Friday, December 02, 2005


A really excellent post by Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom about identity politics, which starts out:

An obvious problem with the grievance aspect of identity politics is that the grievance needs to be perpetually maintained in order to justify the identity aspect of the politics. And in an era of academic specialization wherein just about every individual identity group has its own set of researchers and theoretical champions—as well as a widely accepted generic narrative of grievance—the observation that continued relevance (which translates into political power) is contingent upon the nursing and care of the grievance is something that too often goes unexamined by a society that, at base, really does wish to understand and fix the problems and frustrations expressed by individual identity groups.

He then goes on to expose the power plays that have ensued as these grievance-based promoters against anyone who offers a different perspective. Rather than being able to argue their perspective, they simple define away the problem. If you don't agree with them, you are "anti-feminist" or "anti-black".

I have touched on this same issue in several of my own posts (here and here, for example), but Jeff really makes it clear what is going on here.

Feminism, however, is embroiled in its own internal struggle between second wave (gender feminists) and equity feminists like Young, who are hostile to the academic feminism that has established itself as the “official” feminist narrative after years of insinuating itself into academic, social, and public policy discourse. And so what we are really seeing here is an attempt by gender feminists to control the feminist label and excommunicate those who refuse to adhere to a particular narrative and a particular political strategy for the women’s movement.

This is probably the best description I have seen. Early in my blogging career, I made a comment on a site (I won't link to it) that had a post up making fun of Laura Bush because she was in Afghanistan to support the women there. I said that I thought that it was strange for women who called themselves "feminists" to be deriding Laura Bush with such obvious enthusiasm, and claiming that her husband was an oppressor of women; particularly when his actions had just freed millions of women in Afghanistan.

As a result of this fairly innocuous (but admitedly confrontational) comment, my blog was besieged with angry lefties, including the author of the mentioned post, calling me "hateful" and "anti-woman" and other names which I won't bother to print here. Of course, on the thread where I commented, they never once addressed the points I made, but began immediately to make comments to the effect of "how dare she (me) think of herself as a feminist!" when I clearly supported Bush; and "how naive" I was in imagining that those poor deluded Afghani women were really free. There interpretation of events in Afghanistan was that the only thing that had happened of significance was that the U.S. had simply exposed Afghani women to an even more toxic form of American-style discrimination; and that they would be sorry soon enough that they had traded the Taliban for the blatant sexism of Bush and the evil Republicans.

Of course, this was completely insane BS--not to mention rather delusional-- on their part.

These women who refer to themselves as "feminists" today are actually in a desperate battle to control the feminist "label" and to remain relevant to the discussion of women's rights--even though they clearly abandoned that objective long ago. They spend most of their time just as Goldstein demonstrates, maintaining their own narrow and politically motivated definition of "feminism" and seeking to "excommunicate" anyone who questions their "woman as eternal victim" premise.

Their objective now is maintaining women's victimhood, so they can eternally be the champions of the oppressed.

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