Thus Spake Zuska

First Year Patriarchy Laboratory

Christina Pikas has a nice post about finding information in books.

Sadly, however, she notes the following:

What kinds of things might a book work best for?…not for cutting edge, mostly

What does this imply when you think about our ongoing project to work our way through Allan Johnson’s The Gender Knot? Oh crap, we’re doing gender equity work, but we’re not on the cutting edge?

That’s okay, d00dz. Trust me, you so do not want to jump right to the cutting edge of discourse on the patriarchy. Did you walk right into the lab as an undergrad or a fresh grad student and start banging chemicals and glassware and equipment around?** I didn’t think so. You had to learn some basics and background info first.

I guarantee you, though, that if you stick with The Gender Knot you will come through at the end knowing a whole lot more about patriarchy and gender issues, in a useful manner, than perhaps you did about chemistry at the end of your first-year chem lab. At least, if your first-year chem lab was like mine.

**If you did, you are just a fool. That shit is dangerous.

Comments

  1. #1 jc
    June 26, 2009

    “Did you walk right into the lab as an undergrad or a fresh grad student and start banging chemicals and glassware and equipment around?”

    You underestimate my skillz. Banging glassware is so high skool. Fire, now *that shit is dangerous*, just watch the lab coat sleeve over the burner. just sayin’ :P

  2. #2 RichB
    June 26, 2009

    Sometimes grabbing the white-hot crucible is a sure-fire way to guarantee you’ll never do it again! (and yes, I actually saw some idiot do that in Chem Lab).

    Without trying to sound sycophantic, though, let me just say that I do appreciate this “First Year Patriarchy Laboratory”. I have learned a lot from you, the commenters here, and your blogroll…

  3. #3 Historiann
    June 28, 2009

    Zuska–I think you might be dissing books unnecessarily b/c you’re a scientist. In the book-intensive disciplines of the humanities, books ARE the cutting edge. Our journal articles sometimes take 2-3 years to appear, and aren’t as full or complete articulations of ideas as books, so I would say that it is in fact the books that are the cutting-edge.

    I know it’s really old school and all that, but books are where it’s happening in history, lit crit, cultural studies, philosophy, art history, etc.

  4. #4 Zuska
    June 28, 2009

    Um, it’s not me dissing books – clearly I must think they have some value or I wouldn’t have taken on this Gender Knot project. I was quoting another blogger’s post on books not being the cutting edge.

    In science, books most definitely aren’t where the so-called cutting edge is to be found, but that doesn’t mean they have no value. Science and the humanities alike have journal articles where the most recent – and less fully developed, in some ways – projects are published. Books collect larger bodies of knowledge and more fully realized projects. Something like The Gender Knot allows one to consider a topic like patriarchy in a more sustained and deeper way than is possible in one journal article, no matter how recently published.

    All that said, GK is not a recent book, so even by the standards of the humanities I’m not sure if you’d call it cutting edge…but I don’t think that matters. Just because something wasn’t published last week doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.

  5. #5 AlekNovy
    July 2, 2009

    The term “patriarchal lab” makes me laugh… since that’s an oxymoron. The existence of a patriarchal system has never been proven. Yet the people who use the word, use it as if it were fact or a scientific term.

    The only people who “tried to prove” its existence are people who already believe in it. That’s the most unscientific method possible. We already believe in it, and we will go out to prove it exists.

    In science we look for if something is or isn’t.

    Patriarchal “researchers” only ever look at one side of the issue. If you want to prove society is oppressing women, its EASY, all you have to do is ONLY study the disadvantages of being a woman and the advantages of being a man. Just ignore all those cases where the opposite is true.

    The truth (as I see it) is that society oppresses PEOPLE. And it does this in a VERY VERY tricky manner. It divides people into groups, and then it oppresses them in different (but equal ways). So the groups are fighting each other, instead of realizing they’re oppressed by society itself.

    Some of these groups even form movements where they try to prove that all society is against them, and there’s a conspiracy against them.

  6. #6 RichB
    July 6, 2009

    The term “patriarchal lab” makes me laugh… since that’s an oxymoron.
    I don’t think that word means what you think it means…

    The existence of a patriarchal system has never been proven.
    Yeah … right… Have you been reading along here, or anywhere else? I’m not going to speak for anyone else, but in my eyes, the evidence is overwhelming.

    The only people who “tried to prove” its existence are people who already believe in it.
    Ummm … No. When I was younger, I did not believe it existed. I read, listened, and learned, and I took off my blinders. I see my privileges for what they are: real.

    Just ignore all those cases where the opposite is true.
    IMHO, men do get oppressed, but not because they are men. They are oppressed because they are non-white, or non-hetero, or non-cis-gendered, or non-rich, but not just because they are male. Women are oppressed for all the reasons above, but also for the simple fact that they identify as women. That, to me, is the difference.

    The truth (as I see it) is that society oppresses PEOPLE.
    Way to invalidate your points above. If this is true, then saying “women are oppressed” is valid (unless you think women aren’t people). Also, and again, not trying to speak for anyone, but it is my impression that many of the commenters here do not feel that women are the only group oppressed by society.

    So the groups are fighting each other, instead of realizing they’re oppressed by society itself.
    Saying society is patriarchal is not orthogonal to saying society is racist or classist.

    Some of these groups even form movements where they try to prove that all society is against them, and there’s a conspiracy against them.
    What’s your point with this?? Ending with a troll?

  7. #7 Jeb, FCD
    July 18, 2009

    Zuska,

    Thanks for pointing this book out. I will definitely read it. After Comrade PhysioProf’s comment at Almost Diamonds and the other kerfluffles relating to the patriarchy posted about here and at Isis’ blog, I am close to writing off the entire feminist movement. I am at a point where I need a logical reason not to. If PZ is bad for science communication, CPP is worse for getting nearly clueless d00dz like me to understand aspects of feminism. I really do want to know, and more importantly understand, “a whole lot more about patriarchy and gender issues”.

    Best Regards,
    Jeb

  8. #8 Zuska
    July 19, 2009

    Jeb, I do encourage you to read the book and I will be posting more on the Gender Knot soon. I also encourage you to think about this: if you are committed to treating women in an equitable and just manner, and don’t want to behave like a jerk and want to learn how to be a better human being all around, then that commitment should not depend upon whether or not CPP is able to articulate feminist principles in a manner that doesn’t upset you. I would hope that I should not have to cajole you into being “for” social justice and equitable treatment for all; I would hope that these would just be things that reasonable people find worthy of supporting, and then look for resources to learn how to do so better (resources like the Gender Knot and other books and blogs etc.)

    I’ll be away for a few days on vacation and then back with Gender Knot posts. I hope you’ll think of joining the discussion.