some notes on cathy young ceasefire

wow what an incendiary, arguable, but ultimately dull book

it is sort of like camille paglia but pretending to be feminism rather than literary criticism

she does a good job in taking apart of twelve step ideology, the abuse ideology, but she does so with wife battering and child custody in divorces, which is -- I dunno, the way to get the least possible credit for doing the hard thing about taking apart these ultimately religious ideologies, and the place where they perhaps apply least best, and so she makes many errors

from pages I flagged as skimming:

she points out that since women are less likely to be murdered than men, they are not primary victims of male violence -- i.e., men kill more men than women

this seems sort of odd; what about the women murdered?

she points out that gay men "are at least as likely to be raped by their dates as women [sic: I suppose, "are likely to be raped by their dates" is how this sentence should end]

first of all, this seems to be separating gay date rape from rape of gay men

she points out that 6-10% of sexual assaults have adult male victims -- are these all gay male date rapes?

and concludes, "rapists as a group seem no more hostile to women than other criminals"

the next thing I flagged was about battering; I'm not really sure about the argument here either. she points out that some women stay in abusive relationships because they feel they have a moral high ground/more power, like the "edge," "passion," or "charge", etc. while this seems to be a version of "she's asking for it", the anecdotes are coupled with others: that feminists downplay the role of poverty and drinking/drugs on wife battering, that borderline personalty makes men more likely batterers, and that men are battered too

the real debate is, of course, why are more women battered than men; one of the things she points out is that things like ripping up photos of old girlfriends, stalking, damaging cars and other objects, are ways that women more often batter men, being, in general, less physically violent -- I would add another version of some of the things she uses anecdotally -- that perhaps it is more routine for recent immigrants from more traditional societies, or people with less opportunity (financal, educational) to be exposed to a variety of cultures where women are considered to be equals in some way are more likely to believe that men are allowed to establish physical control of women; perhaps people with certain psychological traits are more likely to react to a feeling of being trapped, controlled, or dominated by the opposite sex with physical violence -- but isn't this what feminists are saying? that this is not the case or not to be condoned in our society?

I was particularly shocked by the idea, "there is always communication in sex; it just doesn't have to involve words. A physical overture is a nonverbal request for permission..." While, like anything else, "no means no," and many other slogans and school policies, for example, are difficult to carry through in a fair way, I think that we will always have to struggle with educating many young women, like me when I was young, that they are allowed to push aside, ignore, counter, fight off, young men who force their case, as it were.

When Young treats custody battles, she attempts to elucidate -- and counter -- what she sees as a view of divorced fathers (by feminists) as "selfish and spiteful."

Now, I can't think right now of many divorced parents who don't think of their former spouses as selfish and spiteful. I can think of a few couples who married very young and don't have children who don't see it that way. Seems pretty gender and sexual-orientation neutral. I mention this because in the quote:

"...I came across an eye-opening comment by one attorney: she described herself as an "advocate for a woman and her children against the wealthy father" (emphasis added). Some champions of "women and their children," I realized, actually view fathers as their children's enemies."

it is unclear how the leap was made. It seems clear that the attorney is particularly interested in getting fair divorce settlements for female clients who had wealthy husbands -- i.e., who had more financial resources to pursue AND to use. How is this viewing all fathers as enemies of their children?


one of my dreams last night was about some of this, where a very large hispanic family was gathering (although Stan Apps made a brief appearance at the end to buy drugs -- sorry Stan, know you'd never do that), and not for that reason, but incidentally there were lots of children and a baby was being born in another room.

In any case, I know that in the experience of some people, a strong patriarchy is accompanied by a strong matriarchy, and relations are mostly homosocial in any case. The men are watching the game, or talking business, or smoking cigars; the women are telling each other family stories with the kids, the women are preparing food, the women are having appletinis.

One of the things -- Young never says it -- but where we might agree, but gender roles become increasingly inequitable when more and more people depart from the role, and want to depart from the role. "Seperate but equal" doesn't work. It is easier to see now that single sex higher education has mostly changed into mostly women's colleges where women do not feel hazed, and boys high schools where men do not feel distracted (there are so few men's colleges), rather than places where women could get an education, albeit one lesser in especially business management and the sciences or not particularly leading to anything, the famous institutions being reserved for men. This is such a recent change, though, that we haven't seen an entire generation pass through life having it be the case.

But there are now more men and women with approximately similar educations, work experiences, and *interests* than before. What, indeed is the conversation over cigars, and how it it different from the other ones? If the locus of women's power is the (disintegrating) family, where does that leave women who "don't give a rat's ass" about what her cousins got in trouble for doing?

I don't think it leaves men who are more interested in family or women or not interest in management of check cashing stores in a more feminist position, either; I suspect it actually simply keeps them at the kids' table as far as the patriarchy is concerned. Which, in fact, might be ok, except we all eventually have jobs and responsibilities that eventually involve dealing with "powers that be."

Eve Sedgwick on gossip:

"everybody who survives [the knowledge that people are different from each other] has reasonably rich, unsystematic (i would argue this, which is why it is in italic) resources of nonce taxonomy of mapping ... their human social landscape. It is probably people with the experience of oppression or subordination who have the most need to know it; and I take the precious, devalued arts of gossip ... " [as the refinements of ths -- I would say SYSTEM -- because *classification begs a system*; the "human social landscape" is not a system; the system is that whch s classified.


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