Feminism/Sexism and Gaming/Geek/Popular culture Catch All

Demyx wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Slight tangent, but this popped up in my Twitter feed today, so I thought I'd share. About why the majority of women won't call themselves feminist.

Essentially, feminists are also assholes.

I would link to a relevant Spaceballs pic, but some people may be reading this at work.

Any group large enough is going to have assholes. This article is mostly about one feminist who has some views the author disagrees with. Fair enough, but you know there are plenty of feminist writers who would agree with her views. For example, she mentions that Moran has issues with sex work. This is part of a larger conversation in feminism: can sex work ever be empowering, or is it always demeaning? In early feminism, the view that it was always demeaning won out (mainstream feminism was also anti-pornography), but these days the pendulum has swung back the other way and the author could easily find feminists in favor of sex work if she cared to look.

I mean, I agree fully with the points about there are infinite ways to be a woman and no woman should be excluded, and so do many other feminists. The author complains that feminism is not enough concerned with issues that affect minority women, well, we're not some monolithic movement getting our orders from a central authority. I think she'd find most feminists do care about issues affecting minority women, but may need someone to raise awareness - I doubt anyone is aware of or has time to devote to all feminism related issues at once.

If it weren't for feminism, she wouldn't even be able to write that column and put it on the website, so she could be a little grateful.

Personally, I think the reason many women won't call themselves feminists is because anti-feminist groups have purposefully tarred and stained the word.

This, but in my case it wasn't just anti-feminist groups who did it. It was self-identified feminists.

The very first video game outlet I wrote for back in 1999 was run by a young lady who was, and as far as I know of still is very feminist. I made the mistake of writing something about personification in games for her outlet that brought up other issues like age. After a great deal of email aggression and angst on her part, it was agreed I wouldn't write for that outlet anymore. She was already mad at me for also starting to write for GamerDad, and this just made me a total traitor in her eyes. She questioned if I was even female, called me all sorts of names. And it wasn't just her friends who piled on me about it. It made the rounds of the then fledgling internet feminist circle, and I was roundly reviled for it.

Several years later I decided to try to describe that idea again. Yes, she (and others) are the basis of the second sentence of paragraph 2 of the new version. This time I managed to piss off another bunch of feminists (including a couple at church!?), and then also managed to kick in with some men as well. It wasn't just SexyBeast either. The associated thread here is very good, but in other places it didn't go so well.

So, I don't identify myself as "feminist" because I don't agree with the stance of the people who I have run into who do self-identify as feminists. They told me most emphatically that I wasn't one of them. I don't write them off or anything; I don't think there's a licensing board or something, so there's no hard and fast definition. But between their commentary, and the discussion-warping power other people's misunderstandings give the word, I'd rather just discuss all the issues with as little of the baggage that people hang on that name as possible.

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

LarryC wrote:

PETA doesn't actually fight for animal rights anymore; they just fight for their own ego. One of my friends is fighting one of their chapters from relocating an elephant out of a zoo because the elephant no longer is capable of living in the wild. PETA just wants it outta there. They have no plans beyond messing up the status quo. In all likelihood, if PETA gets their way, the elephant will die a slow and painful death.

It seems to me that some women who like to call themselves feminists are "fighting for women," with the exact same ulterior motives.

Total derail but PETA's main goal is to get animal rights discussed. I think their approach is pretty bad and frequently offensive, but it gets people talking so they do succeed in that.

I think PETA2 was an attempt at being more sane.

momgamer wrote:
Demyx wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:

Slight tangent, but this popped up in my Twitter feed today, so I thought I'd share. About why the majority of women won't call themselves feminist.

Essentially, feminists are also assholes.

I would link to a relevant Spaceballs pic, but some people may be reading this at work.

Any group large enough is going to have assholes. This article is mostly about one feminist who has some views the author disagrees with. Fair enough, but you know there are plenty of feminist writers who would agree with her views. For example, she mentions that Moran has issues with sex work. This is part of a larger conversation in feminism: can sex work ever be empowering, or is it always demeaning? In early feminism, the view that it was always demeaning won out (mainstream feminism was also anti-pornography), but these days the pendulum has swung back the other way and the author could easily find feminists in favor of sex work if she cared to look.

I mean, I agree fully with the points about there are infinite ways to be a woman and no woman should be excluded, and so do many other feminists. The author complains that feminism is not enough concerned with issues that affect minority women, well, we're not some monolithic movement getting our orders from a central authority. I think she'd find most feminists do care about issues affecting minority women, but may need someone to raise awareness - I doubt anyone is aware of or has time to devote to all feminism related issues at once.

If it weren't for feminism, she wouldn't even be able to write that column and put it on the website, so she could be a little grateful.

Personally, I think the reason many women won't call themselves feminists is because anti-feminist groups have purposefully tarred and stained the word.

This, but in my case it wasn't just anti-feminist groups who did it. It was self-identified feminists.

The very first video game outlet I wrote for back in 1999 was run by a young lady who was, and as far as I know of still is very feminist. I made the mistake of writing something about personification in games for her outlet that brought up other issues like age. After a great deal of email aggression and angst on her part, it was agreed I wouldn't write for that outlet anymore. She was already mad at me for also starting to write for GamerDad, and this just made me a total traitor in her eyes. She questioned if I was even female, called me all sorts of names. And it wasn't just her friends who piled on me about it. It made the rounds of the then fledgling internet feminist circle, and I was roundly reviled for it.

Several years later I decided to try to describe that idea again. Yes, she (and others) are the basis of the second sentence of paragraph 2 of the new version. This time I managed to piss off another bunch of feminists (including a couple at church!?), and then also managed to kick in with some men as well. It wasn't just SexyBeast either. The associated thread here is very good, but in other places it didn't go so well.

So, I don't identify myself as "feminist" because I don't agree with the stance of the people who I have run into who do self-identify as feminists. They told me most emphatically that I wasn't one of them. I don't write them off or anything; I don't think there's a licensing board or something, so there's no hard and fast definition. But between their commentary, and the discussion-warping power other people's misunderstandings give the word, I'd rather just discuss all the issues with as little of the baggage that people hang on that name as possible.

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

Isn't that almost exactly the gist of the column I linked?

And this:

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

I couldn't agree with more. I've taken to calling myself a liberal misanthrope. All people are so hateful, so why bother to keep anyone down?

Demyx wrote:

I mean, I agree fully with the points about there are infinite ways to be a woman and no woman should be excluded, and so do many other feminists. The author complains that feminism is not enough concerned with issues that affect minority women, well, we're not some monolithic movement getting our orders from a central authority. I think she'd find most feminists do care about issues affecting minority women, but may need someone to raise awareness - I doubt anyone is aware of or has time to devote to all feminism related issues at once.

I think there's room (and need) for subcategorization within feminism. IMO, the author has a valid beef with one type of feminism; she is actually a proponent of another.

One way to "be feminist" is to believe that gender and sex distinctions, specifically, are not normative -- that being a woman is equal in dignity to being a man, all other things being equal. Another is to believe that all (or almost all) the tribalist distinctions that people make among themselves are not normative, with gender and sex as a subset. In the middle are those who pick and choose. (For clarity in the rest of this post, I'm going to call the first belief "feminist exceptionalism" and the second belief "general feminism," and lump the third belief in with the first for now. I'm sure someone has come up with better names, and I'd love to know what they are.)

Unfortunately, the term used to describe both of these is typically "feminist." So we have situations like the author (who seems to be a general feminist) taking exception to Caitlin Moran and her supporters (who are acting like feminist exceptionalists) and generalizing it to both groups.

Personally, I think the reason many women won't call themselves feminists is because anti-feminist groups have purposefully tarred and stained the word.

Anti-feminist groups definitely have their share of the blame in this, but I think the tension between exceptional and general feminists is also a serious issue. In particular (IMO), I think general feminists need to call out the exceptionalists on their exceptionalism more often. That's what the author is trying to do, I think, although she doesn't realize it.

After the nineteenth amendment was passed, African American women suffragists discovered that most white suffragists would not militate against Jim Crow laws that still prevented them from voting. They had won the franchise for women, they were still denied it for being black. Feminism is still fighting this battle, and this article and the controversy over Moran's comments are evidence of that. As long as general feminists are unwilling to stand up against exceptionalism they're going to have to deal with the stigma of compromise.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I'm a little troubled by the statement I bolded. I know it's not your intent, but that reads a lot like a 'shut up and get back in line.' It doesn't seem much different to Dawkin's comments to Watson or what many uppity women get told when they say something inconvenient.

I don't think it's the same. For one thing, I'm certainly not telling her that she should be quiet or quit criticizing feminism or feminists. I'm certainly not talking about the "other people have it worse" argument which is what Dawkins said.

My point is that feminism has more facets than the one she is criticizing in that column. For example, the feminists who have fought to gain women equal representation in media outlets. While she rightfully criticizes some feminists, she would do well to understand that there are some feminists who are very much fighting for her and for things that she likely considers important, such as her ability to write and publish such a column.

Momgamer, that's a really unfortunate experience you've had I've done quite a bit of feminist reading online lately and I know for a fact that there are accepting feminists who would never "question if [you're] even female" or try to shame you for your views as those people did. As you said, it's a people problem -- every important movement has its share of those who would use the movement as an excuse to act like a butt, further personal vendettas, etc.

I don't think the way forward is to shy away from the term feminist. That's why I proudly call myself a feminist, and I will define what I mean by that to anyone. And any woman who wants equality for women should be welcome in my opinion. The only way to salvage things is to take them back.

EDIT:

pgroce, you define "exceptional feminism" as this:

One way to "be feminist" is to believe that gender and sex distinctions, specifically, are not normative -- that being a woman is equal in dignity to being a man, all other things being equal.

And then later in your post you pretty much call it out on something that needs to be fought against. Why?

MrDeVil909 wrote:
momgamer wrote:

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

I couldn't agree with more. I've taken to calling myself a liberal misanthrope. All people are so hateful, so why bother to keep anyone down? :)

Except are you willing to own the criticism of Feminism that implies? Are you willing to tell people who still identify with that label 'feminist' that they are doing it wrong? In other words, it just sounds like we're arguing semantics here.

CheezePavilion wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
momgamer wrote:

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

I couldn't agree with more. I've taken to calling myself a liberal misanthrope. All people are so hateful, so why bother to keep anyone down? :)

Except are you willing to own the criticism of Feminism that implies? Are you willing to tell people who still identify with that label 'feminist' that they are doing it wrong? In other words, it just sounds like we're arguing semantics here.

If they're just believing things, like that Caitlin person, I don't have to say anything to them. You can believe whatever you want, and if you're discussing it rationally, that's awesome.

However, if they treat someone badly, then I can, have, and will probably do more of it. If you're being hateful (or a deliberately obtuse flaming troll in the case of one gal I know), I don't care if you call yourself a fluffy bunny.

But even if they were, I wouldn't be telling them they're "doing it wrong". That's your problem there, Cheeze. They are what they are, and I'm not going to judge them for it.

This looks like a good spot for that what-you-said vs what-you-are ill doctrine video again. It's ostensibly about racism, but I find it works well with any -ism conversation.

Demyx wrote:

My point is that feminism has more facets than the one she is criticizing in that column.

Sure, yet the one she is criticising is the one that keeps 6 out of 7 women from considering themselves Feminists.

Demyx wrote:

she would do well to understand that there are some feminists who are very much fighting for her and for things that she likely considers important, such as her ability to write and publish such a column.

Does she say anything to suggest she doesn't understand this?

Could the column be more balanced? Sure, but I don't think a balanced critique of all of feminism was the point.

CheezePavilion wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
momgamer wrote:

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

I couldn't agree with more. I've taken to calling myself a liberal misanthrope. All people are so hateful, so why bother to keep anyone down? :)

Except are you willing to own the criticism of Feminism that implies? Are you willing to tell people who still identify with that label 'feminist' that they are doing it wrong? In other words, it just sounds like we're arguing semantics here.

*sigh*

Do you ever discuss the topic at hand? Or are the 'gotcha' games your only contribution?

MrDeVil909 wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
momgamer wrote:

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

I couldn't agree with more. I've taken to calling myself a liberal misanthrope. All people are so hateful, so why bother to keep anyone down? :)

Except are you willing to own the criticism of Feminism that implies? Are you willing to tell people who still identify with that label 'feminist' that they are doing it wrong? In other words, it just sounds like we're arguing semantics here.

snark that is neither productive nor accurate redacted

momgamer wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
momgamer wrote:

I genuinely believe that all of this boils down to PEOPLE issues, not just women issues. PEOPLE treat other PEOPLE like crap for all sorts of reasons, and they ALL need to stop.

I couldn't agree with more. I've taken to calling myself a liberal misanthrope. All people are so hateful, so why bother to keep anyone down? :)

Except are you willing to own the criticism of Feminism that implies? Are you willing to tell people who still identify with that label 'feminist' that they are doing it wrong? In other words, it just sounds like we're arguing semantics here.

If they're just believing things, like that Caitlin person, I don't have to say anything to them. You can believe whatever you want, and if you're discussing it rationally, that's awesome.

However, if they treat someone badly, then I can, have, and will probably do more of it. If you're being hateful (or a deliberately obtuse flaming troll in the case of one gal I know), I don't care if you call yourself a fluffy bunny.

But even if they were, I wouldn't be telling them they're "doing it wrong". That's your problem there, Cheeze. They are what they are, and I'm not going to judge them for it.

This looks like a good spot for that what-you-said vs what-you-are ill doctrine video again. It's ostensibly about racism, but I find it works well with any -ism conversation.

But you do care that they call themselves a fluffy bunny. You're saying that word has too much baggage. They obviously don't. I understand you're only criticizing them for what they said and not for who they are, but when someone calls themselves a Feminist, they're not just telling people who they are. They're saying something about Feminism, specifically that they don't believe it's a term with too much baggage.

You don't want to associate with that term because of bad personal experiences. I *do* want to associate with that term because of *good* personal experiences--at it turns out, it's Feminists who seem to talk the most about the men's and children's issues I care about, not the so-called 'humanists'--so that leaves the question: are we just talking about personal preferences here? If the word "Feminist" as too much baggage for you personally, then that's one thing. But if you're claiming to have your issues with that term because you believe it has "discussion-warping power" then yes: you are telling them they are doing it wrong. You're telling them they're holding on to a term with too much baggage to make it worth holding on to. If they're continuing to use the term, they don't think it has too much baggage.

Someone here is "doing it wrong." Either it has too much baggage or it doesn't. If you want to drop the term because you believe it has too much baggage, you're telling people--implicitly but from a logical standpoint as inevitably as 'A or Not A'--that they are doing it wrong if they don't believe it has too much baggage. Especially considering many of them stick to that term precisely because of the baggage, in fact.

No.

Being a feminist is not wrong. It is not possible to be anything that is "doing it wrong."

Not wanting to deal with other people's misconceptions and watch them derail a discussion with pointless handwaving about labels is not telling them they're wrong. It's telling them that I want to discuss the actual issue, without labeling the people having the discussion.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

Sure, yet the one she is criticising is the one that keeps 6 out of 7 women from considering themselves Feminists.

She does not know that that particular feminist, or that particular brand of feminism, is what is keeping 6 out of 7 women from wanting to consider themselves feminist. There could be, and probably are, many other reasons at play, including the smearing of feminism by anti-feminist groups.

Does she say anything to suggest she doesn't understand this?

Could the column be more balanced? Sure, but I don't think a balanced critique of all of feminism was the point.

She probably does, but nothing in the column really indicates that she understands the importance of feminism. If you're going to write a column with the headline "Feminism, what does it mean?" it's not so great to present feminism as some sort of fad book or "club" and not as the important social movement it is.

momgamer wrote:

No.

Being a feminist is not wrong. It is not possible to be anything that is "doing it wrong."

That's not what I said. What I said was: "when someone calls themselves a Feminist, they're not just telling people who they are. They're saying something about Feminism, specifically that they don't believe it's a term with too much baggage."

Not wanting to deal with other people's misconceptions and watch them derail a discussion with pointless handwaving about labels is not telling them they're wrong. It's telling them that I want to discuss the actual issue, without labeling the people having the discussion.

Yes, it is telling them they are wrong. It's telling them they are wrong about the importance of that label. You said:

If they're just believing things, like that Caitlin person, I don't have to say anything to them. You can believe whatever you want, and if you're discussing it rationally, that's awesome.

Catlin Moran said:

We need to reclaim the word 'feminism'. We need the word 'feminism' back real bad.

You two disagree on the importance of that label. You can argue semantics with me all you want about that phrase "doing it wrong", but the fact remains: You are saying something to that Catlin person because you two disagree about the importance of the word "feminism" to solving the actual issue. And that fact is my point.

Demyx wrote:

pgroce, you define "exceptional feminism" as this:

One way to "be feminist" is to believe that gender and sex distinctions, specifically, are not normative -- that being a woman is equal in dignity to being a man, all other things being equal.

And then later in your post you pretty much call it out on something that needs to be fought against. Why?

I haven't read anything else past this post yet, but I wanted to clarify:

The emphasis on "specifically" is important. An "exceptionalist feminist" doesn't generalize the elevation of men over women to other areas, like the elevation of whites over blacks or the old over the young. A "general feminist" sees it all as part of the same phenomenon, and if they are coherent, opposes and resists all of them.

Both, however, can legitimately be called "feminists." I think a lot of what rubs the article author (and Momgamer, for that matter) the wrong way comes from exceptionalists that have not been called out on their other attitudes.

(I feel kind of arrogant and uncomfortable making up these terms, BTW. I'm just a Dude with Opinions; the terms are for making sense of my thoughts. I'm sure a deeper thinker than me has covered this ground; pointers and more generally-accepted terms are welcome.)

Well, I don't think we should generalize those issues all together because there is actually a lot of nuance and differences between them, so I guess that makes me exceptionalist?

I don't think other discrimination-related issues like fighting racism are less important than feminism, just that they often have different causes and effects.

A racist feminist absolutely deserves to get called on their hypocrisy, and unfortunately such people exist. But being more focused on sexism than racism doesn't automatically make you racist, it just means you have limited time in the day and you are choosing where to spend it.

This was brought up in the articles, but probably worth an explicit mention:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interse...

also, this is probably worth adding to the punch bowl:

Intersectionality allow us to focus on what is most important at a given point in time. I used to say to people, if you're in a domestic situation where the man is violent, patriarchy and male domination—even though you understand it intersectionally—you focus, you highlight that dimension of it, if that's what is needed to change the situation. I think that, again, if we move away from either/or thinking, and if we think, okay, every day of my life that I walk out of my house I am a combination of race, gender, class, sexual preference and religion or what have you, what gets foregrounded? I think it's crazy for us to think that people don't understand what's being foregrounded in their lives at a given point in time. Like right now, for many Americans, class is being foregrounded like never before because of the economic situation. It doesn't mean that race doesn't matter, or gender doesn't matter, but it means that right now in many people's lives, in the lives of my own family members, people are losing jobs, insurance. I was teasing my brother that he was penniless, homeless, jobless. Right now in his life, racism isn't the central highlighting force: it's the world of work and economics. It doesn't mean that he isn't influenced by racism, but when he wakes up in the morning the thing that's driving his world is really issues of class, economics and power as they articulate themselves. I guess I wish we could talk about: what does it mean to have a politics of intersectionality that also privileges what form of domination is most oppressing us at a given moment in time.

http://commonstruggle.org/bellhooks

Demyx wrote:

If you're going to write a column with the headline "Feminism, what does it mean?" it's not so great to present feminism as some sort of fad book or "club" and not as the important social movement it is.

But when the people who presume to speak for the movement present it as an exclusive club it should be called out. Should it not?

An anecdote isn't data but momgamer has experiences congruent with this, the article links a number of others that are congruent with this.

For me the idea of a Feminist is very simple. Do you believe in equal rights for women? If yes, then you're a feminist.

There are subtleties to the discussion to be had after that, but excluding people who don't fit narrower definitions of what being feminist means is problematic and ultimately unhelpful to the movement.

Demyx wrote:

Well, I don't think we should generalize those issues all together because there is actually a lot of nuance and differences between them, so I guess that makes me exceptionalist?

On reflection, I don't think I added anything to the conversation by introducing those terms. Sorry for the confusion.

What I meant by an exceptionalist was quite simply one of two types of people:

1. A feminist who is also a bigot in some other aspect. (So feminism is "exceptional" in that it deserves attention, but other forms of bigotry are okay.)

2. A feminist who sees advantage in defending a bigoted feminist, or in letting her bigoted attitudes go unchallenged.

The reason those things are destructive is because the feminist community is not a safe space for the people to whom bigotry is directed, and (if they are sensible) they won't be a part of it. This is bad for them and bad for feminism.

I don't think you're a bigot and I don't think you tolerate bigotry, so I don't think you fall in this category.

Again, sorry for the confusion.

I don't think other discrimination-related issues like fighting racism are less important than feminism, just that they often have different causes and effects.

Does this mean feminists shouldn't concern themselves with them? Women in those disadvantaged groups often can't participate in feminism, and that's a disservice to both them and feminism.

A racist feminist absolutely deserves to get called on their hypocrisy, and unfortunately such people exist. But being more focused on sexism than racism doesn't automatically make you racist, it just means you have limited time in the day and you are choosing where to spend it.

It's true that you have to choose your battles. But I think that argues for more intersectionality, not less.

Caitlin Moran, defending her comments, said the following:

Caitlin Moran wrote:

If a woman of color was allowed to make show as funny and honest and daring as Dunham’s — wandering around slightly overweight, naked, spreckled (sic) with acne, and talking about abortion, I’d be pitching a f*cking massive feature on that to the Times, too.

That's fine, but a woman of color is much less likely to "be allowed." And a poor woman of color is even less so. That diminishes the diversity of feminist voices. Should feminism care? I'd argue that it should, and to the degree that it should, it needs to concern itself with questions of race and class as well as gender and sex.

Dunham's (and Moran's) voices are valuable, but they are being heard; the majority of women on this planet who aren't white, young, cisgendered, rich, or straight enough aren't. Feminism can best help these women if they tackle some of the questions of race and class that hold them back.

pgroce wrote:

Caitlin Moran, defending her comments, said the following:

Caitlin Moran wrote:

If a woman of color was allowed to make show as funny and honest and daring as Dunham’s — wandering around slightly overweight, naked, spreckled (sic) with acne, and talking about abortion, I’d be pitching a f*cking massive feature on that to the Times, too.

That's fine, but a woman of color is much less likely to "be allowed." And a poor woman of color is even less so. That diminishes the diversity of feminist voices. Should feminism care? I'd argue that it should, and to the degree that it should, it needs to concern itself with questions of race and class as well as gender and sex.

Dunham's (and Moran's) voices are valuable, but they are being heard; the majority of women on this planet who aren't white, young, cisgendered, rich, or straight enough aren't. Feminism can best help these women if they tackle some of the questions of race and class that hold them back.

Funny thing about Lena Dunham's Girls: having watched the whole season, the series is actually deeply invested in the exploration of white privilege*, specifically the ways in which it is being disrupted--and not necessarily in a way that is good for equality. Major spoilers:

Spoiler:

Hannah's parents are professors; Hannah is still in an unpaid internship two(?) years after college. Later in the season she goes home and hooks up with this guy who runs a pharmacy. Well, he's a pharmacist, and his dad runs a pharmacy. I thought she really encapsulated a major change in American society. Switch Hannah with her parents generation-wise, and chances are she's the one about to buy a lake house and they're the ones still in an unpaid internship. In a previous generation her race and class would have guaranteed her occupational stability (literally, in the case of academic tenure) but that intellectual class she belongs to is seeing its privilege evaporate as the economy changes. On the other hand, this guy happens to have been born to a family that can pass down its privilege as generational wealth. She can't even benefit from her parents' networks, another element in generational privilege. I thought the series did an excellent job of questioning the intersectionality of race and class, it just took the whole season to do it, and it was very subtle (and therefore, I think very provocative) and so it got ignored in the critical backlash.

*just another note that I think 'privilege' was a TERRIBLE choice of term: talk about semantic Baggage...pun only slightly intended.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Demyx wrote:

If you're going to write a column with the headline "Feminism, what does it mean?" it's not so great to present feminism as some sort of fad book or "club" and not as the important social movement it is.

But when the people who presume to speak for the movement present it as an exclusive club it should be called out. Should it not?

An anecdote isn't data but momgamer has experiences congruent with this, the article links a number of others that are congruent with this.

and if you want to move from anecdote to history, I can point you in that direction as far as this issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminis...

there aren't just two sides to it, and plenty of people have spilled plenty of ink writing about it; many of those people identify as feminist.

For me the idea of a Feminist is very simple. Do you believe in equal rights for women? If yes, then you're a feminist.

There are subtleties to the discussion to be had after that, but excluding people who don't fit narrower definitions of what being feminist means is problematic and ultimately unhelpful to the movement.

The issue with that article is self-exclusion. The article states: "I stopped calling myself a feminist several years ago for the simple reason that many feminists don't like sex workers." That's true. Many don't.

Then again, many do. The Melissa Giras and Nina Hartleys of the world call themselves feminists; the Ducky Doolittles and Annie Sprinkles I think would call themselves feminists or at least would not be so hostile to the term 'feminism'; I don't know if you'd consider Susie Bright a sex worker, but if you do, yeah--she's not walking away from that title anytime soon; I imagine you'd probably find a couple of self-identified feminists among these sex workers.

There are certainly very strong opinions on all sides of this issues, and there's a lot of exclusion and uglyness, but it's not like there isn't a well-established segment of feminism that does "like" sex workers: self-exclusion is not a necessary step, at the very least.

I think the real mess appears in two places:

1) "You're not a real X-ist if you don't spend every waking moment thinking and talking about X-ism." It's okay to have other interests, and you don't have to bring X-ism into those other interests all the time. A feminist who is also a gamer is going to talk about feminism sometimes, games sometimes, and games and feminism together sometimes. That's only reasonable. An more radical extended form of this is "you can't be a real X-ist if you're a Y", and that's sometimes further extended to "it is impossible for a Y to not be bigoted against Xs." Frequently with X being the complement of Y. So: "no man can be a true feminist", and then "all men are misogynists" (or perhaps "misogynists waiting to happen".) This kind of fallacious extension of things is incredibly damaging--not just because it results in driving off potential allies, but also because it denies the fundamental human capacity for empathy. Yes, the vast majority of men will never truly understand what male privilege means--but that doesn't mean that no man ever will. In addition, this sets up a sort of "hierarchy of true X-ism" which is just awful. Now you have people keeping score about how much of an X-ist you are, or even how much of an X you are.

2) The flip side of that denial of human empathy is, I think, what pgroce is talking about: The kind of person who does not in fact apply their understanding in one area of prejudice to understand a different form of prejudice. The white feminist who talks about male privilege without considering white privilege. And in a worse case, who instead of beginning to consider it when the topic comes up instead becomes defensive and suggests that it doesn't really exist, or it's less important, or that they're not involved in any of that sort of thing. Again, this sets up sort of a hierarchy of "which X-isms are more important than other X-isms?"

These two things feed off of each other: If atheism is the absolute most important thing, then anyone who wants to talk about issues of misogyny in the atheist movement: a) Must not be a real atheist, because if they were then they wouldn't be concerned with these other things. Even if they were a real atheist, they must not be as good an atheist as the people who focus on just atheism. b) [em]Clearly[/em], whatever problem they have with misogyny among atheists must be a lot less important than misogyny caused by god-bothering because, [em]hello[/em], atheism is more important, duh! If there were important misogyny that was not caused by religion, atheism wouldn't be the most important. And since we [em]know[/em] it is, any other misogyny doesn't exist. QED

Attitudes like this make the people involved look like raving hypocritical assholes to anyone outside, which is a real shame because it turns people off from supporting things that are worth supporting. It's also a shame because the point-tallying and realer-than-thouing distracts from the important problems and even if it doesn't drive away the people who "don't fit in", it's an incredibly wasteful thing to pile all that sort of crap on someone who genuinely wants to be helpful and participate.

All together, it's a really short-sighted and depressing exclusionary "us vs them" mentality: an exercise in tribal in-group dynamics as people jockey for position and try to maintain their hold on what "real" X-ism is. If you want the strongest most versatile movement, I think you need to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Every time someone bridges between two communities--the woman of color, for example--they provide a spot where empathy can be made stronger. They can say with authority "You know, male privilege and white privilege do have something in common. I know, because I've been on the crappy end of both. You white women, remember that when you think about race issues: you already know something about what it feels like, and that should make it easier. You black men, remember that when you think about sexism: you already know something about what it feels like, and that should make it easier."

Sure, different people will focus on different things. Many will choose one or another form of activism to focus one for part or all of their lives. But while these things may take on more importance for us as individuals, we must never forget that all of the struggles are inter-connected, and none of them is universally less important than another. There's someone at the bottom of [em]every[/em] totem pole, and that's equally sh*tty no matter what color the pole is painted.

Another fantastic post, Hypatian.

I personally try to avoid any labeling whatsoever, for pragmatic reasons. It always leads to presumptions based on whatever label you've assigned yourself. Call yourself a feminist and you can almost feel minds closing to any further argument. Same with labels like liberal/conservative, christian/atheist, reader of newspaper X/Y, ...

It's difficult enough having a constructive conversation as it is. I would rather spend my time arguing specific issues, rather than what a feminist is or isn't. I'm not interested in being a club member, I'm interested in learning more about a specific topic. And feeling superior because I'm smarter than those people!

One of my issues with the rejection of the feminist label is that it tends to imply a degree of shame or reluctance to the overall idea that you're trying to defend. Which sounds laughable, but we're at the point in the US where very few elected officials dare to call themselves liberals, environmentalists, and certainly not feminists. Which would be fine if they were still committed to ideals of liberalism, environmentalism and/or feminism, but that's not happening. It's a real problem. A weird problem, but a real one nonetheless.

Part two of that problem is that the number of dudes who "don't want to label themselves" are about 10% genuine and 90% committed to it because it lets them win arguments or duck criticism. I really do sympathize with a lot of people who are genuinely interested in parsing issues, but you are far outnumbered by men who think that "women are biologically unsuited to leadership positions" or some other idiocy and would like to clothe their beliefs in a vague sense of tolerance.

I don't necessarily want anyone to stop thinking like they are. But it sounds like a lot of people are thinking about this as a polite conversation they're having in their living rooms. I tend to think of it more of as a front in a war of ideas. A war that we the non-medievalists are winning but a war nonetheless. (Okay, maybe it's not us specifically that are winning it, but we're on the side of sex and birth control.)

pgroce wrote:

Caitlin Moran, defending her comments, said the following:

Caitlin Moran wrote:

If a woman of color was allowed to make show as funny and honest and daring as Dunham’s — wandering around slightly overweight, naked, spreckled (sic) with acne, and talking about abortion, I’d be pitching a f*cking massive feature on that to the Times, too.

That's fine, but a woman of color is much less likely to "be allowed." And a poor woman of color is even less so. That diminishes the diversity of feminist voices. Should feminism care? I'd argue that it should, and to the degree that it should, it needs to concern itself with questions of race and class as well as gender and sex.

Dunham's (and Moran's) voices are valuable, but they are being heard; the majority of women on this planet who aren't white, young, cisgendered, rich, or straight enough aren't. Feminism can best help these women if they tackle some of the questions of race and class that hold them back.

That seems like quite a backtrack from her initial 'can't give a sh*t' comment. And you're right. A woman of colour is orders of magnitude less likely to be 'allowed' to make a show that takes any kind of chances. *Full disclosure, I know nothing about Girls, I don't watch much TV.

I'd argue that if one woman of colour takes a look at a comment like Moran's initial tweet and is put off from identifying with the larger movement it's one too many.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Funny thing about Lena Dunham's Girls: having watched the whole season, the series is actually deeply invested in the exploration of white privilege*, specifically the ways in which it is being disrupted--and not necessarily in a way that is good for equality. Major spoilers:

Spoiler:

Hannah's parents are professors; Hannah is still in an unpaid internship two(?) years after college. Later in the season she goes home and hooks up with this guy who runs a pharmacy. Well, he's a pharmacist, and his dad runs a pharmacy. I thought she really encapsulated a major change in American society. Switch Hannah with her parents generation-wise, and chances are she's the one about to buy a lake house and they're the ones still in an unpaid internship. In a previous generation her race and class would have guaranteed her occupational stability (literally, in the case of academic tenure) but that intellectual class she belongs to is seeing its privilege evaporate as the economy changes. On the other hand, this guy happens to have been born to a family that can pass down its privilege as generational wealth. She can't even benefit from her parents' networks, another element in generational privilege. I thought the series did an excellent job of questioning the intersectionality of race and class, it just took the whole season to do it, and it was very subtle (and therefore, I think very provocative) and so it got ignored in the critical backlash.

*just another note that I think 'privilege' was a TERRIBLE choice of term: talk about semantic Baggage...pun only slightly intended.

Now that's interesting. And seems to make perfect sense, I want to watch the show now. I think we've established I don't have the baggage around the term 'privilege' that other do.

CheezePavilion wrote:
MrDeVil909 wrote:
Demyx wrote:

If you're going to write a column with the headline "Feminism, what does it mean?" it's not so great to present feminism as some sort of fad book or "club" and not as the important social movement it is.

But when the people who presume to speak for the movement present it as an exclusive club it should be called out. Should it not?

An anecdote isn't data but momgamer has experiences congruent with this, the article links a number of others that are congruent with this.

and if you want to move from anecdote to history, I can point you in that direction as far as this issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminis...

there aren't just two sides to it, and plenty of people have spilled plenty of ink writing about it; many of those people identify as feminist.

Yeah, that's very illustrative. One would kind of hope that things could have moved into a more inclusive and civil direction in the subsequent decades.

For me the idea of a Feminist is very simple. Do you believe in equal rights for women? If yes, then you're a feminist.

There are subtleties to the discussion to be had after that, but excluding people who don't fit narrower definitions of what being feminist means is problematic and ultimately unhelpful to the movement.

The issue with that article is self-exclusion. The article states: "I stopped calling myself a feminist several years ago for the simple reason that many feminists don't like sex workers." That's true. Many don't.

Then again, many do. The Melissa Giras and Nina Hartleys of the world call themselves feminists; the Ducky Doolittles and Annie Sprinkles I think would call themselves feminists or at least would not be so hostile to the term 'feminism'; I don't know if you'd consider Susie Bright a sex worker, but if you do, yeah--she's not walking away from that title anytime soon; I imagine you'd probably find a couple of self-identified feminists among these sex workers.

There are certainly very strong opinions on all sides of this issues, and there's a lot of exclusion and uglyness, but it's not like there isn't a well-established segment of feminism that does "like" sex workers: self-exclusion is not a necessary step, at the very least.

Yeah, fair points all. I'm definitely not trying to demonise anyone or any movement. I just think a spirit of inclusiveness can go very far.

dejanzie wrote:

Another fantastic post, Hypatian.

Totally. I'm babbling like a semi-verbal 4 year old and Hypatian comes and knocks it out of the park as usual.

kazooka wrote:

One of my issues with the rejection of the feminist label is that it tends to imply a degree of shame or reluctance to the overall idea that you're trying to defend.

Yeah, I agree with this too. More feminists need to reclaim the label, the same for 'liberals.' The term has been so distorted, much like feminism.

Great posts, both Cheese and Hypatian. And everyone else, but those two people are really bringing the smart stuff.

In defense of X-ism purity -- and I know just saying that's going to raise hackles -- there is a downside to having such a broad, all encompassing group. If a group of white females are pushing an agenda to reduce or eliminate male privilege (an honorable goal) and they also accept the responsibility of pushing against white privilege (an equally honorable goal) they run the risk of diluting their message and becoming inneffective.

Look at the different between the diffuse and broad Occupy Wall Street movement, which has made some nebulous gains, vs the laser focused Tea Party movement, which managed to get a whole swath of champions elected to office nationwide. This is the strength (and weakness) of a focused movement. The Tea Party is pretty universally reviled outside of those who self identify as Tea Partiers, but despite that they showed great strength in 2010. Conversely, most people tend to feel a fuzzy but overall relatively positive vibe for OWS, but just because they can identify with one facet of OWS doesn't make OWS effective in anything.

I'm gonna put this in bold again -- I am not in support of an exclusionary form of feminism. I consider anyone who thinks women and men should be treated equally as a feminist, whether they self identify as one or not. I just want to point out that there is merit to exclusivity.

Seth wrote:

Great posts, both Cheese and Hypatian. And everyone else, but those two people are really bringing the smart stuff.

In defense of X-ism purity -- and I know just saying that's going to raise hackles -- there is a downside to having such a broad, all encompassing group. If a group of white females are pushing an agenda to reduce or eliminate male privilege (an honorable goal) and they also accept the responsibility of pushing against white privilege (an equally honorable goal) they run the risk of diluting their message and becoming inneffective.

You do have a good point, it's a very real danger. However, I don't think nebulousness is inevitably an outcome of inclusiveness.

If your group of feminists seeking to reduce male privilege thinks that actively pushing against white privilege simultaneously will muddy the waters, then they can agree that it's an important issue, but that it's outside the scope of the work they are focused on.

Saying 'I don't give a sh*t' isn't needed to keep a group on point.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Seth wrote:

Great posts, both Cheese and Hypatian. And everyone else, but those two people are really bringing the smart stuff.

In defense of X-ism purity -- and I know just saying that's going to raise hackles -- there is a downside to having such a broad, all encompassing group. If a group of white females are pushing an agenda to reduce or eliminate male privilege (an honorable goal) and they also accept the responsibility of pushing against white privilege (an equally honorable goal) they run the risk of diluting their message and becoming inneffective.

You do have a good point, it's a very real danger. However, I don't think nebulousness is inevitably an outcome of inclusiveness.

If your group of feminists seeking to reduce male privilege thinks that actively pushing against white privilege simultaneously will muddy the waters, then they can agree that it's an important issue, but that it's outside the scope of the work they are focused on.

Saying 'I don't give a sh*t' isn't needed to keep a group on point.

The ironic part is that the motivation for that twitter exchange seems a lot like why that woman in the article doesn't call herself a feminist, yet the author of that article didn't recognize that.

CheezePavilion wrote:

The ironic part is that the motivation for that twitter exchange seems a lot like why that woman in the article doesn't call herself a feminist, yet the author of that article didn't recognize that.

Thanks for that. Good to see it was an ill considered comment rather than something deeper. That's an interesting read, it's disappointing to see that Bitch pulled the Moran article, but it prompted something pretty deep there.

I'm learning my way through a whole new world here. The first I heard about Moran was when someone asked you about your avatar, then this deal. She sounds like an interesting person.

And I sincerely apologise for my earlier comment. I was actually going to edit it out, but figured you'd spotted it already.

I fully agree that issues of race and class are important to feminism, that ideally feminists should be concerned with all of these issues, and that a feminist who is a bigot in other ways is hypocritical and does feminism a disservice.

However, there are very real reasons why a feminist might not want to tackle those issues. Seth pointed out one of them -- that a group can potentially get more done if they stay on one message, and taking on too many issues at once can dilute effectiveness.

Another is -- what makes you think that white feminists feel comfortable tackling issues of race?

On the one hand, it's an incredibly important issue. I fully agree with the point that feminism can't operate to its fullest when minority women aren't getting enough representation. I see the clear parallels between fighting for equality between genders and equality between races.

But on the other hand, as a white person, whenever I discuss racial issues I am constantly concerned about, y'know, screwing up. How can I talk about racial inequality when it's not something I've experienced? Certainly I can't talk about it in the same way I talk about gender inequality, which is something I HAVE personally experienced. How can I claim to fully understand the issues?

The answer to me seems to be to make sure the white feminists are listening to what the minority women have to say, and being supportive and inclusive. But that also poses a problem when minority status prevents or discourages those women from speaking up or participating in the first place.

It's not as though feminist groups are the only groups facing this sort of issue. Should LBGT groups also focus on issues of race? Should Occupy be concerned with feminism? Should they all be concerned with hunger and cancer? All these problems are interrelated.

Yeah. There's a distinction between actively going after other issues and ignoring other issues. And it can get messy.

We have a couple of stories we're talking about simultaneously again, too. And that always makes things less clear.

On the one side, we have the atheist feminist scenario, where someone who brings up the subject of discrimination within the movement is met with derision and worse. That kind of thing is just plain unacceptable. Not every atheist has to make feminism a major focus in their life, but that's no reason to dismiss feminist concerns, and it's [em]absolutely[/em] no excuse for the kinds of behavior that actually happened.

On the other side, things are a little trickier. In the scenario of Girls, we have the criticism that a work confronts one form of prejudice while leaving another form of prejudice out. And yeah, that's hard. On the one hand, it's perfectly reasonable for the creator of a work to say "I don't know how to speak about issues of race, so I've focused on the things that I can talk about", or even "issues of race are also important, but I have chosen to focus my work on issues of sex".

On the other hand, it is a [em]real[/em] problem that outside of whatever point is being addressed, the rest of the casting is based on the implicit media "defaults", which contain many harmful forms of privilege.

Breaking those default assumptions wide open is something that has to be attempted, over and over again. But it also makes it much much harder to tell a story. We know that in our lives, people do usually form friendships with people in similar socioeconomic backgrounds. It's not a 100% thing, but it happens. And because of that, when you break from that mold to tell a story, it's going to feel artificial. It's going to feel like tokenism, or unrealistic in some other way. (That's one reason Star Trek was so awesome: sure, it was artificial... but it was THE FUTURE! So they had a great excuse to go crazy with it. When you have a token Scotsman and a token Russian and... etc. etc., the token black woman doesn't seem like such a token any more. She's just one more. We'll ignore for the moment the issue of occupation...)

A tough problem.

Now, here's the thing: It is not at all inappropriate for someone to make the criticism that Girls doesn't address race, because it doesn't. However, that criticism isn't really (or shouldn't really) be an attack on Girls: It's using Girls as leverage to attack the institutions of prejudice around it. It's possible to grab ahold of it and pull yourself up and say "Look, even here, there's a problem", and people will hear you. And that's fine. On the other side, it's not necessary to take that criticism as an attack either on the show itself or on the people who created it. When you feel something is an attack on yourself or something you've created, it's easy to get defensive—and that's not the right thing to do here. The right thing to do is to say "You're right, we don't address that, and it's worth addressing. We didn't address it because {insert reasons from above}. But I wish we could have. If I can support somebody who's trying to tell the story you propose, I'll give them all of the support I can."

And... that's about all you can do. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like enough. Worse, sometimes it feels patronizing: "Well, of course you can say that, from your position of privilege. It's much harder from where we are." And, of course, it is harder. But, again, this gets back to that point that even if someone is in a position of privilege, that doesn't mean they don't empathize or understand the problem. Just because someone [em]could[/em] be acting patronizing doesn't mean they are.

So both sides have to step back and respect the other side as hard as they can. If you're having success, don't worry about people who use your work as a platform to try to get their additional issues heard: instead, be happy that you can help them. You don't have to go out of your way to do it. If you're having problems, don't get bitter at the people who are doing better: the less crap they have to deal with the more they can [em]afford[/em] to extend a helping hand back down and give you an assist. Don't stop reminding them about your problems, just like you would anybody else, but don't blame them for not being able to help every cause at once.

(P.S. A recurring mental image while writing this was trying to imagine the all-inclusive cast that includes every possible disadvantaged minority. ...and the stories that would be required to have their situation actually mean something instead of just being a token inclusion. It's rather made my eyes cross.)

Demyx wrote:

Another is -- what makes you think that white feminists feel comfortable tackling issues of race?

On the one hand, it's an incredibly important issue. I fully agree with the point that feminism can't operate to its fullest when minority women aren't getting enough representation. I see the clear parallels between fighting for equality between genders and equality between races.

But on the other hand, as a white person, whenever I discuss racial issues I am constantly concerned about, y'know, screwing up. How can I talk about racial inequality when it's not something I've experienced? Certainly I can't talk about it in the same way I talk about gender inequality, which is something I HAVE personally experienced. How can I claim to fully understand the issues?

The answer to me seems to be to make sure the white feminists are listening to what the minority women have to say, and being supportive and inclusive. But that also poses a problem when minority status prevents or discourages those women from speaking up or participating in the first place.

Very real and logical concerns. Ultimately all one can do is be open, which is why Moran's 'couldn’t give a sh*t' tweet was a concern to me.

For the opposite of what one should do, see the comments to the article Cheeze linked.