Tag Archives: patriarchy

Forwards

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. 

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Mutant Chronicles

*SPOILER ALERT*

I found Mutant Chronicles while I was at work several weeks ago.  I initially didn’t have enough time to watch it, so I brought it back before borrowing it again; I finally watched it earlier today with a friend.

Mutant Chronicles takes place in the distant, steam-punk future.  10,000 years previously, an alien machine crash-landed on Earth.  It started turning people into mutants.  A hero and his followers were able to seal the machine away and their descendants have guarded the knowledge of the machine.  But now, the seal has been blasted open during a skirmish between two warring factions, awakening the machine.  Once again the mutants are spewing out of it, killing, maiming, and making more mutants from the fallen. 

A monk, one of the people who guards the knowledge of the machine, has assembled a team to go on a suicide mission in an attempt to destroy the machine.  He is following an ancient prophecy that there will come someone who will save them from the mutants and the machine; the monk believes he is that man.  They have with them a piece they took from the machine millenia earlier, which they believe is a bomb; unfortunately they do not have the key to activate it. 

What was most interesting was the way the mutants themselves behaved.  My initial reaction was that the mutants were controlled by some sort of hive-mind consciousness that directed them to only attack men.  There was a scene early in the movie where a woman and her child were caught between soldiers and mutants; the mutants ignored the woman and child, attacking the soldiers.  Of course, I assumed at the time that they were directed to go after the threat.

Another thing I noticed was that all of the mutants seemed to be men.  While not caring too much (it is a B movie afterall), I thought it was a bit sexist.  But otherwise, I assumed that the mutants were rampaging around the planet, slaughtering everyone to make more mutants.  This is reinforced by the majority of the population evacuating the planet, heading to Mars in a desperate attempt to escape and survive.

But after the movie was over, my friend and I started discussing some of these things, and we discovered that the movie is a lot more complex than it first appeared.  This all stemmed from the mutants’ behaviour.  There is a scene where the monk’s team is in a ruined city.  While hiding, they see a small group of mutants head into a building.  When they get to a large, open area they discover a large mob of refugees consisting of women, children and the elderly trying to board a ship to Mars; the mutants had come from this direction, but apparently left the mob alone.   This was reinforced by a shot of a lone mutant on a rooftop, watching.  If the mutants were slaughtering everyone, they would have easily destroyed this group of people, but they left them alone.

John Malkovich's Character Surrounded by Mutants

The second odd instance concerns a scene near the end of the movie.  The monk’s team consists of two women, both of whom are relatively good fighters (one of the women accompanied the monk throughout the movie and was absolutely amazing with a sword, while the other one usually fought with guns).  There is a scene where one of the male members of the group falls from a ledge into a group of mutants; the rest of the group jumps down to try to save him.  Unfortunately, after a valiant fight, things go really badly.  One guy is killed outright from a minor explosion.  Everyone else who was in the fight, except the woman with the swords, ends up stabbed and dragged off to the machine.  This includes the second woman.  So the mutants weren’t just taking men; they were taking anyone who fought against them.  They were taking soldiers.

So all in all, I was impressed that this level of detail was present within Mutant Chronicles.   At first it appears to be a very stereotypical movie.  But on a deeper level, the mutants were being extremely tactical.  They attacked only those who fought back, thereby taking people who would make the best soldiers.  The mutants were not being sexist – they were just responding to the sexist nature of human culture within the movie.

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Play in Patriarchy?

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.

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