Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Feeling too happy and calm? September 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jender @ 6:55 pm

Then go read this article, by someone who is apparently a Professor of Public Ethics. The first sentence: “With women to take on military combat roles, it is time to sound the Last Post over the rotting corpse of feminism.”

Thanks, F.

 

22 Responses to “Feeling too happy and calm?”

  1. Kate Norlock Says:

    I can summarize, if you have not read the article. Let’s rehearse this tired argument, shall we?

    I appreciate difference, unlike those bad feminists who just want to erase all differences between people.

    Because people are different, NO women should serve in combat.

    In conclusion, I pat myself on the back for reminding you all that people differ in their internal qualities!

    May I ask, don’t any of these simplistic jass-ackses ever notice that it is not appreciative of differences between people to say something about ALL women? It is not the case that all men are equally suited to kill. Likewise, it is not the case that all women are equally suited to kill. But some men find they DO have the qualities that are brought to bear on combat, and newsflash, some women find the same.

    Christ, I’m so tired of being told by anti-feminists like this guy that he appreciates difference. Further, I’m tired of the self-aggrandizing note at the end that he hates the thought of a woman being mangled or disfigured, thus showing how sensitive he is. You know what I hate? the sight of ANYONE being mangled or disfigured. Sigh.

  2. Jay Sullivan Says:

    Actually, I think that nobody should serve in combat, and that war and fighting are incompatible with human ethics, neither male nor female. We strive to make war acceptable by pretending to make it only for warrior men, but plenty of women (children and elderly men too)are wounded and killed in the course of conflict. It has NEVER been true that women are kept out of combat, it is only so on paper because the men want to keep the glory, recognition and the pay for themselves.

  3. I’m suited to kill. I remember that when I read articles like this one.

  4. Tony Says:

    “No war” sounds good in theory but a little historical knowledge and a bit of understanding of human moral psychology should dead that.

  5. profbigk Says:

    Tony, your comment is unclear. Are you attempting to disagree with Jay? Note that a value statement is entirely compatible with incompatible conditions. Understanding history and psychology may lend one to disvalue war all the more.

  6. annejjacobson Says:

    Well, I hate to say it, but this does raise the suspicion that people on the other side of the world are upside down.

    (SNARK!)

  7. Katy Abramson Says:

    #3. Yes.
    Also, invocations of Gilligan such as this immediately call to my mind the (in this instance entirely appropriate) Catherine Mackinnon retort, viz, “get your foot off our throats and we will hear in what voice women speak”.
    hmph.

  8. Matt Brown Says:

    You think the article is depressing? Read the comments!

  9. Dan Hicks Says:

    It seems to me that this is easy to misread in the contemporary context, and Kate Norlock’s criticism is basically right; but isn’t this just radical feminism, in the ’70s and ’80s sense of that term? The liberal ideal of `equality’ actually leads women to the same old masculine ideals, what we should be doing is challenging war-like masculine culture and replacing it with a culture of feminine care, and so on. Note also the reference to Germaine Greer. I don’t think he’s anti-feminist, just ignorant of the last 25 years of feminist thought.

    The comments, on the other hand. Ew.

  10. JW Gray Says:

    Kate, I don’t agree with everything he says, but what you just said sounds like a straw man argument. I see no indication that he’s not a feminist. Not all feminists think alike, even if they are greatly wrong in what they think. Part of the message that he seems to want to convey is that our values are greatly based on outdated “masculine” ideas. He seems to want society to move in a new direction. Maybe we need to stop valuing stereotypical “male” qualities and start realizing the value of stereotypical “female” qualities — even if the stereotypes aren’t based on reality.

  11. Kate Norlock Says:

    JW, it would be a straw man only if I mischaracterized his argument by weakening or misrepresenting a premise in order to show how bad it is. I did not mischaracterize or weaken his argument in order to do so. Therefore, what I said is not a straw man.

    You see no indication that he’s not a feminist? I see the first line (in which feminism is characterized as a “rotting corpse”) and the repeated comment that “feminists” want to erase difference, whereas he does not want to erase difference. I infer that he is therefore, at a minimum, not a feminist. It IS logically possible that he isn’t anti-feminist, but he does, at a minimum, indicate this. My inferences are justified.

  12. Bets Says:

    Ugh. I read the comments in the hopes readers might set this fellow straight. Sigh.

  13. Logoskaieros Says:

    It’s so weird how the author both understands that he’s making this extreme man+war/woman+peace dichotomy and yet never stops to think, instead of being ‘the natural order’, I wonder if this is a cultural reaction?

    Also, this made me laugh: “It is not sexist to have these reactions; it is to allow oneself to feel…”
    Awwww, the poor wittle man wasn’t allowed to feel his feelings because he was so scared of the big bad sexism police. (This, btw, isn’t condescending; it’s allowing myself to feel that the author needs to be mocked for his ignorance and feigned reflection.)

  14. anon Says:

    What seems to me the most (perhaps unintentionally) revealing sentence is here:

    But why bother putting women into boardrooms if the corporations they run continue to despoil the environment, evade their taxes and pay their chiefs obscene salaries?

    In his view, evidently, expanded opportunity for women had only instrumental value. Women’s liberation was supposed to lead to certain much more important social goals. Since those goals were not achieved – well, why bother with women’s liberation?

    That seems to be the key to this entire article. See here as well:

    In the arguments for women in combat, we see at work the subtle process of turning a demand for social change into accommodating the aspirations of select individuals.

    Clearly, the aspirations of select individuals (who happen to be women) are of little account. There is social change to be demanded, and women must shut up until they learn to demand it properly!

  15. JW Gray Says:

    Kate, according to you he argues, “Because people are different, NO women should serve in combat.”

    That is an absurd argument and clearly fallacious argument. Where did he say that?

    His statement about feminism being dead is ambiguous. He didn’t say, “feminism is stupid, good thing it’s wrong.” His actual post indicates that the feminine aspect of humanity is a good thing and the masculine aspect isn’t always so good. I already explained that. Under this interpretation he might think feminism is dead prematurely within the actual culture.

    Straw man arguments exist in varying degrees. Being charitable is very important. Being uncharitable to an argument is uninteresting for the same reason that straw man arguments are a waste of time.

    He says, “Feminist philosopher Carol Gilligan argues women are motivated more by care than duty, and inclined more to emphasise responsibilities than rights. They seek reconciliation through the exercise of compassion and negotiation rather than demanding “justice”, through force if necessary.” That is not an example of a feminist who wants to “erase difference.” He does not equate feminism with destroying difference.

    Anon, when he said “But why bother putting women into boardrooms if the corporations they run continue to despoil the environment, evade their taxes and pay their chiefs obscene salaries?” I think he was saying that masculinity run wild is taken to be socially acceptable and women seem to have accepted traditional masculine ideals/values even in such an absurd context. I see no indication that he thinks “expanded opportunity for women had only instrumental value.” However, you might be right that he would have liked “Women’s liberation… to lead to certain much more important social goals.” However, he certainly didn’t say, “Since those goals were not achieved – well, why bother with women’s liberation? ” Sounds like another straw man argument. Let’s try to give a charitable reading of people before debunking their poor reasoning.

  16. anon Says:

    JW Gray -

    I can only repeat the quote with which I started:

    But why bother putting women into boardrooms if the corporations they run continue to despoil the environment, evade their taxes and pay their chiefs obscene salaries?

    Generally, the construction “why bother X if not-Y” implies that the speaker regards X as of instrumental value toward the attaining of Y. Hence the question: “if we can’t get Y, then why bother with X?”.

    I’m all for charity, but that sentence, as written, does not easily support any charitable interpretation. Now, perhaps the charitable reading is to assume that Hamilton’s rhetoric got the better of him, that he didn’t really mean to write this sentence. Maybe.

    But, given the rest of the article (including the second quote I included in my earlier comment), I think the literal interpretation of this sentence is pretty close to capturing Hamilton’s attitude. He make clears that he does not regard the empowerment or autonomy of individual woman as possessing significant moral value. Rather, he values certain outcomes (ending war, environmental spoilage, tax evasion, and “obscene salaries”). If women’s empowerment or autonomy does not lead to those outcomes, then – on his view – what was the point of liberating women?

  17. Louise Chanarý Says:

    It seems that the writer thinks that women are lovely and that he would like the world to be a nicer place. He had hoped that women who enter men’s domains change these domains and make them nicer. This has not happened and now he blames feminism and he wants to rescue what loveliness is left.

    The strangest thing (beside his fallacious arguments etc.) is that he does not simply adress men and complains to them that they are nasty in his view and that they should start learning from women and become more feminine. (I can think of part of an answer: there is not a movement like ‘feminism-for-men’ that he can address.)

    He simply takes the world to be a men’s men’s world (and it would be nothing without a woman or a girl) and takes that as a given that cannot be changed except by women and feminsts.

    I would like to say to everyone, especially feminist men: please address men’s emancipation and start liberating men from their traditional roles such as fighting machines, ruthless businessmen and caretakers of families. It keeps on surprising me that there is so little of that around (or am I missing it?).

  18. JW Gray Says:

    anon,

    But, given the rest of the article (including the second quote I included in my earlier comment), I think the literal interpretation of this sentence is pretty close to capturing Hamilton’s attitude.

    His attitude is that we would be better off if women were never liberated at all? How could you possibly get that impression based on how he acts like the feminine aspect of reality is better than the war-like and terrible “masculine” aspect of our culture?

    He make clears that he does not regard the empowerment or autonomy of individual woman as possessing significant moral value. Rather, he values certain outcomes (ending war, environmental spoilage, tax evasion, and “obscene salaries”). If women’s empowerment or autonomy does not lead to those outcomes, then – on his view – what was the point of liberating women?

    The point is that women are not really liberated insofar as all of humanity is still shackled and unfree. The freedom women have attained is no better than the slavery of being a man. That doesn’t mean more opportunities to women is a bad thing. It just means we have a lot farther to go.

    I don’t agree with everything he says. He seems to think the “feminine” is some wonderful an intrinsic part of being a women and it’s very stereotypical. At the same time I think you are being uncharitable. I don’t see how you have proven yourself to be charitable and I think you’ve ignored points I’ve already made.

  19. anon Says:

    JW Gray:

    You say His attitude is that we would be better off if women were never liberated at all? How could you possibly get that impression

    That is not the view I attributed to him. I did not suggest that he regards the empowerment and autonomy of women as something to be fought against. Rather, I suggested that his attitude it one of indifference toward the liberation of women, except when such liberation is instrumentally valuable toward the values he holds.

  20. JW Gray Says:

    Anon, I guess I phrased that sentence wrong. You are saying that he says we aren’t better off after women’s liberation. I still don’t think you can conclude that based on what he said.

  21. profbigk Says:

    JW Gray, no one on this page, including anon, says that the author says we aren’t better off after women’s liberation. Anon’s points were about the value the author places on the purposes of liberation, and his attitudes toward individual women’s well-being.

    However, one could indeed conclude that it is the author’s position that, all things considered, men and women are not better off now. This inference can be based on the author’s saying, “The facile clamour for equality is the capitulation of the sisterhood to the brotherhood. Women in combat is the last move in a four-decade history of betrayal of the goals of the liberation movement – the final annihilation of difference and thus the transformation of the radical demand for social change into the easily accommodated demand for parity”. He also says, much later, “no one can deny the historic victories” of the women’s movement, but to say no one can deny any gains is not equivalent to affirming an all-things-considered judgment that the net gains are positive. So, indeed it IS entirely possible to conclude the author’s judgment is that we’re not better off. It is easier to find evidence for his implication that we’re not better off, than to find evidence for any implication on his part to the contrary.

  22. JW Gray Says:

    profbigk,

    No, it’s not rationally possible to conclude that based on that quotation. Why would you think that? Conclusions must be drawn from valid inferences. To suggest otherwise risks drawing fallacious conclusions when none were implied whatsoever. That is not a charitable reading. That is not how philosophers should be reading each other’s arguments.


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