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Old 08-07-2006, 07:56 PM   #16
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Re: Re: The male feminist

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Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
Anyway, the concept of feminism has always been shady for me. Personally, I prefer to support gender equity rather than gender equality. Let's face it, men and women are not the same and should not be treated the same across the board. I don't see why men can't be feminists.
The "shadiness" comes from a lack of clear definition.

In the context you suggest here, there probably are plenty of male "feminists".
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:22 PM   #17
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^^ And also, I think, in the context of the article silja linked to...which raises the question...who gets to decide who is(n't) a feminist and why?
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The concept of the gentleman and treating women with respect is not intherently synonomous with equality (the formalised concept of the gentleman that existed in the 19th Century for instance is mildly chauvinistic) and LivLuv is quite right to point out that it is about equity, I hold that humanism and the principles of secularism and rationalism are the best tools with which to enow all of humanity with the rights and liberties to reach their full potential, and I do think that I am a gentleman to a fault. I do not think that those ideals can be reconciled with the gender poltics and philosophy that have risen up with modern feminism.
This reminds me of EM Forster's famous line, "Perhaps there is a grain of resentment in all chivalry," which in context (A Passage to India) suggests that appointing oneself the defender of some particular (other) group's rights--when said defender is also in a position to substantially define and/or enforce everyone's rights--always carries with it the danger that said "defense" will wind up being abused to abrogate other kinds of rights, of whichever group(s). I think this is part of why Kimmel, Stoltenberg et al. have traditionally preferred to label themselves "pro-feminists," and to focus on carrying out work whose rationale and procedures have already been mapped out by mainstream (female) feminists, rather than attempting to articulate a new model of feminism themselves. On the other hand, some of them--Kimmel especially, he's a sociologist at State U. New York--have also studied masculinity extensively, and many of their critiques of conventional masculinity rest uneasily alongside some mainstream strains of feminism, particularly third-wave feminism with its critiques of "victimology" and tendency to distrust "group rights"-type thinking.

All very interesting, but I do think the second-wave critique of the sort of "classic liberal" feminism you're espousing--"add women and stir" to quote Charlotte Bunch, who I was fortunate enough to study with at Rutgers--still stands: Enlightenment-humanist visions of the "social contract" understood the polity in question to be a socioculturally homogeneous one, and its autonomous, rights-bearing citizens to be men; and while this hardly renders it useless as a philosophy on which to base societies where "all of humanity" might "reach their full potential" as you put it, nonetheless it does mean that there will at times be some very uncomfortable gaps in precedent which need to be plugged. It also complicates aversion to "group rights" thinking a wee bit, since this philosophy in origin itself privileges a particular group, even if it was not seen that way at the time (e.g., the public/private dichotomy as it was understood at the time, which made the case for women's civic personhood seem laughable).

It is not just a question of "How do we balance the rights of groups against those of individuals" but also of how do we define--and who gets to define--what the legal implications of these categories are, and what sorts of assumptions underlie those definitions.
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:26 PM   #18
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I took an entire course devoted to this topic and I still don't have a clear definition of what feminism is. Each movement seems to cling to their own respective definition of the concept, and many are at odds with each other.

Therefore, I don't consider myself a feminist, but someone who believes in equity for everyone, equity that transcends useless dichotomies.
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:16 AM   #19
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I grew up with two older sisters.They showed me that women are very capable at doing things that men do. I was also taught to be a gentleman.I do not want to be called a feminist though.I just know the difference between a woman and a helpless woman.
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:28 AM   #20
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Re: The male feminist

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Originally posted by silja

So can a man be a feminist? Would you see it as compromising his masculinity? Is it damaging to the feminist cause?

This is an interesting question, one I've dealt with quite a bit...

I would definately consider myself one who will fight and stand for the equality of women. It still doesn't exist here in America.

I've dealt with both extremes in my life. I once had a girl tell me I was too liberal and that a woman's role is suppose to be submissive and one that stays home. And then I've been told that I wasn't a true feminist because I always was opening doors for women and allowing them in line before me, therefore didn't treat them as equals...
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:25 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
I took an entire course devoted to this topic and I still don't have a clear definition of what feminism is. Each movement seems to cling to their own respective definition of the concept, and many are at odds with each other.

Therefore, I don't consider myself a feminist, but someone who believes in equity for everyone, equity that transcends useless dichotomies.
Great post. I dont think I understand what feminism is, and would certianly love to hear it if someone wished to offer their view.
From what I understand of feminism I dont believe in it at all. I dont support it, per se, either, I dont think. I dont believe women need support or promotion; men need education (if/where appplicable). I dont believe women need to fight for equal working rights and pay; government and business needs to adhere to laws which provide the same packages. Full stop.
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Old 08-08-2006, 02:35 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem


I dont believe women need support or promotion; men need education (if/where appplicable).
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Old 08-08-2006, 09:07 AM   #23
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Re: Re: Re: The male feminist

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Originally posted by nbcrusader


The "shadiness" comes from a lack of clear definition.

In the context you suggest here, there probably are plenty of male "feminists".
I think for some men, they want to keep the definition strict because they are truly threatened by equality of women. There can be equality-in the workplace, at home, etc-while at the same time recognizing the differences that make men and women unique. The key is that those differences not be used as excuses and justifications for keeping women unequal.

I will never understand men being threatened by gender equality/equity. If for no other reason, I would think it would be very freeing for them, freeing from so much pressure to be and act a certain way. Maybe some men just enjoy being a certain way and don't want to change. Some men really do feel and believe they are superior to women, I have dealt with enough of them in my life to know that is true.

It's not fun at all dealing with sexism, and it can be so painful and destructive to your self-esteem.
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Old 08-08-2006, 11:51 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem
I dont believe women need to fight for equal working rights and pay; government and business needs to adhere to laws which provide the same packages. Full stop.
Except that the only reason there are laws in areas of women's issues is that there are women who fought (educated men) to have them written and enforced.
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Old 08-08-2006, 01:19 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by AliEnvy
Except that the only reason there are laws in areas of women's issues is that there are women who fought (educated men) to have them written and enforced.
Exactly. It's because of feminism that women can vote, own property, expect equal pay, expect freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace, have access to birth control, play organized sports, get loans to start their own businesses, legally challenge domestic violence, and so many other things. It's easy enough now to look back at the various eras of feminism that achieved all these things, or for that matter at the Civil Rights Movement, etc., and say "Well that's just the logical extension of classical liberal values to where they should've been all along, is all," but that's a bit rich--no one at the time took any of these rights for granted; they had to be fought for, and it was women themselves who had to fight for them, and that required strong group solidarity and a sense of collective grievance to achieve. Whether the latter qualities are still relevant depends on how fully you think the above rights have been achieved (as well as others--good access to child care, fair treatment in rape cases, etc.) and whose efforts you think it's going to come down to to finish the job.

And it's normal and natural that any social movement this longstanding, broad-based and demographically complex would give rise to different philosophies of action, analysis, and so on over time. If "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." etc. really meant anything all that universally obvious, none of this would ever have been necessary. But expecting that would be a bit like saying, well if there's only one Bible, then how come all Christians don't see eye-to-eye on what follows from it.
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Old 08-08-2006, 06:57 PM   #26
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Old 08-08-2006, 07:34 PM   #27
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:49 AM   #28
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I've got rather a bad headache, I may have to reply later when I can make more sense. I've tried to read your post a few times now and at first I thought you were explaining what feminism was by merely listing the achievements of women through recent history. I understand the movement, I went to school too, lol. Anyway, then I kept reading and then it sounded like you were 'preaching to the converted' so to speak. Either way, I understand what women have done for women. I understand the wider issue. I dont need it taught. I dont need it said so in response to a few sentences which cannot possibly sum up the very complex view someone, me, can hold on women's rights. Perhaps this is semantics. Perhaps it is my headache. I also should have clarified I referred to feminism today in not understanding it's definition as it seems so spread out in it's ambition and intention. Perhaps it is just me bristling as usual when it seems implied that an alternate view which never even got a chance to be explained, was argued as though false while in reality it simply goes along a different plane to essentially say the same thing.
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Old 08-09-2006, 02:26 AM   #29
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I don't personally have any objections to paraphrasing feminism as "equity," and I don't personally care whether or not people think of themselves as feminists either. It just sounded to me from your first post like you were saying "Feminism is not a credible movement because the principle of equality already has those issues covered," which is a common enough argument, but always strikes my ear as curious, since it only came into being as a movement because that wasn't the case in practice. I don't generally teach gender studies stuff, that isn't my area, but I did take over a course in feminist political theory for an ailing colleague awhile back, and honestly I found that a lot of the students sincerely had no idea about the history of feminism as a social movement; they didn't realize how recent women's suffrage and all that was, and they genuinely thought feminism originated in the US in the 1960s, and was basically a bunch of angry young hippies burning their bras and storming the Miss America pageant. (Ironically, many of them were also first-year "women's studies" majors--the course was cross-listed--who didn't know crap about political theory either, which is part of why I've become quite sour on interdisciplinary "majors"...but that's another topic.) Perhaps this is just another symptom of the general decline in American history teaching, I don't know. Now as far as LivLuv's complaint (which I guess is also yours) about the lack of ideological cohesion, that I can certainly understand; I was ready to tear my hair out myself after a couple courses in the subject as an undergrad. I honestly don't think I could define feminism without first breaking it down into a long list of categories (by era, by country, by ideological type etc.), which would simply be tedious and stupid, as a post anyway. But that's just normal for a social movement that old and that broad-based; it may or may not mean that it's reached the end of what it can practically achieve politically, but it's not a symptom of innate irrelevance nor does it mean that feminist theor(ies) aren't still useful when analyzing social and cultural issues. I think feminism is also often dismissed without having first been given thorough scrutiny.

I hope your headache is better.
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Old 08-09-2006, 02:37 AM   #30
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Thanks yolland, it's easing off now, and I apologise if I came across as cranky. I agree with all that you said above. I've been giving myself a new voluntary headache trying to sort out a unit plan for my upcoming degree, and the freedom of interdisciplinary majors made me want to scream. I'm curious to hear your dissatifaction as a teacher, if you ever feel like starting a thread. I'm not terribly familiar with the US education system, but in many ways, or at least some, I think it betters the one we have here. At least in secondary or high school, anyway. Your university graduates seem to be saying something different, but I dont really know much about it.
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