Still Not Feminism

I want to acquaint you with a blog post that will make it clear why I shun North American feminist theory, avoid North American feminist blogs as much as I can, and hide in the toilet whenever I see people from our university’s Gender Studies program.

The blogger in question addresses some really idiotic comments made by some aging freakazoid:

Does parenthood imperil the skills of a money trader? Apparently it does. Only, however, if the trader is female.

That’s the take of Paul Tudor Jones, a billionaire who made his money as a hedge fund manager, in this comment while speaking to prospective hedge-funders at the University of Virginia: “Jones said in his experience having a child is a ‘killer’ for any desire to trade, adding ‘as soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it,’ while motioning to his chest, according to a video posted by the Washington Post.”

Obviously, a person whose parents hated him enough to give him a name that contains both “Tudor” and “Jones” had little chance of growing up normal and psychologically healthy. Yet, since Tudor is now an adult, his mental issues become his own responsibility and it is up to him to make sure that he doesn’t dump his psychological dirt on other human beings.

The linked blogger gives Tudor a proper dressing down, pointing out how ridiculous his generalizations about the nature of women are. I really enjoyed the post because it was funny, well-written, and intelligent. That is, I enjoyed it until I arrived at the closing paragraphs:

Recent studies have proven women to be better traders and money handlers, less inclined to take dire risks, more able to render profit to their clients. Perhaps they regard the money in their accounts as their “baby”, thus deserving of nurturing care? It’s a skill and approach many males could learn and profit from.

In response to offensive generalizations about women’s nature, the blogger thinks it is appropriate to offer a string of . . . offensive generalizations about women’s nature that in no way contradict Tudor Jones’s opinions.

I have had to read quite a lot of feminist theory for work and I can assure you that no patriarchal fundamentalist can emit as many essentialist statements about the nurturing nature of women and the 100% different nature of men as a regular American feminist. Many people have this completely pig-headed belief that feminism is about taking up the old essentialist generalizations about “men” and “women” and affixing the label “bad” to the former and “good” to the latter. This is the habit of lazy minds that can’t escape the comforting reliance on familiar binaries. Nothing more complex than “bad” and “good” is accessible to them.

40 thoughts on “Still Not Feminism

  1. You give me another reason to see how outdated and useless the term feminist really is. Thanks. 😉
    I wonder what the emotional attachment is for you to keep using that label to describe yourself. Obviously you are nothing like THOSE feminists. 🙂

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      1. @hkatz

        I don’t know anyone who refers to themselves as a mainstream American feminist. Nor a mainstream European feminist for that matter. They all call themselves feminists AND THEN some trash the others because they are not TRUE feminists. Reminds me of a bunch of Christians or Islamists bitching about who is the real one.

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        1. “I don’t know anyone who refers to themselves as a mainstream American feminist.”

          – This is the second time in this thread when a person voices the “If i never saw it, it must be non-existent” argument. 🙂 🙂

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      2. @titfortat

        So is ‘Christian’ an outdated and useless term? What, in contrast, might be a better term or label? Are all labels essentially useless?

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      3. Well, I have a suspicion you can answer that yourself, though you may be a Baptist and that wouldn’t work. 😉
        A better term would be egalitarian, unless of course you think that only one gender gets the shit end of the stick. If you think one has it worse than the other, then be my guest and keep using the gendered terms.

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  2. True enough, if you were like some of THOSE feminists you would get rid of the back end of the word hu-man. 😉

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  3. I don’t know what you’re reading, but the feminist theory I read for my research (including that written by North Americans) generally discusses this “difference” model as an outdated one.

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    1. I think it is still big though in part of popular consciousness & media, especially in conservative areas. Also, if you work in a small school or one where WoST faculty is cobbled together from random people of good will, sympathetic to field but not necessarily doing research in it, it often turns out that a lot of those who volunteer are quite into the difference model still.

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      1. At this tiny little school called Yale University where I did my graduate studies, a leading scholar in the field refused to let me continue my research unless I relied exclusively on the essentialist model of feminism. A scholar from a related field agreed. So yes, those tiny little places suck. 🙂 🙂

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      2. It is big in pop culture, but I was talking about research articles. Luckily, my field appears more advanced :-), as I cannot imagine publishing an article using this model these days. Either way, it is an appalling generalization to say this is the model of “North American Feminists” given the number of North American researchers who consider this theory outdated.

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  4. “Well, I have a suspicion you can answer that yourself, though you may be a Baptist and that wouldn’t work”

    No, I’m a Jew. Which means I love asking questions, even when I don’t expect an answer.

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  5. No, I’m a Jew. Which means I love asking questions, even when I don’t expect an answer.(hkatz)

    Very funny. 🙂

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  6. In America, gender essentialism is simply assumed, by and large, by all and sundry.
    See this:

    RulingPart said…
    Do you ever demand something unreasonable of your husband and then feel better about him when he says no? That’s a shit test.

    Men’s movement guys often see this process as unicausal. Any conflict with a woman is a shit test, and that isn’t true. The further one gets from romantic environments or relationships the less true it is.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    I’ve never behaved like that in my life and can’t fathom anybody behaving like that.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    Happens all the time. Look around with this in mind and you may see it. It explains why heterosexual women are attracted to assholes. Again, you are atypical, but what about your friends?

    Look up a blogger called krauser if you want a deeper look at this. Plenty of blog fodder for you there, if you like.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    It’s an American thing and not British at all. None of my friends behave that way.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    I think it’s universal, in so far as it applies to heterosexual attraction. Krauser is a Brit and he makes out like a bandit. He is also a racist after a fashion. I don’t approve of that, just to be clear. Anyway, now it’s in your head. We shall see…

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    I’m 44 years old and it has never been my tendency. If you want to think it is universal, I disagree, but that it the nature of metaphysical postulates about gender. They have a very magical radiance about them.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    I’ll be interested to hear you opinion in a week or so.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    And it’s evident that you’ve never been a 17 year old boy trying to get a date. Explains so much!

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    No, I’ve never been immature about gender.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    I view it as being mature about gender in that it explains a very potent component of attraction. It works, too. Maybe it seems threatening. I didn’t much like it at first, but when I took a look around, and when I started applying it to my own marriage, we both got happier.

    Cheers, at any rate.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    Oh, and I didn’t mean “explains so much” to mean that you had missed something. I mean that it explains how I got dates. When I acted like myself, not so much success. They liked a cocky version of me much better. It explains that.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    But that’s a metaphysical notion that you have, that your experiences and your relationship are the only ones that exist. In fact, there are all sorts of other kinds of experiences and relationships.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    Yes, I concede the point. That said you seem resistant to the idea that you have instincts which you do not control. You are an animal as well as an academic. Biology can be transcended, but can it be transcended completely?

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    Why should I have to address an issue that I have instincts I don’t control?

    Supposing I said to you:

    “I’ve notice from my experience that it is a male’s instinct to rob a bank. It happens around me all the time and no women do it.”

    You might respond that you were not inclined to rob a bank.

    In which case I could rave on and on about how you are denying your basic instincts to rob banks.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    There is no “should.” And you know I’m not raving.

    So, I do not rob banks, because it would be wrong, but I actually do have an instinct to steal. A few months ago a kid at the store gave me twenty bucks change when it should have been five. I was all the way out the door before I turned around and gave it back. It took an act of will.

    The prisons are filled with people who don’t resist biology.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    If its true then your hostility doesn’t change the fact, and if it is not I’m wasting your time. Either way I’m off to bed. G’night.

    Monday, June 03, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    You have a really good theory of biology. So if I describe something in an ironic (tongue in cheek) way, is that YOUR biology or MY biology that is being “hostile”?

    Tuesday, June 04, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    Looks like mine! No body language=ham fisted response. Sorry. I robbed a bank to strengthen my own point, by the way. Did you know they use cameras now? I won’t be posting for awhile, so best wishes.

    Tuesday, June 04, 2013
    RulingPart said…
    Imagine me posting the above with a bit of a smile and one raised eyebrow.

    Tuesday, June 04, 2013
    Jennifer Armstrong said…
    Well at least we don’t have hostile biologies to deal with now.

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    1. I love such dialogues. 🙂 🙂 These people never even wonder whether having all these weird friends and freaky experiences that normal people don’t have says something about them. There was this Macedonian guy here a while ago who kept insisting that since he had the same insane conversation with his “feminist friends” hundreds of times in a row, this meant that all people in the world had the same insane conversation. Poor freak refused to believe me when I communicated to him that this was not a normal occurrence for other people.

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      1. “Do you ever demand something unreasonable of your husband and then feel better about him when he says no? That’s a shit test.”

        – If I encountered people like this, I would ask myself what is wrong with me that I’m attracting creepy, weird people into my life. But just like you, I have never met anybody like this.

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      2. Meanwhile in other happy events, I got this from an interlocutor:

        I cannot “weep for all the individual Japanese” affected by American nuclear weapons… even *my* brain doesn’t work like that. But I can still SHUDDER at the extreme nature of a nuclear weapon dropped on a civilian urban population. And I do shudder, every time I think of it…. in the same way I can shudder at the more than 100,000 people killed when we bombed Dresden, Germany. Or the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese decimated by B52 carpet bombs and napalm in the late 60s and early 70s.
        It’s not a weeping for all the individuals. I’ve told you many times I don’t find authentic the idea that caring and concern have to look like mawkish fawning and nursing.
        I’m talking about a normal human shudder at a very real act of decimation. Particularly by a group of people who sought SAFE HARBOR and protection from the USA, when they were most vulnerable, and when we were kind enough to protect them.
        Yes, I’m talking about a Jewish problem. I am not afraid to talk about it. It’s not only a real problem, but one of staggering cunning and GALL. I even think the basic LEFT notion of “Bourgeois” has a racial and anti-establishment bias that is considerable. it’s not so much about social justice for the weaker, as it is an intent to dismantle the shoulders of a culture. I am not sure at this point if you really see that or not. And if you do, I’m not sure that you are about it. (only because over and over again, what I get from you is something like… why should I care about what happens to the “west,” … or oh well, I guess the west had to go down… it’s not my problem… )
        To me, when a person objectifies humanity with that kind of anodyne indifference, to me that is the spirit of the Devil, and I don’t make friends with people like that. There is an almost total lack of sympathy in your manner of processing certain “foreign” people who are somehow not noble or superior enough for you. I realize you really like the Japanese, and maybe some others out there….
        But to be honest, I do perceive in you a KIND of sympathy for left intellectualism, but not a corresponding humanity for people who have been largely VICTIMS of the LEFT.
        I can’t stand for that in a person who would pretend to be an American citizen, and I can assure you that it is all too common these days, to be preoccupied with self interest, dabble in left politics and essentially hate one’s own country and culture – as though one were suddenly a foreigner! This is the payback America gets for actually trying stand up for justice —- REAL JUSTICE Jennifer, not French or left esoteric mumbo jumbo. America has stepped in at times of grave, horrific tyranny, putting our lives on the line for people who were very vulnerable and who were being treated horribly, and the payback has been almost unfathomable.
        On the other hand, I also know why we’re hated, which is because of our coercive geopolitics and imperial attitude, which is a very real problem. I can assure you that this was LESS of a problem, pre WWII. After WWII, there was this cold war paranoia, the result of the capitalism / communism standoff and tensions. And as far as I’m concerned, this was America getting pulled into a foreigner’s dichotomy, a dichotomy created by the LEFT. Also, many of the new conservatives in the USA were not really American, but again Jewish. They have a way of playing both on the right and left sides of liberalism, and whichever side they play, they bring a distinctly FOREIGN manner of thinking.
        To be honest, before people like Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand got their hands into our sense of economics, America was mildly capitalist… sometimes even purely capitalist… but it was a phenomenon IN our culture, something that was part of us and not an alien thing. This all changed when foreigners came in with WHOLEHEARTED market-idolatry, which really was something alien and destructive. it’s interesting how the people who author the LEFT ideologies (and I even hate that word, Ideology) who the same people brought us extremist capitalism. It just kills me either way, to think about this foreign influence.
        And I am not even interested in expelling them, as so many other countries have done in the past. All I’m interested in is a true democracy, WHERE NO INTERESTED BLOC (whether left or right or Jewish or even native white american) can have or pretend to have a monopoly of influence. At this point, they made it in, they’ve done damage to the cultural environment… which I suppose any alien group will do (except their damage is pretty vast)… it’s done and now we TRY to gather our wits and move on.
        Clearly, I am not being insane or paranoid about this. But you can see how contrary to the spirit of fairness it is, to somehow have impartiality and intellectual openmindedness about the weapons of critique.
        I know you have fighting ways… and I get that, but I don’t know if I think intellectuals should have a license to use ideas (which can be weapons) if they don’t have SOME humane sense of how dangerous those weapons are. I personally don’t credit you with any moral authority to even opine on the reasonableness or value of ANY left wing philosophy. I don’t see at this point that you have the conscience to be taken seriously, and as long as you don’t have the conscience, I won’t stand for you being taken seriously. You don’t deserve it, and that’s my opinion and position.
        Of course I wish you the best. I wish you continued strength and continued happiness in your struggles and improvement. I admire you very much, most especially for your honesty. I do respect honest people, don’t ask me why, but I do.
        But our differences are more than superficial. I actually do despise your overall conscience, and you are in many ways a thorough enemy. I still wish you the best. And I still do admire all you’ve done to improve yourself and recover as much humanity as possible.
        you take care.
        (please let’s not communicate anymore…. maybe you didn’t realize I had these moral loyalties and issues with leftism, and maybe I had trouble determining your actual position, since you seemed to be so averse to the left at first… but now I am seeing a bigger more comprehensive picture… In any case, my evaluation is complete and I am not going to reconsider it. I don’t have time or energy for that.)

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        1. “This is the payback America gets for actually trying stand up for justice —- REAL JUSTICE Jennifer, not French or left esoteric mumbo jumbo. America has stepped in at times of grave, horrific tyranny, putting our lives on the line for people who were very vulnerable and who were being treated horribly, and the payback has been almost unfathomable.”

          – I got this in an essay by a student last week. Only his version ran on for over a page. I didn’t even leave any comments because I’m not prepared to offer psychiatric help.

          “Also, many of the new conservatives in the USA were not really American, but again Jewish. They have a way of playing both on the right and left sides of liberalism, and whichever side they play, they bring a distinctly FOREIGN manner of thinking.”

          – Finally, the real cause of all problems has been found! A pity that it’s such an old and trite one. I was hoping for something more entertaining.

          “To be honest, before people like Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand got their hands into our sense of economics, America was mildly capitalist… sometimes even purely capitalist… but it was a phenomenon IN our culture, something that was part of us and not an alien thing. This all changed when foreigners came in with WHOLEHEARTED market-idolatry, which really was something alien and destructive. it’s interesting how the people who author the LEFT ideologies (and I even hate that word, Ideology) who the same people brought us extremist capitalism. It just kills me either way, to think about this foreign influence.”

          – Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman as leftists is a brilliant idea. The poor creatures are rolling in their graves right now.

          “And I am not even interested in expelling them, as so many other countries have done in the past.”

          – Good! ‘Cause if she were interested in expelling them, they would have to board those planes right now.

          “All I’m interested in is a true democracy, WHERE NO INTERESTED BLOC (whether left or right or Jewish or even native white american)”

          – And who would “native white american” be?

          “Clearly, I am not being insane or paranoid about this.”

          – I love it when people diagnose themselves.

          This is priceless.

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            1. I totally accept and value a touch of insanity, but when I hear about Americans bringing freedom to the suffering multitudes of the planet, I see red.

              Strangely, when I hear about these Jewish conspiracies, I never get even remotely angry. Probably because I don’t see these ideas as threatening any more.

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  7. What are you doing hanging out on websites like that, muster? I mean, what’s the point, those people seem really marginal and not all there.

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    1. What website is that? Both of those people came to me via YouTube. But that outburst I received was very different to the way we had been talking earlier in the one case.

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        1. It’s a corner of extremism and I am not extreme. I just want to tell my truths, which have to do with my experiences with different factions of politics.

          People really do need a high level of intellectual maturity to be able to handle my views, since I do not simply side with one group over another.

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  8. I had some contact with feminist thought in the mid to late 80’s and found a lot of it intriguing and interesting (and a lot of it had some intellectual rigor behind it).

    I didn’t have anything more than the most minor fleeting contact again until finally checking out some feminist blogs a couple of years ago and was …. not impressed. Not an interesting thought or valuable insight anywhere to be found, it seems mostly like a weird mix of self-policing more-progressive than thou posturing and magical thinking.

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  9. Talking of strange versions of feminism, I just read a SPON article about the Leizpig University here in Germany.

    Like, you know that the German language needlessly genders terms like professor or scientist? Well if not, now you know. There is the word ‘Professor’, which is the male term and ‘Professorin’, which is explicitly female.

    I say explicitly female because while the term ‘Professor’ is supposed to be male, it is widely used as a description for people of all genders. ‘Professorin’ however exclusively describes a female person. It is kind of like actor and actress in the English language. Nobody is going to care if you call Sandra Bullock an actor, calling Daniel Craig an actress is kind of wrong, however.

    Anyway, according to Spiegel Online, the Leipzig University has decided to abandon the more gender-neutral terms in favor of using female labels for everyone, regardless of their gender.

    Now, what that is supposed to do? Well, using male labels for women is really wrong*! It makes them feel unappreciated and stuff. So now, they are reversing the situation. Because using female labels for men isn’t wrong at all but will teach them about the horrible plight of academic women! And they call that progress towards equality 🙂

    Here is the article, ableit in German:
    http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/wunderbar/gleichberechtigung-uni-leipzig-nutzt-weibliche-bezeichnungen-a-903530-2.html

    * Again, saying these terms are male is kind of bullshit. Sure, the ages old German grammar rules say they are, but this totally ignores how they are used.

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    1. This gets curioser and curioser. 🙂 🙂 The next logical step is to place all nouns in the female gender. Everything should be “die.” Down with the horribly oppressive “der” and “das”! They make other words feel unappreciated! Le’s start a social revolution!

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      1. One thing that really annoys me is when a language with grammatical gender copies the English language policy of getting rid of gendered words for professions without understanding that the reason why gendered words for professions suck in English is that English has almost no grammatical gender, so gendered words single out the gender with the derived word. Try to pull that same trick in a heavily gendered language like German or the Latin languages though, and you get the rather yucky implication that, to be respected professionally, gender A has to become a honorary member of gender B.

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  10. “I am all for rendering nouns genderless” – American student trying to remember what grammatical gender a table has. (That’s me! I have sympathy for all those Chinese students who don’t use articles. )

    I don’t think that it is too essentialist to observe that in the U.S. culture, women with children are expected to be more responsible than men with children. There is little social penalty for a man who leaves his children behind, as long as he is not publicly exposed as having left his children in poverty while enjoying increased prosperity for himself.

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    1. @NancyP

      No, the social penalty comes when he tries to have equal access to his children when he hasn’t done anything wrong.

      Like

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