What IS it with a certain sort of feminist argument that does my head in so? Now. Let me qualify that. This isn’t exactly expressing opposition, because much of the time, they do my head in even when I’m pretty sure I agree.
Its about style, and maybe, in part, content too.
I’m putting this badly.
One aspect to transition is that I have shifted my perceptions of issues in many ways, many places. I think, where before I would have positioned myself as motivated mostly by a sort of liberal/libertarian niceness, with a serious suspicion of collectivism, I now feel much more part of a whole. I have a “side” I can root for: and I am also gaining a lot of experience from the inside about what it feels like to be marginalized.
So I’m happier to be counted in: to wave a flag and lead the charge when it comes to issues I feel strongly about, as opposed to remaining intellectually aloof. Interesting parallel here is the author of Heresy Corner: I respect his intellect greatly, agree with many of his arguments, but I’ve moved away from him, emotionally. I find much of his political analysis arid, unfeeling. Which he might take as compliment, and I would not. That certainly doesn’t make him wrong: just operating in a different neck of the woods.
I’m not going to disown my previous views lock, stock and barrel: but I am decidedly more nuanced about them. I still support the right of individuals to engage in sex work – but that’s a far more complex support, based on working closely alongside such individuals. It comes from a consciousness, now, that alongside the right to choose are some very very difficult questions about what constitutes choice.
I’ve shifted on questions of violence and abuse, because what I can see now, as maybe it was impossible to see before, is that the experience of these things is not encapsulated neatly in the incident itself – bracketed off from the rest of reality and countable statistically. It is actually culture and climate and constant lived experience: how you are and how you are situated within society, rather than a series of events you happen to live thru.
I cannot, will not, see rape and violence and victim-shaming and all the other baggage that goes with such issues as merely the subject of intellectual debate: they are part of people’s lives, and should be respected as such.
A new me
A part of me does feel apologetic: I (now) would certainly have taken issue with me (then) on some of these topics…possibly even have fallen out quite badly. But at the same time, I (now) tend to be far more inclusive and forgiving. It also puts me in a funny space: on a lot of debates, I find myself genuinely, enthusiastically pitching in on the side of people I once wouldn’t have. I “get” things in a way I didn’t used to and…yes: there is a very definite female/feminist take on a lot of issues that you need to live in order to understand.
So, I hope that in general I am not coming at this as some sort of anti-feminist critic.
No, what do my head in are threads like this one. Or any one of a hundred similar. I can’t even put my finger on what it is that does my head in about them, beyond the fact that everyone seems to be discussing ideas and concepts I am sort of sympathetic to, but in another language.
Is it just that these are academic feminists? Or even that this is an american debate: i have noticed the yanks seem to do debates like this differently.
I remember, though, even after I’d written extensively about sex and sexuality being invited to speak at an academic conference on the subject – and having my mind well and truly blown by the way people talked about ordinary easy topics. Words like “discourse” and “paradigm” just flowed and it all felt so easy to parody or mock.
Is that my problem here? Because I’m not disagreeing with these threads: I’m just having intense problems trying to get my head around them. Like, many, many years back, matrix algebra, which was a complete mystery until suddenly one day it was easy as pie. Or pi.