Friday, September 28, 2007

telephone calls from on high/rangoonery.

I always answer the phone. It's usually either telemarketers, which she hates, or relatives, who aren't related to him (he's left for the frozen northern wastes now anyway), and some of whom stress her out, so I always try to get there first. I thought this was a telemarketer - there was that silence-then-fuzz thing, and I almost hung up halfway through the first sentence, but didn't. It was 'This is a recorded message from the Labour Party.'

Election on November 1st? You betcha. The message system (clearly I should write a ranty post about why the recorded voices are always women) asked who I was going to vote for in 'the next general election', no timeframe specified, (I pushed 4, 'don't know'), and then whether I'd ever voted Labour in the past (no). I'm now wondering if I should've lied to fuck the system, because it would be great fun if this exercise left them falsely confident and they wound up going to the country and hanging it, but hey.

A thing I should not have to rant about, but do; Aung San Suu Kyi/gender. This is not the 1950s and should not still be a fucking issue. I feel almost as if I am being petty about it but I am not; they are. After reading the abovelinked post, I then later caught this from the Beeb;

"What can we bring Daw Aung?" we asked the contact who had set up the meeting in Rangoon. "Oh, she wants supplies and reading matter!" was the reply.

I had assumed she wanted the latest edition of the Amnesty International Almanac or perhaps Nelson Mandela's memoirs. Supplies, I assumed, meant batteries or light bulbs.

What she did in fact want were the last four editions of Vogue, perhaps a Marie Claire or two and a few jars of face cream. This was utterly reassuring.

Aung San Suu Kyi has an Oxford degree and was married to Michael, an Oxford academic and a leading authority on Buddhism.

She has given her life to her people and needs to prove to no-one the seriousness of her intent. But this woman, who also happens to be exceptionally beautiful, wanted to preserve a degree of normality and dignity under very abnormal circumstances.

We handed over the gifts, she prepared delicious curry for my cameraman and me, and then we conducted a tough interview about how she could actually run a country as ethnically divided and brutalised as Burma, if she ever got the chance. Her answers were humble but firm. There is steel behind the jasmine scent.

*looks around for something to bang head against* Well. Definitely not me who's obsessed with Suu Kyi's gender. Where to start? That it is reassuring that a female political figure reads Vogue and Marie Claire? That it is 'normal'? - I seriously, honest-to-god, haven't known any woman who reads that stuff since I was at sixth-form. This is not to say that it is a bad thing, only that that form of gender performance is a minority interest and it being seen as 'normal' and 'reassuring' says a lot more about the moran who wrote this shit than it does about Aung San Suu Kyi. The 'ohh-we-must-ponder-whether-she-is-tough-and-srs-because-she's-a-GIRL' stuff is piling moranity upon moranity.

A thing that made me laugh.

A thing that made me cry.

Might go into both of those more later, not sure. I have a new copy of Neuromancer so expect cracky rants about Gibson and the Virgin Mary soon. I could also whine about hating Microsoft (wtF @ everything about the new Hotmail), Yahoo (stupid fucks buy up Musicmatch then wreck it) and Google (why is Blogger talking to me only in Dutch? Or is 'Tastaturk├╝rzel: dr├╝cken Sie Strg zusammen mit' German? Wtf is this setting and how do I change it?)


Anonymous said...

Aung San Suu Kyi/genderthing makes me annoyed.

Kyso Kiasen's post and its comments were interesting. The level to which female students are told- implicitly or explicitly- that science/maths are not for them is astounding... (and simply untrue; there is no robust evidence to show that males are better at mathematics or typically 'male' domains such as visuospatial ability. Research shows that any gender differences in cognitive ability disappear under certain conditions, like not knowing that you are actually performing a visuospatial task. Ah, the power of self-fulfilling prophecies.)

What makes me so angry about it sometimes is its insidiousness: A male student who excels in mathematics is innately talented, but a female student who excels similarly gets there by hard work and effort.

thene said...

So girls only suck at visuospatial tasks if you tell them that that's what's happening? Wow.

I really couldn't say this on Kyso's blog, but the reason it made me cry (not, just kinda lumpy inna throat) is simply the way it worked for me as a teenager; I started off as being primarily interested in maths and sciences, and then this guy decided (passively) that because he didn't have a vagina, he couldn't possibly be responsible for his home, his youngest child, or me, so clearly all these things were exclusively my concern, because I had a vagina and my age was in double digits. I can't know, and probably shouldn't wonder, if I would've stuck with the maths if I hadn't had to deal with all that crap as well - or if I hadn't been an insomniac, which was closely related. My imaginary enemy says there's no sense in wondering what might have been (by which he means; we all do it), but no, I didn't choose to have way too much to deal with, and ceasing to put in that effort was almost a choice but really just an inevitable, impossible tradeoff. And I excused it by deciding I 'wasn't talented'.

There's something left here, roads still open and all, and I could've gone the same way anyhow. I'm just pointlessly pissed that it wasn't a choice.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Giving the women training on visuospatial tasks also reduced or eliminated the difference. And on the flipside, some new stuff suggests that the male disadvantage for spelling/reading disappears when the tests are computerised. Kinda interesting. Another thing is that people have also found correlations between the magnitude of gender differences in maths and the extent of gender inequality in the country, and a decline in gender differences in math over the past 30 years. More support that these differences are all very much socially influenced; ebil.

And yuh, I see where you're coming from there. It's a difficult situation and I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't a choice.

thene said...

[a later comment thread about Suu Kyi sprung up over here]