Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stockholm syndrome- dodging the connections between sexism, ageism and speciesism

The 90 previous posts on this blog were about fish in Memphis, TN.   As my time has been consumed with completing my PhD dissertation recently, I'm focused on the larger systemic problems that contextualize our relationships to other taxa and species, like fish.

Apparently, the world just dodged a bullet over Syria. The most interesting part of the last week about that dodge was that perhaps the world doesn't want "strong men" anymore. We all just want peace. And yet, most of us haven't quite let go of our fantasies that we can have it all- or be connected to someone who does. That is what I want to write about in tis post. Not the having but the fate of the have nots and the glimmer of hope I have tonight that all is not lost.

Other people have a human partner. I have my dissertation and my cat.

The following are some notes that won't go into my dissertation on the relationships between Stockholm Syndrome, sexism, ageism and speciesism. Stockholm Syndrome, refers to the empathy evoked for bank robbers in 1973 when they captured employees.

As the dominant species, it's interesting to consider all the ways, as a culture, we have come to identify with the captors of this culture, whom are more powerful than the dying cultures and species that are collateral damage of the Anthropocene.

I would say the "bank robbers" these days are the large corporatized banks bank rolling extractive industries at the expense of Indigenous Peoples, people of color, women and other animals, many of whom are just fodder for a greedy few humans. That may be critiqued as classist, even, socialist. I don't intend it that way. The robbers I have in mind have simply taken greed and selfishness to an extreme. I accept that a measure of dominance and hierarchy is natural to most human species. Just not to the extent we see it operating today.

Yesterday, I wrote on FB in response to a recent article on Feminism and advancing the careers of young Western academic women:

"Ageism is a very serious problem for men and women and terrible for the economy because so much skill & wisdom is tied up with older people. This article is excellent for women up to the age of 35. It ignores the darkest side of the feminist mystique, which is how both men and women deal with ageism in relation to women. The competition not only with sexist standards from men but the often poisonous competition from other women who discount anyone, for example from the baby boomer generation is devastating. This is too complex a problem to address in a comment but it is not only totally ignored in this article but implicitly, women over child-bearing age have been utterly erased by the content because they are irrelevant and inimical to it. However, I promise you, every woman struggling today with the implications of being young, and attractive while ignoring how sexism is tied up with ageism will struggle twice as much tomorrow with the professional implications of being old and unattractive. Thank goodness for Diana Nyad."

The article I referenced, from the Chronicle for Higher Education, was:

This morning in the ecodialog, artist- educator Beverly Naidus posted links to two recent articles on racism:

My response was:

"Thank you for bringing these articles to our attention. I almost wrote a post yesterday on racism, sexism, ageism and the environment that might have over-lapped some of these points. It was on my mind because of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which I linked on my FB page. I've also been writing about racism in my dissertation and refer to some of the same information about Yellowstone referenced in the Sun article. It's difficult for me to take time to write at length here about this now because of my disseration but I do think it's a critical issue.

In Memphis, for Fish Story, I worked very hard to engage the inner city and found it very challenging. Memphis is interesting about racism because the demographic is so blatantly physicalized. However, I think it is very hard for most people to see the connections, no matter how blatant, between environmental ethics and environmental damage because the connection between social data & hard science is often subtle and complex. These articles do a good job of making those connections. 

I've tried to reference these points in my diss. writing, without making it the main focus, only because there are so many related ideas I reference. One of the points I do try to make clearly, however, is over assumed patterns of dominance that are very intractable. As I referenced on my FB page, the painful dynamics of competition (generally) are rarely honestly confronted. I think that plays powerfully into a discourse on racism/ sexism/ ageism. I believe there is a privileging in our society of a very narrow, narcissistic view of the acceptable messenger for critical ideas: white, thin, youngish, preferably male or male identified. I reference that as Stockholm Syndrome."

It is almost 4:AM now in Maine, where I'm writing the end of my final draft for my dissertation. Earlier,  I was corresponding with one of my diss advisors, about the context for my thinking. I wrote about my thinking:

" (I argue that) ... the Anthropocene is a closed system model in which "nature" doesn't stand a chance. ... If it's true that the Anthropocene is a closed system, we need to erase one set of information and do the work of introducing another set of information to change the entropic nature of the system we've created."

The erasure I'd like to see, is the notion that humans, and top dog humans at that, are entitled to the center of the world. Only because in the end, that doesn't even work for the top dogs. With the suggestion that the world may not have to go to WW III to control Assad, that none of us can stomach one more strong man, there is hope for all the other dysfunctions in life.

And with that, I'll return to my diss writing and then to sleep. I am now writing my conclusion, the discussion of what makes a complex adaptive model to effect trigger point theory as aesthetic activism in the Anthropocene.

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