Screw "Alas," Read Mouse Words

Amanda at Mouse Words is on a hot streak. Here are some of my favorites of her recent posts:

  • On one of the most repulsive anti-same-sex-marriage arguments I’ve seen;

  • On why “what if there were only one sex?” speculation (sci-fi novels and the like) almost always imagine men being the sex that’s wiped out;
    Why is it that in most versions of this intellectual exercise-cum-fantasy that men are the sex that suddenly disappears? I doubt it has much to do with the genetics of the X and Y chromosomes. My guess is that since the great bulk of the day-to-day work of exaggerrating the differences between the sexes falls on the shoulders of women, then it’s just natural. Men are the standard that we strive to differ from. Men are hairy, so women attempt to be unhairy. The one place men have less hair is on their heads, so women diligently work to make our hair look thicker, i.e., not mannish. Since we do the work of being a Gender, we are the ones who have a vested interest in the idea of a world without gender, which means that the standard we strive not to be like would be what disappears.

    (And also check out this response to Amanda on Brutal Women.)

  • And my favorite of the recent bunch, a comparison of It’s a Wonderful Life and The Dead.
    The way that “Wonderful Life” disposes of this plot point is probably the weakest part of the movie. When the question of who his wife would be if he had never been there arises, it’s summarily dismissed by showing that she would be a spinster, which the movie makes more than clear means that she wouldn’t have much of a life at all. It’s a logic-defying conclusion that points to the pat answer to George Bailey’s existential crisis, that answer being, “We find meaning in our life through other people.” This is exactly the answer that eludes Conroy at the end of “The Dead”, because it is in fact, too pat. After all, he has been rejected momentarily for the memory of a dead man, exactly the sort of thing that will frustrate your attempts to find meaning in other people.
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5 Responses to Screw "Alas," Read Mouse Words

  1. 1
    Amanda says:


    I’m just amazed I got through a post on “It’s a Wonderful Life” without mentioning my lifelong crush on Jimmy Stewart.

  2. 2
    karpad says:

    I’m a bit surprised, Amp.
    Most people I know who were raised jewishly (myself included) feel the bile rise in their throats every time someone mentions “It’s a Wonderful Life” in any way that is even vaguely positive.

    just a weird, gutteral reaction.

    I think the word is “swick?”

    maybe that’s just a weird, local jewish culture thing. like the annual Tu B’shvat viewing of “The Lorax.”
    We have a weird culture where I’m from all around.

  3. 3
    David M. Chess says:

    (Amanda’s comment pages, and for that matter permalinks, aren’t working (for me at the moment), so I’ll comment here.)

    ‘why “what if there were only one sex?” speculation (sci-fi novels and the like) almost always imagine men being the sex that’s wiped out': do they? I’ve read lots of science fiction, and while I can’t think of a huge number of examples of this plot, the ones that I can don’t show a skew that way. I can think of “Ethan of Athos” (all-male society), some potboiler (titles seem to be escaping me today) where some mad scientists makes a virus that is fatal only to women, a couple where everyone is androgynous, and one where the bad-guy leaders keep all the women for themselves and fool the (remaining male) population into thinking that all humans are male. The only stories I can think of in which all the men are wiped out are (um) pulp like “Gender Genocide”. I’m sure there are others, but certainly I don’t see an “almost always” here. Maybe I just read (or remember) the wrong books. *8)

    (Of course it’s just as easy to read sexism (of whatever sort) into a tendency for females to be the missing sex as into a tendency for males to be…)

  4. 4
    Amanda says:

    David, I was thinking outside of just sci-fi. I didn’t hear an “End of Women?” series on NPR.

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