Hi David, Dave, Klaus and Colleen,
> I have just used some different tropes to those found in the ‘dominant discourse' argument. They are the familiar tropes of dissent and resistance: irony, satire, and parody. They point to absurdity and false pomposity. Ways of breaking out of a prison that is built out of the languages we use.
I am reminded of ‘Corey White’s roadmap to paradise’, which I watched on the telly last night. Among other things, he spoke about rape, why it happens and how society can effectively address it. I’ll try to explain, because it was quite late and I was simultaneously trying to do a literature review.
Now, as a feminist, I have understood rape to be an issue of power and violence rather than of sexual need, whereby particular men violate particular women (and women men, and men men, and women women, and transgendered individuals, etc.). However, Corey White proposed an alternative, as a way of suggesting more effective social actions to eliminate rape. He grew up in foster homes, with a violent alcoholic gambling-addicted dad who continually beat his heroin-addicted mum and himself and siblings, while he was raped as a child by a number of people. He suggested that feminists and others would have us believe that rape is a social issue (at this point, I was going to turn off, because I get heartily sick of mansplaining about what (some) men do to (some) women is not an issue of social power relations). I’m glad I elected to watch.
His suggestion for how to reduce the incidence of rape was convincing, not so much his theory of why it happened. He suggested putting money into therapy for people whose lives have been shaped by violence and neglect in childhood would be better than spending millions on advertising campaigns about, for example, violence against women and children (in the home and outside). Now I am not saying I agree with him, but it did make me think. And at its best, that’s how I see what happens on this list.
While Foucault’s writings may seem bleak and hopeless, his theory of power engenders hope. At least that’s what many poststructuralist feminists, along with other non-femimist theorists also suggest. Michel de Certeau, for example, reconceptualised the idea of strategy and tactic in relation to power. Those positioned 'in the place' of power (Foucault would say positioned to exercise power) have the luxury of strategising (based on the idea of planning and operationalising military campaigns). Those ‘out of place’ in relation to powerful positions can still exercise power and act according to their own desire and needs, however they do so tactically (opportunistically, spontaneously, surreptitiously, while often seemingly doing what is required).
These are my readings of the theorists and a late night television show developed and hosted by an Australian comedian. Although what he said was not funny in a comedic sense.
Dave, if you’ve read this far, no, I didn’t and don’t categorise you in any way, nor did I indicate this. I tactically responded to your suggestion, informed by theory. At best, someone will have read our exchange and stopped to think.
All the best,
De Certeau, M. 1984, The practice of everyday life, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Strangely, it appears to be available for free, online: https://chisineu.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/certeau-michel-de-the-practice-of-everyday-life.pdf <https://chisineu.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/certeau-michel-de-the-practice-of-everyday-life.pdf>
'I call a “strategy” the calculus of force-relationships which becomes possible when a subject of will and power (a proprietor, an enterprise, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated from an “environment”’ (p. xix).
'By contrast with a strategy (whose successive shapes introduce a certain play into this formal schema and whose link with a particular historical configuration of rationality should also be clarified), a tactic is a calculated action determined by the absence of a proper locus. No delimitation of an exteriority, then, provides it with the condition necessary for autonomy. The space of a tactic is the space of the other. Thus it must play on and with a terrain imposed on it and organized by the law of a foreign power’.
'Lacking its own place, lacking a view of the whole, limited by the blindness (which may lead to perspicacity) resulting from combat at close quarters, limited by the possibilities of the moment, a tactic is determined by the absence of power just as a strategy is organized by the postulation of power…strategies pin their hopes on the resistance that the establishment of a place offers to the erosion of time; tactics on a clever utilization of time, of the opportunities it presents and also of the play that it introduces into the foundations of power. Even if the methods practiced by the everyday art of war never present themselves in such a clear form, it nevertheless remains the case that the two ways of acting can be distinguished according to whether they bet on place or on time’ (pp. 38–39).
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