I go away for a couple of days (bank hol weekend: a nice bit of gardening since you ask) and I come back to a flurry of comments to-and-fro between Reidski and de Duff. AND I find yet another post all about me (shucks) on Duff's blog (one would almost think he has a real issue with what I write: as if it matters much in the great scheme of things...)
Well, as a riposte to this demolition of me (how I quake to have stirred such antagonism: it's almost as if these debates are important enough for Duff to be frightened by their mighty influence?) can I offer a few remarks?
Presumably it's perfectly fine to accept that systems of power have inequalities and never shall these be thought about, discussed or challenged? On that basis, I suspect most of us would still not have a vote and would be condemned to poverty in numbers even greater than those that currently suffer such an experience in our so-called free world. And don't try any "hard work reaps reward" rubbish: check out my previous remarks more extensively.
Regarding art history (though I think it can apply to many aspects of society and history), if feminism is to mean anything it cannot just add on women to the history of great artists since that leaves fundamentally unchallenged the reasons why women have generally been excluded from lists of great artists. Likewise, as the same post just cited said, from whence the quote about feminist art history was ripped (and can I just state for the record I'm not "some dizzy whore, 1804"), nor is it enough to separate off feminism into a ghetto labelled 'feminism'. I would like to think that we can ask questions about why women are economically so disadvantaged, why the structures of power continue to devalue their work and contributions to society and culture, and why women being more like men ultimately doesn't really change anything. Both ghettoisation and the add-on approach to including women in history fails to explore how certain default positions are set as the norm against which everything else must be marked. It's how many political parties are able to demonise 'the other' - shouldn't we at least be thinking about how this happens and its consequences (one of which is some currently rampantly racist ideologies).
In terms of upsetting applecarts ...Nottingham has built its reputation on trying to be in the same league as Oxbridge, and it attracts a fair number of very nice middle-class boys and gals to its towers. Some of these are beautifully well-mannered, with perfect etiquette, and of reasonably good intelligence. I get a hell of a lot out of teaching students, and always have: these students included. But you can only cope with so many such students with four first-names, RP, and a near-bottomless parental fund prepared to financially support these students. They frequently arrive with a bunch of prejudices and a lot of ignorance about how the other 90% lives. Before long you start feeling that the efforts (both intellectual, social and economic) required to successfully complete a degree are worth something indefinably greater for those without advantages. Mature students, working class students, for whom the decision to go into (further/higher) education is not an automatic process: I admit it, I get a really big buzz about working with these students. And for these students, seeing examples of others like them breaking through the systems can be really empowering. Moreover, explaining just how hard it can be to those who arrive with the full weight of advantage behind them, helps me to keep my head and makes me constantly aware of how they still dominate so many of the most powerful structures in society.
On matters Popish, I would say that thus far we have had a mixed bag of remarks from PapaRazi. On some issues he has proved more conciliatory than expected (eg on dialogue between faiths), but overall his election does not suggest a shift to a more liberal and open theological and social stance (on sexuality, the place of women etc). What a shame that Liberation Theology has been effectively outlawed by the Catholic church...
As for disputing the inherent racism of the Tory party's current elision of immigration and asylum... could anyone tell me how the current Tory party are NOT racist? (On second thoughts, PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT inundate me with discussions about how the Tories are just nice fluffy bunny-lovers who are not at all racist: I am more than capable of searching the web and reading books and articles from the press. I've read their stuff and plenty of the journalism supporting them and frankly it just makes me sick to see how this panders to 'worst-fears' attitudes.... And don't think I haven't noticed how Labour frequently wears similarly shabby politics on its sleeves).
And to conclude: education. the minds of the young deserve to mix fully and freely. Yes I do believe that students should encounter ideas that alert them to the power structures of society. I do think that the constant division of public/private schooling does nothing to help debate or challenge those structures. Since they are largely damaging and restrictive, I do want students to become aware of them, how they operate and the effect they have. To respond to one of Duff's correspondents, anything so crass as playing a pro-peace record with a fulmination for the pupil audience to be something other than are is doomed to failure (and rightly so). The problem is that accepting the status quo, accepting the current structures as normal and rightful dooms too many to failure and subjugation. And I can't really sit comfortable with perpetuating that, no matter how many Duffs take me to task for propounding my views online...
Ah well. I could probably spend all my days replying to the Duff and his criticisms which hardly feels productive. Nevertheless, I hope that he and my other readers (I have some!) have got something out of reading my musings.