File spoon-archives/marxism-thaxis.archive/marxism-thaxis_1998/marxism-thaxis.9804, message 175

Subject: Re: M-TH: Re: Sexual liberation and male chauvinism
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 10:11:22 -0600 (CST)

Charles writes:

<< [SNIP]
	A long term historical reversal or irony is that, after millenia
of fighting back against male chauvinism , and winning closer equality
with men, including erosion of the double standard, women seem to be the
upholders of monogamy.>>

Charles reminds me that I have never investigated the history of the term
"male chauvinism," but it is, I think, ahistorical to read either the term
or what it names back into the past. *National* chauvinism is of
relatively late development, and when (up well into the 18th century) 
various inequalities were not so much "justified" but simply taken for
granted, there was no need or material basis for the psychological states
the expression names (whether applied to gender, race, class, nationality,
or what have you). "Scientific sexism" (like scientific racism) is a
modern invention (late 18th century to the present). Stephanie Coontz on
the history of the family, Gould on "The Mismeasure of Man," Laqueur on
the history of body and gender, are key texts here. 

<<Perhaps, monogamy is no longer essentially male chauvinist, but I
believe it is, because of its historical roots. Co-ownership of each other
compounds the older ownership of the woman.>>


       It is a mistake to try to develop theories and programs of
heterosexual liberation without first and foremost basing the approach on
acknowledgement that MALE CHAUVINISM is the root origin of sexual

This sets the world on its head. Male chauvinism is the *result* of
certain relatively modern changes in the the structure and material base
of male supremacy. The key text here, I think, is Barbara Fields,
"Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America," NLR 181
(May/June 1990). To make the *idea* (chauvinism) the *origin* of the
social actuality (modern male supremacy) is profoundly ahistorical. (I
don't know much about the internal political dynamic of NLR, but even if
Mark is correct about it, in order to maintain the illusion of marxism it
had to print *some* pretty good stuff.)

Making attitudes the *cause* of the social relations they emerge from,
justify, and rationalize is both idealist and ahistorical. 

<<Sexual objectification of women and misogynist sexuality must be
obliterated and demolished before there can be any progress in
heterosexual liberation. All around male chauvinism , especially in
childcare and pregancy support ,must be destroyed as a PREcondition to
that liberation.>>

This is a mare's nest of confusion, correct perception, and plain
wrongheadedness. Such confusion always stems from ahistorical
understanding of social relations. I won't try to unpack it here.


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