Links for 2004-11-13

10 replies on “Links for 2004-11-13”

The point, however, is that use of a feminine term is considered derogatory. She’s not prioritizing “one inustice at the expense of another.” It’s not a zero sum game, nor is it a contest. And given that misbehaving is a weblog about women and tech, it was appropriate to focus the comments in that direction.
Cal may be a delightful guy, but it was a poor choice of words, and it was fair for Gina to call him out on it. Language matters.
And while we’re pulling personalities into it, it seems a bit misplaced to accuse Gina, a lesbian who’s been outspoken on many occasions about GLB rights, of failing to acknowledge anti-gay undertones.

I think perhaps the word has different associations across the Atlantic than it does in the States. Cal is a delightful guy, and given any outwith context (like for example how he sounded or what he said while presenting the conference) I think it’s difficult for you to determine what tone he might have been using in this presentation. Knowing him as I do, there’s an enjoyment of using controversial language for humourous effect based on an understanding that no one could ever legitimately expect him to be homophobic or anti-women. The fact that the presentation was put online, I would argue, reflects more on the problems of communicating context online than it does in Cal’s political or personal beliefs.
With regards to the particulars of whether it was ‘anti-women’ or ‘anti-gay’ – with my proviso of course that I think it is neither – you say that misbehaving has no responsibility to represent a gay perspective here, but I think you miss my point. The amount of times the argument is made (the amount of times that you make this argument) that male culture effaces women and makes them invisible – that it universalises from its own perspective and makes it awkward to be female – you would think that you would as a site be sensitive to this perspective and stop in turn universalising male culture as oppressors while effacing other groups. I’m a resolute feminist, of reading and of old – queer theory is derived in large part from a feminist perspective – and it seems to me that your particular branch of liberal feminism recapitulates the structures that it should be challenging. The issue should not be whether women have equal access to power, but how to create an environment where variety and difference is generally celebrated and expected – whether that mean women, gay people, ethnic minorities etc. In other words, I think your perspectives are too limited and as much oppressing as oppressed (and whether one of your number is gay or not seems to me to be trivial compared to what each of your number are prepared to argue in public).

For people who’ve never actually met, we seem to have an astonishing ability to rub each other the wrong way, don’t we? 🙂
I’m not sure that any of us have written enough on misbehaving for you to be able to label “our particular branch of liberal feminism,” dude.

(And yes, I know we technically “met” at Emerging Tech, but I’m not really counting that. There was no beer involved.)
Clay seems quite convinced that if we actually had a face-to-face conversation we’d get along famously. Perhaps one of these days he’ll be proven right.

To Liz – would just assume that given some fairly broad categorisations, that it wouldn’t make sense to be describing you as applying a theoretical psychoanalytic feminism, or a marxist feminism or a radical feminism that seeks to challenge constructs of gender. You’re not employing feminisms that deny the existence of woman either. Liberal feminism as I understand it reflects a desire to grant equal access to rights, jobs, votes, employment prospects. Your arguments also seem to operate around the principle that society itself is assembled to aid the recapitulation of gender roles and are more supportive of men in the workplace than the patterns and needs of women. Fixing this stuff seems to me to be a totally reasonable goal and aspiration.
The only thing I’d say is that political liberal feminism of this kind does tend to moot the gender divide as the fundamental dividing power struggle of humanity – much as Marxism tends to suggest that the narrative of history is about the inevitable conflict between the classes. Questioning these assumptions from within can be explained away as a form of false consciousness, and questioning them from outside (ie. from a male perspective) as inadmissable based on obvious prejudice. My hope is that by being self-consciously ‘queer’ / broken / abnormal / freakish that I can find a position to speak in this debate that tries to point out that any enterprise (however honourable or legitimate in motivation) that moots their own struggle as the centrepiece of history obliterates innumerable other narratives, positions, conflicts, power-struggles or whatever, and that as such just moves the burden of ‘oppressed’ into a different group of people.
Gah. I’m sorry – I shouldn’ t be writing this in the middle of the night. I’m going to sound like an arse when I read this back in the morning.

So I’ll just add to that above – if you have something that would help me get an angle on the theoretical framework to your gender politics, then I’d really like to read it. I don’t want to be pigeonholing you on the basis of faulty information, I was just working on the principle that from what I could determine of the arguments people had made that I could at least get a general sense of where you were coming from.

This may be a little simplistic for the conversation, and I’ve no desire to punch above my weight, but: sissy, certainly in England, brings to mind the second of the definitions posted above before all others (“A person regarded as timid or cowardly.”). These qualities are unfortunately perceived to be positively correlated with women (note: no comment about accuracy implied). But this isn’t a logical implication. For example, if I decided to deride short people (being 6ft 3in) is that then an anti-feminist statement given that the mean height of women is less than that of men? I know I devalue the topic with such a trite example but I hope you can see my point.
The only reason to take umbridge is if you understand that the author of the presentation has, inadvertantly or otherwise, been pejorative about woman (or gays, or…). I can’t see that this has happened. If we are being literal I read the utterance as “people who use normalised design are timid, cowardly and deserving of our scorn”. If these are the battles left for feminism to fight then I think we’re a lot further on than I had understood.

Remember what Derrida taught us: words are only symbols that signify whatever meanings we apply to them in a given context. Outside of this context, or miscontextualised, and we end up with what happened here. Let’s all keep an open mind, people.

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