And all that. Lord. Another week, another fight between eminent feminist writers. And another, very very nasty, scandal, reminding me that, quite apart from the fact that a lot of the Seventies was just ‘loony’, albeit with nicely utopian aims, the radical feminists had a point when they recognised that any women’s movement situated on the Far Left meant that any ambitious clever woman was going to have to do what she was damn well told by the menz in whichever party or grouplet she was part of.
We have been reading quite a bit about intersectionality, genderiness, microaggression and various stuff. I am in an invidious position. I agree, for example, that in books and in the real world, race, class, genders, disability, sexuality and any other category of human are not inseparable and that reasons for people being horrible to each other don’t neatly fit into discrete categories (boiled down to the excellent algorithm – Who/Whom? – the answer to that question tells you all you need to know). .
I also agree that ‘microaggression’ is real ( and turns into macroaggression rapidly if you happen to be at the wrong end of it with someone who’s never read Paul Gilroy or Judith Butler); but it all just sounds so flaming stupid. And, furthermore, the Socratic method was not developed for the purpose of what is, in many cases, passive-aggressive bullying, or even the normal aggressive sort.
And on, attacking someone’s ‘privilege’, the problem is that it can be mean, individual, personal and vindictive. It takes no account of past, present or future experiences, learning, choices, fortune or misfortune and it stereotypes someone in a moment in time. In that it is inherently fascistic; there used to be something called being ‘quoted out of context; these days, you are the context. This is a merciless approach – I suspect that that is exactly what it is intended to be. It’s often a pre-emptive strike masquerading as speaking truth to power or something and is in that case dishonest. Best advice – LEAVE THE ROOM.
Part of this fuss, I think, arises from the fact that a lot of this ‘discourse’ comes from academia. To consider students, for example: firstly, one forgets that the cognitive thinking function does not fully develop until the age of about twenty-five. Secondly, mucking about creatively with ideas and concepts is an age-old privilege reserved for young people with some kind of disposable income, unlimited time on their hands, no commitments, no parental guidance, flushed with the thrills and spills of being away from home for the first time, in a situation that is weirdly unique even in the decadent West: the competition between men and women in the classroom is almost completely on the ground of intellect, knowledge and articulateness and the ability to construct logical argument. Whatever else might go on on campus, for over a hundred years, women and men have competed in the realm of argument on a reasonably level playing-field. Of course, they are going to have some fun with it, with a deadly serious mien, of course.
The problem comes when this form of pastime escapes into the real world with skilled practitioners who cannot earn a living doing anything else.
Why am I cheesed off? I once knew someone who stated with grinning certainty that Lenin said: Women are the proletariat, men are the bourgeoisie. And he liked it that way.*
See also: Spirit of Vatican II; Shroudwaving; Personality Disorder
* Disclaimer: I’ve also spent a load of time being concerned with domestic violence, rape, and so on, rather than with what pronoun people are called.