I love complicated badness, and this book I just came across while cleaning out the piles of books in my office wins the prize for insanely complicated awfulness on every level.
It's called Dialogue on Women. I know it's crazy, but I long to read it and analyze it.
It's a small, thin, paperback from 1967 -- 40 years ago -- and seems to be part of a series of books that try to present complicated ideas in non-specialized (yet pompous) language. It boasts that its format, newly invented and named the dialogue-focuser, will revolutionize thought! It presents disagreement! And you can write a letter to the editors, and suggest revisions! Man's release from rote learning will soon come, resulting in giving him the freedom to think. Knowledge cannot be contained in hierarchical disciplinary structures!
( Of course, I love all these ideas. The problem I have is that they use all my favorite core concepts and then don't actually present any diverging views or non-hierarchical thinking and especially they don't seem to care what women think in their dialogue on women. So the whole book is hilariously bad.)
Meanwhile, the cover of Dialogue on Women has a totally cheesy 60s mandala sort of thing made out of wavy lines and women's heads. The back cover lists the 9 authors - how many of them do you think are women? Two! Without even cracking the spine of the book, we know what we're in for.
Essay #1: Philip Harris. History of Christian and Western European philosophical thought. Women = inferior. Except Hobbes who is fairly decent (yay HObbes!) Women are all damaged and stuff by this societal brainwashing. Nowadays modern women are beginning to maybe sort of almost prove that marriage and a career can mix. Note all those domineering feminists in the workplace! The end.
Essay #2: A Dialogue. Transcript of a discussion between Janet Beers, Bob Gunn, Stephanie Oliver, and Gil Winter. Janet and Stephanie do not appear on the cover of the book or on its title page. An editorial notes says this transcript is the core of the dialogue-focuser! Zomg! Here is my rude summary.
Gil: Oh noes what about the menz? De Beauvoir suxxors.
Janet: Yes, we can't talk about ourselves as women without first talking about men. "Can I really participate meaningfully or fully or most creatively without a man integral to my living?" (No.)
Bob: So your man is more important than work?
Janet: Yup. Want a blow job?
Stephanie: WTF Janet! I was 24 when I got here and was not worried that I wasn't married. And that's okay! I want to teach history!
Bob: You were so married, cocksucker.
Stephanie: Wasn't. But now I am... my politics are fucked now. And I still don't agree with Janet that women need men.
Janet: But the dialogue-focuser says that... sexuality.. asexuality... Life is dialectical!
Stephanie: *tries to get to a place where one can have dialectics without sucking cock*
Bob: "It's the man who chooses what sort of job he will have and the woman follows after him." Also, politics and stuff. Women just do what men say. Otto Rank blah blah blah. Women want to be wanted.
Janet: women don't really know what they want because they just want husbands. They need men to be fulfilled.
Stephanie: Well, no. You can be married or whatever or not, and be well adjusted, and have a vocation. "It's not a negation of her womanhood."
Gil: Homosexuality suxxors!
Bob: Oh noes what about the mens!
Janet: Yes, what about masculinity!
(Jung. Blah blah. Empathy. City planning. The future. Culture. Science. Maybe our culture will become more feminine and then women will succeed. Will marriage endure past this century? (That was Janet!!) The pill. Fidelity. Licenses to have children. Technology! The end.)
Essay #3: David McClelland from HARVARD, "Wanted: A New Self-Image for Women". Starts out okay. Early feminists thought X. But no! Even infant boys are more aggressive and assertive and rough and tough! Little boys report that they feel entirely self-confident! Ian fleming uses scientifically established facts when he has James Bond say that women are bad drivers! (I'm so not making this up. It's on page 41. Harvard.) Spatial relations! Man the hunter! Virginia Woolf's room of one's own explained: women lack focus and thus, have this pathological need for privacy. Women need to fulfill their womanhood to be happy... Early feminists tried to be tough like men... today's modern feminists try to be ultra feminine... they are all Wrong. But the femininists at least get to be feminine and thus happy. Here's an assload of footnotes just to remind you I'm a sciiiiientist from Haaaarvard. The end.
4. Working for Death - Edward L. Flemming.
Oh noes what about the menz who die earlier than women?
Something Freudian and woman-blaming about men's passive acceptance of his role. He is not healthily mature and independent. Women are overbearing mothers, and men cannot truly be free if they are Dependent. Thus, they die faster. Feminists are like mentally ill mothers, who smother and kill their men with too much emasculating bitchiness. Women have an essential need for psychic interdependence. "How different is the male." Men must become more interdependent or die young. (What?)
5. Esther Milner - The Mother's Role
Uses "she" and "human" as the default rather than "he" and "man".
Analysis of middle class married women. Women under patriarchal systems, who don't have status other than being a mother, raise their sons in ways that create "continuing reactive ambivalence and/or hostility towards girls and women in general". Women who get to have lives and jobs and stuff, are all healthy. We put too much stress on motherhood as a role for cultural tranmission. The system is broken. The end.
Hey, that one wasn't so bad, despite the Freudy bits.
6. Allan J. Moore. The Cosmo Girl: A Playboy INversion
Helen Gurley Brown. Manhunters. Selling the image of the sexbot chick to other chicks. How weird is that. Subculture of unmarried women. OMG, Zomg, our Cities Have So Many Unmarried Young Women. The cult of self-grooming is very anti the protestant ethic. It's okay that these young women are sexual beings as long as they want to be married, really, eventually, and accept Jesus Christ. The End.
CAN I BEAR IT!!!???
7. Sexual Equality and Human Freedom, George C. Owen.
Oh noes what about the menz!!! "It never seems to occur to anybody that men are as subject to imprisoning sexual stereotypes as women..." Feminism discriminates! Waaaaah!
Women and men who are parents should both work less at their jobs, and participate equally in child raising and domestic labor. Communal child rearing would really help.
"The addition of women to the labor-force will clearly destroy our current economic structure." Doctors and nurses will become equal in status! Hierarchy destroyed! Screw petty conventions like marriage and opening doors for women and not swearing in front of ladies! It is women who perpetuate all the bad stereotypes of sexual inequality. The end.
8. Sexual Equality; Gene Hoffman
We should not try to pretend men and women are equal. I am human! Not woman! It's all our fault. We accept the goals society sets for us. Self actualization will fix everything! Harmony in the home! The United Nations! Quakers! "The other group to which I refer is a highly personal one. I am very tenative about it, because it is all so incipient. I refer to a small group of young people I know who have experimented with LSD."
(I hear that stuff makes you more human!)
"How exciting it would be to release our common genius to express our diversity, our variety, and ultimately, our long-awaited humanity!" The end.
Where are they now... I wonder! That dialogue-focuser idea really caught on... or did everyone just float off to San Francisco on a cloud of acid?
So next time you come across a dialogue like this in the trying-to-be-feminist blogosphere just recall 1967 and laugh... and go read some excellent books by Dale Spender to get the taste out of your mouth...
Hey you know what, let's fix up that lame Wikipedia page for Dale Spender. It needs serious help!