Identities and Intersections, and Max Tomba’s Glorious “Insurgent Universalities” in Heretical Thought

To call a man feminine is interpreted as insulting. Now, this is different than someone saying “act like a man.” That’s even more insulting. Even worse, you’re “thinking like a woman.” So, David, I can easily concede that my phrase “SLAMs and SCAMs” is blunt, bordering on insulting. Yet that still begs the question of how do we make analyzing, scrutinizing, thinking, critiquing in ways all attributed to women, or feminism, or at least women being woke by feminism, universal? Or rather a language that boys, girls, women, and men will use? What is the vocabulary when we would like to observe and add our kudos to a boy or a man, or anyone of privileged status who acted like a person who made an ethic of care universal? Or that same person who made a “non-manalyzing” scholarly observation?

To be sure, blunt phrases like SCAMs and SLAMs can be off-putting. And perhaps I dampen the dialogue when I list privilege of straight conservative Anglo-Saxon men and straight liberal Anglo-Saxon men (SCAMs and SLAMs), aside from a predilection to try to shock or shake people into thought. These acronyms serve two purposes. Do-gooder liberal men are just as bad as, if not worse than, conservatives in exerting their privilege and reducing access to all those not sharing their privileged identity. Why? We know that by virtue of being, acting, doing what SCAMs do they are predators and probably at least complicit in rape culture. I’m challenging someone to give me a different vocabulary — and it’s more likely to come from SLAMs than SCAMs (unless they see the light).

When women scholars’ scholarship is heeded universally, admired by both men and women, often this proves disappointing too. This time it’s not about hope, but disappointment that so many women join the men in patriarchal thought. In many cases, though certainly not all, women and men use the male-dominated language of scholarship (i.e. “manalyzing”). There is no s/he said. (No need for the He said/She said, since after all it should always be the intersubjective and simple s/he said. All people fight within themselves. No one has a static gender, race, ethnicity, let alone body.

Nor do I like the scholarship that simply says “Well, what about the feminist perspective?” What? First there is no “feminist perspective,” as this scholar got it so wrong last night at the GC in criticizing Max Tomba’s exciting book Insurgent Universality in the Oxford University Press, Heretical Thought Series, which I solo edit. There are feminism(s), as another fascinating scholar of sociology at Hunter and the GC explains, Lynn Chancer, titled her latest book

Identity-speak should be no more exclusionary than Harvard’s “Gov Speak,” the language the Harvard Government Department got criticized for uttering years back that was tantamount to the exclusion of all but SLAMs and SCAMs. Sure, it is easy to say we do not speak who we are. One would be hard pressed to find an essentialist, these days in the academy, at least. At the same time, it’s hard to find a non-essentialist — or a scholar — be they man or woman, who does not “manalyze.” Manalyzing is practiced equally by male and female scholars. It’s a criticism of the academy not having a scholarly language enough to stop universalizing critique with the universality of men analyzing.

David Waldstreicher politely and appropriately called me out on SLAMs and SCAMs being a bit blunt (i.e. rude).

Two Rights Make an Exhilarating Left – Showcasing a Leader Who Happens to Be a Woman

  Listen to this exchange, elevating and advancing the most significant postwar political thinker – Hannah Arendt — who happens to be a woman in the United States. Indeed, a newly vacant seat is named after her. This woman spoke truth to power in 1963 in The New Yorker, and took a lot of flak for it — so much so that she passed away tired at another venerable institution that hosts her name – Bard College.

What I’m talking about is that Chelsea and Corey got into it this weekend. Chelsea Clinton tweeted that the burning of an LGBT youth center in Phoenix reflects Hannah Arendt’s most famous and infamous phrase — “the banality of evil.” Corey Robin, my esteemed colleague, a full professor at the City University of New York, corrected Chelsea, saying that she had misunderstood and that Arendt was actually saying the exact opposite of what she thought.

Now, no one likes a correction, so Chelsea took Corey’s bait, and they went back and forth at some length, she maintaining that the Arendt phrase was apposite and he maintaining that it wasn’t.

This is, according to two more political scientists (Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler), an example of the “backfire effect” — which is fodder for another blog, so going back to the Chelsea/Corey brainy brawl, Chelsea repeatedly stood up and defended herself, only to be corrected by Corey again and again.

Corey has the better argument, though Chelsea (who initiated the discussion) is doing us a civil service, as Corey points out. Chelsea, as the author of a bestselling children’s book (She Persisted), is really setting the agenda to let women speak as leaders — really saying women are leaders.

How could Chelsea not be right in instigating and showcasing the most heretical political thinker who happens to be a woman in the United States? To top it all off, Hannah Arendt was an immigrant, a refugee, in exile – and she can no longer defend (i.e. correct) how understood and misunderstood is her political thought – though we have all benefited from it and a new book series is launching with other heretical thinkers, men and women alike.

Chelsea Clinton is right. Corey Robin is right. Chelsea is showcasing how women happen to lead. I’m going to get Chelsea’s book, and reread Corey’s analysis.