Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things August 20, 2012

Elizabeth Drescher: “Masculinity and Mass Violence”

By and large the common denominator in mass killing is gender; the intimate enemy is almost always a man.

Left unexplored in commentary … is the role masculinity itself — not the biological fact of being male, but the behavioral and ideological markers of maleness that are malleable across time and culture — plays in acts of violence in general and mass violence in particular.

Given the centrality of men, masculinity, and masculinist ideologies in most world religions, it is surprising that the influence of such factors on religious and racial violence should be so difficult to engage. After all, it’s been nearly 40 years since Mary Daly’s Beyond God the Father exposed the misogynistic roots of the Judeo-Christian traditions. “If God is male, then male is God,” Daly famously argued, cementing the relationship between religious ideas of divine power and authority and masculinist practices of domination and violence.

Pamela Gay: “Make the World Better”

We live in a society that in many ways is broken, but sometimes, remarkable humans decide they are just going to do what they can to make the world better, and they do this because they can, and ask if anyone minds only later.

Two weeks ago, Google high-lighted the Virtual Star Parties that my dear friend Fraser Cain hosts and that I and many others participate in. … In reaction Tim Farley wrote: “Fraser didn’t ask permission from anyone to do this. He didn’t conduct any focus groups or conduct a study. He just saw an opportunity and took it.”

This is powerful.

Fraser is one of those remarkable humans who has decided he is just going to do what he can to make the world better, and he does this because he can, and asks if anyone minds only later.

Rebecca Solnit: “Men Explain Things to Me”

He kept us waiting while the other guests drifted out into the summer night, and then sat us down at his authentically grainy wood table and said to me, “So? I hear you’ve written a couple of books.”

I replied, “Several, actually.”

He said, in the way you encourage your friend’s seven-year-old to describe flute practice, “And what are they about?”

They were actually about quite a few different things, the six or seven out by then, but I began to speak only of the most recent one that summer day in 2003, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, my book on the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.

He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”

So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingénue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book — with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority. …



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