Alan Sondheim on Sun, 8 Oct 2006 21:36:09 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Gender and You

I'm not sure how much longer nettime will let me go on, but I feel
again I have to respond; now I'm an Orientalist as well as sexist.
This is one of the ugliest exchanges I've had - maybe the ugliest -
but I can't let it go.

On Sat, 7 Oct 2006, Kali Tal wrote:

> I do find the Nikuko pieces Orientalist. I think Alan waves aside the
> crucial issue of who wields the power in creating and enforcing
> representation in a given culture; from my perspective it's absurd to
> argue that members of groups with different sets of privilege are
> still somehow "equal" on the field of representation. The male
> student who poses as a woman may learn a lesson about "what it's like
> for women", but he's doing this in an environment where real women
> are already largely displaced by men playing women. He will of course
> bring his own stereotypes to the role play, and whether he intends it
> or not he's more likely to reinscribe sexist stereotypes than to
> violate them.

If you did read the Nikuko work you'd know it's not enforcing the
repre- sentation of any given culture; it's working out of the Kojiki.
I was waiting for you to say this - from your viewpoint - and I still
feel essentialist - any representation of the Other is always already
damned. I'd like to know where you find - exactly - the stereotyping
in the Nikuko material, since so called Orientals seem to have liked

Second, the male student learns a lesson yes about what it's like for
women - but I never claimed anything more. Judging by the results,
the exercise was useful. And there was no time to "reinscribe sexist
stereo- types" although of course you won't agree - the whole exercise
takes about ten minutes. What you're doing here is disgusting -
damning the male (or female) student for _trying_ - already accusing
him of sexual stereotypes - which assumes he learns nothing about
questioning such.

> Straw woman arguments: I'm an essentialist (I'm a constructivist);

I don't see the relationship here, but when you announce that you're
writing as a women - and when other women have seen the material
differently - it comes across as essential - otherwise, why write it?

> I'm enforcing PC (I have no power to do that--I believe that "PC-as-
> an-oppressive-force" is an invention of people who benefit from
> unearned privilege and get annoyed when challenged);

Yes, but it's a hell of a lot more than that, and you're begging the
question. This is glib.

> I haven't read
> his work (I have; I just don't see the same things he sees in it); I 
> accuse him of cruising (I don't--I accuse him of reinforcing sexist 
> stereotypes);

If you're read the work, why didn't you know that this material was
abandoned years ago?

I claim to speak for all women (I don't; I speak AS a
> woman, which is a completely different thing); I say I know what he's
> feeling or doing (I don't--I only say I know what he's writing); that
> I don't understand his work is fiction (I do--but nothing says
> fictional representation can't be oppressive);

No it's not fiction - I don't have the original text here, but I
wouldn't claim that it is, so apologies if I left that impression.
It's a proble- matic of writing, a problematic of discourse, and isn't
intended to be either fiction or poetry or any other pigeon-holing.

> I accuse him of
> violence (I didn't--I just don't like the way he writes women);  I do
> him violence (he disagrees with the comparisons I've made across race
> and gender lines).

Which does violence - bringing up words like 'blackface' is more than
a 'comparison.' You're accusing me of violence and stereotyping - this
is what you're doing in fact. You have no quotes for example from my
work (although I'm sure you can find them) - so it's a question of
differend - anyone reading this would be sure there's 'something'
there since you say it's so. And that's a kind of violence. Apply your
theory to yourself.

> Alan has posted a tremendous amount of text over the last decades, a
> good deal of which I have appreciated, as I said previously. I think
> it perfectly reasonable to critique one aspect of that text--the
> sexism, which seems to me clearly visible, whether intentional or
> not. I am well aware that not all women will agree with my critique

I think it's reasonable to question absolutely everything - but you
weren't questioning - you were and are condemning. And there's a huge
difference. This isn't a discussion, at least not on my end.

> but then, I'm not an essentialist and so I don't feel that women need
> to speak in a unanimous voice. I just call it like I see it.
As long as the voice is speaking 'as a woman.'

- Alan

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