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Feminism for dummies

(116 Posts)
Nigglenaggle Mon 26-Nov-12 21:46:00

Hi. I have never really read much about feminism, but I always thought, in its essence, it was about bringing equality for men and women. however reading threads in this section has lead me to believe in fact that is not the case. In fact I've come to wonder if that is even a large part of it. Please explain to me, in plain English, what feminism is. An overview of the different schools of thought within it would be welcome, however please stick to simple terms, for a simple girl grin

ecclesvet Mon 26-Nov-12 22:02:48

Supermann Tue 27-Nov-12 01:38:56

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Frans1980 Tue 27-Nov-12 01:46:33

Feminism in theory= equality between the sexes

Feminism in practice= privileges for women, bashing men at every opportunity and criticizing women who make choices feminists don't like

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 27-Nov-12 08:54:40

Wow, really, Frans?

Nigglenaggle, somewhere in this section, forkful started a thread called something like "a gentle thread for questions", I'll try and have a look for it when not on the phone, or you could Advanced Search.

Leithlurker Tue 27-Nov-12 09:06:58

Frans and superman, are you some sort of double team?

Sausageeggbacon Tue 27-Nov-12 10:13:53

There are different views within feminism. You have the liberal feminists who want equality and changes where necessary but don't want to force other women to change their lives or lose their jobs (lap dancers and models as an example). We tend to believe the sight of flesh does not turn a man into a raping beast. For me I am against all domestic violence, street prostitution and female genitalia mutilation (examples). There are different views and strong opinions into what is called radical feminism, this is the Ban page 3, lap dancing and all man are rapists (not all them believe this but there have been interesting statements made in the past).

Things as simple as all women short lists in politics can cause issues as many are for it but some believe it indicates that we cannot compete against men on an equal level and have to have protection to be sure we get political roles. Everyone has different opinions, which makes it interesting. Basically every woman will choose the bits she want to believe and disbelieve in. Everyone will quote research which backs their position, unfortunately a lot of research on both sides in biased.

Welcome to the minefield called feminism. There are good videos on youtube that discuss feminism. Personally I watch a lot of the GirlWritesWhat videos which will not be popular but she does have an interesting perspective on the world.

namechangeguy Tue 27-Nov-12 10:16:24

Okay, he goes another man poking his oar in.

Society (and only living in the UK, that is all I can speak about) does not treat men and women equally. It should. There are some areas where women now have a better deal - education is one. Most feminists seem to want equality, which would mean that the education system would not see girls out-performing boys. The same should go for healthcare, wages, societal attitudes towards the roles we should perform etc etc. Why shouldn't my daughter have every opportunity that my son has?

What equality should not be is a race to the bottom, so there should be no problem with campaigning for women's rights, if it means bringing them up to the level of men's rights. What we should not have is an erosion of men's rights down to the level of women's.

Feminism is also a one-issue philosophy/movement, so it can appear a bit narrow at times. In my extremely limited reading of it, it can be difficult to raise issues that do affect men too - poverty, class, social divides, race, regionalism to name a few. But then often we are all guilty of concentrating on the issues that affect us directly.

Is there men-bashing? Maybe a little from time to time, but we should be aware that this is a personal point of view. Most women here are married with sons and daughters. One a personal note, the 'men hate women' phrase is trotted out far too often for my liking - I think it's an incredibly divisive thing to say, and is bound to get anybody's back up and put them on the defensive. Overall though, I think that it's a point of view held by a small section of feminists, and you get extreme views in almost all political movements.

So there you go, Niggle. You have now been put on the road to enlightenment by three men! Just like every other day in your life, no doubt grin. I hope you stick around. It's an interesting place.

AnyFuckingDude Tue 27-Nov-12 10:30:40

ooo, goody

a feminism bashing thread, haven't had one of those for a while hmm

namechangeguy Tue 27-Nov-12 10:35:59

I hope my post wasn't seen as bashing. It wasn't meant to be.

AnyFuckingDude Tue 27-Nov-12 10:37:53

I wasn't referring to you, ncg

I was just musing on the new (or not so new) feminist-goading double tag team we seem to have picked up from somewhere

HullyEastergully Tue 27-Nov-12 10:39:36


It doesn't matter what kind of shitty woman-hating choice you make, it's your RIGHT to make it.


namechangeguy Tue 27-Nov-12 10:46:28

If we encouraged critical thinking in our schools, instead of using them as exam-passing factories, then choice would not be such an issue.

Supermann Tue 27-Nov-12 10:53:25

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AnyFuckingDude Tue 27-Nov-12 10:55:08

How surprising that child custody has come into this...and so early in the thread too !

HullyEastergully Tue 27-Nov-12 10:58:20

Gracious me!

I have to say I think IT'S ALL GONE TOO FAR.


namechangeguy Tue 27-Nov-12 11:01:09

Supermann, yes - there are forces at work in the UK that want to equalise by reduction. For example, the erosion of pension rights for public sector workers is seen as equalising pension rights to the level of those in the private sector. This is completely the wrong way to go about things. And I did highlight where it works in reverse - education - and why this is wrong too. Do not work to lower girls' achievements in schools - bring boys up to the same level. It works both ways.

purrpurr Tue 27-Nov-12 11:02:41

I think Caitlin Moran was right when she was able to identify what was equality by asking, "Are men having to do this?" Really to modernise that statement we should be looking at times when each of us feels discriminated against and we should feel confident in ensuring we're receiving the same treatment as others - whether we achieve that by talking about it to create enough noise to force change, or if we're in a more positive environment, by simply asking for it.

Feminism is about equality for all. Where feminism is successful is where problems are identified and resolved. The main issue however is that we are light years away from real equality - you could say real equality is visible through life's viewfinder if you squint and use your imagination. For some, this is enough. More and more men, in particular, are asking for the focus to be moved solely to men now, almost as if women have had enough effort and it's time for the focus to go back to where it belongs.

We still don't have equality for all. Two examples come immediately to mind:

1) Uganda will pass their anti-homosexuality bill this year, something which promotes violence towards gay men and lesbians. This is sickening.

2) An anti-rape female condom, Rape-aXe, which is a latex sheath embedded with shafts of sharp, inward-facing barbs that would be worn by a women in her vagina, was developed by a South African woman to assist women who are at high risk of rape - all women in the region.
"If an attacker were to attempt vaginal rape, his penis would enter the latex sheath and be snagged by the barbs, causing the attacker excruciating pain during withdrawal and giving the victim time to escape. The condom would remain attached to the attacker's body when he withdrew and could only be removed surgically, which would alert hospital staff and police."

Whilst the development of this product is bad enough - that it was deemed necessary for the safety of women for this product to exist - the device has never been marketed to the public and it "remains unclear" as to whether the product will ever be available for purchase. The need for something to deter men from rape that would cause them physical harm and the need for surgery is bad enough. The fact that such a thing was created and then quietly shelved, leaving women still being raped in higher numbers than anywhere else in the world, is horrifying. This is not a scary story from 50 years ago. This is happening right now. This is the real important stuff here.

I'm afraid that, based on the above, I would find it extraordinarily difficult to muster up sympathy for a middle class first world man posting on Mumsnet about how men are often the group most neglected by feminists.

Supermann Tue 27-Nov-12 11:03:23

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AnyFuckingDude Tue 27-Nov-12 11:08:36

supermann, I just told ncg I wasn't referring to him...did you miss that post, or are you too intent on goading and causing bunfights perchance ?

namechangeguy Tue 27-Nov-12 11:09:14

I suppose the other problem we have whenever these debates are started is the all-talk, no-listen starting point. Anyone who knows their point of view before understanding all the issues cannot be engaged in reasonable debate.

purrpurr Tue 27-Nov-12 11:10:06

Superman - not that I'm trying to be a feminist or anything, but have you noticed that it's only women in an argument that are automatically called aggressive? Men only get called aggressive when they punch someone. Fun fact of the day.

AnyFuckingDude Tue 27-Nov-12 11:10:39

AnyFuckingDude Tue 27-Nov-12 10:37:53
I wasn't referring to you, ncg

I was just musing on the new (or not so new) feminist-goading double tag team we seem to have picked up from somewhere

Supermann Tue 27-Nov-12 11:12:09

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summerflower Tue 27-Nov-12 11:14:41

I think the issue around equality is that it is possible to argue that women have different needs than men, thus for example, provision should be made for them which is not necessary for men - i.e. time off work for pregnancy-related ailments and breastfeeding/expressing - so equality does not address all the issues.

On the subject of all men are rapists, I wouldn't take it that literally, just that our culture accepts rape, and that surely serves men more than women.

That apart, I tend to think that the idea of feminists being man-hating, or seeking more rights than men, is a silencing technique.

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