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02/04/2010

Comments

Caitlin Kelly

Blahniks are oppressive because...they are expensive or uncomfortable or...? What shoes or clothing are not oppressive? Birkenstocks and sweats?

I'm no fan of women being miserable/uncomfortable/broke to be beautiful, even to themselves, but where does the oppression start or stop? One could argue it's oppressive to demonize other women for making their own fashion choices. It's their choice. Not everyone is unaware of the patriarchy but we still have to get dressed.

Laurie Essig

That's my point- that it's easy for Sarkozy to demonize women who wear burqas because it stands in for anti-Muslim sentiments; not because he actually cares about sartorial standards that symbolize patriarchy - among other things. I said, I hope clearly, that there is no beauty that is clean of social power. I am not suggesting there is. Only that supposedly "feminist" feelings from the likes of Sarkozy and Dubbya are in fact really about something else.

jake brodsky

The Burka is not about fashion.

More fashion "enslavement" of the sort you outlined (high heels, boob jobs, hair, makeup and so forth) comes from women themselves than it does from men. The problem with the Burka is that it is often imposed by patriarchal authorities instead of being an option for women.

Furthermore, if a woman is to conduct herself in civil society, she must be able to show her face for identification purposes. If a woman wants to drive a car, she should not have a Burka over her head so that she can maintain good peripheral vision. Furthermore, the Burka has been abused by many with less than honorable intent as a way to hide in the folds of a cultural taboo.

I sympathize with the French because this is a cultural tradition which is simply incompatible with daily life in the West --just as polygamy and honor killings.

Meanwhile, whatever his real motives may be, why not take Sarkozy's views at face value? There is more than enough reason to think he may have a valid point.

People don't routinely wear full face ski masks unless it is brutally cold outside, nor do they have any taboos against taking them off in a public space where the temperature is reasonable. The same can not be said for the Burka.

Frankly, I fail to see why so many are so eager to defend such anti-western cultural traditions. Did we go through all that slow, difficult liberation history only so that we could sacrifice it to the gods of culture?

Laurie Essig

I think your notion of "choice" - choosing boob jobs or high heels or self-starvation- shows the limits of the liberal subject on which you base your claims of Western liberation. To the extent that Westernized women "choose" a facelift some Muslim women "choose" a burqa. It is interesting how within Liberalism the moment a subject chooses that which we find revolting, we deny them the ability to choose- marking them as 'victims' or 'insane' or 'childlike.' I am not supporting the burqa (or the boob job)- just pointing out that "choice" is a very complicated and highly questionable basis for your claims to liberation.

Caitlin Kelly

I raise the question again. If women are all duped/imprisoned by patriarchy, what exactly are we to do with our bodies and our clothing when we make choices about what to do with/to them? Wait until every single manufacturer, distributor and retailer is run only by women? As if that makes a difference.

Laurie Essig

Caitlin,
Sometimes it seems as if you purposefully misread what I write in order to set me up as a "strawman" of a sort of unreconstructed cultural feminism.

I am not making a claim that "women are dupes"- I don't even claim there are these unified subjects "women" and "men"- and to the extent the gender binary exists, it is intersected with all sorts of other power- like race, class, sexuality, geography, nationality, etc.

What I am criticizing here is the idea that burqas are oppressive and boob jobs are liberating. Just because someone is white and Western and secular does not make their life about "choice" and everyone else's about stupidity. I don't believe in this subject you insist on, this "woman" who goes around making choices.

We express agency- but NEVER in conditions of our own making- and ALWAYS within power- a power that is hardly just about gender, but also usually far more about race, nationality, and class.

To express agency in coercive conditions is more like a dilemma than a choice. In any event, I find the Liberal rhetoric of choice a not terribly useful paradigm for figuring out how power is expressed in the world.

So although I don't mind you disagreeing, I do find that you often seem to purposefully misread me to have an argument with the kind of simplistic feminism that you seem to think I represent. I am sure there are feminists of that sort on this site. Maybe you should engage with them?

Caitlin Kelly

"I don’t believe in this subject you insist on, this “woman” who goes around making choices."


I'm insisting on nothing! Is your point that no woman, anywhere, is able to make a free choice of her own? Maybe I am as stupid, and wilfully so, as you believe, but this makes zero sense to me. I have not formally studied feminism and maybe this makes a smart conversation between us -- or one you can be bothered with -- impossible because I lack your academic training and perspective. We are all somewhere on a learning curve, including you.

Of course, every thought we have and express is filtered through multiple layers -- I've taught at several major universities and this is always a key part of my syllabus when teaching writers to be aware of their biases.


The reason I keep questioning you is because I don't find you answering the questions I pose, answering them in any way I understand. So I ask them again, however banal they seem to you.
It's simple curiosity, nothing more malicious than that. Anyone who reads my work, here and elsewhere, knows I'm fairly guile-less.

The whole point of on-line communication is being open to questions -- and that means people respectfully, if persistently, questioning and challenging your most dearly held values and beliefs. Affect, as you well know, is easily misread on-line, imputing motives that do not exist.

I won't do it again.

Laurie Essig

All I'm saying is these claims you make about my work- that I might suggest Birkenstocks and sweats as liberating (NO- just ugly) or that I am somehow "demonizing other women for making fashion choices" (how do you know I don't wear high heels? what makes you think I have not had cosmetic surgery?) seems not like "innocent questions" but a purposeful misreading of what I'm saying.

Of course I'm not objective- I- LIke everyone else- produce situated knowledge- but I am not simplistic. That's all I'm asking that you allow for the complexity- even if it's completely unconvincing- of my argument.

Jimmy Choo Chaussures

I'd be interested in hearing. The TOS seems rather clear that it is not unless expressly approved by Amazon. I guess if the library got it in writing then they would be ok.

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