Sunday, June 18, 2006

"Picking"

Just another riff inspired by a comment from a thread at Pandagon


>I still stand by my earlier assertion that you should never defend something you enjoy until you’ve first gone to the trouble of picking it apart - absolutely dismantling it - yourself. But then, I actually enjoy picking things apart, so for me this activity tends to become recursive.>


You know something–

I seem to remember my mom, who is quite the blamer herself, albeit not particularly feminist (more or less liberal, academic) saying something of this sort, after coming out of a movie with her. My dad and I had enjoyed it; she hadn’t. And, with a particular…*dampening* strain to her voice, a familiar one, she said–*demanded*–well, *why* do you like it? And then words to the effect of what you said: you should be always be able to explain and analyze *why* you like something. Not what you *don’t* like, mind, so much. Well. That is: *we* should be able to defend (”defend”) something that gave us pleasure. Because it didn’t give *her* pleasure, and she needed to know why; but she put it on us, instead.

And, now that I’m thinking of it, I do wonder how much Mom issues factor into this whole brouhaha (I can speak only for myself here, of course)–but, even if it weren’t for the classic Mom-daughter friction, I am thinking: I still probably would’ve come to the conclusion, eventually–you know what, fuck off.

And I love my mom. But she is a picker. She likes to pick. Literally. Candle wax, fuzzy sweaters, literary criticism, skin. And people. Herself included. And I got a lot of picking abilities from her…picked them up, you might say…and I in my turn was thoroughly picked.

And at this point in my life, I feel I can honestly say: you know what, if there’s one thing I don’t think is my problem, it’s an undersufficiency of picking.

I’m not saying picking’s never useful.

But right now, it’s not what interests me. I don’t want to be picked apart anymore. I don't even want my pleasures to be limited to those found in picking (myself or others). I want to find out how to be whole.

175 comments:

Bitch | Lab said...

moms: can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em. (same goes for dads. ;)

yeah, what's kind of weird is that this 'picking' happened at a blog for Advanced Blaming.

I think I saw i comments, somewhere, something to the effect of: don't you think we are grown ups and have actually thought about these things already? R Mildred was basically saying this, yes.

I got distracted with the tack of blaming this on the aduacity of an asexual to tell hets what's up. which bothered me -- coz I agree with your comments that it shouldn't really be something we pick on.

I think it gets to your great insight: where is anything about women in any of this? where do I get to love myself and other women? where do we get to talk about us?

we're either zoned in on men -- blaming them, defending them, whatever -- or we are having a thrash about women who are, let's face, really men.

men men men men men.

and i wrote this in comments the other night to you but ended up accidentally deleting it when i'd inteded to edit it. what i loved about feminism was that it made me love myself and other women in a way i hadn't even been able to do in my late teens when i was with women.

i just went through the stage where i wanted to bury myself in everything women. read women. look at their art. enjoy their bodies, their voices, every loving thing about them. hang out with women, bitch with women, debate with them, get to know them and learn how we are alike and different and what makes us tick.

maybe it's just a phase we all go through and then drop it for advancing blaming. i dunno.

i'm sure i sound like sappy dork bitch too.

now that i think about it, my mom was a version of a picker. well. always critical. always thinking of how to see it from another angle.

which is a good trait, but there are times i have said to her, "mom. i need you to be my ally now, no questions asked."

this would happen when the wasband and i were in a custody battle or he wouldn't pay support. she find something i'd somehow done or say something like, "if you two don't stop fighting like this, your son will hate you both."

*sigh*

Mom! I'm fighting to make sure that kid's father pays his share. it's the law. this isn't me being punitive and trying to get more than the law mandates from someone who damn well makes enough money to pay. can't you just support me instaed of inadvertantly taking his side?

feh.

i somehow managed to get to the age of 32 before i ever noticed that she was critical of a lot of things. i asked my sister, "Mom never used to be on about my hair all the time? Did mom always do the white glove test on us?"

Sis: Don't you remember what a bitch she was about everything if it wasn't perfect?

Me: Nope

Sis: Don't you remember her making us clean the rugs again b/c we did it wrong? Bitching about how we vacummed?

Me: Nope

I think I effectively just blocked her out. Yay me! (no. I know: prob. not good.)

But it was a shock to all of a sudden see it after three decades on the planet. I was: "what happened to my mother?"

I'll never forget the day she came to a new place i was renting. big ol' house that had a painting built writing into the wall over the fireplace. I'm in grad school pulling 70 hr. weeks, kid, partner, dog. Full plate.

I point to the painting and say how ugly I think it is.

She pulls up a chair and starts cleaning it.

"Oh, it will look so much better clean."

As if to say that I ought to devote some time to cleaning a frickin' painting built into the wall of a rental. I mean, if it were mine and I wasn't planning on moving in a coupla years. Like maybe mom. But hey, did you see the vicrtola I refinished."

Oh nice. Now about the painting.

she keeps on scrubbing it.

But see, now that I've noticed that she does this, I'm so senstivie to it and she's in shock that I call her on it regularly. She's used to it flying under my feet.

good times.

I'll send you $200 for the hour of therapy 'k?

Lis Riba said...

Not to mention... it will have to wait until I get to work tomorrow to find the link, but Malcolm Gladwell has spoken out against the focus group by pointing out that when asked to explain or justify one's opinion, one often reaches a different conclusion than just by instinct.
In fact, several successful products -- including the now-status-symbol Aeron chair -- were utter failures when focus grouped.

belledame222 said...

Well, I just saw a couple of follow-ups to the post I was responding to that made me rethink, although I'm still not sure that this is what the original poster had in mind. to wit:

If sex can’t be hot if you think about it analytically some, you might have some serious problems.

No shit! I hate it when people say “But sex is gross when you think about it analytically! LOL!!1111″ Well, if you have a general problem dealing with human anatomy, yeah. >

Which, if that’s what was meant, then…yeah. But somehow I read that as different from “everything must be thoroughly examined and dissected earnestly before I feel secure in saying, to myself or other people, Yeah, you know what, I like this.”

I mean, if you’re gonna apply that kind of rigorousness to anything, maybe at least start with the shit you *don’t* like, that repels you. Because you can find out a hell of a lot of interesting stuff that way, for one thing: in all the nasty icky shadow stuff, sometimes you find some surprising bright spots, only tarnished from lack of use.

and also of course because ime it’s a really fine line between being a rigorous critic (o fthe things that give you pleasure) and being a wet blanket. particularly when it comes to sexual shit, in which most of us have a full load of cultural anti-pleasure baggage to unpack anyway.

belledame222 said...

I kind of didn't mind so much R. Mildred's taking on the audacity of asexuals/lesbians picking apart the meaning of blowjobs, in the context of the entire post--basically it was the converse of my own bitch about hetchicks like BB sounding off on hetlez/bi babes, straight boys telling me what is and isn't possible wrt women's anatomy and pleasure bits, and so on. essentially that yesyes, heteronormative yes; but when it comes to the minutae of what someone else does and doesn't do in bed...hello, not so much your shared experience.

and of course one could and maybe should extrapolate from that that in fact: really *no one* can speak for anyone else's experience/desire, even if you're nominally of the same "orientation." So maybe we should just, you know, not do that. Just can the "I'm Every Woman" shit and it'll be fine, really; no matter *what* you are or aren't into, have or haven't experienced, *someone's* gonna feel ya (heh). It *just doesn't have to be everyone in the goddam world to make it valid.*

belledame222 said...

>I got distracted with the tack of blaming this on the aduacity of an asexual to tell hets what's up. which bothered me -- coz I agree with your comments that it shouldn't really be something we pick on.

Am thinking about this some more.

You know, one thing I think RM was saying was that it's the same damn problem she has with the Pope, a celibate, sex-negative man, weighing forth on what is and isn't proper wrt reproduction and sexuality.

And I was thinking: well, in *that* case, of course, that's *different*
--and then I thought, is it really? How much so?

Because, if we're all affected by the patriarchy (whatever), doesn't that include the actual patriarchs?

That is: I've been thinking that for at least some of the BJ-negative/what have you women, it's coming from a place of disempowerment, and probably there's abuse in the background.

But: as arwen noted, there's still a certain amount of power one can wield in a personal sphere, even if one doesn't hold "real world" power.

And, conversely: who says the priests and bishops aren't also the victims of abuse? They may well be perpetrators also, of course; or not. But goddam: if you're that harsh on the rest of the world, how much harder must you be on yourself?

Yeah, hypocrites indulge themselves clandestinely, sure, but...

...mm. And I am thinking of a gay priest I know, his story, what I know of it, what he's said about the Church.

I don't have any particular conclusion here, you know: just ruminating out loud.

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belledame

i dunno. EL said something that made me laff: she sometimes wondered if twisty wasn't off sniggering somewhere over the whole thing, laughing at the way she could yank us around like marionettes.

well, not likely with the photos, the obvious rep as rest. critics, etc.

but anyway, if she's really that steeped in radfem, i don't think she cares about subjectivity.

for her, it's an objective analysis of the nature of sex under patriarchy. she doesn't have to know about it personally for it to be true. and that means that your subjective assessment of what's going on doesn't make a wit of difference either.

I think that what bothered me abt the asexual comment was just that itseemed to be mocking the identity and i'm not on board with that. i have my mean moments. just did it with Ariel Levy tonight.

Anyhooty, while Ihappen to think that you're on to something when you've critcized the asexual spinster aunt presentation and R Mildred just cracked me up, it just doesn't seem like this would ever make a dent for T.

Which, well, maybe that's not the goal. I guess that we're helping each other think through the issues and name the problem??

Lis Riba said...

I will point out that I'm effectively asexual... But that's one of the reasons I'm sex positive. To each their own!

gandhi rules said...

*dampening* stain to her voice<----this is just one of many lines that rocks. This post was a great read, from one picked/picking person to another.

EL said...

I'm a compulsive analyzer, but, when it comes to art and ethics, I need some time to consider. I can't go straight from feeling-to-explanation. My body is far too involved right at first and my mind is afraid to play (let's ignore specious mind-body split, okay?)

(As for moms, I'm way lucky that mine is super-laid-back.)

Onto the idea that, re: loving other women, "maybe it's just a phase we all go through and then drop it for advancing blaming."

I don't think so. I think they are all cyclical phases in (ew, cringes in anticipation of what I'm about to type) "feminist consciousness". I think I have my moments of each, especially when I see this Twisty-anti-sex-radfem crap - it makes me a blamer - and then I come over here or to any of the rest of y'all's blogs - it makes me a lover of women.

flawedplan said...

That was a beautiful post. You want to be whole and picking yourself apart literally defeats wholeness. I get that.
I think saying no more picking is stepping into growth, even if it seems like laziness or anti-intellectualism or whatever words we can come up with to pick it apart, and there is no end to them. The mind is an overrated bullshit machine.
Can you imagine having to defend a sunset?
Oh well, there goes your soul.

belledame222 said...

>I think that what bothered me abt the asexual comment was just that itseemed to be mocking the identity and i'm not on board with that.

Yes. R Mildred did do the "some of my best friends are" and I'm sure it's true; but it still does have that whiff, I think. Because it is true, asexuals come in for a lot of shit and misunderstanding. *That* is true.

and funny, because I remember Twisty rather heatedly going off on I think it was an effort to pathologize asexuality, and I thought,

You know, if you'd have stuck to that, rather than turning it into a kind of Paullist

"I would that all were as I were"

(except without even owning that much)

...that could be really valuable.

As far as I know Twisty has never ID'd as asexual, as such. Although I kind of tend to think that "spinster aunt" comes pretty close.

Well, her identity is her identity.

But I will say, on a pettier note, that it kind of bugs that someone who's highly visible and mostly seems to be about the disgust with the boybitz rather than the delights of the wimmin, is identifying as a lesbian. Just makes it a bit more work, you know.

'cause I kept reading stuff like, "Well, sure, a lesbian's gonna be repulsed by boybitz"

and I'm thinking: hm? 'cause personally, I'm not repulsed by men or their bits. Occasionally I find some attractive; mostly I just found the idea of hetsex boring, at the end of the day; it's the compulsoriness that chaps my hide. Ultimately I just don't, you know, really care about what straight folks do or don't do in bed (particularly not in the way of picking it apart as a general practice, for fuckssake; if we're talking as friends, that's something else); because I don't *have* to. That's sort of the whole point? Can we talk about women, now? Erotically and otherwise? Please? Finally?

belledame222 said...

>i dunno. EL said something that made me laff: she sometimes wondered if twisty wasn't off sniggering somewhere over the whole thing, laughing at the way she could yank us around like marionettes.


Yeah. I've seen this sort of shit before. The last time I saw this kind of collective bewilderment and growing alienation wrt someone who was previously well-liked/admired, despite (or even because of) being known as a snarker and collective chain-yanker, was on the VC. He's actually fairly well-known in certain circles, for a few different things. Before it was for (essentially) a kind of leftist libertarianism, in line with most of the founders and original posters on the VC: 60's, sex drugs rocknroll, the whole bit. Worked as an editor for a well-known porn glossy. He wrote (and is still capable of) writing very well and passionately; he was also kind of a trickster figure, basically. Extremely smart; very witty and sharp; not the warmest person in the world, but he certainly had his friends and admierers. Was certainly capable of being friendly and cordial and charming, online and apparently off. Lots and lots of chain pulling; lots of pranks.

And whenever he snapped the towel particualrly hard, people either laughed and said "oh, that's just blahblah, that's what we luv about him, teaching us all not to take ourselves so Seriously;" or they didn't. The people who protested at being jerked around came in for more mocking, which he did quite deftly. So, alright. All in good fun, more or less. Or not; but, whatever, you get over it. Or at least learn to be quiet about it and just avoid, in future.

Then 9/11 happened and "everything changed." For him, certainly; but then, He's Every Man, I think; he often writes that way, at least. He'd probably already been trending toward oh-fuck-I'm-getting-old-get-the-kids-off-my-lawn-reconcile-with-the-parentals-before-they-die; but he just pretty much lost his shit. The closest comparison I can think of is Dennis Miller. There were a number of people like that. It was sort of like watching Bugs Bunny turn slowly but inexorably into Elmer Fudd.

So, now he's a Compleat Neocon, fairly well known among the neocon bloggers, exchanging love letters with Michelle Malkin and suchlike. But before he left the VC he managed to alienate pretty much all of his former friends and admirers (the ones he hadn't done already).

And the way it played out looked a *little* like it's starting to look like here. Lots of shock and bewilderment and a fair amount of slack at first. Because he was well-known and well-loved; and, shit, hadn't he just had a terrific shock to the system? Well, a lot of us had. But: slack.

And then he stopped being funny-mean and just got vicious.

It was that at least as much as the apparent total 180 in his politics that turned him from beloved icon to pariah. I think, you know, at least among the people who never really knew him personally, it was sort of a combination of the two. One or the other, maybe, but...but and then, too, just kept lashing out and lashing out. And people were all like, is he for real? What the fuck? And wrt the politics, as well as the meanness, he was like, basically, yes. This is real. And fuck you. It took a while for some people to believe him on that front.

You know how Andy Kaufman ended up? when he was sick with the terminal disease, and being pushed around in the wheelchair, and strangers and even friends would go up to him and say, haha Andy, what a kidder, you rascal you; and Kaufman would be all, why don't they believe me? Look, this is real: I'm gonna die.

Well. And before that, the wrestling, and the growing collective bewilderment and alienation at that: what *is* he doing? What is this about, really? Is it another joke? It *must* be another joke. But he seems so...serious about it. And so hostile! And so obsessed! I don't get it. I don't get *him.* Well...haha. I guess. (backing away slowly)

anyway, back to this guy: so, upshot was, he left, after he'd alienated a lot of longtime (real life, not just online) friends permanently; and he's still a neocon as far as I know, and he has a new coterie of hangers-on, freepers, pretty much, who adore him and his writing. As far as I can tell it's pretty much a one-way street, the love and admiration; but then, I suspect maybe it always was, with him.

Funny, that. For me, just observing from the sidelines (I never really interacted with him), it seemed obvious: yes, obviously, he'd had some sort of shock to his system.

But the reason it affected him the way he did was because he pretty much was always like that in the first place. Oh, not the politics; they don't ultimately matter that much. But...the hostility. The contempt. The *fury.* The self-involvement; the grandiosity; the strange way he had of speaking as though he spoke for everyone when he was clearly really only talking about himself. You see who a person really is when there's a shock to the system, sometimes; when the veneer cracks.

So, in answer to all that: it's not either-or, with some people; it's both. Ann Coulter, for instance. yes, she's a chain-yanker; she's nothing *but* a chain-yanker. At the same time, she means every word of it. And at the end of the day, the specific positions (if there even are any; obviously Coulter isn't very sophisticated) don't actually matter that much. Listen for the tune under the words. Contempt. Hostility. And a strange...disconnect. Like...the world is a fuzzy two-dimensional cartoon, and she's the only actual person (subject) in it. Something like that.

I mean, I'm not saying anyone is as toxic as Coulter, here. And I don't actually know any of these people, personally, so this is really presumptuous, I realize.

I just think that what a lot of (good, decent, perceptive) people don't understand is that just because someone is charming and funny and enormously smart, intellectually, doesn't mean they're emotionally evolved. Like, at all. And the fact that they're charming and friendly and generous and a good time at parties doesn't mean they're capable of loving you back.

EL said...

Can we talk about women, now? Erotically and otherwise? Please? Finally?

No, belledame. Real Feminism = discussion of the penis.

belledame222 said...

fuck!

Lis Riba said...

No, belledame, that's not allowed either.

belledame222 said...

(throws herself on the floor and and pounds fists)

Lis Riba said...

Come, let us sit in a circle, drink herbal teas, and meditate upon the wonders of our monthly cycles...

Mandos said...

I don't think Twisty is much into that either.

The most insightful comment to me above was BD's remark on the hermeneutic basis of radfem thought: the objective, material analysis of patriarchy. Of COURSE, Twisty et al. are not terribly interested in your subjective experiences. It's not "the Mens" they're interested in *really*: they say, "Show me the money!"

It happens that they see that the money and the male organ are strongly correlated, and probably causally related too.

I am somewhat sympathetic to this line of thinking. I'm a little allergic to the oversubjectivization of opression. Some philosophy/theory types tend to do this.

antiprincess said...

(throws herself on the floor and and pounds fists)

hey - careful. you might damage your pinkies. I'll want to use them later...

belledame222 said...

I guess I'm still not clear on how deriding women for liking the "funk-filled bratwurst" helps to liberate anyone, materially/dialectically or otherwise.

and yeah, I don't think she's much into the herbal tea and womonspeak either, Twisty, especially. but other people certainly are...

actually I like herbal tea just fine, you know; and I'm a bit of a godessy type myself. I just can't stand when it turns all twee (*cough"witchy-woo*cough*)

belledame222 said...

The other thing is--and here's where I think the weak points of the psychological approach and that of the political approach come together--is that understanding the importance of the subjective does not preclude understanding the importance of mass/collective/institutional influences. Or vice-versa.

Mandos said...

I guess I'm still not clear on how deriding women for liking the "funk-filled bratwurst" helps to liberate anyone, materially/dialectically or otherwise.

True---in this case, she made it clear, though, that she was deliberately playing around with people's heads. Ultimately, she knew what she was doing.

But I think that she and other radfems do have a theory of what people "objectively like" and don't like, and she's decided (as have others) that certain things cannot be liked by anyone unless their responses are screwed up by the Money Trail/Patriarchy.

That makes people who like them, pathological. They subjective experiences can still be overridden.

As I said, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to this approach. At the same time, I happen to like a few traditional South Asian dishes with charred garlic---which Twisty finds absolutely absured. (And old food discussion on her blog, months ago.)

Bitch | Lab said...

Thank fucking god. sanity. i saw kactus post something about thinking a comment by shannon was great.

so i read it.

two bloggers i love are thinking that we are silly shits for taking seriously the idea that anyone could take away our feminist credentials on the internets (tm)

i just wanted to cry.

you know, i don't think everyone has to agree with me.

but this wasn't the issue for anyone really.

no one is so stupid to think feminist creds can be taken away.

The point is, as Belledame wisely observed at Punkass, that they actually think they can.

belledame didn't say exactly that, but she did point out that T made it a feminist issue.

If some white feminist told people that the only way to be a feminist was to ignore class and race in the interests of solidarity, they're in for a shitstorm of complaints -- although admittedly probably not enough.

what i suppose makes me cry is that i realize that the people you actually think are somewhere on your side are not after all.

antiprincess said...

what i suppose makes me cry is that i realize that the people you actually think are somewhere on your side are not after all.

Affirmative. A-men. I concur. What you said. or as Molly Bloom might say:

YES.

belledame222 said...

>True---in this case, she made it clear, though, that she was deliberately playing around with people's heads. Ultimately, she knew what she was doing.>

Okay. But I still don't.

Because, here's the deal: the constant call for "us" to examine ourselves, rigorously, as feminists, mkay.

I do wonder: has Twisty ever examined *why* she feels the urge to yank peoples' chain? And why it always seems to be about this kind of shit?

>That makes people who like them, pathological. They subjective experiences can still be overridden.

As I said, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to this approach.>

Okay; I'd be interested in hearing more about your take on it.

'Cause my questions:

1) Who decides what's pathological?

2) Doesn't it seem odd that (some people who support) a movement which claims to be all about egalitarianism, *radically* so, are essentially making a power move by claiming to speak for other peoples' subjective experience?

Bitch | Lab said...

@ mandos

that's all well and good, to assert that people are objectively fucked up.

but "objectively" means something. twisty never and won't ever make that clear. she can't, because then everything about her theory has to be questioned and actually held to some standards of objectivity: evidence, logic, and so forth.

Or, she could rely on what critics of positive claim is meant by objectivity: intersubjective agreement.

Well, she lost then, didn't she?

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belle and alon:

"2) Doesn't it seem odd that (some people who support) a movement which claims to be all about egalitarianism, *radically* so, are essentially making a power move by claiming to speak for other peoples' subjective experience?"

it's even more fun when each or several sides are claiming to speak for 'duh people."

angela once had this fabulous analysis of how people engage in these populist appeals are incredible arrogant and misguided and how they are, ultimately, conservatizing and reactionary forces.

belledame222 said...

>focus groups

One of the temp gigs recently was transcription for a couple of focus groups. It was actually really interesting. i saw four different groups: two of men, two of women. It was for the very early conceptual phases of a planned ad campaign for a new perfume for (trendy label). During the break, I talked to the woman who was running it; she said she'd started in sociology and sort of wandered into this. I could see where the sociological, even psychological angle came in; there was a lot of that, really. Like a big group Rorscarch, almost, you know. Except instead of the goal being to find out more about the people, maybe help them help themselves, it was to find out what they would be most likely to buy, as consumers. o well.

I think that just may be the only job field that even briefly interested me that sounds like it actually has the potential for making serious money.

dunno if I'm interested enough to actively pursue, though. still, a long-term temp gig/dayjob doing that sort of thing--even the transcribing--I think I could enjoy that. at least you get to see different people, and at least it's different all the time; not just making endless photocopies and charts for you don't even know what it's for really.

belledame222 said...

>Or, she could rely on what critics of positive claim is meant by objectivity: intersubjective agreement.

Well, she lost then, didn't she?>

Ding.

And I suspect that that's a fair part of why she blew up, honestly.

And she's still never owned what her personal investment in this is, not *really.*

I mean: well, two questions. If it's just chain-yanking, then, you know, why that. (like, why does it give you pleasure to get people really upset--because many were; to set 'em up an dknock 'em down, because that's what was done).

And more to the point, perhaps: why is it so very important, as it apparently is, that *no* women really likes giving head, not *really?* Why isn't it enough for her theory or valdiation or whatever it is to confirm that yep, in fact, a *lot* of women do share her feelings? Why not just accept it and move on? Why is it also necessary to attack (and/or let your regulars attack) the women who don't?

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belledame

thinking through what yanks my chains and pondering what white bear said on your latest post, i identified. you constantlly blame the patriarhcy. you've carefully explained the assumptions. repeatedly. in small words. in tapas bar bites of delicious goodness.

everybody's with me. look at all the sycophants. even the hanger's on who've given me a hard time in the past, still hang on to my _every_ word. (thinkin' here of bphd who is usually among the first five respondents but with whom she's had serious disagreemtns b/c from reading bphd, she's got too much pomo influence for it to be otherwise.)

and yet they still aren't getting it. even those who agreed with twisty -- 'it's fucking gross" -- didn't really articulate it in the right way. they went all personal about it. qualifying there complaints, often, by saying, "well for me it's like this...."

Oh, how irritating that could be for someone who wants the more enlightenment bj haters to understand that they hate it because of the structural phenom called patriarchy and not simply in terms of their personalexperience.

it wasn't until sam jumped in that it actually started truly mirroring her view for the most part.

oh. how irritating that would be after you've been explaining to the morons, over and over, How It Works.

lash. out.

belledame222 said...

mhm.

and you know, the funny thing is, every single major troll who's earned himself the top of peoples' filter lists at the VC interacts pretty much the same way. they're just a lot less subtle and often less nominally pleasant about it, so people catch on a lot faster.

one exception, I think, is the guy I was talking about upthread.

sometimes people are really educated and articulate and intellectually subtle; and it's hard to believe that they can be so...*stupid*, really, when this sort of shit comes up. But that's because it's a different sort of intelligence that's needed; and yes, people can be quite gifted in the one and staggeringly deficient in the other. It's just hard to fathom, when you see it.

Mandos said...

So, um, do we really want to get into the argument over pomo? :)

I have a good personal/real life friend, Craig at www.theoria.ca, with whom I've spent literally years thrashing this out. He is better armed than I am, as he has the sort of philosophical education that I don't, and every time we finally seem to come to an agreement, he says something that suddenly throws it into doubt.

I have serious problems with arguments using any strong claim of "intersubjective agreement" as a basis in the way that you just did. To put it into a nutshell, I have yet to be convinced that such arguments don't immediately collapse into some form of very sophisticated solipsism. My most generous interpretation of them involves declaring the universe a mass hallucination.

It's interesting how this plays out. It's a very fundamental difference in mentalities which I do not as yet know how to bridge. On Craig's old blog, now lost to the mists of time, there was one interesting instance of almost-agreement. He said something that struck me as very apt: that concepts float, but they do not float away. (This may seem trivial but it was in a much larger context.)

I gaped and then sighed with relief! I can get behind that. I coined it a Greek name (one of my favorite hobbies): the anapaeronechia---things that do not float away. I told him that while his job is to understand what is floating and why, my job was to understand how it was tethered and to what.

And apparently, in all our conversations, it had never struck him that the way concepts were tethered was a problem at all. For me it was THE problem. It was like we come from different universes or something.

So I went on my merry way thinking that at last we could agree that there is some use for truth-functional arguments, with maybe some kind of "intersubjectivity fudge factor." Alas no---in a later discussion it was revealed that he was unwilling to allow verification to be the ultimate bound for the evaluation of arguments in any way.

But I digress...

Mandos said...

So what does this have to do with anything? The thing is, it's theoretically possible, in a material way, to determine whether or not someone---or some class---is placed at a material disadvantage by some form of activity. Show Me The Money!

Let's assume one has objectively evaluated A Certain Sexual Practice (ACSP) as resulting in the material disadvantaging of women as such. The arguments for this should be very familiar to you, I hope. So when a woman claims that she likes ACSP, we can convert her statement into two possible restatements:

1a. She enjoys herself being placed at a psychological disadvantage (that objectively feeds into women's material disadvantage).

1b. She has struck a bargain with La Patriarchidad.

If 1b, the response to this is known and has been given by Twisty already. If 1a, we are forced to conclude that

2a. Her liking of this is biological, and biology therefore places women at a disadvantage to men.

2b. She has been trained into liking something that is actually objectively unpleasant.

Twisty will surely reject 2a. Therefore the only response is 2b---that ACSP is objectively unpleasant.

Mandos said...

Also note that Twisty regularly uses the "if I were from an alien planet, I would say that..."

I cannot dismiss this tactic myself, because I too use it, and I am, in fact, deeply interested in an area of research that's partly founded on that sort of claim.

belledame222 said...

Okay, but wait--there's a disconnect somewhere in there, a big one. Even assuming that there's an implicit appeal to the notion that blowjobs put women at a material disadvantage, how does that translate to "objectively unpleasant?"

And even assuming that by "objectively unpleasant" we mean "will ultimately result in a material loss for the woman in question and/or other women, somehow,"

note that the language Twisty uses is not at all objective, but completely subjective, except for the lack of use of "I" statements."

*No woman has actually -enjoyed-*

("funk-filled bratwurst," "mouthful of throbbing gristle")

I mean, look: can you really look at that and say that the only thing going on here is a concern for the material well-being of Class Woman?

Bitch | Lab said...

@ mandos

trust me. you don't want to get in an argument with me on pomo.

i will crush your nuts in the debate. sorry, that's just the way it is.

Mandos said...

BD: I thought I explained how that disconnect is resolved in the deduction I gave. If some woman has actually enjoyed it (as opposed to lying to herself or something), then there is something unacceptable about such a woman's being. This is in itself an unacceptable answer. Hence, they must not really have enjoyed it.

BL: My primary fear is that it would be so timeconsuming that I wouldn't be able to keep it up. That's just been my experience. Also I am ultimately a philosophical outsider and would by smothered in what I'm sure are your many many references to Heidegger or something. I just don't have the time.

All I can say is that all previous defenders of any strong claim about "intersubjective agreement" as the collection of ideas commonly called "pomo" seems to use it have been unsuccessful in convincing me that it doesn't result in a panoply of strange conclusions.

Please note that I am not strictly a positivist.

belledame222 said...

>If some woman has actually enjoyed it (as opposed to lying to herself or something), then there is something unacceptable about such a woman's being. This is in itself an unacceptable answer. Hence, they must not really have enjoyed it.>

Ah, I see. Well, yes. Now the only question is, and how does one make this work outside of Bizarro World, without actual coercion?

Oh, yeah: shaming and guilt, and then throwing tantrums when it doesn't seem to be working.

and then withdraw to your closed circle, stick yout fingers in your ears and go LALALALALALA....

projection and projective identification, those are good, too.

Mandos said...

Oh, yeah: shaming and guilt, and then throwing tantrums when it doesn't seem to be working.

Or, to put it more charitably, putting up the mirror that will enable women to see the nature of the oppression that faces them in the hope that they may, ultimately, opt out.

belledame222 said...

Mm.

What's that saying? "When you point a finger, three more point back at you."

Just doin' my part, then, I guess.

belledame222 said...

...I mean, my experience of the radfem version of "holding up the mirror" isn't so much just some other dame holding up a mirror which I'm not clear why she's the one on the back end of it anyway; it feels more like being whacked over the head. and all the while the whacker is whinging about *her* headache and wondering why I'm not more solicitous.

Mandos said...

Twisty is very unafraid to admit that she too is ultimately a tool of the patriarchy along with her readers. That's her Matrix metaphor for you.

belledame222 said...

...and of course, as BL put it:

opt out to *what?* there ain't no matriarchy, and we've yet to even see the vaguest of blueprints as to what this Promised Land is supposed to look like.

all I can conclude from all I've read and seen and heard this past while is that the closest you're gonna come is to be nestled in the collective bosom and nurturing warm acceptance of your fellow radfems.

which, I gotta tell you, I am starting to think: given a choice, I'll take the goddam patriarchy. at least they have better music and clothes.

belledame222 said...

okay, so, nu, she's a tool of the Patriarchy. so fucking what? I mean: and where does this get us? again: and the alternative is...?

are we sure she isn't just, you know, a tool?

belledame222 said...

and speaking of the Matrix: you know, Zion was kind of a shithole. just sayin'.

and they kind of funked it on the ending, I suspect, for the same damn reason as so often happens with these narratives: because the authors, having imagined a world of such crushing, diabolical oppression, couldn't successfully navigate out of it, or imagine what the alternative would look like.

Mandos said...

Well, you could become a landdyke, I guess:

http://www.feminist-reprise.blogspot.com/

But most people, even radfems, are wary of making pronouncements of what the future OUGHT to look like, and this is partly because of hard lessons that the left learned in the 20th century.

And, as Sam put it on VS's blog, it's NOT her job to do this. People will create it on their own once we have swept away the patriarchal debris, if it is at all possible to do so.

Mandos said...

Zion <-> landdyke?

belledame222 said...

ohhhh, how much can I begin to say how much I loathe that mindset. How. Much.

"First let's pick everything apart/blow it all up, and *then* we'll figure out what we *do* want to put there instead!"

Uh. No.

belledame222 said...

and I reeeealllly love it when some smug "revolutionary" twitlet pulls the "it's not *my* job to think of a solution, I have enough to do here with pulling everything apart! It'll all come out well in the end, I'm SURE of it. I mean, *anything* has to be better than *this.*"

Sorry chollie. You broke it; you bought it. also see: Iraq.

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belle

when I said "objective" means something, I was referring to positivist (the kind who thinks physics is real science) philosophers understanding that we investigate the world on the basis of the hypothetical-deductive model of inquiry, using logic, and lo! intersubjective verification.

because every scientist on the planet recognizes that the result of a H-D model research don't tell the truth by themselves. The H-D model must be verified by other researchers.

that's why they publish it, provide their data and results: so it can be intersubjectively verified. Feel free to check out the short little vol. by Carl Hempel on the Philosophy of Science and the Philosophy of Social Science. The latter is a concession speech to the interpretivist critiques I mention below.

Others have argued that the human world is fundamentally different from the natural world and, thus, there are different rules. People make meanings, but not just in any way they please. Thus, social scientists research how people make meanings. they, too, do not think one social scientific inquiry means it's objectively true. Thus, they put their work out to the public and it is intersubjectively verified when others investigate and criticize their work, replicate it, etc.

So, Twisty could be held to the standards of either approach, the positivists or the interpretivists (both of which are NOT pomo, contrary to mandos).

In either case, objective means something. It doesn't mean: twisty pulls it out of her ass, takes a whiff and says, "I declare this objectively fucking gross"

Because she is a feminist, it's unlikely she's a postivist. Thus, she says, "I pull this out of my ass, I take a whiff, and I say "It's fucking gross and because I have a theory that tells me radical wimmins like me have deeper insight into the truth of the universe, then I'm right and other women will agree with me. The ones who don't -- that is because they are, heteorosexual. And, being heterosexual, the are located further away from the truth.

Lesbians are the "standpoint" in a social structure that hs the best access to the truth of all wimminz. Heterosexua, farther away in the social geography do not have as much access to the truth, but their's is truer than the menz.

coz, the most oppressedest class of peeples are the wimminz and among them are the lesbianz and among them are the radical wimminz because they are oppressed even by other feminists. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

As far as I know, ever single fucking claim made by a rad fem is up for grabs in terms of scientific research. Not one has been verified as undeniably true.

And my point was: she would have to reveal that if she truly wanted to have a debate. She'd have to reveal the things that make her claim supposedly objective: scientific knowledge.

in which case, we could debate the evidence to date thus far. in which case, she would lose, too. the evidence for the existence of the oppression of women as a class by men as a class isn't out there. the theoretical claim is underdetermined by the available research. Renaldo, for instance, only ever say that women are in a lower _status_ position than men in all the groups she studied, not in a _secondclass_ position.

there's plenty more, but we'll stop there since radfems think it's all horsehit anyway.

radfems are famous for thinking science, logic, evidence, etc is a bunch of malestream thinking and they're more into intuition 'n' shit. they're more into a very politicized form of "intersubjective knowledge".

knowledge is intersubjective in so far as lotsa wimminz agree. but when lotsa wimmin don't agree and your theory tells you it's because they are tainted by patriarchy, then you have to spend lotsa time getting lotsa wimmiz to agree.

for the rest, the posts at punkass blog explain radfem theory about raising wimminz political consciousness and why smacking down disagreement is imperative.

Bitch | Lab said...

mandos

Yes, of course. In the first fucking place, you exhibit no clue when you assumed I was talking about pomo.

the notion that intersubjective verification is pomo makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. seriously: I think Hempel is like 120 pp. Read it and then tell me about pomo and intersubjective verification.

or just pull you head out of that bucket of gasoline.

belledame222 said...

oh, I've seen f-reprise. I have at least some respect for her in that she seems reasonably internally/externally consistent, and found a way of life that genuinely seems to be satisfying and workable; she seems real.

I can't say I have any great love for some of her positions, and her lifestyle would not suit me. I note in passing that she appears to be fond of the odious Janice Raymond.

but I mean: *at least* it makes more sense to be a lesbian separatist if you *are* a lesbian. you've found a community of wimmin, it makes you happy: so, fine.

btw, I notice in passing that puffin id's as a "political lesbian." surprise surprise.

belledame222 said...

--uh-oh, nut-crushing in progress...

i mean, if it's all consensual and all then have at it, kids.

just clean up any residual squashed nutsack and/or other bits on your way out, will you? i just mopped in here.

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belle

:Mm.

What's that saying? "When you point a finger, three more point back at you."

Just doin' my part, then, I guess.:

LOL.

BTW, my latest post was dedicated to dark and dank basement.

R found this fab explanation of what is special about a mountain beaver:

"The mountain beaver is unusual in being...the host to the world's larges flea (>1/3")."

HA

I lafft and lafft and lafft.

Bitch | Lab said...

he'll have to come to the lab because i want it archived at my place.

as I told the buoyz today, it's BYOToS. Tissue or Sock, I don't care but clean up after yisself.

Bitch | Lab said...

IOW, if I type "Flea" then I'm talking Dark and Dank Basement.

Mandos said...

Yes, of course. In the first fucking place, you exhibit no clue when you assumed I was talking about pomo.

Ah, I see. There are two misreadings here. First of all, I eventually said, "commonly called 'pomo'" as an ironic way of indicating it. Lots of people associate the challenging of positivism with "pomo". I am aware that this is not the case. I did not *assume* any such thing, but perhaps I wasn't clear enough about it.

The second misreading is mine:

but "objectively" means something. twisty never and won't ever make that clear. she can't, because then everything about her theory has to be questioned and actually held to some standards of objectivity: evidence, logic, and so forth.

Or, she could rely on what critics of positive claim is meant by objectivity: intersubjective agreement.


I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that you held "intersubjective agreement" to mean what other people who've used similar terminology to that have meant in discussions with me. That was a mistake. That said, I myself am deeply unsatisfied by any framework that requires a social relation between entities to make a truth claim.

belledame222 said...

and i ALSO hate the way they've confirmed a lot of peoples' suspicions that "intuition"="whatever I pull out of my ass." thanks, really.

belledame222 said...

>That said, I myself am deeply unsatisfied by any framework that requires a social relation between entities to make a truth claim.>

I think I want to argue with this, but I am feeling on a sudden craving for pudding.

i like pudding.

Bitch | Lab said...

well -- the intuition crack was just me getting into being bitchy.

i think that people who are actually into that more form an internal strain of thought within radfem that, in my experience, are not nearly so committed to the theory and far more interested in hashing it out in sane ways. if that makes sense.

i mean you mentioned tea and such before and my experience with that strand of more cultural feminism is much more happy. they really were interested in more women-focused interactions. heart strikes me as leaning in that direction.

belledame222 said...

yeah. much as heart irritated the fuck out of me wrt her stuff on transsexuality, she does seem to have, well, a heart.

maybe it's partly a generational thing.

jay wrote a really gracious acknowledgement of her essential human complexity (her work wrt woc issues, for one thing), and she did stop by and wrote a rather gracious reply.

i think piny's not particularly moved, and I can't say I blame him; but, you know: at least she's human.

it's more than i can say for some people.

Mandos said...

I think Amy's Brain Today is also a political lesbian, or started out as one. My own very limited experience with "nonpolitical" lesbians in real life does not suggest that separatism is a common characteristic. Even Twisty is not a separatist, in that she has no particular desire to avoid friendships and socialization with men.

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belledame

"...I mean, my experience of the radfem version of "holding up the mirror" isn't so much just some other dame holding up a mirror which I'm not clear why she's the one on the back end of it anyway; it feels more like being whacked over the head. and all the while the whacker is whinging about *her* headache and wondering why I'm not more solicitous."

aha. This is great. it made think of how to explain why the direction radfems have taken really _bothered_ (well, pissed off) Carol Hanisch.

it wasn't about holding up a mirror, for her and other early radfems.

It was about sitting around rapping and saying, "Today, I was shopping and this guy said, "Smile sweetheart. Don't look so down." And it really bothered me. I see men who look grumpy all the time. I don't stop them and tell them to smile. Why does this guy do it. He made me feel as if I was ugly or something. I felt self conscious the rest of the day about whther I was smilling or not and now I'm pissed off."


And the other women would respond. If no one really had much to say, then said women has a _personal_ issue that she needs to figure out on her own.

But, if other women respond and say, "Oh my god. I don't believe it."

and so forth?

Then you're talking a small group of women who are on to something.

Then, what they'd do is start analyzing and debating how it was that these things happened. They'd hash out why men would do this. Etc.

Someone would usually go off and do more research and report back to the group. Sometimes,they'd write a paper and send it off to other CR groups for raising discussion.

The famous "Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" article circulated like that.

As they talked, they realized: there's nothing we can really do about this personally. We could get in every man's face every time and let him have it. We could also learn strategies to teach them subtle lessons."

Sometimes, they tried that. But what invariably happened,and radicalized them further, was that when they tried their indi'l strategies, men would get hostile or men would laugh. In any case, responding to it individually wasn't working.

That's why Hanisch said, "There are no personal solutions at this time."

They realized that they had to do something politically.

So, on the basis of the same process -- CR groups -- they started organizing actions.

But that has petered out. All we have left are a lot of women who are way more overworked than the women in the late 60s and 70s. We are generally no students, we aren't housewives, etc. And there were, remember, massive numbers of young single women as it was the baby boom. Whole different spin on things when you remember they simply had more time and much more in terms of numbers.

today, the social conditions really mitigate against us: work, stress, fragmentation, new wyas of being women in the world, etc.

For another thing, we typically aren't seeing this as completely new. We have the basics down pat. We HAVE made progress. We aren't usually dealing with men holding doors open anymore, the sexism is often more subtle.

There isn't the same sense of a whole new world waiting to be discovered from women's perspsective.

But the personal is political that everyone uses today is totally different.

They don't mean finding our common problems. They don't mean saying, "What happened to you today that's bugging you. Is it something all women are experiencing and how can we fix this?"

Robin Morgan turned it around and starting talking about it as rooting out your inner man.

does that make sense?

(I talked to my mentor this week and she gave me some of the low down on what went on in the CR groups, which I found fascinating.)

belledame222 said...

Yeah, my own experience with lesbians is that we're mostly all about the pussy.

men sort of don't really factor into it either way, you know.

point being: unlike most of the political lesbians and het radfems, f-reprise genuinely seems more interested in loving actual women than endlessly ranting about the icky oppressiveness of men and their foul lusts and genitals.

Bitch | Lab said...

not sure where separatism is in the convo, but it ranges from full bore separatism to woman-space separatism: carving out woman only spaces, encouraging women's business.

it's really died and most people think it failed.

but, for awhile, when i was growing up, it was a really big thing b/c all these people were moving out to the country where alnd was really cheap and starting separtatist lesbian communes.

this always made for a great cultural clash between the natives of the rural community and the women. indeed, one such community, the Women's Peace Encampment, was something I grew up hearing rumors about. e.g., every sunday, they all paraded to the laundromat naked to do their laundry.

*rolls eyes*

belledame222 said...

um.

if you're going to be going about naked then groovy; but, to the laundromat?

and wash...what?

oh never mind.

god be with the days, I guess.

belledame222 said...

btw: why are we still awake?

goddamit.

Bitch | Lab said...

My sleep schedule is off. Had to be up really late this weekend for my dad: he's been really sick. sleep in the morning til noon or 1.

the laundromat thing, I think looking back, was a urban -- i mean -- rural legend.

i seriously doubt they paraded from their communal house to downtown podunk nekkid. Though I can picture some of them simply stripping AT the laundromat and waiting for the clothes to finish. heh.

which may have happened one sunday. farmer spied them when he snuck out of church to get likkered up instead of listening to preacher man. it turned into a rural legend that they paraded down mainstreet from there.

former friends, who saved up and bought property to start a winery lived down the road, he always told me the story tongue in cheek.

Bitch | Lab said...

"lived down the road from the commune"

damn, this isn't the thread with more comments. i'm hoping to get one or the other or both up to one hundred posts!

belledame222 said...

sorry to hear about your dad, BL.

Alon Levy said...

I am somewhat sympathetic to this line of thinking. I'm a little allergic to the oversubjectivization of opression. Some philosophy/theory types tend to do this.

You can't be more allergic to that than I am to people who string a few factless statements together, call them a theory, and expect everyone to take them seriously.

The word "theory" has a very precise meaning. For something to qualify as a theory, it needs a tremendous amount of empirical backing. Darwinian evolution is a theory. Relativity is a theory. ESP isn't, and neither is radfem sexology. Calling what Twisty does theory is a flimsy attempt to ride on the credibility of what PZ Myers does while having the same level of rigor as his creationist enemies.

Lis Riba said...

damn, this isn't the thread with more comments. i'm hoping to get one or the other or both up to one hundred posts!
Hey, I was just pleased (in a geeky way) to be responsible for Comment #69 in the other thread.

Lis Riba said...

two bloggers i love are thinking that we are silly shits for taking seriously the idea that anyone could take away our feminist credentials on the internets (tm)

i just wanted to cry.

you know, i don't think everyone has to agree with me.

but this wasn't the issue for anyone really.

no one is so stupid to think feminist creds can be taken away.


I left a comment over at Shannon's pointing at Arwen's comment to Amanda

Mandos said...

Alon: I don't understand your comment. By "theory", in that sentence, I was referring to something akin to "political theory" or "social theory", such as one may find on a blog like Long Sunday or criticized on a blog like TheValve. Not "scientific theory" in the PZM sense. Science doesn't own the word "theory" in all contexts. Like "music theory"---yet another use of the word.

Now, whether such a distinction should exist is another matter.

I was also trying to express some sympathy with Twisty's form of oppression-analysis in general, outside the trolly aspect of her recent internet ventures.

Bitch | Lab said...

@ alon

"Relativity is a theory. ESP isn't, and neither is radfem sexology."

*nod*

a lot of the books upon which these claims were made have been thoroughly criticized. Brownmiller's claims about rape, for instance. I can't remember the author now, I want to say Dworkin, used an analysis of works of literature to show that men wanted to rape and humiliate women.

That's been criticized, too. I mean: we're talking literature. While cultural evidence like this is a footprint in the sand -- a kind of clue to getting a hold of the person who walked the beach just a hour or two before, it's pretty problematic to make grand claims about "what all men are like since patriarchy instantiated itself" on the basis of that.

wish I did, but I don't have the books in front of me that discuss the problems with radfem sexology.




(though I don't happen to have any books in fron

Bitch | Lab said...

And in re: to claims about the existence of patriarchy in general, it was VS who had a magnificent couple of posts at Alas once about the evidence for such a thing in the anthropological literature. too lazy to look for it. it was on a thread about what radfem theory is all about, with heart taking the lead in explaining it. that's where she first set for the idea that 'gender trumps race.'

i think it was also this thread where Amanda jumped in, before she went to blg at pandagon, to explain that she didn't buy the all women are oppressed as a class by men as a class, recounting her experience of rape as just one reason.

Alon Levy said...

By "theory", in that sentence, I was referring to something akin to "political theory" or "social theory", such as one may find on a blog like Long Sunday or criticized on a blog like TheValve.

Political theory is a fairly scientific thing, relying on data from economics and sociology. It's not up to the level of physics, but at the same time nobody will dare make a factless statement and then justify it, "But political theory says so!" - e.g. I've yet to make a single liberal who references Rawls without making the reference and its limitations explicit.

I can't remember the author now, I want to say Dworkin, used an analysis of works of literature to show that men wanted to rape and humiliate women.

Brownmiller does something like that in Against Our Will, writing both about rape scenes in popular literature and about the readers' response to them.

The discussion page of Wikipedia's article on rape contains some references to non-Brownmillerian theories of rape and to specific criticisms of Brownmiller. The one I remember tries to treat Brownmiller's theory more or less scientifically, mainly by trying to look for testable predictions, and finds out that the theory gets things wrong.

In particular, the criticism goes, if rape is a way of subjugating women as a class, then in a society with multiple forms of oppression men will use it more when other forms of oppression are unavailable. In plain English, it means men will tend to rape women of higher socioeconomic status than they (the rapists) are. But in reality that just doesn't happen: most rapists target women of similar or lower social status.

Mandos said...

Political theory is a fairly scientific thing, relying on data from economics and sociology. It's not up to the level of physics, but at the same time nobody will dare make a factless statement and then justify it, "But political theory says so!" - e.g. I've yet to make a single liberal who references Rawls without making the reference and its limitations explicit.

You must be meeting a different brand of theorists than I am. The people who label themselves political/social theorists are extremely allergic to what is commonly called economics and sociology.

I don't think that theory is used in the same sense.


In particular, the criticism goes, if rape is a way of subjugating women as a class, then in a society with multiple forms of oppression men will use it more when other forms of oppression are unavailable. In plain English, it means men will tend to rape women of higher socioeconomic status than they (the rapists) are. But in reality that just doesn't happen: most rapists target women of similar or lower social status.


This does not follow. If women are subjugated as a class, it only requires that in every class, women are subject to rape by members of the same economic/racial/political class, all other things being equal.

I find it hard to believe that this theory isn't borne out.

Alon Levy said...

I don't think that theory is used in the same sense.

Well, then there's the second major sense, which is used in "graph theory" and "economic theory." Graph theory is simply the study of graphs; economic theory is simply the study of economics. But these theories don't say anything, so it's impossible to say something like "my analysis is based on graph theory." You can base an analysis on a theorem, or a theory within economics (say Keynesianism), but then you get to the same definition of "theory" as in "evolutionary biology."

The fact that mathematicians and scientists use the word "theory" in two different way is certainly no excuse for inserting a third meaning, "pseudo-intellectual bullshit."

This does not follow. If women are subjugated as a class, it only requires that in every class, women are subject to rape by members of the same economic/racial/political class, all other things being equal.

And even that doesn't happen that way. Brownmiller herself notes that rape is largely limited to the lower classes, an observation that's lost on the "all women are equally at risk" crowd. If I'm not mistaken, a man who makes $15,000 a year has a higher risk of getting raped than a woman who makes $100,000, even if we completely discount prison rape.

By the way, "members"?...

Mandos said...

I'm sorry, Alon. "Theory" as a word has a much longer history than science and mathematics. They don't own the word. Whether the other types of theory make any sense is a completely different matter, but they have every right to use the name. The least egregious of which is "music theory", which is something I studied in high school and before.

And, once again, I'm sorry, Alon. That's the wrong comparison. We are trying to determine, within a class, whether all women in that class are oppressed relative to all men in that class. It is merely sufficient to point out that the right comparison is that the female $100K earner is more susceptible on average to rape than the male $100K earner, no matter who the perpetrator. That is the datum we need to validate the theory.

Bitch | Lab said...

@ alon and mandos

unlike alon, while i understand what you're saying, my experience of sociology is quite different.

e.g., i started out doing mainly critical theory and Habermas, and not a lick of empirical work was involved. I simply specialized in theory itself, not something like "sociologist of work".

In soc, it's called theory. Not philosophy, but theory. Even though I could study the same things in the philosophy department.

Partly, some sociologists complain, it's because we've never gotten our act together about what we _should_ be studying. Hence, endless metatheoretical and methodological wars over just that issue. All of which were engaged at the level of 'philosophy'.

Someone who does theory in sociology can be seen as more a substantive theorists or someone who is really doing philosophy. This is because, not having our shit together, we're constantly asking about methodology (as opposed to what's called method) and speaking more to epistemology.
And, we're still constantly asking questions concerned with ontology: what is it that we're trying to know. Society. Well, yeah, but what are the pertinent things to study about society: class conflict, social integration, how meanings are made?

Feminist theory is generally about philosophical questions since the bulk of it was hashing out metatheoretical issues: what is woman? what is the nature of her oppression? how do we know what's true? who can know? how do we deal with the problem of false consciousness? That's what you'll mainly learn in a feminist theory classroom.

This is largely because the empirical issues are taken up with each discipline itself, since women's studies is so interdisciplinary. There's no research program _for_ feminist theory taken up in a WS department for instance.

Feminist political philosophy as understood by Alison Jaggar has four components:

1. normative
2. empirical
3. practical
4. practicable

She makes the case for why all for, which I won't recite here. But even if she left out the controversial empirical component, this approach is largely what is taught in feminist theory. You leave it to the poli sci department to get into the more nitty gritty of empirical theory.

A feminist theory textbook, then, would include Heidi Hartman's metatheory re: developing a theoretical account of _why_ feminists needed an account of both patriarchy and capitalism as two sep system, neither reducicble to the other. Thus, she's asking ontological questions about the nature of the thing we are setting out to study in the first place.

Heidi hartman's work on occupation segregation, though, wouldn't be included.

Gayle's Rubin's work on The Traffic In Woman -- feminsit theory. Her work on Leather communities -- anthropology class or gay lesbian studies or queer studies.

Graduate level feminist theory courses, though, I think they tend to depend on the prof. If she's empirically oriented that may be the focus. If I'm taking a feminist theory course in English, though, all bets are off! LOL.

I took "Feminist Critical Theory" my first yr of grad school. I was used to Habermas. Boy did I learn that what the litcrit crowd meant by crit theory and what a sociologist meant by it? Worlds apart.

And that's another issue, many feminist "theorists" come out of the humanities, where the idea of 'theory' as empirical makes no sense to them.

Bitch | Lab said...

"It is merely sufficient to point out that the right comparison is that the female $100K earner is more susceptible on average to rape than the male $100K earner, no matter who the perpetrator. That is the datum we need to validate the theory."

You run out and LOOK for datum to validate a theory?

no no.

I think the critique alon offered is that the point of it was to challenge radfem on the claim that "gender trumps race" or "gender trumps class" as was "debated" (cough hack) in blogoliciousville over the Duke rape case.

and while that one study doesn't invalidate theory theory *rolls eyes* it forces the theory to account for what it might not have accounted for in its broadbrushed claims.

Similarly, Deborah Gray White's historical account of slave women in the Plantation South offers another challenge to the theory.

For quite awhile, women would make the broad brushed claim that l women were subjected to the remants of Victorian Womahood. Feminists would look at the emergence of the ideal and talk about the public/private split. etc.

All woman were once oppressed by Victorian Womahood? asked black women.

nuh huh.

White's study was a contribution to that body of research. She showed how white women in the plantation south looked the other way while they used black slaves for sex. This kept the heat of the white women and encouraged along the stereotypes of black women, which sure as heck werne't that they were oppressed by Victorian Womahood.

Rather, they were expected to be either hypersexual Jezebels or asexual (and either dumb or wise) Mammies.

Their experience of oppression was rather different and the remnants _they_ deal with are rather different.

It doesn't *invalidate* the theory. Rather, it does what empirical research is supposed to do: test the null hypothesis. Furthermore, since no one single piece of research can invalidate (or validate) a theory anyway, it simply was of a piece with other research which set out to actually test the claims (or something along those lines).

And radfems, the ideal of scientific or scholarly inquiry goes, could take that research, which called into question their Grand Theoies and revise the theory or abandon it altogether. Or something.

The point is: to improve the theory.

And not just for the fuck of it. Because decent theory helps us figure out _what_ to do. It also can help us understand the nature of our disagreements if we're talking as women from various racial backgrounds. It teaches me to be a lot less dipshitted about making claims about what ALL women supposedly experience or how they are supposedly ALL oppressed.

Men holding doors open or asking you to smile, might be a problem for white women, but it probably wasn't the probablem for black women in 1975 or even today, for that matter.

Being oppressed as breeders doesn't necessarily resonate with a black woman, a woman who's been subjected, as a race, to sterilization and eugenics and the formal and informal pressure put on them to abort.

Or, the split over abortion in Chicago during the early part of the Women's Lib movement) and the split between rad fems and black feminista and socialist fems. If you read it from a radfem perspective, the betrayal is that they were asked to deal with issues like forced sterilization and "liquidate" the abortion issue for something that made it seem like women wanted to have children.

From black feminists' perspective, the betrayal was being asked to deny their own history in the service of white women's myopic (self) interest. (I'm too lazy to go read Pauline Bart's outrage over Chicago again, so I'll have to report back tomorrow to correct the details.

These things kind of matter so saying that you're going to "validate" the theory is kind of problematic. it sounds like you're just going to walk out and look for all the pink pebbles and say, "See, my theory that pebbles are pink is true."

Mandos said...

As per f-reprise, check out one of her latest posts:

http://feminist-reprise.blogspot.com/2006/06/lierre-keith-on-sex-and-violence.html

To whom or what is she referring?

Bitch | Lab said...

@ belledame

::ohhhh, how much can I begin to say how much I loathe that mindset. How. Much.

"First let's pick everything apart/blow it all up, and *then* we'll figure out what we *do* want to put there instead!"

Uh. No. ::

And it's kind of a goofy claim.

A nomrative vision of the good society is alwasy contained in the critique of the present society. You can't criticize without have some sense of what _ought_ to be.

you can tease those things out, but without necessarily making a blueprint. and it's great that sam thinks it's not her job, but people become a little suspicious if

1. you constantly telling them that you don't want to dictate the futre and you're really democratic and stuff.

but at the same time

2. they think you're being a little presumptuous about "the truth" of what's going on now. e.,g if you keep telling me that i'm experiencing no pleasure when giving a blow job, but I am, then i am pretty sure you just might be leading me someplace i don't want to go.



e.g., one of my favorite examples of this is Karl Marx's letter to Arnold Ruge.

It's all really inspiringstuff. He says that, to paraphrase, "Our taks isn't to have ready made slogans and banner and ask people to kneel down before them. Rather, our task is to reveal to people what they are fighting for."

(Which, presonally, i would prefer any day to someone saying "It's not my job to write the blueprint up." beause at least he recognizes that struggles should proceed with the 'struggles of the wishes of the age" in order to advance them and radicalize them.

But there's that bit in there about the presumptuousness of showing people what they are _really_ fighting for, that feels a little ... open to abuse.

Mandos said...

These things kind of matter so saying that you're going to "validate" the theory is kind of problematic. it sounds like you're just going to walk out and look for all the pink pebbles and say, "See, my theory that pebbles are pink is true."

All that "ain't I a woman" stuff is very interesting, but I'm sorry, the comparison and critique is not apt in this case. A very specific set of claims is being made. Among these,

1. All women are oppressed by all men.

2. Within any other oppression, 1 holds.

3. The primary mode of enforcement of these claims is rape.

And the task is to determine whether or not these are valid statements, taken as a whole.

You are accusing the way I put this above as encouraging selective validation. Not so. I did not merely require that we find pink pebbles---if I'm understanding you correctly, which is occasionally a problem---but that we also do NOT find NON-PINK pebbles, in all the pebbles we encounter.

In this case, one of the tasks in determining whether the above statements are a basis to proceed is to determine whether or not, within a particular non-gendered class (say, wealth), oppression via rape is differentiated via gender. The other, complementary task is to determine whether or not there is a non-gendered class where this is not the case.

If one can answer yes to the former and no to the later, then we have one important piece of evidence to determine whether we should proceed from 1-3. (I am not excluding the possibility of other required pieces of evidence, esp. showing how rape is a factor in other aspects of gendered oppression.)

Alon said,

And even that doesn't happen that way. Brownmiller herself notes that rape is largely limited to the lower classes, an observation that's lost on the "all women are equally at risk" crowd. If I'm not mistaken, a man who makes $15,000 a year has a higher risk of getting raped than a woman who makes $100,000, even if we completely discount prison rape.

(Let us leave aside the "all women are equally at risk" strawradfem. They are instead usually saying that there is no immunity from rape for any women within her class.)

Alon's point is not material in determining whether we should proceed from 1-3 in building further arguments (what I mean by "validating"). Because it does not challenge 1 and 2. It is important to note that 1 cannot be taken independently from 2 without generating an argument that radfems wouldn't own. For them, all women are oppressed by all men (1) necessarily in the context of class (2). That women from a higher class may be less likely to be raped than a man from a lower class compares apples to oranges in a way that does not contradict the radfem Basic Claim.

That, as you say, women are faced often with a variety of oppressions also does not pertain to 1-3 and the arguments that stem therefrom. That different women of different classes suffer from different oppressions is orthogonal to the radfem grande idée. That they suffer from them in relation to men is sufficient.

That women are complicit in the oppresion of other women is enthusiastically acknowledged by radical feminists, as we have certainly lately seen.

belledame222 said...

*blink* *blink* *blink*

belledame222 said...

the f-reprise quote:

I don't know the book. What I'm getting from that passage is--it's interesting: it does shed a little light on much of the force that's fuelling the sex/kink-pos-radfem split. It's not just theoretical, or "tastes great less filling." It's not even just about how people internalize sex-negative and/or sexist messages, although that's there, too. It's about peoples' experience of being violated (or not), how they process it, what's healing, what's triggering, what's too painful to process.

And in this passage, the author is positioning an abuse survivor confronting a "yay BDSM" person who just doesn't or won't get how upset this makes her, viscerally.

So, I get why that experience would be painful, that perspective. I think that does happen a lot.

At the same time, I think: well, this is not the only story. Some abuse survivors become violently opposed to porn/kink, and some find it profoundly healing. Some people who've never been abused, especially, adore kink and porn; some loathe it and don't understand why anyone would get it; some are simply indifferent.

Reading that passage, the style reminds me a lot of Dworkin, and others in that vein. I can look at it as powerful, moving; I can also look at it and think, okay, that's a *bit* overwrought.

It's just where some people are; I'm sure that...emotional pitch, that heaviness, comes from a real place of terrible pain.

What I don't care for--even putting aside my own stuff about the sex/ BDSM business--is when I feel like I'm around people who need to draw me into that place with them in order to connect at all.

Not saying this is f-reprise or that book, necessarily--I don't know enough about either--just: it does remind me of a certain tenor among certain of the anti-porn/whatever folks as, I've experienced. I mean, like, a lot. Personally I find it kind of overwhelming and draining.

belledame222 said...

and then, too, of course, it's put into the same damn dreary ideological framework: *of course,* this is all about The Patriarchy, and what men do to women, forever and ever, amen. It's not enough to say, this is something that happened to me at the hands of men, and it was terrible; this is something that happens to many many women at the hands of men, and *that* is terrible; this is something that has an institutional, ideological basis, not just some coincidence, and that needs to be addressed. No.
This IS The Framework. This Is How It Is, And How It Must Be.

because I'm looking at f-reprise, and the "Questioning Transgender" site linked, and--gahhh. Steam. jesus fuck, shut UP.

i am looking at the site just to make sure i'm not completely misrepresenting--but, no, how could i really, goddam it, *it's not your story to question, that's the whole fucking point.* Christ.

And that's what finally drives me up the wall with some people: my pain my PAIN MY pain MY PAIN, *okay*, it's really really really bad.

But at some point--you know what, other people have pain, too. People who don't share your exact experience, even. *Different kinds of pain.* But pain nonetheless.

Harassing TG folk in any way, I'm sorry, you just lost most of my sympathy. Particularly if your business is about Class Women: there's further down on the totem pole, toots, and you are kicking down, and it sucks.

Other people have pain. They don't even have to be lower down on the collective totem pole. And no, you don't have to shoulder anyone else's burden if your own is so heavy, no one's (well, no one should be) asking that--but for the love of Mike, stop doing unto others as you keep complaining about what's being done to yourself. That shit's not on. No.

Bitch | Lab said...

ah. ok you just want to use logic and you're really not interested in explanatory social theory.

i don't get the reason why you'd want to sit around and wax the carrot in front of every like that for. but carry on.

Bitch | Lab said...

belledame

*nod*nod*

that's what my friend in grad school did her dissertation on: studying which folks went in which direction and looking for any correlations in terms of other factors.

(re: the post on f-reprise and porn/rape/kink

belledame222 said...

>But there's that bit in there about the presumptuousness of showing people what they are _really_ fighting for, that feels a little ... open to abuse.

Yup. "I'm showing you the mirror. Me subject: you object! I hold the mirror to you. Now: you look, and this is how you will become a subject. No, no--look over here. *No*, *here.* You're not seeing it right."

Next.

Mandos said...

ah. ok you just want to use logic and you're really not interested in explanatory social theory.

Um. Alon made a statement about the evidence regarding someone else's theory in order to demonstrate the problems with that theory. So did you. If "using logic" is inadmissible in discussing why those statements aren't relevant, then I'm not sure what is admissible, anyway. Logic is the most important part.

I can't think of an explanatory anything that doesn't involve extensive use of logic. So I really don't know what you want. What form would you like me to tell you that you and Alon haven't come up with a relevant critique in these two instances?

i don't get the reason why you'd want to sit around and wax the carrot in front of every like that for. but carry on.

This is just not an honest tactic. Maybe you're annoyed at the way I express myself?

belledame222 said...

Not to interpret for BL, but I get the impression she thinks you're not really hearing her; and/or you're kind of talking at cross-purposes, there.

understand i have no dog here because i honestly have no idea what y'all are talking about.

belledame222 said...

I mean, mandos: bottom line, I think? is that you're using formal and rather dispassionate logic to explain radfem theory, and it may be valid as such for all I know, but the whole point is, radfem as we understand it is pretty much about the passionate, subjective feelings. Personal experience. (which is then extrapolated to represent the experience of All Women, often). So it's a bit bizarre to be using this kind of approach, I think, given everything we've been talking about.

belledame222 said...

>That, as you say, women are faced often with a variety of oppressions also does not pertain to 1-3 and the arguments that stem therefrom. That different women of different classes suffer from different oppressions is orthogonal to the radfem grande idée. That they suffer from them in relation to men is sufficient.>

Well, yes, that's the ideology, more or less (depending on which radfems you're talking about, more or less). Is that really useful, I think, is the question that's being asked.

belledame222 said...

>A very specific set of claims is being made. Among these,

1. All women are oppressed by all men.

2. Within any other oppression, 1 holds.

3. The primary mode of enforcement of these claims is rape.>

Again, yes, that's the ideology. The question is: how did the proponents arrive at these claims? And are they in fact correct, these claims?

I mean--well, I lost track of the start of this argument. If it's a question of, is radfem internally consistent, well, that is a different question from, is radfem useful? How does the theory become practice? Is this working out? Because that's the angle I'm more interested in, frankly.

Mandos said...

Well then maybe it's just a difference in style. Mathematical proof mode is a style of writing to which I'm just naturally accustomed.

I mean, mandos: bottom line, I think? is that you're using formal and rather dispassionate logic to explain radfem theory, and it may be valid as such for all I know, but the whole point is, radfem as we understand it is pretty much about the passionate, subjective feelings.

That's not how I read radfem writing on the Internet. A lot of passion motivates the writing, and a lot of personal experience animates it, but...at its heart, it's a very cold, very materialist mode of analysis as feminisms go. Show Me The Money!

Yes, even the passion of Dworkin eventually fits this mode. But we have people like Sam of Genderberg who have struck me as taking a more dispassionate tone about the issue.

I mean--well, I lost track of the start of this argument. If it's a question of, is radfem internally consistent, well, that is a different question from, is radfem useful? How does the theory become practice? Is this working out?

The extrapolation to All Women comes from a very specific logic---and, to my mind, not an entirely poorly reasoned one---not merely passion. Alon was attempting to challenge a portion of this logic when he attempted to show that actual data about rape didn't fit the theory. I was telling Alon that he was looking at the wrong data.

BL then barged in and tried to tell me, effectively, that the sort of question I asked would result in a form of selective validation of evidence. She helpfully gave some alternative data points. I suggests why they weren't relevant as well.

Apparently, this didn't go down well.

Because that's the angle I'm more interested in, frankly.

The practical reality of radfem arguments is already evident in their antiporn and antiprostitution work. If 1-3 hold, then the first priority is to end the sexual commodification of women, since the sexual commodification of women is tantamount to declaring women the Sex Class (as Twisty would put it), and declaring them the Sex Class (claim 2) makes them more susceptible to rape (claim 3), ensuring that Class Woman is oppressed by Class Man (claim 1).

Dan L-K said...

In re. picking: I don't know if the need to test everything to destructon just to find out if it's worthwhile is a neurosis of personality or politics or both, but it sure makes the world a little bit less fun every time it's practiced.

And, I dunno, but there's something here about the choice you make about being happy, good, or right. I don't think they're mutually exclusive, but I think they often work best approached in that order: if I decide to be happy, then I'm more likely to do good, and that will be the cause of its own rightness. Whereas from the other direction, a picker tries to be right first - perfectly just, perfectly logical - assuming that goodness and then happiness will flow forth from there, when I think they usually don't.

Erg. This isn't terribly coherent. But I've been thinking about all this in terms of joy, and how a certain mindset of radicalism leaches joy from everything it touches without offering anything substantial to take its place - part of that "we'll break it all down and then decide what to do with the pieces later." And I think this is doomed.

If we are to be about the business of changing the world - if we are to be revolutionaries, in great or small part - and we do not have joy, we are nothing.

belledame222 said...

>The practical reality of radfem arguments is already evident in their antiporn and antiprostitution work. If 1-3 hold, then the first priority is to end the sexual commodification of women, since the sexual commodification of women is tantamount to declaring women the Sex Class (as Twisty would put it), and declaring them the Sex Class (claim 2) makes them more susceptible to rape (claim 3), ensuring that Class Woman is oppressed by Class Man (claim 1).>

Right, so: how's that one working out, then?

I don't even just mean the prostitution debate a la at Violet's; I mean, the theory is that it's the *lynchpin,* right? women as the sex class? So in theory then get rid of the prostitution and the pr0n and this will thus not only improve the lives of teh actual women who would have been working in the sex industry, but all women. Yes? So: how's that going? in the places where the radfem activism in those areas has had concrete results, that is?

And wadr, but I don't see Sam (for instance) *at all* the way you do; she might be cold, but cold doesn't necessarily mean dispassionate, much less logical. The constant resorting to graphic, vivid imagery, for instance. This is not about analysis. This about a swift kick to the jugular.

belledame222 said...

Dan: yes.

I keep asking: okay, so not "sex-positive," fine. Positive about...*what,* then? What do you want the world to look like when you walk out the door in the morning?

the goal of overthrowing readthru at T's is all about what the world *won't* have: no more oppression, all sounds good, no more pr0n, well whatever, no more this, no more that...okay, and we *do* have?...

Really best to have a destination in mind before getting on the road. Unless you don't mind getting lost.

nature abhors a vacuum.

Dan L-K said...

I think I'm wary of anything that goes out of its way to define itself in the negative. As you say, if you're all about what you're not, then what is it that you are?

This ties back to what you were saying about Shadow on the other thread - if all your obsessions are what you reject, then you're forming yourself and your entire person around a great empty hole in the shape of all the things you hate. And those things are going to leach out, one way or another. Qlippoth; bad mojo of the worst kind.

I don't want to reject nearly as much as I want to embrace; I don't want to negate nearly as much as I want to affirm. I'd rather say "yes, and that too," even if it means making me difficult and contradictory and further from perfection.

(And btw, have you read this?)

Mandos said...

Let me put it this way: you can't really evaluate a theory based on whether the specific form of activism generated from the theory suceeded, because there are many other variables. One such variable is the fact that antiporn radfems are vastly outnumbered for whatever reason.

A correlation that serves as a better sort of clue is this: is the rate of porn use rising? And if so, is the sexual treatment of women getting worse? It's clear to me that radfems usually believe both to be "yes"---and one of the pieces of this evidence might be the kinds of sexual practices that some women engage in. Some of which, to reference a discussion above, may be "objectively disgusting."

On that note, you may have noticed that Twisty started a new thread on the subject, and among the first commenters, saltyC has clearly grounded the entire hypothesis, according to her, in a notion of certain sexual practices being objectively disgusting. She even used these words.

That's why, for all their graphic descriptions of sex, the analysis they are using is ultimately quite cold and dispassionate to me. It claims that there is an independent reality to sex beyond the minds and feelings of the participants and attempts to reflect it back. Their descriptions are designed to reflect what they believe is the cold hard reality of it. What they ARE passionate about is the fact that they consider the reflect to be disgusting.

Mandos said...

BTW, wadr?

belledame222 said...

"with all due respect"

Alon Levy said...

Alon's point is not material in determining whether we should proceed from 1-3 in building further arguments (what I mean by "validating").

What is, then? When a sociological theory makes no testable claims, usually what people do is throw it out. You can redefine it as philosophy, of course, but since there are other theories of rape, which do make testable predictions, Brownmiller's theory looks very much like Aristotelian physics, upheld by a zealous church trying to do its best to quell empiricism.

Incidentally, I'm not even trying to challenge 1 and 2. They're claims made without evidence; hence I dismiss them without evidence. Claim 3 has a coherent theory around it, which can be turned into a scientific one, so it makes sense to look at it and test it.

For example, the theory says rape should be everywhere; in reality it's limited to high crime, low-SES groups. The theory says only humans rape (at least, Brownmiller explicitly says so); in reality other species have been observed to rape. The theory says women don't rape men; in reality they do at about half the rate men rape women. These aren't small things that can be corrected, but central flaws that invalidate the theory's main claims.

. If 1-3 hold, then the first priority is to end the sexual commodification of women, since the sexual commodification of women is tantamount to declaring women the Sex Class (as Twisty would put it), and declaring them the Sex Class (claim 2) makes them more susceptible to rape (claim 3), ensuring that Class Woman is oppressed by Class Man (claim 1).

The problem is that once you start enacting that program, the entire theory disintegrates, and claims 1 and 2 get demoted from the status of factless bullshit to the status of factless bullshit that contradicts known facts.

For example, if I read you correctly, you say that the theory implies a porn-rape link, which is a myth. For another example, the way the theory constructs the patriarchy is inconsistent with how it actually works: Sam implies that it's a way for all men together to oppress all women, whereas in fact it's a way for all men to savagely compete with one another for the property that is women.

Well then maybe it's just a difference in style. Mathematical proof mode is a style of writing to which I'm just naturally accustomed.

It's not a question of style. I'm between a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. in math, and I recognize that mathematical-style proofs are worthless here. The ideologies that try to use it end up promoting crap - Austrian economics comes to mind here. You can't work with any axioms here but what observations of reality can tell you.

One such variable is the fact that antiporn radfems are vastly outnumbered for whatever reason.

It doesn't matter. What matters is that there was a widespread movement to criminalize pornography, for whatever reason. If porn itself causes rape, then removing it should reduce the rape rate, regardless of why the anti-porn movement sprang up.

That's why, for all their graphic descriptions of sex, the analysis they are using is ultimately quite cold and dispassionate to me.

It's about as cold and dispassionate as the bit Violet quoted a short while ago written by that rabbi who said circumcision was good because it caused premature ejaculation (and, incidentally, about as coherent).

belledame222 said...

I did see that (the SaltyC comment).

yeah. "objectively disgusting." hokey-dokey then.

it's just gibberish.

I mean: I will buy that they're materialist in the same way that Christian fundamentalists are materialist, in that they've reified certain concepts, if that's what you mean, sure.

Doesn't mean it makes any more sense, though.

Mandos said...

Alon, I clearly gave ways in which 1 and 2 could be both tested and falsified. In fact, you can drive a stake into 1 and 2 quite easily: find some other form of recognizable social class in which, all other things being equal, men are more likely to be raped by women than vice versa.

Sam, BB/Dubhe, etc, etc claim to have positive evidence for 1 and 2. Whether they actually have this is another matter. But it's similarly easy to imagine what positive evidence would look like. I don't think that radfem claims are on the same level as YEC...


For example, the theory says rape should be everywhere; in reality it's limited to high crime, low-SES groups. The theory says only humans rape (at least, Brownmiller explicitly says so); in reality other species have been observed to rape. The theory says women don't rape men; in reality they do at about half the rate men rape women. These aren't small things that can be corrected, but central flaws that invalidate the theory's main claims.


If this is in response to claim 3, I again fail to see the relevance---they don't seem central to me at all. I am not specifically talking about Brownmiller here, as I haven't look at Brownmiller in a long time, and when I did, not much.

All claim 3 is saying is that rape is one of the conditions under which women are a class are made unequal to men in other areas. Another stake can be driven into this theory by finding a society in which, for example, women are regularly raped by men yet suffer no economic disadvantages. The claim is testable merely by showing that for societies in which rape is prevalent, women form a larger portion of the lower economic classes.

Your statements above impinge on none of these. In fact, your first statement can be used as evidence for it!

For example, if I read you correctly, you say that the theory implies a porn-rape link, which is a myth.

If it is a myth, you would be right about the theory. I won't argue with you. My main objective in this line of the discussion is to show how easy it is to mischaracterize radfem thinking---which you did when you originally presented evidence that doesn't support or falsify the underlying radfem theory. I'm entirely open to the idea that the evidence that Sam claims she has might be bogus.

My own take is that there is something to theory, but its proponents are likely overreaching. Which is something I think almost all of us here might agree with? Even Dr. Socks, who is even more sympathetic to them than I am, might be willing to agree with this.

For another example, the way the theory constructs the patriarchy is inconsistent with how it actually works: Sam implies that it's a way for all men together to oppress all women, whereas in fact it's a way for all men to savagely compete with one another for the property that is women.

I hope you can see the logical absurdity in this statement. The underlying situation is that women are property. The radfem project is to explain how women become property and how in modern western society, pornography is the basic form of propertization just like in other societies, the full covering of women might be the same.

Radfems always acknowledge---nay promote!---the idea that men's violence against men is a product of the patriarchy and the solution begins with disobjectifying women. In this I would probably agree that they are overreaching.

It's not a question of style. I'm between a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. in math, and I recognize that mathematical-style proofs are worthless here. The ideologies that try to use it end up promoting crap - Austrian economics comes to mind here. You can't work with any axioms here but what observations of reality can tell you.

I disagree, then. Part of the scientific project is not merely to find evidence---which, as such, properly exposes science to accusations of stamp-collecting. Are you promoting a form of naive empiricism here? An important, if not fundamental part of the project is to find the correct organization of concepts reflecting the universe. Logic and mathematical-style proofs as such are necessary not only to determine a maximally consistent arrangement of such organizing concepts, but also to find the appropriate connection between the evidence and the concepts.

Do not become too blinded by arguing with YECs over biology to put evidence and logic in their proper perspective.

My critique of your arguments here stems from my belief that you did not express the correct connection between evidence and concepts that allows us to establish causality, and hence your critique of radfem theories wasn't valid.

Bitch | Lab said...

mandos

you're just talking a different theory. but, i follow Alison Jaggar in saying that, because we need to know if our theories comport with the world, then we need to test them. Thus, they must be _empirical_.

And, at that point, you build a research program (not likely with fem theo) and test the theory, but not by running off to prove your theory exist. you know that, so i won't belabor the point. what point you're trying to make with all the logic makes no sense.

As I said: a larger portion of radfems themselves think logic is "male stream" and the abjured the use of male tools to discover knowledge. which is another reason why, compared to other brands of fem. theory, rad fem theory is sparse: they abjured theory as "malestream" thinking.

Bitch | Lab said...

the problem is mandos, you just have no facility with the body of feminist thought. so you think that your approach is what matters. no: what matters is what feminist did.

there are books. read them. you're doing the cocky dickwad routine where you haven't a clue and think you know it all.

that's the problem.

you have the audacity to assume i'm brainless and, as I said, I would crush your nuts flat in a discussion of pomo.

and you know what? you'd crush my in your area of expertise.

get over yourself.

Bitch | Lab said...

alon wrote:

"The ideologies that try to use it end up promoting crap - Austrian economics comes to mind here. You can't work with any axioms here but what observations of reality can tell you."

Austrian ec. this makes me laff and laff and laff.

crap > Aust Ec.

Yes. Exactly.

i recommend mandos join LBO and play with the Marxist. He'd have much more fun: physics, marth, left rads, etc. etc.

belledame222 said...

>What is, then? When a sociological theory makes no testable claims, usually what people do is throw it out. You can redefine it as philosophy, of course, but since there are other theories of rape, which do make testable predictions, Brownmiller's theory looks very much like Aristotelian physics, upheld by a zealous church trying to do its best to quell empiricism.>

Right.

There's a tautological nature to the way the "patriarchy" thing gets tossed around that reminds me of nothing so much as fundamentalist evangelical talk.

and BL's right about the disdain for logic as "malestream" theory, although I'm sure not all radfems would speak of it as such (I can't imagine T saying "logic is malestream.") Which doesn't mean that T's using logic, especially. Like people have been saying: besides all the other problems with what she did, there's a real problem with throwing out shit like "I posit no women blahblah," then when women challenge her posit, instead of revising the posit or even acknowledging that there's been a challenge, just making with the personal insults and the nasty.

That said: kids: don't make me pull over. I don't mind thrashes and flame wars and pwning and shit; just, i'd at least like it to be over something that we all know what the stakes are here. Cause I haven't, here, besides "look, I'm right about this dammit," and it's making me all stroppy and irritated.

or rather: "fields of expertise." Yes. We've all got 'em. And I'd like to hear from everybody's, because *that* interests me, just; if it's not really about anything except "I'm RIGHT, dammit:" not so much.

belledame222 said...

what is YEC?

back to the notion of "materialism:" that did click for me when I remembered this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_materialism

"Christian Materialism quietly emerged from the earlier 'fundamentalist' movement in the late twentieth century, in a bold takeover that went largely unnoticed outside the religious community. The key to the worldview was the development of a Mechanism that closely paralleled that of Materialism (in order to compete effectively with Materialism). The explicit goal of the resulting movement was to reverse the social decline that had accompanied the rise of Individualism and the breakdown of traditional communities. In order to do this, however, it sacrificed the spirituality and Christian Idealism that (due to the decline of Idealism) had become a drag on the popularity of Christianity, and embraced the tenets of Materialism."

***

They go on to use that to explain how that translates into the seemingly unlikely combination of Christianity and the "gospel of wealth" and suchlike.

But what interests me more here in terms of what we've been talking about--because radfem isn't about "yay money and consumer goods!" in *that* sense of "material--what interests me here is the notion of "material" as "concrete." Reificiation. (and "mechanism," I think, is key--I have to refresh myself on a couple of things before I go on with that line)

Which is exactly the problem with fundamentalisms in general that Karen Armstrong, say (I don't know if she uses the term "reify") pins down: it makes an abstract concept (i.e. "patriarchy") into not only a concrete reality but an Absolute.

and then relies on faith and tautology to keep it going.

in something like radfem (this is not the only ideology where this happens, of course), it's even more confusing, because unlike in religious fundamentalism where you can fall back on supernatural (so, outside but nameable) Authority, here there's no such beastie. Hell, in radfem there's not even an acknowledgement that Authority is a good thing, really: when the Revolution comes, presto! no more hierarchy! no more (malestream) power imbalances! everyone equal! yay new world.

So instead, what happens is what we keep seeing: the covert appeal to unnamed authority. I'm now thinking: it's not just coincidence that we keep seeing the conflation of:

"I don't like such and so"

with

"No woman likes such and so"

or even

"Such and so is *bad for women* (i.e. Class Woman or some other such reification)."

There's a reason for it. It's *necessary* to do that. That's your appeal to authority, all the more powerful because it's hidden. And when people get provoked in response to that, the comeback is always, well, sheesh, what's the big deal? No one's telling you to *do* anything! It's just an opinion!

No, it's not. It's subtle and it's nasty, and it's one of the lynchpins on which authoritarian movements (i will not use the word "cults" yet) turn.

THAT'S why this is bothering me so much.

Because that shit frankly creeps me out and worries me. No matter where it's coming from. But particularly when it seems to be affecting a movement that I have personal stakes in, that I care about. Yes yes, in "real world" terms, radfems aren't going to have nearly the influence that say Christian fundamentalists do (unless and except for the cases where their agendas dovetail, as we've seen in the past).

But, as people have been saying, if it's important to *you,* if it's *your* circles, it's gonna hit you even harder. It's not even just the hurt feelings, the feeling of betrayal, although that certainly factors. It's that sudden sensation of the rug being pulled out from under: wait, is *this* what I signed up for? But...but...but...something's way off here, but I can't put my finger on it...

Alon Levy said...

what is YEC?

Young-Earth Creationism, i.e. the belief that God created the world a few thousand years ago as written in Genesis.

Hell, in radfem there's not even an acknowledgement that Authority is a good thing, really: when the Revolution comes, presto! no more hierarchy! no more (malestream) power imbalances! everyone equal! yay new world.

It's not just radical feminism. This is exactly the same as communism, down to the sex-negativity (old-style communism was as much against sex for fun and commercial sex as radical feminism). The main difference is in the level of influence: even in its apex in the 1970s, radical feminism had nowhere near the political and intellectual influence communism had.

belledame222 said...

Perzackly. It's not even just communism and/or other hardline leftist ideologies derived from such. (Consider: Ayn Rand).

But, and I so completely need to bone up on my Marx and Engels and dialectics andandand to get specific about this, but what I'm trying to tease out here is a general principle, maybe:

That any ideology, "radical" or otherwise, is inevitably going to have elements of the dominant ideologies it's reacting to

and:

In radfem, the element we've been dancing around have here in particular is the sex-negativity that's derived from centuries' worth of "patriarchal" (god i'm thinking i may end up expunging that word from my vocab altogether; it's beginning to take on the resonance of "imperialist pigdogs" or something), Bible-based sex-negativity. There are others, of course.

But it's one other reason why it's so fucking irritating when some little twerp who's just been converted to the Way Of Dworkin starts trying to lay on the crap about "examine yourself." Even if it isn't as inherently invasive and frankly fuckwitted as "no, really, take a look at how your selfish little orgasms are oppressing Women! Shame! shaaaaaame) Examine the cultural influences, is that it? Yeah. We could all do with some more of that.

(My larger theory, which is going to have to remain mainly in the general area of "pulling this out of my ass" until I bone up, like I said, is that Marxism and its derivate's biggest blind spot was in what's now called "atomism."

not to mention there was and still is a widespead unconscious acceptance of the Cartesian mind-body dualism, which I still see in these bigass blog eruptions, for example.


(Alon: are you *really* only seventeen? I mean, damn, dude, I'm impressed).

belledame222 said...

"derivates'"

belledame222 said...

and of course there are sort of rough equivalents and/or predecessors of "sex-positive feminism" that started as reactions to the sex-negativity in...leftism, modernism, I want to say, yes: am thinking here particularly of Wilhelm Reich.

Mandos said...

YEC is "Young Earth Creationis{m,t}". I mentioned it because Alon seems to be treated radfemmery as the same sort of thing.

What's LBO?

And, at that point, you build a research program (not likely with fem theo) and test the theory, but not by running off to prove your theory exist.

We'll have to disagree about the nature of science, then. I agree that testing is important but deciding what is the correct test is extremely tricky and requires the kind of logic that I was attempting to use.

And I'm under the distinct impression that a lot of social sciences, not to mention much of psychology as it is distinct from other social science, haven't given the same amount of thought to this issue as some of the hard sciences have.

I say this as someone who does stuff peripherally related to psychology.

the problem is mandos, you just have no facility with the body of feminist thought. so you think that your approach is what matters. no: what matters is what feminist did.

I don't think that my approach "matters" in some profound, immanent way. Alon

1. described a theory bandied about by radfem bloggers.

2. described a piece of evidence that he believed challenged that theory.

It does not really require me to refer elsewhere to show that Alon's evidence as he presented it didn't challenge the substance of 1---again as we were discussing it in this thread.

This practically only requires an automaton to argue it, really. It does not require irrelevant background knowledge. Any demand for that (not to mention assumptions that I lack it) I take to be a form of bullying. It's all within Alon's statements.

“shoving” a cock in a woman’s mouth is the only way BJ’s are ever done? there’s never ever been a woman who has willingly all by herself taken a man into her mouth and gone from there? there’s never been a gay man who sucked on another man’s dick because he loved him and wanted to express that love to him? There’s never been a lesbian couple who used a dildo in an egalitarian way to have fun? and even more pointedly, there’s never in the entire history of the world, ever been a single woman who gets turned on by power?
constructs of power go much deeper than simply men have all of it, women have nothing. power is being messed with and challenged in very significant ways by many many different communities and I don’t believe for one second that it is an unchallenged “truthism” that there’s not any woman or man anywhere in the world who isn’t consciously playing with the boundries of power through the act of sex.


I have seen this myself, but, truth be told, I don't find this reflected as much on teh internets. We have self-identified radfem bloggers who are all "you want numbers? We got'em!" Sam and BB and FF and a few others especially are like that. Twisty, no matter what you think of her, believes that she has the power of logic on her side, malestream or no. She's a radfem who mocks the whole "womyn" thing...


you have the audacity to assume i'm brainless and, as I said, I would crush your nuts flat in a discussion of pomo.

and you know what? you'd crush my in your area of expertise.


Do please note that I'm not challenging you beyond this very specific set of questions.

(Gah! Stupid blogger!)

Mandos said...

Gah! I again quoted the wrong thing.

I meant to quote the malestream comments, not something I accidentally highlighted when looking at Heart's blog.

Whatever. I'm feeling technologically incompetent today.

Dan L-K said...

god i'm thinking i may end up expunging that word from my vocab altogether; it's beginning to take on the resonance of "imperialist pigdogs" or something

This made my morning.

belledame222 said...

>I agree that testing is important but deciding what is the correct test is extremely tricky

That, I agree with

>and requires the kind of logic that I was attempting to use.

That, I do not, in this case.

>And I'm under the distinct impression that a lot of social sciences, not to mention much of psychology as it is distinct from other social science, haven't given the same amount of thought to this issue as some of the hard sciences have.

Oooh. Okay, now you're treading on *my* turf. Psychology, especially, which is more than a peripheral interest of mine,

Without particularly being interested in nutcrushing (I've always been more of a fan of a nice puree, or maybe a mousse): mandos...

well.

One can argue about to what degree psychology is a "science," pure and simple. (imo it's also an art, among other things. also depends what form of psych you're talking about, of course).

Point here, or my point: there are other techniques, other approaches, than the kind you've been using; and they're just as valid. (Often more so, depending on what we're trying to examine). They're just different.

It's a bit like saying I don't know "this hammer is the only/best tool for the job." Well, if you're pounding in a nail, yes. If you're trying to change a tire, maybe not so much. If you want to peel an onion...really probably not gonna work so well. You get the picture.

belledame222 said...

mandos: it's not just you. blogger is Teh suck.

belledame222 said...

>Sam and BB and FF and a few others especially are like that. Twisty, no matter what you think of her, believes that she has the power of logic on her side, malestream or no.>

Sure, they probably *believe* it. that doesn't mean they *are.* And, more important, I think to maybe what's being approached here: (my posit) it doesn't mean that even if you could brilliantly and dazzlingly logically deconstruct, to them, or many of their followers, *exactly why* their (whatever) is illogical, it wouldn't change squat.

I mean, *that's* testable, certainly. Not meant as sarcasm, genuinely: take the approach you've been using, go over to genderberg or the Den of the BB or IBTP, and start using it to explain why such and such they've been saying is wrong. I'll wait here.

belledame222 said...

excuse me, I misread: try it with Twisty, then, not so much the others.

Seriously, I'm curious.

Alon Levy said...

We have self-identified radfem bloggers who are all "you want numbers? We got'em!" Sam and BB and FF and a few others especially are like that.

Yeah, but they either make things up or bring up irrelevant things. It's like libertarianism: the fact that some libertarians try to make use of a few facts doesn't mean that the ideology as a whole isn't inherently factless.

For a concrete example, in Violet's porn thread, Dubhe linked to a post of BB quoting studies showing a porn-rape link. The only problem is, the studies either showed something very weak (e.g. porn users were less likely to vote to convict rapists) or were known to be skewed (e.g. governmental studies repeated several times until they showed that porn was harmful).

So what you have is a bunch of libertarians/radfems who espouse a very anti-empirical theory while having a few people who pretend they're not factless - MacKinnon, Hayek, Dworkin, von Mises.

Perzackly. It's not even just communism and/or other hardline leftist ideologies derived from such. (Consider: Ayn Rand).

No, definitely not. I've been meaning to post a quick guide to how the radical left and radical right are birds of a feather, but for now I'll just link you to Mark Rosenfelder's guide.

What I can add to it is that a) it's a symptom of the Egalitarian bias, and b) the pathologies the guide describes arise from Marxism - the other forms of radicalism simply copied Marxist methods.

Alon Levy said...

About my age, it's all marvelous when you agree with me. Typically the pattern is that someone admires my age as long as we agree, and then bashes me for it when we disagree on something.

belledame222 said...

>For a concrete example, in Violet's porn thread, Dubhe linked to a post of BB quoting studies showing a porn-rape link. The only problem is, the studies either showed something very weak (e.g. porn users were less likely to vote to convict rapists) or were known to be skewed (e.g. governmental studies repeated several times until they showed that porn was harmful).

Yeup. The Christian Right does the same goddam thing wrt their "studies" wrt how 75% of all homosexuals have been proven to be baby-raping shit eaters, here, it's written up in this nice journal with a shiny cover, and we used a bunch of ten-dollar words and lots and lots of numbers.

and that shit works pretty well, in fact, on people who were already predisposed to believing the preconception (i.e. homos are Teh Bad) already.

after a certain point one may not be able to just ignore it; which means more work for people who have to go out to, wearily, once again, demonstrate exactly how the study is invalid because the methods they used are bogus.

That might change a few hearts and minds--excuse me, not really hearts, just minds--assuming anyone who's capable of getting that sort of thing and is genuinely neutral about the whole issue has been following along this far in the first place.

And it does help to the point that certain people can be discredited, which limits their influence: i.e., Paul Cameron gets thrown out of the APA.

which is good, and important.

but it still isn't gonna mean jack to the hardcore believers, and it doesn't mean they don't have other methods of spreading their poison that work in ways that logic and facts ("stupid things," tm Ronald Reagan) can't touch.

belledame222 said...

> About my age, it's all marvelous when you agree with me. Typically the pattern is that someone admires my age as long as we agree, and then bashes me for it when we disagree on something. >

I promise not to do that, and will smack anyone here who does.

belledame222 said...

o.k. @alon I need to look at that site and look up what you mean by the Egalitarian bias, because I sense that you're meaning "egalitarian" in a way that I'm not familiar with.

later. i gotta eat.

Dan L-K said...

Here's what's been bugging me for a little bit now about the Whole Kerfluffle:

I don't understand, really, what it's meant to accomplish.

Is it meant to be the final breakpoint for a whole lot of straight feminists to say to their male partners, "Honey, I know I've been blowing you for a while now, and I even kinda like it, but I've been thinking about it, and turns out it's really actually both gross and at odds with my politics, so no more"? And what would this advance, exactly? Would it really make the world, or those women's lives, better? Or is it just for the sake of making sure nobody is doing something you don't approve of, in which case the practical difference between you and the Fundamentalist Right is "none at all"?

Or, is it just (as has been posited in several corners) meant to be a "shock to the system," a radfem koan to get women to meditate carefully on their choices? Which (leaving aside the implication that people can't think the hell for themselves) is certainly a worthwhile goal, but this approach is really seriously into the territory of peeling an onion with a hammer - it's not only not the right tool, but it makes an awful mess, and is bound to make someone cry.

Or was the whole point merely a Spider Jerusalem-style "I am full of pain and hate, and you will amuse me with your squirming, you thumbless tools"? In which case, we're back to not only This Makes the World No Better, but this is a reprehensible way of treating other human beings - especially, as has already been pointed out, for someone who crusades against "objectification."

So, yeah. I don't get it. Unless I'm missing something, there's no way it doesn't play out as thoughtless or ugly or both. And logic isn't the worst thing being violated, n matter what.

Bitch | Lab said...

yeahbutt, there are very specific theoretical differences be/t marxism and feminism. depends on whish you are.

but my big critique is that radfem went astray because it's structuralism is so monolithic, it has no room for social change. it doesn't account for how society actually changes.

at least with marxist theory: the change is produced by the system itself, not in a monolithic, uniform, or determinist way. but,what it does is produce contradictions. yadda yadda.

so, marx as a young man told arnold ruge: this is not about waving banners and slogans and demanding ppl bow down.

it's about 'the struggles and wishes of the age.'

what gets people? what are theyfighting for? what gets them up in arms? etc.

the goals was the advance those struggles. enter into the fray and help people understand what's going on.

Alaine Tourraine, e.g., did this in his work in Solidarity. But as sociologists, using method to help keep their ideological sympathies in check.

I worked on a long term community research program, asking about the demise of civil society under the onslaught of the market and state. how could we rebuild civil society?

while we weren't marxists, I use it as an example of how it's possible to "enter in the fray" and maybe help advance or make more manifest and clear what people might be struggling for and how to bring about change.

not saying it isn't open to abuse. most certainly is.

---

jo freeman has a famous essay about the early radfems alergy to authority. so allergic, they refused to have any --w hich is why BD a lot of rads are anarchists. the problem was, Freeman said, without anyone to point to as the authority, these leaders emerged anyway. but they weren't accountable.

Mandos said...

I've spent so much time on this and not on work. There are a lot of things that I'd like to respond to, but truth be told, I do actually sometimes use a similar approach on BB and Twisty's blog. It's all in how you couch it so as not to be misunderstood. I try to be careful with my words. There was one point above where I wasn't, but I'm not sure when I'll get to that.

Bitch | Lab said...

alon wrote:

Yeah, but they either make things up or bring up irrelevant things. ...
For a concrete example, in Violet's porn thread, Dubhe linked to a post of BB quoting studies showing a porn-rape link. The only problem is, the studies either showed something very weak (e.g. porn users were less likely to vote to convict rapists) or were known to be skewed (e.g. governmental studies repeated several times until they showed that porn was harmful).

---

*nod*nod*nod*headfallsoff*nod*nod*

I think this happens with zealots and i've noticed it among a particularly adamant marxist feminist. drives me batty. she had no empirical training background, but literary criticism.

she's want to prove a point and run out and find the research which worked for her argument. or she'd learn to run simple correlations at the NORC database and present them. But no clue how to actually interpret results, etc.

She'd get called on it. Argument would just shift to something else. Because empiprical evidence JUST DIDN'T MATTER.

it was only used in the service of ideology.

if you're honest about the research, then you bother to understand the literature and bring forth all of it.

I've seen people in these forums who actually do that. They can balance their ideological commitments with their appreciation for empirical research and they're willing to revise their claims.

--
The argument I'd made at the blog awhile back was, b/c radfem relies on social change through individual enlightenmnet, its only tool for social change is to use propoaganda, agit prop, rhetoric and particularly fiery brands of it, with appeals to emotion and "clicking with people."

(I don't think agitprop and propaganda are necessarily horrible things.)

I think, as someone pointed out at punkass, T's approach "works" in the sense that all these people started running around using the term 'patriarchy' right and left and describing it as a reified thing that acted on everyone as if they are social dopes.

And, since most brands of feminism draw on the work and insights of rad fem, ppl are bound to agree on a lot.

Socialist feminism, for ex, emerged as a critique of radfem and marxist fem. Pomo as criticque of all three.

So, you nod along and start to thing, this rad stuff ain't so bad.

then, you get down to the _ONE_ thing that makes rad completely different from the rest: it's views on sexuality and the source of women's oppression, the relation of men and women, etc.

you might be on board for the antiporn stuff, the antisexbot stuff, the violence against women, etc. but when it's put in really stark terms, "you have no freedom, it's illusory," it flips people out.

Dan L-K said...

then, you get down to the _ONE_ thing that makes rad completely different from the rest: it's views on sexuality and the source of women's oppression, the relation of men and women, etc.

you might be on board for the antiporn stuff, the antisexbot stuff, the violence against women, etc. but when it's put in really stark terms, "you have no freedom, it's illusory," it flips people out.


Well, and rightly so; standing in the town square and yelling "YOU'RE ALL A BUNCH OF SHEEP!" has never been especially helpful to any ideology.

But it's prone to an especially egregious kind of abuse, because you inevitably get one or two people in the crowd who will come up to you and say, "My God, it's true, I'm a sheep, I have no free will, it's awful, what do I do?" And then, if you are the sort of person likely to be standing there yelling in the first place, you're also likely to be the one to put an arm around the poor lost soul, and smile, and say "Let me tell you."

You can draw one of any number of parallels from here; specific ones are left as an exercise for the reader.

The one that comes to mind for me isn't necessarily any of the obvious ones; it's the Acerbic Cool Kid. You probably know, or knew, one of those - outsider, aloof, probably a little punk, knew just the right way to sneer at what all the popular kids were doing so they suddenly looked ridiculous. And funny; that you could count on, as well as having access to all kinds of weird cool stuff you'd never been exposed to before. And the Acerbic Cool Kid's entire schtick is "Everybody sucks, but with a little work, you might be all right." And suddenly - if you're a little awkward and on the outside yourself - you'll do anything to please, anything that brings you that much closer to being acceptable (which is the best you can hope for) in the Acerbic Cool Kid's eyes - including rejecting a whole lot of stuff you used to like because it didn't pass the sneer test either.

Yeah, I've seen it all before. I wasn't impressed then, and I'm not impressed now.

Alon Levy said...

I promise not to do that, and will smack anyone here who does.

Thanks very much, Belledame :).

o.k. @alon I need to look at that site and look up what you mean by the Egalitarian bias, because I sense that you're meaning "egalitarian" in a way that I'm not familiar with.

If you want to know, this is probably the only blog dealing with Cultural Theory (the blog's author also wrote the Wikipedia entry about Cultural Theory).

So when I say "egalitarian," I usually mean groups defined by high solidarity and low restrictions on individual behavior (mostly with respect to freedom of association, I think). These groups tend to be tightly knit and consensus-based, so internal disagreements about what to do or even how to live lead to schism.

Socialist feminism, for ex, emerged as a critique of radfem and marxist fem. Pomo as criticque of all three.

Ignorant question: how are socialist feminism and Marxist feminism different?

Bitch | Lab said...

alon

Marxists will always revert to the "it's the economy, stupid" in the final analysis. If gender oppression or racial oppression matters, it is only because they are _the effects_ of capitalism.

Socialst fems disagreed and sought to understand how race/gender were systems that operated independently of class society, even though interrelated with class society.

I'd get into nitty gritty if you want a defense of that argument, but I didn't read you as asking that so much.

belledame222 said...

dan: at the risk of sounding like a broken record: yes, yes, yes to everything in yer last two posts.

>But it's prone to an especially egregious kind of abuse, because you inevitably get one or two people in the crowd who will come up to you and say, "My God, it's true, I'm a sheep, I have no free will, it's awful, what do I do?" And then, if you are the sort of person likely to be standing there yelling in the first place, you're also likely to be the one to put an arm around the poor lost soul, and smile, and say "Let me tell you."

DINGDINGDING

>You can draw one of any number of parallels from here; specific ones are left as an exercise for the reader.

>The one that comes to mind for me isn't necessarily any of the obvious ones; it's the Acerbic Cool Kid. ...

***

ah hahaha, yeup.

there's a reason why people have maybe been flashing back to junior high even more so than in many of these-type thrashes.

But mostly, as you say, if it's not that, what *is* the point? What on earth could this be accomplishing?

And no, I'm not impressed either. In fact, in the follow-up and aftermath for this one, I've sort of hit a floor of "unimpressed" and am now into the territory of "repulsed."

it's also terrific how the backpedalling of "jeez, just an opinion, just a joke, you're so SENSITIVE" goes right back out the window when you return the favor, I notice. or even when you don't. Hey, if no one else is supposed to mind when you mock their sexuality, then gosh, I guess you won't mind if I *do* call you a fucked-up prude, then? Now let's talk about all the other shit that's wrong with you--I'm sure you won't mind; you like criticism, so I understand.

Mandos said...

I spoke too soon. I got careless and a place was found to nitpick me and then I appear (so far) to have joined antiprincess in the Bad Commenter Box. Oh, well. One can only maintain the balancing act so far, one understands.

belledame222 said...

nobody's in the Bad Commenter Box. we don't have a Bad Commenter box. we have a naughty room. but that's something else altogether.

Mandos said...

I'm not talking about here. I'm talking about the Den. I had a few good weeks of being able to logic my way through it, but I think I just misstepped.

Dan L-K said...

BD: Thank you.

And no, I'm not impressed either. In fact, in the follow-up and aftermath for this one, I've sort of hit a floor of "unimpressed" and am now into the territory of "repulsed."

Well, I crossed that threshhold a while back, frankly; but then, I am a fellow who's been known to enjoy a pole-smoking or two (from both sides, even!), so it's possible my opinion is, yanno, slanted.

You know what I think the point is, really? I think it's the First's tagline: "It's about power." (No, I wasn't one of those fen who could bring myself to hate Season 7; not even a little.) Twisty is so wrapped up in the idea that Teh Patriarchy has all the power that she's desperate to grasp any fragment of it she can, even if it's just the power to make people feel miserable and guilty.

(Or not, maybe. I'm armchair-psychoanalyzing, yeah, and I truly know nothing. But it makes as much sense as anything else.)

belledame222 said...

@mandos o i see. yeah they're a bit touchy over there i find.

well, they didn't seem to like it much when i showed up and basically told Dim to go drum in the woods or something, he'd be better off and so would all the women who've been putting up with his bloviating.

i can't think why.

Beeb called me 'n' a couple of other womenz "shrieking harpies," which i thought was just adorable, really. FEMINIST POWER! BOO-YA!

belledame222 said...

@dan: oh, we're all about the armchair psych in here. well, i am. i try to curb myself; it can be invasive, obviously. with some people i just don't give a shit anymore.

anyway i found this site to sum up T and her ilk rather nicely:

http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/traits.html

particularly the bits about "contempt," "lack of empathy," "authoritarian," "entitlement without reciprocation," "negative and pessimistic," superficially charming but able to turn vicious on a dime, and "Come closer so I can slap you."

belledame222 said...

You know, I was disappointed in season 7 the first time through, but it grew on me in the reruns.

I do think it, like season 6, would've been a lot better if Whedon hadn't been so busy with other things, and particularly if he could've done more of the actual writing.

antiprincess said...

Mandos - bummer. I don't think you deserved that. If you ever manage to redeem yourself let me know how you did it.

Am I alone in thinking that the word "poutine" sounds a little dirty and naughty? in the way that euphemisms for body parts sound more naughty than the actual words?

belledame222 said...

Depends how it's pronounced. I was thinking "poo-teen," but if you read it like "pout," then yeah, it sounds kind of lightly naughty.

antiprincess said...

"poo-teen" sounds dirtier to me.

sounds like a euphemism found in an early-20th-century dime novel.

Mandos said...

OK, apparently I didn't get modded down there. However, one comment of mine is still missing. That may just be haloscan glitches.

belledame222 said...

I can't bring myself to go over there and rubberneck right now, just tell me, I'll take your word for it: d'you think you're making any headway?

Alon Levy said...

I'm not talking about here. I'm talking about the Den. I had a few good weeks of being able to logic my way through it, but I think I just misstepped.

I admire your strength.

Mandos said...

It's "poo-teen".

It depends on what you mean by headway.

belledame222 said...

Like, did anyone acknowledge that you might have a point, much less consider it might make them rethink their position on suchandso?

did they seem to get what you were talking about?

Mandos said...

When I critiqued Dubhe's critique of EvPsych/biological determinism (on much the same grounds that I criticized Alon here), I made some grudging headway with some of the posters.

I tripped up too easily in my last foray and was largely dismissed. I fell into the too easy, "You think my experiences make me biased!" trap. I haven't apparently been trollfiled but I'm still considering my response if there is to be one.

belledame222 said...

*Everyone's* experiences makes us biased, sheesh.

I dunno, dude. I mean, I admire your perseverance; and I'm sure some of the regulars over there are capable of actual dialogue in the right context; but, as at something like Free Republic, the whole is more stonewalling than the sum of its parts, even without taking the moderation policy into consideration.

as for D himself; I'd sooner attempt to explain quantum physics to my cat.

belledame222 said...

I don't suppose you know the kreplach joke, btw?

belledame222 said...

(I should have said "string theory," but I'm too something to not admit that I would've been stealing it, and the response to it, from an exchange elsewhere:

"At least your cat would know what to do with the string...")

Mandos said...

Well, I was accused of saying that BB was illogical due to her history of genuine suffering. Something like "I know someone would say this after experiencing XYZ but..." BB didn't notice it until some other poster accused me of attempting to delegitimize BB's argument and then it was all over.

Mandos said...

I googled the kreplach joke and see why you mentioned it.

belledame222 said...

heh.

I didn't realize it was googlable; but then what isn't, of course.

v said...

"a lot of the books upon which these claims were made have been thoroughly criticized. Brownmiller's claims about rape, for instance. I can't remember the author now, I want to say Dworkin, used an analysis of works of literature to show that men wanted to rape and humiliate women."

i think this was "sexual politics" by kate millett. she also wrote "the politics of cruelty" which was an analysis of literature about political imprisonment and torture.

i tried to read both of these but found them very difficult because i havent read most of the books she analyses. they were interesting even so, but i think people more well read than me would get much mroe out of them.

belledame222 said...

I have "Politics of Cruelty." it's been a while since I looked at it. as I recall, it was--or the parts of it I did read were--a tough read, and not just because it was intellectually challenging.

actually millett, or her work, is probably a good place to start (I mean, besides one's own experience, obviously) if one wanted to talk about fraught relations between a feminist and her mother, or the maternal influence.

istr there was a break between Millett and Dworkin (and MacKinnon, and their supporters), right? when Millett signed on with FACT, along with Adrienne Rich and I think at least a couple of other radfems.

v said...

i have no idea, but millett is anti censorship so you could be right. i believe both AD and CM were also anti state censorship though, so i dont know the ins and outs of actual radfem splits over this.

i think, as you and others have said, that we all keep talking past each other. a lot of these disagreements seem to start off as small misunderstandings that just blow up. i dont know how that can be stopped.

Alon Levy said...

i have no idea, but millett is anti censorship so you could be right. i believe both AD and CM were also anti state censorship though, so i dont know the ins and outs of actual radfem splits over this.

Their official position is that obscenity laws are bad (because people they disagree with support them, essentially) but laws that allow victims of rape to blame pornography and sue porn producers for putative damages are good.

Personally I prefer Israeli feminist Shulamit Aloni's position. At least she was up front about allying with the fundamentalists to push for anti-porn laws.

belledame222 said...

>i think, as you and others have said, that we all keep talking past each other. a lot of these disagreements seem to start off as small misunderstandings that just blow up. i dont know how that can be stopped.>

Part of it is probably inevitable, I expect, especially on the Internets.

Why this in particular is so charged, though--

I mean, I think BL's been doing a lot of great work in going to the source of the theories, and it's important to really get to the roots of our respective ideological frameworks, that this will help clear up some misunderstandings, yes.

I also think, (and, not but), that it's probably worth acknowledging, simply, that, look: we're talking about sex and sexuality, here. Deep, messy desires, emotions often terrifying in their strength, preverbal shit. It's huge and charged and highly subjective, and at a certain level, I think, it has this funny way of neatly avoiding all theories. Hell, it's sort of existentially terrifying, isn't it? I mean, I can totally understand why penetrative sex (hekl, any kind of sex where you lose sight of yourself) is a big huge deal so much of the time, even if there were no such thing as institutionalized sexism: how weird is it to go from being an individual to being a part of "the beast with two backs?"

I'd like to use a more uh touchy-feely/personalized/group psych-based approach, I think, at least particularly when we're talking about such nebulous stuff as what influences whom, what's good or bad for whom and why.

v said...

Their official position is that obscenity laws are bad (because people they disagree with support them, essentially) but laws that allow victims of rape to blame pornography and sue porn producers for putative damages are good.


hang on a sec - this wasnt an across the board "all rape victims should recieve compensation from the porn industry" thing. thats a pretty blatant misrepresentation of that ordinance.

are you suggesting that all radical feminists are a/ dishonest and b/ allied with fundamentalists (fundamentalist christians i presume you mean)? thats what it looks like you just said.

v said...

i agree with you belledamme that talking in a more personal way may be illuminating on each others ideas and politics. but i also have to agree with what ww said before on antiprincesses blog - its hard to talk about this stuff when there are hostile men in the room. its bad enough that some of the women are hostile.

belledame222 said...

>are you suggesting that all radical feminists are a/ dishonest and b/ allied with fundamentalists (fundamentalist christians i presume you mean)? thats what it looks like you just said.>

I don't want to answer for AL, but it looks to me like he means specifically Dworkin and MacKinnon.

and, well, the other thing is of course that talking about such things as obscenity laws at all takes us out of the realm of personal sharing.

I'm not saying that that's what this thread should be, btw: right now I think we're mostly just talking about talking about.

I'd be open to the possibility of a woman-only discussion of these things somewhere. I'm just not sure where that would be. If I were going to participate in such a thing, I'd want it to be not on public display as well--"look but don't touch" threads never work out well imo--and blogger doesn't allow for such things.

I'd also be interested in hosting and/or participating in a discussion for these matter, Group-style, that's open to all genders. again, not sure where. I'll have to think about this some more.

v said...

let me know what you come up with, bd. im off to bed now tho.

g'nite and best wishes

belledame222 said...

You, too; sleep well.

piny said...

yeah. much as heart irritated the fuck out of me wrt her stuff on transsexuality, she does seem to have, well, a heart.

maybe it's partly a generational thing.

jay wrote a really gracious acknowledgement of her essential human complexity (her work wrt woc issues, for one thing), and she did stop by and wrote a rather gracious reply.

i think piny's not particularly moved, and I can't say I blame him; but, you know: at least she's human.

it's more than i can say for some people.


Um, I'm extremely late to this, but...it's a slow day, and I wanted to clarify.

My issue with his post and her reply is this: she has this tendency to obscure discussions of political positions that cause real harm--e.g. transphobia--with allusions to injured feelings or friendship or human connection. You saw her reply to my post about her post about "trans politics," in which she didn't respond to word one of what I actually said. Her complaint focused on my decision to post at all: that I had argued against her, that I had been snippy, that I hadn't been nice. I don't think that she limits that approach to trans issues, either; I saw a similar dynamic at work during a discussion with brownfemipower. So in this context, "acknowledging her human complexity" allows her to indulge in a very human dodge. She isn't being gracious, exactly; she's thanking him for letting her off the hook. That was why I didn't appreciate it. I'd be moved on a human level if that human level weren't constantly being thrown up as a diversion from the political level, and if her protestations of friendship and goodwill didn't seem so patently self-centered, so independent of the feelings of the other person involved.

I admit that my _feelings_ towards her and her political beliefs might be coloring my opinion of her tactics, but I don't object to acknowledging human connection and complexity per se.

Anyway. How's by you?

belledame222 said...

Yeah, you know: in the interim, I've come to pretty much the same conclusion. that "don't shut me up" post, and her response to antiprincess' response (nothing substantive, clearly she saw it). if you go to paleofeminist's blog you'll see it.

it's a lot easier to be sensitive to oneself than to others. i tend to forget that; as i do the fact that just because one makes repeated references to one's "heart" doesn't necessarily mean one actually has one.

oh, then her response to a request for clarification which just made my eyes slide back in my head from its sheer pretentiousness. something when she said "truth" she actually meant "factish," (is that like "truthiness?), it wuz meant as poetry, a "gift to the universe." nanoo fucking nanoo.

o well, jay's a mensch, points for trying. and it's still a worthy exercise even if the actual recipient doesn't really "get it," I expect.

>Anyway. How's by you?

Eh. Schvitzing. How's by you?

belledame222 said...

that is, "nothing substantive" meaning Heart's, not antip's.

cliff notes:

H: You will never understand [about the horrors of cocksucking?] until you've been brutally orally raped.

AP: actually i have been brutally orally raped, and i still don't blame cocksucking or socksuckers; i blame my abuser.

by the way, blogger's acting up; sorry i couldn't get the direct link.

H: No problem about the link! :-)

impassioned defense of Big Red Book that tore a hole in BL's wall

then

-crickets-

so, yeh, not impressed.

belledame222 said...

(! I Blame The Socksuckers! haw!)

piny said...

it's a lot easier to be sensitive to oneself than to others. i tend to forget that; as i do the fact that just because one makes repeated references to one's "heart" doesn't necessarily mean one actually has one.

Classic overcompensation.

oh, then her response to a request for clarification which just made my eyes slide back in my head from its sheer pretentiousness. something when she said "truth" she actually meant "factish," (is that like "truthiness?), it wuz meant as poetry, a "gift to the universe." nanoo fucking nanoo.

Hee!

o well, jay's a mensch, points for trying. and it's still a worthy exercise even if the actual recipient doesn't really "get it," I expect.

Indeed. And I appreciate his forbearance--I just wish it would be understood as forbearance.

...Oh, Jesus Mary and Joseph. This is exactly it: when you claim a monopoly on the subjective perception of an experience--e.g. the post of which we shall speak no more--you tear it away from any woman who felt it differently. And then antiprincess has to go and provide graphic proof in order to be permitted to speak at all.

I live in San Francisco, where it's office space all year round, so we're not sweating so much. I just got home from a Camp Trans benefit at which Charlie Anders did a dramatic reading of The Transsexual Empire. It was amazing. I think there should be a Transsexual Empire opera. Or possibly a series of Transsexual Empire Jack Chick tracts.

belledame222 said...

YES! the musical!

hell, if they could make one out of "Carrie" and "Titanic," they can so do that.

actually they could combine it with "Myra Breckinridge."

they could do the whole thing with puppets, a la "Avenue Q."

itd be brill.

belledame222 said...

> Oh, Jesus Mary and Joseph. This is exactly it: when you claim a monopoly on the subjective perception of an experience--e.g. the post of which we shall speak no more--you tear it away from any woman who felt it differently.

Well, exactly. And again, the real test comes when you have a response like antip's. That's when you can tell the difference between "oh, all right, she does seem to keep saying 'women' when she means "me," but maybe it's just semantics/cultural/something" and "nope, still not getting it."

Because she freaking did it again, H, in that pretentious long response. It was about my experience; it was about womens' experience. The *truth* of Womens' experience. which, especially since you're still not acknowledging antip's rather naked and heartfelt post which speaks of a *different* experience from yours, rather tends to imply, again, that You're Every Woman.

gah.

compare and contrast with an exchange i had with another woman: she'd said she would never be convinced that BDSM would be "good for women." in the course of a follow-up i said basicaly, you know, i certainly wouldn't try to convince you taht BDSM would be good for *you;* but when you speak categorically like that it makes me feel erased. I'm a woman, too, and i've had experiences w/in BDSM that were very good for me indeed; not just pleasurable but healing on a deep level.

her response, essentially: i am sorry, it wasn't my intention to make you feel erased. i understand. i don't like that feeling either; for example, when people have told me because i've been abused, i can never truly "get it," or my voice doesn't count when talking about sexuality (something harsher than that, i can't remember, it's somewhere in the archives)

i sez, of course not: my god, that's awful! That's abusive in its own right! who said that for fuck's sake?

she said, oh, i hear it fairly often.

(i thought of that exchange when i was reading R. Mildred's rant, specifically the part referring to/deriding abused folks, and i winced. okay, i get it now. that part bites).

but anyway: same basic set-up; very very different result. there, there was real two-way communication. H isn't doing that; she throws out a smokescreen of flowery syrupy words to make it look like she really, really *feels.*

but as you note, it's still all completely self-referential.

big difference.