Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Brief Purgation of Frustration

It's been a while! I've been busy! I'm sorry! About twelve people read this blog anyway, but I like you, so I'm sorry!

This post is short. It says:

I just finished The Mommy Myth for my book club, and I am really, really tired of people undercutting their own complex, interesting arguments and ideas in heavy-duty scholarship with stupid, snide asides (the authors of this book have rather a lot of them), assuming that only right-wing (or left-wing, when I read Ann Coulter) bias is actually bias, or making silly, poorly edited statements such as "you would be a deviant--and a condemnable one--if you didn't conform." If you don't conform, aren't you a deviant by definition? And even if not, isn't the connotation of deviant in conventional parlance always condemnable? And wouldn't it be relatively easy to find a way to rephrase that so that I wouldn't have such questions? And the worst of the worst, sentences like these, "Phyllis Schlafly gets to be an honorary man here, since she fought like a feral animal against childcare (and since she's probably really Pat Buchanan in drag anyway)."

COME ON. I can't say anything I've read about Ms. Schlafly (I just realized she would hate my calling her that, though my instinct is to call women "Ms." to show respect) has made me a fan, but I am so SICK AND TIRED of people saying, even in semi-jest, that because a woman/a black man/a lesbian/any minority does not embody the positions that the majority of members of said minority (whoa) embody, this person is not actually a woman/a black man/a lesbian/a member of any minority! Phyllis Schlafly is a woman and conservative! Clarence Thomas is black and conservative! Mary Cheney is gay and once helped with her father's campaigns! This does not stop them from being who they are! Honestly, it feels to me like liberalism adopting the rhetoric of conservatism because we see it working on a national audience. Liberalism needs to be about pluralism, y'all--it needs to tolerate deviation from its orthodoxy precisely *because* that's a lot of what differentiates it from conservatism. Calling Phyllis Schlafly a man or Clarence Thomas an Uncle Tom or whatever the hell people do may exorcise a few personal demons in the short run, but publishing such phrases in scholarly work (the Uncle Tom thing is just something I've heard before; the citation about Phyllis Schlafly is from The Mommy Myth) gets us nowhere. Details *do* make a difference. These comments show disrespect to your reader and to yourself: they demonstrate that you don't trust your scholarship and your views to speak for themselves, nor do you trust you readers to comprehend your implications and your anger, without your snipy, sarcastic, belittling, stupid asides.

And here I am *furious* about people showing anger in scholarship. Go figure.

More posts will follow this one in the next couple of weeks. I promise.


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