Thursday, September 21, 2006

Something more human, more survivable

Jodi Dean on feminist elitism, in response to this article at Alternet, about Linda Hirshman's book, Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World:
The overall argument is against 'mom-ism' and the general backlash culture that puts elite women back in the home, seemingly by their own choices. It's a shame that the author was compelled to reassert and validate elitism in her argument against this current view, not least because it damages the feminism she claims to support by reifying rather than challenging the class distinction between women with Ph.D.s advancing ideas in the lofty heights of public debate while poorer women are arm deep in shit as they change the diapers of these women's children.

But why accept the opposition between ideas and diapers? Don't we encounter a lot of shit in each sphere? And, might not energy in one sphere cross into the other? For crying out loud, something like three hundred years of feminist thought has challenged the public/private distinction and here this philosopher is re-installing it, this time in terms of elite privilege, a privilege here linked to a kind of moral duty. In so doing, she limits the potential of feminism to challenge basic social structures, to try to transform these structures into something more human, more survivable.

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