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Can Someone Explain Feminism to me.

(201 Posts)
StickEmUp Wed 16-Jan-13 14:16:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SerenityX Fri 01-Feb-13 09:27:05

My best friend and I both describe ourselves as feminists.

She does not have children, by choice. She does not believe in marriage. She has long term boyfriends - serial monogamy. She hates organized religions. She is gorgeous and dresses beautifully in silk dresses. She has a high flier job and earns a decent salary in IT at the boardroom level. (smashed some glass ceilings on the way). She hates sports and the whole macho culture that goes with who is the fastest, strongest, toughest and the narcissists it produces - who will do anything to get there. (thinking of her latest Lance Amstrong rant)

She is appalled by rape and that in the military it gets hidden and pushed aside as occupational hazard. She hates religion for teaching women they must obey men. She finds it offensive people bring their kids to restaurants. She thinks it is terrible that we seem to be a more child - centric society than we were 20 years ago.

Sustainability is an issue - she puts it down to humans becoming too successful for their own good and not thinking we are superior to all other animals. This is a bad thing!

She supports gays and mavericks - people who think different. She champions creativity and the arts & sciences. She hates my dress sense and dresses uniquely but beautifully. Edgy i think! She shuns anything "about fitting in" and the whole cupcake culture as she calls it. You won't catch her reading 50 Shades of Grey.

She is the most amazing and dynamic woman I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. So strong, spirited and completely independent. She is always out, traveling or doing something fun, She is never tired - she admits she sleeps 10 hours a day. She looks 10-15 years younger than she is.

What is amazing is that my life and beliefs are so VERY...VERY...VERY different to hers and thank goodness feminism has given US THe POWER TO CHOOSE! We have another friend who's 16 year old daughter (to her mothers slight horror) is saying she wants to grow up like X.... She is already saying she never wants to get married or have kids.... She does not like kids and is not afraid to say it! At 16 how strong is that?

Without this thing called Feminism women would be shunned and considered evil for not liking kids. Why should we all like kids? Should every woman have kids?

It is quite funny to think that she has lost friends over this as people assume she is weird to question things.

Whenever I hear some politico preaching about family values I think pass the sick bucket. Surely we are in the days of free choice now and can choose the lifestyle we want and not judge others.

I can still uphold feminist values and wear Boden while baking cupcakes if I want. Putting people (women) into boxes is the problem.

My pet hate was the Boots Christmas commercial Here come the girls! Sexism in advertising like the Diet Coke make my skin crawl. Lynx is another brand I refuse to have in this house. It is more difficult with sexism when raising boys. As there are few gender neutral products aimed at them. I notice how assumptions about young men are so ingrained. People on meeting my son will ask him what his favourite football team without even asking if he is into football. Just assumed!

The challenge for me as a feminist is how I raise my son.

Thoughts? I am sure there is plenty of controversy in this post so fire away.

MmBovary Sat 26-Jan-13 09:29:45

OP, feminism is very difficult to define, you are right. But calling it "peopleism" doesn't addresss the problem.

You have to start by understanding or seeing the problem first: that women, not just now, but throughout history and all over the world has been treated as inferior to men and therefore not given the same opportunities in terms of personal development, education, work and professional lives.

In some countries of the world, mainly Western nations, most women have achieved a high degree of opportunity and independence from the patriarchal structure, always working within it, as there isn't yet another choice, but they have access now to education and the professions.

However, the hurdles they have to overcome to be respected and to be promoted and recognised for their capacities and skills are tremendous.

They also face inequality inside the house when they get married and have children as it is very commonly expected for them to carry out most childcare and domestic duties.

So, yes, we have achieved a high degree of equality overall, but there is still a lot to be done for women and men to be exactly at the same level in the workplace, at home, and in society as a whole.

Feminism is not about being the "same" as men, as it is sometimes assumed. As the words "equal" and "same" are usually confused. Nobody is the same to anybody, not even two men are the same to each other. It is about being equal when it comes to opportunities for personal development and expression, that is, equal opportunities and expectations in education, the job market, and at home, and the wider society. I can't see how "peopleism" would address a problem that is very clearly a gender problem.

That's why I think feminism is important and should be kept alive.

Men nowadays have a lot of challenges too, and I wouldn't understimate their plight either, but because they tend to be the ones in positions of economic and political power the world over, I can't see why we need a movement to catapult them to that.

Xenia Tue 22-Jan-13 16:08:22

It's that moral duty to ensure your child is favoured over others, to ensure you feed it well and read to it rather than neglecting it and doing better instead for your neighbour's child. it is how we are made - to seek to ensure our children do well i.e. better than those of others. It's why parents leave inner London 9when it's schools were at their worst) and move to suburbs with leafy comps.

I don't think you c an generalise to say state schools breed the workers. Plenty of them send children to Oxbridge who will h ire cleaners and nannies and plumbers to do work for them.

If white males only earn 43p per hour more than non whites that suggests there is very little discrimination. There are many more Jews and non whites (including blacks and asians) amongst lawyers for example than reflects not positive discrimination in their favour but cultural preference in their various cultures for that career.

Women are also not very good at asking for more pay (except for me) and that is another reason some of them over age 27 are paid less and the main reason is often that they accept sexist men at home and stupidly let themselves be saddled with childcare and domestic stuff men have the wit to avoid. If the left on the thread want revolution let it start at a very micro level of ensuring this coming weekend no woman does more than a man in terms of cleaning and childcare and that they each have as much spare time as the other. It is a day to day thing, feminism can be, about who cleans the loo etc etc. It is about transferring responsibility at home for tasks in a fair way, not just to be nagged to do them but to say okay I'm the man so I do 100% of the washing and you do the cooking or he takes to school and she collects. These fairness things can be organised whether you both are unemployed or both on the board at Tesco.

feministefatale Mon 21-Jan-13 20:26:24

mini no need to explain. Xenia has herself on many occasion explained that the children of the well to do are better off than the poor. It's her reason for why parents shouldn't stay home with their children. They should be out earning more and sending them to better schools.

She just forgets that when people imply that if you haven't got the money and the schooling it's a bit more difficult to leave your place.

MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 20:04:22

I agree, everything is set up to favour the few feministefatale

Xenia, The reason I ask is because education on the surface of it would seem to have no sex and class bias but several sociologists have studied this area. Althusser that capitalist production relied upon class and sex bias. "labour power must be produced in a form where differentiation exists according to definition of skill and this provision is met through idealogical process" The most obvious way this happens is through the system of state/private. State education is the vehicle by which labour is reproduced (along with family) whilst the private sector is concerned with educating people to lead. Very often what is found is that the state school teaches skills and attitudes best suited to the demands of stultifying and boring repetitious work. Students are not encouraged to question, to teach people to think leads to social unrest!

Being "ruled over" becomes as natural for the working class as "right to rule" is for the upper class. feministefatale stat is a perfect example, because where bright working class boys from minorities have been taken out of the state system and put into private they then make better progress. And it isn't just the teaching it's the ideology and the culture.

feministefatale Mon 21-Jan-13 19:16:57

Xenia, Whites in the UK make about 43p an hour more on average than minorities. DO you think that's because they simply haven't worked hard enough?

Xenia Mon 21-Jan-13 17:46:08

We simply disagree. I think capitalism is wonderful. You don't but we probably both agree women are total mugs if they accept sexism at home and that if they can do well and have equal rights to men at work they tend to have better lives and that a heap of things done to women on this planet from FMG to the not even having the vote in Saudi is pretty rotten for women. I am sure we can agree on that.

What was the simple question? Private school. My great grandfather mined for coal I suspect in the same mine as the Duchess of Cambridge's mother's relatives at the same time in the same area. We are lucky in the UK to have relatively easy social mobility as we tend not to have the Indian caste system and the like. So I can move up, others move down and it's all good fun.

Women are no more locked into their social status than men are. We can work hard and earn a lot and fo well or we can take stupid choices of careers or mess up our exam results and have a low income for life and as we are women we have the second option to make money which is sex and marrying. Men don't have both options on the whole. Now we can earn a lot through our own efforts plus through marriage women are actually earning more than men adn then under 40 more are millionaires as either they made that money or they got it from a man. As men tend just to have the one option - to earn it there are fewer of those who are millionaires in the UK under 40 so all is well for women and we are lucky to live in this time. Obviously if women want to live in socialist communes with no money or be contemplative nuns or move to Cuba or North Korea those are options too.

MiniTheMinx Mon 21-Jan-13 11:40:46

Xenia, Did you learn by rote at school? please answer, simple question. Did you attend state or private?

Ok lets try this a different way, historically (ie factually) class status depended upon men. The conditions of women's lives have been determined by the fact that men have economic control via the traditional nuclear family that came out of _man's need to compete with other men for resources_ , only women could provide heirs only women could provide the extra hands needed to work the land.

Historically (as in constantly changing over time) the accumulation of private property confers social status, Yes or no? Social status confers power. (wow how does that happen?) This is a hierarchy, this social structure locks women into a position dependant upon wealth and property for social power. Even if you believe that patriarchy theory explains women's subordination then you have to understand how women's position has changed over time (according to method of production ie tribal, middle ages, feudal, capitalist) women's subordination occurred by historical process in relation to production and it will continue to change in the same historical way and it will therefore be dictated not by Xenia but by changing the method of production. The value of reproduction is related to method of production and changes over time. Capitalists require specific skills set that they believe are "more natural" to women, empathy, manual dexterity, ability to cope with monotony, boredom thresholds, part time workers, flexible working patterns, non manual-labour, more caring, nursing, teaching roles, sw roles etc, guess what......reproduction is not valued in relation to production. YOU are actually feeding into this problem because you are measuring a persons value not on their nature, not on their character but in monetary terms. Women have always been rated in this way which is why women are subordinated.

It really is that simple. And for an intelligent women like you to fail to grasp such simple theory and logic points to the fact that YOU benefit from the system, which is why YOU defend it.

Xenia Mon 21-Jan-13 09:37:34

The left do not allow for personal responsibility and sit around waiting for the state to help them once they've engendered their revolution. The right say the Lord helps those who help themselves.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle - yes we need laws which say you cannot discriminate on grounds of sex but we also need more women saying once they get to know the new boyfriend - oy mate, just because I have breasts doesn't mean I cook and wash your shirts. Here's the washing basket. I'll be back in 60 minutes. Make sure you iron too... That can be done in poor homes, working class homes, Indian, African and all kinds of homes and it can start at home.
We can talk about working class women realising they can do well at school and have good careers and that is very important. However just as important is that day by day micro stuff which says if he has 4 hours to watch football then you get 4 hours off when you can leave the house on Saturdays and he not only minds the children but does cleaning at the same time to do your thing.

So what makes some women accept unfairness at home and others not? Presumably their upbringing. Make sure you don't show your children a pattern of sexism at home.

WilsonFrickett Mon 21-Jan-13 00:29:44

Is it not one of the main points of feminism that we look beyond our own noses? Married and Xenia both have lovely lives that thry've worked hard for - so have I for that matter - but in engaging with feminism I'm trying to look beyond my own experience. That's why mini's posts are so interesting, even though I have to think hard and squint my eyes a bit when I'm reading them - she's trying to apply broader theories than 'it worked for me.'

And married please dont describe Thatcher as lower-middle class like she was some wee workie who pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and overcame all those difficulties to become this amazing role model to us all. Talk about pulling the ladder up behind you, she invented the concept. And to Scots she's posh. We don't have the middle class like the English do.

MiniTheMinx Sun 20-Jan-13 20:28:59

Beaten by your husband.......well that would be your fault.

AnyFucker Sun 20-Jan-13 20:23:26

well, yes

MIW's philosophy is a victim-blaming one

you are not the CEO of a large multinational ? Shame on's your own fault

MiniTheMinx Sun 20-Jan-13 20:13:08

So taking Married's position in relation to women, "men and women have equality" it's up to women to act on it means that the same could be said of class and race. Of course we are led to think this way, we as individuals are totally responsible, sink or swim. That is neo-liberal ideology. Many people think this way because it stops people asking questions and demanding equality. It's all very well in relation to middle class women to point out they have opportunities, "so take them and stop winging" but what of women in India, Africa, Indonesia? and working class women here that get sucked into prostitution & sex work. Working class women can not delegate cleaning and in Xenia speak "shit jobs" they can't afford to. The shit jobs could be broadened to include dull filing, dull nursery care, dull office or factory work, dull waitressing and all for NMW. The life of middle class women is and has always been made that little bit easier by delegating "shit work" to working class women.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 20-Jan-13 19:54:19

...that is the only problem.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 20-Jan-13 19:52:12


Do you just have to believE that men and women are equal to be a feminist or does it need to go a bit further than that?

I think Trills's definition is along the lines of, "Do you believe that men and women should be equal? Do you think they are at the moment? Do you want that to change?" which has more to it than the "Have a vagina? Want to be in control of it?" definition.

If one's starting premise, as married's is, is that the only thing that stops a woman achieving is herself, then one would seem to believe that equality is already established and now it is individuals not acting on it.

AnyFucker Sun 20-Jan-13 19:44:05

xenia I really enjoy your posts when you apply your ideology outside of your rarified situation that is out of reach for many women

#keepin' it real

marriedinwhite Sun 20-Jan-13 19:40:58

Yep. And Xenia this is one thread where we have both participated and I think we could have a glass of wine and a good laugh putting aside our different opinions. grin.

dybil Sun 20-Jan-13 19:12:07

marriedinwhite - why is it that you say you're not a feminist?

You believe in equality between the sexes... which is in essence what being a feminist is.

Is it just that you don't like to identify with it because you feel the label has some sort of negative connotation?

MiniTheMinx Sun 20-Jan-13 19:05:16

Xenia, we will never agree partly because you use your own life experience to justify your political view. I don't. I'm not subordinated to you by class and obv I am not subordinate to you by sex. I really get the impression that you ascribe to the liberal feminist agenda of maintaining class hierarchy in society because it benefits you.

Interesting read here would really appreciate constructive opinion on it, interested to see whether you can actually take on board any other opinion and actually comment or whether you will continue to keep playing the "look at me so superior" argument.

"As capitalism heads toward mounting unemployment and broader social crisis, the prospect for women is much grimmer than described so far. By now the family wage can no longer be said to exist, not even for the middle class: compare the 60 percent of wives in the U.S. labor force in 1985 with the 25 percent in 1950. As well, while capitalism may conveniently claim to be sending women back to the home, layers of working-class women in this category really suffer from disguised unemployment: the lack of a real family wage means that they still need work and therefore are part of the reserve army of labor.

The number of involuntary part-time workers increased by 60 percent between 1979 and 1985. As union-scale industrial jobs held mainly by men diminished, women entered the labor force to fill part-time and low-wage service jobs. (While women are 45 percent of the labor force, they are 64 percent of minimum-wage earners.) For this reason women account for 63 percent of the increase in the U.S. workforce in the past decade. Nevertheless, the increasing proportion of female labor will inevitably be used by capitalism as a convenient excuse for the disappearance of the decent jobs that many male workers enjoyed in the past.

The social wage must also be reduced much more drastically because capitalism’s need for austerity is growing. We have seen wholesale cuts in health care, housing, education and all public services. If the system can keep mothers believing in their responsibility for the health and welfare of husbands and children (while it is the father’s job to bring home the bacon), it will create an important counter to the persistent notion that it is society’s duty to supply such services.

Today the female-headed single-parent household is the most rapidly growing family form, not only in the U.S. but worldwide. The number of single mothers in the U.S. doubled from 1960 to 1985, when one out of every four mothers in the work force headed her own family. The breakup of the nuclear family under capitalism has meant smaller family units and more responsibility on the woman’s shoulders"

Xenia Sun 20-Jan-13 18:24:58

My point was you do not need to be born with blue or lizard blood or be a mason or whatever as a woman to do well. Plenty of working class women on mumsnet enjoy good careers and do well./ We re very lucky women and men fought hard on these issues. 100 years ago I think or just about many professions were closed by law to women.

I am not just writing about middle class women and even working class women who pass exams well and do well.

Feminism is about making sure Jane who works in Tesco with a husband who drives a taxi cab does not end up doing all the cleaning at home because in her working class tradition or hindu or Muslim or whatever sexist set up you want to pick even if she works as hard out of the hosue as her husband she does far more cleaning and childcare than the God like man with whom she lives who never lifts a finger. That is feminism. It is about strong women not being walked all over by men at home and that applies whatever your race, cultural tradition or class. It is not just about women who choose to work as hard as I do and earn what I do.

The left/right politics issue just distracts from the main issue which is the basic stuff like is it unfair? It can be unfair the other way round. I have spoken to a good few men who work very hard, wife never lifts a finger, he gets home at 6 and then spend 4 hours of childcare and cleaning and she does nothing much at home either and yet on divorce he is treated like someone who never saw his children and gets them for 10 hours every fortnight. Mind you more fool him for enjoying a housewife I suppose as men pay the price for that on divorce.

StickEmUp Sun 20-Jan-13 18:17:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MurderOfGoths Sun 20-Jan-13 18:12:11

stickemup It seems that not only do you get told about feminism but also about how to appear ladylike wink

StickEmUp Sun 20-Jan-13 18:06:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 18:02:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marriedinwhite Sun 20-Jan-13 17:59:42

I believe in equality of opportunity for all. I believe men and women are equal. I am not a feminist.

Actually very happy to be a sensible, grounded, middle aged, middle class, woman who doesn't whinge or moan.

I might not be as well read as you but do you really think I was referring to my husband paying high taxes. Do you really think it's all done by PwC? Oh the naivety smile. There is also a huge difference between avoidance and evasion.

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