Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Sexism

You’re Not the Boss of Me: Don’t Ban Bossy

Recently I’ve been seeing a new identity politics argument circulating around the internet that grinds my gears: Ban Bossy. This is not to say that I don’t agree with the movement’s aims–I think it would be wonderful if women had more self-confidence. My problem is that the arguments for banning bossy are spectacularly unconvincing. Here’s why.

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Rethinking the Word “Privilege”

The word “privilege” has become ubiquitous in the United States, particularly among politically active left-leaning college students and graduates. Many different people are said to be “privileged”. There’s white privilege, rich privilege, male privilege, straight privilege, and so on down the line. We are frequently encouraged to “check” our privilege, to be more aware of the extent to which racial minorities, women, LGBT people, and the poor are denied the same access to resources and social treatment we enjoy and take as given. I agree with the social justice movement that it does people born into affluence some good to remember the widely divergent environments and social circumstances their fellow citizens must endure, but I absolutely hate the use of the word “privilege” for this purpose. Here’s why.

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Playing Necromancer with Structural Functionalism

Today I’d like to raise an old idea from the dead–structural functionalism. Structural functionalism is the idea that society is rightly conceived as an organism, subject to external and internal pressures that it must adapt to via evolving norms, institutions, and other patterns of behavior. If societies cannot adapt, they collapse, either internally, via rebellion, or externally, via foreign subjugation. For structural functionalists, social structures serve stabilizing or adaptive functions. They seek to identify what those functions might be and to sort out which structures are adequately performing their functions and which are not. Systems of institutions, when well-suited to their functions, combine to produce stability and survival. The goal of our various social adaptations is a kind of sustainability, an imperviousness to outside stress or collapse. Structural functionalist began to fall out of favor in social science in the 1960’s as theorists influenced by the endemic social conflict that took place during that period embraced conflict/critical theories (Marxism, feminism, postmodernism, and so on). My aim today is to raise structural functionalism from the dead, adjusting it to reincorporate the various conflict theories back within its larger whole.

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How to Deal with Hate Speech

Now that I’m once again at a university doing university work, I have the pleasure of having my mind pointed at different subjects and writings that I otherwise might not get around to investigating. I’ve been looking at a book by Corey Brettschneider entitled When the State Speaks, What Should It Say? In this book, Brettschneider seeks to resolve an interesting dilemma in liberal political theory–namely, how liberal states, which are committed to liberty and equality, should deal with citizens who have illiberal opinions. Here, Brettschneider calls these illiberal opinions “hateful views”, and argues that a view is hateful if it seeks to undermine the liberty or equality of groups of people on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and so on. I’d like to discuss Brettschneider’s view with you a bit today.

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