Re: Feeling the heat

Stephanie Marlin-Curiel (shh4448@IS.NYU.EDU)
Sat, 16 Mar 1996 09:24:31 -0500

Frankly I have not read through all the previous posts and roastings. I
tend to get very impatiant with all the flaming that goes on on this
list so I am going to disagree with you (John McCreery) with the utmost
respect because I
usually find your posts worth reading. Although I agree that labelling
can tend toward essentialism and had been dangerous and even hateful in
many contexts, to not call a society patriarchal if it is is to accept it
as just status quo. Calling a society patriarrchal in either an
antrhopological sense or in an ideological sense shows that it is as
opposed to matriarchal, it at least brings up the alternative. Also you
seem to imply that most societies are patriarchal so we should just live
with it. I most of those societies, starting with our own leads not only
to the inequality, but also often to the objectification, domestication and
not to mention violence on many levels against women. And though I
don't have time to research it now, I suspect you are a bit quick to label
most societies as patriarchal. Perhaps in our part of the world and from
our point of view...It depends in part what you mean by a society. If you
mean society as defined by the state, perhaps, but there are several
religious societies and cults which are matriarchal...

Respectfuly yours,

Stephanie Marlin-Curiel

On Sat, 16 Mar
1996, John McCreery wrote:

> 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
> Yokohama
> 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.