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.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 17-Feb-13 10:00:39

Kim, on other forums, in RL, even raising vaguely related feminist issues fullstop. It's all depressing.

Last night I was at a party where people were discussing the OP case. The hostess (who is an absolutely lovely person) said "It's such a waste of talent". I said "Whose? His or hers?". To which she replied "His...the world is full of models".

I tried to point out that RS had been a law graduate and a human rights campaigner (not that it should make any difference to her worth) but it fell on deaf ears, then the whole conversation moved on, leaving me feeling slightly depressed.

What makes it worse is that she is really nice person and this is a pretty normal POV. I feel so out of sync sometimes with the world, cos no one seems to be able to connect the dots and see the bigger picture.

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 17-Feb-13 10:05:54

Yes it does, so I tend not to bother.

That is so awful Lessthanaballpark. It's so bloody depressing when people we think of as nice, decent people, have mainstream woman-hating views that they aren't even aware are woman-hating and would be shocked at them being characterised as such.

That's why it's really important to talk to other feminists, to get out there to MWR etc., to get some emotional and intellectual sustenance to help you through normal life...

BubblesOfBliss Sun 17-Feb-13 10:32:18

I am with you on that one OP & all. Very few people are aware of the harsh and cruel dynamics that underpin everything they rely on as being solid and true. Most people are totally defensive if you encourage them to peep at the vile mechanics beneath.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 17-Feb-13 10:35:27

Thanks Fastidia. You are right, it's when the nice people that you respect come out with these views that it really gets you.

On the plus side, a few years ago something like that would have sent me into a right funk (as would the Sun front cover page on Friday) but now at least I think "ah, the peeps on the FWR board will know what I mean" which is a comfort! thanks

I just wish I knew some "out" feminists in RL though - my aunt is one, but we only ever meet at family functions, and it's not really the place to have deep meaningfuls! I keep meaning to join the local group but it's a matter of babysitting. Still, one day ....

BubblesOfBliss Sun 17-Feb-13 11:17:28

I keep meaning to join the local group but it's a matter of babysitting

For me, taking that step to meeting feminists in RL was the beginning of a whole new chapter. Perhaps there's a 'feminist mums' group where you could bring your kids? Not to pressure you though- in your own time...

But my life looks completely different and much for the better since I took that step. I had no idea where it would lead in the beginning - I was just pissed off and wanted to meet other feminists. Looking at life up until then - it just seems like I was living in a dark, dank cave, straining to see the positives.... and now I take for granted that I breathe fresh air!

tribpot Sun 17-Feb-13 11:28:58

"His...the world is full of models".

My god - who talks that way about the death of another human being?!

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 17-Feb-13 12:08:00

Actually yes tribpot.

There is something quite brutal and shocking about that attitude isn't there?

Maybe she's not such a nice person after all.

AnyFucker Sun 17-Feb-13 12:57:26

That is a psychopathic POV, IMO

AnyFucker Sun 17-Feb-13 12:58:04

But yeah, the underlying narrative is that women are disposable and men are the important ones.

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 17-Feb-13 12:59:07

Yes it's slightly numbing.

Am still trying to get my head round it tbh.

It's the sort of thing that happens and you take 24 hours or so to process it when it happens.

Because you just don't instantly recognise what a shocking lack of empathy it displays. What a shocking lack of humanity, really.

MechanicalTheatre Sun 17-Feb-13 13:17:20

I rarely get into discussions any more, I just try to stand up for feminist principles.

I am currently at university, and it seems to be de rigeur amongst the youngsters to call each other "bitch" at every available opportunity. So I do a lot of "please do not refer to me as a bitch" which they have thankfully stopped doing.

That comment about their being plenty of models is grim. Absolutely awful.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 17-Feb-13 14:26:45

"But yeah, the underlying narrative is that women are disposable and men are the important ones. "

Yes, or that 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, because we see beauty as ultimately trivial. It's a no win situation.

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 17-Feb-13 14:32:29

And not even just about women tbh.

You could say it about anyone doing any menial challenging job.

It's basically "the little people don't matter" underlying the attitude isn't it?

Like it wouldn't have mattered if he'd shot a male friend either, because the male friend wasn't spesh like Oscar.

It's misanthropic as well as misogynist.

ashesgirl Sun 17-Feb-13 21:03:16

God, yes I feel this way. I need to come back here at times to recharge grin

I do think I am becoming a lot more resilient about it though generally. Just because people can't or won't see sexism doesn't mean it's not there.

kim147 Sun 17-Feb-13 21:08:15

I've been posting on a forum which should in theory have a population of well educated women on it, as well as its fair share of men. I'm kind of disappointed there's not been more discussion especially of the Sun's decision to publish the photos of Reeva and it's gone onto wider issues of the media and the sex industry which has descended into "no harm done and empowerment".

But it's the "usual" suspects posting - I wonder how many are "lurking" and hopefully thinking about the issues without posting.

AmandaPayne Sun 17-Feb-13 21:18:07

I find it hard too. I have recently moved to a new area and I haven't yet met anyone I can identify with as a feminist. I've googled for local groups, but no joy. The only groups are students and I am at a very different stage in life. TBH, I don't discuss feminism anywhere but here at the moment.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 17-Feb-13 21:25:31

Blimey, so many people in the closet and afraid to speak out.

I think we need to develop a secret handshake or some similar sign so we can recognise each other! grin

MechanicalTheatre Sun 17-Feb-13 21:28:08

I wouldn't say I'm in the closet or afraid to speak out. I just can't be arsed having another discussion where I have to explain the most basic sentiments to people who, having a brain in their head, should have worked it out for themselves.

It's just too painful and causes me actual psychic pain.

ashesgirl Sun 17-Feb-13 21:31:03

It is true that it's a big step to 'out' yourself as a feminist :-)

AmandaPayne Sun 17-Feb-13 21:57:25

I would love a secret handshake. At the moment I just chat to people and sooner or later most say something so fecking daft that I know they are not feminist types and we'd best stick to safer topics. I do spend a lot of time hanging around at toddler groups currently though, where people say things like "ooh, boys are just so physical aren't they. Girls just don't have the same physicality" (as my daughter attempts to hit a tree with a stick).

MechanicalTheatre Sun 17-Feb-13 22:13:50

Amanda, let our shaggy ankles be our handshake!

Lessthanaballpark Sun 17-Feb-13 22:16:00

I know me too Amanda! . It's such a waste of time probing and ascertaining and then they come out with some passively misogynistic shit and its all such a huge disappointment.

AmandaPayne Sun 17-Feb-13 22:16:57

No, no. I can't go around scrutinising ankles. Plus <whisper> I do shave them sometimes. I want a full on gangland handshake. The Wire made a big impression on me...

MechanicalTheatre Sun 17-Feb-13 22:20:24

Oh yes, I have smooth ankles too, I am a disappointment to myself.

Lessthanaballpark Sun 17-Feb-13 22:23:00

Yes Mechanical! Then our code question could be "do you shave?!!!" Cos you know, I might get sacked if I go sniffing aroud people's ankles!!

Oooh but that would mean ALL men are fems which could be a bit confusing!

mcmooncup Sun 17-Feb-13 23:31:03

"It's just too painful and causes me actual psychic pain."

God yeah! It all completely gets me down

I had my first ever row on FB this week about some hideous jokes about Reeva. Obvs I came away looking like the one without a sense of humour. Just.......SIGH.

I want a handshake or code too for RL..........imagine the instant sense of freedom smile

yourname1111 Mon 18-Feb-13 07:27:56

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AnyFucker Mon 18-Feb-13 08:33:58

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SabrinaMulhollandJjones Mon 18-Feb-13 08:40:31

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ashesgirl Mon 18-Feb-13 10:56:58

Oh dear, what happened?

AnyFucker Mon 18-Feb-13 10:57:54

An unwelcome visitor rocked up, AG

No surprises there

ashesgirl Mon 18-Feb-13 10:59:26

There's a lot of that going on at the minute, isn't there? AG? Been away for a bit so not up to date on the visitors.

AnyFucker Mon 18-Feb-13 11:02:03

You are AG, you balloon grin

And yes, there's a lot of it abahhht

AnyFucker Mon 18-Feb-13 11:02:58

You AG, me AF, him twat

< beats chest >

wink

ashesgirl Mon 18-Feb-13 11:12:39

Oh!! Yes that's me grin Yes I am that out of touch, even with my own name grin

AnyFucker Mon 18-Feb-13 11:13:36

That gave me a smile, anyway grin

ashesgirl Mon 18-Feb-13 11:14:23

I love how you always get deleted too grin as you can't resist the firestorm grin

AnyFucker Mon 18-Feb-13 11:36:28

Too many firestorms, not enough time wink

There is another one started, as we speak. Have just reported that one, I have my children to feed.

Bit late to this thread (!), but I just wanted to say, I didn't know Steenkamp was a human rights campaigner, lessthan, thank you for posting that.

I don't really go on other forums much, but facebook can be quite depressing, I think because you realize how many people are wilfully ignorant. In the last week or so, two different blokes - perfectly 'nice' blokes too - have commented on posts I've shared from feminist blogs, starting out by taking me to task and telling me they think I've got it all wrong. And in both cases, they have admitted after a few posts that they've not read what the blog is commenting on, or they didn't actually read the content, just the headline. But they still have an important point of view to share, of course!

It is just so fucking tedious.

I genuinely really enjoy discussing stuff and I don't want to talk only to people who agree with me, but it really irritates me.

Darkesteyes Mon 18-Feb-13 15:35:12

got into a massive row on fb last year on a womens weekly magazines fb page .
This publication has developed an intermittent but nasty habit of printing articles about people on benefits but focusing on the women.
(in fact they did another just last month on single mums)
There were loads of nasty comments on there about how "she shouldnt have opened her legs" if she cant afford not to claim.
I called them on the mysogyny and i was the only one calling them on it. I was pissing in the bloody wind.
Most of them rounded on me because they have spent too long reading that tripe to be able to think for themselves.
Arguing on fb is a hiding to nothing.
So what did i do instead last week?
I let the girls at vagenda know about it. They are fabulous at critiquing these rags.
Easier simpler and saved me wasting my time arguing with people who have had such a long diet of reality shows and celebrity culture that they cant see the bigger picture.
The person who made the open legs comment was a woman.

Darkesteyes Mon 18-Feb-13 15:38:53

to have said in support of your enjoyment of pole dancing?

Add message | Report | Message poster
DarkesteyesMon 28-Jan-13 23:51:48

I got into a massive row on fb last year on a womens weekly magazines fb page .
This publication has developed an intermittent but nasty habit of printing articles about people on benefits but focusing on the women.
(in fact they did another just last week on single mums)
There were loads of nasty comments on there about how "she shouldnt have opened her legs" if she cant afford not to claim.
I called them on the mysogyny and i was the only one calling them on it. I was pissing in the bloody wind.
Most of them rounded on me because they have spent too long reading that tripe to be able to think for themselves.
Arguing on fb is a hiding to nothing.
So what did i do instead last week?
I let the girls at vagenda know about it. They are fabulous at critiquing these rags.
Easier simpler and saved me wasting my time arguing with people who have had such a long diet of reality shows and celebrity culture that they cant see the bigger picture.
The person who made the open legs comment was a woman.

Sorry Should have said this post was from another thread. Thought it was also relevent to this one though.

Lessthanaballpark Mon 18-Feb-13 16:12:59

Actually LRD, she was one of us! She was a campaigner against domestic violence and rape. In fact she was due to give a talk about it in a Johannesburg school as it's such a huge problem there.

But of course all that pales into insignificance against her sexiness as a model and his talent as an athlete - let's get our priorities right eh!! grin angry

Oh, god, that's awful. Sorry, I know I shouldn't say that, it would be awful no matter what, but what a horrible irony.

Lessthanaballpark Mon 18-Feb-13 16:15:37
Lessthanaballpark Mon 18-Feb-13 16:26:16

Yes it is indeed an irony. Even more so when you consider that coverage of the One Billion Rise day came out on the same day. Just in case proof was needed of its necessity..

wol1968 Wed 20-Feb-13 14:53:59

Every time I make the big mistake of looking at the Telegraph comments, I am reminded of the absolute necessity of feminism. Some of the stuff on there makes the Taliban look like the suffragettes.

nina17 Thu 21-Feb-13 18:01:40

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whatisafeministanyway Tue 26-Feb-13 02:31:30

Actually LRD, she was one of us! She was a campaigner against domestic violence and rape.

Er... yeah. You're joking, right?

Do as I say, not as I do: which is the more salient message about the value of women, their autonomy, their right to their own bodies, their right not to be violated, do you think? The talk given to a bunch of Jo'burg schoolgirls about rape and domestic violence, or the posing as a gagging-for-it male fantasy figure in a magazine read by millions of men and boys?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mZW8c-OY1Q

This woman is only being 'discovered' as a feminist campaigner (and referred to by all and sundry as 'Reeva' as if they knew her personally) because she has been killed by a man. What a triumph of strong womanhood that is.

It's appalling that she died - was killed - absolutely. 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, rather than everyone appropriating her and projecting onto her now). It is a tragedy, not to mention being the latest version of that horrible, tedious old script - beautiful young (usually blonde) woman victim killed by man (former lead actresses including Mary Jo Kopechne, Dorothy Stratten, Nicole Simpson, Lana Clarkson et al)

But not wishing to disrespect someone who has recently died, I dispute her value as a female role model. She chose to pose for FHM (watch the video and see how it makes you feel as a 'feminist') and was a trophy for her famous boyfriend. Until he shot her and made her an icon of course. She chose her job, didn't need the money; she had a law degree, she had plenty of options.

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. Not pouting, putting the bikini on and 'making love to the camera' in the first place does more for your fellow women than speaking out about abuse... having established your public profile by making yourself wank fodder an object for men's fantasies. Doesn't it?

AbigailAdams Tue 26-Feb-13 06:56:57

Wtaf? There is so much wrong with that post whatisafeminist I'm not sure where to start.

"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. And that because she was a model she can't campaign against DV? You say you don't want to disrespect her yet call her "wank fodder".

That post says a lot more about you and your hatred of women than it does about Reeva Steenkamp.

And you are totally missing the point about people callling her Reeva. It isn't because they purport to know her. It is to make her human. Something that the media and you have failed to do, reducing her down to her sexual value.

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

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.

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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