Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Humpty Dumpty

I admit, I am idiosyncratic about a lot of word definitions and use. Not quite as much as Humpty Dumpty, but it's a valid accusation to say that my choices sometimes impede communication more than they aid it.

But I don't take another person's problem and redefine it out of existence by applying a personal standard to the definition. That is, someone somewhere is asserting that there is no patriarchy and has been no substantive or meaningful oppression of women because to them, if there had been, men would have used their power to lengthen their own lives. Since women still live longer than men, there cannot be a power structure that benefits men.

Of course, it's a man redefining women's oppression out of existence. And he's doing it quite classically: giving examples of powerful women (see, one woman was reigning queen of England, so all women cannot have been oppressed); arguing that since he's a man and he didn't benefit from the patriarchy, there must not be one; and that only this one very specific definition of benefit counts, and since he's constructed the definition because it's his life focus to fix this problem, of course there can be no patriarchy or there wouldn't still be this problem.

Not to mention he's looking at length of life of men and women today, not historically: it's only relatively recently that women began living longer than men, only since the widespread acceptance of the germ theory of disease, when doctors finally realized that simply washing their hands before attending a delivery drastically reduced the number of deaths of young mothers from post-birth infections.

However, I am not up for a course of feminism 101 right now, especially when it's an unasked-for imposition on another person's blog, so I am not fighting the good fight today. It's hard enough for me to live under the oppression without also being responsible for teaching the oppressors about it.

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