The Capital-M Movement

Belledame’s back in business with a post about the perennial “You should moderate your lifestyle – for the good of the movement” stupidity, complete with quotes that I was sure were just a sex-positive strawman until I saw real sex-negative feminists make them.

But that’s not what this post is about; I’ve recently learned that sex-negative feminism can be safely ignored, and anyway sex-negative conservatism is way more powerful. Rather, what it’s about is Belledame’s point,

The whole “you must curb your stereotype-pandering appearance and/or lifestyle/subcultural choices for the sake of the Movement” business is, simply put, crap. It was crap when the polite suited and tied white middle-class homosexuals were pulling it on the “flaunting” drag queens and butch dykes (who were the ones getting their heads busted and their asses in the jails); it’s crap when well-heeled, well-assimilated ethnic minorities use it on their “ghetto” or “country” or “FOB” or “lazy” brethren and sistren; it was crap when the socialists of Orwell’s day were bitching out their fellow travellers for “bourgeois” practices like keeping a rose garden; and it’s crap here, too.

On the one hand, it takes a fascist to tell people that they must change a personal lifestyle that hurts nobody. It’s a basic liberal tenet that if the personal is the political, then it has to be your own choice. If you don’t want to politicize your lifestyle, it’s fascist for other people to politicize it for you. It doesn’t matter what their exact reason is: they can be governmental moralists, or movement moralists, or religious moralists, or whatever.

On the other, “these arguments are all alike and aren’t to be listened to” is a real annoyance. Suppose I think that the inclusion of ethnic minorities is misplaced since what Bill Cosby is exhorting blacks to do is very different from what sex-neg feminists exhort sex-pos feminists to do. Belledame’s framework is one that will automatically refute everything I say in defense of that view, regardless of whether it’s true.

And generally, when your argument can’t be refuted by anything, it’s already been refuted.

14 Responses to The Capital-M Movement

  1. KH says:

    In Belledame’s 1st 2 examples, the tribunes of some group criticize the (purported) negative effects on others of some subgroup’s conduct. ‘You’re making it harder for the rest of us.’ (I don’t know whether Orwell’s socialists thought floriculture hurt others. Maybe they thought the energy should have been spent building socialism, but maybe they just found it intrinsically offensive, a matter of taste. Cosby complained about conduct he thought was both self-destructive & harmful to others.) It’s partly an empirical matter: are they really making it harder for the others. Also partly a normative question: how far am I obliged to regulate my life in the interests of others. (And normative questions involve more than just rights & obligations; supererogation, virtue, etc.) I don’t think Belledame meant to imply that groups have no valid claims on individuals, or that no one ever need consider the effect of their conduct on others.

  2. SLC says:

    Just like a theory that can’t be falsified is not a scientific theory.

  3. belledame222 says:

    I’m not quite parsing this sentence:

    >Suppose I think that the inclusion of ethnic minorities is misplaced since what Bill Cosby is exhorting blacks to do is very different from what sex-neg feminists exhort sex-pos feminists to do>

    I don’t actually think what Cosby exhorts His People to do is all that terribly different, in a way. I’m not sure what you mean by “inclusion of ethnic minorities.” Included by whom?

    Anyway, I’m not arguing that one shouldn’t include (?) radical feminists (in what?) if that’s what you’re saying; I don’t happen to agree that they can be safely ignored (it depends on the context), or no more than anyone else with a loud, persuasive voice.

    …no, okay, I’m just not really following what you’re saying here.

  4. belledame222 says:

    or, well, wrt Cosby: it depends what aspect you’re talking about. a lot of people certainly object to the -way- he goes about his criticisms–the style, the prescriptions– even if they might agree with some of the substance of the critique (hey, no one likes perpetual violence, poverty and misery). this may be colored by the fact that I think he’s an insufferable fuck, of course.

    I have the Orwell quote around somewhere; I believe it’s in the same essay where he concludes with the splendid dismissal of “all the smelly little orthodoxies fighting for our souls.”

  5. Alon Levy says:

    Sorry… “inclusion of ethnic minorities” means putting the part about “well-heeled, well-assimilated ethnic minorities” in your post. I think that what Cosby says is pretty different; instead of saying “don’t choose this off-mainstream behavior because it’s bad for the movement,” he says something like “don’t adopt a victim mentality because it’s bad for you” (at least, that’s as far as I understand it). He happens to be wrong, but it’s not the same class of wrong as the Perennial Over-Moderation you describe.

  6. belledame222 says:

    anyway, KH is correct in this, of course:

    >I don’t think Belledame meant to imply that groups have no valid claims on individuals, or that no one ever need consider the effect of their conduct on others. >

    Why I included particularly the whole Mattachine/Stonewall drag queens example, for instance, as I think it’s particularly apt: it’s not an either-or. Sure, the phobic bashers and lawmakers are the uber-threat; that doesn’t mean that the people who keep shushing those embarassing flamboyant hypersexualized people on account of no one will take them -seriously- are their friends or protectors, and it doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking them on.

    ironically, I know, because I am sure that Twisty and her ilk would wail to the rafters that in this equation -they- are the radical embarassing throwbacks in the closet and “we” (the lipstick-wearers, the BDSM practitioners, the married with children, the whores) are the conventional placating Mattachine Society.

    shrug.

    look, I’m not happy about the “oh god those hairy-legged smelly patchouli-wearers don’t represent -us-” business either. which is still real too, yes. and if that had been her complaint i’d be right there nodding away.

    but, it wasn’t.

    and, she is a choad.

    and even one insecure woman she bullied into thinking there must be something wrong or inadequate about her is frankly one too many. but, not my battle either at the end of the day, that. it just pisses me off.

    that is all, really.

  7. belledame222 says:

    slip. okay, I see, but I don’t agree with you: in other modes TF and her ilk are -all about- “it’s bad for -you-; we’re just -concerned-” today she just let it slip a little, I guess she was feeling exasperated or something. i do like it when the mask starts to slip, I must say.

    and Cosby includes a lot of appearance and other “cultural signifier” shit in his schtick as well, I believe; it’s not just about “stop doing drugs and joining gangs” by a long shot.

    as I recall. I’d have to go back and find the original material, I suppose;it’s been a while.

  8. belledame222 says:

    anyway I wasn’t specifically or particularly referring to Cosby with that remark. there are plenty of other examples of this, big and small.

  9. belledame222 says:

    (also see: “good” hair, “brown paper bag test,” “Fresh Off The Boat,” “greenie,” and so on, and so on, and so on)

  10. Alon Levy says:

    I thought the line was always that it’s bad for women… blowjobs may be enjoyable for you, but they hurt other women, etc.

    As I implied, I’m not entirely sure how Cosby’s critique goes – I’m more familiar with the drugs/ghetto/gang stuff he attacks, but there’s an obvious selection bias. Certainly saying that black people shouldn’t do XYZ – speak in a black accent, wear rastas, listen to rap – is the same kind of crap as saying that women shouldn’t engage in unapproved sexual practices.

  11. Amber says:

    I don’t know… I get a very different sense from what I’ve heard from Cosby (admittedly, I probably haven’t heard all of what’s he’s said on the matter). What he’s saying seems more to me to be along the lines of “don’t adopt ‘victim feminism'” than “don’t wear heels / give head / wear make-up / have kids / etc.”

    I could be wrong. But that is how I’ve perceived it. I think Cosby makes a good point. People don’t have to agree w/ him, but I think it’s important that he’s saying it.

  12. KH says:

    ‘ … may be enjoyable for you, but they hurt other women, etc. …’

    Push comes to shove, I think it’s mostly this. At least as rationale. E.g., hookers hurt nonprostitute women. (Today I read one passes-for-noted radfem blogger calling some hapless woman ‘an enemy’ for not making a correct analysis of her own mistreatment by men, & so, allegedly, hurting other women.) Behind that, there’s always primitive emnity, negative externalities or no negative externalities.

  13. Amber says:

    oday I read one passes-for-noted radfem blogger calling some hapless woman ‘an enemy’ for not making a correct analysis of her own mistreatment by men, & so, allegedly, hurting other women.

    Ooohhh… where? I read somethign similiar… now I Just have to dig it up.

  14. KH says:

    Maybe I just dreamed it. Lotta bad dreams lately.

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