The freedom to say ‘two plus two make four’.

Woke culture has now reached new heights, where stating universal truths can get you de-platformed or fired in some ‘progressive’ countries. The latest high-profile victim of cancel culture is J. K. Rowling, who dared to say that biological sex is real and that women’s lives are shaped by it. After tweeting her wrongthink, Rowling was immediately mobbed by trans-activists telling her to choke on their ‘ladycocks’ or die. It is worth noting that the men who expressed similar views (Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle, John Cleese, etc.) did not receive such instructions. This implies that even trans-activists can tell the difference between men and women. Rowling later explained her views in a detailed essay, but several virtue-signaling celebrities (including her protégés from the Harry Potter films) continued to pile on her, without even addressing her arguments. I miss being young enough to think of Orwell’s 1984 as fiction.

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There is an idea made popular by postmodern theorists, that sex is a social construct and not actually binary.  This idea has become so widespread that a scientist had to publish an article in 2020 to clarify that sex is, in fact, binary and immutable in humans. The article says nothing new. As we all learnt in high school, sex is the reproductive role supported by your anatomy. Males produce sperms, while females produce ova and gestate the foetus. Some people are born with intersex conditions, due to errors in the pathway of embryonic development (for details, read Gilbert’s Developmental Biology). These people are still either male or female; they don’t produce both gametes, or new types of gametes. Sex is especially important in the field of medicine, as shown by the present COVID-19 pandemic.

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Galileo being cancelled in 1616. (Source)

The erasure of biological sex is being carried out in order to replace it with gender ideology. The Religion of the Gendered Soul was established through the Yogyakarta Principles created in 2007, based on the belief that every person has an innate gendered essence that can be sometimes born in the wrong body. This is used to promote the idea that males should be legally recognized as females if they wish to be. The larger motive behind this movement is obvious- medicalizing children for life and giving people unnecessary drugs and surgeries is a gold mine for several industries.

Trans-activists often make multiple claims that contradict each other. According to them, transgenderism is not a mental illness, but transgenders must be given ‘gender-affirming’ surgeries or hormones, so that they don’t kill themselves. Sex and gender are different, but transwomen are women, not just feminine men. Anyone who says they are a woman should be accepted as such, but Jonathan Yaniv is not truly trans, and de-transitioners never were. They are also unable to define the word ‘woman‘, which means that women’s rights are now effectively meaningless, and defending them is “transphobic”.

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‘Gender’ is  sexist stereotypes (Source)

The postmodernist propaganda is not only a lie, but also an insult to women and girls across the world, who are subjected to infanticide, FGM, rapes, forced pregnancies, period poverty etc., on the basis of their sex. Imagine saying that you were “assigned female at birth”, in a world where 23 million foetuses have been selectively aborted for being female. In the modern Newspeak, the words ‘woman’ and ‘female’  can be used to refer to males. Actual women are now referred to by using terms like menstruators, uterus havers or even non-men.  However, men are yet to be called ‘ejaculators’, because men would never put up with that sort of bullshit.

I’m all for religious freedom, but the Religion of the Gendered Soul is being forced upon non-believers through compelled speech. Activists fighting to end FGM are told that the term ‘female genital mutilation’ is transgender-exclusionary. A Canadian anthropology professor was fired from her post for saying that biological sex is real. Sex is being erased from language, even though females cannot ‘identify’ out of sex-based oppression.

Thankfully, gender ideology has not yet taken over in my country. But those of you who live in First World countries may need to speak up in defense of free speech. It is important to have a variety of views expressed openly, so that they can be challenged in public. Otherwise, we may well be regressing to the Dark Ages, when scientists were persecuted by religious authorities for telling the truth. And if anyone calls you a “TERF” or a “transphobe” for defending reality, just sit back and enjoy this banger sung by a radical feminist sister.

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Source

Books to beat the Covid blues

Watching the news tends to put me in a terrible mood these days. What with the general stupidity of the government’s response, the senseless human tragedies, and the boredom of being stuck at home, it’s difficult to find anything uplifting in the real world. Even so, reading comic novels makes life seem less bleak, somehow. Here are some of my favourites:

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome

Jerome, George and Harris have been feeling a bit under the weather, having symptoms like ‘a general disinclination to work of any kind’ (don’t we all?). So the three men, along with the fox terrier Montmorency, decide to go on a boat trip down the Thames. This book is full of witty observations about people (not to mention dogs) and hilarious rants on things like packing for trips, looking up disease symptoms, unreliable weather forecasts, the impossibility of peeling potatoes and so on.

If you are so unfortunate as to have never read this book, please rectify that immediately. This is British humour at its finest.

“I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk around with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can’t help it.”

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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

During Flora Poste’s twentieth year, her parents die in an accident, leaving behind very little money. Flora’s ambition in life is to write a novel as good as ‘Persuasion’ by the time she’s fifty three. In the meantime, as her education has left her unfit for employment, she decides to live as a parasite, leeching off her relatives. She moves in with the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, who have been living like savages on a ruined farm, at least until she takes charge of their lives. By means of subtle manipulation and devious cunning, she puts the farm in order and helps various relatives find their purpose in life.

You’ll wish you had Flora in charge of your country to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Haven’t you enough money?’
For she knew that this is what is the matter with nearly everybody over twenty-five.”

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Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman 

This book is not exactly my type, but if you happen to prefer modern novels, you might like this one better than the other two (I prefer classics myself). It’s based on the birth of the Antichrist and the events leading up to the final battle between Heaven and Hell, and the end of the world. The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley decide to join forces to prevent the Apocalypse, since they don’t want a world where they can’t enjoy nice little restaurants, bookshops, cars and each other’s company. On the other hand, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse (War, Famine, Pollution and Death) are also working towards their goals. They’re accompanied by four human bikers who name themselves after relatively mild problems like Things Not Working Properly Even After You’ve Given Them A Good Thumping.

This might help you get your mind off the real apocalypse we’re going through. Funnily enough, Pestilence retires in the book after the invention of antibiotics, and is replaced by Pollution. That part clearly hasn’t aged well.

“25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying ‘Where is the flaming sword that was given unto thee?’
26 And the Angel said, ‘I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down somewhere, forget my own head next.’
27 And the Lord did not ask him again.”

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In defense of right wing women

Right-wing women have always been ridiculed by the left-wing for enabling their own oppression.  But on reading Andrea Dworkin’s Right Wing Women, I’ve realised that they have a lot in common with women who espouse liberal feminism (which is your mainstream, garden-variety feminism). Liberal feminists believe that any choice made by a woman is an empowering choice and should be respected without question. Right-wing women are often choosing what they consider the lesser of two evils.  Consider some of the things celebrated by liberal feminism:

“Sex-work”

The sexual exploitation industry (which includes prostitution, porn, strip clubs etc.) is mainly based on the trafficking and sale of women and children. This is now being passed off as a normal commercial activity by most of the left-wing.

“Virtually all ideologies are implicitly antifeminist in that women are sacrificed to higher goals: the higher goal of reproduction; the higher goal of pleasure; the higher goal of a freedom antipathetic to the freedom of women; the higher goal of better conditions for workers not women; the higher goal of a new order that keeps the sex exploitation of women essentially intact; the higher goal of an old order that considers the sex exploitation of women a sign of social stability (woman’s in her place, all’s right with the world).”

Never mind that most prostitutes tend to have severe PTSD, just like war veterans and rape victims. Or that legalizing prostitution in a country increases human trafficking and increases the rate of murder of prostitutes. If you think “sex work” is work, ask yourself this (among other things) – Would you let your landlord rape you in lieu of payment if you’re behind on the rent?

“Men have few restraints in expressing to prostitutes—during sex or in any sexual scenario— their real attitudes toward women as a class; they have no reason to feel constrained, since the woman is there to be a woman, period—to be inferior, subservient, and used. She is there because the man wants a woman, someone exactly of her class, someone who is her sex function, not human but an it, a cunt: she is there for that reason, not for anything human in her. Her function is limited, specialized, sex-specific, and intensely and intrinsically dehumanizing.”

 

Pornography and BDSM

Liberal men are always quick to jump to the defense of porn, though several studies have shown that porn consumption increases sexual aggressiveness. These days, younger and younger children are exposed to porn, thanks to the internet and smartphones. (Not to mention the large number of children abused for the benefit of porn viewers.) Sexual objectification  generates dehumanisation irrespective of culture and that is precisely its purpose. Porn is propaganda for the patriarchy, and as it gets increasingly violent, more people are adopting the BDSM lifestyle which eroticizes domestic abuse. The fact that women ‘consent’ to this only shows that we live in a misogynistic society that teaches women to hate themselves. And although “rough sex” is increasingly being used as a defense in murder trials (of course, the victim is always a woman), nobody is allowed to “kink-shame” men who get off on beating women.

“Neither men nor women believe in the existence of women as significant beings. It is impossible to remember as real the suffering of someone who by definition has no legitimate claim to dignity or freedom, someone who is in fact viewed as some thing, an object or an absence. And if a woman, an individual woman multiplied by billions, does not believe in her own discrete existence and therefore cannot credit the authenticity of her own suffering, she is erased, canceled out, and the meaning of her life, whatever it is, whatever it might have been, is lost. This loss cannot be calculated or comprehended. It is vast and awful, and nothing will ever make up for it.”

 

Performative femininity 

Thanks to mainstream feminism, nearly all popular female artists find it necessary to gyrate in skimpy clothing for the benefit of their audiences. Self-objectification for male attention on social media is being rebranded as ‘self-love’, although I seriously doubt women dress or act like that when they’re alone at home. If it were liberating to twerk and self-objectify, all the male artists would do it too.

“Women are brought up to conform: all the rules of femininity—dress, behavior, attitude—essentially break the spirit. Women are trained to need men, not sexually but metaphysically. Women are brought up to be the void that needs filling, the absence that needs presence. Women are brought up to fear men and to know that they must please men and to understand that they cannot survive without the help of men richer and stronger than they can be themselves, on their own.”

So, considering how the left-wing tries to pass off male pandering as women’s empowerment, it is not surprising that some women are sceptical of feminism. After all, women are given a bit more dignity for being wives and mothers as opposed to sex-objects.

“Right-wing women have surveyed the world: they find it a dangerous place. They see that work subjects them to more danger from more men; it increases the risk of sexual exploitation. They see that creativity and originality in their kind are ridiculed; they see women thrown out of the circle of male civilization for having ideas, plans, visions, ambitions. They see that traditional marriage means selling to one man, not hundreds: the better deal. They see that the streets are cold, and that the women on them are tired, sick, and bruised. They see that the money they can earn will not make them independent of men and that they will still have to play the sex games of their kind: at home and at work too. They see no way to make their bodies authentically their own and to survive in the world of men. They know too that the Left has nothing better to offer: leftist men also want wives and whores; leftist men value whores too much and wives too little. Right-wing women are not wrong. They fear that the Left, in stressing impersonal sex and promiscuity as values, will make them more vulnerable to male sexual aggression, and that they will be despised for not liking it. They are not wrong. Right-wing women see that within the system in which they live they cannot make their bodies their own, but they can agree to privatized male ownership: keep it one-on-one, as it were. They know that they are valued for their sex— their sex organs and their reproductive capacity—and so they try to up their value: through cooperation, manipulation, conformity; through displays of affection or attempts at friendship; through submission and obedience; and especially through the use of euphemism—“femininity, ” “total woman, ” “good, ” “maternal instinct, ” “motherly love. ” Their desperation is quiet; they hide their bruises of body and heart; they dress carefully and have good manners; they suffer, they love God, they follow the rules. They see that intelligence displayed in a woman is a flaw, that intelligence realized in a woman is a crime. They see the world they live in and they are not wrong. They use sex and babies to stay valuable because they need a home, food, clothing. They use the traditional intelligence of the female—animal, not human: they do what they have to to survive.”

Dworkin is right. The difference between conservative and liberal men is that the conservatives prefer private ownership of individual women, while liberals prefer public access to all women. So, as women, it is unwise to make choices without considering why we make them, their cost, and the consequences they result in. And this is why we need radical feminism, (‘radical’, as in, getting to the root), which recognizes that our choices aren’t made in a vacuum, but shaped by the society we live in. Feminism is not about choice. It is a movement for the liberation of women from the patriarchy.

 

Why I love Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’

Book-to-film adaptations can rarely hold a candle to the books they’re based on. Adaptations that surpass the source material (like the Stardust movie) are rarer still. I think the latest Little Women film is one of them, thanks to some of Gerwig’s deviations (SPOILER ALERT) from the novel.

Redeeming Amy March

Amy March is universally considered the least popular March sister. Or at least, she was, until this adaptation of Little Women. Even if you ignore the appalling book-burning incident (which I won’t), who can stand her pretentious airs at twelve?! As a grown-up, the Amy in the novel does learn to handle herself with grace when treated unfairly. On the other hand, she still remains overly concerned with appearances. Her every move seems calculated to win the approval of people she considers her betters, because of their wealth and status.

The Amy in the movie, however, is shown to be quite wise and pragmatic, even as a child. Her firm conviction that she would only marry a rich man was portrayed as shallow and materialistic in the book. In the movie, it is a girl’s ambition channeled into the only real career option available to the women of the time, along with the desire to support her family.

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Rewriting the disappointing Jo/ Laurie/ Amy love triangle

Like nearly everyone who has read Little Women, I was livid when Laurie ended up with Amy. It was unfathomable that Laurie, who spent years in love with the spontaneous Jo, would settle for the prissy Amy. The book is full of anecdotes about Jo and Laurie’s deep affection for each other. On the other hand, there is no indication that Amy thinks of Laurie as anything other than a fifth March sister, until she meets him as a grown-up in Paris.

The Amy in the movie, however, has been in love with Laurie all along, as shown in several small instances added by Gerwig. There is a scene where Amy makes a cast of her foot for Laurie (she makes it for herself in the book) and one where Amy turns back in her carriage to gaze at his retreating figure lovingly.  And in spite of pining after Laurie for years, she turns him down when he proposes to her (after being rejected by Jo). Laurie has to mend his dissolute ways and become a responsible adult to earn her approval. This is is a woman so sure of her self-worth that she won’t be the woman a man settles for, or tolerate his bullshit, even if he happens to be the love of her life. Her mature handling of her own heartache also gives more weight to her disapproval of Laurie’s self-destructive behaviour. In short, this movie makes the Amy/Laurie pairing seem right for the first time.

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Giving Jo “the right ending”

I think Gerwig did a brilliant job in giving Little Women an Inception-style ending. There is a hilarious scene where Jo and her publisher argue about whether the heroine of her novel (based on Jo herself) should be allowed to stay single. The publisher wins, and we see a sequence where the entire March family helps Jo chase her man to the railway station for a happy ending.

You may choose to think that Jo stayed single and became a famous writer, while her character in the novel had to get married. Alternatively, you may think that Jo married Friedrich, started a school and published her book (in which she tried to keep her character single). Since we all know that Jo was based on Louisa May Alcott, who remained single and became a famous writer, the ending of the movie is absolute perfection. The final montage of Jo watching her book being printed is a wonderful homage to the beloved author of Little Women.

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“Insisting that a person born biologically male must, upon their request, be recognized by everyone as female, regardless of material reality, amounts to a serious assault on democratic rights. This is tantamount to allowing a religious person to insist that their view of reality must be accepted by all others without question.

Whenever anybody challenges the idea that “transwomen are women”, whenever anyone objects to trans ideologues infringing on the rights of others, or expresses concern about children, here’s what happens.  We get labeled as “transphobes” and “bigots”, and viciously attacked.  We get fired.  People prevent us from giving speeches and being on panels.  We have to fight to prevent the de-publishing of our peer-reviewed studies.   We have to fight to get our books published.  We get kicked off Twitter.  We find ourselves dragged before human rights tribunals.   Complaints are filed against us and investigations launched.   We get hate mail that threatens horrific violence.  We even get assaulted.

via To Advance Civil Rights, Oppose Transgender Extremism

To Advance Civil Rights, Oppose Transgender Extremism

In praise of strident women — language: a feminist guide

The recent criticism of Greta Thunberg is a great example of how women are always expected to be agreeable and suppress their anger.

“‘Forceful’ speech is rather generally disapproved of in women. As Robin Lakoff noted in her pioneering 1973 essay ‘Language and Woman’s Place‘, it’s considered unladylike and unattractive to be too blunt, too direct and too sure of oneself. If women do express opinions, they are expected to do it in a suitably measured and ‘pleasant’ way: to be deferential rather than commanding, gentle rather than aggressive, agreeable rather than accusatory, soothing rather than angry or despairing.”

via In praise of strident women — language: a feminist guide

Six reasons to contemplate death.

Memento Mori (Latin for “Remember you must die”) is one of the key practices in Stoic philosophy. Reflecting on mortality can teach us important lessons on how to live well. (I’m aware that this may seem a bit morbid; it’s not for everyone.)

Stay humble- It is said that in ancient Rome, a victorious general returning from battle would be honoured by a ritual procession paraded through the city.  However, he would also have a slave standing behind him in a chariot, holding a skull and whispering into his ear, “Remember, you are a man. Remember you will die.” Knowing that death comes for everyone, rich or poor, should keep you grounded. After all, even the mighty Khal Drogo died of what he considered a scratch.

“He who has a vehement desire for posthumous fame does not consider that every one of those who remember him will himself also die very soon.” – Marcus Aurelius

Stop wasting time on trivialities- Thinking of death can give you the sense of urgency needed to prioritize people and tasks that add meaning to your life.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.” -Seneca

Cherish your loved ones- Try to be truly present while spending time your family and friends, since they are all mortals and you may not have much time left with them.

“What you love is nothing of your own: it has been given to you for the present, not that it should not be taken from you, nor has it been given to you for all time, but as a fig is given to you or a bunch of grapes at the appointed season of the year. But if you wish for these things in winter, you are a fool. So if you wish for your son or friend when it is not allowed to you, you must know that you are wishing for a fig in winter.” – Epictetus

Stop to smell the roses- Slow down and appreciate the good things in life.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Put your problems in perspective- Epictetus compared suicide to an open door, saying that leaving this life is always an option in case it gets absolutely unbearable. But while you’re still here, you must make the best of it and face your problems with courage and fortitude.

“Has someone made smoke in the house? If it is moderate, I’ll stay. If too much, I exit. For you must always remember and hold fast to this, that the door is open.” – Epictetus

Face death with equanimity-  Cato the Younger was a Roman senator who vehemently opposed to the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. When Caesar won, Cato knew that he would be captured and pardoned as part of Caesar’s political propaganda. Instead, he chose to commit suicide by disemboweling himself. Similarly, when the Roman emperor Nero ordered Seneca to commit suicide, he calmly consoled his friends and family before cutting his veins to slowly bleed to death.

“We mortals also are lighted and extinguished; the period of suffering comes in between, but on either side there is a deep peace.” -Seneca

 

One must imagine Sisyphus cooking and cleaning.

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned by the gods to repeatedly roll a boulder to the top of a mountain, from which it would roll down again- an eternity of futile, meaningless labour. As Simone de Beauvoir says in ‘The Second Sex’, this is more or less the kind of existence women had to endure in traditional societies.

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

In his famous essay, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, Albert Camus says that one must imagine Sisyphus momentarily happy every time he got to the top of the mountain. Each time he had to start again, he could look forward to this happiness during the struggle and thus find his life meaningful. I imagine anyone doing housework has the same short-lived joy to look forward to.

My mother is a wonderful cook, the kind who can happily spend hours perfecting a dish. I, on the other hand, never had the patience or skill to do justice to any of  her complicated recipes. If I must cook, I always pick the dishes that take the least amount of effort. I keep my room as neat as possible, to avoid having to clean it often. As I’ve often been told indirectly, I would never be considered good “daughter-in-law material” by any Indian guy’s parents. The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said something similar in her famous Ted-Talk

“I know a woman who hates domestic work, but she pretends that she likes it, because  she has been taught that to be “good wife material,” she has to be—to use that Nigerian word—homely. And then she got married. And her husband’s family began to complain that she had changed. Actually, she had not changed. She just got tired of pretending to be what she was not.

It is funny, in the way that sad things are funny, that we are still talking about cooking as some kind of marriageability test for women. The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking is learned. Cooking – domestic work in general – is a life skill that both men and women should ideally have.

I wish I was a good cook like my mother, but I loathe cooking. I resent the fact that for centuries, women have wasted their whole lives cooking and cleaning- work that is unpaid and often not acknowledged, let alone appreciated. I feel like every minute spent on housework is a minute stolen from other activities I’d rather do.  For now, I’m going to follow Erica Jong’s advice from her poem ‘Woman Enough’, and keep writing as the dust piles up.

“I wish there were not a choice;
I wish I could be two women.
I wish the days could be longer.
But they are short.
So I write while
the dust piles up.

I sit at my typewriter
remembering my grandmother
& all my mothers,
& the minutes they lost
loving houses better than themselves
& the man I love cleans up the kitchen
grumbling only a little
because he knows
that after all these centuries
it is easier for him
than for me.”

 

Seeking the ephemeral

‘Penny Dreadful’ is the most beautiful ode to gothic literature I’ve ever seen on screen.  Everything about the show is mesmerizing, from the amazing actors, to the haunting soundtrack and the use of flowery dialogue and poetry.

“Man does not live only in the empirical. We must seek the ephemeral, or why live?” – Dr. Frankenstein

As a woman of science, I completely agree. The eternal laws of nature fascinate me, but I also need art and beauty to make my life worth living. This show has absolutely revived my love for Romantic poetry, which I hadn’t read since school. Here are some of my favourite poems from the show-

1. ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’–  Early on in the show, when Vanessa Ives meets Dr. Frankenstein, they quote these lines by William Wordsworth. This is an interesting reference to the fact that the doctor is reanimating corpses, going against “nature’s plan”, though Vanessa doesn’t know about it.

“If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?”

2. ‘Auguries of Innocence’- The friendship between Vanessa Ives and the Creature (the creation of Dr. Frankenstein) is my favourite part of the show. Vanessa talks to The Creature (who has named himself John Clare, after the poet) about her struggles with religion and her abiding faith in God. He replies that he has never felt the need for religion, since the world around them is awe-inspiring enough for him. (As an atheist, I wish I could have similar conversations with religious people in real life.) He quotes this verse by William Blake.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

3. ‘I Am’- Later, Vanessa and the Creature connect over their shared sadness and love for poetry by reciting these lines by John Clare.

“I am—yet what I am none cares or knows; 
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes

They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed…

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”

4. ‘Maud’- Vanessa goes into a serious bout of depression after her friends leave on their separate journeys. She is then helped by a friend who sends her to a therapist. When she finally leaves the house for the first time in months, she finds out that the city is in mourning, since Tennyson died that day. Later that night, she recites a verse from his poem ‘Maud’.

“Beat, happy stars, timing with things below,
Beat with my heart more blest than heart can tell,
Blest, but for some dark undercurrent woe
That seems to draw—but it shall not be so:
Let all be well, be well.”

5. ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’- The show fittingly ends with the Creature reciting these lines by William Wordsworth.

“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream. 
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more..

But there’s a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”

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Why is misogyny still a thing?

I’ve often wondered why misogyny still persists all over the world, in spite of  social progress and the women’s liberation movement.  Kate Manne answers this question brilliantly in her book ‘Down Girl-The Logic of Misogyny‘.  Misogyny is commonly defined as a hatred of women, but according to Manne, it’s much more complex. She describes sexism as the ideological arm of the patriarchy, and misogyny as the law-enforcement arm, which punishes “bad women” i.e., those who rebel against the patriarchy.

Although a lot of people no longer believe in sexist ideas like the inferiority of women’s intelligence and capabilities, they may still resort to misogynistic behaviour when a woman uses these capabilities against them. For instance, Donald Trump hires a lot of women for high-profile jobs, but is quick to come up with crass insults for any woman who challenges him.

“Sexism is bookish; misogyny is combative. Sexism is complacent; misogyny is anxious. Sexism has a theory; misogyny wields a cudgel.”

It’s not that women are considered less than human; rather they are seen as human givers of feminine coded goods: love, sex, attention, admiration, nurturance and so on. Men, on the other hand, are seen as takers, entitled to masculine coded goods: power, wealth, privilege, respect and so on. So the patriarchy is based on this asymmetric exchange where men can’t give and women can’t take. When women withhold feminine coded goods from men and take masculine coded goods, they are seen as abrasive, unlikable bitches. Remember when people made a fuss about Captain Marvel not smiling enough?

Manne’s description of the patriarchal ideology explains the following phenomena-

  • Ambitious women who try to take positions traditionally held by men, are automatically seen as unreliable and power-hungry.
  • Men accused of sexual assault get more public sympathy than the victims, since their careers are ruined by the accusations (Manne calls this ‘himpathy‘).
  • Incels feel like women owe them attention and sex.
  • “Pro-life” advocates think that women owe their fetuses care and nourishment, whether or not they are able and willing to provide it.
  • As more women grow empowered and seek to leave their traditional roles, there is an increase in misogynistic backlash, punishing women for their “insubordination”.

Unfortunately, calling out misogyny tends to give rise to more of it; the victim is considered to have wronged the accused by getting him punished for his actions. Some victims who come forward are dismissed as liars or called out for “playing the woman card”, while others are subjected to rape and death threats by anonymous men on the internet.  In such a situation, we can only hope that more people recognize and unlearn their own internalized misogyny.