05 November 2014

Reports of My Demise (iv)

Virtually no matter the explanation(s) one might seek for male overrepresentation in certain Western artistic traditions and subcultures, a double-bind often lurks in the shadows, sprouted in the fissure between the separatist and integrationist wings of feminism, and eagerly awaiting any conscious man of progressive, radical, uncompromised aesthetic sensibility who either charges or stumbles into the chasm. I am referring to the difference between (a) advocating for women's advancement in traditionally male dominated fields of endeavor, and (b) dismissing such fields of endeavor and their value systems as inherently male and therefore useless to over half the population. The term "difference feminism" is evidently in circulation, though (b) is still an extremist stance, even under that rubric; Naomi Wolf's distinction between "power feminism" and "victim feminism" is in the ballpark as well, but ultimately it also is broader and more moderate than what I am describing.

Sometimes the two modalities are interleaved (dare I say cross-contaminated?), as when Patricia Hill Collins in the course of her eloquently written, painstakingly researched, and elaborately referenced Black Feminist Thought incongruously picks away at positivist methods of "validating knowledge claims" as "ask[ing] African-American women to objectify ourselves, devalue our emotional life, displace our motivations for furthering knowledge about Black women, and confront in an adversarial relationship those with more social, economic, and professional power." (274) Instead, she argues in favor of equal consideration of claims proceeding from "an experiential, material base" of "collective experiences and accompanying worldviews," from a "mother wit" by which "your personal experience is considered very good evidence" (275-6, the latter two turns of phrase attributed in the text to other authors.) Indeed, this is known in "elite white male" circles, and a few other places, as anecdotal reasoning; are we simply to be content, then, that "subordinate groups have long had to use alternative ways to create independent self-definitions and self-valuations and to rearticulate them through our own specialists" (270), or does the ultimate liberation of such groups unavoidably entail winning a piece of the positivist pie?

Wolf fittingly describes an early lecture engagement of hers where extremists from both camps were in evidence:

The ring took turns not so much offering criticism of my work...but rather, calling me to account for myself to them. One woman charged that I was too elitist – I had used compound sentences – while another complained that I was insufficiently academically rigorous, since to make The Beauty Myth accessible, I had used endnotes instead of academic footnotes.

(Fire with Fire, 127; the power/victim taxonomy also comes from this book)

It was, incidentally, with this book that Wolf herself blossomed into a full-fledged integrationist, taking Audre Lorde's famous pronouncement that the "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" and riffing instead that only the master's tools are up to the task. The inconvenient fact for both camps, however, especially in The Arts, is that the master had excellent taste in houses. Moreover, even if the sculpture gardens, marble countertops, and manicured lawns are easily dispensed with, the running water, refrigeration, and climate control certainly are less so.

Where does this last realization leave us? I am male and perhaps biased as a result, but on this question I for one am casting my lot with Katha Pollitt:

In the arts, we hear a lot about what women's "real" subject, methods, and materials ought to be. Painting is male. Rhyme is male. Plot is male. Perhaps, say the Lacanian feminists, even logic and language are male. What is female? Nature. Blood. Milk. Communal gatherings. The moon. Quilts.

Haven't we been here before? Indeed we have. Woman as sharer and carer, woman as earth mother, woman as guardian of all the small rituals that knit together a family and a community, woman as beneath, above or beyond such manly concerns as law, reason, abstract ideas – these images are as old as time. Open defenders of male supremacy have always used them to declare women flatly inferior to men; covert ones use them to place women on a pedestal as too good for this naughty world.

(Reasonable Creatures, 44).

Make no mistake, by the way, that not all of the "covert" operatives are men.

Perhaps the aesthetic values of Western musical modernism are a bit less universal and absolute than those of "logic and language," but I for one am less afraid of that constructionist booby trap than that of historically oppressed groups' pre-modern survival tactics becoming posited, even celebrated, as essential markers of identity, as if members of those groups should (still) be happy to have them. Collins' elevation of anecdotal reasoning strikes me as a telltale example of this; Rosin's celebration of women's willingness to compromise as an inherently salutary trait is another. To wit, have all those bumper stickers admonishing us that "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History" so fallen out of circulation that it has become socially acceptable to praise women as "approachable and consumer responsive" (TEOM, 135), to celebrate their marshaling of "'soft'" power (29) and "social intelligence" (199), to breezily namecheck their "flexibility and responsiveness" (263) and "willingness to adapt and bend to a fast-changing economic landscape" (270); all of this without so much as a peep of concern for what they really, truly want? Indeed ladies, haven't we been here before?

You can hear a few such peeps throughout The End of Men, but only if you're listening carefully for them, for they are articulated near-exclusively through distinctively bourgeois narratives: the footloose and fancy-free single young professional woman who has "mastered the hookup"; the calculating breadwinner wife grasping at jobs, kids, and houses while Mr. Mom vacillates between euphoria and boredom; the all-star PharmD student who pines for "a house by Lake Wisconsin with a path lined by ferns and hostas" (126), who "read somewhere that classical music activates parts of your brain you don't really use" (114), and who for some reason tolerates a do-nothing, know-nothing long-term boyfriend simply "because we crack each other up." (116)

For her part, Rosin is at least apt to lament that successful young women who outpace their male peers find it nearly impossible to "marry up" in the manner of their mothers and grandmothers, and that half-liberated men have been slower to embrace domestic responsibilities than their superstar wives have been to inhabit formerly male professional spaces, leaving the women as overtaxed as ever if not more so. And she is not above granting that working-class single mothers have it rough when, as she repeatedly emphasizes, taking a husband from among their own lot increasingly means gaining little more than another mouth to feed. Marriage, she reports, has in fact become a class privilege in America.

Meanwhile, what is conspicuously absent from the book in my opinion (it is perhaps more of an opinion than a fact, but bear with me) is a woman of any economic class chasing true personal fulfillment through any but the most materialistic, bourgeois avenues. Occupying this void instead is a predictable strawman caricature, the "creative class" of mercenary job-hoppers and rear-guard parasites: "publicity assistant, wine critic, trail mix creator, sustainability consultant, screenwriter." (118) These are indeed the poster children for compromise, artistic and otherwise, however you feel about it. If you are a Creative Type who aspires to outearn your spouse, certainly there is greater potential for that here than virtually anywhere else you might set up shop, certainly this situates you well in the coming Service Economy eclipse, and certainly Hanna Rosin would be happy for you. If we didn't have escapist entertainment (or, god forbid, trail mix) we'd have to invent it; but someone has to probe the outer reaches of aesthetic possibility as well. This is no task for compromisers, and yet it cannot possibly be ideally fruitful if men are the only participants. Yet another double-bind...or is it really?

This dynamic seems not to have occurred to a great many commentators on contemporary gender relations, though perhaps it is more accurate to say that they, like nearly everyone else in the world, just don't care that much about it. Encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers becomes a universal global concern while encouraging them in marginalized artistic disciplines remains strictly an internecine campaign against a decidedly first-world problem. To be sure, I'm certainly in no hurry to convince any promising young student that the life of an uncompromising progressive artist is a sensible aspiration. Really, though, what the hell is a "sustainability consultant" anyway? How truly "creative" does your average wine critic ever get to be for god's sake? And when exactly did "screenwriter" become a reliable, stable career path? Am I just too male to see the dignity and self-fulfillment here? Or is this "progress" something of a hollow victory for women, a mainstream, postmodern update of the blood/milk/moon/quilts meme?


Stefan Kac said...

"Implicit within a variety of [1920s] radical tendencies was the notion that industrial society contained a liberating potential, a potential submerged and diverted by those who currently authorized and profited from it.

"Ironically, it was within these critical, often anticapitalist perspectives that capitalism began to discover the building blocks with which to erect its own affirmative social imagery. We must not take lightly the assertion heard among businessmen of the twenties that in mass production and mass consumption lay the answer to the gnawing threat of what was shorthandedly termed "bolshevism." In the corporate ideology of the 1920s, the goods of the marketplace were sold to the public with the "liberating" and "democratic" lingo which had up till then been heard most loudly among those whose attack was on the corporate premise of the market economy itself."

(Stuart Ewen, Captains of Consciousness, p. 201)

This is EXACTLY what Rosin has done for the post-industrial milieu. Some of Richard Sennett's critiques, e.g., in The Corrosion of Character and The Culture of the New Capitalism, reappear almost verbatim in The End of Men repurposed as "affirmative social imagery."

Stefan Kac said...

Ewen again: "From the late sixties on there has been a proliferation of cultural movements which have expanded the scope of opposition. As resistance has mounted however, the captains of consciousness have hardly thrown in the towel. Appropriating the lingo and styles of the New Left, the counterculture, feminism, neo-agrarianism, ethnicity, drug vision, and other phenomena, the advertising industry, seeing markets, has generated a mass culture which reflects the spirit but not the cutting edge of this resistance. While advertising of the twenties spoke against the deprivations of scarcity, an increasing amount of today's advertising and product imagery speak to the deprivations of what has been called "abundance." Within advertising, the social realm of resistance is reinterpreted, at times colonized, for corporate benefit."
(p. 218)

And so today, with technological and generational change both accelerated, and with the Captains having got a couple more decades of experience, we can see this process unfolding very nearly in real time vis-a-vis the movement for racial justice.

(Incidentally, if you're a Senior Millennial who was raised in the Upper Midwest, perhaps you and I have just shared a triple-entendre and a belly laugh at the term "neo-agrarianism.")

(Further incidentally, a musician-agemate from a different part of the country, who proved less familiar with our hottest musical export than I had expected, exclaimed the following upon finally realizing who I was talking about: "Oh, you mean that super agro guy?")

Stefan Kac said...

Ewen: "While some, like Christine Frederick, heralded the entry of the machine-age into the home as a "household revolution" which freed women from toil, the reduction in time for housework seems to have been elusive for many women. Despite the introduction of goods and machines which tended to routinize and take the "guess work" out of housework, sociologist Ruth Lindquist found, in her 1930 studies of the American family, that housework was still seen by most women as a general source of fatigue and worry. These women felt no more relieved than in the premechanized days of house-tending. "It is something of a paradox," she observed, "that a deluge of labor-saving devices, new sources of power, more commercial agencies in the community and an actual decrease in the size of families have not prevented homemaking from being more than a full-time job.

"Rather than viewing the transformations in housework as
labor-saving, it is perhaps more useful to view them as labor-changing."
(pp. 162-3)

In other words, for each new consumer technology, the Captains sought to engineer a new social pressure: "Advertising hoped to elicit the "instinctual" anxieties of social intercourse" (38); "Satisfied customers are not as profitable as discontented ones." (39) And so the pressures multiplied along with the technologies, creating a new but equally onerous Second Shift.

The only way to win here is not to play the game.

Stefan Kac said...

Richard Sennett
The Culture of the New Capitalism

"For some people the combination of increased central control and diminished authority works brilliantly. ...

[Yet] My colleague Michael Laskaway [sic; Laskawy?] has found, among young entrepreneurs, that comfort in low-authority firms is short-lived. As middle-age looms and children, mortgages, and school fees appear, the need for structure and predictability in work grows greater. Correspondingly, the employee now wants someone above who is responsive to the workers' own adult responsibilities."

(pp. 61-62)

Stefan Kac said...

Richard Sennett
The Corrosion of Character

""All art," Oscar Wilde declared..., "is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril." The superficialities of modern society are more demeaning than the surfaces and masks of art. ...

"One reason for this demeaning superficiality is the disorganization of time. Time's arrow is broken; it has no trajectory in a continually reengineered, routine-hating, short-term political economy. People feel the lack of sustained human relations and durable purposes. The people I've so far described have all tried to find the depth of time beneath the surface, if only by registering unease and anxiety about the present.

"The work ethic is the arena in which the depth of experience is most challenged today. The work ethic, as we commonly understand it, asserts self-disciplined use of one's time and the value of delayed gratification. ...
[Formerly, workers] worked hard and they waited; this was their psychological experience of depth. Such a work ethic depends in part on institutions stable enough for a person to practice delay. Delayed gratification loses its value, though, in a regime whose institutions change rapidly; it becomes absurd to work long and hard for an employer who thinks only about selling up and moving on.

"It would be a morose sentimentalism which merely regretted the decline of hard work and of self-discipline—not to mention good grooming and respect of one's elders and all the other joys of the good old time. The serious business of the old work ethic put heavy burdens on the working self. People sought to prove their own worth through their work; in the form of "worldly asceticism," as Max Weber called it, delayed gratification could become a deeply self-destructive practice. But the modern alternative to the long discipline of time is no real remedy to this self-denial.

"The modern work ethic focuses on teamwork. It celebrates sensitivity to others; it requires such "soft skills" as being a good listener and being cooperative; most of all, teamwork emphasizes team adaptibility to circumstances. Teamwork is the work ethic which suits a flexible political economy. For all the psychological heavy breathing which modern management does about office and factory teamwork, it is an ethos of work which remains on the surface of experience. Teamwork is the group practice of demeaning superficiality."

(pp. 98-99)

Stefan Kac said...

(Sennett, CoC)

"I've gone into this history in some detail because the disciplined use of one's time is not the simple, straightforward virtue it may at first appear. A grim, relentless struggle in the ancient world, a conundrum for Renaissance believers in homo faber, a source of self-punishment in the theology of the individual: Surely the weakening of the work ethic could be a gain for civilization. Surely we want to exorcise the furies besetting the driven man.

"It depends, however, on how the weight upon the working self is lightened. Modern forms of teamwork are in many ways the opposites of the work ethic as Max Weber conceived it. An ethics of the group as opposed to the individual, teamwork emphasizes mutual responsiveness rather than personal validation. The time of teams is flexible and oriented to specific, short-term tasks, rather than the reckoning of decades marked by withholding and waiting. Teamwork, though, takes us into that domain of demeaning superficiality which besets the modern workplace. Indeed, teamwork exits the realm of tragedy to enact human relations as a farce."

(p. 106)

Stefan Kac said...

(Sennett, CoC)
(on the months Rose, the bar owner, spent working for an ad agency on the marketing of vodka)

"...she kept intruding information about how people actually drink in bars, which lay outside the purview of those who were in the loop. For instance, she mentioned that vodka is a drink of choice for people who are secret alcoholics, since they believe no one can smell they've been drinking. Her colleagues reacted to this as if it were her private knowledge, disturbing their own discussions. Specialized information often tends to jam the system of communication. In teamwork of a nonmaterial sort, where people are working together on an image, the act of communication is more important than the facts communicated; to communicate, the playing field of talk needs to be open and accessible. Once that happens, the shaping and sharing of rumor becomes the substance of collaboration. Buzz about competitors provides energy to the communication; hard facts weaken the energies of exchange. Indeed, information exchange tends to be self-exhausting; at the ad agency, the buzz about the Russian-name answer lasted only until it had been fully networked, and then the buzz about hexagonal boxing for the bottles began.

"The hardest fact about this group effort was that the agency failed to get the contract. Rose expected that there would ensue a period of mutual recrimination and blame on the team, since the financial consequences for the agency were severe. Moreover, she told me, she expected people to experience "grief" at the loss, by which she meant that these hard-driven ad execs would really care about losing. But as a group, they had a different reaction, more self-protective. There was no mutual recrimination. Nor did people make an effort to justify themselves. There was no time. In a few days, the hard liquor group had moved on to another project, and moved on as a team.

"A specialist in group behavior might well expect this. Groups tend to hold together through keeping to the surface of things; shared superficiality keeps people together by avoiding difficult, divisive, personal questions. ... But the ethos of communication and information-sharing gives conformity a particular twist: the emphasis on being flexible and open to change made members of the team susceptible to the slightest twitches of rumor or suggestion from others on the party-office-lunch-club network. As I have noted, New York adpersons are not corporate conformists of the tight and buttoned-up sort. In the old work culture, the corporate conformist was an all too predictable and reliable character—you knew every response. In this flexible culture of the image and its information, predictability and reliability are less salient character traits; there is no firm footing here, just as there can be no final answer to the problem vodka poses."

Stefan Kac said...

(Sennett, CoC)

"The individual caught in the toils of worldly asceticism struggles to gain power over himself or herself. More, the driven man seeks to justify himself. In the ad agency, Rose found a different work ethic suited to a firm oriented entirely to the present, its images and its surfaces. In this world, the work ethic took a different form, seemingly more collaborative than individual in its terms, and we might say more forgiving.

"Yet it is not quite so benign. People still play games of power in teams, but the emphasis on soft skills of communication, facilitation, and mediation changes radically one aspect of power: authority disappears, authority of the sort which self-confidently proclaims, "This is the right way!" or "Obey me, because I know what I'm talking about!" The person with power does not justify command; the powerful only "facilitate," enable others. Such power without authority disorients employees; they may still feel driven to justify themselves, but now there is no one higher up who responds. Calvin's God has fled."

(p. 109)

Stefan Kac said...

"The supposed liberation of women has not consisted in their emancipation from the domestic sphere, but rather the extension of that sphere over the whole of society."

Tiqqun, "Premieres matériaux pour une théorie de la Jeune-Fille" (1999)
quoted in McKenzie Wark, The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages Out of the 20th Century (2013)
p. 198

Stefan Kac said...

Raoul Vaneigem
A Declaration on the Rights of Human Beings (2001)
trans. Liz Heron (2003)

pp. 56-57—on "the right to association by affinity"
"The open, polynuclear family abolishes forever the patriarchal, monolithic, authoritarian closed family..." (56)
"The rapid decline of [the old way]...has precipitated—and experienced the impact of—an alteration of the family in which women and children...have sprung up as the axis of social influence and exemplary awareness." (56)

How many feminists does it take to posit soft sexism in the last bit? Most of them, probably; but is there any denying the veracity of this statement? Certainly not vis-a-vis "children," who are indeed accorded influence and exemplarity in spades (i.e. Filiarchy), passively as it were (they do not rule us, but we are ruled by them), but undeniably. Perhaps the "social influence" of women now only looks so dominant against the historical backdrop of the "the Christian era" (56), or perhaps Hanna Rosin is correct on this point. If the latter, she sure was not "the first to notice!!" The proof of that is right here... On this point see also p. 102—"...the economy of consumerism rehabilitated women and children, who were suddenly elevated to the promotional dignity of the market." Children because we must support them, i.e. facilitate their proper consumption! Women because...well, ask Hanna Rosin why, then try to convince yourself that these are good qualities!

[from a post-it, 2018]

Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Minimal Self (1984)

[subject heading: Childhood in a Narcissistic Culture]

"Men lost much of their authority over children to their wives, while children gained a certain independence from both parents, not only because other authorities asserted jurisdiction over childhood but because parents lost confidence in the old rules of child-rearing and hesitated to assert their own claims in the face of professional expertise.

"In the twentieth century, the advertising industry further weakened parental authority by glorifying youth. Advertising, like the service professions, insisted that parents owed their children the best of everything while insisting that they had only a rudimentary understanding of children's needs. Advertising also promoted the "emancipation" of women from household drudgery and Puritanical sexual repression. ...

"These changes hardly added up to a "matriarchal" revolution, as antifeminists have sometimes claimed; nor did they even create a child-centered family in the sense of giving children a veto over their parents' authority. They freed women and children from patriarchal despotism in the home but did very little to strengthen their position in the outside world."

(p. 186)

What seems most important here is the insight that advertising was functionally a top-down mechanism, and that in this way it was allied with more overtly progressive- or reform-oriented initiatives.

Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Revolt of the Elites (1995)

"Affluence these days—or for many Americans mere survival, for that matter—requires the additional income provided by women's participation in the labor force. The prosperity enjoyed by the professional and managerial classes, which make up most of the upper 20 percent of the income structure, derives in large part from the emerging marital pattern inelegantly known as assortative mating—the tendency of men to marry women who can be relied on to bring in income more or less equivalent to their own. Doctors used to marry nurses, lawyers and executives their secretaries. Now upper-middle-class men tend to marry women of their own class, business or professional associates with lucrative careers of their own. "What if the $60,000 lawyer marries another $60,000 lawyer...and the $20,000 clerk marries a $20,000 clerk? Then the difference between their incomes suddenly becomes the difference between $120,000 and $40,000," and "although the trend is still masked in the income statistics by the low average wages of women...it's obvious to practically everyone, even the experts, that something like this is in fact happening." It is unnecessary, incidentally, to seek much further for an explanation of feminism's appeal to the professional and managerial class. Female careerism provides the indispensable basis of their prosperous, glamorous, gaudy, sometimes indecently lavish way of life."
(pp. 32-33)

[quotes from Kaus, The End of Equality (1992)]

(Wikipedia sez: "[Socio-economic assortative mating] is best observed in the fact that, in the United States, matches among those with similar educational attainment were more common than they would have been if couples had matched randomly." That seems pretty flimsy.)

Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Revolt of the Elites (1995)

"Both sides [for and against affirmative action] argue on the same grounds. Both see careers open to talent as the be-all and end-all of democracy when in fact, careerism tends to undermine democracy by divorcing knowledge from practical experience, devaluing the kind of knowledge that is gained from experience, and generating social conditions in which ordinary people are not expected to know anything at all."
(p. 79)


(related, re: "mother wit" and "the kind of knowledge that is gained from experience")

Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Revolt of the Elites (1995)

"Unlike old-fashioned intellectuals, who tend to work by themselves and to be jealous and possessive about their ideas, the new brain workers...operate best in teams. Their "capacity to collaborate" promotes "system thinking"—the ability to see problems in their totality, to absorb the fruits of collective experimentation, and to "discern larger causes, consequences, and relationships. Since their work depends so heavily on "networking," they settle in "specialized geographical pockets" populated by people like them."
(pp. 36-37)


Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Revolt of the Elites (1995)

"how the California task force arrived at this finding—that is, by ignoring the reservations that were advanced by the experts on whose testimony its report was based. ...[the chairman] dismissed these reservations on the grounds that they came from "those who live only in their heads, in the intellectual." The importance of self-esteem, he said, was confirmed by our "intuitive knowledge."
(p. 209)


Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The World of Nations (1973)
Ch. X, "After the New Left"

"Lately there has been a tendency for the attack on the family, like so many other fragments of the new left, to degenerate into a purely cultural movement, one aimed not so much as institutional change as at abolishing "male chauvinism." I have already criticized the illusion that a "cultural revolution," a change of heart, can serve as a substitute for politics. Here it is necessary only to add that the criticism applies with special force to feminism, since the peculiar strength of this movement is precisely its ability to dramatize specific connections between culture and politics—between the realm of production on the one hand and education, child rearing, and sexual relations on the other. It ought to be recognized, for example, that large numbers of women will not be able to enter the work force, except by slavishly imitating the careers of men, unless the nature of work undergoes a radical change. The entire conflict between "home and career" derives from the subordination of work to the relentless demands of industrial productivity. The system that forces women (and men also) to choose between home and work is the same system that demands early specialization and prolonged schooling, imposes military-like discipline in all areas of work, and forces not only factory workers but intellectual workers into a ruthless competition for meager rewards. At bottom, the "woman question" is indistinguishable from what used to be known as the social question."
(p. 158)

Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The World of Nations (1973)
Ch. XVII, "The Social Thought of Jacques Ellul"

"one has to ask with Ellul whether it is not precisely the conjunction of love and constraint that enables a child to grow up and to accept the constraints of adulthood without losing the capacity for love. It is true that children do grow up in the kibbutz and in fact develop into remarkably "well-adjusted" adults; but it is just that, their "adjustment" and their "ability to work well with others," so highly prized in the kibbutz, that may provide an ominous foretaste of our future."
(p. 283)

Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Agony of the American Left

"It is highly misleading to think that in American history those minorities have escaped poverty through the dominant institutions of the surrounding culture. On the contrary, they have succeeded in marginal institutions, a fact that incidentally reveals one dimension of the present race problem—the decline of entrepreneurial capitalism in a mature industrial economy."
(p. 137)


Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
Women and the Common Life: Love, Marriage, and Feminism

5. "The Sexual Division of Labor, the Decline of Civic Culture, and the Rise of the Suburbs"

"In reality, full-time motherhood—the rejection of which touched off the latest wave of feminist agitation in the sixties—was something new and historically unprecedented. ... In the popular mind, the division of labor that prevailed in postwar suburbia thus came to be identified—with a corresponding loss of intellectual clarity—with the division of sexual labor in general."
(p. 94)

"For historians as for everybody else, work is understood as something dignified by a salary or a wage. Uncompensated activity, though it enters the historical record under the heading of "reform," is seldom recognized as a form of productive work, even when it brought women into the public world in great numbers."
(p. 96)

""Isolation" was a better description of the suburban than of the urban family; and it was the rapid expansion of suburbs, beginning in the 1940s and 1950s, that finally destroyed the social patterns I have tried to sketch in here—the informal system of collective self-help that made it possible, together with the availability of domestic servants, for women to take an active part in civic culture.
(pp. 103-104)

"[Paul Goodman's] account of the world of work should have forewarned women that they would not gain much simply by entering the work force and achieving equality with men. Once women had rejected the "feminine mystique," it was tempting to think that professional careers would solve all their problems. ... [They] began to demand access to the allegedly "creative," "fulfilling" work enjoyed by men. ... They expected professional careers to bring them emotional fulfillment. If Goodman was right, however, they would find no more meaning than men did in careers the structure of which was governed largely by the requirements of commodity production."
(p. 112)

"Like the advertising industry, the women's movement has taken "choice" as its slogan... In fact, however, the movement recognizes only one choice—the family in which adults work full-time in the marketplace."
(p. 118)

7. "The Mismeasure of Man"

"Men were not alone, after all, in their dissatisfaction with a social order in which everything was organized down to the last detail. The rationalization of daily life had similarly depressing effects on women, even though it was often held up as the means of their emancipation from domestic drudgery."
(p. 147)


Stefan Kac said...

Christopher Lasch
The Culture of Narcissism

"the psychological patterns promoted by the family are reinforced by conditions outside the family. Because those patterns seem to find their clearest expression in the pathology of narcissism, and ultimately in schizophrenia, we should not jump to the conclusion that the family produces misfits, people who cannot function efficiently in modern industrial society. In many ways it does a good job of preparing the child for the conditions he will encounter when he leaves home."
(p. 177)


Stefan Kac said...

Paul and Percival Goodman

[173] "When production becomes an integral part of life, the workman becomes an artist. It is the definition of an artist that he follows the medium, and finds new possibilities of expression in it. He is not bound by the fact that things have always been made in a certain way, nor even by the fact that it is these things that have been made. Our industrialists...are very
much concerned these days to get "creative" people, and they make psychological studies on how to foster an "atmosphere of creativity"; but they don't sufficiently conjure with the awful possibility that truly creative people might tell them to shut up shop. They wish to use creativity in just the way that it cannot be used, for it is a process that also generates its own ends."