December 12, 2005

A follow-up question for “feminists” from an “anti-feminist” (UPDATED)

I was happy to hear from Barry, Trish, and Lauren on the questions I raised yesterday—though I admit that I wasn’t always satisfied with the answers they gave (as I’m sure they weren’t satisfied with mine).  Allow me to highlight a few remaining points of disputation, and to push for the next step in establishing workable grounds for debate.

Trish, it seems to me, best sums up the position of those I’ve previously referred to (after Hoff-Sommers) as “gender feminists”—a label this group rejects as a slur—here:

Jeff, dear, you take yourself too seriously. You can’t start a debate on false ground, which is what “discussing” equity and gender feminist would be. There ain’t no such thing.

I saw no reason to give any credibililty to Hoff Sommers’ “distinctions” because they are straw feminists. Hoff Sommers labeled feminists with liberal views she doesn’t like as “gender feminists”. She preferred to liken herself to an “equality of opportunity” feminist. Both are stereotypes designed to denigrate feminists whose views she doesn’t like. Neither label is valid.

Well, the purpose of my post was NOT to re-raise Hoff-Sommers’ terminology, but to get beyond it.  In fact, I invited Trish and her camp to define the terms they preferred using to discuss a particular divide within the feminist movement so that we could get beyond this very stumbling block.

But if I’m reading her right, Trish is refusing to offer new terms not because she’s being obstinate, but rather because she claims that the very distinction the terms draw—whatever designation we give them—are an invention of those wishing to do damage to feminism.  My response:

You dismissed as “anti-feminists” people who self-identify as feminists—and you did so for their having made distinctions you don’t think are real.  But if there are no distinctions to be made among those who self-identify as feminists, presumably you wouldn’t be able to dismiss those with whom YOU disagree as “anti-feminists.” That is, it would be equally valid, given your thinking, for that group of self-identified feminists to dismiss YOUR idea of feminism as “anti-feminist.”

In fact, the only difference I can see between what you have done and Hoff-Sommers et al have done is that Hoff Sommers didn’t suggest what she called “gender feminists” weren’t feminists — just that their particular brand of feminism is anathema to what she takes to be the original goal of the feminist movement (which, pace Barry, she would believe goes beyond simple legal equality; the difference being, she recognizes that legal equality is the means through which to strive for social and economic equality.  Establishment feminists, on the other hand, wish to achieve those ends through other, more active means. 

(Which brings up an interesting rhetorical move I’m noticing within this debate—specifically, an active attempt on the part of establishment feminists to reduce the Hoff-Sommers / Young view to “legal” equality only.  This is of course a false reduction, and one that frees up the establishment feminists to seize a high ground of striving for more than the “anti-feminist feminists” are striving for.  They aren’t.  They just disagree on the means and, in some cases, the necessity of the individual battles).

But then, these are all issues we can take up in a subsequent debate once we agree on common terminology.  For now, I’m interested to know if these new terms I’ve put on offer— “‘anti-feminist’ feminists” or “post-establishment feminists” (for the conservative / libertarian feminists); and for the coalition of those whom Trish, Barry, Lauren, et al would allow are “real” feminists—those they HAVE NOT BEEN dismissed as “anti-feminist” (Barry, Lauren) or as not really feminists (Trish)— “establishment feminists,” corraling into that group all of the subgroups Lauren highlighted (w/ the exception of the iFems, who should probably be included in the former category).

Trish, Barry, Lauren?  How about it?

****

update:  More here.  Apologies for mislinking this post initially.

****

update 2:  Trish asks:

Jeff, what is “post-establishment” about a so-called post-establishment feminist? What “establishment” are you talking about?

Simple:  if you are decreeing that these self-styled feminists (what Hoff Sommers calls “equity feminists”) are “anti-feminist”—you are pronouncing on their very fitness to declare themselves feminists.  Which suggests to me that there is an “established” idea of feminism upon which you are basing such a pronouncement.  And so, “establishment feminists.”¹

Similarly, those who don’t fit the establishment idea of feminism, which I take it you believe is the original goal of feminism, would be “post-establishment feminists”.  Or “anti-feminist feminists”.

Again, to dismiss these groups as not being feminists at all begs the question.  You simply cannot say that those who self identify as feminists are not in fact feminists because you have defined feminism in such a way that you exclude them—particularly when the debate is over just what feminism is.

So we have to choose a designation that works for both camps. And I ask again:  are these designations workable?

¹Here, Barry offers this parsing:  “An established idea doesn’t imply that there’s an “establishment.” “Established,” the adjective, means “having a recognized position, or being generally known about.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an “establishment,” noun, meaning “the persons (or committees or departments etc.) who make up a body for the purpose of administering something.” Feminism does, arguably, have some established ideas, but it doesn’t have an establishment.”

But Barry’s refusal to turn “establish” into a noun is tied to his reluctance to admit that there is indeed a center to feminist thought, namely, academic and theoretical feminism—which not only provides the theoretical underpinning for “activist” feminism, but likewise provides both the evidence (by way of its studies, etc) and the rationale that justifies the kinds of social remedies Barry’s brand of feminism advocates for.

In short, establishment feminism is the feminist orthodoxy—the very “feminism” that allows Barry and Trish and Lauren and Amanda to plausibly exclude from the discipline of feminism the feminism of Young, Hoff-Sommers, et al.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 5:12pm
104 comments | Trackback

Comments (104)

  1. Ampersand, et al.

    With respect to the question of excommunication that came up in the last thread.  Excommunication may not be the applicable term, but the notion that I think Jeff is describing might be reasonably well highlighted by these two posts by Neo-Neocon – a therapist who has, in some senses, been “excommunicated” because of her political beliefs, and has posted some interesting insights into questions of ideology.

  2. I was of course using excommunicated metaphorically and not unironically—given my belief that there is a central hub for contemporary establishment feminist thought—the academy—and that contemporary establishment feminism is closest to a civic religion.

    Ampersand answered that the academy is not the world, and that all feminists aren’t professors—both truisms, but both immaterial.  Because the large majority of activist feminists are either taught by or in other ways influenced by academic feminism, which develops the theoretical justification for public policy activism, and provides the research and proof upon which policies are argued for and enacted.

  3. Hmmm.

    Isn’t this an extension of the classic “debate the shape of the table” thing?

    Frankly my advice to you Jeff is to use the Chewbacca Defense or the Mr. Spock Soliloquy: “Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell BAD”.

    IMHO an interesting comparison is Conservatism.  While there are vastly differing definitions of Conservatism, and even more widely differing goals, to my knowledge there aren’t any groups within Conservatism identified as anti-Conservative.

    It’s rather a curious thing that there actually is purported to be such at thing as anti-feminism.

  4. I think that the more significant element to the term excommunication is that there is, quite literally, a body to be expelled from.  There is a tendency for people who are enveloped in the warm coziness of fundamentally shared dogma to forget that it is quite possible to be turned out in to the cold.

    As is particularly true of any small field, one can be completely marginialized and dismissed by unspoken collective consensus.  And this ejection is, particularly for theorists and academics, a non-trivial issue.

  5. Hmmm.

    Because the large majority of activist feminists are either taught by or in other ways influenced by academic feminism

    Interesting point.  That explains why I didn’t encounter activist feminism until I move to New Jersey.  I didn’t see anything remotely like it while growing up in New Hampshire.

    So perhaps activist feminism is an urban white-collar ideal? 

    Interesting discussion.

  6. Precisely right, Bravo.  Barry wanted to dismiss my “evidence” of the marginalization of “post-establishment fems” in the academy as anecdotal; but after time, enough anecdotal evidence points to a trend.  And the current ideological makeup of the humanities suggests proof of the trend.

  7. Jeff, dear, can’t you understand when your betters are telling you to butt out.

  8. I’m fairly tenacious. Unless I get sidetracked by a conversation with a ghost or some such.

  9. My dialogue with Lauren amounts to this.

    Lauren: Amanda and I are two different people.

    Me: Fair enough. In what ways do you differ politically?

    Lauren: We’re two different people!

    Let’s put some meat on the bone here.  If you want to eschew labels, fine, although I personally think that’s weak: few of us are so unique and eccentric in our beliefs that we don’t fit reasonably well into some existing category.  What I want to know, using labels or not, is to what extent Lauren and Trish et al. agree with or condone the type of paranoiac, bad-faith/ulterior-motive argumentation Marcotte specializes in.  Neither Jeff nor I have gotten a straight answer on that point yet, such that this “debate” is beginning to feel like a game of fucking charades.  Stop making us guess and then telling us what you’re not.  Tell us what you are.

  10. Jeff, thanks for linking my post but I’m not Lauren.

    grin

  11. Ah.  A variation of “Calculatus Eliminatus”, Allah?

  12. Oops.  Sorry, Lisa. Grabbed the wrong link.  Will make the change.

  13. A variation of “Calculatus Eliminatus”, Allah?

    Well, no, because I don’t think they’d ever concede that we’ve pegged them correctly, no matter how many other possibilities we eliminate.  What’s happening here, I suspect, is that they want to avoid conflicts among the sisterhood to whatever extent possible lest it damage solidarity.  That’s why Lauren won’t give me a straight answer about Marcotte being loco, preferring instead the tactful dodge about the two of them being “different people.”

    I don’t mean to belabor the point, but after having been flamed to the skies on Feministe for daring to overgeneralize about feminists, I think it might be a wee bit important to specify how, precisely, my generalization was unfair.

  14. Few of us are so unique and eccentric in our beliefs that we don’t fit reasonably well into some existing category.

    I’d like to see my damn venn diagram. 

    I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but I see bad-faith arguments made against women’s collective interests all the time.  But that’s not limited to men, or bureaucracies, or institutions…sometimes it’s from women puporting to be feminists.

    And no, I do not see the world in terms of men vs. women, to the exclusion of all other manifestations of competing interests. I see it in terms of natural rights and the fight to keep them.

  15. Marcotte is loco, btw.

  16. Indeed.  There’s a not-so-fine line between an ultimate goal of equal opportunity and flat out trying to gain the upper hand.

  17. Allah –

    Don’t stand too close to Jeff for a bit – a bus-sized “Milwaukee’s Best Light” can is hurtling towards Denver.

    Cheers.

    .

  18. Btw: before I get called on engaging in Marcottism myself, let me make clear that my reference to “the sisterhood” up above was me being flip.  I don’t for a moment believe that there’s a conspiracy, conscious or un-, among the opposite sex to oppress us or limit our rights.

    Can’t say that for some people, though.

  19. Jeff, I hate to go all Objectivist on this, since I’m not, in general, a strong advocate of a lot of ayn rand’s philosophical posiotions, but I suspect she had a useful insisght into this kind of argument. 

    that insight being: when you can’t get the other side of an argument to agree on or define terms, it is often a sign that they aren’t interested in applying rationality; it’s instead part of an attempt to apply coercion.

    To my reading, the arguments so far have been inherently, and not sometimes not subtly, coercive.

    (This is not to say that Rand was above a little coercion herself, see, eg, the excommunication of the Brandens.  But then I suspect she was a little kinky anyway.)

  20. How can you dismiss “excommunication” as anecdotal when the very people making that dismissal are at the same time calling (f/e) “libertarian” feminism “anti” feminism?

    Communion

    1. The act or an instance of sharing, as of thoughts or feelings.

    2. Religious or spiritual fellowship.

    3. A body of Christians with a common religious faith who practice the same rites; a denomination.

    Isn’t “excommunication” apt?  No [good-faith] sharing/exchange of thoughts, no sense of fellowship, no sense of being a common body, common faith, common rites…

  21. Allah, I can’t speak for Amanda, so I won’t.  You yourself have noted differences elsewhere and that ought to be enough.

  22. Lauren —

    Allah is not asking you to speak for Amanda. He’s asking you to speak about her brand of feminist polemic.

    Now. What about my new terminology?

  23. Thanks for the correction Jeff, as well as the link.

    I was decades ago a “feminist”.  Now of course I doubt I meet the definitions for the various differing “generations” of that term.  I do have to say I am very tired of the slams that come from those who don’t agree with me.  In the past some have been pretty strong, today on my own blog fairly mild so far, I’ve only been called “naive”. 

    I don’t mind disagreement or discussion, however the assumption that most of these women somehow know more about life as a woman who are in most cases many years younger than I am, is a bit irksome at times.  Especially when Lauren states things like “lets educate”.

    Yes, let’s educate.  I have a son and four daughters, let’s rationalize why he should have less rights than his sisters.  Let’s also rationalize while we are at it why poor white children should have less opportunity than poor minority children.  Let’s rationalize why this should not be based on need but rather on race or gender.  Let’s further rationalize how one of my children who has the same mother but a father with a “minority” determination is somehow different than the other ones growing up in the same financial situation. 

    Or?  Let’s look at reality.  Women and men will always be different in some physical areas.  Unless the goal is to try to create a genderless society that will never change.  All of us no matter or gender or our race have individual strengths and weaknesses.  We do our daughters no great service by creating a situation where they believe they are “entitled” to anything above and beyond what their brothers have.  We do our sons no great service to make them feel they are superior to their sisters.  Mutual respect is what is needed.  To my way of thinking, mutual respect would solve most of the problems we face today.

  24. Bravo:

    It’s true that the political discourse in the US has gotten to the point that many people who are politically engaged, routinely insult anyone who disagrees with them. I agree with Neo-Neocon that this is unfortunate and painful, but disagree with the implication that the fault lies entirely on the left, not at all on the right. Neo-Neocon, in one of the two posts you linked, clearly has no problem referring to anti-Iraq-war leftists as “Saddam apologists” (presumably she doesn’t call pro-Iraq-war leftists that); to tell you the truth, if she called her lefty friends “Saddam apologists” at a dinner party, I don’t think I’d blame them for getting mad.

    Nonetheless, it can be hard to swim against the tides, and in the US – where conservatives routinely refer to liberals as “traitors” and “sheeple” and “idiotarians,” and lefties routinely do the same in reverse – being the target of that sort of invective can be startling and painful.

    At the same time, no one has thrown Neo-con out of any organization; no one has censored her, no one has told her that she must change her view or never recieve communion again and burn in Hell. So I think referring to political disagreements as “excommunication” is an exaggeration.

  25. For now, I’m interested to know if these new terms I’ve put on offer— “‘anti-feminist’ feminists” or “post-establishment feminists” (for the conservative / libertarian feminists)…

    I don’t like the term “establishment feminists” to refer to me, Trish, Lauren, etc.., because there is no “feminist establishment”; there’s just a bunch of feminists, many of whom disagree. By extension, I don’t like the term “post-establishment feminist” either.

    I don’t like “‘anti-feminist’ feminists,” either, since I’m trying not to use the term “anti-feminist” to refer to Cathy Young’s camp anymore.

    What was wrong with “post-feminist,” from your point of view? You suggested it earlier, but now you seem to be rejecting it, without having explained why it doesn’t work for you.

    The term “libertarian/conservative feminists” seems fine to me, although some left-wing libertarian feminists (like the blogger Rad Geek) might object to be lumped in with Christina Hoff Sommers et al. “Right-wing feminists” would work, too, unless you find the term “right-wing” derogatory in some way.

    How about “non-conservative feminists” as a way of referring to me, Lauren, Trish, and the rest? I doubt any of us would mind being referred to as non-conservative.

  26. Ampersand,

    I don’t mean to imply that this sort of excommunication and heretic-punishing behavior is the sole province of much of anybody.  And it does go without saying (I think) that there are the shrill of all segments who do demonize.

    But the lack of burning membership cards or a formal drumming out in no way shape or form mitigates or minimizes the penalty of being expelled from one’s own community.  In reference to the term excommunication as originally mentioned in an earlier thread, there are a number of people who self-identify as feminists and are supportive of the larger, over-arching goals of gender equality (what that means specifically is a fight I leave to others).  When people are considered to no longer be feminist because they don’t meet one segment’s doctrinal requirements, then yes, they are being ejected from that community.  So while we can argue about the term applied, I think the notion of being fully expelled is an appropriate prism through which the assertion that some feminists are not feministististic in an approved fashion means they aren’t really feminists.

  27. I like Lisa Renee’s thinking on the subject.

    Just be a humanist. If your goal is to eliminate any unfairness created by people making gender distinctions, then stop making them! You’ll have so much less to worry about and you can just deal with people based on who they are, not what they are.

  28. The term “libertarian/conservative feminists” seems fine to me, although some left-wing libertarian feminists (like the blogger Rad Geek) might object to be lumped in with Christina Hoff Sommers et al. “Right-wing feminists” would work, too, unless you find the term “right-wing” derogatory in some way.

    How about “non-conservative feminists” as a way of referring to me, Lauren, Trish, and the rest? I doubt any of us would mind being referred to as non-conservative.

    Is this really about differences you have with others about actual feminist doctrine, or do you dislike them because of extra-feminist beliefs they hold that you can’t accept?

  29. <styled feminists (what Hoff Sommers calls “equity feminists”) are “anti-feminist”—you are pronouncing on their very fitness to be declare themselves feminists.  Which suggests to me that there is an “established” idea of feminism upon which you are basing such a pronouncement. </blockquote>

    An established idea doesn’t imply that there’s an “establishment.” “Established,” the adjective, means “having a recognized position, or being generally known about.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an “establishment,” noun, meaning “the persons (or committees or departments etc.) who make up a body for the purpose of administering something.” Feminism does, arguably, have some established ideas, but it doesn’t have an establishment.

    Also, since you’ve several times referred to my post on “anti-feminism,” you might recall that I explicitly say that there is no central defining authority in feminism, and therefore my suggested definition of feminism is really only for myself.

  30. Apologies for my html code mess-up in my previous post.

  31. Ampersand, would you be comfortable with “anti-conservative feminists” in lieu of non-conservative feminists?

  32. B Moe wrote:

    Is this really about differences you have with others about actual feminist doctrine, or do you dislike them because of extra-feminist beliefs they hold that you can’t accept?

    Well, to answer your question, we’d first have to agree on what “actual feminist doctrine” consists of; and I’m not sure we’d be able to do that.

    But I’ll try to answer anyway.  tongue laugh

    First of all, your question assumes I “dislike them,” “them” being Cathy Young et al. That’s simply not true. I’ve had a few email exchanges with Cathy, and based on those few exchanges I’d say she’s very likable. Sara Butler (of Family Scholars Blog) is another person I get along with quite well, and we’ve agreed in email that if we’re ever in the same town we’ll meet for lunch (To be fair, I’m not sure if Sara calls herself a “feminst” nowadays, but she did when we first started interacting). The other “libertarian/conservative feminists” are mostly people I’ve never interacted with, so I have no basis to like or dislike them. In real life, I’ve always had friends who were right-wingers, so being a right-winger doesn’t make you someone I “dislike.”

    So it’s not about disliking them. It’s about disagreeing with them about some things which, to me, seem central to feminism.

    In particular, it seems to me that the opinion that the need for feminism is gone, is not an opinion that’s compatable with being a feminist. It’s like calling oneself a “suffragette” after the right to vote has been won; what’s the point of that? Being a “suffragette” is defined by not having the vote; once you have the vote, the entire suffragette movement ceases to exist (or converts into being something different).

    Is there a well-established, widely-acknowleged libertarian out there who argues that there is no longer any need for libertarianism, and that libertarianism itself is pointless and unneeded and should probably cease to be? How about a widely-acknowleged liberal who argues that there’s no longer any need for liberalism or liberal policies? Etc. I’ve never heard of the idea that any group, to be valid, must accept people whose core belief is that the group itself is invalid, unneeded and should not exist.

    Yet feminists – and, as far as I can tell, feminists alone – are constantly told that we’re horribly close-minded because we don’t accept that people who say feminism is pointless and unneeded are feminists.

    * * *

    Can we agree that there are some people in the world who are not feminists? And that not every idea is a feminist idea?

    If you can’t agree to that, then I think you’re in effect saying that feminism is meaningless; everyone who calls themself a “feminist” is one, regardless of their beliefs or what they advocate.

    If you can agree that there are some ideas, and some people, who are not feminist, then I don’t understand the basis for objecting when feminists try and discuss who is and isn’t a feminist.

  33. Pablo:

    Ampersand, would you be comfortable with “anti-conservative feminists” in lieu of non-conservative feminists?

    Offhand, I think it’s a less encompassing and thus less accurate term. I don’t think that Catherine MacKinnon, for instance, could accurately be described as “anti-conservative”; she happily forms alliances with conservatives to put forward anti-pornography legislation, and her writings are not at all concerned with fighting conservatism. She’s not a conservative, but being “anti-conservative” isn’t what her advocacy is about.

    I think “non-conservative feminist” – because it more accurately describes feminists like MacKinnon – is a better term than “anti-conservative feminist.”

    If you don’t mind my asking, why do you prefer “anti-conservative feminists”? (Assuming that you do).

    * * *

    Earlier, I wrote:

    How about “non-conservative feminists” as a way of referring to me, Lauren, Trish, and the rest? I doubt any of us would mind being referred to as non-conservative.

    I think I overreached when I wrote the above. It’s my guess that Lauren, Trish, and many other feminists I know wouldn’t object to be refered to as “non-conservative feminists” in the context of this sort of discussion, but I don’t know if that’s true or not, and of course I can’t speak for anyone but myself.

  34. Bravo,

    I don’t mean to imply that this sort of excommunication and heretic-punishing behavior is the sole province of much of anybody.  And it does go without saying (I think) that there are the shrill of all segments who do demonize.

    Thank you for acknowleging that.

    I continue to think that “excommunication” is overstatement, but I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

  35. I think it’s clear what a feminist ISN’T…you can slice off a huge chunk of people who are nowhere near being feminists.

    A feminist isn’t a person who thinks women are excluded from the right to self-government.

    A feminist isn’t a person who thinks women in general and in every case of the specific are limited by their sex in such a way that they must be

    a.limited to the domestic sphere or gender specific nurturing roles.

    b.excluded from positions of authority over men

    c.hidden from men for the good of herself and other men

    d. has no independent control over her person, her bodily integrity or reproductive capacity.

    e.if you think any of the above, you aren’t a feminist, but add at will, this list isn’t meant to be exclusive.

    doesn’t

    Being a feminist does not imply that you think marriage is a fiction, that there is no God, that gay relationships should be treated as the equivalent of heterosexual relationships, that poor people have a right to public housing, etc.

    Feminists may adopt any or all of the above as their personal creed, but those beliefs do not make them feminists, and you can be a feminist without them.

  36. Yet feminists – and, as far as I can tell, feminists alone – are constantly told that we’re horribly close-minded because we don’t accept that people who say feminism is pointless and unneeded are feminists.

    Sure, if you characterize it this way. But this is not the case, as I’ve tried to argue (and which Cathy, for one, made clear in her debate with you).

    These self-styled feminists aren’t saying feminism is useless; they are saying that your brand of feminism is hurting the feminist movement by causing a backlash against the brand of feminism that only ever demanded an end to sex-based discrimination and equal right and opportunities for people regardless of sex.

    Like Trish, you are begging the question by choosing to define feminism in a way that it excludes those feminists who disagree with you for taking feminism in a direction they believe will do damage to the gains made by women when the pendulum swings back.

    This is an honest critique, and for the life of me I can’t see how you can define it as “anti-feminism”—except under such circumstances where you’ve already effectively bracketed it out of “feminism” altogether. 

    I don’t like the term “establishment feminists” to refer to me, Trish, Lauren, etc.., because there is no “feminist establishment”; there’s just a bunch of feminists, many of whom disagree. By extension, I don’t like the term “post-establishment feminist” either.

    I don’t like “‘anti-feminist’ feminists,” either, since I’m trying not to use the term “anti-feminist” to refer to Cathy Young’s camp anymore.

    Sorry, Barry, but please see my update.  If you are willing to dismiss from the set of “feminists” those self-styled feminists who you believe “bash feminism,” you’ve essentially conceded that there IS an establishment feminism.

    What’s wrong with simple “post-feminism” is that it’s not really “post-feminism” so much as it is post- a particular kind of activist feminist orthodoxy, made up of all those brands of feminism that you DO accept.

    We’re not making much progress if you aren’t willing to accept that a feminism can exist that finds the current feminist orthodoxy potentially damaging to the feminist movment.

  37. Sorry, dislike them was a poor choice of words.  “Disagree with them” or “dislike their views” got tangled in my head as I was in too big a hurry.

    But what is confusing me is I associate feminism as being concerned with women’s rights, more like a lobbying group, while you keep lumping it in with Libertarianism, Liberalism or Conservatism, which are political philosophies.  If it is a issue-specific movement then you could say it’s time was done if the specific issues were addressed and the goal’s were achieved.  But since you seem to imply it is a political philosophy perhaps this is the difference we are trying to define: 

    What exactly is the political philosophy of the modern feminist movement?

  38. If the idea of the discussion is to end up asking, under an accepted understanding of definition, when will affirmative action be no longer necessary for x group, then I do not think it ever will be settled. I do think that affirmative action and its conclusion should be on the minds of all folks, both pro- and con-.

    I do not work in a large corporation, where I can see firsthand whether AA is still necessary. I do think, however, that it should end before true “parity” is acheived. There will soon (if not already) be a legitimate argument for victimhood on the part of white caucasions that will create a whole new kind of resentment.

    It was too early to back off AA when the seeds were planted. Later years saw some very useful correcting under forced circumstances that were probably worth the reverse discrimination that occured (Bakke, for a non-feminist example). Right now, with schools teaching more “for women”, as opposed to “for men”, and college admissions now starting to swing in favor of women, the discussion should at least be past the point we are at now.

  39. Jeff:

    Sure, if you characterize it this way. But this is not the case, as I’ve tried to argue (and which Cathy, for one, made clear in her debate with you).

    Cathy explicitly says that there is no justification she considers legitimate for current feminist activism (see the introduction to her book). And I don’t recall her making any other view clear in her discussion with me; perhaps you can quote what you’re referring to?

    (Cathy did say that she thinks she would have seen a need for feminism 20-30 years ago, but that’s not the same thing as seeing a need for feminism today.)

    <styled feminists aren’t saying feminism is useless;</blockquote>

    Yes, they are. Find me a single time that Wendy McElroy, for example, has said that feminist activism is needed in today’s United States. (I’m putting aside the issue of feminist activism in the developing world, which I think everyone agrees is needed.)

    …they are saying that your brand of feminism is hurting the feminist movement by causing a backlash against the brand of feminism that only ever demanded an end to sex-based discrimination and equal right and opportunities for people regardless of sex.

    I think that’s a perfectly valid feminist critique. I don’t agree with it – either it’s assumptions or it’s “don’t say anything that could cause a backlash!” argument – but nothing about that critique, as you’ve described it above, would make me doubt anyone’s feminism.

    What you don’t seem able to acknowlege is that the crtique of feminism by Cathy Young, Christina Hoff Sommers, Wendy McElroy and the rest has more than a single facet. It is not the particular facet you talk about here that I’m saying is contrary to feminism. It is the “there is no use for feminism anymore” facet – which you, disingenously, now wish to pretend doesn’t even exist, when it clearly does – that I’m objecting to.

    If someone speaks in public about feminism 100 times, and in every one of the 100 times they’re saying that present-day feminism is wrongheaded and useless, and never once do they ever identify a way in which present-day feminism is needed or serves a positive function – well, that to me isn’t feminism.

    You have no logical case for “it’s illegitimate for a feminist to deny that someone who says feminism no longer serves any legitimate purpose is a feminist.” That’s the actual, relevant issue here; that, not the straw-man nonsense you’ve made up and pretended that I and other feminists endorse, is why we don’t think Christina Hoff Sommers and the rest are real feminists. If you’re not willing to address that issue, then you’re not willing to have a substantive, good-faith discussion.

    <styled feminists who you believe “bash feminism,” you’ve essentially conceded that there IS an establishment feminism.</blockquote>

    I don’t think that’s true, for reasons I’ve already explained here.

    What’s wrong with simple “post-feminism” is that it’s not really “post-feminism” so much as it is post- a particular kind of activist feminist orthodoxy, made up of all those brands of feminism that you DO accept.

    Okay, what’s wrong with “libertarian/conservative feminism” and “right-wing feminism”?

    We’re not making much progress if you aren’t willing to accept that a feminism can exist that finds the current feminist orthodoxy potentially damaging to the feminist movment.

    Of course I accept that. I’ve never denied it. Your argument here is a total strawman construction.

    We won’t make much progress if you insist on attributing beliefs I don’t hold to me, rather than addressing what I actually say.

  40. Tom, most undergraduate, sex-based affirmative action nowadays is in favor of men, not women. So I’m not sure how pointing out that women are the majority of undergrads is an argument for ending AA.

    What exactly is the political philosophy of the modern feminist movement?

    I’m sorry to seem unhelpful, but there is no “the” political philosophy. There are huge divisions and disagreements within feminism.

  41. Here’s Cathy:

    2. I don’t think that everything today is “hunky-dory” as far as gender equality goes. (I will add, however, that the only instance I can think of today in which sex discrimination is enshrined in law — military roles — it clearly disadvantages men more than women. The ban on women in combat does disadvantage women for whom military service is a career, but male-only draft registration applies to all men, and men in the military do not have the option of serving in non-combat roles.) I simply think that today, institutional sexism against women is not nearly as great a factor in holding women back from parity in all walks of life as are unequal family roles. (By the way, I can instantly think of at least two feminist books making the same case: Kidding Ourselves by Rhona Mahoney, and Flux by Peggy Orenstein.) Unlike most conservatives, I don’t think these unequal roles are preordained by nature, immutable, or good; but I think the cultural attitudes that shape them are held by women as much as men, and give women significant advantages — such as greater flexibility in balancing work and family and greater freedom to pursue a fulfilling but low-paying occupation.

    This doesn’t suggest that feminism is useless or unneeded.  Just that “institutional sexism against women is not nearly as great a factor in holding women back from parity in all walks of life as are unequal family roles.”

    Find me a single time that Wendy McElroy, for example, has said that feminist activism is needed in today’s United States

    Well, you are moving the goal posts here in an attempt to to tie feminism to “feminist activism” (which I take it to mean activism toward a particular end that you feel is the correct trajectory for contemporary feminism).  That is a rather obvious rhetorical to delimit those who can be called “feminist,” but for the sake of argument I’ll play along and say that “activism” can be likewise be described as pushing back against those who you believe are leading the movement and following a faulty strategic and tactical trajectory.  From this point of view, everything these critics write fits your prerequisite for “activism.” But rather than aiming their critiques at the “patriarchy” or some such, they are more concerned with the problems they see within the movement itself).

    I don’t know how I’m making a strawman argument. Rather than just invoking it, I’d prefer you diagram it for me.

    As to not accepting that you’ve necessarily advocated for an established feminism, well, you’re nitpicking. You are refusing to turn it into a noun because you are refusing to allow that there is a center of feminist thought, namely, academic and theoretical feminism—which is offered as both the evidence and the proof to justify the kinds of social remedies your brand of feminism advocates for.

    It is the feminism that is established orthodoxy in the feminist movement, the feminism that makes it plausible for you to exclude from feminism all other brands.  So I’m afraid I don’t accept your parsing.

  42. I think “non-conservative feminist” – because it more accurately describes feminists like MacKinnon – is a better term than “anti-conservative feminist.”

    If you don’t mind my asking, why do you prefer “anti-conservative feminists”? (Assuming that you do).

    I’m not sure non-conservative is descriptive enough. Overall, I’m not conservative, yet I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t fit into the camp you’ve drawn out as deserving of the term. Furthermore, it seems that if you’re going to describe yourself in terms of what you’re not, shouldn’t we get right to the rejection of what you’re trying to distance yourself from with the descriptor?

    I think I’m more troubled by the tendancy to create labels based on what the described group is not. As Jeff has previously noted, it would be more helpful if we all framed descriptions of ourselves and each other based on who we are, and not what we are not.

    Pablo, a non-Nazi.

  43. Just out of curiosity, whether or not there is some sort of almighty-enshrined “center” of feminist thought, surely there is a mean, median, or mode of feminist thought.  Perhaps that might be a better way of looking at “center”.

    If nothing else, without a “center” it becomes impossible to define fringe, or cast out those whose views are genuinely malignant.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you aren’t going to back those who believe that all men should be killed at birth (hyperbole for the sake of argument), but without boundaries, it becomes difficult to say what lies outside those bounds.

  44. most undergraduate, sex-based affirmative action nowadays is in favor of men, not women

    College for me ended in ‘84, so I will accept your claim at face value for the discussion, Ampersand. There are always strength in numbers, however. There are also practical choices made as the “business” of higher education institutions follow all too well. The two will diverge soon, I would wager, if not already. Title IX is not going anywhere soon as well.

    In my own tiny corner of the business world, the fastest rising (in terms of wage) employee I have is a woman. This was an impossibility years and a different boss ago. The small businessman is helping to even up the parity in more obvious ways than the corporate businessman. One of my best competitors (in a decidedly male occupation) is a woman.

    My point still stands: AA will need to conclude before all the numbers and stats fall in place, to let the last act of the play happen on its own. Else there will be resentment of a different kind that will last years.

  45. I’m fairly tenacious. Unless I get sidetracked by a conversation with a ghost or some such.

    lol.

    so… do i get the job or not?

    btw, epees are good for stabbing, but you’ll need a sabre for decent evisceration.

    wink

  46. Dude, you can’t define feminism, man.  It just IS man.  It is what it is and you can only know what it is by KNOWING it, man.  Get it?  There’s no organization and there’s certainly no ESTABLISHMENT man, cuz that just wouldn’t be cool, man, and we can’t have that man. No.  Not cool at all. 

    Women’s studies perfessers, they just show up and it’s beautiful.  They walk down out of the mountains one day and they just KNOW man.  They just GET IT. 

    There is no establishment feminism.  No way man.  And there’s no one behind that curtain over there either.

    (This has been a public service announcement from NOW.)

  47. How about “neo-feminists” and “paleo-feminists”?

  48. So we have to choose a designation that works for both camps. And I ask again:  are these designations workable?

    Jeff… you’re fighting a sisyphean battle here.  your debating partners have, for the better part of this repartee, refused and dodged any attempt to categorize their views into a debatable framework.

    In my admittedly limited experience, allowing a man to positively classify them in any way is anathema to the feminine psyche.  Thus the dodging and parsing of views, even if they don’t tell you what the views are.  I’d predict that the closer you get to actually achieving a definitive description of their views, the less willing they will be to engage the debate.  If you nail it head on, they’ll never speak/blog to you again.

  49. If nothing else, we’ve discovered feminism’s own version of “What’s Life? A magazine”:

    Why are people like Sommers and Young anti-feminists?

    Because they’re always criticizing feminism.

    So they’ve set themselves against the feminist establishment?

    There is no femionist establishment. Feminists are always criticizing each other.

    Does that mean they’re anti-feminists too?

    Of course not. They’re feminists criticizing other feminists.

    So way can’t Sommers and Young be feminists criticizing other feminists?

    Because people like Sommers and Young are anti-feminists.

    Why are people like Sommers and Young anti-feminists?

  50. SEXIST!

  51. Which is why I have decided on “humanist”.  Though I find it ironic and at times humerous that after decades ago being involved in the feminist movement to be told what “I” am or am not. Thankfully I’m secure enough in my own little world to not lose much sleep over this type of “exclusion”. 

    Those of us who realize how much has been accomplished during the past 50 years will move the focus on to other issues that are important that affect both genders.  I’m happy that my daughters have so many more opportunities than I had or my mother and grandmother had.  However I don’t want that to be as a result of my son losing opportunities.  We’ve gotten to the point where that is happening.  Just as years ago a woman should not have been penalized because of her gender?  Neither should a male face it now for his.

  52. This is fucking hysterical.

    FEAR ME, WOMEN, FOR I AM YOUR NIGHTMARE COME TO LIFE!  ALL YOUR HAPPYBOX ARE BELONG TO JEFFALLAH!

  53. I give up, I don’t think Ampersand is capable of defining feminism, let alone any subdivisions.  I have read nothing in any of these threads to disuade me from the belief that the womens rights movement of old has been co-opted into just another socialist tool.

  54. wow–you guys are misogynists?

    your disguises are so good…i thought you were sex perverts.

    seriously, noble effort Jeff, but how to define a concept as protean as feminism?  You think have it nailed down, and it just escapes you, like a herd of cats.  Feminism is all things, and nothing.  As fluid as water and as solid as cement.  It is apparently defined by shifting fuzzy subsets of membership and exclusion.

    Your task is impossible.

  55. EEK!! You cannot have my happybox you anti-sex Conservative!

    grin

  56. Me and Allah?  Part of the anti-sex right. Which is why we’re misogynists.

    So here’s how my scorecard looks right now.  I made an unfair assumption about Lauren by comparing her to Marcotte, which in turn prompted indignant replies from:

    — Lauren, who won’t say how, precisely, her politics differ from Amanda’s;

    — Jill, whose horror at simplifications doesn’t extend to her own use of the term “patriarchy”;

    — Marcotte, who did what she does best by reducing Jeff’s and my critique to some sort of ulterior expression of lust for Lauren; and

    — Scruples guy, who somehow managed to deduce from one sentence that Jeff and I are in bed with the religious right.

    I’m left with two questions.  First, are any of these folks going to apologize to us the way I apologized to Lauren?  And second, is it even worth mentioning for Scruples’s benefit that I’m (reluctantly) pro-choice?  Or will that simply be waved off as yet another of the patriarch’s lies?

    I guess that was three questions.

  57. Or that I have public sex with my comely rimless eyeglasses?

  58. You know, I’ll shift my views. What the heck.

    If Christina Hoff Sommers, Wendy McElroy, et al, want to call themselves “feminists,” that’s fine with me. I might disagree with them on tactics and analysis, but I don’t see anything that can be gained by endlessly debating the label. Feminists they are.

    As for labels, I’m quite happy to be called a “non-conservative feminist.” Or, if you want to get more specific, I’m a socialist feminist with some touches of liberal feminism. However, keep in mind that what designates my views can’t necessarily be applied to anyone else, naturally.

    I don’t see what’s wrong with calling you, Jeff, a “libertarian/conservative feminist” – which is, after all, a term that you yourself introduced into this discussion. But whatever.

    What I don’t understand, is what exactly is it you want to debate, terminology aside?

  59. You have sex with the glasses because YOU FEAR THE VAGINA.

    BECAUSE OF THE GENERALIZATIONS!

  60. What I don’t understand, is what exactly is it you want to debate, terminology aside?

    Well, the other day we were debating whether putting on the hijab in America can under any circumstances be considered an empowering feminist performative in reaction to a hypersexualized culture.  If so, do we grant the same nobility to those in the Christian modesty movement?  Orthodox Jewish women?  Why or why not?

    That’s the question that started us down this road, anyhow.

  61. Well, the other day we were debating whether putting on the hijab in America can under any circumstances be considered an empowering feminist performative in reaction to a hypersexualized culture.  If so, do we grant the same nobility to those in the Christian modesty movement?  Orthodox Jewish women?  Why or why not?

    Under ANY circumstances? Sure. It doesn’t take much imagination to imagine an individual woman finding it – I hate the word “empowering,” it’s been ruined by daytime TV – finding it useful to wear the hijab.

    I think that drag queens and kings can be seen as making “an empowering feminist performative” in our culture, because it’s a way of recapturing sexuality and gender and putting it under personal control, rather than going along with social conventions. It seems to me that wearing a hijab coudl be useful in much the same way.

    The important thing, to me, is that it be done as a matter of conscious individual choice. The main thing I find objectionable about the hijab in some other countries is that it’s not freely chosen.

    Your comparison to the Christian modesty movement and Orthodox Judaism is a bit odd; whereas before you were saying “under any circumstances,” now you’re talking about extremely specific circumstances.

    Do I think it’s feminist for women to be forced or unfairly pressured to cover up, in any movement – be it Islamic, Christian or Jewish? Or athiest, for that matter? No, I don’t. But I think it’s fine for women to dress like frum Jews, or like Christian modesty movement folks, or to wear a hijab, so long as that represents a genuine personal choice. And although I don’t think dressing that way (or any other way) is a performative under all circumstances, I can certainly imagine it would be under some circumstances.

  62. Jeff, dontcha think you should just give up?

    i mean, we’ve been educated, right?

    i have learned about so many things i never dreamt existed…(and lets be frank, never wanted to know existed) anti-feminists, anti-anti-feminists, third wave feminists, anarcho-feminists, equity feminists, gender feminists, eco-feminists, libero-feminists, capitalo-feminists, marxo-feminsts, establishment feminists, paleo-feminists, neo-feminists, conservo-feminists, and i can’t keep them all straight, and they seem to form alliances and cohorts and cordially detest each other and call each other not-a-feminist.

    What is the point of this?  You’ve spent two threads on this (defining feminist schism sects) and i can’t even remember what you wanted to discuss originally.

    And they’ve all been rude and superficial and didn’t even bother to attempt honest answers, and then went back to their own blogs and snarked to their echo chambers.

    At this point all i can conclude is that THEY ARE ALL FEMINISTS AND I UNIFORMLY AND FEROCIOUSLY LOATHE THEM EVERY ONE!

  63. Your comparison to the Christian modesty movement and Orthodox Judaism is a bit odd; whereas before you were saying “under any circumstances,” now you’re talking about extremely specific circumstances.

    Well, that’s because I’m trying to do justice to Lauren’s post, and I’m doing a poor job of it.  You’ll need to read the entire thing and my response to get a sense of the shape the ensuing debate took on.

    But your answer, interestingly enough, reminds me of this

    Lauren asked, “Would Jeff and Allah be down with modesty-wear if the Christian woman were explicitly arguing her decision to do so from a feminist standpoint?” My reply:

    Can’t speak for Allah. For me, the answer is yes. And you’ll get the same answer about women who choose to strip, pose nude, do porn, or join a harem. One aspect of being an equity feminist (and being libertarian in most respects) myself is that I not only recognize and accept and respect a woman choosing to become a gender feminist, but I likewise accept and respect a woman choosing to become a paid pipe smoker. I may disagree with both of those decisions — but I love the freedom that allows for them.

    And though I can’t speak for Young, Hoff-Sommers, or some of the other one-time “anti-feminists,” I suspect they’d say the same thing.

    The terminology was offensive.  But the message matches.

    But what I wonder is, what did Lauren think a “conservative” feminist would say?

  64. First, kudos to Ampersand for being extraordinarily patient and polite, even in the face of various rude and inane comments (hi there, PlayahGrrl). For the most part, this thread has been really interesting (and people on both sides have generally been nice. It’s amazing). Sadly, law school finals have prevented me from jumping in, but I’ll try and contribute a little something now and see how I do. I should warn, though, that I’ve been at the library for the past 10 hours, and I just took prescription sleep medication with a glass of red wine. So I may be slightly incoherent.

    Many times along this thread, people have asked for a singular definition of feminism. Amp thoroughly explained that feminism is varied and diverse, and it’s nearly impossible to lay out a set of beliefs that all “real” feminists ascribe to. He’s right, but I’m gonna be a little bit reductive here, and say that, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of feminist thought centers around the idea of self-determination, and the pure right to that ends.

    And so, the theory goes, people of both sexes lack the right to pure self-determination when we operate in a society that inflicts rigid (or even not-so-rigid) gender roles on us—when whether you get wrapped in a pink blanket or a blue blanket at birth means something substantial for the course of your life. The idea doesn’t have to be that men and women are exactly the same, just that the right to plot the course of one’s life is a basic one that should be afforded to every human being. Feminists, I would argue, generally believe that this right has not yet been universally attained, and some (probably many) feminists would argue that the people with access to the greatest amount of privilege in any society are generally also able to assert the self-determining right more than others.

    I would also think that most feminists recognize (or believe in, whatever term you want to use) that a vast system of injustice is at play in determining who has access to self-determination and privilege. It’s not a vertical chain, and there are various heirarchies and sub-heirarchies, and it’s not always men-above-women, but in general, wealthy white men are at the top and poor women of color are at the bottom. Some people call this system “patriarchy,” others eschew that term, but I think that most feminists recognize that it exists (although there is certainly debate about where various groups/people fall, and how pervasive and influential it is).

    So I would say that, as a base line, feminists are people who believe in a pure right to self-determination, and who recognize that such a right is currently not achievable for every individual (but, obviously, believe that every individual is entitled to that right).

    That’s why, in my opinion, anyone who says “feminism isn’t necessary” or “feminism did what it needed to do 30 years ago, now it can stop” probably aren’t feminists. That’s also why, in my opinion (and there’s a whole lot of debate about this one in feminist circles, so I’m not speaking for “the movement” here), anyone who wants to see abortion or birth control illegalized is not a feminist—because if you can’t control your own reproduction, you lose the right of self-determination.

    But like I said, I’m not at my most lucid right now. Amp or whoever else, call me out if I’m wrong here.

  65. But what I wonder is, what did Lauren think a “conservative” feminist would say?

    Exactly what you said, which is effectively what I would also say, and that’s the point.  Your Christian women gotcha! was in direct alignment with the circumstances outlined in my post, hence my bafflement with Allah’s complaint.

  66. “Bafflement.” Did I make that up? 

    Fuck it.  Bedtime.

  67. So here’s how my scorecard looks right now.  I made an unfair assumption about Lauren by comparing her to Marcotte, which in turn prompted indignant replies from:

    — Lauren, who won’t say how, precisely, her politics differ from Amanda’s;

    If I may ask:  Is she obligated to?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but you appear to be upset that she doesn’t denounce some of Amanda’s (in my opinion, and I expect yours as well) loonier moments.  But is that really a road any of us wants to go down?  I know I don’t like it when commenters at Feministe want to hold me responsible for everything every conservative has ever said, good, bad, and ugly; I also know I’m able to maintain a friendship with Lauren despite the fact that I enjoy the work of some bloggers she’s, ah, less than fond of.  She doesn’t demand that I denounce Andrea, I don’t demand that she denounce Amanda.

    So all you got from Lauren was “we’re two different people?” So what?  I’m not seeing why you’re entitled to anything more than that?  When I rebutted something of Amanda’s, I didn’t run to Lauren and insist she back me up on it and slam Amanda to prove me right.

    – Jill, whose horror at simplifications doesn’t extend to her own use of the term “patriarchy”;

    So why aren’t you taking that up with Jill?  At her blog?

    – Marcotte, who did what she does best by reducing Jeff’s and my critique to some sort of ulterior expression of lust for Lauren;

    Noting that Amanda is big on oversimplification and favors the cheap shot over the substantive objection is like noting that water is wet.  I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic; it’s just hard for me to get fired up about that one.

    – Scruples guy, who somehow managed to deduce from one sentence that Jeff and I are in bed with the religious right.

    This is probably hands down my biggest complaint with engaging the other side of the aisle–with some people, at least, I go instantly into that box labeled “Rethuglican.” But this is hardly a fault unique to the left, or do I really have to link a Google search of “moonbat” here?

    I’m left with two questions.  First, are any of these folks going to apologize to us the way I apologized to Lauren?

    This is where you lose me utterly.  What exactly do you want an apology for?  Lauren not providing you an itemized list of her political differences with Amanda?–She doesn’t owe you that.  Being mischaracterized by Amanda?–Take that up with Amanda.  Being mischaracterized by Scruples?–Take that up with Scruples.  Jill using the term “patriarchy?”–I don’t see how that’s personally insulting to you, but again?  Maybe take that up with Jill?

    Finally, you’ve left out the guy who’s been doing the heavy lifting for the feminists in this thread and the last one:  Ampersand.  Why is that?

    And second, is it even worth mentioning for Scruples’s benefit that I’m (reluctantly) pro-choice?  Or will that simply be waved off as yet another of the patriarch’s lies?

    Just my opinion, but I don’t think you can do anything with the Scruples sort, anymore than I could convince some of the more hotheaded commenters at Feministe recently that I’m not a raging anti-Semitic war-on-Christmas religious fanatic.  I wouldn’t waste too much energy worrying about that one if it were me.  If it’s important to you, though, maybe take it up with him.

  68. So I would say that, as a base line, feminists are people who believe in a pure right to self-determination, and who recognize that such a right is currently not achievable for every individual (but, obviously, believe that every individual is entitled to that right).

    lol, that’s what i believe!  But that doesn’t make me a feminist, it makes me a geneticist.

    Jill, you cannot terraform biology.  I would say, as much as possible that can be done, has been done under the law.  And now you are crossing over into victimhood politics.  Should men pay compensation for their eons of opression of women?

    here’s my latest comment up for deletion by Lauren.  ha ha, i’m not even allowed to comment on my own question, is feminism really needed in america?

    Okfine Lauren.

    Educate me.

    How does my being forced to attend “sexual harrassment training” benefit some rape slave in Dafur?

    And ditto what Indecent Bill said.

    Bill asked for specific cases of unresolved gender discrimination.

    can’t you feminists see that things like sexual harrassment training are in nutball territory?

    You are parodies of yourselves.

    And…were you even going to respond before i made a big deal out of it?

  69. Your Christian women gotcha! was in direct alignment with the circumstances outlined in my post, hence my bafflement with Allah’s complaint.

    Actually, Allah’s complaint is that you wouldn’t have done the same kind of post about the Christian woman under similar circumstances—that you wouldn’t have ennobled the modest Christian as you did the Other.

    Jill —

    You write:

    So I would say that, as a base line, feminists are people who believe in a pure right to self-determination, and who recognize that such a right is currently not achievable for every individual (but, obviously, believe that every individual is entitled to that right).

    That’s why, in my opinion, anyone who says “feminism isn’t necessary” or “feminism did what it needed to do 30 years ago, now it can stop” probably aren’t feminists.

    Why?  If they believe all the legal and social mechanisms are in place, and that pushing further could actually hurt the gains of feminism by causing a backlash—then what is transpiring is a battle over tactics.  You seem to be suggesting that until everyone has achieved the desired outcome, feminism need be necessarily activist in nature; others believe that patience—waiting for the legal remedies in place to even the playing field naturally—is the best plan.

    Both are feminist positions, it seems to me.

  70. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you appear to be upset that she doesn’t denounce some of Amanda’s (in my opinion, and I expect yours as well) loonier moments.  But is that really a road any of us wants to go down?

    The point at issue throughout this whole thing has been the extent to which feminists—Lauren and Amanda, in particular—think alike.  Lauren took great umbrage at the suggestion that she’s some kind of Marcotte manque.  She devoted an entire post at Feministe to flaming me for it.  Given those circumstances, yes, I think it’s absolutely, 100% appropriate to ask her to explain how, specifically, she and Amanda differ.  Because if it turns out that they don’t differ all that much, then her “we’re two different people!” ends up looking a bit disingenuous, no?

    This isn’t some sort of inquisition where I toss various feminists at Lauren and ask her to affirm or denounce them seriatim.  She objected to my lumping her in with Marcotte; all I’m asking is why.  That’s hardly unreasonable.

    So why aren’t you taking that up with Jill?  At her blog?

    Jill reads Jeff’s site and can answer me here if she wants.  I decided a few months ago not to comment at Feministe anymore (at least on the political posts) because I felt like a troll, and I never liked it when people trolled my blog.  That’s their space, they pay for it, and they don’t need me using it to bitch at them every five minutes.  I don’t see what the problem is with my responding them here instead, assuming Jeff has no problem with it.

    <objection is like noting that water is wet.</blockquote>

    True, but it was nonetheless worth noting again because she resorted to a bad-faith argument in response to my knocking her for resorting to bad-faith arguments.  It’s like getting drunk at an AA meeting.  When you can’t help doing the very thing you’re being legitimately criticized for, while you’re being criticized for it, it indicates a degree of compulsion that warrants some extra attention.

    with some people, at least, I go instantly into that box labeled “Rethuglican.” But this is hardly a fault unique to the left, or do I really have to link a Google search of “moonbat” here?

    See my previous point.  No, I’m not surprised that Scruples would make an easy judgment about Jeff’s and my opinion on matters sexual.  I am, however, surprised that he’d do so in the context of a debate focused on the perniciousness of making easy judgments about people.  When the irony meter is pegged that high, I don’t mind devoting a sentence to pointing it out.

    This is where you lose me utterly.  What exactly do you want an apology for?

    For staggering hypocrisy in accusing me of making generalizations when they’re all (well, not Lauren) just as bad, if not worse?  Look, I don’t really want an apology; I certainly don’t expect one.  I’m simply trying to make the point that when I mischaracterize someone, I ‘fess up to it.  Think Marcotte’s going to apologize to Jeff for accusing him of having some weird psychosexual compulsion to argue with Lauren?  Hold your breath; see how it goes.

    I left out Ampersand because (a) I haven’t been reading his comments closely, and (b) to the extent that I have been reading them, he hasn’t said anything as basely hypocritical as the things I mentioned in my last comment.  What would he owe anyone an apology for?

    Just my opinion, but I don’t think you can do anything with the Scruples sort

    On that, at least, we agree.

  71. Thanks to everyone who said something nice about me. :-D

    There are people who are paid to smoke pipes?

    Never mind.

    As for a woman choosing to become a stripper, or whatever, I may or may not think that her choice is good from a feminist P.O.V. – but I do think it’s good, from a feminist point of view, that it’s her choice to make.

    (And the same, of course, for someone choosing to dress in the way the Christian modesty movement advices.)

    I don’t find it surprising that we pretty much agree on this issue; nor do I doubt that Cathy Young, et al, would (unless I’ve misunderstood her views) pretty much agree with us, as well. There’s a strong social libertarian streak running through almost all of feminism (although in some of the very lefty margins, it would be more accurate to call it anarchist than libertarian).

    So is that all the debate was about? Gee, that’s a lot of lead-up for a very short debate. tongue laugh

  72. Well, it set the stage for the next time, so we don’t end up doing this preliminary dance.

    Let’s say we’ve laid the groundwork here for future discussions.

    All in all, useful work, I think.  Thanks for participating.

  73. I just noticed the fine print: :-p

    But Barry’s refusal to turn “establish” into a noun is tied to his reluctance to admit that there is indeed a center to feminist thought, namely, academic and theoretical feminism—which not only provides the theoretical underpinning for “activist” feminism, but likewise provides both the evidence (by way of its studies, etc) and the rationale that justifies the kinds of social remedies Barry’s brand of feminism advocates for.

    First objection:

    I think you’re oversimplifying a more nuanced reality. Academic feminism is a major locus of feminist thought, but it’s not the only one. Writer-activists, like Susan Faludi, Barbara Ehrenreich, Katha Pollitt and so on, don’t go into as great depth but have a far wider influence – and they often have views of their own, they’re not merely parroting what the academics say. The people who work for non-academic political advocacy organizations, such as NOW, Feminist Majority, Emily’s List, etc, likewise have an impact independant of the academy. And street activists have a lot of influence, as well – in many feminist conversations, someone without a college degree but with years of experience working in battered women’s shelters will be seen as more authoritative than a professor with little direct activist experience.

    I think academic feminism is important, and I rely on academic feminism a lot in my own advocacy, as you say. But a model of feminism that puts academic feminism in the same relationship to feminism as the Vatican has to Catholicism is simply not accurate.

    Second objection:

    there is indeed a center to feminist thought, namely, academic and theoretical feminism…

    Even if you weren’t mistaken about the relationship of academic feminism to the rest of feminism, you’d still be mistaken to attribute “a center to feminist thought” to academic feminism, because there are too many different and often contrary schools of thought within academic feminism, to form a single center.

    For instance, when the question of the term “anti-feminist” recently came up on a women’s studies email discussion list, there was a lot of disagreement over if the term “anti-feminist” had any validity, and if applying it to Cathy Young was reasonable. So the one thing you’ve attributed to academic feminism so far – the “excommunication” of libertarian/conservative feminists – is something that, contrary to your claim, academic feminists themselves openly disagree on.

  74. Well, it set the stage for the next time, so we don’t end up doing this preliminary dance.

    Have we? I’m not sure.

    At this point, I’d suggest “conservative/libertarian feminism” and “non-conservative feminism” – or, if that’s unacceptable, perhaps “left/liberal feminism” – as the terminology. However, unless I’ve missed it, no one but me has commented on if this would be acceptable terminology for them to use in future debates.

  75. At this point, I’d suggest “conservative/libertarian feminism” and “non-conservative feminism” – or, if that’s unacceptable, perhaps “left/liberal feminism” – as the terminology. However, unless I’ve missed it, no one but me has commented on if this would be acceptable terminology for them to use in future debates.

    I don’t wish to quibble over this any more. I’ll use libertarian fem and left/liberal.  But I’ll also throw in establishment feminism from time to time just to chap your hide.

    Here’s the breakdown, as I see it:  before we had this conversation, there was only one “school” of self-styled feminism that was being excluded from the set of authentic feminism.  Set up against that was all the rest of feminist thought, whose proponents were doing the excluding.  It was that larger group—internecine fighting between its subgroups aside—that I labeled “establishment feminism.” For the most part, the intellectual center for each of those subgroups is in the academy—but that they have other areas of civic and social concentration I won’t dispute, because it matters not, really. The point was just to show that there was a “feminism” that was previously deemed authentic (which consisted of a wide-variety of “schools” that drew most of their cache from theory and the academy), and a feminism that was being dismissed as not feminism at all.

    Now that we’ve allowed the straggler into camp, the designations will be but convenient shorthand.

  76. I for one was not looking for a tidy definition of feminism so much as an explanation of why– if it’s such a broad movement– so many people were being read out of it.

    Anyone else find Jill’s opening claim for the ecumenical nature of feminism to be rendered a bit hollow by the list of heresies that follows it?

    “We have both kinds of music– Country and Western!”

  77. Because if it turns out that they don’t differ all that much, then her “we’re two different people!” ends up looking a bit disingenuous, no?

    Ah, okay.  I see your point, but I guess I don’t agree that this hinges on whether or not they differ politically all that much.  They could be in 99% agreement politically without affecting what I took, at least, to be Lauren’s main objection–which is that Amanda, and what Amanda writes, and how Amanda thinks, and what Amanda’s “M.O.” is, all had nothing to do with Lauren’s hijab post.

    Now, however, I’m into speculating about Lauren’s intent, and we know that’s a no-no.  I guess if I’m wrong, I’ll hear about it from her.

    <objected to my lumping her in with Marcotte; all I’m asking is why.  That’s hardly unreasonable.</blockquote>

    It’s unreasonable to put the burden of proof on Lauren to disprove an accusation you made.  Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    Look:  You and Jeff probably have some healthy overlap politically speaking (or perhaps another blogger would be a better example), but it’d be dismissive and insulting to equate the two of you, especially when you each have very distinct personas.

    For all I know, Lauren agrees with everything Amanda says–I doubt this, but it’s possible–but I’d still never mistake one for the other.  (For one thing, Amanda deletes my comments and Lauren does not.  If nothing else, their conduct differs radically.)

    Wasn’t that Jeff’s objection to Trish’s messed-up link to your comment, which she initially used to refer to him? That you may agree on much politically doesn’t mean you like being mistaken for each other.

    Jill reads Jeff’s site and can answer me here if she wants

    You’re absolutely right–I just didn’t see her participating here at the time I wrote that.  It looks now like she was leaving a comment while I was writing mine.

    But personally, I don’t think you’re ever going to top David C. Thompson for Feministe troll value.

    When you can’t help doing the very thing you’re being legitimately criticized for, while you’re being criticized for it, it indicates a degree of compulsion that warrants some extra attention.

    JUST ADMIT YOU LOVE HER ALREADY.

    I’m kidding.  I don’t really have anything to offer here besides head-bobbing agreement that Amanda is . . . special.

    For staggering hypocrisy in accusing me of making generalizations when they’re all (well, not Lauren) just as bad, if not worse?

    Fair enough, but the attempts to get some dialogue going that doesn’t rely on generalizations include the very comments you just said you weren’t “reading closely.” Thus my “huh?” reaction.

  78. “That’s why, in my opinion, anyone who says “feminism isn’t necessary” or “feminism did what it needed to do 30 years ago, now it can stop” probably aren’t feminists.”

    It strikes me as pretty shocking that a person who everyone agrees was a feminist 30 years ago can stop being considered a feminist (against their will) without ever changing their opinion on the place of women in society.

    But I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  79. ohayo!

    i thought about this last night, and i have arrived at a term that describes all the feminists i have read here at Jeff’s.

    Grievance feminists.

    This whole thing is very simple to me.  The oldschool feminists have done a great job.  Thanks to them from the bottom of my heart.  I have never been discriminated against for my sex in my entire life.

    But, while you can level the playing field under the law–you cannot level it under the genes.  The only way the grievance feminists can achieve perfect parity at this point is go to the unisex model.  And i would personally really hate that–i love men!

    Don’t you see, things like sexual harrassment training make you look stupid and crazy, and really infuriate women like me?  Your work is done here.  Please take your crusader fervor and feminist passion and make life better for the millions of women in other countries who actually need you.

    Because, we don’t need it here.

  80. Can we all agree that despite her reportedly excellent verbal SAT results, playah grrl is a moron?  I think this might present one of our best chances for finding common ground.  Really, I haven’t seen such misplaced self-confidence since Jason, the “spoken word artist” on Real World: Boston.

  81. Really Hubris?

    You tell me then, how does sexual harrassment training, small disadvantaged business contracting law, and Dr. Nancy Hopkins help oppressed women in the third world?

    umm…since you are so smart and all.

    Also, please come up with some examples of gender discrimination for Indecent Bill.

    wink

  82. oops!  gotta go work.

    good thing for me that they hire morons in the defense contractor industry!

    well…i guess that is only if they are also women. wink

  83. I’m going from memory, but I believe your “arguments” have included:

    Unlike feminists such as Lauren and Jill, you like men!

    – Sexual harrassment training isn’t necessary because you could complain about a hostile work environment due to a guy picking his nose or not putting more paper in the printer.

    – You have never been discriminated against due to your gender; therefore, there is no such thing as sexism any more.

    – Instead of worrying about any issues here in the U.S., feminists should choose to worry about other places in the world where things are much worse.

    Perhaps you should consider:

    – From all indications, Lauren and Jill like men and penises.  Lauren has a couple great pieces of evidence; namely, a serious boyfriend and a child.

    – Mileage varies on sexual harrassment training (I’ve taken it at several different companies).  Even the most extreme interpretations of sexual harrassment law, however, don’t include the stuff you’re ridiculing.  As for myself, I think it’s nice to have reminders about certain behaviors; for example, that a boss can’t say that you’ll get the promotion as long as you suck his cock.

    – Your individual experiences do not prove some overall point about everyone.  Additionally, have you considered the possibility that there is a causal relationship between your positive experiences and ongoing efforts against sexism?

    – In my assessment, this country is the best in the world with respect to freedom of speech.  However, if there’s concern regarding infringement of that right here, I don’t shrug and say “at least I don’t live in China.”

    Examples of gender discrimination?  Well, there continues to be examples in the workplace.  Look over some successful court cases from the past few years.

  84. Boss: “I was just about to demand she suck my cock if she wanted that raise, then I remembered the workshop with the pink and blue flash cards.  Turns out you can’t demand she suck the cock!  Who knew?”

    Are those example of gender discrimition in the workplace you don’t site already illegal?  Or do they result from loopholes in the law that we as a society must work hard to fill—like, for example, by making sure that all men “think” a particular way about all women, even if it means beating it into their fucking stupid meathead skulls?

  85. I’m not sure I get where you’re going, Jeff.  Are you saying that harrassment training is ineffective because people are going to do what they’re going to do, no matter what?  I really don’t understand the objection to making efforts against harrassment before it happens, by outlining the potential problems it will cause for both the perp and the employer.

    Are those example of gender discrimition in the workplace you don’t site already illegal?

    Is it an alleged gotcha that I’m not providing links to studies showing evidence of discrimination?  As I recall, I haven’t made any specific assertions as to the degree of a problem, but I thought there was sufficient general knowledge of instances of gender discrimination (and instances are sufficient to counter playah grrl’s assertion that there’s no need for any kind of feminism) that I could get a “judicial notice” pass on that one.  I can Google if it really presents a sticking point.

    I’m not advocating for a change in the law; current sexual harrassment law seems pretty good to me.

    As for how people think, that isn’t a legal issue…it’s a matter of persuasion.  It’s like people thinking racist things; you don’t legislate what people think, but you can work to convince people that what they’re thinking is wrong.

  86. Yes, it’s pretty self-evident that all men need mandatory sexual harrasment, racial sensitivity, and anger management classes.  Just ask hubris—he learned to stop beating his wife before he even started!

  87. Yes, it’s pretty self-evident that all men need mandatory sexual harrasment, racial sensitivity, and anger management classes.

    Huh?  Are you saying that having everyone (not just men, by the way) go through preemptive training is equivalent to an assertion/accusation that all of them are/would be bad actors otherwise?  What a strange assertion.

  88. Don’t you see, things like sexual harrassment training make you look stupid and crazy

    Even speaking as a guy who’s absolutely hated this sort of corporate training with 95% of his (my? whatever) being, I call bullshit.  This is about policy.  If you announce the policy, and announce the various levels of recourse one can take as the recipient of unwanted sexual/amorous attention or what have you, chances are that when someone does get hit on, promoted without cause, passed over for promotion without cause and the like, that person will at least face some consequences, and cannot plead ignorance.

    OTOH if you deliberately don’t have policy because you think it’s stupid and unnecessary and perhaps icky, then shit will happen in your workplace, and you will be at the receiving end of a lawsuit.  This is why corporations do this sort of thing: to reduce the number of lawsuits they are exposed to.  In the eyes of the law, to some degree, a policy of no policy is tacit permission to indulge in the very behavior the policy would have opposed.  So, if you own your own business, it’s your choice.  If you don’t, it’s the owner/stockholders who are covering their backsides.

    I work in the defense sector, and let me tell you: we have to do this sort of training a LOT: sexual harassment, ethics, safeguarding of classified information, drug free workplace, insider trading, violence free workplace, etc, etc; and we have to redo it all every year.  I loathe all of it, but every bit of it is necessary for some people who are not me.

  89. Ah, come on. I think that “OMG feminists suck because I have to go to job training” is a great argument.

    I’m going to stoop to her level though, because I’m sick of her posting about it and she’s not going to shut up until someone address what she seems to think is the most brilliant argument against feminism ever. So here goes:

    Playagrrl:

    The legal definition of sexual harassment in America is not “annoying behavior”. Sexual harassment is any kind of sexual behavior that is unwelcome and/or inappropriate for the work place. Also, how your company deals with it, be it through mandatory annual meetings or providing you with a pamphlet the first day of work and never mentioning it again (my experience), is at their own discretion. They are running their company as they see fit to minimize sexual harassment; it probably has more to do with their own insurance policies (put in place by insurance companies, not feminists) than anything else. In short, your argument is with your employer, not feminism.

    Feminists just argued that women should be allowed to take on their employer in situations like this without fear of repercussion. Sure, you can “take care of yourself” in those types of situations. Bravo. But you are not special; most women can also do this. The problem, before we had sexual harassment legislation, is that you could rightfully be fired for “taking care of yourself”. Whether you engaged your ass-slapping boss in an intellectual debate about why he shouldn’t be slapping your ass, or whether you hauled off and cracked him in the jaw, it didn’t matter. You stuck up for yourself, and that was seen as an excuse to fire you. If you want to take feminists to task for this, go right ahead, but it looks pretty silly. Feminists were merely protecting the same thing that you seem to hold so dear – your right to stand up for yourself.

    One the “man-hating” aspect, here’s a tongue-in-cheek repsonse:

    Here’s something I find interesting about Playagrrl. In one of her first comments, she states this:  But i’m going out dancin’!

    haha, not being a feminist, and being an XX who actually enjoys the company of those penis-weilding, uterus-enslaving opressors, i have a date tonight!

    Thus indicating that feminists do not enjoy the company of men, thus indicating that feminists dislike men blah blah blah, we know the story.

    Now, let’s ask ourselves here, who is more likely to be the man hater? Let’s look at the overall perception of women as they age as an example. It’s a fact of life that women age, and as they do, can become less attractive to men on a purely physical level. The boobs began to sag, the ass started to get all loose an elasticy, etc. And when we hit this point in our lives, who is more likely to be the “man-hater”? A feminist, who places all of her self worth and happiness in relation to her own being? Or someone like “Playagrrl”, who chooses her online identity to indicate that she is a girl that plays on men’s emotions for her own gratification? Oh, and it’s not “sexist” to assume that by choosing the online tag that you did, this is how you wish to be seen by people. Not to mention someone whose badge of honor is that she “has a date” and who continually emphasizes that she loves men, So what happens when someone of that mentality finds themselves rejected in post-vixen years? 

    I think it’s a no brainer, that one. If there is a “man-hating movement”, it’s going to be chicks like “playagrrl” on the front lines, saggy boobs and all, not me. You can only hate that which is part of yourself.

  90. Turned this discussion into a post here.

  91. Huh?  Are you saying that having everyone (not just men, by the way) go through preemptive training is equivalent to an assertion/accusation that all of them are/would be bad actors otherwise?  What a strange assertion.

    That’s exactly what I’m saying and I don’t see how it’s strange at all.  Are you saying that having women present somehow imputes an equal amount of assumed guilt onto them?  Now that IS a strange assertion.  Also, I don’t see how this training will be effective in anything but letting the real bad actors know exactly what they can get away with.  It certainly won’t stop someone with a sex addiction ala Clinton.  Nor will anti-violence training stop a psychotic from coming to work with a shotgun.  And any man capable of rape isn’t going to be stopped by a frigging powerpoint presentation.  The only justification for it is to try to protect the company from liability, and publishing guidelines in the policy handbook should be (but probably isn’t) enough for that. 

    Anyway, since you’re such a fan of this pre-criminal training for men, shouldn’t it start earlier?  Shouldn’t schools be showing little boys slides of rape victims and battered women?  Wouldn’t want the little ultraviolent droogies growing up with no control over their sick urges, now would we?  Bring the little girls in too, just to let them know what kind of monsters they are going to school with.  Just make sure to have a miniature women’s shelter ready in the back of the auditorium when the show’s over.

  92. Are you saying that having women present somehow imputes an equal amount of assumed guilt onto them?

    There is no assumed guilt imputed to anyone by saying “don’t do this.” If you take training that way, I’d have to say that you’re voluntarily assuming a victim role, actually.

    And any man capable of rape isn’t going to be stopped by a frigging powerpoint presentation.

    I guess that would be relevant, if the only aim of sexual harrassment training were to prevent rape.  It’s not.

    Anyway, since you’re such a fan of this pre-criminal training for men, shouldn’t it start earlier?  Shouldn’t schools be showing little boys slides of rape victims and battered women?  Wouldn’t want the little ultraviolent droogies growing up with no control over their sick urges, now would we?  Bring the little girls in too, just to let them know what kind of monsters they are going to school with.  Just make sure to have a miniature women’s shelter ready in the back of the auditorium when the show’s over.

    You can put up strawmen all day to be sarcastic about, I suppose.  I haven’t argued that men are ultraviolent or monsters.  It would be interesting if you actually addressed an argument someone was making.

  93. Yeah, well…

    How else am I supposed to keep the crows away from all of this delicious corn!  Huh?  Answer me that.

  94. wow, sorry to be so late. wink

    you all been gnashin’ and grinding on me while i was gone?

    Stacy first, how become it is ok for allah and jeff to mock the feministas and not me?  It is because i’m a (shudder, gasp) SEX-TRAITOR?

    “OMG feminists suck because I have to go to job training”

    that wasn’t my argument.  Lauren said we need feminism in America to help the third world.  I asked how my being forced to attend sexual harrassment training would help a sex slave in Dafur.  I don’t think American feminists are much interested in the third world.  Here is some proof of my thesis. Four carnivals so far, and the links overwhelmingly deal with feminist issues in the US. Since there are only four carnivals so far, this is fairly easy to do.

    Carnival of the Feminists 4 –49 links, one ref to an Israeli story. none to third world references.

    Carnival of the Feminists 3–56 links, 4 third world references.

    Carnival of the Feminists 2–48 links, 8 third world references.

    Carnival of the Feminists 1–43 links, 4 third world references.

    my position is that we have good legal protection in the US.  Look, Hubris can’t come up with any examples except those of the system working!!

    Gender discrimination is illegal in the US.

    And, don’t look for me to start saggin’ anytime soon.  On Tuesday nights i teach a hiphop class, and’ i snoboard and event.  hmm…i have a minor in dance from college too–is it true feminists can’t dance?  i never see any in my dance classes at the studio. wink

    My hypothesis is that Fitty and David Banner act on them like garlic on vamphyres– or mebbe it is just the broomstick. wink

  95. Okfine, now Art.

    Actually “Policy” is a separate class where i work.  “Sexual Harrassment Training” is only how to recognize sexual harrassment, which was defined in class as someone of the opposite sex “annoying” you.  Frankly, i thought it was offensive that someone would think i wouldn’t know if i was being harrassed. 

    I understand all companies are different, but my data point is just as valid as yours and Hubris’.

    I would never deny my company the tools to protect itself from litigation.  My dad’s an orthopedic surgeon. wink

    I am interested in your company’s generic briefing on handling classified.  At my company each customer has a different protocol for handling info and the briefings are delivered by each indiviual program security officer.  I have never been to a generic briefing on that.

  96. must sleep…i shall deal with hubris tommorrow…but!

    Hubris you were much funnier as a hair blogger–have you seen Patrick Swayze in Donnie Darko?

    most habinar. wink

  97. When it comes to sexual harassment, I put my co-workers (all male) to shame.  Ain’t no one who can talk dirtier than I.

    I just can’t wait until I’m powerful enough to have a hot 19-year-old male secretary.  No, he doesn’t get to be an “administrative assistant”!

  98. Pingback: The Annotated (academic) Left: a deconstruction

  99. Pingback: In which I break character and answer a transparently loaded question about Ms Shannon Elizabeth's parodic/allegorical sexual proclivities

  100. Pingback: The framing of the shrew

  101. Pingback: Palin’s family off limits, says Obama; Obama national campaign finance committee member responds, “you’re not the boss of me, Barry”!

  102. Pingback: Thoughts on the previous post

Leave a Reply