Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Will Women's Day be Saved by Craft Beer?

Today is International Women's Day. I tweeted: "It's so sad to see people politicize a day that should be about celebrating women, not promoting their interests."

But insanely, this turns out this is a real thing. From the Wikipedia article: "In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day."

And the thing is, I really shouldn't be surprised. A huge problem in the United States is the perception that because the two-party system is imperfect, politics is somehow the problem. This attitude takes a few different forms - "moderation" that consists of splitting the difference between the parties, or a kind of unwillingness to engage because neither side is truly principled. (So in other words, some people demand total compromise, while others demand total intellectual consistency. You can write a pretty good op-ed based on either premise, and no one will notice that no political party could possibly do both at once.) This is exacerbated by the tendency of elites to embrace technocracy (which naturally will be run by elites, in accordance with elite tastes, interests, and prejudices) and to shun democracy.

Of course, I think there is an ideological valence to this: modern liberalism is basically the view that justice is a political project that should be carried out through democratic politics and the courts. Much of modern conservatism consists of denigrating and degrading (A) the government, (B) the courts, and (C) politics generally. Disengagement is a conservative act.

If there's one thing our culture excels at, it is turning everything into bland, inoffensive mush. In some areas, we have decisively reversed this trend. The U.S. beer scene has gone from being one of the worst in the world to one of the best, because brewers have decided to make beers that aren't to everyone's taste. You can get a double-IPA, or a Russian imperial stout, or a sour beer tinged with brettanomyces, or even a 100% brett.-fermented beer. Some people are going to hate each of those, some people just want a Budweiser, but the point is flavor is available. Pungency has returned. The hot and the cold I will swallow, the lukewarm I will vomit out.

So anyway, International Women's Day should be like that. We've seen with the SOPA fight that it is possible to bring overwhelming political pressure with some organization and creativity. We celebrate women by taking the politics of women's issues seriously. And what better day to do it?


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