Feminism

Feminist ideology and the effect it has had upon society
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Feminism

Postby Andrea » 05 Aug 2011, 20:40

Let me start off by stating that I am not a feminist. I'm 25 and I've been married since I was 23, to a man I met when I was 21. Yes, I love the very ground the walks upon. Silly me, terribly old-fashioned. But I ask you this: Have the Germaine Greers of the world made it better for women, or worse with their man-hating ideology?

They told us women that we could have it all and not need men. I think the Female Eunach did great damage to our society. Women are more miserable now than ever, I daresay.

Women now have the unenviable task of having to hold down a job, raise their children and maintain a household. Usually, something goes out the window. We can't be everything. I feel like women have lost their identity and men, as well, for that matter. In recent years, "Why Men Love Bi***es" have been selling for women, whilst men have books like, "Rantings of a Single Male" by men who have become jaded or lost. Few people seem to be able to have real relationships because we're told not to settle until we find Mr. Right.

Why is it acceptable for women to be depicted in the media as being strong and dominant, with a silly, easily manipulated male by her side? Most, if not all the women I know, want a man who is strong of character and, well, manly.

Many women, whom I call the Manipulators, instead of trying to be valued for more than their looks, seem to put their wares on show more than ever by dressing like streetwalkers. These women tend to go on many dates with men they have no intention of sleeping with, and they get free dinners and drinks and sometimes holidays. There was a recent Slut parade here in London, which I found quite symptomatic of the crazy situation we are seeing. I wanted to organise a Lady parade - with women dressed with dignity and self-respect.

Others, whom I call militant feminists, often look completely de-feminised, as if they would prefer to be men. Cropped haired, with no make-up (generally).

I personally try to adopt a via media in this respect. I try always to learn and be a better version of myself intellectually, but I still attempt to look feminine, but not tarty. It's sometimes hard to know what to do really, with all the different messages thrown at women: "You must look as slim as a model!" "You must be a leader in your community" "You must be a good mother" "If you have cellulite, you're unloveable" "You must go to university and then get a high-paying career" - It's a bit too much, really.

What are your thoughts about feminism? What have been the pros and cons of "Women's Liberation" in your eyes?

(For the record, I get angry when I see photos of men under a woman's (usually high-heeled) foot. That's incredibly sexist).
Andrea
 
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Re: Feminism

Postby Elliott » 05 Aug 2011, 21:28

I have only personally known two feminists.

One was a young girl who was pathologically angry at the world - I might add she came from a nice, middle-class background and I couldn't see any reason for her to be so angry, but she was. At the age of about 22, she suddenly "became a feminist" and has been ever since. I can only think that feminism provided her with the justification she'd always needed for being so angry and bitter. She was one of the few genuinely nasty people I've ever met.

The other was a woman who had taken up feminism in the 70s at university and still held to it now, using it (and other things) to feel superior to pretty much everyone, whom she viewed with detached smugness. She told me that she had struggled to adapt to motherhood and had never been in love until her present partner, whom she met in her 50s (this suggests to me she's not in love with him either, and doesn't want to admit that she isn't good at loving or trusting people). She was one of those women who takes no interest in "being feminine" - never used make-up or wore dresses or anything like that. A curious thing: despite being deliberately unfeminine, she had a minor obsession with Audrey Hepburn. I suspect that deep down she wanted to be feminine but was somehow too scared, so instead she admired it in a distant woman (a woman she couldn't criticise or cajole, so could only look at in awe).

In summary, I think that feminism is essentially a get-out clause for intelligent women who aren't happy being women.

A danger for any intellectual, or indeed anyone who attempts to comment on society, is that they assume their own failings are true of everybody, or even of society itself. I'm sure other people have said this in the past but I don't think it is said often enough. So many intellectuals are really messed-up people. Feminists exemplify this more than most intellectuals. That first girl I mentioned - she spends her days writing tracts about how evil society is. And sorry to mention Laurie Penny again, but she strikes me as yet another confused little girl struggling with the idea of being a woman.

No doubt in the early days, feminists had some worthy goals (equal pay for doing the same job as a man, etc.) and I'm sure there were excesses of disrespectful behaviour towards women in the workplace. It was right that these things were tackled.

But really, what is it now? What has it been, in fact, for the last 30 years?

Nothing is more irritating than listening to Germaine Greer going on about the inherent shortcomings of the male character. I realised recently that if it weren't for the male character with its obsessiveness, its competitiveness and its eye for detail, practically nothing of the modern world would have been achieved. We'd still be living in caves. And I don't think that is something women should be ashamed of or embarrassed about; I just wish they acknowledged it.

Finally, I suspect that most women (NOT ALL, JUST MOST) do not want to be active in the world in the way that men have always been active in the world. They want to be at home, looking after the children, looking after the house, and being protected by a man. It is dreadfully un-PC and for all I know it may be completely wrong, but for now at least, it's what I believe. I also think that most men, if they were honest, want a woman to be precisely as I just described. They want her to happy and secure and confident, but they also want to be needed, and that means that each gender has to have something the other lacks. In other words: the roles are necessarily different.

Speaking for myself, as a young man I do not find it attractive when a woman tries to be masculine. It makes me think "issues". I want a woman who's happy being a woman, and who is happy for men to be men. Of course there are a million variations of that in practice, but the basic template has got us through thousands of years of hardship, and I can't see why we should change it now - even assuming it were truly possible, which I doubt.

But as I said, one should always be careful of projecting one's own issues on society. Perhaps I have issues with women? I have to be open to the idea.
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Re: Feminism

Postby Michael » 05 Aug 2011, 21:45

A friend of mine, a male undergraduate, wanted to join a newly formed feminist reading group put on by a female professor and several female grad students. They turned him down on the grounds that he drank too much. Now that is a fair criticism of my friend, who is a bit of a wild man with long dreadlocks who likes a night at the bar better than just about anything. Also, he is unfamiliar with feminist literature, wanting to join to improve his understanding. He could understand being excluded for those reasons. The ridiculous part, though, is that they also excluded a male graduate student who specifically studies feminist thought and, I would imagine, would have something to contribute. This could only be on the grounds that he is male.

(By the way, there was barely a single female prof or grad student in the department who doesn't have "Feminism" listed among her academic interests. No such uniformity of interest among the male professors and grad students.)

Andrea, my wife agrees with you about late stage feminism making things worse for women. Ambitious women have somehow created the expectation that all women must be ambitious, and this devalues the contribution of women who want to look after their homes and children.
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Re: Feminism

Postby Mike » 05 Aug 2011, 23:24

Funnily enough, I don't meet many people these days who describe themselves as feminists. Perhaps because it was replaced as the standard left-wing axe to grind at least a decade ago...by environmentalism.

Within the public sector at least, feminism has more than achieved what it set out to do (and some of its aims were in fact reasonable enough, equal pay for instance, whereas others were abstruse and theoretical and ultimately pretty meaningless). Outside of the "educated" milieu, a lot of the boorish male behaviour towards women still exists, but there's no way of changing that by fiat.

I still think the mother-impulse is much stronger than a lot of feminists would like to admit, and to my mind this has always been the chief weakness of a lot of feminist thought - the denial of certain biological impulses in the face of the accumulated common sense of millennia.
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Re: Feminism

Postby Clare » 06 Aug 2011, 20:46

Feminism is about defending equal political, economic and social rights of women. In that sense I confess to being a feminist despite never reading feminist literature or actively championing feminist causes. However it seems the term ‘feminist’ now has very different connotations.
Andrea – you remark that miltant feminists wear no make-up. I do not wear make-up; I think the time and money I would spend on such a pursuit could be better used. It seems alien to me to think I should buy in to an industry that is reliant on convincing women that they are too ugly to be seen outside the home without a mask.
Polly Toynbee recognised the inherent disconnect between multiculturalism and feminism and declared that she could not be a multiculturalist on account of it. This was long before it became popular to renounce multiculturalism.
An article I did have the pleasure of reading is David Stove’s “The intellectual capacity of women” http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/women.html He makes some interesting points and some ridiculous ones.
The success of feminism in the work place cannot be judged on the equality of outcome. Just because 50% of the population are women should not lead anyone to believe that 50% of women should be senior executives and this would prove something. I think women work better collaboratively rather than competively and the latter skill is better suited to ‘achievement’ in a capitalist economy.
On the subject of feminist reading groups, my sister joined one some years ago which did have a male member. I suggested he was only there to get laid which no doubt says more about me than it does about him.
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Re: Feminism

Postby Christine » 06 Aug 2011, 20:48

Feminism to me means lying over the differences between the sexes, turning off the switch for common sense and constantly looking at everything and getting ahead through the prism of victimhood.

There were a few little events and anecdotes that immunized me from that point of view: I had to read bad novels like THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood and THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin in high school and college. If such deluded crap was feminist, I thought back then, no way do I want any part of it. Also, I found it weird that professors were always pointing out the fact that certain female writers were dismissed and ignored. Well, who the h--- would read Aphra Behn besides you?, I thought. Why not let’s read good writers like Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Marguerite Yourcenar and Colette while our time in this world is finite and my parents are paying you a fortune for your knowledge and time? These last four writers were never assigned to me in school and I had to read them after graduating from college.

Also, I came to associate feminism with making a virtue of bad cooking. It was a point of pride for many of my classmates to say things like “my pie crust is terrible!” When Hillary Clinton said on television that she wasn’t just going to sit back and bake cookies, I couldn’t help feeling that she insulted my mother and other female relatives who enjoyed baking. That’s like giving oneself a halo of righteousness for lack of ironing skills.

So my antipathy towards feminism came through many little moments like those listed above. I instantly became a fan of TD when I read his essay “The Rage of Virginia Woolf” many years ago.
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Re: Feminism

Postby John » 06 Aug 2011, 21:34

Clare wrote:An article I did have the pleasure of reading is David Stove’s “The intellectual capacity of women” http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/women.html He makes some interesting points and some ridiculous ones.

What do you consider to be the interesting points and what do you consider to be the ridiculous ones?
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Re: Feminism

Postby Clare » 07 Aug 2011, 07:57

Here’s my book report. It has been a while since I read the article and maybe my opinion on it has softened since.
Stove starts my acknowledging that men and women exist on a spectrum. I might be smarter than you but it’s more likely that you’re smarter than me.
I agree that intellectual capacity cannot be directly tested because any test would be flawed. To me, the idea of using performance as a fallible guide to capacity (and explicitly stating its inherent fallibility) is a novel one.
In comparing non-reprodutive women to celibate men Stove states “The medieval monastery was often a repository, at least, of learning, and sometimes an active centre of learning; the nunnery was neither.”
The paragraphs referring to Darwinian cause for the inferior intellectual capacity of women does not ring true for me. Other species hunt meat but are not more intelligent than women, therefore intelligence is not a prerequisite of hunting.
I think his final question is very interesting and would love to hear a response to it.
“As I have now said what would convince or begin to convince me of the falsity of my belief, I may be entitled to renew my question to the equality-theorists: What would convince them of the falsity of their belief? What would they even regard as being some evidence against it?”
I suppose feminists tend to be monomaniacs and many have lost the ability to consider the issue objectively. The type of people who hear “You are stupid” if you said “The intellectual capacity of women is inferior to that of men”.
I’m not sure the intellectual capacity of women is an important question and probably any arguments that apply in the ‘Race & IQ’ strand could instead apply to women. I think women are as capable as men in defining what constitutes a good society and that is more important.
What do you think?
Clare
 
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Re: Feminism

Postby Andrea » 07 Aug 2011, 08:30

I've really enjoyed reading all your different perspectives on this subject. To be clear, I do think we are equal, though we ought to recognise we are different.

Christine said, "Also, I came to associate feminism with making a virtue of bad cooking. It was a point of pride for many of my classmates to say things like “my pie crust is terrible!” When Hillary Clinton said on television that she wasn’t just going to sit back and bake cookies, I couldn’t help feeling that she insulted my mother and other female relatives who enjoyed baking. That’s like giving oneself a halo of righteousness for lack of ironing skills."


I couldn't agree more. I am homemaker and enjoy baking and cooking, not passionately, but I find great comfort in seeing my husband enjoy the food I make for us. The rest of the time, I'm writing about the 17th century and yes, I've had to read a great deal of Aphra Behn... ;)

Clare wrote: "Andrea – you remark that miltant feminists wear no make-up. I do not wear make-up; I think the time and money I would spend on such a pursuit could be better used."


I respect your opinion, Clare. What is your opinion of women who do use make-up, do you think they are letting the feminist cause down?

Mike wrote: "Outside of the "educated" milieu, a lot of the boorish male behaviour towards women still exists, but there's no way of changing that by fiat."

Yes, indeed. I just have to walk past scaffolders to see that...

Great comments, by the way.

Michael wrote, "Andrea, my wife agrees with you about late stage feminism making things worse for women. Ambitious women have somehow created the expectation that all women must be ambitious, and this devalues the contribution of women who want to look after their homes and children."


Yes, it is the late-stage, from the 1960s on that concerns me. I do not have much trouble about the suffragettes, it is merely the strong ideology of recent decades that I find troublesome. My sisters are stay-at-home mothers, and ambitious women say, "they've got it easy." What is easy, pray, about raising the next generation to be well brought up, good citizens?

Elliott wrote, "In summary, I think that feminism is essentially a get-out clause for intelligent women who aren't happy being women."

As I have met quite a few, I tend to agree with you. This obviously isn't the case for everyone, it just seems to be for most.
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Re: Feminism

Postby Jonathan » 08 Aug 2011, 06:10

Andrea wrote:What is easy, pray, about raising the next generation to be well brought up, good citizens?


A false belief on the nature of man has made us unable to recognize the importance of this question. Children are born Good, though they can be corrupted by society. Bad behavior is a phase which will pass without any intervention. Persistent bad behavior is a disease to be cured with medicine. Progenitors should be their offspring's best friends instead of Parents.

With such beliefs, it's no wonder that we assign no value to good parenting, and do not even recognize that children need to be "brought up".
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Re: Feminism

Postby Elliott » 08 Aug 2011, 14:33

Andrea wrote:I do think we are equal, though we ought to recognise we are different.

Then what does "equal" mean? (I have an answer, I'm just curious about yours.)
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Re: Feminism

Postby Clare » 08 Aug 2011, 20:25

Andrea wrote “What is your opinion of women who do use make-up, do you think they are letting the feminist cause down?”

I don’t see it as a feminist issue. I’m not sure there is a feminist cause to let down; we live in a pluralist society and what is right for me is not right for everyone. Face painting is a low culture activity and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t engage in some low culture! There’s no shame in doing that or enjoying it. I’m sure there’s a good TD quote about low culture having a place beside high culture ....maybe someone else has a better memory than me....

Nick wrote “indeed that my views, if taken seriously, would be a serious set-back for women. ...... has ignored the point I’m making.....”

I’m confused – what point are you making? That Russell Brand flatters women and women drop their knickers at the first compliment they hear? ;)
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Re: Feminism

Postby Andrea » 10 Aug 2011, 16:28

I personally can't stand Russell Brand. He was once about two yards away from me in the Dorchester and I just wanted to run away (!)

Elliott, I meant "equal" as in both are deserving of equal amounts of respect. A man is not more deserving of respect than a woman and vice versa. "Different" in that, biologically, they are different and can do some things better and worse than the other.

;)
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Re: Feminism

Postby Elliott » 10 Aug 2011, 20:04

Andrea wrote:Elliott, I meant "equal" as in both are deserving of equal amounts of respect. A man is not more deserving of respect than a woman and vice versa. "Different" in that, biologically, they are different and can do some things better and worse than the other.


I agree with all of that, but it does not amount to the sexes being equal. You mean "they deserve equal respect", not "they are equal" which is a vastly bigger, vaguer and more dangerous statement.

I think we should be precise about using these terms, which are, after all, bandied about nowadays with little care.
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Re: Feminism

Postby Gavin » 10 Dec 2011, 17:38

Today I happened to see a link to this excellent video and I donated to the man's cause.

Gavin
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