Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender & the End of Normal: A Conversation with Jack Halberstam and Thaddeus Russell

"The word 'gaga' is a great word. It has a similar sensibility to 'queer.' It's being a little bit off, a little bit crazy. And I felt it was time for feminism to go a bit gaga," says Jack Halberstam the author of Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at University of Southern California.

In a sweeping conversation with Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States, Halberstam discusses sexual and gender identity, whether the traditional family structure has outlived its usefulness, and what Ariel Castro, Anthony Weiner and the infamous photos from Abu Grahib say about normativity in American culture. 

About 24 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Alex Manning and Fisher. 

Scroll below for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel to get automatic notification when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • fish||

    "Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender & the End of Normal:

    "Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender & the End of Normal beginning of marketing:

    Really...hasn't this been done to death?

  • Snark Plissken||

    A while back Bill Burr got roped into going to a Gaga concert and had the best take on all this on his podcast.

  • KPres||

    Bill Burr has pretty much the best take on everything.

  • E.H. Munro||

    I'm fairly certain that sex between adult men and adolescent boys (in drag) is an ancient Pashtun custom, and that's what the Afghan writer of The Kite Runner is discussing in his book about Afghanistan. Which is to say that the Taliban were a mix of General Zia's weird variant of Islam, Saudi Salafism and Pashtun tribal custom, so to that particular villain it was easy/possible for him to hold his extreme moralist views while engaging in a practise that would seem deviant from the mainstream Islamic point of view. Then again, this is one of those things about deconstructionism that I find exhausting, you're so busy looking for oppression that you sort of miss the obvious.

  • Knoss||

    I found that too. She talks about older men and younger women, but the women are still consenting adults, and the General never broke the law while engaging in sex slavery.

    From an equal rights perspective there is a clear distinction, and there is a clear failure of Afghan culture and institutions.

    Of course that being said the effort to westernize Afghanistan has been a failure.

  • montana mike||

    No shit Sherlock, if you are surprised on this I don't know what to tell you.

  • Libertarius||

    Lady Gaga is a construct of the leftist matrix. She sets the example of dandyism = individualism so that leftoids all over America can pretend that tattoos and other superficialities are the fullest actualization of individualism (while discovering their class consciousness and voting the country into collectivism, of course).

    Lady Gaga is an archetype of counterfeit individualism.

  • RonnieNM||

    What exactly is wrong with tattoos?

  • Killazontherun||

    Normal may be gone, but Lady Gaga also proves that trying too hard will always be with us. You can be upertransgendered dude and still be a huge dork.

  • Killazontherun||

    an ubertransgendered dude.

    Shit, even my neologism get screwed up.

  • Zeb||

    The problem with people like Gaga is that they take themselves seriously. If she were just acting ridiculous and weird for its own sake, I'd think that was great. Even if they do have a serious point, artists shouldn't explain their own points. That's for critics and other people to do. If you have to explain a joke, it's not a very good joke.

  • wadair||

    If you have to explain a joke, it's not a very good joke.

    Are you suggesting that Lady Gaga is a bad joke?

  • Zeb||

    I actually couldn't identify a single song of hers, so I'm still reserving judgement. I'm saying that art is like jokes in that it needs to be able to stand on its own in its context and not require an explanation for people to get it.

  • David Wall||

    Halberstam is a post-modern, irrelevant bore. No wonder no one is interested enough to reply here. His holier-than-thou attitude is obnoxious.

    He holds the spurious point of view that normative behavior is "forced" upon all of us by society (no one is free). Normative behavior is mandated by rationality, reality, and the values we uphold in our own individual lives.

    I abstain from heavy drug use, not because society says it is wrong, but because it will totally screw up my life and happiness up if I didn't.

    I don't have sex with whomever arouses me sexually because society says it is bad. No, I abstain from promiscuous sex because I value the relationship I have with my wife and the kind of commitment we promised each other.

    I do not lie because society says it is wrong. I tell the truth in order to maintain my reputation as a trustworthy person, maintain friendships with people I value and who value the truth like I do, and because faking reality will eventually ruin my life.

    Etc.

    This professor with his tiresome, pretentious Foucaultian views of individual freedom...

    Ugh.

    Disappointed Russel did not call him on his claptrap. Has he not read Rand, Smith, Biddle et al. concerning these issues? Come on, keep up with the intellectual literature, dude. You both came off as out dated, and dull.

  • mtrueman||

    Your argument would be much more persuasive if you could come up with at least one example where you actually took up a position which disagreed with what society says is best. For example, you might have taken to wearing women's clothes, an option taken up by some men no less rational or grounded in reality than yourself. Or do you steer clear of cross dressing out of fear that, like drugs, lying and sex, it will 'ruin your life?'

  • Mrs. Renard||

    "Your argument would be much more persuasive if you could come up with at least one example where you actually took up a position which disagreed with what society says is best."

    His argument is that norms are rooted in reason and reality, not, as Halberstam clearly believes, merely passed on just because the parents and their family structure will it so. (Further, there is an argument to be made that a child's norms (culture) is more influenced by peers than by family.)
    It is enough to show how those norms are rational (which he does) to prove his argument.
    Definition (norms are normal) makes it pretty tough to find where he doesn't fit the norm.

    And yes, I would guess that he doesn't dress like a woman for rational reasons. Namely, he is a straight man who wants to be attractive to women (his wife) and she likely doesn't find him dressed like a women particularly attractive. Sorry for putting words in your mouth David, maybe you do dress like a woman, in any case I am sure you have a rational argument for doing so.

  • David Wall||

    Thanks. I have nothing to add. Neither my wife nor I would likely find women's clothes on me appealing.

    Others, if they wish and it fits their values and hurts no one else, be my guest. BTW--I was in a small, very conservative town in Oklahoma a few years ago and saw a man walking in the Walmart parking lot with a dress on. No one even gave him a look. No one cared. The "forces" of society are way overblown by professional victims like Halberstam.

  • mtrueman||

    "The "forces" of society are way overblown by professional victims like Halberstam."

    Halberstam is not a victim but an academic. Let's not dismiss the problems of transexuals so lightly though. I understand that transexuals are grossly maltreated in prisons, often with the conivance of the officials.

    One of the most surprising and interesting things I've learned since commenting here was how little Libertarians care about the rights of prisoners and related issues. I had thought that Libertarianism would share an interest in prison activism with other anti-authorian movements.

  • David Wall||

    The professional victim comment is based upon the academic programs he is the head off. Gay, women, and minority studies programs are little more than propaganda programs of government enforcement of their point of view. Their equating societal "force" with government force is used, for example, to justify hate speech laws, which are becoming a major threat to free speech in this country. Do not underestimate the threat to freedom these people represent.

  • mtrueman||

    "Do not underestimate the threat to freedom these people represent."

    I haven't had all that much experience in gay, women or minority studies programmes, and they may well be a threat to our liberties, but what I have read of them, I found interesting. They are more than propaganda efforts to beef up governmental control over us. I don't remember Halberstam calling for more governmental control over us and he seems to have an anti-authoritarian bent to his thinking that I would have thought libertarians here would have welcomed, rather than sneering at him and his sexuality.

    If you think that 'these people' are exclusively statist, liberty hating controllers then you haven't been paying attention. You claim to live your life according to reason and reality, yet you are happy to smear untold numbers of people as a threat to you. It's shamefully obtuse.

  • Starchild||

    Some Libertarians, myself among them, care a lot about the rights of prisoners, and consider the abuses of the prison system in the United States to be among the most important libertarian issues in the country.

    But I agree with you that (L)ibertarians on the whole do not pay as much attention to the issue as it deserves.

    “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
    – Fydor Dostoevsky (quoted by Sarah Shourd - http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/.....101010.php)

  • MSimon||

    I sometimes wear women's clothes. Socks. They make shoes more comfortable.

    I also like shirts.

    I draw the line at gowns. Except when the hospital requires them.

  • mtrueman||

    It seems like you are arguing for a kind of 'social Taylorism' which is an interesting idea, but I have to reject your notion that reason and reality are on a higher realm and not passed down through the generations thanks to institutions like the family and education. We only learn good reasoning from bad reasoning if that's what we are taught, not by our peers, but an elder generation, typically by our parents or teachers. What's reality? Arguably it's the accumulated weight of the efforts of our forerunners to leave a lasting impression on the world. You don't seem to be giving enough consideration to the gravity of the past and tradition.

  • David Wall||

    We learn good reasoning from bad reasoning from reality. If I smoke crack everyday, I will eventually destroy my mind and my body. That's reality. It is out there and is not some kind of nefarious social construct.

    Listen, I am very thankful my parents taught me the value of science and education. However, I did question it on my own, though, before excepting their value in my life. It did not take me long to figure out that man in general and me in particular needs knowledge to survive, so maybe these are pretty good values to have. We all must be responsible for our own judgments and values and be ready to stand by them based upon our own independent thought.

  • David Wall||

    Oops. ...ACcepting their value...

  • mtrueman||

    "That's reality. "

    That's physical reality. But we're talking about social reality here. That governs whether you choose to wear a dress or trousers when you get up in the morning. That generally comes down to following well worn custom rather than some rational procedure of decision making, though expectional cases do exist. Very simply put, you either follow custom or flout it, and that will probably depend on your personality and character rather than the knowledge you possess. I don't see what values you think you are standing up for when you reach for your trousers in the morning. Custom is custom, and following custom we are in some sense relinquishing responsibility for our actions. Obviously, breaking with custom is a whole different ball game and that's why I was so disappointed in your first comment here.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except that's kind of a bullshit argument, though, isn't it? It essentially equates individualism with "transgressive" behavior or at least behavior in contrast to social convention. But, that's not what individualism is. Individualism entails finding society's standards irrelevant to your own, not simply acting in opposition to them.

  • mtrueman||

    Your argument would be much more persuasive if you could come up with at least one example where you actually took up a position which disagreed with what society says is best. For example, you might have taken to wearing women's clothes, an option taken up by some men no less rational or grounded in reality than yourself. Or do you steer clear of cross dressing out of fear that, like drugs, lying and sex, it will 'ruin your life?'

  • np||

    There are however, many subjective or socially normative things can't become normative on their own without force or some coercion (the threat of force) though. There are many examples people take for granted nowadays.

    Bolivia, Peru has coca drinks. We used to have real coca-based cola, and advertisements for cocaine cough drops. Now, it's "normative" to equate coca with crackheads.

    http://jim.com/drug_peace.htm

    For another, the typical addict was not a young black ghetto resident but a middle-aged white Southern woman or a West Coast Chinese immigrant. The violence, death, disease, and crime that we today associate with drug use barely existed, and many medical authorities regarded opiate addiction as far less destructive than alcoholism (some doctors even prescribed the former as treatment for the latter). Many opiate addicts, perhaps most, managed to lead relatively normal lives and kept their addictions secret even from close friends and relatives. That they were able to do so was largely a function of the legal status of their drug use.

    Prostitution. Without the crackdown I bet we'd have high-end gentleman's club type brothels and escort services now like some other countries do.

  • np||

    MPAA and ESRB. Government originated institutions. There's the FTC's annual secret shopper test, to make sure the everyone is compliant with such coercion.

    I remember the days before the ESRB. Before game retailers checked for age IDs. This changed after Mortal Kombat was released.

    The FCC, obscenity criminalization and why the in the same vein as the MPAA and ESRB, any nudity has normatively become relegated to "adults-only" in the US (likewise with swearing and some violence).

    In 1984, ages were reset. 16 became 18, and 18 became 21. Overnight, a new norm was socially engineered into existence.

    Lots of subjective norms require force. Mostly from popular and poltical do-somethinger's. If people were absolutely powerless against other people, what we'd have today is a large mix of clashing, relative norms.

    Ideally, we'd have opposing taboos side-by-side and lots of pissed off people, who would be powerless... except being able to settle any differences via dueling or voluntary blood feuds if they so choose, btw--another tradition during our founding that was lost due to government intervention.

  • np||

    Speaking of dueling, this is another area of government intervention and implicit coercion people don't realize resulting in bullshit "civilized" norms.

    Reposting what I wrote in another thread about how UFC is greatly tamed it down from its origins, truly totally cut down in the US, where as other countries are more liberal. Here's why:

  • np||

    and what many think of as sporting norms are actually coerced into existence through state athletic commissions--those who control all sporting events as well as their video distribution.

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ) saw a tape of the first UFC events and immediately found it abhorrent. McCain himself led a campaign to ban UFC, calling it "human cockfighting," and sending letters to the governors of all fifty US states asking them to ban the event.[32]

    Thirty-six states enacted laws that banned "no-hold-barred" fighting, including New York, which enacted the ban on the eve of UFC 12, forcing a relocation of the event to Dothan, Alabama.[33] The UFC continued to air on DirecTV PPV, though its audience remained minuscule compared to the larger cable pay-per-view platforms of the era.

    In response to the criticism, the UFC increased cooperation with state athletic commissions and redesigned its rules to remove the less palatable elements of fights while retaining the core elements of striking and grappling. UFC 12 saw the introduction of weight classes and the banning of fish-hooking. For UFC 14 gloves became mandatory, while kicks to the head of a downed opponent were banned. UFC 15 saw limitations on hair pulling, and the banning of strikes to the back of the neck and head, headbutting, small-joint manipulations, and groin strikes. With five-minute rounds introduced at UFC 21, the UFC gradually re-branded itself as a sport rather than a spectacle.[34]
  • np||

    Led by UFC commissioner Jeff Blatnick and referee John McCarthy, the UFC continued to work with state athletic commissions.[35] Blatnick, McCarthy and matchmaker Joe Silva created a manual of policies, procedures, codes of conduct and rules to help in getting the UFC sanctioned by the athletic commissions, many of which exist to this day.[35] Blatnick and McCarthy traveled around the country, educating regulators and changing perceptions about a sport that was thought to be bloodthirsty and inhumane.[35] By April 2000, their movement had clearly made an impact.[35] California was set to become the first state in the U.S. to sign off on a set of codified rules that governed MMA.[35] Soon after, New Jersey adopted the language.[35]

    As the UFC continued to work with the athletic commissions, events took place in smaller U.S. markets, including Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming and Alabama. SEG could not secure home-video releases for UFC 23 through UFC 29. With other mixed martial arts promotions working towards U.S. sanctioning, the International Fighting Championships (IFC) secured the first U.S. sanctioned mixed-martial-arts event, which occurred in New Jersey on September 30, 2000. Just two months later, the UFC held its first sanctioned event, UFC 28, under the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board's "Unified Rules".[36]
  • np||

    UFC would have become the modern Pankration today if it weren't for such coerced norms.

    Hell, without such coercion, we would have PED, genetic engineered and cybernetic enhanced Pankration fighters in the future, along with sports stadiums with auxiliary brothel services, much like how a coalition of some 300 sex worker organizations in gearing up to offer services for the 2014 World Cup visitors in Brazil.

  • np||

    And speaking of the 1984 change, if it weren't for state force once again (restrictions on advertising to minors--those under 21), McDonalds and family restaurants would be able to sell beer without id checks, like they do in several other countries.

    I think many businesses would choose to do so. Some customers might complain, and some restaurants might choose not to, but there would be other businesses that capitalize on the opportunity, IF there were no legal or political ramifications, despite any cultural backlash.

    The same could be said about anything without government force. There would be a whites only restaurant.... next to a blacks only restaurant.

    Again: pissed off? Either be tolerant enough to be indifferent, or get into the arena.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I do not refrain from using the child slaves from my blood diamond mine for target practice because society says it is wrong. I let them toil unmolested because good child slaves are damned hard to come by.

  • David Wall||

    Stop hiding behind your snarky sarcasm and come out with a point of view if you have one, okay?

    Children have individual rights as well as anyone else. That is the criteria for judging the morality of a man or a society--the degree to which either upholds individual rights.

    The concept of individual rights is based upon a reality based, reason based philosophy, that is why I presenting it here. Halberstam and others who advocate relativism and subjectivism end up advocating against individual rights. For instance, I would not be surprised if he advocates for statutes of hate speech against gays, minorities, etc. which are clear intrusions on free speech.

  • Mrs. Renard||

    Agreed.
    To elaborate further:

    Halberstam acts like normality exists in a vacuum based on whim. Society evolves in the way it does for a reason, namely to propagate out selfish genes. The complete denial of basic human nature and biology in this discussion is shocking.

    He believes in magic. Well, and an awful lot of intellectual wanky-wanky.

  • mtrueman||

    "The complete denial of basic human nature"

    I'm sure that Halberstam would argue that to insist that everyone can be easily assigned into one of two genders is a denial of 'basic human nature.'

    Society does not have genes, nor does it evolve. Mixing metaphors like this only leads to mischief.

  • blcartwright||

    your wife and friends are just being so judgmental to coerce you into follow their definitions of normal, instead of just letting you be you! /sarcasm

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Im guessing this person was not born with dangly bits, so im calling her a her.

    A cosmotarian is someone who nods and listens attentatively while a trans professor rambles on about heteronormativity and how the nuclear family is harmful to children.

  • Zeb||

    Finally, a definition for "cosmotarian". It's about time.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    "Jack" is a lady, man.

  • Killazontherun||

  • Killazontherun||

    Dude's got a nice rack, though.

  • mtrueman||

    I like the observation that Abu Grahib and the war on terror can't be fully appreciated without an understanding of queer theory.

  • Starchild||

    Who cares whether he was born with "dangly bits"? He evidently chooses to live in society as male, so I think that personal choice should be respected.

  • ChrisO||

    Gaga's been looking a bit rough, lately. Maybe all that transnormalism is getting to her.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I don't get it.

  • Dave's not here||

    I think all interviewees should suck helium during the interview.

  • Knoss||

    I found the part about extended adolescence interesting. "Lean In" is about women working and not being at home while Venker is promoting motherhood as work, but you don't see a woman dependent on a man that is and still a free spirit like the relationship between Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    I wonder if Dr. Halberstram's position (gender differences are social constructs enforced by norms) isn't a self-soothing mechanism. If normative culture is an aggressive intrusion forcing acceptable behavior then his own differences are a full expression of independent rational behavior instead of a biological/genetic oddity.

    If you're born outside of what is considered "normal" isn't it comforting to the psyche to believe that normal is artificial?

    As for Lady Gaga, She seems to me to be all about titillation and shock - much like Madonna was. Show the folks something new. Possibly there's something worth examining in that people seem to want her style of titillation. I see her as a combination Madonna and Marilyn Manson.

  • Mrs. Renard||

    "We are endlessly telling each other what to do"

    Not true, only the government coercively forces actions from us, thus "telling us what to do". He is confusing voluntary exchange with "being told what to do." I can follow my car's nav instructions in exchange for (theoretically) getting to my destination as efficiently as possible. Or I can choose not to participate in this voluntary exchange, and take the scenic road. My car's nav system won't put me in jail.

    "Or your bank account dictating what you can or cannot do."
    I assume he means that one may not have the financial means to do what one wants to do ? Like buy a Ferrari with $10 ? He is confusing limitations of the specific individual with "being told what to do" (by others). The "bank account" in this case is merely an extension of the self since it is the product of the individual's actions. There is no "other" here telling the self what to do. If the self is able to come up with the money to buy the Ferrari through some mutually beneficial exchange there is no limitation on Ferrari buying ability. If the self is not, well, it is their limitation. I want to be 8 feet tall, but I am not able to be; this is not an example of "being told what to do."

  • David Wall||

    Nicely done, Mrs. Renard!

  • BLEEDINELL||

    Gag Gag

  • Winston||

    whether the traditional family structure has outlived its usefulness

    Isn't this code for communal raising of children?

  • Pinky||

    Before watching the video I thought to myself, "My god, USC's director for the Center for Feminist Research is male."

  • Winston||

    Isn't it time to get away from such gendered concepts as "male" and "female"?

  • Kawliga||

    An absurd waste of time.

  • Starchild||

    Interesting interview, Thaddeus. I appreciate you bringing this conversation to Reason. The concepts of heteronormativity, and normativity in general as it applies to other paradigms (behavior, nationalism, race, gender, etc.), are good ones for libertarians to understand, and our community should be more familiar with philosophical and political constructs like queer theory, postmodernism, second and third wave feminism, etc. We can learn from and appreciate what is good in these philosophies without buying them hook, line, and sinker.

    That said, Jack Halberstam is far more "politically correct" than I am, and makes some points and uses some terminology that I strongly take issue with.

    (continued in next comment)

  • Starchild||

    (continued from previous comment)

    1. I don't know where he gets the idea that American society has a great tolerance for age disparate relationships between older men and younger women, either in isolation, or in relation to other age disparate relationships. Older men who are in such relationships or pursue them are often meanly and disparagingly "otherized" (another great word that deserves wider circulation) as "dirty old men" or "creepy". Rarely do you hear of older women being called "creepy" or labeled as "dirty old women". Instead the category of "cougar" is seen as being kind of cute and sexy -- although this is hardly a sign of great societal tolerance for relationships between older women and younger men either, as the women depicted as "cougars" typically appear to be in their 30s, with nary a gray hair. Age-disparate romantic relationships in this society are, sadly, subject to a lot of prejudice and shaming no matter who the participants, although probably less so in gay culture, especially gay male culture, than in heterosexual contexts. This I think has to do with the more blurred lines in this culture between youth and adulthood that you (and I) approve of.

  • Starchild||

    (continued from previous comment)

    2. He apparently embraces the use of the term "people of color", and the adjectival term "of color" that goes with it. Despite unfortunate widespread usage and the good intentions of many who use them, these terms are deeply racist, because they divide the world into two categories of people -- those of European ancestry (inaccurately labeled "white") and everyone else. First of all, Europe is incredibly diverse. Consider the vast differences in cultures, traditions, and appearances between people in Norway and Greece, or Germany and Italy, or Ireland and Ukraine, etc. Even in an American context, many of these peoples historically faced prejudice from the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture Also, white is a color as much as black is a color (not that many people other than albinos actually have white skin, just as few people have truly black skin). Although I do not manage it 100% of the time, I generally try to refer to people as being of European, African, or Asian descent or indigenous/native American ethnicity, rather than as "white" or "black" or "yellow" or "red".

  • Starchild||

    (continued from previous comment)

    3. I don't see any evidence that men of European descent are given more of a pass for hanging out doing projects in their basements at age 48 than anyone else of a similar age is, and I would challenge him to provide some evidence for his claim. Not that anyone *should* face societal disapproval or discrimination merely for being relatively idle. Even libertarians have bought too much into this notion, largely as a result of Randian worship of productivity. Libertarian comic Doug Stanhope has a delightful segment in which he lampoons this -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR4aQoezl-U . What matters is not whether a person is "productive", but whether he or she is committing aggression. Productivity is neither as easily measured nor as valid a litmus test of social worth as conventional wisdom would have it -- apparent idleness can often lead to or culminate in important discoveries, achievements, productive work, etc., and there are important "social goods" not derived from productivity at all. The Randian model has no way to measure the value of a person who produces nothing but is habitually friendly, funny and cheerful, always brightening the day of those around him and bringing a smile to people's faces.

  • Starchild||

    (continued from previous comment)

    4. In many parts of the world (particularly the Middle East, but most developing countries in general) it's true that feminism has much work left to do as Halberstam claims, but I think this is much less the case in the United States, especially in terms of the familiar battlegrounds of politics, institutions, and the law. Attitudes within certain families and within certain subcultures are a different manner. But by and large, American women in what we may call "formal society" enjoy more equality than society is given credit for. More women than men now graduate college in the U.S., and women reportedly control a majority and growing share of the country's wealth (see http://www.wlp.givingto.vt.edu/wealth/ ). The widely publicized earnings gap for men and women in similar positions is largely attributable to women taking time off for childbirth and care. For every advantage American men enjoy on average (most CEOs, politicians, movie directors, etc., are male, women do a majority of the housework, etc., there is another area where women enjoy the advantage -- women live longer on average, fewer women are incarcerated, etc.)

  • Starchild||

    (continued from previous comment)

    For all the attention that feminists typically pay to semantics, the problematic nature of the term "feminism" itself -- that it inherently takes the female point of view -- is generally ignored by them. We need not feminism, but humanism, or to be more precise, something even beyond humanism, a philosophy or worldview that encompasses human rights but does not unfairly privilege humans over non-humans in a speciesist manner.

    * * *

  • mtrueman||

    Interesting comments. To respond briefly, I think feminism and queer theory have lots to contribute to an understanding of American culture. Humanism is a fine concept, but to ignore gender, sexuality and their role in our power relationships is to blinker oneself. There's a reason why transexuals are more likely to be abused and raped in prison than some normal person and I suspect that queer and feminist theorists will have some interesting things to say about this. Same goes with the Abu Gahrib events and the constant barrage of references to buggery our culture has come up with in recent years.

    I've written here before about the disparity of pay between men and women. I agree that women are paid less thanks to their continued traditional role as care takers. But you say where they are disadvantaged in one area, they are advantaged in another. With the wage issue, this is not the case. They are paid less wages because they are women, and when they do raise children, they receive no wages. That's doubly disadvantaged in my books.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Always good to have JACK and THADDEUS weigh in on the important points of feminism. Thanks ANTHONY.

  • David_B||

    There is a huge difference between actively condoning child sexual exploitation as is done in Islamic Sharia law and a child sexual abuser which is not condoned in Western law.

    A man that keeps women captive in his basement is not now nor ever condoned by Western law nor Western custom, while keeping women captive in the home is sanctioned by Islamic Sharia law.

    Apples and Oranges sweetheart, Apples and Oranges.

Click here to follow Reason on Instagram

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE