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June 15, 2006

Comments

zuzu

Where are you going with the pool story?

Feminism makes you pruny?

Hugo

Carlos, thanks for posting a comment so quickly. You're right, of course, about the reason I chose the nom de plume I did for you -- I hope that wasn't a poor decision on my part.

Zuzu, feminism isn't easy for most folks. It is a lot like learning to swim; what begins as cold and frightening quickly becomes warm and familiar. But we all need time to get acclimated, and some of us will get into the pool more slowly than others.

EHJ2, this sincerely confuses me: The intellectual act of not apologizing for being patronizing is another (subtle but yet more aggressive) form of being exactly that, pompous and patronizing.

Are you suggesting that it isn't enough to regret having written a statement that was construed as pompous and patronizing? Look, I don't think I AM pompous and patronizing, but sometimes, my inelegant writing does convey that impression. That I regret.

Of course, in the blogosphere, I admit it's pretty pointless to draw distinctions between one's prose and one's identity!

Creeping Jenny

On the previous thread, somebody asked what "Pete" was doing in his romantic life that he thought was incompatible with feminism. Carlos, if you're still reading this and feel comfortable telling a bunch of strangers on the internet, could you tell us?

To tip my hand here, I don't think that sleeping around makes you anti-feminist, as long as you treat your partners with respect, don't lie to them, and don't hold them to different standards of sluttiness just because they're women.

Crys T

Carlos, are you aware that when you say, "I'm not sure I'm a pro-feminist," what you are saying is, "I'm not sure if I feel that women are full human beings"? No more and no less.

Do you feel that this is an acceptable belief to have?

The Happy Feminist

Carlos, I think it's great that you came on the thread. I have been wondering over the last couple of days what you have been thinking about all of this.

I think what a lot of people have been objecting to is (a) the notion that women, even feminist women, generally prefer to date assholes or non-feminists (i.e. that women say one thing and do another -- a gross and mostly inaccurate generalization, in my opinion); (b) that being a feminist would be incompatible with your ability to get women to date you; and (c) that caring about women's equality need not be an urgent priority.

There is really no reason for it not to be a priority (especially if you have sisters). As Hugo said, being a feminist doesn't mean that you have to check your confidence or your sexuality at the door. It just means that you think women's freedom, equality and dignity are important. Having casual relationships (including sexual relationships) with women is fine as long as these relationships are mutually consensual and you are not deceiving anyone.

I am happy to hear that Hugo has convinced you not to impose a sexual double standard on women, but I am a little concerned by your desire to marry a "respectable woman." I hope that does not mean that you would demand a different standard of her than you would of yourself.

As for porn, there are a wide variety of views about porn within feminism, but the key, I think, is to examine it from the perpective of whether it is incompatible with the equal freedom and dignity of women in this society.

evil_fizz

what begins as cold and frightening quickly becomes warm and familiar.

Hugo, I'm trying really hard here, but this turn of phrase is making me want to tear my hair out. I can appreciate that it takes time to unlearn sexist behavior and that it's work to understand your own privilege (and that you've got strategies for both of these), but this kind of attitude only serves to separate the pro-feminists from the feminists more. This analogy, to me, suggests that there's something inherently scary about having to treat women as human beings. I can understand that it's scary to have your worldview challenged, but that's different. To be challenged in your thinking is the pool. Feminism is not.

Stentor

when ANY of the formal religions openly accept women as priests

So ELCA Lutherans and Presbyterians (to grab two off the top of my head) aren't formal religions? I'm not going to claim that any Christian denomination (even Christian UUs) has eradicated sexism, but the kind of overt sexism you cite is no longer universal.

evil_fizz

Lastly, when ANY of the formal religions openly accept women as priests

So we Episcopalians aren't formal? We've been ordaining women as priests since the 1970s and as bishops since the 1980s. Not all that long, but it's happening!

ehj2

I regret not being clearer. Note there's no apology there.

Cheney probably deeply regrets shooting his sporting buddy in the face. Wishing he hadn't done it, and expressing his wish that he hadn't done it, is not the same as an apology.

Acknowledging one has caused an unintended slight and wishing one hadn't offers no personal investment in real responsibility, only barely suggests consciousness or empathy of the slight, and forwards no remedy.

I regret not being clearer -- by formal religion I meant all of Christianity or Islam or Judaism. Obviously not all sects within these larger structures are equally condemning of women. A more divisive sect than those responding in several comments is Baptist, which constantly debates pulling its children from public schools in favor of home or church schooling. One could ask, why do Baptists hate America and our freedoms? Why, like most minorities, won't they integrate and learn to accept diversity?

However, what I wrote was, "Lastly, when ANY of the formal religions openly accept women as priests and formally withdraw every form of the assertion that women caused the Fall, then I will consider the possible logic in your assertion of the gordian knot interrelatedness of Christianity and Feminism."

In my mind, the New Testament of the Christian faith is marred by far too much of the Pauline doctrine of patriarchy ... man as the Head, woman as follower ... to allow an easy fit of scripture-based Christianity and Feminism.

/ehj2


Hugo

Evil, actually, I do think there is something very scary -- inherently -- about feminism. Sometimes feminists make the mistake of assuming that the only reason everyone isn't a feminist is because either

a. they don't know what feminism is
or
b. they are hopelessly sexist

There's a third option, one that encompasses a lot of folks:

c. Feminism is potentially enormously liberating, but adopting it is enormously frightening because it means a huge internal paradigm shift. Folks may be drawn to it, but they need a considerable amount of coaxing to live it out in their lives. Fear, rather than ignorance or sexist hostility, is the biggest obstacle -- in my opinion and experience, mind you, which may not be everyone else's!

I know some folks who aren't feminist for the first two reasons, but ten times more who aren't because of the third.

zuzu

Evil, actually, I do think there is something very scary -- inherently -- about feminism.

I'd love to hear what you think that is, and what you tell people like Carlos about it. Because all I'm getting from your pool metaphor is that you're viewing it as something scary and reinforcing that idea among your students.

evil_fizz

but adopting it is enormously frightening because it means a huge internal paradigm shift.

Maybe this is a semantic quibble, but I think feminism in of itself isn't the issue. The change of paradigm is what's scary, not the theory alone. I think your point is that you can't shift paradigms without a clutch* (and that you see work with young men like Pete as being said proverbial clutch). There has to be a process of disengagement with old ideas and reengagement with the new. How that process is going to work is an open debate.

*I can't take credit for this line. It's from Scott Adams of Dilbert fame.

P.S. In abbreviating my name, you can just go with Fizz, rather than Evil. It feels a bit odd being called Evil by an evangelical Christian. =)

Andreas
Carlos, are you aware that when you say, "I'm not sure I'm a pro-feminist," what you are saying is, "I'm not sure if I feel that women are full human beings"? No more and no less.That's one conceivable interpretation of what he just said. But if he didn't "realize" that that is what he was saying, then that was not what he was saying, and you are willfully misreading what he is trying to communicate to you.

-- ACS

heresiarch

Hugo, do you realize that you just compared sexism and patriarchy to oxygen? Come on, now.

Hugo

Folks, for heaven's sakes, stop deconstructing the metaphor. I am not comparing sexism and patriarchy to oxygen; I'm comparing perfection (fully engulfed in the water) to our human frailty (our natural imperfection, symbolized by our inability to live perfectly beneath the surface.) Is it a perfect image? Of course not. Is it a useful one for an introductory course on women's studies? Eleven years of teaching experience (judging from my reviews, successfully) suggest that it has been helpful. It's only a small tool, however.

Amanda Marcotte

Hey, Carlos. Glad to see you! Basically, my general selling point is that feminism is an absolute blast. It's a come one, come all, totally fun thing. If your dating goal is a long term partnership, I'd say being a thorough feminist is beneficial to you. The important thing is compatibility and pro-feminist men want women who are equals. Marrying an equal is good for men. We all should be wise enough to challenge ourselves every day in our intimate life by engaging with people who are our equals.

The fun part of being a pro-feminist man is that women relax around you and start to tell you about our internal lives. My experience is that this is a revelation for men, a welcome one.

Tom Head

Hugo, maybe I'm not doing it right, but I just don't find feminism very difficult at all. This isn't to say that I don't screw up in my attempts to be a good feminist. This is just to say that there was no dramatic conversion experience for me. I honestly don't remember when I started making a conscious effort to be a feminist. It just sort of happened at some point.

May I offer some completely unsolicited advice? The water:air metaphor tells me that you might be connecting feminism with anti-masculism, that there's an anti-maleness to your pro-femaleness, and that periodically you have to step off the burning coals to let your feet heal a little bit. I don't think that's necessary at all. You will never be a perfect, pure, complete feminist. Accept your brokenness. Feminism's yoke is easy and its burden is light. Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly, and just do the best you can.

**

Carlos, I have to say that I am impressed that you are willing to come in here--under your real name, no less--in the wake of this very heated, multi-blog discussion. I will try to be gentle.

The number one problem I see with regard to your concept of feminism, as described by Hugo, is that feminism has simply received bad advertising. If I believed that "feminism" meant "people who eat babies" or "people who set their hair on fire," then I wouldn't be sure I'd want to be a feminist, either. It sounds to me like you have come to believe that feminists are killjoys who live very narrow, sexless lives. That's certainly the stereotype conservatives try to promote; I read a litany from one feminism-basher last night who described feminists as "mean old ladies who look like they're sucking on persimmons." These are the kinds of images that feminists have to fight.

So with that in mind, I want to say that:

(a) Feminism does not mean that you submit and do whatever women, as a group, want you to do. Feminism simply means that you believe that everyone is equal, that you take seriously the problem of sexism, and that you try to address it in both your own life and the broader world. You can still stand up for yourself. In fact, it'd be patronizing if you didn't.

(b) Feminism does not mean that you can't have sex; it just means that you recognize you shouldn't have exploitative sex. As for the sexual prospects question that Hugo referred to in the earlier blog entry: I don't know if feminists have sex more or less than non-feminists, but they're certainly less likely to be sexually repressed by religious ideology and more likely to be familiar with safer sex practices. Of course, they're also more likely to be self-sufficient and less likely to be obsessed with young men. It's a toss-up, really. I have no idea how much sex people, feminist or non-feminist, have.

(c) Feminism does mean that you have to be aware of your own limitations and the fact that you have blind spots. You will learn a lot if you apply the principle described in paragraph (a) in a consistent way in your own life.

The best thing you can do at this point, I think, is work with some real-life feminist activists of your generation and see what it is that they do. If you believe in the political causes of feminism--the pro-choice movement, reducing domestic violence, and so forth--then you can spend a little time working in those areas. I think you will very rapidly find that feminists are at least as much fun to be around as non-feminists.

This all comes full circle to the idea that feminism is supposed to be some kind of self-sacrifice for men. I personally don't find it to be; I find it to be liberating.


Cheers,

TH

stanton

I was just reading and being mildly amused until I saw this:

Carlos, are you aware that when you say, "I'm not sure I'm a pro-feminist," what you are saying is, "I'm not sure if I feel that women are full human beings"? No more and no less.

This is trivially false, in that a single couter-example disproves it. Do you have women in your life who are not feminists, but believe that women are full human beings? If you do, then you know the statement is false. I assure you that I consider women full human beings. My feminist daughter would comfirm this, as would my other daughters and the many other women in my life. My middle daughter is a proud non-feminist, and she certainly considers herself and her little girl human, I promise you. I am not a feminist, nor am I a pro-feminist, because I believe the movement is currently damaging to women as well as men, and has evolved into a malignancy in society that is consuming its own. Carlos - you are wading through a den of true believers here, and their voices are loud, but there are other voices. The truth is that you can be a man who honors and respects women, fights against sexism and supports women's causes without following the path that these voices would have you believe is the ONLY TRUE WAY. There is a lot more input to be had out there than what you have been provided in Hugo's class and from the true believers on these feminist blogs.

This lie (about what you are if you don't buy into the feminist faith) is a demonstration of the dark underside of feminism - and there is a lot more where that came from. Witness the beating Hugo is receiving for not behaving acceptably, and Hugo is a good person, as you know. There are a ton of red flags strewn about the feminist blogosphere of late, just from this consideration of Hugo's talk with you. I advise you not to ignore them.

I will be quiet now. Let the damage control begin.

Tom Head

And I second Amanda's post: One of the reasons I do feminist activism more than I do other kinds of activism (I'm an officer in the local NOW chapter) is that it's just plain more fun. Feminists are, by and large, highly intelligent and thick-skinned nonconformists with a wicked sense of humor. I'd rather go to a political strategy session with other local feminists than go to a party any day of the week--which is not to say that feminists don't go to parties, too!

You should bookmark Feministing. The tone of that blog perfectly captures the attitude of third-wave feminism as I've experienced it here in Jackson. It's a wild, irreverent ride, and may completely change the way you think.


Cheers,

TH

Starfoxy

Hugo, I would add a reason to your list of reasons for non-feminism, (it may actually be a sub-category of reason A, but go with me). There are many people who have lived insulated enough lives that many of the things feminism promotes are normal, and obvious. They are the sort of people who think to themselves "of course women are equal, why wouldn't they be?" These aren't people who are failing to recognize blatant sexism, these are people who have literally never seen it. I will put forward that these people are most likely to be shy and male, and often the reasons they've never seen sexism, is because they've never been able to compare and contrast their experiences to those of women.
They are incredibly rare, though they do exist.

mythago

Lastly, when ANY of the formal religions openly accept women as priests

Because all the 'formal religions' have priests, and any religion that ordains women isn't 'formal'?

Hugo, as usual, you're setting up the overblown metaphor and tut-tutting over how unfair and demanding your critics are being. "Perfection" isn't the goal (and the pool metaphor is just goofy). Over and over again, it's been pointed out to you that you preferred to gently present feminism as a maybe-goal someday, and taken criticism of that attitude as some sort of insistenence on 100% perfect feminism right now! Which, being unattainable, you can safely jettison. Handy, that.

jeff, sorry, but when Hugo backs off of a real challenge to idiotic notions about feminism and women by pretending the young man's interest in sleeping around trumps all, he is indeed saying it's OK for "Pete" to use women as fuck objects until such time as his consciousness is gradually raised.

perplexed

a. they don't know what feminism is
or
b. they are hopelessly sexist

There's a third option, one that encompasses a lot of folks:

c. Feminism is potentially enormously liberating, but adopting it is enormously frightening because it means a huge internal paradigm shift. Folks may be drawn to it, but they need a considerable amount of coaxing to live it out in their lives. Fear, rather than ignorance or sexist hostility, is the biggest obstacle -- in my opinion and experience, mind you, which may not be everyone else's!

Hugo, you present a false dilemma of sorts here. I am not a feminist. a), b), and c) do not fit my reason for not being a feminist. Here is my reason:-

d) Feminism has morphed into a movement trying to secure new rights for women, whether they gain parity with men, or an advantage over men. It has long stopped about being true equality between the genders. Where are the feminists when there's a demonstration about unfair family court rulings that punish men? Why do feminists ignore male victims of domestic violence, to the point of lying about DV statistics? What are they doing to help about the age gap between men and women? The suicide rate of men? Equality is a one-way street for modern feminists. It has become elitist, and the fringes of feminism involves out-and-out misandry.

I am tired of being told I don't treat women as full human beings just because I'm not a feminist. This is the same way religions sell themselves - be healed! You are not a True Believer until you join our club. The 'patriarchy' has become The Devil - you can't see it, but it's to blame for all of life's ills.

As stanton says - what about female non-feminists? They don't treat themselves as full human beings? Can those pushing that line of 'belief' not see how ridiculous it is?

Here's a thing: I would truly become a feminist if it was t-r-u-l-y about equality between men and women. I'm talking a two-way street here. No question. I would sign-up in a heartbeat. And I know dozens more (off the top of my head) who would too. You'd have a hell of a movement. How to achieve that? Weed out the liars. Weed out the misandrists. Weed out the radicals.

Sadly (very sadly), I know this post will only enrage rather than engage other posters here. And that is BIG part of the problem why you aren't getting more 'recruits' than you want.

Tom Head

Why shouldn't it enrage us, perplexed? Isn't that the whole point? After all, you did just call us liars, misandrists, and radicals, and suggest that we be "weeded out."

And since when does using more conservative domestic violence statistics support men's rights? Are you seriously suggesting that men have a basic human right to beat their spouses?

This is why I don't take the antifeminist/masculist agenda seriously. It isn't about equality, and never has been. The masculist movement is a massive castration anxiety support group that attempts to boost the fragile egos of bitterly divorced men by making it harder for women to collect child support payments, prosecute rape or domestic violence, or make decisions about what to do with their own bodies. That is not a legitimate civil rights movement of any kind, and should not be misrepresented as such.

There are issues vis-a-vis divorce and child custody that do represent clear and unjust patterns of discrimination against men, but they do so only because women have been so forced into the "nurturing wife and mother" cookie cutter--the very status quo that the masculist movement works to maintain. Is it any wonder that judges take this role into account when determining which parent children should live with? If you want to fix this situation, the way to do it is to become a feminist--not to fight feminism.


Cheers,

TH

Tom Head

BTW- I'm no liar, and certainly no misandrist, but I'll own up to the radical label any day of the week. And radical feminism is the only way you will ever see widespread equitable divorce settlements that acknowledge that men can live into the values of motherhood.


Cheers,

TH

perplexed

Why shouldn't it enrage us, perplexed? Isn't that the whole point? After all, you did just call us liars, misandrists, and radicals, and suggest that we be "weeded out."

You know I didn't say ALL of you. I feel the need to quote it again:-

Weed out the liars. Weed out the misandrists. Weed out the radicals.

Where does this state that all feminists are liars, misandrists or radicals? I will actually say the same to the MRA movement:-

Weed out the liars. Weed out the misogynists. Weed out the radicals.

In fact, here's a funny thing. If both movements did just that, they'd be campaigning for the same things - equality across the board - a two-way street with no exceptions or ridiculous games about who is the bigger victim. No blaming. No shaming. Solutions-based thinking. Joined-up thinking. What a concept!

And since when does using more conservative domestic violence statistics support men's rights? Are you seriously suggesting that men have a basic human right to beat their spouses?

I cannot fathom any meaning from that Tom. I just want the truth to be known, so male victims can be acknowledged and therefore support systems set-up for them too, while female perpetrators can in turn get some therapy for a recognised problem. At the moment, if there's no problem, there's no solution. Fact is, there is a problem of female-on-male violence, borne out by independent studies (I can give you sources-a-plenty), but feminists have a strangle-hold on legislation.

Where on earth have I said it's OK for men to beat their spouses?

There are issues vis-a-vis divorce and child custody that do represent clear and unjust patterns of discrimination against men, but they do so only because women have been so forced into the "nurturing wife and mother" cookie cutter--the very status quo that the masculist movement works to maintain

Tom, there is no excuse to discriminate. You are not using any joined-up thinking here. Equality is equality is equality. By ensuring equality across the board, you eradicate inequality. Heaping discrimination on top of other discriminations/stereotypes is not the answer. You're simply blaming again, rather than looking for solutions. Of course women are discriminated against because of their gender in some cases. It is true for men too. This is happening to both sexes. None of it is justified or OK.

If you want to fix this situation, the way to do it is to become a feminist--not to fight feminism.

I believe in equality across the board. I believe equality is a two-way street. I believe in personal responsibility. I am not seeing these qualities in modern feminism - I see blaming and shaming without any concrete solutions. I see the belittling of men's problems (the one-way street of equality). I see little in the way of true personal responsibility - it seems being a victim gives you a pass to denigrate men as a class.


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