…but in your lies about the names of stars.
A recent man-hating article in The Atlantic by one Leila McNeill impugned the reputations of astronomers and cosmologists throughout the ages for the names given to stars, planets, or other objects associated with observations of the universe.
The Washington Examiner summarized her article well:
Leila McNeill wrote in an article republished in The Atlantic magazine on Tuesday that the skies are “still filtered through this tradition of mythic misogyny.” She said many constellations “named after men tell stories of heroism and conquest,” while women are more frequently portrayed as “either monsters or domestic nurturers.”
She said ancient Roman and Greek mythology is “deeply misogynistic” because male deities “rein [sic] with unlimited power while their female counterparts suffer violence and humiliation.” McNeill also claimed modern-day astronomers who draw on this tradition to name celestial bodies and spacecraft contribute to a “scientific culture that diminishes the achievements of women.”
Now, normally when feminists enter into the science of astronomy it is to criticize the fashion choices of male astrophysicists or, alternatively, create more exploitable, friend-zoned beta orbiters with vacuous promises of sexual access for “nice guys.” However, months after I had theorized that a new feminist zodiac would be needed to appease feminists making hysterically bogus attacks on men for everything, I was a bit disappointed to see that Leila had purloined my idea wholesale without even a whisper of credit coming my way.
Of course, Leila’s charges of sexism and misogyny are ludicrous on their face – her objection that women constellations portray women as “either monsters or domestic nurturers” literally means that, in dramatic stories, characters are either good, or bad. Of course they are – that is how stories work. Portraying all women as monsters is misogyny but saying a woman is a monster is not misogyny – she is just a woman who happens to be bad news for others.
Likewise, portraying all women as nurturers is misogyny because some women are feminists who couldn’t nurture a rock, but depicting one woman-as-nurturer is actually sort of wistfully bittersweet, harkening back to a mythic time when women were supposedly capable of caring for others.
So, if bad women are not feminist, and good women are not feminist, we have to ask, is it possible for any mythic woman to have feminist credentials? A neutral, lukewarm, emotionally restricted professional nerd woman like a doctor or an architect, stuck in a bland job for 70-100 hours a week without a family or even a pet to come home to, might make a fine feminist icon but is a lousy subject for drama or naming inspiration, either now or in the myths of the past.
Leila then accidentally destroys her own argument when she claims that “the constellations named after men tell stories of heroism and conquest, not submission and subjugation.” But the essence of feminism is complaining about the mythical submission and subjugation of women, which means that, for feminism, the constellations should be perfectly named.
Indeed, before the matriarchy gave way to the spinsterarchy, less than 1% of observable stars were named for men! The largest group of stars observable without a telescope is called the Milky Way, a collection of billions of stars in what we now call the Milky Way Galaxy:
This name is also quite ancient. It is translation from the Latin “Via Lactea“, which in turn was translated from the Greek for Galaxias, referring to the pale band of light formed by stars in the galactic plane as seen from Earth.
Had the evil patriarchy been naming these stars, it might be called “The Road of Semen” or something like that. Instead, it was named for a distinctly female product: milk. Both the Milky Way and the other billions of galaxies are named for something from women. Naming something after women can hardly be characterized as misogynistic.
This alone is enough to smash Leila’s dubious thesis to bits, but why stop there?
The nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way is known as the galaxy of Andromeda, also named after a constellation linked to a mythic heroic woman. Andromeda was condemned to death because of the effects of her looks, which makes her the perfect foil for feminist talk about objectification 2000 years before anyone thought feminism might be a thing. After she was rescued during a slut walk by feminist ally Perseus, Andromeda did become a mother later in life but this “domestic nurturing” is just a “happily ever after” to her story of liberation from the chains of men, which ends with her being immortalized in the stars. (Yea, you go, girl.)
Billions and billions of stars. More stars than there are women. Do you see now, Leila? THAT is how you should be interpreting myths, you hopeless idea thief.
When Cassiopeia bragged on her daughter Andromeda’s beauty, bad things happened to Andromeda in response to the hubris of Cassiopeia. Seems the gods hated objectification of attractive women as much as feminists do, or perhaps they were just jealous, too.
In a few billion years the Andromeda Galaxy will smash into our Milky Way Galaxy in an orgy of lesbian scissoring that I’m sure feminists of that era will find dozens of consent issues to whine about. The resulting Andromilk galaxy will be as problematic as all hell, I’m sure.
Credit for image:
NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgement: William Blair (Johns Hopkins University)
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