Sunday, October 25, 2009

1980s Feminism Today

One of those young women of the 1980s, who was contemptuous of those who warned that all the problems had not yet been solved, found the real world to be different than her preferences and is now saying we should do something about it. She has actually done rather well in that unruly real world, although her enterprise has recently collapsed. Presumably she will continue to do well, although this op-ed seems to be a cry for attention and her next job.

She tells us that attitudes have gone backward, but from my somewhat longer perspective, I would suggest that they have progressed, albeit slowly. The world she saw in the 1980s never existed. Her suggestions for improvement are as superficial as her youthful denial.

Let's change the conversation, she suggests eighties-perkily! Um, some of us were suggesting that even as she was deriding us. And what was she doing to change that conversation when she was at the Wall Street Journal and Portfolio? What is she doing now, for that matter?

Meanwhile, the same old tired conversation goes on. David Sloan Wilson has moved from the Huffington Post to ScienceBlogs and is trying to find a metaphor for science. Why, I'm not quite sure, but if I can gripe about a pseudo-feminist op-ed, he can go ahead with his metaphors. I actually find metaphors fun, although one has to be careful of unintended consequences.

He seems to be pleased with one that must go back to the eighties (didn't Ms. Lipman notice this back then?): Science is a contact sport. There was a time back then when everything was a contact sport. I recall one executive in particular, who showed ever-renewed glee at inserting the word "physical" into the phrase. That was in case we didn't get that business about a contact sport. Football was of course the main referent, but basketball was making its way into that category as well, with some controversy.

I'll assume that Phronesisaical's readers are intelligent enough to be able to see the ways that "contact sport" focuses on masculinity. Add "physical" and a leer, and you have a standard method of excluding women. Or opening the discussion up to a sort of rape (physical? contact? get it? hahahaha).

So I'll have to agree with Ms. Lipman. There are still some lousy attitudes around. Too bad it's taken her twenty years to see them.

1 comment:

MT said...

I would have thought that Title IX protected sports metaphors against such efforts to shame, no matter how daintily made.