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Mar 04 2007

Ilyka does me a solid

smokers.jpg
Only smokers can prevent forest fires. Jo’s coffee hut, South Austin. February 2007.

Last night while I innocently dined on figs and ambrosia, a couple of fellas wandered along from, sadly, Sadly, No. And guess who they were!

Liberal dudes!

And guess what the first thing they didn’t do was!

Read the FAQ!

So naturally the first thing they did do was derail a pretty little discussion that had, until then, shown every sign of becoming interesting. This morning, as I gazed with narrowed eye and wrinkled lip at comment after comment in which they revealed themselves as juvenile sexist cretins belonging to some sort of ellipsis-worshiping cult encrapulated with all the usual liberal dude threats (“You dumb feminists had better be nicer to us or we will stop pretending that your oppression bothers us, and then where will you be … “), I thought, “Crap. Now, instead of eating leftover figs in the garden, I’ll have to address this tiresome incursion.”

But fortunately, Ilyka has done it for me! Thanks, Ilyka!

Incidentally, Ilyka’s previous post (which features an IBTP cameo!) is a delightful romp through the minefield that is When Dudes Take Feminism Personally. I am adding this link to the Required Reading for Men section, right after I add a Required Reading for Men section.

Such a capable girl, Ilyka.

70 comments

1 ping

  1. yankee transplant

    OH that is an excellent post over there! And I cannot wait to read the Required Reading for Men section. Maybe they’ll read that, since as you say, they clearly do not read the FAQ.

  2. Tracey

    That was gorgeous. I’m immediately adding this part to my arsenal of things to say to men who are clueless:

    “…but the thing to do then is to remember: Everything else IS centered around ya’ll. Everything else – you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry – you can’t bask in all that adoration day in and day out and then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don’t recognize your awesomeness.”

    There’s nothing more exciting to witness (perhaps because it is so rare) than when the itty-bitty-est flicker of understanding lights up on a man’s face when they finally-sorta-maybe-almost start to get it.

  3. Mandos

    Doh! It’s like every blog I like is going to engage in every combination of flamewar.

  4. GoatBoy

    the ESPN?

    Sports are for the mens only, eh? Interesting.

  5. J

    I liked the linked post too. It is fundamentally important to distinguish between the person (whatever that is) and what they do (in the case of those blamed, hating-women). I fear this distinction can be lost in blaming though, particularly when blaming dudes who do things deserving of blame. Ilyka say the point is not to nurture men. I can’t help but agree with this and say, “yeah, but…”

    My yeah-but would be that of course you don’t nurture men, insofar as they are men. That is out-n-out patriarchal worship. However, inasmuch as some men aren’t those who do the stuff we blame, and therefore shouldn’t take patriarchy-blaming personally, I think that a certain distance has to be observed between the subject hating women and the subject.

    Now, I already fear this means lapsing into an outdated, Cartesian view of the subject. However, if the men who shouldn’t get their jock-straps in a twist over patriarchy-blaming because they aren’t the assholes we’re talking about are as much the same men as those otherwise blamed, then I can’t help but wonder what we really mean by “men hate you.” The only way it makes sense is if what we mean by “men” is a certain idea of “man.” It’s an idea held by the person in question as well as those who make use of the phrase “men hate you.”

    It really doesn’t have anything to do with biological sex, or otherwise what Ilkya said to put non-misogynistic men at ease about patriarchy blaming is contradicted. Men in this sense are an illusion, albeit a very worldly illusion. What I mean to point out is that man, like the fucked up views about what woman are, is in this sense purely a term of the patriarchy. In other words, men don’t hate you because they have a penis, but because they have a penis as much as what they think it means to have a penis. It is a fantasy identity that people put on, though in most cases they are forced into these suits at a young-age, to give them a sense of control in life. It’s to this extent that I see many possibilities in understanding Patriarchy the way Twisty has interpreted it.

    Bringing it back to my yeah-but, I think that this distinction is as important to draw for those blamed as those not-blamed. I mean, I don’t think anyone here, including Twisty, hates *any* men or women. What I see in patriarchy blaming is a hating of misogyny, which is not a thing people are but a thing people do. Of course, you can take issue with the theoretical implications of that view. I intend my points as issues of praxis not theory. Because when this distinction is lost, I think a real and unfair alienation opens up for many people, who need to understand that not only is the thing we’re comdening not what you are, but you are not that thing insofar as you feel it gives you power and control either.

  6. Twisty

    ESPN = sports? Interesting.

  7. Lipstick-and-Birk-Wearing Momma

    I was out last night and I missed everything. Glad to see that my sisters in blaming had everything under control.

    As I see it, Mike dropped by, flashed his dick (his powerfulness) and insulted us. Mikey didn’t want an actual debate, he wanted to “set us little women straight.” When our dedicated blamers were not intimidated and didn’t bow to his alleged male supriority, he left. Perhaps Mikey just needed some attention.

    Personally, I prefer to respond to verbal attacks. When a person verbally attacks another, and then labels the person attacked crazy for his/her approriate anger, it reflects entirely on the verbal attacker. So, go ahead and call me a crazy, angry female. I know that it’s projection.

    The internet does offer some anonymity (ask Dr. Switchblade), but it’s also a small test of character. Character is what a person does when he/she thinks that no one is looking. No one is perfect, of course.

  8. Twisty

    J, the “men” in “Men Hate You” is shorthand, both for “our male-dominant culture” and for the slightly trickier notion that (a) all men exercise — and benefit from — male privilege whether they want to or not, and (b) that any exercise of male privilege is misogyny. The Twistolution understands that there are lots of men who don’t actively choose this, but the involuntary nature of their participation in women’s oppression doesn’t make women any less oppressed by them. Sure, it isn’t fair, but I didn’t set it up. I just point it out.

    It is unfortunate when male visitors to the blog take exception to its non-dude-coddling, feminist-centric culture, but I don’t write it for them.

  9. kiki

    There’s nothing more exciting to witness (perhaps because it is so rare) than when the itty-bitty-est flicker of understanding lights up on a man’s face when they finally-sorta-maybe-almost start to get it.

    And there’s nothing quite as explosive as when a man gets a flicker of understanding but finds it so disturbing and threatening to his notion of self and the world that he must immediately dismiss it as a pernicious fiction and lash out at the awful individuals who poked his self satisfied bubble.

  10. J

    “It is unfortunate when male visitors to the blog take exception to its non-dude-coddling, feminist-centric culture, but I don’t write it for them.”

    I know you don’t. I don’t think you should either. I don’t think your blog should take cues from the system it critiques. It’s for this reason that I think a clearer explanation of the distance between patriarchy and people is entirely in support of your critique– if anything, in the Required Readings For Men section.

    Ilkya’s blog-entry is a great example of this distance, but I don’t think it goes far enough. I think, eventually, we or you need to introduce the idea that even for those men who receive male privilege, their privilege is wholly contingent upon this ideological fantasy of patriarchy. In otherwords, the physical and psychological damage is as real as the individuals to whom it happens, though the ideas that make it possible (social constructs of what men and women are (ought to be)) are utter delusion. I think this not really for the sake of misogynistic dudes coming across the blog as much as for everyone understanding how patriarchy or ideologically-derived oppression is even possible and at the same time impossible.

    To that end, your schema of domination/sub-ordination takes the notion of patriarchy in a facinating direction. With it I see paired quite cogently this Lacanian idea I brought up before that we enter the world and quickly imagine that we have utter control over it since there is no language to mediate our desires and make possible the (always aready) failure of a request to have our desires satisfied. It is only after we enter language that we face the non-leathal possibility of our desires being denied, where before we might cry for, say, food, not thinking that we’re crying for food in a way analogous to asking a question but simply being hungry and instinctually crying, and be fed or simply die.. Anyway, our loss of this primal fantasy of total control becomes what we’re always striving for in our life as language-bearing subjects. It’s in this way that we try and dominate everything thing and everyone, since that is what corosponds (erroneously) to our infantile fantasy.

    So, if I can make that all clearer, patriarchy as Twisty has elaborated it is a cultural expression of this deluded attempt to retrieve that primal satisfaction we thought we really had.

  11. Inverarity

    Ilyka hit it, spot on.

    As a straight, liberal white dude, I understand why Mikey & co. react the way they do. When I was younger and a bit more full of myself, I might have chanced upon some random post on IBTP, said “Wait a minute, I don’t hate women! I’ve never raped anyone!” and proceeded to passionately and with the best of intentions try to defend myself and my gender, and just made an ass of myself.

    I read IBTP regularly (and it’s led me to a number of other feminist blogs), and I think probably the most important part of Twisty’s FAQ, especially for men, is the part about needing to read the blog for a while and make sure you “get it” before you comment. It takes patience.

    I don’t agree with everything Twisty or the commenters say, but even the more broad polemical posts that really rub me the wrong way make me think hard, and I do not take the “Men suck!” comments as a personal attack. I’m probably never going to be educated or enlightened to the degree that those of you who care about the education and enlightenment of men (yes, I realize that’s totally not the point of this blog either) might hope, but nonetheless, it really has started some cogs turning in my brain that otherwise never would have. I thank Twisty for her brilliant, witty, and devastating writing, even when I find points that in a less temperate moment I might feel inclined to argue about.

  12. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Shorter J: Men are a buncha babies?

    (Hey, it works for me!)

  13. Tracey

    This is my favorite quote to share when people are getting all defensive about the touchy issue of privilege:

    “If I participate, knowingly or otherwise, in my sister’s oppression and she calls me on it, to answer her anger with my own only blankets the substance of our exchange with reaction. It wastes energy. And yes, it is very difficult to stand still and to listen to another woman’s voice delineate an agony I do not share, or one to which I may have contributed.”
    - Audre Lorde, “Sister Outsider”

  14. trystero49

    I agree that Ilyka’s two posts were great (read ‘em both, boys! — there’s a smackdown _and_ an explanation of why!)

    Her posts, and the last few posts here at IBTP, reminded me of this great book I read in school, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity (revised) 2003 , by Beverly Tatum. Don’t take the title the wrong way; this is a wonderful book for explaining the relationship of “individuals” to race and racism as structures. She has this great example of passively acquiescing to racism in society as being like standing on those moving walkways in the airports: you may be just standing there rather than actively running to your destination, but the machinery is carrying you along to that destination nonetheless. You can’t just say you are not racist, but must actively struggle against the flow of society for you to make that claim. I think her analogy can work well with sexism and the patriarchy as well. I recommend everybody go off and read it; it’s quite accessible and interesting.

    And since I haven’t gotten the Shulamith reading that has been urged upon me by this website I will slink off into the abyss of hypocrisy now.

  15. Lesley

    I confess I haven’t read Twisty’s FAQs, but it’s obvious to me from the title of the blog what the blog’s about.

    Some people (women included) see the word “feminist” and instantly think “SHRILL! HYSTERIC!” and no amount of FAQs will change their minds.

    Having been a young feminist in the 70s I can tell you that what we got then: “lighten up!” is the same message women get now.

  16. ilyka

    Ilkya’s blog-entry is a great example of this distance, but I don’t think it goes far enough. I think, eventually, we or you need to introduce the idea that even for those men who receive male privilege, their privilege is wholly contingent upon this ideological fantasy of patriarchy.

    It doesn’t, and you’re right, and that is what it is missing.

    I sent the male privilege checklist from (I think) Amp’s blog to a guy once, and he immediately replied to me with all the ways he, personally, did not want or require or sometimes even benefit personally from male privilege. I said none of that mattered; what was still indisputable was that he had it–he would never be asked how he planned to “balance” parenthood and work, or be patted on the head for International Men’s Day, etc.

    But he never replied to me about any of that. Huh!

    (Thanks, Twisty!)

  17. Sara

    Ilyka’s post, full of good stuff, is worth reading just for this line:

    “They’re ID-ing with the players, but I guarantee you the players aren’t ID-ing with them.”

    So good. So very good.

  18. J

    Hedonistic, I didn’t quite mean that men are babies. That may be true, but it wasn’t what I was getting at. My point was that it can be very useful to consider Lacan’s idea ideologies of domination, which is to say all ideology, as cultural attempts to recover the totality of control we imagined we had as infants.

  19. Twisty

    Lacan! Is that guy still around?

  20. Kathleen

    I am not a regular commenter here (as you assuredly know). I am a Sadly No regular. I have read the FAQ.

    Though I doubt my comment will achieve “excellence”, I just want to say that I think this post is very unfair. Since that isn’t an opinion I see here in the comments, I thought I would add it. Thanks.

  21. Twisty

    I just want to say that I think this post is very unfair.

    C’est la guerre!

  22. MzNicky

    “unfair”? “UNFAIR”?! Oh, honey chile. Stick around a while. You’ve been testosterone-poisoned by hanging out at S,N too much, I think.

  23. kate

    Yeah Kathleen, like MzNickey sez, take a seat and a deep breath, you could gain from hanging around here.

    Wasn’t Lacan a Freud worshipper? Isn’t psychoanalysis considered a little old hate these days? Just askin’. I also think that Lacan makes a boatload of assumptions about infantile motivation.

    Just sayin’.

  24. kate

    Damn, old hat I meant to say.

  25. kiki

    Isn’t psychoanalysis considered a little old hate these days?

    Now there’s a Freudian slip.

  26. witchy-woo

    Heh. ‘Old hate’ is still quite fitting.

  27. Pony

    Ilyka said: “I sent the male privilege checklist from (I think) Amp’s blog to a guy once,{…}.

    Now there’s a fascinating bit of male hypocrisy. That post at Amps that you sent out Ilyka: does anyone here remember the name of the WOMAN he ripped that post off? It was created by her on the now defunct MS boards I believe. Amp knew a good thing when he saw it, and that’s how HIStory is wrote.

  28. kate

    Witchy, kinda funny you noticed that, because I actually just considered leaving it there.

  29. Twisty

    The Male Privilege Checklist, by B. Deustch.

  30. Pony

    Isn’t editing a grand thing though. At least, on Wikipedia, you get to see *when* the edit was made.

    There’s another example of male hypocrisy wading nostril deep in his own shit right now as Jimbo Wales proves, once a pimp always a pimp.

  31. ilyka

    I didn’t know that, Pony, but I am not surprised to learn it. I like the subtitle he used: “An Unabashed Imitation of an Article by Peggy McIntosh.” Unabashed! Unrepentant! Because what could he possibly have to be ashamed of?

    Unimpressed, Amp.

  32. Pony

    Yes Ilyka; when did *admitting* to being a shitheel become a stand-in for stopping being a shitheel?”

    The information by the way is courtesy Lucky (Heart and MarIguana too if I remember correctly) and some other second wave rad fems, who toil in obscurity while the Amps of the world STILL pimp out women WHILE calling themselves liberal and feminist.

  33. Antelope

    I was very amused by what Shulie did with Reich, it would’a been fun to see her mock Lacan too. Too bad the timing was a bit off for that.

    I agree about the whole infantile fantasies of control thing, very much so, but Lacan could use a good going-over just the same.

  34. tigtog

    I’ve got my own distrust of Amp pimping porntasia (enough that I de-blogrolled him last year) but wasn’t Peggy McIntosh’s article about White Privilege, not Male Privilege?

    I don’t know whether he didn’t give her credit until shamed into it, but there is at least real difference both in content and intent.

  35. Mandolin

    I don’t understand. She put together a different list, about a different subject; Ampersand imitated it, crediting her. What should he have done?

  36. Pony

    “{I} imitated it, crediting her.”

    Just substitute *I” there, and imagine how far that will fly in your philosophy essays. Or novel, song, play, magazine article. Just another example of colonization.

  37. Scratchy888

    patriarchy as Twisty has elaborated it is a cultural expression of this deluded attempt to retrieve that primal satisfaction we thought we really had.

    Here’s some comment I wrote recently in response to my literary agent’s email. Sorry if this is a bit opaque, but you an probably get the gist:

    Well Literary Agent C. doesn’t like the present version of my writing. He tells me that I’m paranoid, that skills and character have finally come in the way of my creativity and that I have departed from my original concept.

    All of C’s rudimentary verbal gestures tell me only that I have departed from femininity. He claims that I am suffering from “paranoia” that the right wing will take a childish tone at face value?
    –No, rather, I have accrued some empirical evidence. He claims that having “Skills and character” — qualities of maturity — undermine my basic creativitive capactities. (read: undermine my childlike nature seen as femininity).
    The notion that I have departed from my “original concept” was also stated without asking me to state my original concept. My original concept was not to portray some kind of “charmingness” as a Nietzchean ideal of femininity, but to find out why my mind was in a knot, which I have now done, to my satisfaction. It has taken me a long tiem to understand my social situation, but my mental health was completely hinged on my finding out that which was previously unclear to me about right wing psychological warfare and misogyny. Of couse, my departure from the within the little right wing emotional and epistemological bubble attracts negative criticism from anyone who is psychologically still right-wing.

  38. J

    Scratchy, I hope you didn’t think I was setting Twisty straight or anything about patriarchy. I was just comparing her idea (I call it a development) of patriarchy as fundamentally an ideology of universal domination to Lacan’s view of what is at stake in the fantasy that is our subjectivity.

  39. Bitey

    I must tremblingly and most respectfully disagree with the notion that credited imitation is a form of colonization. There is nothing wrong with adapting a nice rhetorical figure for a new purpose. Think of how many times these lines of Yeats’s have been alluded to: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” The lines are a special case: they are so famous that it is unnecessary to credit the poet in an allusion. Even so, a credited allusion is perfectly acceptable in philosophical and academic discourse, because such discourse is a conversation. Uncredited allusions are another thing–they cease to be allusions and become plagiarism. If one must be shamed into crediting one’s source, one is an asshat, and we hope one learns one’s lesson.

    I’ll be quiet now.

  40. Mandolin

    “Just substitute *I” there, and imagine how far that will fly in your philosophy essays. Or novel, song, play, magazine article. Just another example of colonization.”

    Yes, Pony, I have. It’s called hommage. If I don’t use the other author’s material — and he didn’t use her material, he used a concept of hers as a springboard for analyzing a different subject — it flies fine.

    Legally, I don’t think your argument makes sense. I don’t know what grounds you’re markign it on. Is it the same grounds that suggests Little Light’s entry was plagiarized because it tread the same thematic ground as something else?

    If so, your definition and mine have nothing in common.

  41. Joanna

    I appreciate the energy Ilyka puts into communicating in situations where I would tend to think “this just makes me tired, why bother?” But then if some great people hadn’t had some patience with me, I would be a lot more ignorant than I am. I have found myself, inadvertently, in that very hard place where someone points out to me my racism, sexism, classism, and it stings like hell. Sometimes the person isn’t kind, but I still have to be honest with myself and recognize that they may be right, even if they were a jerk about it. Sometimes the right thing to do is to apologize, where appropriate, and then shut up and listen. And if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t insist on wearing it.

  42. Pony

    Well see I don’t think the definition moves around to fit the user. And that’s the last I’ll say on this topic. I’m fed up to the gills with feminists defending a pornhound, refering to another definition I don’t think moves around to fit the user.

  43. Mandolin

    Yep. Because everything he does or ever did is pornhoundy, including stuff he did before the blog changed hands.

    I don’t think the definition moves around either; to be frank, I think you’re just wrong. X being similar to Y, or playing off the ideas of Y, does not make X and Y equal. It doesn’t make Y plagiarism of X. It doesn’t mean that author Y is immoral for working off the ideas of author X.

    I actually like Amp’s blog a lot (and I do feel that I’m hearing a vague but unpleasant echo here of the way that Little Light was attacked using a definition of plagiarism that is far off the norm). But even if those things weren’t true, the concept that an imitation is impermissable would still be something I’d object to. I can publish a credited imitation as my own work. I can publish a work that plays on themes that have been before explored as my own. If I couldn’t, an awful lot of literature and academia would be out the window, down the street, and rumbling through the gutter.

    *

    I appreciate Ilyka’s spelling out of the ways in which men shouldn’t take feminism personally. I’m having a similar conversation with a bunch of guys on a message board I frequent, and while I think the outreach is worth it, it’s very helpful for me to see how other feminists handle facets of the argument so that I can be clear, polite, and also not allow the conversation to be steered in a direction that places men’s concerns at the center of feminism and gendered class relations. Thank you for writing that piece, Ilyka; I didn’t follow your writing until like a week before Pandagon invited you over, but I like it very much.

  44. Mar Iguana

    Amp makes my skin crawl.

  45. TrespassersW

    My husband takes occasional offence at my feminist musings because he doesn’t like being lumped in with the misogynist idiots I tell him about. Clearly I think he is a darn sight better than the average or I wouldn’t have married him. But I have taken to asking him questions such as this:

    Will you consider wearing a dress tonight when you go out with your friends? Would you call a group of male friends ‘girls’ in the same way I could call a group of women ‘guys’ without causing too much offence? Will you feel comfortable if I dressed our son in pink frily stuff the way our daughter can wear boyish stuff? If not, why not? Why is it all a one way street? If you still have a problem with these things then you are still on some level in the grip of patriarchal values, which thrive on you believing, consciously or otherwise, that for a male to look like or be compared to a woman is degrading for him.

    Whereupon he says it isn’t because it’s degrading but fails to come up with any other stated reason for his discomfort at my questions.

  46. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    ‘Scuse me, Mandolin (in the manner of The Elephant’s Child playing devil’s advocate), but _why_ shouldn’t men take feminism personally?

    Seems to me that men taking feminism personally would be kind of the whole point.

  47. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    Oops, methinks I went off half-cocked there. But the question still stands, though not aimed directly at Mandolin:

    Isn’t it our fervent hope that men WILL take feminism personally? Isn’t that why we tie ourselves in pretzel knots trying to explain it to them?

  48. Michael Harold

    Wow. If it wasn’t for Ilyka, I would never have found this blog. I like it. I think I’ll just lurk for awhile.

  49. Twisty

    Isn’t it our fervent hope that men WILL take feminism personally?

    Assuming you mean “take it personally” as “take it to heart” rather than the way it is usually understood, which is “be offended by it,” I myself no longer give a good goddam what men do with feminism. They’re the ones who are supposed to be so superior; if they really give a shit about women’s oppression, they’ll figure it out on their own. If they would just shut the fuck up for five minutes.

    It’s the women who’ve been subjugated lo these many millennia — and from whom their own oppression has been obscured by cultural propaganda about motherhood and marriage and femininity — who need the explanations.

  50. Twisty

    I think I’ll just lurk for awhile.

    That’s what I like to hear, Michael Harold. That’s what I like to hear.

  51. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    Yes, “take it to heart” is what I meant, thanks for de-muddling that for me, Twisty.

    I guess I don’t care what men think about feminism per se either, except in the larger context of wanting them to care about ME as an actual human being. I personally have tried to use feminist ideas to show men the ways in which they, in my estimation, fail to treat me as fully human.

    But now I’m sitting here thinking I need to go away and
    chew on this some more, in terms of WHERE I apply my tiny little bit of weight in changing this equation. But possibly more important is WHY I expend the energy at all, meaning trying to change men’s minds. Which is maybe what you’re trying to get at, and the light only slowly begins to filter through this filthy window that has so long been blackened that for the longest time I thought it was a wall.

    “if they really give a shit about women’s oppression, they’ll figure it out on their own. If they would just shut the fuck up for five minutes.”

    Yes, what you said. If only.

  52. Twisty

    If you’re like most of the rest of the feminists on the planet, you’ve explained and explained and explained because you, a reasonable person, think to yourself, “if they only knew women were oppressed, they would immediately stop being sexists, because they’re reasonable people.”

    But it is not to be. How many men have you actually managed to convince with all your explaining?

    In all my years of putting forth the feminist argument to male audiences, I have only one convert to my credit (blamer TP. Yay, TP!), and I am certain that he would have found his way without me, anyway.

  53. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    Batting a big goose egg so far. But I have to say that there have been plenty of times where I thought my pearls were falling on deaf ears on some non-feminist topic (if there is such a thing), and lo, in the fullness of time, the referenced fella returns to me with news that he’s used my argument and made it his own. And I’m not talking about co-opting, these are cases where he’s given me full credit for the idea.

    So I know I have some influence with the spear side (had to look that up, it’s the opposite of distaff, and doesn’t read well. Ach.)

    It’s like you said, the ones who really care will figure it out on their own. It’s the fence-sitters that tempt me, the ones who seem so close, and yet so far.

    Yay for convert TP, have to do some more lurking and see if I can spot him, or maybe search the archives.

  54. Mandolin

    “Scuse me, Mandolin (in the manner of The Elephant’s Child playing devil’s advocate), but _why_ shouldn’t men take feminism personally? ”

    Just bad phrasing on my part, sorry.

    I meant, why they shouldn’t take criticisms of men as a class as a personal attack.

  55. Mandolin

    “In all my years of putting forth the feminist argument to male audiences, I have only one convert to my credit (blamer TP. Yay, TP!), and I am certain that he would have found his way without me, anyway.”

    I don’t know if I’m converting anyone.

    I have found, within my education, that if I hear an idea for the first time, I often resist it strongly. But that, if it is a true thing, as I hear it again, and as I have a chance to see it in action, it trickles through to me as a true thing. I feel that I have needed to have that initial opening, and those initial repetitions, for it to make sense to me.

    In an academic rather than political context, this pattern of learning is one of the same reasons that when I teach creative writing, I’ll go ahead and put in a 5 minute semi-lecture on semiotics or Jung or whatever the students haven’t been exposed to if it’s something I think is apt. If they don’t get it in the 5 minute capsule, and most of them won’t, at least it will give them a framework for understanding it later when someone addresses it longer.

    Politically, I sometimes try to provide feminist statements or analysis with the hope that they will act as door-openers, or wideners.

    About midway through teh conversation I’m involved in at the moment, I told the guys that they could figure much of feminism out if they shut up for five minutes and did the work to figure it out. It upset some of them. Others, who are already inclined to think of themselves as feminists, I think, but who don’t understand systemic sexism enough to take a position beyond “well, of course women are equal,” seem to have had an “oh” moment.

  56. Mandolin

    “It upset some of them. Others, who are already inclined to think of themselves as feminists, I think, but who don’t understand systemic sexism enough to take a position beyond “well, of course women are equal,” seem to have had an “oh” moment.”

    Actually, to be fair, this was an overlapping group.

  57. Kathleen

    “Twisty
    Mar 4th, 2007 at 5:58 pm
    I just want to say that I think this post is very unfair.

    C’est la guerre! ”

    Understood.

  58. CS Lewis Jr.

    If you still have a problem with these things then you are still on some level in the grip of patriarchal values, which thrive on you believing, consciously or otherwise, that for a male to look like or be compared to a woman is degrading for him. Whereupon he says it isn’t because it’s degrading but fails to come up with any other stated reason for his discomfort at my questions.

    It’s not because it is degrading, it’s because our patriarchal culture thinks it’s degrading regardless of what I may think, and I have no desire to have my son get beaten up for wearning a Disney Princess outfit to school. I am not that much of a social crusader. Also, if men are all misogynists even involuntarily because the System works for The Man, it must follow that all white people are racists, right? I’m not arguing against that idea — you could say all Americans are war criminals by the same logic, and that would be a defensible argument — just checking.

    Flame away.

  59. Amaz0n

    Also, if men are all misogynists even involuntarily because the System works for The Man, it must follow that all white people are racists, right?

    Ding ding ding!

    And you even got the extra credit question right:

    all Americans are war criminals

    Part of fighting the patriarchal, racist, classist system is owning up to the ways that your life contributes to the perpetuation of that system, whether you like it or not. To paraphrase hoary old AA, to beat the problem, first you have to own up to your role in it. The voluntary (or otherwise) nature of your role in perpetuating oppression is your own cross to bear, no one else’s.

  60. Twisty

    all white people are racists, right?

    Yup. Pretty much. At the very least to the extent that they benefit from honkiness at the expense of an oppressed class. Many, of course, go the extra mile and actively discriminate.

  61. Laila

    Hmm. Have to disagree with that, Twisty. All white people benefit from racism. This does not make all white people racists.

    “Racist,” as the word is almost universally used, refers to hatred/fear/contempt/denigration of people based on their race. It’s not just a political term–it’s a moral one, that refers to stuff individuals can control. To say that an individual is racist implies that he or she has made a choice somewhere.

    Is that how YOU use the term? No. But it’s how 99% of people use it. I don’t think feminists, or any other group of activists, should insulate themselves from the very people we try to help through jargon. I don’t think people should have to learn Twisty-lingo or any other kind of specialized lingo to understand the very simple, very basic concepts of feminism.

  62. CS Lewis Jr.

    Hey, discussion! Alright!

    All white people benefit from racism. This does not make all white people racists.

    Ergo, not all male people are misogynists?

    (Not trolling, seriously wanting to talk.)

    Also, I am a huge Heinlein fan but I can see how he could rub feminists the wrong way (lame double entendre recognized but not intended).

    (Too many parentheticals indicate need for dinner. Back later.)

  63. CS Lewis Jr.

    It’s all well and good for Alton Brown to say “if bird is a deep mahogany all over, flip it” as if we all have Viking ovens. The jus was awesome, though.

    I got taken to task for calling Ann Coulter a “cunt” during the recent blog dustup and I have decided to retire the term. I would still say she’s a putrid sack of maggot-ridden pigshit, but the very fact that I would reach for “cunt” as a handy equivalent for that sort of putdown betrays the context in a way I’m no longer sanguine about. It’s very tempting to reach for the sharpest rock, but when what you get with the Boy’s Happy Hate Meal is “motherfucker” — possibly “cocksucker” (which includes me after a few beers) — while the girls get called “cunts,” I can only rationalize for so long before agreeing that it makes more sense and is much less divisive simply to call Ann Coulter a malignant, rotting length of distended rectum and avoid the ugliness of gender-based discrimination.

    Right, I know, yay for me. Still, wanting to share. Let the healing begin.

  64. Twisty

    I should clarify, Laila. All white people, all the time, are benefitting and livin’ large (comparatively) off discrimination. It is not “some” white people. The sensitive white people who “get it” are also benefitting and living off discrimination. This makes them complicit in racism. Which makes them racist.

    The fact that the sensitive white person doesn’t mean it — maybe they believe Mexicans are just as human as they are, but they can’t help it that the strawberry they’re biting into was picked by an impoverished Mexican migrant worker — doesnt mitigate the effects on the persons of color. The effect of white people on the world is experienced by people of color as racism, because it is racism. Racism afflicts the individual white person irrespective of her personal bigotry or lack thereof. This is not a Twistyism. It is a fact.

  65. Twisty

    Well, CSLewisJr, I don’t hand out medals, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye to hear that someone has smelled the coffee.

  66. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    As always, Twisty, your comments provoke self-examination. I chafe at this notion that all of us white folk are racist, but after some thought realize, I have to think about it some more. Meantime, I looked up ‘racism’ on Wiki instead, and found this article that made me think. (Attempting to insert a link here, advance apologies if it doesn’t work.)

    CS Lewis Jr., I’m a beginning blamer here, but I’ll just give you my personal take on the ‘c-word’, which I find so offensive that I don’t like it when anybody uses it: When you ‘reach for the sharpest rock’, remember who it was that turned that rock into a weapon in the first place. ‘Mo-fo’ and ‘c-sucker’ (no, I don’t like those words either) were turned into weapons by men to use against other men. The c-word was turned into a weapon by men to use against women.

    Just as the n-word was created by whites to use against blacks, and blacks have taken possession of the word for themselves to defuse its power, it is ONLY acceptable when used by a black against in reference to another black. I assume that the whole story of the n-word is contained when two black people use it ‘jokingly’ (? is that what’s going on?) with each other.

    When you (a privileged, white male) speak the c-word, you essentially tell a female listener that you still don’t get how offensive that word was and always will be because it was a weapon created by you (the privileged, white male speaker) for your sole use against the listener. It will never be appropriate for you to use that word to a woman.

    Argh, this is getting long and seems incoherent. Going away to cogitate some more.

  67. CS Lewis Jr.

    When you (a privileged, white male) speak the c-word, you essentially tell a female listener that you still don’t get how offensive that word was and always will be because it was a weapon created by you (the privileged, white male speaker) for your sole use against the listener. It will never be appropriate for you to use that word to a woman.

    I feel more like it’s a weapon I found lying around — I’m not totally down with this collective guilt trip — but I have come around to the gender politics underlying why it’s too emotionally and culturally loaded for me to use. The fact that I know plenty of women who use that word, including my wife and mother (note: not the same person), isn’t actually relevant and represents a separate problem.

    Also I note that you are assuming I’m white. Do I type all ofay or something?

    Anyway, I have a decent vocabulary and I’m sure I can come up with better, less discriminatory invective to hurl at the deserving. As much as I loathe being lectured to, I am willing to admit when I’ve got it wrong. I thought about it for a few days and decided the “n-word” parallel was valid and i should probably cut that shit out. Thus, point taken.

  68. smmo

    “I’m not totally down with this collective guilt trip ”

    It isn’t helping that your handle, C.S. Lewis Jr., is that of a noted misogynist.

    So you’re a racist and a misogynist. So what. Get over yourself. I’m a racist, a classist, an imperialist. It doesn’t hurt me to be named that nearly as much as it hurts the victims. And it may help for the privileged to acknowledge our complicity.

  69. CS Lewis Jr.

    It isn’t helping that your handle, C.S. Lewis Jr., is that of a noted misogynist.

    Actually it’s a Mr. Show reference. Although The Screwtape Letters is brilliant, and Narnia is fun when you’re like eleven years old.

    I’m a racist, a classist, an imperialist. It doesn’t hurt me to be named that nearly as much as it hurts the victims.

    And I’m an asshole. Pleased to meet you.

  70. CS Lewis Jr.

    Because a clarification seems to be required.

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