I discovered quite interesting form of life for me, educated man, philosophers. They are exciting. To me it always appeared that people who know philosophy are very special. I wasn’t sure why is that so, but I was very easily infatuated by them, their stories, to be more precise. They seemed to be very profound. I was interested in philosophy actually. But, being a women and Roma for me this knowledge somehow appeared as something unachievable and far. Even though I had it in high school, actually I had history of philosophy, I was always thinking about philosophy through the image of this antic grate names, and also I suppose their greatness never stopped seizing me. Subject after subject I learned that practically all sciences and especially social sciences searched their confirmation in their thoughts. So, I got the impression these people must be extremely important and their thoughts must be very deep and overwhelming.
Interestingly, it was for me a very complex universe that I felt as I would never be able to comprehend and at the same time it appeared fragile, incapable of sustaining anything else but man. White man. White educated man, whose fathers were also white educated man. In my mind image of this incredible world in its enormous hardness of complicated knowledge structures was so fragile that it would dissolve on a single notion of any other idea of a philosopher. That idea was not possible actually. I never thought philosopher would be anything else but white, educated man with good family background, much respected academic. And, even though I knew somewhere in my mind there are philosophers of all colors and genders to add, this was not something which stopped me haveing this image. It wasn’t on purpose. It was just an image formed by years of formal, unformal, informal learning. So, I suppose, there are many reasons I attributed grate power to philosophers. Many of them had to do with social power structures, patriarchy and racism.
Now, there are girls who are attracted to rich men. They are exciting for them. They find these people as special and they can be infatuated by these men and their stories. They like something they have. Also, I would guess, in their mind the only way of having this money is to be with these men. So, they attribute power to them. Not that rich men in reality do not have it, but I mean these women let these men have something that I will call personal power over them. They are lead to believe they can only get money by being with these men. Sometimes it might be true, women in reality have less chance to earn it, but it cannot be that they are inherently unable to do this. So if these men treat them unfairly they compromise, they would often not ask for justification, they just do not see themselves as equal. This is unfortunate. Women are not raised to think that they are able to earn money or satisfy their needs in any other way that will not put them into this position of dependency over men and their needs. Also, opportunities for doing it differently are often not offered to them, even when they do have this idea. Getting education, knowledge is often mentioned as one way to deal with this. And I was raised to believe so, that I should get knowledge to get some independence and social power.
So, recently I just started to think how I couldn’t make it together. Being infatuated by philosophers is like being infatuated by any other man who has power. Even thou it is not a material reason, this philosophical knowledge, off course, makes them so attractive. And also, it doesn’t seem to be so wrong since I would admire the knowledge, not material stuff. And in my head it was always somehow more acceptable to admire knowledge then material stuff.
But I found myself in very slippery terrain. I would say philosophers do have knowledge about things that are fundamental. Knowledge about ethics and politics for example, fields I admire the most. And I do not know is there anything more satisfying then when a philosopher helps you to understand these complex layers of structures in which we are all so deeply immersed. This clarifying path looked to me as some invisible steel construction that is holding this world and that just revels itself in a dim revelation to you when you are able to grasp these concepts. Not that I think there are some concrete not changeable moral truths, it is interesting to see how philosophers can think very differently about the same moral problems. But, the point is, every time I felt these theories could really hold the worlds, different worlds, and I was amazed and thrilled as by looking some fantastic intelligent SF movie in 3D. Well, not to be superficial, but I felt how this knowledge makes people so horrifyingly bright. Such a superior power. Philosopher for me become almost as a Superman. I love Superman. Who does not love this macho representation of Americanized superhuman, the ultimate ruler of natural laws from 30’s and further on? Well, some people do not, but nevertheless, this blessed figure affected my childhood new year’s eves and my gender off course. I will never forget this feeling of dizziness induced by the latest presentation of Superman’s powers out of the concept of human. Just the thought of this imaginary world was ecstatic.
Except it made me prone to masculine look and expectations from men, queerly , probably due to my mother’s influence, my boyish haircuts she made and in general her wish she gave birth to a son and her lessons about life as if I am a boy, it also made me think about my ,so to say, superego. In stories, movies and comics I usually identified with man. Thanks to patriarchal gender roles women characters were never developed, never interesting enough. I always wanted to be Davy Crockett, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Vinety, Mogli, Tarzan, Spiderman, Phantom, Batman, Sherlock Holmes, Poaro… I wanted to be all of them, but interestingly philosophers were something different. I never thought I could become one. Might be because there was no superheroes philosophers that would be present there from my childhood, and I never had a philosopher in my family, never had any highly educated person in my family for that matter. I discovered philosophy much later, so I didn’t know much about it, except it is something very deep and important, and I just ended up admireing these theories and man, philosophers. I found myself in a trap, I suppose as any women who find herself dependent on men and his power. This holders of truths, as I was thinking of them, got me.
It was the same once with feminist. I believed them without any precaution. I foolishly believed they must be different and free from gender oppressive practices if they read so much in feminism, did some activism and did not try to apply stereotypical macho strategies on me, and didn’t tell me I am a whore if I wanted to have casual sex for example. I believed also that by becoming feminist I become free from these. And I am not. And they are not. And since women do tend to be more self-critical I think, I will stop speaking about me being in a gender role. Its not about that. I am biased. Yes. I tend to believe women have more reasons to get out of these gender roles and that they usually try hard, while for man it is easier not to question anything, since if they do this it usually means they have to give up some power, and it is messy, even when they are, what one would call, generally good guys. And so I would say you should not treat feminist man without any precaution. Also, women should watch carefully over themselves not to find themselves again in gender roles with these men and not to think this is impossible and that they are safe. You are never safe. Never. Ok.
I had strong need to write about philosophers, man philosophers. Those who seem so smart, and are so smart, talking about ethics and politics, who speak about issues in morality and duty to other people with grate analytical theoretical care, who read all these sophisticated diligently developed stories about what holds the world humane and decent, who can give grate empowering speeches and who seem concerned for peace, liberty, equality and justice. I had a strong need to write something and try to make some sense at least for myself in relation with them. Because it is political I think. There are reasons not to trust these man despite their knowledge and academic work they do and speeches they give. As any other men they get privileges from being men. As any other men with power, they get privileges from being men with knowledge power. And if they are smart they would understand and agree with this I think, and they would never ask from women to blindly put their lives in their hands in any sphere of their lives, to blindly “just trust them”. They would not ask for this, to trust layers of patriarchal societal influence that molded us all.
But, they can be blind for their privileges off course, and on my disappointment, it seems more often they are. For me there is nothing more shameful for philosophy, or even humanity, then philosophers who theoreticized in high levels about morality, not being able to reason about it in their lives. It is even worse when they start using theories for justifying their dubious moral actions. And I will not elaborate on theories of ethics in details her, let’s say that dubious can be seen as any action that any reasonable person would find as showing you do not care for others, or you care less then you could or should really, or you do not think you owe people justification, or you treat them as mare means…
I cannot find the proper words but I have just strong feeling of disgust, physical disgust when these things happen and these men justify these actions poorly or, on my terror, do not do it at all, when they are totally blind for their immoral actions and pass by people to whom they were unjust without any look. Or I cannot decide what is worse, this or when they are aware but still they act like it does not matter, like there is no one who will notice, when they kill subjectivity of these people ( and let’s assume there is subjectivity in this case, not to go to theories of subjectivity) even expecting these people, let’s say women in this case, owe them something still! I have this feeling when man in general do it, I have to say men, since I met just few women in my life who did this, again it might be seen as biased, but again I would say, men do have more social power, they are on decision making positions, and this is why they are more often in these roles I think, I will not go into explanation of these points. Anyhow, in the case of philosopher, to me it seems like impossible situation.
Sometimes I have the strong feeling of suffering not for the injustice itself as much as for the possibility that it can happen. Something very, very wrong must be happening there. I feel grate shame. I am not sure why I am ashamed. If it happens to me I am ashamed for being a victim of this, and it is not something I should be ashamed of and I deal with it, but also I am ashamed for them, these men, I am ashamed that it can happen to them. It might be overreaction, but seriously I just want to vomit, I have physical reaction to this. I can deal with morally problematic acts from men in general, when they treat other people, usually women, as an instrument for satisfying their needs. I learned how to recognize their narratives, their seduction strategies, their excesses and explanation, their violence, and their mechanisms of control. Not that I think there is the universal mode of inflicting injustice and infringe on people’s , woman’s, dignity in this case. There are variety of ways, some so inhumane that it is very hard to talk about them. But, I am deeply ashamed and I suffer when these acts are done by men in profession to which people look upon for moral guidance.
It is additionally painful since I think there is an expectation and they are responsible for it. I somehow have this feeling when they have chosen this profession, as if they promised they would not do these things, as if at least they would do their best not to do them, that they are going to nurture some moral principles, to defend them with all their strength and people believed them. People, women included, gave them their trust.
I suppose I believed them also. I needed to believe them. If I would not believe them, then whom would I believe. And one can say, in a way it would be strange but still one can say, they do, they do have moral principles, but under those principles they are not obliged not to do these things. But, I am not sure I want to deal with this possible argument. I believe they have some principles that are good and should include everyone, its just that they do not apply them on women. At least I think it is like this.
My feeling is now that these men philosophers too often do not consider these issues in relations with women, as if they owe something less to them. It cannot be less. If not the same, it can even be more. Because of your profession I think you owe people to be more diligent when thinking about moral issues, this is why I think it can be seen as you owe people more, especially when you deal with women who are less well off in this society, especially if you deal with marginalized women, Roma women lets say. And I cannot even think in cases when you have Roma man philosopher dealing with Roma women, there is a a space for considering some arguments in addition I suppose in this and similar cases at least, although, I suppose, you do not have to agree with them. I do not know if these men realize this. And at the end if you have moral principles, they should include all people, and if they do not then these are not moral principles, and you cannot find yourself as a moral person I think. Also, this question of public and personal individual choices is bothering me. Some ethics and ethos you have to have there. I do not feel you should be free from moral responsibility in your private and personal life regarding these issues.
And I try to criticize my standpoint. Is it too demanding to ask this from male philosophers something additional? Do I still wrongly dream about Superman? But, it is so wrong, I think this behavior undermines just the basic idea of possibility to have moral standards and by this I would say it undermines notion of humanity.
I am ashamed and angry also. I realize how grown man can become an infant in need, asking for a tit, counting on it, claiming it, grabbing it, demanding it, begging for it, asking it over and over, not hearing no, manipulating, giving false promises and lying for it. It is very stressful and makes me deeply sad and frustrated and angry. So, I might be unreasonably expecting more, but I would say it is very humiliating seeing a philosopher in this position. It is making me very, very ashamed for their own actions, also very sad and at the end angry, resentful, and disgusted. It takes much effort to survive in academia, a lot of patience, time management, impulse control, strong discipline. It is even for me harder when you deal with huge abstract philosophical theories. And they can do it. Better or worse, but off course they can do it. So, I can say it is only human not to be perfect, and it is true I suppose, but my question for men philosophers regarding their treatment of women that I have a feeling I would repeat over and over and over now is -is this really your best? Is it? Is it really?
check also: When you say NO