Sexism and Tom

tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu tgs at cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Sun Nov 13 18:49:10 MST 1994


Larry,

First of all, I wish you and other people would refrain from dragging
our otherwise fine and open arguments down into the gutter of ad hominem
whenever you get the impulse.  BY saying what I said about not wanting
to discourage A and R from responding, I was merely trying to avoid
any possibility that I was being sexist for responding before they did,
as you yourself asked.  It gets so bad around here
that if I'm merely male and opiniated on this question, I'm damned if I do
and I'm damned if I don't, and
that in itself is a sexist
double-bind.  But you're not the only one--Phil thought that
I wanted to go back to men's only universities because I said I was not AGAINST
women producing careers!

Secondly, I take sexism to mean conscious expression of inter-gender hostility.
Let's be very clear why I think this way. If you use it your way-to describe
any and all hostility, unconsious or conscious, you're using a perjorative
term to describe something EVERYBODY feels in this society.  Again, what
is the point of engaging in this kind of collective ad hominem mud bath?
Why not use precise terms and use especially non-perjorative terms for
feelings which are universal and over which we have little control?  We
certainly control what we choose to consciously control--so there we have
the issue of moral responsibility, which is connoted whenever we use
perjoratives.  Once again, let's keep ad hominem and perjoratives out
of objective and dispassionate and rational social analysis, if you please!

Thirdly, as I tried to discuss in my paper on rad-fem on rationalization,
while of course I agree with you that there is a strong component of
psychological defense to rad-fem sexism, there is also the much more
important component of economic determinants--the middle class base of
the leadership.  Now, I'm middle class, and so are many good socialist-feminists
that I know--Nancy Holmstrom, for example.  They manage to be female, and
evem middle class, without using reverse sexism as a defensive mechanism.
Middle class existence has a contradictory reality to it--but a very strong
element is the competition, which tends to give rise to both racism and sexism
among the middle class.

You seem to imply, Larry, that because female sexism is often a defense, it
is somehow justified.  But it is irrational.  So how can it be justified?
This defensive aspect--as opposed to the middle class competitive aspect--
is certainly  understandable.  But that doesn't make it justified.
To confuse irrational defense with justice is to sentimentalize the problem
of special oppression.  Such sentimentality, such "petty moralism," leads
absolutely nowhere.  I don't see how white male guilt gets us anywhere.
As before, I see that it paralyzes people.  It certainly tends to paralyze
me, when you basically say that I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

Comradely,

Tom





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