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a blog by Ann Althouse

It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?

It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?

The postcard, from circa 1904-1915, is supposed to cause you to oppose giving women the right to vote. 

The biggest theme in the comments there is best expressed here:
The propaganda is working. Now I want a suffragette girlfriend.
Others on that theme:
You drive a hard bargain. But I'm buying whatever you're selling.

Was that supposed to be against the[m]?

Don't threaten me with a good time!


Yes please 
I see their point but am dismayed that they are not more vigilant about the sexualization of children. But the poster is... asking for it. The artist had to know what he as doing. It's too good. 

But I want to explore a secondary theme, expressed in this comment:
There’s something upsetting but also hilarious about this “If women get the vote, they’ll automatically become your supreme overlords” fearmongering. I saw some Spanish right winger the other day saying very seriously on an interview that we can't give political power to women because sexism exists for a reason. We'd only fuck when they want, he said. He argued that that's such a powerful tool of mind control that they'll become our overlords in no time if we supported the si es si 'yes means yes' law we recently passed in Spain; the law defines consent so rapists don't get away with it, btw. 
The thing is that it didn't feel like propaganda to me. It seemed like the guy truly believed what he was saying. Made me think. Like, wtf. If that's how they think, then it makes sense they defend sexism so bad. It's natural too that I defend feminism so bad, given there's people like that out there.

Or, as another commenter puts it: 

"What chance has a mere manchild"

There's no decent, ethical argument against equal rights for women. The argument — evident in both of those Reddit themes — is that men's minds are so subordinated to their sex drive that women must be subordinated because if they are given equality they will easily and naturally rise to dominance. It's an argument written in nature: The best chance at equality is male dominance. What an awful argument! But that is the argument, put clearly and bluntly. 

"[T]he rapid liberation of women and the labor-market shift toward brains and away from brawn have left men bereft of... 'ontological security.'..."

"Things have become so bad, so quickly, that emergency social repairs are needed. 'It is like the needles on a magnetic compass reversing their polarity,' [writes Richard V. Reeves, a British American scholar of inequality and social mobility]. 'Suddenly, working for gender equality means focusing on boys rather than girls.'... 'As far as I can tell, nobody predicted that women would overtake men so rapidly, so comprehensively, or so consistently around the world,' Reeves writes.... Reeves offers a wide menu of policies designed to foster a 'prosocial masculinity for a postfeminist world.' He would encourage more men to become nurses and teachers, expand paid leave, and create a thousand more vocational high schools. His signature idea, though, is to 'redshirt' boys and give them all, by default, an extra year of kindergarten."

"The aim is to compensate for their slower rates of adolescent brain development, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making. Reeves, who places great stock in this biological difference, also places great stock in his proposed remedy: 'A raft of studies of redshirted boys have shown dramatic reductions in hyperactivity and inattention through the elementary school years, higher levels of life satisfaction, lower chances of being held back a grade later, and higher test scores.'"

"[W]omen have the bad habit, now and then, of falling into a well, of letting themselves be gripped by a terrible melancholy..."

"... and drown in it, and then floundering to get back to the surface—this is the real trouble with women. Women are often embarrassed that they have this problem and pretend they have no cares at all and are free and full of energy, and they walk with bold steps down the street with large hats and beautiful dresses and painted lips and a contemptuous and strong-willed air about them...."

Wrote Natalia Ginzburg in 1948, quoted in a new New York Review of Books piece, "On Women: An Exchange Natalia Ginzburg and Alba de Céspedes, introduction by Ann Goldstein."

"Women begin in adolescence to suffer and cry in secret, in their rooms—they cry because of their nose or their mouth or some part of their bodies that’s not right or they cry because they think no one will ever love them or they cry because they’re afraid they’re stupid or because they’re afraid they’ll get bored on vacation or because they don’t have the right clothes. These are the reasons they tell themselves, but these are all just pretexts, and they’re really crying because they’ve fallen into the well and they understand that they will often fall into it all their lives and this will make it hard for them to accomplish anything worthwhile. Women think a lot about themselves and they do so in a painful and feverish way that is unknown to men. It’s very difficult for them to identify with the work they do, it’s difficult for them to rise out of the dark and painful waters of their melancholy and forget themselves. Women have children, and when they have their first child a new kind of sadness begins, made of fatigue and fear, and it’s always there, even in the healthiest and calmest women..... Women are of an unfortunate and unhappy stock with many centuries of servitude on their backs, and what they need to do is defend themselves tooth and nail from their unhealthy habit of falling into the well now and then, because free beings hardly ever fall into a well and don’t always think about themselves but are occupied with important, serious things in the world and occupied with themselves only in an effort to be more free every day...."

"As with the book itself, which mixes homey anecdotes with advice on how to handle anxiety, pressure and self-doubt, the clothes seem personal..."

"... the wardrobe of someone who has shrugged off the filters and decided to dress for herself as opposed to dressing to please (or maybe just not to upset) the largest possible constituency. Like the fits or not, there’s no denying that Mrs. Obama seemed to be having fun with what she was wearing.... Yet given how strategic Mrs. Obama was about her wardrobe choices during her husband’s administration... given how aware she has been that her every look is followed... it’s impossible not to think that the current shift is about more than just physical comfort. It’s also about the comfort of being at ease with your own self. And in that, it is a deliberate statement of intent. Of freedom. Mrs. Obama is setting her own rules, defining herself according to her own expectations, as opposed to the expectations of the role she has to fill. Who wears the pants? At this point, she does."

Writes Vanessa Friedman in "Michelle Obama’s Fashion Declaration of Independence/The former first lady dressed with a new sense of freedom on her book tour" (NYT).

It's fine for Michelle Obama to wear pants, and I like some of these new looks, notably the "Versace zebra stripes," but, good Lord, can we stop saying "Who wears the pants?" This is a retrograde sexist slur. I'm sure Friedman didn't mean it that way, but why does anyone ever feel the call to use a cliché? It's supposed to be funny and lighthearted because — what? — she actually is literally wearing pants?

That's been a stale twist for decades — flipping a well-worn metaphor back to its original meaning.

So why do it — especially where it necessarily entails sideswipe at Barack Obama's masculinity? It puts Friedman in a set with some of the lowest political humor on the internet, which portrays Michelle as the man and Barack as the woman.

"Attempts to find a gender-inclusive pronoun equivalent to 'they/them' are also complicated by the fact that the German equivalent to 'they' ('sie') sounds identical to..."

"... the formal form of 'you' ('Sie') and the word for 'she' ('sie'). Carolin Müller-Spitzer, a professor of linguistics the Leibniz Institute for the German Language, in Mannheim, said that adapting existing pronouns 'doesn’t work in German, so we need to create something new. And creating a new pronoun is difficult.' Müller-Spitzer added that since the end of the Third Reich, debates about inclusive language in Germany often become a forum for people to express views about gender or race."

From "Bending Gender’s Rules, in Life and in German Grammar/The victory of Kim de l’Horizon, a nonbinary writer, in a top literary prize stirred a debate about how the German language can accommodate people who don’t identify as male or female" (NYT).

The article drops that reference to the Third Reich then goes back to discussing this one writer, Kim de l'Horizon. I would really like some elaboration of the "difficult" problem!

In that context, this quote from de l'Horizon is unsettling: "Life is messy, it’s sweaty, it’s dirty, it’s playful and fun. And that’s what this whole process should be."

"Under the new Wollumbin Aboriginal Place Management Plan, the whole of the mountain is considered a 'men’s site.'..."

"'Wollumbin is interconnected to a broader cultural and spiritual landscape that includes Creation, Dreaming stories and men’s initiation rites of deep antiquity,' the group said.... However, local Ngarakbal Githabul women have said placing male-only gender restrictions on the site, as proposed in the plan, would 'dispossess' Indigenous women with deep spiritual connections to the area. Stella Wheildon, a north coast Indigenous woman, told The Daily Telegraph that the contested area also contained scared female sites. She said she had conducted extensive research on the history of Indigenous Australians in the region and found that the Yoocum Yoocum ancestors, and the Ngarakbal Githabul people were originally from the area in question. 'The Wollumbin Consultative Group has discriminated against the women and our lores,' Ms. Wheildon said...."

From "Plan to ban women from Australian national park sparks outrage" (NY Post).

"Strict gender roles have governed domestic life in Japan for generations. Men often retire without ever having held a paring knife..."

"... or washed a dish. Those who lose a spouse often find themselves unable to do the most rudimentary chores. An old Japanese saying — 'Danshi-chubo-ni-hairazu,' or 'men should be ashamed to be found in the kitchen' — has spooked husbands from most any housework. Even those who wanted to help typically lacked the know-how.... Simmering resentments frequently come to a head once a man’s career ends and his wife starts to question the arrangement, Tokukura said. 'The power dynamic changes. The wife asks, "Why do I have to do all the housework if you are no longer bringing in the money?"'"

From "Older Japanese men, lost in the kitchen, turn to housework school" (WaPo).

At housework school, old men meet other other old men:

Five of them were fixing a meal recently, Kaneko standing tall in front of the stove and helming the frying pan as the others took turns placing mounds of minced chicken in oil.

“Don’t overdo it,” he warned 80-year-old Kikuo Yano, laughing as he rounded out the nuggets with a spoon. Yano has been taking classes this fall to surprise his wife of 43 years.

“All this time my wife has done everything,” the retired architect acknowledged. “I haven’t done anything around the house. If I don’t know how to, I guess there’s nothing I can do. But if I learn how to do it, then it’s time I help.”

He now wakes up early to press his clothes. Ten times he has practiced a curry dish he plans on serving his family on New Year’s Day. “You see this shirt?” he says, running his hands up and down the sleeve, a smile stretching across his face. “I ironed it myself."

Out with the old — "men should be ashamed" — and in with the new —  "I ironed it myself."

I like the idea of taking distinct pride in doing the humble, simple, concrete things in life. It's a shame to imbue these things with shame (especially if that is part of system of subordinating others).

"[T]hat the book contains only four songs performed by women... is both grim and astounding...."

Writes Amanda Petrusich in"A Response to Bob Dylan’s 'Philosophy of Modern Song' There was something missing from the bard’s recent book"(The New Yorker).

Is it? Grim and astounding? Is it astounding because you'd think, in this day and age, that any informed writer would know you have to gender-balance your lists of favored works of art? That Bob Dylan didn't is a little astounding, but why is it grim? I think it's kind of encouraging that Bob didn't think he had to do that, and it can be a little grim to see other people's lists and suspect that's what they did.

In the book, Bob talks about women a lot, because the songs written about men tend to be about women — from the man's point of view. Why shouldn't Bob take the man's point of view? You want him appropriating what women think? He does that in his songs — "She's got everything she needs..." — but he's being the man who's imagining — maybe wrongly — what the woman is thinking.

Petrusich writes:

Even if it were possible to hotfoot around the lack of women (and it is hard to find a way to understand the void as satirical), his essay on Johnnie Taylor’s “Cheaper to Keep Her” is peppered with odd, doddering declarations: a married couple with no children is “not a family. . . . They are just two friends; friends with benefits and insurance coverage but just friends nonetheless.”

He goes on to argue for polygamy, and wonders if a “downtrodden woman with no future, battered around by the whims of a cruel society” would be “better off as one of a rich man’s wives—taken care of properly, rather than friendless on the street depending on government stamps?” Is this a joke? Does it matter?

Petrusich goes on to make a list of songs by women which theoretically could have been written about. But she doesn't write them up in any way, so her list doesn't balance Dylan's book. It's just a list of songs she thinks might have been good to write about instead of the one's Dylan chose.

I've been watching the new season of "The Crown," and I read recaps of the episodes at a blog where they often criticize the show for depicting some historical events but not others — e.g., the tampon conversation but not the attempted kidnapping of Princess Anne. But "The Crown" is a work of art and the artists chose what they chose. If you were writing your own show... well, who cares? You don't have your own show. You're naming things that could have been chosen, but without the task of actually making the work of art. 

To paraphrase Bob: You're not an artist.

"Physically attractive female university students received lower marks when lectures moved online during the pandemic, a study has found."

 The London Times reports. 

“The pandemic provided us with a great opportunity to disentangle whether this beauty premium is due to discrimination or the result of some productive attribute,” said Adrian Mehic of Lund University in Sweden, the author of the new study....

Before the pandemic, better-looking students of both sexes tended to get better grades. This beauty premium boosted their marks by a few percentage points.... However, when lectures went online and in-person teaching ended, the attractive females suddenly lost this advantage.

The “beauty bonus” seen for the attractive females prior to the pandemic fell by about 80 per cent after the move to remote teaching. The professors, it seems, had been discriminating in their favour.

But the attractive males maintained their advantage!

“I believe that the attractive males have some productivity-enhancing attribute,” Mehic said. “Maybe because they have higher self-confidence, which should lead to better grades regardless of the mode of instruction.”

It's hard to believe, isn't it? Attractive males and females were getting better grades, but when they were not seen in person — they could have their cameras on or off for on-line lectures — the females lost nearly all their advantage and the males stayed the same. The researcher goes with the theory that the males who were attractive acquired a personality trait — confidence — that caused them to do better work.

But why wouldn't females acquire confidence from their attractiveness and why wouldn't it enhance their performance too? You'd have to say something like: The experience of being an attractive female doesn't increase your confidence. And the females never were doing better work, they were just getting higher grades because their teachers were responding to their good looks.

But why weren't the teachers responding to the good looks of the men? I'd hypothesize that there's something about female attractiveness that motivates people to help them. Perhaps there's a prejudice that all women need help, and people are selective in deciding which females to help. In this hypothesis, I'd say that when men are attractive, they are judged to be competent, and they feel confident, and, on their own, they do the same good work however the classes are done.

It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?"[T]hat the book contains only four songs performed by women... is both grim and astounding...."

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