I am often accused of derailing a conversation because I refuse to accept the untrue presuppositions the conversation is based upon. While I am in fact derailing the conversation, these conversations should be derailed so we can get them moving in a better direction.
Derailing can be used as a trolling tactic. When people are having a real conversation about something important and someone tries to turn the conversation to the question of who would win in a fight Batman or Superman. This is just trolling. I don’t do this.
Derailing can also be used as an important tool for activists and advocates. When intactivists derail conversations about female genital mutilation, they are not tolling. Female genital mutilation is simply the wrong conversation to be having. People opposing Female genital mutilation are supporting harmful bigoted sexism. This isn’t because Female genital mutilation isn’t a problem, it is. But it’s not the whole problem, only half the problem. If we are to actually address the problem we need to be talking about INFANT genital mutilation. Female AND MALE infant genital mutilation. To say we should fix a problem, but only for the half of the victims with the correct genitalia, is hateful sexist bigotry that needs to be challenged.
While the internet is relatively new, the tactic of derailing the conversation is not. In the early 50’s the gender discussion was about how women should be Lady Like and men should be more Manly and we should all just conform to gender roles because, just because. Feminists derailed this conversation. Feminists changed the conversation to the oppression of women, pointing out all of the legal rights and social benefits of masculinity. Individuals like Gloria Stein Stood up and spoke out. She didn’t let the conversation about how to be lady like stand, she derailed it. She talked about what she felt was important, women’s rights. Should she of just sat down shut up and been a good little girl?
In the 1800’s does anyone think the Abolitionists where voicing main stream views? If they where to talk about freeing the slaves, they had to disrupt some other conversation to do so. Does any one think that conversations shouldn’t have been derailed and we shouldn’t have broken the status quo of slavery? Slavery and the apologetics to support it where sickening. Discussions about how to be a better slave owner or justifications for continuing slavery needed to be derailed. I WILL NOT “agree to disagree” with someone claiming “niggers are sub human and must be controlled through slavery”.
So why did I see fit to derail this conversation?
Truth is I didn’t. The question was asked “Is Feminism a politically useful label”. I may have done a poor job answering the question, but it was my intent to answer the question. Let me do a better job answering the question here.
No, Feminism is not a politically useful label. However rebranding it with a different word won’t be useful either because it’s the underlying assumptions of feminism that make it not a politically useful label, not the stigma attached to the word. Feminism, even if you use a different word, is not a politically useful concept. It’s not the label of feminism that makes it not politically useful, but the concept of feminism.
The Blogger was kind enough to put the conversation here for easy reference.
The conversation that needed to be derailed wasn’t “Is Feminism a politically useful label”, but his last comment “In other words, we’ve made our decision about where the inequality is and we’re talking tactics and strategy.”
The Whats Wheres Whys and Hows of inequality and gender roles and sexism need to be understood before you can talk tactics and strategy for how to fix them. Feminism has these Whats Wheres Whys and Hows horribly wrong. At this point in time talking about Women’s Rights is the dominant social narrative. It’s the “be a lady” of the 50’s and the slavery apologetics of the 1800’s. It is the discussion that needs to be derailed so we can replace it with something better. Feminists are the people trying to stop female genital mutilation, not infant genital mutilation, because people with penises don’t matter I guess.
Gender is not nor has it ever been The Oppression of Women. Gender roles are interconnected interdependent divisions of labor that place responsibilities and obligations on BOTH men and women and grants the rights necessary to fulfill these responsibilities and obligation. Sexism Against Women can’t happen, not doesn’t happen, but CAN’T. Gender roles are interconnected and interdependent. Sexism does happen, but it can’t happen to ONLY women. It happens to both men and women in equal measure because the roles are interconnected and interdependent. We need to address sexism, not sexism against women.
Side note: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a great book. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should. If you have read it, read it again, it’s that good. Covey talks a lot about managing and leading. Managing is making sure things are getting done well. Leading is making sure the right things are getting done.
Doing the wrong things well will never get you to your goal. Talking about sexism against women is the wrong thing if the goal is gender equality.