Figure Skating: A Very Gendered Thing

Many call figure skating a sissy sport, a feminine thing.  To the contrary, and to my unrelenting irritation, it is a very gender-inclusive sport, a sport of both sexes, a sport where men must be men and women must be, well, girls.

Consider the costumes.  The men usually wear ordinary long pants and a more or less ordinary shirt.  The women, on the other hand, with such consistency I suspect an actual rule, show their legs – their whole legs – and as much of their upper body as they can get away with.  And they always wear that cutesy short little girl skirt.  What is it with that?  Or they wear a negligée.  (Ah.  It’s the standard turn-on for sick men: sexy-child.)  (Why is child sexy to men?  Because child guarantees power over.  And that’s what sex is to men – power, not pleasure.  Or rather, the power is the pleasure.  Probably because they don’t recognize the responsibility of power.)  (So even in a sport without frequent legs-wide-apart positions, the woman’s costume would be questionable.  But I believe it is actually a rule – the female skaters must show leg.  Like most rules women are expected to follow, this one surely was made by men, for men.  As if women exist for men’s viewing pleasure.)

(Too, no doubt there’s some compensation going on: the stronger women get, the more feminine (i.e., the weaker) they’re told to be.  Men can’t accept women’s superior fitness, physical ability, endurance, and agility; so the women are encouraged to compensate by being child (I’m really young, small, and no threat at all) and by being sexy (I’ll still please you).)

In no other sport – I think of track, basketball, volleyball – do the men and women wear such different outfits.  And in fact, not even in figure skating, at least not in practice, do they wear such different outfits: most skaters, whatever their sex, wear some sort of spandex bodysuit, perhaps with sweats, when they work on the ice.  You can’t tell them apart then: there’s no difference in speed, in line, in movement.  (Ah.  That’s the problem: that we won’t be able to tell them apart.  Men define themselves as not-women; the greater the difference, the stronger their identity.)  (And yet, as one male student of mine once explained, ‘It’s natural to pick a fight with whatever’s different.’  Men are so confused.)  (Then again, maybe not – maybe they just like to fight.  Hence the need to ensure there’s always something different nearby.)  (Men are so confused.)[1]

Consider, too, the pairs.  Always male and female.  There are same-sex pairs in other sports (for example, tennis) – why the obsession with mixed-sex pairs in figure skating?  And yes, there are mixed doubles in other sports, but only in this one is the strong boy – weak girl thing so prevalent, only in this one does the man routinely (seem to) support the woman: he is the subject who throws, pulls, pushes, lifts, and carries her, the object.  It’s the perfect metaphor for our deluded masculist world: the man lifts the woman, displaying his strength as he puts her on a pedestal.  Deluded, because, of course, the woman, despite her incredible physical strength and skill, appears to be a mere object moved by the man when, in fact, the success of the move depends as much on her: her strength, her balance, her timing.

Given that, why aren’t they called aerial balances instead of lifts?  Or better yet, more fair, lifted balances?  The very name describes only what the man does.  As if the woman does nothing, as if she’s completely passive.  You try holding your body horizontal in mid-air and see how much sheer strength it takes, along with amazing balance.  Go ahead: climb a tree; now hang over a branch; okay, now straighten your body and hold it; now, add a couple pounds of skate to one end; and now lift both ends not just even with the branch but higher than the branch, that’s it, arch; okay now let’s make the tree move; now smile.

And now get down.  But you can’t just jump down.  You have to land in the man’s arms.  Without slicing his balls off with your blades.  That takes some skill.  (And yeah, okay, some concern.)

And why aren’t they called throwns instead of throws? Or better yet, more active, soars?  Contrary to popular belief, the woman doesn’t need the man to throw her high into the air in order to do a couple twists before she lands.  The side-by-side triple jumps show that she is quite capable of throwing herself.  And, in fact, wouldn’t it be harder to land when you’ve been thrown by someone else?

The answer to this question about the names is that figure skating, like so much else, is defined by men.  The quad is deemed to be the most difficult move; it is the benchmark of superior ability; it is more noteworthy than a spin or a spiral.  This is not surprising.  The quad is a short-burst feat of speed and strength.  These are male obsessions.  Perhaps because they are easily mastered by the male body.[2]  The spin, less lauded, is a feat of balance (as well as speed and strength).  And more easily mastered by the female body.  (Unless, of course, you’re Surya Bonaly – she can do both a quad and a spin.)  (Sometimes even while wearing a cute little skirt.)  The spiral, less lauded still, a feat of flexibility (as well as balance and strength).  The quad covers more ground, conquers more territory.  The spin stays in one place.  The spiral also covers a lot of ground, more, in fact, than the quad, but it’s static, and beautiful, and is therefore demoted.  The quad is also subject to quantification – it’s more than a triple.  The spin is also subject to quantification, more, in fact, than the quad, but as I said, it stays in one spot, and it’s very small.  That there is more comment about women not doing quads (or rather, more presumption that because they can do only triples, they’re not as good as the men) than there is about men not doing the Biellmann spin, a difficult cross between a spin and a spiral (let alone the presumption that they’re not as good as the women because they can’t do it) indicates that the measure of ability, the standard, the norm of reference in figure skating, is male.

Perhaps the polarization, in costume as well as in movement, is perpetuated not by men in general, but by insecure men who are reacting to the ‘real men don’t figure skate’ view.  So they emphasize a ‘masculine’ physicality.

There are, of course, thankfully, exceptions.  The “Marbles” piece of Gary Beacom and Gia Guddat is one example: skating on their hands as well as their feet, in identical striped three-quarter bodysuits, they emphasize not sex, but technique and humour.  The Duchesnays provide another example: in one piece, they each wear the same simple blue pants-and-shirt outfit, and the choreography has no heterosexual romantic undertone whatsoever, they are simply two skaters on the ice, each as apt to support the other; the piece is about, again not sex, but art and athletics.

[1] This need to differentiate would explain the prevalence of the military theme, the warrior figure, in the men’s solos: I’m not a sissy, I’m a real man, I’m physically strong and emotionally flat, I like to fight.  (And kill.  So it suddenly occurred to me, when I happened to watch a figure skating competition right after a newscast during the Serbia/Croatia ‘conflict’, what poor taste it was – to act out, on the ice, killing someone, with such pride, such celebration.  Especially if there’s a nationalistic edge to the performance, as there often is because of the accompanying music.)  (Well, duh.  Of course.  From toy guns to action movies, it’s not just poor taste, it’s sick – to portray, and to consider, hurting and killing as entertaining.)

Consider too the male habit of thrusting (!) his fist into the air after a successful performance (in any sport), showing this unsettling association of victory with violence, pleasure with power.

[2] Consider the fact that women leave the sport (or have to re-learn it) once they reach puberty – i.e., once they actually develop female bodies.  As is the case with gymnastics.  And track.  There have got to be moves that a woman’s body can do, for which hips and breasts and a certain amount of body fat aren’t debilitating.  Why haven’t we made sports out of those?  Well, we have.  But the media, and society, in which men call the shots, don’t put a lot of attention, time, energy, or money into distance swimming.  (There, our fat is good – the buoyancy makes it easier.  There, our anaerobic superiority is good – we last longer, we finish.)  Or synchronized swimming.  (Which men simply couldn’t do.)  (Or at least couldn’t do very well.)  (Or, most importantly, couldn’t do better than women.  They don’t have that anaerobic efficiency.  They’d drown.  And they certainly couldn’t get their legs very high out of the water – what with their poor buoyancy and their top heaviness, they’d be, well, pathetic.  And few – only the young ones, the boys – could split them to the horizontal.  And anyway, that complete relinquishing of the ego – absolutely no grandstanding, no upstaging, allowed – and that continuous adjustment which requires a sensitivity to others, is beyond them.)

Miranda, by Chris Wind

from Soliloquies: the lady doth indeed protest, by Chris Wind




Why has she no mother?
Why have I no mother?
Nor Ophelia, Portia, Kate, Cordelia, Hermia,
Indeed, none but Juliet?
I’ll tell thee:
’Tis an obsession with the male.
Consider Prospero, my good father,
‘The male as authority’—
For ’tis to you, father, I must direct my questions
There being none other to answer,
’Cept Caliban who though half beast
Is also (perchance moreso) male.
(And when there arrive a multitude of others,
Strangers to the island from the ship come asunder,
They too are, alack, every one of them male.)
You doth also seem to be ‘the male as power’—
You are parent and thus hold the natural virtue of veto
Further, you are conjurer, with unnatural force as well.
Lastly you are ‘the male as protector’—
For from you comes my safety from hazard and harm
(Though it seems needed only against others of your kind.)

Next consider Ferdinand,
It is you I am to see as my saviour,
You have knowledge of the other world,
You will release me from the power and authority
Of my father.  You are my only alternative.
But since you are a man, you are not an alternative
At all.

’Tis odd this single stress on male—
The island is a reversal, not a reflection:
For ’tis women who are responsible for the young,
’Tis they who manage their education,
Their care and survival—not men.
This disregard of what is true
Can only issue from a mind deprav’d
And clouded over by sickness—
I fear ’tis envy of the womb:
Bereft of female affect, denied female influence,
I am totally fashioned, created by man—
’Tis a dream perchance of many a small boy
Playing with his penis one day
And crying out the next that he has no breasts.
(Yet ’tis not so simple: this jealousy
Of the ultimate power, the power of creation,
Raises the woman to great importance
And yet at the same time there seems to be
A preoccupation with self that
Excludes the woman to insignificance.)

Forsooth, ’tis a dream indeed
For I am not a vessel to be filled with your desires;
That you think me so is plain:
Ferdinand, it is clear you are interested
Only in my ability to reproduce,
For only if a virgin would you make me queen.
(Queer logic this—if it’s progeny you want,
Better to choose one proven
Than one untried and perhaps unable.)
You are no better than Caliban
Who in arrogance sought to people the isle
With copies of himself, and Stephano
The would-be king desiring also to propagate.
Father, you too are of the same,
For when giving, selling me to Ferdinand
You paraded as my greatest value
My virgin-knot.
Moreover, not only into my body but into my soul too
Would you thrust your desires:
Seeking purity and goodness but failing to attain
These qualities yourself, you hoist them upon me;
Aghast at the pain and responsibility of knowledge,
You would have me remain ignorant;
And guilty with experience, you declare me innocent;
Despising your own ugliness, you demand beauty in me;
And humiliated by the ravages of time passing,
You wish me to be forever young.
But I am not a ship at sea
To be directed by your hand at the helm:
I have my own course,
And will not be what you wanted to be
And could not become.

’Tis said The Tempest is a fitting summation
Of all the rest; if that be true
Then by rule of logic, all the rest
Is unrealistic and unbalanced:
For there are two sexes in the world,
Of equal representation in quality and quantity.
’Tis said I am the ultimate conception of Woman:
Young, beautiful, innocent, pure—
Is this what you want?
Then ’tis no flesh and blood you want,
For flesh ages as the years pass;
And it is not always, not often, beautiful.
And ’tis not mind, heart, and soul you want,
For the mind thinks, the heart feels,
And the soul moves by its own stars.
What you seem to want is something insubstantial,
Something of the air perchance.
Alas, look again, for I am a person
And not such stuff as dreams are made on.




Said to be a summation of Shakespeare’s work (it is the last comedy he wrote), The Tempest tells the story of Prospero (a Duke) and his daughter, Miranda, living in exile on an island. Caliban, “a freckled whelp hag-born—not honoured with a human shape” (I:ii, l.283-284), is the only other ‘person’ on the island (there is also Ariel, but he is a magical spirit); he has attempted, at least once, to rape Miranda and thus ‘people the isle with Calibans’ (I:ii, l.350-351).

Prospero commands a passing ship to wreck (he can do this), and all of its passengers survive, cast upon the shores of the island: Alonso and Sebastian (King of Naples and his brother), Ferdinand (the King’s son and, therefore, a prince), Antonio (Prospero’s brother, unjustly Duke of Milan), Stephano (a drunken butler who, once on the island and hearing about Miranda from Caliban, plans to take over by killing Prospero and making Miranda queen), and a few others.

Miranda and Ferdinand see each other and fall in love (Miranda has been on the island since she was a baby, so this is the first man she’s seen besides her father). Since she is a virgin (“Oh, if a virgin…I’ll make you Queen of Naples” I:ii, l.448), they are engaged (“Then, as my gift, and thine own acquisition, worthily purchased, take my daughter. But if thou dost break her virgin knot before all sanctimonious ceremonies may with full and holy rite be ministered…” IV:i, l.13-17); Ferdinand promises to be honourable, as he hopes “for quiet days, fair issue, and long life” (IV:i, l.24).

Kept Women (and Men)

There is something objectionable about a perfectly-capable-of-working adult being ‘kept’ by another adult.  It seems to me the epitome of laziness and immaturity to be supported by someone else, to have someone else pay your way through life.

But, I suppose, if someone wants to pay someone else’s way, if a man wants to ‘keep’ a woman (or vice versa), and that woman (or man) wants to be ‘kept’, I suppose that’s no business of mine.

But then why should I subsidize their keep? What has your wife (or husband) ever done for me?  And yet I must subsidize her discounted income tax.  Her discounted car insurance.  Her discounted health insurance.  Her discounted life insurance.  Her discounted university tuition.  Her discounted club membership.  Hell, even her discounted airline ticket.

If he wants to pay her way, fine, but her way should cost the same as mine.  Why is her way discounted just because she’s not paying it herself? Why do we roll out the red carpet for kept women?

Even if she is paying her own way, why should she have to pay less than me just because she’s married?  Why should spouses get a discounted rate on all those things?

In particular, access to company benefits irks me: you don’t even work here, why should you be covered?

Two married adults should pay the same as two single adults.  End of story.

The Trouble with Trans

1. To the extent that a transsexual is someone who experiences body dysphoria, someone who feels they’re in the ‘wrong’ body, someone who feels their body is the ‘wrong’ sex — how do they know? What is it like to feel female (or male)? I was born female, and I don’t know.   So how can they know?  It’s Nagel’s ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ problem. (1)  I know what it is to feel healthy only because I have also been sick.  I don’t know what it is to feel female because I haven’t been male.  Anything that I feel that I can know for sure is due to being female, rather than due to simply being human, is related to having a uterus (which can ache and hurt during menstruation) and breasts (which can feel heavy).

Other things subjectively felt are certainly due to my body — to its levels of estrogen and progesterone, for example, but also to its levels of dopamine and vasopressin, for example.  But given the overlapping range of levels of these biochemicals in males and females (many of which are not differentiated for males and females), again, how can one say ‘I feel this—because I’m female’?

If transsexuals feel like their exterior doesn’t match their interior, why do they (also) get hormone treatment—which will change their interior (as well as their exterior)?  Doing that suggests they want to change their sex, not that they were born with the wrong sex.  Even if sex is brain-based, and they feel like they have a female brain in a male body — it’s the brain that produces hormones.  So if they do have a female brain, it would be producing estrogen, and there would be no need for hormone treatments.

I’m not saying body dysphoria isn’t ‘real’.  In fact, I experience every day the mismatch between what’s inside and what’s outside: I look like a middle-aged woman, but I don’t feel like a middle-aged woman.  Then again, I do.  I must.  This must be what a middle-aged woman can feel like.  (Similarly, if you’re in a male body, what you feel must be male.  Maybe it’s not the male you see on billboards and television, but it is male nevertheless.) (Welcome to our world.)  When I say I don’t feel like a middle-aged woman, I’m using my personal and thus limited experience (my interaction with other middle-aged women) and I’m using stereotypes, pushed at me primarily by profit-seeking marketing departments.

But even so, in this case, I can know that my interior doesn’t match my exterior: at forty, for example, I know what I felt at twenty, so when I say I still feel twenty, I know what I’m talking about.  I could mean, for example, that my skin feels the same, even though when I look in the mirror, I see that it’s lost its elasticity.  Usually, though, I mean something like I still feel energetic and impassioned, not bland and resigned.  But this takes us back to my point about referencing limited experience and stereotypes.

What we need are thorough and carefully conducted studies of MTFs and FTMs.  Only they know what it felt like when they were male or female and what it feels like after they add or subtract certain body parts.  (To the extent that those parts aren’t connected to the whole in the same way, though, any change in subjective experience won’t be very useful.)

More importantly, only they know what it felt like when they were, for example, flooded with testosterone and what it feels like to be flooded with estrogen.  Sadly, those studies aren’t being done, as far as I can tell (which may mean they’re just not being publicized).  And even if they were, their reliability would be compromised by the nature of subjective report and a self-selected sample, both of which are likely to be further confounded by the subject’s conflation of sex and gender.


2. To the extent that a transgendered person is someone who adopts the gender that is traditionally aligned with the other sex, there are several problems.

If gender is socially constructed, then it’s not dependent on sex—so one need not change one’s sex in order to change one’s gender.  In fact, transgendered people don’t even need their own label.  Every woman who refuses to wear make-up and shave her legs is as much a transgendered person as the man who insists on wearing make-up and shaving his legs.  (Assuming that not wearing make-up is not just not-feminine, but is masculine.  If it’s just not-feminine, then perhaps it’s more accurate to call such a woman non-gendered.  So would a woman who wears pants instead of a dress be transgendered?  Still no.  It turns out that aspects of appearance commonly associated with men are more acceptable for women than vice versa.  Perhaps that’s why there are more men than women seeking to cross the gender divide.  Women already can, at least on superficial matters.)

And if it isn’t socially constructed—that is, if is dependent on sex, how do we explain effeminate men and ‘tomboys’?  How is it that many males use their voice and their hands in a very expressive fashion?  How is it that many females are strong and aggressive?


3. Are MTFs female? The answer to this question requires an informed understanding of biology, chemistry, and biochemistry that I don’t have. It also requires a definition: how much of how many (and which) primary and secondary sexual characteristics is required to be a member of that sex category?  Is a female who has undergone a hysterectomy and a bilateral mastectomy still female?  Is a post-menopausal and thus low-estrogen female still female?


4. Are MTFs women? To the extent that being a woman is a matter of gender rather than sex, maybe. Again, we need a definition: which, how many, how much…   And does a woman need to be a female?

Of course it is possible, by observation and comparison, to identify what it’s like to be treated as a female/woman.  I was born female, raised as a girl, and all of my adult life, treated, by most people most of the time, as a woman.  And what does that feel like?  It feels like shit.  To be patronized, marginalized, objectified…

So perhaps a more useful question is ‘Should MTFs be treated as women?’  Should we pay them less for work of equal value?  Should we mock or at least ignore their contributions to society?  If we want consistency, yes.  If we want justice, no.

On that note, it needs to be said (apparently) that how you’re treated affects the person you become.  Kick a dog often enough, and it becomes a cowering, fearful mess.  The same is true for humans: ignore a person often enough, and she stops speaking up; make her feel like all of her value is in her body, and she obsesses over it; and so on (and so on, and so on).  There is a difference between being a FAAB (female assigned at birth) and being an MTF: a lifetime lived in a female body.  That difference is not inconsequential.  To understate.  And if MTFs had any understanding at all of sexism, they’d know this.  (But perhaps they’ve been too busy dealing with their dysphoria.) (Or they’ve just been, well, men.)

So answering the question of whether MTFs are women is a no-brainer for the people who’ve been women all their lives.  MTFs make demands, not polite requests. (2)  They are quick to resort to insult, threat, aggression.  They compete.  They dominate.  They convey a sense of entitlement none of us has ever had.   They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  They scream “WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO KEEP US OUT WE HAVE A FUCKING RIGHT TO BE HERE TO GO WHEREVER THE FUCK WE WANT!”—a response to exclusion from FAAB spaces that is “right up there, ideologically, with demanding that girls and women be sexually available visually and physically, for and with men” (Julian Real, (3, 4)  In short, it quacks like a duck.


In any case, perhaps the most important question is ‘Why does it matter?’ —whether one is male or female, a man or a woman?  It matters only to those who want to maintain a rigid sex/gender dichotomy.  And why would someone want to do that?  To support a sexist system/society.

So, I say to MTFs, who are apparently among those who want to maintain such a system/society, if you want to be considered a woman, act like one.  Sit down and shut up.  Understand that your opinion doesn’t count.  Be sensitive to everyone else’s feelings, respect them, accommodate them.  Don’t assume you know more than anyone else.  In particular, don’t assume you know more about sex and gender than second-generation feminists and radfems; they are Ph.D.s (in fact, many of them have Ph.D.s) when it comes to sex and gender, and no man of any kind comes close to their level of understanding: “They lost many of [their] privileges when they started identifying as women, but rather than recognising that this is because of sexism, they decided it was because they are trans. Why? Because, being male, they knew fuck all about sexism” (thebeardedlady, Nov17/09 at

It is no surprise to me that twice as many MTFs as FTMs commit suicide.  I haven’t read many accounts of their transition, but in most of those I have read, I see a shocking naiveté with regard to sexism, gender politics, etc.  It is as if these people had no idea that they were voluntarily becoming a member of the sexed subordinate class.  So no wonder, on top of everything else, they can’t handle, are broadsided by, the sudden and almost complete disenfranchisement …


(So as for the dysphoria, like the person who rejects their leg because it doesn’t feel right, because it doesn’t feel like it’s theirs, isn’t it better to deal with the dysphoria than to go through life as an amputee?)   (Because yes, being a woman in the patriarchy is, in many ways, like being an amputee.  We are crippled.  We are, relative to men, dis-abled.)



Games for Girls  (Seriously?  In 2012?)

Okay, so I went to, clicked on Games, then clicked on Girls.

Mostly because I was irritated that there even was a separate section for Girls (and surprised there wasn’t a separate section for Blacks)—alongside Popular, Animations, Stickman, Shooting, Escape, Puzzle, Action, Skill, Walkthru’s, Mobile, and More.  Why do girls need a separate section?  Are they not interested in any of the other sections?  Are none of the other sections ‘for’ them?

Anyway, so what do I find when I click on the Girls tab?  This:

Sugar and Spice and everything Girl! Play celebrity, dress-up, cooking, sports, and puzzle games designed just for little ladies young and old alike! Like to run restaurants? Become a princess? Go on a hot date with the boy of your dreams? It’s all here!

Seriously?  In 2012?

I’m a girl, or at least female-bodied, and I have to say I’m very interested in Action.  Specifically, Shooting.  Failing that, Escape.

Mainstream and Alternative – misnomers!

So I was browsing the movie collection at my online DVD rental site and feeling so very tired and bored with movies by men, about men, for men.  My request list had dwindled to almost zero, and I wasn’t finding anything I was interested in.  So I decided to check out the “Alternative” section for at least an off-beat movie (by men, about men, for men) and WOH.  There they were! The movies by women. About women. For women. Lots and lots of movies with women front and center. Strong, interesting women.

So I’m thinking, what a labeling mistake.  Why don’t they just call the mainstream ‘male’ and the alternative/indie ‘female’.   (Oh.  Right.)

Grey’s Anatomy, Flashpoint, and Who knows how many others

[a little old…guess who finally, finally, got to be Chief of Surgery!]

Why didn’t Bailey get the Chief of Surgery position?

For the same reason Ed jokingly says to Greg, in a Flashpoint episode, when he questions his rank, “Should I get you a dress?”—and they both laugh.

Because in 2012 being a woman is (still) (STILL!) (STILL!) (STILL!) being subordinate.

I love that on Grey’s Anatomy, so many main characters, surgeons every one of them – are women.  Actually they outnumber the men.  8:6.  And yet Owen gets the Chief position.  Richard, then Derek, then Owen.  3 of the 6 men get to be Chief.  0 of the 8 women.  Bailey’s been there longer than Owen.  And longer than Sloan, the other contender.  And yeah, okay, Kepner got the Chief Resident position even though she was there longer than Karev, but he didn’t want it.  (And we see it primarily a position of responsibility, not power.)  At one point, the Chief (Webber) said he was grooming Bailey for Chief of Surgery—what happened?

And Sam gets to be team leader in Ed’s absence.  Not Jules.  Again, she has more seniority on the team.  And is just as competent (if not more so—she can shoot and she can negotiate a crisis).

This is why I stick to my Cagney and Lacey, Murphy Brown, and Commander-in-Chief reruns.

(We’re going in the wrong direction, people.)  (And just when did we turn around?)

“Daddy, daddy, the house is on fire!” “Not now, sweetie, the game’s on.”

So about this guy in Taiwan who drops his child in order to catch a foul ball at a baseball game…

I don’t know whether to be more appalled at the man’s action or at the media’s framing of it.

Am I appalled that we condition our males to value sports over parenting? That they’d rather catch a ball than take care of a child?  No. I myself would rather catch a ball than look after a kid.  Which is why I didn’t make or adopt any. The appalling thing is that a father would rather catch a ball than take care of his child.

(Yes, of course, it would be as appalling if it were a mother. But I can’t resist suggesting that if it had been a woman who had dropped her child in order to catch a ball, they’d be hauling her ass into court, taking her kid away, and sterilizing her.)

Why do sports have such a hold over men? Is it the competition and the possibility of winning? And is that so bloody attractive because that’s the way we raise our boys? Or is it simply because they’re hardwired to compete? Either way, if their upbringing or their testosterone (or whatever) makes them choose catching a ball over holding on to a child, something’s seriously wrong.

Or is our obsession with sports an indication that we are so very desperate to be heroic? Have our daily lives become so bereft of significance? (And why is that?) And has the mere catching of a ball become a heroic act? What does that say about us?

Or is it just that men will reach out to catch a ball, even if it means putting a child at risk, because like many animals, their attention is captured by anything that moves.  Which is a good thing if you’re a Neanderthal hunting for your next meal, but—we’re not. Neanderthals hunting for our next meal.  So does this mean that contemporary men are unable to suppress their primitive brain?  If so, we shouldn’t let them—run the world, for starters.

Men, if this (dropping a child in order to catch a ball) isn’t a wake up call to question and reject your conditioning and/or to recognize and resist your biochemistry, what is??

And then there is the commentators’ response. Laughter, first of all.  A child is dropped, and they laugh.

And they laugh in a “boys will be boys” way.  Men, don’t you find it insulting? To have your irresponsible, immature behavior accepted as inevitable?

Or they laugh because, hey, just goes to show that men aren’t cut out to look after kids; best leave it to the women.  Oh please.  (Like they can never seem to do a good job of cleaning the house either.  And yet the car gleams.)

Then there are the giggling comments about his wife’s “death stare” and how he’s gonna get it now.  What is he, twelve?  Apparently.  And what’s his wife, his mom?  Apparently he needs one. Still.  (If I were a man, I’d be enraged at this implication that I am to be scolded.)

And then, there are the endless snickers about how “he’s going to be in the dog house” or “sleeping on the couch”.  A child is dropped, and the big concern is that he won’t have sex for a while. What is wrong with you people??  (And that whole marital dynamic—if he’s good, he gets sex; if he’s bad, he doesn’t—that’s okay with all of you?)

Where are the men who are wincing at all of this?  Where are the men who would confront this guy and tell him to grow the fuck up?

Truthfully, and unflatteringly, I’m not surprised.  (Men, are you not ashamed that we’re not surprised?  Not surprised you would put a child at risk in order to catch a ball, not surprised at the depth of your irresponsibility, at your ‘me-first’ behavior, at your priorities…)  I expect shit like this in the States and Canada.  But it happened in Taiwan. And the Taiwanese commentators giggled and snickered just like the American commentators.  (In fact, the similarity was chilling.) Could it be that the gender role conditioning that is so prevalent here is damn near universal?  A scarey thought.  Or is that universality evidence that it’s not a matter of nurture, but of nature (testosterone, the Y chromosome, the primitive brain, whatever).

Either way, the conclusion has to be that men are universally children. Or idiots. (Or both.)

Toller Cranston on Janet Lynn

[obviously written a while ago, but this shit keeps happening…]


Toller Cranston, as Janet Lynn takes the ice: “You wouldn’t know by looking at her that she’s a housewife and mother of three.”


Would he have said of Kurt Browning, “You wouldn’t know by looking at him that he does stuff around the house and is a father of three”??

I think not.

Clearly Cranston thinks that – well, I don’t know what the hell he thinks.  That doing stuff around the house is somehow incompatible with – skating?  I’ll grant that being a parent could deplete one’s energy to the point that maintaining an elite level of athletic performance is unlikely, but that would apply only if the kids were a certain age and only if one didn’t have any assistance – and it would apply to men as well as women.

I suspect he has some stereotype of housewife and mother in his mind that Lynn didn’t fit.  Perhaps that of a ditsy simpleton or an unkempt troll.

I am Mary, Chris Wind

from Thus Saith Eve, by Chris Wind

I am Mary

mother of God. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now—it’s immortalized. I am indelibly identified by my relationship to a male: all of me has been denied, except that one part. And yet even that part has not been accorded full status: I am the mother of God! It’s a relation whose ramifications no one seems to recognize, to credit.

My existence became important, became worthy of mention, only after (only because) Christ became important and worth mention. My childhood, my girlhood, is never looked at, and yet it was my life before Christ that was responsible for my being the mother of God in the first place: I was favoured (Luke 1:28, 30), I was chosen because of the goodness and purity of my life[1]—and yet none of that purity, none of that goodness was documented.[2] From what was considered important enough to document, one gets the impression that Christ and his apostles were the only ones capable of good works.

The issue of good works leads us to another unrecognized ramification of my role. Christ, my son, is known internationally for his compassion, his love, his generosity, his forgiveness—he’s famous for his ethics: well who do you think taught him right from wrong? His mother, of course! Who is it who always teaches a child the first and formative values?

It was no easy feat raising the son of God! Think about it: here we have a little boy who has the gift of miracle-working—do you think for one minute he always used his powers to serve God? Of course not! For a while he went around creating fantastic toys (as a carpenter’s family, we couldn’t always afford the best), and there was no end of trouble because all of the other children wanted ones just like them (I had to laugh at some of them, the rascal had imagination!). And I had to explain—somehow. He also played some very nasty tricks on people who angered or upset him (once he changed some children into goats).[3] It took some doing to get him through that phase quickly! So even though he was the son of God, he had to be taught that there is a good way and a bad way to use his powers. And, as his mother, I taught him.

In fact, I suspect at times that the only reason I wasn’t chosen to spread Christian morality was because God knew no one would listen to a woman. It’s sad, but it’s true. So the next best thing he could do was choose me to be his mother. He didn’t have to. Did you ever wonder why he even bothered? I mean, the virgin birth proves he—[4]

Let’s consider next this issue of virgin birth. I am not going to debate its truth. I have realized for a long time that what is believed to be true matters more than what is true. And the story of the virgin birth is believed to be true.[5] But the belief is at my expense! Because of it, I was suspect of infidelity—a very serious accusation then, I could’ve lost my life (Matthew 1:19)! Fortunately the suspicion was disconfirmed.[6]

Furthermore, to believe in the virgin birth denies me the joy of sexual intercourse—I am not even allowed the biological prerequisite to motherhood. (That is, I am not allowed the pleasing one. The painful one, childbirth, I am allowed: contrary to popular belief,[7] Christ was the son of woman, and he was born of flesh and blood, not of the spirit—I have the scars and stretch marks to show it.)

Further still, the ramifications of this belief go beyond the personal. I have become a universal symbol: the virgin birth implies that intercourse is undesirable, that natural conception is inferior, that the state of virginity is more blessed than the state of non-virginity.[8] I resent symbolizing such a concept: one state is neither more nor less blessed. And I resent being in the awkward position of putting women into an even more awkward, indeed impossible, position: motherhood is pure, but the prerequisite, sexual intercourse, is impure. Well what is one to do then?[9]

Let me go on to yet other unrecognized ramifications to my role as mother of God. For instance, a little publicized fact is that I had some powers of my own. In fact, many people at the time had psychic powers—clairvoyance, psychokinesis, telepathy—it was a time before those skills evolved out of use.[10] I could tell you of several proofs, but I’ll choose one which is documented (but again, unacknowledged): near the end of my life, I went with St. John to Ephesus, then ‘appeared’ in Jerusalem. (However, I fell asleep when I got there; a feat like that at my old age took a lot out of me.) Such an event should not surprise you—I am, after all, venerated as healer, said to have the powers of ‘miraculous intervention’; and the power of relics of mine was reaffirmed as legitimate by the Council of Trent (1545-64); and don’t forget the Shrine at Lourdes, established in 1858, to commemorate my appearance to Bernadette, and the Shrine at Fatima, 1917, for when I came to those three shepherd children.

Another example, the one last point of ‘credit not given when credit is due’ that I want to make, is best illustrated by examining the image, by examining how I am portrayed. Think of the Madonna. Any madonna will do, they’re all the same. Or think of the pietà. Any pietà. Always the young girl with the blank face, like she’s never had a real thought or a strong feeling in her life. Real thoughts and strong feelings! One of my children went through life as the son of God—wouldn’t that make you think? Then he—my son—had nails driven through his body—wouldn’t that make you feel? Can you understand the struggle to understand, or at least accept, such an injustice without anger, without hatred? Your (male) image-makers call me mother of God, but they don’t take into account what that means, they haven’t understood what that really means! I lived, through days, months, years, I became a middle-aged woman, an old woman.[11] In the pietà, my son is thirty-three—that should make me forty-eight, but do I look it? No, I have been denied my life, my experience, my self. And if you do not recognize my reality, you do not recognize me.

Yes, I am the mother of God. But it appears to be in name only. For all intents, purposes, and effects, Christ (like almost every other male in The Bible) may as well have begotten himself.

[1] Later this was not enough: in 1854, Pope Pius IX instituted the concept of the Immaculate Conception which insisted that my purity extend back all the way to a conception unsullied by original sin in order to provide a satisfactorily chaste womb for the birth of Christ.

[2] Actually there are several accounts of my life before and after Christ, but they have not been admitted to The Bible because they are not considered ‘authentic’ enough. The Protoevangelium of James for instance, written around 150-180 A.D., tells that my parents were Anna and Joachim, and that I lived in the temple of the Lord from the age of three.

[3] See the Arabic Gospel, Chapter 40.

[4] God didn’t really need a biological mother for Christ. He obviously didn’t really need a biological father. In fact, God has Christ born without a human father, because that would’ve detracted from his divinity. But it seems having a human mother didn’t detract as much—hasn’t anyone ever considered the implications of that one?

[5] And yet there are innumerable such stories in pagan mythology, but no one dreams of taking them seriously. This one, they took seriously.

[6] But not on my word, no, my word was not good enough: only after an angel appeared and explained to Joseph, did he believe it.

[7] Which is amazing, in view of the many confusions: (1) Was it a virgin birth or not? If it was, if Joseph wasn’t the biological father, then doesn’t the genealogy tracing Jesus through back through Joseph to David and Abraham (Matthew 1:1-17) break down? (2) Was it a virgin birth or not? The doctrine of virgin in partu claims I did not experience the ‘pangs’ of childbirth, but Salome, my midwife, will vouch for the pain; and that eyewitness account of her arm withering because she reached out and touched me, not believing the hymen could still be intact but discovering it was, has been relegated to the Protoevangelium (I wonder which part of the story was decided to be invalid. If it was the intactness of the hymen that was in doubt, they had to be considering then either sexual intercourse or natural birth as a possibility.)

[8] This view continues to be manifested by the vow of celibacy taken by nuns and priests; by the popular male habit of according extra status to ‘deflowering’ a virgin; by popular porn (by men for men) which exhibits women in childish, innocent, virginal costume and character; and by popular ‘kiddie’ porn (also by men for men) which exhibits children as sexually desirable—all of which implies that the state of virginity is something special, an added bonus.

[9] Furthermore, the state of motherhood may be pure, but the physical experience of it, childbirth, is not: consider the ‘purification rites’ I had to undergo (Luke 2:22) even though I had just given birth to the son of God!

[10] Peter, for instance, made some dogs talk; he also raised the dead, and flew (The Acts of Peter, Chapter 9). John, another example, controlled the bedbugs that were bothering him one night (The Acts of John, Chapter 61).

[11] Like my existence before Christ’s birth, my existence after his youth also becomes unimportant—it’s as if I was his mother only for the first ten or fifteen years. Even he seems to have thought that: at first he simply wouldn’t acknowledge me as his mother—I was the same to him as anyone else who followed God (Mark 3:31-35); later, he had the hurtful ingratitude to call me ‘woman’ (John 2:4)—not ‘Mom’, not ‘Mother’, not even ‘Mary’.


According to Christian mythology, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to save us by dying for our sins. Mary (a virgin, wife of Joseph) was chosen to be the mother, and impregnation occurred without sexual intercourse—thus the ‘virgin birth’. (The ‘Immaculate Conception’ is usually thought to refer to this conception of Christ, but actually it refers to the conception of Mary—see the first footnote.) This remarkable event led to suspicion on Joseph’s part; at that time, a man could kill his wife for adultery. However, an angel came to explain the miracle to Joseph, and all was well.

The figure of Mary (the ‘BVM’—’Blessed Virgin Mary’) is most prominent in the Roman Catholic sect of Christianity. She is ‘celebrated’ in the five ‘Joyful Mysteries’, which are often depicted in pictures: the Annunciation (when she is told she will be the mother of Jesus, Son of God), the Visitation (she visits a friend with the news), the Birth of Jesus (in a stable at Bethlehem), the Presentation (she presents Jesus in the temple), and the Finding in the Temple (when Jesus is ‘lost’, she finds him there). She is also ‘allotted’ two of the five ‘Glorious Mysteries’: the Assumption (she dies and is carried to heaven by angels) and the Crowning of Mary (she is crowned Queen, which gives rise to her power of intervention).

The bit about Jesus creating toys and turning children into goats is documented (see the Arabic Gospels, below); so is Mary’s ‘teletransportation’ feat (but unfortunately I can’t track down the source of my notes for this one) and her appearances at Lourdes and Fatima (see the encyclopedia citations, below).

A very common prayer is the ‘Hail Mary’: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” It is often given as penance (that is, one must say so many ‘Hail Marys’ to absolve oneself of one’s sins) and it is a major part of the Rosary (a string of beads one passes through one’s fingers, saying a certain prayer at each bead).

John 2:4.

Luke 1:28, 1:30, 2:22.

Mark 3:31-35.

Matthew 1:19.

The Arabic Gospel, The Apocryphal New Testament. tr. Montague Rhodes James. London: Oxford University Press, 1966. 68.

Protoevangelium of James, The Apocryphal New Testament. 39-49, 74.

The Acts of John, The Apocryphal New Testament. 242-243.

The Acts of Peter, The Apocryphal New Testament. 313.

The Columbia Viking Desk Encyclopedia, ed. William Bridgwater, New York: The Viking Press, 1953. 1:412; 2:736.

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