Feminisms: A Survey

Bitch Ph.D. recently wrote a piece on feminisms, but as a favor to a friend, I’d like to comb your brains for some additional definitions. She is doing a paper on feminism and nomothetic identity traits and wants some personal opinions from a feminist audience.

1. What do you consider a feminist?
2. What is a feminist not?
3. What traits (physical, social, intellectual, behavioral etc.) do you ascribe to feminism? What traits have been ascribed to you as a feminist?
4. What traits are explicitly unfeminist?
5. Are there people out there who cannot be feminists or claim feminism as we know it?

All answers, even the unpopular ones, are appreciated. Comment anonymously if you wish.


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54 comments for “Feminisms: A Survey

  1. April 20, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    Although I do not like to label myself as a feminist, I do believe in equal rights, and therefore, as a woman, I find myself speaking out for womens rights quite often.

    All through history, whenever people have faced oppression, women have been given an extra dose.

    Slaves toil for their masters by day, but female slaves are forced to also take them into their beds at night.

    Men may fight with honor for their country or their God, but women are used as “the spoils”.

    Females represent half the worlds population, and yet every liberation effort in history stops short of equal rights for women.

    It is my personal belief that the Patriarchal Theology models of “The Big Three” ie: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, are contributing factors in the this issue.

    Professor Joseph Campbell explained it best. He taught that there are basically two theology models in the world. Matriarchy and Patriarchy.

    Matriarchy is a worship model used by agricultural societies that are dependant on the bounty of the earth and the change of the seasons. These cultures are generally peaceful and focus their worship on Goddess figures that represent birth, new life, seasonal cycles, and nurturing.

    Patriarchy is a worship model used by industrial societies and warring nations that rely on power, conquest and control for economic success. These cultures worship Gods who embody the male traits of the all powerful, omnipotent leader, provider, judge, and bringer of retribution.

    All three of the contemorary patriarchal worship models used today share the common theme of positioning women in a subordinate role to men.

    We can look at the microcosm of individual violence profiles, and adjust our laws and social services accordingly, but until the larger issue of respect and tolerance is addressed on a world wide theological level, we will continue to see women dominated and punished, not just by man, but by the Gods themselves.

    The Solution:

    As radical as it may sound, I refer to the wisdom of Dr. Campbell once again. The solution to the problem lies in the ability of society to revoke it’s use of “outdated mythology”, and evolve a new theological model that places both the masculine and feminine on a level of equal and divine partnership.

    If the “Ideal” family is one with both a mother and a father, then why not demand the same model be used in the Theological parenting of humanity?

  2. April 20, 2005 at 2:02 pm

    1. Feminist is seeking equality of the sexes.
    2. Feminist is not seeking to assure that the fenine is held higher than all others
    3. Equality and respect in all mention is the trait of femiism.
    4. being subserviant, having a lesser role becasue of femininity
    5. Yes, those who wish to be subserviant or hold others as subserviant cannot be deemed feminist

  3. Kyra
    April 20, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    1. A feminist is someone who strives for the recognition of the rights, freedoms, and equality of all people, regardless of gender, orientation, religion, race, or any other immutable characteristic. A feminist is someone who supports everyone’s ability to be themselves and still be accepted by the rest of the world. A feminist is someone who fights against ignorance and bigotry and hatred.

    2. A feminist is not someone who supports inequity in any form. A feminist is never bigoted, and never seeks to impose HER idea of happiness on everyone else. A feminist does not denigrate people for HAVING different views, only for attempting to force those views on us. (Examples: someone who supports women’s rights but not racial equality or gay rights is not a feminist. Someone who attacks women who want to be stay-at-home moms, is not a feminist. Someone who believes abortion is wrong, however, CAN BE a feminist as long as she does not try to force others to live by her beliefs.

    3. Open-mindedness, fairness, acceptance, strength, kindness and unselfishness, intelligence, courage, tenacity.

    4. Intolerance, closed-mindedness, unfairness of any kind, lying or manipulating facts to their advantage, refusal to look at an issue objectively.

    5. Anyone who seeks to deny some people any rights or freedoms that other people have, cannot be a feminist. Anyone who advocates a particular social role as the only acceptable one for a certain group of people, cannot be a feminist.

  4. April 20, 2005 at 2:52 pm

    1. What do you consider a feminist? A person who believes that women should live their lives without the interference of oppressive or hegemonic forces.
    2. What is a feminist not? Someone who adheres to “the rules of civilization.”
    3. What traits (physical, social, intellectual, behavioral etc.) do you ascribe to feminism? What traits have been ascribed to you as a feminist? Imagination, creativity, freedom-loving, concern for humanity, perhaps a connection with nature.
    4. What traits are explicitly unfeminist? Authoritarianism, linear anything…..
    5. Are there people out there who cannot be feminists or claim feminism as we know it?
    Anyone can be a feminist.

  5. April 20, 2005 at 2:59 pm

    3. What traits (physical, social, intellectual, behavioral etc.) do you ascribe to feminism? What traits have been ascribed to you as a feminist?
    Holding a believe in liberation and the eradication of oppression so that people can grow.

  6. April 20, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    Yikes. I have to start typing my own exceprts. Why does wp have to choose the most annoying, least comfortable disclaimer in the whole post and print it with the trackback? Not only does the clipping make it look like I’ve mis-paraphrased Kyra, but it makes me look like I perhaps don’t support a woman’s right to choose. Ugh.

  7. Wendryn
    April 20, 2005 at 4:38 pm

    1. A feminist is someone who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Dictionary definition, but very clear & I agree with it.
    2. A feminist is not someone who thinks that women are better than men or that men are better than women.
    3. Not sure – stubbornness, I guess.
    4. Any traits that encourage one gender or group to lord it over another group is not a feminist outlook on life.
    5. I don’t think so – anyone who believes that men and women should be treated equally is a feminist, and I don’t see any reason to limit that.

  8. April 20, 2005 at 7:58 pm

    For reference, I’m a queer Christian male married to a Pagan woman. I know I’m kind of a fringe element in a lot of liberation movements. But here are my answers anyway.

    1. What do you consider a feminist?

    In my opinion, first and foremost a feminist is a progressive, by which I mean someone who, when encountering a claim that some person or group has been oppressed or disadvantaged, places the burden of proof on those who are advantaged or who may be the oppressors, rather than on the victims or disadvantaged persons. In addition, they are interested in righting whatever injustices they ultimately believe are being committed. What makes feminists distinct from mere progressives, in my mind, is that they see gender as one of the primary factors in oppression–they see the male/female dichotomy and the marginalization of women as particularly negative in the grand scheme of things.

    I’m perhaps a bit broader in that I think a very broad discussion of gender is important to my kind of feminism. I recognize that not all feminists believe the dialogue should be broadened to include transgender persons and questions of sexuality. I can’t separate those issues from the male/female question, though.

    2. What is a feminist not?

    I have a hard time seeing how a feminist could be conservative. The feminisms I recognize all see some kind of reordering of society as necessary to the goals of the feminist movement. Preserving the status quo is not an option.

    3. What traits (physical, social, intellectual, behavioral etc.) do you ascribe to feminism? What traits have been ascribed to you as a feminist?

    I’ve encountered too many kinds of feminists to believe there are specific physical, social, or intellectual traits. I guess I most look up to feminists who are very intellectual and whose writings or discussions challenge me, but I can’t deny the label to people who are not called to be that kind of voice in the movement.

    As for behavioral, most of the feminists I know are pretty defiant and stubborn. I think that’s part and parcel of being part of a liberatory movement, especially in a conservative period such as our own. I see those as positive traits. I also know most feminists as fairly giving, contrary to the typical image of them as whiny or bitchy. The feminists I know and admire are fighting for the rights of women, a class most of them belong to, but usually (there are a tiny number of exceptions) they are fighting primarily for the rights of women who are significantly disadvantaged–economically, educationally, socially, even physically. I’ve written elsewhere that as a Christian I see tremendous salvific value in secular feminism. I know secular (even atheist) feminist writers who are more prophetic and Spirit-filled than many theologians.

    The traits that have been ascribed to me as a feminist are usually pretty unkind–faggy, weak, momma’s boy, etc. A few are neutral–effeminate, for instance. I’ve gotten positive reactions very occasionally, but rarely in the form of specific positive traits people ascribe to me.

    4. What traits are explicitly unfeminist?

    As the mirror image of the above–selfishness, an unreflective, consumerist sensibility, being reactionary–those strike me as unfeminist values or traits.

    5. Are there people out there who cannot be feminists or claim feminism as we know it?

    That’s a tough question, for a few reasons. I don’t believe lesbians cannot be feminists as some women have said. I don’t believe men cannot be feminists. I think it is a movement that affects much more than half the population–I think many men suffer from traditional gender roles, too–so I am predisposed to see feminism as an inherently inclusive movement. I also think being “integrated” increases the chances that any movement will be more fair and even-handed. I am dubious of anti-feminist arguments that feminist women are just out for power, a reversal of the present roles, precisely because I see feminism as consciously and quite fairly inclusive.

    That said, I don’t expect to define the terms of the debate or dictate agenda. Because I have suffered from traditional gender roles and especially because I have seen others suffer, I want to be a voice for change. But I myself will only rarely suffer significant negative consequences if I do not speak prophetically enough or if I am too conciliatory. For that reason, I fully expect that my place in the feminist movement must be to some extent limited.

    I’m really sorry that was so long. The questions were just too engaging to answer in a sentence.

  9. Thomas
    April 20, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    1. A feminist opposes patriarchy. Patriarchy is a system of rigid gender constructs which limit all people, and which systematically disadvantage women.

    2. A feminist is not a conservative. Conservatism seeks to preserve patriarchal gender constructs and/or the social structures that enforce them.

    3.(a) Speaking generally, feminists are female, assertive, self-aware, and possessed of greater than normal critical thinking skills and awareness of social constructs. (b) As a feminist, I have been accused of being dogmatic, insincere and self-hating.

    4. Support for restrictive gender constructs and social structures that enforce them is not feminist.

    5. One cannot claim feminism who is in favor of patriarchy.

    Thomas

  10. Kate
    April 20, 2005 at 11:08 pm

    1. For me, a feminist is someone who works to ensure that all people are considered equal in every way. That means that all people have access to basic freedoms, regardless of their gender, race, sexuality etc. More specifically, a feminist is concerned specifically, in this time and place, with undermining the pre-existing patriarchal structure where women, certain ethnic groups, and people with non-normative sexuality are considered as second-class citizens, not-humans, the other, however you want to describe inequality based on “that which is not white male heterosexual”. Practically, this means arguing/fighting for an equal wage for women, a living wage for all individuals, equitable access to resources such as education and health care for women and minority groups especially, freedom from violence of any sort… there’s a lot to work towards, actually.

    2. A feminist is not someone who seeks to harm or oppress others. A feminist is not an enemy of humans, but of systems and the way that systems oppress people within them. Do I sound like a marxist yet? A feminist is not someone who hates men.

    3. To feminism, I ascribe strength, humility , honesty, a desire for freedom, fairness, an openess to learning. And a good sense of humour. A willingness to embrace diversity and change.

    4. Not feminist traits are a desire to oppress, harm or do violence to other humans. Not-feminists try to silence dissent, they try to tell others how to live their lives, they want to prescribe choice and they always ignore complex realities. Specifically, anyone who still thinks that women are less than men, that black is less than white, that non-christian is less than christian.

    5. Are there people who cannot be feminists? Frankly, the list is long, with all the usual suspects. For me, pro-life (as in, actively fighting to make abortion illegal or difficult to obtain) is an un-feminist position. I also think that anyone who seriously thinks it is okay that women in any country are abused and talks about “understanding the culture” is also not a feminist. Anyone who says “mothers must stay at home” or “mothers must go to work” is not a feminist. Like I said, the list is long…

  11. CKR
    April 21, 2005 at 2:12 am

    Hmmm…I’ve been doing this feminism thing a long time. I’m not a person who likes to be put into categories, although I understand how useful they can be for writing papers.

    I’m trying to get outside the usual categories. Maybe the way to do this is to give specifics.

    Men who were stuck in some of the conventional male supremacy ideas helped me in generous, seemingly sex-neutral ways. I am not a woman who charms men–more frequently irritates them by being too mouthy (in the stereotypical ways)–so that was not their motivation. I can think of at least two men who were invaluable to my educational development, one of whom was very blustery and intimidating, and the other of whom believed it was very important to produce a large family within a rather conservative Protestant viewpoint.

    I think that you can’t be a feminist without taking the basic difference between women and men into account: women have babies. This has been ignored by people who consider themselves feminists, and it has distorted what needed to be done. Check out my post on this: http://whirledview.typepad.com/whirledview/2005/03/that_harvard_bu.html

    Many young women have grown up with much higher expectations than once were allowed to women. They have not experienced the same sorts of repression, but much subtler ones remain. This allows them to fancy themselves above feminism or to espouse ideas like conservative Christianity or “pro-life” that are fundamentally against feminism. Once you start making rules that must be true for all situations, you’ve made judgements that all individuals fall into certain categories that are ruled by certain requirements. And “women” will be one of those categories. It’s not enough to say that other categories (like “men”) are ruled by other requirements.

    There are values that attach to feminism that I think are different from those that attach to, say, patriarchy. I’m thinking now of tonight’s News Hour segment on John Bolton’s screaming at subordinates and chasing that poor woman through the hotel. The reaction of the Republican male senators was, well, that’s just how anyone treats subordinates. That reply, of course, contained an element of politics. What else could they say to defend Bolton? But I thought about being a boss, and I never did anything remotely like that. The people who worked for me did great work, and some initially poor performers even came around to that mode. I had more choice about who worked for me than some positions allow. I think I can recall maybe two that eventually had to be removed. But even that was done without screaming.

    I hope this is helpful and not too far off the mark.

  12. April 21, 2005 at 7:53 am

    Hmm, I would respond but I don’t wanna be accused of being a creature for whom sunlight is dangerous :P (And I dont mean Michael Jackson)

    My question for feminists is, how can you choose a doctrine which is inherently sexist in its naming and emphasis, yet claim to believe in equality of the genders? (Though let’s assume that equality isn’t itself inherently flawed and sexist for my question to be fair)

  13. April 21, 2005 at 11:05 am

    My question for feminists is, how can you choose a doctrine which is inherently sexist in its naming and emphasis, yet claim to believe in equality of the genders?

    The retention of the term feminism, as I understand it, is based on the respect of the historical movement that precedes us. Yes, some of the feminists before us had some sexist/racist/classist/homophobic notions, but not all, and through time the movement has evolved to a more general egalitarianism. We can not work for equality for ourselves and ignore lack of equality in other corners. To do so would make us hypocrites.

    The emphasis still rests on women — ponder for a moment how in the world half of the human population is still treated as lesser than, an Other. It should baffle the mind. The same base attitudes and prejudices are what allow racism, classism, homophobia, etc., to continue, though they manifest in different ways. We fight to eradicate those base attitudes and clear the road to equality, in part because the most of the movment is made up of women and we are personally invested in the eradication of these preexisting barriers. So are other parallel movements.

    Reread these comments again. Everyone who commented, both male and female, is looking to achieve autonomy in one’s choices, behavior, and social standing. This is, I think, the key to understanding general feminist thought. It is not about elevating one gender, or any other group, above another.

  14. Brandon
    April 21, 2005 at 11:40 am
  15. April 21, 2005 at 11:50 am

    Brandon, the first sentence of that paper is goood. A world “informed by” human rights. I have to read the rest — that line made me wiggle.

  16. April 21, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Allow me to rephrase some of the questions so I can answer them better:

    1. What has my experience been of feminism, and so what do I consider feminist?

    Feminism, to me, is one antidote to the insanities of this dominant culture. Here is why I identify as feminist: I am committed to realizing that the earth is a living organism with earth’s own desires, and that I, my friends, and those whom I have yet to meet–humans and all–are all entitled to respect because we are a part of earth. This idea is not utopian: it is practical and realizable, just not in this dominant culture.

    2. What do I consider unfeminist?

    To me, the act of living in this culture without trying to bring it down is unfeminist. I don’t know what constitutes “bringing it down” (for the reader of this, anyhow) but whatever does, I think feminism is implicated. I don’t hold this opinion to the exclusion of all others.

    For me, it would be unfeminist to take what I have learned and continue along as though I didn’t have the knowledge.

    3. How has feminism affected me physicially, socially, intellectually, behaviorally, etc., and what of these effects do I attribute to feminism? What traits have been ascribed to me as a feminist?

    The feminists I have met in person and through the word have, more than any other group, given me food for thought. I see more clearly the problems around me and how they reflect an underlying contempt for the earth and its inhabitants. To me, this learning process is feminism. I ascribe the transgressive pleasure I get from fucking things up to feminism.

    As a feminist, I am regarded with respect by those who understand that the identity of “feminist” is not a doctrine. Others, just as surely as they would if they had the visual cue of Jewish, black, or transgendered, dismiss my person when I reveal my feminism to them. It’s safe to assume that I’ve been ascribed some negative characteristics because of this identity, but I really don’t give a shit. They don’t warrant repetition here. :)

    5. Are there people out there who cannot be feminists or claim feminism as we know it?

    For fear of codifying feminism, I can’t really answer this question. Feminism, for me, is the process of speaking heresy against norms. It must be self-relevant and as varied as its practitioners. Anyone can call anyone feminist: that’s not important. What’s important is the end: we feminists, whoever we are, have to stop abuse in our lives and the lives of those around us.

    **

    I wish I had more time to edit this, but I have class in three minutes.

  17. April 21, 2005 at 1:39 pm

    Brandon: that site looks to be an ad hominem attack on middle-class, middle-aged white men, a rank I shall be joining in another two decades, yet I fail to see how I am responsible for others being less well-off than I am.
    Matriarchy existed in Minoan civilisation (though it had a king) and all the Gods (or forms of God) were female and women were exhalted – and the men looked outwards to Greece and they saw a culture that had male and female Gods, so they invented their male God. And in a backlash against the new male God strict adherents to the old female Gods went round castrating the male Gods (say a bit like the Pope castrating all nude male statues a few hundred centuries back). The fact is about Matriarchy and Patriarchy, both are flawed, any system that genderised is inherently wrong. As good as women today may think matriarchy is, its core value is in life – on the land, and in the womb. The modern horseshoe probably derives from vagina worship, and it would be through some pagan route that it is associated with good luck – and probably by no small coincidence Satan has rather strange feet according to the Christian church.

    Lauren: Yes I read the comments. Using a word because of historic reasons seems a quaint idea coming from an American. However, when new ideas come along they need new words.
    I don’t think specifically women are repressed in most cultures, I think men and women are abused. Despite by Judaic family ties I think Male Genital Mutilation is the biggest crime in the US – a crime probably still commited a million times a year; if a man wishes to be circumcised it should be his decision – yet I bet most feminists have abused their sons in this way.
    Then there’s reverses to each abuse, the flip side to say Indian or Chinese child policies is that there’s a huge swathe of young men who may never know love – this is the reverse to the way it normally works where because of high male fatalities women outnumber men, and even in peace-time in the UK at the age of 24 is the cross-over point between more men than women, to more women than men. In every democracy in the world women are the majority.

    Feminism highlights inequalities primarily through women’s eyes; so other groups are needed to highlight them through men’s eyes – and men face many inequalities. Despite the fact genetics and the notion of equality would suggest men and women would do equally well at school, in ever level 16,18,degree, university entrants in the UK women far exceed men. Or the fact men’s retirement is 65 (women’s 60, though it will go to 65 in steps between 2010 and 2020). Then there’s the fact that three quarters of people claiming unemployment in the UK are men – better to be lower paid than un-paid, it took me months to get a job, possibly cos I was looking for work in HR/Admin and other areas women are very likely to be competing with me for the work, though I’d never claim sexism. However, in the lastquarter women accounted for almost all the increase in unemployment (29k) – I suspect because of new maternity legislation which ironically means no-one wants to employ a young just-married woman, especially not middle-aged female bosses who know they’re immune from being lablled sexist.
    I think it would be better to address all inequalities, and inequality myths through one coherent non-gender, non-race specific voice. Though many feminists would reject the term ‘humanist’ citing that we’ve had humanist and it only addressed half the population :) I’d say we did not, we had a religious war that started with people like the Minoans and it has taken us 5000 years to realise that there arent male Gods, but there arent female ones either. But the casualties of the war were men and women, even if we say this is a male dominated world, it is a very small elite and the majority of men, inc me, are nothing but slaves to it.

    Btw: re autonomy – people are a social animal, there isn’t autonomy. Every action has a reaction.

  18. April 21, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    Feminism highlights inequalities primarily through women’s eyes; so other groups are needed to highlight them through men’s eyes – and men face many inequalities.

    I don’t disagree with this statement, although the I cannot speak for a man’s experience. It is up to men to start positive movements to protect their own, I cannot do it for them, though I can support positive, parallel movements.

    However, most of the men’s movements that exist today exist to decry feminism and blame the women’s movement for male oppression.

  19. April 21, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    Also, Monjo, the rest of the reason supporting the use of the term feminism is directly below the statement of historicity.

  20. CKR
    April 21, 2005 at 5:52 pm

    Seems to me that feminism should also encourage full personhood (whatever that amounts to) in men, so that they don’t have to get their self-esteem from putting others down. This has been one of the more difficult aspects of feminism and, I think, hasn’t really even entered the discussion yet, pace Robert Bly.

  21. April 21, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    I think one of the things inherent in feminism too is a recognition of the intricacies of language, the fluidity of language, which would then influence the expression of our thoughts—the language of empire is strikedly different from that of feminist,anti-racist, anti-hegemonic movements……

  22. April 21, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    I agree with CKR

  23. ab
    April 22, 2005 at 9:47 am

    I believe that to be a feminist is to be a woman.

    I know a woman who spent 53 years with an abusive husband, she wouldn’t qualify as a feminist in a lot of the definitions as they are laid out above. But that woman taught 4 daughters how to stand on their own 2 feet, think & live for themselves, to use their ingenuity, to improvise and think creatively. She solved problems, multi-tasked and took and gave more crap than any feminist I know, even though for a lot of my life I identified her as a ‘victim’.

    Even in the darkest and weakest corners of our lives women are resourceful, tenacious and able to source their spirits even under duress – I don’t think there is any woman to have lived, who has not contributed to the legacy of feminism.

  24. April 22, 2005 at 9:54 am

    “I don’t disagree with this statement, although the I cannot speak for a man’s experience. It is up to men to start positive movements to protect their own, I cannot do it for them, though I can support positive, parallel movements.”

    We’re trying but we usually get lumped as woman haters. So allot of well-meaning men get worn down by the political-ness of it all.

  25. April 22, 2005 at 1:11 pm

    I think Lauren, you’re very wise. But as masculiste says – it is unPC and anyone who defends men gets labelled a woman-hater (even women). Again, I don’t like the doctrine of masculism, not its aims, just like feminism its emphasis and wording.

    I think there’s major ****-ups in both directions, in the 1990s especially a man barely had to blink and he’d be arrested if a woman took offence. And in divorces men were left lucky to see their children once a year and had the pleasure of paying half their income for the pleasure, that after losing their savings, house and car. It is still disgusting when some trashy* woman who would otherwise have worked on a checkout can demand millions in divorce from the talents of a man that had nothing to do with her.

    Now Ive heard of a few reactions to this – a case of a woman who had a child with a man, and then married another man for a few years and cos he helped raise the child as his (from birth), he actually I think won custody or equal access, would have to ask my friend as she told me this about 18mths ago.

    It will only be when people become less reactionary and use common sense that we can all live peacefully. As long as women have children, they will be taking time off work and making career sacrifices, so incomes will never be equal. Family laws need more common sense, wedded couples need to be allowed to fight within their own acceptable boundaries.

    The media and entertainment industry has a lot of blame for problems in our society. Adverts portray men as bumbling buffoons; testicular violence/pain is seen as funny; women in pain isn’t – there’s huge double standards.

    @CKR: putting people down is funny :P Anyway isnt it all about competition, and women are far more competitive than men. I know many women who can put me down, well okay, one, and it makes me wanna ask her out. Is great to finally meet a quick-witted woman.
    I don’t know what full personhood means either – are you implying men must havefeminine qualities to be *full* persons? If so, isnt feminism supposed to be suggesting that there arent feminine qualities??
    Besides which I leave the seat down, and do know that if I shove it all in the washing machine, stick some powder in and set it to wash, 50mins later I can shove it all into another machine and 90mins later I haveclean and dry clothes – its the iron thingy I can’t fathom.

    *couldnt think of a nice word, sorry!

    Apologies for not being able to write concise short posts.

  26. Brandon Wallace
    April 22, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    In response to ab…thats why I think feminisms…is in the plural….. I don’t think there should be any one standard.

  27. April 22, 2005 at 3:13 pm

    I think Lauren, you’re very wise. But as masculiste says – it is unPC and anyone who defends men gets labelled a woman-hater (even women).

    I don’t think anyone who defends men is labelled a woman-hater. There are men’s movements that are positive and pro-women’s rights and don’t view the strive for equality as a zero sum game. Equality isn’t about fighting for a piece of a limited equality pie. Egalitarian living is deserved for all.

    It will only be when people become less reactionary and use common sense that we can all live peacefully. As long as women have children, they will be taking time off work and making career sacrifices, so incomes will never be equal. Family laws need more common sense, wedded couples need to be allowed to fight within their own acceptable boundaries.

    Many feminists argue that men should have equal time for work leave in order to spend time at home for the birth of a new child. There is no reason why childcare and work leave should be the birden for women in a marital situation. Ideally, corporate standards would reflect an acknowledgement of the importance for all parents to be available for their children, not just women. This is something women’s and men’s movements can come together and work for together — and since men’s rights advocates argue that men aren’t allowed the time to see their children, I would hope that they too are actively working to see this happen. The assumption, though, that children are a woman’s domain and thus the reason why women will never achieve pay equality is silly and offensive. If work laws were more egalitarian, I predict pay inequity would decrease.

    The media and entertainment industry has a lot of blame for problems in our society. Adverts portray men as bumbling buffoons; testicular violence/pain is seen as funny; women in pain isn’t – there’s huge double standards.

    Agreed. That’s why feminism is skeptical of and criticial of the media, especially a media that makes overt and offensive generalizations about masses of people. In our society’s representations, men are stupid and women are their sexual organs. I don’t know how this can be the fault of women and/or feminists. Again, this is something a progressive men’s movement could be working toward with feminists.

    I don’t know what full personhood means either – are you implying men must have feminine qualities to be *full* persons? If so, isnt feminism supposed to be suggesting that there arent feminine qualities??

    Feminism purports to bee more than a gender binary. There are many ways of being that fall outside of the false binary and we wish to see the prescriptive gender roles abolished.

    There is no reason why a man should have to “prove” his manhood — his manhood is proven by being born male — but the general norms for maleness in our society shows that a man cannot be a man if he (to generalize) cries, is affectionate with his male friends, and doesn’t fawn over the closest pair of breasts with his mouth hanging open and remarking to his nearest friend about the quality of said rack. Further, psych research shows that in general men feel uncomfortable expressing emotions other than anger and elation. Feminists think these roles, which as much as one might argue to the contrary are prevalent forces in men’s lives, don’t allow men to act as their true selves. If men must follow these roles to prove and re-prove manhood, they are a parody of the true self and thus not able to act as, as CKR says, full human beings.

    Similar roles exist for women as well, one of the reasons why feminists are often described as hateful, spiteful, ugly, etc. Female feminists are not afraid to express anger whereas women are, for the most part, encouraged to repress anger in order to adhere to proper gender norms. Same with beauty standards and political involvement. Feminists aim to actively subvert those roles and act within and without the standards set by society. The list goes on.

    Apologies for not being able to write concise short posts.

    No problem. I’m wordy myself. If you want any further explanations, I have some books you might like to read…

  28. April 22, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    And Monjo, now that I think about it, you really should answer the questions at the top of this post. It would help me to know where you’re coming from.

  29. April 22, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    There are many men out there who are great examples of progressive feminist presences. There was one that really shaped and molded me during my undergrad years—my prof Greg Salyer…. here is a link to his site….http://www.gregsalyer.net/

  30. April 23, 2005 at 1:12 am

    Monjo stated: Brandon: that site looks to be an ad hominem attack on middle-class, middle-aged white men, a rank I shall be joining in another two decades, yet I fail to see how I am responsible for others being less well-off than I am….

    If you cannot recognize your privilege as a white male–and the position that you have in this world, thats a problem you will have to deal with. We do not live on islands…and it is incumbent for everyone to critique where they are and what they are. Now, as a middle aged, middle class white male—you perhaps need to think about that. As a bourgbeois black boy I think about where I am, the opportunities that I have been given all of the time–because of my class privilege, not because of — the nice little conservative (typically white and male phrase) “hard work.” I know that I am where I am because of what others who came before me gave to me and left to me….and I recognize that everyone doesnt have the same background that I do-and therefore I must always be mindful of the suffering of other people.

  31. April 23, 2005 at 1:15 am

    Monjo: It will only be when people become less reactionary and use common sense that we can all live peacefully. As long as women have children, they will be taking time off work and making career sacrifices, so incomes will never be equal. Family laws need more common sense, wedded couples need to be allowed to fight within their own acceptable boundaries

    I also think this is something of your own fallable (phallable? hmm) logic.

  32. ab
    April 23, 2005 at 10:56 am

    Males can be empathetic towards women and women’s issues and that is just a different embodiment of feminism, but respectfully, they cannot ever know what a woman has to go through in life.

    Also if a woman cannot appreciate what other women go through, experience and feel in life, how could they understand how each woman asserts her own understanding of feminism?
    Feminism is an evolving concept, it doesn’t manifest the same way in daily life as it did in bygone eras, and it changes at different rates in different cultures.
    To suggest every woman is not a feminist would be like suggesting that you aren’t spiritual unless you are for example Buddhist or Christian.
    We cannot judge someone else’s expression of feminism just because they don’t necessarily wear it on their sleeve.

  33. April 23, 2005 at 1:41 pm

    Monjo: Ignore Brandon. He goes about being “mindful of the suffering of other people” by following them into coffeehouses, sitting down next to them, and saying repeatedly, during their conversations, “white male bullshit” under his breath. You know, all stalker-like.

    He talks a nice talk, but has no idea what what he’s saying really means. Oh, and you’re white, so there’s no hope for you.

    Move along, nothing to see here…

  34. April 23, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    I agree ab–, men cannot know the experiences of women. Alas, we must always respect the experiences of groups and individuals……

  35. April 23, 2005 at 5:33 pm

    Hey, check out my blog— I am profiling some major and incredible women.

  36. April 24, 2005 at 8:03 am

    1. A feminist is anyone who believes that men & women should be judged on their abilities, not on their reproductive organs. When the job calls for upper body strength, it may be that the majority of women are not qualified; when the job calls for nurturing it may be that the majority of men are not interested. The individual, nonetheless, gets to decide his/her path, or at least try out for the position.

    2. A feminist is not necessarily a woman. A feminist is not someone who thinks women are better than men. A feminist does not hate men. A feminists is not a bitch if she’s a woman, a wimp if he’s a man.

    3. Ooh, I almost already kind of answered this one. Feminism is a priority for me, it does not have to be for every feminist. My boyfriend does not often think of himself as a feminist, but he is, based on my definition of feminism. I don’t think there are any traits that are required to be a feminist, but most people think of feminists as ugly & old – the aging, shrill, 2nd wavers, I suppose.

    4. What’s unfeminist? I tend to think an inability to question tradition and authority are unfeminist. Subscription to gender roles without thinking about whether those roles are okay for the people involved – assuming that women want to stay home or that men want to work/boss/hunt/watch football is unfeminist.

    5. Yes, there are surely people who are not feminists. There is no one who couldn’t be a feminist, but people who do not believe that women can make their own choices about their lives, their jobs, their roles and their families are not feminists. People who believe in certain roles/values for themselves can be feminists; people who want to impose those on everyone are not.

    On an personal note: The first time I met my now-boyfriend he came up to me and said “I heard you were a feminist”. I was shocked. First, who wasn’t a feminist? And second, how did that become something of interest? We debated the meaning of feminism, and I explained my view; I told him that he was surely a feminist too, or else he wouldn’t be very pleased about the number of women in our graduate program. He conceded, and we’ve been friends ever since. Feminism doesn’t have to be rabid, and it doesn’t have to be vigilant. I will be, and I will claim that as my feminism, but everyone doesn’t have to be like me to be a feminist. Women who choose to work, who don’t take notes when partnered with a man for a project, women who choose to stay home and raise children – we’re all feminists.

    The question, then, is what about women who have no choice? What about poor women who have to work? Women who can’t afford birth control? These women have choices in theory; in practice, however, does feminism do anything?

  37. April 24, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    Re: Cara

    what a great way of putting it.

  38. April 25, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    Lauren: I intend to answer them maybe via trackback. Books are fine, but I haven’t seen the inside of a bookshop or library for years; but, may get around to them.

    Brandon: Umm how am I privileged, every job these days gives first to black, then to women, next to asian, and finally assesses merit. My only privilege is not being born into poverty and having to pick coffee beans for you. Plus I do live on an island, Im British :P [Of course that means I have to share it with the Welsh, but no-one said life was perfect.]

    Lauren+Brandon: Childcare shall fall primarily to women. Men can’t breast-feed, so any woman who wants to breast-feed and do the heavy child-bonding stuff like my ex-gf did basically wont let their child out their sight for months after the birth.
    As for egalitarian. Ironically on economic issues Republicans in the US would best represent this. Which is something I am sure you will hate to hear. Incidentally in UK in last 20 years female employment has risen 14 percentage points, men’s dropped 12 percentage point – and overally pay is at 84pc, estimated at 93pc by 2025. I think for women to exceed that has only a few possible explanations:
    – more women employed than men especially in the under-30s, pre-child category.
    – men’s poorer education relates to more low-paid work
    – continuing decline in birth rates
    – women gradually taking over management positions; best guess is they shall.
    In other words continued female successes come at male losses not at overall gains in the labour market. If people marry socially equals this means in the UK we had an 8pc unemployment for men, now upto 20pc over 20 years, generating a social underclass: unemployable married unemployed. A possible solution is a citizen’s basic income, who knows?

    ab: Maybe. But I have a mum, two sisters, and one day I hope a wife and maybe a daughter. Just because I don’t have periods, will never give birth; doesn’t mean I don’t know what a woman’s life is like. You’re using reverse-sexism. Do women even know what womens lives are like? Surely you are categorising? YOU can only know YOUR life.

    Which brings me back to why I will have to ponder Lauren’s questions so much. I hate to group people. Each person is an individual. yes it is very easy to get stats for women’s wealth, employment, pensions, how many sexual partners they have, how many haveHIV. But no human is an average, and in the measures we adopt as a society to group people “for their better interests” the fact is, I think, we make the world worse for everyone.
    And I’m guilty of labelling and grouping too – but at least I know I am.

  39. April 25, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    Umm how am I privileged, every job these days gives first to black, then to women, next to asian, ….

    Perhaps you need to rethink how white you really are then. Alas, what values you uphold, where you come from–you still need to examine your position in this world. Alas….to read your statement—- I am going to break it down–the entire thing of the world is when you–meaning white male–will fail to be the subject—and we–will fail to be the object–alas– so turn the lens on yourself and critique….then let me know what you think.

    ;-)

    Did you know that I am a directly connected to Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich?;-)

  40. April 25, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    I think castration is a wonderful mechanism;-)

  41. April 25, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    I definitely need to rethink how white I am. And, reading Brandon’s statements here, I am hoping to god that I am not actually white. Like he implies that non-racism should get me evicted from the race. Let’s hope so.

  42. Pingback: Feminisms
  43. jam
    April 26, 2005 at 8:59 am

    Monjo says: Which brings me back to why I will have to ponder Lauren’s questions so much. I hate to group people. Each person is an individual. yes it is very easy to get stats for women’s wealth, employment, pensions, how many sexual partners they have, how many haveHIV. But no human is an average, and in the measures we adopt as a society to group people “for their better interests” the fact is, I think, we make the world worse for everyone.

    i’m curious: if you really believe that individual experience trumps any kind of structural analysis on what do you base your efforts to make the world a better place?

  44. goodsamaritan
    April 26, 2005 at 9:07 am

    Feminists:

    1. Worship Contraception.
    2. Believe in Abortion.
    3. Celebrate Euthanasia.
    4. Support Gays, Lesbians and Homosexual Marriage.
    5. Believe that the Family oppresses women.
    6. Will divorce at the drop of a hat.
    7. Want the total destruction of marriage.
    8. Believe that Family should defy biology.
    9. Believe that Men and Women are the same.
    10. Hate Men.
    11. Believe that all sex is rape.
    12. Believe that Pope Ratzinger is a woman hater.

    There’s more. A lot more.

  45. Thomas
    April 26, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Monjo! HEY MONJO! I’M TALKING TO YOU!

    Im British [Of course that means I have to share it with the Welsh, but no-one said life was perfect.]

    In addition to your other petty bigotries (like “every job these days gives first to black, then to women, next to asian, and finally assesses merit”), you’re even bigotted against the white people of your own island.

    Let me tell you something, asshole. My father was born and raised in Scotland. I have more relatives near you than near me. And when you English guys pick of the Celtic folk from the Northern and Western fringes of the British Isles, you pick on all of us. If you’re a bigot against the Welsh, you’re a bigot against the Scots, and Irish. You’re a bigot against Bretons and the Cornish and the Manx.

    Remember this: we got there first.

  46. April 26, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    Something tells me that goodsamaritan (#45) does not love his enemies like a good Samaritan would.

  47. April 26, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    Good Samaritain: That is such an outdated, outmoded, completely wrong definition of feminism that smacks of 1975 that it doesn’t even justify a flame war. You clearly haven’t poked your head out of your own ass to read anything remotely definitive about feminism in a while. Have you even come close to reading ANY of the comments in this blog, let alone any of the discussion in other places on the blog, or did you just pop in and figure we’d all be cowed by your radical truth and put in our places?

    Let me guess, you got your definitions of feminism from Rush Limbaugh, who was dipped in preservative fixative about 30 years ago?

  48. Painini
    April 26, 2005 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, goodsamaritan is amazingly persuasive.
    I’d say more, but I need to go sweep my Pill Shrine and my Trojan Altar, lest Contraception strike me down.

  49. La Lubu
    April 26, 2005 at 8:24 pm

    The Family…the Family…..whose Family? Tony Soprano’s? Is he talking about La Cosa Nostra here?

  50. April 27, 2005 at 7:09 am

    Thomas grr. It’s a statement of fact, check out about UK job quota systems. Isnt me who’s bigotted, it’s the system as it believes we must define success by quota. Which answers jam, because I think any structural analysis is bound to be flawed, other than say in absolute numbers for all people. Quotas in anything produce poor outcomes.

    The questions are not:
    – why is this woman with five children struggling OR
    – why is this young black man in prison

    The question is:
    Why is this person …. ?

    The analysis is:
    Are they responsible?
    Is society responsible?
    Is there anything they can do to help themselves?
    Is there anything we can reasonably expect of society to help them?

    So you judge the success of society by if it protects its citizens but also is able to give them opportunity no matter their circumstance. And you can judge the merit of a person by their success and their “charity” towards their fellow citizens. I don;t like the word charity.

    Now Thomas, about the welsh. This was put into brackets as it was a joke. Watch Rugby? Then you’d know my grievence :P Anyway, there’s little proof the celtic tribes were here first, nor of their ‘purity’. This aside, I don’t inherently believe in divine ownership of land – I think everyone has the right to live wherever they want. Individual land ownership is an altogether different issue.

  51. goodsamaritan
    April 27, 2005 at 9:19 am

    # Ryan Says:
    April 26th, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    Something tells me that goodsamaritan (#45) does not love his enemies like a good Samaritan would.

    Good Samaritan loves women. I love my wife #1, I love my wife #2, I love my wife #3, I love my daughters, I love my mother, I love my grandmothers.

    I have no enemies. Do not put words in my mouth.
    I just defined what a feminist is from my point of view.
    Go check out the actions of NOW. Crystal clear.

    Radicality is still the core of the feminist movement. It is not merely a problem of a few rotten apples tainting and otherwise equalitarian movement. Cathy Young says it best:

    “Critics of radical feminism have been often accused of exaggerating the importance of a handful of male-haters in the movement. Yet Dworkin was never relegated to the lunatic fringe where she belonged: Her texts have been widely assigned in women’s studies courses, and prominent feminists from activist Gloria Steinem to philosopher Martha Nussbaum have offered their praise, treating her hatemongering as extremism in defense of the oppressed. (I prefer the view that hate is hate.)”.

    The core feminist movement includes abortionists and an army of ivory-tower professionals who build entire institutions on replacing good husbands with feminist-patriarchal government. The core is presently comprised of women (most of whom masquerade as lesbians) who want “marriage” to become a license for any two women to marry each other and take over family and society altogether. They spawn countless reports containing false data on subjects such as child support and domestic violence – all of which are ultimately debunked ten to twenty years after the policies go into effect.

    Feminists constantly wail about marriage being a “trap” or a method of slavery. They don’t want it, or men. They pretend that husbands are a danger to women, when in fact husbands are the lowest risk group for child abuse and abuse of women. And they want no-fault divorce so they win easily without even having to prove fault on the part of the husband.

    But feminists only throw away their half of the marital contract. They still expect society to steal men’s money to provide them all the benefits of marriage. They also demand government provide all the other services that men normally provided in marriage, including parenting, health care funding, housing, discipline, and even love.

    Feminists…
    1. Worship Contraception. (don’t leave home without it)
    2. Believe in Abortion. (killing one’s own children is a need)
    3. Celebrate Euthanasia. (NOW celebrates Terry Schiavo)
    4. Support Gays, Lesbians and Homosexual Marriage.
    5. Believe that the Family oppresses women.
    6. Will divorce at the drop of a hat.
    7. Want the total destruction of marriage. (explicitly written)
    8. Believe that Family should defy biology.
    9. Believe that Men and Women are the same.
    10. Hate Men. (explicitly expressed in the latest college paper)
    11. Believe that all sex is rape.
    12. Believe that Pope Ratzinger is a woman hater. (feminists howled at his paper http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20040731_collaboration_en.html)

  52. April 27, 2005 at 11:39 am

    Well, Samaritan, you sure changed my mind. Thanks for playing.

    Did you miss the thread where we made fun of you?

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