rebecca's selective memory

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Thu Nov 10 08:43:53 MST 1994

On Thu, 10 Nov 1994 tgs at wrote:

> REbecca,
> Now it's all beginning to come back to me.  You said absolutely NOTHING
> in that original post about men calling feminists liberal and bourgeois.
> What you said was, after the remark about the problem here as elsewhere being
> to many male contributants, that "most men" are sexist, etc.
> This in itself is a SEXIST generalization.  It is prejudiced and biased.

Actually I think it's probably true, in the same way that most whites are
racist. A lot of racism and sexism isn't a matter of overt hatred and
contempt but rather of unconscious assumptions and, as someone was
arguing against me (but I agreed), taking advantages of structures of
privilege in a way that simply assumes without reflection that you're
entitled to them. The stats on the male-female division of domestic labor
show that even in the most egalitarian households the latter tends to
hold. That said, I will say again that the worst sexism and racism is
institutional, not tacit or overt; it's the structures of privilege
themselves that have to smashed. But that's no excuse for being a MCP.

> I suggest that much of what you interpret as sexist from men on the question
> of feminism is a justifiable resistance to your own particular petty
> moralistic version of feminism, a version in which the problem with
> leftist groups is
> that the men contribute too much, that men can
> never contribute too little because they're inevitably sexist, that all
> left groups are all automatically "male-
> identified" (unless of course they happen to agree with everything YOU say),
> that any and all integration = tokenism, etc..

Translated out of the abusive mode, this seems to say that what Rebecca
considers to be sexist behavior is violation of her idea of feminist
norms, some of which you disagree with. The first part is tautological, so
the real question is what feminist norms should be, eh?

> Are you building socialism-feminism, or do you simply go around sowing
> discord and hostility between the genders?
Tom, I don't like to go personal, but this stuff seems to engage, or even
threaten you, in a way that goes beyond political disagreement. What is it
you find so alarming or frightening about women contributing aggressively
and standing up for their own interests as they see them, even against
leftist men? I don't think we have to agree with every charge of or
conception of sexism just because a woman makes it, but we have to
consider it seriously--by "we" here I mean everyone, women too, not just
men--and not get steamed up by it.

> You've got me a little steamed right now. Let me take a few deep  breaths.
> Rebecca,I say this with as much friendship as I can muster right now with you.
> Let's skip the label liberal, and all that other crap, it just gets in
> the way. I just want to talk as straightforwardly as I can.
>  Capitalist society/patriarchy breeds hostility between the sexes.
> No one is free of it. I've got it, we all have it, female and male.
> It's not a sin; it's an objective reality which divides us.
> You don't get rid of it by blaming it all on the opposite sex,and then accusing
> them of sexism when they to fail to agree.
>  The best thing is to recognize it within yourself, first,
> rather than project it upon the other sex as their biological estate--
> or confounding women's oppression with class exploitation.

Rebecca did not express any hostility towards men in general or you in
particular. Nor did she blame sexism, which she did express hostility
towards, on anything biological. Nor did she say that women's oppression
is a form of class exploitation. Tom, you're a smart guy, but this gets
you so "steamed up" you cannot even read! Speaking for myself I have no
hostility whatsoever to women as a group, although I'm as guilty as the
next committed feminist man of taking advantages of XY chromosome
privileges, which in some way cannot be helped, but of taking them for
granted, which can be.

I think this exchange has been very revealing of the problems for
socialist feminism. Somewhat disheartening, too.



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