Misguided post on feminism

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Walkingbeard
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Apr 7 2006 14:28
Misguided post on feminism

I find the idea of 'feminism' abhorrent. It is rigid, old-fashioned and against the kind of social progress which I stand for.

The whole idea of the social changes which I work towards, is that everyone should be included. I want to strengthen the ties between people across the wider community, and feminism just doesn't seem to want to accomplish that.

Firstly, the label 'feminism' itself promotes an idea that this movement is good for women, that it's about women and that women are its prime constituents. What a load of codswallop! Ridding the world of the general subjugation of women by men generally, cannot and should not be something primarily undertaken by just women and it is not something that will just benefit women. I care that it will benefit the community at large, not the community of women.

There also seems to be a large contingent of the feminist community that is generally frightened of men or at least resentful of them. This attitude will drive away men who are not highly exposed to feminism. In fact, I find it highly disturbing and recently I've had more contact with feminist activists than many would. To put it in perspective: it was, of course, International Womens' Day recently. I thought that the idea was in bad taste anyway, because it just drives men and women apart by drawing attention to differences. Anyway, a group of women in Glasgow got together and organised a jog along the Forth and Clyde canal. This was, I believe in response to the rape and murder of a young woman there last year.

The thing that initially got me upset was that this group of women seemed to view the aforementioned crime (in addition to the personal aspect), as a crime against women, but it was a crime against everyone. Then, when the women's group came to write a leaflet for their event, men were allowed to attend - at a distance.

This divisive attitude is seized upon by men of illiberal bent and for good reason too. When you are introduced to the concept of feminism by the media, when you are a child, it is, possibly out of Political Correctness(TM), construed as a movement fighting for the equal rights of women along side men. The more I see of feminism, the less it actually seems to be about that completely laudable and brilliant aim. There appears to be a knee-jerk reaction by many of the women who get into feminism, because, perhaps, they have received undue crap from various men in their life. This causes them to try to fight the (dying) patriarchal order by becoming highly matriarchal and putting women above the community, which is exactly the kind of attitude which, in reverse, started the feminist movement in the first place.

Anyhow, views please!

admin: thread title changed to reflect the contents

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Steven.
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Apr 7 2006 14:34
Walkingbeard wrote:
I find the idea of 'feminism' abhorrent. It is rigid, old-fashioned and against the kind of social progress which I stand for.

Feminism is based on the idea that men and women are equal. If don't stand for that, you're an idiot.

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 7 2006 14:48
Quote:
The thing that initially got me upset was that this group of women seemed to view the aforementioned crime (in addition to the personal aspect), as a crime against women, but it was a crime against everyone.

Sorry it upset you? Why? How was it a crime against everyone?

Whys this in culture btw?

Oh and welcome to the forums.

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Apr 7 2006 14:54

I guess because a woman got raped there which was what they were writing a leaflet about?

I know what jack/revol are saying - i wanted to know what the thread starter thought.

Walkingbeard
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Apr 7 2006 15:08
John. wrote:
Feminism is based on the idea that men and women are equal. If don't stand for that, you're an idiot.

That's my point. Feminism doesn't stand for that equality. It is just a dividing wedge between men and women. Or in actual fact between feminists and everyone else, which is a quite different thing.

rkn wrote:
Sorry it upset you? Why? How was it a crime against everyone?

Whys this in culture btw?

Oh and welcome to the forums.

revol68 wrote:
welli'd say that as much as rape can be considered a crime against "all women", it can be considered a crime against all of society.

Like revol68 says, it is as much a crime against women as it is against society. But to think of it as a crime against women pushes aside the social nature of the problem. It's like the organising group thought that men would think it wasn't that bad, because it was a women who was raped and killed. On no level is that problem more important for women than it is for society - not even on the point that more women are attacked in this manner than men. The problem is so utterly horrible and catastrophic that you can't just say that it's more important for women even if the attacks are happening to them. Social problem, social solutions.

This is in Culture, because feminism is a cultural problem.

dara
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Apr 7 2006 15:17
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That's my point. Feminism doesn't stand for that equality. It is just a dividing wedge between men and women. Or in actual fact between feminists and everyone else, which is a quite different thing.

how the hell are you making general statements about a word that encompasses a immeasurable array of movements and thought, from Wollstonecraft to Butler?

Feminism is not a homogenous blob, no more than anarchism is. in fact, probably much less.

neutral

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Apr 7 2006 15:26
Walkingbeard wrote:
John. wrote:
Feminism is based on the idea that men and women are equal. If don't stand for that, you're an idiot.

That's my point. Feminism doesn't stand for that equality. It is just a dividing wedge between men and women. Or in actual fact between feminists and everyone else, which is a quite different thing.

Er but I actually gave its definition. If you're defining it as something it's not, then you can say any bollocks you like about it, can't you?

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RevolutionReversal
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Apr 7 2006 15:36

Have you ever read anything feminist?

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Jacques Roux
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Apr 7 2006 15:48
revol68 wrote:
i'd say that feminism as a useful label or movement is long since dead.

Agreed - just look at this thread. But I think as theory its still usefull.

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Like revol68 says, it is as much a crime against women as it is against society. But to think of it as a crime against women pushes aside the social nature of the pr...or women even if the attacks are happening to them. Social problem, social solutions.

Yeah but i guess (and i have no idea about your particular situation, but im arguing about it anyway!) you could say that they developed a particular solution to a particular scenario. Tbh i'd rather see action like the women you talk about did, than none at all. At least it gives us something to progress from, as opposed to nothing at all!

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Apr 7 2006 16:13
Walkingbeard wrote:
Anyway, a group of women in Glasgow got together and organised a jog along the Forth and Clyde canal. This was, I believe in response to the rape and murder of a young woman there last year.

Oh cool, good for them 8)

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 7 2006 22:46

Er no offence meant here but while men should be allowed to attend and its a mistake, i don't see how women banding together to resist it is sexist, thats a bit of an over the top accusation surely. I mean men aren't allowed in refuges for abused women, is that sexist aswell? Surely you would agree that there are some things that are emotionally appropriate given the society they live in.

However i do see what you mean, reclaim the night type stuff wouldn't be half the liberal usueless balls it is if it made itself relevant to communities and allowed men to attend, however, as a direct emotional response to an event here i can understand why they didn't.

revol68 wrote:
i'd say that feminism as a useful label or movement is long since dead.

It has become so broad that there is absolutely no coherency to it. Fuck it's worse than anarchism.

Yet you no doubt find it acceptable to call yourself a communist without worrying about its ''coherency as a label'' grin

Obviously all these terms have no coherency to them, but to a certain extent you have to try to argue for a level of coherency otherwise you might aswell just try and write off everything in history as irrelevant in some mad sweep of the table and start creating new words for everything liek some crazed new-left phrase merchant.

Na but seriously feminism means different things to different people, to some it means what alexandra kollontai argued against 100 years ago. To a lot of people it broadly means the notion that men and women are equal, to tohers it means PC liberal nonsense peddled by hippy weirdos in tights. So depends on the situation and the person really.

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Apr 8 2006 00:20

What's the problem, Walkingbeard? Feeling left out in the cold? Oh dear.

Look, if starbucks workers want to organise together, good for them; if firefighters want to organise collectively so be it; if refugees get organised, good; if gay men, or lesbians want to organise, then it's up to them. So what's the big deal if women want to work collectively?

Admittedly, 'feminism' is a pretty wide umberella movement. Some of it is good, some of it is rubbish. If you don't like any of it, then leave well alone. But do try and get that chip off your shoulder.

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jef costello
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Apr 8 2006 02:47
Quote:
Firstly, the label 'feminism' itself promotes an idea that this movement is good for women, that it's about women and that women are its prime constituents.

In a sense this is true, women do stand to benefit from feminism, men will lose certain privileges which may make them oppose feminism.

It seems as if you are attacking a caricature of feminism, one which has ben erected because feminism, like most potentially revolutionary currents, has to be discredited. You are right that men should be involved, but they do not need to be.

dot
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Apr 8 2006 05:10

identity politics in general -

anyone having any luck with this?

i am about ready to give up on the term feminist, because as revol sez, the word is useless these days. the people who identify with it (of whatever gender), at least the ones that write on the sites that i have checked out, all seem to be about 40 years behind in any interesting understanding of power.

but i can't give up on the concept as a whole, because i can't give up on the idea that groups are significant, no matter how many exceptions-to-whatever-rule-we're-talking-about exist. we are *not* all just individuals.

i want some more interesting way to think/talk about this than just, it's a balance between individual and social... bleh.

AnarchoAl
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Apr 8 2006 12:10

Argh walkingbeard! You're a very smart guy but you can be so randomly stupid from time to time... why the hell should anyone *have* to include you in something? Should workers allow bosses into union meetings?

phoebe
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Apr 8 2006 12:25

The rape and murder of a woman out jogging is a particular issue for women because men (generally) don't need to worry about getting raped when they go out. Whilst rape of men does occasionally happen it's in different contexts (and far less frequent).

Further still, the rape and murder of a woman has a knock-on effect on the lives of other women, making them fear for their safety when they go out. Women get constantly told that they shouldn't be outside by themselves at night, they shouldn't do this that or the other because they might be attacked or raped. It puts the burden on the victims rather than the perpetrators and that's a fucking joke. That's what feminist reclaim the night stuff is about - not saying that there is no similar stuff that's important for men, but making a point clearly about things that are happening to women. The idea that a group of women organising amongst themselves to make a point about something which primarily concerns them (the danger of being raped whilst out alone in public) is sexist or divisive is ridiculous.

I've got problems with some reclaim the night groups (including a rape survivor friend of mine being pelted with rocks by feminists at one a while back because she was transsexual, which I see as deeply hypocritical) but the original poster's criticisms are fucking ludicrous.

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Apr 8 2006 12:30
phoebe wrote:
I've got problems with some reclaim the night groups (including a rape survivor friend of mine being pelted with rocks by feminists at one a while back because she was transsexual, which I see as deeply hypocritical) but the original poster's criticisms are fucking ludicrous.

They pelted her with rocks?! Holy fucking christ. I don't even feel I can begin responding to that eek eek eek

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Apr 8 2006 13:21
zobag wrote:
phoebe wrote:
I've got problems with some reclaim the night groups (including a rape survivor friend of mine being pelted with rocks by feminists at one a while back because she was transsexual, which I see as deeply hypocritical) but the original poster's criticisms are fucking ludicrous.

They pelted her with rocks?! Holy fucking christ. I don't even feel I can begin responding to that eek eek eek

Any evidence that this happened phoebe?

Sorry, but I don't believe it.

phoebe
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Apr 8 2006 13:35
John. wrote:
zobag wrote:
phoebe wrote:
I've got problems with some reclaim the night groups (including a rape survivor friend of mine being pelted with rocks by feminists at one a while back because she was transsexual, which I see as deeply hypocritical) but the original poster's criticisms are fucking ludicrous.

They pelted her with rocks?! Holy fucking christ. I don't even feel I can begin responding to that eek eek eek

Any evidence that this happened phoebe?

Sorry, but I don't believe it.

You don't have to. It was a relatively recent one and it was a good friend of mine who's got absolutely no reason to lie about it (as she's been an active feminist for well over 20 years and has no grudges against the feminist community that would motivate lying about this). There may be a police report somewhere about it but I wouldn't have access to it, and I don't know if my friend would have reported it. If I remember correctly it wasn't the whole group doing this but a couple of people from the march shortly afterwards.

I don't see why it'd be hard to believe it (given the history of nasty transphobic shit within feminist literature that seems to be changing only recently).

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Apr 8 2006 13:37
phoebe wrote:
You don't have to. It was a relatively recent one and it was a good friend of mine who's got absolutely no reason to lie about it (as she's been an active feminist for well over 20 years and has no grudges against the feminist community that would motivate lying about this). There may be a police report somewhere about it but I wouldn't have access to it, and I don't know if my friend would have reported it. If I remember correctly it wasn't the whole group doing this but a couple of people from the march shortly afterwards.

I don't see why it'd be hard to believe it (given the history of nasty transphobic shit within feminism that seems to be turning around only recently).

Well if it did happen this is obviously a huge deal. But it sounds very weird. Which group was it who threw rocks? When? Where were they? At a meeting? On a demonstration? If on a demo, did the police do nothing about the rock throwing? Where did they get the rocks from? Was she severely injured?

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Apr 8 2006 13:44

Which march was this, was it in London in November?

phoebe
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Apr 8 2006 13:44
John. wrote:
But it sounds very weird.

Read Janice Raymond's "The Transsexual Empire" (paraphrase: "transsexuals are rapists... stormtroopers for patriarchy" etc) or look at the things most well-known feminists have to say on the subject of transsexuals (Germain Greer, Andrea Dworkin, Sheila Jeffries and Julie Bindel all come to mind) and it doesn't sound that weird.

Quote:
Which group was it who threw rocks?

As far as I'm aware it's a few of the women from the reclaim the night march, afterwards. I think it was one in Oxford. Not in a meeting.

Quote:
Where did they get the rocks from?

Fucked if I know.

Quote:
Was she severely injured?

Not that I'm aware of.

PS: Just to restate myself unless it wasn't clear, I wasn't there and thus don't know what evidence there is to prove this incident happened other than that someone I personally know and trust not to be making it up claims to have been subject to it. The friend in question spends enough time trying to deal with shits in her area throwing bricks through her window and beating up her (gay) housemate that she might not have had the energy, time or interest to chase it up at the time as well. So what I've said is pretty much all I can say on the subject. I didn't mean to derail this thread over one particular incident, and it's a small minority of people who were involved in the incident from what I can tell (and thus my comment wasn't supposed to be any sort of endightment against feminism, but just a comment about how shit some feminists can be).

phoebe
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Apr 8 2006 15:19
revol68 wrote:
I'm just wondering because I know of a person who is in a lesbian women only group but is pre op mael transsexual. I mean how the fuck does that work?

I'm pre-op and have been involved with women-only groups. I don't really see what the issue is here. Generally you don't use your genitals to talk with so it shouldn't really matter until it comes to the issue of sex. Depends on what sort of stuff the group does as a group I would have thought. There are lesbians who aren't bothered between what's between their partners' legs as well.

Quote:
I mean i was born a male and would like to be involved in some of their activities but i'm not allowed, yet someone who is born a male but decides to embrace a caricature of femininity is allowed to be involved?

I don't think it's the embracing of caricatured femininity that is the reason for the person being allowed. I don't really embrace a caricature of femininity and I'm transsexual (admittedly that's unusual amongst transsexuals but whatever).

Quote:
the only thing i could think of that would be similar is if I went to join the black panthers, but they didn't let me cause i'm not black, but then my mates dresses up as a black and white minstrel and he's welcomed in.

There are white people who "identify as black". Generally I think it's bullshit, because 99% of the time it actually means "I like hiphop and fetishise rotund posteriors".

I'm not really going to go into defending transsexuality as opposed to other forms of cross-identification because I can't defend it's validity rigorously enough to prove anything and possibly wouldn't believe it myself if being transsexual weren't part of my personal life experience. Having said that I've been living as a woman for a number of years and have copped quite a lot of sexist shit for it and don't see why I shouldn't have access to women-only groups who deal specifically with that kind of crap. One point that's been made by a few people is that if you don't have gender dysphoria then it shouldn't be that surprising that gender seems neutral or irrelevant to you. I don't really like the pathologisation inherrent in that point but I'm not sure how else to put it.

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Apr 8 2006 15:28
revol68 wrote:
I really don't understand this fucking obsession with identity.

If you don't have or have never had a problem with your own personal identity, then why should you understand it? Lucky you!

For some people though, it's an important issue.

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Apr 8 2006 15:37
revol68 wrote:
... yet someone who is born a male but decides to embrace a caricature of femininity....

Bit of a sweeping generalisation. Who says it's a charicature? True yer average drag queen and some transvestites maybe adopt a stereotypical posture, maybe even some transsexuals do too. But the vast majority of TSs I know are just establishing what's right for them, and whether someone else perceives it as a charicature or not is irrelevant.

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Apr 8 2006 15:48
revol68 wrote:
well having grown up in a mixed family and went to both catholic and state schools ie protestant, i have to say i've never felt the need for some sort of solid identity.

Infact identity to me has often just meant exclusion of the other.

I mean i can see why marginalised groups would wish to struggle against narrow identities but I really can stand it when instead of seeking to use their marginal status to explode the borders they just set about reaffirming them.

It could be argued that your identity is bound up with a firm rejection of catholic, protestant, capitalist, statist 'values'. I wouldn't know as I don't know you personally. But suffice to say, that is not an unmanageable statement of personal independence.

However, imagine if you'd been brought up in a solidly and aggressively heterosexual environment where male or female 'roles' are very clearly defined, and even in some cases, enforced with abuse, beatings or even murder. Just suppose, that not only did you not 'fit' in with these roles but that you may even find living your life in that framework to be emotionally and physically abhorrent.

See, it's not always about exploding borders. Sometimes all we want is just to live our lives in a way that feels personally right to us.

dot
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Apr 8 2006 15:48
Quote:

There are white people who "identify as black". Generally I think it's bullshit, because 99% of the time it actually means "I like hiphop and fetishise rotund posteriors".

i've been around pale people who were raised by mixed parents, or raised by their white parent in a white neighborhood which was alienating to them, or raised by their black parent, or raised in black neighborhoods. i've been around black people who were uncomfortable around other black people, and didn't have black friends.

this is the question with identity.

what determines race/gender/sex? it's not just body parts, it's also language, relationship with authorities, friends, family... etc.

or maybe not.

there are different questions implied in all this.

is the significance of race/sex/gender about how oppressed someone is?

or about how they are oppressed?

or about perspectives they are likely to have on their lives/surroundings?

not to imply that sexism is exactly like racism. but the ways that they are similar and dissimilar are interesting.

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Apr 8 2006 15:50
revol68 wrote:
i was talking about a specific person, so don't try pulling that shit.

OK. That wasn't exactly clear from your previous posting.

phoebe
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Apr 8 2006 15:54

PS: I agree that obsession with identity can result in some really useless politics.

I generally see women-only policies as remarkably expedient rather than ideal. Having women-only queer spaces means that there are spaces which are more accessible to queer women when generally the gay scene is really male dominated and focused around "typical" gay men's interests (I don't pretend that it deals with the problem of the whole monolithic gay consumer culture thing, but it provides a space for community for queer women and that's valuable for organising stuff related to issues queer women deal with or just for picking people up). Women-only feminist spaces are convenient because they stop the small groups of men who go about disrupting feminist spaces because they're wankers from doing so. There's the negative result being that they also necessarily limit men's involvement in feminism and hence it's a good idea to make them special cases rather than the rule for feminism where possible, but they're good at the tasks they serve.

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Apr 8 2006 16:02
phoebe wrote:
PS: I agree that obsession with identity can result in some really useless politics.

Yep. Very true.

dot
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Apr 8 2006 16:37

what is the relevance of an identity of "rejection of identities"? isn't the point of identity at least as much about how others see "me" as about how i see myself?

so the "rejection of identities" identity would be aligned with radical politics, like an anarchist identity.

but identities that can be invisible are always suspect, if the point of an identity is to locate one on a spectrum of social consequences/oppression.