Charles Baldwin on Fri, 13 Oct 2006 20:51:38 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Gender and You

I'm just catching up with this debate and it's already quite
complicated. Because of that, I can't pretend to address it directly. I
think that most of this is beyond sorting out, and I think at this point
the discussion isn't about Sondheim's "Gender and Me" post or even about
"Alan Sondheim" as someone put it, but about itself the discussion
itself and the momentum of this set of exchanges.

I find it odd how little of the debate addresses the work in question
(Alan Sondheim's). Since so much of the discussion is about establishing
or undermining credentials and positions - who can speak and as what -
I'll do the same and say I've been reading Alan's work online for 14 or
so years. Furthermore, I work with him on a number of projects and know
him quite well. So that's me, like it or not. I feel obligated - since
we speak of dialogue and obligation - to make a plea for separating
these exchanges from blanket characterizations of Sondheim and/or his
work. Even the initial post, "Gender and Me," is a small and informal
fragment discussing an set of writings and practices over decades. I'm
not saying everyone needs to read the whole Internet Text, but, for
example: I know, from following discussion around Sondheim's work, that
Kali is familiar with it and writes from that familiarity, however else
I parse her responses; I notice, for example, that Kali is careful in
her posts to note that her critique is not necessarily commenting on all
of Alan's work.

By contrast, it's just incorrect to assert that Alan's problem is that
he needs to go read up on feminism, as Danny Butt does in a recent post
(below). I think, in fairness, Danny Butt's post writes from
unfamiliarity with Alan's work - or at least that's is my impression.
Alan's work *is* informed by a few decades of feminist philosophy and
criticism (empirically the largest body of work on gender issues) and
makes a contribution to that field and acknowledges that it exists. I
argue that Alan's Internet Text (along with _Being Online_ and other
publications out of that work) remains one of the the earliest and
certainly the most sustained explorations of gender issues online (among
other things). If there is a problem - and I am not the one to say there
is - it is not in lack of attention to gender issues. I'd say, also,
that his work is nothing if it's not about dialogue and difference. So,
it makes sense (in terms of dialogue, conversation, difference) to
debate the role of feminist theory in Alan Sondheim's writing - and that
might be a start - but the answer is surely not to call people
misinformed when they're not.

OK, flame on.

Sandy Baldwin

>>> Danny Butt <> 10/09/06 3:18 AM >>>
Let's try this another way.

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