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Here’s to Females

by on September 27, 2017

                                                                   Here’s To Females

                                                                    by Marco M. Pardi

“Across the curve of the earth, there are women getting up before dawn, in the blackness before the point of light, in the twilight before sunrise; there are women rising earlier than men and children to break the ice, to start the stove, to put up the pap, the coffee, the rice, to iron the pants, to braid the hair, to pull the day’s water from the well, to boil the water for tea, to wash the children for school, to pull the vegetables and start the walk to market, to run and catch the bus for the work that is paid, I don’t know when most women sleep.” Adrienne Rich. (1929 -) Notes Toward a Politics of Location. 1984

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All comments welcome

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By now most readers know I take great interest in why people choose to use the words they do. That could easily be the subject of a major book. But recently the oaf some misguided Americans put in the White House called NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem “sons of bitches”.  I do not usually listen much to Trump’s speeches or news conferences. I can get more honest and intelligent information by listening to the toilet flush.

Son of a bitch was one of the first American slang terms I learned as I was listening for rebuttals I could use against those American kids who were incessantly calling me vile names for being from Italy.  I hadn’t yet discovered the term “mongrel” which would have more aptly described them.  Nor had I yet discovered the true meaning of “son of a gun”, a profoundly insulting term. So son of a bitch seemed exciting, even if off the mark for some reason.

But as I thought about it I wondered why people thought a female dog, or any dog, was so terrible. I decided these were people who had little contact with or understanding of dogs.  I think too, they conflated fictitious gender based myths with females in general.  I’ve had several dogs, some female, and had no problems with them. Okay, one greeted guests by taking a blood sample instead of a sniff. But she was really nice.

I think it is still far more likely that negative judgments about a female will be based on gender myths than would be the case for males.  This has been true for a long time.  While Trump was enjoying his 5th draft deferment, and defending against a federal lawsuit alleging housing discrimination against Blacks, I was explaining to my Anthropology classes why, overall, human females were “as good or better” than human males in most ways. We examined the myth of the “hunter-gatherer” and found that fecal analysis clearly indicates the diet of early Man was predominately vegetable, and only supplemented occasionally with meat, much of it likely scavenged from predator kills. Women and children dominated the gathering and food preparation, as they still do today in many societies. We looked at “higher” Primates for male/female patterns and found that while the myth gives us a dominant male gathering a female harem around him the realities of ethological studies show us multiple bonded females with a solitary adult male and a few juvenile males. The males serve only two purposes: reproduction and the discouraging of predators. In sum, the male dominated sciences, especially as laid out in text books, were slow in catching up to realities.  But, as might be expected of the times (late ’60’s and early ’70’s) the discussion turned to women in combat.

Starting with the basics, physiology studies of the time – the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, showed clearly that human females expended roughly half the calories as males in performing the most of the same tasks. So, using my recent military experience and knowledge of lightened weapons and gear, I expressed my preference for a female long range penetration team to “take the lead and eliminate sniper positions and/or enemy advanced scouts”. Women could go further on fewer calories (“An army travels on its stomach”); were just as good as men in marksmanship (a famous example among many being Lyudmila Pavlichenko with a confirmed 309 kills at Stalingrad); and were not at all squeamish at the sight of blood (the Israeli army quickly found that its female soldiers were far more likely to inflict brutal mutilations on captive and corpses alike).  Still, some insist they are inferior in hand-to-hand combat.  But those of us deeply familiar with such combat know speed and accuracy count for far more than blunt force. Women have it on speed and accuracy.

While I could not observe my students in hand-to-hand combat, or in marksmanship, I did observe their behavior at the sight of a human dissection. Are women really that squeamish?  The group of my Death & Dying students I brought to an autopsy was evenly divided male to female. Before the torso Y cut was finished one male passed out cold and two others were weaving.  Eventually all the males wound up on the floor.  The females, however, took advantage of the extra room at the table to press in for closer looks. So much for the guys who had boasted how experienced and tough they were.

Those who still have doubts about women in the military may want to take those doubts to U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Andrea D. Tullos, Director of Security Forces or U.S. Air Force CMSGT Tamala L. Hartz, Security Forces Directorate. They will certainly put concerns to rest.  If you send your concerns or questions to me, I will see that they receive them and I will send you their responses.

In recent decades we’ve seen an increase in the number of females in significant political and diplomatic roles. Of course, history enthusiasts can point to Boudicca, the Celtic warrior queen, Jean of Arc, or Queen Victoria but I am no historian.  I see various women in recent decades who have been brilliant in their political or diplomatic careers.  As I write this I think of a possible exception, Margaret Thatcher of the U.K.  I say that because she was so effusive in her praise of Ronald Reagan.  But my better Muses tell me she was playing to Reagan’s puppet masters, who scripted the coherent things he had to say.  

We could easily enumerate the women CEOs, still under represented in the male dominated business world, and the outstanding actresses, still cast in “supporting” roles.  And women in all manner of science, technology, engineering, math, the arts. But I think we are on message: There is nothing lesser about being female.  

What about us ordinary people?  Referred to a top medical specialist, do we look past her when a woman enters the examining room?  Seeing our Uber driver pull up, how do we feel on seeing it’s a woman?  And speaking of driving, which is more likely to scream at you, ram your car or pull a gun and shoot at you in traffic?  A woman? A man?

Okay, I guess I’ve made my point. But I still do not understand what is so terrible about a female dog. So I raise my glass (Tonic water & lime) to females everywhere, two and four legged alike though I would never refer to either as bitches. 

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5 Comments
  1. I’m going to frame this post. Growing up in the southeast usa I’ve just recently acquired the ovaries to say, “that’s not funny” every time I hear a derogatory sexist joke.

  2. Thank you, E. To me you are the epitome of all I hold in high regard and I see you as a person. I wish more people knew you, and the things you have and are accomplishing.

  3. Beautiful Intelligent Talented Charming Happy; this is the type of bitch I aspire to become. The term as used in its derogatory sense is usually applied to women who stand up for themselves; better that than doormat. There is a “mongrel” (I like your term) in my life who occasionally aims the word at me in the evil fashion, but I refrain from calling him a “son of…”. His mother is a lovely woman who is undeserving of being called a bitch. She, in fact, deserves better than to be his mother.

    It is a long running joke that I am the only one allowed to call my son a SOB, being the B he is a “son of”. Having respect for myself, I would never call him that.

    I do not know from whence the term came, but it is a particularly nasty epitaph, aiming its insult at both the recipient and their female parent. I’ve had more than one discussion over the years about the equality of the sexes, holding that while our strengths may be different, they are definitely in balance. Given an option of gender, I would remain female.

    • Thank you, Rose. Your lead sentence already describes you, except for the bitch part – unless we take it in the positive view you give of standing up for one’s self. It is so odd that an insult intended for one person actually is aimed at another – the mother in this case.

      Especially with all the transgender and gender neutral talk we hear lately, I found myself trying to remember while writing this if I had ever thought of being female. Can’t think of a single moment – except perhaps as an attempt at empathy. More wonder than anything else.

      You are wonderfully you, and I’m glad for it.

      • Your comment felt like a hug; it made me smile. Thank you for being undeniably who you are. Rose

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