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 Sun 03-Mar-13 23:11:28

"Why can't women be 'blamed' for supporting misogynistic male culture in the same way as men?" Good question NCG. When you are part of a privileged class you have more choice and more choice in favour of you i.e. choice that retains your privilege than those in the oppressed class. A woman does gain some privilege and certainly less punishment for supporting the patriarchy. But she still isn't viewed as fully human by the men that objectify her. Plus if she doesn't conform to the narrow strictures the patriarchy applies to women and their beauty then she will get punished too. Take Katie Price as an example. Certainly men can be unaware of their privilege. Doesn't mean to say they haven't got it though.

But I am finding it difficult to understand how treating a woman as a sum of her looks and the lack of empathy that brings goes unnoticed by men?

There are plenty of options open to changing male behaviour, on a spectrum. Education as you say being one. Cracking down on violence, changing laws, creating laws, removing a capitalist society and the systems that uphold the patriarchy.

"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." I never said that women couldn't change their behaviour. Of course they can and it may make things easier for them and for others too but ultimately it won't result in oppression stopping. Because men's attitude will still be there that they have the right to objectify women (taking the model argument as an example). So they will just force women to do their bidding. That is what oppressors do. And again I would argue that Rosa Parks unmodified behaviour was to sit at the back of the bus i.e. where she wanted and her modified behaviour was in fact sitting where she was ordered to sit. She was just extremely brave and overcame her fears.

Apologies if that isn't coherent. I am shattered so off to bed.

AbigailAdams Sun 03-Mar-13 23:13:04

Thank you dummad. That is very kind of you to say.

namechangeguy Sun 03-Mar-13 23:25:42

'But I am finding it difficult to understand how treating a woman as a sum of her looks and the lack of empathy that brings goes unnoticed by men?'

I think it goes unnoticed by men and women. If women knew that it perpetuated the oppression of their sex, they wouldn't do it. If men could be made to see that it harmed women - their sisters, mothers, daughters, wives - they wouldn't buy it.

Anyway, thanks for the discussion. All very thought-provoking. Off to bed myself.

dummad Mon 04-Mar-13 15:18:32

On the Reeva front, I would think that she understood the restraints if her modelling career and that it may only last until she was 30, then she would be free to fall back on her legal career 'later' i'n life. She could be viewed as being pretty canny for that.

I do understand Whatis's view but I do side with Abigail on this.

Feminism should not be at all challenged by the fact a minority of women choose to sell their bodies for money. Women should not have to fit into a definition of 'perfect' to be equal. For instance Reeva may have looked at my life and think me a dreadful conformist who is obedient to my domestic duties. But it's my choice to run my life how I want it, and so long as it was my own choice then that is nobody's business, and I don't expect repercussions from it. She could have said the same.

Also, if the porn industry ended tomorrow would men suddenly start seeing us as equals? No. That's because deep seated misogyny goes far deeper. It'll take change from men, to accept our equality unconditionally and without question or boundaries.

namechangeguy Mon 04-Mar-13 15:47:44

'Feminism should not be at all challenged by the fact a minority of women choose to sell their bodies for money. Women should not have to fit into a definition of 'perfect' to be equal.'

I agree with your second point, but not your first. You are absolving some women entirely from blame for actions that they take of their own free will, that harms women in society. The majority of women get by in society without posing for lads' mags. I think most of them do it, even someone as intelligent and privileged as Reeva Steenkamp, because it is relatively easy money.

whatisafeministanyway Mon 04-Mar-13 17:49:12

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?

This is my point, NCG. I say we don't collude. I think women have a responsibility not to collude, which is why I wrote on this thread in the first place. And I think that not colluding is essential if we want to be taken seriously, to give the right messages. Otherwise there is no coherence.

Abigail it is not 'insulting' you to say that you have argued that women are impotent, it is simply a rejection of your arguments (calling you a troll, woman-hater, a victim-blamer, making assumptions about your gender as you did with me, would be insulting). Feeling insulted when you are disagreed with is rather entitled, isn't it?

My words: "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." Your words: 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).

More of this from you: The oppressed don't become unoppressed by changing their behaviour. It is their oppressor's behaviour that has to change.

Debating which behaviour on Rosa Parks's was 'modified' is not really helpful. The fact is that her simple action in not doing what she had always done before - sitting in the 'black' seats on the bus - that day is probably the best example in history of an individual action changing the world. And it's also probably the best illustration also that actions speak louder than words. You can be sure as hell that her oppressors would have done fuck all if she hadn't changed her behaviour that day. I'm sorry but change starts with the individual, it has to. I see your arguments as a depressing case for passivity - and against taking personal responsibility -in the face of an oppressive culture and I reject totally that it is or should be like this.

If we put this another way - so it doesn't become an argument about semantics - Rosa Parks's behaviour in sitting where she was ordered to sit was colluding with her oppressors. Sitting where she wanted to was subversive and taking a stand against them. Which is the 'behaviour' that makes the difference?

I argue, and have argued throughout, that women have a responsibility to themselves and to other women to make life choices that do not support and perpetuate women's oppression. For example, not colluding with magazines that present them as pieces of meat, served up for male delectation. Why? Because in not colluding you reject a poisonous culture and help to bring it to an end (like Rosa Parks did), rather than perpetuating and promoting it.

With rights come responsibilities... if we want the right to be viewed as equal human beings rather than being 'defined by our sexual value', a phrase you have used, then we have a responsibility not to collude with the culture that that defines us like that. Lads' mags are an embodiment of that culture. How can you appropriate a woman who did this as an inspirational female role model?

You accused me of this:

I find it very odd that you are wanting women to stand up to the patriarchy and then criticise them when they do.

Wtf? I was not in the least bit criticising Reeva Steenkamp for standing up to the patriarchy by speaking out about rape.

It's fine to rage against the patriarchy. I applaud anyone speaking out about rape. But I was pointing out that its inconsistent to speak out against the patriarchy for the way it oppresses women, through violence and denigrating them to sexual tools when you have chosen to be presented, in images, as a sexual tool. Which is exactly what a woman is seen as, and used as, in a lads' mag shoot.

If you think, as you have, that it is a sad state of affairs that women are judged on their looks, then why is it not OK to say that a woman who chose to use her body as her currency rather than her brain was doing women no favours?

I just don't think it's OK if a woman poses for lads' mags to then say, 'but she's a woman, she's oppressed, she's doing what she has to do to get on in a man's world, it's all men's fault'.

If we believe - and of course we do - that women have a right to validity and self determination then we have to accept that a woman can make choices too. And she owns those choices. And if we disagree with the choices she makes she is not exempted from our saying so simply because of her gender and ours. As women we have as much right to control culture as men and we must exercise our responsibility to do so.

You accused me of 'being disparaging about a woman'. Well if criticising a woman's choices is being disparaging, I will continue to do it, just as I think it's OK to disparage a man's choices.

Otherwise there is an Orwellian situation where we are basically saying 'well, we are all equal (women and men) but some of us are more equal than others (you can call a man on his behaviour, but not a woman)'. It doesn't work.

That is why I don't accept what you say here:

I think they [women] 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.

Yes, women are oppressed and I hear you say that you do not agree with every woman's choice just because they are a woman. But I think in the case of Reeva Steenkamp you have done exactly that, you have done nothing but defend her choices and make excuses for them. You have accused me of 'woman-hating' because I have lamented those choices. You say that she was employed and objectified by men as if that were the only problem, but did she not have a choice? Do you really think that she did not collude with a culture that keeps women oppressed? I think she did, it is actually the whole of my original point. I wasn't condemning her, I was condemning that choice. If she was doing it to feed her kids I wouldn't consider it a choice to condemn.

Do you think that by becoming an 'FHM cover girl', the bit she put first on her own description of herself (law graduate sits lower down the list) she acted to oppose the patriarchy? Seriously? Sure, speaking against male violence is opposing the patriarchy. But because she colluded with the culture that underlies male violence - allowing herself to be reduced to the image of a male fantasy - she was acting in a way that upheld the patriarchy and all the values that cause pain to women and young girls like my daughters. Privately I don't doubt the people who have said she was a lovely person, but those images do damage to women, don't they?

It's not her fault that she died: it's a man's fault, a man's violent act. And why is male culture violent towards women? Because of is failure to see women as valid beings worthy of respect, and because it reduces them to their sexual value.

Should women reject male violence? Yes, they should speak out against it.

Should women reject the culture that objectifies women and leads to their oppression? YES TOO - by not colluding with it, not turning oneself into a lads' mag pin-up. Because these images are part of that culture.

If you want to speak out against the endpoint of that culture (rape, violence), you have to reject its starting-point (female objectification), or if you don't it's all mixed messages. As women we have to speak out for our interests, sure, but we also have to act in ways that support them.

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

But society is comprised of individuals; it is by definition a collection of individuals, their values, their behaviours. Change has to start with individuals, and every individual woman has rights and responsibilities. You've acknowledged the importance of 'busting gender stereotypes'. So why are do you talk about a woman who was the very embodiment of the very worst gender stereotype (not because of her natural good looks but because she chose to use those looks and her body, not her brain, to define herself in her choice of job) as some kind of icon against the patriarchy? You even refer to her simply as 'Reeva' on occasion, as if she was a personal friend. I find it staggering, sorry.

Saying that her 'family and friends' would find what I have said insulting is ridiculous. You can't speak for them and it is not her, the person, I criticise. I don't know the person and never will. I criticise the moral dichotomy inherent in a soft porn 'model' (yes, FHM is soft porn) speaking out against rape - and I criticise the moral hypocrisy in women holding up a woman who has made her body her currency as a crusader against the patrimony. As if now she has become a woman-victim of male violence other women think they own her as a feminist icon, because regardless of how she made her living she made the right noises. I find it crazy.

It was precisely this sentiment ('she was one of us') that I was so nonplussed to see on this thread. Would you or anyone who considers themself a feminist claim an FHM cover girl was 'one of us' irrespective of anything she'd said about rape, if she hadn't died at the hands of a man? It feels almost as if by becoming a woman-victim you think she belongs to you (or 'us') in some way, because she showed through her violent death that men are oppressive and think women are junk.

She was opposing the patriarchy, actively speaking against male violence and then ended up a victim of it

There is so much projection in that statement, Abigail. It makes me think that in the absence of strong female role models a woman, any old woman, who has been killed by a man gets grabbed onto, irrespective of what she did, to become some kind of emblem for male oppression of women. I find it as depressing as arguments that it is only men that need to change. Both sentiments support female victimhood, not female empowerment.

The Sun puts her on the front page in a bikini and describes her as 'Pistorius's lover', while you refer to her on here as 'Reeva' the opponent of the patriarchy. You didn't know her any more than I did yet you told me I was 'being horrible about her' as I pulled her ponytail in assembly or something! It's ridiculous. Just because she is dead doesn't mean it's inappropriate to start a debate about male violence and women's (albeit as FCG says, probably unwitting) collusion in the culture that feeds it. It makes it more important than ever to talk about these things and bring them out into the open.

Her death was a tragedy for her and those close to her. But it doesn't make her an icon for women, nor do the things she said, nor the fact that she was killed by a man - in my opinion. It is wrong to argue that what women say is more important than what they do, or that their deaths have more significance than their lives. And it is wrong to accuse me, because I questioned her actions during her life simply of women-hating, or victim-blaming. I do not blame her for her death, but I dislike the choices she made in her life (posing for FHM) because I think they undermine women. And if a man hadn't killed her I don't think anyone would think it's OK to attack me for pointing out the incoherence between the spoken and visual statements she made.

Actions speak louder than words (look at Rosa Parks); words are simply hot air in the absence of behaviour that supports them.

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...Cracking down on violence, changing laws, creating laws, removing a capitalist society and the systems that uphold the patriarchy.

Well, that's great...but if we want to change and create laws and dismantle structures that uphold the patriarchy and crack down on violence where is the best place to start?

We already have laws against rape, sex discrimination. Why are they so ineffectual? Why does rape go unpunished as often as it does?

Because the judiciary is controlled by men.

Now... where did I put that law degree?

My (original) point: change starts at an individual level, actions speak louder than words, through exercising responsibility in the choices we make (rather than making excuses for each other and each other's choices based simply on gender) is the only way to facilitate change.

And we can talk with other women and female children about how our own choices have an influence on the place where we find ourselves in society as well as trying to educate men and boys into changing their ways.

rosabud Mon 04-Mar-13 18:34:15

Re the Rosa Parks argument:

The argument seems to be that victims of oppression should NOT collude with their oppressors by behaving in a way which allows the oppressors to oppress them. Therefore, Reeta Steenkamp should NOT have posed for FHM magazine and, as she DID pose for FHM magazine, she is therefore (or her actions are therefore) in some way partly to blame for the continued oppression of women.

So, in Rosa Parks' case, the argument should also follow that victims of oppression (ie black people, in this case) should NOT collude with their oppressors by behaving in a way whch allows their oppressors to oppress them (ie giving in and sitting in the black only section of the bus, in this case.) Rosa did NOT collude with her oppressors (she sat where she liked on the bus) so well done to her, she is NOT partly to blame for the continued oppression of black people. The argument therefore follows that every black person before Rosa Parks who DID sit on the black only seats were, to an extent, colluding with their oppressors and, therefore, partly to blame for the oppression of black people.

Completely ridiculous argument in the Rosa Parks case AND, of course, the Reeta Skeencampf case too.

kim147 Mon 04-Mar-13 20:00:51

Do you think women posing for men's magazines is a good thing or a bad thing for feminism?

If women said they weren't going to pose anymore, what effect would that have?

namechangeguy Mon 04-Mar-13 21:34:59

Rosabud, the circumstances were different. For many hundreds of years, black people who did not collude with white oppressors could legally be severely punished, possibly put to death. I see this as self-preservation rather than collusion, as they were completely powerless and had no rights in law. They were truly seen as less than human - a charge I sadly see too often on here.

By Rosa Parks' time, she risked being taken to court rather than be hanged, but she still stood her ground, and society was such that she stood a chance of being listened to.

What risk would a group of lads mag models be running to their personal well-being if they stood together and said, 'Enough, this has gone on too long. We wont do it any more!'?

rosabud Mon 04-Mar-13 23:41:07

Yes, thank you, I'm aware of the background to the civil rights movement. I'm also aware that the circumstances were different, which is why it was a ridiculous analogy for you to come up with in the first place. However, since you have come up with it, the argument remains the same:

If Rosa Parks was taking the non-collusion action "in her particular time", then, by impication, all the other black people who had NOT taken the non-collusion action "in her particular time" were therefore colluding with their oppression. A silly argument. Oppressed people are not responsible for the behaviour of the oppressors. Black people who went along with sitting on certain allocated seats in Alabama in the mid twentieth century were not "colluding" with their opressors but part of an unfair system that was oppressing them. Models who pose for FHM are not "colluding" with their opressors but part of an unfair system that oppresses women. The reasons why black people are oppressed and the ways in which they are oppressed are neither straight-forward nor simple. Similarly, the reasons why and the ways in which women are oppressed are neither straight-forward nor simple. But the argument is the same, the oppressors are the culpable party, not the oppressed.

namechangeguy Tue 05-Mar-13 08:46:22

I will ask again, since it seems to have been skipped, deliberately or otherwise - What risk would a group of lads mag models be running to their personal well-being if they stood together and said, 'Enough, this has gone on too long. We wont do it any more!'?

DrinkFeckArseGirls Tue 05-Mar-13 09:37:42

Can I just add I'm amazed the youtube let those comments stand? shock

dummad Tue 05-Mar-13 15:18:41

But why should what the models have to say or do carry any more clout than other women? Why do we all have to comply to get over oppression? The vast majority of women do not sell their bodies, so why do men still prefer to focus on the sex workers and their habits rather than the women they come into contact with on a daily basis? Many men are happy to continue objectifying women despite the 'evidence' under their noses from their co-workers, mothers, sisters, friends and partners, that women are diverse and wanting to be taken as individuals and not by certain roles imposed by our gender.
Why is it that a boy in my DDs class (year 4) who comes from a lovely family where the parents are both intelligent people with careers was going around doing an impression 'of what girls are like' which mocked women doing their nails and going around going La-di-da. He's nine. I bet he didn't get that from home. How come he thinks that way? His mother and of course classmates don't do that at all.????

dummad Tue 05-Mar-13 17:10:57

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Rosa was just one woman who changed society for the good of the black population by not colluding to oppression. But there are millions if not BILLIONS of women in the world who choose not to collude to objectification on a daily basis, but it's the ones who DO - the sex workers - who 'represent' women and keep us repressed. How fair is that?

There will always be women who are willing to sell their bodies. There will always be women who don't. However, despite the fact the latter by far make up the majority, we are still oppressed.

You see, if our behaviour is the thing that will change attitudes, it would be happening already. Most women go to work - or contribute in some way - do good things, use their minds and not sell their bodies. Isn't that enough 'good' behaviour to warrent equality? If we had power in our hands, it'd already be happening, but it's not.

There are also men who sell their bodies, but men are not oppressed. Only because a few men choose to strip for women's entertainment, people are not turning around saying 'ugh, stupid men - they just want to be objectified.' It's absurd to think that. Just the same for any male role: 'all men are football hooligans', 'all men are rapists', 'all men are clever'. No one thinks like this because of a minority acts in a ceratin way, so why the double standards? I just want to see women enjoying the same rules.

Also this: It is a fact - A FACT - that women kill and harm fewer people on the roads than men. something ridiculous like 80% of deaths on the road are caused by male drivers. Is this recognised in society? Hardly. If you bring this up with a man (like I have done on a few occassions when accused of being a 'typical woman driver') he will say all manner of excuses such as 'yes but we have more skill', 'yes but slow drivers cause more accidents'. It is just bizarre to watch a man try and squirm at this fact rather than accept the fact that there is one rule of driving - don't crash, don't hurt anyone. Imagine if it was the other way around. I reckon women would actually be banned from driving or regulated in some way if the statistics showed the opposite. But it's hardly ever mentioned is it? Funny that.

To me this fact just proves that no matter what women do, it'll never be enough. And the change, therefore, has to come from male attitudes and society itself, who at the moment will do any amount of women-blaming or fact-dodging in order to avoid actually thinking about the issue head on.

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Mar-13 07:29:54

"To me this fact just proves that no matter what women do, it'll never be enough. And the change, therefore, has to come from male attitudes and society itself, who at the moment will do any amount of women-blaming or fact-dodging in order to avoid actually thinking about the issue head on." Thank you dummad you have explained in one paragraph what has taken me about 42 to do grin

Whatis, I have never objected to you criticising someone's actions (although haven't agreed with that criticism) but I have objected to the patriarchal, women-blaming term you used to inflict that criticism in that first post.

"Wtf? I was not in the least bit criticising Reeva Steenkamp for standing up to the patriarchy by speaking out about rape."
Don't bemoan abuse of women at men's hands when you've trivialised yourself as a mere sex object for their pleasure.. That is pretty critical and telling her to STFU.

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Mar-13 07:40:21

I am leaving this thread now as the arguments are getting circular and we are never going to agree.

Dazzler159 Wed 06-Mar-13 13:39:36

dummad Tue 05-Mar-13 17:10:57

To me this fact just proves that no matter what women do, it'll never be enough. And the change, therefore, has to come from male attitudes and society itself, who at the moment will do any amount of women-blaming or fact-dodging in order to avoid actually thinking about the issue head on.

I have no idea about road deaths (so will take your word for it) but other than this, the only FACT is that your misintepretation of discussions with men as they do not represent the diversity of the male population. But I digress.

Are you actually suggesting that women have no cause to take any ownership for anything that they experience in life?

I have to say that I found whatisafeministanyway's POV to be more in line with mine and don't believe it's victim or women blaming.

whatisafeministanyway Thu 07-Mar-13 00:24:55

don't believe it's victim or women blaming.

Thanks smile

whatisafeministanyway Thu 07-Mar-13 02:25:28

Only because a few men choose to strip for women's entertainment, people are not turning around saying 'ugh, stupid men - they just want to be objectified.'

dummad no one is saying that because some women show their bodies off it means all women want to be objectified. No way. In fact that is the absolute opposite of what people are saying, which is that women don't want to be objectified and that women who let themselves be objectified play into the hands of men who don't want to take women seriously and want to reduce them to sexual playthings.

The point is that there is a lot of objectification of women by MEN who want to trivialise women and to use a phrase that has been used upthread 'reduce them to their sexual value'. And there is a minority of women who collude with this, for example, preferring to pose for FHM than do something a bit more, well, admirable.

And that doesn't really help women to be taken more seriously, or do away with the culture that judges women on the basis of their looks, their bodies, rather than their brains, or all the 'good things' that they do.

And no, no one is saying 'stupid men' about say, the Chippendales, because they are more of a comedy act than anything else - when women go and see men like this, it's all for a bit of a laugh. If a man looks sexually available it's very different, because a woman isn't going to rape him and then accuse him of 'asking for it'.

There aren't many men who get raped by women and then find, if it actually gets to court, that if they've had any flesh on show, or even had nice underwear on under their clothes they have to justify this as if it somehow gave the rapist a good reason to attack them or assume they were 'up for it'. But this is what happens to women who get raped. Even young girls.

This is the social context for this discussion, isn't it?

If men were being raped and getting no legal redress I think I would consider them posing in photographs that make them look sexually available rather unhelpful too. But they are not.

You can't compare the two at all and your argument is totally specious. No one is saying all women are trivial and want to be objectified here. I certainly don't. Most of us are just living ordinary, hard working lives like the ones you describe.

But there is no doubt that in our society less value is put on the lives and bodies of women than on those of men. Hence the massive problem of domestic violence that is often treated as if it were just something unimportant. Or of appalling conviction rates for sex crime against women. The derisory sentences for men who kill their wives, especially if they claim she 'nagged him'. And despite women's achievements them still feeling that being attractive or sexy is the most important thing because that is the pressure on them.

It's not about women selling their bodies, yes some will always do this because they are coerced, either directly because they are controlled by violent men or drug addiction, or out of sheer economic necessity.

That is very different from an educated woman choosing to be a trivial celebrity, one of the 'top 100 sexiest women' as a job - when she had plenty of other options. It just doesn't help much, does it?

And Abigail I think it's just as well you've decided to give up because despite all the words I have written trying to explain my original post you quote from it again in a way that suggests you still don't really understand what it meant. Or as if you haven't read or understood all the words I have written since. This is why I'm actually starting to feel a bit sorry for you despite the personal attacks. If anyone is going round it circles it is you really, because you still haven't managed to explain why you don't think it's a shame a woman would choose to become an FHM girl when she could have become a lawyer.

I was not telling anyone to STFU, but if someone poses for FHM then they do present themself in those pictures as a sex object for male pleasure, and they do trivialise themself in doing so, and this is at odds with trying to address in any serious way the problem of sexual violence against women. Why? Because by posing like that, they have obviously missed the point.

Oh, and FWIW, I think if a man with a law degree decided to oil himself up and pose by a swimming pool simulating oral sex with some object to titilate women instead of qualifying in his profession I'm guessing most men would think he was, well, a bit of a loser. That he'd kind of, you know, let himself down a bit. They'd expect a bit more of him, wouldn't they?

And if also the women looking at the pictures of the oiled-up man might go out and sexually assault one of the normal, responsible men, and if they did they'd probably escape any kind of justice then I think the normal men doing normal 'good things' might be well, a bit annoyed with Mr Oiled-Up.

But there are women on here who will not only defend a woman's career choice to be a sex object, they will actually try to argue that she was some kind of heroine for women after she's become a victim herself of the epidemic of male subjugation of women.

And why do they consider her a heroine? Er, because she tweeted about domestic violence.

Mad, isn't it? Or maybe just sad sad

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 07-Mar-13 08:05:40

Whatis, why should a man looking at a woman presenting herself in a sexual way make any kind of generalisation about all women?.

It seems that your position holds underwear models equally (?) As responsible for certain men generalising about women as the men themselves.

When I see a male model on an Abercrombie and Fitch poster, I think "oh, there's a model. He's fit." But I make no generalisation about all men.

Just as When I see the MP for Surrey on the cover of Politics Today, I don't generalise that all men are political objects. I think "there's a politician"

Dazzler159 Thu 07-Mar-13 10:04:32

whatisafeministanyway

In my mind, the crux of many such discussions comes down to whether or not people believe women to have some sort of agency (in philisophical sense). Hence my question a few posts up about dummad's assertion that, "no matter what women do, it'll never be enough".

You seem to think so, others don't. Who's right? I have no idea but one thing's for sure, the psychological outcomes are very different and so I know what I'll be teaching my kids!

I'm not suggesting that women should be blamed for rape etc. as there are many things that are out of a woman's control. But it seems to me that an aversion to taking any form of ownership for one's actions implies a deterministic society. Thus an action will not result in outcomes, x, y or z but always one that is out of your control i.e. predetermined by men.

To me this attitude fails to empower women but enslaves them further. It sets women up to believe that their failures and poor life choices can be laid exclusively at the feet of men. Conversely, if this is genuinely true then a woman's successes must also be due to men and us allowing women to succeed. I don't believe this to be the case at all.

There are many instances where women have control over their successes/failures and taking full ownership enables women to shoulder the responsibility (or part of). That means sometimes taking the blame when things go wrong but it also means taking the credit when things go right. None of us can have it both ways. We simply cannot blame our oppressors when we fail but then pat ourselves on the back when we succeed.

whatisafeministanyway Thu 07-Mar-13 20:56:01

your position holds underwear models equally (?) As responsible for certain men generalising about women as the men themselves.

No, Snatch it doesn't. I did explain this in previous posts (though they are so long I wouldn't blame you if you didn't have the patience to read them!)

I don't think modelling underwear is the same as posing for lads' mags. I don't think that the guy modelling for A&F is the same. Modelling underwear is selling a product; the purpose is not to titillate and tease and the shots are not presented in the same way.

All the people on here defending Reeva Steenkamp posing for FHM, or saying that doesn't matter because she tweeted about rape; I wonder how many actually watched the video clip on Youtube I pasted into my first post? Looking seductively into the camera wearing a bikini and putting a phallic object in your mouth or holding a melting ice cream (the whole purpose of which is to have an image of dripping white fluid, obviously you understand what it represents) is very different from wearing clothes to sell them to customers. Ditto looking into the camera and pulling down the zip of a bikini top.

FHM shoots are soft porn. I don't really believe anyone would seriously dispute that (but let's hear about it if they do).

If FHM is soft porn (and it undoubtedly is IMO) then I don't understand why women who consider themselves feminists would defend a woman's choice to be part of that, let alone set her up as a heroine of the cause because she also tweeted about rape. I somehow think it is quite cheapening and insulting to the idea of feminism that someone can be admired and held up as an opponent of the patriarchy because of something as trivial and disposable as tweeting, when that person has anyway made a life choice to pursue celebrity and participate in soft porn - things that can only feed into a culture of misogyny and denigration.

To me this attitude fails to empower women but enslaves them further. It sets women up to believe that their failures and poor life choices can be laid exclusively at the feet of men.

Dazzler I agree totally with all you have said. You have managed to sum up so succinctly and articulately the points I have tried to make (so long-windedly) in my posts. I wish I was able to express myself so effectively.

Saying that women merely 'absorb the messages society is giving them' and that their choices are not their own is very disempowering. Women own their own choices and can take responsibility for them. If we are not prepared to accept this, we consign ourselves to perpetual victimhood. And if someone whose life choices ought to disqualify them from being considered in any way a role model for feminism is granted that status when they become a victim of male violence, then this also plays into a culture of perpetual victimhood.

Without taking responsibility for the choices we make, owning them and accepting the consequences, or thinking it's fair enough to expect other women to also, we may as well give up and accept that we are just barking at the moon.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 07-Mar-13 23:10:27

Ok, scratch underwear model from my post and replace with soft porn actress if that's a better description.

I still don't see that a soft porn actress is responsible for certain men who see her going on to objectify all women. Generalising from examples is one of the key facets of "-isms" (sexism, anti-Semitism etc) and the generalisation is in the mind of the certain man, in this case.

I agree that being a soft porn actress is not a feminist action.

whatisafeministanyway Fri 08-Mar-13 00:49:24

I still don't see that a soft porn actress is responsible for certain men who see her going on to objectify all women. Generalising from examples is one of the key facets of "-isms" (sexism, anti-Semitism etc) and the generalisation is in the mind of the certain man, in this case.

You are absolutely right.

The 'soft porn actress' is not not responsible for the men who look at her and what they think. She is responsible for how she presents herself though and should be aware of what men might project on to that.

You are right that generalising is a characteristic of -isms and it is the man's fault if he has these prejudices. But if he is inclined to think that way already - if he objectifies women anyway, as so many men do - then those kinds of images support his view.

And if we want men to rethink these views, it doesn't help in changing them; rather it reinforces them.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 08-Mar-13 01:37:27

I see where you are coming from, whatis, but I can't agree.

Let's take a different example. Lots of people hold views about followers of various religions. But I don't think a Jewish person in public life should not feel able to describe how they are careful with money, or a Muslim not feel able to mention their commitment to Allah, simply because to do so might reinforce some other people's prejudiced views.

It's not that I don't think an actress (keeping it general) has agency, it's just that I don't hold her responsible for generalisations that others might make. The actress could be of a religious group, or a sexuality group, or an ethnic group that could equally be the basis of a generalisation (eg "ah, all Seventh Day Adventists are sex objects") but the generalisation is not within her agency.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now