sexism and books


Is language sexist? Is sexism linguistic? - Terminology Coordination ...

I have been thinking how unfair the challenges are that face women in our society. And I have been thinking about it on a fairly personal basis, reexamining my own behavior in the light of understanding just how big the obstacles are to living as a woman. Eileen says that every woman (every!) has faced inappropriate behavior from min her lifetime. The more I think about this, the more it amazes me. This underlying situation colors so many interactions we have together as people. As I watch and interact with women I realize that they have to approach me with a certain amount of scrutiny out of self protection. Whether this is being alone with an elderly woman in an elevator at my Mom’s nursing home or passing a woman on the street and waiting for her to say hi first.

I used to sing Bob Dylan’s song, “Just like a woman.” But I don’t any more.

Just like a Woman - Bob Dylan | Beatz | Pinterest

I can only hear the condescension in the lyrics. On the other hand,  I find myself still thinking of his line from “It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry”: “I wanna be your lover, baby, I don’t wanna be your boss.”


When I taught Music Appreciation I remember dismissing historical composers like Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann. But I have changed my mind about these women, especially Fanny, by studying their music and understanding them a bit better contextually.

Fanny Mendelssohn

As far as living women composers, I have had a better attitude I think, supporting composers whose work I admire regardless of how they fit into categories.

Reexamining my behavior and attempting to improve my self awareness interests me. At the same time, I realize that racism and sexism is baked into each and every one of us. Our first impressions when measured show that in the first second or so of perception we classify each other by race and gender.  But I think that how we deal with that inside ourselves is critical.

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Freidman used to point out that the space between perception and action is one that needs to be expanded to allow one to react more sanely.

Not that I’m any good at all this, but I’m trying.

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I finished Omeros by Derek Walcott this morning. I am sold on his abilities as a master poet. I checked out  It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism 2016 edition by Thomas Mann and Norm Orenstein.

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Mann and Orenstein self identify as beltway insiders, having begun working as “congressional fellows” in 1969 and then “immersing themselves in American politics” from there for forty five years. They are sympathetic, but see a need for reform.

Originally published in 2012 in response to the 2011 budget debate, Mann and Orenstein maintain that we as a country moved into new territory when several Republican congressman voted against a budget they themselves proposed in order to block Obama from getting credit.

Then and now they identify two sources of dysfunction in our government. The first is that virulence in government doesn’t work in the checks and balances of our constitutional system. In the Parliamentary system it may work but “Parliamentary-style parties in a separation-of-powers government are a formula for willful obstruction and policy avoidance.”

Secondly, they identify the polarization as fundamentally asymmetric: “The Republican party has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

They point out that this imbalance is fundamentally unrecognized by “political analysis and discourse” of the media and the political class.

The book is a blow by blow analysis of the 2011 debacle from the inside, very much one of those books that describes how congress and the executive does and does not function.

I am finding it helpful, but it is wonky.


poetry helps


So. Yesterday was a whirlwind for me. I slept poorly on Saturday night. Eileen and I walked to the morning church service. I am thinking I need to get there earlier and do more playing because the last two Sundays I have felt a bit blurry. Fortunately, I didn’t commit the major faux pas of the previous Sunday.

I am still pondering how yesterday went. Last night I was mostly thinking like a freshman and replaying my mistakes. I didn’t nail the organ pieces the way I wanted to. But with a dash of willed perspective I could see that both the church service and recital went very well.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I realized how complimentary people were to me all day. I just didn’t hear it. I’ll write more about it, I’m sure. But for today my task is once again to try to relax and gain as much perspective as I can.

Poetry helps.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were – The New York Times

I have been pondering how privileged white males and what this means in how I relate to my wife. This article provided some good beginnings of conversation for us. It’s a long article but worth the time. I also enjoyed the comments (I tend to just view the New York Times picks).

Mustache Intact, Salvador Dalí’s Remains Are Exhumed in Paternity Suit – The New York Times


How the Modern World Made Cowards of Us All – The New York Times

This is another one of those articles that is built on understanding specific words. I love it.

Chilling Fervor: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments on YouTube – The New York Times

I love these kinds of collections. I haven’t listened to any yet and I probably will not listen to them all, but it’s still interesting.