Sunday, May 20, 2007

My thoughts on Feminism (as I now head for cover)

This post is probably guaranteed to annoy some people, though hopefully not so much that it would prevent discussion. I'm not posting this to be provocative. I'm posting this because it is what I think on the subject and I find now, after thinking about this for several months as I've read many blogs across the whole feminist spectrum, that I want to try and synthesize it all into a post reflecting my current views on the subject.

I hope no one takes offense, though one thing I have gleaned is that this is guaranteed to offend a certain subset of people. And with that in mind, I want to say first, just to get it out of the way, that, while I certainly am 100% for total equality, I don't find feminism to be particularly useful today, at least not in the United States. But before I get into why, I want to give some background on myself to illustrate where I'm coming from before I give my observations, thoughts, and reasoning that led me to that conclusion. Hopefully those who are terribly offended will bear with me through this and hopefully they will be considerably less offended by the time they finish reading. I don't expect to really change anyone's mind, especially on a topic like this that can be so volatile, but perhaps this will lead to further discussion and some degree of understanding between those with opposing points of view.

First, my background.

To fully explain where I came from, I first need to talk a bit about where my parents came from. In particular, my mother. My mother is one of four sisters. Apparently there was a brother, but he died in childbirth or infancy, I am not sure which at this point (and it doesn't really matter now). My mother was the oldest sister. Not having any boys, my grandfather apparently did a lot of things with her he otherwise would have done with a son because, well, he did not have one. I'm not entirely sure what all this entailed, but the one thing I do know is that my mother has always been a huge sports fan (when it comes to college football and basketball). Far more of a fan, in fact, than my father, who as far as I can see really doesn't pay attention to sports at all. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I also have really no interest in watching sports, and this is probably why.

My mother is also five years older than my father, something that is also rather unusual, though I'm sure not unheard of, in their day. They have been married now almost 44 years. I have an older sister and she is the jock in the family. She always has been. I, as my blog indicates, am quite the nerd. I've never been all that active, I generally stayed inside and read books (and did other things). When I was little, if I was threatened, it was my sister who threatened to beat up whomever was bothering me, and she could certainly back that up, though she never actually did. But knowing that she could and would certainly made me feel better.

I grew up in an extremely liberal town, also, so growing up, from my point of view, women seemed like they were pretty well equal to men, better than some men in a physical sense, and so you could say that I grew up with a very skewed point of view on that. It certainly colored how I thought about dating and such. To a certain degree, that led to later disillusionment, as I discovered that despite my egalitarian notions, women still apparently did not do much asking out and did not apparently generally find men who were not strong and aggressive and successful in some sense very attractive. Of course, this is just a generalization. I went through a "nice guy" phase, which many in my shoes do, where I was resentful about that, but I came to realize that just because the world wasn't exactly as I thought it was was no reason to sulk. And really, you just have to deal with the world and the people in it as they are, so I adjusted, I did eventually do some asking out, and so I got to enjoy (or not) the various ups and downs of dating, though at an age later than most.

This brings me to something else about myself that I want to mention. This also goes back to why I'm a libertarian as well. I am very practical. I have little use for flowery theories in such things as philosophy that are not grounded in reality or not grounded in practicality. My basic question with things is, "Well, can you build a bridge out of it?" and if not, then what use is it. (I'm speaking somewhat metaphorically here. I do recognize there are plenty of practical things that do not involve the tangible, such as what might be involved in rational project management for IT projects (This book is an excellent resource on that)).

In sum, my background with regards to how I viewed women was built on a rather non-standard model, in a very liberal community, so I grew up generally thinking total equality was a done deal and it never even occurred to me that it wasn't quite the case in all areas at that time. I certainly would never think there was a profession or role that someone would not be allowed to do just based on gender. The very notion of it was alien to my thinking, probably to the same degree a medieval person would find the notion of, say, a female pope. I certainly saw nothing limiting my sister or my mother from doing what they wanted to do just because they were women. It would not have even occurred to me.

Let me be clear. This isn't a case of me thinking there's no problems for women because I haven't experienced life as a woman. I'm talking about my first-hand impressions of the women closest to me growing up, my mother and my sister. I'm talking about my personal view growing up that women were absolutely equal and capable of doing anything men could do. I took that as a given.

My observations of Feminism online

Fast forward to now. The web. Blogs. Lots of hours online reading. I stumbled across many different blogs. Some of these blogs are labled 'Feminist' some are labeled 'Radical Feminist' some only talk about Feminist issues. The blogs I have read the most of include those blogs mentioned in my blogroll as well as some others. I've also seen discussions on feminism elsewhere. There is even a blog of feminist critics.

Of course, the easiest observation to make is that not all those who label themselves as "Feminists" agree on everything. Hardly surprising. But it isn't just that there is disagreement, there is disagreement to the point where some of the feminsts apparently attack other feminists as not being feminist at all. Generally the biggest targets of this are women who are what is known as "sex-positive" or women who are in what is known as the 'sex worker' trade - strippers, prostitutes, porn actors. I suppose this should not be too surprising, since some feminists have said that all sex between men and women is rape (because apparently women are incapable of offering consent). Therefore any women showing enjoyment of sex or her sexuality with men is immediately suspect as being apparently brainwashed or duped by the omnipresent Patriarchy (more on that later).

I saw one woman, Renegade Evolution, harrased and threatened to the point where she has now agreed to never speak on feminist issues again. I found this somewhat alarming, and also somewhat hypocrtical of those who did this to her. I've seen other women as a result of that decide they no longer want to be identified as feminist, in part because of episodes like that. And I can understand why. It seems like Feminism, to some, requires a conformance of the level that they apparently accuse the "Patriarchy" of forcing on women, all without any apparent irony or self-awareness of the hypocrisy in so doing.

I found one posting to be particularly compelling critique on the whole topic of feminism and discussion of it with people online, though it was specifically an answer to one particular feminist. I don't necessarily agree with everything in that one post (certainly not everything on that site as a whole), but I thought it was an interesting take on the issue.

Another thing I've found often on Feminism blogs is the notion that 'this blog is not feminism 101' and accompanying FAQ. Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting to keep discussions going forward without having to explain the jargon and so forth, though one would hope an effective FAQ could do that. But I wonder if implicit in that statement to 'go somewhere else' if you don't understand Feminism 101 (whatever that may be), is that you really need to not only know about the premises, but AGREE with them or you aren't welcome in the discussion. Now that may be true to a certain degree with any discussion - if you cannot agree on ANY basic premises, it is hard to carry on a conversation. But if you take that too far, I think you take it to the point where the only people you have a discussion with are people who already agree with you, and that is just preaching to the choir. That is where ideas stagnate and die.

Another feeling I get is one of arrogance - that if one doesn't accept all of what 'Feminism 101' is, one is somehow inferior or just behind or not mature in the discussion. Again, there is a kernal of truth to that - one should not engage in a conversation on a topic without being familiar with it to some degree. It does not pay to argue from ignorance. That said, when the owners of such blogs respond to a well thought-out post with disdainful dismissals that don't really respond to the arguments and which really aren't answered in any Feminism 101 blogs either, that brings me back to what I said above - ideas stagnate and die.

Something not unique to Feminism discussions, but that I have experienced in discussions on feminist blogs, is the piling on one gets when you challenge a dearly-held premise in a discussion. I got the feeling of piling on in this thread, though I did enjoy the discussion. Though now it seems to have fizzled out, disappointingly (well for me, anyway - perhaps those reading the thread are relieved...) I have a few things I want to say about that as well, but I'll save that for another post since that is more about a few specific discussions than about feminism in general.

Ok, now I've meandered enough. This is more stream of consciousness than well planned post, but I wanted to indicate where I've been coming from and where I've been.
Now, here's the really basic reason why I think there isn't a need for feminism and why I think it is ultimately counter-productive as a movement, at least under that name.

1) I think feminism is not needed because I think there really does not need to be any more women's right's movement. I think women have all of the rights they need. When I say that, that does NOT mean that I think all women's issues are solved nor do I think that women have equal power and influence in all areas of our society, nor do I think we have successfully allowed all women to escape traditional gender roles. But those issues are separate from rights. Women can vote now. They can own property. They are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. They have run for every elected office in this country. And maybe soon, one will even be elected president. The only jobs women are completely barred from are the heavy combat roles in the military, and given the nature of modern warfare, they are still ending up in the front lines and in combat anyway.

Note that I also do not think we need any special rights for men, either. I discovered on the Feminist blogs something called MRAs - Men's Rights Activists. Men who apparently think men need rights to make things even with women, perhaps in areas like child custody and dating. (I'm not exactly an expert on MRAs - I only know about them secondhand). I can say that I don't think men need any special gender rights. Men have all that they need.

(And as an aside, this is not to say that there are some rights I'm concerned about that have nothing to do with gender, particularly with our authoritarian president, but those are civil rights issues that are of equal concern for everyone and so I leave that out of this discussion).

2) I think because rights have been won for women (the right to vote, the right not to be discriminated against in the workplace, the right not to be assaulted or harrassed, etc) - well, what is a movement to do when its primary goals in the realm of rights have been met? Those who have defined their lives around a right's movement - it can be hard for them to let go. Perhaps then they go looking for a new cause to keep on going. But with all the big things taken care of, you'll end up going after the nit-picking things. Pretty soon, the movement is seen more as a hindrance than a help because when you complain about EVERYTHING you are seen as a whiner. Note, I'm just speaking in general terms here, not necessarily about feminism or any group in particular. I'm talking about the dangers of being too successful. Where you have solutions in search of problems. I think this, to some limited degree, has infected the feminist movement.

3) I think because of the more radical elements of feminism, in part related to 2) above, that it has gotten a bad reputation with mainstream America. Not every feminist is a man-hating womyn who wants revenge on all men and sees all men as rapists. But those who do feel that way are a very vocal minority. And because of 2), with fewer women feeling the need to be in the movement because the big rights have already been achieved, that leaves proportionately more of the "active" feminists as the more radical ones, so their voice becomes even more associated with feminism in general. I've seen radical feminist Twisty seriously suggest that rape laws should be changed so that consent is removed from the equation, thereby making all sex between men and a woman rape - it is just a quesiton of whether or not the woman presses charges or not. The idea, apparently, is that this will cause men to treat women with great respect for fear of being charged with rape after the fact. She says this shouldn't be a problem for all those men who treat their women well enough that they'd never do this. I won't waste any words pointing out how ridiculous such law would be, but I mention it to illustrate the thinking in the radical feminist blogsphere.

4) Finally, the main reason I think feminism isn't useful is that I think what we really need is a 'Gender Roles Transition Movement' - or something better named than that. Because really, what women have done with feminism is freed women from traditional gender roles. But what has NOT happened is any freedom for men from their traditional gender roles. Women now have two choices - work or stay home with the kids. Men generally have two choices too. Work or work. I know there are some exceptions (for six months, I was one - I stayed home with my daughter), but generally, a man looking to marry a woman who tells her he wants to stay home with the kids is going to see skid marks in the parking lot as she runs away.

I've seen some feminists voice agreement with this general concept, but then say it is still within the province of feminism. But I find this unconvincing. Sure, you can talk about feminism being about changing roles for men as well as women, but the name of the movement belies this - feminism is a word and a movement that is really all about women. As such, it will never completely be embraced by men - from the outset, they are set as outsiders to the movement. And many men who do bring up such gender role issues in feminist discussions get shot down and labeled as MRAs even though they are not, at least not by how MRAs are traditionally defined.

I think moving forward, to have real equality for everyone, in a movement that welcomes everyone and is not limited just to looking at women (or at men) we need to have a gender neutral gender transition movement. That is something that, at its core, includes everyone. You would not have an 'us' versus ' them', another pitfall of feminsim. No matter how well intentioned, a movement named after one gender and only one gender is bound to attract those of that gender who hate the opposite gender and want to use the movement to gain advantage over them. That is how feminists view MRAs - men trying to get advantages over women. And they are probably right.

Why not have a human rights movement, one that includes both genders, that focuses on neither, but instead focuses on questioning traditional gender roles for either gender? That would be useful. That would take us to the next step. That's what I'm talking about when I say I don't think feminism is useful anymore. That would be an inclusive movement, without all the divisiveness of feminism and without any of its baggage, either.

Those who still want to hate men and support only women, well, they'll be free to do so. They can even call themselves feminists - and that will clearly distinguish them from those who support full equality and freedom from traditional gender roles for both genders.
I don't claim that all issues with gender roles are solved today. Clearly, they are not. But I think today, women are far ahead of men when it comes to breaking the traditional gender mold. Their experiences in doing so can only help men who are trying to break free from their own gender roles. Why not have men and women work together on this in a new movement that is about breaking traditional roles rather than about just advancing one gender only?

Some would call this anti-feminist, but really, I am not against the general goals of feminism - I'm strongly for them. I see women as fully equal to men in all ways. I always have. For me, this isn't being anti-anything. This is about moving beyond feminism to something that does everything feminism would hope for and then adding on top of that even more.

The Omnipresent Patriarchy

One final thought here on the whole 'Patriarchy' concept. I could have a full post on this. Let me just say this: I think this is a word that needs to be retired, for the same reasons I think 'feminism' needs to be retired - it is about an 'us' versus 'them'. By calling the problems with traditional gender roles in our society by this name, one is implicitly making all men culprits, all men the enemy, when the reality is, 99.99% of men have no real power and are in charge of basically nothing. The coincidence that those who DO have power are mostly of the same gender as me gives me no special power myself. I'll still never be president. I'll never likely hold ANY elective office. I'll never be CEO of any major corporation. Because I have no power and no connections and likely never will. Sharing a 'Y' chromosome with those who do hold power doesn't give me any special powers any more than I would have special power if the current ruler was named 'Frank' and my name was 'Frank'. Calling then our whole power structure the 'Franktriarchy' wouldn't make sense if at the same time there were also two million other 'Franks' who had no power and never likely would. And it would be terribly silly to tell those two million 'Franks' who have no power that they can't complain because those in power share the same name so obviously that gives them power, too. Clearly, sharing a name does not grant power any more than sharing a chromosome does. It just gives the illusion of shared power.

In closing, I would think that if the most powerful nation on Earth elects to be its leader a woman - that would put to rest forever the notion of the 'Patriarchy' - after all, how can it be all about men if a woman is in charge? And if it could still be 'Patriarchy' even with a woman in charge, then maybe it really isn't about gender after all, in which case, the name is even more a misnomer.


apostate said...

This is a terrific summary of a lot I've been thinking recently. I'm somewhat wedded to the word 'feminist' perhaps more so because I come from a country that is like 50s America, or worse. Feminism, as an ideology, a movement, seems vital to me -- it's a mental habit.

But I am beginning to realize that it is a habit at this point, and as far as a 'movement' goes, feminism is dead. We won. It's over. At least in America.

But as an idea? That's what I keep hanging on to. As an idea, and as a self-descriptor, I find the word valuable, I like its history, and I feel that we are still too close to having achieved our goals to let go off the history entirely. Holding on to it -- remembering it -- might well save us from the backlash, which is a constantly occurring phenomenon.

Look at black people -- yes, the black civil rights movement is over, but they have not stopped remembering. For us women, using the word 'feminist' is a way of showing solidarity and remembering our very recent past, together.

For us, this is an all-important thing, our freedom depends on our gender. It's very central. So perhaps that explains why there's an effort to revive the movement now with abortion rights being snatched away.

Under what other rubric could we as instantly explain our agenda and work for our goals?

beansa said...

"feminism is a word and a movement that is really all about women. As such, it will never completely be embraced by men"

Well, why not? Really, men do claim to love women so much, so why can't y'all get behind our movement and support our efforts? Why does everything have to be about you (men) all the time?

I can see that you're pretty familiar with feminist blogs (though there is a lot more to feminism than what goes on in blog-land), so I'm not going to spend a lot of time deconstructing your post and the arguments within. Everything you've said has been said before, and replied to by people with much more patience and ability than me.

I will state why I think we still need feminism, and make one objection to a point you raised in your post. Feminism was never soley a "civil rights" movement. Feminism is about raising consciousness, it is about making sure women's voices are heard and our stories are told, it is about creating new frameworks for understanding culture and society. Feminism is about theory, analysis, and education and it about the choices we make every day in our lives. At the most basic level it is about bettering the lives of women everywhere, including the US. These are goals that are ongoing and evolving, and the work of feminists is relevant and important.

Now, for more specific reasons why I believe we still need feminism:

Because rape is still so prevalent in our culture.

Because we still believe at some level that a raped woman was "asking for it" if she was out drinking or wearing a short skirt.

Because a man dropped a roofie in my best friend's drink at a bar 6 months ago and she's still traumatized.

Because the best-selling video game of all time, Grand Theft Auto, features male characters beating women with golf clubs.

Because women are still beaten and killed with alarming freqency by intimate partners.

Because for many women, the "choice" to stay home with their children or not boils down to whether they have access to decent, affordable child care, or not.

Because the traditionally "feminine" qualites of compassion, nurturing, and caring are still devalued in my culture.

Because only ten Fortune 500 Companies are headed by women. That's only 2%. Also, 35 (out of 100)Senators are women and nine of 50 govenors. Hardly equal at that level.

Most importantly though, I don't want to live in a culture and society that was created and dominated by men, and then grudgingly allowed women "equality." I think we can imagine a better world than that. I think it's about time we started actually listening to what women have to say. Stop telling us we don't know enough about economics, or that our word choices make you uncomfortable, or that we're being exclusionary, or rediculous, or whatever, and just listen.

DBB said...

Beansa - Time is limited, so this will be short, but I will address all of your points later.

I agree with you that everything you said is a problem that feminism deals with. I don't disagree with the goals of feminism (well, at least those goals - some of the radfem goals are rather out there and I don't agree with them).

If you could accomplish all of that and the only "sacrifice" you had to make was to change the name of the movement that accomplished it to something gender neutral and included adding a few more issues and dealt with male gender roles (and breaking them) as well, wouldn't that be worth it?

As I've said before, I'm a very practical-minded person. The main question I always have about something is - 'Does this actually work?' Everything else is secondary to that basic question of truth. I just think that the remaining non civil-rights goals of feminism could be better accomplished in a more inclusive movement. Changing an entire society is a much easier thing to do when you include everyone, not just those of one gender.

As always, this is a blog, and this is just my one voice.

DBB said...

Apostate - One doesn't need to use the word 'Feminist' to continue to pursue its goals. You wonder what word could be used to instantly explain your agenda, but what good is that word if it has so much baggage attached to it that it prevents your agenda from ultimately gaining ascendancy?

Perhaps you could help me out with what word would be good for a movement that is about breaking gender stereotypes and gender roles for both women and men. The only thing I have come up with so far is Gender Transition Movement, but that doesn't quite catch it.

Beansa - it isn't that I don't support your effort or want it to be "all about men" - in fact, I want it to be all about people, women AND men. I want an inclusive movement that is concerned about how forced conformity to gender roles affects everyone, women and men.

I don't doubt that some of what I've said has been said before and that feminists have responded to it. But there is a difference between addressing an issue and actually refuting it. I've had discussions on some feminist blogs where it appears that this distinction is lost. And many of my points were simply ignored, perhaps because there was no answer. But there sure was a lot of piling on. Now this doesn't mean I was right - I certainly make no claims of infallibility, but it does seem to indicate a lot of inbreeding of ideas, where a pat answer that really doesn't refute a point is treated as if it did by piling on (or simply ignoring it and claiming it has been answered already). That is part of why I think, at least online, there are signs of stagnation of thoughts and ideas.

As I think I already stated in my first reply, I recognize that feminism is not just about civil rights. But I think that as a movement, that was what it was primarily needed for. To get things like rights, you need a strong political movement with a narrow purpose pushing it. To deal with the other issues, things are more diffuse. You can't just pass a law. You have to change people's minds. And you have to reach the minds of all people, not just those with two X chromosomes.

You say it is about bettering woman's lives, and that is a good goal. Why leave men out of that? Are you worried if it is a gender-neutral movement, men will move in and take over?

I could easily see such a gender neutral movement as I suggest still being concerned 80% of the time with women's issues because of the various things you listed. But then there'd be the 20% of issues that deal with men and where male gender roles hurt men and limit men. Maybe even the movement itself will be mostly led by women, women with their consciousness raised by the original feminist movement.

Given the way gender roles intertwine the genders with differing responsibilities and trade-offs, it seems to me to be impossble to truly break through the shakles of gender roles if the only role focused on is that of the woman. Its like trying to cure cancer or some other ailment in a siamese twin, connected through their hearts, by treating only one of them and ignoring the other.

And as for your closing - you seem to imply that I'm not listening, when in fact, I did a lot of listening (well, reading) for months before even attempting to post about feminism.

I do not suggest any grudging equality. I take equality as a given. I have a daughter. I want nothing but the best for her, I want her to have a life where she is an equal and can do what she wants, the same as anyone.

Words DO matter. Feminism IS a word that is for women and excludes men. Patriarchy IS a word that blames men for the problems of society.

If you want a movement that really will ultimately change society for the better for everyone, focusing on only half of the population is not the way to do it. That's the Karl Rove approach. Go for 50.1% of the vote and screw everyone else. Well, perhaps that is a bit harsh, but that's what comes to mind for me.

And lastly, somewhat tangentally, what does the percentage of CEOs really matter? Does it need to be 50%? It does concern me, too, that it is low, and that, like all of the issues you list, would continue to be a goal of the movement I suggest. But is being a CEO really all that great (leaving aside the really bad ones that just loot companies)? I've thought about things like that as I stayed home with my daughter. I concluded that while it may be nice to be paid a lot of money, if it meant working the hours many CEOs do, jetting around, never seeing your family, well, I'd not do that if it meant giving up all those wonderful moments I had with my daughter as a baby and now as a toddler. Those moments are precious beyond any money or power. They are the moments that we live for. Everything else is secondary. So maybe the ones we should feel bad for are all the power-hungry men that spend all their time at work, chasing more power and money and miss out on the things that really matter. Maybe that is what will even out those CEO numbers - not more women becoming as power-hungry as men, but more men deciding that, from what they learned from women taking care of children that that is what really matters, and so they quit their CEO posts, do something less demanding, and spend time with their families. Maybe some men want to do this already, but feel pressured by gender roles to be the breadwinner, so feel trapped and keep working. See, those are the sorts of issues that are missed when you look only at one gender.

Thorne said...

Hey, hon. You lost me when you started on the patriarchy whine. Up until that point I was reading and assimilating your thoughts and respecting them too, even if I don't agree, but when I got to the "poor men are so maligned* part I guess I kinda lost it. The respect part; I mean.
Beansa's response is eloquent and articulate and much more inclusive than I am able to be tonight after ranting away over at my place about the current feminist divisiveness over FFF/WOC.
I know that words have power, but if you really believe that changing the name of the "movement" will somehow re-empower or jumpstart it, if you really believe that a name change, a face lift will accomplish something... well, that's like saying if I call "okra" "corn", I'll somehow be able to eat it without gagging. Feminism will be no more palatable to those opposed to it by any other name (nor would it, in this case, "smell as sweet" to those of us who continue to work to define ourselves as empowered women with all the "rights" that you claim we already have, and to work towards raising awareness of all the "liberties" we don't have as women the world over.) Do you really think that men who support clitorectomy will be swayed by outrage at their acts under another name? Puhleeze!

The point to which we have come under the banner of the Feminist Movement is only a small step on the road to living as valid equal members of humanity in all ways, everywhere. I claim "Feminist" as my badge, that acknowledges all we have achieved so far; as an aspect of my identity that unifies me with women and men who support women; and as the Word under which I choose to continue to strive. No one may take away from me/us that which we have fought so hard to win.
That we are so many of us seeking a personal context within which to define ourselves as feminists and that some division occurs as a result of that should not be used as cannon fodder to destroy the movement. It should be seen for what it is, growing pains.
BTW... were you hoping to have to duck and run? You don't seem to have inspired the shitstorm you feared. Maybe it's just bad timing. With the whole FFF/WOC thing going on, and the Dems caving.

Thorne said...

Sorry for the double comment. I had said my piece, and then the next blog I hit was Alas A Blog, where there just happens to be a wonderful post that might give you some food for thought or possibly insight, if you care to explore the possibilities as they may pertain to you. The post has some interesting thoughts about language and oddly enough refers directly to the title of this post of yours!! Check it out! Lemme know what you think. I'm interested.

DBB said...

Thorne - When I'm more awake and have more time I'll write more, but just had a quick thought.

I don't think men are maligned. I never said men were maligned. There are aspects of sex roles that do limit what men can do, and that is unfortunate.

As far as 'patriarchy' goes - that is also about naming. I'm sorry that every time I hear it used in a sentence by self-identified feminists it just turns me off and tunes me out because what usually accompanies it is basically an implied accusation that whatever it is is complained of as part of the 'patriarchy' is MY fault because I'm a man, and truly, it is not. I'm sure that is not necessarily always what is intended (but often it, in fact, is) and I'm someone extremely sympathetic to the Goals of feminism. So if it has that effect on me, imagine it the effect it has to some man sitting on the fence or someone not even that close to being convinced to join your cause. You alienate basically half of the population with the use of such language. Which was my central point both with the words 'feminism' and 'patriarchy' - plus, the use of those words Attracts women to the cause who really are all about women versus men and perhaps would rather establish a 'matriarchy' rather than actual equality.

Changing the terminology would both attract more men (and potentially not alienate all men) and would also potentially excise from the movement those women who really are not interested in actual equality, some of the 'radfems,' who IMHO have hurt more than helped the feminist movement.

More thoughts later. Like I said, I wanted to share my thoughts and this and put them out there and see the discussion generated.

DBB said...

Thorne - double comment is better than no comment. ;)

I read through that post - interesting. I had the entire piece written and was about to post it when I just added that in to the title as an afterthought, figuring the post had potential for strong reactions (which I actually welcome - well, I welcome any reactions at all to any of my posts - I'm always curious to hear what others think).

I think the reason I actually added it, though, wasn't because I wanted to subtly deflect criticism - what I was thinking at the time was that I don't want to sound like I'm a troll or like I don't fully support the goals of feminism - because I do support them. It is always harder to critcise someone you like and generally support. You feel bad doing it just because of that, sometimes to the point where you don't voice criticism at all.

I found it interesting that the link you provided analogized the violence metaphors to fear of a slave revolt. While colorful, I don't think it is particularly accurate. Those who would say the most egregious things about women are also those who, I suspect, don't really care what women (or really anyone) will say in response. I certainly don't see women as slaves or as particularly weak compared to men. I grew up seeing my sister as the one who would physically protect me against male bullies who threatened me. So I simply have never seen women as weaker than men in any way.

My further thoughts on that post is that it seems to do a lot of projecting or adding of motives that are particularly nefarious. Essentially, one could get the message from that that all men who make criticism like that really think of women as their slaves, and yet I somehow doubt that is what any of them are thinking. What I actually think now also might be happening is that those statements were in the context of discussion - the verbal realm - where statistically, women on average fare much better than men - if there were a contest of words, in other words, women would on average probably beat men - I've seen some pretty impressive verbage from women - impressive, cutting, even viscious. The same way most men could probably beat up women physically, most women could probably beat up men verbally. Not to equate the two - but when the realm is purely verbal (I doubt many fist fights are going to break out in class) men may be the ones at a disadvantage. I know I would be. Perhaps more than most (I write ok, but forget about any oration). Ok, now that is massive stream of conciousness, so take it as you will.

I can understand your disgust at things like clitorectimies. I share it. However, as I stated in my post, I was talking about the United States (where such things happen rarely or perhaps almost never), not the rest of the world. I thought I was clear in that I said Feminism as a movement, under that name, is probably needed elsewhere in the world. It is in places like the US where it might be prudent to take what I consider a 'next step' to achieving all of its goals.

I don't want to take anything away from the achievements of feminism. But is the name itself an achievement? Part of what led to my posting this was seeing on many other blogs self-identified feminists becoming fed up with the exclusive and sometimes abusive behavior of OTHER feminists toward them for not conforming. I also saw many posts from different blogs about women lamenting the fact that so many women today, particularly young women, do not want to be associated with the name and will not call themselves feminists despite agreeing with the goals of the movement. That's what got me thinking perhaps it was time to retire the name. I've even seen independent posts by ex-feminists saying that they saw signs that the movement was about to 'go bad' and so they were opting out for that reason, among others. (In many ways I think it already has in some areas and that is why so many women do not want to label themselves as feminists).

I have no desire to 'destroy the movement' - if anything, my post was a plea and a suggestion for what can be done to keep the movement alive and reinvigorate it to achieve its remaining goals moving forward. I have a daughter. I want her to grow up in a country where she can do anything she sets her mind to. I don't want her limited in any way just because she's female. I put my own background and thoughts on equality in this post to make perfectly clear that I see men and women as equal in every single way. I have no problem with women in heavy infantry combat roles. I WANT women in those roles. I think it is great that a woman may soon be president, even if I don't agree with everything that particular woman would do (at least she's not GOP, then I couldn't support her for reasons that have nothing to do with her being a woman).

I have read some of that whole FFF/WOC storm, but haven't paid that much attention to it. I already stepped my toes into the racism issue a few times and did not get very far. Now what comes to mind is something I think I may have mentioned before, but I always chuckle when I think of it - someone I knew a while ago used to say this - he'd say 'I'm white, I'm a man, I'm in my mid-30's - I'm everybody's asshole!'

beansa said...

I'm just popping in to say that I've been sick, but I'll be back around to discuss things more when I'm up to it. I just don't want to write some half assed reply to you, DBB, because you always are very thoughtful and such. So, anyway, I will say that I'm reading this book by a developmental psychologist, and he was pointing out that when children play in groups boys and girls have generally have different styles when they're trying to join the group. For example, a girl will watch a group of children playing and get the gist of the game and then make a bid to join in by asking for a clarification or advice or something, while a boy will just barge right on in there and try to change all the rules and point out what the other kids are doing wrong and how his way is better, etc. Quite interesting, and it kinda put me in mind of you while I was reading. :)

Be back soon. And thanks for giving me a lot to think about.

Oh, one last thing - have you been over to the feminism 101 blog? I think there are some good links there to why-we-still-need-feminism posts that are actually thoughtful and well-written.

DBB said...

Beansa - Yes I have been over to feminism 101 - several times - first when I started looking at the feminist sites, and then afterwards, a bit before and a bit after I wrote my post.

The girl/boy joining strategy is an interesting thing to point out - for starters, how much of that do you think is biologically based? And if it is, what implications are there for that?

But I would like to point out that I didn't just barge in, I spent a lot of time watching and listening (and sometimes commenting) on feminist blogs. I did ask questions on some of them. I am open to suggestions here as well. And if I didn't think I had anything new to offer, I probably would not have posted at all. There are a lot of things I don't post about because I think there are others who cover the topic far better or say what I feel compelled to say - some of those I link to with my own thoughts, others I simply read. While I am a man, I have a stake in this in that I want the best both for my daughter and for my wife, my sister, my nieces, my mother. We all have people of the opposite gender that we care about (well, most people do). Of course, mostly I worry about my daughter because she has her whole life ahead of her, and while I'm biased, she's my favorite female. ;) (My wife's too).

Something you should also consider is that an outsider looking in sometimes has the best perspective - it is easy to lose perspective when you are immersed in the middle of something and have a lot invested in it. Lots of organizations and movements collapse from within because they don't see the problems coming from within and they ignore voices from without. Many feminists or former feminists have said that they see bad things coming for the movement.

I'm sorry you are feeling sick - I hope you feel better soon. I was sick, coughing, for weeks, and it is still lingering. My daughter was sick as well - and that is always heartbreaking hearing her cough and seeing her be miserable. Thankfully, she's much better now (though she did fall and scrape her knees while playing at daycare - something I warned my hyper-sensitive wife (when it comes to baby-ouches) would eventually happen. Both baby and wife are ok. :)

PortlyDyke said...

When the word "pussy" is no longer considered an insult when referring to a man, I'll gladly give up the word "feminism".

DBB said...

I've never found the word "pussy" to be much of an insult. Just like I never understood why coaches call teams of boys "girls" - it was only when I got older that I understood this was some attempt at an insult, and then I didn't understand why a coach would insult his own players. But then there's much that I don't understand about sports and that whole subculture since I am not involved in it and don't generally approve of it.

beansa said...

**Warning, Long-ass Post**

Ok, I'm not really all that much better, but I'm sleepless for whatever reason so I'll try to reply.

Re the boy/girl thing that I mentioned - that was partly tongue-in-cheek, as I do recognize that you've been lurking and participating in and around some feminist blogs. However, I would ask of you not to judge all feminists by what you read online and not to form too firm an opinion about the effectiveness of feminist activism (for lack of a better term) until you've worked with some of us in real life. The world of the intertubes seems to be rife with hyperbole and the way I've seen some people "behave" on some feminist blogs is absolutely appalling. But, yeah, it was meant more in a friendly, good-naturedly-ribbing, kinda way. Cursed loss of subtle tonal inflections via typing be damned!

I don't know if what Simon Baron-Cohen asserts about boys and girls in the book I'm reading is true, though I assume that in a generalized and statistically significant way it is, and I don't know (I don't even think scientists know) if those differences are mostly a matter of nature or nurture or some mixture of both. He claims in the book that differences can be seen even in the way infants relate to their surroundings but I haven't got to that chapter yet so - I'll let you know. It's so interesting though. I'm reading it because I care for a 4-year-old girl who has autism and this book is about the differences of male and female brains and Baron-Cohen's theory that autism is an extreme example of a "male brain." So it's more gender-essentialist than the type of thing I'd normally be reading, and coincides interestingly with a quesion you asked of me somewhere up above:

"You say it is about bettering woman's lives, and that is a good goal. Why leave men out of that? Are you worried if it is a gender-neutral movement, men will move in and take over?"

In a word: Yes. But as I'm reading this book, I'm wondering if that "taking over" has something to do with biology, or a brain-structure that leans more towards dominance and hierarchies and systematizing, and less to do with a deep-seated desire to opress? Just thinking out loud here. By the way, I'm much more interested in free-flowing conversation type discussion than the typical point-by-point deconstruction of posts that goes on on so many blogs. So unproductive and stifiling to my thought process, but I digress. I seriously doubt, especially when looking at women's rights, civil rights, and nationalist movements in a historical context, that women's issues could remain front-and-center in a gender-neutral movement. On the other hand, I don't condone the us-vs-them mentality that I see coming from certain feminists. I think it would be great if men and women could be allies but I also think it's really healthy for women to have a space that we define as our own, where we can give voice to our experiences and help each other come to an understanding of how those experiences fit into history, society and culture. And I think it's important that we find ways that work for us to address our issues, as women. Ways that we can take care of each other. Because, for a lot of women, a mixed-gender group is never going to be a safe space, and because the dynamic of an all-women group is different in a way that I am currently at a lack to explain but that is nevertheless real.

Part of your story in the original post about all the strong, capable women in your life, and the fact that you grew up viewing women as equals (or perhaps better in some ways) really illuminated something for me. Of course it's insulting to you to be lumped in with "the patriarchy", and I totally understand why you're standing there on the sideline, waving, like: Hey! Us men could help you, you know! I think it's likely a testament to your intrinsic decentness that you think that most men have women's best interests at heart. I can assure you, from both horrific personal experience and statistical analysis, that most men don't.

Allright, I'll stop babbling now.

DBB said...

Beansa - I like long-assed comments. Short ones are good, too. Medium ones are also, come to think of it...

I appreciate tongue-in-cheek as well - though that, like sarcasm, and well anything tonal in language sometimes is hard to get across with electronic text. I always worry about that when I write anything - then I go ahead and hit 'post' anyway... ;)

I can understand the fear of men taking over. That's not something I'd want. I don't suggest having men take over, I simply suggest including them, not just as hangers on for a 'women' thing, but as people with an equal stake in questioning all gender roles for all people, men and women. That's why I said that even with the change I suggested, it still may be a movement which focuses 80% of its attention on women's issues, all of those issues still to be achieved by feminism, and perhaps it would be best if the leadership was mostly women for that reason. This isn't to me about getting equal attention for men and women, it is about inclusion and about a practical means of bringing the movement its final success. It is also about cutting off those who are more interested in vilifying men, establishing a matriarchy, and seeing it as 'us' versus 'them' than they are in actual equality. Such individuals would never ever join such a movement, nor call themslves members.

Changing the movement to one that questions all gender roles, not just those of women, does not mean there won't be spaces for women to be with only other women. But you don't need feminism to have that. My wife and other women friends she met through work formed a book club and that was a space where they'd gather and talk not only about the books but about other things as well. I'm not trying to trivialize anything by saying that, btw, just using an example from my own life.

It is funny, actually, to think about that now because in all male environments, for most of my life, I've never felt comfortable. I feel like an alien - I have no interest in sports or most other things men seem to interact through. So often in a large male group, unless it is people I know well I basically say nothing at all.

I'm sorry to hear you've had some horrible experiences with bad people, all (or most?) of whom were men. As the bumper sticker says - mean people suck. Whenever I have seen someone being mean to someone else it always makes my blood boil, no matter what the situation. There's just no reason or excuse for it. I've seen both men and women do horrid things, though usually when men do something bad, they express it through violence while women are nasty in verbal ways or with more subtle machinations, perhaps because of physical limitations and because women, on average, are better at that sort of thing than most men are (certainly way better than myself - I'm mostly clueless in such things). Ok, now I'm getting away from what I wanted to say, which is that it really saddens me to hear that anyone has been mistreated. I know I've been lucky - I mean, I have had my own troubles, mostly with being bullied and such when I was younger, but that is nothing compared to violence from people close to you.

I was very lucky in that regard. No one in my family (or extended) has ever had to deal with that. the closest it has ever come home was when my sister was threatened with a gun - though it was mostly an empty one, it wasn't pleasant. Ironically, it was a woman who did it, who used to be her good friend until she had some problems with alcohol. But no family have ever hit or threatened anyone. No one in my family used drugs. No one in my family got in trouble with the law. Growing up, I heard not even a single racist joke, or sexist joke, or anything-ist joke at any family gatherings or from any family at all. It simply was completely absent, and so the concept of such things still feels rather alien to me. (Though my father loves jokes against lawyers - and he's allowed, since he is a lawyer, and the jokes are pretty good... I'm a lawyer and I like them as well...)

I wish everyone would be able to grow up in healthy homes and communities. Too bad such things aren't tied to fertility.

As a final note, though I do try to be decent, I, like everyone, can sometimes be an asshole or just insensitive. I try not to be, I feel bad about it, but I guess no one is perfect. I hope I do right by my daughter.

Thorne said...

Hiiii!!! Sorry, I haven't been back. I haven't forgotten our discussion. I will be back to continue, but am too tooo busy!! (grrrr) Just wanted to pop in and let you know.

So sick of privledged white boys said...

"I think women have all of the rights they need."

Ah, male privledge. Never cease to amaze.

Does anyone else find it just a little bit funny that a man spends a great deal of time explaining why feminism - something he's not a part of and has absolutely no interest in (i.e. "no dog in the fight") - isn't acceptable to him?

It's the same old mra whine we always hear: If only you bitches would be nicer to us, we'd join you. But until you start portiect my fee fees you're nasty, and mean!

DBB said...

'privilege' person -

You would probably do better in persuasion if you actually responded to my arguments instead of simply making up a strawman and then denigrating it.

And it is funny how you call me an mra when I explicitly said I don't think men need any rights (beyond the rights currently denied both genders, which is a separate discussion).

And finally, you criticise me for saying women don't need any more rights without naming a single right that women need but don't have (and no, not everything is a 'right' - I also made that clear - but then perhaps you did not really read what I wrote). (And I also made clear that civil rights are only part of the equation in any case).

With your focus on selective quotation, intent to mischaracteriz and take out of context, you remind me of Creationists.

If you'd actually like to discuss what I wrote, I'm happy to do so. Discuss, criticize, tell me where my analysis has gone wrong. But simply attacking a mischaracterized version of me won't really contribute much to the conversation.

You also would probably find it more persuasive if you did not refer to women as 'bitches' and all men who don't agree with your particular version of feminism or radical feminism as 'mras'.

Thorne said...

Oh my. Well. How many hours later is it? I've been reading, nearly in entirety, the links in your post. The whole ugly (and occasionally pointed), emotional, empassioned, thoughtful (and manipulative), twisted,hateful, insecure and empathic clusterfuck. I've come away no closer to agreeing that the naming of "Feminism" needs to change, but definitely more appreciative of your perception that something is broken (my paraphrase), and your efforts to discover a way to fix it.

I can't help but see this from a communication perspective filled with the usual very human pitfalls. *sigh* (have I mentioned I'm a bit of an idealist??)

So, as for commenting directly here, to our continued discussion of your ideas, I must needs take a bit of a break today and mull your thoughts over some more, (after I take a break from the heavy reading and thinking with some mindless computer game or something to get me out of my head for awhile). I'm going to do something I rarely do. Save your post and see if I can't come up with some response devoid of the type of casual shots I tend to take (like my remark about your patriarchy "whine"). Frankly, after reading all that crap I'm somewhat sick at the thoughtless language and then follow up rationalization for it that is so prevalent in the blogoshpere, but specifically in myself. *barf* Never fear my friend, I'll be back!! (BTW, I LOVE the feminism critique blog.)

Thorne said...

Hey, DBB! I thought I'd stop by and let you know that some of the thoughts you express appear to deserve my further consideration, as I'm discovering over at Feminist Critique. I didn't want you to think I'd blown you off, but I'm a bit scattered and can't formulate a response until I've explored a bit more (maybe quite a bit more). I'd love to see more of your comments over there, since I perceive you as a very woman friendly man. It would help to create a lil more balance there, too. Anon, my friend!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, DBB, you're a NiceGuy. You just keep telling yourself that.

It would be supremely easy to take apart 90% of your argument, but since you're so freakin' long-winded, I just don't have that kind of time.

And if you've spent that much time on feminist blogs and are still capable of making the assertion that most men don't have any power, you're way beyond help.

Sara said...

I think the saddest part for me reading this, was that I was impressed by your epiphany about why abortion is not a "women's issue" when your wife nearly died as a result of her pregnancy.

I think it might be hlepful for you to back off of trying to work with feminism and look a privilege issues instead.

It is difficult to understand that there is no universal human experience (read=white straight males experience) that reflects your experience.

If you are as truly a practical as you claim to be, then I would suggest you study how privilege operates daily in a heterosexist, racist and sexist society.

And BTW, the patriarchy is not shorthand for blaming men for all the faults of the planet by feminists, it refers to a system that privileges men over women for no other reason than by virtue of their sex.

We are a far cry from actual equality, regardless of what progress we have made legally. As for your gender roles deconstruction idea --we already have that movement, perhaps you have heard of it, it is called working for GLBT equality and liberation.

I can see that you are trying here, but I think the blinders are still on pretty firmly.

I have read that talking about these issues with some people, is a lot like trying to wake up someone pretending to be asleep. Impossible. I hope you don't fall into this category, and I would stay away from Twisty's site, because you aren't an expert on anyone's experience but your own.

DBB said...

First, to anonymous - if it is so easy to take down 90% of what I say, why not prove it and do so? In other words, it is pretty damn easy to say that. I could say it is easy to knock down 100% of whatever rebuttal you could come up with, but I don't have the time to do it right now... see how that works?

But even if I grant you that somehow you can rebut 90% of it, doesn't that leave us with 10% of common ground to talk about?

Sara - I will respond to what you said when I have had some actual sleep. I do appreciate what you are saying. I don't claim to have all the answers. I can only express my own thoughts and perhaps generate a dialog.

DBB said...

Sara - Ok, as promised, I'm addressing what you wrote now that I have at least some sleep in me (though not as much as I would like because my daughter decided she wanted to be difficult this morning - so now I hope she doesn't have an ear infection again).

It is interesting you bring up the subject of privilege - I addressed that specific issue in another post fairly recently. So it is not something I'm unaware of. As you'll surmise from the post, it is also something I have a problem with - not with the abstract idea itself, but with how it is stretched to the point of absurdity to claim all sorts of things as privilege that clearly are not. Which then makes me rather skeptical of the use of the term.

And I'm glad you don't think of 'patriarchy' as a shorthand for blaming all men, but a lot of self-identified feminists do. And the word is overused and, like the privilege concept, used as a bludgeon to stifle conversation and silence. In another thread on IBTP I saw a woman, Octo, attacked with it repeatedly, where she was accused of being a 'tool' for the patriarchy.

And if the word were truly just limited to talking about men who want favor over women for being men, then it would not be used to describe pretty much everyone and everything, even those who in no way, shape or form, support inequality. But it is. It is equated to Capitalism, when there is nothing gendered in capitalism. (And further, when all of the other economic systems have had just as much, if not more, inequality than capitalistic soceities have had). So gender gets attached to all sorts of things under the useage of that term that just don't logically connect. That's part of why I think the word needs to be retired.

If you think my blinders on, why not tell me what I'm not seeing? And why not check your own eyes for your own set of blinders. You can take a look at the thread on IBTP, for instance, that probably led you here. See what I said there. See if what I said was truly worthy of being banned. And if it was not, then you have to acknowledge that I was banned, not for what I said, but for who I am. Then ask yourself what that says about the people there.

As far as staying away from IBTP, I did - I don't generally read it that much, but I did as part of my examination of feminism as it is manifested online. I really never thought I would post there. But then an issue came up where I thought I could contribute something meaningful - a legal discussion - and I'm a lawyer - but apparently such contributions are unwelcome. I don't quite get how you saying I should stay away from that site because I'm not "an expert on anyone's experience but your own" has anything to do with the particular thread I commented in. The thread was a legal issue thread. I'm a lawyer. That kind of does make me an expert on the issue discussed in that narrow thread. Commenting on what the law is (and why it is the way it is) doesn't require any special credentials beyond being a lawyer. (Though perhaps being a legal historian would add even more to that - then again, in a sense, you learn legal history in law school the way the law is taught).

My experience with Twisty's site actually just confirmed what I was thinking in this post. It is funny. I was actually starting to change my mind - as I got some discussion going there and lots of reasonable discussion at that, - I started to think, maybe it wasn't as toxic over there as I thought it was. But of course, I was quickly disabused of that notion as several "regulars" there quickly swarmed me, attacking me personally, questioning my honesty, attacking me for being a man, questioning whether I was even a lawyer, and then finally banning me for daring to add a legal voice to a legal thread. So instead of changing my mind about twisty and her synchophants, it pretty much confirmed all of my worst impressions of them. Think about that when you think about how you are trying to 'wake someone up' or 'take blinders off' - exactly how many people are you actually going to reach if your movement is composed of people who act in such a manner?

I'm open to being shown I am wrong. I was, as I just indicated, starting to change my mind about Twisty and her site somewhat. I'm open to hear what you have to say. I'm open to hear what anyone has to say. I won't ban anyone. I won't attack anyone for expressing their views. I'm all ears.

Anonymous said...

"[Grand Theft Auto: Vice City] features male characters beating women with golf clubs."

To play GTA:VC to its conclusion, your character has almost no reason to assault any women but has to murder a large number of men. How is it that everyone complains about the former and ignores the latter? The patriarchy treats all but very successful men as disposable laborers and cannon fodder; is your attitude more humane?

Anonymous said...

"Mean people suck." That the irony of saying ran right over your head says a lot about the male privilege you deny exists.

Supermouse said...

Privilege is an invisible item to the privileged. It's all the things that do not happen to you, and therefor never have to think about and address, if you do not wish to. That's what makes it privilege. It is not something you can even change, but noticing it sure makes you start being nicer to the other side. I am white. I have white privilege. There is shit I do not have to face every day, because I am not a person of colour.

You have male privilege. Learn to see it for what it is, because it's there.

Male privilege is not having to hear your gender used as an insult, day in, day out. Not having it be used as an example of something shameful.

Male privilege is hearing voices of your own gender making decisions about your future.

Male privilege is autonomy over your body even when you reproduce.

Male privilege is not being told, day after day, that you should never go out at night or alone because the other gender will get you.

Male privilege is not being criticised because your clothes might invite sexual assault.

Male privilege is being able to watch your own gender play sport on TV and having it be in the news and become a national event.

Male privilege is having the rulers of your country be all or mostly of your gender.

Male privilege is having members of your gender portrayed pictorially as active, decisive beings, and not as passive receivers of decisions made for them by the other gender, and this being the norm.

Male privilege is not having things for your gender marked out by a colour the other gender considers distasteful.

Male privilege is not being told at school that the other gender is hitting you because you are sexually attractive.

Male privilege is not wondering if the stranger in the elevator might rape you, because you've been shown in story and news every day that this is what happens to your gender.

Male privilege is not having your gender be the one that is typically left to bring up the kids alone.

Male privilege is something you will never, ever see until you accept that it exists and see how it might happen that you get all sorts of benefits you don't even have to acknowledge to benefit from. It's unseen, unknown, invisible and for women, it is all pervasive. We get smacked in the face by it, every time 'girly' is used as an insult, every time we're warned not to wear tight skirts, every time we're told that being sexy (for men) is our role in life. It happens. You just don't see it happening, because you don't ever, ever have to.

That's your privilege. It exists because of the patriarchy you deny.

DBB said...

Supermouse - If you truly wish to have a dialog and not just to do a "drive by comment" I'll be happy to respond to your points, though I have responded to them all before in this thread and elsewhere.

Though the first thing I would ask you is, are you aware of your female privilege, and the aspects of our society that are a matriarchy? I ask this not to deny that men have advantages - they do - but to ask you if you recognize or acknowledge that there are female advantages - if you don't or can't, you might want to re-read your point about 'privilege being invisible to the privileged' and you may also want to re-read your sentence about denial at the end. Even if it is the case that men have ten times more "privileges" than women do, denying that women have any privileges shows a closed mind not interested in having a conversation. I'm willing to talk about my advantages. Are you willing to talk about yours?

And finally, do you acknowledge that you can't really say someone is privileged just knowing only one thing about them - for instance, their race or gender. For instance, being a minority and a woman would be minor factors compared to the privilege of being a billionaire. A billionaire woman would likely be far far far more privileged than I could ever dream to be. (Though see my recent post about not comparing individuals without knowing ALL of their traits and obstacles).

DBB said...

Laundry lists of generalities, like what you just posted, don't really mean much to individuals. Most men like sports. So what? That doesn't mean I do. (I loathe them). And if only 0.0001% of the population has any power, and I'll never be one of those people, just how does it matter what the gender of the rulership class is? I'll still not be a part of it. Those in power don't represent me and many don't even think I deserve to have citizenship for being an atheist - sharing genitalia with them somehow doesn't make that all go away. It is irrelevant.

The main mistake you and others make when talking about privilege is you tie generalities to individuals. I'm not 'men' or 'male' - I'm 'a man' - a single individual - and what privileges (and obstacles) I have in life are individual to me.