Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A response to "woman against her sex"

Following is a response by Vinzenz H. to my earlier post about reading/critiquing George Tarabishi's book "Woman against her sex". Vinzenz H. is my flatmate mentioned before in that post. You can find the post to which this response was written at:

Vinzenz H. wrote:

I ask myself: Why do you defend this text so fiercely and against any logic that would be understandable to me? Do you share his views? Do you simply like the confrontational attitude?

This is what I wonder the most about, and I'd like to hear an answer, preferably while sipping gin tonic.
And why do you keep on defining myslef as a European first, denying me any capacity of own thinking? In the picture you're painting, I'm just a puppet of holocaust and colonial traumata.

"...feelings of guilt, hyper-sensitivity, and continuous self-awareness are not universal, but merely local and well justified by [Arab] "local" history." 
Deleting "European" and inserting "Arab" works very well, by the way (sorry for using such an easy trick).
If you were an Arab, you would think exactly like the Sheikh next door and a honey farmer in the Yemeni mountains.
Are you fucking kidding me???

The problem with racism, as you are using it constantly, is its oversimplifiying character and the loss of the shades of grey. (Along with individualism.)

Neither are you defined as Arab only, nor am I purely European or German. We belong to very specific social contexts with very specific belief systems.

This means that while we may know something about Arab or European societies as a whole from scientifically sound (...) studies, we *cannot* know something about an individual that issued from theses societies. We cant know his or her personal background and the internalized setup of truths. 

So, please, try to understand me as "Vinzenz" and not as "a European", we have to go into the trouble to get to know each person individually to know what they might be like. I am not here to reform anybody's worldviews, that's the "Arabs" job, not mine.

I can't have this racist view against me, and it is a shame to view you using such absurd systems of knowledge organisation (racist prejudices).

It made me laugh that you are really saying that western foreign policy and "developmental" work is hypocritical. Come on, of course it is. Just as any policy in the world. This is precisely why don't want to work in an embassy. (Iza biddi akun safiir, kunt fil jeish min zamann.). I'm a contientious objector to any army, and to any foreign policy.

Now, why is my rejection of this book orientalist?
Tarabishi is using a European line of thought with no Arab contribution. He is sciting exclusively European sources. So actually you are witnessing me struggeling against a *inter-European* line of sexism and dehumanization. My criticism directed towards Tarabishi is to uncritically use it.

The "outdated" stems from an analysis that I take from Saadawis response, and which is common sense about classic psychoanalysm: Tarabishi, in his exegesis of Freud, disregards a library's worth of even intra-psychoanalytic research. Freud in itself cannot be used anymore because his hypotheses have beein refined beyond recognition (even Lacan is outdated now). You would not try to exclusively use an original text by Newton to explain physical phenomena today. You would be sure to be refuted by any first-year physics student. Current research must be taken into account if you undertake a scientific approach. This is Saadawis side blow to Tarabishis apparent ignorance of Lacan.

So, the book is unvoluntarily ridiculing pre-feminist psychoanalysm, but does not contribute to a better understanding of literature because its scientific approach is deeply flawed. 
It does, as I uphold, contribute to the reproduction of a sexist and patriachal society and belief system as it is widely held in Europe, the MENA region, and most places in the world. 

Since the book does not distance itself from these views, I attribute these views to it and the author. This is why the phsychoanalysy portrayed in the book cannot be viewed as a tool to understand literature, since such a tool would try to deconstruct the hidden meanings in a text (as it does), and then *deconstruct the tool as well*. (I'm sure that we use a different meaning of the verb "to deconstruct". Let's talk about this separately). That would offer a sound way of knowledge creation. 

The book however rather participates in the gender war it wished to abolish. It subjects "the female psyche" to a male- and penis-centered Freudian analysis. Men are seen here while thinking with their balls, not their brains.

You can publish that, by the way, quoting me as Vinzenz H. 

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