The bisexuality of morals (redux)

Adam Rose adam at pmel.com
Thu Oct 3 09:58:50 MDT 1996


I have the utmost difficulty in even understanding what this sort
of thing actually means.

Of course, there are "pervasive discrepencies in the norms ascribed
to men and women" , most obviously if a man sleeps with lots of
women, he is admirred as a "stud" but if a woman sleeps with a lot
of men she is castigated as a "slut", etc.

But to move from a description, or even an analysis, of what are
essentially parts of the ideological superstructure, to an
explanation of why and how such things developed seems odd to say
the least.


First I read :

"[T]he power of the state is not the expression of a masculine morality
 which has been erected into a universal ethical code"

and I start thinking, good, a feminist who understands the state is
not a "male" state, ie run by men in men's interests

and then I read :

"[It is derived] from the iridescent tones,  the shifting meanings and
combination of values, in short the bisexual nature of morality,"

So let me get this straight : the power of the state is derived from
"iridescent tones,  the shifting meanings and combination of values" !?

That's funny, I thought it was derived from a monopoly of the ability
to organise "armed bodies of men" !

"Or, finally,  we accept that they should commit murder in obedience to higher
principles while believing that we are the defenders of life--this idea,
too,  is an effect of a bisexual morality."

Well, no it isn't.

Ideas which support Imperialist wars are propagated and to some extent accepted
because those wars are persued in the interests of Imperialism ie a particular
relationship between Capital and the State.

Workers, men and women, come to the conclusion that violence is necessary
to achieve socialism because in their own experience they know that the
class which creates poverty, violence and oppression will use whatever
violent means necessary to maintain its system.

Either way, it is the underlying reality creates a particular set of ideas.

And while there is a throwaway line about :

"between the bisexuality of morality,  with its distinctions and
coinflations, and the problems of class,  politics and war."

there is no idea that the common struggle of men and women is what generates
an alternative morality ie ideas of resistance, solidarity, and a feeling of
collective working class power. So instead of class struggle, whether over
abortion rights or wages or health care, we get the formation of ""proletarian
feminine collectives" in the workplace and neighborhoods.".

Well, look, I know what a women's section of a trade union is. I know what
a women only trade union is. I know what a community based women's group is.
But what exactly are "proletarian feminine collectives" ? ( Even "collectives
of proletarian females" makes a little more sense ! )


And what does "we could do worse than to continue the work of humanizing
the structures of our society in order to reflect the true commonality of
gender" actually mean ?

Does it simply mean "we need social change in order to overcome women's
oppression, because we're all human beings" ?


Gramsci's notebooks are easier to understand than this stuff - but he
had the excuse of being in a fascist prison. What excuse do you have ?


Adam.




Adam Rose
SWP
Manchester
UK


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