Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I don't know what to call this one

So here I am, blogging, as promised.

The Arts Auction for Choice, which was held last Wednesday at the Palate, was a smashing success, and a lovely evening to boot. We were raising money for Dr. Morgentaler's legal defence fund in his suit against the province. There was some gorgeous art - if only I had the money to buy it/space to hang it!! Dang.

Right now I'm wrapped up in the middle of the organizing committee for another big event, and beginning to learn for the millionth time that my supply of both time and energy is finite. So I haven't been concentrating too much on the whole abortion "debate", which usually takes up so much of my attention.

I will say that the Andrew Coyne article about abortion in last week's Maclean's was total and absolute paternalistic bullshit, in my personal opinion. But I thoroughly enjoyed the Globe's take on the subject later in the week. I think it was Saturday. I can't keep track.

Clinic has been a bit nuts, with lots more protesters than usual, and they are more aggressive as well. Crazy Legs has been out, the Holy Ghost and Glarey Mary are both swooping like fiends, and the Tenor is being loud and obnoxious. There are new signs. An Anger Twin is back. In some ways it's so frustrating to be in here on reception and not see what's going on, but really I'm glad I'm not out there. My stress levels are just high enough that I might do something I'd regret.

I know I shouldn't delve into personal stuff too much on here but I feel like I owe my faithful readers an apology for recent slackness. I usually do get stressed when I have lots to do, but I thrive on it too, and it makes me get stuff done. But right now it's not just being busy, I'm also dealing with some emotional stuff...my grandmother is not well, and she lives in another province, and, well, I'll leave it at that.

Yours in feminism. :)

14 comments:

Mister said...

I would love to see people in this debate stop using the word "paternal" as some sort of negative term. I think that, if people are going to work towards a common goal, they should try to be inclusive and avoid using terms that put one gender on the offending side and the other gender on the defense. It is counter-productive to be using terms that infers negativity towards one gender. The people of New Brunswick can all share blame in the creation and maintenance of the current situation in New Brunswick, regardless of their gender.

Time is wasted and allies are lost through the alienation of one participant in this discussion. It's easy to blame men but it does nothing positive, and likely works against uniting people and affecting positive pro-choice change in NB. Reproduction is an issue that effects everyone in our society and it needs to be dealt with through co-operation.

I do love the blog though, keep it up!

The Pedgehog said...

There's a difference between "paternal" (a word that has a positive connotation for me) and "paternalistic".

From m-w.com: Paternal means "of or relating to a father". Paternalistic is from paternalism, which means "a system under which an authority undertakes to supply needs or regulate conduct of those under its control in matters affecting them as individuals as well as in their relations to authority and to each other". Which is exactly what I used it to mean.

Patriarchy has a gendered root too; I think one can still legitimately use it and not be accused of hating men.

I wasn't blaming men for anything, nor will you ever catch me doing so. I quite like men. However, it is undeniable that we live in a patriarchy (which sucks), and that some people act in a paternalistic fashion. That's WHY Feminism exists.

mister said...

I'm not sure about the subtleties or history and origin of the word or its many forms. You can find from freeonlinedictionary.com the definition "benevolant but sometimes intrusive", which seems a bit more gentle than the other.

Regardless of dictionary definitions, this is how it seems and it is an unnecessary addition to the issue. For the many people who are not as saturated in the terminology of feminism, this is what the term implies and it is counter-productive to creating a feeling of unity surrounding reproduction. The use of terms such as these helps to create an atmosphere where males would understandably hesitate to add their voices to the issue.

Words have meanings that go beyond their definitions. There are denotations and connotations to everything. If there are other terms that are could be as descriptive but have less negative causal connotations. Just use those terms instead.

No-one is being accused of hating men. Blaming men for the state of the society is different than hating men. There are lots of terms that have been abandoned through the years due to there connotations, regardless of their dictionary definition.

The Pedgehog said...

Please let me know when I've ever blamed men for the state of society. I don't blame men. I blame the patriarchy. Huge difference.

Also, you said you wanted me to stop using the word paternal, which I actually didn't use. I said paternalistic. Again, difference. Which I explained.

I am not interested in choosing my words in order to placate people who are so sensitive they might think I am "blaming men" for the state of things. I called the Coyne article paternalistic, and I think if you read the article you might agree with me. I can't help what the word means, any more than I can help the fact that Coyne WAS being paternalistic.

I'm not comfortable "abandoning" paternalistic just because it makes people uncomfortable. Maybe those people should examine their own privilege before they tell people what words to use (and which ones not to). I'll make you a deal; I'll stop using the word paternalistic when there's no more patriarchy...in other words, when people stop being so DAMN paternalistic. Another definition you might want to look up, in light of your last comment, is "irony".

mister said...

It's too bad that simple comments regarding a term used on your blog have gotten such a defensive, combative response. I would think that you would be interested in hearing what others think about what you're saying.

I don't know you, I don't say you hate men and I like your blog. I'm not telling you what to say, simply suggesting an alternative perspective from which to view the use of terms that you choose. I didn't even tell you not to use the term, just that you could seek out equally descriptive, less loaded terms. If you love a dictionary so much, wait till you get your hands on a thesaurus!

In my second post, I didn't repeat the word "paternal" I was referring to the definition of the term that you actually did use, "paternalistic".

If you want to blame the patriarchy, blame yourself, because we are all responsible for maintaining it. You are a part of the patriarchy as a citizen of your city, province and country. Your adherence to feminism doesn't remove you from being a part of this.

You don't have to abandon anything, speak how you would like. There's lots of people in world clinging on to terms in spite of their connotations (or precisely because of their negative connotations). One thing you could improve is actually reading what people are saying and trying to consider another point of view rather than immediately get defensive and strike out against those expressing perspectives that may differ slightly from your own.

I'll look up the word irony and you can do this. Read over the posts and find where I told you to stop using the term 'paternal' or 'paternalistic'. You may want to take a few seconds to read over and think about posts before responding so defensively.

The Pedgehog said...

"It's too bad that simple comments regarding a term used on your blog have gotten such a defensive, combative response."

I didn't get defensive until you decided to comment on this a second time, after I had already explained my use of "paternalistic".

"I would think that you would be interested in hearing what others think about what you're saying."

Of course I want to hear what others think about what I'm saying. It doesn't mean I have to agree with you, or take your "suggestion" that I use some other word just because "paternalistic" ticks you off. You told me how you felt about the word, I explained why I used it, we could have stopped there. You're the one who chose to hammer away at it, which is why I got defensive.

"Read over the posts and find where I told you to stop using the term 'paternal' or 'paternalistic'. You may want to take a few seconds to read over and think about posts before responding so defensively."

Here's what you said: "If there are other terms that are could be as descriptive but have less negative causal connotations. Just use those terms instead."

My answer: no. Why the hell should I? I'll use the terms that are fitting. Paternalistic fits, in this context.

Also, you may not have said I hate men, but you sure did imply that I was blaming men, which I was not and never have.

Please don't assume I am an imbicile. I am well aware that I exist within the patriarchy, and I have never claimed that my feminism exempts me from anything. It is possible to fight the patriarchy and be a part of it at the same time.

I have an alternative viewpoint for YOU to consider. Maybe there's a reason the word bothers you so much. Care to do a little self-examination? I would be curious to know why you feel this term is divisive. Another one you might want to look at is "patronizing", which I'm guessing has the same root. Do you object to that term as well?

Anonymous said...

Quite simply, there is no other synonym in the English language that conveys precisely the same meaning as the word paternalistic. As a result, if the context makes that word's usage appropriate (and I'd be inclined to agree that it does) I say have at it.

I am male, and I personally have no problem with the word paternalistic. I agree with the characterization of 'paternal' as a positive or at least a neutral word, but I see no positive interpretation of 'paternalistic.' To me, that word reflects a heavy-handed, 'I know what's best for you' sentiment.

While the root of the word is undeniably male, people of any gender can possess paternalistic qualities, or act in a paternalistic manner. As such, I don't feel it remotely offensive.

-E

mister said...

"I didn't get defensive until you decided to comment on this a second time, after I had already explained my use of "paternalistic"."

Sorry for commenting more than once on the same blog. I would think that a healthy discussion would consist of people commenting more than once and responding to the comments of others. I guess this isn't that type of blog.

"It doesn't mean I have to agree with you, or take your "suggestion" that I use some other word just because "paternalistic" ticks you off."

Words don't tick me off, they clearly do have that sort of effect on you. I didn't realize that responding to your comment would be seen as "hammering away at it". Especially when the point was to explain the faults of taking internet dictionary definitions as the sole meaning of words.

"My answer: no. Why the hell should I? I'll use the terms that are fitting. Paternalistic fits, in this context"

Alright, that would have been a reasonable response. If you can't think of other words, use the ones you know. You could somehow have avoided recommending me looking up words in the dictionary. Makes you seem a bit defensive. It was meant as a general comment, not as an order.

"Maybe there's a reason the word bothers you so much. Care to do a little self-examination? I would be curious to know why you feel this term is divisive."

I've already described my thoughts behind this one. Again, you might want to actually read some of the previous comments.

It is interesting that you feel the need to repeatedly describe that you don't hate men. I bet 'some of your best friends are men'. Usually when people are that sensitive to certain things, it merits some self-examination. Certainly a healthy suggestion for anyone.

Anonymous said...

How much did the auction raise?

mister said...

Interesting that you feel the need to only post which comments you like on the blog. It begs the question, what sorts of other comments have you felt the need to keep to yourself and not post publicly. I would think the moderation would be kept to a minimum, only refusing to post things that would be vulgar, or offensive. Clearly that's not the case and you see fit to censor out perfectly harmless comments you don't agree with.

I think that you should make it clear which sorts of comments you refuse and which you include. It would be fair to inform your audience of the reasons behind not publicly displaying comments that are not offensive and address relevant issues.

I like your blog less knowing this. Limiting debate isn't constructive and moderating solely based on your personal whims is an irresponsible use of the power that you have. It is an easy way to get the last word though! Makes you seem pretty tough when folks who don't agree just seem to abandon their cause after you give them a stern talking to. A bit of a 'father knows best' approach to comment moderation.

The Pedgehog said...

"If you can't think of other words, use the ones you know."

A great example of patronizing.

" I've already described my thoughts behind this one. Again, you might want to actually read some of the previous comments."

The only reason I could figure out was that you think it's divisive - I can't figure out WHY you think it's divisive. Maybe I am reading it wrong.

"It is interesting that you feel the need to repeatedly describe that you don't hate men. I bet 'some of your best friends are men'. Usually when people are that sensitive to certain things, it merits some self-examination. Certainly a healthy suggestion for anyone."

I really almost broke my eyes, I rolled them so hard at this one. Damn you for exposing my misandry! I shall need a new secret identity now, to continue my anti-man attacks!

The Pedgehog said...

"I think that you should make it clear which sorts of comments you refuse and which you include."

I refuse (in theory) any comments that contain explicit death threats. Anything else is fair game.

I'm actually not sure which comments you are referring to that got censored, but sometimes they get stuck in the blogger and don't actually get emailed to me, so I'll check.

The Pedgehog said...

Anon - re: the auction; I'm not sure yet how much exactly was raised. I'm sure there will be some kind of giant-cheque-presentation-extravaganza at some point, though.

The Pedgehog said...

I just wanted to make it clear to all my readers that obviously the internet is kind of a difficult medium through which to carry on a debate. If anything I ever say (at least to the non-whackos) seems hostile or excessively defensive, it's probably the medium and not me. I'm not a very hostile person. Sorry if my extreme passion for correct word usage alienates any readers. :)