THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2020
Our Town's latest insight: What do we mean when we say it? When we say that we in Our Town aren't always especially sharp?
Concerning your understandable question, we offer a quick snapshot.
The Atlantic Culture Desk (clears throat) recently listed its 15 Best Books of 2020. Here's one of the capsule reviews:
Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women, by Kate Manne
Because of (gestures frantically at everything), this year I’ve been craving books that explore the world’s invisible scaffolding: the assumptions and incentives and habits of mind that shape the way people treat one another. Entitled, from the Cornell philosopher Kate Manne, does that and more. A sequel of sorts to her 2017 blockbuster Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, this book expands on the argument Manne made in the earlier work: that misogyny is best understood not as a personal failing but as a cultural system that keeps women in their place. With wincing clarity, Manne explains how a society that organizes itself around the wants and whims of men will radiate that bias into every area of life (pop culture, reproductive rights, a presidential campaign that began with a relatively diverse field of candidates and ended as a contest between two white, straight, male septuagenarians). Her observations offer that rare brand of insight: the kind so ingenious that it quickly begins to seem obvious.
We haven't read the book in question. We have no opinion regarding its merits.
In truth, we were struck by the review, not by the book itself. Here's the snapshot in question:
According to the review, a society that organizes itself around the wants and whims of men will radiate that bias into every area of life. As an example, we're offered this observation:
The 2020 presidential field ended as a contest between two white men.
Plainly, that last observation is true. It's also true that this was the first presidential contest between two white men since 2004!
The contests in 2008, 2012 and 2016 could have ended up that way. But, in fact, they didn't. How can we explain that?
We don't know if this strange example comes from Manne's book itself, or if it was supplied by Garber. But here in Our Town, this is the way we tend to reason when we want to push Storyline in the regions of gender and race.
The others can see us behaving this way. We seem to have a harder time seeing ourselves in Our Town.
With respect to Professor Manne: With respect to Professor Manne, the last time she came center stage was when she was saying that we all should believe Tara Reade's accusation against Candidate Biden. Several professors told us that, even though they had no apparent way to know if Reade's claims were true.
Question: When's the last time you saw Reade's name mentioned here in Our Town? What ever happened to all the certainty that was once being voiced about that?
The others can see us doing these things. Are we sometimes just a tiny bit like Donald J. Trump in Our Town?