I apologize that this post has nothing to do with skepchick-ism. In fact, it has to do with someone who believed in astrology and probably wasn’t very bright at all. I just found out a week late that Ann “Banana Nose” Calvello has died, and frankly I’m a little bummed. Here’s the obit.
Ann was the queen of banked track roller derby. She was fierce and sneaky on the track and sweet and kind off (so I hear — I never met her). Her influence is immense in the current derby resurgence — I skated last summer with the newly forming Boston league, and the tough take-no-prisoners attitudes of the girls could’ve come directly from Calvello.
Last night on NPR, I heard an interview with the appropriately named Harvey Mansfield, a Harvard professor of government who has just published a book called “Manliness,” setting forth the assertion that men and women are not equal. When I first heard him speak, I thought I’d be in agreement with him — after all, men and women are different and as such they have different strengths and weaknesses. However, as Harvey continued to lay out his theories, he ended up just sounding like a complete and utter jackass. Here, have a look at this interview in the New York Times, and keep in mind this very important point: I’m pretty sure he is NOT joking. I haven’t read the book yet, so there is a chance that Mansfield is merely a poor public speaker (which does not bode well for his own “manliness” factor) and failed to accurately get his point across, but I (and several callers, and the host, and a dissenting expert, apparently) got the impression that he wasn’t just saying that men are different from women — they are superior. He wasn’t merely suggesting that men dislike housework more than women, he was insisting that a true man should not need to do any housework at all if he has a loving wifey. And he appears to believe that strong women who may enjoy and excel at extremely physical pursuits are not only an anomoly but somehow shouldn’t be accepted in our society.
From Publishers Weekly, quoted on Amazon.com:
Similar murky questions and non-sequitur lines of logic continue throughout: “Man has fearsome powers of wisdom and fire over beasts. All beasts fear fire, which perhaps represents the Promethean gift of technology.” This clunky chain of supposition is followed by a brief foray into The Jungle Book. But Mansfield’s theories on gender equality are likely to create the most conversation: “women are the weaker sex,” “women’s bodies are made to attract and to please men” and “now that women are equal, they should be able to accept being told that they aren’t, quite” all appear on the same page. Mansfield set out to write a provocative book, but ended up penning a juvenile screed.
I thought it was tough defending Larry Summers’ remarks made last year. Mansfield hitches himself to Summers, using what began as a genuine open inquiry to leap to completely baseless conclusions. This article from the Harvard Crimson also takes a brief look at the two instances.
Anyway, I’m left wondering if Mansfield has ever been on a set of skates. Would that be manly? It wouldn’t have to be quads (pictured), if he’s afraid those would be too girly. He could wear rollerblades and spandex. I imagine he wouldn’t bother with the kneepads, elbow pads, helmet, or wrist guards. Those are for wimps. Anyway, we could meet on the street hockey court at Harvard’s Smith Field to really investigate the validity of his theories. I’ll call ahead to Mass General and ask them to send a few manly paramedics to stand by with ultra-manly pints of blood, Type B for “badass.”