Sunday, November 11, 2007

Feminist Binary: Eleventh Step

Feminist Binary: Eleventh Step

Sought through prayer and meditation
to improve our conscious contact with God
as we understood Him,
praying only for knowledge of His Will for us
and the power to carry that out.
-- Anonymous Alcoholics
(Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith)

הלאה הטמהו םיליתפהו תמתחה ימל
-- Tamar

Think I broke the wings off that little song bird
She's never gonna fly to the top of the world right now
Top of the world
I don't have to answer any of these questions
Don't have no God to teach me no lessons
-- “a man who has passed on,
having a lot of regrets”
(Natalie Maines)

I wish I’d listened to my mother. We may all wish that Aristotle had listened to his mother, for a different reason. More on that in a second.


First, I want us now to contemplate and, if possible, to enjoy the feminist binary. (That should help us in several ways better appreciate Aristotle’s story, and mine, of ignoring mom.) But a “feminist binary”?! Many feminist scholars explain “the binary” as purely masculinist. Some even, rightly, blame our Western “either/or” ways of knowing all on Aristotle. So it sounds really strange to hear anyone claim that good feminisms use a binary method.

Aristotle would laugh at us, saying: “See what you’ve done? When you feminists try to imagine reality without my binary, then you’ve used it. Ironically, you say: EITHER Aristotle’s binary OR something different. Ha!” We would have to give Aristotle some credit for recognizing irony. But in reply to Aristotle, I’d say (1) there really is a feminist binary and (2) that the feminist binary is neither Aristotelian (i.e., masculinist) nor really such a limited and pure binary at all. This takes some thinking. But stay with me.

Initially, let’s review how feminist scholars can and must characterize Aristotle’s masculinist binary. Then, let’s hear how different feminism is. But we can and must enjoy the twists in the plot. (We’ll even let C. S. Lewis talk some again, as he tells his story of escaping Aristotle). And maybe then, if you’re still with me, we can tell on me, and on Aristotle.


Nancy Mairs articulates the feminist binary best. She starts by contemplating how we’ve learned to enjoy (or to tolerate in experience) the masculinst binary. Here’s what Mairs says:

The masculinist binary is “the language of opposites,” which we understand as “the fundamental structure of patriarchy” and as “the dominant discourse” of our Western culture ever since Aristotle.

The masculinist binary, we should understand, works like this:

In order to get what he wants, then, the father must have power to coerce those around him to meet his demands. To have power is to alienate oneself, however, because power is always power over and the preposition demands an object. The fundamental structure of patriarchy is thus binary: me/not me, active/passive, culture/nature, normal/deviant, good/bad, masculine/feminine, public/private, political/personal, form/content, subjective/objective, friend/enemy, true/false. . . . It is a structure, both spatial and temporal, predicated upon separation, not relation. It demands rupture, the split into halves engendered by the abrupt erection of the phallus: those who have and those who have not. It speaks the language of opposites. . . [in] a dimorphic world. (Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer, 41)

Michelle Ballif has written something similar on the masculinist binary. Ballif, on the one hand, makes clear Aristotle’s part:

According to Aristotle’s aesthetics, a narrative must be arranged according to some organizing principle . . . [which] he [himself] provides us with. . . Aristotle also offers us the classificatory system of binaries to help us order our stories, to order our experiences, to order ourselves. ("Re/Dressing Histories: Or, On Recovering Figures Who Have Been Laid Bare by Our Gaze" 93)

Ballif is saying that Aristotle pushes the dominant binary method in his epistemology. He recreates for us (no, he distorts--imposes upon us) the way a good story is to be told (hang the epic poets his teacher had been saying), and the Aristotelian method has become for us the only way of telling stories, even our stories. Now the rhetorician-philosopher-scientist dominates literature.


Ballif, on the other hand, presses us to imagine this:

“[What i]f there were no binaries, no either/or alternatives?” (96)

And she finds a feminist binary answer in Helene Cixous:

What if Truth were a Woman (Nietzsche)—that is, a counterfeit coin—what then?
Cixous replies,

Then all stories would have to be told differently, the future would be incalculable, the historical forces would, will, change hands, bodies, another thinking, as yet not thinkable, will transform the functioning of all society. (“Sorties” 93) (97)

Cixous and Ballif say that Aristotle’s method has consequences which exclude good story telling by any other means but his. And the way we tell our stories, or allow them to be told, has dire consequences for the functioning of all society. This is a grand statement, teetering ironically on the edge of the modern metanarrative. But maybe Mairs is a little easier to understand than Ballif in her postmodern musings and than Cixous in somebody else’s bad translation of strange French into stranger English.

Mairs discusses the feminist binary (in cogent English) this way:

[The masculinist Aristotelian binary] speaks the language of opposites.

Which is not women’s language, since women, for a variety of reasons, live in a polymorphic rather than a dimorphic world, a world in which the differentiation of self from other may never completely take place, in which multiple selves may engage multiply with the multiple desires of the creatures in it. Some theorists would claim that all subjects function thus. But as Julia Kristeva points out, female subjectivity, traditionally linked to cyclical and monumental time rather than to linear time, lies outside “language considered as the enunciation of sentences (noun + verb, topic – comment, beginning – ending).” Possessing an “irreducible identity, without equal in the opposite sex and, as such, exploded, plural, fluid,” a woman may be driven “to break the code, to shatter language, to find a specific discourse closer to the body and the emotions, to the unnamable repressed by the social contract.”

The difference that emerges here is not the polarity intrinsic in the dominant discourse, which reduces “woman to man’s opposite, his other, the negative of the positive.” No, this is an absolute and radical alterity that enfolds the other, as in pregnancy a woman’s immune system shuts down in such a way that she shelters and nourishes, rather than rejects and expels, the foreign body within her: “Cells fuse, split, and proliferate; volumes grow, tissues stretch, and body fluids change rhythm, speeding up or slowing down. Within the body, growing as a graft, indomitable, there is an other. And no one is present, within that simultaneously dual and alien space, to signify what is going on.” Feminine discourse is not the language of opposites but a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy. (40-42)

Notice here Mairs’ repeated use of “not”: especially not the polarity intrinsic in the dominant discourse and not the language of opposites but. An opposing is not The opposite that Aristotle insists it is. Rather, a difference emerges, the very difference of a woman enfolds the other, and that difference is simultaneously dual: it’s a developing, creative, “both-and” now. Re-read that last sentence of Mairs above to get the absolute and radical alterity of the feminist binary. Feminine discourse is not the language of opposites but a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy.

Now let’s look at an exemplary piece of (feminist) scholarship that works the feminist binary. It’s Patricia Bizzell’s article, “Feminist Methods of Research in the History of Rhetoric: What Difference Do They Make?” In the final paragraphs, what has emerged are Bizzell’s (personal, passionate) statements about how feminist research methods enfold traditional, masculinist (binary) research methods into the feminist (binary) duality of simultaneity. She says it so much better than I (so re-read the article, or at least this bit before her conclusion):

Have [afra-feminist Jacqueline Jones] Royster, and other feminist scholars for whom she has now more completely articulated methodologies already in practice, departed radically from the rhetorical tradition [especially Aristotle’s taken-for-granted dominant binary]? Yes and no. No, because their work relies upon many of the traditional tools of research in the history of rhetoric . . . working within this [dominant, masculinist] tradition and enriching it, rather than constituting utterly separate or parallel rhetorical traditions. But yes, because in order to get at the activities of these new rhetors [i.e., the women silenced by traditional histories of rhetoric], researchers have had to adopt radically new methods as well, methods which violate some of the most cherished conventions of academic research, most particularly in bringing the person of the researcher, her body, her emotions, and dare one say, her soul, into the work. (16)

Here’s the summary so far. The masculinist binary method articulated by Aristotle and perfected since by men in the Western world is our dominant discourse. The method is the way of knowing that is part and parcel of the divide-and-conquer and subject-and-dominate approach. Feminists, good feminists at least, have no problem with the masculinist (mere dimorphic) epistemology AS LONG AS a different, an-other binary is employed. Good feminists must differentiate between the masculinist binary (“either / or”) and the feminist binary (“yes, there’s that either / or and yet there’s also the both / and”). Good feminists may see some value, for example, in some uses of Aristotelianism, in some appropriations of traditional and archaeological historiography, in some adaptations of the plus/minus feature-dependent mechanistic Transformational-Grammar of Noam Chomsky, in some dominant rhetorical critical methods, in some aspects of Sigmund Freud’s psychology on the sub-conscious (which Ballif blasts as soundly as she blasts forceful Aristotelianism), in some story telling. Good feminists do see value in the dominant discourse of men, AS LONG AS the masculinist binary does not dominate the other. Aristotle’s mother was not the one who said to him, “You cannot have your cake and eat it too.”


So far, I’ve been talking about either the masculinist binary of Aristotle or the feminist binary of good feminists. You’ve caught my implication: there is bad feminism. I’m guilty of it, and my mother may have warned me of it (and we’re getting to my story soon enough here). And others are guilty of bad feminism.

Bad feminism often resorts only to the mere masculinist binary, usually in the futile effort to abandon or to denigrate the masculinist binary. Elsewhere, I’ve discussed how Gesa Kirsch and Joy Ritchie have felt they needed to abandon the feminist personal and to resort to masculinist methods “beyond the personal.” In doing so, they cannot easily allow a feminist student to re-conceive her own feminism within her new found Christianity. And I’ve pointed out how the wonderful Cheryl Glenn retreats to the male tradition when she fails inclusively to recognize African and Asian rhetorics as rhetoric. In both cases, we see feminists in the dominant positions of power (i.e., teaching professors and a researching scholar) as trying to hold on to limited notions of “feminism” (i.e., something that can neither include nor be included by Christianity) and of “rhetoric” against what emerges in students and other outsiders.

Bad feminism, then, often lords it over those who challenge feminism (or rhetoric) in rather authoritative senses. Like the bully on the playground, this kind of bad feminism takes it’s ball and goes home, not letting anyone else play. But there’s another kind of bad feminism, which is purposefully snobby. It keeps playing just to keep others from playing. I’ll try to explain. Let’s look at some notions in the life and writings of C. S. Lewis.


C. S. Lewis, not exactly a feminist much less a good feminist, uses the feminist binary nonetheless. And Lewis gives us related feminist tools such as “second meanings” and the two orders of consciousness, “contemplation” and “enjoyment.”

We get “second meanings” from Lewis’s chapter title by the same name in his Reflections on the Psalms. Now, Lewis reads and writes as a lowly novice, as a simple outsider. He confesses from the get go that he’s no Hebrew scholar, and yet he reads second meanings in the Hebrew poetry. He’s seen such second meanings, unintended meanings, in texts authored by Greek and Roman men. The text, Lewis rightly observes, does not contain only the author’s intention that only insider-readers can apprehend. No. Even the marginal, especially the low outsider, gets more. The text is not: either what the author intends or nothing. No. Out of the outsiders’ readings emerges more that enfolds the original intentions into “a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy.” Yes, of course, you recognize Mairs and not Lewis as the original author of that quotation here. But in my “feminist” readings of Lewis and Mairs, I see second meanings, not theirs only, but also theirs and mine together. Lewis goes on to say that original authors may or may not want to concede the second meanings when confronted with them. But the good authors will allow for both.

We get “contemplation” and “enjoyment” as two experiences of consciousness from Lewis as he tell us his own life story of conversion in Surprised by Joy. Here’s how Lewis puts it:

These are technical terms . . . ; “Enjoyment has nothing to do with pleasure, nor “Contemplation” with the contemplative life. When you see a table you “enjoy” the act of seeing and “contemplate” the table. Later, if you took up Optics and thought about Seeing itself, you would be contemplating seeing and enjoying the thought. In bereavement you contemplate the beloved and the beloved’s death and . . . “enjoy” the loneliness and grief but a psychologist, if he were considering you as a case of melancholia, would be contemplating your grief and enjoying psychology. We do not “think a thought” in the same sense in which we “think that Herodotus is unreliable. When we think a thought, “thought” is a cognate accusative (like “blow” in “strike a blow”). We enjoy the thought (that Herodotus is unreliable) and, in doing so, contemplate the unreliability of Herodotus.

I accepted this distinction [between “enjoyment” and “contemplation”] at once and have ever since regarded it as an indispensable tool of thought. A moment later its consequences—for me quite catastrophic—began to appear. It seemed to me self-evident that one essential property of love, hate, fear, hope, or desire was attention to their object. To cease thinking about or attending to the woman [for me as her lover] is, so far, to cease loving; to cease thinking about or attending to the dreaded thing is, so far, to cease being afraid. But to attend to your own love or fear is to cease attending to the loved or dreaded object. In other words the enjoyment and the contemplation of our inner activities are incompatible. You cannot hope and also think about hoping at the same moment; for in hope we look to hope’s object and we interrupt this by (so to speak) turning round to look at the hope itself. Of course, the two activities [enjoyment and contemplation] can and do alternate with great rapidity; but they are distinct and incompatible. . . In introspection we try to look “inside ourselves” and see what is going on. But nearly everything that was going on a moment before is stopped by this very act of our turning to look at it. Unfortunately this does not mean that introspection finds nothing. On the contrary, it finds precisely what is left behind by the suspension of all our normal activities; and what is left behind is mainly mental images and physical sensations. The great error is to mistake this mere sediment or track or by-product for the activities themselves. That is how men may come to believe that thought is only unspoken words, or the appreciation of poetry only a collection of mental pictures, when these in reality are what the thought or the appreciation left behind—like the swell at sea, working after the wind has dropped. Not, of course, that these activities, before we stopped them by introspection, were unconscious. We do not love, fear, or think without knowing it. Instead of the twofold division into Conscious and Unconscious, we need a threefold division: the Unconscious, the Enjoyed, and the Contemplated. (217-19).

Lewis here has been showing us the problem of Freud in a way that Ballif shows us the problem of Freud. To reduce human mental activity to either the Subsconscious or the Conscious is problematic. One must not dominate. But if we go beyond this "either / or" masculinist binary, then what emerges is an other way of thinking about and even experiencing consciousness. Only one sort of consciousness (either “contemplation” or “enjoyment”) must not be exclusive to the other; and how must either be dominant over the other?

Lewis does not connect “second meanings” with “consciousness,” but I want to. With “second meanings” we see that the marginalized outsider can observe more than the original author and his insider audience does. Likewise, with “enjoyment,” we can see that there is profound subjectivity; just as in “contemplation” there is the intended objectivity. We need both. That is, we need both an author’s intentions in the text and all the unattended second meanings. And we need subjectivity if we need objectivity. In this kind of (good) “feminism,” there is the “both and,” but there is NOT only subjectivity or only objectivity. Not only the masculinist binary. Not only a feminism that refuses to contemplate the masculinist binary (if that feminism seeks to enjoy the masculinst binary).

I realize this is very complex. I’m trying to bring together some very complicated things that relate to my translation project. Translation is a feminist move, if done right. Translation involves the “both and” not just the “either / or.” Translation, if done right, gets at the second meanings, and new meanings emerge. Scholars such as Thomas Conley (in his article “The Greekless Reader”) may suggest that no translation is really worth much in the study of Greek texts. But Conley just doesn’t understand translation, and its value. Translation, if done right, is both contemplation and enjoyment. Translation, if done right, is what Mikhail Epstein calls interlation. Especially when the translation is lined up with the original text, there is interlation, or a “stereotext.” Translation, if done right, allows the scientist writer to use his or her “head” to name precisely in either-or (as science writer Alan Lightman puts it); and translation, if done right, allows the artist writer to use her or his “heart” and “stomach” actually to unname, to get after the readers’ belief (as novelist Alan Lightman puts it). Lightman actually confessed to me that he wants the translators of his English language novels (now translated into 30 some languages) to be both scientists (concerned with the Aristotelian binary) and artists (concerned with much more).

This is not how Aristotle wants us to do translation. The male-authored Greek text with its original meaning is dominant for Aristotle. Everything else is excluded. Aristotle does not want to do translation.


In my last post, I tried to say that Aristotle had no translation theory, that he in his position of power, didn’t really need and consequently didn’t even want to translate. At some point in his life, Aristotle looked at his mother as a biologically botched human being. Aristotle looked at his wife and at his daughter in the same way. They talked differently from males. They were not males. Since males are naturally more perfect than females, then why should a man listen to a woman? Why should Aristotle listen to the female who is his mother, the female who is his wife, the female who is his daughter? And how? What he (and Socrates and Plato) says and writes matters most. The categorical difference makes all the difference. And the difference, the consequential difference, is the one of the “man who has passed on, having a lot of regrets.” Look at that third epigraph above; did you know Dixie Chick’s Natalie Maines is singing about Aristotle when she sings his song, “Top of the World”?

Maybe translation is required for a male to listen to a female. Maybe Aristotle thought that. But had he listened to Phaestis, his mother, (or to Pythias his wife, or Pythias his daughter), what he would have heard would be an absolute and radical alterity that enfolds the other, including the man Aristotle.

Now I’ll end this post by telling the story of me not listening to my mom. My mom wanted me to translate something, to interpret something for the guests when my wife and I were married. Mom wanted me to help them contemplate the part of the wedding ceremony that was in another culture, in another language, other than the dominant culture and language of the guests. I refused. I just wanted to enjoy the ceremony. (Besides, my mother, my dad, my aunt, and my parents-in-law-to-be had offered my fiancée and me already too much unsolicited advice about our wedding.) You see, the people of two Karo Batak tribes of North Sumatra had woven a special wedding cloth for my fiancée and me to be used in the ceremony. (My parents had been adopted into the tribes and the people of the tribes wanted, very far away, to contribute to the marriage of my parent’s son, me.) Although the meaning of this textile was quite apparent to all living in that part of that island in Indonesia, my fiancée and I were married in the United States, where even the Javanese visitors and missionaries would not have understood the Batak custom. Mom simply requested I both enjoy the Batak marriage ritual and also help the wedding guests contemplate (in translation on a written program) the custom. My refusal was snobby. But I rationalized in a (bad) “feminist” way by refusing to be part of the binary.

So now I repent. But I did leave (snobbishy) untranslated the second epigraph above. So let’s contemplate it and then enjoy it together. Please let me translate and make some applications. The quotation is from Tamar, who disguised herself as a prostitute to trick her father-in-law Judah into having sex with her so that she could get pregnant, conceive, and have a baby. Because there was no DNA testing back then, she took his signet, cords, and staff from him during the sex act to prove later that he’d slept with her. But to add insult to injury not only does she trick him, she makes him figure out that he was duped. She does not even bother to explain. She says: “Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and the cords, and the staff” (Genesis 38:25). This kind of snobbishness is bad feminism, that leaves the other hanging alone. In my own story, of course, I did not have Tamar’s cause but I used her method: make the others figure it out. I’m afraid that’s been my practice all too often through the doctoral program also: I’m going to write how I’m going to write; hang the reader who can’t translate that for herself or himself. (My fiancée did have a voice, and a very good one, in how our wedding went, but that’s another story. It’s our anniversary today.)


I’ve not tried to be linear in my story telling here. You see that. I confess it. I do think Michelle Ballif is on to something in her observations that Aristotle imposes too much order on us (i.e., “either tell your story this way, or it’s a bad narrative”).

However, I think feminists need not retreat, simply, to the abandon of Aristotle. Good feminists recognize that and insist on the inclusion of the masculinist binary just as long as it does not dominate and silence the absolute and radical alterity of other kinds of discourse. The recognition by good feminists is a “both and” that requires difference. For example, good feminists recognize good translation. For good translation recognizes value in both the original text with the author’s original intentions and second meanings both in the original text and in the translated text. Good translation is contemplation and enjoyment.

So, there’s one last epigraph to enjoy and to contemplate: the first one. It’s the eleventh step of the famous Twelve Steps. I think it’s good feminism. The eleventh step of Alcoholics Anonymous gets beyond the addict, goes beyond just me down here and the higher power over there. Taking this step requires inclusivity that neither Aristotle (by his binary method) nor the deadbeat and now dead daddy that Natalie Maines sings about has. Taking the eleventh step also requires the inclusivity that neither Tamar nor I (by retreating to a “you figure it out” enjoyment) have. The eleventh step, following the feminist binary, requires better and more. (Now, back to translation, both enjoyment and contemplation).

update, cross-ref: First Step: Translation in Recovery, Hyperbole, and Parab(o)le


Anonymous said...

Kurk, Great post. You touch on so many issues that interest me, and you help me understand feminism and feministic methodologies better with each post. I love the application of Lewis here (contemplation and enjoyment), especially how you're applying it to your translation project! There's so much interesting stuff here; we'll have to talk about this more this week if we meet.


J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for reading and talking me through our projects.

On feminisms, and from woman's rhetorics, there's much to learn. What irks me most are the reductive retreats into the limits of masculinist language. In the blogosphere, I read non-academic feminists disparaging academic feminists for being too "academic," but then (feminist) academics often mischaracterize blogging as inconsequential fluff. Likewise, the Christians (some feminists) dismiss (most) "radical feminists" as the most dangerous people since postmodernists (as if the latter were threats and not saviors of modern Christianity). The really rough thing is when male feminists are called oxymorons or are championed as novelties and necessities for the "cause." (I do know I, a man, cannot speak for her. It's amusing to see how fellow bloggers misunderstand "J. K. Gayle" as female, as male, as "infamous," as a "non-linguist," as one of those literary types, or as a mere rhetorician.)

Mind you, I don't mind the controversies at all.

I think Nancy Mairs is right to complain about her book's critic review:

"In a single sentence she [the reviewer] reimposed the very dichotomies I had constructed the book in order to call into question, putting electrified fences around the categories 'academy,' 'criticism,' and 'writing' to keep the various critters from intermingling, maybe interbreeding to create some nameless monster very like the one I aspire to be."

I think it's fantastic that radical feminist Naomi Wolf as a "13-year-old boy" has spoken with radical feminist Jesus Christ and can impress Susan Perlman, first assistant to the Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, to quote Wolf on the organization's web site as saying:

"I don't want to be co-opted as the poster child for any religion or any agenda. There are a lot of people out there just waiting for some little Jewish feminist to cross over. I don't claim to get where this being fits into the scheme of things but I absolutely believe in divine providence now, absolutely believe God totally cares about every single one of us intimately."

And I believe we need to hear more from second wave radical feminists like Phyllis Chesler who risks a lot by speaking out against the silence of American academic feminists on the US government efforts to reverse "gender apartheid in the Islamic world, or on its steady penetration of Europe"; Chesler says:

"Is feminism really dead? Well, yes and no. It gives me no pleasure, but someone must finally tell the truth about how feminists have failed their own ideals and their mandate to think both clearly and morally. Only an insider can really do this, someone who cares deeply about feminist values and goals. . . I am a feminist and an American patriot. Yes, one can be both. I am also an internationalist. There is no contradiction here. Finally, I am a religious Jew and am sympathetic to both religious and secular worldviews. Being religious does not compromise my feminism. On the contrary, it gives me the strength and a necessarily humbled perspective to continue the struggle for justice. . . Perhaps some of the very academics and mainstream feminists whom I am criticizing — but also trying to influence — will devalue what I am saying. Perhaps they will say that I am no longer a feminist — that I have betrayed feminism, not they. It will not change the truth of what I am saying. My hope is that this will resonate with people of all ages; men and women who are quietly doing feminist work within their profession, and there are many; feminists of faith, and there are also many; both Republicans and Democrats; educators, both here and abroad; and especially with the so-called ordinary people whose lives and freedom are at stake."

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I had read recently your mention of autism as extreme maleness, I am familiar with that theory. Its all very painful, if there is anything to the "male this and female that" theories, it certainly isn't something that puts men at an emotional advantage. I hold to both theories at once - men and women are the same, we suffer in common ways, and - men and women are different, we suffer in different ways.

I often think though that what is characterized as difference in gender also passes as difference between east and west. Certain non-western cultures face many of the same dilemmas.

If one really wants to be scholarly one has to be skillful in the dominant mode. It is after all the accumulation of task-specific specialty knowledge. But then you have to know not to restrict yourself, to take risks and I take some on the BBB. I'll write something interpretive and paradominant, not subdominant nor antidominant nor dominant.

But, I have to know for sure that there is latitude, that I am not transgressing on simple known fact and reinterpreting the colour of the grass - although I suppose it could be done, I limit myself too much. :-)

Thanks for sharing Phyllis Chesler.

Hugo Schwyzer said...

A remarkable, difficult, challenging post. It reminds me of how difficult it is to teach an introduction to feminism -- I have to offer a comprehensible, structured narrative, and I have to open spaces into which my students can inject themselves and their own conscious responses to that narrative. And as a feminist, I then have to invite their participation (and do more than invite, but take seriously their role) in constructing a new story.

As a sober alcoholic, I love the way you integrate the steps here. Kudos.

J. K. Gayle said...


Thanks for your comments. You've said so much. On the east: yes, there's horrible sexism and patriarchy outside of the west, away from Aristotle's influence even. (If we only read Chesler, it's hardly enough!) On the colo(u)r of grass, did you know for those of us speaking Vietnamese it's "xanh," which is the hue of the sky, and my eyes, and the sea, and the leaves on a young banana tree and the skin on an unripened guava? Xanh is blue/green and/or green/blue. What latitude, what transgression, what reinterpretation! (The early Berlin and Kay color terms studies at Berkeley defy the masculinist binary. So do Pike's phonemics, and Sapir's and Whorf's semantics). Thanks for how you hold both at once, and how you take risks with interpretation and with paradominance, that flies in the face of painful dominance of all sorts. Thanks again for your posts and comments.

Your reflection on and enactment of (feminist) teaching is quite an inspiration. What a great post: "The master’s voice, the students’ voices: some more thoughts on feminist pedagogy, microprocessors, and creating safe space". I'll be rereading it regularly, and I've sent several people your way already today. (Thank you for your comments and the link).

Best regards,