Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Intransitivity watch

Feminist theory, like any major philosophical or political movement, is diverse. This often means that factions wedded to certain analytical frames contradict each other. Via u/crackie_chan, the Washington Post recently highlighted an interesting example of this phenomenon:
“Voting for a man when a woman is running does not make me any less of a feminist; it means I’m taking the very feminist route of expressing my right to choose.”
That's a quote from a staunch feminist who's supporting Bernie Sanders for president, and it's obviously a common-sense point. What's interesting about it is that the salience of the concept at hand--gender--is itself viewed as a component of inequality. The ability to disregard gender here is a sign of social power. This sits opposed to the older, more causally-direct style of feminism which might emphasize the overall dominance of male politicians throughout U.S. history.

Having these two modes of thought (one direct, the other kind of meta) together under the umbrella of feminism permits a capacity for self-revitalization. Feminism will never become stale and never achieve its goals, because its two (or more?) systems critique each other in a cyclic way. Another great example might be feminist attitudes towards the legalization of prostitution. Powerful arguments can be made for both legalization and prohibition that plausibly fit under the banner of feminism.

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