Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Right and wrong

The following is from an email exchange between Robert and I regarding this article:

She's right to promote individual identity over stereotypes (whether or not the stereotypes apply statistically - individuals deserve to be treated as such). 

Her primary failure is in the assumption that women are not or have not been drivers of the culture to the same extent that men have. She assumes that men have been giving it to women and women have been taking it since...well forever. The truth is that women are powerful shapers of culture, much more so than the feminist movement has ever acknowledged. Only in severely dysfunctional societies (and I mean societies that quickly disintegrate because they are genuinely not functional) have women altogether been subjugated in the way that the feminist movement has described. In all societies that function, and persist, women inevitably wield powerful influence. And they do so for the obvious reasons that they compose half the population and have a monopoly on certain highly prized abilities - that is, they have something valuable that the other half of the population wants badly.

I'm not an expert, but I think that you will find that even in cultures that are outwardly repressive of women it won't take more than an up close glance to see how women are exercising influence throughout the society.

The other side to the coin is that women are clever about their own interests. Clever enough to fool men and even to fool Gloria Steinem. Consequently, a great many repressive practices against women are actually enforced BY women. Look at genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa. I hear that this practice is perpetuated by mothers and grandmothers, not by men at all. Why is this the case? Well, it's obvious really. And it's the same for practices that are aimed at repressing men and are enforced by men (e.g. rules about when a man is allowed to marry). These practices safeguard the interests of those who enforce them. So, it's not MEN repressing WOMEN. Instead it's one group of people (say, matriarchs) repressing another, competing group (say, young women who are approaching sexual maturity).

So, to sum up: Gloria Steinem should take her own advice about lumping people into static groups. There are many kinds of men and many kinds of women in the world. They should be protected as individuals, with individual protections that don't vary according to what groups we might wish to lump them into. From that perspective feminism IS (or ought to be) dead, because it doesn't - can't - give protection to individuals when it assumes that men repress and women submit.


  1. Me too, Justin. But I probably won't be doing anything with it for awhile. I've started two small businesses during the past year, and they take all my spare time.

    Thanks for touching base and encouraging me!

  2. Jenn Have you given up Dewdrops? apparently so..:(

  3. Oh, no! I haven't given up. I'm up to my ears in school but it will be over soon, giving me back my life and room in my schedule to keep up with the blog. Thanks for checking in with me...Very soon, I'll be back. :)