Privilege Blinders REPOST

Originally published DECEMBER 6, 2010 (edited slightly to remove tangential content).

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I am going to talk briefly about what I call the “Privilege Blinders” method of discrediting other people’s arguments and opinions. It’s closely related to Oppression Olympics, where social I-dentities are vigilantly tracked for the purpose of evaluating the speaker’s perceived “qualifications” (by virtue of personal experience or I-dentity) to discuss particular topics. Both Oppression Olympics and Privilege Blinders fail to analyze the substance/content/meaning of the speaker’s words. Instead, legitimacy is determined by the speaker’s apparent location on the social hierarchy. These techniques are conversation stoppers. Which makes them very dangerous.

And yes, Privilege Blinders work just like beer goggles. When intoxicated with privilege, one cannot understand why she is sooooo Very Wrong about [insert contested socio-political issue here]. I am using the term BLINDERS in the cognitive sense; it (allegedly) prevents one from comprehending something important about social dynamics.

beer_goggles_2

BEER GOGGLES!!

Privilege Blinders is a persuasion technique often encountered in political discussions. It can be leveraged to discredit anyone who is positioned “above” you on any social hierarchy when you don’t like what they’re saying. Instead of identifying logical or reality-based inconsistencies in their assumptions, reasoning, or conclusion(s); you can simply accuse them of wearing Privilege Blinders and, viola!, you have  effectively discredited the other party’s entire argument. Because Privilege Blinders render the privileged person “blind” to a critical something (we’re usually not told exactly what–red flag!). This something is entirely obvious and/or self-evident from another, presumably “lower,” perspective on the social hierarchy. If not for Privilege Blinders, the other party would clearly agree with your Truth and submit to your righteousness. Further, alleging Privilege Blinders insinuates that the wearer is both insensitive and arrogant for not realizing that her assertions are flawed (because they are dependent on her specific hierarchical positioning).

You may notice that the Privilege Blinders defense is often used against women, who are more vulnerable (as a class) to accusations of emotional insensitivity than men are. Guilt tripping. Check out the second paragraph of Marilyn Frye’s Oppression essay. 

Privilege Blinders is, indeed, a favored technique of post-modern genderists. Their ideologies are completely unsustainable, but instead of confronting actual problems, they will greedily pounce on the opportunity to attack their detractors’ (personal characteristics). Trans sympathizers have a tendency to use the Privilege Blinders defense at every possible opportunity. They habitually instruct others to edumacate themselves on Trans 101 because cis-privilege is getting in the way. The suggestion is that if we simply took off those Privilege Blinders, we’d either suddenly comprehend their “logic” OR we’d just stop being so callously insensitive and start acting like Stereotypical Women™ who appropriately, femininely, STFU whenever someone’s precious feeeeelings are hurt! Either way, it’s a WIN!

See how that works? Yeah, it’s pretty effective. Unless you know what you’re dealing with. And I’m tired of it.

Stick to the issues, be specific, or go home. Thank you.

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Feminists using misogynist insults toward other women

I have a problem with leveraging misogynist insults at other women. Yeah, I do. And I am especially disturbed when these insults come from the mouths (or fingers) of women who actually consider themselves feminists or who believe that they are engaged in feminist discourse, analysis, and/or commentary while doing so. That’s funny, amIright? Tragically ironic is more like it. So I want to quickly address:

…the rising problem of ‘radical feminists’ using misogynist methods to refer to feminists with whom they disagree. Especially that they think it’s ok to publicly declare that some women are ‘male-identified’ (because *they* identify them with males) and then, basically, punish them on the grounds of that characterisation, by calling them ‘dick-pleasers’ or something similar. ~liberationislife

Sexualized insults are expressions of misogyny. Referring to a woman’s sexual behavior, her sexuality, or her appearance as a way to discredit her political efforts or speech is the lowest kind of insult I can imagine. It has no place in the mind of any self-I-dentified feminist. First, it blames women for their relations to males as if there were no such thing as structural and compulsory heteronormativity. It also seems to ignore the unfortunate reality that power and material resources are concentrated in the hands of males who must be appealed to under certain circumstances (remember, isolationism justified by delusions of revolutionary combustion is not an effective political strategy for improving the lives of women as a class here and now). Next, these insults characterize relations to males as an unconditional source of personal corruption (as if women are not capable of maintaining their integrity in the presence of males). Finally, this trend frames women’s value and feminist credibility as dependent on our relations to males (or lack thereof).

What kind of lazy hypocrisy is this? I know we’re living under The Patriarchy where cognitive dissonance and reversals are a way of life, but come on already, this is a no-brainer! A woman’s political value is in her ideas, not in her personal relations to males or male-controlled institutions. These kinds of insults are obviously unacceptable in ‘feminist’ discourse.

I wish to specifically include use of the malicious term handmaiden in my complaint. A handmaiden is a female servant. She is specifically female. And she is in service to male authority. Even dikipedia knows that ‘handmaiden’ is a sexualized insult:

A man might use a handmaiden as a concubine to bear his child if his wife was infertile. For example, the biblical Rachel, the childless wife of Jacob, gave her handmaid Bilhah to her husband to produce children. Jacob’s first wife Leah later did the same.[2] The Virgin Mary referred to herself as “the handmaid of the Lord” in acceptance of becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit.[3]

Unless y’all think you’re reclaiming ‘handmaiden’ like some ‘feminists’ want to reclaim ‘slut,’ it is completely inappropriate in feminist discourse. Please stop.

I will be moderating comments like the tyrant that I am. My blog, my speech.

handmaiden

For further discussion of female-female dynamics, see Rainsinger’s recent review of Phyllis Chesler’s book, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, here.

“Let’s do a thought experiment and imagine, for a moment, that reliable scientific evidence for, say, the biological origin of male violence emerges. Let’s assume that this evidence is completely incontrovertible and undeniably true. What will feminists do in response? Well, firstly, they might give up. I don’t think this is likely, though it would certainly be very disheartening to women (such as myself) who have based their entire philosophy on the assumption that social construction is all. Secondly, they might turn to science for a solution. This option is so ludicrous to me that I had never even considered it before yesterday, but I suppose we might as well have a bit of fun with it. So, even supposing that the technology exists to “correct” whatever biological thing it is that causes male violence,[4] how would it be implemented? How would feminists get control of the technology and convince everyone else to let them do it? Who would decide how to use it, and who to use it on? etc. etc. The very idea is farcical.[5]

In fact I think what would probably happen is that feminists, after the initial disappointment, would go back to doing what they were doing before the announcement: i.e., working to reduce the social and cultural factors that work to enforce women’s subordination (which, unlike biological factors, UNDENIABLY EXIST). Because even if there are biological factors involved, reducing social and cultural factors will make a real difference to women’s lives. This is what we can change, and what feminists have been changing for years, with some degree of success.[6] So in other words, caring about the science at all would have been a bit of a waste of time and energy.”