Friday, April 20, 2007

Interview with Nathan (Continued)

Nathan of Misanthrope Cyclist and I continued our conversation aboout the feminist blogosphere.

Interview

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You note that how women are treated in society is only one problem created by "the patriarchy." What exactly do you mean by patriarchy? What are some of the other issues that you would highlight in addition to women's treatment?

Nathan: Patriarchy is the cultural pretense that men are superior to women. At the same time, it is the collection of people who desire to maintain this pretense, consciously or unconsciously.

A major assumption under the patriarchy is that it is acceptable for the "strong" to prey upon the "weak" - the "strong" being the societarily [sic] privileged; those whom "the system" backs up; those who are willing to use, or at least threaten to use, this backing to get what they want from someone "weak", someone lower down the patriarchical [sic] totem pole - to get what they're entitled to in the feminist vernacular.

The strong believe everything they see is rightfully theirs (see Adrienne Rich's poem Mother-Right). They protect "their" weak and keep them in line; they take advantage of "other" weak. Queers [sic] are feared, demonized, and persecuted; strong women are feared, shunned, and ridiculed. And, not only is this acceptable, it is expected and rewarded! What's more, *not* behaving this way is punished! Sensitive men are mocked - Showing feelings of an almost human nature! This will not do. And, because many women fall for the lure of the patriarchy, men worry about showing signs of "weakness" to even their partners. Everyone is so distracted just trying to get by they fail to see the problem or, if they do see it, they can't or won't act - The big fish eat the little ones / Not my problem, give me some.

Entitlement, however and for example, is not just a "feminism" problem, though. Not to say that it's minor from that perspective – certainly rape, both violent and not (see the Biting Beaver's Rapist Checklist - http://bitingbeaver.blogspot.com/2006/10/repost-of-old-favorite.html); abusive relationships; sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. It's just that it's more than even that! It's big kids picking on little kids; motorists harassing cyclists; white people fearing blacks and controlling their behavior; straights fearing queers [sic] and demonizing and abusing them; hell, it's xenophobia in general; it's rich people making the rules… that only the poor must follow; it's humans mistreating animals. It's a wicked sickness that spreads and spreads.

Anyway, radical feminist (such a loaded phrase!) theory speaks to all of this; provides a language and foundation that should be built upon relating all these issues and more. I fully expect this has been done to some extent but this has so much potential I can't believe it's been exhausted.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You mention that politics are left out of your blog "at least explicitly." Is there a reason that you have chosen not to write about politics explicitly?

Nathan: I'm generally not comfortable making statements about things I'm uncertain about. Blog entries are statements made before, potentially, the whole world and the political is filled with deceit.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You list a number of online communities that you belong to. How would you compare online communities to offline communities? Are there specific features that online communities have that offline communities do not, or vice versa?

Nathan: Online communities have freedom from physical bias; for the most part, the only "facts" known about you online are those you willfully reveal.

A Blog Without a Bicycle: You mentioned some great examples of feminist activism that is happening online. Have you ever participated in any activist efforts via the internet? How effective do you find online activism to be?

Nathan: Most online activism online is fairly ineffective, directly. E.g., I suspect online petitions carry very little weight. Typically, online activism can only bring ideas to people and allow discussion on those ideas, both of which could potentially change the opinion of the person on either side of the exchange which could have limitless indirect effects. I like to think I've done some of that. That and I've signed online petitions. :)


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