Creative Destruction

May 15, 2006

Are men responsible?

Filed under: Feminist Issues,First Post — Daran @ 7:56 am

Just a quickie for my first substantive post. (I have something more meaty in the works) Really this is no more than a comment in reply to Ampersand, but it’s a bit off-topic, and I don’t want to hijack his thread.

I don’t think it’s fair to expect anyone to focus on fighting homophobia in particular, when the world is so full of evils to oppose, and the fact that there’s a finite amount of time forces us to focus our efforts. So it’s perfectly reasonable, in my view, to say “I’m on the record against A, B and C, but I’m going to focus my energies on issue D, because I don’t have time and energy for everything.”

This appears to contradict what he said on another occasion

Although not all men perpetuate sexism, virtually all men benefit from sexism. Virtually all men have in some way gotten gains that we don’t deserve, at the expense of women. And that means that even though we’re not to blame, all men have a special responsibility to support feminism and fight sexism – because we owe women for our unjust gains.

(Ditto, by the way, for White people and anti-racism).

I’d be interested to see how he reconciles these two statements.

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3 Comments »

  1. Just reading those two paragraphs, it seems to me that Ampersand is simply saying that you owe the people who lose at the expense of your privilege your energy first. It gets more difficult to choose how to expend your energy the more privilege you happen to have, but there are worse problems to have.

    Comment by Sara — May 17, 2006 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  2. ::sigh::

    Being aware of your privilege, not being sexist, and not contributing to rape culture is called “being a decent human being.”

    Dedicating yourself to a cause means writing about it, talking about it, supporting organizations with time, money, work, and whatever else.

    The first – you’re supposed to do even if it requires a little energy (like, oh, NOT buying porn and NOT telling sexist jokes and other such difficult stuff). Everyone should be doing that.

    The latter – you can only choose x causes to actively support, or you’ll die.

    Is that any clearer?

    Comment by Tefnut — May 17, 2006 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  3. Ya know, this stupid post provokes a lot of reflection. Both positions articulated by Amp seem so appealing. I guess is kinda boils down to the extent to which I value property rights.

    Yup, property rights. Specifically, do I value creating the greatest good for the greatest number? Or do I value justice, in the sense of returning to people things that were wrongfully taken from them?

    Greatest Good (a/k/a Mercy): If I value the greatest good, then I may subordinate property rights in pursuit of that goal. Driven by compassion, I feed the hungry “by whatever means necessary,” whether that involves inventing new ways to produce bread or simply stealing it from others. The fact that I’m perpetuating patterns of oppression by stealing a black woman’s bread to feed a white man may not be important to me. Claims of the past take a back seat to the needs of the present.

    If I embraced this view, and if I thought that US troops could do more good in Iraq than in Afghanistan, I would see nothing wrong with redeploying them accordingly. The idea that the US caused the current chaos in Afghanistan would not influence my decision.

    Property (a/k/a Justice): If I value justice, then I dedicate myself to restoring people to the status they would have enjoyed in the absence of some injustice. If I assume that women and minority groups would have enjoyed a different social status in the absence of wrongful oppression, then I labor to remedy that situation. I may sue the white man to transfer the bread back to the black woman. I may not care that the white man is starving and the black woman is not. Generally, I regard compassion and creative opportunities to improve the world as luxuries to be considered only after the harms of the past have been righted and all property has been restored to its rightful owners.

    If I embraced this view, I would want the US to dedicate its efforts to restoring order in places where the US directly caused disorder, such as Afghanistan. I would not care whether US troops could achieve more humanitarian benefits if deployed elsewhere.

    Of course, I harbor a both views. I tend to think that respect for property rights and justice will promote the greatest good. But I tend to value both property rights and justice as tools for promoting the general welfare, not as ends in themselves.

    In short, today I’m embracing Amp’s first statement, seeking to make the world a better place prospectively, not retrospectively. But check back with me tomorrow….

    Comment by nobody.really — May 17, 2006 @ 5:40 pm | Reply


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