Monday, May 03, 2010

Pure Drivel

This is the kind of drivel that had led to my disillusionment in my studies. Complete idiocy taken for brilliance and innovative thought. David Thompson points out:
...Professor Vostral’s most recent public comments involve the political ramifications of patchwork quilts:

This use of patchwork as an insult really struck me, because it is such a gendered insult. [Atlantic politics editor, Marc] Ambinder deploys the metaphor because it assumes that no thought goes into a quilt (like policy), and it’s just a hodgepodge. In reality quilting is a predominantly woman-based art form, that had roots in resourcefulness, community, and skilled sewing hands. To debase something by calling it patchwork is based in gendered and derogatory understandings of the quilt.

Note the professor’s confidence as she rushes to the podium on Mount Grievance. She is righteous and wise, and apparently telepathic. Non-literal uses of the term “patchwork” must assume whatever sequence of ideas suits Professor Vostral’s worldview. Used metaphorically, the word “patchwork” must signal disdain for quilt making, quilt makers and, by implication, an entire gender too. There can be no doubt about it. “Patchwork” simply is a “gendered insult”- one “based in derogatory understandings” of a “woman-based art form.” It’s “embedded,” apparently. Why? Because,

The way a patchwork metaphor works is, in part, due to its origins in women’s circles, and many things labeled as “female” are used as put downs.

But wait. As Tommy Christopher points out with admirable patience:

The metaphoric use of “patchwork” isn’t meant as a value judgment of patchwork quilts, but rather as a way of visualizing the concept of something made up of existing leftover pieces, rather than pieces fabricated for a given purpose. It’s a great way to make use of scraps of fabric, but not the best approach to government policy.

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