Whence and Whither #4

1. Conservatives are bad at environmentalism. One reason, Ben Sixsmith argues, is that environmentalism has been hopelessly politicized, which has resulted in conservatives misrepresenting scientific data about climate change and getting their panties in a wad about how environmentalism is code for liberal progressivism. I don’t think he’s far off the mark here.

2. Gender is a social construct. Period. But let’s not pretend that it’s arbitrary or that 1950s America was a gender utopia (…much less was it consonant with biological realities). Christopher Shanon discusses Ivan Illich’s book Gender in relation to the ubiquity of bad arguments woven throughout contemporary discussion about gender. Here is my favorite paragraph for the article:

As with most of Illich’s writings, Gender has much to infuriate people across the political spectrum.  In one characteristic sentence, Illich writes: “To me, the pursuit of a non-sexist ‘economy’ is as absurd as a sexist one is abhorrent.”3  Here, he criticizes both progressives who reduce male-female relations to an equality that would abolish meaningful and ennobling gender distinctions, yet also conservatives who, in the name of defending “traditional” relations, are actually defending the subordination of women within a regime of sex.  For Illich, keeping women at home hardly qualifies as shoring up gender against sex, for the home has, according to his analysis, already long been transformed into yet another capitalist workplace: the stay-at-home mom is simply the low person on a totem pole—a single measuring stick of productivity and remuneration—that she shares with her more economically successful go-to-work husband.

3. Tunes: Let the groove of Thom Yorke sink deep into your bones.

4. I just finished reading The Red Badge of Courage for the first time, and I loved it. It has inspired me to pick up Hemingway. I’ve set my sights on A Farewell to Arms–a book that has alluded me for too long. But now that I’m 30, I don’t think I’ll put it off any longer.

5. Alan Jacobs on the important difference between “Stock and Flow.”

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