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Wednesday, September 17, 2003

As some of you may remember from a previous post of mine talking about The Awakening, I have what you may call a tiff, issue, or "fiery hatred" of academic feminism. This has not been decreased by having to read feminist historians for my constitutional history class.

For example, a woman named Jan Lewis wrote an essay trying to argue that the framers simply forgot to give women the right to vote. Her argument, essentially, is that, because an original draft of a provision regarding apportionment had the language "every age, sex and condition" instead of the more familiar phrasing we are more familiar with, the framers intended to count women as full citizens with all the rights and profiled of men. She then argues that not giving women full rights invalidated the social contract, somehow.

First, this is just something which bothers me in general. When people take current accepted practice and rights interpretation, and assume it to be of divine origin - incontrovertable, and the pinnacle of what is good in the world. Consequently, they look down their noses at every past generation, and say that they were "savages" and the like for not seeing what they believe to be the absolute truth. Nobody ever sees the amount of social context which goes in to constructing things they believe to be utterly basic to our understanding of the world.

Beyond that - in this instance, government simply reflected a social reality regarding women's perceived role in society. Was that the best role? Possibly not - but for the government to pretend it lives in a different world is negligent at best. As with affirmative action programs today, people want to pretend that racism simply does not exist and repeal legislation which tries to mitigate the harms which would otherwise entrench racism in passive ways.*

Even so - it is very clear that the framers had no such intention. The language used was not to enfranchise women, it was written up by a northern delegate who wanted more representation for his own states. Every last little method for determining how much representation each state acquired can be seen as a tension between two fundimentally different types of state, be it industrial v. agrarian, or large v. small. Lewis doesn't even mention this very simple way of viewing it in the twenty someodd pages she uses to berate society for their malice.

Even historical revisionism is something which, on some level, can be accepted as a valid critical theory - after all, we are never 100% objective in our viewing of what's happened in the past anyway. What bothers me even more is when people misappropriate philosophy and take it for some sort of estrogen-induced joyride. For example, there's a woman named Carol Pateman who decided to just misread Locke (I can't imagine it wasn't intentional) as saying that social contracts are literal contracts within society. Her counterpoint to this is to say that the social contract is an entirely male enterprise, including such things as governance and business andt he like, whereas women enter in to a sexual contract.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but the only "sexual contracts" I tend to be familiar with are not the sort of thing feminists traditionally rave about... but that aside, when one takes a look at what she means by a "sexual contract", it starts looking very familiar. In fact, you might say it's a direct analog to Locke, put in to social dynamics as opposed to government. Ugh.

* I always find it funny when people want to pretend we live in a meritocracy. Almost invariably, these are the people who, due to their good fortune, are on top of the social ladder. Just as often as people who fail attribute it to something external to themselves, people who succeed are too quick not to realize how much help they got in achieving their status.

cranked out at 8:58 PM | |

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