Feminism Catch-All (with FAQ)

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This thread is for general discussion of issues of feminism in modern society, of feminist issues specifically in gaming and geek culture, and touching on broader issues of kyriarchy in general.

This initial post is a placeholder for an FAQ in progress, and includes placeholder text between headings...


General Questions

Specific Questions

Existing threads of discussion

  • How does feminism relate to the rights of men, or does it? Should we call it something different? (Page 1)

Answers:

What is feminism?

Feminism is at its core the idea that women should be treated like human beings. That women deserve equal political, economic, and social rights to men. Wikipedia says: 'Today the Oxford English Dictionary defines a feminist as "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women".'

There are a variety of social movements and ideologies that have grown out of this core belief, and this can lead to a great deal of confusion. Much of the wide variety in feminist ideologies is tied to different approaches to understanding gender inequality, its origins, and possible solutions arising from those approaches.

And yes, some of those ideas are rather odious at times.

But the heart of feminism? That's simply equal treatment. Not preferential treatment. Not the destruction of cultural institutions. Not having everyone dress in unisex clothing. Just... equal treatment.

Also see the question about men and women being different for some more details about what this means in more specific context.

Because gender inequality is at the heart of feminist concerns, feminism also frequently touches on other aspects of gender inequality and stereotyping (including GSRM issues), and wider issues of inequality (kyriarchy and intersectional issues).

Finally, note that because feminism is frequently about rigidity of gender roles and gender inequality, it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women: when people look askance at a guy who wants to make a career working with kids, that's a feminist issue, because it's founded on an assumption that certain jobs are "women's work", and that any man who engages in those jobs must have ulterior motives.

Women have equal rights, don't they? Why is this still an issue?

...

(Note for later linkage: "What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?" (NPR))

Why should we, on this site, care about feminism?

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What does this feminist jargon mean?

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Men and women are different, and always will be! Can feminism accomplish anything?

There are some branches of feminism that believe that men and women will never truly be equal until all differences between men and women are stamped out. Fortunately, that's kind of a fringe point of view.

[em]Of course[/em] men and women are different. Physically, in terms of the effects of hormones on their bodies while developing in the womb and throughout their lives. Possibly mentally and emotionally based on the influence of hormones on the brain. Socially in terms of commonly preferred social roles, ambitions, interactions with others, fashions. There are a lot of ways that men and women are different.

But it's important to note a few things: First, [em]individual people are all different[/em]. Second, [em]different doesn't necessarily mean worse[/em]. And third, [em]some of these differences are choices[/em].

It is not prejudice, when you have two candidates for a task, to evaluate the two candidates on the basis of their actual ability to perform the task and to then pick the one who can do it better. It [em]is[/em] prejudice to look at the two candidates and make unjustified assumptions about their actual ability to perform the task, and then pick the one who you assume can do it better.

Women do, on average, have less muscle mass and bone density than men. However, the average is just the average. Actual individual women and men have a great variety of physicality, and there's a ton of overlap. So if you take an individual man and an individual woman, and you want to know which one is actually better at lifting heavy things, you need to evaluate those two individuals--not the averages.

There are also many many places in our world where men and women are treated differently, based purely on diffent assumptions about how one or the other "should" act. For example, the Guardian has a reaction piece pointing out how a Politico Op-Ed was sexist--not because it asserted that Jill Abramson is a bad editor because she's a woman, but because it criticized aspects of her leadership style that would be lauded in a male editor.

Similarly, in the famous case of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the issue was prejudicial treatment of a woman based on her failure to conform to gender stereotypes. Behavior that would have been accepted in a man was instead criticized in a woman. If it's acceptable for some people to choose to behave a certain way, it's unreasonable to demand that others not make the same choices simply because of their gender (or ethnicity, or so on.)

And yes, the same sort of thing happens to men who act in a more typically feminine manner, and that's also a feminist issue.

In short: Equality doesn't mean stamping out differences. It's not about physical equality. It's about equality in social, economic, and political [em]treatment[/em]. It's not about demanding that you ignore the very real differences, it's about demanding that the differences actually exist rather than being assumed into being.

Why are people so sensitive about rape jokes? Why is it any different from joking about other sensitive subjects?

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Why don't women just ignore the people harassing them, or just tell them to stop?

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(Note for later linkage: Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police.)

Why wear a sexy costume if you don't want the attention and comments?

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What's wrong with sexy costumes? Men are portrayed in ways that are just as unrealistic.

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I read a story about a woman who was harassed / assaulted / etc. after wearing sexy clothes / flirting with a guy / getting drunk / walking alone at night / etc. I get that it's terrible, but she really should've been more careful. Why is everybody staring at me now?

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(Notes for possible later linkage regarding "slut-shaming" which often follows on from "victim-blaming", although maybe it deserves its own heading somehow: The shame of slut-shaming, I Was Detained and Interrogated at the Border for Carrying Condoms.)

There are games like Metroid, Portal, etc. with female protagonists. Why not just play those?

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Games: 

Sorry for being quiet for so long. I'm starting work on a draft FAQ for this new feminism thread, based on suggestions posted in Questions you want answered, and other things I think of.

I hope we might be able to start this thread by discussing the FAQ, but that's a little difficult until I at least sketch it out. But, well, I was going to post in the questions thread asking for people to suggest any additional things that they might think of while I'm writing it... and it occurred to me that it would be better to do that in the thread itself.

Here are the posts I'm starting out with as source material from the questions thread (along with my brief initial thoughts).

Seth wrote:

The War on Women thread has, miraculously, held its relatively narrow focus for over a year now.

Discussions about sexism in Western media and pop culture are inherently different than pretty much any other discussion we have. Ending with the universally approved "well we disagree, but we learned something about the other side" doesn't work in those discussions, because maintaining the status quo is a de facto loss for minority groups.

So the discussions necessarily get heated.

And btw: despite the threadlocks, we're a damn sight better now than we were two years ago.

(Also addressing, I hope, the posts of LarryC and Bloo Driver.)

I do agree that we are in a much better place, and I think that's because we've been talking about things a lot. Because of that, I really want us to keep having a place to talk about things. This isn't an issue that's going to go away, and it really comes up in the context of gaming culture over and over again (probably because it comes up in general culture again and again.)

What I'm taking from this: It would be good to begin the FAQ/initial post with a statement of intent, and an admonishment to try to be extra careful not to let things get too heated or personal so that we can maintain a space to discuss things broadly without a need to lock the thread to make people cool off.

And a big fat reminder that these issues hit close to home for many people, and that when things [em]do[/em] get heated, we should all be prepared to cool things down rather than stoke the fire. That's a hard one, because yeah, people can say things that are [em]really[/em] offensive to others, but not so obviously to the speaker. And we can't expect people not to get upset by that and not to react. Still, we can do our best.

Demyx wrote:

Part of the issue is that people keep bringing up the same arguments that were dissected pages ago. I don't expect people to read the whole thread from scratch, but it'd be nice if there could be a sexism thread that doesn't constantly rehash things like "but sexy clothes on fictional women are empowering!" or "why don't women just tell the men to stop?" or "don't they just wear those sexy costumes for attention anyway?"

There's a feeling that we should really be past this stuff already, and it leads to people getting more heated than perhaps they should. I'm guilty of it.

In some instances, I've been decked for doing just that. And what was the response to that?

"Y u no call police?!"

The wheels on the bus go round and round... Round and round.... Round and round...

Demyx wrote:

If we can have another thread again, maybe we could have a FAQ in the opening?

Of course not everyone would read it, but then we could just point them to the FAQ.

This of course started the FAQ discussion.

Seth wrote:

That's actually a really good idea. Something with resolved facts, like:

1) Sexism exists
2) Sexism is pervasive in many communities, including but not limited to tech and gaming conventions
3) 1 and 2 are supported by both statistics and anecdotes from members of the GWJ community (someone can link an entire library of evidence right here)
4) There exists a culture intent on obfuscating facts 1 and 2, either through mockery, belittling, ignoring, or threats of violence
5) Women do not (edit: and should not -- sorry when I re read that, my intent was unclear) accept responsibility for unwanted behavior by how they dress
6) It is more difficult in practice to "just say no" than in theory

etc. I'm sure there's much, much more that get argued over and over when the resolution is like a page previous.

Demyx wrote:

Proposed topics:

Women have equal rights, don't they, why is this still an issue?

Why don't women just ignore the people harassing them, or just tell them to stop?

Why wear a sexy costume if you don't want the attention and comments?

What's wrong with sexy costumes in media? The men in media are idealized and unrealistic, how is the depiction of women any different?

I read a story about a woman who was assaulted/harassed etc. after wearing sexy clothes / flirting with a guy / getting really drunk, etc. I get that it's terrible to assault or harass a woman, but she really should've been more careful about what she was doing. When I pointed this out, everyone jumped down my throat! Why is that?

There are games with female protagonists. Why not just play Metroid, Portal etc. and be happy with that?

Why are people so upset about rape jokes? Why is it any different than joking about other sensitive topics?

So the above suggestions from Seth and Demyx are my starting list that I'm going to try to frame up. (Along with probably a glossary of common terms, and I suspect I'll think of a question or two to add myself.)

Um. It's kind of a lot, so if anybody wants to take a stab at a good statement and answer for a specific question, I'll happily take it.

Once I have a skeleton of the FAQ post, I'll get something in here so that we can talk about more specific points, even though I think it's going to take a long time for me to pull together good explanations of some of these questions. They're all awesome things to address... and for very good reasons, also all things that we've talked about for multiple pages at a time.

(It would be a lot easier in many ways to just start from scratch and make an FAQ as questions come up, but... hey... why make things easy? ;> If we decide that some things are too hard to answer on the spot, we can always prune and add later.)

Edit: Thanks to bandit0013 for giving me a new question that wasn't in the other thread!

Was there something funky in my salad? I swear half that post is in Latin.

offs

clover wrote:

offs

Clover! You need to go look at the D&D thread!

Sorry, I threw in some lorem ipsum to make sure the headings were readable and stuff. I replaced it with "..." placeholders to be less confusing. I'm still editing stuff into place. [em]Please[/em] feel free to comment on what's there, to suggest improvements, or to suggest text for the missing sections. Like I said, this is going to take a while, and I'm not spending a ton of time on editing yet.

I wholeheartedly support this endeavor!!! Sure we've made a lot of progress, but there's still a lot of ground to cover. You need only to look at some recent news stories (and some ridiculous comments) to know there's still lots and lots of work to be done.
I don't have much to contribute, unfortunately, except my support and my own experiences and opinions.
So basically, tagging thread for future reference, will keep a close eye on this one.

Personally I don't think this will provoke much discussion. The concept of a FAQ is to give definitive answers to common questions. There is no evidence that the questions listed here are common or have definitive answers. Also whomever controls updating the FAQ basically controls with "winners" points that get included in the FAQ. I think what is being set up here will basically end up being a pile on for anyone who dares question the wisdom of the FAQ.

I don't know how I should feel about trying to take the word Feminism as posted already and trying to water it down as "equality for all". If that's what really is intended to be discussed (it's for males too), then it should be changed to "gender equality" because no matter how you frame the subjective definition of Feminism, it has a connotation for only one gender inherent in the word. I definitely "get" where the FAQ is coming from, but it reads like it's trying way too hard to be inclusive. Just change the name if it's so important.

On that note, if "it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women" is really a concern and welcome here, then I am a bit disappointed in the questions chosen, because they are dominantly skewed towards impacts on women. Which is fine, if we want to have a thread dedicated to impacts on women that's great, but I'd take out all the stuff about equality of men etc if it's not going to be addressed, because then it's not relevant.

Men *are* treated unequally to women. They make more money, have more legal rights in most cultures and legal systems, are generally the leaders in religious and social activities and occupy by far the most positions of power in society.

If it doesn't make sense that a movement to rectify that would be named after those seeking equality, well, that's a bit weird to me. After all, the instances of males being discriminated against are pretty few and infrequent. Not that it doesn't happen, but it's laughably small compared to what women put up with on a daily basis. I don't think the appropriate response to "we want our rights" is "well, you know the guys on top have it pretty hard, too".

But then, that's the Republican doctrine these days on any issues of inequality, so I've learned to expect it.

bandit0013 wrote:

Personally I don't think this will provoke much discussion.

Well, even if it doesn't, if nothing else Hypatian gave a couple links up there I hadn't read yet, one of which (the "modern prejudice" one) just got shared by me on Facebook for its very interesting and accurate points.

Robear wrote:

Men *are* treated unequally to women. They make more money, have more legal rights in most cultures and legal systems, are generally the leaders in religious and social activities and occupy by far the most positions of power in society.

Except where they aren't. Women comprise 91% of early education teachers and over 80% of educators in general through the high school level. There is mounting evidence that the lack of male teachers is having a highly negative impact on male students which has led to...

Women being ahead by about 8 percentage points in undergraduate degrees earned. They are also starting to dominate the middle management positions which will lead to executive power when the current guard of boomers retires. Many are concerned that we went too far and now males are being left behind. Men have a much higher unemployment rate at High School Diploma levels of education and are frequently finding themselves unmarried as higher educated women begin to shun them.

Robear wrote:

After all, the instances of males being discriminated against are pretty few and infrequent. Not that it doesn't happen, but it's laughably small compared to what women put up with on a daily basis.

Marginalization based on anecdote is ok if it's against men then? I find it interesting that you point out legal systems, which is actually where the male gender in the United States gets the biggest unequal treatment especially in incarceration rates, punishment for sexual offenses, lack of input in family planning decisions, the alimony system, child support, and custody situations.

We could also go into the insurance system and how it discriminates against men.

Robear wrote:

But then, that's the Republican doctrine these days on any issues of inequality, so I've learned to expect it.

I'm not sure what that has to do with anything except piling more anecdote on anecdote?

Note: The only reason being unmarried is an issue at all to be mentioned is because one of the best ways to get out of poverty is to be in a two income household. Back in the bad old days when women were second class citizens men didn't seem to be adverse to marrying and supporting someone below their education/earning level. The trends suggest that educated women are much more discriminatory in that regard.

bandit0013 wrote:

I don't know how I should feel about trying to take the word Feminism as posted already and trying to water it down as "equality for all". If that's what really is intended to be discussed (it's for males too), then it should be changed to "gender equality" because no matter how you frame the subjective definition of Feminism, it has a connotation for only one gender inherent in the word. I definitely "get" where the FAQ is coming from, but it reads like it's trying way too hard to be inclusive. Just change the name if it's so important.

On that note, if "it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women" is really a concern and welcome here, then I am a bit disappointed in the questions chosen, because they are dominantly skewed towards impacts on women. Which is fine, if we want to have a thread dedicated to impacts on women that's great, but I'd t

Just. The word just. Think about that word for a minute.
When I was a contractor, it was the dreaded word that fell from a client's lips or email in regards to a project in that context. When someone says "just change this" or "just do that," it implies they're pulling that idea from the ether, and they have no concept as to why the issue is in place or what to do about it, pro-actively, they just want someone else to fix it. When there's a history or inherent structure, changes are not nearly so easy as pulling it out of thin air like a suggestion of "just do this different thing." It's never that easy. You're ignoring a huge framework underneath that would need to change.

Chances are, they will change. They do change, and they are changing, we're just not there yet. Language is incredibly fickle and difficult to consciously change; most people who set forth to do that almost inevitably fail. Terminology and word usage changes after the culture that uses it changes, not the other way around.

The problem I see with many social movements is that they start as one thing and evolve, but it's difficult to change deep-seeded labels without losing connection to the emphasis of the core movement itself. The difficulty I see with touting just gender equality itself at this time and stepping away from feminist labels is that to do so is that it draws attention away from the fact that the issue lies in the disparity (as well as history) of ingrained treatments and attitudes between men and not-men as a patriarchal society. So yes, feminism may not be the appropriate term anymore, but consider this: anything that isn't the ideal male default is often feminized as a negativism. Crying is for pussies. You throw like a girl. He's being a little bitch. In that respect, I think that Feminism as a description is apt in describing the plight of the people subjected to that kind of gendered, biased treatment.

Bandit, I think you're having a problem with this because this definition of feminism contrasts with the one you've known personally. I actually came here to post how glad I was to find this here because it's a refreshing, informative, and detailed account of what I've learned as feminism. So we have a pretty great differing of opinions here, and I suspect that may be in part to our personal experiences.

Feminism isn't just about women; it's about anyone who has ever been hurt, harmed, displaced, or treated badly as the result of placing the importance and value of one person over another due to their perceived gender. Suggesting to "take out all the stuff about equality of men etc if it's not going to be addressed, because then it's not relevant," is an unfounded assumption because it will be both addressed and relevant; most of the people on this forum are men, and I know it effects them, too. If it didn't we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Edit: thanks spellcheck!

Amoebic wrote:

So yes, feminism may not be the appropriate term anymore, but consider this: anything that isn't the ideal male default is often feminized as a negativism. Crying is for pussies. You throw like a girl. He's being a little bitch.

Which is why if you want the majority of males to be comfortable with embracing the movement, the name should change. You pretty much made the argument for me.

Amoebic wrote:

Bandit, I think you're having a problem with this because this definition of feminism contrasts with the one you've known personally.

False. If the point is to get away from gender bias, we shouldn't use a gender biased word to define it. Simple as that. But if the intent is to only address women's issues, I'm fine with it. Ultimately I could care less personally, I just wanted to point out that the talk is about gender neutral equality but the first thing that happened was to put it under a gender biased label.

bandit0013 wrote:

Ultimately I could care less personally

Then you're a not going to be a good contributor to the discussion. It's ok to shake your head and move on.

bandit0013 wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

So yes, feminism may not be the appropriate term anymore, but consider this: anything that isn't the ideal male default is often feminized as a negativism. Crying is for pussies. You throw like a girl. He's being a little bitch. In that respect, I think that Feminism as a description is apt in describing the plight of the people subjected to that kind of gendered, biased treatment.

Which is why if you want the majority of males to be comfortable with embracing the movement, the name should change. You pretty much made the argument for me.

Amoebic wrote:

Bandit, I think you're having a problem with this because this definition of feminism contrasts with the one you've known personally.

False. If the point is to get away from gender bias, we shouldn't use a gender biased word to define it. Simple as that. But if the intent is to only address women's issues, I'm fine with it. Ultimately I could care less personally, I just wanted to point out that the talk is about gender neutral equality but the first thing that happened was to put it under a gender biased label.

Not arguing that it shouldn't. It takes a long time, and as a society we're working on it.
Focusing on nomenclature is distraction. If you can't get past the name to understand what's behind it, I don't think there's much I can say that would help you at this point.

Also, if the subject is gender bias, using gender-biased words to define it helps readers identify it when they see it. If the dictionary does it, why can't I? Usage doesn't automatically imply approval.

Certis wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:

Ultimately I could care less personally

Then you're a not going to be a good contributor to the discussion. It's ok to shake your head and move on.

You're mistaking my personal feelings towards the word feminism as defined versus the observation that many men don't feel comfortable with a feminine derived title apply to them.

Regardless I asked in the context because the FAQ intended to dismiss the female origin of the word to which I asked why there weren't any male topics and the first response was to be dismissive of male issues and rear the "republican dismissal". So my question has already been answered, it's about women here, not gender equality, thus I'm shaking my head and moving on.

I'm with bandit0013 here. Words have power. So do labels. I think that the push for gay marriage in the US has been greatly enhanced when it was framed as "marriage equality" rather than "marriage expansion." The simple label makes it feel different, even though it's exactly the same thing.

Changing the movement name from "feminism" to "gender equality" may not be important to the choir's sensibilities, but I think that it may be important to have more people join the choir. Preaching to the heathen is the sort of work that matters, right?

I'm not in agreement with him in that this topic should include issues about men being disadvantaged (actually it should, but it's really not as prevalent); but I think the name change when talking about this to society at large will allow feminists to gather more supporters and create a sea change in popular mindset.

"I'm a feminist."
"I'm for gender-equality."

Same thing to a feminist. Not the same for people whose support feminists need.

Yeah, I don't know why we're not also talking about terrorism, too. I mean, that's a problem? Can't we think of the children? There are female and male children. It's just sickening how we're not including them in the discussion.

Sometimes, a topic or discussion just has a scope.

This thread is for general discussion of issues of feminism in modern society, of feminist issues specifically in gaming and geek culture, and touching on broader issues of kyriarchy in general.

If that scope touches on other topics, that's not suddenly an avenue which must be fully and totally explored or it's suddenly unequal or dismissive of whatever. This is the same sleight of mind, intentional or not, that seems to come up every time feminism is discussed in a regulated manner. Maybe that false association is something that can be explored, as well.

I would love for there to be gender equality.
I want women to have to pass the same tests to be a firefighter/police officer/military person.
I want to be able to sock a woman in the face if they start attacking me without 20 people jumping me for hitting a girl.
I want the same footing in a custody battle and a dispute when a police officer comes around.

I would love for everyone to be treated the same.

Congrats, Multra! You are a feminist!

Also, I am way drunk. Which is out of scope for this discussion, but woo! Holy crap, I don't remember margaritas being this strong.

Anyway, I'll make sure to come back and reply to stuff when my brain is working better again.

I know in many situations it's sensible to use the term gender equality, and I'm sure changing the name from feminism would be more inclusive to some of those that find it alienating.

But...

There's a part of me that's admittedly pretty upset about the idea. As Amoebic so wonderfully discussed, words with feminine connotations aren't always the most flattering, and good goddamn, for once I'd like a feminine word (that isn't centred around nurturing, etc) to mean something positive, something with teeth. I feel like I need that word to stay. Myself and other folks have fought so hard for it, and to throw it away after years of these kinds of conversations... I don't know. That word means more than simply gender equality, which is both its strength and its perceived weakness.

(Also apologies, I know going down this avenue is a distraction in and of itself.)

Most issues of gender equality where men are on the short side of the stick are still a result of patriarchal misogyny.

Multra wrote:

I want to be able to sock a woman in the face if they start attacking me without 20 people jumping me for hitting a girl.

Huh...I'd prefer equality mean 20 people jump you for hitting a guy too.

I've read a fantasy novel where there was a culture in the land where the women were all the warriors and blacksmiths and rulers. It took a while to get used to the fact that when he was writing about a character being described as "feminine" it meant they were strong, tough, providers, etc., and being "masculine" was regarded as weak, nurturing or foppish.

Not really a step for feminism or gender equality, but it was a great paradigm shift.

Look, there's no point changing the name of feminism because it is a political movement (and form of socio-political analysis) principally concerned with identifying the harms done to women by patriarchy and addressing them. Typically through campaigning for equal rights.

It's not even remotely fair or reasonable for men to demand that feminism also addresses their problems too. If you're concerned that patriarchy also causes broad harms to men then why don't you go off and start your own social movement, maybe you could call it "Manism", or something. Or if you think that "Manism" and "Feminism" are too polarising then why not start your own Egalitarian Society?

Either way, most feminists are past caring what men (and it's always men) think about the validity of the word feminism as a label. There simply isn't anyone who has announced that they are a feminist that hasn't had to sit through this stupid discussion.

DanB wrote:

start your own social movement

Unfortunately already exists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men's_rights_movement

...can't get the URL to work for some reason.

SixteenBlue wrote:
DanB wrote:

start your own social movement

Unfortunately already exists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men's_rights_movement

Well indeed, it's a total shame and problem that the most visible of the men's right groups are misogynistic reactionary garbage.

Still, plenty of room for an egalitarian one that is interested in co-operating with feminists.

bandit0013 wrote:

Personally I don't think this will provoke much discussion. The concept of a FAQ is to give definitive answers to common questions. There is no evidence that the questions listed here are common or have definitive answers. Also whomever controls updating the FAQ basically controls with "winners" points that get included in the FAQ. I think what is being set up here will basically end up being a pile on for anyone who dares question the wisdom of the FAQ.

Well, the thread isn't intended to be "the FAQ thread". It's intended to be "the feminism discussion thread" and to have an FAQ, as was suggested over in the ask a question thread.

The goal of the FAQ is to not have to go round and round with the same discussions over and over again, or at least to have a common starting point when they start up again. Optimally, things in the FAQ should point to the relevant discussion in this thread on those topics.

I'd like to do that with discussions from the other threads, but hunting through those other threads is pretty time consuming. Since I haven't even had time to write initial answers to all of the questions that people in the ask a question thread suggested yet, that may take a while.

As for the idea of "winners" points... On the one hand, I'm not sure I should even acknowledge the question. On the other hand, I'm not sure I can let it pass when somebody right at the start of a thread throws out words that mean "I don't think you have any intellectual integrity". So... uh... yeah. WTF?

Regardless, my real goal is to just link to existing discussions. The starting point questions are a starting point of stuff other people have suggested. If you think I'm being unfair, I don't know, vote me off the island or call Certis or something?

bandit0013 wrote:

I don't know how I should feel about trying to take the word Feminism as posted already and trying to water it down as "equality for all". If that's what really is intended to be discussed (it's for males too), then it should be changed to "gender equality" because no matter how you frame the subjective definition of Feminism, it has a connotation for only one gender inherent in the word. I definitely "get" where the FAQ is coming from, but it reads like it's trying way too hard to be inclusive. Just change the name if it's so important.

It's not about "equality for all", it's about addressing the existing disparity between the treatment of men and the treatment of women, which is very much not in the favor of women. As such, it's quite a bit more about raising women up rather than anything else. However, a lot of the thought that has come out of feminist discourse impinges on the treatment of men as well, and a lot of it is very very relevant to the treatment of other marginalized groups.

As an example of both how feminism is relevant to the rights of men [em]and[/em] why it's still primarily about improving the position of women in society, consider the case of men working in education. Men who want to be schoolteachers are given a lot of side-long glances in modern U.S. society. They're more likely to be assumed to be sexual predators when there's any question of that possibility. On the surface, this is prejudice against men: men in this field of work are treated with more suspicion than women in the same field.

The percentage of schoolteachers who are women grew from 68% in 1940 to 75% in 2000. However, despite the predominance of women in education men still hold a majority of leadership positions in the field.

These phenomena are rooted in the same patriarchical ideas about the roles and worth of men and women in the workforce. Men in education are looked upon with suspicion because it is "women's work", and therefore men who seek it out must be somehow defective for taking on this feminine role, and may perhaps have ulterior motives. Nevertheless, management in the field is still assumed to be a male prerogative, because men's work is valued over women's work.

Addressing these root problems helps men and women both, because the root problems are about prejudicial assumptions that some social roles are naturally to be filled by women and others are naturally to be filled by men. Addressing the root problems helps women more, because the roles assumed to be associated with men are considered more valuable by society.

For a much more significant article on this whole question, see If I Admit That 'Hating Men' Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? (Jezebel).

bandit0013 wrote:

On that note, if "it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women" is really a concern and welcome here, then I am a bit disappointed in the questions chosen, because they are dominantly skewed towards impacts on women. Which is fine, if we want to have a thread dedicated to impacts on women that's great, but I'd take out all the stuff about equality of men etc if it's not going to be addressed, because then it's not relevant.

There isn't really all that much "all that stuff", so I'm not sure why you're super concerned. Also, this is a thread about feminism, so it's kind of not surprising for the issues to be predominantly about the treatment of women.

If you think there are better questions, perhaps you could suggest some questions and answers. I took the questions from people in the other thread as a starting point. I would expect that future questions will be questions that come up in this very thread. For example: "Why do people say that feminism addresses men's issues?" could point to this very discussion. Amazing.


bandit0013 wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

So yes, feminism may not be the appropriate term anymore, but consider this: anything that isn't the ideal male default is often feminized as a negativism. Crying is for pussies. You throw like a girl. He's being a little bitch.

Which is why if you want the majority of males to be comfortable with embracing the movement, the name should change. You pretty much made the argument for me.

Wait. You don't see any irony in quoting someone saying "it's a problem that words associated with women are given negative connotations" and replying with "yeah, and that's why men would be more comfortable if it was a less woman-focused word"?

It's true that feminism has a branding problem. It seems likely to me that this is more about how feminism is represented in popular culture than about the name itself. But either way, this may be something that feminists have to address moving forward.

But it's not like we, here in this thread, can suddenly rename the idea. It has a history, and it's an important history. And, as I said above, it really is more about the treatment of women than the treatment of men, because men overall are treated pretty well, and women not so much. Attempting to re-frame the issue as purely being about gender equality leaves that very important side of the problem hanging.

It's also worth noting that studies of feminist issues are generally done in courses about "gender studies". As Amoebic points out:

Amoebic wrote:

Focusing on nomenclature is distraction. ... if the subject is gender bias, using gender-biased words to define it helps readers identify it when they see it. If the dictionary does it, why can't I? Usage doesn't automatically imply approval.

There are a number of related issues here. There is "gender equality", there is "equality" in general. There are "equality for women" and "equality for marginalized people". The first two are great principles, but focus on the end result--where we some day want to be. The last two are the bases of "feminism" and "social justice" movements, and are focused on the actual problems we're wrestling with right now.

This thread is about feminism: "equality for women". Feminism [em]touches on[/em] issues that effect men. But that's not its primary concern. So, a serious question:

FAQ wrote:

Finally, note that because feminism is frequently about rigidity of gender roles and gender inequality, it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women: when people look askance at a guy who wants to make a career working with kids, that's a feminist issue, because it's founded on an assumption that certain jobs are "women's work", and that any man who engages in those jobs must have ulterior motives.

Am I overstating the case here? Would it be better to say, for example, that "it can also improve the position of men by breaking down rigid gender roles, for example..." rather than saying "it's also about breaking down places where men are treated unequally towards women"?


Kite wrote:

There's a part of me that's admittedly pretty upset about the idea. As Amoebic so wonderfully discussed, words with feminine connotations aren't always the most flattering, and good goddamn, for once I'd like a feminine word (that isn't centred around nurturing, etc) to mean something positive, something with teeth. I feel like I need that word to stay. Myself and other folks have fought so hard for it, and to throw it away after years of these kinds of conversations... I don't know. That word means more than simply gender equality, which is both its strength and its perceived weakness.

Kite's feelings sum up pretty well the issue with trying to change terminology. I will also note that it seems odd to me that we have had people express a great deal of concern on these forums about how it's a bad idea to give in pressure to avoid using terms for other people that disparage those people... but at the same time, we have people suggesting that it's a good idea to change terms that people find empowering even when the people those terms apply to don't generally have a problem with it.

Personally, my only concern is that I think there are a lot of people who are feminists without realizing it, because they think the word means extra things. But I'm not particularly worried about people not wanting to be associated with it because it's focused on raising up women.

Kite wrote:

(Also apologies, I know going down this avenue is a distraction in and of itself.)

Not at all. This is exactly the kind of discussion that it's good to have, so that we can talk these things through. This page of discussion (and whatever follows on) will be great for a "but what about men's rights?" reference in the original post.

Like I said: This thread is for the discussion, and the FAQ is just so that we can refer people back to prior discussion when things circle around. Hopefully we can fill in the gaps and turn more of the answers into references to prior discussion as time goes on.


... the last few posts on feminism and Men's rights movement ...

SixteenBlue linked to: Men's rights movement (Wikipedia). Another link I came across: An open letter to men's rights activists.

I'll also note that these folks are some of the reason that feminists are likely to get their hackles up when questions of "isn't it important for men to be equal too?" come up. I will assume that everybody who's brought it up in this thread is absolutely reasonable, because it is a reasonable question to ask at times. However, a lot of people who self-identify as MRAs are... not at all reasonable. And because they pretty much [em]always[/em] open up with that line of questioning, it makes it hard not to react poorly.

On the plus side, we're talking about it fairly reasonably right now--and in the future when people bring up the question, we can hopefully reasonably point them back at this discussion instead of getting exasperated that "OMG, this again?" And that way we'll be in a better spot once people have read the existing talk if they want to bring up a new point.


Note: I've changed the thread title to "Feminism Catch-All (with FAQ)" to make it clear that this thread [em]has[/em] an FAQ, rather than the thread [em]being[/em] the FAQ. I've also linked the start of this discussion from the FAQ. Please let me know if you think that's a reasonable way to do things, or if you have suggestions about how to do it better. I'd hope to include links to those whenever discussions start back up again. (i.e. if this topic trails off for a while and then comes back up on a later page, add a link to that page so people can go back to the FAQ when it trails off and follow when it comes back up again.)

Hypatian wrote:

However, a lot of people who self-identify as MRAs are... not at all reasonable.

Your bias is showing. You just got done in the FAQ talking about how radical feminism is rare and we shouldn't pay any mind to that, but "a lot" of male rights activists are unreasonable?

From the wikipedia article linked, here's a smattering of things that various groups support, I'd love for you to point out which are unreasonable and why:

  • Fathers' rights activists seek a gender-neutral approach in which unwed men and women would have equal rights in adoption issues
  • Many men feel that they are discriminated against and that they do not have the same contact rights or equitable shared parenting rights as their ex-spouse.
  • In the United States, the current alimony laws are challenged for constitutionality, assignment of temporary vs. permanent financial support paid to a spouse, and fair and equitable treatment under family law. (Note that in Sweden and other countries divorced spouses are not considered responsible for each other)
  • Men's rights activists, citing a number of academic studies, assert that domestic violence by women is ignored and under-reported, because men are reluctant to describe themselves as victims.Men's rights advocates have been critics of legal, policy and practical protections for abused women, campaigning for domestic violence shelters for battered men
  • Men's rights activists have argued that military conscription of men is an example of oppression of men
  • Men's and fathers' rights groups have stated that there are high levels of misattributed paternity or "paternity fraud", where men are parenting and/or supporting financially children who are not biologically their own.
  • In the US in 2006, the court case Dubay v. Wells concerned whether men should have an opportunity to decline all paternity rights and responsibilities in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Supporters said that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women.
bandit0013 wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

However, a lot of people who self-identify as MRAs are... not at all reasonable.

Your bias is showing.

Given the jump from Hypatian statements about the people and their actions versus your immediate rebuttal by quoting the organization's stated goals (which is divergent and not part of what Hypatian was addressing), and the fact that of all the responses she gave, you picked out this narrow bit to pull out and argue poorly against, no. I think it is not her biases that are showing.

The end result, here, is that it may not be a perfect effort, by Hyp is at least trying to explore the issue of feminism and its impact and problems in gaming culture. She is willing to make reasoned responses and examine these things in good faith. All you have offered are odd anecdotes, derision, and short-hand variations of "but what about men!", only asking the question as a roundabout way of trying to make Hypatian look bad rather than actually trying to argue any real point. I think Certis' initial assessment was spot on at this point.

Bloo Driver wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

However, a lot of people who self-identify as MRAs are... not at all reasonable.

Your bias is showing.

Given the jump from Hypatian statements about the people and their actions versus your immediate rebuttal by quoting the organization's stated goals (which is divergent and not part of what Hypatian was addressing), and the fact that of all the responses she gave, you picked out this narrow bit to pull out and argue poorly against, no. I think it is not her biases that are showing.

I'm sorry, I forgot where I was. Please continue painting other groups with a broad brush. After all, it's ok to stereotype as long as you perceive the group to have privilege. You guys have fun with your group-think.

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