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[Xmca-l] Re: Analysis of Gender in early xmca discourse



Annalisa,

I happen to have the book - here it is. Ashamed to say I had not (yet)
actually read it. Just call me a hoarder.

Just to make things clear, I am a white straight male who has never
struggled with or directly encountered the specific kinds of gender-related
barriers and experiences under discussion here. It may be that all I have
to offer right now is to stay respectfully on the sidelines and learn what
I can. But I wanted to let you know that I have gained something being
exposed to all these dialogues, even if I cannot articulate exactly what it
is. While of course it's observable that more men post, I was not aware
that this listserve had such historical problems with gender and that at
least some women and minorities continue to find it unpleasant, nor would I
have necessarily picked up on this were it not expressly brought to my
attention. Jacob's anecdote about the cynical conversation with his partner
really drove home the reality of some of these dynamics in a qualitatively
different way. Certainly, I am inspired to take some of this back to my
primary academic community and especially their listserve, which is --
believe it or not -- far less evolved than here when it comes to diverse
participation and discussion of these issues. (If it is appropriate for a
male to be involved in Alfredo's proposed research project on gendered
listserves, I might be very interested in participating in the future.) By
no means do I expect that, e.g., Jacob would suddenly find it worthwhile to
keep engaging with the listserve just because one white dude says he's
"learning something." But perhaps it makes a tiny bit of difference just to
know there is some kind of ripple effect, that it may still be reaching and
influencing some people who can benefit and pass it on to others, even if
they are not reaching you? There is a whole other shadow world we can't
see: all those lurkers and future allies-in-the-making who are listening
and being affected, right now. Perhaps this too is part of the
non-commodified "demand" you speak of.

If I might offer one more thing (and I'm struck recently by how many seem
torn between wanting to be thorough and do proper justice to nuanced issues
so as not to gloss or trivialize, and wanting to respectfully occupy as
little space as possible), some of the tension and conflict on a couple of
these threads strikes me as a content over form/tone issue. That is, you
(and others, like Jacob and Vera) point to an atmosphere that reinforces
male-centered discourse, and when males respond in the effort to be
"constructive," not only do we end up being the only ones responding and
taking up yet more room (like me!) but we tend to put all the emphasis on
the *content *of the dynamic and how to target this impossibly complicated
"problem," when sometimes all I'm hearing you ask for is a *spirit *of
alliance and empathy; a stance, as it were. In a way, something much less
ambitious - yet, very easy to step right over in the zeal to problem-solve.
The more directly we try to assist or contribute, the more we bypass the
indirect and contextualized kind of things you are talking about. So,
instead of asking we end up telling or explicating (maybe like I'm doing
now - but I'm trying to work toward a question!); instead of encouraging
you and others to illuminate us about something we may not yet understand,
we implicitly demand that you show us. Even if all the intentions are good,
and the language seemed "correct." Does this sound right to you? More
importantly: does it *feel *like I am an ally when I share these things, or
anything else I may say or ask in the future? Does it feel better when I
address you in the second person as opposed to just using your name when
responding indirectly to something you said? Would it be enough to just say
I am an ally, and that I believe what you and some others have alluded to
is not just some chimera? These are the questions I'm trying to keep in the
center of my perceptual field.

Or maybe instead of all that I should just say: I'm sorry that you and
Jacob and Vera and unnamed others have apparently been made to feel this
way; let me know if there is anything special I can do or not do. Time
allowing, of course.

That's the longest post you'll see from me on this thread unless otherwise
requested.

Chris

On Sat, Nov 5, 2016 at 2:40 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:

>
>
> Hi Tom,
>
> Thanks very much for your post and sharing a text that might be beneficial
> to the thread.
>
> Is it possible for you to scan this chapter and post it to the list? It
> would contribute to the thread significantly, and I would certainly see you
> as an ally in collaboration with what the thread initiated if you did it,
> rather than being relegated to a lurker. Please join us, and anyone else
> interested.
>
> If being scientific means being logical, and being logical means gendered,
> then certainly that can present problems. But if being scientific means
> avoidance of confirmation bias, then I'm all for it.
>
> What I don't understand concerning Marx, and I do not mean to be insulting
> in any way; this is a real question... He served a very important purpose
> and he is historically valuable, so I do not doubt that. What troubles me,
> especially after reading some of the Piketty book, Capital in the
> Twenty-first Century, is that Marx could not get his hands on the data to
> determine if his analyses were correct. Now Piketty (an economist) says in
> some ways Marx was right, but in others he was wrong. If there is someone
> being scientific about it, I'd say Piketty is. But the reasons Marx was
> wrong where he was wrong is because the data doesn't support his notions.
> Piketty explained his own work was to basically collect the data that Marx
> could not, now that the internet being what it is, that's basically the
> project of the book. But somehow it is heretical to have doubts about Marx,
> and that is why I said what I said, Tom. If Marx was a scientist, then why
> not be skeptical of him, just as any other scientist among us?
>
> I'd certainly be interested in hearing from a person who had doubts in
> Darwin, not because they are creationists, but because they saw something
> in the theory that caused them to have doubt, and they want to follow the
> seam of that doubt. That seems very scientific to me.
>
> I hope that doesn't make me a full-blooded capitalist for saying these
> things.
>
> Anyway, I want to make the point that there is a privilege given to Marx
> as if he were a prophet and his utterances cannot be at all mistaken. He
> was a single man living in a time of economic upheaval and change, and he
> thought about it, he talked about it, and he wrote about it. And what he
> wrote viscerally resonated for people who suffer from the injustice
> inherent in the system, I cannot dismiss that and do not mean to. However
> history continues and technology continues in their development, and the
> view from the train of history isn't always flat and predictable. So how
> can it be that we anticipate that the worldview of Marx's train compartment
> will be identical to ours? Should we assume that the tools he fashioned
> then will work now?
>
> Piketty draws that out, he is looking at the problem scientifically, I'd
> say. The publication of the translation in the US really freaked out all
> the capitalists, as I recall. Both Piketty and Varoufakis, that other
> famous lefty-economist, have remarked vociferously (maybe Varoufakis more
> than Piketty) that economics (in the university and elsewhere) *as a
> science* is a shambles and have almost come as close to saying the state of
> the discipline is no different then reading tea leaves (my words; their
> sense about it).
>
> Last year I had been reading the first chapter of La Pensée Sauvage by
> Levi-Strauss and I really admired his observation that scientific thinking
> begins with the science of the concrete. Maybe that is what is referenced
> here as associative thinking or chaining, not sure. What is somehow
> off-putting is that associative thinking frequently gets short shrift, when
> it is the very kindling for higher conceptual thinking. But it seems like
> airing dirty laundry to admit to doing that kind of thinking or encouraging
> it. I did not get to the 2nd chapter on totemism (yet), but I sense that
> Levi-Strauss's work was to eliminate the hierarchies of human cognition
> because of his sense of social justice, having lived through the
> destruction of WW II, which we all know was begun because of a stubborn
> belief in a hierarchy of mental ability connected to unscientific notions
> of race. I wonder (which I would likely learn if I got deeper into the
> text) if he comments upon the idea that any hierarchies that do pertain to
> thinking and cognition are functional but not value laden, in terms of
> class or caste, intelligence versus stupidity, literacy vs illiteracy, etc.
> That's what I sense from his work, intuitively.
>
> I feel the analogy of functional hierarchies very much when I've been
> building fires these past weeks. There is a trick to building the fire from
> paper and kindling to catching a log so the fire really starts to warm up
> the house and take the chill off. It's true you can't just go from kindling
> to logs and the flames must be of a certain caliber to light the log, so
> there must be intermediary and transitional pieces of wood to make the fire
> inevitable, while also contained. It also helps to have a bellows or to
> blow really hard to fan the fire. If there is not enough air the flames at
> the beginning do go out. There is more attention and care required at that
> stage.
>
> So to all you fire builders out there, you might know what I am talking
> about.
>
> Still wondering if anyone will discuss what is meant by chaining.
>
> But thanks Tom, I hope to hear from you more, and others.
>
> Kind regards,
>
> Annalisa
>

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