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Inadvertent Comedy from the ASA, or, an Ecofeminist Does Milk

December 31st, 2013 - 5:59 am

No such luck. Despite the inadvertent comedy of its title, “Toward a Feminist Postcolonial Milk Studies” really exists, and my is it in earnest. How many things had to go wrong — intellectually, socially, morally — to account for prose like this:

Because milk is produced by female mammals, a feminist perspective seems to offer a logical foundation for such inquiry. From the start, feminism has been a movement for justice: at its heart is the centrality of praxis, the necessary linkage of intellectual, political, and activist work. Feminist methodology puts the lives of the oppressed at the center of the research question and undertakes studies, gathers data, and interrogates material contexts with the primary aim of improving the lives and the material conditions of the oppressed. Using standard feminist methodology [standard feminist methodology?], twentieth-century vegan feminists and animal ecofeminists challenged animal suffering in its many manifestations (in scientific research, and specifically in the feminized beauty and cleaning products industries; in dairy, egg, and animal food production; in “pet” [note the scare quotes] keeping and breeding, zoos, rodeos, hunting, fur, and clothing) by developing a feminist theoretical perspective on the intersections of species, gender, race, class, sexuality, and nature. Motivated by an intellectual and experiential understanding of the mutually reinforcing interconnections among diverse forms of oppression, vegan feminists and ecofeminists positioned their own liberation and well-being as variously raced, classed, gendered, and sexual humans to be fundamentally interconnected to the well-being of other nondominant human and animal species, augmenting Patricia Hill Collins’s definition of intersectionality to include species as well.

Charity prevents me from offering an analysis of this vaguely minatory tripe. Considered as a rhetorical product, it is pitch perfect in its bristling opacity, touching gently on a vast host of political and intellectual clichés while maintaining a semantic content of nearly zero.  The amazing thing is that Ms. Gaard keeps it up for nearly 25 pages. “Toward a Feminist Postcolonial Milk Studies” is a seamless production, as wondrous in its way as anything by the doyenne of angry, reader-proof “feminist” verbiage, Judith Butler, an early, and eminently qualified, winner of the storied “Bad Writing Contest.”

There’s lots of talk these days about the “higher education bubble.” Glenn Reynolds’s forthcoming book The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself vividly details the train wreck that is the institution of higher education in this country. “What can’t go on forever, won’t.” Reynolds makes the economist Herb Stein’s observation a centerpiece of his book.  Repellent pseudo-intellectual horrors like “Toward a Feminist Postcolonial Milk Studies” cannot go on forever; therefore, they won’t. This ruin of taxpayer money, to say nothing of the intellectual sanity of students and teachers, is too egregious to continue.  It will not continue. “Toward a Feminist Postcolonial Milk Studies” is just one of many, many signs that the house of intellect in this country has become a sort of Augean Stables, full of malodorous waste and bovine mooing.  It awaits its Hercules to perform a much needed lustration. The assembled cattle may not know it, but Glenn Reynolds shows that his advent is nigh.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using a modified Shutterstock.com image.)

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Top Rated Comments   
Since the 21st century will transition 3rd world economies into the 20th century, Ms Gaard needs to examine milk from the cows, where all those kids will be getting it. My sister runs a 250 head dairy in SW Washington. I offer Ms Gaard an educational opportunity to examine the true "contexts" of dairy production. She should fit in immediately, as she's so familiar with the other product that cows produce.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
(According to an opus called Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches, she is “one of the most influential ecofeminist scholars.” Ponder that.)
That would be like being one of the tallest munchkins.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's impossible to parody them. You could write a parody article, submit it, and they'd publish it as an earnest article. So we're left with mocking them.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (50)
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This piece should launch a thousand quips, no? I mean how good is it and how much does it highlight obviously and inferentially? I see now that the good feminist writing of which I have heard espoused so highly, instead of the latinesque crap that a man like Mr Kimball writes is economizing on period marks, shunting sentences together with commas and basic adverbs while filling the in-betweens with technical jargon and long and loosely flung adjectives.

Societies remain successful due to their diligence and technological level. Can't wait till her lot take full control of the science faculty and allocate equal properties to all elements, I mean poor hydrogen having just one electron, and that plutonium, well we will just have to marginalized it, it is nothing more than unbridled testosterone.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I had no idea that there were enough obfuscatory terms in a Buzzword Generator to produce 25 pages of this stuff. I'm impressed! Imagine what she would have produced on a more philosophical subject. The mind boggles.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought there might be some pictures of boobs. My mistake.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps there will be a sequel (or would that be prequel?) addressing the role of male bovines in causing the plight of female bovines. Although one might reasonably question whether a feminist perspective offers a logical foundation for inquiry into the role of bulls in the post-colonial exploitation of cows, the undeniable expertise of this eminent scholar in the digestive system of bulls makes such a follow-up study a natural. Ecofeminism forever.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't understand. Does she wish to stop milking cows? Has she spoken to the cows about this?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hereby nominate Greta Gaard for the 2013 Malcolm Muggeridge Award for reality surpassing all possible satire.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Words, words, glorious words. I cannot possibly convey how thoroughly I enjoyed the skill with which Kimball eviscerated the peacocks of the ASA. Truly the pen is mightier than the sword and surely the members of the ASA are sitting at home writhing in shame (if they had any) after such a thorough and contemptuous dismissal by a master of the written word. Hear, hear, Mr. Kimball!! It's how I imagine Da Vinci would critique a Warhol.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was Da Vinci, in one of his more misanthropic moments, who wrote that most people are of no more use than as machines for turning food into excrement. The mind boggles at what he would have written about this creature...
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good grief! This Greta woman certainly milked the post colonial dictionary to churn all those words. That excerpt goes right pasteurize. Why is she fixated on what happened since 1776?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Clearly, the woman is possessed of the milk demon and we need a biblical intercession.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh. My. God. All I can say is, I guess the postcolonial cows will appreciate this. I think. It wasn't clear from the prose.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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