Monday, January 30, 2006
So, I'm trying to read Libertarianism: A Primer. It's not going so well. I can only read until I get irate, which means I'm covering about ten paragraphs at a time. I've scoffed repeatedly, but so far only had to throw the book down in disgust twice--the first being when the author claimed that people have always had property rights and the second being when he claimed that student loans were a symptom of evil government. His ability to simplify everything the government does as "evil" is annoying the piss out of me. Surely there's a more nuanced argument to be made for libertarianism. Maybe he'll get to it. We'll see. But I'm intrigued by his choice to use "man" and "he" and "his" throughout the book. The author says right up front that he's going to do it, use male pronouns to stand for everyone. And at first I was like "Okay, this is annoying, but I'll stick with it." But on my walk with Mrs. Wigglebottom this morning, I got to thinking about a discussion I had with Sarcastro (which is here someplace at Tiny Cat Pants, but I can't even begin to find it) about how I said I'm not going to go around spelling it "womyn" because I refuse to concede more ground to this ridiculous notion that "man" means male folks, when really, it's always been a word that refers to all folks and it's only the anxiety of the weapon-men about their "weapons" that led them to try to coopt the generic for everyone as referring solely to them. And then Sarcastro made some crack about how "woman" means basically the trading-men and, oh, ha, ha, I wonder what they had to trade? Which would be more annoying if it wasn't true. We have been trading sexual access to our bodies for security for ourselves and our offspring since the rise of property rights. And we've been at the mercy of a free sexual market for all that time. How's that worked out for us? So, you see my suspicion, that if one wants to talk about what successful libertarianism looks like, it's best that one makes sure to gloss over the ongoing less successful version. But I was watching a little CNN Headline News last night and caught an interview with the author of Self-Made Man which is about a woman who passes as a man for some length of time in order to find out about the secret lives of men. One interesting thing she said in the interview was how her experience made her realize just how much power women have over men and that she's come to respect women less after having to deal with us like men do. This has actually been something that's come up repeatedly here--that women have all this power over men, with the implication being how can we bitch about the patriarchy and the ways the system sucks for us when we clearly have the best end of the bargain? And I haven't really addressed it because 1. I'm not sure I even begin to understand how men feel powerless in the face of women; 2. "Patriarchy" is not so easily about all men lording over all women, it's a name for a system of gender relations under which we all suffer. Pointing out my problems doesn't negate yours; and 3. I think I'm starting to believe that the real work of damaging women is done by other women so that it's almost invisible to men. It's done under the guise of being beneficial to men and it does benefit men, but they rarely have to see it. God. What does any of this have to do with libertarianism? I don't know. Maybe nothing. We'll see.