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Jun 03 2013

Oh ye cannae shove yer Gramsci off a bus

SERIES: FROM THE HETPAT ARCHIVES

NOTE: apologies for another repost – have spent a few days taking some deprived inner city kids* out into the Peak District to experience nature. Came back to find the blogs abuzz with Louise Mensch’s grumbles about intersectionality and privilege, so it seemed appropriate to give this one another airing. See also Laurie Penny’s response to LM.

(*my own) 

First published April 18th 2013

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about Antonio Gramsci lately. Hey, a guy’s got to have a hobby. If it makes you feel better, I’ve also been thinking about Britain’s Got Talent, where to find the last gold bricks on the Lego Harry Potter game and Beyonce’s nipple tassles, but will perhaps return to those another day.

In his Prison Notebooks, Gramsci analysed the history of the Risorgimento, the resurgence of the 19th Century which resulted in Italian unification under a capitalist model then, just a few decades later, the ascent of the very Fascists who had imprisoned him.  He noted that there was a strata of society he called organic intellectuals who performed a different function to the intelligentsia of academics and theorists. His example was the victorious faction within the Risorgimento called the Moderate Party, who served capitalism through a period of crisis and transition, by acting as its agents and deputies in organising the dominant hegemony – the prevailing cultural values that protect the economic status quo by shaping popular perceptions of what is “normal”, “inevitable” or “common sense” (the status quo) and what isn’t (any meaningful challenge to the status quo.)

These organic intellectuals were what we would now call progressives or liberals, speaking the rhetoric of concern and reform. They would wrongly think of themselves as being just like ordinary people. the representatives of the masses, even the voice of the masses, and this was crucial to their role. Genuinely believing they were doing the right thing, they would stifle and quash less privileged voices, preventing the emergence of alternative intellectual input from the ‘people-nation.’ (Gramsci famously believed that everyone is or can be an intellectual, whether one knows it or not.)

Organic intellectuals were genuinely well-intentioned, considering it an act of worthy charity to speak on behalf of the less eloquent and less privileged. They were not only intellectuals, they were political organisers, but drawn from a very narrow social demographic. They would be company bosses, rich farmers or entrepreneurs – “a real organic vanguard of the upper classes to which economically they belonged.”  Their influence was not directly upon the working classes, but upon their liberal admirers in the bourgeoisie, including teachers, writers and creators of popular culture who distribute the messages to the masses in turn.

Why the sudden interest in mid-period Marxist political theory Ally, I hear you ask? Well, back in the late 1920s, Gramsci could not have imagined a purer example of the organic intellectual class than the modern commentariat. In the early, optimistic days of the internet, I naively imagined that unfettered access to new media platforms would threaten the foundations of the organic intellectual. The new world of blogs and social media would shatter the portcullis keeping the hordes from the castle gates, new ideas, new voices would come flooding through. I underestimated the ingenuity of hegemony.  Rather than levelling the playing field between the elites and the masses, social media has simply provided whole new mechanisms for keeping the rabble in line.

This morning, Zoe Williams became the latest blue-chip liberal feminist to join the circling of wagons around the poor, oppressed national newspaper columnists and magazine editors. As you probably know, a powerful clique of intersectional feminists and trans activists have installed themselves as the playground bullies of Twitter, stealing the dinner money from delicate souls like Suzanne Moore, Helen Lewis and Caitlin Moran, who have nowhere to turn for support but their hundreds of thousands of followers, their national columns or their extensive circle of similarly prominent friends.

Apologies for the sarcasm, but the reality is that this is not a fair fight. Nor is it a debate about intersectionality, gender or privilege, because there has been very little engagement in those actual issues. What is happening is a concerted effort by the gatekeepers of feminist discourse to marginalise, pathologise and even intimidate into silence their own internal critics.

She who controls the past controls the future, as Orwell didn’t write, and for an example of how this works, see how the Moore-Burchill saga is now being written into history as having begun with Moore’s comments about Brazilian transsexuals, thus erasing her vicious and offensive tweets in response to being politely challenged. This entirely changes the story to one in which the columnist is the victim, rather than the instigator of the affair. Similarly, a passive-aggressive flounce from Twitter can generate waves of sympathy, notably from fellow /sister members of the elite Twitterati, who (understandably) sympathise with the experience of copping a timeline full of flak from angry detractors, and are quick to tweet about how sad it is that so-and-so has been bullied off Twitter to their vast followings.

This is not me taking sides. For what it is worth, I often disagree with the same groups of (mostly) young, angry intersectional feminists, and have had to devote days to fielding abuse, argument and insult when I’ve written something they don’t like. (I copped a sackful for my last blog, for starters.) It also looks to me like some of the anger is excessive and disproportionate or misguided at times. For example, I found the grief aimed at Helen Lewis over a recent New Statesman debate on feminism rather mystifying. That said, we’d be in a sorry state if there weren’t younger, more passionate voices hurling brickbats at the establishment in frustration at the world. If a few are ill-aimed, that is a small price to pay to avoid reactionary stasis.

It is more important to recognise when the anger and disagreement is coming from a place of good faith. It is perfectly reasonable to reject criticism, perfectly reasonable to block and ignore those who resort to personal abuse and insults, perfectly reasonable to argue back, and perfectly reasonable to quietly turn off Twitter for a break (indeed it is actively recommended.)  I don’t think it is reasonable to use one’s disproportionate profile and platforms to portray one’s critics as bullies or trolls, thereby absolving oneself of any obligation to engage with them.

Zoe Williams ends her article with something of a volte face, acknowledging the need for intersectional approaches and recognising reasons to challenge transphobia. But not before she has added to the celestial chorus of voices from above that have portrayed intersectional critics as a feral, irrational mob of bullies.

For all the talk of intersectionality, privilege, oppression and assorted other post-structural jargon, I can’t help feeling there are more established ways of understanding the dynamics at play. Organic intellectuals have a collective, mutual interest in maintaining their own stranglehold over culture, discourse and language, which sustains their position near the top of the status pyramid.  The collective outrage from much of the liberal-left over recent twitterstorms is, I think, not really about angry disagreement with the points being made and not really about personal abuse and insult. It mostly strikes me as a media elite showing collective affront at being challenged on their inalienable right to set the terms and limits of debate and discourse. What I find most discomfiting in all of this is the tendency of the commentariat to rush to each others’ defence on social media or in their national newspaper columns. If that is not the behaviour of a privileged elite closing ranks, it sure as hell looks like it.

Gramsci, smart old cookie that he was, anticipated all of this and even provided a solution for those who would presume to represent the downtrodden, the oppressed and the marginalised.

“If the relations between intellectuals and the people-nation, between leaders and led, is the result of an organic participation in which feelings and passion become understanding and thence knowledge… then and only then is the relation one of representation.”

Twitter, Facebook, online commenting and blogs have offered us an unprecedented opportunities for organic participation, in which feelings and passion can become understanding. When one withdraws from engagement, when one marginalises and diminishes one’s critics, and when one loses faith in the honesty of critics on our own side, then one loses the right to represent those critics.

That’s a hell of a price to pay for a placid timeline.

 

Note: Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks are available as a free PDF. So too is Roger Simon’s excellent reader Gramsci’s Political Thought

Note on the title, for anyone not Scottish and of a certain age. I grew up listening tothis song, and have been waiting for an opportunity to use this joke for about 20 years)

 

 

37 comments

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  1. 1
    Jacob Schmidt

    When one withdraws from engagement, when one marginalises and diminishes one’s critics, and when one loses faith in the honesty of critics on our own side, then one loses the right to represent those critics.

    As well written as this is, it just doesn’t have the brevity of “shut up and listen”.

  2. 2
    John C. Welch

    That might because it’s an argument, not a slogan.

  3. 3
    Norman Hadley

    Gramsci’s a good guide to online debate, with his advice to always attack an argument at its strongest point. Yet a huge swath of online comment leaps on trivia and indulges in quote-mining and straw-mannery (like those who start every paragraph with “Are you saying?” to brand opponents as misogynist/racist/misandrist etc.

    I thought Laurie Penny made a very poor fist of her article – first because she loftily assumed that anyone not wholly on-board with the whole privilege-checking meme is pretending not to understand it. I’m no fan (understatement) of Mensch but I’ve every confidence she understands what privilege-checking is – she just doesn’t give it the weight Penny does.

    Secondly, Penny tries to play the younger/hipper card with the whole “lessons of the internet” argument. Yet, one lesson of the internet is that you can, for the first time in history, debate with someone not knowing their age, sex, colour, class, nationality etc, i.e. it is now possible to separate the strength of an argument from identity factors.

    None of this contradicts the idea that someone poor, black and disabled is likely to have had a hitherto harder life than a rich, white jogger – it just means that having had a hard life isn’t magic ointment on a weak argument.

    Another thing that strikes me as almost too obvious to say is that anyone who can spell “privilege” is probably in the top percentile of education attainment. If they know not to capitalise “bell hooks”, they’re probably in the top 0.1%. Or, to put it another way, privileged.

  4. 4
    Steersman

    Ally said (and said well):

    What is happening is a concerted effort by the gatekeepers of feminist discourse to marginalise, pathologise and even intimidate into silence their own internal critics.

    Please excuse the hyperbole but:

    Put out the lantern of Diogenes for here by God in the plain light of day is an honest man. (said by Earnest Hooton of Philip Wylie’s Generation of Vipers)

    While I’ll at least raise an eyebrow or two at your apparent support for the concept of “the patriarchy”, I think you’ve pretty well nailed – or least made a rather pointed allusion to – the rather problematic nature of third and fourth wave feminism, i.e., its rather dogmatic, “anti-science and anti-intellectual” (1) underpinnings. A rather welcome bit of light in the rather benighted environs of FTB-land. And, somewhat apropos of which, I might point out an observation by Ophelia Benson (2) which alludes to that even if she balks at reaching the same quite credible conclusion you did:

    [The book Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies is] not an attack on feminism. It’s about women’s studies programs, not feminism as such. The two are not identical, to put it mildly. There is (ironically) a lot of anti-intellectualism in women’s studies programs, and that’s what the book is about.

    One might wonder, if women’s studies programs are, presumably, designed, promoted, and taught by feminists and there is, as she admits, “a lot of anti-intellectualism in women’s studies” then who or what is at fault? The Patriarchy? Or maybe, more likely, “virulent” (3) feminism?


    1) “_http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2009/07/27/professing-feminism-noh/”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/06/reasoned-arguments-against-the-basic-tenets/”;
    3) “_http://i47.tinypic.com/wk5pxf.jpg”;

  5. 5
    Ally Fogg

    I think you’ve pretty well nailed – or least made a rather pointed allusion to – the rather problematic nature of third and fourth wave feminism, i.e., its rather dogmatic, “anti-science and anti-intellectual” (1) underpinnings.

    Fair enough if you see it that way, but I don’t think it follows in any way from what I say. I don’t think there is a sufficiently monolithic, accepted agreement as to what third (far less fourth) wave feminism actually is for it to be possible to make that claim.

    All you can do is point to individual feminists. I think it would be a very bold critic who would accuse Susan Sontag of being anti-intellectual or Cordelia Fine of being anti-science, for examples.

    There’s also a strain of post-structuralist / postmodernist feminism that originates with Foucault and resulted in Butler / queer theory, which could be argued quite strongly to be anti-science (in that it allows for rejection of classic empiricism) but it is certainly not anti-intellectual. A theorist can be one without being the other.

    One might wonder, if women’s studies programs are, presumably, designed, promoted, and taught by feminists and there is, as she admits, “a lot of anti-intellectualism in women’s studies” then who or what is at fault? The Patriarchy? Or maybe, more likely, “virulent” (3) feminism?

    Don’t know about Ophelia but I’d put it down to bad academia. There’s plenty of that in a lot of fields.

    But I think Ophelia is quite right to point out that academic gender studies =/= feminism, though obviously there is a lot of overlap.

  6. 6
    Ally Fogg

    Hi Norman

    I wouldn’t be quite so hard on Laurie Penny as you. I wrote a fairly similar piece for CIF once, and ran up against the same problem of trying to make these ideas accessible to a mainstream audience. And i do agree with her that there is a disingenuousness at play with the likes of Mensch and other critics of intersectional ideas when they start pretending it is all too difficult and complicated.

    Another thing that strikes me as almost too obvious to say is that anyone who can spell “privilege” is probably in the top percentile of education attainment. If they know not to capitalise “bell hooks”, they’re probably in the top 0.1%. Or, to put it another way, privileged.

    Ah, but the whole point is that just because you can spell “privilege” or correctly case bell hooks, doesn’t necessarily make you right about something (except spelling and capitalisation, of course!)

  7. 7
    Steersman

    Ally said (#4.1):

    Fair enough if you see it that way, but I don’t think it follows in any way from what I say.

    I stand corrected. I meant to say, or thought about after hitting “Submit”, that my statement there was more categorical than intended. As I’ve argued in many other places, I’m ready to man the barricades in defense of “feminism” – and have been banned from some places for doing so – as the principle of equal civil rights. But what I find rather problematic is all of the baggage and questionable arguments that many so-called feminists try to sneak in under the radar as “feminism” – methinks somewhat like wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

    But I think Ophelia is quite right to point out that academic gender studies =/= feminism, though obviously there is a lot of overlap.

    Seems to me that that issue is rather like the amusing case of various Christian sects being at each others’ throats over who is the True Christian ™. For example, consider the “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists” [TERFs] who seem to be quite certain that their’s is the “One True Path” to the Promised Land, yet they too lay claim to the “title” of “feminists”. As long as many of those “sects” – in both cases – are based on little more than articles of faith so long will we have these acrimonious if not childish and fruitless debates over who gets to claim the mantle of True Feminist ™.

  8. 8
    Ginkgo

    “Seems to me that that issue is rather like the amusing case of various Christian sects being at each others’ throats over who is the True Christian ™.”

    One Amish (or Mennonite) elder, when asked why there are so many Amish and Mennonite sects, said that “only good wood splits”. Nice try.

    And then there are all the Orthodox churches who love to fling anathemas at each other.

    But it would be nice if feminists had some kind of actual functioning community who could decide who is talking within the general bounds of the movement. it doesn’t have to be a Westminster Confession-style fo list of points of belief, but something along the lines of a Nicene Creed to lay out basic mutually reinforcing principles would sure help. As it is one can say feminism is just about anything and be right.

  9. 9
    Ally Fogg

    Seems to me that that issue is rather like the amusing case of various Christian sects being at each others’ throats over who is the True Christian ™. For example, consider the “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists” [TERFs] who seem to be quite certain that their’s is the “One True Path” to the Promised Land, yet they too lay claim to the “title” of “feminists”. As long as many of those “sects” – in both cases – are based on little more than articles of faith so long will we have these acrimonious if not childish and fruitless debates over who gets to claim the mantle of True Feminist ™

    Nah. Feminism (amongst other things) is a broad political ideology. Like all political ideologies it has wild divisions, bitter disagreements and vicious political and personal battles, often between people who hate each other. It’s much more like the socialist/labour movement in the UK or even the broad Republican movement in the US – different factions vying for power and often denouncing each other and stabbing each other in the back, but then occasionally rallying to present a united front as and when the need arises.

    Religion and science are different because one is based purely upon faith and the other is based upon evidence and reason.

    But politics is different to both, in that it is not about either faith or evidence, but upon judgement which is a very different thing. Judgement should lean upon evidence, it should lean upon reason, but even at its best it has to lean on an enormous muddle of contradictory and complicated evidence, across an almost infinite number of variables, simultaneously. Hence political judgements often look like faith, because they come down to things like values and prejudices and cognitive errors on all sides.

    And an awful lot of politics is about prediction and assumption – “if we do X on a national or international level, then the result would be Y.” The only way you can find out whether that is true or not is to do the experiment. That’s what all of politics is. It’s like a bunch of scientists jumping up and down in their white labcoats in the funding meeting, saying “I know, I know, I’ve got this great theory we should test out…”

    That’s true at every level of politics, from boardrooms and financiers through general/presidential elections, and within the political parties and the political movements.

    There is no alternative to arguments within feminism, just as there is no alternative to arguments within socialism or republicanism. That’s what politics is

    And if, over the centuries, the only thing religious sects had done to each other had been a few screaming arguments and a bit of sulking now and again – as opposed to persecution, torture, executions, genocide and such trifles – I’d have rather less of a problem with religions.

  10. 10
    Jacob Schmidt

    While I’ll at least raise an eyebrow or two at your apparent support for the concept of “the patriarchy”, I think you’ve pretty well nailed – or least made a rather pointed allusion to – the rather problematic nature of third and fourth wave feminism, i.e., its rather dogmatic, “anti-science and anti-intellectual” (1) underpinnings.

    I notice the link given is largely just a pile of assertions.

    But it would be nice if feminists had some kind of actual functioning community who could decide who is talking within the general bounds of the movement.

    Name one large political movement that achieved this.

  11. 11
    Steersman

    Ginkgo said (#4.3):

    One Amish (or Mennonite) elder, when asked why there are so many Amish and Mennonite sects, said that “only good wood splits”. Nice try.

    Nice anecdote. But indeed a “nice try”; a triumph of rationalization.

    But it would be nice if feminists had some kind of actual functioning community who could decide who is talking within the general bounds of the movement.

    Agreed. As it is now reminds me of something that Philip Wylie – in the aforementioned Generation of Vipers – said about those Christian sects:

    Those who belonged to churches belonged to so many different faiths [38,000 at last count] at swords’ points with each other on matters of creed and technique that even the definition of Christianity crumples to absurdity.

    Which might reasonably be applied to many of the “feminist” sects: “even the definition of feminism crumples to absurdity”. With particular emphasis on the “at swords’ points”.

    But that phenomenon is also, I think, of a piece with the recent efforts by more than a few to conflate or merge – if not transmogrify – atheism with all sorts of social justice issues: atheism is still atheism – the belief (and I emphasize the word) in the non-existence of any and all “deities” – regardless of whatever other beliefs might be subscribed to as well. And likewise with feminism which I note from the Wikipedia article (1) seems to have some 17 different ideologies under its not-surprisingly fractious tent. Although, in the latter case, it would seem to be quite moot just exactly what is the common element, the common principle.

    However, from an even broader perspective, it seems both are predicated on some questionable thinking, some logical fallacies, some serious category errors which manifests itself in a great many other issues and venues. For instance, another FTB site – Brute Reason (2) – has been attempting to argue that the only type of racism that exists is the institutional variety – and to take Richard Dawkins to task for failing to toe that particular party line – and that only whites can be guilty of that. Seems they would like to define racism as “institutional racism” and then conveniently elide the adjective. Likewise with multiracial feminism and postmodern feminism and etc. And with social-justice atheism and sexist atheism. Adjectives: how do they work?

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_ideologies”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/05/24/on-useful-and-not-so-useful-definitions-of-racism/”;

  12. 12
    Steersman

    Ally said (#4.4):

    Nah. Feminism (amongst other things) is a broad political ideology. Like all political ideologies it has wild divisions, bitter disagreements and vicious political and personal battles, often between people who hate each other.

    Yes, I quite agree with you that much of feminism is “a broad political ideology”. But that is, I think, a very large part of the problem – and until that is addressed I don’t see much hope of any workable resolutions. Consider this definition (1) for “ideology”:

    2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

    Beliefs. Not facts. Very much akin to dogma. Kind of like many if not most religions. Which makes many facets of feminism analogous to theism. And which tends to produce – analogous to the religious wars over whether to make the sign of the cross with two fingers or three (2) – such charming manifestations as some feminists condemning (3) those who even dare to question feminism as flagrant misogynists. Hardly conducive to civilized discourse. But, in any case, while I will readily agree that facts might be rather thin on the ground at times and in many circumstances which frequently necessitates rolling the dice, I figure we’re hooped – royally screwed, blued, and tattooed – if we can’t agree on what are facts and what are opinions, frequently because our ideologies tend to colour those facts in rather problematic fashions. For instance, Michael Shermer in his The Believing Brain (highly recommended) notes:

    As we saw in the previous chapter, politics is filled with self-justifying rationalizations. Democrats see the world through liberal-tinted glasses, while Republicans filter it through conservative shaded glasses. When you listen to both “conservative talk radio” and “progressive talk radio” you will hear current events interpreted in ways that are 180 degrees out of phase. So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event. Social psychologist Geoffrey Cohen quantified this effect in a study in which he discovered that Democrats are more accepting of a welfare program if they believe it was proposed by a fellow Democrat, even if the proposal came from a Republican and is quite restrictive. Predictably, Cohen found the same effect for Republicans who were far more likely to approve of a generous welfare program if they thought it was proposed by a fellow Republican. In other words, even when examining the exact same data people from both parties arrive at radically different conclusions. [pg #263]

    So while I will also agree with you about “prediction and assumption”, about “values and prejudices and cognitive errors”, it also seems that the only way off the horns of that particular dilemma of “Does too! Does not” – and similarly enlightening and mature modus operandi – is to be far more circumspect – and honest – about what it is we know for sure and what is only belief and opinion.

    And if, over the centuries, the only thing religious sects had done to each other had been a few screaming arguments and a bit of sulking now and again – as opposed to persecution, torture, executions, genocide and such trifles – I’d have rather less of a problem with religions.

    You mean, in contradistinction to the “torture, executions, genocides and such trifles” perpetrated by luminaries such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot? “Certainty” – particularly that based on little more than articles of faith – seems to be the problem and one that manifests itself in both the religious and secular spheres. Seems to me that we might all give some thought to Oliver Cromwell’s “I beseech thee, in the bowels of Christ, think that thou might be mistaken”. Particularly where there is a dearth of facts.


    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ideology”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_of_the_Cross#Gesture”;
    3) “_http://i47.tinypic.com/wk5pxf.jpg”;

  13. 13
    Steersman

    Jacob Schmidt said (#4.5):

    … the rather problematic nature of third and fourth wave feminism, i.e., its rather dogmatic, “anti-science and anti-intellectual” (1) underpinnings.

    I notice the link given is largely just a pile of assertions.

    Really? You have some specifics to justify that claim? As mentioned, it is just a book review, but of a book that seems to have any amount of factual detail associated with it (haven’t read it yet myself). And I note that that review makes an observation relevant to these discussions and which seems to cut the legs out from under Benson’s “not an attack on feminism”:

    The book ends on an less than positive note twice. The first was the original conclusion in which the authors try to mitigate their criticism by stating that their work cannot be used by those who want to “attack” feminism. However, it is difficult for them to dismiss what they spent two hundred pages demonstrating: feminism, not just in the academic setting, but in general, is not really about equality. It is purely about self-interest, which is why there are so many “flavors” of feminism.

    Hardly does much to commend “feminists” in general if so many “flavours” are more about self-interest – if not actual self-aggrandisement, does it? Particularly if significant amounts of that “self-interest” isn’t particularly “enlightened” (1), but is, in fact, “anti-science and anti-intellectual”. One might reasonably argue that “feminism” has a bit of a serious PR problem, if not actually some “fatal flaws” in at least some of the more radical and dogmatic manifestations.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlightened_self-interest”;

  14. 14
    Jacob Schmidt

    Steersman

    Have you ever considered using the ‘a href’ tag?

    Really? You have some specifics to justify that claim?

    Ooh, but I do love being asked for specifics. From the link:

    What I found most interesting was how long these problems existed in Women Studies programs and in the feminist movement at large.

    Except the book is limited to women’s studies classes; the author equates this with feminism at large, and fails to justify it.

    The authors, however, demonstrate that these problems have existed since their ideology’s inception, and were particularly common within Women Studies programs.

    Again, the study is limited to women’s studies programs.

    Although Professing Feminism was about Women Studies, I found much of the text applicable to feminism in general.

    Interestingly, the author admits the limitations of the study to critic feminism, and simply assumes that it also applies to feminism in general. The author justifies this by saying that their experience with feminism was similar; a single persons experience cannot be used to draw a general trend. More precisely, the author is assuming that their experience with feminism is representative, and they fail to justify such an assumption.

    One need only read some of the prominent feminist blogs or read some of the more prolific feminist writers to see how ironically hierarchical and dogmatic feminists have become.

    Vague references to “prominent” and “prolific” feminists; no examples.

    A few weeks ago a feminist blogger wrote a post about the Pixar film Up. The review was little more than a politically correct checklist, literally numbered and commented on to make sure that the film passed certain criteria so as to be ‘inoffensive.’

    I mean come the fuck on. It was just a few weeks ago; even prolific bloggers wouldn’t put up so much content that the article in question would be hard to find. They might have even vaguely remembered the name of the article. ‘site:example.com article name’ on google.

    For most, the problem was not that the programs had become bastions of bickering, politically correct, indoctrinating, subjective quagmires of rack egotism and separatism, but that they were being shut out. Their desire was not to change the programs to make them more open to all women – or open to men at all – but to make the environments more open to them.

    This seems to be a conclusion the author reached from the text. Maybe it’s accurate, but I have no way of judging without reading some quotes.

    This seems to reflect the feminism and feminists in general, and certainly the discussions and debates that have occurred here.

    The author does not bother to justify extrapolating the findings to feminism in general. Again.

    The issue is never about objectively challenging feminism, but making feminism as a whole acceptable to certain types of people. The authors failed to note this in the original text and in the added chapters in the revision, although they do acknowledge that as long as feminists are that self-interested, their actions will always result in separatism, hostility and bias.

    By the author’s own admission, the book is limited to gender studies. It can’t be generalized to feminism as a whole.

    Here’s your choice quote (I literally laughed when I saw you chose this one):

    The first was the original conclusion in which the authors try to mitigate their criticism by stating that their work cannot be used by those who want to “attack” feminism. However, it is difficult for them to dismiss what they spent two hundred pages demonstrating: feminism, not just in the academic setting, but in general, is not really about equality.

    By the author’s own fucking admission, the book is limited to feminist ideas within gender studies. It cannot be applied to feminism as a whole. Yet the author contradicts the researchers who wrote the book to do just that.

    They also fail to justify claiming the different types of feminism are due to self interest.

    Here we have two feminists reporting the experiences of dozens of other feminists showing that they too have seen how skewed feminist thought and feminism itself is.

    By the author’s own—ah fuck it.

    Ally Fogg

    There’s something up with the preview button. Any idea why?

  15. 15
    Steersman

    Jacob Schmidt said (#5.0):

    Steersman

    Have you ever considered using the ‘a href’ tag?

    Yes and I have done so frequently on many blogs. But I find that on some blogs a minimum of two such tags is all that is required to put the comment into moderation. And, depending on the nature of the link, even one will produce that effect. So I prefer to mask the links rather than to delay the posting of the comments for that reason. But I hardly think that the extra effort required to copy a text link into a new browser page, over and above that required to double-click the hot-link, seriously diminishes anyones’ budget of “spoons”.

    Ooh, but I do love being asked for specifics. From the link

    Always happy to oblige with the opportunity ….

    Except the book is limited to women’s studies classes; the author equates this with feminism at large, and fails to justify it. ….

    The author does not bother to justify extrapolating the findings to feminism in general. Again. ….

    By the author’s own fucking admission, the book is limited to feminist ideas within gender studies. It cannot be applied to feminism as a whole. Yet the author contradicts the researchers who wrote the book to do just that. ….

    Ok, thanks for the clarifications, for the “specifics”. And I’ll concede that that review was probably extrapolating on the basis of very questionable, or at least uncited, data. However, considering the many feminists outside of academia who have been parotting what is presumably the core of those gender studies within it, it seems that, unless you’re prepared to argue that all those doing so cut those arguments from whole cloth and each of them reached the same conclusion on their own, one might reasonably argue that those gender studies are a reasonably accurate “proxy” of what is the case with “feminism as a whole”. That is, significant and problematic amounts of “anti-science and anti-intellectualism” within “feminism”.

  16. 16
    Norman Hadley

    (In response to 3.1)

    Morning, Ally. The piece you did on intersectionality was very lucid. In reality, it’s not a hard concept to grasp, even for those allegedly disingenuous right wingers (disparaging remarks about leftist councils prioritising black, one-legged lesbians have been around for at least three decades)

    The question at issue is what we make of it – how it affects our behaviours. If Laurie Penny thinks it’s about listening and if she means by that a mutually-respectful, 50/50 sharing of space, I’m all for. But that’s not how I read her “It’s [privilege-checking] about who gets to speak, and who has to listen.” I interpret that as reversed deference, which I don’t see as any moral improvement on the original sort.

  17. 17
    Ally Fogg

    Steersman (4.7)

    Yes, I quite agree with you that much of feminism is “a broad political ideology”. But that is, I think, a very large part of the problem – and until that is addressed I don’t see much hope of any workable resolutions

    There never will be resolutions, nor should there be. Politics is a constantly shifting and never-ending debate that slowly changes as circumstances change. Little battles get won or lost along the way and then new ones begin.

    You mean, in contradistinction to the “torture, executions, genocides and such trifles” perpetrated by luminaries such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot? “Certainty” – particularly that based on little more than articles of faith – seems to be the problem and one that manifests itself in both the religious and secular spheres.

    Indeed. Or in Iraq, Vietnam, Laos, the Indian and Irish famines. The belief in liberal, capitalist, free market democracy is every bit as much an ideological position as the belief in communism or Fascism. (Note, I’m not making a point of equivalence here, I do believe that liberal democracy, though far from perfect, is preferable to totalitarianism, but I am acknowledging this is a belief, it is not empirical fact)

    it also seems that the only way off the horns of that particular dilemma of “Does too! Does not” – and similarly enlightening and mature modus operandi – is to be far more circumspect – and honest – about what it is we know for sure and what is only belief and opinion.

    I wholeheartedly agree, and this is where Gramsci comes in. Our society is immersed in ideological value judgments, it is the water in which we swim and often invisible to us, but it is every bit as ideological as any political opposition it may face. And it is also where ideas of privilege comes in. You’ve neatly brought us back to the beginning of the circle. The large part of the point of privilege analysis is lay bare what we know for sure and what is only belief and opinion.

    To take an example relevant to this place, sexual harassment at conferences might not look like any kind of problem to someone who is male, powerful, rich and respected. It might look like a trivial problem compared to forcing women into a veil in another country, it might look immediately and patently obvious, common sense and inevitable that there will be a bit of flirting and seduction at social gatherings, which might occasionally cross a line of good manners, but that there is a degree of inevitability to it.

    If you are a young, relatively powerless woman, the situation might look entirely different. Sexual harassment might prevent you from fully participating in conferences with a sense of security and comfort, it might even actively exclude you.

    So when Richard Dawkins writes his “Dear Muslimah” post, others react by screaming about his privilege, what they are effectively saying is “I beseech thee, in the bowels of Christ, think that thou might be mistaken.”

    The crucial thing to understand though, is that people in positions of privilege find it much easier to believe and argue that they are not mistaken – because their perspective usually reflects the dominant, prevailing values of society. Their privilege often allows them to ignore or brush off the “I beseech thees” because they control the levers of power and they control the cultural discourse and they control the hegemonic propaganda. if they don’t want to pay heed to the beseeches they are under no obligation to do so.

  18. 18
    Ally Fogg

    @Jacob

    No idea about the preview button I’m afraid.

    I just work here.

  19. 19
    Jacob Schmidt

    Steersman

    But I hardly think that the extra effort required to copy a text link into a new browser page, over and above that required to double-click the hot-link, seriously diminishes anyones’ budget of “spoons”.

    I’m not complaining. Some people don’t know about the tag is all. What does “spoons” mean?

    For the record, I’m pretty sure the comments around here allow 4 links.

    However, considering the many feminists outside of academia who have been parotting what is presumably the core of those gender studies within it, it seems that, unless you’re prepared to argue that all those doing so cut those arguments from whole cloth and each of them reached the same conclusion on their own, one might reasonably argue that those gender studies are a reasonably accurate “proxy” of what is the case with “feminism as a whole”.

    Well that’s a nice little false dichotomy. Either the core is the same, or the core is the same but determined totally independently? I notice that we aren’t justify the assertion that the core is the same.

  20. 20
    Jacob Schmidt

    OK, thanks Ally.

    It’s working again, btw.

  21. 21
    Ginkgo

    “It’s much more like the socialist/labour movement in the UK or even the broad Republican movement in the US”

    That’s more analogous. In fact with the broad Republican movement – here I assume you mean the Republican Party/social conservative/libertarian lash up that has been cracking down the center for a decade now – is a very clsoe analogy. There you have people holding fundamentally opposed views on core issues but held together just barely by shared opposition to some Other.

  22. 22
    Jacob Schmidt

    Ally Fogg

    The belief in liberal, capitalist, free market democracy is every bit as much an ideological position as the belief in communism or Fascism.

    Depends on what your goal is. The ostensible goal for most governments is to ensure the peace, prosperity and happiness of the governed. Taking this as our goal, the satisfaction with life index tells us that such liberal, capitalist democracies tend to do better in terms of happiness and prosperity. Priliminary comparisons of crime rates show the same thing.

  23. 23
    Steersman

    Jacob Schmidt said (# 7.0):

    I’m not complaining. Some people don’t know about the tag is all. What does “spoons” mean?

    Seems to be a fairly common “meme” over at AtheismPlus – it’s sort of a metaphor for “available energy” but with somewhat of an edge. This (1) is the link to the source that they provide.

    Well that’s a nice little false dichotomy. Either the core is the same, or the core is the same but determined totally independently? I notice that we aren’t [justifying] the assertion that the core is the same.

    Glad you like it. Although I think you’re wrong in characterizing it as a false dichotomy that I was seriously advancing as the only two possibilities available since I did follow that up with “a reasonably accurate proxy of what is the case with feminism as a whole”. Although I suppose I should have emphasized that the meaning for proxy that I had in mind was from climate science: “a measured variable used to infer the value of a variable of interest in climate research” (2). There are, no doubt, differences between the content of all of the blogs and forums outside of academia and the curricula of various universities. However it would seem to be a serious stretch, if not a betrayal of some problematic bias, to argue that the latter hasn’t heavily influenced the former: “as the twig is bent so is the tree inclined”.

    As for “justifying the assertion”, that would seem to require some serious time and scholarship. However, as at least a starting point, consider this from the Wikipedia article (3) on one of the authors of that book, Daphne Patai:

    Drawing on these interviews and on materials defining and defending women’s studies programs, the book analyzed practices within women’s studies that the authors felt were incompatible with serious education and scholarship — above all, the explicit subservience of educational to political aims.

    A recent enlarged edition of this book provided extensive documentation from current feminist writings of the continuation, and indeed exacerbation, of these practices. Routinely challenged by feminists who declare that “all education is political,” Patai has responded with the claim that this view is simplistic.

    Seems to me that “current feminist writings” as “a continuation and an exacerbation of those practices within women’s studies” points to a common core – at least elements of it – that looks decidedly problematic – “anti-science and anti-intellectual”.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_Patai#Critique_of_feminist_politics”;

  24. 24
    Ally Fogg

    well according to that list, the liberal capitalist democracies of UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and many others all rank well behind Saudi Arabia, a brutal theocratic absolute monarchy in which more than half the population have no individual rights and very few freedoms.

    So I wouldn’t pay too much heed to that. But since you prefaced your comment with “depends on what your goal is” it doesn’t really matter, because your goals are very much part of your political / ideological objectives and therefore subject to what I said above.

  25. 25
    Klangos

    If Laurie Penny thinks it’s about listening and if she means by that a mutually-respectful, 50/50 sharing of space, I’m all for.

    A mutually respectful thing to do is recognise that there are topics on which one is not an expert and thus one should not attempt to grab 50% of the ‘talking space’ , for want of a better phrase.

  26. 26
    Ginkgo

    JS,
    “Name one large political movement that achieved this.”

    Maoism.

    I remember a time when feminists were “speaking bitterness”, their white feminist appropriation of “说苦” , also called “telling women’s stories.” I could never help smirking at those effete posers.

  27. 27
    Ginkgo

    The ostensible goal for most governments is to ensure the peace, prosperity and happiness of the “governed. ”

    Whereas the actual goal of most goevernments is survival. That’s what we are seeing in Syria. We saw that 20 years ago in China. But you are really right anyway, because the real advantage of “liberal capitalist democracies” is adaptability, flexibility and resilience, all predicated on the power of their satisfied and loyal citizenries, which translates into a survival advantage. In fact this is the substance of the conversation going on in China about political reform.

  28. 28
    Norman Hadley

    Hi Klangos. Acknowledging lacunae in one’s knowledge makes perfect sense with objective subjects like maths. But if person A says to person B , ‘you don’t know how hard it is being me’ then that gets them no further forward because the converse is also true.

  29. 29
    Jacob Schmidt

    From the wiki:

    Today, there is no consensus on who does and who does not represent Maoism. Various efforts have sought to regroup the international communist movement under Maoism since the time of Mao’s death in 1976.

    Nope. Maoism doesn’t make the cut. But considering that it was little more than a variation on communism and sought to represent communism, it never could have in the first place.

  30. 30
    Jacob Schmidt

    Steersman

    Although I think you’re wrong in characterizing it as a false dichotomy that I was seriously advancing as the only two possibilities available since I did follow that up with “a reasonably accurate proxy of what is the case with feminism as a whole”.

    You asserted that, unless we argue that feminism at large developed itself 100% independently from feminism within women’s studies, we could reasonably argue that women’s studies acts as a reasonable proxy. There’s only two possibilities per your assertion: either total independence or reasonable approximation. It’s entirely possible that feminism at large is only partially influenced by women’s studies.

    Emphasis mine:

    Seems to me that “current feminist writings” as “a continuation and an exacerbation of those practices within women’s studies” points to a common core – at least elements of it – that looks decidedly problematic – “anti-science and anti-intellectual”.

    There we go. You’ve finally stopped overgeneralizing. It doesn’t point to a common core; it points to common elements. Said elements need not be at the core of feminism.

    .

  31. 31
    Steersman

    Jacob Schmidt said (9.0):

    There’s only two possibilities per your assertion: either total independence or reasonable approximation. It’s entirely possible that feminism at large is only partially influenced by women’s studies.

    49% and less is “only partially influenced” while 51% and more is a “reasonable approximation”? Seems like a pointless quibble, or one designed to obscure, as Patai argued, a very substantial and problematic influence: if she, and her co-author, weren’t so concerned about the consequences of that “indoctrination” to the wider society then do you think that they would have bothered to write that book?

    But it seems that one might argue that it is somewhat of a chicken-and-egg thing: an evolutionary process where environmental influences in the “real-world” have been fed back into academia, and where academic “hot-house flowers” have gone off the deep-end in creating speculations out of whole-cloth that have poisoned discourse external to. And variations thereof.

    As for what constitutes that “core” that seems like trying to argue which of the 38,000 Christian sects has the most credible claim to being Real Christians ™. Unless we all agree that the only credible “core” is equal rights for men and women. Which would mean that all of those 17 different feminist ideologies I referred to earlier (#4.6) could no longer be called that.

  32. 32
    Steersman

    Ally said (#4.9):

    Yes, … much of feminism is “a broad political ideology”. But …until that is addressed I don’t see much hope of any workable resolutions.

    There never will be resolutions, nor should there be. Politics is a constantly shifting and never-ending debate ….

    That seems rather cynical and pessimistic at best. And, apparently, not all that realistic, as even in the sphere of politics it seems that all sorts of political conventions seek to close with resolutions, policy statements, or manifestos of one sort or another.

    Seems to me that one of the few things we all, or most of us, agree on, more or less, is that our chances of maximizing our personal and social survival is to make common cause against those factors – war, disease, famine, even death – that weigh against achieving those goals. But rather difficult to do that if we’re not able to resolve our rather subjective perspectives and values – which then seems like a worthwhile goal in itself.

    Our society is immersed in ideological value judgments, it is the water in which we swim and often invisible to us, but it is every bit as ideological as any political opposition it may face.

    Agreed. Although I think that many of those value judgements are based on unstated premises and assumptions as well as unconscious processing, much of which probably has an evolutionary basis, and much of which happens “underneath the hood”. Why I think that efforts to understand how the mind works – through various cognitive sciences and modeling systems such as game theory – is one of the more useful avenues to pursue in resolving different premises, assumptions and value judgements. That much of that might be “invisible” now to us is no reason to think that all of that has to remain so forever.

    And I agree with you that the “ideas of privilege” can help to elucidate some of what “we know for sure and what is only belief or opinion”, to understand “the dynamics at play”. However I think that Ronald Linsay of the CFI (1) is quite correct in arguing that “[privilege] is a concept that has some validity and utility; [but] it’s also a concept that can be misused” – as seems to be rather well illustrated by the Zoe Williams article you referenced. And while I will quite readily and happily agree with you “that people in positions of privilege find it much easier to believe and argue that they are not mistaken”, I think that you – and many others championing the concept – may be underestimating or misapprehending its scope, underpinnings, and ramifications.

    And my impression is that the core of privilege is a virtually universal tendency to “in-group morality and out-group hostility”, a perspective and argument which the anthropologist John Hartung – profiled and quoted rather extensively in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion – develops in some detail here (2). And, in turn, that tendecy seems to be predicated on our somewhat questionable ability to create and use stereotypes. And while, according to Steven Pinker, “[stereotypes] are not always false, or even usually false”, their use still entails potentially the “problem of induction” (3), of assuming that since all of the swans we’ve seen have been white that must mean that all swans are white. Or, as he put it in describing Walter Lippmann’s original use of the term “as a pejorative and inaccurate image standing for a category of people”:

    … Lippmann proposed that ordinary people’s concepts of social groups were stereotypes: mental pictures that are incomplete, biased, insensitive to variation, and resistant to disconfirming information. (The Blank Slate, pg 201)

    So, as a case in point and to utilize the example you provided, while I will concede, at least for the sake of argument and somewhat provisionally, that Dawkins may have been somewhat cavalier in discounting or deprecating the tales of “sexual harassment” and their ubiquity, and is thereby maybe guilty of some stereotyping if not sexism, I also think that you and Rebecca Watson and many others are equally guilty of, at least, some similar stereotyping and sexism.

    And, relative to that last case, I recollect reading something recently from Watson to the effect that she wasn’t just saying “guys, don’t do that” as far as hitting on her was concerned, but was actually insisting that that apply to all men and all women. Now one might reasonably question the details of what she had in mind: all elevators after 2 am?; only in strange cities just before the bars close?; only if there had been prior communications? But the fact of the matter is that a great many women – whose “lived experiences” are seemingly being ignored – have quite clearly stated that they would not have been made uncomfortable to the extent that Watson had apparently been, and rather resent the attempts by Watson to speak for them. And in so doing, Watson was judging an entire class, an entire group of people, on the basis of the attributes and behaviours and perspectives of some sub-segment of that group – i.e., stereotyping, i.e., sexism, and that of a rather egregious form.

    So while I will concede that one might reasonably argue that Dawkins was also guilty of judging an entire class or group on some sub-segment of it, and thereby guilty of some sexism, it seems just as reasonable to argue that Watson was equally guilty in judging that same entire class on the basis of another sub-segment of it, but was still equally guilty of some sexism. Now one could quibble about the size of those sub-seqments and how faithfully they might represent the entire class or population, but it seems rather difficult to deny more or less equal levels of sexism. Maybe it would help matters if they could get together and concede that point, at least prior to the “resumption of hostilities” in Round Two.

    But likewise with many other cases where “privilege” is claimed to be a significant factor. While obviously there is going to be a spectrum of sizes of various sub-segments or samples, and in how faithfully they represent the entire population, it still seems we all have a tendency to judge and mis-judge entire populations on the basis of sub-segments of them . And in that event there is, I think, the tendency to generalize and over-estimate the “privilege” of those “others” while conveniently underestimating “ours” – to judge the “out-group” rather more harshly than the “in-group”. As I think that Zoe Williams article emphasizes, there is the rather problematic and almost universal tendency for the pot to call the kettle black, to focus more on the mote in our brother’s or sister’s eye than the beam or log in our own. As Pogo (4) put it many years ago, “We have seen the enemy and he is us”.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/show/my_talk_at_wis2/P50”;
    2) “_http://www.strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=13”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction”;
    4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(comic_strip)”;

  33. 33
    Jacob Schmidt

    Steersman

    Has anyone ever told you that you fail at reading comprehension?

    49% and less is “only partially influenced” while 51% and more is a “reasonable approximation”?

    I didn’t argue this; I certainly didn’t make the mistake of putting specific values on general concepts (concepts which we may not even be able quantify). Where does 50% fall in this imagined argument of yours?

    Seems like a pointless quibble, or one designed to obscure, as Patai argued, a very substantial and problematic influence: if she, and her co-author, weren’t so concerned about the consequences of that “indoctrination” to the wider society then do you think that they would have bothered to write that book?

    I like that you wrote a whole paragraph to attack an idea I never presented.

    As for what constitutes that “core” that seems like trying to argue which of the 38,000 Christian sects has the most credible claim to being Real Christians ™.

    You think I’m denying that women’s studies tends to fall under feminism? If not, then the “Real Christians™” analogy doesn’t apply; if yes, then you’re clueless since I never denied that.

  34. 34
    Steersman

    Jacob Schmidt said (#10.0):

    Steersman

    Has anyone ever told you that you fail at reading comprehension?

    Periodically. But you ever think that it might be that you can’t put together a cogent argument? Or that it was your understanding of what I said that badly missed the target?

    49% and less is “only partially influenced” while 51% and more is a “reasonable approximation”?

    I didn’t argue this; I certainly didn’t make the mistake of putting specific values on general concepts (concepts which we may not even be able quantify).

    You argued that my position, my false dichotomy was “either total independence or reasonable approximation”. And you offered a third alternative, to wit: “feminism at large is only partially influenced by women’s studies”. And my point with the 49%/51% analogy was that “partially influenced” and “reasonable approximation” were largely the same critter, the same species – largely reflections of each other in substantial ways. Something I emphasized with my “evolutionary process” comment. (The “50%” fell through the cracks.)

    However, I think it is important to note in passing that I wasn’t the first to use “approximation” – I used “proxy” which you then replaced with “approximation” (in #9.0), something I should have noticed earlier. But the sense of “proxy”, as I indicated (in #7.1), suggests a more causal influence that motivates a similar evolution, more or less in lock-step, which makes one a “reasonable approximation” of the other..

    I like that you wrote a whole paragraph to attack an idea I never presented.

    Thanks. But that was largely to emphasize the argument that the degree of problematic “influence” or “approximation” (proxy) was not, apparently in Patai’s and Koertge’s view, all that trivial or minor.

    You think I’m denying that women’s studies tends to fall under feminism? If not, then the “Real Christians™” analogy doesn’t apply; if yes, then you’re clueless since I never denied that.

    “Do you still beat your wife?” Not a question which can be answered with a yes or a no. And that is because the question wasn’t whether “women’s studies fall under feminism”, but what constitutes the core of each, and how congruent they were. As I indicated (in #9.1), and as the dictionary indicates (1), the only sensible definition or core seems to be “belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes”. But all of the excess baggage that many of the 17 different feminist ideologies – according to Wikipedia – and the various women’s studies programs seem to be carrying makes it rather moot whether any of them really have much claim to the term “feminism”. Hence the analogy with the 38,000 different “Christian” sects.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/feminism”;

  35. 35
    Jacob Schmidt

    Steersman

    But you ever think that it might be that you can’t put together a cogent argument?

    I did. I pointed out that you’re over generalizing and justifying it with a false dichotomy. That was all I ever argued (besides pointing out you’re “evidence” for anti-science among feminism at large was just a pile of assertions).

    You argued that my position, my false dichotomy was “either total independence or reasonable approximation”. And you offered a third alternative, to wit: “feminism at large is only partially influenced by women’s studies”. And my point with the 49%/51% analogy was that “partially influenced” and “reasonable approximation” were largely the same critter, the same species – largely reflections of each other in substantial ways.

    You seem to be admitiing, at least tacitly, to arguing a false dichotomy.

    If you insist on putting exact values on this, “partial” is an ambiguous term; it could mean any where in the set 0%<x<100%. Insisting that it must mean I'm quibbling over 49% vs. 51% is asinine. Further, "partial" doesn't tell us what aspect of women's studies is influencing feminism at large. It may be that the anti-science of it all has less effect than you're assuming.

    However, I think it is important to note in passing that I wasn’t the first to use “approximation” – I used “proxy” which you then replaced with “approximation” (in #9.0), something I should have noticed earlier. But the sense of “proxy”, as I indicated (in #7.1), suggests a more causal influence that motivates a similar evolution, more or less in lock-step, which makes one a “reasonable approximation” of the other..

    So “reasonable approximation” is a valid paraphrasing of “proxy”. Why are you quibbling about this?

    “Do you still beat your wife?” Not a question which can be answered with a yes or a no. And that is because the question wasn’t whether “women’s studies fall under feminism”, but what constitutes the core of each, and how congruent they were.

    The “Real Christians” phenomenon describes the christian tendency to deny the christianity of other groups (hence the word “real”); since I was not denying the feminism of anyone in any capacity, the analogy doesn’t apply.

    As I indicated (in #9.1), and as the dictionary indicates (1), the only sensible definition or core seems to be “belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes”. But all of the excess baggage that many of the 17 different feminist ideologies – according to Wikipedia – and the various women’s studies programs seem to be carrying makes it rather moot whether any of them really have much claim to the term “feminism”.

    If the core of feminism is so obviously vague and contested, why do you insist on ascribing specific qualities to it?

  36. 36
    Adiabat

    Ally: “The crucial thing to understand though, is that people in positions of privilege find it much easier to believe and argue that they are not mistaken – because their perspective usually reflects the dominant, prevailing values of society.”

    The majority EDL and BNP members tick most of the ‘privileged’ boxes but their perspective doesn’t reflect the dominant, prevailing values of society. How do you reconcile this with your model? Are they exceptions to your rule?

  37. 37
    David H. Fucktrelle-Male Feminist Extraordinaire™

    Oh, wow, Mr. HetPat,

    wanna congradulate you for being at the excellent blog of Mr. PZ Meyers!

    http://saltydroid.info/pz-myers-gasbag-bigotry/

    We’ll make a male feminist of you yet!!!!

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