specious ideologies, feminism

Howie Chodos howie at magi.com
Thu Jul 20 10:28:01 MDT 1995

Robert Scheetz wrote:

>Rogers: "Why are you equating Feminism with 'misandry'...?"
>I think this is disingenuous.  The Movement sustains
>itself on a mythology of liberation from an era of male
>oppression/exploitation.  You've never heard the epithet
>"male chauvinist pig"? never read Shulamith Firestone? seen
>"The Color Purple"?
>I am out of my depth at any rigorous sociology, as you
>seem to require; but I don't think it exceptionable on
>this list to offer the view that the marxian theorem of
>base/superstructure, the relations of production determinative
>of cultural weltanschuung, affords the most illuminating
>framework for making sense of the contemporary phenomenon,


>The notion is that all the mythology and polemic of contemporary
>Feminism was generated reactively by the victims of a social
>engineering project, lowering population growth, very dear to
>the heart of liberal Big Burghers over the past 50 years, and
>devised and implemented with a relish by their Intelligentsia.

I suspect that Robert will not easily be swayed. However, I think there are
two fundamental errors in his reasoning. First, it is wrong to think that
any single version of feminism defines all feminisms. There is no more a
single feminism than there is a single Marxism, and like Marxism feminism
has its roots in the nineteenth century, so that it cannot be reduced to a
recent phenomenon linked to the post-war baby boom.

Second, even if one disagrees with the idea of feminism as a distinct body
of thought and/or program of action, one cannot ignore the many ways, across
many cultures, that discrimination and oppression based on gender is
perpetuated, and the often horrific consequences that it has on women's
lives. The Marxist tradition has a long history of taking the question
seriously (from Engels, through Bebel, Zetkin and Kollontai), although there
is clearly much room to discuss how the projects for working class and
women's emancipation relate to each other, in theory and in trying to
actually bring about social change.

Howie Chodos

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