SKEPTICAL OF THE SKEPTIC

I chanced upon this on Pharyngula, the blog of Professor PZ Myers of the University of Minnesota, Morris a few weeks back:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/bravo_belgium.php

“I’m hoping that they’re just warming up for the big one – I’d like to see a UN raid of the Vatican, with a whole line of shame-faced old men in dresses led out to the paddy wagons like a transvestite Mafia mob.”

I believe that the intentionally humorous ‘transvestite’ ‘shame-faced old men in dresses’ analogy is a ‘joke’ that rests inevitably and fundamentally on a sexist (specifically misogynist) logic. It buys into the idea that for a man to be like a woman in any way is a shameful step down on the social scale, which is, consequently, worthy of scorn and humiliation. By contrast, female-to-male crossdressing is more often (but by no means, always) seen as a step upwards because a patriarchal sexist society takes the masculine more seriously than the feminine, dismissing the feminine as superficial, weak and ineffectual.

Furthermore, it’s not just me who says this: quite a few feminists have come to much the same conclusions on this phenomenon, too.

Food for thought. It goes to show that even someone who is nominally as anti-sexist as Professor Myers can, unfortunately, share the same deep, underlying patriarchal, chauvinist assumptions towards womankind and towards the issue of non-conformity to patriarchally created and defined constructs of gender normality as do more obviously misogynistic men.

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4 Responses to SKEPTICAL OF THE SKEPTIC

  1. Palm says:

    None of this is a ‘joke’ though. If it’s humorous for any reason it’s for the irony of the deeply patriarchal misogynists appearing such that they despise.

    “I’d like to see a UN raid of the Vatican,”

    True.

    “with a whole line of shame-faced old men in dresses”

    True.

    “led out to the paddy wagons like a transvestite Mafia mob.”

    Simile, farcical in light of the ethnicity and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church and the Italian Mafia. Also, ‘paddy wagons’ is another offensive ethnic slur. But again, the quotation is only humorous in the ironic sense if you know anything of Catholic hypocrisy; only offensive if you know nothing of Catholic child-rape or The Mob; only offensive if the simile is divorced from this knowledge while comprehending only “in dresses” and “transvestite” as a slur.

    Transvestites wearing dresses is not controversial, nor is it a slur. Is it the term itself that offends?

    You’ve got to dig deep to find one sentence without context on the Internet to display “deep, underlying patriarchal, chauvinist assumptions towards womankind and towards the issue of non-conformity to patriarchally created and defined constructs of gender normality.” (and glaring ethnic slurs to boot!) No wait, that shit is everywhere because our whole society is patriarchal on its face and the Church is one of the greatest causes, offenders, and bulwarks!

    Good find though!

  2. Becky says:

    “No wait, that shit is everywhere because our whole society is patriarchal on its face and the Church is one of the greatest causes, offenders, and bulwarks!”

    I agree, Palm…and not only ‘the church’ as such but most organised religion (as well as secular ideaologies) are, and have been, male-dominated.

    But my argument is that P Z Myers – by employing the ‘men in dresses’/’transvestite’ similie as a device by which to humiliate said maleavolent patriarchs – means that he has actually internalized and bought into that sexism and misogyny to the extent that he has become here a perpetrator of it himself and has therefore aligned himself with the sexist patriarchy by actively reinforcing it.

  3. Becky says:

    Btw, as a general rule, defensive posts against observations of a certain person’s sexism and misogyny and attempts to reassure the observer of that person’s supposed ‘women-friendliness’ might come across as at least a little more genuine when – in the course of doing so – said defenders manage to refrain from referring to aforementioned observer as a ‘whore’ for merely for her decision to have a different opinion to Professor Myers et al; particularly so, when delivered in the guise of lecturing her on courtesy.

    Yes, comments left at Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula (amongst others), plus the sinister attempts to smear me for having a different opinion to PZ through the desperate tactic of false allegations – as described in my previous post, have indeed changed my opinion of PZ Myers & friends…and not only with regard to the issues of sexism, misogyny and transphobia:

    My initial skepticism has now been replaced by cynicism.

  4. cherryblossomgirl says:

    Oh and enough with pretending to be a feminist too, will ya already ? As a feminist woman i find it incredibley insulting when fucking troll asshats pull this crap. If you’d been a feminist you’d have actually bothered to read what Cerberus wrote on her blog instead of hijacking it with your immature douchebaggery. Your not just an insult to womankind – you’re an insult to humankind.

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