I really wish that I could jump on to this particular bandwagon as the people on it seem basically cool.

But much like angry pro-lifers waving apalling-looking fetus pictures hurt their cause more than they help it (I have several Catholic friends who are very quiet about their pro-life beliefs because they don't want to be associated with the nutjobs), coming off as angry really doesn't help our political cause.

I'm sorry, seeing anger, even justified anger, does not make me say "Gee, I want to join those folks." Anger pumps up the people already in love with your cause, but it scares away the people who aren't sold on it yet.

Are we justified in being angry? Yes.

Is it fair that we shouldn't appear angry? No.

But if life were fair, we wouldn't need feminism in the first place.

ducking and covering

Violet Socks

Goodness, you really did come right back over here and link. Thanks!

Now, though, I'm afraid Richard will find me and call me churlish. I tremble.

The Happy Feminist

I dunno. I think honest and intelligent expressions of justified anger can be very effective. If we aren't angry at the coercion of women in the sex industry, or at degrading or patronizing popular portrayals of women, or various other types of discrimination etc. etc., then what's the point?

I think Twisty and Pandagon are tough on Richard, and while I've appreciated many of his comments on this blog in the past, I think in this instance a very harsh critique of his tactics is warranted. Why is it okay for him to quote miscellaneous snippets from blogs grossly out of context to give the impression that the snippets actually say the opposite of what they actually say? Why is it okay for him to portray the notion of feminism as a whole as vulgar, bad-tempered, man-hating or foolish based on isolated and misrepresented blog snippets or because he dislikes some of the ideas expressed? Why is it okay for him to tell feminists not to use metaphors, complain about mistreatment by men, or critique aspects of our culture, such as the Bible, from a feminist perspective? Why is it okay for Richard to address feminists with language that is alternatively hostile and patronizing?

I think he's out of line here, and I think it would be wrong not to call him on it. And I say this as someone who generally likes to adopt a conciliatory posture, who likes to present feminism as a positive way of looking at the world, and who anticipates that Richard will always be welcome on this blog. But sometimes you have to tell people when you're mad at them and when they're wrong.


Your points are well taken.

I'm not a big fan of the way Richard went about making his point, but I think the meat of his point is still pretty good.



Socio-political movements fail or succeed on their ability to redefine the center so that the core beliefs of the movement become a part of the definition of the middle ground. Extremist proponents of a view are key to getting those core values seen as centrist. In other words, without a Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King is an extremist. Without the extremists suffragettes who protested in absolutely unacceptable ways, went to prison, and on hunger strikes, the most mild of feminist views would today be the furthest reaches of aberrant thought.


"...I have several Catholic friends who are very quiet about their pro-life beliefs because they don't want to be associated with the nutjobs..."

Are you sure they're not quiet because they fear being excommunicated ?

You know, no matter how many different ways it's phrased, I just can't swallow this idea that it's better to stay a prisoner out of fear of causing male anger than it is to be associated with angry women. Frankly, I find it galling that people angry over injustice should somehow be blamed more than those who perpetrate injustice. That's garbage. I also don't know where it's written that one has or needs the luxury of always being relaxed and comfortable when they're trying to figure out the best means of collectively saving their own butts. If you're uncomfortable with angry people, maybe you should look at whether your discomfort is a problem, instead of blaming them.

Oh, and the other thing I resent is the idea that there is any such thing as a pro-choice "nutjob." Did I miss us all lying down to blockade nurseries and fertility clinics ? Firing bombs at the Vatican ? Screaming at passing pregnant women "You're killing the planet with your ugly spawn!" or "Birth Stops A Thriving Career !"

I'll be blunt, CC. I don't care if you're on board with me if you're honestly so afraid of a little anger that you can't even tell the difference between justifiable anger and extremist action. You want it both ways. You want positive change and you want your opponents to think you're a sweet mellow gal who never loses her cool. IMHO, those two goals are incompatible, and you have already decided which one is most important to you. In the philosophical trenches, you are no help to me.

"Ever since I set out to study history 30 years ago (determined, in my own adolescent phrase, “to find out everything that has ever happened”), I’ve encountered few phenomena more constant than the inferiority of women as a class. Whether it’s Sumerian merchant wives or Roman matrons, Chinese concubines or Greek hetaira, whether we’re talking about medieval Europeans, pre-Columbian Mayans, or modern Pakistanis, women are at the bottom of the pile."

Quite so, so what can we deduce from that fact? Well the fact that the patriarchal society is totally comprehensive on this planet tells you that, from an evolutionary viewpoint, the patriarchal society must have considerable survival value.

Therefore feminism isn't merely a political movement, it is in fact trying to remake human nature, and that is not something that will be brought about easily, it is in fact a hell of an undertaking.

The Happy Feminist

Alsis39, Unless I'm missing something, I think you may have misunderstood Chalice Chick's nutjob reference. She was referring to a pro-LIFER who was quiet about her views because she didn't want to be associated pro-LIFE nutjobs. I think she's trying to make the point that extreme anger can hurt any cause, not just feminism.

That's not to say that your main point about the use of anger isn't useful. As you can probably tell from a lot of comments, I think it's an issue that can use a lot of discussion and fleshing out. Carry on . . .


Human nature may not be a blank slate, but it is pretty variable. This is where the practice of using "patriarchy" to representing all previous or non-Western cultures misleads. It's not entirely wrong, but it understates cultural variability. Some people think the Iroquois or the Minangkabau or the people of Vanatinai were a little different, and then there is always this to blow our minds: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookSearch/isbnInquiry.asp?r=1&isbn=1890951129

From an "evolutionary" standpoint (in quotes because I don't mean just genes), the human environment has not stood still because humans are, to a great extent, our own environment. Warfare, particularly endemic small-scale warfare, probably has done more than anything else to promote patriarchy. On the other hand, we can't understand the place of women without thinking about the two factors of lack of good, effective contraception and extremely high infant mortality. These have been ameliorated for the present, and this also changes the "adaptive" environment in which women and men live.

Violet Socks

"Well the fact that the patriarchal society is totally comprehensive on this planet tells you that, from an evolutionary viewpoint, the patriarchal society must have considerable survival value."

Excuse me, unidentified person: Please note that war and slavery have a longer historical record than patriarchy, and are just as, or even more, ubiquitious. If you're going to argue that something is innate, advantageous to the species, and virtually impossible to eradicate, let's start with those lovely phenomena.

In fact, anthropology suggests that patriarchy arises in reaction to stress on a society, and in turn begets high levels of violence and dysfunction. In the standard anthropological survey of cultures, those with the highest level of gender equality are also those with the highest levels of economic and social well-being.

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