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.

kim147 Fri 08-Mar-13 09:21:12

Do her actions (posing for FHM or any other male magazine) help or hinder feminism?

I get pissed off at members of the trans community who show themselves in certain ways in the media as it seems to reinforce a stereotype to other people about how trans people are. Their actions do not help members of the trans community and I have no problem saying it.

I also get pissed off at the media reporting of trans issues.

Is it possible to get pissed off at women whose actions "don't help the cause of feminism?"

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 08-Mar-13 12:06:39

Are they showing themselves in a particular way, or is the media looking at a group with a variety of behaviours and picking the ones they want to report, Kim?

BigSpork Fri 08-Mar-13 12:50:32

kim - only if you think women need to act a certain way or they deserve their oppression. Or that trans* people need to act a certain way or deserve their oppression. As the quote goes, in patriarchy, woman aren't on the opposing team, we're the ball. Backing up the bashing of the bal is working for patriarchy regardless of how "the ball" behaves. We need to attack the system, not the oppressed.

To answer the original question, I find discussing feminism and other intersecting issues in my Tumblr groups very uplifting, enjoyable, and has given me a far larger experience with points of view and topics than I would get on normal forums like this one.

whatisafeministanyway Fri 08-Mar-13 20:26:58

Snatch that's another not-very-good comparison really.

To use your example of the Jewish stereotype, while Jewish communities have suffered some of the worst oppression seen in European history (pogroms, ghettoisation, the Holocaust) there isn't currently an epidemic of unaddressed violence towards Jewish people as there is towards women.

Worshipping Allah or being careful with money are not negative stereotypes that in themselves that permit one social group to think they are justified in misusing another. While a woman presenting herself as a sex object for men does allow men to persist in reducing women to their sexual value. It is an inherently demeaning stereotype while being careful with money, or going to the Mosque, is not.

Also, to put this into context, anyone discriminating against a racial or cultural group is dealt with far more robustly by the justice system than someone who abuses a woman.

If I used mere words against a Jewish or Muslim person I would almost certainly be charged with an offence and very likely prosecuted (quite right too). And if I were, the victim of my criminal behaviour would not be interrogated in court and forced to explain why their being attacked was my fault rather than their own.

But a man could use his fists or penis against a woman and the chances of him being charged, or the offence even coming to court would be slim. If it did come to court the victim could take it for granted she would be subjected to the ordeal of having to explain how she had not invited the violence by her own actions (wearing a revealing top, inviting a man into her home after a night out). And even if it did come to court there is a good chance he wouldn't be convicted and punished. It's an outrage, isn't it?

Cultural sensitivities and the rights of religious groups trump women's rights in this country every time.

An example: female genital mutilation - 66 000 victims in the UK, 30 000 girls at risk, one conviction to date. You can get away with removing the body parts of a female child (without anaesthesia) because oppression of women and girls is taken less seriously than the rights of cultural/religious groups.

Another example: 'honour' killings and forced marriages (thankfully there have been some convictions here but plenty of cases where it is still being ignored or was ignored - until it erupted into murderous violence).

Another example: the Bradford paedophile ring - young (Western) girls groomed and gang-raped, passed around like junk by organised groups of Pakistani men. Convictions here, but local people had talked about this problem for a long time and were dismissed as racist. Even when the convictions came, there was still insistence by the police and press that there were no cultural factors involved (fear of being racist preventing acknowledgement that for these men white girls were seen as 'fair game', trash).

My point in giving these examples is not to deny the reality of racism or religious prejudice. It still exists and is still a problem. But it is seen as much 'worse' than acts of terrible violence against women - the examples above show that protecting vulnerable women from sexual abuse, mutilation, even death has taken a back seat to not offending cultural sensitivities. The law will act to protect Muslims and Jews; when women are being abused a blind eye is turned. The victims in the examples I have given are from different social and religious groups - African, Muslim, white. What they have in common, in their failure to be protected or to receive legal reddress for offences against them is their gender.

This is a terrible situation that is not improving. Whereas the victimisation of other sections of society - religious groups, cultural groups, racial groups - is diminishing and the letter and practice of the law supports this progress.

And your 'making it general' and talking about 'actresses' of any kind moves the goalposts completely, doesn't it? Because actresses are not the same as women in FHM shoots. Judi Dench is not the same as a soft porn 'model'. She is not giving any men any excuses to persist in viewing women as sexual objects, as trash.

The main point I was making in my original post was that to hold a soft porn actress, model whatever you want to call someone who poses for those kinds of images as an icon and role model for women is ridiculous. And that is what some women on here, who consider themselves feminists, were doing.

That broadened into a wider discussion about whether women have a responsibility to present themselves in ways that don't reinforce stereotypes that underpin the male view that women are worthless apart from their sexual value. I think they do, but others don't. I think women can improve their position in society by the choices they make in life, others don't. Some seem resigned to women having no control, and claim that women will always be subjugated until men change their minds and ways.

I disagree with this, I find it passive and defeatist. I also think it denies women what Dazzled calls agency, and if we do not think we have agency we can never make a meaningful argument for equality as we have subjugated ourselves already.

All the examples I gave above, where women are seen as worthless and offered no protection show that society is in crisis when it comes to women's rights.

Things are moving backwards for women, not forwards. Not acting in ways that reinforce negative stereotypes is important if we want this situation to change. I don't really understand why some women are so hostile to this view. It is not the same as saying that women shouldn't be allowed to do what they want. Yes, women have the right to participate in soft porn that reinforces negative stereotypes - women are there for male pleasure, women's looks are all that matter etc. But why would an intelligent woman, who is aware of and concerned about the culture of violence against women, want to exercise that right?

And why on earth would other women want to hold her up as an example of someone who fought against the subjugation of women?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 09-Mar-13 00:28:18

Sorry, I still meant soft porn actress, I just wanted to be clear it wasn't just about RS.

I agree with you that religious discrimination is often more frowned on than sexism. Do you think that those following religions that were discriminated against changed their behaviour and that was the source of the reduced discrimination?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 09-Mar-13 00:41:46

...A hundred years ago, anti-Semitism was pretty entrenched in a lot of places, obviously spilling over into ghettoisation and violence in WW2. Now I believe it is a much less widespread and fierce issue in much of the Western world. I feel like it's societies that have changed.

The other point is that women are not a minority. We are 50% of the population. Most formd of discrimination seem to be against minorities. Why is sexism different, I wonder?

whatisafeministanyway Sat 09-Mar-13 02:11:21

I feel like it's societies that have changed.

Yes. Probably the main way Western societies have changed wrt attitudes towards religious minorities is that religion is not anything like as significant as a social force or cornerstone of identity. The bog-standard white British person is more likely to have no religion, or to be non-practising than in the past. If your own religion is no longer important to you, then nor is anybody else's.

Where religion has more social significance and people strongly associate themselves with particular religious groups (eg the Middle East or the red states in the US) intolerance and discrimination persist. Groups in the UK (Muslims, for example) that still see religion as central to their identities have religious leaders in their communities that they listen to and respect - and a certain amount of suspicion or intolerance of outsiders.

Something as irrational as religious faith is hard to justify so there is safety in numbers - another reason for suspicion of members of different religions and proselytising. Both of which are predicated on believing that your own POV, beliefs etc are superior and more valid than those of others. If you don't have those beliefs any more, others' are not such an affront and do not bother you or make you feel you need to put them down.

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