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June 15, 2006

Comments

bitchphd

Hey, Carlos. Kudos for showing up. You sound like a sincere and thoughtful guy, and based on your defense of Hugo I'll give him more credit than I did before.

There are plenty of Mexican feministas, you know. Hugo should be able to give you a reading list, if he hasn't already, on the idea is that there's some cultural reason why having a Mexican (or for that matter Greek) background makes feminism more difficult.

And like Amanda said, feminism (or, as a alot of women of color prefer, "womanism"), is neither sexless nor humorless. As someone else upthread pointed out, there's also no such thing as "a perfect feminist," and there are different ways of being a feminist, and feminists don't agree about everything (porn included, btw). Start poking around some blogs (and dude, start talking to the women you know, especially the older ones--I bet there are more feminists around you than you realize, even if they don't use the label) and you'll see what I mean.

You're welcome at my place, if you're interested.

Utopian

Can I chime in here in defense of Hugo's pool metaphor?

People, including men who want to support feminism, are culturally situated subjects. We're not sui generis. The culture has lied to us just as it has lied to you. The experience of a man who wants to support true equality for women is one of giving up privileges which have been framed by the culture as "natural" and "normal" and not privileges at all.

That ain't easy! It IS inherently cold and scary! Saying otherwise is utterly dishonest. And it's unfair to attack well-intentioned men for experiencing the cold and scary thing as cold and scary.

perplexed

The experience of a man who wants to support true equality for women is one of giving up privileges which have been framed by the culture as "natural" and "normal" and not privileges at all.

Don't forget that equality is by definition all-inclusive.

sophonisba

It IS inherently cold and scary! Saying otherwise is utterly dishonest

I really don't think calling people "dishonest" for accurately describing their own experience is a good idea.

In addition to experiencing the strictures of patriarchy as suffocating (even, would you believe it, "cold and scary") for themselves as men, many men are close to women even before becoming feminists, and so find the prospect of improved conditions for their loved ones to be a happy one. So feminism isn't an unmixed joy for you. Your personal experience is real, but not universal.

For a lot of people, men and women, finding organized feminism is not like an externally-imposed ice bath. It means finding out for the first time, "I'm not the only one who notices. I'm not the only one who cares." Which is a great feeling. For lots of us, especially women, the world is a cold and scary place without feminism.

bmmg39

Tom: "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.'"

No, he didn't. Pay attention. By "liars, misandrists, and radicals," he's only referring to the...well...liars, misandrists, and radicals. If you're not in that camp, you've nothing to worry about.

Tom: "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 keep looking over Perplexed's statement, and I don't know for the life of me where in hell you got the impression that that's what he suggested -- unless, of course, you have no legitimate response to his point, and therefore can only resort to lumping him in with wife-beaters.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Maybe feminism is like getting into a heated pool on a slightly chilly evening - it looks too scary to jump right in, but what a relief once you're actually in the pool :-).

Utopian

Sophonisba: I didn't say otherwise. I didn't call people dishonest for describing their own experience. I was attempting to suggest that men who have the experience I describe, who admit that they find it difficult to give up privileges which are culturally inscribed as normal, are only being honest. For them (us) to say otherwise would be dishonest. And attacking well-intentioned people for honestly describing this experience -- even if not every male feminist shares it -- is unfair.

Hugo

Thank you, Lynn -- the swimming pool turned into an ice bath right before my eyes in the words of some of the commenters...

Ron O.

Carlos, Let me also reiterate Bitch Phd & Amanada. I'm married to a wonderful, funny feminist and I wouldn't have it any other way. I've dated women who had more traditional idea of a masculine role and it really wasn't as fun because I got a little defensive about my personality and interests. I certainly have elements of my personality that are "masculine", but in other areas diverge from that.

That's where the liberating feeling of supporting feminism comes in. Don't like football? Ignore it. Want to do crafts? Have at it. Wear nice clothes? Style away brother. Whatever you want. Support others in their choices too.

Here's the scary parts (for some). You may have conflicts with people because of sexism. Either because you are doing something they don't like or they are doing something you don't like. Sometimes people will get angry with you. Sometimes they are right. In your enjoyment of your new found freedom with fun, feminist women, you'll have to watch that you haven't just expanded your choices while keeping all your privileges. Being a male supporter of feminism requires some self-improvement and self-criticism that can be uncomfortable, scary or just plain hard. I'm pretty good at the self-awareness part, but not so good at conflict.

This isn't limited to feminism of course. Every person who wants to grow more kind, compassionate, empathetic and all the good qualities of people (including toughness) have to go through the sometimes difficult work of change.

jeffliveshere

I'd like to deconstruct the pool metaphor...just kidding.

For a lot of people, men and women, finding organized feminism is not like an externally-imposed ice bath. It means finding out for the first time, "I'm not the only one who notices. I'm not the only one who cares." Which is a great feeling. For lots of us, especially women, the world is a cold and scary place without feminism.--sophonisba

I think there's a lot of truth here, and I would also resist the notion that feminism is inherently cold and frightening. That said, I think it's important to note that the differences in experiences with feminism might fall somewhat (somewhat--not completely) along gender lines. Would it be too obtuse to claim that most men, because of the need for them to give up entitlements that sexism gives them, experience feminism as more frightening than most women? Again, this is not to say that feminism is inherently anything...but that for men, feminism might generally be more scary--and not just because it's a paradigm shift, but because it's a paradigm shift that entails that men give up some entitlement, to recognize that men are the oppressors and the like. (Note: I'm also not trying to say 'boo hoo men have it horrible with feminism' or anything like that--but I just think it bears some consideration that men might tend to experience feminism more along the lines of the pool analogy-d'oh! I ended up talking about the pool analogy anyway!)

And, of course, it's at least equally important to acknowledge (and celebrate!) that feminism isn't anything like an ice bath for some people--men and women alike--and I particularly like that you point out the world would be a pretty cold, scary place for most of us without feminsm. If feminism has taught me anything (with zuzu's help), it's that we ought not talk about undifferentiated masses! I particularly like that you point out the world would be a pretty cold, scary place for most of us without feminsm.

The thing is, even if feminism isn't a 'mixed bag' in the long-run (and I think several people have explicitly pointed this out to Carlos here--that feminism is, of course, good for both men and women (and I would add other genders)), it often feels like a mixed bag to men. Often. Not always. Still, often is important too...

Utopian

Jeff: exactly.

westcoast2

And someone said Hugo chose comfort!

Oh well

perplexed sometimes the UK take on these things doesn't always carry in the way you might think it does. Just an observation from being here a while. We (UK) seem less strident in general, the main exception being the politicians.

be well


Tom Head

I do owe perplexed an apology for misreading his comment about domestic violence statistics. It was late, and I thought he was making the very common antifeminist claim that domestic violence statistics are overblown.

Utopian, please add me to the list of men who don't find feminism cold and scary. I'm a pretty androgynous guy, and a total failure by the standards of macho manhood. Feminism affirms me and lets me be who I am.


Cheers,

TH

SamChevre

I'm going to re-argue what I argued last week, more thoroughly.

People who identify as feminists tend to say (quoting from above):

Feminism isn't about faith...Women's humanity is not hidden.

Women aren't an undifferentiated mass

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.

Being a feminist ... just means that you think women's freedom, equality and dignity are important.

If this was all that the average person (e.g., Pete) meant when they said "feminism", I think that there might be some sense in the criticism of Hugo (and Pete). But that is plainly, obviously, clearly NOT the case.

Let me explain. Amanda Marcotte, bitchphd and sophonisba each have a fairly clear set of ideas about how men and women ought to relate, how the world ought to be structured, and so forth; these ideas are fairly similar (not necessarily identical, but similar). Most people are accustomed to calling that set of ideas "feminism." However, that set of ideas is not anywhere close to universally held, even among women. I am fairly certain that FlyLady and Elizabeth (of "staking tomatoes") and my mother would disagree with it in general and in many particulars.

It seems to me that a true respect for women as people would mean paying attention to what the woman with whom you are interacting actually prefers, not to what some theory (whether Aristotle or feminism) says she ought to prefer. So if you are interacting with people who are more like my mother than like Amanda, you should interact with them differently.

But when Pete says, "This way of treating women that I think of as 'feminism' seems to be one that the women I know dislike," and Hugo tells him, "That's OK; I know it's hard, do your best" everyone jumps on Hugo.

Isn't the more likely problem that "feminism" as Pete understands it is not actually doing what feminism is supposed to, which is to treat women as rational people, who are capable of having preferences that ought to be respected in dealing with them?

jeffliveshere

utopian--thanks for your support; but notice that I *do* disagree with you (and Hugo) saying that feminism is inherently cold and scary. In fact, I would just tend to avoid using that word, if at all possible, because of the philosophic difficulties the concept of 'inherent' often brings up.

therealUK

Maybe we could use a different metaphor ? That feminism is "scary" in the way that coming out of prison is scary. In prison there are hierachies, privileges, securities as well as violence and abuse: it's a veritable little microcosm of the patriachy. Coming out of prison can be very scary, both for those who are and are not privileged. Of course living free is difficult at times but is still much much better than the alternative.

Hugo

What I appreciate so much about the pool metaphor is the series of steps into initially cold water that gradually becomes much, much warmer as one becomes accustomed to it.

David Thompson

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.

That is a curious statement, and contrary to the bulk of the evidence. Masochists might find it enjoyable, but most people quickly grow weary of the relentless negativity.

Tom Head

I don't find it to be relentlessly negative at all, except in the sense that nearly all activism tends to be relentlessly negative because it's predicated on the idea that the status quo (or emerging status quo, or immediate status quo ante) is not satisfactory.

Cheers,

TH

perplexed

I do owe perplexed an apology for misreading his comment about domestic violence statistics. It was late, and I thought he was making the very common antifeminist claim that domestic violence statistics are overblown.

Is the truth too overblown for you? Can you admit to something borne out in many research studies conducted lately (sources available if you want): men are just as likely as women to be victims of domestic violence?

Crys T

Andreas and Stanton: Nope. Didn't "willfully misunderstand" Carlos and what I said was not wrong.

Yeah, there are women who don't take on the label "feminist," but the vast majority of them do actually have basically feminist beliefs. And the ones who don't do tend to be religious fundie types who don't believe that women are full human beings the way that men are.

If you believe that women are full human beings, you are a feminist*. That is the basic bottom line. Now, there are many different schools of feminist thought, and in consequence many different subgroups of feminists, but that's a whole different story.

*of course, I guess we could make the argument that you also have to act on that belief, but I'm still naive enough to think that once you really accept another person's basic humanity, you will strive to treat them as human

TL

Hugo wrote: "But becoming a pro-feminist is a process, not an event."

Without checking out and commenting on all the comments either way, let me say that this is the more excellent way.

During an early airplane ride one morning I was blessed to be able to see the sun rising. Watching this incredible miracle of the sun gently but firmly relentlessly pushing back the night darkness the Holy Spirit spoke to me about how to witness the truth to unbelievers. These are good thoughts IMO for imparting any points of truth to the unseeing.

1. be gentle but relentless, no Bible bonking.
2. No attempting to force them to believe
3. never step back, ever.
4. and always love them even when you expose their error
5. unlike the dawning of the morning sun, the dawning of revelation in a human heart takes much more time and preparation. But its a similar process.

The morning light is strong. It is also sneaky and clever. It is relentless but gentle. The shadows cannot escape it. It is either be embraced by the light or run from it. Truth always wins out in the end.


Tom Head

perplexed writes:
Can you admit to something borne out in many research studies conducted lately (sources available if you want): men are just as likely as women to be victims of domestic violence?

Obviously I can't "admit" what I don't believe to be true, but by all means, post those sources.


Cheers,

TH

perplexed

Obviously I can't "admit" what I don't believe to be true, but by all means, post those sources.

Sure Tom, as promised:-
---------------------------

Men are More Likely Than Women to Be Victims in Dating Violence

Quote: A 32-nation study of violence against dating partners by university partners found that about a third had been violent, and most incidents of partner violence involve violence by both the man and woman, according to Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. The second largest category was couples where the female partner was the only one to carry about physical attacks, not the male partner.

Domestic violence isn't one-sided

Quote: The reality, borne out by independent peer-reviewed studies as well as StatsCan, is that women commit more severe IPV (Intimate Partner Violence), and more IPV in general, than men. For all kinds of relationship types, females are unilaterally more violent than males to non-violent partners. More females strike first in IPV (men are conditioned not to strike first in our society) and, contradicting received wisdom, fear of their male partner is rarely a factor amongst violent women. Actually, both male and female victims of IPV report equal fear levels of "intimate terrorism".

Family violence soars

Quote: When minor and major acts of violence were tallied, female-to-male violence accounted for 18.2 percent of overall violence and 7.5 percent of severe violence. Male-to-female violence accounted for 13.7 percent of overall violence and 8.6 percent of severe violence.
---------------------------

I have much more sources, but these are the most recent ones, so more relevant. They actually point to the fact that women are actually more likely to be violent in a domestic setting than men.

The first link is an exhaustive study - quote: A consortium of researchers around the world collected data from 13,601 students at 68 universities in 32 nations.

Hugo

Folks, stop this thread now -- any further comments on DV will be deleted -- Tom and Perplexed, have this aged debate somewhere else.

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