Sunday, June 22, 2008

Feminism, Frogs, and Fungal Evil

A person in favor of equal rights for women used to be called a “feminist.” Now, for many people, the term “feminist” connotes militant, man-hating, spiky-haired butch lesbians who will spit on you if you hold the door for them.

It's a shameful myth, really. In truth, most feminists will spit on you anyway, whether you hold the door or not.

NO! I'm only kidding! Here's hoping you feminists out there have a sense of humor.

(Not likely.)

Ha! Okay, that's enough, really! I'm just having a little fun with this malicious, unfair stereotype.

Honestly, I consider myself a “feminist” because it bothers me that lots and lots of girls and women continue to get abused, exploited, and raped, and it's never discussed as some sort of global crisis.

With that backdrop, the fact that we've marginalized “feminism” into some extremist movement is really sad.

The same thing has happened to environmentalism. If I tell someone I'm an “environmentalist,” they stare at me wide-eyed and disturbed, as if anticipating that my next movement will be to hurl a Molotov cocktail at a logging truck.

But I consider myself an environmentalist primarily out of self interest. I'd like to make sure the things that keep me alive -- air, water, food, and iTunes -- remain (or become) pure and safe.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

The most likely reason people are confused is because environmentalists spend a lot of time worrying about other species that apparently have nothing to do with us.

Take frogs, for example. Around the globe, frogs are dying off at alarming rates, and nobody is sure why. Some say it's climate change, others say there's epidemic of skin fungus. There are also those (myself included) who blame Doc Hopper, arch nemesis of Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie.

Personally, I have no desire to see frogs thrive. I find them slimy. They give me the willies. I remember dissecting a frog in high school, and feeling a shiver of pleasure as I plunged the scalpel into its vile, green belly.

Even Kermit, whose performance I admired in The Muppet Movie, almost lost all my sympathies after Muppet Treasure Island.

But I have to set my personal feelings aside, because I know that if stuff is going wrong with the frogs, it's a signal that there's stuff going wrong with the ecosystem. We humans like to think we don't need the ecosystem for anything, but I'm not convinced.

So I wasn't particularly impressed to read in Science Daily about a research team at James Madison University that thinks they've discovered a naturally occurring bacteria that can help frogs defend themselves against the above-mentioned fungal evil.

Yay. But it doesn't do anything about whatever ecosystem imbalance caused the problem in the first place.

A typical politician will hire extra cops so he can say he did something about crime. Meanwhile, the root causes of crime (social injustice, addiction, the fact that cable TV shows COPS reruns only 12 hours a day) rampage unchecked.

You can't rid the world of rape with more cops, and you can't save the frogs with more skin bacteria.

The two major political parties don't understand this. That is why I always vote for Kermit.

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