On Feminist 0.6 thinking

Look, it's a long slog to make yourself a decent person. I once wrote a fairly popular blog post entitled "I am". It contained passages such as

I am a friend. A friend to women who I met when I was 5 years old, ones I met in high school, college, grad school. Women I met as a postdoc, as a faculty member, as an inhabitant of my community.

I am a boss and a mentor. Women work for me and with me on my various professional activities.

I am a husband. My spouse is a professional person working, as it happens, in the sciences.

I am a father. Of a nonzero number of miniwomen.

These sorts of sentiments still feel truthful to me.

But so do the sentiments in this piece which takes a shot at such self-referential thinking:

As A Father Of Daughters, I Think We Should Treat All Women Like My Daughters

I’m not proud to admit this, but before I had daughters, I sometimes used to harvest women for their organs to build Liver Pyramids in my backyard. I just didn’t see a problem with it. I sure do now, though. What if someone killed my daughters just to make a pyramid, or even a ziggurat, out of women’s internal organs in their backyard? I sure wouldn’t like that at all. They’re my daughters!

Go read the whole thing. Careful with drinking any coffee until you are done.

8 responses so far

  • dr24hours says:

    I respect the satire, and agree that it is obviously important to see women as fully independent adults regardless of one's personal relationships. I, for example, have no daughters. That does not excuse any lapse in my recognition of personhood among women.

    However, it is a fairly plain fact of the human condition that we often, perhaps usually, relate better to all kinds of concepts once we have personal experience in the realm. People of any stripe may not understand the challenges of, say, cancer treatment until they've been, or seen, what it does.

    Thus, in aggregate, I find it unsurprising that men behave better towards women once they have daughters. The lesson from this, for me, is not precisely that we need to learn to have the same empathy whether or not we have daughters. It's that we need to develop diverse relationships in our lives that promote empathy.

  • E-roock says:

    Reminds me of peoples' evolving thoughts about gay rights. Legislators and political leaders were anti gay until their son/daughter or whatever came out. I think even Obama & Biden made similar justifications when reversing tack on gay marriage because they have friends and colleagues whose families are same-sex couples. People want to give these guys credit for reversing positions (some who were actively advocating discrimination), but if their motivation is because they do not want to hurt their sons or daughters now .... but it was okay to hurt others' sons/daughters then? Where's the moral compass? Does it only extend to the F1 generation?

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Exactly. I *hate* those political justifications. Should do it b/c it is *right*

  • becca says:

    People's *thoughts* about feminism ought to be fairly unchanged by having daughters, assuming they weren't nitwits to start with. But people's feelings? That's a whole other ball of emo. And people's feelings determine their support for politics, to a very significant degree.

  • gingerest says:

    Mph. I think it goes beyond pragmatism into apologetics to excuse adult humans from practicing empathy as "part of the human condition". If a leader can't imagine a woman's autonomy and humanity without relating it to his family members, he's not much of a leader.

  • E-roock says:

    Ginger, that's a great articulation of something that bugged me. (Back to presidential politics) I could not quite put my finger on why it was distasteful that Romney (and his binders full of women) said that of course republicans love/respect women, "I have a wife, a mother, daughters in law, grandkids...." Or the "I can't have 'illegals' working for me, I'm running for president for Pete's sake." Empathy seemed to go as far as (groups of) people are useful.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Maybe the real problem with Republicans using this tactic is that they simply aren't believable, given their policy positions.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    So then it backfires because you are thinking *explicitly* about the fact they are doing to their loved ones as well as the rest of the women in the country.

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