LPC Is At A Practical Wedding Today


Today I am over at A Practical Wedding, writing on clarifying the language of feminism. Meg Keene, the sites’s publisher and a friend of mine, took feminism as the theme for October. I’m squeaking in under the wire.

When she asked me for a piece, immediately I thought I needed to write about language. By now it should be clear that I deconstruct anything difficult, hoping that clear definitions and logic sort out everything – from feminism to what to wear on the sofa. In a charged emotional situation, I’m either going to burst into sobs, confess, rant, or analyze.

In these excerpts, you may see that I mostly took the second path:

What Feminism Isn’t

Hating men…I’ve worked in male-abundant industries on and off since 1983, my happiness in my job independent of gender percentages. In all this time, I have seen no evidence of a unified patriarchal conspiracy. Some men like women, some do not. Some want equality, others do not….

What Feminism Is: An Immodest Proposal
Equal Access To Power—Taking Down The Barriers

Let’s clarify. We don’t have the right that power be awarded us just because we’re women. We do have the right to equal access to power. And, if we want to realize that right, we have to take down barriers…

As you can imagine, a list of public and personal barriers follows.

Please go take a look, if you have the time. Thank you for reading.

 

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14 Comments

  • 10/30/13
    8:12 am

    Reply

    Cynthia said...

    I think you have to look at the hierarchy of needs when thinking about feminism. Equal access to power is at the very tippy-tip of the pyramid (esteem, self-actualizatoin) but there are still many, many women in our society who are treated as less than at the most basic levels. Physiological — ability to control fertility. Even in this day and age. I have a friend who (for various reasons none of which were irresponsibility) Waited Too Long for the current state of our laws. Safety — so many women aren’t even safe at home, domestic violence is still a huge problem. Love and belonging — expectations of women in relationships are still messed up and they still interfere with the more rarefied levels of equality. Feminism definitely shouldn’t just be focused on the Sheryl Sandbergs of the world, and that’s what I sort of see as becoming the public face of the word right now.

    10/30/13
    10:57 am
    Lisa said...

    As someone pointed out in the comments on APW, I left out class. I find that with tough problems, I can only sort one thing out at a time. Yes, absolutely, women without resources suffer more.

  • 10/30/13
    10:08 am

    Reply

    Robin Parritz said...

    The BEST essay on feminism I’ve read in a long time (and I read a lot of them)! Thank you.

    10/30/13
    10:57 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you very, very much.

  • 10/30/13
    10:41 am

    Reply

    Parnassus said...

    Hello Lisa,

    In addition to their current topical value, your comments would make a worthwhile lens to examine such feminist heroines of literature as Elizabeth Bennett, Daisy Miller, or Edna Pontellier–what could they expect in their day, versus how their situations are used as a litmus test of our own values.
    Incidentally, I never could see why biological differences of women are seen as a drawback in so many feminist schemes. Why would even the most ardent feminist want his or her baby to be born in a test tube? There seems to be a strange embedded idea, even in the feminists’ minds, that any difference (from men) is bad.
    Thanks for a most interesting discussion.
    –Jim

    10/30/13
    11:30 am
    GSL said...

    Well said as usual Parnassus and I would put Lily Bart on that list too.

    10/30/13
    12:02 pm
    Lisa said...

    Maybe I could write it and Professor C. provide commentary:).

  • 10/30/13
    11:16 am

    Reply

    GSL said...

    Your friend Meg wasted no time showing me the door over at APW…I respectfully suspect as a courtesy to her guest columnist. Since I am likely off her dinner party guest list, do pass along my warm regards for helping to illustrate my point regarding the sanctity of Private Clubs and freedom of association. I know I can pull up a chair here as Sturdy Gals are quite capable of fending for themselves as ‘Jolandra’ did in a very ‘sturdy’ reply. In fact, were this debate allowed to continue, I’d say I’d have some ground to make up (and I could!).
    You see my Sturdy LPC, as several local hostesses could attest the ‘almost housebroken’ GSL never puts up a fuss when being turned out though I often ask if can saw off a piece of that succulent roast I’ve been taking divots out of and poring my tumbler {of special reserve bourbon I discovered tucked away in a dark recess of their liquor cabinet) into a roadie cup for the cab ride to either a saloon or the FWB’s who will be getting 7 minutes notice. My argument regarding Private Clubs follows.
    Nobody should be able to dictate or demand access to people who want to conduct legal activities on private property. If Bill Gates & Warren Buffet discuss IBM and the yips on the 3rd tee at Augusta, that should be treated the same as a women’s group who has lunch every other Thursday to rekindle friendship, gossip, and pass along career tips. Also, the Congressional Black Caucus has very specific membership requirements and do a hell of a lot of consequential business on both public and private property so the Feminists are really going to need to fan out when they launch their assault.
    Do tell Jolandra I very respectfully tip my teardrop fedora her way.

    10/30/13
    11:50 am
    Lisa said...

    Meg moderates her site for the benefit of her community. I do it far less, as I rarely write anything terribly controversial. At least on purpose. However, you will notice as I have edited out one phrase from your comment above:). With all due respect, some things make me a little uncomfortable, even when meant with good will. I hope you will understand.

  • 10/30/13
    11:26 am

    Reply

    Flo said...

    We are so accustomed to your masterpieces around here that some may assume these gorgeous sentences and perfectly sequenced thoughts of yours just spill spontaneously from your keyboard. Time after time, no sweat. So, I’m glad you took a couple of occasions to reveal the tough work behind crafting this masterpiece. It’s long been one of my gripes that mentors/parents/educators fail to display what the steps to success [at any endeavor, at any level] actually look like, indeed that there are many steps, some big some small. It was a very nice touch!

    10/30/13
    11:33 am
    GSL said...

    Thanks Flo

    10/30/13
    11:52 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you Flo. It was just really hard to stay logical and precise. The posts here are a lot more pure fun:).

  • 10/30/13
    12:33 pm

    Reply

    Marsha Calhoun said...

    Superb, thoughtful, carefully reasoned, humane . . . well done!

    10/30/13
    2:08 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Marsha Calhoun, Thank you.

  • 10/30/13
    1:17 pm

    Reply

    Flo said...

    Just ran over to see how Max is doing today, how timely is this: http://maxminimus.tumblr.com/post/65402623261/subrbnprincess#disqus_thread

  • 10/30/13
    3:14 pm

    Reply

    Anne E. said...

    Great essay! I’m sorry some of the comments on that site got so convoluted and negative – a few of those ladies seemed to be angry that you didn’t cover their particular branch of feminism. You were very kind to respond to them so politely.

    10/31/13
    8:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Anne E., I try to hang on to polite as long as possible. It’s much easier in the world of the written word. Thank you.

  • 10/31/13
    7:12 am

    Reply

    Murphy said...

    Many years ago, when I moved on from my first professional job in my male-dominated field, my bosses gave me a going away party at their all-men’s dining club. I had to go in a separate entrance and slip into the only room where women were allowed. It was a bit of a mixed message.
    To GSL above, I see many differences between my women’s book group outings and male captains of industry doing business at all male clubs. For example, my book club is not excluding anyone who has a legitimate right or even responsibility to be in on the discussion. Moreover, we are not claiming tax deductiions for our outing, nor do we expect tax breaks or publicly funded bailouts should things not work out as planned.

    10/31/13
    8:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @Murphy, “For example, my book club is not excluding anyone who has a legitimate right or even responsibility to be in on the discussion.”

    Well said.

  • 10/31/13
    8:07 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    Thoughtful, measured, insightful post. I worry a bit, though, about the emphasis on analysis, on logic, etc. because if there’s anything feminism has taught us, it should be that the privileging of certain modes of discourse is often at the expense — and silencing — of others. Yes, emotion can cloud, but it can also be the source of important knowledge(s) that taken longer, and are often much messier, to parse. As well, the most interesting (to me) feminist theory (the poststructuralist, psychoanalytic stuff) considers the shaping role of language’s structure on what can and cannot be said, the way the very words we are born into determine what we can think.
    And yes, I quickly acknowledge that this is outside the bailiwick of what you’re trying to do here, but it seems really important to me to register this concern.

    10/31/13
    9:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @materfamilias,

    I get through life by analysis, and find that when things are most emotional, I am best served by structured thought. I wind up in trouble when I lead with feeling, hence my approach. In the personal sphere, I believe in clarity.

    The public sphere, maybe less so. I think insisting on rolling everything up together – the language enforcement – has set the discussion on feminism back. However, I was also thinking this morning, that the rollup may have advanced the causes of other “slices,” and perhaps those slices needed advancement more than the slice that puts Women at the top of the logic tree.

    In that case, we’re achieving the most good for the most people. Which is maybe the right thing, even if it feels like irritating muddied discourse to me, and occasionally makes me want to run screaming from the metaphorical room.

    10/31/13
    11:25 am
    materfamilias said...

    To clarify, I’m not speaking of language enforcement (chair instead of chairman, etc.), but of much more nuanced work that gets into the fascinating etymology of words, traces histories and entire cultures within. I do understand your wish for clarity, and like to proceed logically myself, but I also know that for those who don’t work that way, either through training or personality, the demand for it can be silencing. I have long appreciated Catherine Belsey’s (a Welsh critical theorist) term “the tyranny of lucidity”. . . .

    10/31/13
    11:30 am
    Lisa said...

    “The tyranny of lucidity?” Oh that breaks my heart. Lucidity is my salvation. And like anything, can be used for good or evil. If someone needs a little lucid, I’m happy to give it out, no charge, no demands. Can you imagine how a world without lucidity might terrify some of us?

    :)

  • 10/31/13
    6:09 pm

    Reply

    Flo said...

    “Can you imagine how a world without lucidity might terrify some of us?”

    Wait. Not to fear. Borrowed lucidity is the thing to fear here, borrowed lucidity is not what the community wants from us. If I ask you to bring lucidity to something I’m evaluating, all I’d get from you would be the narrow angle of YOUR lucidity cast from the sum total to date of YOUR material. My material would be wholly absent, yet I’d submit the report under my name.

    Rather, the community of the board room/corporation/university wants our material dredged from the authority of our OWN light, from the emotional and rational material of our OWN experience [including that “broken heart”].

    Your broken heart has powerful information to share about you. I’m all ears!

  • 10/31/13
    6:23 pm

    Reply

    Flo said...

    ps

    CONGRATULATIONS !!

  • 11/01/13
    1:35 pm

    Reply

    Susan Partlan said...

    The post and comments are fascinating to read. I would comment but am not able to approach this subject with rational analysis. If you take on money and finance though I’d be happy to chime in :). As for feminism, I listen a lot, try not to be part of the problem, and I tell and interpret personal stories with as much perspective as I can muster from experience and ongoing study of history. As one who leads with emotion this is the best I can do.

  • 11/02/13
    12:08 pm

    Reply

    Susanne said...

    Lisa, I adore you and your posts, so this is directed at the commentary, not you.

    Who the heck are these people, and why are they such whiners that you didn’t speak for every woman? Um, you’re not obligated to. It’s your opinion piece. You could argue every woman should model herself after Sheryl Sandberg if you like. It’s your opinion. Other people can other opinions.

    The language and jargon is thick and obfuscatory. This kind of thick, dense, victim hood in the comments is what gives feminism a bad name. It’s pedantic and awful.

    You are still awesome.

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