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06:27 pm: Women must be Men: Mourning the Lost of the “Spirit of Man”
When I was young, we all knew that the word ‘man’ meant everyone: men, women, children, etc. We all knew that 'he' in a document, meant us women, too. The language made sense to us, because it had always held that explanation.
 
Then came the idea that language was oppressing us. This week, I read a letter to my favorite magazine complaining that its articles still used the word Man to mean ‘the human race’ and would they please stop this, as it was degrading to women.
 
Meanwhile, in Hollywood, female performers now insist that they be called actors not actresses. Actress is demeaning.
 
When did it become demeaning to be female?
 
It is not people who call female performers actresses that I wish I could stop, but the people who believe that being an actress is not as good as being an actor…that one cannot be an actress. One must, in fact, be an actor.
 
Women cannot be women any more. We must be men. Or we’re not good enough.
 
No one wants to be an actress or a stewardess or a secretary. No one wants anything feminine, unless it is bawdily so, like defending a woman's rights to show her naked body in public or something.

Thank God – thanks to Disney – girls still want to be princesses!
 
And now, Man, which used to mean human being, doesn’t, and the beautiful words of the past are lost to us, no one understands them any more. No one wants or values the Spirit of Man.
 
Is there no longer hope for us all, ‘somewhere in the Spirit of Man’? Alas, Beth, apparently you died in vain. (I have no idea why there are Harry Potter visuals on this, but the song is just as beautiful and they are better than the other versions. You can always listen to it without watching.) 
 
Here is a longer version, with worse visuals, that explains the scene better, for those of you who are not already avid fans of War of The Worlds: the Musical. It include's Beth's wonderful line: "But they are not devils, they're Martians!"


Comments

[User Picture]
From:annafirtree
Date:June 9th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
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What's ironic is that, as women must be men, so men must be women: sensitive, never aggressive, never protective. It seems to me that our culture is in a headlong rush to deny that gender is anything but a meaningless accident.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 9th, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
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That's a very good point! You are right!

Our current culture values masculine and feminine qualities...but it values masculine qualties in women and feminine qualities in men.
[User Picture]
From:annafirtree
Date:June 9th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
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I think it only values masculine qualities in women and feminine qualities in men to the degree that these break previous cultural boundaries; ultimately, it seems to me that the direction we're heading in is a sort of androgynous state where there are no personality traits associated with women or men, and even physical gender is chosen at will. Gender as something meaningless, instead of as something God intended to be a part of us.

Of course, it's not exactly easy to say where the line is between oppressing someone by forcing them into a role that doesn't fit, and supporting masculine qualities in men and feminine qualities in women.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 15th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
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Yes! There must be some way to support masculine qualities in boys, etc. without oppressing anyone.

Nature should not rule, but it is not arbitrary either.
[User Picture]
From:annafirtree
Date:June 16th, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure what you mean by "nature should not rule"; I don't think I would ever phrase the dilemma that way.

As for how to support genders without oppression, I am reminded of a blog post that I read. "Et Tu?": Dying to self. (There is another blog post, by the same author, that also reminds me of this discussion, here.) A particular quote from the first link:

"I've begun to see that the process of dying to self is a process of stripping away layers of sin encrusted with selfishness, and that glowing underneath all those layers is the true, complete version of who I was designed to be -- the real me."

So I am inclined to think that bringing out the gender differences in us is a similar process of stripping away what is ungodly, what is selfish, and that if we do so, we will discover (sometimes with surprise) just what male and female are meant to be.
From:8bitbard
Date:June 22nd, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
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"it seems to me that the direction we're heading in is a sort of androgynous state where there are no personality traits associated with women or men, and even physical gender is chosen at will. Gender as something meaningless, instead of as something God intended to be a part of us."

One of several reasons why I'm a technophobe.
[User Picture]
From:annafirtree
Date:June 23rd, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
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I don't really think technology itself is a problem, or something to be feared. Like even the simplest tools, it becomes a problem when people wield it thoughtlessly or immorally.
From:8bitbard
Date:June 23rd, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
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Perhaps technophobe was too strong a word; I don't fear every form of technology, but rather the way I see things as likely to develop given present trends. Biotech/transhumanism and surveillance are the "big ones" for me. I'm also enough of a pessimist to think a nuclear war really could happen.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:June 9th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
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I suppose this is what underlies it, what they were trying for with equality...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPpkTgMbhRU

This makes me tear up to see so many Soviet bloc countries represented.


[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 9th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
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It is the degree to which it falls short of real equality that makes me sad.

It doesn't mean that we don't have great strides toward real equality...we do...but attempts to change language seem to me to lead in the wrong direction.

One has only to compare American women with women in the Middle East to see the real progress we have made!

Really neat link, by the way..and from one of my favorite musicals of all! How cool answering one musical link with another.
[User Picture]
From:kokorognosis
Date:June 9th, 2008 06:47 am (UTC)
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I hate feminism.

Not because I believe women are inferior, but because I believe that feminism, as it is represented by groups like NOW, is essentially just man hatred.

I hate the homogenization of the sexes; a woman can do whatever she likes, yes, I do not begrudge her hopes and dreams and success. She has as much right to those things as I do. I do not demand she remain in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant, either. I rather enjoy cooking myself, and, should she want the traditional man-job of car maintenance, she is more than welcome to it.

But darn it, I want to marry a woman someday. Not some androgenous human-thing that I must refer to as "ve" or "vim" or whatever gender neutral pronouns are given to us.

I don't understand why feminine seems to equal worthless. Were I female, and were I a rabid feminist, the last thing I would want would to be identified by the terms used for my "oppressors." I would want to retake the feminine mystique.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:June 9th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC)
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If you're having difficulties finding a feminine female where you are, go South, young man. They still inculcate the girls with feminity down here. Just be careful you don't get one with the worst qualities of feminity: simpering, backstabbing, and, yes, uber domineering in ruffles and lace kind of way.
Wicked queens were once spoiled princesses.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 9th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
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I agree entirely. I was rabid about equal rights in college...but I dropped out of the femininst movement the moment I realized that my fellow feminists did not like men. (I LOVED men in college...still do. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:June 13th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
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Speaking of which, may I recommend a book I can not put down? It's popcorn, but gourmet popcorn,paced cleverly, decent vocabulary and enjoyable historic bits:

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Opening sentences:

"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:June 13th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)

I forgot to add

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...it's related to your post because the character, while in many ways a proper Victorian lady is unpredictable and has a very strong character.
Plus, her male counterpart is entirely fascinating.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 15th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
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I love the opening line!
[User Picture]
From:kokorognosis
Date:June 22nd, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
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That is one of the best opening lines evar.
From:8bitbard
Date:June 22nd, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
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Agreed, and what's especially irritating is that while the amount of people who buy into that is pretty small, they're good at intimidating others because they're so pushy and quick to anger. I know I have no desire to tangle with them.

On a somewhat related note, I hate how crudeness is seen as an essential feature of masculinity these days. I hate hearing "we're men" as an excuse for scratching oneself (a friend of mine has a terrible habit of this), that politeness is "gay", and that being a man entails being ready for sex anytime, anywhere, and with any reasonably attractive woman.
[User Picture]
From:kokorognosis
Date:June 22nd, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Here, here.

Hear, hear? Iunno.

At any rate, I agree completely. I went out to dinner with some friends the other night, and one of them was... literally leering at the waitress' rear. It was nauseating. While it was a nice rear end.... What is gained by being so revolting? I don't understand, I really don't. And as far as being ready to hop into bed at a moment's notice... well, yes. But I'm coming to believe that's more just human than it is male, and that part of being human is being able to control your libido-- and not succumb to being in heat like a soulless animal.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 23rd, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
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"When did it become demeaning to be female?...Women cannot be women any more. We must be men. Or we’re not good enough."

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing.
[User Picture]
From:princesselwen
Date:March 21st, 2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
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It kind of sums up the way I felt about The Hobbit. It's always been one of my favorite books. The fact that there aren't any women in it never bothered me. Except when I got older I read critics who thought, as a woman, I was supposed to be offended by the lack of women. When I wasn't. It was the same thing with the relatively few women in The Lord of the Rings, which is also one my favorite books. I even felt that way about Marvel's The Avengers, which I loved. Some people were complaining that the only female Avenger was Black Widow, but I didn't mind at all. Actually my favorite Avenger was Captain America, for reasons that had nothing to do with gender and everything to do with his struggles and beliefs. . . but off topic. There doesn't have to be a woman in every story for me to like it. When it comes to gender wars, I am strictly neutral.
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