Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ironical statement...

If it's one thing that all feminists hate, it's being lumped together as one group!

Funny as that is, I think it should be recognized as a dialogical courtesy to speak of "feminisms" rather than "feminism," and moreover, if a doctrine is referenced, to ascribe it to "certain feminisms" rather than "feminism." Now, this courtesy does not satisfy the complaint that certain such groups reject the moniker "feminist" altogether (e.g., womanists or mujeristas). But I find it more helpful to premise discussion with a disclaimer against total accuracy, than to invent an excessively wordy terminology which will (anyway) always fail to cover the whole breadth of opinions

On a related note, one of the central themes of certain feminisms is the task of "problematizing nature," or combatting the notion that any characteristics or traits are "naturally" feminine, and therefore, universal, normative, or binding.

Now, part of the difficult in liberal-conservative disputes is that the above doctrine involves a critique of how language has been corrupted into oppressive doctrines. Thus, if serious and level-headed conversation about that doctrine is to be possible, those participating need to understand that it is the very notion of nature which is in dispute.

Just as any good dictionary definition cannot include the defined term within its description, so a rational discussion of "nature" should avoid using the word among its premises. This is why certain feminists hold that their male dialogue partners are hopeless; because it is as difficult to avoid implying the concept of "nature" as it is not to use the word "thing" or "the."

My modest proposal is that, in discussions about whether any generalities can be made based off of observations of disparate data in our environs, it would be helpful to speak of that which is "common" rather than that which is "natural." The debate, after all, is whether "the common" and "the natural" are correlated in any way. Note that this is a methodological, not ideological concession. Of course, methodology and ideology cannot be wholly separated (which is my critique of the "hermenuetics of suspicion"); but since stating that things are "natural" begs the question in the dispute between existential feminism and naturalism, beginning with the "common" I think is proper.

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