Apr. 14th, 2008

sunflowerp: (BattleReady)
Y'know what offends me more than overtly sexist jerks? More than the Feminist Orthodoxy Police? Possibly even more than bad scholarship, logical fallacies, and poor reasoning, though there was enough of those involved as well that it's hard to be certain.

It's men who use feminism as a camouflage, or even a justification, for their own sexist entitlement. When I deal with them, I sound for all the world like a stereotypical grim-and-strident radical feminist - out come phrases like "sexist entitlement" and "male privilege". Nope, I'm definitely not a Fun Feminist when it comes to that.

I've just been tussling with that particularly poisonous variety of "feminist ally", a Knight in Shining Armor. I'd like to say I took him apart, but, while I believe I acquitted myself very well, I fear he missed the point altogether, and flounced with his complacence and his virtuously noble self-image unscathed.

A Knight in Shining Armor is the sort of male self-described feminist (or he may describe himself as a feminist ally, or some other term chosen to show that of course he'd never usurp our movement - this one favors "radical pro-feminist") who is involved with feminism because he's Good and Noble, and will slay all the evil misogynistic patriarchal villains and make the world safe for womankind. (Pause in composition; I just had a brilliantly apropos icon idea and must do it right this instant... and, done, loaded, applied to entry.)

I think my spiffy new icon tells you quite a lot about what I, as a feminist, think of men (however they identify) who want to slay villains for me. As I've already mentioned, I'm down with (authentic) male feminists; they are my brothers-in-arms, and I'm very glad to have them fighting beside me, watching my back, and all those other good warrior metaphors. (And when we get back to the barracks... um, never mind.) But fight the fight for me? Not friggin' likely.

So - you can see Sir Lancelot in action at Derek's Doing Feminism - not Derek; you should have no trouble identifying the guy in the tin suit in the comments, even before I take him to task. Since ol' Lance has already transformed himself into Brave Sir Robin and flounced ('bout a six, I figure; the execution was technically quite good, if unoriginal, until he spoiled it by coming back for one parting shot), there's little point in piling on him there; I doubt it'll penetrate his +4 Armor of Complacence (what, surely you don't think he won't sneak back to see how we took it?), and it'll just distract further from what could be a very productive discussion (which you could join if you're so inclined). Anyway, it wouldn't be courteous to Derek. And, since I'm going to mention over there that I've snarked about it here, with link, chances are we'll have a meal of Silly Knigget deliver itself right to my doorstep - dinner's on me! (Comment policy for that is, mock at will, but avoid flaming.)

Sir Knigget is not without utility; he not only contributed greatly to clarifying my thinking regarding that discussion, he also shed some light on the complex tangle of my feminism.

"I’m much clearer on what’s problematic about #5: it subtly assumes that a woman, at any rate a pregnant woman, needs a man, and glosses over the injustices that create that need. Obliging men to ante up does nothing whatsoever to address those injustices; it seeks only to alleviate them." - Sunflower

If I'm reading my feminist history aright, that's right on the historic fracture point between liberal feminism and radical feminism; liberal feminism preferred to address injustices by adjusting the existing paradigms, while radical feminism believed it was necessary to examine, and work to change, the paradigm itself. (I invite corrections, clarifications, etc, from my more learned readers.) Old-school radical feminism, or so I understand, largely examined paradigms through collectivist-socialist, or even outright Marxist, lenses, while I'm cut [changes metaphors in midstream] from rather different cloth (though the fabric still has a left bias - "individualist-socialist" might describe it). Nevertheless, if I've parsed this right, I'm more radical than not. (Certainly I have a good many ideas that some feminists, many of whom identify as radfem, consider "radical" in the pejorative sense, but that's another can of worms.)

I'm discovering something very interesting about feminist discourse: if something causes wisps of steam to begin issuing from my ears, I will almost certainly learn something significant from it. I suspect this has to do with a keyboard-interface-related mental trigger - certainly my phrasings, and I'm pretty sure my debative skills and tactics, become sharper and more precise, when I'm resisting the temptation to descend into ad hominem arson ("I may be a skunk, but you're a piece of junk. And furthermore, I don't like your trousers. Or your appalling taste in women. And what about your mind? Your insipid record collection; your down-home video centre - the usual pornography..." - Pretenders, Pretenders II, "Pack It Up"). Not that I don't also learn lots in more pleasurable circumstances, but there's something about cutting the heart out of some asshat's argument with surgical precision and offering it to the Morrigan, all without overstepping the bounds of legitimate debate, that causes me to learn things about myself (other than that I have a tongue like a scalpel, a taste for blood, and the quintessential feminist trait of Won't Shut Up; that's not news).

And there's nothing like some good snark to relieve any leftover pressure. I feel much better now.

November 2009

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