Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shut Up and Drive

Danica Patrick:  Men cannot seem to discern whether she's a driver or a hood ornament. After doing some research I can't say that I blame them for their confusion. It's hard to take this seriously:

Not that I have anything against women glorifying their feminine aspect, but in some arenas it just causes more trouble than it's worth, especially if that arena is historically  a "No Girls Allowed" venue.  Besides, photos like this aren't about glorifying the Beauty That is Woman; photos (like this) are about selling your body for acceptance in the Mens' Club. And once you've done that you've nullified any attempt at being taken seriously by men.

That being said, please don't assume that I'm victim blaming. Nothing can be further from the truth. It's just frustrating to see women set themselves up for the label.

The victim blaming I'm alluding to is connected to an incident that happened within the last month where Danica was forced off the track by another (over-zealous) driver. I don't typically watch NASCAR but my husband watches it from time to time and on the morning after the afore-mentioned event he happened to be watching a sports report while I was still asleep. What woke me up was hearing the words (something to the effect of), "That's not ladylike behavior." I perked up instantly. What? What did she do? To my amazement her unladylike gaff was committed when she stood at the side of the track, while all the other drivers blew by, raising her hands in supplication and frustration at the driver who had knocked her off the track. Really? She didn't flip him the bird? She didn't moon him? She didn't scream and yell and toss out curse words with the linguistic dexterity of a sailor? Exhibiting frustration through arms extended is now considered unladylike.

At this point I want to take you back several years to my childhood. Despite what my children will say, we will not go back to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The year is 1982 and I am [omitted for my vanity] years old. I am riding around the neighborhood on my brand new ten speed. A group of five teenage boys block my path and start verbally harassing me. I give back as good as I get. Apparently I say something pretty stimulating because all five boys jump me, knock me to the ground, kick me around a bit, and steal my bike. I limp on home in a fit of rage. Immediately my parents ask where my bike has gone. I tell them my story, not withholding my responses to the boys' verbal insults. My parents call the police. Witnesses are able to identify the boys and soon the police arrive at the "lead" boy's house. About forty-five minutes elapse before a police officer returns to our house. He says to my parents, "We have her bike but we're not willing to give it back until she apologizes to those boys. Apparently she used some very unladylike language with them and they say that if she had kept her mouth shut they wouldn't have attacked her and taken her bike." There is more to this story, but it's all peripheral after that, so you get the point. (I would, however, like to use this moment to give an accolade to my mother, who demonstrated to the police officer where I received my education in "unladylike langauge".)

Victim blaming: If I had remained "ladylike" in the face of ungentlemanly behavior I wouldn't have been assaulted and my bike taken from me. 
So when Danica Patrick does this: 

. . . it's difficult for men to remember that she also does this:

. . . and having proven thus, is justified in her behavior when she does this:

Never mind that Truex admitted he'd screwed up and it was his fault. Never mind that he apologized. None of that matters. Because Danica Patrick is this in the minds of NASCAR fans:

So instead of sympathy she gets this:  Danica Patrick Complains Too Much. And no one likes a woman who complains. Ahem.

I found a plethora of articles about male NASCAR drivers who act like complete buffoons. For example: Boys Will Be Boys. Maybe if Danica had done like Busch, and claimed First Amendment Rights, she wouldn't have created such a scandal . . . Okay, who am I kidding?

This whole debacle brings to mind Immanuel Kant (who makes me want to barf at the mere mention of his name): 
If vanity is a fault that in a woman much merits excuse, a haughty bearing is not only as reproachable in her as in people in general, but completely  disfigures the character of her sex. For this quality is exceedingly stupid and ugly, and is set completely in opposition to her captivating, modest charms.
To Kant's way of thinking, women are meant to be a pretty diversion for men, who require to be distracted from the burden of serious thought and responsibility. If a woman tries to be anything other or more than vacuous and pretty she is haughty and therefore must be rejected. Patrick bought into it by posing like this:  
. . . and is now seen as haughty and unbearable. She complains too much. She is not being agreeable or charming. And now she's paying the price by not being taken seriously. 

Please remember, I'm not victim blaming. Consider the words of Simone de Beauvoir: 
Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the action of others than herself.
I'm not necessarily suggesting that Patrick was wrong to show off her "assets". She should be allowed to express herself in any way she sees fit. I guess what I'm inferring is that our social system is so damned screwed up that most people just can't look past the bikini to see the complex being that exists within it's teeny-tiny strings. 

And to all those men who vilified Patrick as "unladylike", who feel that she has no business in a "man's sport": 
No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility. ~Simone de Beauvoir

God of Gaps

This morning I went through my usual internet routine:
1.  Check e-mail 
2.  Peek at (with one wary eye) my checking account balance
3. Update my Facebook status (because if I don't the world will implode)
4. Check out the current weather forecast
5. Make myself current on leading local, national and international news
6. (Favorite part of my internet activities) read new posts from my favorite blogs

Number six is the crucial purpose for my blog post today because it is all about Pharyngula's account of the debate between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig. Particularly of interest to me was number THREE of Krauss's refutal of Craig's five arguments, in which Craig asserts " . . . that the existence of absolute morality gives evidence for God." (As an aside, I must ask where evidence of this "absolute morality" exists, as I've seen no proof of it in the history of Humankind.)

Once again, Christians put the cart before the horse. They rely on the old, "what came first, the chicken or the egg" argument in an effort to find proof for God's presumed existence. Hence the title of this blog post, a most apropos term coined by Krauss himself. Where ever Christians find a vacuum in their assertions, theories, and philosophies regarding the existence of God, rather than using logic to recognize that the existence of the vacuum as proof that there are flaws in the afore mentioned arguments and assertions, they instead claim that this vacuum, this absence of empirical data, is proof that God does indeed exist.  So, in a nutshell, what cannot be observed or understood, measured, or qualified is God. 

And in a strange reversal of logic (perhaps the crux of my argument that Christians don't have any) Christians expect Atheists to prove the non-existence of God by use of empirical data. In other words, we are expected to observe, understand, measure and qualify the absence of the God of Gaps.

Throughout history people have used superstition to explain that which was not understood; however, as humans have begun to understand the scientific mechanisms of nature we have left those superstitions by the wayside. Otherwise, we'd still be burning "witches" at the stake. 

But I digress. 

The reason I find Craig's "Argument Number Three" of interest is due to his assertion that God is the bastion of "absolute morality". How can that be? I will not get into the circular arguments of:
1.  Humans are imperfect in their interpretation of God's will
2. God tests us 
3. God puts strife and sorrow and horrors in our path to teach us Important Moral Lessons
4. Etc., ad nauseam [insert circular argument of your choice here]
Instead I will point out a flaw in the argument that God has morals and point out how the Christian belief of God as Moral Compass is another example of Cart-Before-Horse Syndrome.

My argument is grounded in the theory of morality as a product of the evolution of empathy. To understand the nature-and-nurture process of empathy, please watch this cute little video:

One Human Race

According to the New Testament (or at least according to those who claim the New Testament as proof) God is the God of Compassion, Kindness and Love. Yet, how can that be when there is no other like Him? All powerful (omnipotent), all knowing (omniscient), ever-present (omnipresent) (but especially in the gaps). In other words, not-human. The core value of morality is empathy. Empathy is derived from a connectivity between human beings individually, or as an ethnicity, as a gender, as a nation, as a species, etc.. Despite our vast array of differences and all that makes us individually us, we have identifiers that help us to connect and feel compassion for those with whom we relate. 

So how does God relate to us in any way? Because he is our Father? God doesn't have a father, so how would He connect with that assertion? Because we are His creation? That's a treacherous slope to slide on, for even children create things (such as sand castles) and then destroy them, simply because it is amusing. Children feel no connection or bond to sand castles; it's simply something to do rather than be bored. 

If we are "other" in God's eyes then we are alien to Him (and vice versa!). As human beings we tend to reject that which we do not understand, we reject strangers (those whom we classify as "other"). It is human instinct. It's a safety measure. So even if God created us in His image it doesn't mean a damned thing because we are still different in all the important ways: we are not omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. We and God are strangers to each other.

Due to His aspect as the Ultimate Cosmic Power, it is in our hands (and in our desire) to connect with Him, not vice versa. That connection offers us comfort because it makes us feel safe in the hands of what could possibly (and probably) be an all-powerful tyrant. After all, why should He be bothered? Creating the myth of Jesus gives humans the ability to feel that connection. It protects us from having to consider the mind-boggling aspect of an U.C.P., cold, distant, different, and unconnected, indifferent to human feeling. Which proves to me that humans created God in Their image, not the other way around. And human beings, flawed as we are, have no concept of "absolute morality" because morality is that which we prescribe depending on with whom we connect.