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Is the 'but what if the genders were reversed' argument any good?

(9 Posts)
MrsReasonable Fri 12-Aug-11 23:08:54

I was browsing AIBU (for my sins) and saw this thread - your basic 'male TV presenter is fit' type thing.

It occurred to me that, as the thread title suggests, if the posters were men discussing the body and attractiveness of a female, I would be very uncomfortable. Is there a good argument that it's different when women do it? I've been trying to articulate one, but can't come up with anything very convincing.

I thought perhaps it was different because there it was (hopefully!) tongue-in-cheek; but I wouldn't accept that argument from males - just because you're doing it jokingly doesn't mean you're not doing it.

MillyR Fri 12-Aug-11 23:19:40

This is an unhelpful answer. It is a bit late for me to be articulate.

There is a difference because of the relative social positions of men and women.

There is a difference because sexualisation of women is more common, and things that are common tend to have cumulative impact. This is particularly an issue because sexualisation of women is so visible that it is hard to opt out of it.

There is a similarity because it is up to the individual woman to decide how much they are going to involve themselves in sexualisation of men. If, as a woman, you choose to immerse yourself in the sexualisation of men, it is going to have an impact on how you see all men. But if, as a woman, you do it infrequently, you are not going to have the same experience as we all do when seeing the frequent sexualisation of women.

jennyvstheworld Sun 14-Aug-11 18:33:40

This is a very good question, I think it's a shame that it's only had one response.

Actually I think Milly's answer is helpful (despite it being post-vino smile). There is indeed a difference. However, this in itself doesn't suggest whether it is ok or not...

As I said, it's a shame our more vocal feminist posters are silent on this issue.

TrillianAstra Sun 14-Aug-11 18:45:57

jenny for some reason I feel uncomfortable at what seems like complaints that people have not answered. Sometimes posts, especially those that are posted late at night, get missed. The "vocal feminist posters" are people with lives, posting on the MN feminist boards is not actually their job and it sounds as if you are saying that they have been remiss in their duties.

I imagine the answer will be that "imagine if the genders were reversed" cannot always give us a true idea of whether something is acceptable because the whole of society around us will not have reversed. In an equal society saying something disrespectful about any group of people should be equally bad, but in an unequal society it is more acceptable to make fun of or disrespect the group who have generally been the oppressors rather than the oppressed.

fluffles Sun 14-Aug-11 18:52:55

i think you'd be more uncomfortable if it were men discussing a woman because most men don't do this in front of women.

i would expect a man to feel uncomfortable in a goup of women discussing a male actor/tv person.

because when we are the same gender as the 'object' of these discussions we feel judged. but when we are the gender of the subjects having the discussion we don't feel judged.

personally i'm not really a 'whoar' type person.. i don't have many males on tv or film that i find arousing, mostly i find charisma and chat attractive, but it doesn't really bother me to hear men or women appreciating the looks of other men or women who are afterall on tv or in film because they are exceptionally attractive in the general socially accepted way.

jennyvstheworld Sun 14-Aug-11 18:57:09

Trillian Talk about making a whole jigsaw from only one piece...!

I completely agree with your final point.

TrillianAstra Sun 14-Aug-11 20:52:15

I'll take that as you saying "I didn't mean it like that" and so sorry for misunderstanding smile

jennyvstheworld Sun 14-Aug-11 21:07:58

I just noticed that the conference has been on... blush

jennyvstheworld Tue 16-Aug-11 22:36:29

Is it still on?

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