Gender on Ice


Yesterday I wrote about getting locked out of a building when it was -5C, and likened it to be left out on the ice, which kicked my memory into high gear, leading directly to a book I had to read during my master’s program. It was called Gender on Ice, and it was one of the few books in the program that I just could not get into. I barely remember it, and I am not even sure that I finished reading it at all. I recall clearly the seminars I had to attend, listening to all my classmates discuss the book, and several students being quite impassioned about it. At the time I could not imagine why. Now that I am almost 20 years removed from that (dear god – 20 years!), I wonder what I would make of the book now. Its theme – two polar explorers whose accounts of their feats were laden with self-congratulations and declarations of pioneering heroism and analysis of “the particular imperial and masculinist ideologies that each characterized” – held no appeal to me at the time. While I had no doubt that the “white man hero/trailblazer” story, excluding the contributions of anyone else, including a black man who accompanied one of the explorers, was entirely true, I think I was tired of the constant analysis of race and gender and all the things that drove my higher education.

But because I was immersed in it, it seemed the norm. This questioning, this struggle, and by extension, the autonomy and freedom to question and struggle on equal footing with everyone else, seemed a given.

It was only later that I considered more carefully that that was the construct and privilege of being at a left-wing, liberal arts college. I have never had to step or live very far outside that bubble but have become much more keenly aware of everything outside that bubble, which makes me question again the materials I read (or half-read) at the time but gave short shrift.

And, just so you know, a dude named Doug who pretends to be something of a Viking – or something – once said that “ice is evil”. I don’t think so, but maybe under such circumstances.