starting this new thing where i just have my unorganized thoughts w/o any type of proper grammar, sentence structuring or organization. just a stream of thought.
(initially came from a sort of response to someone)
actually, i really don’t like that escalante piece that responds to contra. it has like a good critique of some things, but it has this whole ‘you cannot do pragmatism about gender, it’s just impossible’. i don’t take a pragmatist & contextualist stance on gender, but escalante’s argument is just sooooo weak.
“As I have already hinted at, I find this view to be insufficient because it cannot provide strategic insight into what views are useful in which situations. Without a comprehensive theory of gender, we cannot possibly determine what social changes need to be enacted to lead to women’s liberation. An eclectic mix of incompatible feminist theories does not offer us anything if we don’t have an underlying unified theory to tell us which views to deploy in which instances.”
the first one seems p. false: natalie gave examples as to which views to deploy in which circumstances. why do we need some totalizing theory to tell us which view to use in which context when we can just decide which view is most fruitful for analysis. like it’s not like philosophers don’t do that lol
second sentence is just false period. not even going to mount an attack against that.
3rd one mostly addressed in my rebuttal to the first sentence, but again want to emphasize where a universal theory for deployment is necessary
other issues w/ the piece:
- doesn’t challenge natalie’s misinterpretation of butler, despite escalante knowing quite well what butler believed about gender. in a way, escalante almost perpetuates this misinterpretation (though i’ve started having doubts as to whether escalante understands foucault & butler – the gender nihilism piece, specifically escalante’s use of the word ‘power’ betrays a naive understanding / poor deployment of ‘power’ to say the least [takes the traditional leftist pov on power being a one-way thing that just like throws out all of foucault’s project on power]
- one thing i want to note is that i think escalante shares the view of ‘essentialism’ that i do: the one put to use in basically all of feminist gender theory’s discourse on essentialism about gender: essentialism is taken as kind essentialism
then when i reread the piece, escalante literally throws materialist feminism out the window in embracing a pure marxist feminism with only minimal insight from wittig. she talks about the ‘base producing gender’. like just shut up, that’s the economism/class reductionism/reduction of the material to the economic that materialist feminists (guillaumin & jackson) have challenged for ages… so that’s where upon my rereading, i started to question whether escalante had ever read any materialist feminist work
then i find it hilarious that escalante implies we ought to reject universal definitions of gender and then 2 sentences later chastises contra for rejecting a universal theory of gender. like, hmmm, what’s the meaningful distinction between the two (other than that one account of gender may be true)
escalante’s reading of contra, specifically escalante’s discussion of the role butler plays within contra’s discussion of gender makes me want to pound the walls. like contra’s (mis)interpretation of butler is the disgusting one that tecfs appropriated to hate on trans people & one that she wholeheartedly rejects in like all of her work given contra bothered to read it
escalante also just ‘as a matter of fact’ tries to state that the justine & tabby views can’t coexist. like sis aren’t you a marxist. you know what a dialectic is? you wanna think how contra’s videos are set up (always like dialectics) and see how like maybe they can ‘coexist’ in one sense
only other positive comment is the discussion of coloniality/race in the piece, but that’s like much better covered by the piece escalante linked to
she goes on to like admit she wants to ‘provide an account of gender which … Marixst method of historical materialism. I have … to be understood in material and economic terms’. great, you want to discuss materiality. i like derridean language/foucaultian discourse discussions quite a bit & don’t want to see those erased as i know the marxist pov always ends up doing. but then we know escalante doesn’t just want material terms, she wants to reduce those material terms to economic terms.
so my tl;dr used to think this piece was a 9/10, now it’s a 3/10
extended tl;dr fuck the ortho-marxists who never read the frankfurt school and bothered to stop privileging the base over the superstructure.
so mikkola is the person who organizes the “stanford encyclopedia for philosophy” page on “feminist ideas on sex/gender” or whatever, and is literally a philosopher in that area. and yet, somehow, thinks that a sex/gender distinction underlies mackinnon’s theorization of gender. like hmmmm, did you bother to open up her book or just read some critique of it somewhere on a blog