Thursday, April 14, 2005

Internet Stupidity Roundup

Sometimes I let myself get riled up too easily. Like today: I'm on pins and needles because my 3L paper is due tomorrow, so stuff that I would normally just roll my eyes at becomes fodder for ranting and raving. Stuff like the last letter in this Dear Prudence column.

The writer, who presumably knew his wife well enough to marry her and have her carry his child, is utterly baffled by her desire to give the child her last name. Maybe he thinks that joking around until she's sedated at the hospital and in no position to fill out a birth certificate will solve the dispute, since he refuses to recognize that her opinion is a strong and valid one. (And has he inquired about her reasons? Apparently not.) Prudie's response is to essentially say that any woman who doesn't automatically conform to traditional naming practices is some sort of feminist militant and counsels the writer that his marriage may be in danger. Sure it is: because this fool apparently thinks patting his wife's hand and chuckling, "yes, dear" is an appropriate way of resolving a disagreement. And why the absolute befuddlement at someone not giving children of a marriage the father's name? It's hardly new to most of us.

More stupidity can be found in the appalling answers to this Ask Metafilter question about whether a female bridesmaid should go to a bachelor party. A number of men asserted (without regard to the issues of whether the groom invited women, had woman friends, or just plain didn't plan on using the bachelor party as an opportunity to engage in immoral conduct) that bachelor parties are men only, always and forever, and that the presence of a girl would "stink up the place" with estrogen and make the other men uncomfortable. Let me just say that any man who does something at a bachelor party that he would not wish his fiancee or any woman to know about is a bad, deceitful person, and has no business getting married. Hell, he has no business being in a relationship. Ugh.

And, as I am an equal opportunity ranter, some feminist overreaching in this comments thread about the late Andrea Dworkin made my head just about spin. While I will defend Ampersand's right to censor his own website of any criticisms of Dworkin in the immediate aftermath of her demise, I think it's a bad idea. Then again, I value the policy outcomes that flow from free discourse about the ideas advanced by public intellectuals. One commenter would disagree:
The fact that our culture takes an “anything goes” approach to “public figures”, doesn’t make that approach ethical, moral, right, or something that, as feminists, we ought to endorse. That the U.S. does it, hardly makes it the right thing to do. “Public figures” are not created equal. Some are men under male supremacy, and some are women and subjugated. That has to be factored in. As do many other considerations.
Just so you know the score: female public intellectuals are oppressed enough by patriarchy--they don't need you to criticize their ideas, too! Haven't they suffered enough? Talking critically about the Pope's involvement in the molestation scandal = A-okay. Suggesting that Dworkin's ideas directly caused the censorship of erotic material in Canada = something feminists should shut our mouths about, because Dworkin was subjugated and thus gets a free pass.
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