Sunday, November 07, 2010

group identification, not

I am reading Anna Karenina for class. We had a discussion the other night in class that is still bugging me. I don't like Anna. I like the book very much, but not the title character. I find her selfish, clueless and occasionally manipulative and evil. I was taken to task by a classmate for not being more understanding and for judging another woman so harshly. In essence, I should have more slack for other women, since we are oppressed together.

my problem is that a) I don't identify as an oppressed woman (and yes, I realize many women are treated unfairly and unequally, I just don't define myself that way) and b) the attitude implies that I should have more sympathy for injustices done to members of groups I belong to. To me this is a scary place to be, ethically. I oppose injustice. Unilaterally. By the argument made in class, I should have less sympathy for gay men and women, because they aren't my oppressed minority, and more for women, because they are. Makes no sense to me.

And even if I give Anna my sympathy, my pity and my understanding, which I do, it doesn't mean I have to like her. And I don't have to respect her actions, no matter how human they are. Yes, it is human nature to tear down the spurned ex, to make yourself feel better about your new choice. Doesn't make it an attractive behavior, or an admirable one. Deception and manipulation in order to see your lover, for whom you have an uncontrollable passion, is still deception and manipulation.

The argument also supposes that all women are the same, as if we were interchangeable blocks. I prefer to treat each case individually. There are women I admire immensely. There are women I like immensely. I don't see how I can like them all.

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