The Church of Feminism

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The Church of Feminism

Post by perezoso » December 20th, 2004, 7:34 pm

The feminist writer Virginia Woolf is currently "hot property" in academia and Hollywood. A recent movie "The Hours," featured Nicole Kidman (with a nose job) as Miss Woolf, and English departments across the US make a nice business teaching Woolf's novels and essays as statements of feminist Truth. Unfortunately, the English professor-mafia doesn't typically inform their gullible students that Woolf was a mentally-ill writer who killed herself by putting stones in her jacket and jumping into a river. Woolf was, in addition to being a literary figure and mental patient, also a renowned intellectual party hostess; she regularly threw tea parties in a place near Cambridge termed Bloomsbury, and her guests included leading intellectuals of the day such as Keynes, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, and the philosophers GE Moore and Bertrand Russell.

Unfortunately, the logical and scientific rigor that characterizes the writings of the economist Keynes and the philosopher Russell never penetrated Virginia's writing; instead of addressing the nature of probability or the theory of reference and meaning, Woolf instead wrote obscure, salacious novels, including one about an aristocratic woman whom she lusted after in real life. Yet in the current academic milieu, Russell--whose Voltaire-like wit, and Apollonian reason and wisdom completely tower above the fuzzy, pop-Freudian rhetoric of Woolf--has been pretty much pushed to the side; instead it is the madwoman Woolf who represents Bloomsbury and indeed English civility and "rationalism."

As did their icon Woolf, feminist scholars reject the logical rigor which characterized the works of men such as Keynes and Russell; researching the theory of probability or Zeno's paradoxes requires quite a bit more careful analysis and mental clarity than spewing out sapphic fantasies or implying that "all men are fascists." Yet in the current academic climate of postmodernism, logic has been relegated strictly to a few corners of philosophy departments. In fact the typical feminist distrust of logic and science, and indeed even of the traditional empirical methodology of the social sciences, leads them, more often than not, to hold beliefs and attitudes about men and about society which have no empirical support whatsoever; feminist "scholarship," if not most humanities scholarship, thus mainly consists of sweeping, vague generalizations, sometimes eloquent, but possessing no more truth than a redneck’s political and racial prejudices.

Though it's unlikely they could make it through the first paragraphs of "Of Grammatology", many feminists assume that Derrida, Lacan and crew justify their own lack of reason and evidence: "..there is no transcendental signifier, like, and reason and science are phallologocentric, just an oppressive discourse, and so we don't need any evidence for our claims." If feminists and postmodernists carried out their irrational hatred of logic and the products of logic, they would, to be consistent (though if you're in the po-mo biz consistency is not much of a concern) not drive cars, not use bridges, not use their computer, and, indeed, never visit a doctor.

Yet the feminists of Academia, Inc. will of course make use of their college's website, and women's studies faculty members--usually all females--will commute to their state-funded offices and classrooms in their luxury cars, where they can teach classes chock-full of like-minded women who think they are doing some deep thinking when reading Woolf's garbled, overgeneralized idiocy such as that found in "Three Guineas," : all believers, if not acolytes, in the Church of Feminism.

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Post by e_dog » December 21st, 2004, 3:45 am

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
feminist "scholarship," if not most humanities scholarship, thus mainly consists of sweeping, vague generalizations, sometimes eloquent, but possessing no more truth than a redneck’s political and racial prejudices.
where's the "empirical support" for this sweeping generalization?

some feminist scholarship is empirical social science; some is legal research; some is history; some is hermeneutic cultural (e.g. artistic or literary) criticism (like your essay). truth can emerge from a social process of critical dialogue, interpretation, and he 'empirical' input of experience (interactions with test-tubes and survey-forms are not the only experiences that matter). i said truth can emerge, but so can falsehood or dogma. usually we find mixtures of both. feminist scholarship is no exception. you claim to value proof so much; i suspect that statistical data on for example gender participation in business, education, political institutions is as abundant as virtually any socially measured indicators.

if you think there is not empirical social science about the stuff feminism is concerned, you are just wrong. and therefore feminists can comment on the facts and inspire more research. this process is not one of religion but social science.

certainly, to turn any fiction writer into a propagator of religious-like doctrine would be foolish. (as would, say, taking seriously the sense-datum theory of Russell.) but i doubt most feminists of the academic variety you have in mind got their theoretical positions as a result of reading Woolf.

not all feminists are postmodernists and not all feminists or postmodernists have a "hatred for logic." anyway there is nothing more inconsistent about, say, a critic of modern technology using technology than there is about a critic of a literary work reading that literary work. it would be strange for it be otherwise, no?

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