Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Fat Force of Gender

We must stop seeing everything in life through the narrow lens of gender. If women expect equal treatment in society, they must stop asking for infantilizing special protections. With freedom, comes individual responsibility.
--Camille Paglia

Neverthless I think that for women leaders, perhaps particularly in the church, the metaphors around exclusion, blame and speaking out are very powerful. A narrative that can still carry us forwards with some force and some big questions still to answer. It is of course individual women leaders who answer those questions in the way they lead. Somewhere along the line societies and organisations also need to be challenged about the blaming naratives they often write for women.
--Jane Stranz

Camille Paglia, a woman, says at Harvard to them that "they" must stop seeing. And she complains about that "narrow lens of gender" (which, if we've heard her long enough through her academic career has been what's propelled it towards androgyny.) What lens, yesterday, does Paglia use to tell "women" in America why they "should not vote for Hillary Clinton" although she writes with eloquence in a British newspaper?

But what if my gender, if your gender Sir, if your gender Ma'am, is more than a lens? What if it a mark, a marking, a brand, a cause for accusation and for blame? What if gender is more a fat force of the society in which you try to live, to lead, or to elect your leaders?

Now if we had no mothers, no fathers, no grandmothers, no grandfathers, no sisters, no brothers, no daughters, no sons, then we could live in Paglia's ideal world of androgynous atheistic progressive liberal feminism. If you take some time, through whatever lens you choose, you might see how Pagilia herself (would she be "itself"?) cannot live in her ("its") world, if now she can presume to be the one who tells women not to look with gender and not to vote for the woman candidate who is not woman enough because Hillary Clinton is, for Pagilia, still too much of a woman.

Jane Stranz sounds a more sensible alarm. Look at yourself in your society and look at your community. Are you sympathetic to the exclusions of some leaders because of their gender, because they are women?


Nathan Stitt said...

If Hillary wins the nomination, my vote for her would be to keep McCain out of office and because of her previous Health Care attempts. Gender plays some role, but in today's climate policy has bigger priority for me.

I strongly disagree with Paglia's first comment, gender is not a lens. However her second point hits the mark exactly. I couldn't really grasp what sort of point Stranz was trying to make.

J. K. Gayle said...

Hi Nathan. Thanks for your voting priority candor.

What's the point of Paglia you agree with? (Not sure if you're referring to the epigraph, or one of the two links to her communiques). And I'd encourage you to look at Stranz's post again; she makes several points , and one that strikes me is her observation that we hold our women leaders to tougher standards than we do our men leaders.

Nathan Stitt said...

I was referring to:
If women expect equal treatment in society, they must stop asking for infantilizing special protections. With freedom, comes individual responsibility.
I have only talked with one person at length about feminism and females in positions of authority. I think her ideas were very close to Paglia's here and I couldn't think of anything to refute them with. I think there are some correlations to issues outside of this topic as well where special treatment and responsibility play a major role. I specifically mean instances where cries of 'unfair' must apply to all parties and not just one's own interests.

Nathan Stitt said...

I read Stranz's post in full and what was there I mostly disagree with. I'm not sure if those are her thoughts or if she is just regurgitating everything from her unnamed friend. I'm also still not completely grasping where she is coming from and that adds a bit to the confusion I think.

J. K. Gayle said...

Oh man, Nathan. Thanks for the clarification of what you agree with to this point. At this point, you and I disagree and that's always a surprising thing. Seems profound and tough.

What's this mean to you? Would you agree with it?

καὶ γνοὺς λέγει αὐτοῖς τί διαλογίζεσθε ὅτι ἄρτους οὐκ ἔχετε οὔπω νοεῖτε οὐδὲ συνίετε πεπωρωμένην ἔχετε τὴν καρδίαν ὑμῶν

ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντες οὐ βλέπετε καὶ ὦτα ἔχοντες οὐκ ἀκούετε καὶ οὐ μνημονεύετε

Nathan Stitt said...

Hmm, not sure what you are insinuating there. Perhaps our differences lie in that I am not championing the cause of feminism? I'm not sure if you are trying to, but you give off that vibe.

I definitely feel that women are equal but different to men. Both sexes are of equal value to God (and myself). However, I do place separate value on people's words, writings, status, and validity; it all boils down to individual responsibility.

If a person has little of value to offer, it doesn't matter to me whether they are a man or woman. How an individual lives is what matters, with gender being a neglibible role in whatever value I would assign. Not the value of the individual themselves, but the value of what they have to offer. Hillary has more to offer, for example, than the retired neighbor lady next door.

Is it right to assign more value to the way one human being chooses to live than to another's choice? Perhaps not. Do I do it? Yes. Hrm, I seem to be digging a hole so I'll quit for now.