What does the word “summer” conjure in your mind? Some might say going to the lake, fireworks, grilling out, or baseball. Or perhaps you think of weddings or working in the yard.
It should come as no surprise, then, that this season of the year and most of its traditions limp along as some of the few surviving totems of a decaying male-oriented construct that has been culture since the beginning of time.
Don’t believe me? Just look at those summer activities. Going to the lake? Which piece of misogyny should I start with? The societal pressure for women to wear a bathing suit? Or maybe the dad who needs to self-validate with the purchase of an oversized, over-torqued, and overly loud (not to mention compensatory) boat.
Oh, the Phalluses
Take baseball and fireworks. A symbol of phallic expression and a symbol of phallic completion. Ever wonder why so many teams have fireworks after games or home run?
Grilling out seems like a relatively benign activity (except for the cow that gave its life). But really examine it. A man using yet another extension of himself to poke and prod at something that never even had the opportunity to say no.
Of course, he can only grill out after he’s placated his troglodyte need to smother his lawn in bee colony-destroying pesticides and then destroy it with an emissions-spewing mower. All for the sake of satisfying his id.
Or perhaps we can talk about the beauty of marriage. Or, as some call it, a contract with man and his property. Or do you really still believe that an engagement ring is steeped in loving, Christian tradition?
Subjugation and Domination
Take American culture out of it and you’ll still see a history of men using this season to subjugate and dominate. And I won’t even address the obvious naming of the representation of summer: the hot sun, a figure always portrayed as a cool guy with sunglasses (and conveniently a homophone for… wait for it… male progeny).
Look at the traditional months of summer: June, July, August. June is at least named after a woman, Juno. Unfortunately, she was likely only chosen because she is the goddess of marriage. July and August are, surprisingly enough, named after (male) Caesars Julius and Augustus.
The French, seeing the damage that a male-centered calendar system could do, even attempted to remove gender influences when they instituted their own during the revolution. They changed the names of the months to Messidor (June), Thermidor (July), and Fructidor (August). These names refer to the harvest, a gender-neutral activity that didn’t depend on war, sex, or domination to succeed (except for Thermidor, whose name was eventually bastardized for yet another women-as-servants motif: the kitchen).
Is it any wonder why Napoleon, a known sexist, quickly ended the revolution? The gender-neutral calendar must have been the last straw (h/t to @voxdotcom for the history lessons).
Should we abolish the traditions of summer? I’m not suggesting that. The next generation will likely mindlessly carry on these practices, never knowing their actual harm. But I do think that, maybe, it’s time to ask if we really need to eat popsicles on a hot July afternoon.