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May 02, 2010

Comments

Karen M

Feminist academic begs question shock.

rjmadden

"“Patchwork” simply is a “gendered insult”- one “based in derogatory understandings” of a “woman-based art form.” It’s “embedded,” apparently."

"Embedded" sounds like another word for "because I say it is".

David

In fairness, it may also stand for, “because I say it is. Now shut up, you sexist, racist oppressor.”

Ted S., Catskills, NY

"Is there such a thing as a 'feminist technology'?"

The vibrating dildo?

And just how heavy and bloody is that flow of ideas?

pam402

"The act of technological passing presents an altered external identity, but also requires the technological user to agree to a sort of temporal amnesia."

Jesus. What does that even mean? You'd think she was *trying* to make women look bad.

Simen Thoresen

If one is prone to take offense, almost anything can be offending. For instance;
http://negative99.com/politics/dallas-city-council-is-an-intellectual-black-hole/

Ted,

Please note that dildos are not sufficiently feminist, but rather enforce the phallogenic patriarcy. David has covered this previously;
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/10/the-masters-tools.html

Love,
-S

pam402

"technologies of menstrual hygiene allow women to pass as their non-menstrual selves in a society where fluctuating and messy female bodies are not preferred"

Is she saying women shouldn't "hide" their periods? Who's hiding? Why is my period anyone else's business?

carbon based lifeform

"Note the professor's confidence as she rushes to the podium on Mount Grievance."

:D

David

pam402,

“Is she saying women shouldn’t ‘hide’ their periods?”

It’s not terribly clear what she means, but unobviousness is valued in certain circles. And the word “hide” is of course tendentious. For some reason I’m reminded of Germaine Greer’s claim that menstruating ladies should lap at their lower parts in order to embrace their vital womanhood, or something.

Of the women I know who’ve expressed an opinion on the subject, the general view seems to be that menstruation can be somewhat unpleasant, physically and emotionally, from a minor inconvenience to several days off work. If men bled from their penises for several days each month, I’m pretty sure this would also be a less than lovely thing. Not wishing to announce its every occurrence would not, I think, be prudish, self-hating or a sign of being oppressed. Unless one means oppressed by mother nature or some spiteful deity.

But then quite a few feminists seem determined to conflate egregious social oppression with routine matters of biology. If the process is irritating and inconvenient I can understand the umbrage, though I’m not sure why the target of the umbrage should be men.

Jason Bontrager

Given how every form of technology is apparently just a ploy by the Patriarchy to oppress womyn, I wonder that these...individuals (or is that word too phallocentric?)...ever wear clothes, shave (assuming they do), bathe (ibid), brush their teeth, wear glasses, etc.

Don't they know how un-*natural* that is? How they're submitting (insh'Allah!) to their oppressors by accepting the male-imposed social norms and benefits of masculine technology and sciento-materialistic philosophy?

Feminists Unite! Cast aside clothing, hygiene, and personal property! Be One with Gaia!

And the rest of us can breath a huge sigh of relief because we'll be able to smell them coming and thus avoid them that much more easily:-)

Anna`

"Menstrual hygiene products are hidden artefacts that have enabled women to pass, to overcome prejudice levelled against a bleeding body."

Wow. The fact I don't want smelly blood running down my leg is just "prejudice". I guess I should just go with the flow then.

R, Sherman

"But then quite a few feminists seem determined to conflate egregious social oppression with routine matters of biology."

Indeed. Witness:

http://aroomofourown.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/my-biggest-failure-as-a-mother/

Anna

"I realize mother is a problematic word. Sorry." :D

Wm T Sherman

And what about the rights of the tampon itself? Did anybody think of that?

dw

"These ubiquitous yet invisible technologies provide women with the means to hide their periods"

Women menstruate? Really? I *knew* there was something funny going on.

Darleenclick

geez louise, R Sherman, that site should be parody but those females are serious!

they are female separatists [ !!! ]

http://aroomofourown.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/willful-heterosexuality/

"You see, so long as women are willfully heterosexual/het-identified, male supremacy will continue. Female heterosexuality is, after all, the fundamental complicity necessary for the perpetuation of male domination. Any strategy that does not include the eradication of female heterosexuality (and the nuclear family, as well, or by extension) is not a strategy for liberation; it is merely a strategy intended to ease some of the hardships of the female lot under male supremacy."


Good.Lord.

Anna

Darleen,

David did the AROOO girls (as it were) a while ago.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/10/the-masters-tools.html

dicentra

a vigorous, interdisciplinary combination of science and technology studies, history of science, gender studies and women’s history,

"Vigorous" in academia means "obsessive, hysterical (yes, I'm aware of the etymology), fanatical, rigid, unforgiving, non-introspective, and hermetic."

"Interdisciplinary combination" means "we're non-serious dilletants who grab whatever looks useful from other disciplines without considering what they actually mean within their disciplines."

See? That was easy.

dicentra

Not wanting to stain one's clothes, or car seat, or chairs (at work or at church or at friends' houses) with something that is devilishy difficult to wash out is a sign of submission to male patriarchy?

Sign me up!

The economic apocalypse can't come soon enough. First to lose their positions are the academics, whose services, barely needed now, will be downright useless and even dangerous when we all have to start growing our own food and making our own soap.

And defending our stuff from marauding academics, who will undoubtedly find it hard to relinquish their role as esteemed parasites and will continue to "tax" us whenever possible.

three chord sloth

I agree with the good professor. In fact, in solidarity I retrained my bladder sphincter to remain open at all times to allow a slow trickle of urine to intermittently runs down my leg. I prefer to see this not as a social faux pas, but as an offering to Gaia.

To "retain" urine is an attempt to "own" it, a patriarchal claim of property rights over that which rightly belongs to Mother Earth. Leakage is utterly human; to attempt to control such flows is prima facie evidence of techno-patriarchal oppression, much as dam building, and is an affront to the natural, matriarchal circle of life.

Free your fluids!!1!!11!

bobchild

Why do all Studies people have ridiculously narrow focuses? I swear every one of them specializes in a subject so obscure they're likely the only people on earth that cares about it.

I feel like that's the major reason for the 98% uncited statistic- it's not that these works are nonsense(you can always find people who produce equal works of nonsense to read your nonsense). Rather it's that even if I really honestly believed "The social and technological history of sanitary napkins." was a worthwhile and interesting topic, I have no idea how it could ever be cited in any other format whatsoever- it's not relevant to any topic outside of itself.

David

pam402,

“You’d think she was *trying* to make women look bad.”

I suppose there’s an irony here. If you were to ignore female astronomers, physicists, geologists, etc and based your estimation of female academics on those most loudly preoccupied with tendentious gender whatnot, you might conclude – not unreasonably – that they were almost all incompetent or doctrinaire or fraudulent. The female academics I know who work in more reputable fields find such people absurd, dogmatic and embarrassing.

For reasons why, just poke about in the “academia” archives...

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/07/every-bit-as-hobbled-.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/03/science-softene.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/09/womanier-stuff.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/09/where-reason-never-sleeps-.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/06/uprising.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/04/peddling_stupid.html

Bob Smith

"an approach derived from a vigorous, interdisciplinary combination of science and technology studies"

I suspect she doesn't actually understand any of the science or technology she allegedly studies.

comatus

May one presume, then, that this scholar is involved with criticism of the Kotex Alimentarius?

And if not, why the hell not?

Mickey Langan

They should talk to the folks at Marquette, who were appalled at how little the job fairs did for the liberal arts major.

Gen. Buck Turgidson

See? I TOLD you they were after our precious bodily fluids.

Achillea

The social and technological history of sanitary napkins.

I will say whoever invented the adhesive strip that did away with those belts gets my vote.

And my desire to not walk around squelching for 4 days out of every 30 is not a sign of submission to patriarchal oppression. Embed that, Ms. Vostrol.

(On a side note, is Sharra really her name or did she read too much Marion Zimmer Bradley as a child?)

Jack Ripper

I said that first, Buck.

model_1066

Seriously, I have more patience with a swarm of mosquitoes than to this woman's neurotic drivel. At least the insects are 'actively intervening' in something useful to the species.

tom swift

In the 'way back when, when I was at Tambrands (as in Tampax, etc), designing machinery to make you-know-what, they wouldn't let me in the Research & Development room, even though I could flaunt my MIT Power Ring with the best of 'em. I never saw a man, even the department head, go into that room, and have only the vaguest idea of what went on in there. The women in R&D would come out and tell us that if we made a machine which made the cotton do this, and made the string do that, it might be useful. So we'd do that, and later they'd tell us if what we'd made was a success or not. All in all, I don't think the whole experience made anyone feel particlarly patriarchal.

John Skookum

I agree with the above commenter praying for prompt civilizational collapse. The sooner that parasitic mental masturbators of this ilk are made to scavenge for old rags and dried cattails to stanch their menstrual flows, the sooner we can restore their regard for patriarchist science and technology, and the sooner they can be forced to earn their keep instead of being a laughingstock at best and a plague upon society at worst.

Craig Caughman

All you really need to know about the "Professor" is her oh-so-pretentious use of the British spelling for the word "artifact." Please.

Many Scars

Vostral's next target: Band-Aids. (It also allow bleeders to pass as non-bleeders.)

John Skookum

Any major with "Science" in its name is not really science.

Any major with "Studies" in its name is a waste of time to study.

colagirl

Wow. When I see as much crazy as is contained in Ms. Vostral's comments, basically I just back away slowly and try to avoid making any sudden moves.

phantom menace

"Quite why the humble tampon should be construed as an “artefact of control” isn’t entirely clear to me."

Lol

Quaestor

Isn't it interesting that dildos and vibrators aren't tongue-shaped?

raincityjazz

They can dress it up in all the fancy terms they want, but radical feminism is just a hatred of reality. Every time I run into one of these hygiene-impaired lunatics, I ask them if they are an agent of the enemy; that is, a person of male descent.

Gracious acceptance of the enemy within is the beginning of wisdom. Neither gender would be here unless the most alien forces of the other had come into play. Women are conceived by male horniness and men are born of womanly tribalism. Get over it already. And take a bath and shave, you are scaring the children.

Jon

Madnesss. Can't the same easily (and immediately) be said about a 3-pack of underwear?

Do I get my (Master's...hmm) degreee now?

Lowellguy

"Hatred of realty"--raincityjazz has it right. Many of these radical feminists are, I think, people with borderline personality disorders: they have a terrifically chaotic inner life. Full of rage. I was married briefly to a woman whose being would best be summarized as: "enraged at the existence of [other people's] reality."

Jay Lewis

"[W]hy the humble tampon should be construed as an “artefact of control” isn’t entirely clear..."

It's worse than unclear. It's utter nonsense.

Both the sanitary napkin and the tampon were alternative uses of battle dressings from World War I and II, respectively. The women who adapted them were already nurses at the front, and thus pretty liberated for their day. No "passing" was involved.

der elberry

"Vostral" is a made up name. She looked up "astral", "vorpal", "vestal", and "menstrual" and fed it into a computer.

RebeccaH

Good God. After reading that, I need to forget. And I'm a woman.

rxc

Regarding the consideration of "patchwork" as a derogatory term, I would comment that it seems that in the art-world generally, the arts that originate in the home, and that have therefore tradionally been made by women, do seem to have a lower status than the "high arts" of painting and sculpture, which have tradionally been done by men. At one time, tapestries were more highly valued than paintings because they were pretty and told moral and heroic tales, and kept the castles warm. But over time, the male-oriented arts that did not serve any useful funtion seem to have become dominant. My wife is a textile conservator, and although she is not a rabid feminist, she does get riled about the lack of respect paid to textile art. As someone who likes the tactile enjoyment that can come from textile art, I sort of agree with her about this.

The rest of the "analysis" by this woman, though, is just junk.

Techni-Type

All one needs to see is the word "Studies" in her job description.

"Studies" = No scholarship = Gives all As = Marshmallow Major = F in any real academic pursuit.

far-center loony

A friend sent me a link to this. Agreed that there is plenty of self-regarding excess in academia, but it always strikes me as disingenuous for people, especially white males, to take the occasional potshot at the crazies without engaging the majority of feminist research, which is far from loony. It's an intellectually lazy way of preemptively defending yourself against possibly accurate accusations of sexism. It's always "Look at the crazy feminazi bitches!" har har har, the end. I'd find your arguments more persuasive if you showed any interest in the smart things that are being written about feminism, but from a brief look through your archives, all your writing in this area seems to be along these lines.

It's like when liberal bloggers point out (celebrate?) evil corporate excesses or dismiss all Tea Partiers as being racist loonies because of a few actual racist loonies in the movement, without ever bothering to address the substance of what they're saying (which is not crazy at all).

Anna

Far-center loony,

I think you blew it with "especially white males". You think David's preemptively defending himself against "possibly accurate accusations of sexism"? Really? Prove it.

lina

I'm sorry but I would not consider myself freed from patriarchal oppression if I had to sit in a restaraunt booth right after a free-bleeder

JuliaM

"Good God. After reading that, I need to forget. And I'm a woman."

Seconded. Very much seconded...

JuliaM

"Far-center loony,

I think you blew it with "especially white males". "

No, I think far-center loony blew it when they didn't provide any examples or links to the 'smart things that are being written about feminism'...

David

Far-center loony,

“[I]t always strikes me as disingenuous for people, especially white males, to take the occasional pot-shot at the crazies without engaging the majority of feminist research, which is far from loony.”

It isn’t at all disingenuous for a man or woman - of any pigmentation - to note the remarkable number of “crazies,” as you put it, who seem to thrive, apparently unchallenged, in their academic milieu. Some of whom do so despite incorrigible flummery. I don’t recall dismissing *all* feminist research and thinking through the ages – in fact I’ve written admiringly of several women who’d be regarded as feminist, as the archives will confirm. Pointing out the question-begging tendencies of Virginia Valian or Nancy Hopkins doesn’t imply anything at all about Asra Nomani or Taslima Nasrin. I certainly can’t imagine referring to “crazy feminazi bitches” or anything comparable. And as I’m not dismissing every piece of work produced by every single feminist, living or deceased, it isn’t necessary to “engage,” as you put it, with “the majority of feminist research,” or to list the “smart things that are being written.” Unless, that is, you assume I’m saying much more than I actually am.

To note the number of feminist figures whose statements are dubious or absurd, often in very similar ways, and to ask whether this reflects on certain basic assumptions and the environment in which such people flourish, doesn’t equate with a flat dismissal of the entire feminist phenomenon, or all of its participants, or all of its various aims and ideas.

“It’s an intellectually lazy way of pre-emptively defending yourself against possibly accurate accusations of sexism.”

I’m not sure whether the above is a general insinuation or directed at me personally. If it is, I’d ask you to provide a few examples – in my own words, if you don’t mind.

Herbert

I think she needs an enema

WTP

God help me, but I do want to agree with "Far-center loony", and I actually like the name. Called myself a "Mod-Ex" for "Moderate Extremist" long before the 'net. But still, the part about FCL's point that grates on me is the "intellectually lazy" comment. While some might disagree with much said here, calling DT's posts "intellectually lazy" begs the question of, is what passes for "centrism" intellectually lazy also, since it often fails to engage in debate in favor of accepting the middle ground between the extremes? And of course such arguments could spiral on and on.

And I really object to the idea that before we criticize the idiocy that is the subject of this post, such as it the defies even a modicum of common sense, we must stop our lives and invest hours of time delving into the "majority of feminist research" (or on other subjects, "green" research, or socialist research, or creationist research, for that matter). If people make outrageous claims it is their responsibility to THEMSELVES and the "truth" that they are proclaiming to do the excessive leg work and prove beyond all reasonable doubt their incredible insight. Otherwise it's just onanistic (can I apply that word to feminism?) gratification.

And yes, it does bother me to beat up on a rational-sounding centrist when there are plenty of other targets of opportunity to be had.

mlrosty

"especially white males"

Some people just can't help themselves. :)

far-center loony

The reason the sex and race matter is because you (and I) happen to belong to the sex and race that are put under question by a lot of feminist research. If you've written admiringly of feminism in the past, good for you. My brief look through your archive didn't bring anything like that up. I don't have the time or interest to read every one of your posts, so I'll accept your defense, but your writing definitely falls into the popcorn-and-spitballs category.

Also, I didn't accuse you personally of using the words "feminazi bitches." I thought that was clear from what I wrote.

And as for centrism being flaky, I'm not centrist by dint of agreeing a little bit with everyone. I support gun rights, Obama, free markets, feminism, diplomatic engagement, and the cane in the classroom. And I think that looking at the world through the prism of Manichean left-right stereotypes is intellectually lazy.

Anna

Unlike saying "especially white males". That's not lazy or leading at all. So much for centrism then.

David

Far-center loony,

“The reason the sex and race matter is because you (and I) happen to belong to the sex and race that are put under question by a lot of feminist research.”

None of which alters my point. If I note why some assertion by Carolyn Guertin or Barbara Barnett is unconvincing, I don’t feel obliged to remind readers that, say, Daphne Patai is a much more incisive thinker. (Although Patai is very good at picking apart the kind of boilerplate I’m talking about.) An argument stands or falls on its merits; it doesn’t suddenly become invalid because of the pigment or genitals of the person who happens to say it.

“I didn’t accuse you personally of using the words ‘feminazi bitches.’”

I didn’t say you did. I asked whether you were accusing me personally of “pre-emptively defending [myself] against possibly accurate accusations of sexism,” and if so to provide examples in my own words. Please note I’m still waiting.

Wonder Woman

Does this mean I have to change how I regard the Band-Aid now, too? And what place does it hold in the hierarchy of the patriarchal oppression of bleeders?

It's all so confusing...

Anna

"An argument stands or falls on its merits; it doesn't suddenly become invalid because of the pigment or genitals of the person who happens to say it."

The race-class-gender crew will be very confused now.

mlrosty

"The race-class-gender crew will be very confused now."

Now?

sackcloth and ashes

'Far-center loony', let me clarify this for you. There is one brand of feminism (the mainstream brand) which talks about gender equality, upholding the rights of the disenfranchised, fighting prejudice, namely all those aspects that any progressive-minded individuals irrespective of race, ethnicity, class background, gender and sexuality should instinctively support.

And then there are the minority brand of 'feminists' who are hypocrites (insofar as they act as though 'rights' exist for Western women but not their Afghan, Arab or Farsi sisters) or just plain fucking mental.

People like me support the former, and regard the latter as oxygen thieves.

Roger so far?

Sigivald

"Though Band-Aid(tm) brand bandages have been used and construed as personal and private, and even at times secretive, they help to represent the body as something else: not bleeding. The importance of this is that the representation is both outward and inward. The act of technological passing presents an altered external identity, but also requires the technological user to agree to a sort of temporal amnesia."

As someone with a humanities degree in a disciple that actually pretends to respect intellectual rigor (philosophy), I think my re-wording speaks for itself.

Horace Dunn

David

"If I note why some assertion by Carolyn Guertin or Barbara Barnett is unconvincing, I don’t feel obliged to remind readers that, say, Daphne Patai is a much more incisive thinker".

Well quite, though far-center Loony seems to think that feminists who broadcast contentious pseudo-intellectual garbage should be given a free pass because other feminists are smarter. Or, at least, to be fair, that you should refrain from making critical examinations of the fringe until you've established your bona fides by singing the praises of the feminist mainstream. The question is, though, how much time should you spend extolling feminists before you're permitted a pot-shot at the publicly-funded weirdos?

Mikeginor

Aha! I can now out the biggest male chauvinist fascist pig of all!

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9FFCID80.htm

Speaking about immigration reform, Our President, Barack Hussein Obama, revealed himself to be one of those phallocentric oppressors when he said a failure to act will “leave the door open to a PATCHWORK of actions at the state and local level that are inconsistent and, as we have seen recently, often misguided.”

Franklin

Regarding the tapestries: rxc implies that painting and sculpture garnered an undue amount of attention because men made them and they were nonfunctional. This is a canard of revisionist feminist art history, which holds that female-dominated, useful arts were unfairly brushed aside by male-dominated art made for art's sake.

Point in fact, oil paint has technical possibilities that could never be realized in dyed thread. Oils thus support a wider range of expression, and several centuries of art-making have borne this out. Freedom from having to serve a function also supports a wider range of expression. That art should progress towards the nonfunctional, and that plastic mediums like oils should serve as the vehicle of that progress, has reasons that inhere to materials and artistic ambitions. Sexism need never enter into the matter excepting the need for certain parties to insert it there.

Mr Eugenides

I trust that the next time someone describes a cliche-ridden rant as "boilerplate", Professor Vostral will have the decency to denounce it as based in gendered and derogatory understandings of steel sheeting.

David

Horace,

“Far-center Loony seems to think that feminists who broadcast contentious pseudo-intellectual garbage should be given a free pass because other feminists are smarter.”

That does seem to be an obvious implication. Perhaps criticism of particular claims by a particular feminist is no longer allowed unless you pointedly endorse some other feminist figure whose opinions have no obvious bearing on the subject at hand. Variations of this manoeuvre are remarkably common, and a number of hardline feminists have denounced almost any criticism (at least by members of certain designated groups) as an attack on women’s equality. (See, for instance, any number of reactions to Christina Hoff Sommers and Daphne Patai.) Margaret Jamison at AROOO seems to regard any criticism of her as an attack on Womanhood Itself. Which suggests an ego the size of a small moon. And such things are often implied rather than stated clearly. But then, stating that sort of position clearly invites mockery. And obviously we can’t have that.

Anna,

“The race-class-gender crew will be very confused now.”

Well, it’s strange how people can internalise this nonsense and blurt it out, despite its logical irrelevance and dubious implications. That some doctrinaire feminists have tried to delegitimize their white male critics (among others) doesn’t exactly blow my argument out of the water. And the implications of such thinking – and its prevalence – get more dubious the more you think about it. Granting different weights to the merit and coherence of an argument based on who makes it sounds like bigotry to me. Indeed, it sounds like a license for illogic, unrealism and dishonesty.

If a person explains why, say, Wahneema Lubiano is wrong on a point of fact or logic (which is quite likely), the error’s existence doesn’t depend on the race, class or gender of the person pointing it out. The observation doesn’t suddenly become invalid if the person making it is discovered to possess external genitals or a lighter skin than your own. And contrary to what some of Lubiano’s associates and students may imagine, a person’s pigment and gender aren’t licenses to be wrong, or wrong-headed, with impunity.

I realise race and gender tribalism is still in vogue in some circles, but I prefer to judge people based on what they say and do, rather than on which category of predestined victimhood they could be shoved into. I’m funny that way.

sackcloth and ashes

'Margaret Jamison at AROOO seems to regard any criticism of her as an attack on Womanhood Itself.'

I'm probably not the first to notice this, but 'AROOO' sounds like an onomatopoeic word to describe someone howling at the moon.

rxc

Franklin,

I did not imply that “painting and sculpture garnered an undue amount of attention because men made them and they were nonfunctional”. I simply noted that tapestries used to be highly regarded, and they were also useful as well as pretty and tellers-of-stories, and I noted that they were made by women while the arts that have come to be called “high art” are usually made by men. I did not insert a “because”, because I don’t know whether there is a cause and effect. If there is, I doubt that it is the sort of conspiracy that the rabid feminists have discovered, but think it is likely just a matter of taste and the invention of better methods of heating (by engineer types). And, the engineers don’t get any respect, either.

I note your use of what I call “signal words and phrases” like “wider range of expression” and “inhere”, which imply to me that you have some education and maybe a job in the arts or literary criticism or maybe food and wine criticism. We engineers have our own lingo that works well to allow us to communicate with one another, but when we try to explain technical stuff to non-technical types they often accuse us of using too much jargon and speaking down to the lay-folk. Well, when I see someone telling me about “reasons that inhere to materials and artistic ambitions”, I feel their pain, because I have no idea what that means.

And it sort of confirms my guess that the art community has, over the centuries, worked hard with words to elevate painting and sculpture to “high art” while leaving the female accomplishments behind as “crafts”. If someone from the art community can give me a good explanation of the difference, I would appreciate it quite a bit. My wife is an art historian, and she is fed up with my questions about this.

rxc

I think I need to correct a term I used incorrectly. I think it is properly referred to as "fine art", not "high art".

Apologies.

Franklin

Rxc,

Got it - you implied no causation. I'm used to dealing with implied causation because I am, indeed, an MFA-holding artist and published art critic, one who finds himself among the handful who will take missives like Vostral's to account. (Which is why I'm so fond of David.) That said, I despise jargon. "Inhere" is a fine English word with a long pedigree. "Wider range of expression" is probably a little insider-y, though. It only means a greater variety of artistic styles. One could use oils to paint like Vermeer, or Leon Kossoff. This is not true, or as true, of weaving. Consequently, if you're an ambitious artist - you want to make work that competes with the best work getting made around you - you gravitate to where the action is. For five centuries, the best action, as far as two-dimensional decorative mediums were concerned, was going on in oils. I hope that's clearer.

There was not a self-conscious effort to elevate fine art above applied art. Rather, it became possible at some point in history to distinguish the two. Characterizing them that way, as fine and applied arts rather than fine art and crafts, makes the difference between them obvious, I think. Not having to serve a function liberated fine art to go down its own path, and that allows a discussion about fine art to exclude applied art from similar considerations. (The terms are tendentious, of course. Both "fine" and "art" are honorifics, thus lending airs to a class of objects that needs a more neutral descriptor.) But the converse is also true, in that the discussion of applied arts ought to dismiss certain fine-art concerns from consideration. Good typography, for instance, is good for reasons completely alien to the reasons that good painting is good.

Anyone interested in the art/craft distinction should have a look at an essay by Walter Darby Bannard entitled "Craft and Art Envy."

http://wdbannard.org/?mode=by&id=69

far-center loony

Listen, I said I accepted your defense. You don't need to get your knickers in a twist. You have a deep, abiding respect for intellectually vigorous feminists. Awesome. You're one of the good guys. And you're calling bullshit bullshit, which is a great service to humanity. You just happen to only see the bullshit on the left side of the spectrum. Well, we've all got our blinkers, I suppose. Can't blame you for that. Or your strange obsession with the Guardian. Or the fact that your write spurious bullshit yourself:

"I realise race and gender tribalism is still in vogue in some circles, but I prefer to judge people based on what they say and do, rather than on which category of predestined victimhood they could be shoved into. I’m funny that way."

Concern with race, class, and gender being dismissed as "tribalism" by a person who happens to be of a race, class, and gender which are privileged in western society today -- that's just a coincidence. Right? Of course. My bad. You're only interested in what people say and do, because there is no such thing as society, right? Social mores don't affect what we say or do. We are all 100% independent actors, totally free of the influence of biases for or against certain genders, races, or classes. Right?

Franklin

Rather than feed the troll, I'd like to point out that it's easy to list the tactics used by Far-Center Loony. They include sarcasm, damning characterization ("strange obsession" with the Guardian rather than, say, "legitimate concern"), caricaturing your opponent's argument and arguing against the caricature, and something I call "I Accuse You of That Which You Accuse the Author I Like" (in this case, writing spurious bullshit). This is no cause for response, much less alarm. But it's quite alarming to think that students are subjected to this kind of treatment in the academic environment, where they either figure out how to get in line and perpetrate it upon others, or be forced out of higher education in their field. As Frank Donoghue says, ridicule is the solution.

David

Far-center loony,

“You don’t need to get your knickers in a twist.”

Heh. You seem to imagine this is all about you. Interesting. But let’s pretend it is and recap, shall we?

You rushed to a conclusion regarding in particular “white male” critics of certain feminist claims – a conclusion that’s absurd and which hasn’t subsequently been defended in any meaningful way. You then repeated the same error in a later comment as if no-one had pointed out your mistake. For topping, you then leapt to other unsubstantiated conclusions regarding my supposed views on other subjects. And you did all this while insinuating that I or critics more generally are either “disingenuous” or “pre-emptively defending [ourselves] against possibly accurate accusations of sexism.” When asked to clarify the insinuation and provide examples of this lurking, malevolent sexism quoting my own words, a great hush fell upon the land.

And yet *you* feel entitled to be indignant and hostile. Readers will, I’m sure, draw their own conclusions.

KC

That made my head hurt. Seriously... WTF?

Anna

Far-center loony,

Trying to smear people as sexist because you can't win an argument doesn't make you look good. Trust me.

Rafi

Far-Center Loony,

I think David's being way too polite to you. Guess what race, class and gender I am.

Anna

Rafi,

"Guess what race, class and gender I am."

But how can he decide whether you matter until you tell him? ;D

Karen M

"Or your strange obsession with the Guardian."

Loony, instead of the old ad hominem why don't you address what David actually *writes* about the Guardian? Too difficult?

Makewi

"by a person who happens to be of a race, class, and gender which are privileged in western society today.."

Expecting a rational conversation on any topic with a person who lives in a free western nation in the year 2010 and who can write this not as a comedy bit, seems like a non winning proposition. It's like training wheels for an actual argument.

WTP

Just for the record, I'd like to retract my previously stated perception, where I implied that FCL might be "a rational-sounding centrist". I wasn't even drinking when I wrote that. I feel so ashamed...

Achillea

Shorter FCL: You're not writing about what I think you should write about, so I'm going to try to snide you into doing what I want.

lauraw

Academics. Complainers without pragmatic solutions.

Professor Vostral has voiced her objections about the hidden identity of 'Bleeders' without offering any sanitary solutions. No woman, feminist or not, really wants to allow nature to take its course unstanched or remain sequestered one week of the month.

Perhaps proud feminist Bleeders could wear a Bleeder sign, or a tag of some sort. Or even a stylish broach on their lapel, in the shape of the letter B.

That way, a casual observer could note the 'B' and become aware of who they are dealing with.

Chris S.

To quote FCL "You're only interested in what people say and do, because there is no such thing as society, right? Social mores don't affect what we say or do."

So does that mean we are not allowed to critique the content of an author at face value, society and social mores be damned? Is there a sliding scale of how much specious crap an author is allowed to put forth based on gender/race/culture?

"Normally I'd harshly critique this shoddy work by this female author, but you know, the poor dear can't help it, she's a woman. This sort of thing is too hard for them, so I'll just let it slide."

Not exactly an enlightened stance to be taking no? Yet, that's where FCL's logic takes you. Bizarre.

mlrosty

"Expecting a rational conversation on any topic with a person who lives in a free western nation in the year 2010 and who can write this not as a comedy bit, seems like a non winning proposition. It's like training wheels for an actual argument."

Makewi, FCL's not here to have a rational argument. He's here to let us know he's better than us.

I don't think it's working though.

mlrosty

"So does that mean we are not allowed to critique the content of an author at face value, society and social mores be damned?"

Chris, but feminist academics at elite universities aren't "privileged" like David is. Even the ones with tenure.

Karen M

"It's an intellectually lazy way of preemptively defending yourself against possibly accurate accusations of sexism."

At first that made me laugh. It's as lazy and stupid as Loony's 'especially white males' dig. But then I thought about what he's trying to get away with and realized he's just a nasty piece of work.
Btw Loony, I'm a straight brown woman (since it matters to you so much). Am I oppressed enough for you?

Patronizing dick.

Pungeon.blogspot.com

"by a person who happens to be of a race, class, and gender which are privileged in western society today.."

Talk about pre-judging someone by their race and gender. I left out class, because, how could one possibly know?

Makewi

mlrosty

For the sake of argument, I allow that everyone is better than me. I also demand that I not be required to pose with my arguments. The picture is better without me cluttering it all up.

rjmadden

'Fess up, David. It's your fault people don't take angry studies seriously. ;)

David

rjmadden,

“‘Fess up, David. It’s your fault people don’t take angry studies seriously.”

Well, maybe our friend is so miffed because Women’s Studies and identity politics generally are, broadly speaking, pretty disreputable and often viewed as tendentious, dogmatic or factually unreliable. But if so, that’s hardly my fault. I am, after all, quoting the words of activists and academics themselves. And acting as though it were my fault – while not refuting the substance of any piece I’ve written – is, well, a little odd.

It would be absurd to assume that my mocking of Carolyn Guertin says anything at all about Taslima Nasrin, whose statements and circumstance are very, very different. And it would be absurd to equate feminists who support human rights for Afghan women with Melanie Butler, who claims such efforts are based in “Orientalist discourse” and “oppressive narratives.” And yet some claim, or insinuate, that criticism of one implies dismissal of the other. I’ve previously noted the contrast in attitude between feminists in the *classically* liberal sense – including Taslima Nasrin, Camille Paglia and Daphne Patai – and those preoccupied with tendentious theorising and manufactured grievance as a means of leverage, and whose question-begging and chauvinism are hard to miss.

And the chauvinism is often aimed at other women who dare to disagree. Amanda Marcotte once said of Christina Hoff Sommers, “She just really hates feminism and has a symbolic hard-on for some righteous American male dominance.” No evidence was offered to support this claim. Instead, Marcotte wildly misrepresented Sommers’ actual argument – about the focus and priorities of much academic feminism in the US – and railed against “neocon war adventuring” before insinuating that Sommers and other critics of academic feminism are “trying to oppress women.” It’s worth noting that Marcotte didn’t quote Sommers’ own words at all; instead she paraphrased and distorted. Then the madness took her: “While I firmly believe a lot of neocon fuckwits here would love to have oppressed women in various Middle Eastern countries throw off the yoke of oppression, the only reason they want that is so that they can gloat about how they control their bitches better than the Muslims do.”

http://pandagon.blogsome.com/2007/05/16/hoff-sommers-reveals-advanced-case-of-wingnutitis/

This ludicrous rant is standard Marcotte fare and met with broad approval among her sizeable readership. Which leads us to a question. Are Marcotte and her readers irrelevant fringe figures or do they represent a more common attitude? Is Marcotte more extreme than the Women’s Space blogger who claims that “the vast majority of American women are every bit as hobbled by constrictions around dress, mobility and behaviour as women in developing countries”? Or Bitch magazine, which endorsed the above? Or Tenured Radical, who claims that people who ask unwelcome questions are “trying to suppress real debate”? Or the feminist scholar Joni Seager, who would have us believe that American women as a group are “oppressed” on a par with women in Somalia, Uganda and Yemen?

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/07/every-bit-as-hobbled-.html

Are Nancy Hopkins and Virginia Valian fringe figures – despite their considerable political clout and multimillion dollar budgets? Is Valian a moderate, non-dogmatic feminist in wanting to undermine the “intense desire for achievement” among scientists and engineers, supposedly on the basis that such desires “marginalise women”? (Do female scientists not have a desire for achievement?) Was Hopkins signalling her moderate, rational feminism when she said she was afraid of throwing up and fainting and “just couldn’t breathe” when confronted with questions about gender and statistical disposition?

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/03/science-softene.html

I could of course go on, but I trust the point is made. When it comes to identity politics, the boundaries between mainstream and delusional aren’t as clear as one might wish.

sackcloth and ashes

“While I firmly believe a lot of neocon fuckwits here would love to have oppressed women in various Middle Eastern countries throw off the yoke of oppression, the only reason they want that is so that they can gloat about how they control their bitches better than the Muslims do.”

I'm stuck. I'm really lost here. WTF does this sentence mean?

Luther

Fine comment, David, your last. I wonder if your question about Marcotte and her followers, (could FCL be one you think) would break down into a certain age and income group which could likely be considered a fringe, I certainly hope so anyway. If mainstream then we are in much poorer shape than I had previously thought.

As you have him on the side bar I'm sure you've seen what a fine job Dennis the Peasant does of de-constructing and skewering Amanda's voluminous output. A task I would wish upon no man, nor woman for that matter.

Makewi

Marcotte is mainstream. She was hired by the Edwards campaign for POTUS as his blogger when it seemed like he had at least a passing shot of getting the Democratic nod in 2008.

Texan99

"Angry Studies" -- I like that. I actually have enormous sympathy with much of this silly writer's underlying thesis (and with that of FCL's wife), but this particular academic is such a twit that she loses the argument for all of her potential supporters. Does anyone genuinely think that an unoppressed woman, left in the privacy of her own home during her menstrual period and freed from any patriarchal brainwashing, might not still prefer the comfort and convenience of a tampon? Is it really self-hatred not to want to dribble? Have you ever tried to get blood out of the sofa cushions? Granted that people get a little over-excited about the whole process, but sheesh. If you really want to get out from under the Man's thumb, get a real job supporting yourself and quit living on the crumbs of a public charity.

The gold digger

"No woman, feminist or not, really wants to allow nature to take its course unstanched or remain sequestered one week of the month."

I might not mind spending one week a month in the red tent, hanging out with my girlfriends, eating, goofing off, and not having any household responsibilities at all.

Acad Ronin

I wonder what she makes of Rahm Emanuel's remark, "Take the f**king tampon out of your mouth..."? I suspect that she must be feeling somewhat conflicted.

Vanderleun

Marrying a cattle-prod is Vostral's only hope.

David Gillies

Late to the party, but for God's sake: I buy Kleenex tissues, and they're the squib end of an entire freaking aisle in the supermarket devoted to products for damming feminine effluvia. And this in a Catholic, Latin-American, putatively male-dominated society (which, notwithstanding, just inaugurated a female president). I'm pretty sure that there is no 'Bidisha', and somewhere Craig Brown is having a hearty laugh at our expense.

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