Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On which woman is less oppressed: bikini lady or abaya lady

Both are thinking a male-dominated culture has harmed the other, but one of these assessments is far more accurate than the other.

Is it really true that the women in this cartoon are both equally suffering in a male-dominated culture?  Actually, it's FAR from true: if the bikini woman takes off her bikini and puts on regular clothes, no one in her secular nation beats her.  In contrast, if the abaya woman takes off her abaya and puts on regular clothes, the religious police (known as the muttawwa) in her Muslim nation may beat her.  So, the bikini woman is far, far better off.  Again, since the bikini woman has far more liberty as a citizen, she is easily in the better position to mange whatever male domination may be present.

I imagine some would object that the bikini woman is actually more oppressed, since she doesn't know how much she's being dominated, something along the lines like-unto when children don't know when or how much they are being dominated.  However, in reply, (i) children cannot reason well and are rightly seen as not understanding when they are oppressed.  But adult women, especially adult women with a basic education and with equal voting opportunities in their culture, are able understand better when they are oppressed. So, the bikini woman likely understands her situation better than the abaya woman.  Also, (ii) many women in abaya-enforced cultures are not given basic education.  Thus, the abaya woman, not the bikini woman, is actually the more oppressed of the two. Therefore, and yet again, the bikini woman is easily in the better position to manage any male domination situations in life.


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Thursday, May 19, 2011

On semantics, abstract nouns, and fighting with my journalist cousin

My journalist cousin and I had a little debate about a certain kind of locution. She quoted a pithy remark--

   i. Life is sexually transmitted.

But I countered--

   ii. In vitro babies beg to differ with your first assertion, cuz.

She then objected--

   iii. it says "Life is sexually transmitted." Not "ALL life is sexually transmitted." So there.

At this point, I called-in my personal semantic police force, saying "Not so fast, cuz!" I analyzed such locutions as follows:

* * *

   i*. "Money is electronically transferred." My dollar bills beg to differ with that assertion; there's some that ain't. I said, "Money is electronically transferred." Not "ALL money is electronically transferred."

Same error? Yes. But now consider two others:

   iv. "Rock is atomically constructed." Here, for this case, there is no rock that ain't. So, this all-less "is" does indeed stand equivalent to saying "ALL rock is atomically constructed."

   v. "Life is biologically evolved." Again, it looks like there is no life that ain't. So, this all-less "is" likewise stands equivalent to saying "ALL life is biologically evolved."

Conclusion: the lack of an "ALL" sometimes allows "some ain't" and sometimes doesn't allow "some ain't." What an "is" remark says is easily misinterpreted.

* * *

I told her to run this analysis by my two favorite, grammar-proficient aunts, and see if they buy my position. Of course I'm an analytic philosopher, and she a journalist; but, since her mother was a speech therapist, and her mother's sister (i.e., my other aunt) was a college grammar teacher, this could end up being quite the family squabble. Alas--Grammar is ambiguously understood.


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