Kathe Pollit-Doug Henwood exchange on LBO-Talk

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Tue Nov 23 19:53:03 MST 1999

Hi Lou, Jose, and others:
>Doug Henwood wrote:
>> kelley wrote:
>> >men are increasingly
>> >exposed to idealized images of sculpted muscular and HAIRLESS bodies
>> Yeah, what's with that HAIRLESS thing?
>> Doug
>An Ad for the upcoming "women's cable channel," Oxygen, cites "No Back
>Hair" as one of the joys of being a woman. Could it be that what goes
>around comes around? for centuries men, as economic independent actors,
>have felt free to judge women's bodies harshly. NOw women have some
>money, some independence, don't need to marry to survive, so THEY TOO
>can loudly express their preferences in body type, judge men harshly for
>not measuring up. A gay friend of mine said about ten years ago that he
>was always astonished at how heterosexual men just assumed they could be
>fat and slovenly and women would go for them anyway. Maybe that's
>These are the people who would supervise MR's transition away from stodgy
>dogmatic Marxism? God help us.

Now, now, don't jump to a conclusion yet!  Threads on LBO can be inane,
even on gender, but there is no question that more women post there than
here, and some of them are very interesting.  Therefore, you guys are not
in a position to gloat!  We ought to have more discussion on gender,
feminism, etc. here.  And if the quality of discussion on gender is higher
here, then and only then you can gloat.  Till then, a dose of revolutionary
humility is in order, comrades!  At least Mark paid a great deal of
attention to gender in his recent posts, though I don't agree with his
analysis.  Allow me to repost my PEN-L post here, in the interest of
starting a new thread:

>Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 17:59:28 -0500
>To: pen-l at galaxy.csuchico.edu
>From: Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at osu.edu>
>Subject: [PEN-L:13717] Re: Mark Jones: Theses on the world conjuncture
>Lou wrote:
>>That system--feudalism--has largely disappeared.
>Not quite -- with regard to women, in fact, far from it.  You wrote
>yourself about the sorry state of feudalistic oppression that has and
>continues to afflict women in Kosovo, to take just one tiny example.  Mark
>Jones wrote:
>>Capitalism has long ago abandoned universalist ideas of development and
>>rising standards for all. No-one objects. Under the guise of abandoning the
>>neurosis, guilt and parsimony of the patriarchal personality, which was a
>>principal social invention of 19th century capitalism, and stimulated by
>>the mass conscription of women into the labour-force, there has been a
>>resolute attempt to deconstruct the family as a residual instance of
>>solidarity against capital, and to pull away the psychic supports of a
>>personality-template organised around a psychic centre of sacrifice,
>>heterosexual gender identity, sexual control and repression of the
>>feminine. In its place we are witnessing the creation of a new
>>personality-type adequate to global capital which has subordinated the
>>family as well as the nation, commoditising their functions and liquidating
>>the arsenal of atavistic symbols of community, mystery, sacrifice and
>>other- directed struggle, seen as no longer required to legitimise
>>bourgeois hegemony and objectively now only the rags of archaic
>>value-system, absorbed by the deceitful misogynies of the New Right and no
>>more than a menace to Neo-liberalism. The new ludic, androgynous
>>personality, playful, self-regarding, narcissistic perhaps, is meant to be
>>incapable of solidarity or commitment; post-modern feminism has made of the
>>great feminist issues a study in misanthropic self-glorification and
>>gender-hatred. Conceiving of emancipation as freedom from biology
>>(universally misunderstood as 'sociobiology' by writers like Judith Butler,
>>Teresa de Lauretis, Kaja Silverman, whose followers amplify their own
>>profound ignorance of real science), they wilfully reject any notion of
>>genetic determination of the personality or gender-identity. Only a
>>dramatic social crisis, removing many social support- systems and throwing
>>individuals back on their own resources, is likely to revive collective
>>forms of activity which in any case are likely to seem contradictory,
>>anachronistic and ineffective, even ludicrously so.
>The nuclear family was a blip in world history, and it was never even a
>universal phenomenon.  Mark's history of family & gender is simplistic.
>Perhaps he has read too many books in the Frankfurt School, postmodernism,
>etc. & bought their premises at their face value?  How many women in the
>world today enjoy performing ludic androgynes that Mark deplores?  The
>tragedy here is that such liberation has been the privilege of only very
>few women in rich countries.  My hope is that in a future communist society
>every man and woman will be emancipated from gender (an effect of the
>oppression of women).


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