Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pheminist Phooh

If the Christian bible writer Paul can dump his Star of David like far-flung doggy doo doo, then a "good" biblioblogger ought at least to be able to go beyond the concerns of gender and race and class. Right? "Amen and aMen," so say the really Big BiblioBloggers.

(But more on all that in a moment. First this:

>Never mind that this Humble Little guy named
שָׁאוּל and also called Παῦλος never ever ever divorces his Joshua aka "Jesus" from his Jewishness.

>Never mind that this blogger is ever concerned with how this ever Jewish rabbi is always concerned with gender, race, and class.

>Never mind that Paul is writing "Christian politically incorrect" words like σκύβαλα - which another Joshua aka "Jesus" uses first to translate some politically incorrect Hebrew, all of which gets dumped from the bible as the unwise "Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach" especially Chapter 27, Verse 4, in which puppy pooh remains for humans even after the canonical siftings.

>Never mind that this blogger's blog has a "Christian politically incorrect" middle name, "feminist" - which one must accurately point out is purposefully left out of all the Bible texts, especially those few "respectable" texts that "include" so-called "non-feminist alterity.")

Now, back to the point. The point is that there is a problem with "feminist" blogging in the biblioblogosphere. (And let's not mark the biblioblogosphere with maleness -- can't we all just get beyond, like God is?)

The problem was a serious problem of conviviality back in 2007 at SBL.

It is a problem now. One big problem we can all sympathize with - given our common desire for a post-sexist, post-racial, post-classist society - is that messengers (such as the word feminism) tend to get shot in church on a Sunday morning. In other words, we all tend to forget that sexism runs deep in the dark places, our own dark places, our own blogosphere, where you can't even see your compass or your mirror as if you're willing there to look at a compass or in a mirror at all.

The Biggest problem now, however, seems to be that the sure fact that little bloggers like me just really might "contribute to creating an environment in which Bible readers who do not share [my so-called] passionately chosen brand of feminism will [therefore,] feel free to ignore and even disrespect [my] particular alterity."

Alas! I myself have other concerns. Alas!

Alas! My associations with Jane Stranz and her "living, laughing, liturgical" brand of feminism have become public. Hence, I'm getting all these Pheminist Phoohy blogger awards lately. And, after reading each of Aristotle's terribly numerous works on Animals, I thought I was only working to rid the world of sexism among hippos. (Careful Suzanne, Jane just might also bring down your now-very-well-read Bookshelf.)

Alas! I haven't even come close to earning enough cash for my very own "Lingamish franchise." (I think I only get paid when David the Hippo Ker visits my blog, and there's only $6.66 in the bank now.)

Alas! John F. Hobbins keeps picking on me at James R. Getz Jr.'s Carnival. And James won't let Julia M. O'Brien sit between us. The only help he offers is "good grammar" and the imperative "don't panic!"

Alas! The Month of May made me put on my thinking cap for #1 Top Biblioblogger Dr. Jim "why does gender matter?" West, who deserves congratulations for being crowned Mr. March and Mr. April and Mr. May.


Lest my babbling above is not clear, I'm looking for the smile on your face. I count you all as my friends. What you say here in comments and in posts at your own blogs constantly challenges and amazes and encourages me. I'm okay when people like Polycarp pick on me for my Ph.D., a harassment which he rationalized in vain by claiming, once upon a time, [quote], "Since J.K. Gayle has stopped blogging, I have been trying to find a balance to my acknowledged masculine viewpoint which would challenge me to look through another’s eyes." I am quite alright with people like Tonya and Daniel at their Hebrew and Greek Reader looking for things that shouldn't be there, and when people like N.T. Wrong, who never really was, aren't there any more but still come around for conversation as if critical theory and the Enlightenment weren't dead. I love it when people like Jared Calaway at his Antiquitopia can advise us: "be creative, stick your head out and see what people are doing in other fields."

My sadness is that the "feminist" label in some contexts works as the "Bible" label works in others. My affinity with feminists is more profound perhaps than mine with bible bloggers because feminists tend more generally to be much more inclusive (both personally and methodologically). The awards above tend, nonetheless, to cause us blogging against sexism to be suspicious of the power afforded the many male-dominant voices. We see how many are silenced by phallogocentric interpretations and translations and bloggings of "the Bible."

My hope is that we all can listen rhetorically, translatively, feministically, biblically, playfully. Not just listening to refute but rather listening to render what the Other is saying - and thereby finding ourselves, our bodies, repositioned however differently. Otherwise, it just sounds like more Phe-men-ist Phooh and biblical Boo!

My post title comes from the effort of one of my friends to translate Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne from English into another of her languages. She rightly noted that other translators had neglected the play in the feminine name Winnie for the male bear - even though everyone knows that the author only intended originally to name his character after Winnipeg, a real bear in the London zoo. Winnie, of course, as the feminine diminutive of Winifred also plays on Whinny [as in the Whinny womanly Fred]. And now not a few writers have taken Pooh to mean what it sounds like. Thus, Frederick Crews authors The Pooh Perplex, which we all say aloud and laugh. [Didn't even chuckle? Well, say The Pooper Plex for an academic work.] This authorizes Benjamin Hoff, as if aspiring to the crap of the Ivory Tow-er, to write The Tao of Pooh. And not to be outdone, Crews goes beyond that stuff with Postmodern Pooh. The last book mentioned includes several women writers, and many feminists, not the least of which is one Ms Sisera Cathetera, whose contribution is the punny chapter, "Just Lack A Woman." I think we get the point. If we're smiling we do. Please feel free to smile, to ignore, or even to disrespect.)


David Ker said...

botsters and nochme! (My two captchas on this comment)

Biblioblogdom is less masculine than the Pooh stories at least.

I feel like feminists are a fiddle with only one string. I am interested in gender studies, but also ethnicity, literature, mathematics. However when a feminist like you comments on my blog I know that like Freud you're going to see cigars everywhere. Jane Stranz is an example of transparent feminism for me, she comments in context from her viewpoint but doesn't try to highjack the conversation or point out what a chauvinist I am. (And I frequently am!)

J. K. Gayle said...

Great comment David. It speaks volumes, and recognizes Jane (and others too) as having more of a voice not infected by my own. Thanks for making it all the way through my post. You are kinder to me, not hijacking anything, than I have been to you. My apologies - you seem to take it with such good humor (as I intend it) but it smacks, I'm sure, and for that I'm really sorry! You and I are very much alike in many ways (including, I guess, my own chauvinisms. Let's smoke cigars together for everyone -- or just put them all out, except Sigmund's. I just reread Toni Morrison around her blind black old woman saying Thank You to the Nobel Prize committee:

"The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek - it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language - all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.")

David Ker said...

Could also just be a symptom of my short attention span... what were we talking about?

J. L. Watts said...

Dr. Gayle, it was never my intention to 'pick on' you concerning your Ph.D. I was simply being honest and sincere in recognizing your degree.

J. K. Gayle said...

>David - You are my

>Joel ("Mr. Watts") - I adore you. My own joke was that I felt compared now with all those other Drs from the West, which you remind me of regularly. I have always known what your good intentions are. Thank you for being so kind about the content of my blog and for the various conversations!

>Oh, David, Mr. Peacemaker out of Africa. I meant to say again your my favorite blogger.