Tag Archives: Gender

I wonder if it’s possible to talk about gender differences without being mansplained in comments?

Cross posted

Which may account for what Prof. Barres calls the main difference he has noticed since changing sex. “People who do not know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,” he says. “I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”

Read the whole thing: He, Once a She, Offers Own View On Science Spat

H/T: Ophelia Benson, at Butterflies and Wheels

In the eye of the beholder

The rules for the Rudd government’s new paid maternity leave scheme enable women to take leave from three months before their baby is due to arrive. That seems sensible to me; plenty of mothers are able to work until just before the birth of their baby, but plenty of mothers need to leave work earlier, for all sorts of reasons. Just because some women are able to manage working right up until their due date doesn’t mean that all women can, or should.

Here’s how The Australian reported it (not on-line, as far as I can tell).

Rules to let mums-to-be rest before birth

Pregnant women would be able to quit work three months before the birth of their child and still be eligible for the Rudd government’s new maternity leave pay under rules unveiled yesterday.

And here’s now The Adelaide Advertiser reported it.

New loopholes allows women to quit work and get paid maternity leave

WOMEN will be able to quit work up to three months before having a baby and still be eligible for taxpayer-funded maternity leave.

The loophole was revealed in draft legislation setting out how the scheme will operate when it comes into effect on January 1.

The story in The Australian was written by Patricia Karvelas and Jodie Minus.

The story in The Advertiser was written by Ben Packham.

Idle curiosity

GenderAnalyzer thinks that In a Strange Land is written by a woman (60% chance).

H/T: Feminist Philosophers (woman, 71%).

Note to Mike Rann: the title is “Ms”

When Miss Helen Clark was Prime Minister, and before that Opposition Leader (Labour) in New Zealand, her nastier opponents on the right delighted in referring to her as “Mrs Davis”, or even, “Mrs Peter Davis”. I loathed it.

Straightforwardly, it’s rude and obnoxious not to call someone by the name by which they wish to be known, even if you think it’s grandiose / not deserved / inaccurate / whatever. I get mildly annoyed when people address me as “Debbie”, especially if I have just been introduced to them as “Deborah”, even more annoyed if they persist when I have corrected them, and then very angry if they simply carry on blithely, or even worse, deliberately call me “Debbie” because they know I don’t like it. Some one who does that is asserting that they have power over me, doing their best to dominate me, and making it clear that it really doesn’t matter how I like to think of myself and present myself to the world; instead, they are going to define me.

There’s an extra dynamic going on when people insist on addressing a woman by a name that emphasises her marriage, when she has chosen to use another name. It’s a “get back to the kitchen” moment, a choice of words that pretends respect but instead asserts that the woman should think of herself only as a wife, as having an identity only in virtue of her husband. It erases whatever position or standing she has, and makes her a subset of another person. When it was applied to Miss Clark, it was a nasty jibe at her, and even if it was a joke, the point of the joke was “Haw haw haw – you’re a woman.” Funny, eh.

I thought it was a small minded and petty practice when the right wing blogsewer dwellers in New Zealand did it to Helen Clark, and I think it is a small minded and petty practice when the Labor Party in South Australia, led by Mike Rann, do it to Isobel Redmond, the Liberal Leader of the Opposition. Ms Redmond prefers to use “Ms” but Mike Rann and other Labor MPs have seemingly adopted a tactic of calling her, “Mrs Redmond”. I don’t know what they mean by it, unless it’s to suggest that she’s just a frumpy housewife and she ought really to be at home, doing housewifey things, instead of cutting it with professional men like them.

They should stop doing it. It shows they’re rattled by Ms Redmond, 12 weeks out from the state election.

I tend to be a left voter, and no doubt when we go to the polls on 20 March here in South Australia I will yet again vote left. But if Mr Rann and his team keep this up, I’ll be holding my nose as I do it.


For the record, I almost always use my given name. If a form obliges me to use a title, then I use “Ms”, except in a professional context, where sometimes I use my professional title. Most of the time, I don’t need to use it at all, so I don’t.

I can think of one exception to the general rule of calling people by the name they prefer to use: some people have titles which are granted by parliament or through universities or by professional bodies, and unless you have been granted the right to use one of these titles by the appropriately authorised body, you shouldn’t use it (I have in mind titles such as “Dr”). But if you want to call yourself Prince Bishop Brian Schnagglefloom, then that’s what I’ll call you too.

All soft and feminine – oh noes

In research reported today, it seems that phthalates, found in plastics, are affecting boys. The effects include genital abnormalities, and boys playing with girls’ toys. The BBC reports it as making boys more feminine; Jender at Feminist Philosophers deconstructs that particular worry. But in a particularly silly move, the ABC reports the story just a little differently.

Common chemicals making boys soft

A US study has come to the conclusion that chemicals used to soften up household items may also be making a new generation of soft blokes.

Wow. Stay classy, ABC.

It’s a social construction of gender alright: girls should be soft and feminine, and boys should be tough blokes. Of course we should worry about boys’ reproductive health, but for goodness sake, does it really matter one little bit if boys play with “feminine” toys.