Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Religious Satire - You Can't Lay it On Too Thick.

 If the Jahwist had not been the Disney of her time it is likely we wouldn't even have a Bible, or Torah.  Can you imagine worshiping a book compiled from P, E, and R if you left out J? All the good stories that are remembered from the Pentateuch are J's.  It is hard enough to wade through all that crap with the leavening of J.  All that would be left is soggy matzoth.

  If you read the Jahwist stories as a coherent whole The Book of J is a good place to start, although extracting them from your favorite scripture is also a reasonable endeavor, you will find an ironic reading of the oral tradition of the Hebrew people in which the male figures especially Yahweh are generally putzes that can't do anything very well.  The first Jahwist story, the famous creation story, God and Adam stumble around being dicks while mother Eve brings wisdom in the form of knowledge of good and evil without the intervention of any God to humankind.  This pisses off God and Adam, who was trying to push Eve around using God's edicts as a lever, and they blame her for discovering this boon.
The birth of Eve - Beliefnet:

"Agnostic" wrote:

Clearly Eve was a divine creation, separate from Adam. Eve was created in the divine image of God Herself. In contrast, Adam evolved from primates with lower intelligence. It should be obvious that women are innately superior to males.

The Bible shows this. The very name for 'the Lord' is Yahvah. Eve in Hebrew is Chavah. If you look at the original Hebrew letters, they are even more nearly identical.

Each time a female is born, it is another divine creation. Males, on the other hand, bear far too much similarity to apes of lesser intelligence. It should be obvious.

The Genesis story shows God leading the animals and beasts to Adam for a potential mate, because Adam was just an animal. Adam almost chose a dog for a mate. But God, in Her infinite wisdom, realized Adam was not capable of living without divine help, so God gave a replica of Herself to watch over Adam.

This is clear from the Hebrew word, usually translated as 'help mate' It is 'Ezer,' a word which does mean help. But in the Bible, it only appears as a term for God Herself, or for Eve. David says, 'God is my Help (Ezer)' Eve, the Woman, was Adam's Help (Ezer). It was Adam who needed help, divine assistance. Eve was provided. She did not evolve. She had a separate divine creation.

Scientists generally are correct. Adam evolved. But religion is also correct, Eve was a Divine Creation. All the violence is the world is caused by men, who have barely evolved past their lower primate origins. Even with divine assistance from women, they often are unable to advance beyond their atavistic nature."
 In light of Harold Bloom's theory that "J" was a woman, the irony in Genesis 2 is, with this post, beautifully explained.   
 If you read J's stories with an intelligent woman author in mind the misogyny of the traditional oral history is clear from the ironic retelling of the Garden story as a prime example.  "The woman made me do it."  The woman is the only reasonable person in the whole tale.  Both God and Adam look like idiots. 
Unfortunately J's stories became incorporated in the Pentateuch as the "Word of God" mixed up with P, E, & R and the irony and satire got lost as proof-texting was discovered by the (male) preachers and priests and the march of the Patriarchs became unstoppable.

 The entire Book of Mormon is a joke perpetrated on an annoyingly pious young man in New England by his gay, atheist friend Walt Whitman.  The Mormons suppress literary analysis like word count and stylistic and content parallels but they cannot suppress any literate person from comparing the Book of Mormon with Leaves of Grass on a boring few day stay in a Salt Lake City hotel. 

 I read the Book of Mormon on the first night of that boring stay (no booze, no friends) and could not miss the resemblance to a satire of the Bible I wrote in High School.  I gave myself 20 lashes with the monster's noodly appendages for not naming my angel Moroni, but chalked it up to a lack of literary genius.  The next day I got my copy of Leaves of Grass out of my suitcase and read it side by side with the Book of Mormon.  No brainer - same author.  I would not put it past Whitman to have given his friend "magic glasses" and told him where in the woods to dig.  I am sure Whitman kept a copy or revision of his satire and cleaned up parts of it for his future writings.  I still have mine.  

 It is amazing to me that the LDS even refuse to notice the satire of the name of one of their major saints but treat it as part of the Gospel they live by.  The whole BoM if read without belief is a brilliant satire of Christianity.  

 I know less about Islam than Judaism and Christianity, but the proof-texting by the Imams and other "Islamic" leaders from the Pentateuch and Muhammad is obvious to any reasonable observer.  Unfortunately I do not read Arabic and therefore cannot understand the context of the proof-texting.  I suspect the context is similar to Jewish and Christian scripture, and is as ironic in its character. 

In any event, no matter how satirical the original scripture was, religious leader proof texting and commentary can change the satire into doctrine, and the sheeple will bow down and shout amen.    

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gender Inclusive Pronouns

 Back in the mid 20th Century the feminist movement tried with some success to ban the generic use of "men" and "man" as in "All men are created equal." In current vernacular they have succeeded quite well. In some Churches led by UUs they even succeeded in removing male references to God in large part by eliminating the pronoun altogether, resulting in some rather weird hymnody with repetitive use of God and some strangled syntax to eliminate references directly to God.

 I was frequently involved in God discussions at that time and found the effort of avoiding the Pronouns for God too much effort and found the shock of using Hesh and Herm in reference to God a useful result in my discussions. Typically it generated the assertion that God was male and that the proper pronouns were He and His. This generally derailed the discussion into a useful discussion of God's testosterone levels. 

 One of the first things that offended me when I found out that other people who believed in God believed that God was The Lord (masculine) and He/His were interchangeable with God.  I was still in the scatological humor stage at the time and gleefully referred to God as Sheheit.  Making myself unpopular in some circles, but most of my friends were at the most religious agnostics, so I didn't catch much flack.   And when I did I would always correct myself to Hesheit.  I outgrew the scatology but still refused to even think of God as He.

 When I came to social media I continued the practice and for a long time linked on the words to a discussion on the Gender and Sexuality boards. When I began to see "hesh" and "hir" or "herm" in the popular literature without explanation, (I admit to noticing each time) I quit linking particularly on atheist and the UU boards as everyone could figure out what I meant without the link from context although fundamentalist Christians and language conservatives continue to protest its use in reference to God.

  I also eliminated the gender specific pronouns from my vocabulary as a general pronoun and use "hesh" and "herm" as my pronouns of choice whether the gender of the referent is known or not. This is particularly useful in calling attention to gender specific terms like "Actor," Waitress," or "Chairman." Traditionalists be damned. They need their consciousness raised. If it jars their reading or hearing of the term, they still need the consciousness raising.

 More recently I have been using the terms when the referent is of known gender but the gender is not relevant in context. Reference to the author of a scientific paper was beat into my head by my then wife whose papers in a male chauvinist academic profession were referred to as "HER" papers as if they were therefore less important than "his" papers. They in fact were less important than "his" papers, even though in general they were significantly better. It is no accident that women in science generally publish with initials only. If men are offended by having to think about gender specific nouns, too bad. They need to. Particularly the sexist males. They can be sure I intended to insult them with the gender inclusive pronoun.

 As for the ESL issue, some languages particularly Asian languages are non-sexist in that the pronouns are non-specific. I live with Asians and have become used to hearing "she" and "her" being used as a pronoun for anybody. I don't bother to correct them as they are on my side. I suspect Asians would have more trouble with "he" and "she" in writing and speech than they would be with "hesh" and "herm."

 Other languages are inherently sexist. I was at the installation of a new department head who couldn't even introduce his staff because his native language didn't have a word for a female colleague. He did all right with the men, but the female who outranked the men caused an embarrassing for all search for an appropriate honorific.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Gender Inclusive Thinking and Reading

 I invented the gender inclusive pronouns "Hesh" and "Herm" very early in life, and discovered that they helped me think about a supernatural power in a sympathetic way that was impossible with the testosterone poisoned "He."  Even trying to insert God in place of the male pronoun every time didn't work too well.  The testosterone is frequently implied by context.  By college I had learned to think of everyone as hesh rather than he or she even when it was important to tell the difference.  It was the first step to radical humanism as once I began to think of people as hesh it was hard to create differences along any lines since the major pervasive division on gender lines carried over from the patriarchal social system we inherited from God was obliterated in my mind.  When you can't even think in gender terms, differentiation on other human variables is nearly impossible.  Try thinking about that "other" person without gender and note what it does to your mind.  

 For the record, I was a strictly heterosexual male as interested in the hormonal needs only satisfied by a heterosexual female as anybody else.  But thinking of a woman as hesh in spite of the obvious delightful differences did change the way I related to women from the first contact in class or on the street to very intense relationships.  Even my parenting partner was early on a partner with benefits rather than a sexual person.   

 When reading scientific literature I never noticed the scientist's name, by policy, until it was necessary for reference and even then as a footnote on the back of the index card.  Yep, I used them.  Any gender related references were automatically changed to hesh/herm mentally and on the card.   I learned a lot that way.  Some highly recommended papers turned to crap when the DWM was turned into hesh. Or LM for that matter. 

 I have since changed policy a bit as the cutting edge scientists in my family educated me that for a woman to succeed in any meritocracy they had to be twice as good as the average male.  It follows that an accepted paper by a woman has to have twice the chances of being worth reading as one by the average man.  Similarly for professional choices.  Even though I think of them as hesh in the interview I will give interview preference to a woman given a bunch of equivalent CVs or Resumes.   

 Applying the same thinking to reading and rereading fiction has been enlightening and fascinating.  I mentally reassign a gender ambiguous name to the major characters and thinking of all as hesh.  In the mandatory sex scenes some role reversals are needed but it is surprising how often they are not.  It is amusing to think of a sex partner as trans occasionally. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Humanism in the Real World

 Strength is a prerequisite for humanism. If you don't believe in yourself you cannot believe in others.

 A humanist treats all people as individuals with the dignity and respect they have earned as a human being regardless of any group they may have been born into, chosen, or indoctrinated into at some point in their lives.  A humanist recognizes that humans come with a lot of baggage some of which may not be functional in a modern society, but a humanist recognizes that it is what the individual has unpacked from that baggage which is important, not the baggage itself.  Many men and women from religious and social indoctrination carry a heavy load of baggage of xenophobia, paternalism and misogyny, but to the extent that they have or have not left some of it behind, the humanist will accord respect for the human accordingly.

 A major misconception about humanism is that humanists are incapable of judging other humans and treat all humans equally.  As a first assumption this should be true, but from Tom Lehrer's intro to National Brotherhood Week
I am sure we all agree we ought to love one another, and I know that there are people that do not love their fellow human beings and I hate people like that.
 The real skill in humanism is using behavioral cues rather than assumptions about the baggage that the person appears to be carrying in deciding how to deal with the encounter.  This is not to say that awareness of the baggage is unimportant in interpreting behavioral cues, but it is the cue properly interpreted rather than the baggage that should dictate the human response.

 In dealing with a member of a discriminated against class the humanist is sensitive to and tries to defuse any justified resentment, but accepts it as a reasonable reaction and tries to find human commonalities to build a humanistic relationship on.  Always with the recognition that triggers exist, and can be inadvertently used.  Accepting responsibility for not avoiding triggers is an important part of defusing them.   As an example if I am caught holding a door for a feminist, and she objects that she can do it herself* I simply apologize for being in her way.  I have stimulated conversations with more than one feminist non-acquaintance that way.

 A note on the current bigoted trend of "Color Blindness."  A humanist celebrates the diversity of coloration, face and eye shape, and the cultural traditions associated with that diversity in the human race.  Their history is our history and no group has a lock on superiority in anything.  Humans are "tribal" animals and we naturally gravitate to the lore and traditions of our tribe but doing so by ignoring or denigrating the lore and traditions of the other tribes' leads only to hate and bigotry.  

 Members of an identifiable group must also be aware of the baggage that they carry as a member of the group, even though they have done their best to unpack and discard the worst of it.  As an example I am a member of the white, male, privileged, MBA, financially secure group.  In other words the assholes that run the businesses that run the government and oppress the working class and the disadvantaged.  I have diligently tried to avoid the social disabilities that come with the class of privileged white males.
  • Sexism/misogyny. 
  • Patriarchal assumptions. 
  • Being a winner rather than a loser. 
  • Refusing to cooperate or collaborate as an equal.
  • Rejection of active parenting. That is marrying a woman to do the job and accepting the costs of child support as freedom to change my mind. Or simply fucking someone to "carry a seed" and not really caring about whether that seed grows properly or not as long as it is born.
  • Using material success as a measure of worth. "He* who dies with the most toys wins." 
  • Hiring, bribing, or intimidating others to cover one's ass in all of the above.  

 Unpacking religious and social baggage is a difficult and frequently impossible human task.  Castigating all those who have not done so because of their baggage is neither functional nor humanistic.  Those who have managed to unpack and leave behind some of the more dysfunctional bags need all the respect and help from others they can get, and not be thrown under the baggage bus.  For those on the bus education and ostracism are about the only options for a rational humanist, but these options are generational in impact, and those individuals on the bus that have unpacked a bit are critical to the education role, and deserve all the dignity and respect they can find if they manage to leave the bus even for a short holiday.

 As humans are tribal animals tribal religious baggage is the most difficult for a humanist to deal with.  Telling Malala or any Muslim expatriate that she must lose the hijab if she is to be credible as a feminist is one of most dysfunctional tactics I have run into recently.  It certainly is a powerful statement of the misogyny of Muslim men, but until you change the men, we are talking generations here; the hijab is a rational response to that misogyny.  Incidentally fundamentalist Christian and Jewish men are just as misogynist, but society has made more progress in changing their behavior which is the first step in changing their thinking.  It is the men who must change the men to enable the women to feel more comfortable with relaxing the dress codes.

 I have always selected female professionals when available when I had a choice, using the assumption that a female had to be twice as good as the average man to even have a chance in any professional role.  That is based on the reality that the average man who is successful in a professional position may be far to the left on the competence curve and still be able to compete in a paternalistic society.  Sorry, men, half of you are from the bottom half of your class.  Even in professional schools where women face discrimination even today.  Factoring in the discriminatory entrance barriers it is easy to believe that more than half the men end up in the bottom half of the class.  The few women who graduate are generally near the top as they have the Mrs. to fall back on if the going is too tough.  Men are always suckers for intelligent, competent women and the sex bait is difficult to resist, even if a Mrs. is the hook.

  Humanism is a fundamental change in internal attitude that may or may not be accomplished in even a single lifetime.  It is simply a constant struggle to avoid categorization.  A personal anecdote may be illustrative.  When I have the choice I select among women medical professionals for care.  Nonetheless I have always been aware of the fact that they were female, and the stray mating dance thoughts always had to be repressed.  Especially if they were attractive in the gender sense.  Perhaps it is simply age, but I realized after a recent routine physical that I had finally made it over the gender hurdle and the doctor was just that: a professional doing herm job competently.  It wasn't that I didn't know she was female, I chose her for that reason, and it turned out that she was attractive, but after the first visit, hesh was "just" a competent doctor, and I was paying attention only to that as hesh was still in the evaluation stage of choice as a PCP. 

*Gender reference intentional.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why I Am Not a Feminist

 Because I am a humanist.  A humanist treats all people as individuals with the dignity and respect they have earned as a human being regardless of any group they may have been born into, chosen, or indoctrinated into at some point in their lives.  A humanist recognizes that humans come with a lot of baggage some of which may not be functional in a modern society, but a humanist recognizes that it is what the individual has unpacked from that baggage which is important, not the baggage itself.  Many men and women from religious and social indoctrination carry a heavy load of baggage of paternalism and misogyny, but to the extent that they have or have not left some of it behind, the humanist will accord respect for the human accordingly.

 As unpacking religious and social baggage is a difficult and frequently impossible human task, castigating all those who have not done so because of their baggage is neither functional nor humanistic.  Those who have managed to unpack and leave behind some of the more dysfunctional bags need all the respect and help from others they can get, and not be thrown under the baggage bus.  For those still carrying dysfunctional bags education and ostracism are about the only options for a rational humanist, but these options are generational in impact, and those individuals that have unpacked a bit are critical to the education role. They deserve all the dignity and respect they can get in spite of some residual prejudices.

 Men and women are fundamentally different biologically, emotionally, and in the roles they play in insuring that the next generation of humanity is an improvement over the last which is a fundamental evolutionary drive for all sexual animals.  The mating dance in most species is clear evidence that females will refuse to mate with less than the best male available.  Whatever being the best means the female and the male will invest significant time, energy and genetics in being best.  Males tend to be show-offs, brightly colored, bigger and more aggressive (expendable) while females tend to be drab, and blend into the scenery so they still can get the offspring to self-sufficiency even in the absence of the territorial protection of the male.  The male's primary role in the progeny project is to provide a safe and bountiful space for the female to nurture the young.  

 In pre-industrial societies the division of labor between men and women was unforced, with women taking on the productive jobs that were compatible with child care, clothing provisioning, gardening, feeding the family, and housekeeping.  Generally the productivity of women was an investment in the family, rather than income producing.  The men, relatively more expendable after conception, took on the more time and labor intensive jobs on the periphery of the settlement that were also dangerous:  Hunting, grain farming, herding, and warfare.  Men also took on the local jobs that were essentially uninterruptable, smithing, building, etc.  For this productivity men were paid so that they could exchange their labor for other useful items they couldn't make. Most of the pay was spent on things useful to provide the safe and bountiful space for the family.  Some may have been reserved for capital improvements in his own productivity, or hiring others to boost his productivity.

 Industrialization had a profound effect on the economic value of the productivity of women in the home. The 18th century mills were primarily devoted to production of cloth mainly cotton which effectively eliminated the economic productivity of spinning and weaving in the home.  The sewing machine and the clothing factories was the final nail in the coffin of homemade clothing as a value producing industry compatible with child raising.  In the early 20th century home appliances mainly the washing machine improved the home productivity of moms to the point that homemaking, shopping, cooking and serving were the last remaining home economic activity that were compatible with raising children.

 Industrialization had an equally profound effect on the economic role of men.  No longer could the smith compete with a home forge, he had to tend an industrial forge that was running 24/7.  A wagon wright (archaic terminology intentional) no longer could produce a wagon, much less a mechanical vehicle in his shop at home; he was tied to an assembly line metaphorically catching a wheel bouncing off the floor to attach it to the axle.  The wagon came on schedule and the wheel bounced on time, and the worker could not even pee until a relief showed up. This set the pattern for a man's job in any role in industry.  Inflexible long hours on the job, that were well compensated as wages were relatively inconsequential compared with productivity of the enterprise.  If the genetic imperative of producing a reproducing adult carrying his genes was a need for a man, the Faustian bargain of enabling a less physically demanding but more important parenting role in the absence of a functional father for their parenting partner in exchange for the long, demanding job outside the home to provide the resources for caregiving, nurturing, and socializing their children to reproductive adulthood.

 Management of these soul crunching enterprises reinforced some of the more antisocial characteristics of males: competitiveness, aggression, and lack of concern for their fellow humans of either gender.  It has always been known that "Nice guys finish last."  Not that it was necessary but science has caught up:    From a SciAm Book

Research shows that nice people are more likely to get and keep a job, but they tend to earn less and get passed over for leadership positions more often than their more demanding colleagues.  
 They earn less because nobody really wants to be an asshole, and being an asshole is a necessary attribute for a leadership position.  From supply and demand theory a soulless enterprise will have to pay more to induce people to be assholes.  It therefore follows that assholes make more than nice guys or nice gals.  Human females fall heavily into the nice gal part of the humanism curve and it would seem reasonable for feminists to be trying to raise compensation for all in the nice people jobs.  Instead feminists seem to be pushing to compete for equal access to the high paid asshole jobs.  There are a few women that fall on the asshole end of the humanism curve and since they are competing with the average male asshole they generally do well in proportion to their distribution on the curve. Adequate pay for equal work in the nice guy positions primarily occupied by moms and people of both genders with more important things to do than being an asshole like students, artists, and care givers does not appear on the feminist agenda.

 A few feminists advocate for parental leave for both genders, but being a parent or a potential parent is a disqualification for leadership unless your name is Zuckerberg or you are in a comparable situation. While the interviewer may not ask if you are sterile or a non-parent, there are other ways of determining if your loyalty is to the corporation rather than humanity.  Note that a male active parent carries the same disability as a mom or a potential mom. Take too much time off to referee or even cheer a child's game or take herm to a tournament and watch the promotion bait for a salary increase fly off the hook.

 There is a reason that moms are mostly women.  As a male mom at times I can attest that raising children to be productive and responsibly reproductive humans demands a lot of time, energy and emotional investment in those children.  From oxytocin, to breast feeding natural forces have generated a strong emotional bond between women and their children.  The nurturing investment in the gene pool is natural for women as they know for sure that the genes of the children are at least half hers given modern biology knowledge and instinctively for biologically naive women. 

 The medical revolution which reduced maternal and infant mortality to insignificance and relatively reliable conception planning which became possible in the early 20th century had a profound effect on the last remaining home activity: child raising. When one conception could be reliably considered to be one reproductive adult, and women could reliably control their own fecundity without the consent of any man, a family size of 2 to 4 children became optimal socially, further freeing up women from the ties to the home.  Nonetheless, the demands of proper parenting of even a few children limit the kinds of work outside the home that women can consider even after the last child is in (pre) school when the father is in the socially traditional and absent provisioning role or as unfortunately all too common absent in any role.  The soulless corporate enterprise managed by assholes insures that most of these jobs that allow time for parenting are minimum wage or less (see tipped servers) and are generally held by moms either voluntarily or of necessity.  Just another reality for most women that is ignored by feminists and one of the major reasons I object to the label.  The men and women fighting to raise the minimum wage do not call themselves feminists.

 A major waste of time and effort by feminists is trying to change the nature of the mating dance of humans as sexual animals.  Normal male attention getting behavior: What used to be called chivalry; commenting on the attractiveness of a female; offering trinkets, food and drink; displays of their male prowess to strange women; even quiet appreciation of the attractiveness of a woman are all condemned by feminists as treating women as sexual objects.  In other words they are trying to change the mammalian male view of the female of the species. Men may come to appreciate other attractive attributes but the first thing a dry prick looks at are the secondary sex attributes.  They don't even need to be conventionally attractive but they have to be female.    

 Everything that feminism has done since it became a movement in the last half of the 20th century has at best hindered women in fully participating as sexual humans in society.   Changing the language to pretend that male dominance does not exist.  Male dominance is a historical artifact of the dependence of reproducing women in many cultures, and in an industrial society.  Demanding access to asshole positions and the pay that goes along with them.  And suggesting that moms working or stay at home are an affront to feminism. 

 Finally and probably the most important reason I am not a feminist is that almost all feminists of all genders discourage successful women from contributing to the human gene pool whether they choose to become stay at home moms, or continue to be successful in contributing economically in the society while parenting. The mommy wars are not over.  A proper feminist of either gender is childless, usually permanently so, in order to avoid the parenting penalty inherent in any job.