferior, and helpless. While the end of the song’s story shows that she is not helpless, as she deals with the problem once and for all, this line appears six times within the song’s lyrics, and two of these instances are after she’s dealt with the man.
The full lyrics can be found here.
I really thought I was done. No more Freud, at least for this class. And then I started reading Klages’ chapter on Feminist theory and I realized how wrong I was. Klages looks at two prominent poststructuralist feminist theorists, Helene Cixous and Luce Irigaray. And both of them are deconstructing psychoanalysis, both Freud and Lacan. The section on Cixous wasn’t too bad, looking mostly at Lacan. But the section on Irigaray has been non-stop Freud. And while I realize that there are many problems with Freud’s psychoanalysis, especially in regards to women, Irigaray seemed to go out of her way to be ridiculously radical.