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...
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.
but arent men are attracted to women with money because of their money?
isn't the problem that men have most of the money....
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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?
Not at all, I look forward to your findings...
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] 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...
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.
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.
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.
I'm sure these articles exist somewhere if went dredging around for them
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?
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!
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 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.
'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?
Here is an example of the additional pressures women face that men don't.
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.
OK, as you were
Thanks wilson glad to hear some of my words make sense!
Is the problem that we are so many?
I think it might be a problem, because it means that feminism has to cover so many different things. The issues facing me are very different from those facing poorer women, or women in less liberal countries. And, to be honest, just the fact that I'm a woman too doesn't give me any particularly good insight into issues that other women might face.
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. Just look at, for example, the criticism Sheryl Sandberg got for daring to write a book aimed at a particular class of women, even when she explicitly said that's what she was doing. Similar books written by men get called inspirational and insightful.
"Sure! Great! I'd welcome any woman of colour from a poor background who is willing to work as hard as I have had to work to get here." Thus totally and utterly missing the point, in my view.
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. 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.
So I think a better way is to convince those in charge using other arguments that it's also in their favour. For example, a lot of current articles about women in the boardroom/high-powered positions etc. contain stats about how diverse teams/boards perform x% better, which is an argument that convinces many (but not all) of those in power. The language used tends to be different, it's less about how much harder it is for the little women to get to the top because they're being kept down by the men, and more about how companies would benefit from a more diverse workforce at all levels. There's a lot more positive language, talk about solutions and some attempt at identifying reasons and barriers without placing blame at the feet of those (men) currently at the top.
I do see your point though about some issues being purely women's issues and what do you do when it's not necessarily in men's favour to change the status quo?
Dear apostrophe pedants,
Another thing that bugs me about feminism is that it's portrayed as a women's issue, and hence not something that concerns men.
Here is an excellent example of how this doesn't have to be the case.
...mainstream of subjects that affect men, and the side topic of women's issues. I don't know how this comes about
Yes! It's like all women care about
should be is family issues, getting a <insert season> body and criticising other women's outfit choices. Oh, and the odd feminist opinion piece. Where as men care about Everything Else. How did that come about? Part historical, there were male and female spheres of influence. Partly that decisions are made by men. Mainly, I think, that decision-makers, male or female, assume that this is what women want (they buy papers, don't they?) and if they change it they might risk <gasp> selling fewer papers! I also think that this division is what many women do actually want.
My view, if you're interested, is very much like the Let Toys Be Toys campaign. Put all those things in the newspaper, just don't brand them pink or blue!
Except in the Daily Fail. That should just be burnt by its printers as it comes off the presses
<being female, I don't want to sound like I'm only out for myself at the expense of others>
I think feminism is a woman-centred movement, and I am not ashamed of that. I find it easy to think how feminism would benefit everyone other than a small cadre of powerful men of a more equal society. Such as men enjoying greater freedom from masculinity, sharing the role of bin person equally etc, if that's what they want.
But feminism is a woman-centred movement, and I think women need it to be. It interests me to think about why half of the world's population shouldn't try and improve their lot and the lot of others who share their sex. It's not as if we're a tiny minority asking for a disproportionate share of attention and resources, is it! Is the problem that we are so many? That we are not separate from men in the private sphere and in many societies we aren't separate from them in public spaces either. Is it because the hidden expectation that women should put the needs of others before their own so ingrained and so hidden that we don't realise that we are influenced by it when we feel disquiet that we should't work for women's rights and opportunities, because that would be selfish?
I don't know, but I think that these are vital questions to ask ourselves.
telling the current government all about the obstacles that the working-class face in getting there does nothing to persuade them that they should do something about it
I agree with the other things you said about diversity too ruby but I thought this point was particularly interesting. I don't think that telling the privileged (on the whole) people in government that they need more working class people would make much difference to the situation. I suspect they would share the thoughts of many on here when they say: "Sure! Great! I'd welcome any woman of colour from a poor background who is willing to work as hard as I have had to work to get here." Thus totally and utterly missing the point, in my view. But as we've seen on this thread with the many intelligent, educated and compassionate women who think exactly the same about women generally and haven't changed their minds despite the efforts of other intelligent, educated and compassionate women to suggest an alternative way of looking at the issue.
I don't believe that anything will change until the issues are seen as men's issues too.
I think some issues are men's issues too. Stigma about rigid gender roles and associated sharing of parental rights, for example.
But what about things like the issue of consent in rape cases? Currently, the burden is on the woman to prove that she didn't consent. What if it switched to the man had to prove that she did? Many decent men (such as my DH) would have no issue with that and would in fact prefer it. Because such men believe women are really, properly equal and wouldn't want to rape one whatever the legal definition of the term, because it would be wrong. But I've seen this discussed in the news, and some of the comments by 'ordinary' men!
Don't look at the comments Buffy! I know... I know...
And yet another one. The page 3 question. Even DH takes some convincing on that one to be honest. He see's my perspective, but also he thinks breasts are pretty. So, men's issue? Not so much. Normalisation of naked women next to a mocking caption that screams "women! You are stupid and only there to give us hard ons, we despise you". Men's issue? That's a hard <phnar> sell.
I think I'm far more fortunate than much of the population (although that doesn't stop me noticing that the men in my position are more fortunate than me).
Just the perfect definition of privilege, something I have really struggled to define in terms of my own privilege. Thread ended before I could say
I didn't get back to the original thread but you said that thing, hang on...
I hope you can carry on the discussion here - the other thread was making me think a lot about my position on the feminist-nonfeminist scale
Another thing that bugs me about feminism is that it's portrayed as a women's issue, and hence not something that concerns men. In the press, articles about feminism are normally in the "women and lifestyle" section - where's the "men's" section?? It leads to a mainstream of subjects that affect men, and the side topic of women's issues. I don't know how this comes about - is it that the press is run by men who relegate feminism to the sidelines, or that feminists are reluctant to engage with men? Whatever the underlying reason, the effect is to make me reluctant to say that I'm feminist because, being female, I don't want to sound like I'm only out for myself at the expense of others.
In fact, I think that many sectors of society would benefit from more diversity (not just gender, but different background/class/race etc). But I think too much is made of the obstacles that particular groups face, rather than the benefits to everyone of diversity. For example, I think that the country would benefit hugely from more working-class in government (which is easier for me to say as I'm not personally involved!). But telling the current government all about the obstacles that the working-class face in getting there does nothing to persuade them that they should do something about it. And things won't change unless they are on board! The same with feminism - I don't believe that anything will change until the issues are seen as men's issues too.
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