stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Every year my seniors read Moliere's TARTUFFE. In that play is a scene in which Orgon orders his daughter to break off her engagement with the man she loves and marry the evil Tartuffe.  She begs him not to force this and asks his permission to marry the man she wants.

"Haw haw haw!" I chuckle at this point.  "TARTUFFE was written in the 1600s.  Nothing like this happens today!"

Or . . . ?

I bring up a web site on my SmartBoard that asks questions and lets the students text their responses so we can see how the class as a whole answered.  The answers are always a little shocking.  Look here:

The question reads, "A man should ask the woman's father for permission to marry before he proposes."  The students could choose TRUE (if they agree), FALSE (if they disagree) and NOT SURE.

In the first class, 23 said TRUE and 9 said FALSE.
In the second class, 22 said TRUE and 2 said FALSE.
Overall, 45 said TRUE and 11 said FALSE.  Only 5 were unsure.

Then I asked this: "A woman should get her father's permission to marry."

16 said TRUE.  15 said FALSE.  9 were unsure.  (I didn't get a picture of the other class, but responses were slightly higher in favor of TRUE.)

And before anyone asks if this is a weird group of students, I have to tell you--this is the norm.  So much so, in fact, that I have a set of canned try-to-make-them-think responses:

"So what happens if the guy asks permission and the dad says no?"  (Today more than one student shouted, "Marry her anyway!" To which I said, "Then why ask?"  Another group of boys stated vehemently that if Dad says no, you end the relationship.  "If the dad doesn't like you, you don't want to marry her," they said.)

I also ask, "Ladies, what happens if dad says, 'Yes! Welcome to the family, son! My gosh, I have to make some phone calls and tell everyone.'  And then your boyfriend pops you the question--and you don't want to marry him?"

This is usually met with silence.

"Awkwarrrrd!" I add.

"It's the right thing to do," the girls maintain.  "And it's romantic!"

"Is it?" I ask.  "I'd find it creepy and insulting that everyone else was consulted about my own marriage before I was, like mine was the last opinion that mattered.  But that's just me."

The class folds its collective arms and glares at me.  Psh!  What does this old guy know about anything?  He's an idiot!

Occasionally, I'll get a student who maintains that the asking is a pretty gesture--cute, but ultimately meaningless.  Like putting flowers on a table.

"You may see it that way," I respond.  "But your fiance and father may not.  When the marriage starts on the assumption--however cutesy--that you are second-class, you're potentially signing on to a lifetime of similar treatment.  You expected--allowed--it to happen once.  Why shouldn't the behavior continue?  Should the boy drive on a date?"

"Yes!" This is always the answer.

"Why not meet him there, ladies?  That way, if things go pear-shaped, you don't have to figure out how to get home.  Does the guy always have to make the first move and ask the girl out?"

"Yes!" Again, always with this.

"What happens if the guy is too shy, or doesn't get the chance to ask you?  You're giving up on a potential relationship, ladies, because of social pressure you don't even realize you're caving into."

"If it's meant to happen, it'll happen," said one of my students today.

"That's what Snow White said from inside her glass coffin," I countered.  "Good thing the prince decided to go riding that day.  What if he hadn't?  Maybe things would have gone a little better for Snow White if she'd grabbed the apple and smacked the old woman on the head with it.  Then she could've ruled an entire kingdom as queen instead of just marrying a prince."

More folded arms.  More glares.  Seriously, what does this old guy know?

Feminism is dying before our eyes on the triple-bypass operating table, and I'm in the weird position of being a middle-aged white man trying to convince a bunch of young women that they should be treated like people and not like a sack of eggs--and the young men that young women are their equals.

No wonder we have scandals like Gamergate, climbing college campus rape rates, and the utter failure to address income inequality between men and women.  Part of me wants to say, "Okay, fine--you want a world in which women are treated like crap?  Have at!  No skin off my nose.  I'm a white male.  I don't have any daughters.  I won't suffer as women's rights are eroded."

But I keep knocking my head against the wall. Maybe one or two of them will change their minds and spread the word. Maybe.


Jun. 25th, 2011 12:59 am
stevenpiziks: (Good News)
Wow! Way to go New York! Governor Cuomo has signed the same-sex marriage bill in Albany
stevenpiziks: (WTF?)
How the heck did I miss this the first time around?  There's already been a followup!

If you like MODERN FAMILY and Alec Baldwin and equal rights, here you go:

Follow that with:

stevenpiziks: (angry)
The last time the debate over gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in the military came up, we weren't officially at war with anyone.  The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell actually came quite close to happening, except the Pentagon argued heavily against the repeal.  Why?  Because, said Pentagon officials, we weren't at war and there was no way to tell how troops in battle would react to openly gay/lesbian troops.

Does anyone else remember this?

Now, these SAME proponents of DADT are arguing that we can't allow openly gay/lesbian troops because we ARE at war, and it's too risky to put this policy in place while our troops are in combat.

What the hell?

We can't repeal DADT during peacetime because we don't know what the impact on combat will be.  And we can't repeal DADT during combat because it's a risk.  We can't have our cake, and we can't eat it, either.

I also love the way the GOP blocked the repeal on the basis that we needed an independent study.  The spineless Democrats bowed to them and allowed it.  The study was performed and it showed quite conclusively that allowing openly gay/lesbian troops to serve would have no measurable impact on our armed forces.  Period.  So now that the Democrats want to call a vote on the issue, the GOPpies are howling that 1) the Dems delayed this issue into a lame-duck session (when they were the ones who delayed it in the first place) and 2) the study needs more study (because it didn't give the GOPpies the answer they wanted).  And oh--isn't that a further delay?

Some GOPies argue that the repeal of DADT would raise some extremely difficult issues.  What about same-sex partners of military personnel, especially ones who got married in states where same-sex marriage is legal?  Do the partners get military benefits?  Do their children get access to military schooling?  Visitation rights in military hospitals?  Military housing?  Spousal treatment at military funerals?  These issues, the GOPpies argue, are just too difficult to resolve, and therefore DADT should be left alone.

I was stunned at this statement.  Imagine that a platoon of marines arrives at a riverbank.  The commander tells the troops, "Our orders are to cross this river by sunset."  And the men say, "I dunno, sir.  Crossing that river raises a whole host of issues that are just too difficult to resolve."  "Yeah, there's the whole water thing, and the mud, and the fact that there are so many of us."  "And I don't want wet boots, sir.  Do you know how long it takes to dry out wet laces?"  "We should just give it up, sir, and leave it alone."

What would the reaction of the commander be?


The GOP is a party based on hypocrisy.  They are homophobic and anti-equality.  That's just the way they are.  The Democrats have been spinelessly bowing to them for two years, cowering before the fear of the filibuster.  (They should bring the vote to the floor and make them filibuster.  Make them stand there for days and do it every time, see how long they last--and start to look like right assholes in public.)

It's time for Don't Ask, Don't Tell to end, and it's time for the Democrats to grow a set.
stevenpiziks: (Carved Rock)
Dear Anti-Defamation League:

You say you are opposed to a Muslim group building a mosque two blocks ("in the shadow") north of the Twin Towers site.  I must ask you, then:

How far away would be far enough?

Three blocks?  Four?  Half a mile?  A league?

Where's the break point?  How about you draw a little circle on a map and then explain why building a mosque on this side is Okay and on that side is Disrespectful.  I mean, at some point, the difference would be a yard.  A foot.  An inch.  Why is that inch okay and that inch not?

This coming fall I will be teaching English 12, and we'll be reading MAUS by Art Spiegelman.  One of the themes in MAUS is that victims of prejudice are often themselves prejudiced.  The Anti-Defamation League used to be called the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and it used to fight for religious tolerance.  It also fights for intolerance, and I thank you for providing a real-world example to use in my classroom.

Steven Piziks
stevenpiziks: (Good News)
By now, you've probably heard that the judge in California ruled Proposition 8 (which made same-sex marriage illegal) unconstitutional.  Yay!  Go judge!

I found it very interesting that when I entered "Proposition 8" into Google, the first result was a story about the overturning, the second was a Wikipedia entry, and the third was a Fox News headline: PROTESTS PLANNED IN SALT LAKE CITY AFTER PROPOSITION 8 RULING.

Ah, Fox News.  They can't even report this story straight, so to speak.  Their first instinct is, apparently, to report about the ruling's protests instead of on the ruling itself.


stevenpiziks: (Default)

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