General status of gender relations vs. Quibbles, was Re: MistressJudith (was Re: Butler on S]

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Tue Nov 23 16:02:15 PST 1999

Brett Knowlton wrote:

> This is all true, and it is unfair, but what can really be done about it?

You ask a rather large question (and with a relatively easy answer at that general a level), but let me ignore that and give you a little help on a somewhat smaller version of the same question in a different form: How do you avoid making a jackass of yourself in debates such as you are having with Kelley and Kathat. It's fairly simple. When a proposition about the relations of men and women, or of blacks and whites, is *generallly* true -- don't quibble, above all do not start digging up strained exceptions such as "some older women marry younger men." Of course they do (my daughter did! my first wife did! my grandmother did!), but that has no political significance whatsoever, while the general proposition does.

And because your little quibble (and any similar one) is so insignificant the only conclusion your interlocutor can arrive at is that you are making excuses for the present order of things. I forget whoever it was that dragged in Mrs. Robinson, but dragging in such a bit of trivia as that (wrongly interpreted to boot) can only come off as a sort of dumb defensiveness. What point does it have except as such a counter argument.

Take a look at one of the newspaper columns that have been appearing lately claiming that wives beat husbands too. See how stupid they look.

Take the general point. Avoid silly quibbles, and go on from there. In our society older men marry younger women and older women don't marry younger men. That is the politically significant proposition, and no number of stupid quibbles, whether based on a movie or who your daughter married is going to make any difference -- except to make you look either sexist or (at best) silly.


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