Am I Woman? Hear Me Roar

Going to consider reviving this slowly. Though rarely read and never given the level of detailed attention I aspired to in my writings, it is a nice outlet for me to get my thoughts out more clearly than in my own head. Even if there is no readership, I feel I must go on. Camus would be proud, I think, or not.

Read something interesting this morning in Through the Language Glass, something I believe I’d heard before. In college and since I have often heard from certain feminist friends and acquaintances that the term “woman” carries a certain baggage. I was told, and believed for many years, that the “wo” part of it conveyed some sort of genitive sense, a “woman” meant “the man’s.” To shed light on this ancient meaning and the social reality it reflects, changes to spelling such as wymmyn or a variation of that is a small step towards greater equality.

But etymologically, that seems to be entirely false.  The “wo” turns out to be the part of the word that marks the female gender, while “man” marks the human-ness of the person. Woman is not the “man’s” or “slave of man” or other suggested etymologies.

Now, before objections are raised to me, let me address them. Yes, to qualify women as being a particular type of man, whereas (far as I can tell) man-men are unqualified does represent a sexist view.  And trekking back to pre-11th century English does excuse modern semantics. There is still something sinister about the term woman.

But this represents something else I find troubling and rarely addressed in either feminism or progressive social politics in general–a lack of rigor and objectivity in one’s own position. Sexism is, as it should be, picked apart and brought to light for it’s problems. Yet, I feel that whether one is taking on feminism or homophobia or class issues there is too much of a tendency to allow one’s own declarations and beliefs to go unanswered for and unchecked insofar as they are held to be ultimately correct.

I have no problem with saying feminism is morally necessary. Yet, that necessity does not run along with any sort of logic that whatever may promote feminism in some way is essentially correct.

When I was younger (high school/early college years) my principal moral cause was anti-racism. In my attempts to confront racist ideology I went to the internet (such people do not announce themselves in public where I am from.) One commonly used argument was that black men in America are responsible for a higher proportion of violent crime than white males (ergo, racism makes sense.)

As a brute fact, that statement is correct, minus the clause in parentheses. But the subordinate implications made in using it are not. Namely, greater criminality in the black population is due to their violent and inferior nature. There is no lack of concrete evidence to dismiss such crap. However, white supremacists are merely adopting whatever facts they find to correlate with their universal, moral belief. They believe they are fighting for something divinely just, therefore anything that supports that end is sanctified.

Though on morals I am making no comparison between the KKK and a feminist, but only that both can and often are, guilty of using a similar and misguided principle. That which I wrote in that last paragraph, that whatever fact supports one’s cause is sanctified and needs little justification, while those of one’s ideological opponents must be scrutinized to the letter.

Mistakes will always be made. They should be allowed for. To spend time analyzing every small packet of knowledge is to more or less surrender one’s ability to speak to truth. However, we can’t always let ourselves go unchecked. Personally, I feel that leftists/progressives/etc. have maybe cut ourselves too much slack.


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