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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 09:46 am:   

I once wrote a story in which a man slaps a woman. It was a volatile scene coming months after the suicide of the couple's only son and immediately after the husband finds his wife in bed with another man. The slap was emotionally accurate in terms of the characters and their situation. There was nothing wonderful attached to the slap, no benefit accrued to either party: it was merely an ugly element of an ugly and -- according to the response I received when I read it --effective scene. Yet two women in the audience accosted me after the reading and chided me for writing such a scene, one in which "men punched ladies."

I'm working on a novel that has the folllowing scene in it: a youngish drug addict, sitting on a park bench, contemplates the possibility of going to detox. He recalls a friend, Rich, a member of a band he was in, a bass player who abused alcohol and downers and one day was converted to Jesus by a street preacher and went into a detox facility. While detoxing, Rich took to interrupting group sessions with prayerful exhortation, thus arousing the ire of a power-lifting lesbian woman with a tattooed mustache, who then took beating the crap out of him on a daily basis. Rich never complained, never told the authorities, just absorbed the beatings, and the lesbian woman, apparently won over to a degree by his stand-up-guy act, thereupon put a move on him. This was too much for Rich. He skulled the lesbian woman with a folding chair, broke into the pharmacy and looted it of a couple thousand valium, and went on a two-week-long binge that landed in Vacaville doing a deuce behind a charge of Possession With Intent. The young man on the bench had lost track of Rich after that, but word had come to him from various sources that (1) Rich had done his time and become a mover and shaker in the human potential movemnt in Marin County; (2) Rich had been seen working in a Hyunda dealership in Redmond, wearing a plaid jacket; (3) and, most persuasively, had been seen on the boardwalk in Venice CA, wearing a dog collar and being led along on a very short leash by a powerfully built woman with a scarred scalp and a tattooed mustache. This cautionary tale is drawn from my own life and relates to the experience of an old friend of mine -- it's true. The scene was written humorously and has gotten a lot of laughs when I read it, but it's also attracted some adverse reaction, notably two lesbian women who accosted me after a reading and demanded that I recant, saying that no woman who had ever tasted the joys of the White Goddess would ever again seek out male companionship.

All through my career I've written about men and women who've been sexually interested in each other, who fuck up and make major mistakes, who hurt each other, who become violent, who lose it, who do all kinds of mean things to one another, and for some reason this has been perceived by certain readers as anti-feminist.
I'm now embarked upon writing a long novella called Trujillo that concerns a male monster and I'm quite prepared for certain people to view the story as an expression of my need to hurt women, etc. etc. It really kind of bothers that this even enters my mind. In "Trujillo" I'm writing about something I witnessed, not intending to glorify it, but to portray it clearly, and I'm quite happy with the result thusfar. And I guess I'm willing to accept that I'll always be personna non grata at Wiscon, thanks to a general misperception that's been fueled to an extent by gossip more than by any honest finding of the priests and priestesses of PC, and by the general ineptitude of readers who insist upon assigning the attributes of characters in their stories to their authors. I'd much rather write about people who piss and shit and fuck and bleed and go crazy all over each other than to pretend that gender doesn't exist or that it exists in some bullshit utopian way. So that's what I intend to do. I'm just kind of amazed at the vast humorlessness, the amount of unctious brain damage out there in the world.
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adam-troy
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 06:21 pm:   

I have a story coming out in about three weeks where the middle third is a nasty rape and beating. I expect to get some crap from it. (Shrug). It's useful for isolating the people who get it.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 - 09:50 pm:   

Adam,

I guess I'm just fed up with it after twenty years, but you got the right attitude as long as you can keep it...

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Rich Patterson
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 04:37 am:   

Hey Lucius,

Just a comment. No pearls of wisdom here.

You're just having a bad day, man. Fuck 'em if they can't take it. You hit a point quite a while back where you knew you were on your own. There was no going home. A complete unknown. Just like a rolling stone… No?

Hey, at least you realize that your discomfort is being caused by certain vocal readers. Put things back in rock n' roll terms for a minute. Think about that audience you used to face every weekend. They had limitless amounts of immediate feedback... You probably would have been as happy as hell to play music that would piss-off at least some of them.

I'm not a writer. Just a fan. I think all your stuff is terrific, or at the very least something I know I want to read. My Amazon.com orders for the past few months have been Lucius Shepard books and Rolling Stones re-issues. You guys are both in the same league… (or, at least, the Stones used to be in your league - they were always mistakenly viewed as misogynist too). The point I'm trying to make here is that we fans trust you bohemian-types to travel out to the edges of experience and come back with reports from the frontlines.

Keep up the good work and congrats on the well deserved Sturgeon Award. You know, I heard that Ted had a customized pick-up truck and a twelve-string guitar in the fifties!

Cheers,
Rich.

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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 04:48 am:   

You know that old bit of trivia, human beings are only one percent, genetically speaking, removed from chimpanzees? I mean, that's not very much of a difference, and I always wondered at that one percentile; one percent means the difference between spending my day flicking shit at people who piss me off, or actually shitting in my hand and throwing it at people who piss me off. Huh.
That's a lot of weight on one little percentage point, doncha' think?
A couple of weeks ago I was shocked, flabbergasted even, and certainly just a bit amused and vindicated -- having been accused of being sexist for asserting the differences between men and women are more than breast deep --when the findings from a recent genetic research project conducted at the Whitehead Institute indicated that the genetic difference between men and women was about two to three percent. Granted, much of the difference was probably minor tags like hairy backs for men and other, more delightful traits in women, but still...men are three times more different from the female of the species than they are from that three foot tall ape who jerks off in public and holds a more than vague resemblance to a certain commander in chief.
That really makes an odd sort of sense, if you ask me.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 07:17 am:   

RIch,

yeah, you're right, I was having a shitty day, and I suppose I was venting; but then the way people tend to paint with a broad brush gets me despondent once in a while. I do very much appreciate the good words and I'm going to try and take them to heart....

Thanks, man.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 07:26 am:   

Bob,

now I know why I always related so deeply to Cheetah in the Tarzan movies.

Y'know, half the reason I put that post out there was in hopes of enaging some of my detractors in debate, but apparently they're the kind of folks who would rather snipe from cover than confront. Hardly surprising.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 07:39 am:   

Well, you do have a reputation for being hard to beat in a head on rhetorical confrontation, Lucius.
That and I hear you're pretty loaded on frequent flyer miles and haven't any qualms about tracking people down....
I wrote a story about men who blame everything wrong with their lives on the various women who have let them down. It's not a bad little story, not Pulitzer material or anything, but I have it on good authority that it's less likely to see print than anything else I've got because it never really veers from that path of offset misogyny. I imagine it will get picked up somewhere, but I also imagine I'm going to get letters. It's just one of those subjects some people don't want explored; mostly, I think, because they have their own official brand of truth and don't want anyone fucking up their carefully calculated illusions. Actually acknowledging the differences between men and women, trying to shed a little light on the subject and possibly working out the mechanics of it is clearly obstructionist behavior, since the new line coming out of NOW is that women and men are exactly the same, and anyone who says different will -- WILL! -- be labled and disgraced for the greater good.
An old Irish phrase comes to mind, 'Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.'
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:13 am:   

I'm a bit wary of the percentage of DNA difference figures:

The claim of 98% similarity between chimpanzees and humans is not only deceptive and misleading, but also scientifically incorrect. Today, scientists are finding more and more differences in DNA from humans and chimps. For instance, a 2002 research study proved that human DNA was at least 5% different from chimpanzees—and that number probably will continue to grow as we learn all of the details about human DNA (Britten, 2002).
http://www.apologeticspress.org/docsdis/2002/dc-02-07.htm

The article does try to support creationism, but it does point out the misconception of 99% similarity to chimps. Another study in the same article shows an even smaller similarity.

With regard to the topic at hand, I'm reminded of some comments by Guy Ritchie. He was mentioning that in film, it's OK to show mass murder, cities being bombed, hundreds (or more) people dying, but people get upset when somebody shows a woman being slapped.
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:15 am:   

I know this won't help push aside 20 years+ of bad vibes, but I think it's pretty fucking cool that your fiction has so much power in it that people forget they're hearing a story.

JK
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:24 am:   

Actually, JK, hearing that helps some, but then I have to look at what I'm working on, which generally sucks so bad, I'm taken right out of the good moment.

:-)
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:28 am:   

Bob,

the story sounds good. Maybe I'll see it sometime, huh?

As to the hidden choirs of my pals out there, hey, they need to talk to me. We need to reason together.

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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:30 am:   

Robert,

thanks for the link -- that's cool.

I guess Guy Ritchie had it right. Maybe being apocalyptic is PC.
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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:31 am:   

Hi Robert,
Interesting article, and we'll just have to agree to disagree, since the scientists at Washington University and at the Whitehead Institute were my sources, and they're still saying 1-2%.
I think though you missed my point. It really doesn't matter in a quantitive sense, but rather the willfully blind eye modern day mainstream feminism turns to the differences between men and women. I'm completely committed to equality, workplace, home and hearth, whatever. But...not at the expense of my rationality.
Women and men are different. Whether by more or less than the difference between humans and apes...that was a rhetorical illustration and not necessarily pertinent other than in the anecdotal sense.
The real problem, from my viewpoint, is where does the line get drawn in this sort of dilemma? Do we speak and write around the problem? Pretend we don't, to one extent or another, agree or disagree with the current party line? Or do we hit these things head on and write what we want, damn the torpedoes.
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 09:00 am:   

Simone de Beauvoir says in The Second Sex, "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman." Her point being that the social construction of Woman is far more important than biology. Man, too. Whatever genetics tells us, I tend to agree with her. I call myself a feminist, and I know what I mean when I say that, and it doesn't mean that I think women are inherently morally superior or that all men are the enemy. I like to think it's more subtle than that.

Anyway, as to literature, the Guy Ritchie point is a good one. I don't read Lucius' work as anti-woman any more than it's anti-man -- I mean he has monsters of every stripe pulling monster shit on each other.

To my mind, it's good to read something that illuminates the Monster part of us -- sometimes we all need to cringe. I get much more offended by writers (male or female) who want to take a simplistic view of gender.



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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 09:25 am:   

Deborah,

hey, yeah, I'm basically anti-human. :-)

Katherine Dunn told me a story one time, how she was asked to do a reading at a bookstore. She knw nothing about the bookstore, but she'd just had her second book published and wanted to push, so she agreed, though she's generally reluctant to do publicity. She was a single mom so she took her six-year-old son along. The bookstore turned out to be a lesbian bokstore and they refused to let her son in because, they said, he was a man. They actually got physical with Katherine and she wound up with a busted collarbone. I don't think that's feminism. That's stupdity. And that's the kind of thing that grinds my ass.

By telling that story, I'm not trying to diss feminism. It just seems that on both sides of gender politics there's a huge element of butt-dumb, and it's gotten really tiresome to me.
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

Well, yeah, it's not exactly startling news that people can be stupid.

Alas, Katharine's experience doesn't surprise me. Any more than some of the dumbass stuff the Eagle Forum gals used to get up to.

I think I grew weary of alot of the discussion some time in the 80s. Always having to say, "I'm a feminist, but...[fill in some version of 'I'm not an idiot' here]" got old.

Look at it this way -- as a football guy -- would you want people who don't watch the game to conclude anything about what fb players are really like based on Deion Sanders (oh, they're all arrogant shitheads) or Warren Sapp (oh, they all have a strong work ethic) or Joe Montana (oh, they're all walking egos) or whoever...the extremes tell us something, but they don't tell us everything.



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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 09:54 am:   

I do get your point, and I understand -- it's just some of these come at me from time to time, and they seem to be of a certain idiot stamp. But I'm not going to pay lip servce to feminism in any way, I admire the fighters, I admire the women and men who'll sit down and say they have a problem and exchange with you. But the gossipers, the whisperers, and tthe knee-jerk PCers...Fuck em all.
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 10:11 am:   

Yeah, I think we agree.

One of the most fascinating women I've observed has to be Phyllis Schlafley -- the founder of the Eagle Forum. She made a career out of telling women they shouldn't have careers. She was a vocal anti-ERA, anti-feminist activist who spent 40+ weeks a year on the road telling women they should be home cooking and fucking (but not enjoying it). Yet she never saw the apparent contradiction she was living. When some of the NOW crowd would point out to her that she was a Career Woman doing Manly Things (politics) she would get downright pissed off.

You can't make this shit up.

:-)

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Bob
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 10:59 am:   

Hi Deborah,
Earlier when I said mainstream feminism, I certainly didn't mean ALL feminists. Not at all.
But there's an element that lately has taken on a more pervasive role and I really don't like where it's headed. I've got a wife, a mother, a daughter, and I don't want ANYONE dictating roles to them, and that's exactly what feminism was created to counter. But, as the movement evolved, I think that's exactly what contemporary feminism, in the name of countering traditional feminine roles, is doing: Dictating roles to women. There's a truly scary underpinning to the philosophies espoused by women like Patricia Ireland that's not just a little fundamentalist extremist in its flavor. I definitely get a, "If you're not with us you're agin' us." vibe from organizations like NOW.
That's all I meant.
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LHoney
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 11:44 am:   

Lucius,

Fuck 'em. If somebody has a problem with it, ask for their stories so you can see the better way.

Laurie
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LHoney
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 11:51 am:   

On Chimp DNA:

I'm so glad to know of that enhanced difference. You see, before I knew, I was wondering why chimps weren't at least up to the stage of building biplanes or making rifles.

Now I wonder why they haven't invented steel or started researching medicine.

Honestly, folks, to think of DNA similarity as definitive of the phenotype difference seems to me a bit much. After all, there are water lilies that have three times as much DNA as a human, for no discernible reason, and I think flatworms are about 70% "human", last I knew.

I'm wondering if this sounds too bitchy to post. . . no, I'll pull the trigger anyway. . .

Laurie
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 03:25 pm:   

Laurie,

Yup.

I don't think I'll bother asking for stories, however. Life's too short....

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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 03:26 pm:   

Dborah,

was Schafly the "Total Woman" person?
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 04:48 pm:   

Nah, that was, um, let me see, I think her name was Marabel Morgan or something like that -- that's the Saran wrap gal, right?

But Phyllis probably went along with that kind of stuff if that's what Yer Man wanted.

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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 05:23 pm:   

Yeah, the Saran wrap person? Is that so wrong. :-)

Just kidding. Sorry. My ex-wife used to want to hunt her for sport.
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 05:31 pm:   

Oh, yeah, lot of women did.

Now, if she'd suggested aluminum foil, well, hey, that's a different thing.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 05:34 pm:   

A tiny observation: there seem to be two groups of people who dislike this sort of work. The PC fringe is one, but it strikes me that members of the PC fringe wouldn't use the term "ladies" in conversation -- it is old-fashioned and a bit paternalistic after all. That encounter sounds like one with your classic Mrs. Grundy bluenoses.

Of course, I don't know anything more about the encounters than what Lucius described, so my question is -- what were the women in the first encounter like, Lucius? PC or just old-school Grundys?

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ben peek
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 06:10 pm:   

hey lucius,

i don't really have much in the way of wisdom to offer, but i've considered it a fact that people bring their own meaning/understanding to any story, no matter who wrote it. in my experience, that meaning can be quite different than the one you sat down to put into the story, and is fueled by things you've got no control over whatsoever.

of course, generally, i just think people are stupid. last year i taught a 'experimental writing' class, and i was simply amazed by the amount of people who came to the class but didn't want to write in the forms the course showed. (such as lists, collages, found poems, that kind of stuff.) every week, one of the students would say, 'why do we have to write this stuff? why can't we write *normal* fiction?'

and every week, i would say, 'because you signed up for a class called 'experimental writing', that's why.'
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 06:18 pm:   

Oddly enough, Nick, the first encounter I described included a woman who managed a bookstore, whom I had assumed was a fairly normal sort. I'd known her peripherally for four or five years and was close with a good friend of hers. During the time I knew her she had what I considered for Seattle during the late 80s a pretty usual lifestye. She was single, she had several relationships. She attended parties, had a few drinks, not a party animal but not a prude. It's possible, I suppose, she had a bad experience with someone during the time I knew her. But nonetheless she knew me, knew I was a reasonable person -- hell, I dated one of her friends and had no bad reports given. So I don't know. Some of this shit stems from some stuff in my personal life when I was living in a fishbowl kind of and ran afoul of a certain psychotic. But that's neither here nor there. What so amazes me is how ready people are to pick shit like this up and run with it. I'm not surprised, mind you. Amazed in the sense of, don't you have something better to do? Anyhow, I've spent most of my career just ignoring what comes out of certain people's mouths, but i think I'm through doing that now.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 06:21 pm:   

Deborah,

Aluminum foil?

I think we've gone beyond Total Woman to T4.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 06:38 pm:   

Ben,

yeah, I suppose that's true, about people bringing their own experience to the story and etc. And I know there's a lot of stupid out there. But there's also a kind of specious herd instinct that comes into play, I believe, and that's the element that gets me....

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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 07:38 pm:   

Nick,

Sometimes I use the terms "ladies" or "girls" or "gals" or even "broads" when I'm trying to make a point...that is, I deliberately use those terms because their connotations would make them seem out of place given the context in which I use them. I know lots of women who do this. Or should I say, "I know lots of ladies who do this." It's kind of a way of reclaiming words away from their patronizing or pejorative uses.

Lucius,

T4 or the Womyn's Hockey League, n'est-ce pas?

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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:09 pm:   

Deborah...

"just puttin' on the foil, coach!"

:-)

Yeah, yeah!
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Deborah
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:23 pm:   

Yup.

Never know when (or where) you're gonna need that extra layer.

Uh, oh. Here you were trying to have a serious discussion about serious stuff and I'm making bad jokes.

Sorry.



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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2003 - 08:39 pm:   

Deborah,

The bad joke here is the thing that provoked this thread. Ordinary bad jokes, especially ones that reference sports movies, are fine.

"Listen to the fucking song!"
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 08:36 am:   

You know, you could really boil this entire thread down to: "Fuck 'em"
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 08:57 am:   

Yeah, Tim, and you can boil down a little cabbage into a puree, but sometimes you need to vent. What was needed here was the loyal opposition, but they chose not to appear in the field. So, yeah, fuck 'em. WHat else is there to say if they choose the better part of valor?
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 10:10 am:   

If all you're looking for is an argument, I'd be willing to provide it. I wouldn't agree with the point I was arguing, but debate is an axe I keep very sharp, and understanding more than one side keeps it tight.

Anytime you have an oppressed group, any group, the natural reaction to eventual liberation is a drive towards sharp distinction. Extreme reaction is simply the norm. I knew a girl who grew up going to church. Didn't like the hymns, didn't like the atmosphere, didn't like being told what to do. So, she did a lot of drugs, got involved in what could be best described as a polyamorous relationship, and lived a truly memorable life for a while. Problem with that sort of life is that there's huge chunks of opportunity to get hurt, and she got hurt bad. After a time of pain and growth and loathing, she emerged on the other side as...you guessed it... and born again god fearing 'hallelujah' head. back in church, uses the word 'awesome' way too much in reference to all things religious. generally, she creeps me out. but she creeped me out before. where's the mistake? extremism.

same goes for some aspects of the modern liberation movement. extreme overreaction, treating all men as the enemy just because some men hurt them. It's just another color of bigotry. I ran into a little trouble in high school, during a speech that was given to the whole student body. the speaker was a representative from a women's organization. she was railing against the horrors of men, and white education (i forgot to mention that she was black) and society...blah blah blah. I stood up and asked to join her group. of course, she chuckled and said 'honey, you can't. you're white and you're a man' so, I called her a bigot, told her I refused to listen to rascists, and walked out.

all that to say this. there are elements of every group that fall into the idiot category. Everyone's belief system falls apart at some point. Best we can do is accept our own deficiencies, debate our differences reasonably, and improve our philosphies as time goes on. god, i talk a lot, yeah?
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Deborah
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 11:20 am:   

Tim,

The thing is, all this stuff is complicated -- probably too complicated for this kind of forum, but hell, when has that stopped an internet dialogue.

I've been involved with women's groups, labor groups, and other kinds of groups, and yeah, there's always a sense of not wanting to include, for lack of a better phrase, outsiders. I mean, when I was in college, in the early 80s, there were guys who signed up for Women's Studies classes to meet girls. So, yeah, a guy walking into a Women's Studies class was met with a certain amount of suspicion.
Idiots abound in nature, no question about it. I think what started this thread was Lucius' saying to himself, "as a writer, should I temper what I write because some people will draw inaccurate conclusions about what I, as a person, think about certain behaviors." And he didn't like asking the question. This leads to the further, more general, question, should writers (filmakers, musicians, artists, etc) not portray certain things (like racism, violence against women, child abuse) because it's painful to the affected groups or because of any other non-story reasons.

I hate like hell watching a movie where a woman gets abused, but sometimes those scenes need to be there to tell the story. (Slingblade is a really good example -- the Dwight Yoakum character made my skin crawl -- but he made my skin crawl because he was so real and I would never want to see him toned down or taken out of the story -- you couldn't tell that story without him and it was a story worth telling.)

Well, this is a long-winded way of saying, I don't think the point of this thread was to say Fuck'em -- or merely to have an argument. Lucius can correct me if I'm wrong here, but there's a genuine question for artists lurking in here somewhere.

Deborah
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 11:36 am:   

It''s not AN argument I'm looking for, it's a speciic argument. I have no problem with anything you said, but the people I'm talking about are, I believe, much more self-aware than the women you cite. Their politics--that of the people Iseema less a passion than a tactic, one used not in the interests of gender equality, but in the service of mean-spirited competition. That's what messes me up.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 11:38 am:   

Deborah --
What you said! Oh, yeah. That's at the heart of what I was feeling, albeit in a very personalized way....
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Deborah
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 11:51 am:   

Hey, Lucius, The Personal IS Political, man, remember? At least that's what we used to say back in the days of Women's Liberation...

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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 11:57 am:   

Okay, what I;'m saying here is that certain people don't really believe that I'm as they portray me, but continue to portray me in a bad light nontetheless for personal reasons. And I mean personal in that some don't know me at all, but they've heard me labeled and have taken up that label and applied it to me for reasons that are not, let's say, entirely political. Am I paranoid? No, I've been dealing with this for twenty years and I'm fed up. That's all.
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Tim Akers
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:02 pm:   

Yeah, I made the mistake of saying I would be willing to try on an opposing view, and then presenting a complementary view. Oops.

I don't think artists should compromise their work to avoid offending the sensibilities of the audience, fer sure, fer sure. An excellent example of this would be YOU GO WHERE IT TAKES YOU, in the current issue of scifiction.

However, I think writers and artists have a *responsibility* to their audiences. But that's the sort of thing where the publishers of Maxim are more at fault than anyone on this board. We aren't obliged to candy coat the world...gosh, I'm not making any sense. I'm shutting up. Thanks for your time. Sheesh. I'll come back later when I'm not at work, and can think clearly, out from under these horrible lights.
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Deborah
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:03 pm:   

Oh, are you saying there are people out there who diss you as a mysogynist (alleging that this assessment is based on your work) because they are unable to diss you as a writer (because of you being a good writer and all) or a person (because they don't know you)? Well, that's fucked up.
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Deborah
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:12 pm:   

Tim,

I read You Go Where...and it's pretty damned haunting and, yes, another good example. It illuminates a dark corner of the Mommy-psyche that most Mommies would prefer to keep darkened. I'm glad he wrote it. I'm glad I read it. But, it's not pleasant to think about.

Deborah
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:19 pm:   

Deborah,
Yeah, i'm saying both things. One, there are idiots out there. Two, there are people out there who have tried to politicize my work by mis-haracterizing me and they have done this for various reasons, some personal and some quasi-personal, ie;, because they want to be pals with someone who has ax to grind et al,
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 12:40 pm:   

I'm sickly but might be up to arguing by next week. Until then, can I just say, Oh, you poor misunderstood men, and hope that's enough to let you feel the love?
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 01:06 pm:   

Leslie,

The attitude you express seems sufficient statement of your argument, but what the hell, I can't wait. I hope you feel better soon.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 01:08 pm:   

Here's the scene I mention in my first post -- it was written years ago and I haven't tried to clean it up. But as an addendum to the thread, it may have value.

I told her, No, searching the mirror for Gabe. Chemicals, I thought. The miracle of modern chemistry and nothing more. I kept on drinking, ducking now and then into the bathroom for a boost, achieving a weird glassy calm that differed from sobriety by the presence of fluttering black wings at the perimeter of my field of vision and a polyrhthmic heartbeat. The clarity of the mirror seemed to have enveloped me, as if I had switched places with my reflection and was gazing out at the bar's seedy original. Lucid and removed, I found myself looking not at Chelios or May or the cracked vinyl of the booths, but at the true stuff of mirrors--the past--and curiously enough, I fixed upon an event that I had believed no longer held any power over me.
My ex-wife Christine, Gabe, and I had lived on the ground floor of a brownstone in the West Village, a seven-room apartment with a decor of hanging plants and earth-toned carpets and unfinished furniture and paintings on the walls illuminated by hooded lamps. Very expensive, very stylish. I kept an office on West 32cd Street where I worked each day from nine until three, and one afternoon in January, I finished early, just past noon, and returned home, intending to take Christine out for lunch and then some shopping--Gabe's birthday was coming up. On arriving home I found the drapes drawn in the living room, admitting a wan radiance, the space transformed into an maze of shadowy ferns and bulky mysterious forms. This was not at all unusual. Neither Christine nor I cared much for winter light. I thought she might still be asleep, since we had stayed up late the night before, and after tossing my overcoat onto the sofa, I moved quietly toward our bedroom. Halfway along the corridor, I heard a sound that brought me up short: a groan that planed into a tremulous sigh. There was no mistaking the sound--I'd been hearing it for sixteen years, the first time when Christine and I were freshmen at the University of Michigan and I had sneaked her into my dorm room while my roommate was home for the weekend, the place reeking of air freshener, appointed with all the flowers I'd been able to afford, cheap champagne and roast beef sandwiches--my idea of class--stuffed into a tiny refrigerator, and we had fucked from Friday night straight through until Sunday morning. I would have recognized that sound anywhere, and now, hearing it isolated, framed by the stillness, the faint traffic noises, I was stunned and a bit bewildered, a bit chilled, delicately affected, like a connosieur of jazz, a music lover transported by a unique phrasing, a perfectly expressed idea. It seemed to hover in the air, a vague luminescent wisp of gas in a twilit tunnel. She cried out again, a third time, then again, and I heard a deeper, muffled voice grunting in counterpoint.
It's strange how movies influence us. Before the fear of loss and rage set in, I stood there shaking, unable to move, to think, and the first thing that occurred to do was to be civilized, suave, to ape cinematic models of upper class cuckolded husbands, Claude Rains or James Mason, to stroll into the living room, make myself a palliative, some twelve-year-old bourbon over ice, and wait patiently for this uncouth betrayal to end, all the while composing a devastating comment that would shame them when they came out, that would make them understand how shopworn and trivial was their passion in the light of my refined witness. But that impulse lasted only seconds. I started for the bedroom, then stopped. I wanted to break into the room screaming and kill them both, yet at the same time I was terrified of what I would see. Their cries were building in frequency and volume, the headboard of the bed slammed against the wall. My stomach knotted. I was caught up in their progress toward completion, tormented by the thought of another man inside my wife, trying to gauge the level of her pleasure, comparing her intensity with past intensities. It was a perception of myself as voyeur, as a hound crouched in a hallway, scenting a sexual odor and growing erect, that moved me at last to step forward--feeling dead, seduced by fate--and open the door.
The bedside lamp was on, casting a rich buttery light across the bed and a patch of grasscloth wallpaper above it--Christine always insisted on making love with the lights on; darkness, she said, diminished the quality of her orgasms. They were so involved, they failed to notice me, and I stood in the doorway, snapping a mental photograph. The walk-in closet, the gilt chairs as intricate as crickets, mahogany bureau, the antique four-poster. And at the center of the frame, Christine's white thighs, clamped knees, the pillowed fan of her black hair, her contorted face, clenched teeth spitting squeals and hisses, then her lips parting to mouth a shapeless crooning. I saw the man, saw him clearly, yet I refused to take real notice of him and blurred him into a stretch of tanned darkness that segmented my view of Christine, and I more sensed than witnessed the furious rhythm of his thrusts. My chest ached as if I had been kicked. Then Christine spotted me, her eyes went round, and she said, "God, oh God! Stop it...stop!" and pushed at the man, hitting him on the shoulder with the heel of one hand, pulling at his hair, twisting out from beneath him. He rolled up onto his knees, gaping at me--slender and wiry, with a hairy chest and receding hairline. That's all I registered of him. Except for the fact that he was coming. His condom had been pulled off in the act of withdrawal. A squirt of semen flipped out from his wilting penis to stain the crumpled comforter. He grabbed for the sheet, trying to cover himself. But Christine had already appropriated it. She was sitting with it gathered at her breast, her legs drawn up, the image of fright with her aghast mouth and startled eyes. The man got to his feet, still dribbling; he made a little bleat of failed speech, fear and defiance mixed in his face.
"Get out," I said; my voice sounded ancient, creaky, like the voice of a reanimated corpse. I was empty, black with emptiness, poised between revulsion and hatred.
"All right," he said shakily. "All right, take it easy, okay?"
He struggled into his briefs, hopping on one leg, toppling off-balance against the wall, knocking a Johns seriograph askew. As he bungled and lurched and fumbled, I yelled at him, wordless yells, like someone trying to frighten a dog away from a garbage can.
Christine said, "Oh God, Martin!"
"Shut the fuck up!" I said, continuing to stare at the man, who was zipping his slacks.
"This isn't..." said Christine, and let the words hang.
The man's eyes met mine, swerved aside; he shrugged into his shirt. I glanced at Christine. In her strained face I could see her mind working to reconcile the situation with her expectations; she was one to leap and then look, to decide how she felt after the fact, and I knew that she was deciding what she wanted, what she had wanted, whether she would explain herself or defy me or try to salvage the marriage by collapsing in tears, slipping on reaction like a designer dress, wearing it so well that she could no longer recall it was merely a costume. We had grown together in that way, we had developed that talent between us. But I was inventing nothing now. Or if I was, I had grown more facile at invention than I believed possible.
"Chris?" The man was buttoning up a sheepskin jacket. He had a thin, fastidious mouth and arching eyebrows that looked to have been plucked and--now that clothing had restored a measure of confidence--a snotty air; his tan had the cosmetic evenness that results from long hours under ultraviolet lamps. A tidy, fit, smart-ass little chip of thirty-something. Somebody, I figured, from Christine's theater group. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked her in a tender voice, half a whisper.
"You can fuck my wife," I said, coming forward. "You can drip your goddamn filthy juice all over my bed. I'll chalk that up to ignorance and bad taste." With every word, my anger was tuned higher. "But asking her if she's okay, expressing your concern for her well-being, that's way over the line, buddy. That's pissing in my face. Now you get the hell out, you hear me?"
"Look." He held up a hand. "I don't want trouble, but I'm..."
"You don't want trouble?" My face was hot, my legs trembled. "Pal, trouble's all you got! You're in mortal trouble!"
"Chris," he said, "maybe I shouldn't leave you alone."
"Are you a fucking cretin?" I shoved him away from the bed. "Get the fuck outta here!"
"Martin, don't!" Christine wailed. "Please!"
The man said, "Don't push me," and adopted the stance of a boxer.
I gave a dumb-sounding laugh. "Don't tell me Lancelot here's in love with you, Christine? Hasn't he figured out what a cunt you are?"
"Don't talk to her like that!"
"Talk to who? This stupid cocksucking bitch? Talk like that, you mean?"
"I'm warning you!" The man braced himself.
"Your hands are lethal weapons, right? You're a ninja, you're brother to the night."
"Let's go, Chris," he said over his shoulder. "C'mon. This guy's off his nut."
Christine started to cry; she buried her face in her hands; she wasn't going anywhere.
"You should really seize this opportunity and vamoose, pal," I said; Christine's tears were causing my own eyes to fill in a sympathetic reaction. "You really should. Otherwise things are going to deteriorate, I can promise you that. But 'long as you're hanging around, 'long as you've got nothing else happening, I'm going to to smarten you up. Never get involved with a married woman. I mean, never! They are fucking screwy. They may tell you they're unhappy...and maybe they are unhappy. But they get off on it, y'know. It's like they've been offered their own goddamn soap opera. Their unhappiness gives them star quality, something to talk about. The search for remedies, for the perfect therapist. All of a sudden it's like they're Alice falling down the rabbit hole of their own self-absorbtion and everything they see is oh so wonderfully strange and new. See, they're not really unhappy at heart. They're just bored. Now maybe it's our fault..."
"Stop it, Martin!" Christine shrilled.
The man said in a puzzled tone, almost a question, "You can't stay here, Chris."
"Sure she can. Leaving's the last thing she wants." I laughed and felt my restraint slipping. "What she wants is right here. Solid comfort and somebody who's afraid of losing her. Somebody she's desperate to control."
"Damn you...you bastard!" Christine said, turning away from us both.
"Chris?" The man glanced back and forth between us, his confusion growing.
"Never fuck anyone crazier than you are," I told him, giving in to the black source of my anger. "That's my policy."
I threw a wild right hand, which he ducked; he nailed me with a left to the gut that put me on the floor. The blow hurt, but had no lasting effect.
"Come on, Chris," the man said, going a step toward the bed.
I kicked his legs out from under him, and before he could regain his feet, I flung myself on top of him. We grappled on the floor, rolling this way and that while Christine shrieked and begged us to stop. He was strong, quick, and he succeeded in landing a couple more punches; but our closeness smothered their effect, and I was heavier, angrier. The effeminate bouquet of his aftershave acted on me like a goad. I worked my way back on top and butted him in the face again and again, until I felt something give way and heard a faint crunching noise. He screamed and tried to squirm out from beneath me. His nose was broken, his mouth and chin smeared with blood. I staggered up and let him crawl away a few feet. Then I kicked him as hard as I could in the ass, flattening him. He screamed again, writhing, clutching his tailbone. I hauled him upright, ignoring Christine's babble, and dragged him into the corridor. The slackness of his weight made me feel barbaric, liberated from all moral convention. I banged his head against the wall for fun. "Bonk!" I said. "Hear that? Pretty funny, huh? Want to hear it again?" I banged his head a second time. Bonk. I talked to him, calling him names, threatening him with death, slinging him into every piece of furniture that came to hand, aiming his groin at sharp corners. By the time we reached the front door he was unable to keep his legs under him. I slung him out into the hallway, locked the door and stood in the darkness, poisoned with adrenaline, hating Christine, hating myself. I shut my eyes, trying to think what I needed to do. The man's voice came from the other side of the door.
"Son of a bitch...you hurt me!" he sobbed. Then he pounded on the door, but only twice, heavy, exhausted thumps. "You hurt me!" he said again. "You really hurt me!"
I stared at the hulking shapes of our married furniture, like sleeping beasts, and thought about the phrase, "You really hurt me", and how sad it sounded in the mouth of a defeated lover, the ashes of frivolity and lust, how applicable it was to our separate defeats.
"I'll get you," he said, "I'll get you," and stumbled toward the stairs.
I would have liked to follow him, to abandon the wrecked marriage and swim to shore; but instead I went back along the corridor. Christine was sitting on the bed, forlorn and weepy, still holding the sheet to her breasts. I stood in the doorway a second, then crossed to the bed and threw the fouled comforter into a corner.
"Well..." I took a deep breath and burst into tears. I wiped my eyes, sniffled. "Jesus," I said, hanging my head. "Jesus."
"I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean...I..."
"Do you love him?"
"I don't know...maybe. Not enough."
"Not enough for what? It sure as hell looked like you were giving your all."
"It was the first time, Martin, I swear!"
I forced myself to look at her. Christ, she was something! That hollow-cheeked, horsey beauty that prances each season on the lawns of East Hampton. Even in disarray, the tumble of her black hair appeared styled. I had the urge to damage in her in some way, but I wasn't able to marshall sufficient anger.
"Don't stare at me like that!" she said.
I couldn't figure it out. I loved her, I didn't love her. I hated her and was indifferent to her. One second she looked incredibly desireable, and the next I saw a leech in female form. The odd thing was, I realized, all these feelings were of long-standing. It was as if the compound of my basic feeling for her had been broken down into its constituent molecules. I could see how they fitted together, those bits and pieces, how they comprised a hapless affection and a tumultuous--albeit sporadic--sexuality. Only my anger at her infidelity was of recent vintage. And now I hated her for making me understand our haphazard chemistry, for dashing my childish illusions and pushing my face into the organic slop that I had been happy to call love.
"Tell me what you want!" she said, anguished. "Do you want to hit me? I probably deserve it. But don't keep what you're feeling from me."
"Is that what I'm doing?" I let rage take over and pushed her back onto the pillows; the sheet slipped down, exposing her breasts. "Gee, I didn't mean to be so obtuse. You want to know what I'm feeling? I'm fucking sick to my stomach!"
She plucked at the edge of the sheet, but didn't cover herself. "Do you want me to leave?"
"What do you want?"
"I should have more pride."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"Nothing...I don't know." Her voice went up in pitch and volume. "I don't know anything!"
Baffled, I paced away from the bed. "You saying you want to work things out? That's a pretty quick turnaround, isn't it? But then you always were fast on your feet."
She let out a sigh, hugged herself, staring mournfully at her knees. "I knew it was a mistake with Todd, I just didn't know how to get out of it."
"Todd? For Christ's sake...Todd?" I let out a peal of laughter. "Why'd you have to go and be unfaithful with a guy's got a wimpy fucking name like Todd. Zack, now. That'd be okay. Or Max. Something macho, something stern and Saxon. Or maybe a nice Eurotrash name like...like Pietro. Or wait, no! Gunnar. How about Gunnar? Now that'd be extremely cool. I could almost take pride in the fact you were fucking a Gunnar."
"Stop it, Martin!" she shrilled. "Please! Just stop!"
I tried to collect myself, I blew out the bad air, I shivered.
"I'm okay," I said. "I'm okay."
"Can we talk about it?" she asked after a couple of seconds.
"Yeah...talk. Let's talk, let's get down to what's really wrong, let's get in touch"--my voice became a shout--"with our goddamn feelings."
"Can't you try to put aside your anger and listen?"
"I'll try," I told her, making another effort at calm. "I will try."
I could hear a clock ticking in the living room, traffic noises from the street; it was as if plugs had fallen out of my ears.
"By the time we got here," Christine said, "I knew I didn't want to go through with it. " She gazed at me pleadingly. "Please believe me. We have our problems, God knows! But I love you."
"Don't! I don't want to hear you say that."
"It's true." A solitary tear leaked out. "I can't help it, it's true."
My head felt full of hot agitated bees.
"Okay," I said. "Okay. You knew it was a mistake. So why'd you do it?"
She swallowed, lowered her eyes. "Don't tell me you haven't thought of having a fling. Maybe you haven't...or maybe you have. I don't know. But you've thought of it.
"And this this the payback?" I said. "For something I thought about doing."
She shook her head despondently. "There's so much...I'm not sure."
"Your little buddy was sure. Really fooled him, huh? Guy was ready to bleed for you."
"Oh, Jesus!"
"Y'know, I think I'm getting it now, I think I'm sure."
She gazed at me stonily. "Don't...don't make a joke of this."
I affected a Cary Grant accent. "It's scarcely a joke, darling, to come home and discover the sacred vessel sullied."
"Martin!"
"No, I really believe I've got it now." I clapped a hand to my brow in a thespian gesture of dismay. "My God"--I faked a tragic laugh--"it's all so obvious! I should have seen from the very outset!"
"Don't do this, Martin!"
"It's not that I don't respect your wishes, darling. Surely you realize that. But the truth will out."
"All right, goddamn it! Tell me!" She came to her knees, her hair falling across her eyes, shouting. "You're so fucking smart! Why don't you just tell me what was I doing?" She went down on all fours as if she were preparing to bark. "C'mon, you bastard! You stupid fucking bastard! Let's hear it. Explain it to me! Tell me how come your wife's so goddamn lonely, so desperate, she brings somebody home and screws him in your bed!"
I said nothing, just stared, and she reached up and scratched my face with her long, long nails.
For a second or two I stood without reacting, feeling wetness on my cheek, a warm trickle going into the corner of my mouth. Then I drew back my hand and slapped her. Everything I knew about the marriage was in that swing, in its roundhouse delivery and resounding impact, a physical poetry of resolution. The blow drove her halfway off the bed, left her head and torso hanging over the edge. She didn't move, and I was afraid I'd broken her neck. Then she stirred and made a feeble noise. I crawled onto the bed, hauled her up. Asked if she was all right, told her I was sorry. She must have been dazed, because she panicked and struggled against me. I held onto her tightly, continuing to apologize, distraught now that I could have hit her so hard.
I'm not clear as to how we began to kiss, to touch each other--it was nothing that happened at once, it must have taken many minutes, perhaps half an hour, but I realize now that it came as a result of an evolution of comforts and sobbed remonstrances into caresses and endearments. Before too long, at any rate, we were locked in an embrace, my slacks had been magically removed, and then she was pulling me inside her and we went at it in a frenzy, making the old bed leap and squeak and screech. It was amazing how turned on I was, how engorged with desire, fueled by an anger so much like love that I believed it to be the real thing, the expression of an inexhaustible passion, one that had only been mislaid, not terminally soiled and leached of true feeling. And then, as I was building to my moment, just then it all died inside me, the all my lustful feeling was snuffed out, and suddenly, like a balloon whose string had been cut, I was floating up near the ceiling, gazing down at Christine's heels waggling in mid-air, at my humping ass, at a sweaty, spasmodic, bleating, grunting tangle of lies, and the only thing I could do to restore balance, to sustain some sense of reality, the only thing left to do, was to stop, to quit, desist, abandon.
To divorce.
I withdrew from Christine. She gasped, clawed at my shoulders, said, "Martin! Wait!"
I couldn't find my shorts, I pulled on my slacks.
"What're you doing?"
"I'm going to the Algonquin," I said. "I'll call you."
I did not want to look at her; it would be too much like looking at myself. I imagined her face written with a succession of emotions--like someone leafing through a book, hunting for the proper quote.
"The Algonquin?"
"I'll call you."
Socks missing, too. I wedged my feet into a pair of loafers. A nail was coming through the heel of the right shoe
"Come back." Her hand fell to my shoulder. "Please come back to bed. We can try, we..."
"Give it a few days, Christine."
I didn't bother to button my shirt, threw on my jacket, keeping my eyes on the grasscloth wall.
"You can't leave," she said expressionlessly. "What about Gabe?" "I'll talk to him."
"Don't you walk out on me, Martin." Anger had crept back into her voice. "Don't you dare"--a hiccup of a sob--"dare treat me like this."
"I'll be in touch."
I headed for the door. My legs were stiff, my joints ached, my steps awkward, like first steps...or last.
"I'm warning you," she said. "You can't treat me like this. It's what you've always done, the whole time we've been married. You just walk out...whenever there's a problem, you just walk out. I'm not going to take it anymore!"
I started along the corridor, wishing that I could talk to her, that I could explain it really wasn't her talking, just as it hadn't been me making love to her, that the fakes of the marriage had multiplied so profusely, they had suffocated the originals, and the people whom we might have been had died stillborn, replaced by the many-headed monster we had become. I knew it would be hard on Gabe, but I thought I could make him understand. He was wise, self-reliant; he would cope. Behind me, Christine committed a final violence, making my name into a terrible wail, giving voice to the emotional valence of the marriage, a noise that--in its fury and desolation--was like a cry to Satan. And now, sitting in the Ambervelt Bar and Grille on that slow, boozy, drugged-out eternity of a Thursday, I could still hear her and realized I was still walking along the dim twilight tunnel of that corridor and that cry. I had been walking along it ever since the moment of her infidelity, and no matter how hard I tried to deny it, everything that had happened in the intervening years had been to some degree a product of the marital perversity her outcry had expressed.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 04:31 pm:   

Thanks for the good thoughts, Lucius. I think they worked. The Percocet has kicked in and I'm feeling great! Drugs really bring out my feminist leanings.

We've spoken on the telephone but I don't know you and I don't presume to know anything about your process or your beliefs or your actions. I may be less hostile than I appear (implied smiley-face emoticon) and I have no reason to believe you're a sexist misogynist kind of guy. Though I've known a few, and I know for a fact that they exist.

As a writer I exploit any and all feelings, no matter how fleeting, in my work. I assume a lot of other writers, present company included, do so also. Sometimes the work we produce is comforting and sometimes it causes distress. I like to be in control of which way my fiction is heading and I wouldn't be comfortable if I was writing stuff that explored the isms of society and didn't recognize that.

That we think about things and can draw characters and scenarios that are unpopular doesn't make us sexist, racist, or classist or ist in general. It also doesn't make us nice if we write stuff that gets into Chicken Soup for the Soul. Mistaking the story for the writer means we've done our job. Sometimes our editors save our public faces by not publishing work that has the potential to shock, but I don't buy the argument that the artist isn't responsible for what s/he has produced. There's some incongruity, imho, to strive for success in manipulating readers and then be shocked that they fell for it enough to believe we told them something true.

I've written stories in which women hate men and men hate women and mothers hate children. This doesn't mean that I hate men or children, but I doubt my stories would read true if I had never experienced those emotions on some level. I've gone through periods where I hated men and detested my children and okay, once even almost kicked the dog. BFD. Who hasn't? There are women I've wanted to punch. I also know plenty of women who've been punched and seen how that has shaped their lives.

I've been offended by writing in the past and assume I'll continue to feel that way. Nobody can stop me from reacting to their work--I'm just gonna. There are some stories/books in which characters are MCPs, stories and books which glamorize abhorrent behavior, and stories/books from the recent past in which we have reason to believe outside the context of the work that the authors are clearly raving sexist assholes. I'm not even sure that sophisticated readers should try to separate out the work from the writer -- I mean, why? Writers should write whatever they want and editors should publish whatever they can but readers will react to the writing based on their experience and beliefs and that's just the way it is.

PS- I haven't yet read your last post and am not reacting or commenting on the particulars. It sounds like you're responding to some specific reactions to your work. You get to vent. I just did. Why can't they?

best, Leslie


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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   

Leslie,

first of all, I don't react well to that "poor misunderstood men" thing. To me, that's every bit as condescending and sexist as addressing a woman as "chick:" or "broad.." Which is not something I'm given to doing.

This is partially my fault, because the examples of reactions I gave were a blind, kind of, to draw certain people out. Not that they don't piss me off, but that wasn't my focus.

Yeah, venting is cool. I get to vent. You get to vent. Right. Reacting to writing is, of course, fine. But I make a point of pretty much never saying anything about anyone that I wouldn't say to their face, the only exception being that I won't go out of my way to injure someone who can't defend themselves. My real problem is with backbiters, fellow professionals, certain of them, who've chosen not to show up. I should apologize for having drawn you in, but I don't think anyone on Percocet needs an apology. They're quite happy enough.

Oops. Gotta break this off. Duty of sorts calls.

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LeslieWhat
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 08:19 am:   

It sounds like I should apologize for rhetorical swaggering. That's never helpful.

You're right. I don't need an apology. I could, however, use a few more Percocets.

best

Leslie
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Bob
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 09:59 am:   

Mmm...Percocet.
Actually, Percocet makes my heart go into arrhythmia. Vicodin's my San Francisco treat.
You people are far too nice, especially since I think Lucius started this whole thread looking for a fistfight.
Oh well....
An apple a day...
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 10:33 am:   

I've never had Percocet.

I've also never been in a fistfight.

I am too nice, though. It gets me into nasty situation after nasty situation. I guess we can't all be assholes, huh? :-)
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 11:50 am:   

Mastade,

Leave "asshole" to me. :-)

I've been in a bad mood.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 11:53 am:   

Bob,

what in the hell is that grotesque emblem at the bottom of your post? It looks like a Playdough ghoul. Why is is there? What does it signify? Explain yourself!
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 11:55 am:   

I don't know what it is, but I am enjoying the bloody devouring of The Lord.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 12:23 pm:   

Yeah, I guess it is a cute little sucker....
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Bob
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 12:50 pm:   

Heh. If I could explain myself, don't you think I would?! YOU explain me!
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 01:43 pm:   

Well, Bob, I think that the use of such a :"sophisticated" emoticon testifies to a certain, what shall I say, geekishness? That's a beginning of an explanation, I think. Beyond that, the sailor's life, close confinement in ships with men for long periods...I'm starting to get a picture here. Let me work on it....

:-)
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LHoney
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 02:40 pm:   

I wonder what some of these easily offended people would have made of Damon Knight's "Country of the Kind" if they had not had the critics first explain to them why it is good.

(You see, that is the problem with a lot of people who take offense- they only take offense when a stranger writes it, or when they haven't heard what the holy critics say about it. Easily offended folks tend to be that way about a *lot* of things-- that is what make them the easily offended folks we know and love. Most people who tend to indignation without evaluating what other merits a story might have are sheeple anyway-- that is simply a smaller manifestation of their systemic knee-jerkism.

"Lolita" remains a classic. I am not at all convinced that these same people who are down on Lucius would have been down on Nabakov (at least not after he had become famous). Woody Allen can screw his adopted daughter senseless and he gets away with it, not because it isn't reprehensible, but because he is the darling of a certain elite. (What do you think would happen to any other film maker's career after something like that?)

So Lucius, here's what you gotta do to please these people-- get famous. Not just famous in the genre, but filthily deliriously household name famous, and throw in a dash of weird and neurotic personal behavior. Then you'll be able to write whatever you want and people will look for the redeeming value or underlying motivation in the work even if you decide to churn out pure turds between hardbound covers.

Anyway, that's just more ranting and raving, and I'm sure I'm just preaching to the choir.

Laurie
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 02:52 pm:   

Hey, Laurie...

Interesting you brought up Woody Allen, because I was just thinking about ol' Roman Polanski who fled prosecution for having a relationship with a 13 year old and won an Oscar this year.

Preaching to the choir is a feelgood thing -- we all need to do it sometime. I'm pretty sure you're right -- it's all choir here. But it helps drown out that other choir.

Next few years, I'll see what I can do 'bout that famous thing, 'cause I'm sure you're dead on.

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Bob
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 08:25 am:   

Lucius,
I think you might be on to something! Then again, maybe you're just jealous you didn't post it first...and get to live with so many men in close quarters.
So there!
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 09:33 am:   

This new emoticon, Bob, is it also representative of a sailor's lot?

:-)
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Bob
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 10:26 am:   

We all have our hobbies, eh Lucius?
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 10:40 am:   

I can only imagine, Bob.

I see your ghoul disappeared. Short-lived little mothers.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 02:13 pm:   

Dang. We seem to have managed to disagree in a rather civil manner. I fear that this means the worst: Have we become mature adults?

best

Leslie
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 02:20 pm:   

Leslie,

I shouldn't think so. I won't speak for you, but I feel true maturity's rather beyond my grasp. Maybe I just don't understand how we disagree. Maybe I need a Percocet....

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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 02:48 pm:   

"I'd much rather write about people who piss and shit and fuck and bleed and go crazy all over each other than to pretend that gender doesn't exist or that it exists in some bullshit utopian way. So that's what I intend to do. I'm just kind of amazed at the vast humorlessness, the amount of unctious brain damage out there in the world."

i'm glad you do. there is nothing worse, or more ironic, than feminist "art". it's the contemporary equivalent to soviet poetry. but then again, we live in a world where michael moore is applauded for his "documentaries" by kids who get stoned and laugh at drug propaganda films.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 02:59 pm:   

Well, Brian, I wouldn't damn all feminist art by any means. There are some pretty great examples in writing from Virgina Wolf on into contemporary times. I'd relate the kind of feminist art you probably mean less to soviet art than to some of the Afro-American black power stuff in the 60s and 70s -- it had a distinct agenda and sacrificed a large degree of subtlety in service of pushing a message. Thus it was less art tha politics passing as art.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 03:40 pm:   

i don't believe in feminist art. i believe that there are women who claim to be feminists who make art. i believe that there is art that is co-opted by political activists and labeled as 'feminist'. feminism is art inverted and made stiff, predictable, and dogmatic; therefore it is the opposite of art.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 03:58 pm:   

Johnathan Swift once said that a good writer could write an successful essay about a broomstick. I think that applies here. Also, I think all art is political to one degree or another and that some art is extremely conscious of its agenda in that regard. I'm thinking of Vonnegut, Orwell, Wells, folks like that. I think their books are as dogmatic as all get out. Certainly no less dogmatic than some books that fall under the feminist banner. Should Camus, say, be condemned for writing books that were in essence more philosophical.political expressions than novels? With respect, it seems you're being dogmatic about what can be art. Perhaps feminist art can be defined as those works that adhere to a certain political agenda and don't necessarily arouse a reaction like yours.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 05:09 pm:   

"With respect, it seems you're being dogmatic about what can be art."

i'm certainly opinionated when it comes to what i consider art. perhaps i'm talking about good art. bad art... well i just don't pay much attention to it. i'm not even sure if it exists.

all i'm trying to say is that dogma/political membership/ideology (etc.) really tends to drown out any form of meaningful expression. It's more like reading a techincal manual than encountering something life altering. it's too predictable.

PATTI SMITH'S RESPONSE IN THE FOLLOWING INTERVIEW GETS AT WHAT I'M HAVING SUCH A DIFFICULT TIME ARTICULATING:

Penthouse: Do you feel any ties with the current flock of female writers?

Smith: Well, the only parts I like out of any of those women books is the dirty parts. But I don't think their dirty parts are any good, really.

Most women writers don't interest me because they're hung up with being a woman, they're hung up with being Jewish, they're hung up with being somebody or other. Rather than just going, just spurting, just creating. These women get so caught up with their heritage that they can never really spiral out. I mean, to me Erica Jong ain't a woman, she's just some spoiled Jewish girl who'd rather whine than go out of her brain.

They don't do anything to me, those broads. I don't care whether they're men or women, that's bullshit. A good writer can get into any gender, can get into any mouth. When I write I may be a Brando creep, or a girl laying on the floor, or a Japanese tourist, or a slob like Richard Speck. You have to be a chameleon when you're writing, and to get caught up with being a Jewish girl or a black girl or a divorced girl or a girl period, to me that's a big bore and a lot of silly bullshit.

I've never felt grounded because of my ancestry or my gender. I think until women get away from that they're not going to be great writers. Now, I can tell you about some women writers who truly are fantastic. One is Anna Kavan. She writes stories like I approach "Land of a Thousand Dances": she's caught in a haze and then a light, a little teeny light, come through. It could be a leopard, that light, or it could be a spot of blood. It could be anything. But she hooks onto that and spirals out. And she does it within the accessible rhythms of plot, and that's really exciting. She's not hung up with being a woman, she just keeps extending herself, keeps telescoping language and plot.

Another great woman writer is Iris Sarazan, who wrote The Runaway. She considered herself a mare, a wild runaway. She was a really intelligent girl stuck in all these convents with a hungry mind. I identify with her 'cause of her hunger to go beyond herself. She wound up in prison, but she escaped and wrote some great books before kicking off. Her books aren't page after page of her beating her breast about how shitty she's been treated, they're books about her exciting telescoping plans of escape. Rhythm, great wild rhythm. What Erica Jong and people like that lack is rhythm, rhythm and strength. They write only boredom, pages and pages of fidgety self-examination.

The French poet, Rimbaud, predicted that the next great crop of writers would be women. He was the first guy who ever made a big women's liberation statement, saying that when women release themselves from the long servitude of men they're really gonna gush. New rhythms, new poetries, new horrors, new beauties. And I believe in that completely. But hung-up women can't produce anything but mediocre art, and there ain't no room for mediocre art.

Penthouse: Has the women's movement had anything to do with your growth as a poet?

Smith: No. I remember getting totally pissed off the first time I got a letter that started off with "Dear Ms. Smith." A word like Ms. is really bullshit. Vowels are the most illuminated letters in the alphabet. Vowels are the colors and souls of poetry and speech. And these assholes take the only fuckin' vowel out of the word Miss. So what do they have left? Ms. It sounds like a sick bumblebee, it sounds frigid. I mean, who the hell would ever want to stick his hand up the dress of somebody who goes around calling herself something like Ms.? It's all so stupid.

I don't like answering to other people's philosophies. I don't have any philosophy, I just believe in stuff. Either I believe in something or I don't. Like, I believe in the Rolling Stones but not in the Dave Clark Five. There's nothing philosophic about it. Whenever I'm linked with a movement, it pisses me off. I like who I am. I always liked who I was and I always loved men. The only time I ever feel fucked around by men is when I fight with a guy or when a guy ditches me. And that's got nothing to do with women's lib. That has to do with being ditched.

I don't feel exploited by pictures of naked broads. I like that stuff. It's a bad photograph or the girl's ugly, then that pisses me off. Shit, I think bodies are great.

Every time I say the word pussy at a poetry reading, some idiot broad rises and has a fit. "What's your definition of pussy, sister?" I dunno, it's a slang term. If I wanna say pussy, I'll say pussy. If I wanna say nigger, I'll say nigger. If somebody wants to call me a cracker bitch, that's cool. It's all part of being American. But all these tight-assed movements are fucking up our slang, and that eats it.

read the entire interview at:
http://www.oceanstar.com/patti/intervus/760400ph.htm
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 09:12 am:   

The interview with Smith was done 25 years ago--I'd think by now, some of her views would change--I certainly hope so. One silly remark she makes is the use of Ms vs Miss or Mrs. Ms was an important symbolic breakthrough in gender relations. No longer could women be defined as easily by their marital status just by seeing their names. I'll bet Smith has used "Ms" for many years now--I use it for my mother. I've never gotten any complaints. It's part of the lingo.

A lot of Smith's anger has likely dissipated over the years so it would be more interesting (and useful) to interview her NOW about her feelings about all the things she said in her interview way back when she was young and angry. Hey, I was young and angry then too but about different things.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 09:33 am:   

I don'r really feel qualified to talk about women writers from the standpoint of how they view their art, so I leave this to whoever else wishes to respond. I played on a couple of bills, one at the Primo Showbar in Ann Arbor, with Patti Smith after she married Fred and moved to Royal Oak. Had a few backstage conversations. She was in a transition phase then. Not quite the wild woman she once had been. Nonetheless, she liked to shock people and I expect she was in that mode when she gave that interview. Not that she doesn't say some true shit. She does.
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 10:27 am:   

I agree absolutely, Lucius, that some of what she said way back then had truth to it. Other stuff not.

Whatever one may think of Erica Jong as a writer NOW, when she wrote Fear of Flying and creating the "zipless fuck" it was a breakthrough in writing about middle class female sexuality. So in that sense it was indeed a feminist book. Smith was so busy being an "outlaw" that she forgot that there was a whole world out there that hadn't yet been "enlightened" and were reached by that kind of writing and not the edgy stuff that was aimed and received by a relatively miniscule audience.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 10:40 am:   

Yeah, I kinda agree, though I'd go a step farther and say that what she did achieve was valuable on its own terms and wouldn;t have been the same if she hadn't been the way she was then....
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 10:42 am:   

Patti or Erica? Now you're confusing me :-) I agree re: both though.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 10:49 am:   

I meant Patti, but both will do....
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Deborah
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 11:27 am:   

I find it amusing when men embrace "feminist" art if it involves women saying "pussy" or looking at or posing for nekkid pictures, especially if it implies (hope, hope) that these women will be less selective in who they fuck. On the other hand, when confronted with "feminist" art that says, "Sorry, asshole, I'm not your Goddess, your whore or your slave," then suddenly Ye Olde Aesthetic Sensibility gets terribly refined.

But, hey, don't worry about it, Bryan. Feminist art doesn't belive in you either.


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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 02:08 pm:   

"I find it amusing when men embrace "feminist" art if it involves women saying "pussy" or looking at or posing for nekkid pictures, especially if it implies (hope, hope) that these women will be less selective in who they fuck."

you either didn't understand patti smith's point or you're trying to funny. either way, i'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

"On the other hand, when confronted with "feminist" art that says, "Sorry, asshole, I'm not your Goddess, your whore or your slave," then suddenly Ye Olde Aesthetic Sensibility gets terribly refined."

i'm not really interested in judging the artistic merit of bumper stickers. i'll leave that to you.

"But, hey, don't worry about it, Bryan. Feminist art doesn't belive in you either."

if only that were true, maybe i would have finished graduate school. couldn't stand the feminists and their "art"/sacred cows. creating victims wasn't a cross i was willing to bear. i'm not interested in petty tribalisms formed of either gender. good art doesn't need an adjective in front of it to build credibility.

femininity and feminism are mutually exclusive terms. feminism isn't a prerequisite for femininity. my wife writes poetry and feminists can't help but co-opt her art by calling it "feminist" and reducing it to their outdated simple minded ideologies. she writes poetry, plain and simple, take it or leave it. if someone else sees feminism, well... i guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

i love kelly link's short stories because she's a really great writer, not because she feels pressured to call her work feminist and wants to teach me a thing or two about gender. if what she wrote was truly feminist (obvious and trite) i wouldn't bother with it because that type of shit wouldn't stir my imagination; it'd be more likely to flush it.


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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 02:40 pm:   

Are you saying, Bryan, that feminists drove you out of grad school?

Wow. You must really hate feminists.

I'm not clear on what you're saying. Are you saying the label is what puts you off? Your description of feminism as being "tribal "-- it's an extremely limited view, and it certainly doesn't describe most feminists I know. For instance, KLink is a feminist. Just because she doesn't wear a hat with a big red F doesn't mean that she's not a feminist. Going by what you say, it strikes me you have a personal ax to grind with a particular group of people, and you're putting a lot of people under that banner that don't belong there.

You also seem to be saying that art should have no political agenda, which, in my view, is BS. There've been a lot of great books written that have such agendas.

Also, I submit that nobody writes "poetry, plain and simple..." unless we're talking about doggerel. I don't know your wife and she may not be a feminist and it well may be that certain people you call feminists (who may call themselves feminists) have attempted to co-opt her, but whether or not that's the case, you're painting with far too broad a brush here.

Your other definition of feminism ("obvious and trite") would seem to make those terms co-equal, and thus I assume you'd include writers such as Simone Beauvoir and all other essayists who've dealt with the question. That's just wrong, man. Obvious doesn't equal trite. You further appear to have some deep-seated resentments. The idea, that anyone could "teach you a thing or two about gender!" I'm happy to learn stuff about women, about feminist concerns. Learning good.... :-)

You diss Deborah for bumper sticker thinking? Sorry, man. You put the first bumper sticker up yourself:

(Stamp-out symbol) feminism.


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Deborah
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 03:49 pm:   

Thanks, Lucius.

I'm a little lost here...what possible difference could it make to you or your wife if someone calls her poetry feminist? Guess what? When you make art and put it out in the world, then you no longer have exclusive control over how it's read, talked about, labelled, reviewed, etc. Now if someone quotes it in a political pamphlet without clearing copyright permission, then that's a problem.

But what really baffles me is the statement "feminity and feminism are mutualy exclusive terms." What could that possibly mean? The only thing I can come up with is that "feminism" is a political position which carries with it a rejection of a male-defined set of mores for female behavior, that is, "feminity." If that's what you mean, then, um, yeah, that's kind of the point.

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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 04:41 pm:   

"Are you saying, Bryan, that feminists drove you out of grad school?"

yes. feminism played its part my early exit. so did marxism, multiculturalism, post structuralism, and a bunch of other 'isms' that weighed heavily on the minds of my peers and department. it was difficult to get at any sort of truth beneath all the fabricated rape stories, political activism, gay pride, and left wing indoctrination the people i had surrounded myself with had pinned themselves to. there weren't opinions, there was just a general sense of "the way things are." no room for civil discussion, just lots and lots of hoops to jump through. mouths of political talking heads digesting and shitting out sheep for ideological sacrifice. hoops and hoops and hoops.

"Wow. You must really hate feminists."

i do.

"I'm not clear on what you're saying. Are you saying the label is what puts you off?"

the political ideology puts me off.

"Your description of feminism as being "tribal "-- it's an extremely limited view, and it certainly doesn't describe most feminists I know."

then i probably wouldn't consider them feminists. or you may be manipulated by media generated guilt that inclines you towards defending and making excuses for a political movement that - in it's current incarnation - in no way benefits humankind. for all its claims toward fairness and equality... it's fascism - a contemporary wolf in sheep's clothing. but do you know that?

"For instance, KLink is a feminist. Just because she doesn't wear a hat with a big red F doesn't mean that she's not a feminist."

her stories aren't feminist. if they were, i wouldn't waste my time reading them. because, to quote you, they would have "had a distinct agenda and sacrificed a large degree of subtlety in service of pushing a message."

"Going by what you say, it strikes me you have a personal ax to grind with a particular group of people, and you're putting a lot of people under that banner that don't belong there."

no, contemporary feminism has lumped a lot of people under a banner they don't belong under. i have a hard time believing that most women who call themselves feminists really understand the movement they claim to be a part of. just like most u.s. citizens who claim to be republicans and democrats don't understand the political implications of the banner they're swinging when they throw their votes away and add fuel to a fire that is burning them in their own name. do i need to say anything about the "christians"?

"You also seem to be saying that art should have no political agenda, which, in my view, is BS. There've been a lot of great books written that have such agendas."

i'm saying that art transcends political identity. the key word being 'identity.'

"Also, I submit that nobody writes "poetry, plain and simple...""

i submit that poetry is what it is, and, if good, it transcends the adjectives people feel the need to justify it with. adjectives are commentary and unnecessary.

"unless we're talking about doggerel."

if it truly is a "feminist poem," we may be.

"I don't know your wife and she may not be a feminist and it well may be that certain people you call feminists (who may call themselves feminists) have attempted to co-opt her, but whether or not that's the case, you're painting with far too broad a brush here."

feminism paints with far too broad a brush, and the movement is more than happy to have the blind support. organizations like n.o.w. benefit from ignorant women who, in an act of tribalism, submit to a label without knowing the political implications of membership. striving towards a classless society doesn't necessarily make a person a marxist. being a woman doesn't automatically make a person a feminist. but ask any woman if they are a feminist. most will say yes, not because they are, but because they feel they should be. the feminism of today has nothing to do with equal rights. the feminism of today has nothing to do with the feminism of yesterday (women's suffrage, etc.). the term has been hijacked, and there are a lot of women who have been hijacked with it.

"Your other definition of feminism ("obvious and trite") would seem to make those terms co-equal, and thus I assume you'd include writers such as Simone Beauvoir and all other essayists who've dealt with the question. That's just wrong, man."

i define feminism as a movement that calls for special rights and protections for women in law.

"Obvious doesn't equal trite."

no it doesn't. what's your point? something can be both obvious and trite.

ob·vi·ous ( P ) Pronunciation Key (bv-s)
adj.

1. Easily perceived or understood; quite apparent. See Synonyms at apparent.
2. Easily seen through because of a lack of subtlety; transparent: an obvious political ploy.
3. Archaic. Standing in the way or in front.

trite ( P ) Pronunciation Key (trt)
adj. trit·er, trit·est

1. Lacking power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition; hackneyed.
2. Archaic. Frayed or worn out by use.

do you disagree?

"You further appear to have some deep-seated resentments."

yes i do. i resent feminism and the effect that it has had on the western system of education.

"The idea, that anyone could "teach you a thing or two about gender!" I'm happy to learn stuff about women, about feminist concerns. Learning good...."

i'm happy to let art have an effect on me. i'm not overly concerned with which gender i give credit to.

"You diss Deborah for bumper sticker thinking? Sorry, man. You put the first bumper sticker up yourself:"

i recall beginning this conversation by defending your right to create believable (flawed) characters despite the complaints of humorless people. perhaps i hit a buzz word when i typed "feminist." but your hang up to defend a misunderstood word has proven to be quite the hole in the dam for both you and your chorus of sycophants.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 06:06 pm:   

You know, I've been civil to you, Bryan, but that doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere. I have no hang up. I sinply mentioned that I thought you might be lashing out with a term and taking too wide a swing --- that seemed to hit a hot button and you turned into a freak. You're rather unhealthily concerned with this issue, I think. Those feminists who ran you out of grad school must have been pretty scary, huh? It's always hard to find truth. Grad departments are never without loads of bias, whatever it may be. You have to make your own way through the tangle. But punking out is for sure not the path to truth. You blame isms for your leaving school, but it was you who decided to leave. The Isms didn't kick you out. Sounds to me like you weren't up to some kind of challenge. I don't know what your experience in grad school was, and I have no desire to know -- maybe they were really mean to you. Unfair, even. Well, shit happens and you have to deal with it. The way you're dealing with it appears to be, Blame others. Or, better said, blame feminism in a form that's truly irrelevant to contemporary feminist thought. I'm sure there are feminists out there who more-or-less may conform your description, but the women I know who are feminists are nothing like that...and that includes Kelly Link.

As to your interpretation of Ms. Link (uh-huh, uh-huh), let me say that, given your performance on this thread, reading for comprehension may not be your strong suit. I might also suggest, in relation to your last post, that logic is not a strong suit either. It's been my experience that when someone resorts to dictionary definitions, to the kind of over-literalism you attempt to employ in the last post, they're essentially posturing, they have nothing salient to say. Regarding my "sychophants," the two women who have commented on your comments are both respected editors with no sycophantic leanings whatsoever. It's kind of amusing that you're trying to paint me as a kneejerk feminist, since quite a number of women in the genre have taken the stance that I'm, well... someone like you. In their eyes, this argument might be perceived as a gorllla (me) arguing with Gorillasaurus (you). Now perhaps among them, there may be some Bryan Cederberg-type feminists (though basically I feel they've just been misinformed about my egalitarian ways), but I'm not close to them, so I can't say.

"...but ask any woman if they are a feminist. most will say yes, not because they are, but because they feel they should be. the feminism of today has nothing to do with equal rights. "

Man, that's...Whoa! There's no logic that can contend with that kind of thinking. I mean, you don't even know "most women..." :-)

Take a breath, dude.

If you want to have a conversation with people here about this, that's fine, but don't insult them. If you can't do that, beat it.

Now I'm going back to work. You have good one, y'hear?

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AliceB
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 06:21 pm:   

Wow Bryan, grad school must have really sucked. But I don't think it's representative of what people who live in the real world think of as feminism. I think of myself as a feminist, but I don't pigeon-hole people, art, or ideas by whether they are pro or anti female. Rather I don't allow perceived misconceptions about what being a woman is, govern the way I live, write, draw, raise my children, and in every way engage in my life. Nor do I want my daughters to be so burdened--and if I think that something will hamper their lives because of misconceptions about their gender, I will do what I can to remove those misconceptions, and yes, if necessary support legislation to make it illegal.

But to the point about art: art can portray all kinds of things--sex, love, hate, relationships, men, women, just about anything. To say that it can't portray women's roles in an honest way is... absurd.

Sounds like you're bearing a heavy cross.
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 08:51 pm:   

I won't even discuss the issue of "feminism is bad" because it's so off the wall and others here have already covered it quite well :-).

But I will correct Bryan on a few things.
Lots of Kelly's work is feminist. Have you read "The Girl Detective?"

Also, regarding feminist poetry, I've recently read Daphne Gotlieb's THE FINAL GIRL, a terrific collection of poetry about slasher films.

And yes, every piece of fiction has a political point of view, it just isn't necessarily overt.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 09:34 pm:   

listen lucius, i'm didn't come here to exchange bites with you. if we disagree, we disagree. that's simple logic.

although my opinion differs with most of what you have written, i know when to walk the other way.

let's call a truce, and check this thread off as a wash.

no, i'm not giving up. i just don't see the point in continuing this argument.

i respect your writing too much for me to hate you as an individual.

like i said - if we disagree we disagree... big deal.

it doesn't prove anything. i'm not saying my dick is any bigger than yours, and if it is... what would that prove? so what, and who cares?

i look forward to your new collection.

i'm sure i'll have lots to say when i'm through reading it. good night, and no hard feelings.

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ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 08:31 am:   

Bryan,
Interesting that you just happen to ignore the "chorus of sycophants" who are all women and who happen to disagree with you and have taken pains to correct your misconceptions.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 10:37 am:   

"chorus of sycophants" was said out of anger to goad the people i was arguing with (yourself included). it was an immature, off hand, remark. i apologize for making it.

i ignored your posts because they didn't add anything of value to the conversation. as far as your taking pains to "CORRECT my misconceptions" - thanks for proving my points about feminism.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:04 am:   

That's not only an insult to me but to the other two women who pointed out your misconceptions yet whose posts you have consistently ignored. You said:

i love kelly link's short stories because she's a really great writer, not because she feels pressured to call her work feminist and wants to teach me a thing or two about gender. if what she wrote was truly feminist (obvious and trite) i wouldn't bother with it because that type of shit wouldn't stir my imagination; it'd be more likely to flush it.

--Calling herself a "feminist" writer or not is irrelevant (and besides, you have no idea what she calls herself). I pointed out one of her more overtly feminist stories. There are others. "obvious and trite" have to do with bad writing not feminist writing (as I believe was already pointed out to you)

Your response is soooo knee jerk and defensive that it's laughable.

<<<i ignored your posts because they didn't add anything of value to the conversation. as far as your taking pains to "CORRECT my misconceptions" - thanks for proving my points about feminism.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:13 am:   

what we seem to be arguing about is the definition of feminism. you seem to believe that it is anything that is pro-woman (correct me if i'm wrong). i'm arguing that feminism is a political movement intent on implementing the ideals of groups like n.o.w.. therefore, feminists are those who belong to, or speak for, those groups. i don't believe that a woman has to belong to a feminist group, or agree with feminist ideology, to be strong or independent. and i reject the idea that all art that discusses gender, body image, feminine identity (etc.) is feminist. i associate feminism with propaganda. yes, art can be political - but it doesn't have to be deviously manipulative. deborah stated that: ""feminism" is a political position which carries with it a rejection of a male-defined set of mores for female behavior, that is, "feminity."" while i agree that it is a "political position", the idea that we live in a country where men define the "mores for female behavior" is up for debate. i tend to believe that roles have been defined by both men and women through their relationship in the context of both environment and history. while i'm familiar with the more popular patriarchal conspiracy theories, i can't say i agree with them. sex and gender is a fact of life, we don't live in an andogynous world and roles are usually formed in a common sense way. with increasingly better technology, roles change, and sometimes, i'll admit, culture takes a while to catch up. i'm not excusing sexism. i'm just saying that i don't believe it to be following a master plan constructed by a group of old white men conspiring to keep women held hostage. men and women are different. i'm not interested in assigning values to those differences. feminism does assign values to those differences, and that's one of many reasons i oppose it.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:22 am:   

ellen, you don't need to "correct me" or "point out my misconceptions". i thought we were having a conversation. who appointed you an authority on what's right and wrong? feel free to disagree with what i write, but please forgive me if i don't accept your key to understanding the universe.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:27 am:   

Bryan,
Fair enough. I do indeed believe that feminism is anything that is pro-woman (but not to the detriment of men). I'm sorry that you define feminism so narrowly as to be merely propaganda. That's where we differ.

I agree with some of your beliefs and not with others. I think we live in a more androgynous world than has been admitted to for centuries and that the patriarchy (as the group in power for these centuries) has a vested interest in keeping their poower. I also feel men have been given a bum rap in many cases. I've got flexible beliefs on a case by case basis.

I don't think you and I are as far apart in our beliefs as I originally suspected. But the crucial difference seems to be yes, in our definition of feminism. You see it as a political movement, I see it as a way of life.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:29 am:   

Bryan, I corrected your error about Kelly Link's fiction. That's hardly a suggestion that I have the key to understanding the universe.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:30 am:   

and yes... kelly link is a great writer. she's great because two people (you and i) who seem to disagree about everything regarding gender can both find meaning and solace in her work. she writes about human concerns that all types, be they male or female, can relate to. to call her work feminist is to unfairly reduce her art to political ideology. there is more than one way to interpret a text.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 11:39 am:   

so can we agree to disagree, and take refuge in the fact that we have a better understanding of each other than we did just a few minutes ago?

my wife says i'm much friendlier than my writing would lead you to believe.
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AliceB
Posted on Sunday, July 04, 2004 - 12:31 pm:   

"i ignored your posts because they didn't add anything of value to the conversation."

All back-pedalling aside, I still feel dissed. You think feminism is a political agenda. I was trying to point out (and apparently failing) that, as Ellen eloquently put it, it's a way of life. That you didn't get it doesn't mean what I or anyone else said about it had no value.

Glad to hear you're friendlier than the way you write. Manners are what grease the wheels of civilization.
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richard
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 08:25 am:   

>>men and women are different. i'm not interested in assigning values to those differences.<<

Yeah, Bryan, but perhaps if you were a woman and had to live your life continually disadvantaged by those differences, you might have slighly more interest in assigning values to them. Vive la Difference is great when it reinforces a solid evolutionary and social upper hand for you. Slightly less fun when you're on the wrong end of the whip, I think you'll find.

>>feminism does assign values to those differences, and that's one of many reasons i oppose it.<<

Which is a bit like saying "Things fall out of the sky when you drop them. Physics assigns a rationale to that, and that's one of the many reasons I oppose it." Knowledge is power, and examination of natural or social systems is the path to that power. Feminism provides a critique tool box for understanding how half the human race ended up subordinated to the other half. Which state of affairs, I'd argue, is worth understanding if we're going to change it. (I want it to change - you perhaps don't)

>>i don't believe that a woman has to belong to a feminist group, or agree with feminist ideology, to be strong or independent.<<

No, but without the efforts of the Women's Movement and its adherents over the last century or more, such a strongly independent woman would more than likely find herself lynched/stoned/honor-slain/imprisoned or simply beaten to a pulp. Female solidarity (one of the major planks of mainstream feminist theory) has been the only reason this kind of shit goes on (slightly) less than it used to.

WAKE up!
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 09:01 am:   

Yeah, Bryan, but perhaps if you were a woman and had to live your life continually disadvantaged by those differences, you might have slighly more interest in assigning values to them.

i knew this question was bound to come up at some point in this discussion: how are women at a disadvantage over men in today's america? please back your answer up with facts not second hand propaganda.

"Vive la Difference is great when it reinforces a solid evolutionary and social upper hand for you. Slightly less fun when you're on the wrong end of the whip, I think you'll find."

i think your emotions have gotten the best of you.

"Knowledge is power, and examination of natural or social systems is the path to that power. Feminism provides a critique tool box for understanding how half the human race ended up subordinated to the other half. Which state of affairs, I'd argue, is worth understanding if we're going to change it. (I want it to change - you perhaps don't)"

feminism is outdated and insignificant. it's based in marxist thought - and well... we all know how well that translates off paper.

as far as change is concerned: yes, there are some things i'd change. but most of my concerns deal with socio-economics, not race or gender.

"No, but without the efforts of the Women's Movement and its adherents over the last century or more, such a strongly independent woman would more than likely find herself lynched/stoned/honor-slain/imprisoned or simply beaten to a pulp."

i agree that the first, and (parts of) the second wave of feminism were extraordinarily important. my concern is the third (and current) wave which really has nothing to offer to western civilization.

"Female solidarity (one of the major planks of mainstream feminist theory) has been the only reason this kind of shit goes on (slightly) less than it used to."

what shit goes on? please be specific. i'm sorry, but i don't view women as disadvantaged in our society. i disagree with the devaluing that groups like now are famous for.

"WAKE up!"

i'm wide awake. perhaps you should do some research before you get too bent out of shape and emotional about the state of gender relations in the united states. thing aren't that bad.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 09:11 am:   

"All back-pedalling aside, I still feel dissed."

that's your right. you and ellen were basically saying the same thing, so, i didn't feel the need to reply to both of you. there isn't a whole lot i can say to a statement like "feminism is a way of life."

what is the purpose of your feminism? what are the goals?

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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 09:18 am:   

"No, but without the efforts of the Women's Movement and its adherents over the last century or more, such a strongly independent woman would more than likely find herself lynched/stoned/honor-slain/imprisoned or simply beaten to a pulp. Female solidarity (one of the major planks of mainstream feminist theory) has been the only reason this kind of shit goes on (slightly) less than it used to."

so what is your stance on islam?
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 09:24 am:   

and before you make an assumption about where i stand politically, i'll clear things up for you. i'm not right wing. that being said: i'm not a leftist either. i consider myself a classical liberal. that means i vote as an independent.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 10:17 am:   

Women still make a large percentage less than men in the market place

Women are still shut out of the top jobs in most fields.

Women are still in the minority in politics.
That's just off the top of my head.

Those are the things that give males and females power. I'm for equal empowerment.

Marxist? I don't see feminism related to Marxism at all.

<<<Female solidarity (one of the major planks of mainstream feminist theory) has been the only reason this kind of shit goes on (slightly) less than it used to."

>>>what shit goes on? please be specific. i'm sorry, but i don't view women as disadvantaged in our society. i disagree with the devaluing that groups like now are famous for.
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Deborah
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 10:44 am:   

You want statistics?

Women make 73 cents for every dollar a man makes in a comparable job.

71 percent of those living below the poverty level are women and children.

Women are 51 percent of the population -- quick name a legislative body at any level where women hold even 25 percent of the seats.

How about other stuff?

Women do not the complete legal right to control their own reproductive functions.

There was violent opposition to the morning after pill, but Viagra is treated as a sacred gift fromt he pharmaceutical industry.

How about domestic violence? Don't even get me started on that one.

Do you think for a minute that *women* came up with fashion magazines, the diet industry, the body images pushed in advertising or any of the thousands of pictures we see every single day that say to women, "You aren't good enough and you never will be, unless you...lose 20 pounds, dye your hair, get your boobs fixed, pluck, shave, wax, cover, reduce, hide, expand..."

Wake up is right.




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Bob K.
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 10:49 am:   

>feminism is outdated and insignificant. it's based in marxist thought - and well... we all know how well that translates off paper.

No, we don't. I don't have time to get into a big discussion, so here's casting a vote that you just quit, man. The fact that lot of idiots have parroted the adage "Communism doesn't work" doesn't make it a cogent statement. You're being as facile as the positions you take issue with. A lot of good thought has gone into both feminism and Marxism.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:05 am:   

ELLEN WROTE: Women still make a large percentage less than men in the market place

Women are still shut out of the top jobs in most fields.

RESPONSE:

TOP TEN FEMINIST MYTHS:

Are you tired of male-bashing and victimology?
Have you had your fill of feminist "Ms./Information"?
Have you been mislead by factually challenged professors?

TAKE THIS TEST:

Campus feminism is a kind of cult: as early as freshman orientation,
professors begin spinning theories about how American women are oppressed
under "patriarchy." Here is a list of the most common feminist myths. If you
believe two or more of these untruths, you may need deprogramming.

THE TEN MOST COMMON FEMINIST MYTHS:

1. Myth: One in four women in college has been the victim of rape or
attempted rape.

Fact: This mother of all factoids is based on a fallacious feminist study
commissioned by Ms. magazine. The researcher, Mary Koss, hand-picked by
hard-line feminist Gloria Steinem, acknowledges that 73 percent of the young
women she counted as rape victims were not aware they had been raped.
Forty-three percent of them were dating their "attacker" again.

Rape is a uniquely horrible crime. That is why we need sober and responsible
research. Women will not be helped by hyperbole and hysteria. Truth is no
enemy of compassion, and falsehood is no friend.

(Nara Schoenberg and Sam Roe, "The Making of an Epidemic," Toledo Blade,
October 10, 1993; and Neil Gilbert, "Examining the Facts: Advocacy Research
Overstates the Incidence of Data and Acquaintance Rape," Current
Controversies in Family Violence eds. Richard Gelles and Donileen Loseke,
Newbury Park, CA.: Sage Publications, 1993, pp.120-132; and Campus Crime and
Security, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 1997. *According
to this study, campus police reported 1,310 forcible sex offenses on U.S.
campuses in one year. That works out to an average of fewer than one rape
per campus.)

2. Myth: Women earn 75 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Fact: The 75 cent figure is terribly misleading. This statistic is a
snapshot of all current full-time workers. It does not consider relevant
factors like length of time in the workplace, education, occupation, and
number of hours worked per week. (The experience gap is particularly large
between older men and women in the workplace.) When economists do the proper
controls, the so-called gender wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.

(Essential reading: Women's Figures: An Illustrated Guide to the Economic
Progress of Women in America, by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Christine Stolba,
published by the Independent Women's Forum and the American Enterprise
Institute, Washington, D.C. 2000.)

3. Myth: 30 percent of emergency room visits by women each year are the
result of injuries from domestic violence.

Fact: This incendiary statistic is promoted by gender feminists whose
primary goal seems to be to impugn men. Two responsible government studies
report that the nationwide figure is closer to one percent. While these
studies may have missed some cases of domestic violence, the 30% figure is a
wild exaggeration.

(National Center for Health Statistics, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical
Care Survey: 1992 Emergency Department Summary , Hyattsville, Maryland,
March 1997; and U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence-Related Injuries
Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments: Washington, D.C., August 1997.)


4. Myth: The phrase "rule of thumb" originated in a man's right to beat his
wife provided the stick was no wider than his thumb.

Fact: This is an urban legend that is still taken seriously by activist law
professors and harassment workshoppers. The Oxford English Dictionary has
more than twenty citations for phrase "rule of thumb" (the earliest from
1692), but not a single mention of beatings, sticks, or husbands and wives.

(For a definitive debunking of the hoax see Henry Ansgar Kelly, "Rule of
Thumb and the Folklaw of the Husband's Stick," The Journal of Legal
Education, September 1994.)

5. Myth: Women have been shortchanged in medical research.

Fact: The National Institutes of Health and drug companies routinely include
women in clinical trials that test for effectiveness of medications. By
1979, over 90% of all NIH-funded trials included women. Beginning in 1985,
when the NIH's National Cancer Center began keeping track of specific cancer
funding, it has annually spent more money on breast cancer than any other
type of cancer. Currently, women represent over 60% of all subjects in
NIH-funded clinical trails.

(Essential reading: Cathy Young and Sally Satel, "The Myth of Gender Bias in
Medicine," Washington, D.C.: The Women's Freedom Network, 1997.)

6.Myth: Girls have been shortchanged in our gender-biased schools

Fact: No fair-minded person can review the education data and conclude that
girls are the have-nots in our schools. Boys are slightly ahead of girls in
math and science; girls are dramatically ahead in reading and writing. (The
writing skills of 17-year-old boys are at the same level as 14-year- old
girls.) Girls get better grades, they have higher aspirations, and they are
more likely to go to college.

(See: Trends in Educational Equity of Girls & Women, Washington, D. C.: U.S.
Department of Education, June 2000.)

7. Myth: "Our schools are training grounds for sexual harassment... boys are
rarely punished, while girls are taught that it is their role to tolerate
this humiliating conduct."

(National Organization of Women, "Issue Report: Sexual Harassment," April
1998.)

Fact: "Hostile Hallways," is the best-known study of harassment in grades
8-11. It was commissioned by the American Association of University Women
(AAUW) in 1993, and is a favorite of many harassment experts. But this
survey revealed that girls are doing almost as much harassing as the boys.
According to the study, "85 percent of girls and 76 percent of boys surveyed
say they have experienced unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that
interferes with their lives."

(Four scholars at the University of Michigan did a careful follow-up study
of the AAUW data and concluded: "The majority of both genders (53%)
described themselves as having been both victim and perpetrator of
harassment -- that is most students had been harassed and had harassed
others." And these researchers draw the right conclusion: "Our results led
us to question the simple perpetrator-victim model...")(See: American
Education Research Journal, Summer 1996.)

8. Myth: Girls suffer a dramatic loss of self-esteem during adolescence.

Fact: This myth of the incredible shrinking girls was started by Carol
Gilligan, professor of gender studies at the Harvard Graduate School of
Education. Gilligan has always enjoyed higher standing among feminist
activists and journalists than among academic research psychologists.
Scholars who follow the protocols of social science do not accept the
reality of an adolescent "crisis" of confidence and "loss of voice." In
1993, American Psychologist reported the new consensus among researchers in
adolescent development: "It is now known that the majority of adolescents of
both genders successfully negotiate this developmental period without any
major psychological or emotional disorder [and] develop a positive sense of
personal identity. ."

(Anne C. Petersen et al. "Depression in Adolescence," American Psychologist
February 1993; see also, Daniel Offer, and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl,
"Debunking the Myths of Adolescence: Findings from Recent Research," Journal
of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, November 1992.)

9. Myth: Gender is a social construction.

Fact: While environment and socialization do play a significant role in
human life, a growing body of research in neuroscience, endocrinology, and
psychology over the past 40 years suggests there is a biological basis for
many sex differences in aptitudes and preferences. In general, males have
better spatial reasoning skills; females better verbal skills. Males are
greater risk takers; females are more nurturing.

Of course, this does not mean that women should be prevented from pursuing
their goals in any field they choose; what it does suggest is that we should
not expect parity in all fields. More women than men will continue to want
to stay at home with small children and pursue careers in fields like early
childhood education or psychology; men will continue to be over-represented
in fields like helicopter mechanics and hydraulic engineering.

Warning: Most gender scholars in our universities have degrees in fields
like English or comparative literature--not biology or neuroscience. These
self-appointed experts on sexuality are scientifically illiterate. They
substitute dogma and propaganda for reasoned scholarship.

(For a review of recent findings on sex differences see a special issue of
The Scientific American "Men: The Scientific Truth, " Fall 2000.)

10. Myth: Women's Studies Departments empowered women and gave them a voice
in the academy.

Fact: Women's Studies empowered a small group of like-minded careerists.
They have created an old-girl network that is far more elitist, narrow and
closed than any of the old-boy networks they rail against. Vast numbers of
moderate or dissident women scholars have been marginalized, excluded and
silenced.

"Myth of Huge Gender Wage Gap
A major rallying cry during the debates on comparable worth was that women make 59 cents for every dollar men do. The figure is now 71 cents. But if you factor in age, length of time in the workplace, and type of job, the wage gap is much smaller for younger women. Those with children tend to make slightly less than those without children, but it's closer to 90 cents.

Feminists argue that the pay gap is a vivid illustration of discrimination. Economists argue that it's due to shorter work weeks and less workplace experience. It is no doubt also due to the kind of jobs women choose. Women generally prefer clean, safe places with predictable hours and less stress. The more dangerous, dirty, and high-pressure jobs generally appeal to men. This is reflected in salary differences."
http://www.probe.org/docs/.fem-myth.html

The following is the text of the Equal Pay Act of 1963: "(Pub. L. 88-38) (EPA), as amended, as it appears in volume 29 of the United States Code, at section 206(d). The EPA, which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended (FLSA), and which is administered and enforced by the EEOC, prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment who are performing under similar working conditions. Cross references to the EPA as enacted appear in italics following the section heading. Additional provisions of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, as amended, are included as they appear in volume 29 of the United States Code."
http://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/equal_pay_act.htm

Here is a link from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report comparing part-time earnings. Women earn a bit more than men...
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.t05.htm

and last but not least, here is a link to a page of articles (from the Independent Women's Forum) discussing the "wage gap"...
http://www.iwf.org/issues/issues_list.asp?sType=73

ALSO, CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES BY ROBERT ANTON WILSON:
http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1996/4-apr96/wilson04.html
http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1996/5-may96/wilson05.html
http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1996/6-jun96/wilson06.html
http://www.backlash.com/content/gender/1995/4-apr95/page6.html
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:16 am:   

"Women are still in the minority in politics."

poor (and middle class) people of all ilk are the minority in politics.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:25 am:   

Citing articles by Robert Anton Wilson on any subject other than the Illuminati is not going to do much for your thesis.

Nor does equating femininsm with male-hating further your argument, and this seems to Wilson's thrust.

Nor does citing male accomplishments dating from eras when women were far more repressed than they are today.

In fact, citing studies by anyone wiithout a full statement of their agenda, characterizing all opposing studies as the work of hard-line feminist dupes, doesn't do much for it either.

I have more to say on this and I will do so later, but right now I have work to do.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:29 am:   

"Women are still shut out of the top jobs in most fields."

The Glass Ceiling

Good For Business: Making Full Use of the Nation’s Human Capital, the report of the 1995 Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, claimed that only five percent of senior managers at Fortune 1000 companies are women.19 This finding has since become a rallying cry for advocates of gender-based preference policies. The "glass ceiling" refers to the idea that discrimination against women in the workplace remains a formidable barrier to their upward mobility in the corporate world.

While disturbing, this figure both fails to reveal the dramatic gains women have made in management over the past few decades and the future trend of women in these positions. This figure overlooks the fact that, of the qualified labor pool, women are accurately reflected in these senior management positions. Furthermore, this five percent figure is a minuscule portion of managers in a small, select group of companies, not reflecting the wide array of management positions in the broader workforce.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics reveal that, though they represent only 46 percent of the U.S. labor force, women hold about half of all management jobs, and in the aggregate, hold fewer bachelor’s and higher degrees than their male counterparts.20 Since the Glass Ceiling Commission report was released, the number of women in Fortune 500 senior management positions has tripled.

What about the future prospects of women in the Fortune 500? The typical qualifications for senior corporate management positions are a MBA and 25 years in the labor force. Looking back 25 years, fewer than 7 percent of MBA graduates were women.21 Assuming that no women left the workforce over the 25-year period between 1974 and 1999, one would only expect to find around 7 percent of women holding these jobs—far less than the current 11 percent.22 And with women representing more than one third of MBA graduates, women are now in the "pipeline" for these positions.

Rather than choosing to climb the ladder in corporate America, many women are instead seeking success in their own firms and are fulfilling their desire for more flexibility and independence.

Today, women-owned businesses account for one third of all firms in the United States. According to the National Foundation of Women Business Owners (NFWBO), there were almost 8 million women-owned businesses in the United States in 1996. Estimates also reveal that the number of women-owned firms grew by 78 percent between 1987 and 1996 and that employment in those firms grew by 183 percent.23

Women are also engaging in job-sharing arrangements and telecommuting in greater numbers, reflecting both the individual’s desire for a more flexible lifestyle and employers’ desire to allow greater freedom.

read the rest of the article at:
http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/sab/health/ceiling/0499ceiling.html
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:32 am:   

AN ANDROGYNOUS SOCIETY?

read this article from Psychology Today:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/htdocs/prod/PTOArticle/PTO-20030624-000003.asp
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Bob K.
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:32 am:   

And you forgot to cite statistics that a lot of men and lesbians are the victims of domestic abuse. So what's the point with this exercise? It in no way invalidates feminism. There are sex issues in politics, both in the home and in government. Feminism strains toward a point of reference outside the discourse that has been framed by powerful men and their apologists. It's a valid anchor point in the debate. Everything you've said here bespeaks naive outrage that mediocre minds and the politically motivated dominate the feminist landscape. Here's a newsflash: they dominate in all disciplines. Get your head out of the grad-school dialectic and go do something creative with your time.

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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:45 am:   

"Citing articles by Robert Anton Wilson on any subject other than the Illuminati is not going to do much for your thesis."

I posted the wilson articles for fun. Say what you want about his novels, but he's a thoughtful intelligent man who most certainly isn't a right wing dupe with an agenda.

"Nor does equating femininsm with male-hating further your argument, and this seems to Wilson's thrust."

Institutional feminism IS man hating.

"In fact, citing studies by anyone wiithout a full statement of their agenda, characterizing all opposing studies as the work of hard-line feminist dupes, doesn't do much for it either."

this is a message board, and you'll have to excuse me if i don't have the time to write my own thesis backed by psychological profiles of all the people i've cited. i'm familiar with arguments on both sides, and i've, obviously, decided to represent the position i agree with. I dropped out of graduate school, after a year, with a 4.0 and a headache. the headache was the result of being bombarded with feminist texts and ideology; the 4.0 was the result of understanding those texts.

"I have more to say on this and I will do so later, but right now I have work to do."

i look forward to your response. i started reading 'Senor Volto' last night, and it's been a good read so far.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:55 am:   

"And you forgot to cite statistics that a lot of men and lesbians are the victims of domestic abuse. So what's the point with this exercise? It in no way invalidates feminism. There are sex issues in politics, both in the home and in government. Feminism strains toward a point of reference outside the discourse that has been framed by powerful men and their apologists. It's a valid anchor point in the debate. Everything you've said here bespeaks naive outrage that mediocre minds and the politically motivated dominate the feminist landscape. Here's a newsflash: they dominate in all disciplines. Get your head out of the grad-school dialectic and go do something creative with your time."

let me get this, are you saying that if i don't agree with you (feminism), i'm basically just wrong and stupid?

you're entitled to your opinion. i have the right to disagree. ellen and i both seem to understand this. but not being one to turn down a good debate, i don't mind the back and forth so long as things don't get too personal leading to hurt feelings.

but in order for this to work, you're going to have to come up with a tactic that's amounts to more than just telling me that i'm wrong. tell me why you believe what you believe.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 11:57 am:   

"this is a message board, and you'll have to excuse me if i don't have the time to write my own thesis backed by psychological profiles of all the people i've cited."

Instutional profiles would have been more pertient. You condemn institutionalism, yet you cite institutional studies.

Statistics....sheesh. Your stats on high school harassment fail to cite numbers relating to the harrassment of males by females by contrast to those attending male harrassement of women. I'm quite sure there is a vast dissimilarity between those numbers.

As I said, more later...
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 12:16 pm:   

"Feminism strains toward a point of reference outside the discourse that has been framed by powerful men and their apologists."

that, my friend, is a very dangerous statement. i'm sure you don't like it when a christian makes an argument by refering to biblical texts as proof of the statements she's making. that's in essence what you're saying feminism does: it begins with a point of reference/structure/dogma created by feminists, treats it as the holy gospel, and then proceeds to point objectors back to the structure of debate in order to find evidence of truth - it's a circular argument. not to mention, it doesn't take into account conditions (biology, environment, time, context, etc.) outside of accepted doctrine. if you decide to get postmodern on me and begin to argue that all of reality is socially constructed - then feminism is no more valid than any idea a person might choose to pursue; that taken farther can lead to solipsism, and that would mean that i'm basically just sitting here typing back and forth to myself in a masturbatory act of creation. whether this means anything or not, it's most certainly a fun slippery slope to examine.
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 01:37 pm:   

"Instutional profiles would have been more pertient. You condemn institutionalism, yet you cite institutional studies."

i've cited a number of different articles written by number of diverse sources that refer to an even greater wealth of people and ideas. there's no satisfying you. like i said, you have the right to believe what you want to believe, but don't criticize me for doing something - backing up my argument with sources - nobody else on this thread has attempted.

"Statistics....sheesh. Your stats on high school harassment fail to cite numbers relating to the harrassment of males by females by contrast to those attending male harrassement of women. I'm quite sure there is a vast dissimilarity between those numbers."

prove it. or at least make an effort. we can argue about sources when you present something for us to compare mine with.

"As I said, more later..."

as i said, i look forward to it.
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richard
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 05:01 pm:   

>>perhaps you should do some research before you get too bent out of shape and emotional about the state of gender relations in the united states. thing aren't that bad.<<

Well, yeah of course, since 100% of the world's population live in America...........

Did it occur to you (no, probably not...) that feminists, and indeed anyone with a brain, might be concerned about conditions in other parts of the world than just the good old US of A?

And as regards this navel gazing approach to contemporary social science, I still note that you haven't dealt at all with the issues of reproductive rights for women *in the US*,or the poverty line statistic *in the US*. Or the fact that the ERA still has not been ratified *in the US*

On the subject of political representation you have this rather illuminating statement to make:

>>"Women are still in the minority in politics."

poor (and middle class) people of all ilk are the minority in politics.<<

So "women" just basically equates to "poor" in your view? And that's why they aren't in politics. You've refuted nothing here, you've simply reinforced the clarity of unequal access to political power.

Oh, and this is priceless:

>>Women generally prefer clean, safe places with predictable hours and less stress.<<

Yeah, like the sex industry! Or fourteen hour shifts locked in a maquila. Of course, I can see why they do it now!

>>The more dangerous, dirty, and high-pressure jobs generally appeal to men. This is reflected in salary differences."<<

That's right, it's pretty filthy, lethal stuff being a CEO. No telling if you'll make your $900,000 bonus this year.

Ah, but wait - on the subject of the glass ceiling we have this:

>>While disturbing, this figure both fails to reveal the dramatic gains women have made in management over the past few decades and the future trend of women in these positions.<<

Presumably not disturbing enough to be worth feminists worrying about it tho'. (Nor presumably should they worry that the current administration seems intent on rolling back Roe vs Wade asap. No, that's not indicative of anything).

Dramatic gains - where do you think all these dramatic gains came from? And where do you think they'll go again if we take your attitude that "hey, things aren't that bad."?

Go on - tell us racism disappeared with the freedom riders too and that it's just not a problem in America these days.

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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 05:02 pm:   

"This is a message board."

Yes it is.

It's not a polemic board, at least my part of it isn't.

" i'm not saying my dick is any bigger than yours, and if it is... what would that prove?"

I've been around message boards a lot, I've even run a couple, and I've found that he who makes this kind of comment is usually trying to prove exactly that.

All that's gone before on this thread reminds me of a conversation I was part of with this South African guy, a white guy back in the early seventies. Just some guy in a bar. He was talking about politics in South Africa and somebody mentioned apartheid, and he said that apartheid was just another name for integration. I laughed at that, and he said that they for sure they had integration in South Africa. He could prove it. How's that? I asked and he showed me. He took a piece of paper and he drew a small square and shaded it black with a pencil. Then he drew a much larger square to surround the smaller square and left its interior (except for the contained black square) white. He then presented me the piece of paper and said, See? Integration.

Though the subject is different and your approach is less direct, more slippery, I have a sense that in you I'm running into an extremely closed system redolent of that South African guy and his racial politics.

You came on pretty strong with this anti-feminist stuff and ever since you've adjusted your argument to fit the moment, finally settling on parroting arguments that were set forth in books like The New Victorians and Who Stole Femininsm (both by women who considered themselves feminists, BTW). There's no doubt that feminist advocacy groups and feminist-oriented Women's Studies grad depts. have committed excesses (so do all grad depts and advocacy groups) and feminists were the first to point this out. No one will argue those points; nor will they argue that such groups have fostered various other forms of misinformation. But no matter how much rational argument you offer, it's undermined by your attitudes. I would describe those attitudes as patronizing and dismissive. You have patronized me, you've patronized everyone who's disagreed with you, and you've been especially patronizing toward the women who have responded to you. This seems to speak to the point that when you let your guard slip and make statements such as-- "...but ask any woman if they are a feminist. most will say yes, not because they are, but because they feel they should be"-- that's when your actual agenda peeps forth (an agenda that seems much wider and more vindictive than the one you assert).

Your debate tactics are to throw out statistical studies and cite articles, to change the focus by asking people to explain themselves, to draw them into dealing with your a priori assumptions, forsaking their own points. If anything you cite is questioned, if you are asked to explain yourself, you put on the patronizing and dismissive hat. For example:

I said:

"Going by what you say, it strikes me you have a personal ax to grind with a particular group of people, and you're putting a lot of people under that banner that don't belong there."

You said:

"no, contemporary feminism has lumped a lot of people under a banner they don't belong under. i have a hard time believing that most women who call themselves feminists really understand the movement they claim to be a part of."

That was especially pithy. You managed to be patronizing, dismissive, facile, and sexist all in one swoop.

Kind reminds me of when I was in Israel. You'd walk up to somebody and say, Nice day we're having, and they'd say, Yes, we have to occupy the Golan Heights.

Trading library references (or, as you put it, "backing up my argument with sources") is no way, in my view, to carry on a discussion. Since you've been to grad school, you're well aware that statistics and studies can be dredged up to support any ludicrous assumption. Apparently you have considerable time on your hands, but I don't have time for that kind of bullshit. Nor do I have time to argue with someone who self-admittedly uses insult as a goad, who trumpets a grade-point average as a proof of wisdom (4.0! You probably don't want to engrave that on your belt buckle, huh?), and is consistently disrespectful to those who address him civilly.

Now I can only guess at the pathology that informs your agenda--I don' t have the time or the interest to invest in working up a profile--and I suspect that whatever it is, the main thing at work here is that you're bored and have decided to go trolling. Under other circumstances, I might seek to address you in kind. I can be fairly disrespectful myself and if you stick around, after I finish my book, I may well feel sufficiently frisky and carefree to get into something. But for the moment, I have a deadline and I'm going to get back to it. I would suggest that you follow your own prescription and walk away from this. And I would further suggest to all the folks who have posted on this thread that they forebear responding to you -- as Jeremy Lassen likes to say, Don't feed the trolls.

Well, thanks for dropping by. If you're still on the soapbox when I get back, maybe we'll have a little fun. If not, Vaya con chihuahua....
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AliceB
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 05:45 pm:   

Okay Bryan, since I am not an ideologue nor an academic, have not read any of the studies either way, but do happen to live in the real world--in my case a middle-class town in Connecticut, I will give you my unscientific study of society.

According to census figures, the women and men in my town have received about the same amount of education. The overwhelming majority (better than 95%) have high school diplomas--a large proportion of those being through the local high school. A majority of those with high school diplomas also have higher education degrees. Unemployment is lower than the state average. Incomes, higher.

The speakers chosen for high school graduation: all boys. The class president: a boy. The 8 member town council has only one woman--and the members are all but one within my "liberated" generation. The town manager is a man. Both political parties (no greens or independents for us) are primarily run by men. Women are very active in both parties but are rarely put forth as candidates.

We happen to have several coffee places. These are all owned by women. You go into one any morning of the week (and I occasionally do, to find writing space) and you will find business owners talking about local politics and business. The only women present are the coffehouse owners--when they serve the coffee. These are all the leaders of our local chamber of commerce--and in a town like ours, they have a great deal to say about how the town is run. In my town at least, the old boy network is alive and well.

This is a place with ladies auxiliaries, junior women, sunshine clubs, art leagues, library boosters. They do excellent work, but the message is clear: this is your place, ladies. I encounter this attitude in everyday commerce, going to town hall, shopping at our local supermarket, within our schools (where, true to gender roles, the PTA is 99% female, but the board of education, which holds the pursestrings and makes school policy has only one female member--out of 7).

I sadly report that my town isn't much different from the 5 or 6 other towns that we adjoin--or for that matter, much of Connecticut... and we're considered a "liberal" state.

None of this will change by letting time take its course. Thought has to be put into these imbalances before any change will occur. An organization like NOW would be laughed out of our town--and support by them would be the equivalent of a political death wish. But that doesn't mean that thinking about why women aren't in the roles of leadership--despite the fact that they run businesses in town, raise a huge amount of money, are politically active, have the same amount of education as men--wouldn't be a darn good thing. I call that feminism. And if that isn't relevant in today's world, then I don't know what is.
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AliceB
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 06:01 pm:   

"as Jeremy Lassen likes to say, Don't feed the trolls."

Oh, sorry Lucius. I didn't get to read your post until after I had posted (the real world kept interrupting me). But I needed to get this off my chest anyway--thank you for the forum.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 06:16 pm:   

Yer welcome, Alice. Thanks for joining in...
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Deborah
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 06:43 pm:   

Alice, that sounds a lot like the small town I live in. And Oregon is considered a "liberal" state, too. Welcome to the Real World, huh?

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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 06:49 pm:   

"All that's gone before on this thread reminds me of a conversation I was part of with this South African guy..."

you should stick to story telling, it's unarguably something you're good at.

"You came on pretty strong with this anti-feminist stuff and ever since you've adjusted your argument to fit the moment, finally settling on parroting arguments that were set forth in books like The New Victorians and Who Stole Femininsm (both by women who considered themselves feminists, BTW)."

i'm not familiar with 'the new victorians'. christiana hoff sommers calls herself a feminist for political reasons (gender feminists often call her an anti-feminist). she refers to herself as an equity feminist, while she refers to third wavers as gender feminists. when i refer to feminists i'm specifically talking about gender feminists (and you know this). based on their posts: ellen, deborah, and alice b would all fit under sommers' definition of gender feminism. bob and richard also fit that bill.

"There's no doubt that feminist advocacy groups and feminist-oriented Women's Studies grad depts. have committed excesses (so do all grad depts and advocacy groups) and feminists were the first to point this out."

which feminists were the first to point this out?

"No one will argue those points; nor will they argue that such groups have fostered various other forms of misinformation. But no matter how much rational argument you offer, it's undermined by your attitudes. I would describe those attitudes as patronizing and dismissive. You have patronized me, you've patronized everyone who's disagreed with you, and you've been especially patronizing toward the women who have responded to you."

i find it patronizing that you are implying that i've been sexist. your choice to use the word 'women' instead of friends (or their given names) just emphasizes the point i'm about to make...

i've busted into a private party - i'm not welcome - and no matter what is said here. you refuse to hold your friends, and their arguments, to the same standards you've held mine. mr. shepard, true to your name, you defend their position, even when you know they are wrong. when i've made rude comments they've become the focus of the discussion (often distracting from the issue at hand). but when others have done the same... [silence]

"This seems to speak to the point that when you let your guard slip and make statements such as-- "...but ask any woman if they are a feminist. most will say yes, not because they are, but because they feel they should be"-- that's when your actual agenda peeps forth (an agenda that seems much wider and more vindictive than the one you assert)."

i didn't come here with an agenda. i made a negative remark about feminism - in a post to you - and all hell broke loose. i wasn't specifically talking about anybody on this thread. it's not my fault that strangers took what i said about feminism personally.

"Your debate tactics... if you are asked to explain yourself, you put on the patronizing and dismissive hat."

that's interesting, because that's exactly what i feel happens to me everytime i ask you guys to back up your statements.

""no, contemporary feminism has lumped a lot of people under a banner they don't belong under. i have a hard time believing that most women who call themselves feminists really understand the movement they claim to be a part of."

That was especially pithy. You managed to be patronizing, dismissive, facile, and sexist all in one swoop."

i don't see where the above response is patronizing (of whom?), dimissive (it's a fair response to the post that preceded it), facile (it's a statement i stand by), or sexist (it's not sexist to make a generalization that is true).

"Trading library references (or, as you put it, "backing up my argument with sources") is no way, in my view, to carry on a discussion."

we disagree on this point.

"Since you've been to grad school, you're well aware that statistics and studies can be dredged up to support any ludicrous assumption."

agreed. why don't you take this up with deborah
("Women make 73 cents for every dollar a man makes in a comparable job. 71 percent of those living below the poverty level are women and children.
Women are 51 percent of the population -- quick name a legislative body at any level where women hold even 25 percent of the seats")?

"Apparently you have considerable time on your hands, but I don't have time for that kind of bullshit."

i have no control over your free time. don't blame my hands for your posts. it's not like i'm going to think any less of you after you leave this conversation than i already do right now. i respect your ability to write fiction, but the man behind the pen has been anything but impressive. you're an arrogant, overly-emotional, self-rightous, cliche of a writer. a watered down yuppie carrying your hobo mask in the same pocket as your credit card. i don't care to speak to you again. see you on the astral plane.

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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 08:08 pm:   

'bryan scott cedarburg's' Yahoo e-mail address somehow morphs his name to rowan morrison93. It therefore seems reasonable to assume he's one of the myriad gutless trolls who lurk behind a cloak of anonymity and get some bizarre satisfaction in showcasing their neuroses to an audience of their betters.

I also assume his failed M.A. was in English given his predilection for lower case. [Don Marquis and e e cummings could get away with that.] I do find it ironic that in doing so, he is emulating an artist who's of immeasurable more worth to the species, k d lang.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 08:32 pm:   

Hey, Bruce.. these things happen. It would be an interesting phenomenon if it wasn't so damn common, but then the internet, as someone wrote, is a proving ground for the self-esteem of idiots. What can you do?

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