idiothole: (kick. ass. die. young.)
An economics professor in Finland is proposing the government change the higher education so that graduates would have to pay a tax after graduation to make things more "equal". The argument goes, those who do not get higher education still have to pay the taxes to pay for other people's free higher education. Supposedly people who have university or polytechnic degrees bring in more €€€ than those who don't, gaining an unfair advantage.

A couple of things..

1) You could have argued this back in the day when it was true that academic degrees guaranteed a well-paying job. Nowadays it simply isn't true. A plumber might get paid more than somebody with a Literature PhD. Should the plumber pay more taxes because of this? No, of course not. That's already done through progressive taxation (which we can hopefully keep around).

2) There is no equality in charging for higher education, which would only further deter the people from less-privileged backgrounds from entering higher education. Yes, there is a culture of "education heritage", ie. kids of well-educated parents going into higher education themselves. But the way to get rid of this is not taxing graduates or having tuition fees.

3) There's such a thing as "welfare state", and our (internationally recognised) education system is all a big part of that. The "unfair" argument is essentially boiled down to a question where supposedly we should only pay taxes for things we want and use. That's not, however, how the welfare state works. I pay taxes to pay for other people's kids to have state-run kindergartens, even though I do not have kids myself. I haven't used the police a lot and never called the fire department, but I'm still glad those services exist.

I'm equally glad to be paying for the education of well-educated doctors, teachers, scientists. There are also indirect benefits. The plumber might not have to go to university but isn't it great that if the plumber's kid wants to go to university, they can, even if the plumber themselves is out of work at the given moment, or has had to retire? That they wouldn't feel discouraged, knowing that they'd have to pay for it, either now or somewhere down the line?

I think there might be some good arguments for other ways to fund the university system but I definitely don't think you can argue it increases inequality.
idiothole: press gang icon by me. (type-writers & deadlines)
1. Fandom feminists misconstrue things and always focus on the irrelevant.

An approximate quote from a friend when discussing what I now call The Moffat Paradox (though only inside my head). The Moffat Paradox is the thing I've been struggling with as of late, when seeing some serious hate hurled at the man who is arguably my favourite writer on television, period (dude's written two of my all-time favourite TV shows, ones I've watched and rewatched countless times) for some of his off-page comments. I say off-page because even though Steven Moffat says some douchey things in interviews every now and then, which has caused some people (particularly in the Doctor Who fandom as I understand it) to label him an awful misogynist, on-page (in the shows he writes) I don't see..

On-page? The man writes complex, awesome, lovable female characters, far better than a lot of fandom favourites, in my personal opinion. Look at Amy. Look at Lynda Day (Sam, Tiddler). Hell, look at Coupling (a view that some may strongly disagree with - "these characters are just shrill stereotypes of women!" I've heard, and yes, but look at the men, they're just as much stereotypes, they're just as ridiculous). Are there problems in his writing? In my view, in the same way as there a problems with all writing, if you look close enough. I don't see it, and even if I go looking for it, I don't tend to find much.

So what gives? I don't know. Privilege? But I don't particularly care. I just care about the writing, I just care about getting these fantastic characters who I adore. I still want my Press Gang movie.

And that's where my second problem comes in, kind of. Because I feel pressured to become an apologist for Moffat, and that really upsets those who find him Enemy of the Gender number uno. And yet, isn't this just one viewpoint among many? The way I see it, there isn't feminism - there's feminisms. I'm not sure how mainstream this point of view is but it basically comes from the fact that the feminist movement has always been splintered by differing views on what it actually is. There's the objections to the exclusion of WoC, transwomen etc - they have to create their own feminism because the middle-class, white mainstream feminism won't accomodate them or further their goals. But there's also other feminisms, radical, liberal, third-wave. I'm no expert. It bears mentioning, though, that we come from different feminist traditions. For example, Finnish feminist history is radically different from the American one. We got voting rights early on (even had seats in the parliament), we never had the hausfrau institution as largely as the US did (and no Feminine Mystique to liberate us from it) and Finland obviously never had slaves or racial segregation.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I sometimes wonder about the homogenizing effect of the so-called fandom feminism. Are we in agreement most of the time? Should we be?

I get a little defiant when people infer I'm a Moffat apologist because I don't think of the man as The Big Bad. I'm not apologizing for his comments - but I'm still stating my case, and I refuse to let others' opinions affect how I rate my entertainment. Or what female characters I find awesome.

Something that always resonated with me strongly was somebody saying, "You can't shame or look down on women for liking what they like, even if it doesn't reflect the so-called feministically acceptable parameters."

And that's where I get a little defiant. So my viewpoint isn't correct? Am I a bad feminist now? Fuck that noise, I've got the same right as everybody else - I critique when I see something worth critiqueing, I speak out when I see something objectionable. (Note: this is regarding feminism. Things like racist stereotypes, questionable portrayals of PoC, I obviously as a white chick shut up and listen. I recognize my lack of authority on that subject.)

So I reject that category. I'm not an apologist because I don't apologize, or try to excuse his comments - I just know I personally care more for what's happening on the show. And Amy wearing a mini-skirt or being a kissogram are no great flaws for me, when the character is otherwise feisty and quick-witted and fun.

(The next thoughts will be shorter, promise.)

2. I observe this guy in a female-dominated fandom space (I say fandom space, not fandom, because I think fandom as a whole can be huge and sprawling and uncontainable - this particular space is noticeably female-dominated). I can see his discomfort. It comes out in small comments about fangirl sexuality, or how he the straight dude should be the ultimate judge of female beauty, not the girls of straight or bi-curious nature. And I wonder why this is. Is it the first time he's in a female-dominated space? The other males in it don't seem to be the same at all. Is it age? Political views? Whatever it is, it's interesting.

3. I hate being talked to like I'm a guy, but in the sense that it's assumed I'm a guy, because male's the norm, right? And then, always after the comma or after a breath and in another sentence, or a minute later, "or if you're a chick.." like that was the option you once had, and you went for chick instead of cultural norm the dude. I get it's about key demographics but for once I'd prefer there to be no assumption. And when I recognize there's no assumption, it's like a breath of fresh air.

It really shouldn't be.

4. Finnish has no grammatic gender. I see the English-speaking fandom sometimes bend themselves backwards to find hir and zir and whatever have you, so the language wouldn't rule the genders, because 'she' is just a 'he' with an 's' in front of it. It's strange. I don't know how much language matters in gender issues. I've studied languages where I've had to define my own gender - Hindi for example - by my choice of verb form and adjective gender. That's been admittedly a little weird (I've always considered myself female, don't get me wrong but it's never coloured every sentence I speak of myself). But I never thought of 'she' as lesser than 'he', as deriative of 'he'. I just thought 'she' was a damn beautiful word.

But it is strange, to have grown up knowing a language where gender comes out in nouns signifying people (nainen/mies - woman/man, tyttö/poika - girl/boy etc), not in pronouns or verbs. It doesn't mean a Finnish mental landscape is genderless. I wrote a short story where I never used the main character's name, only referring to them as "hän" (genderless pronoun equivalent of he/she). But even as I typed away, I began reflecting the character's behavior against which gender they would be -- and eventually settled on female. In my head, gender existed and when readers - if readers - would read it, gender would come alive in their heads as well, I believe (it might take a longer while for them, though). And I wish I could tell you there's a void of gender polarity in our heads, in our culture, but there really isn't. There's two genders in the Finnish language (even if they don't always show themselves), and any understanding of gender ambiguity has to be learned.

There's really no concluding thought on this, just think it's interesting that the politics of language have made this such a poignant issue in English. I don't look down on it, I really don't. I just know that sexism exists even if you remove those linguistic things.


idiothole: press gang icon by me. (Default)

August 2012



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