Feeling the heat

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 16 Mar 1996 07:45:23 +0900

Several friends have written to express sympathy and wonder how I feel
about several recent roastings by Dr. Rohrlich. The answer is, a little
sad. At the end of the day, however, I prefer a custom modification of
an old but very wise maxim:

"Sticks and stones can hurt my bones,
words are for deconstruction."

Since, however, several people have also asked what is American society
if not patriarchal? I wish to state clearly, for the record, that if
people wish to use the term, it is no great bother to me. It appears
to be a fact of contemporary usage that for many patriarchal is now
simply a synonym for male-dominated. That being the case, and given the
fact that it is virtually impossible to find a human society which is
not, in some sense, male-dominated, the word is not informative, in the
strict information theory sense that it adds almost no information to
any description in which it is used. Used ideologically, it is handy
for expressing outrage, as a term of abuse, etc., and does what other
ideological labels do--lump a wide range of phenomena under what is then
seen, mistakenly, as a single, fixed attribute. The fact that those
who use it are also frequently those who assail "essentialism" in
other forms of labeling is one of those ironies that a certain spice,
but not a great deal of clarity, to the muddles of human lives.

John McCreery
March 17, 1996

P.S. Please change "that a certain spice" to "that add a certain spice"
in the second line from the bottom above.