It seems like just yesterday that I wrote a post entitled Why Don't They Hear What I Say?
Picture a scene some years ago: I'm in the kitchen at my older brother's house along with him, my sister-in-law, and niece. Brother is talking about his calculus class - he's recently returned to college to get his degree while working full time in the coal mine. No shabby feat - takes a lot of determination and energy. His wife has pushed and supported him in this effort. Brother is annoyed by his younger classmates who seem more cavalier about their college studies than he is - they are young, they don't have kids, they don't work in a coal mine, they goof off, they don't know how easy they have it. He chooses to vent his frustration in the form of a story making fun of a young woman in his calculus class, depicting her as a hopeless airhead who just can't cope with math.
I listen for awhile, but I am pissed. I am pissed because he is describing this young woman as incapable of calculus because she is a woman, and as an airhead because she is a woman. Finally I interrupt and point out that of all the people currently in the room, his wife and I are the only two with college degrees. And mine is in engineering. And presumably he will want his daughter to someday get a college degree. And that maybe he does not really want to give his wife, daughter, and sister the impression that he thinks women are constitutionally incapable of math, or that women are in general brainless bimbos undeserving of respect. I ask him if there aren't, perhaps, any men in the calculus class who are having problems with the material. Does their difficulty stem from the essential fact that they are men? He hems and haws a bit but the message seems to have gotten through.
Now we move forward in time to the initiation of this blog. Early on, I discussed the issue of the production of genius and the eternal straw-woman question, why are there no great women scientists? My brother weighed in on this debate, and displayed a remarkable resistance to understanding the ways in which his view of genius as something "streaky, rare, and unpredictable" supports the myth of the "great man", the lie that women can't do science, and the fallacy that there is some kind of inherent, magical math genius that can't be taught or nurtured into existence. Great scientists are great because they are made, they are shaped and formed and trained. They do not just spring forth from the womb. And despite the fact that my brother has had to crawl through, over, and around all kinds of obstacles to obtain his education and a better standard of living than our parents had, despite the fact that his off-the-charts genius level IQ and intense fascination with science and computers from an early age did not automatically translate into his becoming a Bill Gates-equivalent, he would prefer to believe in streaky, rare genius. I am sure that if Bill Gates had been one of six children of a coal miner in western Pennsylvania, attending some of the worst public schools in the state, he would have gone on to found Microsoft just the same. Being one of three children of an attorney in Seattle, attending private school and Harvard, had little to do with it, because Bill Gates is a genius. Genius, being streaky and rare, hardly ever visits coal mining villages.
And now we come to the present. My brother has read what I wrote about the Duke lacrosse players mess, and commented on it. And all I can say is, this kind of support, I can do without. I don't know what planet you are living on, brother, but whoever told you that you could score points with me by mocking the Duke lacrosse players with homophobic slurs was sorely mistaken. What on this blog has ever given you the idea that I would condone this kind of behavior without a public scolding? Do you not understand that homophobia is one of the weapons the fundamentalist right uses to advance its agenda, which includes keeping women home and out of the science and engineering professions? Did you not read my post about Bitches, Faggots, and Real Men? If you haven't, go read it. If you have, go re-read it till you understand why and how homophobia contributes to the oppression of women and why the policing of masculinity is bad for all men. In the meantime, stop waving your Real Man dick around in the vicinity of this blog.
"We Mountaineers never had to pay women to come to our parties..." says my brother. Please remember that when you speak, you do not speak for all Mountaineers. Some of them are women. And some of the men are gay. In fact, one of the most wonderful Mountaineers I know is Jeff Mann, and all of you ought to read everything he's ever written, because he writes prose and poetry like nobody's business. (Allow me to especially recommend Edge to straight women, as I did in my review on Amazon. Brother, you should read it, too.) His latest book is Loving Mountains, Loving Men. When you gay-bash, brother, you are contributing to the societal attitudes that endanger my friend Jeff and that would force him back into the closet.
And, incidentally, when you gay-bash you find yourself in some interesting company. One of the three Duke lacrosse players who was indicted in the rape case has a prior arrest for an incident in Washington, DC that included taunting the victim with a homophobic slur.
Now. When I say that Zuska is, among other things, the Avenging Angel of Angry Women, and that she will say what others are already thinking but afraid to say, I hope you will now believe me if you didn't before. Women need to get in touch with their anger and let it show to the men in their lives. No exemptions for blood relatives, spouses, significant others, or friends.
Three solid wallops with the virtual Homophobia is Tied to Women's Oppression Coal Shovel of Justice on my brother's ass.