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Thread: Feminism.

  1. #1
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Feminism.

    There was talk of it in the "Got some?" thread and I definitely got a vibe that most people here didn't dig it all that much.

    Personally, I feel like the term "feminism" doesn't really apply anymore. In a legal sense, women can do anything men can, and vice-versa. The argument I've heard for feminism is about the so-called "Patriarchy", ie: the belief that in our society, men are inherently rulers and women followers, and that Men Rights problems are directly caused by this patriarchy.

    The thing is, I think there are biological differences in the brains of men and women, in that testosterone is known to have significant psychological impacts (notably, changing the focus from social life to systems) and that the is a strong correlation between being genetically male and having more testosterone.

    Now, considering this, that most men are more at ease with systems than most women, and that we live in a very systematic, impersonal society (bureacracy, capitalism, etc), I believe it is perfectly expected that men would generally be in a position of power. But is there a feedback loop somewhere? Does the "Patriarchy" reinforce itself?

    I think the fact that there are more men in power is not that we see women as weak or less capable as leaders, but because we do not valorise feminine qualities, as they are less useful in our society. In that sense, I can see the importance of Feminism.

    But I'd rather use "gender equality" for all that concerning bigotry, prejudice and such about gender. Most people fit within their biological genders, but not everyone do! And I believe we really have to sensiblize people to this, that yes, there are genders, but it doesn't matter whether it fits within your sex or not. It might just be a case of fighting bigotry. But are prejudices merely human? Generalisations can certainly be helpful in a pinch, and not everyone cares to stop and think every minute about whether they're being prejudiced.

    So what do you guys think? Are genders social constructs? Is Feminism still justified today? Are all feminists bull-dykes who hate men? Should I start a blog instead of making new threads about everything?

  2. #2
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    To quote the other incarnation of myself:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah
    The Problem with Feminism

    Before anyone gets the wrong impression, I am not against women. I'm not particularly for them, either. Nor am I for or against men, particularly. For what it is worth here, I am a humanist, if you must put a label on it.

    Now, the problem with feminism (I find) is that it falls into all the same ruts as, say, racism or rather anti-racism (insofar as feminism tends to, one way or the other, be a form of anti-sexism), for all the same reasons.

    While it may be true that certain cross-sections of humanity (by race, color, creed or whatever) have been mistreated or marginalized by and/or in favor of others, and that this may still be the case at large in the world today... stamping your foot and calling attention to yourself (and/or the race, color or creed you identify with) as a means to remedy the situation is not only the wrong way to do it, but it tends to just deepen the valley of understanding, widen the very same gulf you object to or want to speak to address.

    The essence to a solution is not in saying, "I am X, respect my X-ness". It is in saying, "We are all human, let us respect each other on that shared basis".

    Yes there may have been and continue to be wrongs wrough against X by those of small minds who choose to discriminate/act upon the superficial. But by responding to and/or challenging them on the terms they began with (X-ism, in your hands now anti-X-ism) is just to deepen the problem. X is not the relevant factor. Humanity is the factor. Discrimination of X is not the problem. People with small minds who wreak discrimination of any such superficial sort are the problem. Don't try to call attention to or plead for X. Call down admonishment, censure and/or punishment upon those who would discriminate X or Y or Z or any other sub-division of humanity, for the faillure of their minds to see past the superficial, and the crimes qua human rights violations that mindset entails.

    You cannot fight the superficial with the superficial; you just make it worse, and cloud the real underlying problem, hence perpetually stave off the very solution you seek.

    If you actually seek one, that is. Perhaps you're just acting out for attention, claiming your X-ness as a badge to woe-is-me upon the world, for the lack of anything better you can say of/do with yourself. In which case, you are little better if not worse than the people who discriminate against X to begin with, for you operate in the same superficial mindset.

    While it may be true that you are male or female, black or white, this religion or that, this nation or that, or whatever. So what. You are a human being. That is what is relevant.

    Really, deeper than that... what's relevant in your humanity is that you are a sentient living being, the trait we all (at least potentially) share.

    And to be clear, I'm not saying the differences among us are irrelevant in life overall, or are an invalid basis of artistic or whatever other expression. Quite the contrary. We should all accept, embrace, express and flourish through who and what we are, in total (including who we continually and net-effectively choose to be, as such). It's just that when you're trying to remedy small minds (such as those who discriminate), small-minded responses (like anti-discrimination acting out, etc) just make things worse; they perpetuate the attention-at-the-wrong-level of things.

    Wake up.

  3. #3
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Very well said, I couldn't agree with you anymore.

    But hey, isn't that specism? Animals are people too!

  4. #4
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    the fedoration

    this is how it begins.

  5. #5
    libertine librarian sandwitch's Avatar
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    The term feminism still applies. Not only is it a direct challenge to patriarchical systems, but, even despite the significant progress over the last century, women are the most vulnerable in such societies. Even in "liberal" areas of the US, women deal with systematic sexism, underpay, and acts of violence disproportionate to men. Living in Texas, I've witnessed massive legal battles specifically aimed at subjugating women.

    Edit: Need I remind anyone of "binders full of women"???

    Also, one of my projects this last semester involved this feminist zine, produced by UT students. I'm really proud of them, and I think they do a great job of presenting intersectional feminism.
    "Thank goodness it's feminism" http://www.scribd.com/doc/136317014/...lonelyfeminist
    "The fight will go on" http://www.scribd.com/doc/186373383/...-Number-2-Zine
    Last edited by sandwitch; 12-24-2013 at 06:18 PM.

  6. #6
    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    Equality has only ever been just one, overly-simplified facet of feminism.
    It has been a part of feminism at various times to be pro-equality, to be anti-men, to be pro-grrl power/sexual domination, and to be pro-stay-at-home-mom, and to even be pro-environment, pro-LGBT, and more.

    Nowadays, I see feminism as a driving force behind structural change in the world. Feminism is about more than just women now...it is, at least in some ways, about toppling hierarchy itself. Notice how women are so much more active in social networking than men. It is a social structure that the feminine essence is subtly introducing to the world--and not by imposing it heavy-handedly! it is being integrated into our pre-existing system, and eventually it will replace it. A feminist social structure isn't based on power and control (mush to the surprise of some married men, lol), it is based on transparency, communication, and adaptation.

    ...and at this point, there are plenty of men who are better champions of such social values than a lot of women are...which is a further sign that the feminist movement has been successful, and that it is continuing to evolve.

  7. #7
    sane in insane places kali's Avatar
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    When I was a tween I preferred "gender equality" over "feminism", but now I see it doesn't make sense to use the former. When you grow up and experience first hand how the systematic power imbalance affects you as a woman, it makes sense to use "feminism" to highlight that there is an imbalance - gender equality seems kinda neutral. I honestly don't think men realise just how different the life of a minority is, how you are treated differently, how you might be scared to act a certain way because you don't want to fit a stereotype. This is also true with men/women.

    (Now that I see that everything must exist to favour capitalism, because everyone worships money, I can totally see advertisements eventually making men insecure about their looks as opposed to just women)


    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah
    The essence to a solution is not in saying, "I am X, respect my X-ness". It is in saying, "We are all human, let us respect each other on that shared basis".
    This is very ideal, but it's essentially a negation of a very important element of one's identity. I think it's very easy for you, a white male, to say this because you are implicitly seen as the "default" human. I'm not being accusatory - I just think that when you flatten everyone to a very basic level of humanity, you ignore the suffering, you ignore history, and you possibly ignore the most interesting parts of humanity in every sex/race, ironically undervaluing humanity in the process.

  8. #8
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kali View Post
    This is very ideal, but it's essentially a negation of a very important element of one's identity. I think it's very easy for you, a white male, to say this because you are implicitly seen as the "default" human. I'm not being accusatory - I just think that when you flatten everyone to a very basic level of humanity, you ignore the suffering, you ignore history, and you possibly ignore the most interesting parts of humanity in every sex/race, ironically undervaluing humanity in the process.
    True. By insisting on everyone being the same you risk alienating minorities and basically squeezing everyone into the same mold. That's some 1984 scariness.

    I believe humans will always have prejudices, whether they are liberal or conservative prejudices. Trying to make children accept differences and being true to themselves might make them prejudiced for differences, and they might try too hard to be special (like the fabled hipsters).

    Maybe we could instill in people the right​ prejudices, whatever that means.

  9. #9
    a fool on a journey pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with feminism, I think it's an important movement and I have a lot of respect for feminist activists. I do wish feminists would stop trying to paint it as a movement for both men and women, though, while at the same time ignoring the big problems in our society that primarily and overwhelmingly affect men, such as homelessness, violence other than sexual violence and our high incarceration rates. Feminism is a women's movement that deals with women's issues, which is great. If it were really about gender equality it wouldn't be so important to have a gendered name, or to always be making the case that "women have it worse". From what I see around me, women do have it worse in many ways, men have it worse in others and with most issues it's impossible to paint with such a broad brush because there are so many other factors than gender involved in determining how an individual will be treated and what opportunities that person will have.

  10. #10
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robcore View Post
    Feminism is about more than just women now...it is, at least in some ways, about toppling hierarchy itself.
    I can agree with the first part of this statement (a subset of feminists are now seemingly more interested in deconstructing and critiquing the idea of gender itself, and "liberating" all people from it through a "big tent" strategy that tends to overlap considerably with "LGBTQ" politics), but I'd hesitate to ascribe the latter objective to "feminism" as opposed to other social/political movements that simply tend to be associated with feminism. "Toppling hierarchy" is pretty much the definition of the objective of most anarchists, for instance, and I'd argue that critiques of hierarchy if not calls for its abolition represent a thread in Western liberal thought that goes back at least as far as people like Locke and Rousseau--feminists did not originate this critique, nor are all feminists in agreement with the radical forms of it that see all social hierarchies as something that needs "toppling". Quite a lot of feminists tend to highlight and celebrate women who successfully win places in the top tiers of social hierarchies as victories for feminism, for instance, which really isn't consistent with a claim that "feminism" as such is aimed at abolishing those hierarchies.

    This just gets at what I would call the core problem that tends to derail discussions like this, which is lack of clear consensus on the definition of "feminism." The best I think I can do in terms of a basic umbrella definition is to say that 'feminism', as such, has always been concerned with the political and social empowerment of women. The problem with getting more specific than that is that what this has meant in practical terms--chiefly who/what the perceived enemy is--and what other issues/agendas have been attached to this goal as a corollary, have gone through quite a bit of dramatic change and displayed quite a lot sub-factional variation throughout the movement's history.

    For instance, late-20th-century feminism is most often seen as a liberal/progressive/leftist movement naturally affiliated to other liberal/progressive/leftist causes, but this was distinctly not the case in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when (at least American) feminism was more often allied to reactionary social conservative movements and accordingly attached a lot more conservative sentiments as "natural" corollaries of freeing women from subjugation by men. The "suffragist" movement, for example (which sought and ultimately won the right of women to vote), owes a large part of its political success in the 1920's to its alliance with both religious "purity" crusades like the campaign for prohibition of alcohol and reactionary white supremacist movements, chiefly the then-very-powerful Ku Klux Klan. Like most suffrage organizations, the women's branches of the Klan overlapped membership to a great extent with organizations like the Women's Christian Temperance Union, while the mostly male leaders of the Klan as a whole embraced the idea of doubling the number of white voters as a counterweight to African-American activism against the measures taken in many places to thwart realization of black male suffrage. The resulting bizarre ideological menage a trois (or, rather, bizarre to late-20th-century perceptions) was in part simply an alliance of convenience for the groups involved in it, but also in part a reflection of prevailing ideologies about religion, race, and gender at the time, in which women, and more specifically white middle-class women, were held to have an instinct for piety and moral clarity which men lacked, meaning that the political empowerment of women was assumed to produce a more religiously and culturally stringent society. This, in turn, played into white Protestant fears of the United States losing its "cultural identity" to the influence of (among other groups) emancipated African-Americans and immigrants from predominantly Catholic countries in Europe, so a kind of "pious white Protestant female savior" complex emerged and, for a while, came to dominate perceptions of why feminism was necessary, among both women and men.

    I think you see echoes of this history in the way some feminists continue to view campaigns against pornography and prostitution, along with participation in "culture wars" more generally, as high-priority elements of feminist political activism, even though general public attitudes (including the attitudes of many feminists) have, I think, shifted substantially away from a mentality in which the extirpation of such "social evils" is seen as being a battle worth fighting. I'm hardly in a position to really know, but it would seem to me that there's now an internal struggle within the feminist movement between this older, Puritanical wing with its emphasis on fighting 'cultural pollution' and a newer, more cosmopolitan/pluralist philosophy which wants to embrace people marginalized by the former as natural allies and promote a philosophy of tolerance for a wide diversity of lifestyles as a component of freedom from stultifying, individuality-negating conventions about social roles.

    To a great extent, of course, this is simply a reflection of the fact that women are more than just women, and along with all their fellow humans are going to see their perceptions of social issues change with "the times"--damn near everybody in the United States was a lot more conservative about, e.g., drug use and sexuality in the 20's compared to now, so empowering women (or any large, previously dis-empowered segment of the population) to have a greater influence on institutions like the government was of course going to result in more conservative policies than it presumably would now. The one consistent underlying thread is just the obvious--opposition to the idea that, for whatever reason, women should not have the same degree of social power as men, all else being equal.

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