bourgeois feminism?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jul 30 07:02:35 MDT 2002

>The term "bourgeois feminism" is perhaps an antiquated
>term for something with which we are all familiar...and
>it has nothing to do with poor women or workingclass
>women. To some extent, the term implies a view that
>asserts the primacy of the claim of sex identity over
>class, but I think this becomes increasingly abstract
>as we look at the real world.
>Mark Lause

By bourgeois feminism I mean the kind of academic anthropologist that JC
was quoting at length in order to represent women in indigenous societies
as being exploited by men in various ways in such a fashion as to suggest
that the penis rather than class society is responsible for woman's
oppression. Most of her stuff was pretty unreadable since it was studded by
rather obscure references to Canadian Indian bands in the 19th century. I
tried to explain to her that this sort of analysis was not only contrary to
Marxist scholarship on the question by people like Eleanor Leacock but that
she seemed utterly innocent of Marxist anthropology. When she persisted in
pushing this line ad infinitum no matter how many times I told her that the
list was dedicated to Marxist scholarship, I finally came to the
realization that she had one interest and one interest only here. Namely,
to represent precapitalist society as deserving of annihilation because it
was superstitious, sexist, and "backward". Needless to say, this was not
Marx and Engels's view. Not only does Engels regard the Iroquois
confederacy as respectful of women's rights and prerogatives, he also views
it as democratic. Most scholars acknowledge the enormous impact of their
governing bodies on Benjamin Franklin and others. Jack Weatherford argues
that the US constitution owes more to the American Indian than it does to

Now of course you don't have to agree with the classic Marxist
interpretation of precapitalist society. You can even state your
disagreements here, as Nancy Brumback seems to have. What I will not allow
is one person to go on forever on a single hobbyhorse when nobody else is
interested. At one point, nobody but me was replying to Joan. When I asked
her to move on to other questions, she refused. The reason for this is
obvious. She had zero interest in the broader questions facing the
socialist movement. Her sole mission was to convince the list that
indigenous peoples deserved what they got basically. Her stuff was a
sophisticated defense of residential schools when you stop and think about it.

On January 14th, I invited her to have her last say on the topic, as I
often do on the list.

"I will allow you to post one last time on this question and then it will
be closed."

Only 9 days later, she began posting *again* on the very same questions:

So, let me conclude by reminding everybody on the list about a very
important moderation type question. When I say that a topic has been
discussed sufficiently and that we should move on, you should respect my
right as a chairperson. This is not an unmoderated list. There are very few
things that I put my foot down on. One of them, however, is the need to
move on to other questions when I say so. Okay?

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