The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 8, 2006

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2006 13:21:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: Alan Sondheim <>
To: Kali Tal <>
Cc: nettime management system <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Gender and You

I'm not sure how much longer nettime will let me go on, but I feel again I have 
to respond; now I'm an Orientalist as well as sexist. This is one of the 
ugliest exchanges I've had - maybe the ugliest - but I can't let it go.

On Sat, 7 Oct 2006, Kali Tal wrote:

> I do find the Nikuko pieces Orientalist. I think Alan waves aside the
> crucial issue of who wields the power in creating and enforcing
> representation in a given culture; from my perspective it's absurd to
> argue that members of groups with different sets of privilege are
> still somehow "equal" on the field of representation. The male
> student who poses as a woman may learn a lesson about "what it's like
> for women", but he's doing this in an environment where real women
> are already largely displaced by men playing women. He will of course
> bring his own stereotypes to the role play, and whether he intends it
> or not he's more likely to reinscribe sexist stereotypes than to
> violate them.
If you did read the Nikuko work you'd know it's not enforcing the repre- 
sentation of any given culture; it's working out of the Kojiki. I was waiting 
for you to say this - from your viewpoint - and I still feel essentialist - any 
representation of the Other is always already damned. I'd like to know where 
you find - exactly - the stereotyping in the Nikuko material, since so called 
Orientals seem to have liked it.

Second, the male student learns a lesson yes about what it's like for women - 
but I never claimed anything more. Judging by the results, the exercise was 
useful. And there was no time to "reinscribe sexist stereo- types" although of 
course you won't agree - the whole exercise takes about ten minutes. What 
you're doing here is disgusting - damning the male (or female) student for 
_trying_ - already accusing him of sexual stereotypes - which assumes he learns 
nothing about questioning such.

> Straw woman arguments: I'm an essentialist (I'm a constructivist);

I don't see the relationship here, but when you announce that you're writing as 
a women - and when other women have seen the material differently - it comes 
across as essential - otherwise, why write it?

> I'm enforcing PC (I have no power to do that--I believe that "PC-as-
> an-oppressive-force" is an invention of people who benefit from
> unearned privilege and get annoyed when challenged);

Yes, but it's a hell of a lot more than that, and you're begging the question. 
This is glib.

I haven't read
> his work (I have; I just don't see the same things he sees in it); I accuse 
> him of cruising (I don't--I accuse him of reinforcing sexist stereotypes);

If you're read the work, why didn't you know that this material was abandoned 
years ago?

I claim to speak for all women (I don't; I speak AS a
> woman, which is a completely different thing); I say I know what he's
> feeling or doing (I don't--I only say I know what he's writing); that
> I don't understand his work is fiction (I do--but nothing says
> fictional representation can't be oppressive);

No it's not fiction - I don't have the original text here, but I wouldn't claim 
that it is, so apologies if I left that impression. It's a proble- matic of 
writing, a problematic of discourse, and isn't intended to be either fiction or 
poetry or any other pigeon-holing.

I accuse him of
> violence (I didn't--I just don't like the way he writes women);  I do
> him violence (he disagrees with the comparisons I've made across race
> and gender lines).

Which does violence - bringing up words like 'blackface' is more than a 
'comparison.' You're accusing me of violence and stereotyping - this is what 
you're doing in fact. You have no quotes for example from my work (although I'm 
sure you can find them) - so it's a question of differend - anyone reading this 
would be sure there's 'something' there since you say it's so. And that's a 
kind of violence. Apply your theory to yourself.

> Alan has posted a tremendous amount of text over the last decades, a
> good deal of which I have appreciated, as I said previously. I think
> it perfectly reasonable to critique one aspect of that text--the
> sexism, which seems to me clearly visible, whether intentional or
> not. I am well aware that not all women will agree with my critique

I think it's reasonable to question absolutely everything - but you weren't 
questioning - you were and are condemning. And there's a huge difference. This 
isn't a discussion, at least not on my end.

> but then, I'm not an essentialist and so I don't feel that women need
> to speak in a unanimous voice. I just call it like I see it.
As long as the voice is speaking 'as a woman.'

- Alan

> Kali
> ______________________________
> On Oct 7, 2006, at 1:51 PM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> I feel once again I have to respond to this. First of all, I don't
> masquerade or cruise for sex; everyone knows (except on the Jennifer
> <...>
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