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Explain feminism in simple terms

(22 Posts)
babyicebean Sat 08-Mar-14 16:09:48

That an 8 year old would understand.


Also can someone explain (again in v simple terms) why pole dancing and/or burlesque is so unwelcome if it is done in a classroom setting with a group of other women and if it is does belly dancing have the same feeling among people.

Linguini Sat 08-Mar-14 19:35:59


Put simply, feminism is about equality. Feminism has come fairly far (in the west) thanks to feminists who fought for equality between the sexes such as women being able to vote and have opportunities in education and the workplace. Many cultures still hold very firmly beliefs that women are inferior, should be denied the right to education, health-care and many other things, so feminism is now trying to help on a global-scale.

Another problem faced by present-day feminists is the issue of lap-dancing and stripping, because it seems to reduce women's place in society as being valued purely for what they can flaunt to a man. By the way I am assuming grown women are pole dancing in a classroom and not the 8yr olds??

To pole dance in a classroom is very dodgy because it is something grown up women only should do, not schoolchildren. Burlesque and Belly Dancing are generally accepted by feminists as fine if you really want to, so long as you are totally adult and have made up your own mind. School rooms should not be involved at all, because a child should never pole dance, or watch pole dancing!

Are there groups teaching pole dancing and belly dancing in your child's classroom? If I had that, I probably would suggest they find a more suitable venue.

DonkeySkin Sat 08-Mar-14 22:51:27

For me, feminism is not about equality but the liberation of women from male domination. I am not interested in being 'equal' with men within a system of domination (as if that were even possible).

I think it's hard to put it in words that an eight-year-old would understand, because you would have to explain that in most parts of the world, people who cannot bear children have created societies which allow them to control and dehumanise people who can bear children, and this has been going on, as far as we can tell, forever. It is the oldest and most widespread form of oppression on the planet. Feminism is the political movement that aims to end it.

It's all pretty heavy stuff to lay on an eight-year-old sad

AskBasil Sat 08-Mar-14 23:36:10

A class room setting?

For burlesque or pole dancing?

For 8 year olds?


LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 08-Mar-14 23:46:55

I agree with donkey. Feminism is about women's liberation.

Basically, there is a history of women being treated as lesser. It's become so deeply part of how society works that we don't even see it, so it's hard to fight. I'm not sure how easy that is to explain to an eight-year-old, but perhaps think about examples of how often she or he sees people assuming a doctor is a man, or a nurse is a woman?

I'm not sure I'd even begin to think about pole dancing or burlesque for eight year olds. But the issue there is to do with the fact that oppression of women is very closely linked to women being seen as sex objects.

You have to ask yourself, why do you think most prostitutes are women? Why are most rape victims women? Why are most nude pictures of women? If women's bodies and women's sexuality were seen as the same as men's, women's bodies and sexuality wouldn't be exploited for money.

Given that uneven situation, I feel uneasy about anything, like burlesque or pole dancing, that has strong associations with treating women as sex objects. I understand that, theoretically, you could pretend you'd never heard that pole dancing had anything to do with sex, and you could focus on it as a form of exercise. But can you be sure other people will be as willing to forget as you?

If you google pole dancing, you see that to most people, it has strong associations with sex. I don't really see how you can believe those can be ignored through sheer force of will. As a generalization, the sorts of women who can afford to do pole-fitness tend to be rather more privileged economically than the sort of women who end up pole dancing to make money. They're the lucky ones, so they should be extra careful about not perpetuating a stereotype that damages other women who're less lucky.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sat 08-Mar-14 23:48:26

Btw, I would take issue with this, linguini: 'Burlesque and Belly Dancing are generally accepted by feminists as fine if you really want to, so long as you are totally adult and have made up your own mind.'

I know it's not like you can poll all available feminists and get stats on this, but most feminists I know would not agree, so I suspect it is more up for debate than all that.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Sun 09-Mar-14 07:48:23

Feminism is politics that concentrates on women (I think an 8 year old would get that!)

Sausageeggbacon Sun 09-Mar-14 10:29:37

I explained to DD when she was young that it was making sure I was equal with dad and her two younger brothers didn't get bigger shares of things. Depends how intelligent the young lady is but a practical example using the household as an example (if you can) worked for me. No idea why you would need to discuss pole dancing etc with an 8 y/o.

RegTheMonkey Wed 12-Mar-14 14:49:38

At the most basic level its about fairness. Feminists fought so that women could vote, they fought so that women doing the same job as men earned the same wage, they fought so that women could take out a mortgage or credit without having their husband or father having to sign the application form. They fought so that when women married they were not forced to give up their jobs.
Children generally respond to the concept of 'fairness' when it is pointed out to them. So at the level of an 8-year-old I would say - if it's ok for men to do that/be that/earn that, then it's fair for a woman to do so too.
I would also explain that in many parts of the world girls aren't allowed to go to school, and women aren't allowed to leave the house without a brother, father or husband escorting them, even to the market. In some places women aren't allowed to drive. And then ask - is any of that fair?

Wurstwitch Wed 12-Mar-14 14:55:12

Is she a brownie? I only ask, because the WAGGGS Thinking day pack this year was all about access to education in a global context, and there is a ton of age-appropriate stuff to talk about, including how gender impacts access to education world-wide...
The pack is available on the web.

With 8 year olds, I usually stick to equality, and ask if they can see a difference between how a boy or girl/ woman or man is expected to behave in a specific context. They can do the thinking, you can ask 'why?' Role reversal for the parent/ child grin

AnyFucker Wed 12-Mar-14 14:58:17

That was lovely of Op to come back and thank people for responding to her command request, wasn't it ?


AuntieStella Wed 12-Mar-14 15:16:42

OP might just be busy in RL?

I see feminism in terms of promoting equality, which encompasses the breaking down of stereotypes.

In the sample of dance for 8 year olds, I'd say that using the language of erotica is inappropriate for young children and in the classroom generally. Burlesque doesn't work (IYSWIM) without the costumes and a level of awareness of sex-for-pleasure, and pole dancing is very highly sexualised. If it is being part of the PE curriculum, then it could be presented as gymnastic dance with none of the wider issues attached.

Here's a history of belly dancing. Over the centuries, it has had quite a different status, and although it can be sexualised there are other elements and that may be why it provokes a different response.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 12-Mar-14 15:51:31

Yes, I was wondering about that AF. Of course people get busy, but it's been four days.

babyicebean Wed 12-Mar-14 20:09:18

Sorry I didn't come back to say thank you but we had a vomiting bug so was a bit busy.

I maybe am guilty of not expressing myself clearly but when I said classroom setting I meant like night class not in a school.

I wasn't clear, which is my fault, but the 8 yr old was asking about feminism as she had heard a piece on the local radio about how people were anti pole dancing being held in a local dance school at night and only for over 18's not children. The woman being interviewed was on about that class and the burlesque class the school holds as well.

As to the belly dancing that's my hobby and she asked if the shouts woman would not like these as well as it was also for a group of women.

I always though it was about choice and if someone chose to do this then surely its free choice for them to try it. I did a taster class in it to see how it compared to a 'normal' dance class, couldn't see anything sexual or pornographic in it as it just made me sweaty and achy. Anything less sexy would be hard to imagine, unless the vision of my sweaty, flabby bruised thighs and arms turned people on.

AnyFucker Wed 12-Mar-14 20:17:39

Oh, there you are smile

My apologies for doubting you, but I am sure that if you are a regular user of this board, you will be aware we get quite a few irritating types that demand answers to hot topics and then fuck off...

babyicebean Wed 12-Mar-14 20:17:58

How did I command people to reply to my request? I was thinking as I typed which in itself is a bad idea but if I offended you with my command then I apologise.

babyicebean Wed 12-Mar-14 20:19:08

I am not a regular of this particular board but I though it was better to ask people who actually seemed to know what they knew about, better her than in somewhere like pets

Minnieisthedevilmouse Wed 12-Mar-14 20:25:03

Feminism? For me it's equality. It's recognising that women historically were less than men simply for being women. It's knowing that women died for that and still are.

So ask her how many girls are in her class. Then imagine not being allowed the same things as boys simply because you were a girl. Daft isn't it?

I would maybe say belly dancing for you is fun and fitness as you do it. Burlesque is usually for the pleasure of boys. I'm not au fait with the history of BD but tbh I'd guess they ain't actually far apart....? Something to think about maybe. B is these days being reclaimed but it's still fundamentally titillation. I'm undecided where I stand really on it.

mumzuki Wed 12-Mar-14 20:28:01

Class I teach (secondary, so not 8yr olds, but still kids) recently tried to define feminism. Between them, they came up with: People who object to the oppression of women, taking action to challenge and prevent that oppression, with the aim of creating equality between the sexes.

Lap dancing and pole dancing exist in a culture that demeans and belittles women, for the gratification of men - so even if there are only women present in a particular class, that is what they represent.

I struggle with explaining feminism to my own daughter - she's 6, and I'm not sure I want her to know yet that women are systematically treated as having less value than men. I don't know how other MNers have dealt with that; I'd be interested to know!

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 12-Mar-14 20:29:08

Eek, hope you are better now.

I think the issue with choice is that, yes, of course having freedom of choice (even within limits) is hugely valuable, it's not the be-all and end-all.

Say, for example, I decide it's my free choice to go strip in a club. Say no one is forcing me, I'm a nice, well-educated middle-class woman, with a lovely supportive husband, rosy-cheeked children and a happy home life. And say it happens that I love it, it makes me feel sexy, the men are nice, and I make some extra cash.

Sounds great, right?

But the issue would be, as long as people like Fictional LRD the Stripper do that, some cynical misogynistic bastards (and a lot of ordinary people) will think 'ah, it's ok, stripping can be fine'. It's a short step from that to 'of course stripping is fine ... so why is anyone complaining? How dare they? Maybe these other women who claim to have been traumatized are just being silly, eh?'

The same is true with things like burlesque, IMO.

To me - and excuse me, because it's not my thing - I think belly dancing is something co-opted. It's become sexy in an Orientalist way, the same way people used to write crappy Mills and Boon novels about how deeply erotic harems were. I think quite often that is the way with race and sex intersecting?

babyicebean Wed 12-Mar-14 20:34:25

I am off now as am more confused than ever. Thank you to those who helped me explain to my daughter.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 12-Mar-14 20:41:24

What are you confused about? confused

Not that it's not complicated, but maybe if you stick around it will make sense?

We all tried to help explain, I think.

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