radical feminism or rationalization?

tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Sat Nov 12 07:17:56 MST 1994


(In response to my citation of Katha Pollitt's article, "Are Women Morally
Superior to Men," you wrote:>

This was a particularly good Nation piece. But it's point was merely that
estrogen-politics will not save the world, not that the big problem of
today is feminists over-stepping their bounds.

<I don't believe I ever said it was THE BIG PROBLEM.  But it is a problem.>

Perhaps some "feminists" such as Deborah Tannen ("You just don't
Understand") are subtractive of the progressive movement to some extent,
but is that the real question? Not really. The real question is what can
we do to stop rape, stop sexism, resist right-wing backlash, and find the
sexism in our own lives and end it.

<Yes, but how do we do that, if we merely accept
the  middle class invidiousness and
opportunism that is radical feminism?  It is a disastrous fallacy to think
that the trick is always merely to circle wagons around our current leadership,
and merely consider the BIG PROBLEMS, while dismissing the subordinate question
of ideology and leadership.  This means that working class feminism, working
class anti-racism, working clas environmentalism, anti-imperialism, all of
which find their endpoint in the "class for itself" and socialism, will
NEVER be achieved, because it will inevitably be sidetracked into the first
leadership that comes along--and this is inevitably middle class, before
criticisms emerge.>

<Look at the black nationalist movement.  At my own City College, a bunch
of suburban-dwelling irrationalists, headed by Leonard Jeffries, mislead
promising black cadre down the path of patriarchal and foco-ista style tactics
and adventurism.  Not only that, these middle class misleaders do nothing
to integrate other departments--the  Engllish Department at City College is
still lily-white, which is an absolute outrage.>

<I am a long veteran of attempts to work in such groups as CISPES, where
precisely this BIG QUESTION philosophy was practiced on anyone who questioned
the many pointless civil disobedience actions, by which the leadership hoped
to rally the conscience of Senatorial millionaires about the ware in
El Salvador.>

< By the way, I don't know that Deborah Tannen is
as bad as you make out--in fact, I think it's rather fine of her to point out
the many ways that men unconsciously shut women up.  I don't know that Tannen,
who seems to be a rather tolerant person (she
tours with Robert Bly, no less!), would say things like "all men
are sexist," in the radical feminst vein. And I don't think the two
statements are equivalent.>



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