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sneaking back to feminism - where to start?

(26 Posts)
kentishgirl Tue 25-Feb-14 15:43:47

Hello

I've always called myself a feminist, but I haven't always lived that way in practise. In my teens I read Spare Rib, I didn't change my name when I got married at 19 in the 80s, my then marriage was, well, difficult but basically in line with my feminist ideals. Then what happened to me? It all started to seem a bit over the top, a bit too much effort, a bit pointless and I felt the effects of all the anti-feminist pressure, I suppose. While still a feminist at heart, I stopped walking the walk.

My last relationship was a nightmare for this. I was with an unabashed chauvinist for 12 years. We talked about it, I made no headway. I'm ashamed to say that I 'compromised' too far, for too long, while still trying to hang on to as much of my own beliefs as I could. I failed to take his beliefs seriously (stuck my head in the sand). It was a source of real problems in our relationship and probably ultimately the reason for it ending (thank goodness) in that I refused to compromise any further and he went off and found the 'nice' 1950s submissive housewife type he always wanted. I'm rather ashamed that I wasted my time on all that.

I'm now with nice lefty man who is pretty feminist in his outlook if not really into the whole politics/theory of it. I've got to say, omg, it's just so relaxing for these everyday life things not to be an issue, just accepted as the norm. So now my life is more sorted, I feel like I'm waking up again. I've loved reading the threads on here - like coming home.

Where do I start? Where is feminism now? What are the big issues? I was never a radical and I don't want to start seeing patriarchal conspiracies in everything (tin hat land, to me) but it IS important and I want to get my feel for this again. Any good contemporary books? Films?

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Tue 25-Feb-14 17:34:26

Hi kentish. Can I ask something related to your post? Given that you 'did' feminism in the 80's, was the focus the same back then on patriarchal conspiracies/subjugation? Or has that shifted to a greater emphasis?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Feb-14 18:54:23

Books that are recommended a lot on here are Delusions of Gender, Wifework and Paid For. I also like Eve Was Framed.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Tue 25-Feb-14 21:37:43

According to radical feminists such as Mary Daly and Andrea Dworkin, it is the deliberate, conscious abuse of power by males to subjugate women. Dworkin identified rape as a deliberate weapon used to keep women submissive. I know that this is not how everyone sees patriarchy. I just wanted to know how it was viewed when KG was starting out in feminism.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Tue 25-Feb-14 22:17:43

I am assuming that was a question to me, Buffy, as the OP doesn't appear to be here.

I always assumed Daly, Dworkin et al were talking of the use of violence at a societal level rather than individual. And I assume that they were not specifically referring to war, as that results in abuse and slaughter of both genders. I thought it was referred to as a method of subjugation within normal society, rather than by warring states and armies. But that is a lot of assumptions as I have not read much of their work and could be way off. I guess the conspiracy aspect arises from the implication that those in power find this an acceptable method of keeping women subjugated.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Tue 25-Feb-14 23:02:04

I agree with much of that, Buffy. The media have a lot to answer for. The pregnancy thing is an odd one. It's an area where we have no comparable situation with men, so we cannot say whether there is bias faced by women , only that women are being badly treated. I assume that a man deliberately harming an unborn baby is already a serious offence under law (I don't know how it is classified) and that this classification is not under review.

I know you don't personally think of these things as conspiracies. However, I also don't think your deny that other feminists - some of them very famous and influential - don't agree with you.

I have a question related to your points. Let's take the one of the media and victim blaming. What do you think is the overarching feminist position on this - i). the media are primarily biased against women, with little or no bias against other groups, or ii). feminism will concern itself with the bias against women, because no-one else cares, and any other bias will have to be combatted by the relevant groups.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Feb-14 23:09:43

Patriarchy is a structure, not a conspiracy. Same as the class system is a structure not a conspiracy. Does dworkin say it's a conspiracy?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Feb-14 23:19:45

Did your iPad bite you, Buffy? Have you staked it?

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Tue 25-Feb-14 23:32:30

Can a structure conspire? Can a society modelled on a structure conspire? In some people's opinion, does ours?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Feb-14 23:40:10

Um, neither Buffy nor I view it as a conspiracy - I'm not sure that Dworkin does either.

Even in your reasoning, if it's conscious that those who benefit from the structure know it and don't want to change it, that's still not a conspiracy. If someone benefitted from private education, it's not a conspiracy if They and others like them don't want to abolish private schools.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Wed 26-Feb-14 00:15:11

[T]he prisons for women are our homes. We live under martial law. We live in places in which a rape culture exists.... Men have to be sent to prison, to live in a culture that is as rapist as the normal home in North America. We live under what amounts to a military curfew. Enforced by rapists.… In the United States, violence against women is a major pastime. It is a sport. It is an amusement. It is a mainstream cultural entertainment…. It saturates the society."

Dworkin wrote that in 1991. It is a view of the society she lived in, and that society was shaped by patriarchal structures. If a conspiracy is 'an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act', I'd say her view was that society conspired against women. I could be wrong. Maybe she meant something else.

But I have to get going now. I hope the OP comes back and expands on her original point. I was really only looking for an historical perspective.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 26-Feb-14 09:13:36

<reports Buffy for unnatural relations with her iPad, thereby making the whole thing Her Fault, as a Woman>

Sorry OP, this isn't helpful. My main feminist learning method is hanging out on FWR - try that for a bit?

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Wed 26-Feb-14 09:43:53

Metaphor? Possibly. I have not read nearly enough of her to comment definitively.

But she is a pretty huge figure within feminism, isn't she? Love her or loath her, she was obviously intelligent, educated, articulate and passionate - and thoughtful. I can see why her writing would inspire people - a common phrase on here when people first 'get' feminism is 'scales falling from my eyes'. I imagine writers like her have helped that process. And what if it wasn't a metaphor? What if she meant it? Does that devalue her writing? Does that make others feel uncomfortable?

I suppose anyone who writes anything is open to interpretation. Unless you provide you own Brodies-notes type guide to all your works, and say exactly what you mean, that is going to happen. How do you think she might be using metaphor here, if the paragraph is not to be taken at face value?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Wed 26-Feb-14 10:40:50

"Men's sexual freedom has depended, and still does to a large extent, upon their ownership of women's bodies. Men have bought, sold and traded women as things to be used. Women are still regularly raped in marriage, even though most Western countries have now changed their laws to recognize that wives have a right not to be raped." This is from Sheila Jeffreys.

An MRA might say, 'But men buy, sell and trade men too!' Which is true - and, I think, a common mis-interpretation of what feminism is about. Feminism can be interpreted as 'Look at this awful stuff that only happens to women!' The more I read, the more I think this isn't what it is about. It is about 'Look at this awful stuff that does happen to women! We want to fix it. Nobody else will.' And that kind of self-interest is perfectly valid.

MRA = self help, self interest, self promoting. So is feminism. So is socialism, pacifism, fascism and every other political -ism.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 26-Feb-14 10:56:40

I'm probably too simple, but don't we constantly attribute agenda to 'the patriarchy' knowing this is a shorthand, rather than because we think it's a sentient entity?

I constantly end up saying 'the patriarchy likes x' and I don't mean it literally. To me, 'patriarchial conspiracy' captures the way that it feels, that everything is structured such that each separate element covertly validates the next.

But I got distracted. Hi kentish. smile

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Wed 26-Feb-14 11:10:24

I probably was grin . But the more you read, the more you learn, even for someone relatively unacademic.

I do think it's an easy mistake to make though - patriarchy equalling men, rather than patriarchy equalling society, of which we are all a part. And I think even some feminists make this mistake at times. And the conspiracy aspect, the them-and-us mentality, can sometimes come from this mix-up.

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