Discussing feminist issues on other forums - does it get you down?

(107 Posts)
kim147 Sun 17-Feb-13 09:22:36

Been discussing the Reeva Steenkamp case on another forum and it's led to discussion of the sex based industries such as lap dancing. It really gets me down trying to put forward arguments and then being accused of being out of touch, "what about the men" and it's all about female empowerment - without the wider effect on women being considered.

Sometimes it feels like you're going nowhere. It can be really hard when you're discussing this stuff and it seems like you're on your own against the masses.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 07:04:05

And I am sorry that the the whole script of a man killing a woman is "tedious". I'd say frightening or horrific, but tedious, no. That implies that the victims you list should somehow have seen it coming, being that it was tedious and old and all. What should they have expected? And that is victim blaming. Along with the rest of your frankly vile post.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Tue 26-Feb-13 07:35:36

I will "bemoan" or, better put, be furious and sad about, the abuse of a woman at the hands of a man whether she has a PhD in Women's Studies or is a surrendered wife.

Did you mean to sound so awful?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 08:52:22

I think he did Doctrine. Like what are we complaining about?? A woman is dead at the hands of a man. Pfft, happens all the time...

Notice the focus solely on Reeva's behaviour as well. No focus on his behaviour or responsibility for her death. Nor any focus on men's behaviour in general, using her image as "wank fodder" <vomit>.

whatisafeministanyway Tue 26-Feb-13 14:11:16

"You live by the sword, and all that. You can't have it both ways." What on earth does this mean? Are you actually saying that because she was a model she should expect to be abused and be killed? Fucking hell."

No, of course I'm not and I never said that. 'You live by the sword and you die by the sword' isn't literal, is it? Did you really think so? Fucking hell. Granted it wasn't the most sensitive proverb to use given the context; maybe a better one, not that I am religious but also taken from the Bible:

"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils."

There are mixed messages from Reeva Steenkamp, aren't there? Objectifying yourself is reducing yourself to an image, the kind of image that feeds into the male reduction of women to disposable, sexual tools. This is not the same as saying she deserved to die, or invited her own death. Choose to misunderstand me if you wish.

I don't miss the point about using her name. I understand and believe everyone should use her name, not refer to her as 'Oscar's girlfriend' etc as if she has no identity of her own. But I think using only her first name is over-familiar, as if we knew her, and we didn't.

Yes, the script is horrific. But it is tedious too because these things keep happening, don't they? Violence towards women, and sexual violence in particular are increasing.

A woman is dead at the hands of a man. Pfft, happens all the time...

That isn't my attitude and it's a strange interpretation of what I wrote. You misunderstand me. Yes, it happens all the time. This is why it's an outrage, its very lack of unusualness, the fact that it is a cliche. Yet another, young, beautiful blonde female enshrined in the public consciousness by being violently murdered. Terrible, isn't it? All tragedies. But we have to look at the culture that underlies it, how it must change and how we as women have a responsibility to change it for ourselves and our daughters.

I'm not a woman-hater - I am anything but (I am not a man-hater either). I'm a single mum with daughters aged 11 and 13 who I am trying to raise to be strong, well-rounded women who believe in themselves. It's not easy in the ill society we inhabit. A society where women's looks have never been seen so much as their main currency. Where everything is sexualised and toddlers wear T shirts saying 'future Wag', or even worse, 'future Porn Star'. This is not a joke. Where being 'brainy' or 'geeky' is almost an insult to a young girl. Where teenagers have boob jobs to 'boost their self esteem' so tied in is it with looking like the pneumatic pleasure-object model of femininity to which they have learned to aspire. Where sexuality has been hijacked by ubiquitous pornography to which boys are exposed, damagingly, at younger and younger ages, which has so twisted views of sexuality that degrading practices are mainstream and expected (anal prolapse, anyone?) and true intimacy dies. Where being 'frigid' would be a shameful insult and women who object to porn are belittled as inhibited killjoys.

FHM is a case in point. Men's magazines objectifying women ('soft porn') used to be confined to the top shelf but now this is mainstream, and images of glossy, almost naked women posing with lollipops or other phallic objects in their mouths or melting ice creams (representing semen) are juxtaposed with articles about other masculine status symbols and objects of desire like cars, motorbikes and fancy electronic gadgets. Or am I just being humourless and boring? Denying the boys their fun? That's always the argument, after all.

Who is responsible for all this? Men of course. They are no longer in control in the same way they used to be - we are no longer trapped by our own fertility into having pregnancy after pregnancy because now we have good contraception. We are no longer denied by the law the right to vote. We are no longer denied the ability to work in the occupations we choose thanks to the presence of sex discrimination legislation. All good. So how may they keep us down now? I know: reduce us, trivialise us; by making, more than ever, our looks, our 'sexiness' our most valued asset in society. It's working - my daughters worry far more than I ever did about their looks and they are both more beautiful than I ever was. They know what 'slapper', 'handjob', 'blowjob' mean, thanks to vile male chauvinistic comedy transmitted before the watershed, sick magazines aimed at girls their age. Men will always try to put us down and keep us there. All we can do is try not to collude with it and fight, but there is huge pressure on us.

the areas that girls are encouraged to excel in, are not considered to be as valuable as the things that boys are encouraged to excel in. So we encourage girls to focus on their beauty as a way to get ahead but then look down on them for doing so

Well, quite.

There are value judgements in this thread. Reeva Steenkamp may have been a model who made her money and achieved her celebrity by posing for men's magazines, but hey, it's OK, she's got a law degree, she was a campaigner, so she's worth more than just being a model, isn't she? I see this argument as well as its denial in the posts on here.

There's plenty of this in the press, too. She had beauty AND brains and it's well documented. Which currency did she choose to use in forming her career? It wasn't the law degree, was it? I'm not slagging off models or objecting to modelling per se; I did a bit myself back in the day and the cash helped me get through my first degree with less debt. But it was wearing clothes (rather dull ones) not posing provocatively. Maybe this makes me a hypocrite, but I don't think so, because it really isn't the same. It wasn't colluding with a poisonous culture; the clothes were the product, not me.

I'm sorry if I came across as 'awful', 'vile': just shout me down, read and think selectively. I don't think Reeva Steenkamp in any way deserved to die or was responsible for her own death. But I do believe that she colluded with a misogynistic culture that objectifies women, reduces them to sexual symbols. I don't think it's empowering to suck a lollipop in a bikini, I think it is degrading. Do you think the men reading FHM cared about her law degree, her views? Of course they didn't. Did she buy into that culture, or was she just earning a living? Does it matter anyway, when the result is the same?

And she chose to abandon her legal career when she got the FHM job and I think it's a sorry choice - and it was precisely that - a choice. I'm not holding her responsible for her own death, of course I am not. But I think that there's something paradoxical in speaking out against rape and male violence while at the same time having been so conspicuously part of a culture that allows women to be reduced to sexual objects. I think doing this is unhelpful to women and speaking out against rape doesn't make it OK or make Ms Steenkamp a great role model. When I read that breathless 'she was one of us!!' I nearly spat out my coffee. It is just more mixed messages for our daughters: doublethink.

If I'm 'focusing on her behaviour' rather than the man's it's because I think it's what's relevant to a discussion about feminism.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 14:47:53

"Granted it wasn't the most sensitive proverb to use given the context" You can say that again! In fact it was possibly the worst proverb you could have used. Anyone would think you chose it deliberately.

"But we have to look at the culture that underlies it, how it must change and how we as women have a responsibility to change it for ourselves and our daughters." Rubbish. Men have the responsibility to change. Male violence is at the root of this issue and at the root of women's oppression (which is what feminism is all about).

"That isn't my attitude and it's a strange interpretation of what I wrote. You misunderstand me. Yes, it happens all the time. This is why it's an outrage, its very lack of unusualness, the fact that it is a cliche." But you didn't say that. Not even close. You told us "Don't bemoan abuse of women at men's hands when you've trivialised yourself as a mere sex object for their pleasure." You were victim-blaming. So the fact that men view women (or this particular woman) as sex objects means we can't argue against them abusing us? There is nothing wrong with recognising the oppressiveness of a patriarchy as a serious problem whilst doing what you do to get by in it. It is a balance all women do to a greater or lesser extent.

"There are mixed messages from Reeva Steenkamp, aren't there?" You are right. People are complex. If of course you view women as people and not one-dimensional wank-fodder [your words, not mine].

"If I'm 'focusing on her behaviour' rather than the man's it's because I think it's what's relevant to a discussion about feminism." No it isn't, not really. The oppressed don't become unoppressed by changing their behaviour. It is their oppressor's behaviour that has to change.

You have certainly changed your tone in your second post. But there is still an underlying dislike of women there. A hierarchy of women - those who model with their "dull" clothes on and those who perhaps model more provocatively. It isn't us doing the judging, it is you.

whatisafeministanyway Tue 26-Feb-13 15:57:37

People are complex. If of course you view women as people and not one-dimensional wank-fodder [your words, not mine]

This is bollocks. I never said in a million years that SHE was 'wank fodder' but I said the FHM pictures are... was this just too subtle for you? In my first post I said this:

She sounds as if she was a nice person who was loved by everyone who knew her (and here I mean the people who actually did know her

I guess you didn't read that bit, did you?

The oppressed don't become unoppressed by changing their behaviour

Oh yes they do. How depressing to think otherwise. You have, in a sentence, dismissed every woman or indeed every person who has sought to free him or herself from oppression through their own efforts. You are basically saying no-one has any control over their own destiny, no one can, through their behaviour, free themselves from oppression. I dispute this utterly. What about Rosa Parks, what about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Marie Curie? Role models who changed the world.

It is their oppressor's behaviour that has to change

Ah, the oppressed must simply wait, I see. We have no control, we have to wait for our oppressors to change? How will this happen, do you think, if we do not change our behaviour, do not challenge anything? Do we pander to them and merely hope things will change? You are arguing the case for passivity or worse, Stockholm Syndrome. Don't accuse me of disliking women, please, while you imply that all their efforts to break down doors and through glass ceilings are fruitless. History does not demonstrate that.

perhaps model more provocatively

Ah, I see. You didn't watch the youtube clip then? There is a distinction between modelling clothes and posing for FHM. Apart from anything else, the FHM shoots aren't actually modelling are they? Modelling is showing off clothes in order to sell them (even bikinis). Generally people who might want to buy them to wear, like other women. Women in FHM shoots are not showing off clothes, they are not trying to sell bikinis, they are the commodity and they are posing for men. It's a distinction, but not a hierarchy.

It isn't us doing the judging

Who is 'us'? There are lots of different views on here.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 16:06:41

You said: "...having established your public profile by making yourself wank fodder...". Not sure how else to interpret that. It is pretty explicit. You made your point very nicely.

And I did read the one nice bit you said about her. It's just the rest of the post belied that.

"Ah, the oppressed must simply wait, I see. We have no control, we have to wait for our oppressors to change? How will this happen, do you think, if we do not change our behaviour, do not challenge anything? Do we pander to them and merely hope things will change? You are arguing the case for passivity or worse, Stockholm Syndrome. Don't accuse me of disliking women, please, while you imply that all their efforts to break down doors and through glass ceilings are fruitless. History does not demonstrate that." That's not what I said. I said, in order for the oppressed to become unoppressed the oppressor's behaviour has to change. I didn't say we sit around doing nothing and hope men change their minds and stop being violent. Of course, if they considered us equal they would do that. But focussing on women's behaviour takes the focus away from men's behaviour, in this case violent behaviour, which is what we should be campaigning about (and what some of us are). Not remonstrating Reeva Steenkamp for being a model.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 16:07:29

"What about Rosa Parks, what about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Marie Curie? Role models who changed the world." They didn't change their behaviour, they got their oppressors to change theirs.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 16:11:13

And yes when women do stand up against the patriarchy it is fantastic and a victory. But it can also be painful and hard and dangerous to do so. Women can be belittled and humiliated just for having underarm hair, so to have a public figure actually stand-up against DV is a victory and it is brave and it is worth noting.

whatisafeministanyway Tue 26-Feb-13 18:06:06

The oppressed don't become unoppressed by changing their behaviour

hmm

Well these are your words and it does sound rather like 'resistance is futile', sorry. And those examples I gave were examples of women who behaved differently themselves, and thereby were the instigators of change.

Yes of course it's great when a public figure stands up against domestic violence, rape. But forgive me if I think it's less powerful if that person achieved their fame and therefore status as 'a public figure' by posing provocatively for men. I made the distinction from the beginning between Reeva Steenkamp's public persona (and sorry, but FHM shoots are wank fodder, watch the video) and the accounts people have given of the private person. You seem to have deliberately failed to understand this distinction. I have questioned choices she made, that I wouldn't want my daughters to make. I think it is sad that in the 21st century an educated woman would make the career choices she did. I think it undermines women and does us no favours.

If you still persist in saying I was berating Reeva Steenkamp for 'being a model', I give up. I have talked about modelling (and told you I was once a model myself) and how posing for lads' mags is different... you are not listening. When I was accused of making a 'vile' post and being a woman-hater I tried to explain and make more clear my views.

I'm leaving this thread now, I have felt attacked by you on here and I feel tired and sad at having to defend myself, particularly against aggression from another woman. I can do no more to explain. It makes sense to me. You are of course completely entitled to disagree but it's cheap, offensive and malicious to accuse another woman, a mother of daughters, of being a woman-hater, or victim-blaming.

For what it's worth, I consider myself a feminist too and I'm not interested in being told, patronisingly, what 'feminism is all about' by you. I don't think it's your prerogative to tell me (especially not when you insult me too); you don't have ownership over the term or more right to say what it is than anyone else. And nor do I. For what it's worth, I'm not keen on your brand of feminism; I'll stick with mine.

I want desperately for my daughters to grow up in a world where they are valued for more than looks and sex appeal, where there is less misogyny, less violence, less belittlement. My opinion is that lads' mags, Page 3 etc support and perpetuate misogyny and I wish some women didn't play along with this game and other women refuse to question, or even condemn their choice to do so. It's not empowering and it's a sad indictment of what we have 'achieved' after so many years of women struggling for equality and validity.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 19:13:56

You came on here whatisafeminist victim-blaming and told us what you thought feminist discussion was all about and how feminists should behave. I just responded to that. I don't see why saying male violence is the root of women's oppression and that's what feminism is all about is so controversial or something that you would want to distance yourself from? <shrugs>

And I didn't call you a woman hater. I said your post came over as disliking women [unless they fit your idea of acceptable behaviour].

But you came on here with a controversial post attacking a woman who has just been killed by male violence whilst throwing a few insults of your own around about the posters on here. And now you are "bemoaning" being called on it.

In your last post you have explained much more clearly what you mean, especially the last paragraph. And broadly I agree. But I tend to question why men want to objectify us and degrade us through pornography and prostitution rather than blaming it on the women who are just absorbing the messages society is giving them.

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 19:26:31

I lie, I did suggest you hated women in response to your first post

Lessthanaballpark Tue 26-Feb-13 21:31:30

Whatis, RS was a model since the age of 14. At 14 you don't necessarily make rational choices that a grown up would make. You are simply flattered that someone thinks you are pretty.

The reason I say this is not because I disagree with modelling per se but because I don't think it's fair of you to hold someone accountable for offering themselves up as "wank" fodder when it is something they've been groomed for since a young age. I think that's part of the problem - the modelling industry goes for girls young enough to have their heads turned by the flattery and glamour of being a model.

As for RS supposed hypocrisy in campaigning for women's rights (and she was a passionate campaigner) the fact that she saw her modelling career as entirely compatible with demands for women's equality simply means she brought into the argument that defenders of page 3 and other types of porn offer us all the time: that objectification of women doesn't lead to violence against them.

Darkesteyes Wed 27-Feb-13 01:57:56

Some fucking arsehole who i went to school with thought it was funny to share this on fb
Its from a page called The Lad Bible.
It said "essential for all couples" and is a picture of a bathroom door with a note on it saying "im using the toilet Dont shoot.
4 people have "liked" it 4 blokes i and one woman.
What kind of puerile fuckwit finds this funny.

whatisafeministanyway Sun 03-Mar-13 10:36:29

Couldn't resist another peep at this thread.

Good to see you admitting to being a liar, Abigail, thank you. An apology would be nice, but never mind.

You must have read your own posts as selectively and thoughtlessly as you read mine in claiming you didn't call me a woman-hater, eh?

I didn't think I'd post again, but I couldn't let this go:

I tend to question why men want to objectify us and degrade us through pornography and prostitution

It isn't the least bit surprising that men seek to exert power over women, or to degrade them, is it? Sadly. It suits them to give themselves the upper hand, something they wouldn't want to relinquish. It allows inadequates to think they are superior (decent men do not do this). Why would they seek to change things? Turkeys wouldn't vote for Christmas. Rather pointless to 'question why'; better to fight against it.

I think not understanding this is, well, a bit silly. Believing this is actually disturbing though:

women [who are] just absorbing the messages society is giving them

Women do not need to do this and are not blameless if they do. Children do this (and at least since parenting is one area where women have, and have always had, a powerful position mothers are in a position to encourage both girls and boys to challenge and reject these messages).

To say that women 'just absorb messages' from society, or that they are absolved from responsibility if they do, is insulting and ridiculous. We are not ciphers, but are thinking individuals who can make up our own minds about which 'messages' we accept or reject. We are also part of 'society', in fact, half of it. It is not an entity that is outside us with only values that are not ours. There is nothing that we have to merely absorb or dumbly accept.

Again you make an argument for passivity and deny women's ability or need to take any personal responsibility, just as you did when you said that the oppressed don't have to change their behaviour in order to challenge the prevailing order of things.

Totally depressing.

I don't dislike women in the least and I think I have more respect for them than to infantilise them by saying they lack self-determination.

As for behaviour being 'acceptable' I have not made this a matter of what is 'acceptable' (or not) to me, just stated my belief that via deeds, not words is how change is achieved. I would not take off my clothes for men for money and I would not want my daughters to. I would see this as degrading and reinforcing the objectification that you say you 'question'. I am as rejecting of male violence as any woman and do not want to distance myself from arguing against it at all.

But I think that as women we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other not to go along with male stereotyping of women as passive pleasure-objects. I see women who present themselves like this as victims and think there is nothing empowering about it. But no one forces women to behave like this if they are educated and have other means to earn a living. Making this choice does not benefit women, does it? (I accept that many women are forced into prostitution, pornography etc through male coercion and economic necessity but that is different because it is, by definition, not a choice - and is a whole other thread).

You also picked up on my saying I modelled 'dull clothes' as indicating I think there is a hierarchy of women. I was laughing at myself there. There is a hierarchy of women in modelling based on how attractive or interesting-looking they are deemed to be in the fashion industry! I was towards the bottom. Sadly if I had been more beautiful or interesting-looking I might have had the opportunity to model stuff by say, Vivienne Westwood (which would have been fun) but I'm afraid I didn't have those kinds of opportunities. I wasn't talking about a moral hierarchy.

I mentioned that I once modelled because you accused me of denigrating models. I don't; I was one myself. It is not modelling that I object to. But I think there is a big distinction between selling clothes (which are the product) to women - and 'modelling' for men where the woman's body is the 'product'. When women do this they do 'reduce themselves to their sexual value'. You accused me of doing this to Reeva Steenkamp; ironic when in fact my argument all along was what a pity it was that she chose to do this to herself. I think it is a shame that an educated woman would choose to do this. I hope these things I have said are clear to you now, again I am trying to explain this in a way that can be easily understood.

I don't think I have insulted posters on here (you assumed I was a man which I did find insulting - not to mention blinkered). The OP is actually about how the 'sex industries' like lap dancing etc (a genre to which FHM shots belong, though depressingly 'mainstream' they are part of the sex industry) are not empowering but demeaning and at odds with our interests. A point I go along with wholeheartedly.

Right, now I have got that off my chest, and defended myself - again - I will get back to doing what I do: advancing myself in the hitherto male-dominated profession to which I belong (looking after my mostly female patients as it happens, not being a 'woman-hater' I find this very fulfilling) being an effective parent to my children, having self respect and insisting that women have choices and are not passive victims of your definition of 'society'. I will let you deal with the important issues like underarm hair and apologise for all women, irrespective of their choices, as if they have no responsibilities.

Lessthan, I accept completely your points about grooming and that a 14 year old isn't best placed to reject the argument that objectification of women is unrelated to violence against them. It is a pity not to be able to reject this as a mature woman equipped with education and choices though.

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 12:20:21

Blimey.

Right lets dispense with this woman hating stuff. That was in response to:

"You live by the sword, and all that. You can't have it both ways. Don't bemoan abuse of women at men's hands when you've trivialised yourself as a mere sex object for their pleasure." and "having established your public profile by making yourself wank fodder an object for men's fantasies." which were victim blaming and vile. I don't know how you could ever have thought it appropriate to use that proverb on a thread about a woman who had just been killed by her boyfriend. And to call another woman wank fodder was really low. In addition, you had only posted once under this name on a thread about Reeva Steenkamp to be horrible. I thought you were a troll. Apparently you aren't. But the fact you name changed (to a fairly provocative name) to post that would suggest that you thought that they wouldn't be well received. I didn't receive it well.

"Women do not need to do this and are not blameless if they do. Children do this..." Everyone absorbs the messages society gives us. It is social conditioning. It is exacerbated by gender stereotyping. Everywhere you look women are judged for their looks and appearance. Even women in positions of power have comments about their appearance rather than what they do or say. Some women absorb this more than others. Maybe their parents or peers put high value on looks. Maybe they have low self-esteem. We can't all be confident all the time. We don't all have parents who give us self-confidence and even if we do confidence is fluid. It can be knocked and destroyed by events in your life. It is also very difficult to buck social conditioning when all around are telling you women need to look after their appearance. Even if you do buck them you are still being affected by the messages society gives you. It isn't a free choice. I am not into blaming women for absorbing the messages. I am into putting the blame at the patriarchy's feet. I am into stopping male violence, busting gender stereotypes, gaining equality at a society level rather than an individual level. Because that is how real change will be affected. But blaming women for being what society is telling them they should be, no I won't do that.

It is very easy for women to keep focusing on women's behaviour rather than men's behaviour. We are encouraged to. It keeps the patriarchy ticking along. You chose to come on here and put your focus on Reeva Steenkamp's behaviour rather than her killer's; rather than a society where if guns are in the house then women are more likely to end up dead; rather than a society where 2 women a week (in the UK, far more in South Africa and the US) are killed by their partners.

I don't think women are passive. I think they are oppressed. I think the patriarchy are to blame for that. That is not to say I agree with every woman's choice just because they are a woman or even like women who do their best to keep other women oppressed or put other women down. But Reeva Steenkamp did none of those things. The men employing her, objectifying her, killing her were doing that. She was opposing the patriarchy, actively speaking against male violence and then ended up a victim of it.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sun 03-Mar-13 13:32:20

to call another woman wank fodder

I didn't; have explained this before (yawns) I am talking about those kind of pictures (which are soft porn) not the person. Get this single point and you might understand the whole argument.

It is very easy for women to keep focusing on women's behaviour rather than men's behaviour

Well as women we have more control over our own behaviour than we do over anyone else's. We can try to change the culture by not playing along with the bits that act against our interests (my point). We can try to change the behaviour of the men (and boys) in our lives by calling them on it when it is unacceptable. We can demonstrate against injustices against women or any other oppressed groups in society.

I'm not saying in any way that women are responsible for violence or abuse against women. Men are. But we have a responsibility not to promote and prolong it by permitting ourselves to be presented as playthings (or wank fodder, yes, it is a disgusting phrase but it precisely the value and purpose that women have in these images in the eyes of men). It is so depressing that any intelligent woman would make the choice to do this when there are other opportunities available to her.

Reeva Steenkamp's best friend said 'she just wanted to be famous'. This is also sad and an indictment of the values - so dominant in the 21st century - that make this kind of empty ambition considered worthwhile. How tragic that she has become famous by the same means as did the other women I mentioned (eg Mary Jo Kopechne) - having her life destroyed by a man. I am not saying this happened to her because of the 'job' she chose to do, but that all of these women victims are victims of the culture that her job belonged to.

Speaking out against rape is great... but don't forget that supermodels spoke out against wearing fur and then, er, wore it. Their political activism was more about self-advancement than an expression of principles. Does that matter? Well yes, I think it dilutes, even negates the message.

I'm not disputing that it is a good thing to speak out against male subjugation of women, I simply think that this is a message more powerful if you make choices that do not trivialise women and feed into the sickening stereotypes.

It is social conditioning. It is exacerbated by gender stereotyping. Everywhere you look women are judged for their looks and appearance.

I couldn't agree more that we are judged like this. And the paradigms for looks and appearance are projected onto us by men, aren't they? Teenage girls, for example, want boob jobs and hair extensions rather than want to develop themselves intellectually, spiritually. They want to look like the FHM girls instead and see this as the route to 'self esteem'. But don't argue that women don't have the wits to see this or resist it. We don't have to present oureselves as passive, pnematic dolls.

And please don't dismissively say we can 'dispense with the women-hating stuff'. You assumed I was a man and accused me more than once of being a woman-hater. This came from you. I have not insulted anyone on here, especially not in such an offensive way. I have made my opinions known, which is different; I am not insulting another woman on here or making assumptions based on my own prejudices.

Just because I have not been a regular on the Feminism boards is irrelevant, though perhaps you attacked me because my opinions do not chime with yours and you do not consider me 'one of the gang'. Shame on you. I have lurked here many times and am a regular MNer but use different names on different boards, sometimes I write about deeply personal stuff, sometimes I just want to engage in some intelligent debate. I was prompted to post here because I found the way Reeva Steenkamp was being held up as 'one of us' by someone who presumably considers herself a feminist rather laughable, not to mention a depressing reinforcement of the views that the original poster laments.

The name I have chosen here is not intended to offend, it is a comment on how sadly 'feminism' is no longer a movement that is recognised or respected as it once was. It would only offend someone who thinks they own the concept or the label anyway.

'Feminist' is now often used as an insult (which of course reflects the way a patriarchal system stamps on any expression of female resistance against its values). Feminism was about female empowerment but I find it hard to understand what female empowerment is seen as any more. For so many the immense strides and struggles women have made seems, in the 21st century, to have resulted in seeing women as having the 'right' to do 'empowering' things like show off their flesh like pieces of meat. This was the OP's original point, wasn't it? And it's a tragic state of affairs.

Just because I am a newbie does not mean I have no right to express an opinion on this board, or to enter into a debate about feminism and what women's rights and responsibilities are. You have made me very unwelcome, so I will stick to the boards I usually inhabit.

'Women beware women' - the name of a 17th century play - but a lesson no less relevant now, given the way you have pilloried me and my views. The sad thing is that we are on the same side, aren't we?

I will continue to do what I do in my job and my life, which is care for other women and girls and promote their health and self esteem.

Don't try to justify the way you insulted me please.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sun 03-Mar-13 13:51:06

Oops, outed myself using the wrong name blush. Too hasty and angry. Ah well.

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 14:13:51

You were really disparaging towards a woman. Saying you weren't doesn't alter the fact. I appreciate you didn't mean it like that, now, but when you wrote it, it didn't come across like that. It is a really horrible expression to use against someone.

And I responded to your post. Maybe a bit more bluntly than if you had had a posting history. But it had nothing to do with you not being in a clique or me not recognising you. It was all about what you wrote.

I do understand your argument. I just don't agree with it. I have told you where I am coming from and I can't be bothered arguing it any more.

And I haven't stopped you having an opinion have I? Just like you haven't stopped me. I have just disagreed with you. You seem to have no problem justifying insulting Reeva Steenkamp, or insulting me either. And I am not required to agree with someone just because "we are on the same side".

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 14:54:03

But I do apologise for calling you a woman hater. I don't normally throw personal insults around and I should have solely focused on what you said.

But I haven't pilloried you. I have just disagreed with you. We are approaching from completely different angles. You think modifying women's behaviour is the way to free us from oppression. I think changing men's behaviour is the way to go because it is their behaviour that is keeping us oppressed.

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sun 03-Mar-13 17:05:56

Thank you for apologising.

You are absolutely not required to agree with me; I haven't said anywhere that you are. That's fine. But making assumptions (that I'm a man, a troll, a woman-hater) and using that to dismiss the things I say is not really on, is it?

Though I still don't really understand exactly what I have said you are disagreeing with! I too may have expressed myself too bluntly in my first post, but I have done my best to clarify it since, you are still not listening.

(Again) I have not insulted Reeva Steenkamp or been disparaging towards her (though you persist in saying I have). Rather, I have questioned her choices and been disparaging of those choices. Isn't there a difference? If you re-read, everything I have said is consistent. I didn't use the expression you object to against her (God knows the poor woman has been killed, I'm not evil, I have daughters myself). I used it because this is the purpose of those FHM-type pictures; it is disingenuous for anyone to argue otherwise. They are not about celebrating femininity, women's achievements or even the female form. They are simply produced for young men to wank over... if it sounds crude, base and depressing it is because it is! They turn women into objects, nothing more, and objectification of women is a scourge that feeds directly into the culture of male violence towards them. Is it this you disagree with? hmm

(I have made this point several times already but) there is a massive difference between criticising the choices someone makes and them as a person. I didn't know RS and nor did you. But she was mainly famous for being an FHM cover girl, being offered this job was the stated reason why she chose not to pursue a legal career. To appropriate her and rebrand her as a feminist icon because she spoke out against rape seems very odd to me. I wonder how many people would see her this way if she hadn't been violently killed by a man... it feels almost as if a woman can earn her stripes as an icon for women by becoming a victim. Also depressing. Never mind if she did things in her career that collude with a culture that causes huge damage to women and girls (girls like my kids). If she hadn't been killed how many people would be saying that she was a crusader for women? Not many I don't think.

I think changing men's behaviour is the way to go because it is their behaviour that is keeping us oppressed.

Well, that's great but how? You make no suggestions. And if this is what needs to be done, does this mean that it's OK to collude with the misogyny represented by FHM and its ilk, that this doesn't matter?

Is it my view that women too have a role to play in their own destiny that you disagree with? If so, you are dismissing countless role models and groundbreakers who have worked to make life so much better for women through their own actions... women like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Anyone who reads the story of her tremendous (and ultimately successful) struggles to qualify and practice as a doctor, her huge determination to do so in the face of appalling male prejudice and a culture of exclusion would not argue so doggedly for women's impotence in the face of male oppression.

I don't think saying that women have no control or responsibilities to throw off themselves an oppressive culture is in the least an empowering message. I argue that women have responsibilities through the choices they make, and the actions they take. But you are free to disagree as you do.

And I haven't stopped you having an opinion have I?

No. I haven't said you stopped me either. What I said that you have tried to undermine those opinions by dismissing me as a woman-hater (or a troll or a man), and this is what you did!

I haven't insulted you either, anywhere confused.

I think you have a depressing view of the world - that women are impotent, that men hold all the cards, that they are the only ones who can instigate change in the world - and this view is your prerogative. I do not share this view of yours, but I suspect that both you and I probably dislike the bum deal that women get in this world.

Perhaps that's a good place to leave it, have a nice day smile

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 22:29:53

So you ask me questions but then decide you want to leave it there? hmm If you don't mind I'd like to answer the questions you asked.

"But making assumptions (that I'm a man, a troll, a woman-hater) and using that to dismiss the things I say is not really on, is it?" I didn't dismiss the things you said because I thought your were a troll/man but because it was victim-blaming and misogynistic.

"I used it because this is the purpose of those FHM-type pictures; it is disingenuous for anyone to argue otherwise. They are not about celebrating femininity, women's achievements or even the female form. They are simply produced for young men to wank over... if it sounds crude, base and depressing it is because it is! They turn women into objects, nothing more, and objectification of women is a scourge that feeds directly into the culture of male violence towards them. Is it this you disagree with?" No I don't disagree with that because you are blaming men and magazines like FHM for turning women into objects. That paragraph is not the same as saying a woman is offering herself as wank-fodder which is blaming the woman for men's behaviour and attitudes.

I know the difference between criticising someone's actions and criticising them. But just because you were criticising her actions it doesn't mean to say you can't or didn't insult Reeva by doing so. There were plenty of ways you could have expressed what you wanted to say but you deliberately chose to insert that phrase in there. I think it would be safe to say that if her family and friends saw what you wrote in that first post they would think it pretty insulting too.

"Though I still don't really understand exactly what I have said you are disagreeing with! I too may have expressed myself too bluntly in my first post, but I have done my best to clarify it since, you are still not listening." I know that wasn't a question as such but it seemed to request an answer. I disagree that Reeva being a model (for FHM or otherwise because although I don't know much about her career I am pretty certain she didn't just work for FHM) meant that she was in no position to object to DV and stand up for the victims. I find it very odd that you are wanting women to stand up to the patriarchy and then criticise them when they do. I object to you blaming women for their own oppression by the choices they make when theses choices aren't free and aren't loaded fairly. I disagree on focusing on women's behaviour when we should be focusing on men's and how to change that (for which I have plenty of ideas but tbh honest that would be a whole other thread).

I have been listening. I understand that you find it disappointing when a women who seemingly has a level of privilege and an understanding of women's issues chooses a non feminist career. But really we don't know why she chose that path and it is men doing the objectifying and creating the industry. It is them we should be blaming. If it were an even playing field then go for it with the criticising. And I really get what you are saying about inspirational women. But not all women can be like that. Not all of them have the advantages of some of the women you quoted. Some of them are just plain scared. Criticising women for not having the courage to stand up to the patriarchy is again, victim-blaming. I would also argue that they weren't actually changing their behaviour they were just doing what they should be allowed to do and wanted to do. They would have been changing their behaviour not to pursue their goals.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that women are impotent (and that is one of things that you have said that I find insulting). I meant that changing our behaviour will have limited affect. It isn't going to stop men being violent towards us. It also relies on every woman changing their behaviour and in an oppression some women aren't in a position to do so. But there is so much we can do. We can support other women; raise awareness; we can campaign and march; we can work to changing laws and dismantling the structures which uphold the patriarchy; we can separate our lives from men if we so wish. All this is working towards changing men's behaviour and attitudes (see I find it depressing that you don't think that can be done). That has to change because they are doing the oppressing.

namechangeguy Sun 03-Mar-13 22:37:32

This has been a very interesting discussion. I have a question. It's something that has bothered me for a while, but I didn't pipe up as I had never seen it raised by a woman before now.

Why can't women be 'blamed' for supporting misogynistic male culture in the same way as men? Boy sees FHM, boy buys FHM, boy sees image after image of girl/woman projecting herself as a sexual image. 'Well, she's happy, I'm happy, win-win!', he thinks. Result - feminists very angry.

But from the model's perspective, feminists (i.e. those I read on here) see that the model is merely conforming to the misogynist culture around her, and doing what she can to get by in such a society. But isn't the boy/man too? To him, it's just how things are. He is as uneducated as her in these matters. School, mainstream media etc - they don't teach us how this stuff perpetuates the treatment of women as little more than bodies to be ogled.

So, if we say 'male behaviour must be modified' - well, fine, although apart from education, what options are open to us? But does feminism really say that until this sort of education permeates society, women must simply collude?

Because somebody said earlier that it is male behaviour that needs to be focussed on. Again, fine. But why is there a reluctance to accept that women, too, can modify or change their behaviour? Rosa Parks did. Her unmodified behaviour would have been to stand up and move to the back of the bus. Thank God she didn't. What is so wrong with feminists saying to women who model for FHM and the like, 'Actually, your behaviour is not helping. In fact, it is harmful. Please stop.' Why can't this be done in parallel with trying to change how men think?

dummad Sun 03-Mar-13 22:41:35

Just want to offer my support for both if you Whatis and Abigail. The debate you are having is remarkable and you are both articulating each side brilliantly.

dummad Sun 03-Mar-13 22:43:16

Oh and totally agree with namechamgeguy

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