Feminism

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Thora
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Jan 11 2005 01:52
Feminism

Does anybody else find they have mixed feelings about feminism? Obviously I'm anti-patriarchy/anti-sexism etc, but I wouldn't describe myself as feminist, and off the top of my head I can't think of many female friends who do. I saw the following invitation to an Anarcha-feminist conference, and to be honest it kind of made me cringe a bit:

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Stuff planned: Discussions on what is anarcha-feminism?, why do we still need feminism?, what are our priorities for change?, how should we deal with sexual abuse in our movement and community?, Maori feminism, fertility and relationships, and the herstory of anarcha-feminism (in Aotearoa); workshops on facilitation, screen-printing, bookbinding, using an axe and a chainsaw, a book swap and a clothing-swap

A lot of it looks really interesting, but "herstory" - what's that all about? It's like the mispelling of women as wimmin/womyn - should it be applauded as a recognition of the ways in which language shapes perceptions and ideas about gender and gender roles, or is it political correctness gone mad? roll eyes Does it actually make a difference to how we think about society's inherent bias? eek It strikes me as slightly petty, and as the Wikipedia article on "womyn" points out, there is something a little 1984 about attempts to artificially correct language in order to inform political thought. And "using an axe..." too - it seems like an attempt to push some boundary or be radical, but is the idea of women being able to use tools still that radical? My first reaction was that it was a little condescending. The way feminism is often limited to a women's issue is something I also find irritating - it kind of ghettoises (might just be making words up now) it as this seperate issue, making it easier to be dismissed as of secondary importance. This particular event welcomes

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All women, intersex and transgender people who share the basic principles of anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist feminism

But I also don't buy that the battle for equality has been won - even within the anarchist "movement", despite patriarchy being recognised and confronted on a much greater scale than within many other sectors of society, casual misogyny is disappointingly commonplace. I'm not entirely sure what point I'm making, or even if I have a point, put I'd be interested to see anyone elses' views.

violet black star

lucy82
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Jan 11 2005 02:06
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Does anybody else find they have mixed feelings about feminism?

yeah, lots but i have to go bed now cause i've got to get up for work in five hours so i'll come back to this tomorrow.

Steve
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Jan 11 2005 10:06

I have no problem with feminism i.e. believing in equality between men & women, but with some ‘feminists’ who seek that equality within the present system I also have problems with this use of ‘herstory’ ‘wimmin’ & ‘womnyn’.

It should be history, first of all, for reasons of etymology. The term "history" does not derive from a running together of "his" and "story." It derives from the Greek term for "knowing by inquiry," which the Romans rendered as the Latin historia. The his in the Latin from which our term history emerged (via the French histoire) did not and does not denote the third person masculine possessive pronoun. Not in Latin, not in French (where "his history" or "his story" is son histoire), and not in English either.

Woman comes from ‘wife man’ in Old English so there may be a case there but there would have to be some consensus on which spelling to begin with and then what is the logical next step? Go through all the words in the English language that have a dodgy origin and wipe them out? Remember the debate about the use of ‘nitty gritty’ a couple of years ago?

I think within the anarchist movement we have to recognise there is still some latent sexism and challenge it, including those who are claiming to be ironic.

Deezer
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Jan 11 2005 10:33

A while before the AF and ASF merged to become 'Organise!' in Ireland the ASF set up a 'womens commission' and put out a statement on feminism. Here are some extracts:

"Many issues which disproportionately impact on women, particularly working class women, have been labelled 'women's issues' and are often presented as separate from issues which effect the working class as a whole. 'Women's issues' are often seen as self contained and cross class. We regard women’s issues as working class issues, we are building a movement based on solidarity between all members of the working class.

Patriarchy has a negative impact on women, the working class, and the development of individuals, male and female, within that class and throughout society."

Sexism must... "ultimately be addressed by our movement and society as a whole. However, while such discrimination impacts more specifically on women as a gender we feel that separate organisation by and for women can be necessary... This does not mean we are 'separatists', it means that we recognise that those of us who are women are particularly well placed to identify the problems and propose solutions to those problems. The implementation of those solutions is everyone's responsibility. We believe that an injury to one is an injury to all."

"Low levels of participation of women in the higher levels of society is a symptom of patriarchy. We do not see dealing with these symptoms as providing any meaningful solutions for working class women. Regrettably the manner in which the majority of the Feminist/women's movement in Ireland has sought to deal with these issues has presented no real threat to the establishment – nor does it attempt to. There is no real challenge to the system of capitalism. Conditions of 'powerlessness', economic and political exclusion and oppression, and alienation for members of our class regardless of gender are therefore perpetuated."

"As Anarcho-Syndicalists we do not want more female masters we want no masters."

"Feminism devoid of, and sometimes even in opposition to, any semblance of a class perspective, becomes nothing more than a struggle for more 'gender balance' at the top of society."

"Anarchism, Anarcho-Syndicalism and the tradition of Anarcha-Feminism have little in common with the limited goals and political terms of reference of much of the Feminist movement today in Ireland. Much of which could be described as reactionary in so far as it often helps to prop up and maintain centralised state and capitalist institutions rather than oppose or challenge them. Such a limited Feminism has little to offer working class women."

The whole document can be viewed at:

http://flag.blackened.net/infohub/organise/content.php?article.554

Of course, post merger (for reasons not related to the merger itself), Organise! have no female members and no womens commission neutral

Cheers

circle A red n black star

3rdseason
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Jan 11 2005 14:42

Yeah I have a few questions regarding feminism...

* I'm a bloke (yeah sorry revol its true eek ) and I strongly believe its essential for men to care about women issues. I also go so far as to call myself a feminist cos I also believe in fighting patriarchy and sexism. Do the women on this board find it patronising for a boy to say hes a feminist or do they think its cool?

* I often hear people say that more females would be involved in the anarchist movement if it concentrated more on women issues. What are practical examples of how this could be done by anarchist males?? (especially since many feminist action groups are female-only spaces)

* Why is it that all feminist project seem to include sewing and knitting? Isn't this ironic since these are typical female roles under patriarchy? eek

Thank you.

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Jacques Roux
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Jan 11 2005 15:15

Thora -

i describe myself as a feminist in certain situations. I dont think that people have to be put off by the freaks (who write "womyn" on leaflets etc.) cos there are freaks everywhere, and the only way to make things better is to get involved and change them. TBH i dont see why any woman would not want to identify as pro-feminist - if you take feminism as being for 'gender equality'. In that sense i wouldnt see why any man wouldnt either, except obviously that men cant be feminists cos they are female roll eyes

Yeah but all that stuff about 'herstory' etc. is lame. Because IMO its re-enforcing gendered language rather than challenging sexist culture. We dont need to change how 'history' is spelt, we just need to recognise what history is and who its written by (men, in power). That will change the meaning of the word in itself, not silly symbolic crap like changing what it looks like.

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But I also don't buy that the battle for equality has been won - even within the anarchist "movement", despite patriarchy being recognised and confronted on a much greater scale than within many other sectors of society, casual misogyny is disappointingly commonplace.

Of course it hasnt, the anarchist movement is sexist, otherwise there would be more women involved for a start!

3rd -

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I often hear people say that more females would be involved in the anarchist movement if it concentrated more on women issues. What are practical examples of how this could be done by anarchist males?? (especially since many feminist action groups are female-only spaces)

Maybe make more of an effort to appeal to women? And yes that may mean succumbing to sexist gender stereotypes in society, that women dont like violence and men do etc. etc.

- Someone could start by writing a feminist page for our thought section!

- Get rid of the sleazy wierdos.

- Promote events and issues which are of interest to women.

- Put effort into concentrating on gender related issues when doing "anarchist stuff" basically.

- Just start taking the idea of gender as something important.

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Why is it that all feminist project seem to include sewing and knitting? Isn't this ironic since these are typical female roles under patriarchy?

Just cos ppl do stuff doesnt mean patrirachy is forcing them to, maybe people enjoy kitting or sewing and what to do it in their time, on their own ground with their own rules? And isnt the best way to say fuck you to something is to assimilaite and reclaim it as yours? Look at subvertising or indeed the way capital assimilaites anything half-radical.

3rdseason
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Jan 11 2005 15:31
rkn wrote:

Maybe make more of an effort to appeal to women? And yes that may mean succumbing to sexist gender stereotypes in society, that women dont like violence and men do etc. etc.

Hrmm thats interesting.. Does that mean we have to accept there is some truth to gender stereotypes because of socialisation in order to appeal more to women?? Perhaps it does.. neutral confused

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- Someone could start by writing a feminist page for our thought section!

Good idea!

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- Get rid of the sleazy wierdos.

Does this mean you think women are generally less sleazy/weird or that they are more bothered by sleazy/weird people? Also what do you mean by the term "sleazy"? Are you referring to people discussing sex over the net or flirting or what?

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- Promote events and issues which are of interest to women.

Well obviously, but thats just begging the question. What are these issues? and what is practical action we can take around them rather than just discussing them on the net. For example we can discuss the advertising industrys attack on womens self esteem til we're blue in the face but whats practiocal action on such an issue? Is it enough to just talk about these issues?

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- Put effort into concentrating on gender related issues when doing "anarchist stuff" basically.

Again, obviously, but thats just begging the question. What are these issues? and what is practical action we can take.

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- Just start taking the idea of gender as something important.

I do thats why Im writing these posts. But we need to discuss specifics not just say "its important" and leave it at that. What can I, as a boy do to further feminist beyond personal stuff like not treating women as objects/patronising them etc. etc.

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Steven.
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Jan 11 2005 15:54

I'm in a bit of a rush cos am at work, but will say quickly that I'd generally describe myself as a feminist - i.e. i want equality between sexes. But I think liberal feminism is balls.

rkn wrote:
Of course it hasnt, the anarchist movement is sexist, otherwise there would be more women involved for a start!

This I think Boul has dealt with - I don't think htis holds up. Firstly there is far less sexism in the movement than in society as a whole (unless you're talking about punks), and secondly as boul pointed out there are massively misogynist organisations (churches, religious and fascist groups etc.) with huge numbers of female members. In this society politics is generally a boys' game, and the movement reflects that.

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Maybe make more of an effort to appeal to women? And yes that may mean succumbing to sexist gender stereotypes in society, that women dont like violence and men do etc. etc.

I think that's tokenistic, sexist bollocks. This is the female equivalent of what the Trots are trying with Muslims in Respect. A crap idea.

gotta go!

Garner
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Jan 11 2005 16:51
3rdseason wrote:
rkn wrote:

Maybe make more of an effort to appeal to women? And yes that may mean succumbing to sexist gender stereotypes in society, that women dont like violence and men do etc. etc.

Hrmm thats interesting.. Does that mean we have to accept there is some truth to gender stereotypes because of socialisation in order to appeal more to women?? Perhaps it does.. neutral confused

I think we have to accept that some gender differences are at least partly biological, rather than being purely social constructs. Men being more prone to violence is an example - males of most non-human mammal species are more violent than females, so it's obviously not just a cultural thing.

Of course, that doesn't mean those differences aren't reinforced by socialisation - they usually are, and we need to try and turn that around and use socialisation to minimise the differences (where the gender stereotypes are harmful that is). But we're a hell of a long way from being able to do that, so for now we're probably gonna have to accept that gender stereotypes exist and that most people conform to them, and take that into account if we want to appeal to women.

lucy82
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Jan 11 2005 17:24

lucy's health warning: long posts can lead to being dismissed at work and increasing boredom in the rest of the population. here goes anyway....

As a woman, I’ve never found the label ‘feminist’ that useful to be honest. It is sullied with a whole raft of negative connotations to begin with (I think its fairly obvious why that is although I do think some of it is deserved from some of the more esteroric anti-male stuff that has emerged in the past, which meant very little to a lot of women, divorced as it is from their real lives and so was alienating to many women as well as many men). I can see though that it could be seen as an extreme reaction to patriarchy but I also think there has been a lot of academic one-up- er “man” ship in the past, in producing more and more extremist views. I really don’t think this has been useful and, partly as a consequence of this, many people of all ages would not describe themselves as feminists today.

One of the other reasons why many people are reluctant to call themselves feminists is I think also because of the perception that the battle has been won and so any focus on issues commonly considered womens issues is redundant. Any glance at inequalities of pay and promotion between men and women or any understanding of how the welfare state is structured to give just a couple of examples, shows that this is simply not true but I would disagree with the perception that these are womens issues specifically anyway.

It seems too simplistic to define an issue as an issue that only affects women when we are part of the wider society. It also personalises the debate simplistically to women as a homogenous group, which we are not, ignoring all other factors that constitute the raft of inequality and somehow shifts the emphasis off why that inequality exists. I agree it does also mean particular examples of oppression can also then be ghettoised as of secondary importance.

The problem with simplistic definitions is you end up often with simplistic solutions. Such as “look how many women we have in management”, that proves there is no discrimination against women, etc. part of liberal feminist ideas such as the enrager thread about women CEOs and judges somehow empowering working class women with the strength and majesty of their “evidently” superiour ideas and experiences and that to me, is not only patronising but means the basis of oppression is not only unchallenged but actively collaborated in by women who are perpetuating the oppression of others.

How we define gender is complicated anyway. Do intersex and transgender people share the same history? Does “herstory” address the historical realities of their experiences of oppression? Is “herstory” the same for disabled, black, working class and middle class women? What common experience do we actually share and should it be that if we define ourselves as women, that that shared definition is more valuable in explaining oppression than our differences?

Changing language like “herstory” and “womyn” just seems like another simplistic solution based on the idea that patriarchy is expressed in language and therefore if you change the language you are somehow reclaiming yourself and your history and undermining the nature of power.

I think language does shape perception about gender and gender roles and perception shapes language but ultimately, the acid test is whether these words are actually useful as tools to communicate with others or whether they simply alienate and reinforce separatism between women, especially between middle class and working class women.

Feminism is seen as a middle class movement and traditionally it has been shaped by white middle class women frequently interpreting and speaking for the experiences of others. Twee words that are easily slagged off in the media etc. does nothing to change that perception. Personally I think it’s a bit silly and possibly elitist, and theres perhaps an element of proclaiming to others how radical the group is by the language it uses which may well make some people feel excluded even if that is not the intention. I don’t think it makes any real difference in how we think about societies bias and why that exists, except in a cosmetic and ultimately useless sense.

Having said all that, I see what you mean about women using tools being an attempt to push some boundary or be radical but I think that’s maybe partly a generational thing. It could be seen as condescending but being from an earlier generation, I don’t know how to use a chainsaw or an axe, they still aren’t skills women are necessarily taught (or men necessarily either although there is a presumption that men have more opportunities to learn these skills, I don’t think that is necessarily true in society today). So it seems a bit outdated, and possibly patronising but I’d still like to learn.

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we're probably gonna have to accept that gender stereotypes exist and that most people conform to them, and take that into account if we want to appeal to women.

theres a danger that it means we accept gender stereotypes if we go down that road plus the lumping all women together syndrome that comes with it. would be easy to be seen as patronising. i agree with rkn, it is pretty much tokenistic bollocks as is promoting events and issues because its felt they would be of interest to women. i also don't think the violence argument proves anything. ever seen a leopardess or a lioness in action? we can't make easy extrapolations from animals to human beings.

Finally, within the “anarchist movement”, patriarchy and its expression through misogeny and in other, more sutble ways may be recognised in theory but it is not always challenged in practice. Its not just a man thing. Women can be guilty of perpetuating patriarchy and tolerating misogynist behaviour. the challenge is to come up with practical suggestions to change this and take responsibility ourselves. Like most things, its easier said than done. So I’m reluctant to dismiss the efforts people do make like the anarcho-feminist gathering. It seems like there will be some good, useful stuff happening there and its easy to sneer when words like “wimmin” are used.

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What can I, as a boy do to further feminist beyond personal stuff like not treating women as objects/patronising them etc. etc.

there is only so much individual responsiblity people can take for something that cannot be changed simply by how they behave. the problem is bigger than that. its up to people whether they consider themselves male, female or whatever to do what they can, when they can and challenge shit when they see it.

i'll shut up now. promise. for a few minutes anyway.

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Ramona
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Jan 11 2005 17:25

Woohoo I liek this thread wink

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A lot of it looks really interesting, but "herstory" - what's that all about? It's like the mispelling of women as wimmin/womyn - should it be applauded as a recognition of the ways in which language shapes perceptions and ideas about gender and gender roles, or is it political correctness gone mad?

I find that kind of thing really embarrassing tbh. I mean, I guess saying "herstory" get's the point accross - i.e. history from a female perspective - but it just sounds silly and makes us look like freaks. Same with wimmin/womyn/womben etc etc.

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I also don't buy that the battle for equality has been won

No, the battle for equality has not been won, but I think that's the wrong battle anyway. I don't really want "equality" with men, not at the moment, cos that kinda suggests that men are not oppressed in our society which obviously they are. A lot of 2nd and even 3rd wave feminism seems to focus on a very middle class idea of economic equlity with men, and finding freedom in the workplace. Which is no kind of freedom at all. I think this is also why feminism has kinda stagnated into shitty "cultural analysis" etc (which is admittedly very interesting, but it's gonna take a bit more than fewer anti-wrinkle cream ads to overturn patriarchy), cos now that women have jobs, and now that we've had a female prime Minister and all, that old goal has been reached, and fuck all the women who didn't win out from power dressing and positive discrimination. Did I mention that it's class, by the way?

Much 3rd wave feminism also seems to kind of "personalise" issues like rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse and street harassment/assualt as either isolated unfortunate incidents, or juts cases of "boys being boys" or something, when really it's not. It's sexism, pure and simple. When some guy grabs my arse in a pub, it's sexist abuse as far as I'm concerned, but as far as the law (not that that really matters) and I guess "society" is concerned it's sexual assault, which seems to kind of glos over what's happenign, cos men, you know, they have urges and anyway it's only cos they fancy you/it's a complimet/blah blah blah...

Ahem. I digress. Yeah, so, it's class...

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- even within the anarchist "movement", despite patriarchy being recognised and confronted on a much greater scale than within many other sectors of society, casual misogyny is disappointingly commonplace

I agree. Whilst the majority of people I come into contact with are fucking sound, there are way too many sleazy fucking pricks who just seem to be out to take advantage of women, or who think it's fine to treat the women in their lives like shit cos it's, like, different, or something. Tho of course, for every sleazy @ shit there are about 3 more in W****** P**** wink (this is an exact ratio worked out from my own personal experiences, btw grin )

3rd

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Do the women on this board find it patronising for a boy to say hes a feminist or do they think its cool?

I don't find it either patronising or "cool" in the Mr. T cool sense of the word. I'm kinda neutral I guess.

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I often hear people say that more females would be involved in the anarchist movement if it concentrated more on women issues. What are practical examples of how this could be done by anarchist males?

I would say it would be better if people focussed more on gender issues rather than just "women's" issues, cos really anything that is seen as a "women's" issue is a gender issue. As for practicle, concrete steps on how to do this... I'll get back to you on that wink

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Why is it that all feminist project seem to include sewing and knitting? Isn't this ironic since these are typical female roles under patriarchy?

Oh for God's sake. It's a hobby, it's relaxing, it can be done in a group, it's fun, it's quite empowering on a small-scale, personal level, to take something and make it into something useful. I am yet to find any woman who knits/sews because it's going to change the world, cos that'd be stupid. If you really want to make sewing/knitting into a feminist issue, who made your clothes you're wearing today? Who made your bedsheets? Who made your shoes? No doubt it was a woman, poorly paid, un-unionised, working in shit conditions in the far east.

Knitting is fun. But it won't change the world.

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What are these issues? and what is practical action we can take around them rather than just discussing them on the net. For example we can discuss the advertising industrys attack on womens self esteem til we're blue in the face but whats practiocal action on such an issue? Is it enough to just talk about these issues?

Well, talking about them would be a start. Well done enrager wink

What are these issues? Well, for starters.... (in no particular order, this list is not exhaustive)

Affordable, quality childcare

Unionising pink collar workforces (including sex workers)

mothers not being put over an economic barrel forcing them to work until the last minute of pregnancy and get back to work once the epidural's worn off

Sexist violence/coercion/abuse (how it is percieved, and support for survivors)

Abortion rights

Birth control

Housing

Access to unbiased health care and advice

Should keep us busy for a while.

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Does this mean you think women are generally less sleazy/weird or that they are more bothered by sleazy/weird people? Also what do you mean by the term "sleazy"? Are you referring to people discussing sex over the net or flirting or what?

It means that there are too many predatory arseholes who think it's ok to take advantage of women and fuck them (over).

Ok this is way too long so I'm gonna stop now and hope someone reads this.

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Ramona
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Jan 11 2005 17:28

Lucy - I gotta get offline now but just really quickly -

What you were saying about feminism often taking "women" to be a homogenous group with a shared female experience is spot on smile

Garner
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Jan 11 2005 18:10
lucy82 wrote:
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we're probably gonna have to accept that gender stereotypes exist and that most people conform to them, and take that into account if we want to appeal to women.

theres a danger that it means we accept gender stereotypes if we go down that road plus the lumping all women together syndrome that comes with it. would be easy to be seen as patronising. i agree with rkn, it is pretty much tokenistic bollocks as is promoting events and issues because its felt they would be of interest to women.

Yeah, obviously we need to be careful not to be tokenistic or to lump all women together, but we also need to think about what we do, who a particular action/event/issue is going to appeal to and why, and if there are gender differences then maybe we need to try and address them rather than just writing them off as a social construct (thereby excluding anyone who hasn't managed to transcend their conditioning or whatever).

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i also don't think the violence argument proves anything. ever seen a leopardess or a lioness in action? we can't make easy extrapolations from animals to human beings.

There's a big difference between killing prey and intraspecific violence (such as male lions killing each other's cubs). Anyway, are you seriously arguing that all behavioural differences between men and women are strictly cultural, and that biology doesn't come into it? I agree that we need to be careful about extrapolating from animals to humans, but we also need to bear in mind that humans are animals, and that we're a product of biological as well as cultural evolution.

I pretty much with all the rest of your post...

lucy82
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Jan 11 2005 18:56

thanks zobag smile

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I don't really want "equality" with men, not at the moment, cos that kinda suggests that men are not oppressed in our society which obviously they are. A lot of 2nd and even 3rd wave feminism seems to focus on a very middle class idea of economic equlity with men, and finding freedom in the workplace. Which is no kind of freedom at all.

men are oppressed, which is also why "women's issues" are not issues for women alone and i agree that the idea of economic equality with men, and workplace freedom is no real freedom at all. at least freedom on whose terms? In the list of issues you gave, i think the approach people often have of corralling them as womens issues is defensive and understandable but ultimately pretty much useless. Its sort of like what are we trying to achieve here, have womens things for women which might help some individual women feel better about the shit or try and change the shit together? i'm not saying be insensitive but that we need to keep hold of the wider agenda and not, ever, take gender stereotypes without buckets of salt. never mind a pinch.

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Affordable, quality childcare

Unionising pink collar workforces (including sex workers)

mothers not being put over an economic barrel forcing them to work until the last minute of pregnancy and get back to work once the epidural's worn off

Sexist violence/coercion/abuse (how it is percieved, and support for survivors)

Abortion rights

Birth control

Housing

Access to unbiased health care and advice

We can't really sort out any of those issues without involving men in the discussion in the real world. (i'm taking the "we" as an easy way out here as i've already ranted enough about homogenity) and "we" shouldn't fall into the trap of gender stereotyping men either. Anyway, in my opinion, making things 'women's issues' doesn't make things safer or easier for women in the longterm. it just makes it more unrealistic, more narrow and therefore less likely to survive as any way of working towards real change.

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Do the women on this board find it patronising for a boy to say hes a feminist or do they think its cool?

why should it be patronising but seriously, honestly, i really don't care. i'm more interested in practical ideas and i acknowledge i haven't actually really come up with any by myself.

garner

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if there are gender differences then maybe we need to try and address them rather than just writing them off as a social construct (thereby excluding anyone who hasn't managed to transcend their conditioning or whatever).

i'm not arguing that some differences are not biological nor writing any difference off as social construct necessarily. we pretty much consist of chuck the biological and cultural mess together and stir as human beingsl. then we can theorise forever but you can't separate the mix.

the example of male violence as biology rather than socially constructed was used. so why then are women becoming more and more violent when pissed on the streets? its happening. its not years of evolution, its drink which is also a major catalyst for male violence and its culture. what (apart from the fact we absorb alcohol at difference rates, is biological about that?).

if we take it that violence is more natural in the male then are some types of violent behaviour more natural than others? is there a difference in violence used in rape or in violence used in the planned robbing of a shop? are men some biological timebomb programmed to go bang? as an explaination, its too simplistic and, i don't mean to offend but it feeds into the excuses for why men rape. if men are more violent than women than the answer to why is more complicated than biology. and we should stop using animals to explain gender difference and the behaviour of people generally.

by the way, i've known some very scary women and some very gentle men...

anyway, i really dont agree that targeting an action/event/issue at women particularly useful and i've tried to explain why.

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humans are animals, and that we're a product of biological as well as cultural evolution.

i just really don't see its relevence or usefulness to the reality of what happens to women today and how "we" (all people however they define themselves) choose to fight.

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Ramona
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Jan 11 2005 20:37
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In the list of issues you gave, i think the approach people often have of corralling them as womens issues is defensive and understandable but ultimately pretty much useless. Its sort of like what are we trying to achieve here, have womens things for women which might help some individual women feel better about the shit or try and change the shit together?

Yeah, definately not just "women's issues". They affect everybody and are symptomatic of capitalism and patriarchy.

I guess I'd answer that by saying we have to keep the bigger picture in sight at all times, but never let the picture get so big that it stops us from doing anything because we're afraid of not doing enough.

I mean, (ferinstance) volunteering at a women's refuge isn't going to stop domestic violence or overthrow capitalism, but it's still worth while, if it helps people get through shit.

But it doesn't have to then stop at the hypothetical women's refuge, cos obviously helping out individual women as individual cases kind of white washes the issues behind all these things. Patching up after patriarchy (ooh what a cool slogan...) is all well and good, but it's not going to prevent these things from happening time and time again - we can't do that under this system. As everyone knows wink

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We can't really sort out any of those issues without involving men in the discussion in the real world. (i'm taking the "we" as an easy way out here as i've already ranted enough about homogenity) and "we" shouldn't fall into the trap of gender stereotyping men either. Anyway, in my opinion, making things 'women's issues' doesn't make things safer or easier for women in the longterm. it just makes it more unrealistic, more narrow and therefore less likely to survive as any way of working towards real change

Again, I agree totally. I mean, unless "one" is convinced that men are inherently patriarchal and that the only way to female liberation is seperatism, I think what can be achieved by just women alone is pretty limited, and brings us back to the whole "patching up" thing. As you've said, these things are not women's issues, they involve everybody, and we can only sort any of it out by men and women working together.

Going back to the domestic violence example again, women's refuge after women's refuge is never going to end it unless the culture we live in - the one that makes it acceptable in the minds of so many men to physically abuse women* - is effectively challenged, and that's going to need cooperation from men too.

Until more feminists realise that excluding men constantly (i.e. from feminism as a whole, not just from certain things that can justifiably be "women-only" spaces**) only produces an idea of men vs. women and as is fucking useless, we'll never get anywhere.

And yes, we'll also never get any real change under capitalism, but that doesn't mena that feminist direct action (ie all the various support networks which exist for women) is pointless. Or that issues relating to gender don't need to be talked about in the mean time.

* Domestic violence is actually a really good example of negative effects of gender stereotypes for men, too. Men are also subject to domestic violence, and it's not just a hetero thing either. but of course, men who report domestic violence are subject to really wierd stigmatisation, and they are also expected to be able to "take it" or just up and leave, with virtually no support networks, and no safe houses. Cos blokes are tough, innit?

**befoer anyone gets too excited, I can't really think of many things that could justifiably be "women-only" on a permanent basis. In fact, I can't really think of any...

lucy82
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Jan 11 2005 20:57

i agree. direct action in terms of support networks is important (for women but also, ideally, for men too)

young men are the most vulnerable in terms of being the victims of street violence and of being homeless and there are very few escaperoutes for them (if any). and i don't know of any in terms of unofficial support networks.

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Ramona
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Jan 11 2005 21:13

yes, you definately get the impression that men in vulnerable positions are just left to "fend for themselves". Which is shitty.

lucy82
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Jan 11 2005 21:29

yeah, its pretty fucking desperate to be honest.

i co-organised a drop in place in manchester so homeless men could get clothes in co-ordination with the booth centre which is a homeless drop in centre which works on the wider, more complex issues. i met a lot of men sleeping on the streets and its true that men have less chance of getting housed because they have no priority and they are more likely to fail to meet the critieria of charitiable support services which are often set up for women and children. there is stuff (however imperfect) for women and kids out there. Many of the older men i met were fairly pragmatic about it, they had been doing it for years and it was their life, but some of the younger men were more vulnerable and it is shit that as individuals their need was as great as many women but because they were men the support was much more limited and many charitable services, inaccessible.

one night, working for some charity in manchester, i had two lads in t.shirts aged 18 turn up at the back door on some freezing november night in the rain, wanting a couple of coats. the place was full of good stuff but we weren't supposed to give it out except by referral to women and children. i tried really hard to get them to say they were 17 and so i could sneak the stuff out by saying they were kids even if it was unoffically sanctioned but they just didn't get the hint even though one of them was only two days after his 18th birthday.

in the end i just thought fuck it, they are soaking and freezing and bollocks to whatever criteria it is that means its ok to let some people get warm and other people freeze, so i smuggled the coats and trainers out to them when the boss wasn't looking.

all things considered, i found it really difficult to blame them for patriarchy wink

Caiman del Barrio
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Jan 11 2005 23:35

It would be really fucking gutting if a discussion on an issue as vital as feminism would be dominated by the actions of a few weirdo separatist activist cunts who insist that changing the fucking spelling of a few words will solve all the problems.

It hasn't though, fortunately. Basically, feminism without a class analysis sucks. I don't really understand much more of it, but I have my little mantra and I'm gonna fucking repeat, no matter how inappropriate it is. Sweet.

3rdseason
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Jan 12 2005 15:18

Yeah I have thought in the past that the subject of gender is wider than feminism in that it not only encompasses feminist issues but also gets men to question their own attitudes, what it is to "be a man" and societies pressures on them. As Sabotabby said at the AYN gathering the male suicide rate is much higher and men have a much higher chance of ending up in prison. A simple men opress women analysis ignores these problems. A society and social norms opress us both approach addresses them (this doesnt mean we have to say men are as oppressed as women or deny patriarchy).

Garner your biological determinism disturbs me sad . Are you seriously saying that you think its inevitable men are more violent?? This sort of attitude seems really facist and saying women are the carers men are the workers/fighters. Its bollocks.

Any sort of biological determinism makes me feel stifled as an individual and suggests there are certain ways of thinking and feeling I have no access to cos Im a man and certain other ways of thinking/feeling I cant escape.

I think if you meet enough people you can see its not true anyway. You find loads of boys with "feminine traits" and loads of girls with "masculine traits".

At the end of the day I think it makes far more sense to see people as individuals and human character to draw different aspects from a huge range of attitudes/behaviours which society artificially tries to seperate into 2 neat groups masculine and feminine.

Obviously there are physical differences between men and women but I think these play a really really minor role compared to socialisation.

Garner
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Jan 12 2005 15:37
3rdseason wrote:
Garner your biological determinism disturbs me sad . Are you seriously saying that you think its inevitable men are more violent?? This sort of attitude seems really facist and saying women are the carers men are the workers/fighters. Its bollocks.

Real quick response coz I gotta go in a minute...

No, it's not inevitable men are more violent, just men are more predisposed to violence. Socialisation can still change our behaviour (as I said already if you'd bothered to read my post properly).

As lucy pointed out, our behaviour is shaped by a combination of biology and culture. You can't really separate the two, and it's very dangerous to ignore one or the other.

3rdseason
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Jan 12 2005 15:40
Garner wrote:
As lucy pointed out, our behaviour is shaped by a combination of biology and culture. You can't really separate the two, and it's very dangerous to ignore one or the other.

Um yeeeeeeeeeeah. But IMO you have to weigh down on the side of socialisation cos if not then you support biological determinism and theres all sorts of problems.

Pepe
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Jan 12 2005 17:23

I <3 feminism. I first got interested in anarcho-communism because I realised it was the only way to rid us of patriarchy, the class analysis was always a bit secondary. Radical feminism and anarcho-communism mean pretty much the same thing to me. Capitalism, authority and all that shit are all really masculine things, so an anarcho-communist society is a feminised society where feminine attributes like caring and sharing are spread to everyone (Contrary to polular belief - I don't hate men, I hate masculinity.)- this is also the (non-seperatist) radical feminist's ideal. I think liberal feminism's pretty rubbish because it makes women more masculine, when it should all be about making men more feminine. Although obviously it has made women's lives better in lots of ways, and from a revolutionary perspective, it has done some good in making women free enough to organise.

I think language can influence us psychologically, for example, I've always found the use of 'mankind' and the generic 'he' confusing and alienating, and perhaps language does make a small contribution to the reproduction of patriarchy - but I think it's mainly just a symptom, and the examples I mentioned are easily sorted out without sounding at all like a crazy fash by using 'humankind' and a singular 'they'. Seeing 'woman' spelt 'woman' on the other hand probably doesn't make anyone, even on a subconcious level think that women are taken out of man or whatever. I think 'herstory' is ok if used as a tongue-in-cheek pun to describe history from a womens/feminist viewpoint.

As for what you can do to make the anarchist movement less malestream - quit acting like jarheads and talking about porn, stop the violence and machismo etc. - Stop acting like men!* I also don't agree that class is the ultimate divider - I refuse to choose between sex and class. Though I realise I'm on my own on this one, I think men are as bad as the economic ruling class and there are endless parralels to be drawn between them. Yeah, men would be happier without patriarchy, but they're not oppressed by it. Same as the rich and capitalism.

Oh and biological determinism is a load of bullshit to justify the patriarchal social order.

Bring on the femi-nazi accusations! violet black star

* I mean men as in REAL men, as in the social construction - not neccisarily everyone with a penis.

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Steven.
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Jan 12 2005 17:41
Jess wrote:
Capitalism, authority and all that shit are all really masculine things, so an anarcho-communist society is a feminised society where feminine attributes like caring and sharing are spread to everyone

But don't you think these socialised ideas of what constitutes "feminine" and "masculine" qualities are shaped by patriarchy? (i.e. men are strong leaders, women are weak carers etc.?)

Quote:
As for what you can do to make the anarchist movement less malestream - quit acting like jarheads and talking about porn, stop the violence and machismo etc.

Again, I think that's taking an attitude to femininity shaped by patriarchy. I mean sure acting like a dick is acting like a dick, but I think that ideas that women have to repress their sexuality (the porn reference) and be passive (the violence ref) have been used to oppress women massively.

I mean sure there's no point wanking off about murder and what have you but I have a helluva lot of respect for all the women who fought - and killed people - in the spanish militia colums, the arditi del popolo, the russian revolution etc.

Pepe
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Jan 12 2005 18:15

I'm not quite sure what you dont undersatnd about what I said about masculine/feminine. Let me make it clear that I believe that masculinity and femininity are socially constructed by patriarchy for the benefit of men, and femininity is morally superior. Femininity is only a problem when it's exploited by the masculine. When I say 'femininity' I don't imply that it's innate in women or anything, but it's constant enough to be defined.

I really have to take you up on your comment about porn, and maybe it deserves it's own topic. I don't think that being anti-pornography for feminsitic reasons is being sexually repressed. I REALLY do not think I'm sexually repressed, I consider myself liberated. Porn represses sexuality in that it manipulates it into a sellable comodity, it reproduces patriarchal sexual fantasies and presents them as what sex is. Teenage boys will be the first to admit that they learn about sex from porn, and this is incredibly dangerous. I consider pornography hate speech against women and hence I find it REALLY offensive.

I agree that violence is neccesary is a revolutionary context and that's not what I'm talkin about (though I think maybe it's glorified too much), but let's be honest, in everyday life it's usually less about overthrowing the ruling class and more about 'proving you're a man'.... by getting into a fight with a friend and getting pushed through a window for example. wink

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Steven.
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Jan 12 2005 18:19
Jess wrote:
I agree that violence is neccesary is a revolutionary context and that's not what I'm talkin about (though I think maybe it's glorified too much), but let's be honest, in everyday life it's usually less about overthrowing the ruling class and more about 'proving you're a man'.... by getting into a fight with a friend and getting pushed through a window for example. :wink:

Heh heh, fair enough. wink

Re: femininity okay I see your point. I spose I would've put the words in inverted commas or something.

Re: porn - it might be interesting to actually have this discussion with sane people, seeing as most of the nutters have been chased off. Maybe I'll start one later, or you feel free 8)

captainmission
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Jan 12 2005 18:34
Jess wrote:
I consider pornography hate speech against women and hence I find it REALLY offensive.

well i consider pornography hate speach against plumbers and cabel guys. Some middle class harlot not only exploiting the labouring classes but making them sexual commodities aswell!

Jason Cortez
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Jan 13 2005 00:26

I feel using the word feminity in the way you do, Jess is really problematic. As it is constucted to refer to women's essential essence such as; natural (closer to the earth) passive, weak, caring, cunning, hysterical, irrational, emotional, not too bright etc. While i can see that women may wish to reclaim some of these triats, surely not all. Genderisng (is that a word) postive aspects in this way, begs the question; what does it mean to say to a man, that the only you live a meanigful life is to be more like a women? Surely we should be reclaiming any and all positive behaviour for the whole of humanity (ok bar the capitalists bastards until after the revo). That clearly does mean exploring and valueing what are traditionally seem as women's work/personality.

lucy82
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Jan 13 2005 01:47

jess, i don't see anything morally superiour about what you deem femininity or morally inferiour about masculinity but i also think the basis of the argument is flawed. its possible i suppose to argue that some types of human behaviour (which you call traits) are morally superior to others (but even then you might run into problems, like is murder necessarily always morally abhorent whatever the circumstances?) but i just don't agree that you can tie together different behaviours and call that parcel femininity or masculinity.

how is that conclusion reached logically? like is caring a female trait or are women primarily carers because those roles are social constructs in a patriarchal society? and if these are "traits" how come so often these qualities are opposed in traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity? like violent men, and passive women for example.

using feminitity and masculinity in this way easily becomes upping one sex and slagging off another.

i'd love to take up the porn issue too, but this probably isn't the thread to do it on.

(edited cause i reworded it)

Garner
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Jan 13 2005 12:45
3rdseason wrote:
Garner wrote:
As lucy pointed out, our behaviour is shaped by a combination of biology and culture. You can't really separate the two, and it's very dangerous to ignore one or the other.

Um yeeeeeeeeeeah. But IMO you have to weigh down on the side of socialisation cos if not then you support biological determinism and theres all sorts of problems.

No, you have to accept that both play a part. Obviously socialisation's the one we can actually do something about, but if there are underlying biological differences (which you have to admit there are if you have any grasp on reality whatsoever) then the same socialisation will have different effects on males and females. You can't make any useful attempt at evening out the differences (if that's what you want to do) unless you admit they exist.

That's not biological determinism - I agree that socialisation can shape our behaviour more than enough to cancel out any biological differences. But it's impossible to understand the effects of socialisation without taking into account the underlying biology.

3rdseason
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Jan 13 2005 14:56
Lucy82 wrote:
its possible i suppose to argue that some types of human behaviour (which you call traits) are morally superior to others (but even then you might run into problems, like is murder necessarily always morally abhorent whatever the circumstances?) but i just don't agree that you can tie together different behaviours and call that parcel femininity or masculinity.

Yeah I agree with that. I think we need to erradiate gender divisions, NOT say to men, "you need to be more like women" (cos also if you say that you're saying to some women "you need to be less like men").

Jess wrote:
in everyday life it's usually less about overthrowing the ruling class and more about 'proving you're a man'.... by getting into a fight with a friend and getting pushed through a window for example.

See this is why I shouldnt put personal stuff on the net. I suppose Ive lost scene credibility now, oh well.... Um, women have problems with alcohol too.. sad