Postmodernism by Demonista

I recently read a post about decontructionism…and oy-vay. Postmodernism’s uber-academic language makes me feel stupid. I need to use a dictionary for words that have no practical usage, like poststructuralists, psychodynamic, “the performative nature of the self,” “normalizing regimes deploy power,” “embrace the subversive potential of unorthodox performances and parodic identities.”

“The self is merely an unstable discursive node – a shifting confluence of multiple discursive currents – and sexed/gendered identity is merely a ‘corporeal style'” “What the fuck?!?” is what I say to that. I recommend reading some rad fem work, such as Dworkin’s 1975 speech “The Root Cause,” in which she explains that while gender is socially constructed to benefit men, keep men superior, and keep men and woman opposite and apart, even in “intimate” relationships, it is real because it has real enforcers giving real consequences to real people. It’s real because we believe it to be true. It’s fictive, but not fictional.

I think that postmodernists/postconstructuralists do it purposely, that they only want to deal with their elite little clubs of those who have eight or so years of post-secondary education in intellectual abstraction. Although they say everything is socially constructed, they say it’s constructed by these formless, disembodied ideas. There’s no: Who’s coming up with these ideas? Whose interests do they serve? Who is disadvantaged? Why is one group taught this and another taught the opposite? In their work, they rarely use women as sources, except Judith Butler. The rest are male – from Socrates to Marx to Freud to Derrida to Foucault to Hobbes to Thomas More to Rousseau to Jefferson to Locke to Nietzsche to Patrick Califia (because he’s too manly to be Pat now)…

Practically none deal specifically with women, other than to say, like Nietzsche, that if women are unhappy, popping out babies will solve their problems and that social organization needs to be in the form of master-slave. Or like Freud: women are narcissistic masochists who resolve their penis envy by switching the clitoris for the vagina as their orgasmic organ and replacing their wish for their father’s penis with the maternal need for a penised baby. See, that way they’ll have a dick in them, good and proper, for at least nine months. Or like Califia: if a woman is aroused at sexual abuse, she wanted it all along and a master shaving his slave’s vulva ensures that the woman remains his little girl and property. Or like most of the rest, simply ignore women – don’t even include them in your theories – call for the “brotherhood of man” and say every man has a right to property: land, money, slaves, children, women – a man’s home is his domain, after all – say all men are created equal, then word it such that women and slaves remain chattel. To be fair, Marx did deal, sort of, with women, only to say that their economic class trumped their sex class and that women who raised children, cleaned house, fed, supported, and were accommodating holes for their husbands contributed nothing to the labour force, and therefore, would need to work outside the home, too.

In my philosophy class we dealt with one woman philosopher, Hannah Arendt, and one feminist male, John Stuart Mill. None of the lessons or readings we had on them included feminist philosophy, discussions on women’s legal rights, women’s contribution to knowledge, etc. Needless to say, neither did any of the men we read. Also needless to say, none dared call it sexism.

You’d think that first wave feminism, radical feminism, etc. never existed except as a quaint little tea party for idle idiots or a mob dedicated to torturing men with burning bras and rusty pink razors. Meanwhile, the pomos who feign feminism think that because they’re so advanced and educated and have read Lacan and Foucault they are above the “simple people”, seen in, for example, their parodying of gender. This simply means they exaggerate, usually, femininity more than the average person such as drag queens, Madonna in the nineties, women wearing corsets, stiletto heels, shaving their pubic/leg/armpit hair, plastic surgery, daddy-daughter rape/prostitution scenarios, etc. Under poststructuralism all these are fine choices, politically correct if you will, because feminism is only about consumerism-defined choice and besides…they’ve read Derrida and Freud, dammit, so they can “parody” oppression by imitating it.

So, it could be supposed that if gender can be parodied and become feminist, than so can using virtually all male sources for one’s philosophical theories.

Now, where’s the normalizing regime to deploy power so I can look away from it and write a book about it? Why stop jerking off to porn when I could read Butler and find the parodic performance of what seems to be, to the uneducated, silly, anti-male eye, sexual oppression? To hell with battered women’s shelters and treatment centres for women in prostitution, where’s John Locke’s Second Treatise and Nina Hartley’s Guide to Double Penetration?

by Demonista


4 Responses

  1. Thanks for writing this post, you’ve hit a few nails on the head with this one! I’ve recently re-entered academia and have also been grappling with the relevance of poststructuralism/postmodernism to feminism over the past few months, difficult because poststructuralism/postmodernism are the ‘trendy’ bodies of theory these days, and radical feminism is passed off as some totalising, man-hating, evil force that needed all those male postmodernist theorists to come along and sort it out.

    Like you, I can’t reconcile my feminism with postmodernism’s obsession with subjects/selves being nothing more than discursive constructions, parodies, and wholly performative. Yes, I understand gender is socially-constructed and what that means over different places and at different points in time differs, there is no all-encompassing ‘woman’, but there are still ‘women’ who via their social construction, just from the fact they are born female, still suffer subordination and exploitation because they are women. I can’t stand the theorists who say there is no woman; yes there is. Men rape ‘women’, equal pay is not awarded to people because they are ‘women’, abortion rights are not extended to ‘women’; there are women and they are largely discriminated against because they are so!

    I think all this poststructuralist/postmodern stuff is really bad news for feminism as a political movement that aims to achieve women’s liberation. After all, if we take up postmodernism within feminism, and just resign ourselves to the fact that there is no ‘woman’ how is that going to help all those ‘women’ who are raped, beaten, under-paid, and stereotyped still because they are ‘women’?

    Sorry for going on, but your post really resonated with me and provided a good space for me to vent these thoughts I’ve been processing recently! x

  2. Hi there, I’m Dissenter, one of the maintaners of this blog (though not the author of this particular piece), and I’m glad there are other feminists out there who can see the problems with postmodernism. I too am currently in the academic world, and I’m continually frustrated by all the queer/postmodern bandwagon. Especially when I go to conferences and all these straight-laced heterosexuals get up and give papers all about ‘transgressive gender practices’ and you just know that they’d never willingly ever even speak to a ‘transgressive’ person in the course of their own ordinary boring life. No, they just go along and give their little paper and then happily laugh along with everyone else at the lesbophobic and homophobic jokes that get tossed around in the next session after lunch.

  3. Thanks for the above comments, you guys 🙂

    I’m still pissed at the pomos taking over the f-ing discourse in university. i can’t escape it!

    Women exist. I do. You do. We do.

    Another thing I’ve noticed, is that women and other oppressed groups are questioning their existence (as women, people of colour, as poor, as queer, etc) than are those with the power. Hence, pomos say “Am I a woman? No.” and men go “Are you a woman? Am I a woman?”–only woman, femininity, etc are discussed typically.

  4. This is so true, Demonista. Keep the oppressed questioning their existence at all costs, but never ask if men have the right to rule the world. Of course they do!


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