sunflowerp: (BattleReady)
[personal profile] sunflowerp
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.

<knowing grin>

Date: 2008-04-15 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
" (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)."

definately not news... and am I ever so grateful that I've not been on the receiving end of such surgery :>

otherwise known as Nemmie the shy :P

Re: <knowing grin>

Date: 2008-04-15 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
neither do I for that matter... but then my memory is a sieve lately.. :>

I'm pretty sure I've been there.. :> at least my memory says I have, just not on the receiving end of your brand of surgery for it.

say.... here's an idea.. we should do coffee.. play catch up.. (we'll agree on a maximum of 3 topics for time allowances sake this time.. :P)

I'll e-mail details if you prefer.. :>

(no subject)

Date: 2008-04-15 05:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I believe he is what is called a "concern troll".

Nobody likes a paladin.

Date: 2008-04-15 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That kind of situation is what the phrase "stop being on my side, you're making my side look stupid" was invented for. And he is on my side, kind of; my take on "choice for men" is that - at least here in the States - a lot of other social and legal changes need to be made first. (I *think* we may be on the same page here, if I'm reading your point about addressing "injustices that create that need" right.)

Taking up the flaming sword can be tempting. But if we do, there's an obligation to be careful where we point the thing. It's generally a bad idea to make one's "feminist" argument at the expense of actual women's experiences.

if something causes wisps of steam to begin issuing from my ears, I will almost certainly learn something significant from it.

There are folks whose writing I read primarily for that purpose - though a fair chunk of the time, it's my own argument that gets vivisected. (This is a good thing - if I've pissed someone off, I *want* to be called on it.)

Re: Nobody likes a paladin.

Date: 2008-04-16 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What "choice for men" comes down to for me is who bears the cost instead. I'm a lot more comfortable with the idea of a father being able to legally opt out if there's a sufficient support system in place so that the child's mother can raise the child without assistance from the father - even if she chooses not to. But right now we don't have that. Instead, we have conservative think tanks complaining that what little aid we do give costs too much.

I think the bringing up of "pregnancy is so dangerous" may simply have been a context failure. I typically see that argument used in the context of pro-choice or childfree advocacy, and he may have just internalized that as "the feminist position." But it's not particularly relevant here unless one takes the attitude that child support is supposed to be either compensation for, or an equivalent "punishment" to, pregnancy, and I don't see how one can reconcile that attitude with feminism.

And as for calling folks on things, it depends on the situation. Sometimes the arguments are so devoid of intelligence, or I've heard them so many times before, that there's no reward in refuting them, but if the other side is willing to engage, then having to explain myself and not getting any free passes means that the argument gets a good workout.

thinking aloud

Date: 2008-04-16 10:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm actually not sure about this issue. I know two men whose girlfriends assured them that they were on birth control and would get an abortion if it failed, then promptly presented the guys with a blue stick and a sudden conversion to pro-life. Now the guys have to choose between unplanned marriage or a serious financial burden.

Both of the girls were teenagers and their intentions, as far as I could tell, were to secure marriage and thus Twu Wuv.

I don't know an entirely good solution though. Obviously you can't allow men to dictate whether or not women abort or give up the pregnancy. (On the flip side, I also know some men who've been devastated by their girlfriends having abortions--and going "tough noogies sperm donor, you don't own her" is just not the answer I can give a close friend who's grieving because he thought he would be a father.) And allowing men to skip out entirely on responsibility for their offspring leaves single moms in the lurch. But the idea of someone being forced to be a father doesn't make me happy either.

Dammit. Men and women can both be horrifyingly dishonest in this arena. The only good solution is for both partners to participate in birth control, but when that doesn't happen... I just don't know.

No, a pregnant woman doesn't need a man, but she kinda does need (or at least massively benefit from) the time and money contributions of a second person.

Argh. The fundamental problem is that babies only grow in women. I just can't think of a pat and equitable solution under that constraint.

Sorry this comment doesn't make sense; I am not at all sure what type of feminist I am or what my opinions are on all issues.

it's the social safety net ...

Date: 2008-04-18 02:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] (from
Sunflower, you were in Canada when you had your babies, yes? Because as jfpbookworm points out, the supports are awfully thin here in the U.S. The only reason men get stuck with child support is that society as a whole isn't willing to support children of single parents. At least in Canada, you're covered for health care. (Here, too, in theory, but there are holes in the CHIPS program.)

In Germany, single motherhood is less common than in the U.S. - people are less delusional about sex and birth control. But up until recently, anyway, going on welfare as a single mother was not terribly stigmatized. The German social safety net has been progressively undermined over the past few years, so I have to think that this option is getting harder - they have a lot more emphasis on working to earn one's benefits, which is obviously a problem if you have little ones. (Germany's public daycare system is also being slowly de-funded.)

I'm not sure I'd sign on to the Marxist part of your definition of radical feminist. That only describes a fraction of the overall group. But what I really appreciate is that you put a definition out there that lets us know what you mean.

November 2009


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