Monday, October 29, 2007
When engaged in feminist debate with a member of the estrogenly-challenged sex, it might be wise to avoid the following nugget:
"Well, do you have a vagina? No? Then be quiet."
I might want to start "D'Orazio's Law" -- corollary to the oft-invoked Godwin's Law of Internet discourse -- in which anyone in a feminist debate asking the accusatory question "do you have a vagina?" to a member of the estrogenly-challenged sex hast thus ended the discussion.
Now, I am quite aware of the meaning behind asking a man, "do you have a vagina" in response to his opinions on wimmins. The inquiry points out the fact that men do not know what is like to be women and thus hast no business (so the theory goes) to lend their opinions on the subject of the testosterone-challenged sex.
However, we all know what the answer is (usually) to the question thus posed to a man, "do you have a vagina?"
NO, HE DOESN'T HAVE A VAGINA!!!!!!
Asking him if he indeed has a vagina serves very little constructive purpose. I understand the meaning behind the question, but all it will really accomplish is to make the man defensive.
Now, there is the related issue of whether a man sans vagina sans tits sans ovaries is in any position to comment on wimmin's issues at all.
If we as women want to take that view, then the reverse can be used on us, and we can be kept from...oh gosh I don't know, writing comics starring male superheroes, because we do not have a penis and therefore are not "fit" to write about those possessing said instrument. 'Cause we don't "get" the whole penis thing.
In the end, I think you have to figure out what means more to you in a debate -- getting in the last word with a pithy comment, or actually trying to help change another person's point of view. If you want to help change (or expand) another person's point of view, you've got to think "inclusive" and not "exclusive." You can't underline how different you are from the other person...you have to find some common ground to speak from.
Yeah, your male counterpart in the feminist debate about cheesecake in comics doesn't have a vagina. That's right. But has he ever felt embarrassed, ashamed? Has he ever felt defensive about the way a female friend or family member has been treated? Has he ever suffered from being stereotyped, misunderstood? These are all areas from which to build some common ground.