Women’s March

Here’s what I would’ve said at the local Women’s March (or “Sister March”—pick your terminology) earlier today, if I’d thought of it at the time:

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Critique ≠ Hate

The AV Club posted If you like Return of the Jedi, but hate the Ewoks, you understand feminist criticism, and I have thoughts:

I actually don’t mind the ewoks —I think I was just young enough that the forced pathos wasn’t obviously forced, and I mentally explained their accomplishments as a whole people of super forest ninja commandos.

But the point stands: it is possible to critique something *and* like it. That’s where the phrase “liking problematic things” comes from. In fact, I’m one of those people that, in many cases the more I like something the more I critique it. I’ll also light into something that I think is awful, but the motivation isn’t that dissimilar—the difference is in how much I praise the thing, not in how much I critique it. This isn’t a zero-sum game where praise+critique is some sort of fixed quantity.

And to the specific point of this article: therefore, saying a movie is sexist doesn’t mean it is all bad. It could be an excellent movie in every other way that just falls short in this one area. But, on the flipside, that doesn’t mean such a shortcoming doesn’t matter. Not all criticisms are “just matters of taste”—well-done feminist critique (or any other sort of critique coming from an articulated formal intellectual framework) is identifying a real thing, even if there are debates about the details. Just as you shouldn’t confuse “this part of a thing is bad” with “the whole thing is bad”, don’t turn “this part of your argument doesn’t stand up” into “there is no merit to any part of your argument.”