Earlier today I had a conversation over the internet with my late cat Tom. Lies. I had a conversation with my cousin Tom who happens to have the same name. He lives in Durham, United Kingdom and is about 20 years old. Check out his blog.
I am posting this conversation because I think it was an begins to tease out both our of our world views and may perhaps lead to further insights, questions, and comments. Obviously we are not infallible and please take into consideration intended meaning as I know we both did.
ps. Tom if you have any objections to how you were portrayed please make them clear so I can make the appropriate changes.
Me: Why aren't you a feminist?
Tom: To be honest, I wont be able to argue this well, not having debated this before, but I'll try...
Tom: It's a biological fact that men and women are different, not only in body, but in mind too....while I wholly disagree with the notion that women are worse off because of this (quite the contrary)...in a capitalist society, where aggression and corporate ruthlessness benefit the economy and are encouraged...
Me: I don't think feminism says that woman are worse off because of this, they are worse off due to patriarchy, basically you just argued the feminist argument
Tom: oh lol, but I think men are better at being ruthless and aggressive...and therefore better suited for high management jobs.
Me: that since society makes the world aggressive and more difficult for woman it is the business of people to fight against those powers
Tom: oh I see
Me: Basically to make space for the disenfranchised
Tom: ok, I see the argument, I'd have to think about whether I'd agree with changing the structure of businesses to correct this would be beneficial for the economy,...
Me: economy?!? why does money matter more than people and fairness and no one is arguing necessarily for a drastic change immediately, it is up to you how that change should happen, but just to work to make room where you see a group being excluded.
Tom: it doesn't matter more. But if you wanted to extrapolate that argument to the extreme, communism would be the way forward, and since that has failed in every implementation, capitalism is the only way forward, where jobs are given based on ability and nothing else...and the way to control such a system is with money...
Me: I think that is a slippery slope. There are other options. Maybe you and I aren't able to come up with them, but a system that clearly benefits specific groups without question is never something one should work to keep, a system that is modeled on aggression
Tom: true. i will agree that there are potentially better systems. But until somebody comes up with one, we should stick to capitalism...
Me: why does someone have to come up with it? Why can't we just move in that direction by everyone working to make this one better. As legislation changes and proves to be more effective we will be making that system
Tom: well that is what's happening now. And either society will develop into a fairer one, or business will be too restricted by rules and bureaucracy and the economy will suffer...
Me: Its not what is happening now
Tom: But as I said, this is the first argument I've had about this, I haven't really read or thought a great deal about it...
Me: it is what some hope to have done, feminist and others. This is why i believe everyone should work in some way to make things fairer instead of accepting them as they are.
Tom: well it's hard to make people fight to make things fairer, if their quality of life would suffer...
Me: I'm not asking for a fight, and that is up to the interpretation of each feminist. I am asking for baby steps, just an ongoing effort
Tom: I suppose that is the most successful strategy...baby steps.
Me: This is why I am a feminist, and why I ask people why they are not,
because I want to know why other people don't want the world to be better, or themselves and for others, and why they don't put small amounts of effort into finding space for them to make change, only where they feel comfortable.
Tom: The problem is, I can't imagine a world without inequality and suffering....as a scientist I can't fathom a societal structure that would allow for this...
Me: it won't be the fastest change, or maybe the most effective, but it is better than accepting the world as it is existing within in and dieing. I can't imagine it either, but why should that stop me from working toward it? I don't see why the limitations of my brain to imagine should make me or anyone else give up. but now we are arguing for the part of feminism that means action, I assume you believe that all humans are equal.
Tom: I believe all humans should be given equal rights...but i don't believe all humans are equal. The nature of good and bad alleles in genetics proves we are not all equal, but it should be the job of the more fortunate to help those less fortunate
Me: that is very middle class and patronizing.
Me: sorry i should have said... "I believe...." I was super patronizing there.
Tom: ha, don't worry, we are having a discussion, in my mind I add " I believe" onto each sentence anyway
Me: good, I often need that, I can be a dick, one of the criticisms of second wave feminism is it holds the belief, second wave activism too, alliances quickly show that all groups have something to offer, power does not equal knowledge,
Tom: no, it does not, in all my arguments, i try to go back to a fundamental knowledge of science and logic and work up from there, I'd fight for a society ruled solely by science...
Me: science is flawed, it is based on domination, not understanding, now here is where i get radical, hahaha
Tom: I would argue that science is not flawed. That science, where it can be proven correct by the laws of mathematics, is the only thing we can truly rely on.
Tom: fundamental philosophies where something cannot be proven by mathematics are examples of where it can't be used... but I would like to hear why science is based on domination...
Me: It was created by men to dominate nature, to change it from what it is, not to learn and communicate with it. They believe that humans are superior and can not benefit from learning the perspective of what it studies but only how what it studies can work for it.
Tom: but science is by definition the study of the word around us! it was created to try and explain the world around us, not to control it.
Me: science does not exist in a vacuum
Tom: well actually it does
Me: it is determined by funding, motivations.
Tom: nooooo, untrue. Science is available to anyone. Gregor Mendel, the founder of genetics, had no funding, just a desire to understand... if one was able to zoom in close enough on space in a vacuum, even more detail would come to light. A quantum soup of spontaneous creations and destruction, particles appearing out of nowhere, only to disappear again...
Me: I am not equipped to argue this further but you have not convinced me. I love science, but I am annoyed that people worship it as blindly as they did Jesus 100 years ago.
Tom: I agree. and a lot of pseudo science is preached as actual science today, hence why I limited my statement to "science that can be proved my mathematics"
Me: well I disagree with that because math is just another tool and it discounts social science and anthropology
Tom: well, those still have to prove their ideas with statistics, a branch of mathematics, I agree that for example, neurology is extremely difficult to prove mathematically, that is where the scientific method helps, by testing, evidence can be amassed that can be used in statistics to help prove something, but in those cases the true proof is limited to the experiment...
Me: I guess we are on the same page mostly, yet I am very suspicious of method and motive, and you are suspicious of change in the system.
Tom: haha, typical human I guess. scared of change
Me: ahha, I'm super glad we had this conversation, I often just get frustrated and never complete this conversation. I either believe the other person is too stubborn, too stupid, or too ill informed to actually discuss these fundamental questions. The reality is probably I do not have all the tools to argue my case.
Tom: likewise for me, we have different knowledge bases, so naturally will have different opinions, I do genuinely try to understand your argument before making a judgment...
Tom: If i ever come to Canada, I shall bring plenty of English tea, my thinking head and we shall have long discussions face to face....
Me: I hope so! I love tea, I am making some right now!