Social Question

efritz's avatar

Why is it taboo to be a feminist?

Asked by efritz (3240points) February 13th, 2010

A previous question on fluther made me think of this (not sure which question it was). Actually not the question, but the replies – a lot of people said stuff like “don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist, but . . . ” Why has this movement fallen out of favor? Is it just the general view that a feminist must be a smart radical ugly female with hairy armpits?

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96 Answers

belakyre's avatar

Actually….I think feminists are just women who are brave enough to stand up against the frail, Rapunzel-like stereotype they’ve been labeled with for centuries.

wundayatta's avatar

No. I think it’s the notion that feminists are too politically correct, and a bit too radical. Maybe unwomanly. It’s also something that I think a lot of women consider to be passe. We don’t need to be like that any more. We can be like women and do everything that we want to, so there’s no need for feminism any more.

ChaosCross's avatar

Though supporting the rights of women are all fine and well, them being equal to men, feminism crosses the line of being “equal” to men toward saying that men are inferior. The reason why many view feminists as highly unpleasant individuals is because, in all honesty, most of them are. They have simply been so deeply scarred or deluded by a man in their life that they take the assumption that all men are exactly the same.

Woman’s right=Good
Feminism=Bad (depending on the definition we use of course)

sillymichelleyoung's avatar

I agree with chaoscross. It is not taboo to be a feminists; however, many feminist cross the line when they believe that men are inferior. This is discussed in literature such as “Rebecca.”

It is one thing to be a strong independent woman, but it is a whole different story when women think men are inferior.

tinyfaery's avatar

People are very ignorant about feminism. There are so many types of feminism and the so-called factions often disagree on key issues. Most assume that feminists are man haters, lesbians and somehow want to switch gender roles. That assumption is too ridiculous to even address.

drhat77's avatar

Feminism has acquired a castrating image, probably due to the efforts of a few more vocal proponents and that’s the element women who say that are distancing themselves from

@tinyfaery love the new icon

sillymichelleyoung's avatar

hmm tinyfaery has a point. there are different levels of feminism.

wundayatta's avatar

Just sort of curious what people think about men, like me, who are feminists?

sillymichelleyoung's avatar

@Wundayatta – it really depends. when i was in high school we read a book called rebecca and well, my teacher made it seem
so negative towards men when i personally did not think so. she made
comments saying how men wanted women to be more dependent on men. thus, little independence and power is needed. also that men dont take enough responsibility. i specifically remember one part of the book was how a girl had to dress up making her look younger. then my teacher flipped saying how perverted men were.

Frankie's avatar

Wow. I think it’s pretty sad that some people on here think feminism is about women overpowering men and making them inferior. Looks like a lot of people need to do some independent thinking. Feminism is not “bad.” Feminism, since its beginning, has been about equality, and it’s pretty much as simple as that. Yes, as with any political grouping, there is the radical fringe, but since when has the fringe defined the whole?? Of course there are different levels of feminism…to think that there is full consensus in any group is incredibly naive! What @efritz described is the popular image of the feminist, though, because the media always, always focus on the extremes, and only those who actually think for themselves get the whole story.

@efritz , to more fully answer your question, yes, it is because of that image that women (and men) are reluctant to define themselves as feminists. Peggy Weiss wrote an excellent article in 1998 called ”‘I’m Not a Feminist, But…’: Popular Myths about Feminism” that discusses this exact issue. There is a lot of fear in labeling oneself as a feminist because of what is potentially at stake: it is generally not popular for women to be perceived as radical or too political. They might be seen as too bitchy or pushy. It will raise questions about their sexuality (this is especially true for men) and they could be accused of being a lesbian (or gay, for male feminists). All these myths about feminism are strongly perpetuated by the media, and since most schools do not discuss these issues most people grow up knowing next to nothing, besides what the media tells them, about feminism.

@sillymichelleyoung Sorry to tell you, but your teacher was pretty much spot on, at least if she was talking historically. No one in their right mind can deny the historical oppression of women. Perhaps you aren’t aware, and it’s probably not entirely your fault. That being said, basing your entire opinion on one piece of fiction makes for a very weak argument.

Rarebear's avatar

@wundayatta I’m a man and I’m a feminist too.

MagsRags's avatar

I think we have allowed the term “feminist” to be polarized and redefined by the radical right, similarly to the way the word “liberal” is now considered negative.

I consider myself to be a feminist, I don’t hate men, and I don’t think feminism is passe. There is absolutely still a need.

wundayatta's avatar

@sillymichelleyoung

Do you like it when men want women to be dependent on them? Do you think that’s the way things should be?

Do you think women should have little independence, and be dependent on men?

Do you think men should let women do all the dirty work, while they sit around drinking beers and farting?

Do you think it’s ok if girls have to dress up to look younger so they will be more sexually attractive?

I hope not.

It sounds to me like you didn’t like your teacher’s feelings and expressions, and saw her as a representative of feminism. She wasn’t. Not even close.

Feminism is about humanism—letting people do what they enjoy doing, instead of being forced to do things because of what gender they are. Feminism is about opening both men and women up to freedom from social gender restrictions.

Of course, it’s failed. Men are success objects and women are sex objects. And as my ten year old son expressed today, when he asked, “Day, can women propose marriage?” The current generation totally buys into the 50s mentality about gender roles.

Women look pretty and smell nice, and guys ask them out and pay for their dates and propose marriage. Then they get married and the little woman takes care of the kids and the laundry and cooking and whatnot, while the guy gets to go out and have fun after work.

Except for the occasional guy who actually does believe in equality, and loves children and want’s to be a significant part of their lives.

Well, I love kids. I love my own kids. I do my half of the work around the house (even if my wife may not agree), and I am happy to do it, and more, when necessary. I can take care of everything, should my wife be disabled for a while, or divorce me. Maybe the kids would miss a few deadlines and they wouldn’t have such elaborate birthday parties, but they would survive that.

And I’m happy that my wife makes more money than I do. I don’t feel like it diminishes me in any way. She’s a lawyer; I’m a do-gooder. My job carries better benefits than hers does. It evens out, but no one has to count, because we aren’t expecting each other to conform to one role or another.

I don’t think young women these days really know all that much about feminism. They have a knee-jerk reaction to it based on personalities and not on ideology.

And, for what it’s worth, if a woman isn’t all about equality, I would could not consider being her partner. We’re in this together, baby. You and me. Men and women. Not necessarily in that order.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

fem⋅i⋅nism
  /ˈfɛməˌnɪzəm/ [fem-uh-niz-uhm]
–noun
1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.

-

That’s what it is about. Equality. And we still have a long way to go.

ETpro's avatar

I don’t think it is taboo, but some women became rather militant about their feminism, and men (and even moderate women) reacted to this. It’s rather like believing basically in protecting animals but not agreeing with PITA. Also, conservatives have been at work trying to make feminism a pejorative, just as they do with environmentalists, calling any who care about the environment “tree huggers”. Rush Limbaugh and the like are fond of railing against “Feminazis.”

I consider myself a feminist.

Frankie's avatar

@ETpro I don’t necessarily think some women “became” militant…they always were radical, and this is simply what the media focus on because they are the extreme. I like that you mentioned PETA, because that is a wonderful example of what I’m talking about. Humane societies very rarely make the news, because they aren’t radical. PETA is in the news all the time because they are radical and they do crazy stunts that the media decide is “newsworthy”. All the great things that WWF does doesn’t make the news, but eco-terrorist groups do, because they pull stunts. In the same way, the media is not going to focus on the non-radical feminists, because they aren’t doing something crazy, like burning their bras or advocating male genocide or something. The difference is that, unlike the normal humane societies or environmental groups, there’s really no voice or advocate for “normal” feminism…it’s not talked about in schools, it’s not taught in any great length in history or literature classes, and unless someone has a parent or friend who considers themselves a feminist, it is not really talked about at home or in their social lives…there’s really no medium for “normal” feminism.

ETpro's avatar

@Frankie Thanks. I see I misspelled PETA. That is, indeeed, what I meant by PITA, not a strange shape of bread. :-)

I don’t know about NO medium for normal understanding of feminism. We still learn about the women’s suffrage movement. We all admire pioneering women like Amelia Earhardt.

Frankie's avatar

@ETpro mmmmm pita bread!

And yes, the suffrage movement is taught, but not much else. That’s why I qualified my statement about that with “in any great length,” because in my experience, after covering the suffrage movement, very little is said about women’s history and especially modern feminism. Suffrage was almost 100 years ago. A lot has happened since then that just isn’t covered in your general high school history and lit classes. And most universities don’t require any women’s studies classes in their general education requirements. Combined with the image of the modern feminist portrayed in the media, I think that is one of the biggest reasons for all these myths about feminism.

susanc's avatar

Women in their 20’s often announce that we reviled “feminists” should stop going on and on about inequality, because inequality doesn’t exist.
That’s what we unladylike old feminists were working toward. You’re welcome! We’re glad things are better.
Still, look at the statistics sometime. You girls aren’t going to get paid like the boys do till you, too, take up the baton. As for us, we’re tired, and are living in the woods, wearing overalls, heating with wood and refusing to shave our legs. Yep. Just us and the cooties.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

@susanc Hey, I’m in my 20s and I KNOW inequality exists! As do many some of my friends. But you’re right, the others don’t know shit.

wundayatta's avatar

@susanc Do you think it is just ignorance of history? Or is it just seen as unfashionable? Or is it something they think they don’t need any more, so it belongs in history’s trash heap? Or is something more sinister going on, where young women are losing their edge, so to speak, and simply can’t see how the gender role stereotypes put them at a disadvantage?

It’s not like this is a new phenomenon, but it really bothers me. We (yes, men too) fought for a lot, and it seems like without enough new blood, the gains could be lost without anyone really noticing.

I do know that new feminists are being turned out of colleges. I was happy to find one who is attending my Alma Mater (a member of a dance workshop I go to). I know that where I work there are any number of women’s studies programs, and that some of them are part of the gen ed curriculum. So there is still a lot of feminist scholarship and feminist studies going on, but somehow, they don’t get any good press. It’s as if Camille Paglia let out a giant fart and gassed all the feminists into dumbness.

Sorry. It’s after midnight. Strange things happen in my mind after midnight. Yes, stranger even than my normal strange things.

nononoyesno's avatar

Some of the ignorance here is astounding. Feminism is about people being equal no matter what their gender.

TO ANSWER THE OP’S QUESTION: It is “taboo” to be feminist because part of identifying as a feminist involves refusing to conform to the gendered expectations of a world that is still, like it or not, male dominated. So stereotypes of hairy armpits, bra-burning (which only happened once, at a rally in the 60’s) and other “butch” generalizations were created since, like most progressive beliefs, it freaks everyone out.

It’s ironic that there are so many women who will proudly say that they are for equality but preface their beliefs by clarifying that they are NOT a feminist, as if it is some sort of qualifier for their level of rationality. The reality is that by refusing to identify as a feminist (and looking down on them), they are conforming to male expectations. Because how will you ever find a man if you’re one of those uppity feminist bitches? Ew, cute guys might even think that you don’t shave your legs.

Ignoramuses…

davidbetterman's avatar

Some of them ruined things for the rest by becoming feminazis.

nononoyesno's avatar

@davidbetterman “Feminazis” are character tropes invented by the media for comedy/humor purposes and have blown up in to a full-on stereotype. Sadly, this is another reason why most people simply don’t know that much about feminism – because characters who identify as feminists in movies and television are usually portrayed as overly-PC man-haters, and because a lot of people get their “education” about different lifestyles and beliefs from TV and movies.

If someone hates men as a whole, as if the entire gender is collectively the culprit of inequality, as if there is some sort of male conspiracy to hold women back – then sorry, they are not a real feminist. They just need therapy.

nononoyesno's avatar

By the way, I proudly identify as a feminist, so people can feel free to ask me anything whether on this thread or if they want to shoot me a message.

Judi's avatar

I haven’t read all the responses so pardon me if I repeat.
Feminists got a reputation for being militant and angry victim man haters.
As I have aged, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have to be just like a man, that I like being a girly girl and that I wish I would have been able to stay home when my kids were young. I no longer want to “identify” myself with the “movement.”
I still believe in equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity, but I won’t apologize for appreciating civalry, and I will keep my bra, thank-you.

Frankie's avatar

@Judi Feminism was never about all women going into the workplace and never spending time with their family. It was, and is, about having the choice and the option, about having the opportunity to be something besides a wife and mother. That choice was never always available as it is now. Burning one’s bra is not a requirement to be a feminist…as far as I know, most men don’t wear bras, but many men are feminists. It also does not mean that you can’t expect or appreciate chivalry (although I’m more of a fan of general politeness toward everyone, not just women). And it was never, ever about “being a man.” I get so confused when someone says that…in order to have equal access and representation you have to be a man? Really?

SeventhSense's avatar

<—-likes to hold doors and pull out chairs

Judi's avatar

edit: @SeventhSense, you’re the man!
@Frankie,
I never had a choice. I had to work.
I think definitions and expectations are changing and becoming more sophisticated and that’s good. I think relationship roles are now being identified by what works for individuals and not by traditional rules set by society and that’s good too.
I’m just saying, as a woman aproaching her 50’s, most of my life I have felt pressure to excel and perform in what has traditionally been a “mans world.” Not only did I have to earn a living because it takes 2 incomes, but even if I could have stayed home, feminists looked down on stay at home moms as somehow “less than.”
I think that at least THAT is changing.
I’m not saying I’m a victim of feminisim or anything like that, I am just saying that I am glad things are turning around and women no longer are having to feel guilty for embracing their feminity if they choose like they did 20–30 years ago.

nononoyesno's avatar

@Judi Feminists do not and never have looked down on stay-at-home moms. Feminists look down on people who expect moms to stay at home.

You have a lot of reading to do. For starters, embracing ones femininity and being a “girly girl” doesn’t make someone less of a feminist.

Frankie's avatar

@Judi You make good points. As a young woman in my 20s, my only experience with 1st and 2nd wave feminism is reading articles from and about that time in books, and I’m sure it was much different living it. My point about work is that, even though you had to work, that was not necessarily the fault of feminism…feminism wasn’t about forcing women into the workplace. 2nd wave feminists, like Betty Friedan, pushed for more options for women in the professional arena because there just weren’t many options for women back then, but even she never went as far to say that ALL women should work…it was just about the option.

@nononoyesno I think you have me confused with @Judi

Judi's avatar

@nononoyesno, I think you were talking to me.
I agree that it is changing, but I am telling you my real life experience of feminisim in the 80’s and 90’s, not what the written ideal is.
Women were wearing man suits and ties for Goodness sake! I was there!
I like the NEW feminisim much better.

nononoyesno's avatar

@Judi You appear to have a very black and white view of feminism, which is one of the biggest problems it faces. “Women wearing men’s suits! People telling me I couldn’t stay home with my kids! Those feminists were crazy, I tell ya, CRAZY!”

One of the main points that feminism tries to make is that women should not be told what to do simply on the basis that they are women. If anyone in the 80’s or 90’s was trying to shame you for any decision that you were making (child-raising-wise or dress-wise), and anyone who thought that feminism was about trying to conform to a “man’s world” as much as possible (by wearing suits, or whatever) then I’m sorry but your experience is more limited than you think because you were NOT dealing with feminism – more like the opposite.

Here is an awesome, funny and easy to read article that outlines a lot of what feminists believe – http://www.campusprogress.org/fieldreport/4141/im-not-a-feminist-but

mammal's avatar

it isn’t Taboo, it’s alive and kicking, but no where near as conspicuous as it should be. My pet peeves are the Should women be allowed questions, you know, like should women be allowed to be Bishops or fight in the front line..? and so forth, by women i assume we mean Adults right? not children, not girls, therefore it isn’t the right of one Adult gender to adopt a patriarchal position and impose prohibitive strictures upon another Adult gender.

HTDC's avatar

Wow there are some really great answers in this thread. I was expecting a whole lot of feminist bashing, but it’s good to know there are open-minded people in this world.

davidbetterman's avatar

@nononoyesno “_“Feminazis” are character tropes invented by the media for comedy/humor purposes and have blown up in to a full-on stereotype. _”

Nonono…nono…LOL…feminazis are real to life women who not only hate men, but hate themselves as well. The stereotype invented for the movies/media came direct from real ife, not the other way round.

I am all for women’s equality. (Funny how that amendment never passed). But I know many feminazis from before the media ever coined the word.

thriftymaid's avatar

Who said it was?

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t know where “feminazis” came from—caricature based on media interests or selections from real life, but I do know a straw man woman when I see one. This is why right wing assholes are so effective: they know how to employ rhetorical dirty tricks to great effect, and since few people seem to get a good debating education, they don’t know how to call the conservatives on their dirty tricks. Worse, people fall for the tricks. I wonder why that is.

susanc's avatar

There’s a certain amount of pain involved in any effort to change or even just analyze a big society like ours. Maybe a little of that is showing here. I’m pleased with how intelligently we differ.
@wundayatta – Thanks for asking. I think the upside of (SOME) younger women not realizing it used to be harder is this: they go out into the world pretty sure their powers will find a place.
But I want them to be conscious. There’s a long history of patriarchy that’s pretty much ingrained in almost all of us. But it’s not practical any more.

Women who didn’t get all vocal about feminism back in the 50s 60s 70s still had an effect on the changes that have happened. @judi’s a good example of a woman who moved within a big world because her life required her to, and created new things with her energies.

BTW, I read an article just a few weeks ago that said there’s no record of anyone ever burning her bra. It was draft cards that got burned. Perhaps one of those media fun things.

Pazza's avatar

Its like the parfume add that says ‘just be’, don’t be a feminist or a shovanist, just be.
An as the Lenon/Mccartney lyric says, let it be.

As far as I’m concerned, gender is incidental, I don’t see male/female, I only see individuals. So in my eyes, there is no need for feminism or shovanism.

drhat77's avatar

(man here) what irks me are women who are all gung ho for equality but when real blame/responsibility comes around they use their feminine wiles to dodge it. It is just human nature and a good example of what a few bad apples can do but in a proffessional environment it leaves a bad taste. I know of only 2–3. Women where I work who will do this but any time I have to hand out blame/responsibility to someone I’m unfamiliar with I always wonder…

drhat77's avatar

While on the topic…
A common theme I see appearing in house work is men realize that 50% of the effort takes care of 80% of the job. But many wives seem to.care little for how efficient that is. Does it come from the stone age (1950’s) when a woman’s worth was determined by how clean her house was, so an 80% job would simply not do? Or is there something inherently different in how men and women approach housework

Judi's avatar

@nononoyesno; your condesending tone is a little tiresome and actually makes my point.

drhat77's avatar

How humorously ironic would I be if I said “cat fight! Rowrrr!” right now?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense Pardon me, but I don’t get how your response answers the question
@Judi there is no one way to be a feminist – you are a feminist based on equality you desire for all genders…it doesn’t matter what your gender expression is and whether or not you wear bras

nononoyesno's avatar

@Judi Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound condescending if that’s how you took it. It’s just that I was a Women’s Studies Major and have spent a lot of my time having discussions with a lot of different people – and frankly I’m tired of all of the people who are all, “Ew, feminism” but in reality simply just don’t know that much about feminism at all.

This is fine, not everyone has the time to read up on these things or take a class about it, etc. But that by attempting to distance themselves from the movement as if it’s some sort of taboo, they are just perpetuating a sad cycle that we should be trying to break: That a woman who is open about her views on women’s rights just isn’t appealing to men and considered a bitch.

How men perceive women has played a major role in a lot of women’s lives and it shouldn’t be that way.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with a lot of @nononoyesno has contributed to the discussion so far. It was never ‘in’ to be a feminist – the various feminist movements have ebbed and flowed over the centuries and sometimes they’d pick up momentum and sometimes they’d experience a backlash – nonetheless, feminist ideology was and is necessary – many things now taken for granted by men and women have been accomplished because plenty of feminists remembered that ‘well-bahaved women rarely make history’.

I am a feminist of the post-modern, 3rd wave persuasion – movement that incorporates all races, sexualities and genders into our work with gender norms and limitations – the ‘man-hater’ label has never applied to me because I don’t even believe in gender as a concept – it doesn’t work for me, personally, and I surely don’t think one sex/gender is any more superior than any other. There are many reasons why feminism has been given a bad name:
1. Ignorance/Misinformation – as @tinyfaery mentioned, there are many forms and idelogies within feminism but most people don’t take the time to study the varieties and obtain a hole-filled understanding of this complex issue – they hear bits and pieces, read some stuff here and there and make up their minds based on that – but that’s not specific to feminism…just wanted to point out that it is worth a more in-depth study to be able to converse about it in a constructive fashion

2. Some feminists have been pretty anti-man, not so much any particular men but men being ahead of women aka patriarchy. Any person that begins to understand history and what feminism is about has to face that patriarchy has and is real in very systemic ways and there are very real reasons to be angry about it. However, to solve the issue, the energy needs to be directed to education, working across gender lines rather than never accepting men into the discussion. On the other hand, there are certain safe spaces that are important for women who have been victimized by men. Throughout my feminist work and because I work with the transgender community, I was always against the NOW meetings at NYU that didn’t accept men or transfolk as attendees and so I didn’t go. I have no tolerance for generalizations made against any gender. There are plenty of men who recognize the history and work throughout their lives to support feminist goals and, to me, feminism is to achieve equality for all people.

3. Many have been threatened by feminism and that includes people of all genders. Many don’t like hearing that gender norms are socialized, that there is no reason to expect women to make babies and men to make the money – some people don’t mind traditional gender norms and heteronormative ideologies. These are the people who think it’s an insult to be called a lesbian, that it’s an insult to say that you are a woman who doesn’t shave her legs, etc. These are not actually insults and are therefore ridiculous statements because these are all things that scare the majority but shouldn’t. Call me a hippie lesbian all you want – I’ll gladly take on that label because the alternative doesn’t describe or speak to me. The notion of ‘feminazis’ is stupid because it has no actual definition – a feminazi could be anyone that goes a bit futher than what one is comfortable with in terms of these issues…

and I hate when people say I’m not a feminist but…because all that follows are statements of a feminist…

nononoyesno's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir This. Times a thousand. Thank you.

A lot of people aren’t ready to accept that we do still live in a patriarchal society, and that people’s ideas of gender are highly socialized (sex and gender are two different concepts).

Judi's avatar

@nononoyesno ; apology accepted. I was simply answering the question. I never claimed to be a scholar, I’m just a primary source, living through an amazing time of change for women. I have a friend who couldn’t buy a car because she didn’t bring her father with her and she wasn’t married (In her 20’s!)
the feminist movement did a lot for women. It gave us “personhood,” but we would be lieing if we didn’t acknowledge the ugly side of the war.
There REALLY was a time when assuming traditional roles was looked on as weak. I don’t know what was going on in activist groups, but I do know what women were saying about stay at home moms around the water cooler and it was not flattering.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nononoyesno The reason for such reluctance is because if we’re to acknowledge that we live in a patriarchal society and that gender is socialized, then we’d have to do something about sexism and about transphobia and so forth – clearly, it is much easier to say that these are how things are supposed to be inherently and that women have already gone “too far” in that they’re doing these crazy things like working and not having babies (gasp! the blasphemy) and some men are staying at home voluntarily (call the police!)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi people still say hurtful things about stay at home moms and stay at home moms say hurtful things about women that go to work – all of this is the result of many minds’ idea of ‘divide and conquer’ and it has worked – the debate between these two factions continues but I see it as pointless, really because more people should stay at home with children but it shouldn’t only be women.

Judi's avatar

I think that my daughters choice to stay at home is more respected now.
There was a real struggle years ago to get people to stop saying, “She’s just a housewife.
That was one of the things that turned many women my age away from the feminist movement.
To clarify, I have no problem with the concept of feminisim.
Some of the more radical elements HAVE disenfranchised the masses though.

drhat77's avatar

people besides me should be throwing around GA’s this is really great stuff guys (gals? PC?)

feminism is as important to women as unions are to labor. frequently cause a stink, but they are a positive protective force for a group that tends to be oppressed. It either disappeared tomorrow we’d probably see a return to the “default” state (can’t think of a better term, even though this one is inaccurate)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi people who are telling others they’re ‘just housewives’ are not necessarily meaning to say anything against the person like your daughter but against the concept that many other people have said (for centuries) that that’s all a woman can do and she can’t be capable of anything else…it just comes out all wrong…

Judi's avatar

I think attitudes have changed. 20 years ago it was rhe proclaimed “feminists” who were saying it. My daughters get way more respect than “Domestic Engineers” of my era did.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi if only now we can convince people than men can stay at home too

nononoyesno's avatar

@Judi and @Simone_De_Beauvoir – Though if a man stayed at home, there is a large chance he would either be congratulated for being such a caring dad (whereas a woman would simply be “doing what she is expected to”), or people would be skeptical of his choice not to work and find it odd that he has taken on such a “feminine” trait. Hence, stay-at-home dads being the butt of many jokes in comedy films, etc. Once again, socialized gender conceptions in action.

Judi's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir;
I know my first husband tried to but his ego couldn’t handle it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nononoyesno my husband experiences both and neither are good responses, in our opinions

wundayatta's avatar

It’s ironic to me that a lot of this is about respect—respect for people as equals. Yet there has been much disrespect described in this discussion: some aimed at women in general; some probably aimed at men; some aimed at women in certain roles; some aimed at styles of personal hygiene; and more.

We make choices about how we want to live our lives all the time. How do we feel when we see a choice, but are told we can’t make that choice? You can’t be a doctor, you don’t come from people who become doctors. You can’t be a child care worker; what kind of man are you? You can’t be an executive you (literally) don’t have the balls for it. You can’t leave you legs unshaven. You can’t go braless.

Who made up these social conventions? No. Why do these social conventions have to be the last word on human behavior?

Social conventions are things we grow up with and learn without even thinking about it. But when people go against them, they bother the shit out of us. When immigrants come in who don’t even speak English, that is bothersome because all our lives, we never had to speak anything but English in order to understand people.

That same kind of attitude is in play for what people learn about how men and women should behave. That training tells most of us that there only are men and women, and nothing else as @Simone_De_Beauvoir constantly reminds us.

Social convention limits our choice and in doing so, it limits the possibilities and limits our contributions. It hurts everyone, not just the people who are constrained by them. Men are hurt by gender roles as well. Women may have lower pay, but who has a higher rate of heart attacks? Who has a shorter life span? Stress is a killer and men, in seeking to keep women as a servant class, are killing themselves. Of course, most men, just as they don’t see how they limit women, also don’t see how they are hurting themselves.

There is also this notion of the zero-sum opportunity. If women take on better jobs, then there will be fewer for men. This doesn’t take into account competency and efficiency. Men are better off if business runs more efficiently and products are sold more cheaply, even if they didn’t make those products.

As it happens, these days, education is more of a crucial thing in getting good work, and women are the ones getting the educations. They outnumber men in higher education by—I’m not sure, but they are the majority, and I don’t think it’s just a slight majority. I also believe they outnumber men in the workforce. Maybe someone could check.

Anyway, if you look down the road, keeping this trend in mind, the obvious (and probably correct) conclusion is that women will be taking over the workforce, and particularly in the most senior positions. Women, in other words, have won the equality in the workplace battle, it just hasn’t played out in the numbers yet.

Which makes one wonder what is happening to men? Are boys being discriminated against in the education system? Are men only suited for physical labor and there aren’t so many of those jobs any more? Have men given up and are letting women do the work so they can sit back and drink beer and watch wrestling? Are men less intelligent than women (interesting evidence on that one, too).

Feminism, as I said before, is about humanism, for me. Women have been focused on their own roles in society, and this is important and politically a good strategy. Yet, we all need to be concerned about all our choices. Having men be relegated to jobs of a physical nature helps no one in the long run. It’s just as bad to lose the talents on men as it is of women.

What I would like to see is true freedom of choice for everyone. That means true tolerance for other people’s choices. That means a more sophisticated understanding of what hurts us and what doesn’t. Letting two people of the same sex get married hurts no one else. Letting women in the armed services hurts no one other than the individuals who choose this job. Letting the best rise to the top not only doesn’t hurt anyone, but it helps us all. There are a gazillion other examples.

There are many serious issues in society. But making a huge fuss over whether a woman or a man stays home while their partner works should not be one of them. It should not be an issue whether someone works at home gets respect or not. What about volunteer work? What about other low-paid work that gets little respect, but is of enormous importance to society? There’s lots of disrespect to go around as long as money is the measure of status. But that’s another battle. Yet a linked one.

The bottom line for me is respect. Every point of view in this discussion, I believe, is arguing for respect for some kind of behavior, underneath all the other issues. It’s a shame that in these battles, people so often get side-tracked into issues that take energy away from much larger concerns. We all play an important role in these struggles. I hope we can all respect that.

MagsRags's avatar

@wundayatta much lurve for your last post!

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@nononoyesno Yeah, as a “SAHD” I get more of the latter – causing me to get unsolicited advice from every stranger mother ever… as I clearly don’t know what I’m doing, due to my penis taking all my parenting skills away. But I get the former as well, which I just find ridiculous – not to say I’m not a caring dad, but why special attention needs to be drawn to me over a female parent makes no sense and I find it insulting to women and to me. I think this draws on why feminism is important – if I’m doing something that’s considered “woman’s work” (a problem by itself) and I’m given a lowered status as a man or a raised status as a parent… then things obviously are not equal yet.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta well I don’t get why it has to be either women get jobs or men get jobs – why can’t some men and some women get jobs?!

drhat77's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir THAT’S exactly what @wundayatta was saying – it ISN’T a zero sum game – the more jobs women get, the more jobs there will be

drhat77's avatar

it dovetails nicely with economics – when you limit choices (controlled vs free-market systems) you get fewer and poorer-quality choices. but when you let as many choices exist as feasibly possible more permutations are allowed to occur and thus more choices, more spending, more jobs, upwards and upwards

nononoyesno's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre: “if I’m doing something that’s considered “woman’s work” (a problem by itself) and I’m given a lowered status as a man or a raised status as a parent… then things obviously are not equal yet.”

Yes! If a man who takes on “women’s traits”, he is often seen as “less of a man” which could translate to a number of things – weaker, less powerful, etc. More people need to question why this is.

nononoyesno's avatar

@wundayatta I appreciate your views on tolerance and that feminism=humanism, because there are a lot of different ways to be a feminist (just as there are a lot of different ways to be a christian, a democrat, etc)

But I highly, highly, highly disagree that this “should not be an issue” or that it is somehow less important just because there are other injustices out there. I’m also going to agree with @simone de beauvoir that it is a bit frustrating you seem to think of this as a zero sum game where either men or women are going to get to claim all of X or Y, whether it be jobs, intelligence, etc.

We’re trying to say that in a fair society, gender just shouldn’t play a role in these things. You also draw strange conclusions with no evidence, like how “obviously” women will eventually “take over” the workforce. Uhhh, what?

mammal's avatar

@drhat77 it dovetails nicely with economics – when you limit choices (controlled vs free-market systems) you get fewer and poorer-quality choices. but when you let as many choices exist as feasibly possible more permutations are allowed to occur and thus more choices, more spending, more jobs, upwards and upwards no, that is off topic and a screwy Socio-Economic perspective.

SeventhSense's avatar

But there are distinct differences in gender and their basic predilections for the most part. That’s often overlooked. Both sexes generally like differences. Are there 6 ft 200 pound women fit to be firemen? Absolutely.. but should a 5 foot 100 pound woman be given preference over a more qualified man in that position? That could risk the lives of others as she’s trying to drag 100 pounds of gear up the stairs of an apartment building on fire. That just doesn’t make sense. But if a woman is qualified, and of course not unfairly disqualified, by all means she should have equal pay, access and the right to do any job a man can do.

wundayatta's avatar

@nononoyesno I’m not sure what I did, but you have the idea that I said the exact opposite of what I meant to say. A agree. It’s not a zero-sum game. Oh, I see. I think faster than I can capture the ideas. I was just describing a zero-sum game there, but I missed out on saying that we are not in a zero-sum game. There, I’ve said it twice. LOL.

And again with the “should be an issue” or not. What I’m saying is that we should live in a society where women don’t have to fight for respect for their work, no matter what they do, because they already get respect. Similarly, men should not have to fight for respect if they do work formerly seen as women’s work.

It should be as @Simone_De_Beauvoir says—some men and some women get work. The point is that we all have free choice and no one disrespects any of us for the choices we make because of gender stereotypes.

What the hell happened that people thought I was saying the opposite of what I had in mind? Maybe I was writing on too little sleep. Sigh. Hope I’ve straightened that out.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@SeventhSense I think those physical constrains around careers are outliers and don’t explain why women are paid less for the same work a man does, or why they might be scored for working instead of staying home with the kids. I don’t think anyone is saying unqualified people should be offered positions over qualified people, but that all other things being equal, how a person is sexed shouldn’t factor in.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre
Well I think inasmuch as per feminism being taboo it’s quite germane. The classification of gender stereotypes may not be condoned by a certain feminist quarter but the insistence of a purely genderless based approach may in fact create other stereotypes.

liminal's avatar

@SeventhSense Would you mind sharing what you perceive a genderless based approach means and what sorts of stereotypes this approach may create?

SeventhSense's avatar

I pointed it out in my above post. There are fundamental differences in the sexes.

SeventhSense's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre
You’re right and there is no reason as I pointed out. Whether we have to label that feminism is another story. It may in fact be counterproductive to the goal.

liminal's avatar

@efritz I think, sometimes when we identify ourselves to another as anything, be it feminist, republican, vegetarian, comedian, humanist, etc… the person who hears the self-identification starts to evaluate themselves, or worse yet, compare themselves to their perceptions of the said identification, sometimes even going so far as to dismiss the person in front of them for an internalized perception. It is when these internalized perceptions are negative that people start to distance themselves from one-another. The saddest thing being, again sometimes, some of us never stop to confront our internalized perceptions of others and miss out on an opportunity to discover an interesting part of ourselves. As in some of the examples already given, “I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equal rights for all.” can actually be a pretty sad statement because what they might really mean to say is something akin to “While I don’t want to come across as dogmatic, I do want to say that I believe in equal rights for all.” but they end up coming off (and might actually be showing) they are conflicted and self-deceived.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense biological differences between the sexes are no reason to not treat all people equally when it comes to matters that don’t have anything to do with biological reasons – like staying at home to watch your kid – I would never agree with you that by virtue of having a vagina a woman, therefore, is better suited to do this and that is why we, as feminists, argue that any parent should they so choose should be able to do this (and why does everyone always bring up the stupid firefighter example…they are female firepeople and they’re obviously not there for PC reasons but because they can do the job…or have you not ever met any female firefighters?)

SeventhSense's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
I never said that biological differences are any reason to treat people differently. As per the firefighter, bodybuilders there are certain things that are more suited to men than women ON AVERAGE. Can a women inject male hormone to compete with men in a competition of muscaluture? Yes. Will she still not be able to compete with men in a competitition? Yes. Is a women’s lung capacity less than a man’s? Yes? Does a woman have a flood of prolactin that is released upon conception that bonds her to her child in a way that no man can possibly have? Yes
As per firefighters, they are not there for the vast majority can not compete with men in that arena. If I’m on fire, I don’t want you on the ladder to try to lift me out of a burning building. I’m sorry but you know what I’m saying. We’re equal but we’re not the same. This is the non PC area which everyone agrees about but everyone is afraid to mention because the radical feminist brigade will descend like Harpies from hell if there’s even a mention of difference. I’m sorry. We don’t have interchangeable parts and gender is not fluid. Are there hermaphrodites, cross gender etc. Yes. Can a man with a penis stay home and watch his kids? Why not. Can a woman take her vagina to the boardroom or the office? By all means.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense I don’t understand why you’re under the impression that feminists are saying there are no biological differences between the sexes – maybe I missed out on some faction so can you tell me where you’ve heard this? and I wouldn’t be on the ladder trying to save you because I don’t have the strength to be a firefighter as I am now – but I could be a firefighter if I wanted to and you not wanting me to lift you out is your own prejudice, which is fine but has nothing to do with feminism. Gender, the socialized norms put upon biological markers, is absolutely a construct and it is absolutely fluid as it has changed throughout time, culture and even without our lifetimes. Something is threatening you, I just don’t get what it is. Having women be paid equal amount for equal work as my husband mentioned has nothing to do with interchangeable parts – no one has interchangeable parts, we’re not discussng those even – no one’s taking your penis away, relax.

efritz's avatar

@SeventhSense – your argument is proof that feminism is still relevant. Yes, there are obviously biological differences between genders. But reproductive systems have nothing to do with firefighting.

SeventhSense's avatar

There are some things that a man is better suited for than a woman and somethings that woman is better suited for than a man. It’s that simple.

drhat77's avatar

Unless a woman wanted to inseminate someone I believe she could do anything she wants. Some things that require brute strength would simply mean the woman would be that much more determined (or fail for her lack)

efritz's avatar

@SeventhSense – I think that these things are mostly conditioned, based on environmental factors, and are not necessarily indicative of gender itself.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense so…a man is better suited to receive a higher paycheck? better suited to control reproductive policy? yeah, didn’t think so.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
I Never said that. If you want to place me in opposition to your position that’s your prerogative but you may find the chair empty.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense I was asking you to clarify your earlier statements – that’s why my questions have a question mark in the end? saying ‘men are better at certain things, etc’ is too vague for me to accept

SeventhSense's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
No you were being snarky. You answered your own question.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense well you can think whatever you want to think. I’m done with this

Response moderated
Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense only because no one in their right mind should answer those questions with a yes…but you could still have done so

SeventhSense's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
So my initial statement is accurate. You have the need to place me in opposition to your position so you set up a straw man that you could knock down. Only that isn’t me or my position.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SeventhSense no I have no need to place you in opposition – your ideas are not new enough to interest me in this way…please, stop imagining more than necessary…and PM me, this is all meaningless and taking away from the discussion

SeventhSense's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir
I’m not imagining anything:

so…a man is better suited to receive a higher paycheck? better suited to control reproductive policy? yeah, didn’t think so.
This is YOUR STATEMENT. This is an inflammatory method made to appear “as if” I said this when I didn’t. It may be meaningless to you but it’s libel to me.

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