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Dec 19 2006

Blamer Brain Trust alert

I have received a query from a science academic what reads as follows:

“I have a friend who I am trying to educate about the basics of feminist understanding of patriarchy. Do you have suggestions for Web sites with this sort of “entry-level” information? ”

The old “I have a friend” gambit!

As you know, “feminist basics” aren’t really my line. Although (this is an aside) maybe I ought to take a course in it or something; I was moved to affect a cartoon facial expression of bug-eyed stupefaction when, in another recent email, a 19-year-old blamer revealed her older brother’s astonishing opinion that, as one unschooled in ‘the ways of men,’ she couldn’t be a proper feminist until she had been penetrated by a penis, and did I think this was really true.

One of these days, when I’ve got a spare 6 months and a full tank of margaritas, I will write the book that addresses the concerns of novice blamers with idiot 21-year-old brothers, and of science professors with friends in need of an introduction to the idea that women are human, but until then I’ll continue to suggest that everyone read The Female Eunuch. I can also offer this from Gerda Lerner, from the introduction to The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, as a sort of “My First Patriarchy Lesson”:

Patriarchal concepts are [...] built into all the mental constructs of [...] civilization in such a way as to remain largely invisible. [Patriarchy] gradually institutionalized the rights of men to control and appropriate the sexual and reproductive services of women. Out of this form of dominance developed other forms of dominance, such as slavery. Once established as a functioning system of complex hierarchical relationships patriarchy transformed sexual, social, economic, relations and dominated all systems of ideas. In the course of the establishment of patriarchy and constantly reinforced as the result of it, the major idea systems which explain and order Western civilization incorporated a set of unstated assumptions about gender, which powerfully affected the development of history and human thought.

But of course these aren’t websites, which is what my penpal asked for. Any of you guys know where to send this pilgrim?

82 comments

  1. HermitWithAVengeance

    Scientists oughter look to data and the methodology of its collection and analysis. For instancyclically:

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cvict.htm
    Bureau of Justice Statistics

    (For a fun time, find, plot, and compare the number of Americans killed annually on two-lane roads, by significant others, and by international terrorists. Then find, plot, and compare the funding dedicated to eradicating each threat.)

    But wait, this is only the federal government and the judicial system. What about medicine, you ask, still hungry for more after reading Twisty’s Extra Credit?

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?isbn=0679758690&itm=1
    http://www.amazon.com/Conceiving-New-World-Order-Reproduction/dp/0520089146

    If you’re devious and chill enough, you can probably find a local (to you) professor who will let you sit in on a women’s/subaltern studies class and/or who will give you access to the sorts of electronic class syllabi that are beginning to gain prominance.

    Ok, so we have governmental/legal, medical, and you’ll get bureaucratic when you try to deal with a university bureaucracy asking about women’s studies. You can basically apply these patterns of dominance, abuse, and the internalization of the inferior role to any other context, and you’ll have got your feminist ABCs.

    Or, of course, you could just try being female. That oughta do it to, unless you’re really not paying attention.

  2. Jezebella

    Excellent repository of classic feminist writings:

    http://www.cwluherstory.com/CWLUArchive/classic.html

    No, I don’t know how to make that a link. Cut-and-paste, blamers.

    Personal favorites include “Why I Want a Wife” and “The Politics of Housework.” Which probably tells you more about me than about the usefulness of the archive.

  3. educe

    I recommend folks go to libraries (free knowledge!) and their local booksellers as a lot of information is not yet digitally available. I also recommend searching Amazon first to gather a good list of books to check out.

    Online-wise, this site (which is need of a re-do what with the FRAMES) lists women’s intellectual contributions to several academic fields/theories.

    Genderberg.com is good for basic info, too.

  4. educe

    [For those of you not tech-savvy: here is how to make a hyperlink!]

  5. Ann Bartow

    There are some fantastic blogs that this science academic should check out post haste:

    Absinthe: http://radio.weblogs.com/0151290/

    Thus Spake Zuska: http://www.scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/

    and to keep this short, all the blogs in Zuska’s blog roll! This may also be of interest:

    http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/

    NB: Possibly this interest arose thanks to this NYT article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/19/science/19women.html?8dpc

    Namaste.

  6. Ann Bartow

    Crud, the FLP link was supposed to be this:

    http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=1309

  7. johnieb

    So much help for the novice blamer, taking those first few steps. Snif: it’s truly a warm fuzzie for me.

  8. grrr kitty

    I’d direct your friend to books like “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, “Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen” by Alix Kates Shulman, and “The Women’s Room” by Marilyn French. Somewhat dated, true, but they still get the point home in fine fashion. This is the stuff on which I cut my blamer’s choppers, in the days before the interwebs. I am an old sea-hag.

  9. Pinko Punko

    I find that even attempting to say words such as “read a book” fail to impart any meaning in our mixed-up modern world. Alas, apparently reading of most sorts, outside of handy bullet-pointed outlines is oppressive. My deep, deep interest in specified topic can only be satisfied by predigested gobbets and distilled factoids, doncha know!

  10. Mwezzi

    Web-wise, it’s really a good idea to start off with articles written by young students and ‘lay people’ as well as fully fledged radfems. Though, as a regular visitor here, I’d heartily recommend them as well. It’s all very well saying ‘what feminists think’ but to get a good idea you really have to see what they say for yourself.

    Well, I’ve not managed to fully absorb myself into online feminism, but here are a few places I check regularly which gave me a good base to start from.

    The F-Word is a British feminist site with tonnes of resources and articles written by both readers and sitemasters alike. It was my first big step into the online word of feminism and simply browsing the articles and reading the blog gave me a very good feel for the standpoints and ideas of feminists from all over Britain (and occasionally further afield). A good place to start if you’re not sure ‘what we think’. Blog updates regularly, new articles are posted roughly monthly.

    Feministing is the American ‘big site’ for feminists. Ranging from light hearted to serious, it’s an excellent source of news and opinions and most posts can be read in three minutes to give you something to think about before going out or making breakfast. Read the blog, check the comments. None of it should be too ‘far out’ for a complete novice to understand.

    Blog of Feminist Activism Against Porn is a very good site for seeing some of the opinions of the Anti-Porn feminists. Just remember that ‘anti porn’ doesn’t mean ‘anti sex’ and read on.

    All the above sites have links to others as well. If they want to do extra reading and really get to know what inequality is, direct them to Biting Beaver.

    Or you could just say ‘feminists belive that women are also human beings who deserve the same rights as you but don’t have them yet’ and let them add in all the fine details themselves.

  11. rootlesscosmo

    Catherine MacKinnon says “Feminism arises from the impulse to self-respect in women.” A good starting point, I think.

    Also good at the CWLU Herstory site (and relevant to the women-in-science theme) is my old friend Naomi Weisstein’s “Kinder, Küche, Kirche as Scientific Law: Psychology Constructs the Female,” from 1967 and as timely as ever. Funny, too.

  12. rootlesscosmo

    Oops, that was supposed to be u-with-an-umlaut but it came out all weird. Sorry.

  13. CannibalFemme

    Thinking Girl put up a snazzy entry-level page on feminism, which also serves as a springboard for further inquiry:

    http://thinkinggirl.wordpress.com/feminism/

  14. dr_igloo

    If the science academic’s friend also happens to be a science academic, there is an article by Emily Martin, entitled “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles” that I have found to be extremely useful for demonstrating to science-minded individuals the extent to which sexism and patriarchy are built-in to our most basic and ‘objective’ views of the world. I’ve used it in undergraduate science classes, and more than a few students have had a serious “a-ha!” moment while reading it.

    If you have access through an institution, you can get the article at:
    http://www.jstor.org/view/00979740/sp040065/04x2203s/0

  15. anarkallisti

    I’ll delurk for this.

    I started my own feminist education odyssey at http://www.Pandagon.net about a year ago, and from there learned about all the other sites that have been mentioned. I have yet to read any feminist literature per se, but Iris Marion Young’s “Justice and the Politics of Difference” is a good primer on institutionalized oppression – women’s rights being human rights and all.

  16. jami

    if the friend is also scientific, i suggest that she sample 10 nearby labs, noting:
    gender of dishwasher
    gender of person who orders shit
    gender of most people who procure food for lab get-togethers
    gender of principal investigator

    if she doesn’t understand the patriarchy by sample five, poor thing can’t learn.

  17. sam b

    The first feminist articles I read online were the articles from “On the Issues: The Progressive Women’s Quarterly.

    http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/feature.htm

  18. finnsmotel

    While we’re on the subject of scientists and patriarchy, I’d like to share some thoughts I had this morning (while I was supposed to be paying attention in a company meeting). Feel free to weigh in and tell me where you think my wheels went off the rails.

    First, I landed on a question.

    Is evolution a result of patriarchy, or is patriarchy a result of evolution?

    It seems logical to say that patriarchy is a result of evolution. It also seems logical to say that patriarchy can influence evolution. Lots of forces can influence evolution, from the environment to religion to genocide. Still, no matter how influential those forces are on the results, evolution continues to function the same way.

    So, if we’re blaming the patriarchy, are we, by extension, blaming evolution?

    Oh, and while we’re doubting and questioning, one further question is: can we trust the scientific method, considering it was developed by the patriarchy? Are its findings truly objective or does a male-centric system have inherent flaws that prevent truthful discovery? For example, the scientific method relies on the formulation of hypotheses for testing and then it requires a summation of the test results. What’s the obsession with results?

    I await the shooting of holes in my questions and answers.

    -finn

  19. k8grrl

    Of course, I second the blamer who directed the science academic to Zuska’s blogroll, because I’m on it. :)

    But for a little non-hyperlinked fun, wanted to share a Woolf quote (from A Room of One’s Own) I had totally forgotten about until one of my students opened with it in her final paper:

    “Have you any notion of how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men? Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the universe?…. Sex and its nature might well attract doctors and biologists; but what was surprising and difficult of explanation was the fact that sex — woman, that is to say — also attracts… men who have no apparent qualification save that they are not women.”

    That’s just to get this science academic started on thinking about patriarchal bias in the study of sex and reproduction… I would recommend Barb Smuts, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and Patricia Gowaty as other great feminist scientists worth reading.

  20. cypress

    finns – on the scientific method. When i was an older undergraduate in the mid-70s I had the good fortune to read Thomas Kuhne’s Structure of Scientific Revolution. The theories of the logical positivists of the likes of Karl Popper and other advocates of the ‘scientific method’ were, in my view, completely overshadowed by the sense of Kuhne’s take on his profession and it’s practices.

    There are, no doubt, more contemporary writings on the strangle hold of the patriarchs on their version of the dominant paradigm, but this one is brilliant.

    And, now that I am thinking about it a little more, the book is also an analysis of the patriarchy, and the capacity of a few to influence the many, who, motivated by envy, reproduce the practice of the few, and on down the spiral.

    be well

  21. Catherine Martell

    ThinkingGirl links to it in her piece, but actually you can do a lot worse than: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism

    Still, I reckon people are best off starting with The Female Eunuch, possibly to be followed by a skim through Backlash (at least, the bit on Fatal Attraction) to prove that things have not continued on a proud upward progress curve since the 1970s. And maybe The Whole Woman.

    If they get through that lot, it’s time to bring on MacKinnon and Dworkin.

    I think that anyone who can’t be bothered to read a book isn’t worth educating. In the words of Simon Munnery: “If you only read one book in your life, I suggest… you keep your mouth shut.”

  22. Sylvanite

    finns, Stephen Jay Gould addressed some of the problems with bias in the study of humans (specifically studies of human intelligence) in his book “The Mismeasure of Man” (he said he chose to say “man” rather than “people” or “humans” to be a bit ironical). Scientists do try to attempt to weed out such biases by using double-blind studies and such, but ethological studies can be very difficult to weed patriarchal biases from. It’s funny – I remember reading that Louis Leakey specifically encouraged a young woman not from the anthropology community to study non-human primates. The young woman was Jane Goodall. Leakey suspected that his male colleagues were too blinkered by their assumptions to do good work observing non-human primates. He was correct, and most (quite possibly, all) of the breakthrough work studying apes has been done by women.

    In fact, I’ve noticed the thoroughness of the patriarchal bias whenever non-human animals with very alien (to humans) social systems come up in conversation. It’s really hard for some guys to wrap their heads around the fact that every honeybee they see hard at work is female. Every ant they see hard at work is female. The males of most hymenopteran insects are thoroughly marginalized, of use only for breeding, after which use, they die. People get weird about hyenas, too, and if I remember correctly, women have been the primary source of new insights into hyena behavior, as well.

    Science isn’t perfect, and the patriarchy infuses it as it infuses everything else, but there are some self-corrective mechanisms in place. But I would say that patriarchal biases do often succeed in warping or delaying our understandings of a lot of things. I suspect that the closer the subject is to humanity, the more bias intrudes.

  23. womensrevolution

    I would really reccommend Sylvia Walby’s book ‘Theorizing Patriarchy’. She has a very simple definition of patriarchy -
    “A system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women.”

    She then identifies 6 structures of patriarchy.

    I would also reccommend the UK book by Lynne Harne and Elaine Miller – “All The Rage – Reasserting Radical Lesbian Feminism”. Even for those who are not lesbians, its really good Radical Feminism.

    Finn.

  24. Pony

    A bit of a tangent, but my favourite bit of science, published last year, is the study showing (to the male scientists amazement) is that women go into a kind of trance when they orgasm. They proved it, over and over. No screaming no loud moaning no yelling “Yes Yes Yes!!” A trance. A very quiet trance. Of course, there’s the possibility they just fell asleep.

  25. Betsy

    My grandmother read “For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts’ Advice to Women” (by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English) with me in the early 90′s (which were her late eighties) and we had a great time discussing it. It’s not a feminist primer, but it does a nice job of exposing the reader to basic concepts by examining real-life and historical examples of bias, and taking them apart piece by piece.

  26. saltyC

    Wow, Stephen Jay Gould’s _Mismeasure of Man_ and Thomas Kuhn’s _Structure of Scientific Revolutions_, two books by men that most influenced me, in one thread!

  27. radfemlezzie

    I must shamelessly plug my own site, http://www.feminist-reprise.net. The archive is a repository of many (about 62 and counting) excellent articles, both academic and otherwise, and there is also a smashing bibliography which several radical feminist women helped compile.

  28. stacy

    “you guys”???? I am on a mission to eradicate this insidious use of the universal male from our vocabulary. And in the bargain I get to embarrass my adult children in public (as when I challenge wait staff who look at us three females and say “how are you guys today?” and I say “I’m fine and I’m not a guy”!!)
    I advocate using the generic term “gyns” (or, of course, there’s always that odd word “women”) or simply “folks”. Here in the pacific northwest the use of the unversal male is alive, well and growing. I did this 30 years ago and I’m PISSED OFF that I have to do it again! So, wise up you gyns!

  29. Twisty

    Sorry, but no on ‘gyns’. Gender is on my last nerve.

  30. thebewilderness

    finn,
    I suspect that patriarchy may be one of those evolutionary dead ends that self destructs in an effort to self perpetuate.

    Stacy, I must confess to being one of those in the PNW who has genericized? genericked? guys. Currently I am considering moving on to peeps, but then I start thinking about the little marshmallow thingumys and there goes the mind circling the drain and I’m thinkin’ plunk your magic twanger, Froggy.

  31. HermitWithAVengeance

    God I love you guys.

    Oops. Two linguistic cardinal sins in one hug.

    In my defense: “Folks” throws me into a Southern accent regression, and we all know that language shapes thought, so it probably throws my cultural criticism skills back a few decades. “Guys,” in contrast, is a carpetbagging addition to progressively more standardized Southern/rural American dialects. Obviously, I am in favor of carpetbagging, because it is this kind of cultural exchange and renewing of language that frees us to renew our thinking and throw off the internalized yokes of ideology and patriarchy and non-magic twangers, oh my.

  32. leen

    Hey Finn,
    While we’re talking scientific method, check out your equating of ‘western thought’ and ‘patriarchy’.

    Are its findings truly objective or does a male-centric system have inherent flaws that prevent truthful discovery?

    I used to live in Zimbabwe, back before its total descent into hell. While the patriarchy is alive and well there, western thought (what we like to think of as ‘modern logic’, the kind developed by Aristotle, Descartes, etc) is not something that most people believe or understand.

    I had countless conversations with people where we would AGREE that the situation at hand was one thing (let’s say “You cannot move a boulder the size of your house with a broomstick”), and then the very next sentence was something mutually exclusive of that, and they believed both:”She moved that boulder to the top of that mountain with her broomstick.”* (Maybe that’s a lame example, but I can’t really think of a better one right now. It took reading alot of Southern African philosophy before I kinda ‘got it’.)

    *This was not some mythical ancient-story boulder and broomstick. It was our neighbor, who had apparently moved the giant boulder to a hilltop miles away just weeks before our arrival. Sweet.

    Anyway, that’s just to suggest: the part of the scientific method that sucks is the part that assumes that greek-style logic is The Only Way To Truth. It’s not the male-centric part, but the western-centric. (Granted, they’re all wrapped up in one another, but they’re not totally synonymous.)

    Eileen

  33. poppyabd

    Another good feminist primer in book form: FEMINISM IS FOR EVERYBODY by bell hooks.

  34. lightly

    Send ‘em here -

    http://www.gentlespirit.com/Margins/

  35. Mandos

    I had countless conversations with people where we would AGREE that the situation at hand was one thing (let’s say “You cannot move a boulder the size of your house with a broomstick”), and then the very next sentence was something mutually exclusive of that, and they believed both:”She moved that boulder to the top of that mountain with her broomstick.”* (Maybe that’s a lame example, but I can’t really think of a better one right now. It took reading alot of Southern African philosophy before I kinda ‘got it’.)

    Maybe they’re just plain wrong?

  36. winna

    Lesley Hall has done a lot of very exciting work on women’s history, and she has a fabulous website.

    http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/wmhistmy.htm#My own writings

    It is not as much discussion of the patriarchy as such, but it is excellent background material for any historically minded would-be blamer.

  37. finnsmotel

    “While the patriarchy is alive and well there, western thought (what we like to think of as ‘modern logic’, the kind developed by Aristotle, Descartes, etc) is not something that most people believe or understand.”

    I dig what you’re saying, but, are you suggesting that truth is dependent on culture?

  38. cycles

    I was going to mention Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers, which may have been a precursor to “For Her Own Good,” which Betsy mentions above. It outlines the shift from traditional female healers to science-based male doctors, and by science, she means the boys-club version with robed lecturers in marble halls extolling the discoveries of Great Men. My aunt gave me a copy when I was in school. It popped my feminist cherry, you could say. Good riddance, cherry!

  39. lightly

    Well darn, now that I’ve read the comments here I go.

    Leen, what you say about the non-linear quality of thinking in Zimbabwe reminds me of magical realism in literature. It also reminds me of a point made in Language, Thought and Reality, an old linguistics book by Benjamin Whorf. Apparently there are languages that work without nouns. Really. They tend to be first nations languages. I mentioned this to an indian friend and she said, of course, why do English speakers say ‘It rains.’ And really, why does that sentence need a pronoun for any reason other than the fact that you don’t have a proper sentence in our language without it?

    And finn, my sense of the male bias in science would not need to go as far as questioning the methods or need for results. I would just point up blind spots in what male scientists think to study. The example of hyenas was good. I think the lack of attention given to menstrual synching is another example and it even has strong evolutionary implications. In groups of female mammmals where there was enough proximity for synching to happen, offspring were born closer in time to each other with the result was that more of them survived. If that’s not an evolutionary adaptation I don’t know what is.

    I would strongly recommend Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier, science writer for the New York Times. Not only did the science and the writing take my breath away, Angier is hysterically funny.

  40. badgerbag

    We do really need “Feminisms for Dummies”. Or some equivalent for non-dummies.

  41. leen

    Hells yeah I’m saying truth is dependent on culture! How could it not be? I think that logic is as sneaky as the patriarchy (though probably not as evil) — it’s EVERYWHERE in our lives, but that doesn’t mean it’s absolute or right. It’s a very easy way for someone in power to discount the ideas of a sub-class. “Your ideas don’t hold up to my logic. So go away.”

    Mandos — Like I said, that wasn’t a great example. I think the lack of sunlight is sapping my strength. Think of a more vague situation, where it’s possible to hold two totally opposing views. Cognitive dissonance, right? Then expand that out to a place where opposing things that we think of as more *concrete* can also both be held to be true. Not to be snotty, but: I don’t think that ALL 10 million Shona can be wrong.

  42. badgerbag

    How about:

    Feminism 101 by the Happy Feminist

    Feminism 101 “All the Basics! And More! a good idea, but unfinished, extremely us-centric, and the design breaks my browser.

    Feminisms around the world. Click on continent, then country, for list of resources and articles (often with the full text online) The main pages are in English, French, and Spanish.

    a bunch of bell hooks’ articles are online here: http://www.allaboutbell.com/home.html

    definitions of chicana feminism from various sources, at chicanas.com

  43. AoT

    “Is evolution a result of patriarchy, or is patriarchy a result of evolution?

    It seems logical to say that patriarchy is a result of evolution. It also seems logical to say that patriarchy can influence evolution. Lots of forces can influence evolution, from the environment to religion to genocide. Still, no matter how influential those forces are on the results, evolution continues to function the same way.”

    Patriarchy and evolution need not be linked, they can be separate forces which act individually, evolution on our biology and evolution on our social structure. Though it is true that the two will have some, likely small effect on each other disciplines like Evo-Psych overrate that influence.

    “So, if we’re blaming the patriarchy, are we, by extension, blaming evolution?”

    Nope, just because we evolved in such a way that we can see colors doesn’t make it evolutions fault when someone decided to paint their house some horrible color.

    “Oh, and while we’re doubting and questioning, one further question is: can we trust the scientific method, considering it was developed by the patriarchy? Are its findings truly objective or does a male-centric system have inherent flaws that prevent truthful discovery? For example, the scientific method relies on the formulation of hypotheses for testing and then it requires a summation of the test results. What’s the obsession with results?”

    Well, there are a lot of answers to this one, none of them necessarily right, I’d suggest finding a good book on the Philosophy of Science, I just took a class but it certainly used a book that was a far cry from good. As for the obsession with results, I don’t know that it exists so much as you seem to think it does. And yes, being a male-centric/dominated field certainly does affect the ability to find truthful results, at the very least in that it skews our views in anthropology and other social science field; but you would have to have some pretty good examples for a science like physics. Also, male-centric/dominated science will necessarily focus on different projects than a non male-centric/dominated science program.

    “I await the shooting of holes in my questions and answers.”

    I hope that was good enough.

  44. AoT

    oops, i meant “evolution on our biology and patriarchy on our social institutions.”

  45. Mandos

    Whorfianism alert! Whorfianism alert!

    Apparently there are languages that work without nouns. Really. They tend to be first nations languages.

    They are not without nouns. They are without nouns as standalone words. However, reference to objects still exists in the form of nominal affixes. Nouns don’t exist in native languages in the same way they really don’t exist anywhere—they’re a label for a grouping of functions that happens commonly together in English but is still a blurry category. “The damned.” Noun or adjective? You have to dig a little deeper to find out what really *is* there.

    I mentioned this to an indian friend and she said, of course, why do English speakers say ‘It rains.’ And really, why does that sentence need a pronoun for any reason other than the fact that you don’t have a proper sentence in our language without it?

    My parents’ language is Urdu and I can assure you that in Urdu and Hindi there are ample analogous cases of funny things like this to trip me up when my parents decide to switch to Urdu.

  46. scratchy888

    Then expand that out to a place where opposing things that we think of as more *concrete* can also both be held to be true.

    The phenomenological world is also seen through the lens of culture. Somehow we cannot avoid the ways in which cultural conditioning manages our perceptions. Cruder levels of cultural explanations will often be able to account for phenomena in much cruder or less detailed ways. Or, there may be contradictory and inconsistent ways of accounting for phenomena. IN the European past, psychosis was put down to demonic forces and what came to be known as “hysteria” (also a condition which afflicted men, but often given a different name, for example, “shell shock” during world war 1) has often been attributed to the lack of moral fibre in one’s diet, until recently. But these “explanations” were unsatisfactory, because they didn’t really EXPLAIN anything so much, as to give moral condemnation.

  47. AoT

    leen said “Hells yeah I’m saying truth is dependent on culture! How could it not be?”

    Well, there could be universal truth. Or there could be truth which is individually relativist instead of culturally relativist. Or there could be no truth at all. Or something else which I’m not smart enough to think of might be the case.

  48. darkymac

    There are a few good translations around, and so I urge the incipient feminist to get their brain around de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex at the same time as they read The Female Eunuch. The Vintage translation by H.M. Parshley is definitely not one of the good translations.
    de Beauvoir, using existentialist tools, is able to get across the precept that “existence precedes essence” and therefore one isn’t born a woman, but is turned into one.
    Her analysis of the Other remains for me the clearest yet, the Other being the stereotype that any group in a hierarchy uses to mystify a lower class.
    de Beauvoir’s essay Woman: Myth and Reality will also reward, being a concentrated patriarchy 101. I haven’t seen a good english translation of it, but I am sure there would be a few good ones in academic libraries.

  49. antelope

    My Auntie Meg, who was pretty mixed up in the whole discussion in the ’70s, got me to read The Mermaid and the Minotaur when I was in college, and it got me to re-think some things,and ponder some others. I still re-read certain chapters once in a while, especially the one on how patriarchy gives both men and women reasons to regard one another as helpless, silly, annoying children.

    The quote ghostorchid provided the other day really reminded me of things Dinnerstein has to say about using other women as a way of getting revenge on Mommy for being too damn powerful.

    Why is it no one else ever talks about this book? Am I the only one who’s read it?

  50. rootlesscosmo

    I’ve seen Dinnerstein cited alongside other, quite different feminist pioneers, but I have a hunch (I can’t document this) that many feminists are put off by the fact that she’s–in some sense–a Freudian, and Freudianism has a (pretty well deserved) reputation as a viewpoint that’s deeply patriarchal and misogynist, among its other flaws.

  51. KTal

    I recently told my anthropologist radical mother that I am losing my ability to read and write well as I spend almost all my time reading and making spreadsheets or banging nails. I once dreamed of being an academic, but slavery to the patriarchy killed that dream long ago.

    I have to assemble a reading list to gradually tick off at Amazon.com of all the great book suggestions here. I’ve tried to get ole ma to read these sites, but she yawns and says, “Oh, I’ve argued all that so long ago…” Then she goes on into a conversation basically similar to what many speak of here. I wish she’d contribute here because her voice is just as important as anyone else’s.

    As for me, tis good to see so many out there squeezing their brains on these questions whilst I work against the patriarchy on the lower end.

    Just letting you folks know that there are those who do benefit quite a bit, like myself, from reading here. Keep it up.

  52. Carpenter

    If the web must be invoked, I suggest the scientist google ontroduction to womens studies, then follow the links to a intro class syllabus. Then I suggest the scientist copy down the reading list and check out 4 or 5 books from the university library for her/his friend. Thus employing research methods(that us scientists should be good at), access to an academic library(cuz not every public lib is well stocked in non fiction), and (if the academic scientist is a gradstudent, postdoc or prof) a much longer term book loan- we get boks for 6 months.
    Why a web page anyway?

    If it must be on the web, then

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/wmn/index.htm

    That is a repository of free texts. The “Women” section has works from the first wave -which I guess might be feminism 101,including the womans bible by e cady stanton, women Church and state by matilda joceyln gage, vindication of the rights of women, and the subjection of women by john stewart mill. I mean, granted these are from before women could vote but the basics of woman hating are the same in principle just not degree.

  53. Mandos

    “Why a web page anyway?”

    Some academics (like in the computer science department, for instance) do not even know where the library is.

  54. Sandy D.

    Dammit, no one’s plugged the Carnival of Feminists yet? Which I’m hosting TOMORROW.

  55. mearl

    I’d be really, really innarested to see what everyone thinks about the books or articles or writers who would NOT be recommended, i.e., strawfeminist books masquerading as feminism. Like Pussycat Dolls, except academic. Things have gotten so vague these days and everyone uses well-known tactics to defend their opinions, so starting points are harder to find. Any thoughts on what to avoid?

  56. slashy

    My sudden, glorious tumble into feminist reading occurred in the autumn when I was fifteen, when I had the good fortune to pick up, in rapid succession: The Female Eunuch, The Dialectic Of Sex, The Second Sex, and Trash (by Dorothy Allison). I recall a few months worth of endlessly excitable “AHA! Yes! Right! This is it!” feelings and rantings, and a world suddenly painted with vivid, almost-visible lines around the insititutionalised sexism I was surrounded by.

    Thoughts move on and you don’t need to unquestioningly agree with the the texts and ideas that brought you to feminism. What’s important is realising that the structures of patriarchy are there, what they look and feel like, how they affect you and the people around you, and then articulating your response to them.

  57. scratchy888

    Ah. According to a Wikipedia list coupled with my estimation, these might be the postfeminist texts to avoid:
    Post-Feminist Texts
    Rene Denfeld, The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, (New York: Warner Books, 1995)
    Camille Paglia, Sex Art and American Culture: Essays, (Vintage, 1992)
    Katie Roiphe, The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism on Campus (1993)

  58. pheenobarbidoll

    “Any of you guys know where to send this pilgrim? ”

    Yes. But it’s not on the net and he’s going to need a flashlight.

  59. mearl

    Thanks, scratchy. You’re right: these don’t surprise me.

  60. darkymac

    The web is not the place to start an analysis of the patriarchy.
    But it can certainly be the place to refine it.

    The web, being a too too tool of the patriarchy (and it can’t help having the patriarchy’s substance mixed with its own pure shareitness because – wait for it – the web needs money to show its wares and one has to dodge around in many less-than-perfect ways to get that money, and even if one is perfectly able to finance every frame, without advertising or donations, there is the pressure from ones web peers to dress ones web presence to look, oh I don’t know, hip to the web – the same as newspapers and magazines come from the newspaper corner where stuff just can’t be more than a thousand words, or not smart enough, before someone turns the page) it can’t be a starting place for a reading list.
    There is also the vexing problem of too many voices at once on most web sites, and the secondary problem that most of these voices are prescriptive rather than descriptive.

    The scientist sister can only be sure to find the depth her friend seeks, in books – whether they are published on the net or sourced at ye olde shops or libraries.
    Certainly, conventional publishing is patriarchy too, but the process is a lot different to the web. In the depth of a book is also its credentials as a guide to analysis; it is very hard to maintain the same kind of facade in a book, that a web polemicist can keep up for a couple of essays.

    The web is really one big dentist’s waiting room table.
    I’m very glad there are a few feminist mags amongst the Reader’s Digests and Vogues.

    None of this is intended to take anything away from our host’s unique style and am hoping that she is not merely effing around with the idea of writing a book.

  61. jokerine

    Hi! in response to the scientific method thread. It is really just a tool and as such not inherently bad/patriarchical. You make a hypothesese, you make experiments, you look how the results change your hypotheses. Nothing wrong with the hammer until you use it to bash in someones brain. SciMeth can also be used to bash in someones brain. Problems:
    1) the hypothesese you pose depends on your previous (subjective) experience
    2) wether results are accepted or put down to errors depends on how badly you want your hypotheses to succede.

    So a patriarchical world lets scimeth be used to prove patriarchical hypothesises. And to untangle this is pretty hard. Especially since most natural sciences folk don’t believe that they are predisposed towards a certain opinion.

    On the evolution subject: one should be very careful applying evolution to social concepts. It isn’t straight forward.

    Ps. sorry for spelling. I have a feeling i have been very creative with it.

  62. ozma

    What I thought was strange about the description you quote is that it is an historical claim that can’t be verified. I think it’s better to stick to what we can prove. There’s plenty. No need for the speculative origin of human civilization crap.

  63. Buttercup

    Pheenobarbiedoll-HAH!

    I agree with those who have recommended “The Second Sex”. I can’t think of a better primer.

    And as to genderfication of plurality, here in Pittsburgh, we just say “yinz”. Well, a lot of people do, I don’t, but a lot of people do. A LOT of people.

    I’ve got a lot of websurfing to do using this thread as a jumping off point. Lots of intriguing recommends!

  64. thinkinggirl

    Hi ladies

    Thanks to CannibalFemme for the link to my page!

    A few bloggers wrote a Feminism 101 post a little while ago, including myself. Here are the links to the two (the blogger who came up with the idea, Molly Saves the Day, seems to have disappeared from the blogosphere, which is too bad, her post was, I think, the best of all) I know about:

    Feminism 101 at Thinking Girl

    a href=”http://pandagon.net/2006/09/13/got-questions-mollys-got-answers/”>Feminism 101 at Pandagon

    Since the inquirer is scienc-y, and I wrote 2 posts recently about women in maths and science careers, here are the links to those articles.

    Women in Maths and Science 1

    Women in Maths and Science 2

    I was going to say Biting Beaver for such great anti-porn resources, but somebody beat me to it.

    I highly recommend Sage’s blog, Persephone’s Box – she’s an excellent writer, and writes on a variety of subjects.

    And thanks to Sandy D for mentioning the wonderful Carnival of Feminists.

    What about Alas – those kids write on everything.

    And I’d be remiss to leave without linking to Brownfemipower’s Radical Women of Colour blog – her race analysis of feminism is wonderful.

    thanks for putting this together Twisty, and blamers – I have to get reading some of these great resources!

  65. thinkinggirl

    oopsie, forgot to close that Pandagon link. here it is again:

    a href=”http://pandagon.net/2006/09/13/got-questions-mollys-got-answers/”>Feminism 101 at Pandagon

  66. thinkinggirl

    one more try….

    Feminism 101 at Pandagon

  67. Mar Iguana

    “Any of you guys know where to send this pilgrim?”

    Yeah. Send him over to my place to be my slave for a year.

  68. grrr kitty

    I also like Laura Kipnis, especially “Against Love: A Polemic”. And a resounding “YES” to the bell hooks recommendations.

  69. Jezebella

    Hey, Hermitwithavengeance: cut that out! Speaking with a southern accent is not a sign of retardataire brain function! Jeez. The South has no monopoly on sexism, racism, godbaggery, or red-state-dumbfuckery. There are assholes everywhere, and plenty of them speak with Yankee, midwestern, great plains, california, and mountain-west accents.

  70. finnsmotel

    Wow, thanks for the great book suggestions. My Amazon shopping list overfloweth.

  71. Twisty

    Don’t forget Shulamith Firestone!

  72. cypress

    feminism 101 – adding to the list

    Woman Hating, Andrea Dworkin
    Beyond Power: on women men and morals, Marilyn French
    The War Against Women, Marilyn French

  73. johnieb

    Well, Hermit, I’ve been doing my part for cultural diffusion and the renewal of language for nearly twenty five years, but Yankees are slow and inclined to unfounded assumptions of superiority; in short, renewal flows both ways.

    I’m with Jezebella on this: speak Southern, but with sense and grace.

  74. PhysioProf

    It was my query, and I thank all of you for the excellent sources, both on-line and books.

  75. Pony

    I wanted to see what others put in here before I chose. In spite of it’s title, it’s really “the politics of women’s healthcare delivery”.

    Patient No More: The Politics of Breast Cancer
    Sharon Batt

    http://www.bcaction.org/Pages/SearchablePages/
    1995Newsletters/Newsletter028H.html

    “Batt’s examination of the American Cancer Society’s backroom relationship with the National Cancer Institute and its attitude toward women is truly illuminating. Begun early in the century by doctors who wanted to challenge the popular pessimism about cancer, ACS sponsors recruited influential people to advance an optimistic message of hope, even though they were well aware they hadn’t a due how to cure most types of cancer. The obsession with appearance has continued throughout the century. One Reach to Recovery volunteer, for example, was forbidden to visit patients without her prosthesis because, “We like our volunteers to look normal.”

    Batt also gives us riveting revelations about professional in-fighting. Surgeons, who once “owned” breast cancer treatment now must jockey for prestige and control with an evercrowded field of specialists, including chemotherapists, radiotherapists, and oncologists. Meanwhile, researchers like to take credit for turning the tide against the radical mastectomy in North America, but it was really lobbying by women that ultimately led to treatment choices.

    Batt writes compellingly about “the institutionalization of our problem,” in which the system designed to control cancer really controls the woman. “We continue to feel that others are doing things to us rather than for us. When I decided to speak out publicly, I felt exhilarated…engaged in a personal, meaningful struggle.”

    Throughout the book, Batt makes a powerful point: The cure for breast cancer is political activism.”

  76. Fanny

    My number one beginning book is Marilyn Frye’s The Politics of Reality. It is very concise, articulate, and logical. This is not to say that other feminist works are not these things as well, but Frye is good for a beginner because she starts at the beginning (with a chapter on oppression and a chapter on sexism) and builds up logically from there. By the end of reading the book a radical feminist is necessarily born. I share my copy with anyone willing to read it and I am serious when I say that everyone who has taken the time to read it was almost an instant convert.

  77. Andrew Dobbs (Real Name, Not So Cute, I Know)

    This site rocks so hard my teeth are sweating. I live in Dallas and in the next few months plan on getting back into Austin after a year off (though I may hit the road to avoid the TX summer). I would suggest in terms of books–not online, necessarily–that Andrea Dworkin is both the greatest English language polemecist of our times (not just feminist, of any persuasion), and she offers the kind of intense analysis that is 100% guaranteed to change your life. It will either give you a bad conscience, a whole new tool box for fucking with the man or (as in my case) both. I found her Heartbreak: the Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant to be a good intro and as compelling a book as I’ve ever read. It will seize you and force you to contend with her work.

    Also check out Austinite, UT professor and anti-man Robert Jensen and his latest book–Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity. Coming from a str8/bi male’s perspective it is rad as a motherfucker.

    You probably could do a whole lot worse than starting at the source: Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics. I’ve found MacKinnon–overall–to be a profound thinker with broad implications to her work, but she is very dry, technical and requires a lot of work to read. Her Feminism Unmodified has some good stuff, particularly “On Difference and Dominance.” You’ll never be able to listen to liberals without rolling your eyes afterwards.

    Finally, as an anarchist I feel compelled to give a shout out to Emma Goldman. I fully intend to get her inked on my forearm at some point.

    Online, just start reading Feministe and you’ll figure it alllll out

    I write on a blog, linked to my name, and hope to do a post soon on creepiness, another on “Whither Chastity?” that offers a kind of marriage between Dworkin/MacKinnon and Foucault (that’s not even legal in Iowa!) and some other rad fem-inspired stuff. I hope this comment doesn’t get run out on a rail, what with the personal pronouns and stuff. This blog is as good as any I’ve seen in a while.

    And in case I didn’t make myself clear: I blame it all on the patriarchy.

  78. Lurker Lyn

    I’m half way through Cordelia Fine’s “The Gender Delusion” that came out about a month ago. There’s a lot of interesting stuff about how subconscious sexism creates a double layer of mindfuckery on top of conscious sexism, and debunks a lot of gender essentialist, evo-psych style self-help bullshit. Fine writes in an accessible style with light touches of humour, making reading enjoyable despite the subject matter of how we’re all getting screwed by the P. I nominate it be added the blamer reading list.

  79. Lurker Lyn

    Am I a massive geek for coming back here each time I read a good book?

    Now seems like a good time to read more about Egypt and Nawal el Saadawi’s collection of writings is fantastic, including fiction and drama as well as essays on FGM, how she was treated by the authorities when her controversial books about arabic women’s lives were published, and critical analysis of patriarchal and neocolonial oppression. Buy eeeeet:

    http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book.asp?bookdetail=4319

  80. Sista Resista

    A resounding echo of the recommendations for bell hooks (Ain’t I a Woman) and other books by Black feminists that explore the connections and intersections of oppression. Check out Angela Davis’ Race, Class and Gender and Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins.

  81. Deb

    I come late but bearing an online archive of Dworkin’s works.

    http://radfem.org/dworkin/

  82. Deb

    Nine Deuce is also a kickass radfem blogger. She can be found at: http://rageagainstthemanchine.com

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