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This thread is really helping me articulate why I am a feminist. I'm a pretty quiet one (well, I'm pretty quiet generally).

I have a friend who said to me "I'm going to stay home with my kids, feminazis be damned". Ick. I responded by outing myself cool.gif as a feminist and how we now have the choice of working or staying home. Followed that with the idea of equal pay for equal work. If I had time to prepare I could have mentioned emergency contraception (which I took her to the clinic for in college).
I totally agree about the smiling thing. People are always telling me to smile. I usually respond by telling them to tell me a joke, and I'll consider it.
One day this abrasive old fogey came up to pay (this was at work) and he told me I should go to friendly school, because the whole time he'd been there, I never smiled. I would have told him to bite my ass, if I wasn't on the clock. But what really got me about that situation was that he actually made it a point to watch me, to see if I'd smile.
And it seems like it's always men who are saying shit like that.
That's a great comeback, jsmith. "Be my monkey! I'm waiting!"

It really is incredibly annoying. People do not just walk around smiling like they've just chased their lobotomies with a happy pill. I guess guys use it to approach women, though I can honestly say that of all the times some guy has said that to me, he's never followed it up with anything ... even when I was younger and more likely to smile than to tell them to f*ck off.

So, I got into a pretty heated debate a couple of weeks ago with someone about why referring to boats and cars as "she" irritates me. It does, especially with cars (I don't know why -- maybe because most people refer to cars as "it," so you have to make a point of going against the grain to call it a "she"). Now, I'm not flipping out angry about this, I'm not protesting, writing letters, starting a campaign against it. But it bothers me, and when it comes up, I say so. The other person's whole argument was that it is (a) not insulting and (b) that I'm, in so many words, an angry feminist looking for problems that aren't there. And part of his line of arguing, I'm sure, was to assume that I'd back down because I wouldn't want to be branded as an overacting, angry feminist. Because that's how negative the stereotype is. And it partly worked -- I definitely felt pressure to take the argument out of gender issue and put it into a language framework, although I didn't. And in situations like this, if you don't back down from your point, then the very fact that you keep arguing about something so mundane proves the point, that you are in fact, an angry feminist.
lot, considering a lot of languages have gender-specific nouns I think referring to a boat etc as "she" isn't meant to be derogatory. Up on the welsh borders, almost everything is gendered - and usually female. ("I need the tractor in the top field, has she got enough fuel?"). Just my ten pence though.

The "angry feminist" perception is why I don't call myself a feminist in front of a lot of people. I find they're too quick to judge, especially when it's combined with my appearance, and people tend to distance themselves from me. A lot of women (ok, girls) my age won't self-identify as feminist because it has been given so many negative conotations. Even when they are feminist in every other way.
I haven't cared a whit what people thought about my "feminist ideals" (or my support of gay marriage, or Nader-backing, or whatever gets their ire) since high school, and even then I mostly tried to ignore them as much as possible.

Living in the conservative midwest gives me a lot to rebel against. grrr.

If women were allowed anger, there'd be a hell of a lot less backstabbing and pettiness. Maybe then we wouldn't have to take it out on ourselves. Anger, when channeled properly, is a great motivator. I think people see anger, especially anger in women, as uncontrolled rage. Too emotional. Even my dad still says that. Of course this is a man who's made a second career out of screaming at televised sports for the past thirty years. That's really productive.
QUOTE(girlygirlgag @ Jul 14 2006, 12:01 PM) *

What part would testosterone play into that violence, along with socialization and upbringing?


* In animals, increased levels of testosterone is related to social aggression
o reducing testosterone in the alpha male eleminates his dominant social status, and restoring testosterone (through injection) causes him to regain his social status.
o However, giving testosterone to non-alpha dominant males does not make them dominant or alpha
* So, for animals testosterone does not increase violence or aggresion, but does increase social aggression in alpha males.

Humans and testosterone

* Abnormally high levels of testosterone in humans is related to increased social aggression, but there is no evidence they are more violent.
* Thus, there is no evidence that testosterone levels have any predictive value in identifying violent behavior, nor does it increase violent behavior.

Genetics and violent behavior

* 1960: researchers looked at men born with an extra Y chromosome.
* However, further studies showed while more men in prison had the extra Y then men in the population, they were not necessarily violent. Many were incarcerated for non-violent crime.
* Furthermore, XYY males are extremely rare, thus this syndrome could not explain all the violent behavior

Genetic mutations studies

* Tg-8 knockouts
o Blind mice with really lousy tempers
o Normally mice with plenty of room can share same environment
o Tg-8 mice (who lack MAO-A enzyme) attack any other mice or animal in cage


* No specific genes for aggression, perhaps some for impulsivity
* Testosterone: no empirical evidence
* XYY prisoner study flawed
* Amgydala: site of rage
+ Electrode in bulls
+ Pre-frontal lobotomies
Lot49, I think I understand the semantics behind your irritation. Calling boats and cars "she" and "her," especially boats and cars you own, implies to me that they're your mother-servant-girlfriend machines who do your bidding. But they also have some mystical juju whereby they (hormonally, tempermentally) feel like working or don't feel like working -- jess like a woman!

I should make a t-shirt that says "Happy Feminist" on it. Like, it's a declaration of self, but also like it's a holiday.

"Happy Feminist!"

"Happy Feminist to you, too!"
Yeah, I know that the feminine pronoun for vehicles isn't meant to be deragatory, especially in languages that have gender-specific nouns. Because American English does not have gender-specific nouns for other things, it just seems contrived to me, especially with 20 - 30 year olds referring to their Hondas...girlbomb, I don't think I've ever even analyzed it to the point you just did. tongue.gif

Anyway, my point was not that I have a uber-solid, well-researched reason for why it irritates me, or that anyone else should be irritated by it, but that I think I should be able to say that it annoys me without being lumped into some narrow idea of what Rush Limbaugh thinks feminism is. And it's a recent example (for me) of how the undesireabliliy of the identity "feminist" can be used as a way to score points in a debate.

I think it's such a sad thing to see women who are feminists who won't identify as feminists. But the pressure to shy away the word is huge.

*girlbomb, I would totally wear a happy feminist t-shirt!*
I went to a meeting last night where one of the speakers made a point of saying that she represented a feminist group. It was a peace group, but she was very explicit about how their peace activism was informed by feminism. Its hard to explain, but it didn't come off the least bit crunchy granola, which it could have, it sounded unapologetically feminist. It was so refreshing.

I thought this would be a good time to resurrect this thread in light of the discussions in the porn thread. What is feminism to you?
yay! thanks sixelcat! i didn't even know this thread existed... smile.gif
QUOTE(sixelacat @ Jan 22 2007, 04:30 PM) *


I thought this would be a good time to resurrect this thread in light of the discussions in the porn thread. What is feminism to you?

To me, feminism (womanism) is allowing women to experience their full humanity. The good, the bad and the ugly. It is about experiencing and questioning our dark sides and embracing our light sides. It's about feeling who we really are, not what others (including other feminists) want us to be. That means if being a stay at home mom who submits to her husband (by choice)makes someone happy, then I can't complain about that. That's her choice. As long as I'm allowed to have my voice and not be denigrated for it, I can't do that to another woman.

For me, it is not looking to male-defined behaviors as my guide, but asking myself what is healthy for me. It is coming to terms with my power as a woman and accepting that. For if I accept my power, I can share that with other women and not feel the need to undercut, put down or attack. It also means that I can accept (constructive) criticism and not feel attacked.

It means, that those things which have been defined as feminine (and therefore are negative) are just different, not better and not worse.

sixelacat, good question. I need to think more about this.
QUOTE(lilyblue @ Jan 22 2007, 09:05 PM) *

It's about feeling who we really are, not what others (including other feminists) want us to be. That means if being a stay at home mom who submits to her husband (by choice)makes someone happy, then I can't complain about that. That's her choice. As long as I'm allowed to have my voice and not be denigrated for it, I can't do that to another woman.

but feminism is also about presenting all choices available to women and making sure a wife doesn't want to submit to her husband because she thinks it's her only or even her easiest choice. feminism is raising consciousnesses! the personal is political! (i swear i'm not a hippie)
i love hippies smile.gif

i love what you said here nickclick:

making sure a wife doesn't want to submit to her husband because she thinks it's her only or even her easiest choice.

I just want to highlight "her easiest choice." I think that is SO important!
Hey Sixel! Whats the haps?

I guess theres a new flamewar in the porn thread and I don't know all the history so I can't weigh in....but in continuing with the "what is feminism" theme I like to add my humble little insights. I suppose all women that identify as feminists are in general agreement that we are equal to men and deserve equal treatment, right? I mean, I've never come across a feminist who says "we ARE dumber than men, we ARE only good at certain things, we SHOULD'NT get paid as much as them, and we DON'T have a right to our own bodies."
I think the comfusion and debate comes up we we ponder "what is a feminist lifestyle?".

I used to think being a feminist was rejecting all things feminine and old-fashioned. I grew up a tomboy, and still am in a lot of ways. As a child I liked to play with train sets and climb trees, and was so cruel to my little sister who prefered dolls and dressing in princess garb. In high school I rejected make-up and trends, and most of my friends were guys. I started to play bass and jammed with my guy friends after school if I wasn't at my coed swim practice. This was before I even knew much about feminism, I was just being me. I first learned about "3rd wave" feminism through bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. I started to feel like I wasnt very feminist because I was hanging out with guy friends instead of bonding with like-minded ladies. I found some pretty cool chicks, and we made an attempt at being an all-girl band. We sucked, and never went anywhere, but those girls are still good pals of mine.

I also tried to get into the 'brainy girl' clique at school, I really idolized those girls, you know, the Lisa Simpson types. They were skeptical of me since I was an athlete, which didnt really jive with their attitudes, and while they didnt invite me out on weekends, they did let me talk to them at lunch. They introduced me to books about feminism and we talked about how to be good feminists, particulary in regards to academics. See, I suck at math, always have, but my straight-A feminist friends tried to convince me that I was suffering under the patriarchy, subliminally convinced I suck at math because thats the message that has been ingrained in me: girls suck at math. Well, that was a very frustrating time, cuz try as I might to stick it to the man and be a math whiz and become a molecular scientist, I just couldnt do it. I still think those girls were super cool, and I know at least 3 are very successful now (lawyer, filmmaker, dentist) but I never felt smart enough for them to accept me.

After high school I sorta ditched academics altogether, and focused on being a punk. I went to a lot of shows, got tattoos, got in fights, (both political arguements as well as physical, I clobbered this one guy for grabbing my chest, and I say chest because I am boob-less), and rode my beat up bicycle everywhere. Eventually I befriended some bike messenger guys and we formed a bike gang. There were about 8 guys and 3 girls, but to my dismay the girls flaked a lot so I was usually the only girl. I again tried to bond more with feminist women, but something never clicked. I'm naturally skinny and some women would say really patronizing things to me, like I cant really be feminist because I fit the mold of a thin model (the true enemy, egads!) and dont understand the plight of women like them (big or lesbian or both).

Eventually I made two really good woman friends, but neither identified with feminism even though they sure seemed like feminists to me. One was a lesbian with a huge heart, totally accepting of everyone. She was a former punk junkie turned marathon runner, and is currently in an solid relationship with a black woman with an equally big heart. I've tried to talk feminism with them, but they wont have it. They say the interracial issue is a bigger one for them, so I dont press.

The other good female friend I made I met when we where working for an action-sports website. I was interviewing bands and writing about street culture, and she was a surfer doing surf-culture commentary. She traveled the world to surf, wrote for various surf magazines, and even was on Fox news as a 'surfer' corspondent (long story). When I met her I felt like 'whoa shes tough, smart, independent, if this isnt a feminist then what is?'...well, I soon found she had different ideas on the matter. We got into a debate after she broke up with her boyfriend because, as she confided in me, "he was a pussy". I was shocked and angered that she would say that. Surely as strong, enlightened women we should not cast off men who were sensitive, tender, and less athletic than we. Surely if we women want to live in a world where we participate in traditionally boy activities, then we must be supportive of boys who have more traditionally female qualities, no? When I said these things to her, she said, "support them as friends, sure, but i don't have to force myself to fall in love with them, I mean, I may act tough but I still like to be the girl in the relationship." That day was a breakthrough for me. I too was more attracted to traditional guys, but I had to stiffle it because as a modern woman I thought I had to be with a 'modern' man, you know, sensitive, emo, pacifist, etc.

Well, I don't feel that way anymore and I'm STILL a feminist!
thanks maddy!

and thanks greenb for your story. mine is similar, in that early on i rejected girly stereotypes, and in college had trouble fitting in with the feminist academic girls.

i mostly hung with (and still do) creative types that strive to live unconventionally, but rarely identify as feminists. nobody in my circle would disagree with the basics greenb laid out, but to be a feminist maybe they feel they've either got to be particularly activist (as with your interracial couple friends?) or academic (read all the right books).

and of course the word seems old-fashioned, and pointed at certain issues from the past, like voting rights, abortion rights, and getting out of the house and into the workplace, issues that seem to be passe.

okay, i'm veering OT. yes, i agree that living a feminist lifestyle means living it how you wanna, dating who you want, listening to and reading what you want, etc. but by making those decisions without influence of convention or bias.

i used to never think i'd want children because i thought it was too stereotypical female of me to want them. then i grew up a little, thought long and hard about how i want my future to be, and realized that yeah, i want some, for selfish reasons but also to hopefully raise smart productive people. my hope is to do something stereotypically female but in a progressive way.
greenbean -

Dude, I suck at Math blink.gif . I'm fucked uh? laugh.gif

But I'm fat so I guess I'm saved! laugh.gif
OK. I feel scared to write this (cause I don't want to step on toes or piss anyone off) but...I don't think men and women are equal. To generalize (because some women have more in common with men and vice versa), there are physical and emotional differences--and energetic ones, perhaps. I do think that men and women should be treated equally professionally, education-wise, legally, etc. basically in all aspects of society--that we should be given the same rights and opportunities and rewards. And that, historically, equal treatment has not been the case. At the sme time, it might serve societies to learn about the differences and incorporate them so we can have more models for communication and expression and politics. How can women have a presence if we don't acknowledge their special ways of contributing? How can we change a system if we don't see how it's been marked and gendered?

So, to me, feminism is about empowering women. It's about raising consciousness (that second wave term though it predates me). And it's about sharing information to give women the resources to advocate for themselves and each other in all the places necessary. This might mean sharing health information so we can be armed in doctors' offices and fight for proper care, or rereading history for women's experiences, or crafting literature that details a woman's landscape of life more aptly. And it might mean doing things for social justice. It might mean helping a friend get out of a bad relationship or helping her find a dress that really rocks. Or learning something new that turns me on. That's why this lounge drew me in--because it is an amazing resource for information and people--that's rare and really cool!

In college, feminism seemed really clear to me: date teachable boys (or powerful women), read feminist texts, align with others who are also vying for presence and empowerment who didn't grow up with certain inherent privileges, shave and do "girly" things only if I could justify it to myself as my choice. But out of college it has gotten fuzzier. I asked an older friend of mine who had been a part of te consciousnes-raising thing--how are you still feminist? And she blanked out answer-wise. Action-wise she got into environmentalism--and that seems like it could be pretty feminist, too--in terms of aligning with those who need advocacy--the earth certainly does! And she works on literacy. Seems like maybe feminism can take on many more forms now, but that makes doing it more challenging.
hi, lapis! i agree with you, men and women are not equal. women can give birth to children. that is a huge difference right there. there are others, but i don't think that it is necessary to write a laundry list of the ways in which there are diffrences. i don't like to generalize, because there are always exceptions.


i've always thought that it was more a question of equitability than equality.

[color="#6600cc"]men and women and the way that they are treated, professionally, personally, intellectually and emotionally, should not be equal, but equitable.

QUOTE(tesao @ Jan 24 2007, 04:45 AM) *

men and women and the way that they are treated, professionally, personally, intellectually and emotionally, should not be equal, but equitable.

tesao, that's exactly what i wanted to say. obviously women have different requirements from something like health care, for example, but it will be equitable when our health needs are studied, and respected.
I'm not too educated on gender studies, but I think that saying women are different from men and have their own contribution is to negate the continuum of gender and skills and behaviour and everyone's right to be wherever they are on that continuum. I think that saying women are different is to stereotype them. To me feminism is about rights and choices.

To me also, feminism isn't about going around 'teaching' men and other women, its about listening to other people, about where are they on that continuum, what their experience is and what they need to function equitably in our society.

I am 45 years old, I don't want to teach my partner. Fortunately, I don't have to.

I believe it is a mistake to think that feminism is about academia. Feminism is about the labour movement, about activism in general. Look at Doodle, who has been living and breathing women's rights for years. Look at Tes.
While you can learn feminist theory in an academic setting, in my experience it's not the best place to see it in practice. Depending on where you are, and despite anti-discrimination legislation, the glass ceiling still exists and women are expected to do more organisational and administrative tasks, for starters.

I personally learned more about day to day feminism working in restaurants and bars and more recently in my cohabiting relationship. Again, there are different kinds of feminism, and some of them contradict each other. I do agree though that despite ongoing discrimination the academy is not the coalface.
I'm still a feminist, even though I had bad experiences with the "you must be big or lesbian" types as well.

I relate a lot to greenbean's story as well, except I *was* Lisa Simpson -- heh heh!! Love her. I was more into school than into sports. But we had a gang of tough, tomboyish neighborhood girls, so we biked all over the place and hacked new trails in the woods and went swimming and stuff. Only occasionally could I be good enough at the sports to please them.

The whole message I got growing up is that males in their teens and twenties are the coolest thing ever, and they do everything. It seemed like everyone was striving for their approval, girls my age, teenage girls, media, even parents and teachers seemed to be standing back in awe of them.

Feminism was and is so attractive, and so important to me, because Feminism says that girls can be the cool ones.

Be in bands, be athletic, be in good jobs, learn how to use a chainsaw, have all kinds of sex -- whatever you want.

I think when people are in groups organized around a specifically political goal, like changing social legislation or changing policies at a school or a company, they get a lot more narrow-minded about their functioning. I think it's just because it is a large task, and there are many unpleasant chores that one has to force oneself to do, and you have to be aware of your image, politically speaking.

I didn't start wearing skirts and make-up again until many years after my college feminist org experience. Punk rock happened. Women like Patti Smith and the Slits as well as the Bangles and Deborah Harry -- just an all-around great time for differing images of strong women.

No matter what the complaints and disputes and difficulties, try to imagine living in the 1960s, when they still split job recruiting ads into Male and Female sections in the newspaper. When abortion was illegal and women risked their lives to get it -- and ended up in the hospital, mutilated, sometimes.

Feminism is always going to be worthwhile, however we define it.

Wombat, My older brother used to always tease me in my early teenage feminist years. I would wear Girls Rule t-shirts, so he would crack tons of jokes about being a lesbian. I just don't see how that would detour andyone from being a feminist??

I wrote this lenghthy blog today about exactly what is being discussed here. A girl at work asked me what is a feminist. And I explained my views about feminism to her, but I told her it's different for everyone. We don't all think exactly the same or agree on all issues though, so I found it terrible difficult to explain. Basically I came to the realization that neaty defining a feminist is like attempting to explain a religon. We share a common bond and care about what happens to each other, but beyond that I openly support everyone to be as individual as possible with thier personal beliefs.

I hope this is coherent, I tend to ramble....
i remember when i was 9-10ish, i had a baby sitter who was "playing barbies" with me. my barbie was always a feminist, and she had a hott shit white, pimped out tuxedo. i said i wanted to wear a tuxedo when i got old enough to go to prom, and would draw fashion mockups. my mom, who is a feminist but won't use that word, though it was a great idea. so i shared that idea with the babysitter who promtply told me, "you don't want to wear a tux, everyone will think you're a lesbian."

the convo in here just reminded me of that story, somthing i haven't thought about in years.

in the same vein, i realize that i always identified with the brainer girls, ie lisa, jessie spano over kelly kapowski, velma over daphne....

Yeah, but I hate that stereotype you see in Scooby Doo and in a lot of other cartoons: that the smart girl is of course less attractive, and the attractive girl is of course less smart.

Can't have too much good stuff, right?

anna k
I was Lisa Simpson as a kid. Brainy, socially inept, obsessed with cultural history and music, tried to imitate slacker kids' talk to befriend them, and even called a teen-idol 900 number.

I got my facts on feminism from the Angry Women book, Bikini Kill, and various zines.
When I was a kid, I clearly remember sex-role stereotyping was everywhere, in a way that we don't see quite so blatantly now. There were ad campaigns for toys that simply couldn't be shown today (because now the sexism is much more subtle). I remember print, TV, and clothing ads that said, for example, "Tonka Toys for Boys". Tonka toys, if they're not familiar to you, are little toy trucks, bulldozers, and construction equipment. Toys for girls, on the other hand, were always dolls doing housework, like Suzie Homemaker. They'd come with their own ironing boards and cooking pots, and the slogans were never shy about pressing home the expected distinctions. I never really knew any girls who "bought in" to those divisions (and I do recall that lots of little boys wanted to play with little girls' EasyBake Ovens...), but once in a while someone's parents would get a little nervous that their son was spending too much time with the girls, and the issue would rear its ugly head to us all.

But Feminism was enjoying a lot of media attention then too--so that was what "floated around" us. I think feminism certainly has to be understood in its very long historical context, and it's language, which has largely been misappropriated and misrepresented by the media, should be understood clearly before women can benefit from it. The word "equal", for example, was meant to apply to rights under law--specifically, if men were considered persons, women should equally be considered persons (and not just chattel). I think it's a misrepresentation of feminism to believe that feminists are all about making women "equal" to men, because of course we are extremely different from men. But treatment in law, access to rights and to self-determination...that is still quite unequal. And even in that goal, much of the feminism I've read has been about acknowledging the differences between men and women and valuing those differences fairly.

The misappropriation and misrepresentation of that word has really cost us--for example, we're all still "dazzled" by the idea of "equal pay for equal work", when the real issue is that our lives and work are not valued equitably, and work that women do that is "worth" as much or more than work that men do (to a corporation or a community) is simply not valued equally, monetarily or otherwise (most of it, in fact, is completely unpaid). So we're all stuck on the nickels and dimes difference, as we fail to notice that even though we're doing the same jobs as men, the jobs themselves still become devalued as soon as women take them, and so much of the work that women do is unpaid no matter what paying jobs they also hold (and should rightly be counted as part of the valued work produced in any group--but it isn't). The language has kind of bamboozled us, politically, simply because I think feminists who are actually doing the work of enriching the philosophy, as well as the women physically trying to make changes in the real world, aren't being read or heard directly. Unless we seek them out and read them or witness and take part in what they're producing or creating, they seriously have no "real" voice of their own in our culture. They continue to be defined by a very masculinist media and society.

That's why so many young women are being told that feminists are a specific stereotype, one that they should consider ridiculous or hateful--yet they're surrounded by feminists who are academically some of the most gifted minds ever known to exist in Western civilisation, as well as feminists who are spearheading some of the most phenomenal social changes which have ever taken place in the world's history.

I don't want to discount the academic reality of feminism because I think we too easily dismiss it as a philosophy, when in reality it is the most singularly comprehensive, interdisciplinary analysis ever put together by human beings in our intellectual history (seriously: what other philosophy analyses so much of human interaction--economics, politics, language, social science, theology, all the arts and literature, all the sciences, medicine, you name it) besides feminism? None which ever came before feminism, that's for sure; and certainly nothing which ever came "after" feminism either. It's also one of the most diverse philosophical fields, in terms of perspective, ever. That's a huge contribution from women, and it shouldn't be dismissed; though I also do agree that most "feminism" is a blood sweat and tears reality that women create in the hope of making changes which benefit everyone.
Oh! cha cha!

or Brava?????

One of the best writers in the English language is Mary Daly. I've even suggested her books to various male singer/lyricists I've encountered (Boston's a pretty "rock" city).

You might not agree with everything she says, but she is stunning. Huge ideas and great pleasure and ability with language, with no prissiness.

In real life, she fits the stereotype of the large and in-charge unkempt lesbian with her crew of sycophants, but, I gotta admire her books and the fact that she is a professor (or was? retired?) at a Jesuit university.

Like Adrienne Rich, she did her time as an obedient little nerd girl, got ensconced in the male academic power firmament, and then **kapow!!**


Also, I was in elementary school in the 1960s, me and my sisters and girl friends had both cars and trucks as well as dolls -- and the boy friend next door could play GI Joe with my Barbies or we would play in the sand with his Tonka trucks. This was pre- "Free to Be You and Me" and all of the mothers in the neighborhood stayed home. We still had to wear dresses to school, too. I think school is where that sex role stuff gets really imposed.

Another note: We didn't used to have every single little girls bicycle be pink and purple with dolly and horses heads on it. Me and my sister had blue ones because that was our favorite color.

Pink and purple only. Foo!!
I think you're dead right about the pink and purple craziness. I don't remember such a tiny palette to choose from when I was a kid: my tricycles were all red, and my first souped up 3 speed bike was a metallic lime green (but you could find almost any colour--orange was really popular I remember). No danglies hanging from the handle bars either: but I wasn't averse to inserting a hockey card in the spokes held by a clothespin so that the wheels made imposing clicking noises. As did so many other girls.

Mary Daly: she's the one who wrote about the Dead Sea Scrolls, wasn't she--about how the writing revealed female-authored scriptures and how the church selectively ignored this? I've read her, and really like her.
Its funny to hear about the gender issues regarding toys! I grew up in post-2nd wave feminism SF bay area, and all my playmates were encouraged to play with whatever they wanted. I remember my best friend when I was 5 was a boy, and he always wanted to play 'house' with cabbage patch dolls as our babies. I HATED cabbage patch and always insisted we play cowboys and indians outside. He would cry, so I stopped hanging out with him laugh.gif

I also remember in first grade being in a carpool with a little girl who had a boy haircut and was always clutching a GI Joe. One boy in the car made fun of her and the mom who was driving had to pull over and scold him. My favorite color was blue too, and my sister waaay into pink and purple. I cant remember if I knew there were gender associations with those colors. All I knew was that ballet and dolls and dresses made me go *blech*.

I think when I was a teenager I realized that there were certain colors/activities/dress that was assigned to girls, and I thought my sister was a sheep for falling for it...but now she is a straight-up feminist (albeit an extremely pro-sex one) and I realize that ones childhood girlieness doesnt necessarily determine ones political and social views in the future.
I love the discussion of toys and gender! I remember playing with a fairly balanced mix of toys when I was a kid; I liked Barbies and My Little Pony, sure, but also had trucks, Star Wars toys, and a really badass red remote-controlled Corvette. My parents didn't try to influence me one way or another, which is cool. The extremely girly girls next door thought I was slightly odd, though!

My friends and I had a similar discussion recently, and they really got a kick out of the fact that I had no interest whatsoever in baby dolls besides using a peeing one as a watergun, and that my Ken doll left Barbie for Jem. (I've grown up to be an enthusiastically childfree rocker girl. biggrin.gif )

Incidentally, I heart Mary Daly...I think I mentioned in Celebrity Encounters a while ago that I talked to her on the phone back when I worked for Women's Studies in college.
Funny thing about those toys though: I was born in the early 60's and though we were surrounded the typical stereotypes for boys and girls, I know that both girls and boys were given dolls to play with, board games, "recreate a situation" toys (like a farmyard or a zoo with animal figures), and "pretend games" like cops and robbers to play with all the time. Granted, the dolls looked different for boys--GI Joe and the like (there was one whose muscles would pop--he was totally ripped!) and came with different accessories, but they were absolutely dolls. Girls' dolls, on the other hand, were babies, pretty girls, pretty porcelain faced dolls in lacy romantic clothes (someone bought me two of those when I was a child, my mom tells the story incessantly) and Barbies, of course. Funny that as long as the dollies were macho enough for boys, no one complained about them making "sissies" out of their sons.

Okay: here's one misperception that just mystifies me: the idea that feminists don't like sex or are not "pro-sex". Ladies, trust me on this one: if it weren't for feminists, all of us would still be walking around believing we didn't own our vaginas, and wondering how to look interested when closing our eyes and thinking of England. Not a single one of us would have the sex lives we enjoy right now if it weren't for feminists. So let's stop letting people tell us this lie, please.
I'm still a feminist but I'm counting down the days until my 'stache has grown in enough to get it ripped off with hot wax yet again.
Oh, cha cha, I totally believe that feminism is pro-sex. I just said that because in light of recent debates about porn and certain sex styles not being feminist. I know one feminist blogger named Twisty in particular has had this to say about pro-sex feminists: "Masturbation - contrary to the giggly, incessant orgasm-chatter at BUST - isn’t the highest pinnacle of human achievement" and "you just might find yourself post-menopause wondering what all the fuss was about". I know she isnt saying shes anti-sex, I guess it just seems belittling.

My sister is totally unabashed in her sexuality, much more than me. For instance, she had a garage sale last year and actually had an "adults only" section, which was a shower curtain around a small table displaying porn vids and mags she grew bored of and a large bottle of lube that gave her a bad reaction. laugh.gif
I think Twisty is a little belittling...and, in her defence (though I hate her attitude in that exerpt) I'm sure she's just trying to figure it all out. I know of another blogger who is finally having the kind of SM sex she's really wanted to have for decades, with a paramour--but instead of being thankful for coming into her own as a woman she actually blames feminism for the fact that her husband is a bottom just like her, so she's furious with him and feminists (who she claims is the reason "sensitive" guys like him exist). I always think: feminism is about knowing yourself, knowing your mind, and living out your true purpose here, whatever that is; poor woman, she still doesn't think she deserves the kind of sex she really wants, thinks her submissiveness in the bedroom is "the way it should be" for all women, and damns anyone who doesn't see it that way and says so.

Now, these women are examples of women having some lingering misconceptions about feminism, while actually living more rich lives as a result of it. Maybe I'm wrong and they only read feminist writings that did seem anti-sex (huh? who wrote that?) but it does seem to me that the philosophy's pro-women having full lives. So someone's getting it wrong, and I don't think it's the millions of gals who've been encouraging us all to have the sex of our dreams.
Totally Cha Cha! I too would like to see where the "correct, feminist way to have sex" pamphlet is being handed out, cuz I haven't gotten one!
Just a side note, but I lost all respect for twisty when that whole transgendered bashing mess went down on her blog.


QUOTE(chachaheels @ Jan 25 2007, 08:04 PM) *

...but instead of being thankful for coming into her own as a woman

tee hee!

yeah, where did that misconception conceive, about feminists hating sex?

(of course the misconception is only about feminist women hating sex with men...)
so, without divulging my own opinion, what do all of you think:

can a man be a feminist or not?

separate, but also interesting question:

does a feminist have to be genetically female?

hey all-very interesting conv. about toys and gender-sad that it's still sooo split-happy meals at micky ds, etc. my niece and nephew are very into being spies, so at least that's gender neutral...thank god-she used to be sooo into barbies and pink things, and i just felt bad getting her that stuff, even though it was what she wanted.

i don't get the whole "Feminists hate sex" thing. i think it's just easy for people to shut down our ideas by saying "oh well you just hate men, or sex, or kids, or whatever" than actually listen to what we're saying?

i find twisty's blog refreshing, and interesting to r ead-i'm new to it. but mostly i'm loving it because it's giving me a better sense of the spectrum of feminism, or whatever you wanna call it. i agree with her in a lot of ways, very strongly, and then the next sentence she writes i'm like "what??!!"... she is definitely very radical, which i really appreciate.

i think a man can be a feminist, definitely. although i think a man's experience as a feminist would probably be pretty different......just my 2 cents.
Speaking of sex, girls, and childhood, I remembered just now that I would know a girl was REALLY MY FRIEND if we could talk about sexual stuff.

For kids, you know, talking about sexual stuff is like: what do you call this, what do you call that, or talking about "pee" or "poop" or saying "dirty words"

When the catholic school girl next door was willinig to talk about a dog peeing -- well, that's when I knew she wasn't too prissy.

We would do this far, far away from adults.


The other cool thing is how many cool hiding places kids can have -- we had one behind the bushes in the corner where two stone walls came together. No adult would think a kid could fit there, so we could have a place of our own and not leave the yard!!

The other thing is that even when we were small we were allowed to walk in the woods, down the railroad tracks, to the store etcetera, either alone or with just two or three of us. And now, with all the child predators, I don't think kids are allowed to do that any more. We had a whole kid culture that adults knew nothing about. And probably would have shocked them. We would get naked, tie each other up -- not simultaneously!! Pull strange pranks on each other, get in fights and stuff.

We always knew who the predators were, too. It's not that they didn't exist, it's that the kids would tell the other kids to stay away from certain houses and stuff.

I think kids lose something with the hyper-managed life they have now. Or else from the fact that too many of them are kind of in lock-down with TV and junkfood cause it is too dangerous outside.

I'm wondering if girls do worse in the hyper-managed life, like if they go to so many organized activities, they get pressured to conform and consume, more than we did.
tes, I totally think a man can be feminist! My dad is a great example,..he works in community housing and many of his co-workers and superiors are women, particulary black women, and as a kid he would introduce them to me with the utmost, prfessional respect. He often gushes over Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee (black female politicians here in California) for their, his celebrity crush is Diane Keaton.

In high school and in adulthood I would consider all my guy friends as feminist, even if they would wince at the question. I remember when I first experienced blantant gender bullying was during a high school swim practice. I went to a girls school that didnt have a pool so our team practiced with the boys school cuz they had a pool. Some of the aqua jocks were all cocky about it being "their" pool, and there was this one guy, the ultimate stupid, sexist jock, that said to a group of us girls, "we only let you swim here so we can look at your tits" (other guys chuckle) "except you (points to me) what are you doing here?" (more chuckling) I assume because I am flat-chested. Anyways, sad to say I didnt have a comeback, and the other girls ignored it. I found refuge with my best guys friends, who hated that one guy too. We started a zine and named it Joffee, the last name of that prick. We filled it with things we hated about him and other idiot guys, and passed it out at parties. It was a hit!

I've always had more guy friends then girls, actually. Probably because I liked going to rockn'roll shows deemed "too aggressive" by girl friends, and the whole bike gang thing. My guy friends have always treated me like one of them. Sometimes tho, its cute when they get confused. Like recently, 5 guys and I rode up to some hills, and then pushed our bikes up some dirt trails. I started to lag behind during the pushing, cuz my arms are weak. All the guys made it to the top and I was still struggling,..finally one of them came down and did the rest of the work for me. I could tell (without them saying) that they were scared to offend me either way--by helping or by not helping!
QUOTE(greenbean @ Jan 26 2007, 01:38 PM) *

finally one of them came down and did the rest of the work for me. I could tell (without them saying) that they were scared to offend me either way--by helping or by not helping!

I'm "one of the guys" too, only nobody would dare help me with that bike cause I'd say "get the fuck off my bike, asshole." Hahaha! I'm a dick though.
Wombat, that kid culture you're describing is so, so true. And the freedom we had as kids to just travel around, meandering here and there in (and out, often) of our neighbourhoods--well, I have a neice and nephew who are growing up in the house I lived in when I was a child, and they are not allowed a minute of life unsupervised. I think of just how many endless hours we spent in the sun, riding our bikes around, finding secret and amazing places to go to with specific friends (and only those friends)...I feel so, so sorry for my neice and nephew. I don't know if this kind of regimented, super scrutinized life makes little girls less "feminist", but when I look at my neice (who's actually sleeping in the bedroom I grew up in, and going to the same high school I went to and hated) I see a kid who's a got a lot of savvy but not much in the way of "thinking for herself" yet. One thing I got from the freedoms in my childhood is the chance to see and learn from all kinds of other people, not just the kids and teachers I saw in my school. And she really doesn't have that. Back when I was her age, I knew I was going to a high school run by Catholic Fundamentalists--my neice hasn't a clue what that means, nor does she have an ability to question what she's being taught on her own terms. I don't say anything because I'm hoping she'll reach the point one day where things make her question what she believes.

When my neice was a little girl, she went through a pink/purple phase and I thought it was because of my sister in law. But then I noticed some extraordinary women I know--real high achievers in non-traditional fields, whose own daughters did the pink girly thing too, despite all that their moms knew about the sex role stereotyping. I'm learning that despising that "feminine" and "pretty" aspect of being female is really just another way of devaluing all things female. Just because little girls derive pleasure out of being feminine and pretty "like mommy" or not, this is an aspiration and a celebration about a part of being human that is really only a part of women's culture, so I feel it's actually awful to "hate" that. Though I can certainly hate the fact that that phase of little girl consciousness is now just another excuse to sell stuff to them, I can't blame that particular corruption on femininity! It's capitalism, after all--and lord knows that wasn't invented by any woman.

Anyway, I'm not sure that there are any more "predators" out there today than there were when I was a child--they were always just as numerous and just as dangerous, but kids weren't taken seriously about those kinds of fears back then and the media certainly didn't sensationalize the events to the extent that they do now. You're right, Wombat, when you say we all knew about them, too--knew which houses to avoid, which older brothers or sisters to avoid, houses to stay away from...but I think we all had a sense of being able to protect ourselves, if we had to. Now there just seems to be an overwhelmingly pervasive air of fear put on these kids, because they're really being cloistered and restrained in order to be kept "safe". I know for a fact most parents want their kids at home, in front of a computer game module and a big fat screen TV, and not out playing in the yard with a group of friends. Which only expands their influences from the few they get already to include marketers.

Can a man be a feminist? It's a big stretch for a lot of men to be empathetic, to understand empathy as a concept intellectually, and to understand how and why they've been dissuaded from learning how to be empathetic. There was a while there (I know it's still going on, in certain circles--particularly in communities where people work for ecological goals, but it's not just exclusive to those groups) where men would "use that stance" to get women to go out with them, have sex with them. I've met many men who still proclaim themselves feminist to women, but they haven't been believable. It really takes a great deal of introspection and self-awareness to see the power differential between the way the world is set up for men and women, and to understand how their privilege (and everything that exists on our society that is built on their unquestioned exercise of that privilege) allows that inequality to perpetuate itself. Unless someone is forced into a situation of literally being put into a woman's shoes for a mile or two, it's not likely many men could ever even imagine (and then correctly perceive) the differences and inequalities, which would be the beginning of "getting" the idea of feminism. On a personal level, I think not all men hate women as they're taught to do, in society's subtle and not so subtle institutions we're all forced to contend with. Some really do learn and question so much of the misogyny around us and they do practice a kind of thinking which strives to keep them from perpetuating any kind of injustice possible, but I honestly can count the number of men who have done this that I've met in my life on one hand. A great deal more men do try and understand it now than they did in the past. Again, I think we have to credit that diversity to the influence of feminism in general.

Which brings me to the other issue: the genetically female prerequisites. I think we are all aware of genetically female women who are not feminists! So genes really don't have much to do with the ability to grasp the concepts and perceptions. Personally, I think if we're looking to find the genetically male who "get" feminism, we'll most likely find them in the transgendered males who've opted to become females, and had a taste of the way the world deals with women "up close and personal". KInd of like the way a white person would have to "become" black to understand how everything in our society holds the racial discrimination in place; the way a very wealthy person would have to be made to live as a very poor person who doesn't have and will never have the same access to resources, connections, and opportunities (but has the same drive, intelligence, discipline, creativity, etc).
No, a man can't be a feminist. Its like being gay-positive. You can be totally gay positive, but it doesn't make you gay, if you are straight. Either you are fighting the battle for your rights, or you are supporting it.

But. My definition of a woman is not genetic. If you identify as a woman, you can be a feminist.

And that's who is in *my* club.
A lot of -- even most? -- men wouldn't specifically stand in womens' way, and agree with a lot of feminist tenets.

It gets tough when it's against a man's own self-interest.

In many relationships, the guy just kinda sorta is secretly kinda glad his woman just HAPPENS to do most of the shit work.

A woman needs to negotiate and be aware around power issues in every relationship. With men or otherwise.

With the economy going towards masters and slaves globally and against skilled jobs, against professions, and against alternatives, I see a lot of woman who offer up traditionally female domestic services in their relationships as a way of having a second "career" for back up. The problem is that that puts a burden on the relationship and one or the other person could end up losing out financially.

I don't think it's unfeminist for little girls to like pink and purple, or to enjoy dressing up as princeses and stuff, it's just unfeminist if she feels she HAS to do that and that she's not welcome in sports or what-have-you. Also, it stinks when little girls feel like they are not "cute" enough to do the whole princess thing, and if they don't do it, they are not going to fit in. Worse too is the whole "cute girlie" that gets unwanted sexual attention, like the Jon Benet Ramsey thing.

But there's nothing wrong with pink and purple in themselves. Nothing wrong with cooking and decorating and cleaning house. Just -- the feeling of obligation, or of a woman trying to make a big virtue out of it when in reality she feels stuck in it.'

I've certainly known men who cook and clean, my own man is one. Many male friends as well. They're not submissive, they are the opposite -- they grew up wanting to take care of themselves.

An independent, capable human being should be able to make their own food, keep themselves clean and healthy, and make enough money so that they can have choices in life.

But, now I'm getting preachy and saying stuff that is really, really, obvious, right? Preaching to the choir!!
Hmmm, well, I guess it all comes down to our age-old debate, "what is feminism". By my definition of feminism, anyone, men included, can be one. Cha, I totally know what you mean about those guys who claim to be feminist, and yeah, they're always those creepy hippy types. My guy friends never claim to feminist, but in my heart I feel they are, because they treat me as their equal and think I'm just as smart, funny, and strong as they are, and because they are supportive of women in art and music.

I'm always interested in what makes certain men sexist, whats behind it. I had a conversation a while back with my a female co-worker about 'cat-calls'. We worked in a restaurant that was in the 'Mexican' part of town and she was peeved by the men on the street that would make the 'pst pst' noises at her, she really let it ruin her day. I had a different stance. I knew these guys were immigrants, and treated like second class citizens whether they were legal or not. I know they must feel emasculated by the "Man" everyday, so they take that feeling of vulnerablity and turn it around on women. Making belittling noises to us makes them feel a little bit of power, like they are actually above someone else for a change. This used to piss me off, but since I figured I am gonna pass this group of men often, I might as well let them know I am not afraid of them, and I am their equal. At first, if I heard the 'pst' noise, I would ask, "where's the cat?" in Spanish, and they would laugh and say "its you!" and then I would hisss. The next time I saw them they didn't 'pst', but instead asked how I was, and I would say 'good'. Gradually, they stopped treating me like an object they could oggle, and started treating me like a neighbor. We would exchange small Spanglish pleasantries, and I felt perfectly safe and respected around them. I had similiar experiences with my black neighbors were I lived. At first if a black man would say "lookin good" while I was jogging in the neighborhood, I'd get scared and ignore it, thinking they were gonna victimize me or something. But, then I found that not being scared or pissed, and actually enjoying the interaction (hey, better than 'leave our hood white bitch'), I felt much more confident and integral in the neighborhood.

I'm not saying that THESE guys are feminist, I'm just saying that I felt allied with them despite their previous bad behavior, because I understand were it comes from . A sexist white man is a whole different story, and I have been known to wail on a few.

Back to the growing up thing, my own activities were not managed by my parents, and I even remember my dad and his brother having a debate regarding it. My uncle put his daughter in soccer leagues, and said I should be involved too, but my dad insisted that if kids wanna play soccer they should get together and do it on their own. Not sure who turned out better or more feminst, my cousin or I. I think *I* am more independent,..but she has a better job! rolleyes.gif
I've argued about whether a man can be feminist with my dad. He called himself a feminist years ago and we discussed the point. In the end I said that (as you say, dusty) he can be supportive and informed, he can be an activist, but cannot be defined a feminist because he cannot identify with being a woman.

He has marched for women's rights and at Take Back the Night events; he has worked elsewhere for women's rights and is informed by feminism in his everyday life and in his relationship. He has great politics and has taught me a lot, but he is not a feminist.
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