Brett Williams's Reviews > Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression

Femininity and Domination by Sandra Lee Bartky
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What’s taught in university Women’s Studies

The nature of works like Bartky’s are the very definition of religious claims to truth, i.e. claims that cannot be refuted. As feminist theory is an area of study not science, its authors make claims which by making them alone suffice to make them true. Bartky engages in so many suppositions as though they were critically derived conclusions, the reader finds dismissal hard to avoid. For example, Bartky submits without substantiation that all humans are born bisexual. And her support of this claim? Not given. Bartky’s supposition flies in the face of biology and common sense but it does expose her underlying support of social constructivism: the idea all is nurture, there is no nature, society creates boys and girls. Thus, males can be reengineered into more feminine creatures for the “safety” of females. Despite that males of all species tend to be aggressive as dictated by biology, this is a clinical ailment from the perspective of social constructivism, to be expunged through psychological manipulation without regard to consequences. “I argue,” says Bartky, “that sexual fantasy, not just sexual behavior, should be made the object of moral justification.” But who’s to be in charge of thought control? The answer is, Bartky, her comrades at the university, and Congress.

Bartky notes the objectification of women as indication of a sexist, suppressive society. But men are objectified as well, for their wealth, height, intelligence, appearance, items of display from expensive cars to big houses, or lack of these. (The genetic program that drives males of all species to exhibit resources which females look for to support offspring.) Though male oppression is not her topic, does that make society sexist and suppressive of males? Or is society simply a large-scale inflection of biology? Of course behaviors of both genders needs steering, but for Bartky only males are to be bridled, converted into something males can never be. In short, males are The Villain, to be treated as such.

Human nature’s desire to emphasize “us versus them” as a means to unity loses none of its charm with Bartky. Until feminists theorists such as Bartky see themselves as heroic, rather than in terms of our modern currency as victims, they will continue to blame, seek vengeance, and demand certain payments and consideration from others. In America, victim status carries significant rewards, including a freedom from challenge. Consequently, Bartky and so much of Women’s Studies at the university gets a free ride. One effect of Bartky’s work may be net reductions in male/female relations with associated depressions in fertility rate. As the planet doesn’t need more humans, this may be a positive outcome of her program.

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Finished Reading
January 12, 2015 – Shelved

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❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀ "Until feminists theorists such as Bartky see themselves as heroic, rather than in terms of our modern currency as victims, they will continue to blame, seek vengeance, and demand certain payments and consideration from others." So all women have to do is to see their oppression as an opportunity to be heroic, suck it up, move on and problem solved? What you see as seeking vengeance, is women heroically seeking justice for wrongs done to them. And let's face it, some blame is well deserved..... Change doesn't happen when people remain silent and passive. You may not like what feminists like Bartky have to say, but there is a great deal of truth here, and much to learn, if you can be open to it instead of defensive.


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