Wow. I suppose I have an answer to how long it takes to write an oversimplified, essentialist, and empty statement on complicated, contingent, and multifacted [sic] issues. Answer to follow, when I have some downtime around the conference.
To the extent that I identify as a post-colonial feminist, I will make the disclaimer that I don't speak for the field as a whole. Still, I think I am pretty safe in saying that post-colonial feminists do not hate women, desire their suffering, or oppose their access to basic needs and physical security. There is much more to this ....
This is not to take anything away from the very bright, very passionate "little woman" whose blog post was appropriated on American Power. Her passionate writing is clearly intelligent, well beyond her years, and a valid and important point of view.
That said, it is, of course, not all there is to the issue. One cannot expect someone who has not yet had a college education to dig through decades and even centuries of theorizing and empirical work on gender relations in political and social life, and certainly activism on behalf of women, in whatever form, is far preferable to the sort of apathy that seems to be largely endemic in younger people now.
But when one has intellectual and practical access to those resources (as I am assuming the blogger who appropriated this passage does), there comes with that a responsibility to see complexity and contingency when it exists. And this is a place where it clearly does. I have not yet had the chance to read the Master's Thesis from UBC by Melanie Butler, but, before going further, want to point out that it is really crappy pedagogical practice to viciously attack a Master's Candidate like American Power does (citing another attack by Terry Glavin), given that a Master's Candidate is not, as American Power claims, "a political scientist," but a student writing a paper to learn the field and demonstrate a knowledge of it.
Elevated on her pedestal, Professor Sjoberg refused to dignify Alaina Podmorov with a substantive rebuttal.
In any case, I've come to learn more of Laura Sjoberg, Ph.D., J.D. She's got a more recent post at Duck of Minerva, "Reading Andrea Dworkin to Write Feminist IR?," where she writes:
My first feminist mentors were in the legal profession, particularly Catherine MacKinnon, and my first exposures to feminisms were in debate rounds and law schools rather than political science or International Relations departments. My first feminist books were (therefore?) Andrea Dworkin, before Ann Tickner or Spike Peterson or Jindy Pettman. Perhaps that's why I return to Andrea's work whenever I start writing a major project, despite the fact that it does not translate to and often is not directly cited in my work.So there you have it: Professor Sjoberg's epistemology gains supreme inspiration from the work of Andrea Dworkin. Interestingly, it just so happens that I've read Andrea Dworkin. For the uninitiated, Andrea Dworkin is the progenitor of the "heterosexual intercourse is rape" thesis. And while holders of the Dworkin flame deny this, folks need only read for themselves. Here's this, from Intercourse, Chapter 5, "Possession":
But I think there also might be more to it.
While I remain, always, committed to feminist politics and combatting the other oppressions that gendered lenses help me to see, there's a rawness, a plainness, a terror in Andrea's work that's not in mine explicitly, but which is a lot of why I am committed to feminism and feminist politics.
I am a feminist because I will never be free when rape culture exists. I don't even know what free means, or if I will ever be free, but I know I will never be free if rape culture exists. I do not know what it would look like or how it might be achieved. Still, I want to inspire thinking about it through my work, and use my work to agitate for the cause.
The act itself ... is the possession. There need not be a social relationship in which the woman is subordinate to the man, a chattel in spirit or deed, decorative or hardworking. There need not be an ongoing sexual relationship in which she is chronically, demonstrably, submissive or masochistic. The normal fuck by a normal man is taken to be an act of invasion and ownership undertaken in the mode of predation: colonializing, forceful (manly) or nearly violent; the sexual act that by its nature makes her his ....
In other words, men possess women when they fuck women because both experience the man being male. This is the sustaining logic of male supremacy. In this view, which is the predominant one, maleness is aggressive and violent; and so fucking, in which both the man and the woman experience maleness, essentially demands the disappearance of the woman as an individual; thus, in being fucked, she is possessed: ceases to exist as a discrete individual: is taken over.
There is no analogue anywhere among subordinated groups of people to this experience of being made for intercourse: for penetration, entry, occupation. There is no analogue in occupied countries or in dominated races or in imprisoned dissidents or in colonialized cultures or in the submission of children to adults or in the atrocities that have marked the twentieth century ranging from Auschwitz to the Gulag. There is nothing exactly the same, and this is not because the political invasion and significance of intercourse is banal up against these other hierarchies and brutalities. Intercourse is a particular reality for women as an inferior class; and it has in it, as part of it, violation of boundaries, taking over, occupation, destruction of privacy, all of which are construed to be normal and also fundamental to continuing human existence. There is nothing that happens to any other civilly inferior people that is the same in its meaning and in its effect even when those people are forced into sexual availability, heterosexual or homosexual; while subject people, for instance, may be forced to have intercourse with those who dominate them, the God who does not exist did not make human existence, broadly speaking, dependent on their compliance. The political meaning of intercourse for women is the fundamental question of feminism and freedom: can an occupied people -- physically occupied inside, internally invaded -- be free; can those with a metaphysically compromised privacy have self-determination; can those without a biologically based physical integrity have self-respect?Andrea Dworkin was so radical, so hate-addled and misandrous, that the popular backlash to her work spanned both genders. Note especially how Dworkin was excoriated by feminists themselves. See, Havana Marking, "The Real Legacy of Andrea Dworkin":
When young women put on the Dworkin x-ray specs for a moment, they see female victims everywhere ....And this brings me back to Professor Laura Sjoberg. After the first round of debate, I wrote a snarky follow-up making fun of the recent "topless" gender protests. See, "Topless (Post-Colonial?) Feminists: Now That's My Kind of Protest!" And playfully ribbing Professor Sjoberg, I wrote:
But when a woman is portrayed as a victim, even when she is not, and certainly does not feel like one, you not only insult her but you alienate her as well. The idea that a sexually active and interested woman is merely fulfilling man's fantasy, and there to serve him, is outrageous ....
Heterosexual culture, like pornography, is not a bad thing in itself. Dworkin might not have actually said "all men are rapists" but she did have the slogan Dead Men Don't Rape above her desk. Blanket and extreme arguments help no one.
EXIT QUESTION: Will Professor Sjoberg loosen up in response, or will our dowdy dumpling do a grammar-check once more?She responded at the comments at Duck of Minerva:
I don't think you know whether I am "loosened up" or not, nor will you ever, and if you don't see the sexualization in that question, you're an idiot; if you do, its disrespectful ...I must be an idiot, because my usage of "loosen up" was meant as "to relax", "to reduce the tension", "to take it easy" in debate. But by reason of such comment, Professor Sjoberg reified me as the evil possessor and internal violator of the most Dworkinite kind. Never mind that I'm just playing. Feminist international relations, which is Professor Sjoberg's speciality, is a serious discipline. But when its practitioners are driven by pure hatred and ideological extremism -- and when they refuse to debate individuals on substance rather than atop prestige hiearchies -- it becomes increasingly difficult to take them seriously or give them legitimacy.
And Professor Sjoberg will no doubt find that offensive, without even trying.
ADDENDUM: FWIW, Professor Sjoberg has a forthcoming book, Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War, due in 2011. And for the record I'm up for a serious review and debate of the book upon publication. Hopefully, by that time our good professor will have relaxed somewhat.