Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is Nature Morally Forbidden to Throw Us Curves?

Last night, after a Festivus party and a newborn-unveiling/tree-trimming party (to which I contributed a stuffed American eagle to sit in the branches), I went to Jen Dziura’s “Man-Pageant” thirtieth birthday celebration — and it just so happens she wrote a blog entry three years ago (called “I’m Going to End Up in Bar Fights”), when she was in the midst of donating eggs (as several of my acquaintances have done), and I think the entry hints, in some small, feeble, incipient way, at the world I wish we lived in: one where frank discussion of nature rather than politicized talk of “properly autonomous gender constructs yadda yadda yadda ein Volk” dominated (even though Jen thinks of herself as a feminist).

We’re supposed to think a cruel society and arbitrary accidents of history over the past few millennia have dictated the blinkered way we think of males vs. females, but Jen was low on estrogen at one point as a result of the egg donation process and found herself feeling an unusual, constant low-level hostility, then thinking:

I was startled. This, however, begs the question — if this is the result of a lack of estrogen…is this what guys feel like all the time? I think it might be. I have felt even-keeled, sort of laid-back but in control of everything, while prone to occasional outbursts of anger.

She’s a comedian — and a woman — and is allowed to voice such thoughts (of which I suspect there could be countless others, with significant but not necessarily sinister sociological implications), while the matriarchy frowns on males and scientists doing so. But in small ways, feminism’s tragic, distorting reign over discourse has eroded in the past couple decades, and I can’t help thinking there’s a wealth of knowledge — and happiness — to be gained if we get rid of it completely and can begin talking about the truth again, without political presuppositions, and certainly without turning feminism’s hasty conclusions about how things “ought” to be into bogus moral or legal rules.

That would be akin, I fear, to telling people that a decent, egalitarian person has to believe the Earth is flat.

(Note that I’m not recommending that some other static conception of the world be turned into a basic moral groundrule or fundamental part of a libertarian philosophy either — I am, though, suggesting how dangerous it is to import such a priori conceptions and how they can stifle the minimal rules/maximal dynamic discovery process combo that is libertarianism, or as Cromwell said: consider that you may be wrong.)


Jacob T. Levy said...

If all you were arguing was that feminism should coexist with fallibilism/ skepticism/ non-dogmatic open-mindedness, and that sometimes it doesn’t, you’d be a lot closer to right. The part of you that would rather be right than be a provocateur keeps coming close to saying that. On the other hand, you seem to think that a few decades of feminism have somehow stifled thousands of years of acquired prejudice in favor of beliefs in essential sex differences and female inferiority, which prejudices were held without much sense of fallibilism and continue to be held in that way by people in vast numbers around the world. Your estimate of the relative importance of these dogmatisms seems dubious.

Todd Seavey said...

I concede context differs with time and place (I might be a feminist activist in Saudi Arabia, as I might seek out socialists as allies in Iran). Yet which now most threatens to cause legal coercion in the U.S., feminism or patriarchy? Does anyone think we are in serious danger of specifically anti-female laws being passed here (and no, I’m not counting abortion restrictions, lest we end up going down another complicated alley)?

Yet we now have a president-elect (already busy with big-spending public works ideas, as some libertarians who voted for him may have noticed) who, at least prior to the election, promised to have the government enforce male-female same-position pay equality. And the intellectual impetus for many such measures exists and is rooted, quite obviously, in the elite acceptance of feminist (perceived) grievances against market outcomes.

Saying (broadly, and ever mindful of the countless exceptions any issues this complex raise) that feminism is a threat to _present-day American_ liberty should be no more controversial than saying that, for example, environmentalism is — and, yes, I am familiar with the free-market environmental movement _and with how small it is_.

Gerard said...

The funny thing is that comparable worth is probably the only major stupid idea that I don’t see being enacted through the next session of Congress, although I have no doubt that he’ll try to impose it through administrative fiat.

BTW, I think this blog entry validates your assumptions about feminist thought on this subject:

A Gendered Read On The Stimulus Package

I don’t know how often you peruse that website, but it’s pretty typical of the muddled, Gramscian-type thinking you encounter among third wave feminism.

If you check their archives you’ll find scads of posts demonizing Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and Dave Evans-and basically, the entire Duke lacrosse team-for a rape invented by a drug-addled, criminal hooker from Durham. Essentially, and I’m throwing out a wild guess here, because everyone on that Duke Lacrosse team was-with a sole exception-white.

Tim said...

Unfortunately, the people there want a zillion billion

laws to change stuff, but there is still some substance

even there.

Gerard, if you eliminate the legal interventionist stuff,

there is a some discussion concerning which jobs

women choose, and links to organizations which

encourage “nontraditional” work. Having people look

beyond roles for more lucrative or more satisfying work

does have “efficiency of market” implications. In fact,

one book I have, “The Worldly Philosophers,” has an

introduction where cartels which stifled pricing changes

and innovations, traditional job-inheritance practices,

and bans and stigma on “usury” stifled the creation of

a labor market.

Another link I looked at was concerning breast

reduction. There was the health stuff, the accusation

by a friend that someone was “afraid to be a woman,”

and surprisingly no comment about whether it would

be OK for esthetic reasons. People need to sort out

all the “whole women” stuff.

Also, guys who object to women who object to sexual

depictions of women everywhere: this helps keep that

stuff in check. Guys need to think about other things,


PS – Certain types of genital mutilation are already

traditional and legal in certain US subcultures. I would

not extend this, but can envisage a court case based

on “fairness,” even though, of course, it would only

result in extra children, this time femaie, being


Todd Seavey said...

[...] 6. One Punk Under God featuring Jay Bakker: I was recently given a free DVD of this short documentary series, about the punk preacher son of disgraced televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, depicting his decision to move from Atlanta to Brooklyn, where he starts a more gay-friendly congregation.  One of his Brooklyn parishioners, Benjamin Doray, actually gave it to me during a farewell bar gathering for California-bound Marcia Baczynski, who’s a big fan of item #8, coming up in a moment.  One of the documentary’s most revealing moments, given the tension throughout between punk Jay and father Jim, is Jim Bakker admitting he always feared his father’s disapproval and then breaking down while speaking at Pete’s Candy Store (that’s right, the Jim Bakker has been on the same stage that has hosted spelling bee hostess Jen Dziura, not to mention Lefty Leibowitz’s Ramblin’ Kings country band — I always said there was something David Lynch-like about that slightly-claustrophobic, intensely-red space that would work well on camera).  As a man working on a book called Conservatism for Punks, I was morally obligated to watch this documentary, and I’m glad I did. [...]