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Aug 29 2006

In Which Ron Sullivan Raises The Level Of Blogular Discourse To Dizzying New Heights

“Ever had a good close look at a bug’s junk? Lord, lord.”

58 comments

  1. Mandos

    Hello.

    I have been instructed by a now well-known third party to utter the following phrases on this blog:

    “HEY BABY! SHOW ME YOUR CREDS!”
    “creamed corn bits”
    “pudding”

    I am not entirely sure why I was asked to do this, but I have now discharged this favour.

  2. wabewawa

    Yeah, just keep brushing those popcorn crumbles away, Mandos.

  3. Mandos

    Metaphorical popcorn is absolutely necessary to maintain the sort-of-abstracted tone into which I put a lot of effort. Unfortunately, I rarely eat the real stuff.

  4. wabewawa

    Pshawww, dude. That was in reference to a response already made by “a well-known third party” to your cries for entertainment (à la “the vicarious flamewar experience”) on some other blog there. Of course it is metaphorical popcorn — of the variety that you chomp on when you’re sitting back enjoying ‘the (metaphorical) show,’ you know?

  5. Mandos

    Well, I *was* appointed Supreme High Avatar of the Patriarchy a while back. Naturally, it pleases and entertains me when feminists tear each other up. Just doin’ my job.

  6. wabewawa

    Unfuck/defuck you, Mandos. Sorry, Twisty, throw this to the winds or whatever you wish to do with it. The only reason I contributed to the trollery in the first place is because I haven’t seen quite such weasely (no offense to weasels, just all I could think of at the moment) behavior in a long time.

    http://tinyurl.com/ku4f6

  7. Mandos

    Bwuh? It’s hardly weaselly. It’s not like I was snarking behind someone’s back or that I didn’t expect Twisty et al. to be reading me in a very public and busy comments section. I ain’t no loyal part of nobody’s camp, if that’s what’s got your knickers in a knot.

  8. theogeo

    Delurking to say, simply, that I love you all and am delighted to be able to read the back-and-forth at my leisure, because you are all quite amazing.

    Blame the wine.

    But thanks.

  9. Ron Sullivan

    Thenkew. (bow)

    Y’all do know that there are species that can be told apart only by in-hand, and sometimes more or less microscopic, examination of the naughty bits, right? IIRC, some dragonflies and butterflies and certainly some less conspicuous critters. And you wouldn’t believe what they look like or how they fit together.

    And while we’re on the topic, you might want to consider the genital bones — male and female — of chipmunks. It’s speculated that these minght be some interesting cause-and effect, both, of their speciation. California alone has 13 species of chipmunk, and that’s not counting things like golden-mantled ground squirrel that only look like chipmunks. And the genital bones are all different, and fit each other lock-and-key style, and don’t fit so well with those of other (including sympatric) species.

    You want to start talking biological determinism, better start outside the boutiques.

    Mandos, hon, you’ll have to handle all the popcorn for the next year and a half at least. And the jujubes. Just pass me a beer.

  10. Phemisaurus Terribilis

    It is that exact kind of dizzyingly high blogular discourse that keeps me from posting here. I feel awkward in my not-measuring-up-ed-ness.

  11. ArtsyReader

    Me too, Phemisaurus.

  12. maggiethewolf

    Regarding Ron’s alleged evolutionary expertise, education is a wonderful thing, but it can hinder one. I know monstrously bright people who deliver all due caution and beguiling wit to the consideration of an issue, but they won’t risk removing their eyes from the microscope. They won’t risk closing their eyes, after they’ve accrued all their data, and contemplating with imagination. I know imagination makes sciency sorts squirm. They’ll play with words in a thread, as if said words were pals on a playground, but they’ll shun suggestions that don’t agree with their cognitive constructs, as if said suggestions were the homely girl with the home-made dress and the crusty nostrils.

    I don’t know if Ron is such a person. I have seen a lot of sparkly syllables from her instead of considering questions and unpopular suggestions.

    For the fourth time, I wonder if any of you realize and recognize that your reluctance to ascribe biology to behavior does agree with the Right, with their holy notion that we’re not beasts. I suggest that we are beasts and to best the beast, we have to admit that much of what we do isn’t due to social constructs, but to biology. And yeah, yeah, yeah, someone might respond with the assertion that the moogooley monkey has a gimbwabbly bone in his penis, which differentiates it from the typical homo sapien sap, but that’s a non sequitur. A straw primate. It’s the magician’s waving one hand while a germane question is slid beneath the table with the other.

    And the ubiquitous willingness to abide such non sequituring suggests that your constructs, like the constructs of the Right, are holy to you folks.

    Ron, I think I’m a hummingbird. I flit.

    Some folks might look at me, hear the buzzing, and think, “Big bug.”

    And I think you’re the grand, adored, and beloved swan.

    But take flight. Then look down at your pond: you’ll see that it adjoins the fundies’ pond, at least at points: with regards to precious constructs that you want to believe have immunity from biology.

  13. Sylvanite

    I would tend to take issue with the idea you’re advancing, maggiethewolf, that it’s possible for someone to truly advance in the sciences without the capacity to embrace, and use, their imaginations. Now, one could certainly be a lab tech, or work for the regulatory community like I do without having much imagination, but true advances in scientific understanding usually require some pretty clever insight. Indeed, it was my feeling that I lacked the requisite imagination that led me to stop at a MS degree in my field. I don’t know who you’re thinking of when you say that imagination makes sciency types squirm, or what you mean by “imagination.”

  14. Ron Sullivan

    I walked out the door this morning to go get my braces cranked, and Himself the hummingbird flew over from his backyard perch on the neighbor’s plum. I’m wearing a red-and-white Aloha shirt today. Himself flew past the feeder and up to my shirt, and it took him rather a long time (in hummingbird terms) to let go of the idea that I was a nectar source. He followed me halfway down the stairs, evidently certain that there was something somewhere in my shirt for him to eat.

    Or maybe he just gets a thrill from seeing red and wanted to prolong that thrill. I wouldn’t presume to project anything onto his thought processes. Either way, whatever he was responding to, I am a mammal, not a flowering plant. And Joe’s the one who generally fills the feeders; I’m not even a secondhand food source.

    Is that analogy plain enough for you?

    I have said plainly (over on the thread with the shoe and the boot and the that’s-NOT-a-turkey baster) that I am, in fact, talking about evolution. Real, actual, biological evolution, not the stories people make up about it and paste onto their arguments about whatever comes up.

    …precious constructs that you want to believe have immunity from biology.

    It’s poor form as well as a bad idea to tell someone what she wants, or believes. This is not just a matter of manners; it’s bad strategy because the person you’re talking to (or at) is the expert on these matters. “Immunity from biology” is a fairly meaningless phrase. Hell, immunity is biology, one rather interesting aspect of it. I speak as someone — in fact, an actual former crusty-nosed little girl — who’s had to deal with some of its more annoying excesses.

    Biology is what I’m talking about when I mention the really fancy organs and organisms, which isn’t humans with our fairly simple innies and outies and even the bits that seem to be purely for fun. If we’re to be called “bugs,” we certainly don’t rate “fancy.” (“Big,” OK. But there’s that matter of the weight-bearing limits of exoskeletons to consider.) And if you’re invoking “biology” as meaning something other than “culture” it’s a good idea to invoke it on behalf of something less subject to fashion (which in humans moves much too fast and horizontally to be blamed on actual genetic changes) and something that biology actually mandates, if it can be said to mandate anything. This is why I’m asserting that femmy clothes have little or nothing to do with biology, because we don’t actually need them to get sex. Something else is going on here. If it’s something biological we’re up against, it isn’t the reproductive “imperative.”

    If you still haven’t figured out why that wasn’t a non sequitur to begin with, I suggest you re-read the thread.

    As for “unpopular ideas”: “just-so” evo-psych is practically a whole industry.

  15. Sara

    Wow, I feel so self-conscious right now. I know I’ve looked at the junk of various bugs in the past, in school and such, in pictures anyway, but (blush) I just don’t remember any of it!

    Wings and carapaces and thoraces and antennae and little feet with lots of surprising geometric details, yeah. Eyeballs on stalks, eyeballs flush to the head, pollen-packed saddlebags (don’t know the scientific name for this part), mouths that seem smiley and mouths that seem menacing, hell yeah. Junk though? Uh, no.

    I just feel so superficial at this moment. I do hope this doesn’t give any bugs any complexes or anything.

  16. vera

    Ron, my family has a pet name for those golden-mantled ground squirrels — we call them “rodnies.” Don’t know why. While strolling around a camp at Mt. Lassen recently my daughter was startled to see a plastic trash bin vibrating violently; it fell over and out hopped a small rodney with a large chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was so heavy the rodney could barely scramble away (apparently convinced that my daughter was going to take the cookie). And you’re telling me that these cute little critters have naughty parts? Tsk, tsk.

    On the other hand, the same daughter used to keep male rats as pets. Now there’s some big naughty parts!

  17. barkley

    This is my first post on this blog, though I have been reading it with interest for a while now. I would like to address the issue of whether unwillingness to ascribe human behavior to biology really plays into the right-wing rejection of evolution. I have struggled with this question myself, because I often find myself arguing on the side that we have to separate science from ideology, as with the evolution or global warming debates. But the truth is there can be no such separation.

    First, yes, we have physical bodies, but culture imprints the body at least as much as our biology determines culture. It’s not a one-way street. For example, do people get depression because of their serotonin levels, or does serotonin level react to social and cultural factors that cause depression? Probably both. So if we reduce it to just a biological phenomenon, our understanding of it is quite limited. To believe that the body exists outside of history and culture, which medical science often does, just reverses the hierarchy to body over mind instead of mind over body.

    Also, it is not to ignore the reality of the material world to recognize that we have no mechanism for understanding that world that is outside of culture. There is a great article called “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles” that cleverly shows how biological discourse is infused with gender ideology. There’s no way to look at sex or the body outside our cultural constructs of them, not even in the “objective” fields of science.

    Also, where do we really get comparing ourselves to other animals? Do we really have enough of a grasp on the vast complexity of the animal kingdom to make pronouncements about how it applies to our infinitely complex gender relations? Looking to nature seems to me a lot like looking to the Bible for answers. For every species/verse you find to support one view, there are ten species/verses that refute it. Plants v. bonobos v. birds v. chipmunks v. bug junk. Lord, lord, indeed.

  18. maggiethewolf

    Those are good questions, Sylvanite. I think scientists’ enormous devotion to a miniscule field of study often leads them to stasis. If you’ve dedicated decades to a construct, you’re more likely to defend that construct, thus making the application of imagination less likely. I’m not saying that scientists are less imaginative. I am suggesting that there might be incentives to suppress imagination. Plus, there’s the added incentive of witnessing the consequences of a scientist who deviates. It’s isn’t purty.

    My greater point is that the dogma of of the left and the dogma of the right might converge, in a way, at patriarchy…and as a devout lefty, this worries me.

  19. maggiethewolf

    barkley: “Do we really have enough of a grasp on the vast complexity of the animal kingdom to make pronouncements about how it applies to our infinitely complex gender relations? Looking to nature seems to me a lot like looking to the Bible for answers. For every species/verse you find to support one view, there are ten species/verses that refute it.”

    No, we don’t. I’m not suggesting direct correlations. I am considering direct considerations. For example, one might look at the gumbow monkey and notice a proclivity.

    Then one might say, “Is it possible that the monkey’s proclivity gives can give me insight into my behaviors?”

    All inspiration works that way. We see one thing and it reminds of us of another and we wonder. And sure, we could conduct 40 years of double-blind tests and extrapolate a miniscule conclusion from a steaming heap of data, but why not relax, step back, and wonder? After all, this thread isn’t a university. This thread isn’t a scholarly journal. It’s just a place where people are wondering…or could wonder.

    Ron: “it’s bad strategy because the person you’re talking to (or at) is the expert on these matters.”

    Ron also wrote: “Something else is going on here.”

    I think so too. And I’m just wondering if patriarchy isn’t all social constructs and oppression. I can see why you think it is. I truly can. I’m just wondering if your biological expertise, your very area of strength, hasn’t put a big blindspot between you and possibility.

    It’s bad form to merely allude to expertise. What are your creds?

    I talk to experts everyday on various manners and most don’t huff and puff my words away with allusions of expertise. You’re clearly clever. You’re clearly educated. What isn’t clear is your expertise and your openness to engage someone who isn’t an expert, but open.

    Finally: “As for “unpopular ideas”: “just-so” evo-psych is practically a whole industry.”

    That might be Orwellian…and elitest. It’s got me thinking that all thinkers are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Ron, consider how much energy you’ve put into rejecting my suggestions and side-stepping my observations. Why? This is just a place where people wonder, so why not wonder about your crusty resistance?

  20. CafeSiren

    For example, one might look at the gumbow monkey and notice a proclivity.

    Then one might say, “Is it possible that the monkey’s proclivity gives can give me insight into my behaviors?”

    I’m with you so far here: looking at the behavior of nonhuman animals (especially those, like primates and pigs, that are neighboring branches on the evolutionary tree) can inspire important lines of inquiry.

    Where I (and I think Ron, though I won’t presume to speak for her) have a problem is using a correlation as proof. In other words, using the monkey’s proclivities to provoke questions about human nature is reasonable; finding similar proclivities, and asserting similar motives, is not.

  21. B. Dagger Lee

    Wait, I’m confused, is it harsh old Ron, with science creds, putting a plodding, crusty, close-minded harsh on wonderment and open-mindedness? Or is it weaving and dodging Ron, with no creds, playing the tambourine and whirling in the dance of the seven veils of airy-fairy constructionism, and avoiding the harsh, brutal but essential truth of sucking-and-fucking biology? What kind of harsh is it?

    Oh Wolfcub! You have a charmingly rubbery style of preloaded argument and are light on your feet–but even if you have a big old smile on your face while you poke, you are still poking.

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

  22. Pony

    God I love it when someone does NOT use the words construct, meme and trope on this blog when they’re bein’ smart. Maggie, honey, your Lit crit creds are showing.

  23. Ron Sullivan

    It’s bad form to merely allude to expertise.

    What? Where did I do that? Could you possibly be referring to my (admittedly indirect) claim to know my own beliefs? I wonder what sort of cred would certify that. Maybe I should run up to UC Davis and see if they can do a fistulated-cow number on my skull and/or ductless glands.

    Then again, if we’re just handing ’round the bromides, here’s another: It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.

    And I’m just wondering if patriarchy isn’t all social constructs and oppression. I can see why you think it is. I truly can.

    Whoops, you did it again.

    These experts you speak to every day: Do they let you tell them what they think? Do they bother to argue?

  24. maggiethewolf

    CafeSiren: “Where I (and I think Ron, though I won’t presume to speak for her) have a problem is using a correlation as proof. In other words, using the monkey’s proclivities to provoke questions about human nature is reasonable; finding similar proclivities, and asserting similar motives, is not.”

    Me too. I have a problem with correlation as proof. This isn’t a deadly serious site. Twisty set the Serious-o-stat at 2 with her playful prose. So, why not follow Twisty’s lead and wonder?

    B. Lee, I’m not a cub. I’m a hoary (No, not whory.) wolf. But I am a woofing wolf…and a poking wolf. And I already admitted that I’m a hummingbird (hummingbird mother, wolf father), so your confusion is apt. Now, I can see that Ron is the beloved and that Ron is smart and that Ron is the resident bio-expert and that’s fine, but she can still wonder with me rather than wonder about my sanity. I know when I poke that I provoke every other person, but between the evens that are provoked are the odds that delight in wondering. I’m an odd and I’m odd and weirdos have always played a key role in ideo-evolution.

    And again, I’m just suggesting if your patriarchy-constructs might have calcified and having done so, are looking a little like idols to y’all. So, I’m being dogged because I’ve got the scent of dogma. It might be a false scent. Can’t quite say.

    BTW, B. Lee, I’m a huge fan of your writing.

    Back to CafeSiren: “I’m with you so far here: looking at the behavior of nonhuman animals (especially those, like primates and pigs, that are neighboring branches on the evolutionary tree) can inspire important lines of inquiry.”

    Yep, but I wouldn’t limit inspiration to just those who look like us. In fact, their efficacy as objects of inspiration might be limited by their very similarity.

    And back to B. Lee. My aspirations are compassion, openness, and optimism. It’s easy to be cynical and it’s easy to find reasons to be cynical. It’s easy to be closed: you can always find a horde willing to agree with this construct and that. Compassion is hard. So, I seek it. And I try to guard what compassion I’ve squirreled away. I think nearly all people want to be good. I’ve worked with murderers and rapists and whatnot and I still think nearly all people want to be good, so I don’t think patriarchy rises from malice. This is why I oppose a line of inquiry that blames…and now, to post this, I must press a button that says, “Blame”.

  25. Pony

    Oh well it was bound to happen I guess. A construct or five.

    Sara? apparently there are rad fems who just aren’t into junk.

  26. Biting Beaver

    Please rate my pic
    http://www.facethejury.com/profile.asp?user_name=bitingbeaver

    Here

    I crave male attention :(

  27. Biting Beaver

    PLEASE DO IT. I AM SUCH AN ATTENTION WHORE.

    BE BACK LATER, I’M OFF TO BRAINWASH MY HICK KIDS INTO HATING THEMSELVES SOME MORE *grin*

  28. Jimmy Ho

    Please do not click on that link: it leads to an “adult” dating site. Someone has usurped BB’s identity.

  29. maggiethewolf

    Ron: “It’s bad form to merely allude to expertise.

    What? Where did I do that? Could you possibly be referring to my (admittedly indirect) claim to know my own beliefs?”

    Here: “it’s bad strategy because the person you’re talking to (or at) is the expert on these matters.”

    Note “…the expert on these matters.”

    Did I misread? If I did, how did you intend it? And if you are “the expert,” then let’s see your hand.

    More quoting: “And I’m just wondering if patriarchy isn’t all social constructs and oppression. I can see why you think it is. I truly can.

    Whoops, you did it again.

    These experts you speak to every day: Do they let you tell them what they think? Do they bother to argue?”

    You’re assuming the worst. Cynicism. It scares me. I have nice chats with fun people.

    Oftentimes, people remark, “Great question. Never heard that before.”

    Now I’m thinking I’ll never hear that here.

    Honestly, Ron, I don’t know what you think. Your cleverness obfuscates your message. Maybe I’m not clever enough to cut through your cleverness. Or maybe you’re the hummingbird, flitting from strawflower to strawflower.

    Pony, pumpkin, I don’t know if you were being facetious about lit creds, but that’s not my area of expertise. I never took such a class.

    But thanks for calling me “honey.”

  30. hedonistic

    Anyone who suggests women are “collective” and “cooperative” (as opposed to those nasty competitive bratwurst-owners) needs to hang out at IBTP.

  31. Pony

    Seriously I meant no disrespect. Quite the opposite MaggieWolf

  32. Pony

    Maggie perhaps I was too obtuse. {It’s my strong point}

    Literature is the perfect scapegoat. When in doubt blame it on literature.

    {Dead Dog Cafe, CBC.ca}

  33. CafeSiren

    According to her blog, BitingBeaver is going through a messy divorce. So: anyone have a guess as to who the hijacker might be?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

  34. Pony

    Sure that’s possible, but just as likely its whoever hit several rad fem blogs last month, then, BB too.

  35. maggiethewolf

    Pony, I assumed the best and was (and am) truly pleased that you called me “honey”.

    And Pony, I think I became an expert at obtusity today, so perhaps that it is my area of expertise!

  36. slade

    Is Maggiethewolf interested in taking on Biting Beaver’s future ex?

    We could sell tickets.

  37. Pony

    In case ANYONE is interested, here’s the link for the Dead Dog Cafe radio show which kinda goes like this:

    http://www.cbc.ca/programguide/program/index.jsp?program=Dead Dog in the City

    “And there’s certainly a great deal to do in the city. There’s the pirate radio news show (New World News: Yesterday’s News Tomorrow) that Jasper runs for three minutes each week on random days so the CRTC can’t triangulate the location. There’s Rosedale Garbage Day where you never know what the filthy rich will throw out next. There’s the periodic trips to the Toronto Zoo to see how the animals are doing (are the polar bears really on prozac?).”

  38. Pony

    While I’m here, what the hell go ahead and get yourself an Indian name. Sorry about the gender choice limitations.

    http://www.aspalta.cbc.ca/deaddog_asp/aininfo.asp

  39. Ron Sullivan

    Toots, I’ll drag through this one more time, and then I have some writing for money to do. Thank me for my patience.

    Here: “it’s bad strategy because the person you’re talking to (or at) is the expert on these matters.”

    Note “…the expert on these matters.”

    Did I misread? If I did, how did you intend it? And if you are “the expert,” then let’s see your hand.

    The sentence previous, with the quote you mined:
    “It’s poor form as well as a bad idea to tell someone what she wants, or believes. This is not just a matter of manners; it’s bad strategy because the person you’re talking to (or at) is the expert on these matters.”

    This was in reply to your phrase: “precious constructs that you want to believe have immunity from biology.”

    “(T)hese matters” refers, I would think fairly clearly, to “what she wants, or believes.” It’s why it’s a bad idea to tell someone what’s going on in her own head with as little evidence as you have. I’m beginning to believe that’s less evidence (about me, at least) than is available in these two threads alone.

    Honestly, Ron, I don’t know what you think

    Precisely. So stop telling me what I think already.

    But it has nothing to do with my alleged cleverness. You could easily discern what I think about what I have said if you’d read what I write and stop making up my half of the dialogue in your head. There are people who seem able to read and understand what
    I say, here and elsewhere.

    Hm. If you want to play in the “you sound like a right-winger” mudpuddle, consider this: In my experience, the people who have used “clever” as a dirty word have uniformly been telling their targets (including but not limited to me) that they were being unwomanly and unfeminine and not knowing their place. You know: “Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever.”

    You’re assuming the worst. Cynicism. It scares me. I have nice chats with fun people.

    Like the one you’re having with me? Have you asked these people if they’re having fun? And let me stipulate that I’m not assuming anything, really; I asked a (leading and loaded, you bet) question based on how you’re behaving toward me. You might refrain from accusing me of cynicism without at least a teaspoon of evidence, just out of, oh, a desire to look credible maybe, whatever your opinion of me.

    Something occurs to me. Do you find it easier to talk with such people in the flesh? Seriously, I keep wondering who on earth you think you’re talking to — you seem to be referring repeatedly to someone who doesn’t quite fit my profile. It might explain some of the more mysterious things you’ve said about me, the notion that you’re talking to some construct whose blanks you’re filling in.

    Oftentimes, people remark, “Great question. Never heard that before.”

    Now I’m thinking I’ll never hear that here.

    First, ask a question, ideally one no one here has heard before.

    You know, some of us manage to wonder our fool heads off all the time and still keep thinking and sticking to the facts when we make declarations. It really keeps things rolling. Doesn’t wonder involve question marks?

  40. barkley

    Maggiethewolf: “All inspiration works that way. We see one thing and it reminds of us of another and we wonder. And sure, we could conduct 40 years of double-blind tests and extrapolate a miniscule conclusion from a steaming heap of data, but why not relax, step back, and wonder? After all, this thread isn’t a university. This thread isn’t a scholarly journal. It’s just a place where people are wondering…or could wonder.”

    My “wondering” about whether it’s constructive to reduce humans to biological drives was a polite way of saying that no, it’s not. You don’t have to be in a university to say politely that something is bullshit.

  41. bitingbeaver

    G’morning Twisty!

    It came to my attention this morning over at The Den that someone (probably the same someones who subscribed me to porn spam) has hijacked my name and is linking to a bogus profile on a dating site or some such nonsense.

    In any case if ‘I’ say something that isn’t in keeping with normal BB then please disregard it. Apparently I’ve developed a fan club huh? Anyway, I’m not sure where they left their links at but I wanted to give you a heads up that I just found out.

  42. maggiethewolf

    Ron: “First, ask a question, ideally one no one here has heard before.”

    I’ll pose the question again. Ron implies that it’s been asked here and answered. If so, I wasn’t here when it was. Therefore, if someone remembers the answer(s), I’d like to hear it(them).

    Here goes: The far Right denies correlating human behavior and biology. To them, humans are a special construction of a Divine Being. The far Left, at least here, denies correlating human behavior and biology. To them, humans are a special construct of themselves, as in gender is a construct, patriarchy is a construct, etc.

    Now for the question: Does the congruence alarm any of you?

    Here’s why it alarms me: It’s not hard to hear that Christian fundies and Islamic fundies say similar shit. They both hate queers. They both repress women. They both hate this Other and that. And although they frame themselves as ideologically opposite, to an outsider, they sound the same. I don’t think of ideology as a straight line, but rather a looping line, with the ends touching. And as a queer feminist raised to do the right thing, but not the Right thing, I want to be careful about what I imbibe.

    So, anyone, do you see the congruence? Does it alarm any of you?

    Or do all of you agree with Barkley, that this “is bullshit”?

  43. Sylvanite

    Is anyone here actually arguing for the view that human nature is 100% nurture? It seems to me that human nature is a complex interaction of nature with the environment. To the best of my knowledge, biologists are primarily interested in figuring out how DNA and an organism’s development interact with the environment. If I understand the original point correctly, the idea that one must wear high heels or get breast implants to attract a mate is an arbitrary idea of fashion, and not necessarily a direct reflection of any biological underpinning. Being symmetrical of form seems to be the primary biological (natural) impetus behind sexual attraction. Ohterwise, breast implants this year, breast-binding in the 1920s, but you can still get laid even if you don’t play the game.

  44. maggiethewolf

    Oh, if some of you think it’s bullshit, I’d appreciate an explanation. Why doesn’t the seeming congruence bother you? Why do you think it’s bullshit? And if you’re feeling generous, do you not believe in the possibility of a looping ideological line and if so, why not?

    Ron asked, “Doesn’t wonder involve question marks?”

    Maybe. Wonder can also involve taking an unpopular position, as I’m doing.

    And questioning can be problematic, for the questioner controls the conversation. Every defense attorney knows that. So, I posed all those questions with all due reluctance.

  45. Sylvanite

    Is there a congruence at all? I’m not saying there isn’t, but I’m not sufficiently steeped in lefty politics to know for sure which parts of the left are inclined to make any statements that biology doesn’t inform human behavior. I suppose PZ Myers would have some knowledge of any such denials from the left. Do you have anything particularly in mind? In other words, do you see a tendency to deny human biology (if it does exist in the left) as springing primarily from postmodernist academia? New-ager types? I assume you find it “scary” because any such denial would seem to play into the hands of the religious right.

    Also, was this really the argument that was being made here at all?

  46. vera

    Sylvanite, thanks for the elegant summary of this discussion. I don’t see anyone here arguing that human nature is 100% nurture, though Maggiethewolf attributes that view to Ron. (I don’t blame Ron for getting annoyed.)

    Maggie, I’m not sure what a “looping ideological line” is, but your suggestion that people commenting here are representatives of the “far Left” is in error. Radical feminism is not part of the “far Left.” That’s simplifying things, just like arguing that human behavior is 100 percent nature or 100 percent nurture is simplifying things.

    Radical feminism is orthogonal to the left/right ideological spectrum. The left and right both agree that patriarchy is the fundamental organizing principle for human society. Radical feminists reject that and desire revolution (though we are not holding our breath, having turned blue a long time ago).

  47. maggiethewolf

    Sylvanite, thanks for the response.

    “Is anyone here actually arguing for the view that human nature is 100% nurture?”

    I think nuture is the favored child here. Greatly favored.

    “It seems to me that human nature is a complex interaction of nature with the environment.”

    That’s what I think too, but I emphasize nature to offset what I perceive as the favoring of nurture. I also emphasize nature because doing so is my font of compassion. If I believe that patriarchy is mostly choice and thereby malice, less compassion flows from me.

    “To the best of my knowledge, biologists are primarily interested in figuring out how DNA and an organism’s development interact with the environment.”

    That’s right. I’ve posted about the specifivity of science. Most scientists consider some variant of: the causation of the dust on the bacteria on the apex of a mole on the underbelly of a moogoogaipan monkey. But, there are scientists (reckless, creative, or whatever) who note general patterns and wonder. I’m not a scientist, but I do note general patterns and wonder.

    “Ohterwise, breast implants this year, breast-binding in the 1920s, but you can still get laid even if you don’t play the game.”

    Oh yeah, I hate that shit.

    If you saw me, you’d say, “Oh, yeah. She hates that shit.”

    Because I wear the same shirt five days in a row and the same baggy shorts 2 weeks in a row and I cut my own hair and don’t paint my face. I don’t even buy new clothes. I wear discards. So, I’m not playing that game, but I try to have compassion for those that do, because I think there are powerful biological prods.

    “Do you have anything particularly in mind? In other words, do you see a tendency to deny human biology (if it does exist in the left) as springing primarily from postmodernist academia? New-ager types? I assume you find it “scary” because any such denial would seem to play into the hands of the religious right.”

    Those are great, great questions. And although B.D. Lee suggested that I have a “style of preloaded argument,” I didn’t notice the possible congruence until I read some threads. In other words, asserting this isn’t my shtick. For the record, disserving statis is my shtick. I’m a wolf. I try to cull hobbled and archaic ideas from the herd. It’s ugly, but it keeps the herd healthy. If this idea has legs, that human beings and partiarchy are primarily social constructs rather than biological constructs, I won’t keep trying to hamstring it. Wolves can run a long ways, but they can’t outrun a healthy idea.

    Now, to answer your questions, I think feminism hinges on the assumption that patriarchy and people are largely or completely social constructs.

    As far as whether it plays into the hands of the religious right, to reveal one of my many biases, no, I don’t think they’re that clever. In other words, I don’t think they’d discern this possible congruency. It scares me because I loathe the religious right. So, when my pack seems to have synchronized with the enemy in the framing of humanity, I worry.

    “Also, was this really the argument that was being made here at all?”

    No, I think it started in the other thread and I ferried it over here.

  48. Pony

    My view is impoverished by not having any science, or religion. But informed by being a parent.

    Biology. All the way. Well ok, I’ll toss in a crumb or three for nurture.

  49. langsuyar

    (Late in the game, langsuyar decided to throw her two cents in *eyeroll*)

    Maggie:

    Your prose is quite lyrical, but I fail to see how asserting your anti-consumer cred advances your argument. In fact, I think it undermines it. If, as you assert that there are very strong biological prods that make people behave as they do—making men into patriarchy’s beneficiaries and women into its sexy cheerleaders, how do so many of us escape that biological imperative? The answer is simple, because it’s not biologically imperative to act in that manner. It is biologically imperative to eat, sleep, and shit. However, because humans as a species don’t go into heat like every other animal on the planet except our closest relatives, fucking is not a biological imperative. When that evolved, we stepped out of sex as a biological construct and into sex as a social construct. Saying women get big boobs to get mates to spread genes because biology made them do it but YOU don’t play that game is just silly! Obviously, if it was biologically imperative you would have no choice in the matter—

    Oh shit, I said choice! It’s the magic word! Because humans can choose to have sex or not, reproduce or not, and even get implants or not, none of it can be biologically imperative anymore! It becomes completely irrelevant even if, at one point in pre-history (or before Roe v. Wade) we couldn’t choose. Therefore, asserting that biology take primacy is both reductionist and counterproductive. Instead of having well-springs of compassion for someone pushed by biology you can’t change to mutilate their body (as you currently believe), you can have well-springs of anger at a culture that brain-washes them to mutilate themselves AND compassion for them the victims! And that culture is changeable, mutable, and subject to us, instead of vice versa.

    And finally, over your concern that by saying that culture plays a role in our lives and that biologic determinism is nonsense we are linking arms with the evil Right? The evil Right says there is NO evolution and God’s (whichever) Law is Final, but I’m pretty sure no one here is going to deny evolution or its influence. All I am saying is that, as thinking creatures, we are now in a position to say “Yes, biology, yes, evolution, but no, no, no to patriarchy and artificial social constructs that constrict our fundamental, evolutionary mandate to choice any way you slice it!”

  50. maggiethewolf

    vera: “I don’t see anyone here arguing that human nature is 100% nurture, though Maggiethewolf attributes that view to Ron.”

    I observed that nurture is beloved here and I assumed that Ron was/is its standard-bearer: she shoved back when I pushed.

    As far as annoying Ron, I’ll leave her be. Our cognitive styles seem discordant.

    Vera: “Radical feminism is not part of the “far Left.” That’s simplifying things, just like arguing that human behavior is 100 percent nature or 100 percent nurture is simplifying things.”

    Thanks for the notice. I don’t want to simplify things. It’s just that I don’t think I’ve ever met a single feminist who is also a Republican. And when I chat with the nation’s foremost feminists, they espouse values that we associate with lefties. Have you had a different experience? If so, do tell. I love to be surprised.

    BTW, “orthogonal” is a word I didn’t know, but I looked it up!

    Vera: “The left and right both agree that patriarchy is the fundamental organizing principle for human society. Radical feminists reject that and desire revolution.”

    Hmmm. Going to think about that.

    Pony: “Biology. All the way. Well ok, I’ll toss in a crumb or three for nurture.”

    Pony, I’ve heard other parents say something similar, that parenthood rocked their ideological world and that no matter how they tried to shape their child, their child shaped him/herself.

    And whereas I’ve bandied the word, “clever,” I don’t think any of us are clever enough to wriggle entirely free from under the thumb of nature.

  51. B. Dagger Lee

    Maggiethewolf: Please, call me B. Dagger, for I am one.

    I think you’re positing too much as monolithic, and I think some of your chosen metaphors and analogies will let you down, or rather lead you around in a circle.

    Also, you were/are arguing for some kind of essential biological and evolutionary purposing of our hairy oozing matter and some people were taking issue with that. Ron may well be beloved, but more importantly for purposes of discussion, she’s earned respect. For myself, I think evolution and ideas of the social construction of gender, masculinity and femininity are not incompatible.

    In this little cul-de-sac, were you to review the posts and threads, you’d find a wide difference of feminist opinion and some brisk-to-bruising argument. You’ll find quite a bit of criticism of the idea of gender, masculinity and femininity as constructed. You’ll find discussion and critiques of the Patriarchy-Culture-Matrix and a lot of muttering, pacing and nattering on about agency and sex acts from everyone.

    Now I’m a big old pomo homo raised practically from birth in the Frenchiest, lit-crit-iest, tropiest kindergarten—and yet Pony forgives me, I think. The Dagger strapped to my hip is definitely the dagger of deconstruction; and I have a whole bag of pomo tricks, tools and strategies given to me by the slyest, smartest, feminist professors anyone has ever met; they taught me to take apart and put back together universes (and Patriarchies) with that bag and that dagger.

    I’m not a radical feminist. I have problems with Dworkin, Jeffries, Mackinnon et al, but I respect them and the people who cite them, propound and engage them as theorists of our lives.

    There’s a wide variation of leftists and feminists here, but if my car died on a deserted road I’d be relieved if any of these whackjobs (as Twisty has at least once referred to all of us) drove up to help. We might not be able to talk about porn or prostitution, among other issues, at least not while we were in the car, and, I must confess, a dreamcatcher hanging from a white girl’s rear-view mirror always makes me feel mirthful.

    So if the Left side of the equation is, well, in some ways incoherent, inconsistent and various, I don’t think the congruence you talk about is so easily and frighteningly mapped across the divide of Right and Left.

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

  52. maggiethewolf

    Well said, B. Dagger.

    I like the sound of B.D. Lee (Say it fast. Ain’t it cool?), but I can see that B. Dagger is apt.

    I might write more later, but right now, I’m in love with you and for your sake and the sake of discourse, I have to get over that.

    Yrs back at ya,

    The Wolf

  53. maggiethewolf

    langsuyar: “Your prose is quite lyrical,…”

    Thanks.

    “…but I fail to see how asserting your anti-consumer cred advances your argument.”

    It was an aside, I think. And I didn’t want people to assign a painted face and purty hair to these words. I’m a ragamuffin.

    “It is biologically imperative to eat, sleep, and shit. However, because humans as a species don’t go into heat like every other animal on the planet except our closest relatives, fucking is not a biological imperative. When that evolved, we stepped out of sex as a biological construct and into sex as a social construct. Saying women get big boobs to get mates to spread genes because biology made them do it but YOU don’t play that game is just silly! Obviously, if it was biologically imperative you would have no choice in the matter—”

    Oooh, nice parry. Really elegant and clean and clear. However, (and this is a cautious, qualified “however,” for I do respect and appreciate your noting of in heat versus fucking as something other than a biological imperative), does that difference free us from biology? It might. I don’t know. I think you think you know and you might be right. But it also seems possible that the biology of heat is just replaced by a stealthier biology, which plays out in social constructs.

    Langsuyar: “…we are linking arms with the evil Right….”

    If I wrote that, I miswrote. I just noticed a possible congruence and because I don’t admire the cognition of the evil Right and generally adore the cognition of the Left, it gave me the jitters.

    Lastly, Langsuyar: “Instead of having well-springs of compassion for someone pushed by biology you can’t change to mutilate their body (as you currently believe), you can have well-springs of anger at a culture that brain-washes them to mutilate themselves AND compassion for them the victims!”

    I can’t sustain such anger. Or maybe I just won’t. I don’t know how old you are, but I fear the accumulative effects of anger. But I do think much anger is righteous and I do think that equpping oneself with both anger and compassion is wise.

  54. emma goldman

    Late (again!) to the party, but I have to disagree that the Right favors nurture over biology; to the contrary, I think huge chunks (wads?) of the Right want to argue that biology is destiny, that women are “naturally” weaker, that because women get pregnant they need men to protect them, etc., etc. I haven’t wandered in the academic part of the woods in awhile, but I seem to remember that biology-is-destiny Just-so stories (thank you, Rudyard) are one of the favored tropes of the conservators of the patriarchy.

  55. maggiethewolf

    Okay, I’m slowly understanding what Pony said about the nomenclatural preferences in this culture: trope, meme, construct, just so, etc. But I still don’t understand what “lit crit” means in this context. Of course, I know what it denotes. I just don’t know what it connotes. A little help?

    And to be frank, I still have to refer to my crib sheet for meme, trope, etc.

    And to be franker, when I read meme, I read me-me-me!

    Emma, I get your point.

  56. Jezebella

    Emma, the American Political Right favors biology when it comes to women’s destiny as the sex class, but when it comes to homosexuality, they call it a choice. It’s too late in the day (and week) for me to figure out if this is contradictory or if it follows logically somehow.

  57. emma goldman

    I think they regard homosexuality as non-biological; I think in their world, everything divides up neatly and clearly, and anyone–female, non-straight, whatever–who refuses to accept the boundaries of the biologically determined categories is merely being willful, perverse, ungodly, etc.

  58. maggiethewolf

    Emma, I love that last sentence of yours.

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