Thursday, May 7, 2009

is it all relative?

My new mother's helper is a women's studies major at PSU.


She is training to work for the same shelter I worked for.


We have a lot to chat about while we fold socks.

Seeing someone so excited about university life, makes me feel very old, and tired and over the hill.

Like most conversations between people who have women's studies backgrounds a lot of our conversation revolves around class, oppression and privilege.

We had a little debate about the merits of Marxist feminism.

Me in favor,
she feeling that Marx was too limited,
in the early part of the conversation
and eventually that Marx was passe.
She was dissing Marx, right in my kitchen.

I had to pull myself out of my cotton-wool-headed, stupor and come up with some intelligent comebacks and quick.

Intellectual issues don't come up often in my everyday life, that is for certain.

Is Marx passe, because he puts class ahead of race or gender?
Or are things more relative to time and place and circumstance?

Shouldn't we cut Marx some slack for living in the time and place that he did?

She said that Marxist think that the root of all the world's problems are that we are oppressed.

Well aren't we ?

(I imagine a classroom full of young earnest women, hearing the word "oppression" and having it sound like Jan Brady saying "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha")

She told me that, no the problem is that we are unhappy.

You mean like the Buddhists,?
That life is suffering?
That kind of fundamental "unhappiness"?
If so isn't that a result of oppression?

No, it is really our lack of community that creates inequality.

So, It is disenfranchisement, that creates unhappiness. *edited to add that this last sentence is totally my interpretation of the conversation- the notion of disenfranchisement leading to fundamental unhappiness and isolation. Geesh, even the notion of isolation is coming from my point of view. See, I cannot help myself, I just always have to put my own interpretation onto what others say- it is a disease, I tell you. I swear I was trying to be a good listener.

Is that not oppression, in it's purest form?
I argued
Isn't that the very essence of not owning the "means of production", perhaps not strictly in a economic sense but the means of producing meaningful community, and in the end one's own sense of happiness and meanifullness in the community?

She suggested I read Bell Hooks,

I assured her I had, but I am happy to take a second look.

I suggested she think of relativism & context and how class impacts everyone regardless of race and gender, and how classist, hierarchical systems develop in all sub sets and sub classes, how Americans are controlled by the notion of upward mobility... etc. I used organized crime as an example. Her partner is interested in true crime and organized crime, like Mark. I told her that we had recently rewatched the film "casino" and that the film is a great allegory for class and oppression issues. It was an interesting conversation.

I will take a second look at the community issue.

I get beaten up with the word "community" so much in my work, that the very sound of the word kind of makes me want to vomit, but I didn't say that.

I like this gal, and I am so dang happy to have someone come during a time that works well for me. I am even happy to be challenged about Marx- what the hell!

It is good to be young.

It is hard to be old and tired, and to struggle to put two sentences together to form a semi-meaningful dialogue.

It is hard to be bored with your life and to find meaning in folding socks.

It is good to be right & righteous, which is almost always how I feel about my ideals.
I am happy not to have lost that along with most everything else that was attractive about me.

It is good to have a mother's helper to help fold the socks.

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