To feel a bit bereft now that the Reasonable Feminism thread is full?

(42 Posts)

I feel as though I have no purpose in life. Floating, aimlessly, drifting between other threads, posting listlessly but not really, you know, feeling it... grin

SigmundFraude Fri 05-Jul-13 11:49:02

'Ya don't see articles discussing how much nippleage or bulge it is "appropriate" to see in males in the public eye, now do you? 'cause they are judged primarily on what they do and say not what they wear or what their bodies look like.'

I'm sure these articles exist somewhere if went dredging around for them. I'm guessing you missed the pics of Thom Evans doing the rounds recently! The comments underneath the pics were very enlightening. Almost all from women, many stating that they wished their DH's looked like that, quite crude. How many people do you think came on and told them to stop objectifying Thom Evan's?

Then there's the fact that women in particular come under a lot of criticism for speaking out, because it's assumed that feminists are, or should be, talking about all women... Similar books written by men get called inspirational and insightful.

I think that this is an example of the ways in which the bar is set higher for women. Want to campaign against the normalisation of women-as-sex objects in the media? Or the impending lack of female figures on bank notes? How selfish! There are many women out there with much worse problems! (aka do shut up about your silly problems dear).

Exactly! But replace 'woman of colour from a poor background' with any other category of person, and I'm sure almost anyone could happily utter that statement.

I disagree, as it happens! smile

I think that it is much too simple to put people in groups and grade them according to how hard they have to work to achieve what they want out of life (whatever that might be). I think that white men from ordinary state schools have to work a bit harder than white men from famous public schools to become a partner in a city law firm. For example. And a black man from an ordinary state school might have to work harder to overcome prejudice than a white man from the same school, in order to be a partner in a top city law firm. In that Allan Johnson book about privilege, he talks about a black partner in a law firm who is stopped by a white junior associate (they didn't know each other) when heading in to work at the weekend. Why would the white junior associate assume the black partner had less right to be there than his junior colleague?

Everyone likes to think they've worked hard to get where they are in life, and they don't want to be blamed for keeping others down.

No, nobody does like to think this. I think that might be what stops many people from recognising it when they have had fewer barriers than others, simply because of an accident of birth. Unfortunately, even if they have indeed worked very hard, that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't true that they've had these advantages. I've had them. There may well be brighter working class black men who would have made much better little-known mid-level academics that me grin but they didn't have the same chances. I don't see how this diminishes me, unless someone wants to say that I was ushered into my post with no effort on my part whatsoever. I think the only people that can be accused of that live in a very big house in central London and have a surname that starts with W.

I'm sure these articles exist somewhere if went dredging around for them

Hello Sigmund! smile

I'd like to pass that challenge back to you, if I may? But also, make it a bit more specific. So, I don't want to you find articles where a man's appearance is discussed, I want you to find articles where a man's appearance is judged in relation to how effectively he can do his job.

Google tells me that Thom Evans is a rugby player. Did the articles you mention even imply (let alone say outright) that women's reaction to his physical appearance had any bearing on his ability to play rugby? Or was his relative attractiveness in pants just an aside?

Addendum to Sigmund's challenge

Just to clarify, I am not looking for articles where either the male or female concerned is an actor or model, where it seems reasonable to judge their physical appearance in relation to their work.

No, please find me an article about a male newsreader or television presenter, even sportsperson or whatever they are in the public eye, where their appearance or choice of attire is criticised and judged to the degree to which these women's breasts and how they choose to cover them has been.

SigmundFraude Fri 05-Jul-13 12:03:53

Hello Buffy smile

Please don't think I'm being evasive but I have 10 minutes before I have to go out. I will attempt to find such an article in the course of the day..

Thom Evans apparently models as well as rugbies, so his attractiveness in pants is pre-requisite, I'd have thought. I'd imagine his fitness levels had a bearing on his ability to play, but that women's reaction to his physical attractiveness didn't, no. However, women's reaction to his ability to model a pair of pants would have a bearing on his ability to model.

SigmundFraude Fri 05-Jul-13 12:14:12

I will say this though. Re. attractiveness. Women seem to have a somewhat eclectic taste when it comes to age related attractiveness. Men seem to prefer younger women (although I'm sure there are some men who prefer older). Is that some kind of instinctual thing in response to fertility? Just musing, I could well be completely wrong. I do feel sometimes that a lot of feminists expect us to completely renounce our biology, as I mentioned before.

When did it become OK to 'objectify' men, but not women.

Not at all, I look forward to your findings... grin

I was browsing idly, looking for inspiration to try and say something amusing about you embarking bravely on your quest. Instead, I found this quote from Martin Luther King:

Rarely do we find men [sic] angry who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

Not the posters on these threads, not at all. No. But maybe other people in the world. Daily Fail readers and their ilk... wink

Women seem to have a somewhat eclectic taste when it comes to age related attractiveness

All these are possibilities that aren't mutually exclusive:

An instinct to associate fertility with youth that translates to sexual desire?
Men are judged more on what they do, which translates to a wider range of attractive qualities for them to possess?
Women socialised to find power and confidence attractive?
Youth and passiveness is fetishised for women?

When did it become OK to 'objectify' men, but not women

<wry laughter>

When men's looks are commented upon, I do not think that they are being objectified, because men, in the vast majority of cases, are judged on a wide variety of factors, one of which might be their appearance. Beckham? Appearance, yes. But football, primarily. Male models are objectified, I agree, in the same way female models are...

Whereas women, on the whole, seem to me to be judged on their appearance almost to the exclusion of anything else. Not their intellect or personality or talents. There are exceptions, of course. Kate Adie. Judy Dench. Um...

For instance, does an interviewer, ever, ask Obama about what designers he prefers to wear? No? Then why ask Hillary?

Just to clarify, having re-read my last post:

We objectify both men and women, at times. It is equally 'not OK' or hurtful to objectify an individual man who does not wish to be objectified as it is to objectify an individual woman who doesn't want it.

But objectification in general is more of a problem for women, because it is so pervasive and all consuming for women.

Technotropic Fri 05-Jul-13 13:21:59

Interesting here:

A glimpse at the magazine rack in any supermarket checkout line will tell you that women are frequently the focus of sexual objectification. Now, new research finds that the brain actually processes images of women differently than those of men, contributing to this trend.

www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/women-and-objectification_n_1701275.html

On the flip side though, do women not measure a man based on utility, what he can do and what he has?

I appreciate not all women are like this i.e. gold diggaz, but I have a friend that is currently single. She has just started seeing a man and all she can talk about is how much he earns, what car he drives and how big his house is. Never about his moral qualities or what a great character he has. She is incredibly shallow but is there an evolutionary link to this kind of behaviour?

We are decended from primates after all and many have societies where the female chooses to mate with higher status males. This is a trend that is also exhibited in most animals/species.

Thus women marry up/men marry down as they say and if you are looking for a suitable mate then maybe being objectified by a male increases one's chances of bagging the man with the right attributes. After all, is the point of evolution not to ensure the strongest gene pool?

the brain actually processes images of women differently than those of men, contributing to this trend

But we must be careful of mixing up cause and effect, no? So one interpretation of that finding might be that lads mags and the ilk are 'natural' because our brains process images of men and women in different ways. Ergo they are not harmful. Or, part of the reason why our brains might process images of men and women in different ways is that, from birth, we we are shown many many images that reinforce the idea that men and women should be perceived differently. So that is what our brains do. It is fairly well established (is it not?) that children's brains continue to develop physically (synaptic pathways etc) as we mature? Right up to teenage years, I believe? Though am open to being corrected on this of course, not being a neuroscientist.

The same problem of jumbling up cause and effect, with a bit of the inevitable assumption that people will make sense of information and ideas from the perspective of their beliefs and experience, make evolutionary psych theory unhelpful. I am not suggesting that it is irrefutably wrong, it's just that I find it leads to more questions than answers; at the same times as presenting an obvious, easy explanation that usually perpetuates the status quo.

do women not measure a man based on utility, what he can do and what he has?

I think that in the hurly burly of deciding upon who will be one's partner, both men and women take into account loads of different factors: looks, money, the possession of an aristocratic title, quality of Knock Knock Jokes. Usually there are all sorts of things mixed in together, conscious and subconscious. Some people might make choices for reasons that we don't particularly admire. I don't think that the interactions of countless men and women are the issue.

The issue is how our culture (typically via the media) portrays and values men and women.

FasterStronger Fri 05-Jul-13 13:47:05

techno ^ She has just started seeing a man and all she can talk about is how much he earns, what car he drives and how big his house is. Never about his moral qualities or what a great character he has.^

but surely survival of offspring is related to the choice of both parents to care for them? a man with lots of resources who dumps you is of little value in offspring survival terms.

particularly for such a slow developing species. if we were deer, the stags genes would be most important as we need to run in the first few hours/days.

Technotropic Fri 05-Jul-13 13:57:28

Buffy

But that's the big question IMHO, whether women look for a mate with status because of what he can offer (protection, security, strong genes etc) and whether men look for looks, youth, child rearing ability etc.

How much of this is biological and how much is constructed?

Technotropic Fri 05-Jul-13 13:59:47

FasterStronger

Indeed, but his relative wealth is a good starting point. I very much doubt he would even get a look-in if he was a road sweeper - irrespective of how charismatic he is.

FasterStronger Fri 05-Jul-13 14:02:12

but arent men are attracted to women with money because of their money?

isn't the problem that men have most of the money....

But that's the big question IMHO, whether women look for a mate with status because of what he can offer (protection, security, strong genes etc) and whether men look for looks, youth, child rearing ability etc. How much of this is biological and how much is constructed?

It is a very interesting question, I agree. Another interesting question is why are we interested in this particular question?

Are we seeking to justify the current situation with regard to relatively rigid (albeit more flexible than they have been) gender roles? I think that in the case of people who don't think the exhaustive focus on women's looks is a problem, this is what they are trying to achieve by using this argument.

Are we worried about the implications for the genetic heritage of our species if feminism gets its way and women become truly equal? Because then they'll breed with soppy, unmanly metrosexual Guardian reading men? How terrifying!

I think that if the evolutionary argument is going to be helpful, it should not just look at paleo people, it should look at people in the present as well. Our environment has changed, we are adapting to it. The definition of what qualities one requires to 'survive' have changed. So, to use the behaviour of apes or paleo people to argue that gender roles in today's society are 'natural' (with a subtext of hands off harpy) seems to me to have some flaws anyway.

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