Saturday, August 24, 2002


There's a rambunctious New York Times interview today with psychotherapist Phyllis Chesler, longtime "radical feminist" (that's the New York Times' tag, not hers), where she discusses her latest book, "Woman's Inhumanity to Woman," where she basically says "difference" feminism doesn't work, doesn't reflect reality, and probably divided feminism. She thinks it's important to talk about aggression in women, and doesn't think that the recent discussion of Queen Bees and Wannabees (gasp! girls being mean to each other in high school! I'm shocked, shocked!) will permanently harm feminism. The same week this interview appears, Salon has an interesting interview with James Waller, a professor who's been studying the societal causes of genocide. And he basically says the same thing: that given the chance, given the power, women can and are as cruel as men, that the documentation is there. It's about power, baby. It's about affiliating with power. Interesting that no one calls Waller a "radical feminist."

It's depressing, and it's not. Stories about the other gender, whatever the other gender, are too often comforting camouflage. People writing pop psych books about handling your man, playing by the rules, or surrendering your whatever are really alluring...I've fallen for them more than once. They convince not to look at the structure of love, or dating, or marriage; they firm all three up quite nicely, thank you very much. And capitalism and patriarchy affecting our relationships? Ooh, how 20th century.

Phyllis Chesler says a great thing: "Women don't have to be better than anyone else to deserve human rights. "


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