contradiction (was: facts in the minds...)

ermadog at ermadog at
Wed Dec 19 19:55:00 MST 2001

On Wed, 19 Dec 2001 sherrynstan at wrote:

> Is the question of gender one where the contradiction can be sought in
> the biological polarity of male-female?

No. Gender roles are societally imposed, and have their roots in the first
pre-class divisions of labour. Only when warfare became institutionalized
did the otherwise minor biological differences become important.

>  Masculinity and femininity, if taken as a system, are in fact resolved
> through their mutual abolition.

Well, that is the classic heterosexual ideology - the two become one flesh
and all that - but it doesn't really happen, does it? The two still remain
separate individuals, with often contradictory goals.

>> Perhaps someone might put me onto any good reads that attempt to
theorize them in the same way marxism theorizes economic class, without
glibly tryng to economize them in order to subsume them into class, as my
old party continually and unsuccessfully tried to do.<<

Well, I think it's unMarxist to economize human relations in order to
subsume them into class. Economics is to sociology what math is to the
physical sciences: it's the language of the transferrence of energy,
quantifying the creative forces of the human race. I keep telling this to
my brother, who works as a desk clerk/night auditor at a local hotel. He
succeeds in this job because he has a highly-nuanced ability to relate to
his fellows; and this translates into highly marketable people skills. He
also possesses a precise and efficient way with numbers, although he hates
the math. I tell him that the math is the language of the work of the

Gender oppression, like racial oppression, has two main components: the
structural discrimination built right into the system; and the ideological
nonsense with which they convince us to accept our lot in life. When I use
the term "patriarchy", I am referring to the ideological component, which
has deep roots in pre-class society, and whose undercurrents can be found
in the ideology of all class societies. I assume everyone here understands

>From my previous discussion of Darwin, you may remember that I do not
accept any notion of biologic determination in human nature, beyond the
obvious implications of the opposable thumb. However, the roles typically
assigned to women do provide circumstances in which differently-gendered
perceptions may arise. I say "may" because not all classes assign the same
gender roles, and, within these classes, not all women are successfully
socialized into their assigned roles. In families where the mother figure
is absent, sick, or negligent, the daughters are unlikely to learn their
appropriate role.  In some families, the existence of gender roles may be
so completely taken for granted that the role is not explicitely taught.
Additionally, women in patriarchies are not in control of their own lives:
the work they do is at the behest of men, who usually have unrealistic
expectations of women's power. Often, the social need to believe in the
efficacy of female power is sufficient to engender collective denial when
the "magic" fails. These, and many other factors, make the whole question
of gender roles so vague and open to subjective interpretation that I
generally avoid it like the plague.

It is not true that women's "ways of knowing" are different from that of
men. It is often true that women's perceptions are different, and that
their experiences lead them to different interpretations of those

In addition to the books already referrenced in my response to the
"nannies"  thread, I would recommend Marilynn Fench's _Beyond Power_,
Shere Hite's work on democracy and the family, almost anything by Starhawk
(with a huge grain of salt), and almost any contemporary studies of
everyday life in the middle ages.

Joan Cameron

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