Far from the madding crowd

Michael Forstadt (forstadt@HUSC.HARVARD.EDU)
Wed, 26 Jan 1994 13:41:19 -0500

"emancipate yourselves from mental slavery..." - Bob

Feminism and racism have unfortunately become difficult topics of
discourse over the last few years, but I must say that I am impressed
with the state of relative calm (very little burning and looting of
character) which has prevailed on the anthro-l over the last few days.
Despite early reaction to Foss, unwitting (or dimwitted) comments have
largely passed unassailed. I believe that this relative lack of flaming
is essential to productive dialogue on these sensitive topics. I wish I
could truthfully say that the academic environment in which I operate is
similarly open to honest dialogue and critique.

As an old-style humanist/feminist (sensu Michael Evans), I have been
unfortunate enough to have been on the defensive at times against other
persons with whom I largely *SHARE* an ideology concerning the equality
movement (encompassing the fight against racism, sexism, and other
sinister -isms). As a Jew I am informed (among other things) that my
people have come such a long way that I can now comfortably consider
myself to be among the white male establishment, and that I am therefore
excused from the right or obligation to feel any empathy with those who
now suffer most. Of course, I am free to watch from the sidelines and
cheer for the good side as long as I take care to watch my language,
occasionally engage in some wholesome white male-bashing (including a
healthy dose of apologizing), and generally toe the line. As Evans
perhaps insinuates, watching my language includes avoiding truly
androcentric speech (a rule with which I gladly comply), although this
also means that I must sacrifice my right to criticize the censorship of
certain articles of speech which, due to linguistic circumstance, are
*WRONGLY* perceived to be androcentric (examples include: history
[herstory] and shaman [shaperson]).

Although I consider myself to be sensitive (in fact, whole-heartedly
committed) to equality issues, I try my hardest to avoid the gooey
sentimentalism of the maddening MOB. This is, I believe, the best way to
further the movement without alienating many of its members.
Michael S. Forstadt
Department of Anthropology
Harvard University