On Maleness and Leninsm [Fwd: Re: gender allocation of housework (fwd)]

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Wed Apr 26 10:35:58 PDT 2000

In the thread re Ehrenreich on the femcon-l list early this month Doug was subjected to outrageous abuse merely for mentioning her article. It was interpreted by a number of people as an instance of male "dis'ing women." Doug was understandably outraged -- particularly since most of those attacking him paid little attention to the actual content of the article. In other words, those attacking him ignored what he said, focusing instead on the fact that he was male and suggesting that whatever he said and whatever reasons he gave were irrelevant. His motives were male motives and therefore what he said was worthless.

Here is one of Doug's responses to his baiters. I have included some comments in double brackets [[xxx]]

-------- Original Message -------- Subject: Re: gender allocation of housework (fwd) Date: Mon, 03 Apr 2000 18:32:31 -0400 From: Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> Reply-To: femecon-l at bucknell.edu

I wrote, and Barbara Bergmann quoted:

> > You, and others,
>> have made some extravagant claims about how the issue was one of men
>> dis'ing women, while the original (and still, I think, largely
>> unread) article was written by a woman. I'm just curious how you all
> > parse that contradiction.

BB responded:

>I never heard anyone implying that men had to agree with every
>argument put forth by any man.

That response is completely irrelevant to what I wrote. Several people have claimed that the housework issue was a matter of men bashing women; I pointed out that the original article was written by a woman (and self-identified feminist); and BB responds with a non sequitur. Since all the people involved in this discourse are literate and intelligent, there has to be some psychological issue involved. I can't think of any other explanation.

[[Two points. (1) Doug is obviously correct in saying the response was completely irrelevant. He had talked of a specific issue, and of a specific set of propositions; Bergman had ignored the propositions and instead talked about Doug's leni -- er, maleness. She *knows* that nothing a leni -- er, I mean male -- said could be because he believed it but was merely an expression of his leni -- er, I mean maleness. (Just as Kelly knows that Yoshie and I never say anything because we believe it but simply say what we think a "real marxist" ought to say.)

(2) And then Doug returns the favor. I had noted this at the time but given the unfair clobbering Doug was taking didn't think responding to it was appropriate then: ". . .there has to be some psychological issue involved." That is, just as from Bergmann's perspective no one could disagree with her except from sexist motives, from Doug's perspective no one could possibly disagree with him unless they were len -- er, I mean mentally ill." Many decades ago E. B. White made the radical suggestion that perhaps people believed things for the reasons they gave for believing them. Neither Bergmann nor Doug can accept such a bizarre idea.]]

>I have long read Ehrenreich as most interested in dissing
>capitalism, and little
>interested in forwarding the equality of women and men, or in
>practical reform
>of any kind. This latest business on the maids cements that opinion.

That is the oddest critique of Ehrenreich I've ever seen or heard. Surreal actually. Clearly if you criticize capitalism you're damned in the Bergmann theology.

[[If you say that maybe accounts in the daily papers about North Korea may be a wee bit distorted, that can only be because you are something called a Leninist -- or perhaps one is merely "slavish." Certainly no one would go to the trouble of reading available sources on North Korea and reaching an independent judgment. Communists, like men, never think for themselves.]]

Doug ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- NOTICE FOR JOURNALISTS AND RESEARCHERS: Please ask for written permission from all direct participants before quoting any material posted on FEMECON-L.

[[Note: I didn't honor the above rule in this instance.]]

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