Gender and Debate II

Natalie's Debate nkhwdebate
Thu Apr 13 22:48:48 CDT 2000


>
>On Thu, 13 Apr 2000 13:42:10 PDT, Natalie's Debate <nkhwdebate at HOTMAIL.COM>
>wrote:
> >
> >I think there is a difference in saying "thats an irrational idea" and
> >essentializing an aspect of a group identity as "irrational."
>Historically,
> >womyn were portrayed as emotional, or irrational and men as logical, or
> >rational. The argument that some folks make is that guess what,
> >irrationality is portrayed as a bad thing while rationality is the ideal.
> >This means that emotions or traditionally "feminized" intellect is
>demeaned
> >as not really intellect but just as "over-reacting."  Now, you can argue
> >that Kant might not have intended this or might not have felt this way,
>but
> >it is not only his intent, its how that philosophy functions in the
>creation
> >of a moral ideal.  If it upholds the current focus on "rationality" as
>the
> >ideal and excludes "non-traditional" forms of intellect such emotions and
> >narratives, then I think there are some pretty good arguments as to why
> >thats a bad system.
> >
>
>This will be answered in detail below.  But first I would like to bring up
>Wollstonecraft again.  She is an historical philosopher (she lived in the
>eighteenth century)and yet she does not believe that men are inherently
>rational while women are irrational.  She believes both genders were acting
>irrationally.  Moreover, she is the perfect example of how because a person
>may be sexist does not mean we should totally discount his/her ideas.  I
>say this because Wollstonecraft's theory was that women have the same
>intellectual capacity as men and they should be allowed to develop it--so
>that they could be better mothers.  She did not advocate women moving out
>of the home and into the private sphere.  She thought the woman still
>belonged in the home as caretaker.  Today we would hold that idea to be
>sexist, yet she was a part of the vanguard of feminism; her writings helped
>spur the feminist movement.

first, your usage of wollstonecraft as the redeemer of philosophy is exactly
the scenario that I described in the earlier post -- add womyn and stir.  It
also proves why and how thinkers of their day can move beyond the dominant
forms of ideology and why we should ask what people questioned, not if they
were "allowed" to question it.  And the analogy you describe between
wollstonecraft and feminism and Kant and an ethical stance in a deba5te
round is fallcious.  Wollstonecraft is not the only feminist thinker and it
was only through criticism of her ideas that feminism is what it is.  Her
work has not been supplemented only, it has been critiqued and feminist
communities have attempted to determine which (if any)of her philosophies
are worth incorporating.  In this hypothetical debate round that's been
constructed, an individual is advocating the kantian framework, not a
framework that is based on "deontology" that derives itself from kant but
also from a multiplicity of sources -- feminism is always changing, the
words and attitudes of kant are not.  Sure, individuals or groups might have
done good things or have positive intentions.  However, its not an either or
issue -- something isn't either all feminist or all sexist, all good or all
bad.  We need to continue re-examining different aspects to determine what
applies to the world today and what needs to be criticized and changed.


it's because of her and others like her that
>we can have this conversation.  The reason being that people took her ideas
>and EXPANDED upon them.  they took her idea that women have the same
>intellectual capacity as men, and went farther with it, advocating
>suffrage, and employment equality, etc.  THus, because there is an element
>of sexism within an author's writings does not justify totally dismissing
>it.
>
I think that is all above -- their can also be difference between personal
sexism and sexism that is reflected in someone's work.  The argunment is not
that Kant was merely sexist, but that his work reflects and upholds sexist
attitudes.



> >
> >And because Aristotle was sexist suddenly means that we must
> >>not use any of his ideas?  We can't still use his reasoning of the need
>to
> >>be self-ruled to support democracy?  Or that we can't study his concepts
>of
> >>cause and effect?  Or his other scientific theories?  Clearly one flaw
>in
>a
> >>person's theories should not discredit their arguments as a whole.
> >
> >Sure, study away.  You assume that being sexist is just one aspect of an
> >identity or philisophical grounding that is separate from the rest of the
> >self or of the theories.  Sexism can permeate idea and we can always use
> >theories, etc to support our political causes.
>
>Yes, this is what I am assuming.  Because one theory may be "permeated"
>with sexism, does not mean that all aspects of a person's theories are so
>tainted.  Aristotles' views on women more or less really only apply to his
>theory of the ideal state.  They don't affect his ideas of the the four
>types of causes, or how every living thing (which includes women) has the
>potential to change.  I can see how a sexist mindset can taint different
>theories of one person, but that's not to say that it affects everything
>that person has to say.  It would be the responsibility of the person
>runnign the kritik to explain how that particular line of reasoning that is
>being advanced by the "offending" team is based off of sexist thought.

okay.  and.....  I also think that aristoitle's attitudes permeate a bit
deeper than you are arguing, but its late and I am not in a scientific
discussion mood :)



>
>Its also not just as if
> >Aristotle was "sexist" Aristotle probably wouldn't have supported womyn
> >debating or doing much of anything more then staying in the home; these
>are
> >the ideas that flow through his discussion of ethics.  Its interesting
>that
> >you mention the concept of being self-ruled; if you'll remember,
>Aristotle
> >argues that MEN should be self ruled and form governments with MEN.  This
>is
> >not utilizing man as the generic for all humans, aristotle specifically
> >references womyn later to talk about their ideal roles and surprise!  its
> >not in the government or out givng speeches.
> >
>
>EXACTLY.  Now you're catching on.  Aristotle was only applying his theories
>to men, but the REASOING he used about how people must have say in how they
>are ruled has been able to be applied to women now too, so that now we have
>a democracy.

no, my argument was that your basis for the inclusion of womyn still
wouldn't challenge aristotle's normalization and idealization of masculinity
as superior to femininity.  that's all the rationalization discussion.
There are two issues here -- sexism and genderism, you are only addressing
one of them.  I argue aristotle's basis for self-rule is faulty, partially
because it would only privilege masculine norms.  You don't address this
answer though I am glad to see that i am "catching on."  Also, I think a lot
of the criticisms about the way this "democracy" treats womyn and the
feminine would also serve as answers to your adding womyn and stirring.
Congrats, we get to be just like the masculine men too.  whopee.



Because he only meant men does not mean the concept of self-
>rule was bad.  When his theories are correctly applied, they can be very
>enlightening.  Thus, because a person is sexist does not mean that all of
>what he or she says must be discounted because either a) it is not tainted
>by his/her sexist mind, or b)the reasoning behind the conclusion can be
>applied in other ways.
>
> >If the foundation's cracked, wouldn't you want to find the holes and
>attempt
> >to repair them before building a huge house upon it?  Frued does argue
>that
> >"penis envy" causes womyn to act in the "hysterical" ways they do, to
> >imagine sexual abuse, and things of that nature.  You argue that
>psychology
> >moved beyond that but even years after frued, womyn were told that they
>had
> >no ailment but were merely "hysterical."
> >
> >
>You should find the wholes in the original argument and then offer an
>improved version of that theory that solves for those wholes.  If we were
>to throw something out entirely because it had a few wholes, we would never
>have an operating system for our computers.  Windows is constantly being
>improved and expanded upon to fix its problems.  If it were not for Freud
>and his sexist ideas we would not have psychology at all.  Because people
>thought about what he said, they were able to expand upon it and improve
>upon it.


hmmmmm, an entire system of oppression doesn't seem to me to equal a few
bugs in windows 98.  Also, I think your assumption that no freud=no
psychology is pretty faulty, their were certainly other people engaging in
psychological thought.  Also, you completely ignored the answers and
argiuments i made about freud.
>
>
> >
> >
> >This is all above, but your argument sounds suspiciously like "add womyn
>and
> >stir"(thanks julia and damien).  It still fosters the idea that "man" is
>the
> >norm and that "womyn" can just be added and included under that moniker.
> >This will still exclude thought other then strictly logical.  Kant
>presents
> >a maxim or rule, the "moral" person logically applies this rule to every
> >situation without regard for their feelings or the feelings of someone
> >else's.  Note*I am not saying that womyn=emotional, men=logical.  I am
> >saying that the traditionally masculinist form of thought focuses on the
> >logical & individualized while the traditionally feminine focuses on
>things
> >like narratives, emotion, group decisions, compassion. Some womyn are
> >immensely logical, some men are intensely emotive, however, the constant
> >devaluing of feminine roles combined with the social tendancy towards
> >gender/sex conflation foster the current hierarchy of sex.
>
>1. How convenient for you that you managed to delete my Marxism analogy.
>Mao's actions show that it can be very effective to take someone else's
>theories and apply it in different ways / to different people.  Marx in no
>way included the peasants, yet his ideas of egalitarianism could be applied
>to others.
>
sure, but marx didn't permeate his work with attitudes that were distinctly
anti-peasant or continuing a system of oppressing the peasants.  That means
your analogy doesn't quite work here




>2. You may not think you are, but I think what you are saying is
>essentializing women.  You are making the assumption that women are
>inherently more emotional.  This is a highly contentious subject, and
>pretty shaky ground to base your argument off of.  Furthermore, you can
>only reach that conclusion by the help of the school of psychology, which,
>were it not for sexists like Freud, you would not be able to do.

I answered this in my disclimer in my original post and above.  Feminized
doesn't equal womyn.  not all womyn are feminine.  re-read the original post
and see that the arguments are based off of both genderism and sexism, two
different things.


>
>3. I'm not specifically defending Kant; I'm arguing against the practice of
>discrediting all an author has to say because he or she was sexist.  I
>think what they have to say can be applied in different ways or expanded
>upon.
>
this is all above


>4. In conjunction with my number one argument above, I think that Kant can
>be a protector of feminine thought.

and goodness, those of us who engage in "feminine"
forms of thought certainly need a protector.......
>
>
> >Do I think we should throw out years and years of thought?  not really.
> >however, do we need to question the systems that helped formed those
> >philosophies and ideas?  yes.  do we need to look to the gendered
> >implication of enacting those philosophies?  yes.
> >
> >natalie
> >mtsu debate
> >
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