Is there any point? (was Re: Ethnocentrism?)

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Mon, 9 Jan 1995 15:34:01 +1000


I definitely understand where you are coming from now. I not only
disagree with your factual claims; I strongly oppose your political
agenda as well. Your inability to distinguish the two, and your
insistence on conflating your view of how the world *is* with your
view of how the world *ought* to be, makes the distinction somewhat

Given that, there's not much point continuing this, but I've always
been a sucker for debating nonsense (it's hard to lose), so...

> 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.

"There aren't any boxes." "But I'm going to use 'iceberg' arguments anyway".

> \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.

Does it occur to you that there is more to politics than the American

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

} 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".

Really? I don't read that in the quote you excerpted. What I read
there is someone who thinks that gender may (note the 'if'?) have
an important role in the workings of past societies (can anyone,
even you, really dispute this?), and wants a discussion of how to
go about studying this. (Which is not to say that I'll agree with
everything in the conference, but the if this is the best "good
example" you can offer then you really are hard put to prove that
feminism is dominated by extremists.

Anyway, thanks for bringing the conference to my attention -- for
once something is on in my home city!

> \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.

How can someone's *political* goals be bad science? Did you understand
anything I wrote? Politics interacts with science (obviously), and
sometimes adversely (Lysenko, Nazi genetics, and so forth), but that
doesn't mean you can conflate the two. Your basic approach seems to be
"if it supports my political views it's good science, otherwise it's

> It is
> selective and not subject to review. It is not science at all but
> victim/oppressor power politics.

Note the direct contradiction: "it is bad science" -- "It is not science
at all". You really will accept anything at all provided it furthers your

> \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.

You have the kind of understanding of history I'd expect from a 19th
century schoolchild. The 14th Amendment is *subject* material for
history, hardly evidence for history being a goal-directed process.
(Note that a 1st century Roman looking at *his* recent history would
have concluded that democracy was destined to failure.)

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

It is? I would have thought the point of an anthology is that it is
a *sample*, not an attempt to formulate universal truth. As for the
title, if you can read "this is universal and states general truths"
into that, then I think you are capable of *any* construction that
supports your bizarre view of the world.

> \> "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.

Really? Have you read the context or are you just guessing. If you
are right, that would make her claim a political one ("I think we
should tackle sexism before racism") rather than a descriptive one,
and hence completely a matter of personal choice. (Though I imagine
you believe it's only reasonable for people to spend time and money
struggling for causes you approve of.)

[ extended Griffin quote ]

> 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.

Again, I don't read this anywhere in the passage you quoted.

> On that
> basis she calls for an end to "patriarchy".

I love this. You make some ridiculous "saying 'boo'" statement and then
follow it up with "on this basis..." and the principal goal she is
arguing for. A little bit of intellectual honesty and rigour would
be nice.

> In other words men with any
> power, this includes most men by her definition, are bad people and must
> be dealt with.

Again, I don't read that into the passage you quote.

> This is reverse sexism.

But you would probably classify all affirmative action policies
as reverse sexism too.

Danny Yee.

P.S. Someone else please take over arguing this man; I can't face
any more of this, but I hate the thought of it being ignored --
there may be lurkers out there who'll think this sort of stuff is
generally accepted if no one speaks out against it.