E. Miller on Fri, 13 Oct 2006 23:23:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Sondheim brou-ha-ha: one perspective

Okay, I'll chime in too.

So maybe I'm a bit younger (34) and not exposed to/informed on nearly enough
feminist theory.  But here's my perspective.  For my entire professional
career most of my bosses and clients have been women.  My business partner
(my wife) is a woman.  When I was in college, most of my classmates were
women.  Now that I teach, most of my best students are women.  I went to a
conference yesterday, and the most compelling and interesting conversation I
had was with a woman.  Of our circle of friends, many (if not most) of the
most driven and successful individuals are women.

So when I read stuff (paraphrased) like "this is so oppressing" and "online
environments aren't comfortable" and "this experience made this female
lawyer cry" (linked material) and so on, it just sounds...Victorian to me.
Not that these experiences aren't true, but that the perspective
inadvertently reinforces old and out of date stereotypes.  Like women are
porcelain dolls that need to be protected.  Like "hysteria" is still a valid
medical diagnosis.  Like that female-only fragile personality syndrome still
belongs in the DSM.  Like bras have yet to be burned.

I certainly wouldn't argue that women don't still have a hard time of it;
but then again, it's not a warm-and-fuzzy world, not many folks at all
(regardless of gender) are going to have a completely conflict/obstacle-free
life handed to them, nor maybe should anyone ever have it that easy in the
first place.  I've known a fair number of people (male and female) who have
had an easy time of it, and from my perspective they tend to be a bit dull,
or maybe underachievers, without the fire that comes from toughing it out
through difficult formative experiences.

And I'm not trying to project onto feminist theory, I'm completely
unqualified to do so, or that my experience applies to other cultures,
situations, or socioeconomic strata.  I'm just saying that the arguments
haven't struck me as relevant to my personal experience, where women are
admirably strong and successful, and arguments that emphasize the fragility
of women in a bad, bad environment just sounds to my ears like a throwback
to corsets and tales of frequent fainting at the first signs of difficulty
in life.

Flame on, all.


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