Re: Ethnocentrism?

Marius Johnston (mariusj@NETCOM.COM)
Sun, 8 Jan 1995 17:08:43 -0800

\Message 11/21 From Danny Yee Jan 7, 95 10:56:10 pm
\Subject: Re: Ethnocentrism?


\I can't really work out what you were trying to do with this post,
\but I think I'll violently disagree with you anyway :).

I will give you a summation then. Since this thread/event started with
"mankind" (appropriate don.t you think?) let's take it for an example. Eve
Pinsker (Jan 6, 95 05:24:58 pm CST) reminds me that I have a dictionary,
so I looked up "mankind". In brief "mankind has two meanings: 1. the human
race: the totality of human beings and 2. as distinguished from women.
The meaning is determined by context. The dishonesty of Ruby Rohrlich
and her ilk is that they deliberately choose the later meaning in every
instance over the former meaning. In other words they wish to change the
meaning of the word "mankind" to fit their politics. They try and make a
single context (gender differentiation) universal and negative. The
problem here is that it has *both* meanings, one of which is *willfully*
ignored. Why? The reason is to divide the world into two camps, and
since "blame" is implicit in the ilk's singular meaning of "mankind", it is
hostile and sexist. Because the original meaning of the word "mankind"
has been altered, conclusions may be drawn.

.Ruby Rohrlich <rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU>
.Thank you, Matt Tomaso. For my money, "mankind" is as excluding a word
.as "nigger" is debasing.

\You seem to want to lump all feminism together in one basket and
\then damn it by association with a collection of extreme statements.
\I can't see many people buying it.

I don't think I do this. My premise is that there are no boxes in which to
put people or groups. Feminism lies on a continuum. One of my points is
that you can *not* separate the more didactic from the the less didactic
hence my iceberg analogy.

\> A struggle for power? Indeed, you are right. Equality? You have to be
\> joking.

\You wave "equality" around like it were some sort of ultimate good,
\as well as having a universally understood definition.

Me only? I think "equality"-waving has been around for a long time. Don't
you think that some notion of equality, that is agreeable to all, is
desirable? We have it already. The law, the Constitution, has a notion of
equality and it has had profound influence. The 14th Amendment and its
legislative and interpetive expansion is a strongly defined definition of
"equality". "Civil Rights" are an obvious example.

\The word has
\radically different meanings for (say) libertarians and socialists.

Does it? I think they swim in the same waters.

\> >I suggest that the victors will determine the language to be used for
\> >dialog and that has always been true (shades of Adolph Hitler!).
\> >The situation is dynamic - African Americans have altered and
\> >continue to alter the way we refer to them (and, one hopes, treat
\> >and women have altered and continue to alter the way we refer to
\> >them (and one hopes, treat them).

\> I must remind you that Hitler ultimately lost and his political Truths
\>died, for the most part, shortly thereafter.

\So what? Perhaps the "patriarchal US military-industrial complex"
\will disappear one day too. However much you try to hide it, your
\disagreement with Ruby is political and ethical -- you have dadically
\different ideas about how the world ought to be. You can't debate
\that rationally.

It is not that simple. See my summation above. She altered the meaning
of a word for her own hostile ends. This "rewriting" of things has become
epidemic. This is why I included the quote:
"There are many indications from the prehistory studies in the Near East
that it took perhaps five thousand years or longer for the subjugation of
women to take place." Mary Jane Sherfey 1976. This was in 1976.

Not long ago I received this in the mail. It is a good example.


Convenor: Sharon Wellfare (02.798.4515)

This session is about the application of feminist theories to the
interpretation of the archaeological record. If gender is embedded in the
social, economic and ritual lives of past societies, how do we question
and interpret the archaeological record to make past gender relationships
and their dynamics explicit?" [delete]

Feminists (their term without quantification) are attempting to redefine
history (herstory?) in their own light, just like redefining "mankind".

Convenor: Mary Casey (02.558.2041)

Is there a feminist archaeology in practice? How successful are you at
being a feminist archaeologist? How are you doing it, and where? Is there
a right way and a wrong way? What is the recipe? Can men do archaeology
on feminist principles? " [delete rest of section]

is a pity when anthropologists who are involved with other people's
cultures cannot get beyond the patriarchal strictures of their own
culture. Or perhaps, they agree with them, and don't want to transcend
them." Ruby Rohrlich. (Mon, 2 Jan 1995 17:36:06 -0500)

The real problem is, can a feminist see beyond a contrived victim/oppressor

"Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present
controls the past." George Orwell 1984
\You could argue that *given Ruby's goals* her means
\are wrong, but to do that you'd have to accept her goals at least
\for the purposes of the debate.

I don't accept her goals for the above reasons - it is bad science. It is
selective and not subject to review. It is not science at all but
victim/oppressor power politics. The real offense, ultimately, is the
curtailment of freedom of speech (speech codes) and the genderifacation
of Anthro.

Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 19:57:45 -0500
Subject: Re: R. Rohrlich and "human rights"

I said I would stop reading Bjorn's postings. I did not say you should.
*My teaching does not consist of opinions*, and I hope yours doesn't,
[my emphasis]

\> This is the fate of Political Truth without active oppression. This,
\> is why the thought police, like Ruby Rohrlich and her ilk are
\>"necessary". They too will fail. They will fail because equality is not
\>their goal. They have identified with the "oppressor" of their minds.

\Please explain why programmes that have equality as a goal are destined
\to succeed while those that don't are destined to fail. It's a nice
\thought, but I can't see it having any kind of basis in reality.

Jeez, look at the recent past. Look at the "failure" of slavery. Look at
women voting. Read the 14th Amendment, also the 1st.

\> >Struggles for power are unavoidable when groups interact and the
\> >struggles and outcomes are real and meaningful to the people involved
\> >the disconcerting thing to me has been the attempts at *formalizing*
\> >positions ...

\> The positions were formalized a long time ago.

\The positions of *some* people and *some* groups were formalized long
\ago. Some of us are still flexible, and new people are being socialised all
\the time...

I have problems with statements like this in general. Many people who
profess to be flexible are not. For them "flexibility" is more a device to
bludgeon the opponent with rather than a goal or an ideal. Socialized?
Yes, but maybe I have the advantage on you with a daughter in college -
view from the trenches, as it were.

\I have no idea what the purpose of the following quotes is.

"> The positions were formalized a long time ago."
Note too that the quotes were from anthology, Female Psychology:The
Emerging Self by Sue Cox 1976. In other words the intent of the book is to
be universal, to state general truths.

\> "Sexist oppression is more endemic to our society than racism." Kate
\> Millet 1970.

\This obviously hinges on the definition of "endemic", and its truth
\may be debatable, but it's hardly ridiculous or "close-minded", as
\you want it to be.

I think she is trying to establish priority.

\> "Yet it may well be that regarding women as a minority group may be
\> productive of fresh insights and suggest leads for further research."
\> Helen Mayer Hacker 1976

\Note the "may well be". Does this suggest someone with a formalized,
\inflexible position or someone suggesting a (to me) perfectly
\reasonable hypothesis?

I grant you the point, considering the meaning of "minority".

\> "Social interaction is the battlefield where the daily war between the
\> sexes is fought. It is here that women are constantly reminded where
\> their 'place' is and here that they are put back in their place." Nancy
\> Henley and Jo Freeman 1976

\So "war" is hyperbole. Still reads ok to me. (I'm in the middle of
\James Scott's _Domination and the Arts of Resistance_; has anyone else
\read it?)

I don't think that "war" was used as hyperbole but as fact.
The point here is that there is another way. Rather than breaking the
world into two parts - woman and men- and proclaiming one the oppressor
and the other victim (stereotyping of the grossest sort), *individual*
wrongs should be addressed. Given the way the legal system works, parity
would be achieved *without* fragmentation into warring camps. Alas, like
all wars involving groups, there needs to be an "evil empire" See my
comments on Griffin)

\> "There are many indications from the prehistory studies in the Near
\>East that it took perhaps five thousand years or longer for the
\>subjugation of women to take place." Mary Jane Sherfey 1976

\This I think is wrong; I don't see what that proves, though.

see above

\> "I have never been free of the fear of rape. From a very early age I, like
\> most women, have thought of rape as part of my natural environment -
\> something to be feared and prayed against like fire or lightening."
\>Susan Griffin 1976.

\Do you think this is false? Do you think Susan Griffin is lying
\about her own experience, or just that the "like most women" is wrong?
\Please let me know what you base this judgement on.

I think it is partly true. She is generalizing to most women. She
generalizes, stereotypes, most if not all males - whops I err - she seems
to be very PC and lets minority males of the hook.

Griffin goes on to say:
"But rape is not an isolated act that can be rooted out from patriarchy
without ending patriarchy itself. The same men and power structure who
victimize women are engaged in the act of raping Vietnam, raping Black
people and the very earth we live on."
"As the symbolic expression of the white male hierarchy, rape is the
quintessential act of our civilization, one which, Valerie Solanis warns, is
in danger of 'humping itself to death.'"

For Susan Griffin "victimized" is so generalized that if a male, white male
I guess, said "boo" to a woman, he would be "victimizing" her. On that
basis she calls for an end to "patriarchy". In other words men with any
power, this includes most men by her definition, are bad people and must
be dealt with. This is reverse sexism.

We are back to "mankind".

\Danny Yee.

Marius Johnston