The Shotgun Blog
Monday, March 24, 2008
ifeminists and iblacks
Earlier this month Jaws called on Women's Studies programs to leave behind outmoded feminist ethics and instead "highlight some pro-liberty, pro-free market, pro-awesome groups and individuals who happen to have two X chromosomes" including Ayn Rand and Harriet Taylor Mills. I agree that there is a place for studying women and feminism in higher education but that feminist theories based on updated (but still outdated) Marxist exploitation theories should be left behind.
It looks like students in British universities feel the same way. The Indie reports that the last dozen students will graduate from a UK undergraduate Women’s Studies course this summer. Some factors identified as causes for the decline in student interest are that gender and equality issues are dealt with in other disciplines, that large gains have already been attained for women, and that degrees in Women’s Studies are unlikely to lead to enticing job prospe cts. Others like Christina Hoff Sommers of AEI point towards the “predictable, tiresome and dreary” state of feminist scholarship and Jean Edelstein contends that “as the feminist movement has become increasingly associated with extreme thoughts, women who may have previously been interested in women's studies may be deterred by these overtones.” Anyone have a theory of why these programs in the UK are dying off while Women’s Studies programs seem to be doing just fine here in Canada and the US?
Looking back at that post, I want to append another name to the list of individualist women. To the three Old Right “furies of libertarianism” Paterson, Lane and Rand, I would add Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance novelist who was also an outspoken opponent of the New Deal. Hurston was a classical liberal, anti-communist, supporter of capitalism, opponent of forced integration, and critic of the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to being a black conservative and backer of U.S. Senator Robert Taft, her views on race place her firmly in the “cast down your bucket where you are” conservative black tradition which includes individuals like Booker T. Washington, Bill Cosby , John McWhorter, and, as David Shraub argues, Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright.
My favourite quotation from Hurston, exemplifying her critique of the victimization mentality still adopted by many American blacks (including Reverend Wright) is from her beautiful essay How It Feels to Be Colored Me:
“But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”
Posted by Kalim Kassam on March 24, 2008 | Permalink
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Lovely. Like a Senator Anne Cools.
Posted by: dewp | 2008-03-24 5:54:55 PM
"feminist movement has become increasingly associated with extreme thoughts"
What I find especially surprising is that in typical movements, you start out with an extreme, and settle back toward a reasonable middle ground.
Posted by: Glen | 2008-03-24 10:26:02 PM
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