Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In Which a Feminist Woman is Like Unto a Chihuahua

The Context ("I was recently informed by a friend, via a note passed to me at a party after I had reacted negatively (or, as he explained, like a chihuahua) to some sexist comment he made, that feminists are “bored and abused” chauvinists who have nothing better to do than to attack men...")

[A note!? He passed her a note?!! God, that's weird. -- Sid]

To which Twisty Faster, in The Fucking Pedantic Asshole Chronicles, contributes:

You know how you’re sauntering along through your life minding your own beeswax, and some sexist shit goes down, and you, a feminist, naturally respond as one who is sick and tired of sexist shit, perhaps saying aloud in mixed company “that’s some pretty sexist shit, yo,” and your unwillingness to just laugh it off with the rest of the ladies raises the hackles of some asshole pedantic dude who then, out of his profound concern for your well-being, tries to rescue you from pariah-dom, lavishing you with the benefit of his superior grasp of the human condition by setting you straight on the distaste with which every other rational person on Earth regards ‘feminism’? Perhaps even adding that if you really want to get anywhere with your arguments, you’ll get better at appeasing your oppressor with a more solicitous, more conciliatory, more sexyfun tone?

At which point in the "discussion", every woman who has been around the feminist block a few times rolls her eyes, thinking:

a. it's not about "appeasing my oppressor", you dip;
b. gee, thanks for enlightening me, o beneficiary of this excruciatingly dehumanizing system;
c. when oh when will this yahoo shut up?

The fundamental premise of feminism is an easy one: women are human beings. (Just like you! How terrifying!)

It's an inconvenient truth, I know, and one from which so much cognitive dissonance flows. How do you, a male in a patriarchy, maintain your position in that patriarchy, that position that works so darn well for you and your (male) buds, if women are actually human beings?

By objectifying, of course. By denying that women are human beings in the same way that soldiers in Vietnam turned human beings who lived there into "Charlie" or "gooks". Because that objectification is what made it possible to kill them.

Twisty is right: the patriarchal position is irrelevant to feminist theory, and the substance of feminism, the value of the liberation of women, is not itself a legitimate subject for debate among rational beings.

When we talk about patriarchy we're talking about a system that requires you to deny someone's humanity. That's sociopathy. It doesn't get more perverse than that.