The Good Feminist: Anarchic and slightly deranged

21 May

feminist

 

 

Helen Razer wrote this about feminism today.

In response, Clementine Ford wrote this about what Helen Razer wrote about feminism today.

Make of these differing view points what you will, that’s not my goal. What did catch my attention was Ford’s use of the words “anarchic and slightly deranged” to describe what she calls Razer’s “moments of incisive clarity” [on feminism today]

It seems Ford is using the term “anarchic” in a pejorative sense, which is interesting, as I’ve never thought of anarchic as a bad look for a woman, especially a feminist, to adopt.  It is a surely part of our job to do our best to transgress the hierarchical, patriarchal systems that repress and oppress us. Quite how one does that without a bit of anarchy, I don’t know.

“Deranged,” even slightly, is another kettle of fish. This is to do with insanity, psychosis, loss of contact with reality, a disturbed “normality.” It’s no different from calling a woman crazy, and we all know the power of that descriptor to hurt, intimidate, and silence when applied by the orthodoxy to the words of women it does not want to hear, or wishes to discredit.

Personally, I have no time for words such as “deranged” in a feminist vocabulary. They belong to the Law of the Father, as Cixous would have it. They are the consequence of a social process whose product is, among other things, concepts such as “sanity” and “madness.”  Part of our feminist task is, as Foucault would have it though he was not speaking specifically to feminism,  that we must disrupt discursive practices which establish meaning. Perhaps there is little more important than disrupting those established practices that create a narrative of derangement that has long been used to contain and oppress mouthy, disruptive, revolutionary women.

Has feminism now become so tamed that words such as “deranged” are required to invalidate commentary because its content may not be immediately accessible and its form extraordinary?  Strategies of excess can be used most effectively to challenge the binaries of patriarchal thought, but has feminism become so tamed it must now regard such strategies as “deranged?”

Women today would not have a fraction of the privileges we have were it not for radical, anarchic women who were frequently described as “crazy.” No successful political movement ever existed without radicals to initially break through the barriers.

There is practically no one influential in Western feminism today who can be described as radical. I wonder how much this is due to so many feminists becoming so much a part of the bourgeoisie with its safe, bourgeois values that radical voices are now inevitably named as “deranged,” and thus ridiculed, or silenced.

Naming is a political activity.  “…all expression is always indirectly political.” Cixous.

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52 Responses to “The Good Feminist: Anarchic and slightly deranged”

  1. zucchinibikini May 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    This is so on the money. Characterising a feminist writer as anarchic may be accurate and indeed can be complimentary (albeit, in this case, unintentionally so). But describing a feminist or their work as deranged or any other word that denotes “crazy” invokes centuries of well practised dismissal of women’s work as wrong, unbalanced, and ultimately trivial. Ford can’t be unaware of this history, and to use such loaded language in her response doesn’t speak well of her argument as a whole.

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    • conor May 22, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      yes it follows the old thought that women who complain were mentally ill, and now Ford is using it against another women who disagrees with her. Patriarchal society is now represented by Ford. How sad!

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  2. paul walter May 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    It is fair to criticise deranged employed as an insult, but there would be no harm in drawing an inference from utterances and behaviours as to derangement and alerting others to a problem they might avoid.
    If an individual presents evidence and argues coherently from that, then the go is to challenge the evidence and argument, if this seems faulty or canbe further explicated upon to increase the understanding. For example, I’d dispute Ford’s comments on “rape culture”; it seems the same sort of exercise in open ended language that Tankard Reist employs- the thing is not “masculinised” it is “socialised”, I’d guess.
    If some one turns up and abuses someone rather than discussing an issue, say at a blog tyread, that could be construed as “deranged”.
    Should it matter whether a person is male or female in drawing attention to the possibility?
    Should a possible truth be obscured based on nothing better than gender, say?
    As for the two pieces and the thread starter, I’d say that all were excluding/exclusive, so I’ll avoid further participation until further clarification arises.

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    • Jennifer Wilson May 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

      This is an excellent analysis of Ford’s article by Guerilla Semiotics:

      http://guerrillasemiotics.com/blog/2013/05/21/public-discourse-analysis-series-01-personalising-the-debate-clementine-ford-daily-life/

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      • paul walter May 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

        Wow! Pretty stern stuff…Still, as a journo she is expected to hold to higher standards than the plebs.
        This MW of weasel-wording is on my list from now on.
        Btw, read a beaut thing in today’s Guardian by a fella, Jack O’Sullivan; “The Masculinity debate: no wonder men stay out of it”,
        as to this”personalising” thing and how the middle class take on gender communication has become so sterile.

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      • doug quixote May 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

        Thanks for that link Jennifer. It certainly goes a long way toward explaining my disquiet with Ford’s article. Ford Fisks Razer’s article, and lashes it with ad hom of all descriptions.

        If hope she reads that linked article; she might learn something.

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      • hudsongodfrey May 22, 2013 at 1:20 am #

        You have to love a critic who even takes the fight to the comments section. Is this Forrest under another guise? It is a very good critique of the language though.

        Razer is a brilliant writer who leaves most others for dead if it’s a straight out matter of pure talent and wit, but perhaps she can be picked up on a few minor points and questioned about where she places greatest emphasis. I find it annoying as I’m sure you and others will the Ford doesn’t actually address that point Razer is making about the way advertisers can hijack sources of outrage.

        Whereas it seems a pity to me that Clementine is wasting her time on these feminist apologetics for a group whose problem neither writer seems to want to confront head on. Destroy the Joint often pick lame topics to get remarkably outraged about in ways that are like Christian and Wowser groups because they appeal to the same kind of thinking.

        Therein lies the bigger point that I wish Helen Razer would tackle, because I feel sure she’d do it such justice, and that;s the one we’ve been working our way up to here. How outrage as activism can often be misdirected and become stuff of small mindedness and superficiality in the face of clumsy attempts to lobby with selfish goals in mind. Any time somebody approaches an issue with outrage then whether you agree or you disagree one thing is for sure, if somebody has already decided that they’re right and others are wrong on an issue then the discourse is headed for a one way trip down rhetoric street, and further productive discussion of ideas will prove quite impossible.

        There may be occasions where the only appropriate response is outrage, but they are, as they should be, remarkably few. When it comes to the ordinary business of activism the task is to persuade others not just to indoctrinate your brethren with rabid ideology and confected outrage at every turn. If you do you’ll find yourself preaching to the converted, a lot, but you won’t persuade person one of any group that opposes you. I think that’s the real problem for the kinds of knee jerk focused campaigns that groups like Destroy the Joint seem purpose built to conduct. They may bludgeon us with political correctness but deep down it’s a one way dialog sponsoring the kind of divisiveness whereby neither side is obliged to listen to one another and therefore real change is guaranteed to fail to materialise.

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        • Jennifer Wilson May 22, 2013 at 5:52 am #

          Yes, you have nailed it HG, & nobody seems to seriously want to address this. Someone did remark on Twttter about the similarity in method between DtJ & Collective Shout.

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        • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) May 22, 2013 at 7:10 am #

          hudsongodfrey asks “… Is this Forrest under another guise? …”.

          At the risk of revealing my ignorance in the event there is some other recognised authority going by the name of ‘Forrest’, I must advise that I have no other ‘guise’. I do not even write online anywhere under my real name. I do not have the time to manage multiple online personae, nor do I believe one can hide literary style, even if using a different Literary Vehicle*.

          So guys, thanks for what I hope to be the compliment, but not my work. Very visuo-visual, wasn’t it?

          * https://twitter.com/ForrestGumpp/status/336001322300084224

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          • hudsongodfrey May 22, 2013 at 9:00 am #

            Yes of course it was a compliment, and no I didn’t really mean to start some kind of conspiracy theory. The similarity was simply in the use of the original text with your preference for linking tweets into the texts of your posts. The ability we now have to attack somebody’s text directly really does allow new media to hold writers to account.

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      • conor May 22, 2013 at 9:37 am #

        love the response!
        it so very clearly shows that so many of the allegedly “wrong” opinions and behaviours of Razer are just as often, if not more often,( judging by the number of times Dailylife use and protect her) are endlessly prevalent in her own work.
        Pot kettle I think, or just plain hypocritical bully.
        I think more of us should be demanding that Ford apologise on Dailylife, or her work be slowly removed from Dailylife content until she can develop some simple logical and respect.

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  3. doug quixote May 21, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Razer makes several excellent points, but probably best summed up in these paragraphs :

    “By purposely enraging a network such as Destroy the Joint with overtly sexist material, ad creatives would get their product spruiked for free.

    I had thought Destroy the Joint was vulnerable to exploitation, too. The way the Facebook page began to critique everything for all kinds of sexism seemed naive and indiscriminate.

    My concern was that ”Angrily Calling Out Sexism Wherever You See It” is habit-forming.”

    And then this :

    “Advertisers had changed the tone of Destroy the Joint from Caro’s joyous taking-the-mickey to a good old-fashioned feminist intransigence.”

    I find much in Razer’s article with which to agree, and Clementine’s “Fisking” of it is a rather small-minded exercise; why are we not surprised.

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    • conor May 22, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      Agree
      Ford seems to believe also that only her opinion matters or is intelligent.
      What also concerns me is the concerted efforts by the editor of Dailylife and the moderator to consistently block any comments that are not praise worthy of Ford and all her thoughts. This praise is then falsely used to show natural and almost universal support for her thoughts.
      To my mind a critic who can’t take reasoned criticism is not a critic but a bully

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  4. paul walter May 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Fascinating read at Bob Ellis, where a poster called Chris has put up a link to Wixxyleaks, involving what appears to be the (possible) long-term slandering of Craig Thomson by veteran Fairfax gossip-columnists Kate McClymont,
    If the claim that the columnist is running a vendetta against the MP were true, would it indicate that the pathology involved is pathological, hence “deranged”?
    But we cannot warn others that McClymont as “deranged” and to be avoided, for no reason beyond the fact that McClymont is a woman?

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  5. liquid running May 21, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    Using the word “deranged” in connection with Helen Razer is even more ill advised given Razer’s experience of depression and anxiety. She wrote a book about it, “Gas Smells Awful”. Clementine Ford may not be aware of this history (hopefully she isn’t because that would make it even worse).

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    • Jennifer Wilson May 22, 2013 at 5:50 am #

      Oh yikes, of course.

      Like

    • gerard oosterman May 22, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Razor’s interview with Berkoff wasn’t so crash hot though. Talk about insulting behaviour. It got her the sack.

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      • paul walter May 22, 2013 at 9:25 am #

        Yes, there is something of “attitude, in this.
        Why this??

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        • gerard oosterman May 22, 2013 at 9:52 am #

          A reply to liquid running that in connection ‘deranged to Helen Razor’ was ill advised.

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          • paul walter May 22, 2013 at 11:55 am #

            I know full well what depression is; how intolerable it can be.
            Even less excuse for the empathy devoid, adhominem behaviour exhibited during the tape.
            A self reflexive person, experienced of this sort of intense pain, the last thing they could have done was then try to inflict similar pain on someone else, surely?
            As for Clem Ford, I think, sadly, she has been impressionable and sought to become a “mean girl” in her own right, this is a misguided, ill-informed aspiration from someone who also should be getting to know better. Role-playing is fun, but some time a person has to grow up and live in the real world with other people.
            Are these people deluded into doing a female version of the John Wayne “silent hero” thing?
            Razer could have had a friend in need of the person she was needlessly baking.
            This was beneath her dignity as Ironwoman?
            I can’t imagine the subsequent sacking would have helped the depression, in contrast and if she didn’t join the dots together as to causal trigger and experienced consequence , I’d be stunned.

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      • hudsongodfrey May 22, 2013 at 10:21 am #

        Can’t wait for her to interview John Lydon after that one!

        Okay so she started poorly and couldn’t bring the interview back on track, but Berkoff was a total prick about it. You get the sense with some people that rather than doing a pleasant, some might say rather lightweight, interview for publicity purposes they almost prefer to make an international incident out of it to milk that font of negativity for publicity reasons.

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    • helvityni May 22, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      I only know Helen Razer from her articles on the Drum/opinion and the patronising interview with the well-known English actor Steven Berkoff ,calling him ‘cudmudgeon’, which got her sacked from ABC radio.
      I assume many would not know of her mental health issues, they are her private concerns.

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    • conor May 22, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      No Ford is just insensitive and a bully.
      She has already been reprimanded by others over her language in child abuse cases

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  6. samjandwich May 22, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    All very interesting, but for me nothing is as clear-cut as the various foregoing analyses seem to have it.

    I have to say that I was fairly impressed with Clementine Ford’s article on this occasion. It was certainly a lot more personal and self-reflective than her usual efforts and I think as a result, more compelling. I don’t quite agree that Ford is being critical and dismissive of Helen Razer, nor that she is giving Destroy the Joint (and my goodness, doesn’t the upside-down crown that group uses as an insignia look so very much like a pair of lacy knickers!) her unequivocal support either.

    Rather, I think what her article is saying is that people on the whole, herself included, find Helen Razer difficult to understand and engage with. The language and concepts she uses are, according to Ford, too complex to be of much use in public-level discussions on topics such as feminism and misogyny. She takes a promising idea… and whooshes it straight over people’s heads, with the result that her message often gets lost. I sort of take the description of Razer as “anarchic and slightly deranged” to be a backhand compliment, in the sense that Ford admires her passionate intelligence and her ability to stand up to all comers… but also laments the fact that her machine-gun delivery usually misses its target. That is to say, she seems to be lamenting the fact that public discourse is too simplistic to allow people like Helen Razer much exposure.

    Meanwhile, the principles of logical argument in this instance are I would argue somewhat beside the point in a discussion of this sort… for reasons I won’t go into. Suffice to say, it is the dialogue as a collective that is valuable, rather than what each individual says.

    And as it happens, the only thing I object to in the whole debate is Helen Razer’s contention that the media and marketing people hijacking DtJ is necessarily a bad thing. If feminists enjoy smoking, or anything else that the corporate world can provide, then why not adopt particular brands of cigarettes or other products as their own,in a thoughtful, self-aware sort of way (insofar as choices are made based on the quality and usefulness of products, despite rather than because of the marketing messages. Advertising is always partly informative, and consumer choices are not just a simple matter of “I’ll by that because the TV told me to” after all…)? Isn’t the whole point of feminism to make the mainstream work for everyone?

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    • paul walter May 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Don’t you sympathise with people who have a good cause having it undermined by morons?
      Surely there are more important things to be considered in our real world than the imperatives of some executive or accountant chasing more bucks for hawking toxic products.
      The real toxicity rest in the carnivorous, instrumentalist Big Business pathology.

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      • samjandwich May 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

        “Don’t you sympathise with people who have a good cause having it undermined by morons?”

        Yes! This is a constant frustration for the vast majority of right-minded Australians. And that’s partly what I think Clementine Ford is saying.

        “Surely there are more important things to be considered in our real world than the imperatives of some executive or accountant chasing more bucks for hawking toxic products.
        The real toxicity rest in the carnivorous, instrumentalist Big Business pathology.”

        Interesting… I guess if you’re of the opinion that people are capable of making their own choices then it’s very difficult to be against a capitalist economy. ‘toxic products’ are only toxic insofar as they are marketed to people who aren’t capable of deciding not to use them, or to those who have no alternative but to use it (Sydney Airport for example, is the most toxic product I know of…)

        As for executives chasing more bucks, I’d think a feminist economics would simply see that sort of behaviour as a bit infantile and pitiful. Anyone who needs lots of stuff, or to be wealthier than his/her peers, just so they can feel good about themselves, is clearly a diminished and under-developed individual – so let the baby have his bottle!

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        • paul walter May 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

          I absolutely concur that we owe feminism a real debt for fleshing out the origins of the present day system that rest in sociological factors, eg the”Patriarchy” concept.
          Hence I still think “agency”is an overrated concept that ignores the formation of the self; socialisation/individuation and the role these play in social reproduction and back to individuation again- a cycle. As some of my feminist friends would likely say, “once a bastard, always a bastard”.
          Not that I don’t believe there is ultimately wiggle room, we can indeed consciously refuse buying junk; also consciously work to remove obnoxious behaviours and traits within ourselves.
          But the there are buttons pushed that relate consumer capitalism to the upkeep of a hierarchical social order and it is definitely true that patriarchy is as self limiting for women as it is for men, most of all oligarchs.
          But if it’s sensed that patriarchy and capitalism go together (even when morphing into a form that some call matriarchy), how we adapt, as well as possible, to our condition, doesn’t ignore the objective perception that change could be oh so good in so many things and that there is indeed a system that holds objective improvement, including a clear conscience, up whether the baby has its bottle or not, because this is a Johnny Apple seed baby that never seems to have its fill and must needs take even to the threat of survival for all others.
          The system does seem to have a life of its own, and am blowed if I know how we can reach the “normative”, either.
          I do think this is the fundamental issue Jennifer Wilson has been grappling with, btw.

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      • hudsongodfrey May 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

        While I agree that there is certainly toxicity in rampant and unrestrained capitalism I also rankle at the idea that the only way to restrain it is by setting up a false dichotomy between the exploiting and the exploited. If we buy shit that isn’t in our best interests whether it’s anything from magazines to products made using slave labor to fast food, we have some duty as consumers to try and avoid that of which we would disapprove. And I see a line being drawn between being informative and proactive, and wanting to ban things so that somebody else will be forced to make your choices for you.

        There are as I see it aspects of the same moral issue that applies to the article about euthanasia. When it comes to making choices the only ones that have merit are those which are freely made. We should only stop short of allowing people that moral agency when a clear concern for harm to others is involved.

        I think that there’s room for activism that wants to “get a result” but I also think that sometimes the point is thoroughly missed that nobody is convinced by banning something to actually change their mind. And less is gained when force has to effectively be used to coerce a moral outcome if for every moral outcome that has to be achieved in this way we cede to some authority a tiny part of our moral agency.

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        • paul walter May 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

          We do it anyway in everyday life, many times a day, as to behaviour (defer).
          The question is, can enough people see far enough outside the box to continue what Habermas calls the Enlightenment Project” , eg get past much of the fearful miserliness of human behaviour in our era, toward a rational use of resources that would rescue the global poor to some extent, say.
          Wouldn’t the pay-off of seeing other people better off be compensation for less junk driven escapism FROM reality?
          We don’t know, do we?
          It’s where Marilyn has had us over a barrel as to refugees, for example.
          The remedy is plausible, but who pays what if that’s required.
          I agree you can’t force people to “play nice”, but does this preclude a rational consideration of what’s required for a “better” world and attempts to canvass some approaches?

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          • hudsongodfrey May 23, 2013 at 11:01 am #

            “can enough people see far enough outside the box….?”

            I think most of us actually have a kind of internal dialog wherein we’re convinced we’re more astute as individuals than is society as a whole. Leadership that connects in any way with that dialog can be a force for positive change but it can also ignite a powder keg of negativity. We’ve seen the results of the positives many times early on in the Union movement, in women’s suffrage that led to women’s lib and feminist movements, and peace movements and humanitarianism. We also have to deal with lingering outbreaks of racism.

            So in answer to what I think is your basic question here a lot of this depends on what is actually seen as the box under any given set of circumstances. The political question of whether everything “grass roots” is good or whether we need leaders who’ll resist expediency in favour or some pursuit of ideology justified by “the greater good” isn’t a question with a single answer. There are ongoing tensions that always need to be kept in some kind of balance as we negotiate the progress of ongoing change. I think the only concern I really have with some people’s approach to this (quite apart from whether i think they’re right or wrong) is that some don’t seem to think dialectic and debate have as much traction in the marketplace of ideas as do lobbying, opinion and the kind of activism that prefers a well marshalled mob to a well rounded idea!

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    • helvityni May 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      “She takes a promising idea… and whooshes it straight over people’s heads, with the result that her message often gets lost”

      She used to write on The Drum, and at least or me her message often got lost…
      Her use of language has a whiff of ‘clever-dickery’, I got the feeling she tries too hard…in that interview with Berkoff she definitely evoked his anger, she was rude and patronizing.
      I forgave Clementine Ford when she did not agree with Abbott’s overly generous parental leave scheme, favouring the well off.

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      • helvityni May 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

        oops: FOR me

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      • helvityni May 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

        This is a reply to Sam’s first post…

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        • paul walter May 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

          Razer is actually a very funny satirical writer when she’s on song.
          Nor is Ford a fool, more a promising work in progress.

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          • samjandwich May 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

            I went to the same school as Helen R!

            Actually though I remember her mostly because she was on Triple J during the time I was at said school. She was pretty deranged even then… in the best possible way of course!

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          • conor May 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

            No I just think Ford is a bully, but agree about Razer

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  7. Jana P May 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    I found this article because of the link to my blog ( http://guerrillasemiotics.com/blog/2013/05/21/public-discourse-analysis-series-01-personalising-the-debate-clementine-ford-daily-life/ ), and it has now been added to my RSS feeds. Beautiful writing!

    When you say that there are no well-known radical voices in feminism today, would you exclude Judith Butler? Granted, she is very high-brow, and not entirely in feminism (but philosophy), but I have always found her ideas really, and continuously, radical. Or did you mean only mainstream, pop-voice sort of feminism? Asking because it seems to me that popular feminism is genuinely re-discovering its radical side again, through the critique of rape culture (and Slutwalk and so on), and through the queer-theory work (echoes of Butler).

    I think the language we use to dismiss other people’s arguments is extremely important, and particularly so in feminism, because of the tradition you so accurately describe in this post, of dismissing female voices as ‘deranged’. If you are serious, then you’re ‘stern and humourless’; if you are trying to be approachable, then it’s ‘clever-dickery’; if you stick to moderate language, then you’re ‘academic and boring’; if you try to underline the seriousness of your argument with emotion, then you’re ‘deranged’. This applies broadly, but women (and other non-hetero-white-men) tend to cop it a bit more.

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    • hudsongodfrey May 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      I think your dissection of the language was very astute, and as I said before you have to love anyone who takes the fight all the way to the comments section.

      Yet despite fact that I’ve been somewhat effusive in my praise for Razer’s writing which I personally happen to enjoy, one might if they tried really hard be able to make a similar attack on different aspects of her piece.

      Fair enough if you weren’t inclined to. I think you make a fair point, but perhaps one that would be added to by your reflections on the debate itself, because it seems there had to be reasons to do with the content of either piece that also shaped your ire towards Clementine Ford on this occasion.

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      • Jana P May 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

        I actually couldn’t find the same concentration of ad hominem in Razer’s article. That said, however, I generally enjoy Ford’s writing more. In particular, I think she does such a great job of translating the concept of rape culture into a simple, Fairfax-friendly language. I honestly think the problem with her article is caused by the discursive norms of our public sphere (the way we feel we are supposed to talk in newspaper articles), not by Ford personally. She might had been writing in style she thought appropriate, or the article may have been butchered in sub-editing.

        The thing is, though, such articles do build up an appropriate canonical ‘style’, and public debate often becomes about winning a style battle. I started thinking about this during the recent Delta Goodrem/Mia Freeman/racism brouhaha. Also, I find it fascinating how Andrew Bolt is able to deftly employ this mass-media style to seem eminently reasonable more than the (deranged?) content of his opinion often warrants.

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        • hudsongodfrey May 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

          There was some stuff in Razer’s article about Anne Summers, but I guess Ford saved you the bother by picking it first. But what I really meant to ask I suppose is whether you actually favoured Razer’s arguments re:DtJ over Fords?

          I do and I think it’s because when I read Razer’s writing, dense and convoluted as it often is I am persuaded that she knows a good deal more about her subject and is using it to inform rather than lobby or bludgeon me with her ideology.

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          • guerrillasemiotics May 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

            I can’t really answer this. In this case, Razer’s piece combined reporting (interviews with other DtJ protagonists) with opinion, and, I think, built a reasonable argument. Ford’s was much more problematic, and I think I showed why. But they have written more than these two pieces, and cannot be reduced to them.

            But I don’t see them as representing two sides to choose from. How? Two sides of what? Ultimately, they are both trying to push complex feminist ideas through a mass media averse to complexity, and often have to sacrifice a lot of nuance. Neither has taught me much. I have been much more intellectually stimulated by this blog, for example.

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            • hudsongodfrey May 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

              Granted, yes all granted, but I do sometimes wish the emphasis would shift from marshalling the troops around an established agenda to actually engaging in the business of persuading people that things can and will improve as a result of positive change.

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              • guerrillasemiotics May 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

                I agree. Coming back to this country after a year in Germany, I was struck by how divided Australia is, and how much energy goes into trying to cut people down, as opposed to building something up.

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                • hudsongodfrey May 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

                  You’re not swapping berths with Gumnut are you?

                  I imagine that you would be struck with the divisiveness, not that it probably wasn’t there when you left, but one sometimes remembers a place more kindly that it really was.

                  Part of it has been the tenuousness of minority government to which we are all quite unused in this country, but the other part sad to say has been a good deal of tea-partying and dog whistling from the crossbenches.

                  Another aspect of why some of this has been occurring in many of our first world capitalist democracies may be that we’ve ceded that much power to global seats of influence, by which I mean corporate and market power, maybe the EU but certainly not the UN. I think that political parties which are uniformly much the same as one another seek to differentiate themselves through the kind of posturing that is rather divisive in itself. But then we could have known that we we decided to have a war on and abstract noun! but I digress….

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    • paul walter May 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

      It’s not so much derangement as derangement coming across through poor expression. You can be eloquent without being abusive.

      Like

    • Anonymous March 6, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      What happened to the ‘public discourse analysis…’ post? I would love to read it, but the link no longer takes me there and I can’t find a post for May 21, 2013.

      Like

  8. paul walter May 24, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Fordwatch:
    Delicious dissection of the worst of mass audience teev during its last era.
    This in today’s SMH.
    Must we have a Ford closure?
    This means 1100 workers are out of work simply because Clementine got it right?

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