I confess to being uncomfortable with feminism.
Already, that first line will have been enough to cause revulsion amongst even those who know me well.
How could you possibly be uncomfortable with feminism? Do you not respect women? Naturally, as a male, this sort of assertion denotes some sort of latent misogynistic attitude, along with the common response that ‘everybody should be a feminist’.
To be clear, the feminism in question is not that of the extreme, militant anti-male kind, but instead the contemporary understanding of the concept as one of female equality, rather than superiority. We are talking about the populist feminism that sees the struggle as something that we must all support, and not just confined to women themselves.
So what’s the problem with that?
My issue with feminism is not in its belief in the equality for women, but in the focus on equality for one group over and against all the other groups. Whilst it is necessary to identify injustices in order to effectively challenge them, the framing of the feminist position has the effect of placing the equality of one group above that of any other - at odds with the very notion of equality itself.
To declare one’s self as a feminist should raise the question of why that articulation does not include the equality of any other group. Is the equality of females greater than the equality of dis-advantaged males? or homosexuals? or those in ethnic minorities? The answer will inevitably be in the negative, but if that is indeed the case, then why should your stance in support of equal treatment be defined by gender at all?
We may live in a time where women still suffer disproportionate dis-advantages in society than men. However, the dis-advantages suffered by those based on their sexuality is just as, if not more so, prevalent. The danger of such a notion of equality as viewed through the narrow lens of gender is that it simply creates the reverse of patriarchy itself. The binarism of male privilege is not solved by the binarism of female-centric ‘equality’.
Maybe everybody should forget about being feminists, reject the perpetuation of dualism, and work on being egalitarian instead.
Observations of a Law Graduate; a loss of fire.
I was a fiery bastard when I was younger.
There’s almost nothing more infuriating than being patronised by somebody with an over-inflated sense of importance simply because of the position that they hold. Seeing people get treated badly as the result of arbitrary exercises of power has always managed to stir up an indignant rage in me that few other things can. It’s something that’s managed to land me in some interesting situations, whether that’s being thrown out of classes in school for wearing a tie round my head in defiance of a bureaucratic uniform policy, or literally splitting church congregations in two by demanding that women be afforded the same rights as men. The irrepresible urge to speak up about things I didn’t agree with even led to my Primary School head-teacher declaring that I had ‘a problem with authority.’ I don’t really have a problem with authority, but I do refuse to accept illegitimate uses of position. All too often, unjust decisions are left unchecked and unchallenged because of the power games and politics that are at play.
This is partly the reason I went to study Law. If you’re going to continually take shots at those that are in control, at some point you’re going to need to have a fairly detailed grasp of what you’re founding those challenges on. Being able to back up instinctive feelings with academic rigueur is an invaluable skill to have. It’s much harder to dismiss a Law graduate than it is an armchair critic.
To some extent, it had the desired effect. Four years of legal training colours the way you approach issues, with the ability to dissect and respond to situations differently from others. Before engaging an issue, you’ve already asked questions and considered factors that help give an advantage to your position. Embarking on the path to become a lawyer isn’t so much about soaking up substantive content, but about transforming the way you think.
Having said that, I fear that it’s this very change in methodology and internal processes that has had the result of tempering the fire that drove me to do the degree in the first place. Rather than responding to situations with vitriol, I find myself negating to comment on them until I’ve had the time to develop a thorough and considered stance. In some ways, this is good. Spouting off populist, reactionary commentary on current events does little to achieve anything worthwhile, but the alternative is equally as horrific: To say nothing until you’ve familiarised yourself with every possible aspect of a situation leaves you limp and ineffectual. Rather than giving you credence or validity, it instead sees you withdrawing from confrontation completely, leaving injustices and inaccuracies completely unchecked.
Sometimes we need indignant rage. Sometimes we need to forego our critical analysis and just get really fucking angry, because passion is what changes the world… not legal discourse alone. If I don’t manage to un-earth some of that fire I used to have, then the whole purpose of doing the law degree in the first place has been lost.
"If you have seen me to speak to in person in the last week, you have probably already heard what I have to say about ‘Warhorse’ but for the sake of the internet (I’m sure you care loads) here it goes:I didn’t like it and not because I didn’t enjoy it, it was an okay watch, what I didn’t like about it was that we are meant to sympathise with this horse who is unintentionally injured during the war whilst masses of people are directly acting with barbaric cruelty towards masses of other people (and not even on the basis of their own personal ideologies). It just seemed to gloss over what, in my opinion, was the more tragic and more serious and more important aspect of the story. A few scenes almost depicted the atrocities of war effectively, but not quite. It’s like in ‘Troubles’ which we are (supposed to be) reading for English lit. which is set during the struggle for Irish Independence but the main focus of the story is on a romance between the two main characters. I don’t know, it’s like an Actual Serious Issue exists but we’re just going to ignore it and hope this couple get together and are happy forever or that this poor innocent horse survives and finds it’s owner etc. And yeah okay the horse was an innocent sufferer in war but I really do not equate the accidental cruelties that the horses faced during war to be even close to on a par with the severity of the suffering faced by people, and by people who had no real reason to be there and who were essentially being used as currency. It just bothers me the amount of people who stand up for the rights of animals but are ignorant to the on-going abuse of human rights all over the world and have never heard of ‘Amnesty International’. I just think it’s really strange that a film about a horse who suffers a bit seems to draw more on the heartstrings of people and seems to be more commercially viable than the same film but with the focus placed upon human suffering in the same context."
Bin Laden is dead.
The death of a human being is a ‘momentous achievement’; outside of law; outside of justice; outside of morality.
The president hailed as new and different because of the colour of his skin has ordered the death of another person with no trial and sparked a mass celebration by moronic Americans outside the White House, as well as the worldwide media.
Let’s all celebrate, for today we helped perpetuate death and imperialism; breeding further ideological difference without cause.
To paraphrase Derrida - Good rises equally with evil; good does not triumph. One victory for ‘good’ merely explodes the reaction and antithesis against it.
We can expect further attacks, and fuck’s sake do we deserve it. The world is not a ‘safer place’ because of ‘who we are’, but because of our complete disgust for human value and life that underpins this entire philosophy.
“No Americans were harmed.”
I really feel physically sick at the total distaste for human life. It makes me want to don a turban.
Excuse me whilst I throw up.
“Justice has been done” without trial; without evidence; on the back of ideology supporting the rich. Disgusting.
I’d like it publically stated that I oppose this entire situation and stance with every fibre of my being. I am repulsed by it in its entirety.
I’m extremely careful about when and how I post on here, since the internet is filled with amateur commentators who spew out their knee-jerk reactions to contemporary events without any sort of in-depth consideration or discussion. On the other side of the spectrum, those who do give a bit more thought to their postings can often seem to be nothing more than pretence-fuelled ‘pub philosophers’ with ideas above their station. That’s not what I want. This is meant to be somewhere for proper, detailed interpretation and reflection, hence why the frequency isn’t particularly regular.
Today was an incredibly interesting day. Ironically, the ideology which underpinned the entire foundations went completely un-noticed, un-reported and un-discussed. Either we were obsessed with ‘what dress’ the princess-to-be was going to wear, or focussed on the predictable republican reaction.
For my own city, we had our own particular type of reaction, which if anything was at least unique across the so-called ‘United’ Kingdom, and remarkably (or un-remarkably, depending on your stance), despite the overwhelmingly complex and intriguing concepts behind the whole scenario, they were completely swept over and ignored; simplified again by the media and those who swallow such incidents at face value.
Upon taking a critical analysis of the reaction by the police, and what it might mean for our concepts of law and continuing public order, I couldn’t help but feel like some sort of maverick for even daring to question such a response. The over-bearing attitude was that those in ‘authority’ were right to do whatever they deemed fit, and that anything that happens out-with the norm - leaving room for trouble - has to be condemned. As if the status quo is something to be protected at all costs. How dare anybody challenge the bureaucracy and politics of a situation.
This is about more than some neds (or criminals as they should be more accurately described) causing trouble. We could argue for days about how we have a right to assembly, and that it should be protected by the police rather than hindered, but that isn’t the point here. The point is about the relationships between those in positions of designated authority and those who are not; or the ‘subject and power relations’, in the words of Rousseau. There’s more going on here than just an incident that the well-meaning organisation and administration of society immediately displays throughout the pre-positioned media.
We know all this though, right? It’s been discussed elsewhere concisely. The question that I can’t help but return to is that which dogs anyone concerned with the ongoing matters of justice: To what extent do we question such things at our own cost?
Upon voicing such reflections earlier on today, I was again struck by the force by which the dominant structure is accepted and supported on the surface. When should we make comment upon such issues, if doing so only serves to distance us from our ‘peers’? I’m aware, and live by, the statements from the likes of Mario Savio (to throw your bodies upon the gears), and that of Jesus (to take the path less travelled), but the possible futility of such positions can’t help but make themselves clear. Should we isolate ourselves for merely holding positions, without any real, visible gain? Or is that the whole point?
Today I was forced to think again about what Marx may have said on such matters; about how any such conversation would be pointless, as all we do is legitimise the system. By challenging and improving the framework, the only achievement is to further entrench and protect the overall corrupt order.
This is a nice position to hold if you are a revolutionary such as Marx; a leader who can find the support of people and spend their life writing about these issues, but what of the regular person? Do we stand up for things and risk our personal relationships to legitimise and improve a system that we don’t even believe in, or do we submit completely? These are things I have yet to work out, and probably never will. This balance between concern for the bigger picture and personal relationships is one that is not easy to navigate.
I fail to see how a day where we as a group of nations withdraw from a Convention that protects the right to life, freedom of speech, religion and freedom from torture is one that should be celebrated.
“Thawing the Dogmatism of Postmodernism”
Those who claim to be ‘keepers of the truth’ are terrified of Postmodern ideas. This is especially true in various elements of organised religious groupings that deny the inevitable difference in interpretation that any two people will have over the same text.
As a result, there is a pile of aggressive, rhetoric-fuelled dogma to the discussion of anything conceived as ‘postmodern’, especially from the right-wing of Christianity.
Stumbling upon one such misguided article, ‘Postmodernism and the death of truth’, I thought I’d pick up on a number of the rhetorical questions (or claims masquerading as genuine enquiries) that the author makes.
I won’t attempt a response to all of the fallacies that appear in the text, as many of them are repetitive in nature, or filled with emotionally charged silliness.
Bold text denotes a quotation from the text.
‘Postmodernism says that all truth claims can be deconstructed. Is postmodernism itself subject to deconstruction?’
To use the label ‘postmodern’ as if it were a definable group of persons with a singular voice is mistaken. One Postmodernist will just as readily disagree with another Postmodernist on different issues, just as one Christian’s viewpoints will differ from another. As a movement, there are few, if any, universal ‘truth claims’ made by Postmodernists.
However, to use the language that has been chosen, Postmodernism does not stake the claim that absolute truth cannot exist. Certainly not as generally as has been expressed by the author. Instead, Derrida argued that the ‘truth’ of any particular text cannot possibly be reduced by a reader, due to the numerous cultural, contextual and relative pressures and influences that are exerted upon them when they read it.
Whilst an absolute truth, such as the existence of God, may well exist, we cannot claim to know the exact intended meaning of something such as what is written in the Bible without colouring it with our own interpretations. There is no ‘pure’ way to read the text. Any such convictions are read through this tinted glass, encompassing our beliefs as ‘faith’ rather than ‘objective knowledge’.
The answer to whether or not Postmodernism itself can be subject to deconstruction is a straightforward one in some sense. If the question relates to the textual work of Derrida and others, then the answer is yes, of course. To ask such a thing displays an inherrent ignorance, however, as a critique which makes no truth claims, but rather a set of questions, is not the same as stating possession of absolute knowledge.
‘Postmodernism says it is arrogant to judge another religion as wrong or inferior. Are religions that do this kind of thing wrong or inferior in any way?’
This is incorrect. A Postmodern view (again, ignoring the problems with using such a sweeping definition) would not necessarily condemn the possibility of something being ‘wrong’; more the arrogance of assuming that your own view is anything more than faith. By holding a position, you automatically reject all other positions, rendering it impossible to have a belief and not hold that another’s is wrong as a result.
With regards to inferiority, I’m not aware of any specific quote that would support such a claim, but it appears that if this is the case, then those who hold such a Postmodern view may more adequately understand the commandment of Jesus Christ to ‘love your enemy’ than those ‘Christians’ who think it permissible to look upon another as inferior simply by dint of their convictions.
‘Postmodernism says we should tolerate everything. Even intolerance?’
Jesus says to forgive everyone. Even those who won’t forgive?
The real question here is what we mean by tolerance. Do we mean tolerate the holding of an intolerant view? Do we mean the destruction of law to those who are racially intolerant, to allow the perpetrators of such acts to either roam free or be subject to capital punishment?
The statement is not about tolerance in itself, but more fundamentally that we need to be able to accept the possibility that our own stance is just as valid as another’s, and treat that person with respect and dignity.. the principle upon which we build the concept of Universal Human Rights.
Derrida himself has actually argued that we require more than tolerance; more than the act of just ‘putting up’ with the ‘Other’… rather than going beyond to a new understanding of what it is to be human.
If all that Christianity can bring to the world is ‘tolerance’, then Postmodernism would appear to be a far more attractive option.
“We must more than ever stand on the side of human rights.
We need human rights.”
— Jacques Derrida
- Philosophy in a Time of Terror
A play with Derridean deconstruction
“Heterosexuality is the natural way for human beings to be.”
The word ‘nature’ is understood to entail that which arises naturally; organic in form. To apply the term ‘natural’ is to describe that which is part of life as it has arisen, be that from deity, evolution or other means. The word describes that which is the binary opposite of ‘un-natural’. For something to be created ‘un-naturally’ appears to be an impossibility; a sophistry without an alteration in the definition of ‘natural’ itself.
Words and concepts are meaningless in of themselves. The concept only has ‘meaning’ relative to other concepts which define its position and our understanding of it.
‘Heterosexuality’ as a concept is meaningless without its binary opposite - ‘homosexuality’. The understanding of the former is impossible without the definition and relation to the latter. One defines itself in relation to the other.
As a result, the existence of ‘heterosexuality’ determines the existence of ‘homosexuality’. If one has arisen by nature, then nature must also be the origin of the other.
This will be a place for philisophical and theoretical thought experiments, ideas and reactions.