start over, sorta

Rob Schaap rws at
Fri Nov 26 23:35:27 PST 1999

Useful post, Kel,

I'm snowed under but I just can't leave it alone, eh?

>no one said there was damage with regard to individuals. what we said was
>that IT IS A SIGN of a deeper social problem.

Sure, and I never said it necessarily wasn't. Yoshie had asked:

"What can possibly be the cause of such a pattern in the society you posit?"

And then added:

"It's much more likely that such a gendered behavior will disappear; the causes of the existing pattern are sexism + income & wealth inequality between men and women, so in a society where neither exists, there is no material condition that supports such a pattern."

And I suggested a possible contributing factor and suggested it was no less material. Just uncomfortably inconclusive, that's all.

She also said:

"Further, there won't be any matterial support for the predominance of heterosexuality either. I guess when it comes to gender, many men avoid inconvenient materialist explanations."

Why would men have such as the ones found here have such a vested interest in issues like this that they refuse to countenance it? I suggest heterosexuality (whether it remains a category or not) is not likely to be made illegal in our lifetimes. I also reckon it's to do with instincts, and that lots of innies and outies will keep rubbing against each other for some time to come. But who really cares about then?

>1. a hangover from an eons old practice that might have been rooted in
>biological imperatives [but that i think anthropological evidence actually
>refutes this assertion] but i'll grant us this one. d eal?

Don't reckon you're any more likely to come up with irrefutable evidence for your suspicion than I am for mine, Kel. They make sense, they're not mutually incompatible, together they are not politically dangerous (a bonus), and they're the best I can do right now. That'll have to do.

>2. relatedly, that practice has clearly contributed to structural
>inequalities such that women are systmatically paid less. we live in a
>society that valorizes the great american dream of upward mobility, of
>doing better than your parents, etc since men have, on avg, better paying
>jobs than women, they have more power in the dating market *on average*.
>this shapes women's ideals about what to expect in a partner --her ideals
>are more diverse in terms of beauty than his. his ideals about the
>earnings capacity of a partner are more diverse than her restricted ones.
>there is tons and tons of research on that. there something wrong about a
>situation in which our choices are deliminted by disparities in income and
>status. the obvious point is that, in a world in which money matter, he
>has more power. he doesn't do anything nor does she to make the situation
>that way to begin with. however i would argue we all hold responsibility
>for not doing something about it.

That money confers power, and power sexual advantage (relative to both the sought-after sex, and poorer members of the same sex), I reckon is hard to refute.

>it is not unlike doug's
>wall st in that it had an oriiginary moment and now it's operations are
>effectively unmoored and floating and there's a big gap betweent he
>company and the stock price--the floating signifier of race and gender at
>they say in the cult studs depts.

I follow this, but do you really think we're completely free-floating? Is discourse that powerful? Why haven't centuries of capitalism made us more in its own image by now. "Uneconomic values" and "irrational behaviour" do keep on keeping on ...

>that you insisted continually that i was talking about
>discourse theory was odd -- a little marxist semiotics maybe.

Well, that you thought I was continually insisting you were talking discourse theory 'as monad' (and I was only arguing with it in the sense I thought it was implicitly being accorded that excessive capacity) is strange, too. We worked that out off-list a week ago, when I complimented you on your finely tuned critique of Butler. I was accusing you of misrepresenting me is all.

>now, we can argue that we should focus on class struggle and only that.
>i'm not sure. or we can, as carrol argues, make sure that class struggle
>entails gender/race. i myself am not so sure and why i quote the young
>marx's letter to ruge where he says that theory doesnn't dictate practice,
>that there are no slogans that we hoist and direct ourselves and the people
>with some blueprint/ rather, it's all very pragmatic. moreover, he says,
>we can't imagine that we can stay out of politics. that is not the
>solution he says to ruge thought it was best to avoid bourgeois poliitics
>as fruitless. rather, we must take a side in existing poltical struggles.

I agree, I've often referred to A&H's *Unorthodox Marxism* in this respect.

>so women who systematically
>make less than men are going to be attracted to stable men with good job
>and near the peak of their earning capacity and are quite willing to
>overlook less than perfection physically as a trade off for the secure income.

Yep. And some will just adore a stable older man. As I adored many a teacher in my time. Again, I'm accusing you of absolutely nothing, but ageism is an 'ism', too, eh? I'd happily melt if Dianna Rigg treated me to one of those knowing smiles even now.

>there's no harm in the relationship. there's harm in how it came about
>that the above happened and reified a set of social interactions that tip
>the balance in favor of men and disadvantage women. and they do so in a
>way to reinforce and make capitalist machinery run much smoother.

You don't know how it came about, Kel! If you and I ever do have the pleasure of walking a communist degendered world together, we'd quickly get an idea, though. My bet is there'd still be quite a bit of inexplicable attraction going on around us.

>now, what makes you think you have an edge on the materialist explanation.
>this is one thing i dont' understand. you plead for room for the
>biological as the material but i've never udnerstood how physical tangible
>look and see things are the only things that are material.

I'm no 'matterist' - and I did not claim any edges - just constantly repeated myself in different ways in a drawn-out campaign of self-defence is what I thought I was doing. I was trying to get you to understand what I was trying to say - it felt like it was ME you weren't understanding. Sure I was positing what I took for a materialist conception of history, but my impression that you weren't understanding my account of it (as I felt Doug misunderstood me) does not add up to a claim that you don't understand such theory at all. I'm quite new at this game, and wouldn't be so presumptuous.

>a marxist materialist social constructionism is quite different from judy.
>indeed judy is not all social constructionisms by a long shot because after
>all habermas makes much good use of social constructinist arguments --mead,
>goffman, garfinkel, simmel are all considered social cosntructionists right?

Don't know Garfinkel, but I like the others a fair bit. And I liked what you had to say contra Butler, too - just didn't pass too much public comment because I've never managed to get through a whole Butlerism, that's all.

>but how can you imagine that the materialist feminist anthropology drawn on
>in that accoutn of the western euro family is not based on a dialectical

You'd have to show me where I made this claim. I suspect I was operating at altogether a more simplistic level - and with the threat of monad-induced certainty as my concern, too. Sure, I dipped my toes into a bit of sex v. gender stuff, but I'd allowed myself to get distracted from what induced me to enter the trenches on this one. I did try to keep my humanism 'practical' rather than 'theoretical' - and when I weakened, it was because I reckon societies need policies and conventions that acknowledge different needs and interests (mebbe someone with a womb has different needs and interests than someone with a scrotum in any scenario - but let's not get into that).

>the argument since you haven't heard it i guess is this: yes
>biological procreative imperatives may have once played a role in men's
>choices in younger females. indeed the fact of women dying in childbirth
>may well have contributed to same phenom. may even have contributed more.
>cutlural practices grew up around those behaviors and became reified and
>they are with us long after the point at which they were useful or
>meaningful. sketchy, but clearly dialiectically materialist.

Happy with it. Just not sure about the 'may have once'. I reckon instincts need longer to fit one-to-one with the radical and dramatic dynamic social changes of the last 8000 years - even the last thirty, really. We regulate 'em, control 'em, ignore 'em, give 'em meanings, turn their moment of manifestation into something else - all of that. But they're still present in the mix, for mine.

>well this, then, is just the flip side of catherine's claim that the womb
>is wholly discursive is it not? it's all discursive, it's all natural.

It is the flip-side. Yes. Mebbe I just misunderstood Catherine. It IS discursive and it IS natural. Happy with that. But, you see, I thought that's what I'd been saying, and I took Catherine to be disagreeing.

>evidence for how biology influences us in terms of the partners we choose?
>i keep patiently and sincerely asking...?

Don't reckon it's a fair question to ask, Kel! It's a sensible thing to think and a useful foil for what I perceived as overconfident and one-sided 'discursivity', that's all. Marx's 'tendency for the rate of profit to fall' (under capitalism), is a hard one to prove in empirical scientific terms, too. But it strikes me as compellingly sensible.

I didn't demand you give me proof that my invocation of natural tendencies had been 'fatally' attacked, either. Didn't think you could. I liked Peter's post about the importance of recognising the possibility that theory might leave stuff out - and that systems theory tends to leave out stuff just by positing a system - and that mebbe Marxian dialectics may properly be distinguished from mainstream systems theory on this criterion alone. People who think like that won't ever be the sort of doctrinaire bullies I fear so much.

Cheers, Rob.

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