Saturday, September 01, 2007

beats talking about the weather

Look :

I've been mowing in stripes at my father's over the past week.
Quite satisfying for someone such as me, who has not A Lawn, but lumpy bumpy tussocky grass.

I've had quite a few conversations in the past which seem to support the contention that its men, in particular, who like orderly, weed-free, stripy lawns; that "male" gardening tends towards the structural, linear, architectural, controlled, whereas "female" gardenening is characterised more by flowers, scent, spontaneity and natural forms. Any opinions?

Having thought, at one stage, that ideas of masculinity and femininity are entirely due to culture & socialisation, I have come to think now that there is a great deal of evidence which suggests there might actually be innate differences between women and men beyond the purely physiological. "Natural" rather than "nurtured" differences, traits, characteristics. It seems that hormone levels while we are in the womb may have more impact on who we are than we'd ever have imagined a hundred years ago.

But - and this is the tricky but crucial thing - none of these differences are universal.

None of the so-called "masculine" traits are present in all men - and none of them are present only in men. And vice versa with the feminine. If we have to go on thinking about certain characteristics as either "masculine" or "feminine" (will we ever be able to get away from this?) surely we all have to admit that we all have some of each?

So even if there are differences its possible to generalise about - eg. it seems to be a common view just now that women are better at multi-tasking - well, so what? Not all women are. Some men are. - so what use is the generalisation? It seems to me only likely to feed our oppressively stereotypical ideas of the masculinity and femininity - in ways which support false and oppressive ideas of what is "normal" and which can be so damaging.

After mowing the lawn and having some of these thoughts, I read a piece in the paper about some recent scientific claims made about that pesky old male-blue female-pink thing.
(after some research, it was suggested apparently that there might be evolutionary origins for this particular colour-coding, with women needing to be good at collecting berries.....)
The piece I read was in the Guardian's 'Bad Science' column - click here for the full text - and cites evidence against this - evidence that the "pink is girlie" idea is actually relatively new and very culturally determined. So, not such an old thing after all - isn't that nice to know? Maybe it will go away one day soon.

I'm a bit pissed off with myself for writing this though, which I hadn't planned, because its rather worky.
I've had at least two work dreams lately, there is marking on my desk which I can't evade for much longer, I'm trying to ignore the imminence of term beginnings, induction and academic "stuff" and I don't know how long I can hang on to the holiday vibe. And its now September.


There were no such serious discussions on our holiday, thats for sure. Though one of the below is (or could have been, if we could've been arsed) related to gender issues.

Favourite topics of holiday conversation around the table in Dordogne and Lot:

1. crustiness

2. pool water temperature

3. advanced Cleudo-playing methodology

4. stickiness - qualities and definitions of, methods of testing for stickiness

5. zip then fasten or fasten then zip?

6. foreign bugs

7. Bedknobs and Broomsticks

8. why not to buy Top Budget products in France

9. comparison of strains and sore muscles following canoing and monkey-high-ropes stuff.

10. techniques for ripening avocado

11. manbags

12. anchovies

13. iPods and iPod sox

14. gizzards

15. snoring

16. spong

It would be difficult to have a really good holiday, I think, with people who weren't more than a little bit silly and who don't enjoy food more than just a little bit.

Fortunately my father and my sister and her family meet both of these criteria.


tut-tut said...

As the temperature rises during the summer, more and more plant material gets to be categorized under "possible flower" rather than have to weed it around here! What does that say about the division of male/female techniques?

Love your foody pix.

Trac said...

Nothing wrong with a bit of pink!
They have pink bins round here you know!? :O)

HELLO! xxx

(Aren't you supposed to put them next to some bananas as opposed to a lizard?)

Reya Mellicker said...

Anchovies? Yes!
Fasten, then zip.

As for the gender question, well, I could get into a big blahblahblah about this, but I'll try to be brief.

Though there are two obvious genders, based on physical equipment, I believe we humans are diverse enough to include many "sub-genders" or "third genders" as the gay population in San Francisco calls it. That manly striped lawn might appeal in many ways to a butchy woman (no matter her sexual preference) but be completely wrong for George Michael (for instance). Gender differences are not necessarily related to sexual preference either. It's all such a chaotic mess! Which is why these gender divisions will never be completely sorted - because most folks are inbetween the most extremely masculine and most extremely feminine. Physical equipment is one delineator, as is sexual preference, but neither one adds up to the whole story of gender. Human being are very complex!

Oops. I did go on and on. Sorry!

lettuce said...

theres not much i categorize as "weed" either Tut-tut.

Tracs back, hurrah! i'm popping straight round to yours. (yes, i've heard that about bananas but the lizard got there first)

Yes, you did a bit Reya! i too find it hard not to on this topic. But i agree with you. And i don't see really why it NEEDS to be sorted in any case.

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

Stripes, to respond to your bid for opinion, remind me of prisons and an unusually itcy pair of--quick, Selly, think UK spelling--pyjamas (there! think I've got it) that remain with me lo tese many pyjama-less years. No stripes for this lad, only te soft, casual roll of Korean grass or an edgy fescue it we must have lawn.

As for the photos of fruit,both cut and uncut, and cups suggesting the former presence of a splendid latte, as our beleagured president would say, bring 'e on.

call me betty said...

Oh, fasten then zip. Definitely. And pink doesn't suit me at all.
As for lawns, himself digs out the dandelions n daisies, tho I'm quite happy with them there. :-(

ponders the stickiness of hummous.....

ramblingwoman said...

well, I don't understand the fasten then zip...isn't the zip usually unde the fastening? I think, therefore I zip first.

I heard on the news/somewhere that they have now developed a 'sticky' fabric that would allow firefighters/superheroes etc to actually stick to walls!

What's wrong with French anchovies...are they very expensive?

Steve said...

Ah yes. Spong. What would a vacation be without a discussion of Spong?

On the gender issue, I do think many, many things are biologically determined -- not only, obviously, our physical selves but many aspects of our personalities. Babies exhibit definite temperaments, with some being laid-back and some demanding, and children seem to lean toward one interest or another very early on. I think much of that is in response to genetics and brain chemistry. Where humans have made the mistake all these years is in thinking that there are only two types of people, women and men, and that everyone has to act like one or the other. In reality there are zillions of types of people, and really we only have to act like ourselves!

Pod said...

i am pleased to see that steve is catching on to spong.
zip the fasten
an orderly lawn with an apparently disorderly flowerbed


ps. what is that thing?

kimy said...

fun (& safe) array of topics of holiday conversation....if only my family could follow suit - we do have a tendency to drift into politics and well you know where that can go

yum anchovies and avocados

gender difference and nature vs there's a potentially HOT topic


love the photos!

la bellina mammina said...

I dress LP in blue, and I still have people asking if he's a girl? My fault as I'm keeping his hair long....
Btw, what's a spong??

Dizzy said...

Is the pink/blue girl/boy thing more prevalent in the west?

My Indian friends used to dress their baby son in pink teeshirts. He has his ears pierced, as is the Indian custom and has never had a hair cut (another custom) so has lovely curls. I could say almost everyone would refer to him as a girl.

They have now started dressing him in boyish clothes and colours, following the western way.

lettuce said...

just a quick note for those of you wondering what on earth "spong" is - i'm just going to add a link to this post, so click on the word "Spong" for enlightenment..... or not....

la bellina mammina said...

clicked on spong - nothing came up - when I clicked on snoring, a question mark appears.....

Akelamalu said...

I've always wanted a stripy lawn but never been able to achieve one. Now MWM has taken over the gardening I might ask him to make me one!

All your holiday topics of conversation were VERY IMPORTANT! :)

Lynne said...

aahhh ... discussions of how crusty the bread is; lovely!
but wait, no talk of cheese?

pool temp—very important! Right now ours is getting colder by the day ...

glad you enlightened me on what spong is!

fasten, then zip.

as for stripey lawns, mine ends up a mixture since I have to dodge trees and work with slopes.

my flower garden is a hodge-podge.

can't think of what those green sticky bugs are called ... leaf bugs? stick bugs?

Pod said...

the phenomenon of spong is spreading. glad to see you doing your bit.

but manbags....yes or no?

Gary said...

You really covered a lot of ground here but wove the topics together in a seamless manner. Well done.

Try to hold on to that summer feeling as long as you can. I keep telling myself to remember Mexico and hope that the feeling of relaxation lasts at least until October.

Oh, I zip then fasten.

Dumdad said...

Mmmmm, that barbecue looks good!

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

Since even as I write this, Sally is snoring the snore of a dog well exercised, it comes to me that it would be nice to have a link on snoring as well as on spong.

Snoring is the sound THEY make while depositing spong.

Splendid book idea: photos of the spongy drawers (containers as opposed to undergarments) of notorious bloggers.

Another thought: spong coffee, spong tea.

Does spong contain transfats?

Does antipodean spong spin clockwise or counter?

lettuce said...

so shelly, you sleep in the garden? naked? I had to google fescue - apparently it has "cosmopolitan distribution" which seems appropriate for you.

betty - ponders is a good word. (it was quite a contentious issue....)

RW- "i think therefore i zip first" - what, as opposed to "i think therefore i am"? anchovies - no, not expensive, but don't EVER buy Top Budget anchovies.

steve i think you're right - that wretched need to label and divide into opposing camps. (oops, no double entendre intended)

why only "apparently" disorderly pod? and which thing?

kimy my family doesn't tend to "do" serious conversations that much.... hmmm, interesting that.

bella i used to dress LG in blue deliberately, and sometimes in black. :o) (hope the link works now)

lynne, yes, we did indeed talk of (and eat) cheese. "stick insects" - over here anyway.
Reminds me of a joke:
Whats brown and sticky?
A stick.

pod - hmm. tough call. whats your verdict?

gary - october. Thats a good aim.

it was dumdad. Yummy duck gizzards.

shelly you are very funny.
Yes, SPLENDID idea.
No thankyou kindly.
Hmmm, requires further research.
Over to you pod.

dizzy, that seems a shame to me.

yes lamalulu, VERY important

Lori Witzel said...

s. p. o. n. g. -- wasn't that some sort of secret society linked to Mme. Blavatsky? (Love your post to Spong, and your ref to Anoia, BTW.)


I, too, think the world of Granny Weatherwax. I think I'd like to be her if and when I grow up.