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Thread: Feminism

  1. #16
    Why do we need someone to follow?

  2. #17
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    ^Yeah, that. It's about the conditon of communities of women, or women (and men) in general, not about individual leaders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlet View Post
    Here's a real problem. So obviously rational, intelligent people aren't going to look towards Palin as a good female role-model.

    Who then should we have be our flag-bearer? Who should we look up to?

    Gloria Steinem, Helen Gurley Brown, Jane Fonda all seem to be pretty quiet nowadays. Naomi Wolf lost some of her credibility. Maybe Palin (for those people who look up to her) is filling the void because there isn't anyone else?

    Personally, I love Hillary Clinton. A lot of people don't though, some for good reason, some for stupid ones.

    Powerful women performers are powerful in a sexual way (Madonna) and while that's fine, we all can't draw our power from that. Meryl Streep is one of the only ones I can think of. TV has progressed a lot, but there isn't a Murphy Brown or Roseanne on now.

    So who do have to admire so Palin looks like the idiot that she is? How we can say "Don't follow her" if we don't have someone else to offer up?

    (I could be missing someone completely obvious too. I'm really tired.)
    I think I know better the kind of thing you are talking about now with regard to pushy feminists. The type of people who would have been mad that Gloria Steinem got married, (ZOMG how could she do that after she said a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle!!! TRAITOR! Floria!) All of these women are individual, fallible human beings. And they are going to make choices in their individual lives that you or I might or might not take issue with - such as whether or not to have an abortion, get married, who to associate with personally). You know, feminists who would say - you have to be gay to be a real feminist (political lesbians), or you can't get married and be a feminist, or you have to remain childless to be a feminist. So I agree with you about these types of people, who like you said try to lay down "the rules" for everyone. But when it comes to the fundemental building blocks of our society and instutitions and the critique of patriarchy, I think there are concrete prinicples that people who claim to be feminists should adhere to. And in the case of media figures - rather than looking at it in an individual way, rather than pointing at this or that current public figure - feminism would hold that the mass media itself is sexist and often anti-woman. Yes there's individual strong women who break through - (just as individual women shatter the glass celing and rise to the top of Fortune 500 companies) - but the fact remains that both the media and the dominant corporate modes are inherently sexist. So when Sarah Palin spouts some neoliberal line about how wonderful private enterprise is and how we have to defer to it in ways that are (it seems to me) overtly anti-democratic, this is anti-woman. Or say if Sarah Palin stood up and said "I'm a feminist and I'm for abolishing the minimum wage, or slashing the budget of Head Start programs and instead slashing taxes for the super wealthy." I mean, that's how twisted the backlash anti-feminism that poses as feminism gets. It's an upside down formulation of true feminism. Slavery is freedom.


    So anyway sorry I'm talking to much. In answer to what you said about who we should offer forward or point to, I would echo jaypea's sentiment and say that we don't need to focus on individual women and declare them as our leaders. Instead we should look at our major societal institutions and ask ourselves if they respond or are concerned with the treatment of all women (and men) and not just an elite priviliged few at the top.

  3. #18
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    And again sorry for rambling or being preachy. I do see what you are saying Scarlet. I'll let someone else talk now! : )

  4. #19
    Only knows desire. Perky Compson's Avatar
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    NUHN, what about feminists who believe that there is sexism within current power structures but believe these structures are salvageable (not Marxist feminists)? I don't think anyone can deny that there are many sexist elements to current capitalism but many people don't believe profit is inherent exploitation, including many self-proclaimed feminists. Can't feminists also include the people working to correct the current power structure as well as the people working to change the entire paradigm? If the efforts are to end gender discrimination, I don't believe it has to necessarily entail anti-capitalist beliefs.

    Personally, I think we need to change the framework from "a feminist has to believe this" to "a feminist belief is this". There's a problem with being too inclusive (for example, I don't think you could possibly defend the position of "leave DV couples to sort it out amongst themselves" as feminist), but currently I believe the movement is too exclusive, to its detriment. Even ignoring the racism, homophobia and ableism that exists within the feminist movement, the way mainstream, prominent feminists frame issues is too divisive. When you've got feminists heralding that health reform is a setback for "women's health" because of only reproductive rights, while ignoring that it helps many women's issues not related to abortion (for example, the fact that women are more likely to be denied for pre-existing conditions, or more likely to skip preventative care), it sends a message that feminism is only about abortion and is not for the many women for whom that's not a top priority. When feminists are claiming that women should vote for Hillary over Barack because women are more oppressed than blacks, it sends the message that people of color are not welcome in the movement. When people claim that you shouldn't consider yourself a feminist if you don't support harsher gun control, it sends the message that feminism is not for women who believe they are safer when they carry a weapon. When feminists try to word police, it frightens off people who believe in reclamation. These are all pretty current problems, and it serves to fragment the movement and keep us fighting amongst ourselves instead of towards common goals.

    Personally, I no longer align myself with the mainstream feminist movement because I'm tired of people with eating disorders being misrepresented as poor, brainwashed little girls who just need a good media literacy class by feminists pushing their own agenda for fat acceptance. I still work for ending discrimination based on gender but I'm done dealing with a movement that looks for ways to exclude and misrepresent each other, rather than build bridges and work towards common goals.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a ramble, but I've been reading a variety of feminist news sources for years and sometimes it just comes to a boil. Sorry to spooge up the thread!
    Last edited by Perky Compson; 06-25-2010 at 09:57 PM.

  5. #20
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayPea View Post
    Why do we need someone to follow?
    Well, YOU don't and *I* don't and I'm guessing most of us here don't. But I think most movements needs a positive role model. How successful would the civil rights movement of the 60s have been without MLK? Or feminism without Gloria Steinem's earlier work?

    But why I think it's kind of important now is that people are being told Palin and others are good examples and we don't really have anyone we can point at and say "See? This person is MUCh more admirable." i think some people aren't smart enough to see there are other options.

    Every time a woman fails it's "See? All women suck at that." It's not right. It's not fair, but that is how our white-Christian-straight-male society works. The most visible person is representative of everyone like them. So we need to have an awesome representative out there. Like Oprah. Oprah does do a LOT to help a lot of women's causes, but she doesn't come out and really vocalize support for the movement at large. I'm not criticizing her or exalting her, but using her as an example. It's like every powerful woman doesn't want to come out and say "Yes, I'm a feminist. Why aren't you?"

    And NUHN, that is exactly the type of feminist (femi-nazi, being the derogatory term) I was thinking about. Like the kind who think all sex is rape. While everyone is entitled to those sorts of opinions, denigrating people who disagree just makes us bicker and infight.

    I agree with Miss Perky. Having done a lot of work and research with various feminist causes, I often do feel unacceptable for my views and a lot of women are disenfranchised within the movement itself. And I actually agree with most of the "rules" we're supposed to follow and believe, but because I can understand why someone doesn't, I'm some sort of enabler instead of being practical and saying not everyone is as educated and enlightened as us.

    It's hard sometimes to identify as a feminist when I feel like so many others don't want "my kind" of help or opinion.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Hypatia's Avatar
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    Maybe it isn't about ideals anymore. Maybe we should take a look at what is actually happening in women's lives. The truth is that this recession has been hardest on men and now many women are the sole breadwinners in the family. There are more women going to college and getting degrees than men.

    The ideas and situations of women's lives are very different than they were in the first, second or third wave. But we still have gender issues going on.

  7. #22
    Senior Member HumptyDumpty's Avatar
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    For me, Feminism is changing to fit our current times. Each wave of feminism has been some sort of response to whatever is happening... socially... politically. At least Feminism on a broad scale. Each person's idea of Feminism and how it pertains to them is different, obviously.

    Ani Difranco performs this song called "Whose side are you on" (I think that's the title of it) during live shows, and there's a lyric in there somewhere about how Feminism shouldnt necessarily be just for women... it should be a frame of mind. A way of thinking. Here we are in times of war. Where humankind is rapidly destroying the earth... the oil spill is killing wildlife and spreading like a disease. Completely out of control.

    As someone who perscribes to many Holistic beliefs, I think *most* women are connected to the Earth on a far different and, perhaps, deeper level than *most* of the male population. Feminism, or at least my idea of feminism, is shifting towards the current needs. On an Earth scale, rather than just a Social scale. We are at a point where the Patriarchy has ruled for centuries and wars have been fought. The earth has been industrialized and used. I think different solutions and ideas are desperately needed. As I said above, Feminism is a frame of mind.

    For me, it's not just about equality. It's also a mindset that, if shared among both men and women, could make some serious change. For the better.

  8. #23
    Senior Member ontheindianside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NUHN View Post
    As to the rest of your post Scarlet, all I can say is that there are many "feminisms." However I think there are certain principles that would apply to just about any legitimate brand of feminism. For instance, the treatment of ALL women is the issue, not just a subset. Corporate boardroom feminism where women collude in the oppression of other women is not a legitmate form of feminism, even though it's one of the most frequently evoked. As in - wow, Carly Fiornia was a big high powered CEO, good for her, a woman can run a profit hungry oppressive corporation just as well as any man... That kind of thing. I hear so often this statement of "choices" or not "judging other women's choices," but I don't accept it. Those are individualistic arguments. You can't truly support the equality of ALL women if you contribue to the demonization of Latinas, or to women from the global south, as in your example of the immigration issue.

    Anyway, these are just my opinions, I don't want to start an argument or anything. And I do hear what you are saying with regard to pushy people who want you to accept their entire political philosophy and not think for yourself. But feminism and the work it has done is such a rich legacy - and it has mapped the terrain very well. It's because of feminism that we've learned you have to approach things from a multi-faceted perspective. And that's why certain "choices" - choices that are supportive of capitalism, patriarchy, anti-reproductive rights or other things that oppress ALL women, are not IMO valid choices. We could not hail them under the banner of feminism.
    This pretty much sums up what I was thinking when I was reading through this thread. I'm not for thought-policing, and finding commonalities between many different women's experiences is a totally legitimate feminist goal, but feminism can't just be about a belief in equality. It's more complicated than that, and letting boardroom feminists, conservatives (feminism is, IMO, by definition radical), and anti-abortion zealots legitimately claim "feminist" as something that describes their ideologies totally robs the word of all its meaning and historical context. It's not like a two-party system. Immigration, for example (and I have to admit I didn't read the article because it took forever to load for me), isn't a black-and-white, "keep our borders secure/we hate brown people" v. "let everybody in!" issue. I'd say that one could more accurately be said to look at immigration through a feminist lens (but that it's also a "feminist issue"), thinking about, for example, the ways in which immigration policy actually affects women's lives and then working to improve things in those arenas. It doesn't mean immigration isn't an "everyone issue" but more that the immigration affects and is experienced by women in ways that it may not be experienced by men.

    And I have to agree with those who've said being not-anti-abortion (I'm not crazy about the term pro-choice; I think it's gotten to the point where reproductive rights advocates have had to almost become anti-abortion themselves because of the way the debate is framed, whereas I'd proudly say I'm pro-abortion - it might not be for everyone, but it's a good thing!) is a kind of feminist non-negotiable. Like others have said, these Phyllis Schafly aspirants are benefiting from everything feminism has accomplished to tear it down (in more areas just just reproductive rights).

    Quote Originally Posted by Sivafae View Post
    Maybe it isn't about ideals anymore. Maybe we should take a look at what is actually happening in women's lives. The truth is that this recession has been hardest on men and now many women are the sole breadwinners in the family. There are more women going to college and getting degrees than men.
    This (kind of tangentially and randomly) reminds me of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/world/europe/23iht-letter.html">this</a> New York Times article Bitch posted on their Facebook page. The author basically talked about how men need to get on the feminist bandwagon if the movement is going to make greater gains and used examples from mostly Nordic countries where men, for instance, advanced more progressive maternal and paternal leave policies. The comments section (on the Bitch page) was full of people either talking about whether men can be feminists or just "allies" or about how they found the article patronizing because it read like, "Okay, women, you've had your turn; let the men take over and show you how it's done." But I commented that the main thing I found objectionable about the article was that it assumed that women could be said to have achieved "equality" when primarily white, (upper)middle-class women's had more opportunities and less stress in the home and workplace. But it's so much more complicated than that. I can't quite remember what it had to do with your post after having read through the whole thread and thinking about all this stuff, so I'm not, like, singling you out and saying that you're advancing this position or something.

    But, basically, I guess what I'm saying is that, in my view, feminism is less about "women" and more about intricately intwined power structures that affect women in different ways. Sometimes I think discussions of gender issues forget that; they go for the sort of mainstream, liberal, corporatist feminist angle and forget that there's more to feminism than women being able to do things (though that is a part of feminism).

    This post made a lot more sense when I was constructing it in my head! Now it just feels like a bunch of garble. But I'm glad we have this thread and think it will be easier to talk about stuff like this when the thread is bigger and we've got more specific issues to talk about, if that makes sense.
    Last edited by ontheindianside; 06-27-2010 at 05:04 PM.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ontheindianside View Post
    But, basically, I guess what I'm saying is that, in my view, feminism is less about "women" and more about intricately intwined power structures that affect women in different ways. Sometimes I think discussions of gender issues forget that; they go for the sort of mainstream, liberal, corporatist feminist angle and forget that there's more to feminism than women being able to do things (though that is a part of feminism).
    I think we are in agreement then! You put it very succintly there - intricately intertwined power structures. You know, there's a movement afoot to change "Women Studies" courses on college campuses to simply, "feminist studies" - to demonstrate, just like you said, that it's not so much about "women," it's about utilizing feminist theories as somewhat of a dialetic to approach and change the world - with the goal of equality between men and women, equality between different sexualities, equality between classes.

    Because I am a man I would not barrel into a conversation about feminism and start bossing everyone around (and I hope I haven't done that here!) But i feel I must object when feminism is defined in such a way as to exclude men. I don't subscribe to the naive notion that women are more highly evolved or (to state it the other way around) that men are lower than women. Abu Gharib and Lyndie England should have revealed to us that women are capable of being just as inhumane and exploitative as any man, especially when they align themselves with intrinsically sexist/racist/imperalistic institituions like the military. Many feminsts thought the inclusion of women into the military and combat positons would change things - that women would not stoop to the level of some bad male soldiers, or that women soldiers would transform the military into a more democratic, progressive, and pro-woman organization. But this hasn't happened. Regardless if certain women deem themselves feminists and rise the ranks - the instiution itself is still a haven for sexism. (And this kind of goes towards your points MIssPerky, about whether an institution can be changed by participating in it or not. I obviously don't have the last word on that or the answer, but this example of Abu Gharib to me illustrates how certain brands of 'feminism' are no kind of feminism at all.

    The legendary Marxist feminist Angela Davis tells a little ancedote about the military that I think demonstrates how (good) feminism pushes us to think ever deeper, to think of ever more capacious definitions of freedom. She says she was watching this military commander shed some tears on a tv show. He was so broken up he said because this woman soldier had been killed in combat - and while tragic, he said her death illustrates that, quote, "women had finally gained equality." And Davis went on to say how that struck her - that "equality" is defined by the ability of both sexes to be killed in an unneccesary war of aggression and imperalism. Equal right for men and women to torture. Equal right for men and women to unilateraly invade countries and target millions of civillans. True feminism says - that's not equality, even though corporate feminism wants us to think so. And when we approach things with this framework - we see that women - such as Condoleeza Rice who I mentioned earlier - can be the figurehead of masculinist, anti-woman forces within society. And since that's true, it means men can be the victims of patriarchy. So anyway, sorry for rambling (again!), but this is why I feel that (the right) men must be welcome within feminism's framework(s).
    Last edited by NUHN; 06-27-2010 at 07:35 PM.

  10. #25
    Senior Member ontheindianside's Avatar
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    ^Agreed.

    And, god, I just read through my post again - so many typos!

  11. #26
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
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    "Twilight: The franchise that ate feminism"
    In a climactic argument, the two guys debate what's best for her. As they decide her future she sleeps between them, the epitome of submissive passivity.

    Bella's fate isn't only dispiriting; it's also deceptive. On the whole, beguilement by a teenage bad boy, however courtly his manner, doesn't lead to eternal love; nor is self-abnegation a reliable route to bliss. It's therefore understandable that some have questioned the merits of Twilight's message for womankind.

    Still, the author of the books on which the films are based, Stephenie Meyer, has answered her critics. Bella, she says, isn't "a negative example of empowerment". After all, "The foundation of feminism is this: being able to choose." Ultimately, says Meyer, what Bella does is up to Bella. That ought to be enough to qualify her as a feminist.

    This seems to imply that anything a woman does is a feminist act, unless she's performing it because someone's put a gun to her head.
    I find it interesting that Meyer is trying to say Bella is a feminist character, as I would completely disagree. So would this person:

    "Anti-Feminism: Bella Swan and the illusion of choice" (bit of a wordy article.)
    I am not claiming any of the implications I discuss were intentional on SMeyer’s part. Whether or not the author or readers are aware of it, though, the Twilight series communicates dangerous messages about what is acceptable or admirable or desirable.
    It's an interesting discussion, if you'll excuse the fact that Twilight is being used as the subject of the debate, but it goes right to the core of what is and is not feminism and how the concept has been warped in recent years, particularly by people like Meyer who have an overly simplistic view of feminism.

  12. #27
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
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    I came across this last night and has some of the same points we talked about here.

    15 Aspects That Must Be Recognized In Third-Wave Feminism

    and it linked to Ten Things You Should Know About International Women's Rights.

    One in three women die or are seriously injured as a result of gender-based violence. Violence against women results in more deaths among women ages 15 to 44 than the total number of women who die because of war, malaria and cancer.
    I found that particularly relevant with the whole Mel Gibson thing.

  13. #28
    and it sounds like all our lives Kari's Avatar
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    All women who are politicians, actresses, singers, CEO's, or in any position of power are NOT necessarily feminists. While feminism has enabled most of these women to suceed, that does not mean that they currently identify with it. Sarah Palin, Tila Tequila, Michelle Bachman, and Lady GaGa are not feminists due to their success.
    THIS THIS THIS THIS.

  14. #29
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    I see feminism in much wider scale than embracing womanhood etc. To me it's equality of the sexes, having the right to break free from the traditional roles. Therefore feminism is beneficial to both men and women.

  15. #30
    bubble in a soundwave sara's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scarlet View Post
    I came across this last night and has some of the same points we talked about here.

    15 Aspects That Must Be Recognized In Third-Wave Feminism
    Thank you for that. I'm sending it to my classmates.

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