Marxist feminism or petty moralism?

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sun Nov 6 13:45:25 MST 1994


On Sun, 6 Nov 1994 hfspc002 at huey.csun.edu wrote:

> On Sun, 6 Nov 1994 tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu wrote:
>
> > It was not my decision to be born with my shamelessly male Y chromosome.
> > But though it's not my fault, I'm now rather proud of the fact.  I am also
> > a heterosexual male.  This does not make me naturally homophobic nor sexist.
>
> Well, unfortunately, it does.  This is not anyone's fault; this is due to
> structures of sexism and homophobia that precede us.  That, I think, is
> what Marx meant when he said something like "Man [sic] makes history, but
> not under conditions of his own making." The point is not that you should
> feel bad about this fact but rather that you must acknowledge it before
> you can hope to build alliances or even affinities.  Just like being white
> (and I don't know if you are or not) automatically means that one is
> involved in the oppression of people of color.  And being American, by
> your very existence, oppresses people in third world countries.  Again,
> this isn't your fault, but it is something whites and Americans need to
> acknowledge.  (In the words of the journal _Race Traitor_, "Treason to
> whiteness is loyalty to humanity.") In the final analysis it helps not one
> bit to be "proud" of being heterosexual, white, or male; what helps is to
> recognize the structural divisions of labor and power that give meaning to
> those categories.  I don't think that this means that your words have less
> meaning when spoken by a male, or are more interesting when spoken by a
> female, but rather only that your words would do better to acknowledge the
> space from which they come rather than pretending that they issue from an
> unexamined "egalitarian" space which doesn't exist.
>
> Ben Attias

There's a difference between being the beneficiary of undeserved
advantages which you may not even want, as whites, males, and many (not
all) Americans are, are being a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, or an
imperialist oppressor. A lot of people on the left run these very distinct
things together, as Ben does here, and as a consequence unnecessarily get
people's backs up and alienate potential supporters. It's silly to feel
either proud or ashamed of characteristics you cannot help having. And
it's ridiculous to assume that just because someone may enjoy advantages
because of those characteristics at other's expense that he must think he
is better than those people by virtue of having those characteristics.

--Justin Schwartz




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