Friday, September 15

Grab a drink; this one's long

What a bad week to not have any booze in the apartment.

First of all, I'm broke — brizzoke, if you will — which is the main reason why there is no booze in the apartment.

It's been a tad more stressful at work than usual, which makes the cliché of "unwinding" all the more important when you come home.

The pherrets are at Phil's, so it would have been nice to be able to stumble around without the threat of stepping on a little furry ball of cute and bones that wanders into the room to observe the ridiculous humanoid emotion evoked by a glass or two of wine.

Plus, I've got Roger Abramson telling me I'm "fundamentally unserious" about this.

(Can I just say that Roger Abramson telling me I'm not being serious enough is kind of like the Pope telling Sister Mary Catherine Whoeverthehell that she's not being Catholic enough?)

I've been mulling over Abramson's criticisms of my post for a couple of days now, and I've decided to call shenanigans.

First, a recap:

This crap all started when I saw a post at Mark A. Rose's blog questioning why Western feminists ignore what fundamentalist Islam does to women. I responded with this, basically debunking the claim that we feminists ignore Islam. Then AC Kleinheider at Volunteer Voters weighed in with an explanation of why he thinks feminists draw such ire from conservatives. I very much disagreed with his take and responded here. Roger Abramson then threw his two cents in and defended ACK's post as the most "tactically viable" of the bunch, because, in his view, Rose's post was irrelevent and my outraged post was written by a petulent child with no basis in reality. And then Aunt B took the diplomatic route and tried to explain what my "sarcasm and petulence" apparently did not. And in the comments there, we endlessly restated our positions, only we equipped them with clever rhetorical barbs and chuckled to ourselves at our superior wit. Huzzah.

I should probably leave well enough alone, but it bothers me that someone could look at what I wrote — in that one post or in any post here — and allege that I might lack "a reasonable perspective on things" or a degree of seriousness that would imply that the issues I write about are merely "something to talk about for no other reason than self-amusement."

That, frankly, pisses me off. And it shouldn't, because I have no way of knowing if Roger Abramson has read anything I've ever written other than the post that got so much attention the first time around. He might have read every word I've ever written and still manage to think that I don't take feminism and gender parity seriously enough for his liking. But I doubt that could be the case, as he has never struck me as a feminist activist or thinker, from what I've read of his at PiTW and elsewhere.

So what's his beef with what I wrote? According to his first post on the matter:

As amusing as Lindsey's posts have been (to some), it seems to me that they really don't move the ball down the field any (Rose's doesn't either, by the way, but he's not the one trying to (or at least wanting to) affect societal change in this regard, so that doesn't matter). I submit that Lindsey's post, and others like it, will change absolutely no one's minds, or even open anyone's minds to the new ideas she may want to share. People inclined to agree with her will agree; those who are not so inclined will not.

I'm flattered that somehow my thoughts outrank Mark Rose's so severely that his motives and execution aren't even considered in this criticism; in fact, he's said to be not even trying to "affect [sic] societal change" with his post, whereas I am with mine. I don't quite understand how maligning feminists with untrue rhetoric isn't seen as trying to effect change, and I don't understand why my supposed lack of ball-moving is a much graver offense than Rose's supposed lack of ball-moving just because he's writing in favor of upholding the status quo, which is to pick on (straw)feminists.

Following ACK's advice, which essentially amounts to nothing more than the acknowledgement of the fact that, whatever the flaws of Western civilization may be, advances for women in our sphere have far surpassed those in other parts of the world, would serve as a way to gain the ear of the sorts of people you need to get on your side to make further progress. What's so hard about that?

Supposedly Aunt B and I both mistook the usage of "acknowledge" in this context to mean "show gratitude or thanks." Abramson claims that's not how he meant it, but in fact that he meant "acknowledge" as "recognition of the truth of something." This is the part that I call major shenanigans on. How would a feminist or anyone else live without "acknowledging" their freedom as prescribed in that second context? Can you honestly make an argument that there are Western feminists who simply aren't aware of our cushy position on the Freedom Spectrum? And can you stretch that argument to where ACK took it — that many conservatives are turned off by feminists because we simply don't recognize that we have more freedoms than some women elsewhere?

It's such a razor-thin semantic distinction that I'm afraid I have to call it disingenuous. Convenient and disingenuous.

Like I said originally, it's a ridiculous argument to make — this conservatives-don't-like-feminists-because -they-don't-acknowledge-their-freedoms argument — because conservatives, by and large, don't concern themselves with feminism at all because it's the tedious business of struggling to liberate women from oppressive cultural norms, and oppressive cultural norms are pretty much what modern conservatism (notice I didn't say traditional conservatism) is all about. It's not because of posts like mine, where I justifiably mock a position I find insulting, that conservatives run screaming from feminist ideas. Conservatives have been hating feminists for a long time — longer than the amount of time I have been a mobile biped on this earth.

In the comments at Aunt B's, Roger boils his point down to this:

The point is that if you're really interested in changing minds, it's helpful for the person trying to do the changing to indicate to the reader/listener that he/she is grounded in some sort of reality and that he/she has a reasonable perspective on things. Otherwise, it's just preaching to the choir, and I think there's just too much of that going on to do any real good, if good is what we're setting out to accomplish. If it's just patting pourselves on the back for how clever we happen to be at any particular moment, then, well, fine, but it seems to me there are bigger fish to fry.

Are we talking about blogs here? Okay then, pot, meet kettle, meet the rest of my kitchenware.

So I'll confess: I'm puzzled. Why would Roger Abramson — a card-carrying conservative libertarian — be so disappointed in what he perceives as my ineffective approach to convincing other people of X? What have I done to give the impression that I'm not grounded in reality, that I can't speak convincingly regarding X?

Is it because he thinks I'm setting the movement back with my immature blogging stylez?

(Shit, Roger, if I'm doing a crappy job at being a feminist ambassador, then please consider taking up the fight and providing the serious yin to my hyperbolic yang. Nothing would delight me more than to recruit someone to the cause who would do a better job than I can do. I'm being completely serious. We need people of every rhetorical style to join the movement: people — like me — who have a penchant for hyperbole and snark, and people — like you — who have a penchant for khaki prose.)

But I'm afraid this has nothing to do with anything other than Roger Abramson doesn't like the tone I take, and he feels justified in saying that people aren't likely to join my "side" because — as evidenced by my snarky outrage in that one post — I'm not sincere enough about my desire to see sexism and oppression obliterated.

And that's a really weird criticism to come from someone who doesn't fly his feminist flag very high, if he even has one at all.

Regarding my "sarcasm and petulence," which I said I use when I approach everything:

Well, then. you will have absolutely no real effect on the world at large, because no one responds positively to that other than those you already have with you. And, it is my feeling that a person who does that has no real interest in solving the problems he or she complains of, because if he or she did, she wouldn't operate in that way. Which means, to me, either that 1) the person sees the problem as one that is insurmountable or 2) the person actually doesn't see the "problem" as much of a real problem at all, but, rather, something to talk about for no other reason than self-amusement. In other words, there's no actual problem. Either way, it's a waste of time.

Like I mentioned earlier, this allegation pisses me off. Because not only is it a cheap shot, it's not true. I think about feminism and gender parity and freedom and rights and sexism and social constructs all the time. Gender politics are my passion. I post tons of serious entries about feminist concerns. I try to be a positive — and, yes, humorous — feminist influence in all areas of my Real Life: My family, my work, my friends. I think about feminist concerns more than I think about anything else, so much so that my family has raised concerns that I am too caught up in them. I think about the stuff so much that when I see blatantly insulting and offensive things that just seem surreal in their wrongness, I can only mock. On this blog, some things are beyond reasoned debate. On this blog, I won't tip-toe around those whose worldviews aren't quite aligned with mine. There's just not enough time in this life.

If that means I'll never win the Roger Abramson Serious, Plodding, Non-Snarky Debate Award, well, I guess I'll just have to live with that.


Anonymous john h said...

Lindsey - you are a player..and I mean that in a totally complimentary sense..someone to be reckoned with and whose opinions are heard, whether or not they are agreed with.

Lotsa blogs out here..not so many players.

kudos, and keep em' coming. If you weren't good and smart and such a talented writer, the other players wouldn't pay attention.

signed, lol, a BIG FaN!

Fri Sep 15, 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

"some things are beyond reasoned debate" - Indeed. That's how I read your take on Rose's post - if he's not going to bother to find out the facts, or even read so-called liberal blogs, why are you obligated to Take Him Very Seriously in your response? Likewise, it's not as though Roger is the natural arbiter or How You Should Say All Things. If you had changed the tone, the "but you're so lucky just to be American" folks still wouldn't have changed their perspectives, in all likelihood. Anybody reading your post and comments, however, would be reminded that feminists have been speaking out against atrocities in other countries, regardless of your tone. Sometimes a blog post is just a commentary on things that are laughably screwy, and you did a fine job of writing just such a commentary.

Sat Sep 16, 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Thanks to you both for the encouragement. It means a lot.

But I still really need to get some booze in this apartment! :)

Mon Sep 18, 01:37:00 AM  

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