Social Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

Feminists: What kind of feminists are you?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21305 points ) September 14th, 2010

I’m taking a class entitled “Women in the Criminal Justice System” and the class covers how women all women, cops, criminals and victims are treated in the criminal justice system in the United States. One of the big questions we have discussing at great length is whether or not equal treatment is fair treatment. This leads me to my question.

Apparently, there are two main schools of feminist thought. the first is that women must be protected a certain amount in American society because only then will they (we) be able to get over the discrimination against women today. The second school of thought is quite different from the first. The second school thought basically says that women should be treated equally in all ways because special treatment is not equal treatment.

I am firmly in the second main school of thought. So, fluther feminists, where do you stand on this?

Also, I recognize that these are not the only two schools of thought, but they are the most common. Please feel free to add to them.

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56 Answers

Pandora's avatar

I’m the kind of feminist that insist on wearing my bra. LOL
I say the first should apply. To think that we are the same in every way to a man is ridiculous. How many articles are there about how opposite men and women are in thought. That is not the only differences we share.
Now as for being treated differently in the work place, would depend on if the woman is equal to the males working along side her. Yes, she put herself in that possition so she should be up to the caliber of her work mates.
So long as she works the same as everyone else she should be treated the same.
As for crimminals. Punishment should fit the crime, never the individual.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’d classify myself as a radical third-waver of the Julia Kristeva camp – my concern isn’t so much about men v. women (since I, primarily, focus my activism on trans and gender non conforming people) but more about allowing each person to perform any gender and to identify however they like – I want men to wear glitter and skirts and women to never worry about having babies, I want trans people to be safe and respected – I want no child to ever hear ‘you look gay’ and no girl to ever be told ‘you can’t wear a tuxedo and take your girlfriend to the prom’ ((because people conflate gender and sexuality, wrongfully).

So why even call myself a feminist, they say? Because I’m perceived as Woman and am therefore subjected to plenty of old-fashioned sexism going on in this world. Therefore, though I refuse to be gendered as such, I will take up that identity in the struggle against sexism that all people perceived as women face.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: You bring up an excellent point. Personally, I do not consider myself a feminist. I consider myself a humanist because everyone, middle-aged, white men included, have social issues to deal with. I feel that it is horribly hypocritical to deal with the issues of one group and ignore the issues of another.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey Perhaps, my sense of feminism is much broader than that of others – it collapses into my activism but because I am a feminist, I am an environmentalist, for immigrants’ rights, for reforms in prisons, etc. The reason why I have been hesistant to take up the lable humanist is because I don’t yet feel (and hopefully this will change in the future, for my and others’ sakes) that men face as much issues (but surely they do) from the gender binary as women do. Naturally, as I’ve listed above, there are plenty of times when men are just as constrained (even if they don’t see it) but on a systemic level, we are still a place of patriarchy and so long that remains true, I will call myself a feminist.

bob_'s avatar

The second kind.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ I am completely flabbergasted that you didn’t tell @KatawaGrey to bring you a sandwich – can I virtual hug you?
@Pandora “Now as for being treated differently in the work place, would depend on if the woman is equal to the males working along side her.” – why does no one ever wonder whether men should be treated equally in the work place based on whether they measure up to the women?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I do understand what you mean and it is certainly true that men do not face the same kind of gendered issues that women however, when I say “humanist” I really do mean that everyone has issues that need to be dealt with. the biggest flaw with feminism is that it helps middle class white women. Comparatively speaking, that’s not a very large group. What about as you stated in a recent note on facebook :) lower class black and hispanic women? What about black men? What about fathers who lose custody battles for no reason other than the fact that they’re male?

I think that those behaviors, ideas, activities and characteristics that are considered masculine are considered superior for no other reason than we have decided to attribute them to males. I know many men who want so hard to question the gender normative but have no idea how to go about doing it. For example, being the breadwinner in the family is not the most important role, but it has been declared as such and men are told that’s what they must want. Success is attributed to how much money a person makes and men are encouraged to make a lot of money and thus be successful. Women are not encouraged nearly as much to do such and, frankly, I find that a blessing. I see male friends who are beating themselves up over how successful they want to be and they are miserable but they have been told their whole lives that this is what they want without ever stopping to think about what they actually want, which may simply be to have kids and look after them the best way they know how.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Being a white male isn’t all candy and nuts. (Interesting analogy) We face a lot different set of issues.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey I understand the reason some communities of color take on the term ‘womanist’ given the history we’re aware of and I respect that. As for all the other groups, being a feminist, for me, includes them. When I adress feminist issues, I am addressing them with intention to break down hurtful norms for everyone.

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sure. I was actually going to offer to make her one, but I make terrible sandwiches. My theory is that they don’t come out right because I make them in a hurry, being too hungry.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bob_ LOL, I have this image of you stuffing your face with a pickle and a piece of ham while sticking your fingers into a jar of mayo.
@Adirondackwannabe What kind of a feminist are you? was the question – I’d like to hear your answer, rather than the fact that you feel disenfranchized (whether true or not).

bob_'s avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Don’t forget about the pastrami. Mmm, pastrami…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir The humanist type. Treat everyone equally, no special treatment for any one group. The playing field is not level right now, but I think over time, it might get there. I wouldn’t say disenfranchised. I’m not sure what I would call it, but I was just pointing out we haven’t got it any easier dealing with some of these things. If I have to work with a diverse group of people, it’s a minefield sometimes.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I think people shouldn’t scapegoat white men for everything without having facts to back it up (sadly, sometimes, there are a lot of facts backing it up) and certainly shouldn’t blanket imagine all white men to be evil warlords.

Zaku's avatar

I feel that fairness rather than equality is more correct. Women are not men, and their treatment in society is not equal, so it may be more fair to take the differences into account than to ignore them based on some inaccurate concept of “equality”.

syz's avatar

I absolutely believe that I should be treated no differently than anyone else. And if you try to hold be back because of my gender, I will fucking roll right over you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zaku @syz What kind of feminists are you? just want to keep this particularly excellent q on topic.

syz's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I have no idea. And I’m not fond of being labeled. But if someone can tell me which label is associated with “I earn everything I get and I get everything I earn”, then I’ll probably accept the label.

(If the choice is first or second, than I would seem to be in the second camp.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@syz Sane is your label.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t know how to make the playing field level other than time. Reverse discrimination and favortism of one group over another is going to disenfranchise someone else.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Completely agree – there is no reason to have a matriarchal society either (god, those groups that talk about bringing it all back to mother earth, our wombs, forest nymphs and ribbons drive me crazy, as well) – just egalitarianism.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You’d run screaming into the night if you met my family. For Thanksgiving, the cooking crew will be the women, my brother and me. The rest of the men will be planted in a chair. My brother’s inlaws are even worse.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I grew up in your family except it was 10x worse.

MeinTeil's avatar

I’m a tough love feminist:

Life isn’t fair. quit bitching and contribute to the economy like the rest of us.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MeinTeil What if I do both?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Excellent question Katawa. Now I can’t decide which camp is closer to being right. I’m still on the humanist side, but if the playing field isn’t level, will treating everyone the same ever get it level?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I think it’s one of the solutions but that we need multiple approaches. It matters little to me what camp people are in, as long as they give two craps about something, I’m all for it – so many people are in ‘neither, neutral, sleeping’ camp.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Try being a white male trying to deal with this. I get crap from all sides. Not in here, but in the rest of the world. Upstate NY is pretty conservative.

Pandora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Because that would be too high of a standard for them to follow. So lets be real. LOL

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe You have one life, you be who you can be without losing respect for yourself – whether others will lose respect for you because of their limited worldviews is irrelevant.
@Pandora While that’s a nice sentiment (even if I don’t agree with it), it’s not why that happens in reality. But you’re right, when you can’t cry, you may as well laugh.

Pandora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Exactly. The reality is that being certain races or female or what have you can impact how you are perceived in the world and treated. But what most people miss is the persona they project to others around them. I’ve met women who are tough as nails and treated as such. I’ve met women who are overly sensitive and they get treated like fragile glass. I’ve met women who demand respect and get back what they give out. In the end it has more to do with how you conduct yourself.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora Sure, but when I see women demand respect, they’re labeled ‘militant’ and ‘bitchy’ – that is covert sexism because it’s done by men and women, the insulting.

Pandora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir There are ways of demanding respect without being militant or bitchy. Usually a person will get tagged with that when they demand respect but give little in return.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora Actually, I find that these terms are meaningless because anyone can just plant ‘em on people and if the person responds, they only reinforce the ‘supposed truth’. Women in power are called bitchy way more than men in power are called so.

syz's avatar

Oh, old school lives on, it’s alive and well. One of my bosses assumes that any strong willed woman is a lesbian. It drives me nuts, and I call him on it constantly. His response, of course, is that I’m a lesbian, so that proves his theory. Argh.

Look at politics. A strong male leader is called “powerful”, “decisive”. A strong female leader is “bitchy” or “PMS-ing”.

Pandora's avatar

I use to think that but men are simply called ass holes more often or D__k. Don’t know how many comments I’ve heard guys start out saying, “my ass hole boss”. I think when you are a boss you will always be a target for negative comments.
If you a nice boss than your the idiot boss who can’t take charge. Wussy, push over, kiss ass or obnoxious. Bosses often have to decide what is good for the company over what is good for some individuals and so you never come out smelling like a rose. If you are more for your employees than the company than you don’t advance. So its always kill, or be killed. Thats just how jobs work. Very few people can manage to make employees and the company both happy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pandora I’m not talking about bosses, though. When someone found me disagreeable to work with, she spoke of my looks and of my age and of my ‘bitchiness’ – none of which had to do with my work. Sexism is so powerful, it leads to rifts between women as well.

DominicX's avatar

I’m the male kind. :)

I’m a white male as well, but being gay (2 outta 3 ain’t bad) I suppose that makes me more likely to care about equality. I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but I suppose that’s the assumption. All “feminism” means to me is the belief that men and women should be as equal as possible. In other words, women should be conscripted along with men (if there is to be conscription), men should be able to hit whomever they want (or maybe just avoid it in the first place), chivalry can go to hell, women should be paid the same amount as men, women should be hired for any job they are capable of, men should be able to be stay-at-home dads without scorn, women shouldn’t automatically be favored in custody proceedings, little Timmy should be able to take ballet and little Annie should be able to play baseball, etc.

Obviously, unless we all become androgynous (and many people would not want that), men and women will never be 100% the same. But the goal is to make them as equal as possible. The second school of thought is the one I support. It may seem harsh and abrupt, but that’s the way I like things. :)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I have witnessed the woman on woman attacks as well. Usually the comments seem to be made to other men though it seems, or is that a misperception on my part?

Zaku's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I was on topic, replying to the second paragraph of the detail section. To make it more explicit and address the title, I am a variation of the first type described, except that I don’t entirely agree with “because only then will they (we) be able to get over the discrimination against women today”. To me it’s just a matter of fairness, and yes there are many who discriminate in traditional American ways, and I feel laws can and should address any such conditions as well as others, and as well as plain facts, such as the nature of reproduction and its effects, or the ability of most women to differentiate colors more accurately than most men.

To go further to answer the title even though it seems to me actually more topic drift than my original answer, many feminists are militant deconstructionists of existing gender models, and although I am for freedom in everyone being able to create their own meanings and identities, I also like many aspects of traditional cultural gender models, and don’t particularly want to see all of those vanish. A woman with long hair in a long dress and full of other traditional feminine attributes can be a lovely thing, and I don’t think it needs to be associated with oppression or loss of power, for example.

Pandora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir In some cases fellow workers can be bitchy. Only difference is some are just better than others at hiding it. I’ve worked with bitchy women and bitchy men. (only they were often called ass holes.) Made no difference boss or co-worker.
The one big difference I see is that when a woman orders something to be done, she is questioned about it more than a man. A guy can issue the same order and women and men may be too intimidated to question it. Doesn’t mean that the co workers agree or respect them more. It just means they are too scared of the person.

DominicX's avatar

@Zaku

See, that’s my thing. Freedom. To the highest degree. When I say chivalry is sexist, my problem with it is the expectation that women should be treated a certain way and men should act a certain way (that seems outdated to me). If a couple agrees that they like chivalrous actions, then more power to them. If a woman wants to be a homemaker and have long hair and wear dresses, then more power to her. It’s about freedom to do what you want to do, regardless of gender and not feel that your gender means you must do something or you must act a certain way.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zaku As a gender deconstructionist, I can tell you that the intention with deconstructing gender is not to vanish any gender perfomances, just that you can be whatever gender or follow whatever gender roles you like but so can I.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@DominicX: It’s times like this that I lament your homosexuality.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m a perhaps a radical socialist feminist. I don’t know where that fits into your equation. It’s my understanding that women have been subjected to second rate status for the past 3000 or 4000 years because men needed to be sure they had an heir who came from their own sperm to pass their property down to.

The institution of marriage is meant to control access to the female, thereby assuring us of who the father is. It’s obvious who the mother of a child is, but it’s less easy to tell who the father is unless you control who can have sex with her. Otherwise, you would simply have to rely on the woman’s word as to who the father is, and historically, that has been viewed as untrustworthy. Men felt the need to control their property and who it was given to upon their deaths, so they instituted marriage to limit the number of men who had access to their women. In some cases, they went so far as to limit them to eunuchs.

In modern society, this attitude lives on in the insistence on monogamy. It implies that women are not to be trusted with their own bodies.

Perhaps I can take this idea and answer your question. Women and all minorities should be protected in a way that guaranties their equality under the law and given a level playing field on which to make their way in life. That means equal pay, equal access to health care for all, protection by an independent judiciary for those unable to protect themselves from the tyranny of the majority, etc. All human beings should be free to live and express themselves within just laws without fear of persecution.

syz's avatar

I have a crush on two gay guys now

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@syz You could do worse. ;-)

syz's avatar

@hawaii_jake Of that, I have no doubt.

Zaku's avatar

@DominicX @Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m with you two, then. I’m all for everyone being free to do and be as they please as long as they’re not hurting others. Deconstruction is great with me too as long as it’s not applied just for the heck of it or in a backlash to erase all traditions and former sensibilities. Maybe I just had an overreaction or it was the class I was in, but I remember being in a feminist theory class in which I ended up feeling somewhat alienated from what seemed like deconstructionist extremists. ;-) I’d take them over repressing conservatives any day, though.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am type 2 for sure. I want equal opportunities. There are some men (and women) who will always harp on the differences between women and men and the fact that they are not the same or equal, instead they are complementary. I say let them prattle on all they want, just let me have an equal chance at jobs and bank loans and every other area of life where I am now deemed “less than” because I am not a man.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@rooeytoo: I think you said exactly what I’ve been trying to figure out how to vocalize. Yes, there are biological differences between females and males but that doesn’t mean that a woman shouldn’t get that job or that a man shouldn’t get custody of his kids. Yes, men and women do think differently but I’d be willing to bet this has a lot more to do with what society expects of each than anything to do with chromosomes.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@KatawaGrey That was a helluva a good question. I’m disapointed more men didn’t jump in. It was a fun discussion and lots of stuff to think about. Thanks.

rooeytoo's avatar

@KatawaGrey – and thankfully we are not the only ones in the world who think this way, have a look at this article, it gives scientific clout to the theory.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@DominicX and @rooeytoo hit the nail on the head for me.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Being a male in general isn’t all candy and nuts. ;)

I agree with you wholeheartedly that we men have our own set of issues and discrimination, often overlooked or downplayed.

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