Saturday, April 08, 2006

Feminism for dummies

One of my favorite readings on the web is Bitch, PhD.

She talks about being a woman in academia, about child rearing and about feminism in terms that are very concrete and understandable. This post where she explains feminism to her five years old is something that even I can follow.

I wonder if she writes pseudonymously because, in gender studies circles, it would be shameful to write so clearly.

By the way, since she writes pseudonymously, we don't even really know that she is a woman. It would be really interesting if Bitch, PhD, is written by a man who switches all genders when he talks about his life experiences. So he is a professor with a stay-at-home wife who gave up her career so he could move to his university of choice. And he has a mistress in a nearby city: his wife knows and she does not object. Suddenly, a radical and cool lifestyle becomes suspect and objectionable, even though it is, of course, the same lifestyle (only the genders of the involved people have changed).

Which makes me wonder: has liberal and feminist thought come up with its own double standards? (I have my own answer, but I wonder what you think.)

On a somewhat related note: has feminism made flirting less fun?


  1. Anonymous Anonymous
    4/08/2006 10:16:00 PM

    Perhaps the following experience of my SO is illuminating.

    She went to a feminist conference in Israel, and she was having real problems to participate becuase she was not any of the following: (a) homosexual (b) Arab (c) Anti-Zionist (d) A Jew of north African descent (historically unprivileged in Israeli society). She was too mainstream. Indeed, my SO and her like were invited to participate in a discussion group called "me and my racism". Ironic, don't you think?

    My point is that radical groups have taken over feminism in the sense that these women of types (a) to (d) mentioned above are what many people think of when they think of feminists (mainly homosexual and/or politically radical). However, certainly most feminists are still like my SO, they are just less vocal and provocative. Needless to say, my SO swore never to participate in such a "feminist" conference again, so this problem perpetuates itself.

    A friend of ours summed this up nicely. He told my SO "Hey, I know what you are. You're not a feminist. - you're a suffragist!".

    PS:Being too lazy to bookmark your blog or web-site, I look at up by typing "luca" in google and following the links. You were ranked second till today when I discovered you are ranked first. Congratulations! I guess this is due to the blog?

  2. Blogger bitchphd
    4/08/2006 10:25:00 PM

    Trust me, I'm a woman.

    The reason things would read differently isn't b/c feminism has created a double standard; it's because the double standard predates feminism (and still exists). That is to say, the context in which decisions get made matters. As a class, men have more economic power than women; they have less responsibility for kids; they aren't held to as many double standards vis-a-vis sexuality, work, parenting, and so on.

    I write about that stuff too, you know ;)

  3. Anonymous Anonymous
    4/09/2006 06:23:00 PM

    By the way, since she writes pseudonymously, we don't even really know that she is a woman.

    Funny that you mention it. While I do think she's a woman, every so often her postings seem a bit too farfetched. I wonder if she embellishes a bit for effect...

    Say, the husband knowingly stays at home taking care of the kid while she travels to another city to have sex with her lover? I dunno...

  4. Anonymous Anonymous
    4/10/2006 11:04:00 PM

    One of the most interesting classes i took in Berkeley (after Complexity of course!) was at SIMS. I don't remember the name but the basic goal was to teach system designers to be feminists. Apparently, a system designer must acknowledge that he/she only has a "partial perspective" of the system (the users for example having another one) and cannot impose a "master narrative". I never learned how to design systems, but I did learn who Donna Haraway is.

    And as far as flirting goes, i will always find confident women who can also be in charge more attractive than princesses waiting to be charmed off their feet.

  5. Anonymous Anonymous
    4/11/2006 10:34:00 AM

    Who is Donna Haraway?

  6. Anonymous Anonymous
    4/11/2006 11:07:00 AM

    It's one of my favourite reads ever:

    Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,"


    This chapter is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism.

    One can get the whole text here:

  7. Blogger bitchphd
    4/12/2006 09:12:00 AM

    LOL, anon, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


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