Monday, November 24, 2008

To be or not to be a feminist, et al; do such choices really exist?

I come to feminism with some of the thoughts already posited by Joel. Is feminism the new segregation? Why does this somehow seem sexist to me? I really wanted to discover that humanity had laid it's differences aside for the more significant "sameness" that we all share, but alas I was disappointed. One of the drawing cards that structuralism offered was sameness. It is not that differences do not exist, but that what we share is more significant that the diversity that we so often imagine.

Feminism wants me to see more difference, more politics, more power, more oppression, and more avenues to voice and empowerment. But I must ask, empowerment at whose expense? I can not speak for feminist, or so I am told that this is not possible since I am a male, but I am sure that females or feminist are not the only persons who have been oppressed and silenced. Neither do I believe that all silencing and oppression comes via white males, black males, rich males, poor males, smart males, dumb males, or males of any shape or color. We have somehow approved racism, sexism, and religious intolerance as long as it refers to a general, biologically non-existent, category of white males or white European males, or white European Christian males. Why do we continue to perpetrate racism and sexism, just as long as it is the phantom white male whom we imagine has all the benefits and none of the disadvantages of humanity. Even if this phantom male is guilty and without defense, is it O. K. to be racist and sexist just as long as it's "the other." Hitler could have done no better.

I asked my wife if she was being or had been oppressed in her life and if so by whom. She said she had suffered oppression, almost exclusively from other women. She claimed there were few males that a woman can not handle, seeing most of them can easily be controlled with food and sex. It was the other women that had oppressed, silenced, and disenfranchised her in nearly every walk of life, including education. She added that she had most often gotten sincere help from males of all classes and colors. Women, she said, were the problem and the chief oppressors of the species of both genders. In Chaucer's Wife of Bath tale, the wise woman says what females most want is to rule over men, not to be their equals. Do they also want to rule over other women?

I speak for myself, as an observer of critical theory. I speak as a mere human who had no choice over either race or gender as I entered the world. I personally and presently don't have any power, either over women or other males. I live with three daughters and one wife. When I got married, my wife and I split my authority 50/50; she retained all of her own. I was told by her: What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine tool. It sounded like a fair trade to me, her company has always been worth more than my stuff. When my son was born, I did not impart any of my authority to him; he will have to fend for himself. When my first daughter was born, I divided my remaining authority with her 50/50 while my wife continued to retain all of hers. I think that left me with 25% of my original allotment. When my second daughter was born, I again shared my authority 50/50 with her, leaving me somewhere around 12% considering inflating and devaluation. By the time my third daughter was born, it left me with about a nickel's worth of say-so in my own home. I have to be really careful so as not to lose what is left.

I often read ancient texts, philosophical treatises, and sacred writings. It's my job and what I teach online. Nothing I have seen in critical theory surpasses the words of a first century Roman Citizen of the Jewish persuasion: "And [you] have put on the new humanity, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free-man, male nor female: but Meshiach is all, and in all (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:10-11). Friends, we are still far, far away from this type of "new humanity."



dmadrazo said...

Fantastic Dave!! Your humor and eloquence speak volumes.

Melanie said...

Dave that was great - Very insightful