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Feminism 101

(46 Posts)
Jessica2point0 Thu 25-Jun-15 18:06:59

The idea of this thread is a sort of safe space, where people can ask questions / have discussions without having to read / reference academic papers on feminism. I'm hoping to encourage people who don't (and/or don't want to) identify as feminism to join the debate.

So, if you have any questions or a passing interest in feminism, please come along and have your say!

Jessica2point0 Thu 25-Jun-15 18:08:44

Arg! Identify with feminism obviously!

Garlick Thu 25-Jun-15 18:47:19

Hello smile Loads of MNers have this board hidden. But here's a friendly bump!

SongToTheMoon Thu 25-Jun-15 18:49:08

Having read most of the recent threads, and posted a bit, I'd suggest you've put this thread in the wrong place - maybe Chat?
And it prob needs a link from the thread you posted the idea on, so folks can easily access it.

laurierf Thu 25-Jun-15 19:06:32

I have many thoughts and questions as a non-"academic feminist". One question I would like to talk about, for non "academic feminists" I suppose (I assume when people refer to "academic feminists" on this board, they mean people who are working in academia and earning a living from talking/thinking about feminism)… where do you draw the line when it comes to voicing your opinion/standing up against stereotypes? I work in the service industry, where I am exposed to sexism a lot, from (largely) nice people, who would (largely) be very offended if I pulled them on their prejudices. So I reign myself in a lot, and when I feel like a line is crossed that I just cannot ignore, I try to keep it light-hearted/"banterlike" and then change the subject if that approach is not going down ok. My livelihood depends on making them happy, it's not to talk about politics or piss them off. But I spend a lot of time with these partners and clients and I struggle with the fact that I feel like I am endorsing things through my relative silence.

So I suppose the question is, where is your line? What can you let pass, what do you feel you must question, even if it's to your financial/social detriment?

YonicScrewdriver Thu 25-Jun-15 19:33:31

Hi Laurie

I'm not in the same sector as you so it's maybe a bit different, but sometimes a way I "nicely" call someone out is comparing their comment to another prejudice eg "oh, you think she's quite clever for a woman? Would you ever say someone was quite clever for a black person/gay person?"

But yeah, sometimes tongue biting is the only option!

Jessica2point0 Thu 25-Jun-15 20:15:25

song, there was a lot of people on other threads complaining about feminism threads being in chat. So I figured that putting it here would be less intrusive, and just here as an option for people who are nervous of posting in FWR. I'm not really that interesting in changing minds of people who have the whole topic hidden, that's their choice.

Jessica2point0 Thu 25-Jun-15 20:20:06

laurie, I teach so I'm in a pretty good position - I always challenge sexist behaviour in the classroom, as I do racist, disablist etc. With colleagues I tend to challenge with questioning "you actually think women don't like tech?" But tbh, I don't think I've ever seriously challenged sexism to my own detriment. I think that I would if I could see it damaging someone else in front of me, but I don't see it as my job to educate society as a whole.

laurierf Thu 25-Jun-15 21:02:48

Yes, I sometimes work with kids and it feels great to be in that position because you could ask questions and then open up a debate for young minds - who are often repeating verbatim what they've been fed without questioning - to start asking their own questions sort it out amongst themselves without being "lectured".

I find the tongue-biting really hard at times when dealing with adults (and of course I feel that way about homophobia, racism, and religious stereotypes but I guess that's another thing that I feel is a minefield… intersectionality and privilege… being straight, white, non-religious). I know some friends would be horrified by the things I let "wash over" me/ "grin and bear"… equally I know many others think I am being "over-sensitive" (or in the case of other prejudices, "offended by proxy"). But I do find that people (men and women) will say things about and to me on the basis of my gender that they would never say to someone's face about other classes of people.

I also work with a male co-manager, and the amount of times people will ask me where he is as they have a question about "xyz" is both depressing and infuriating, and that's when the "grin and bear" approach is really difficult. But it would be to my detriment not to suck it up… so I do.

Jessica2point0 Thu 25-Jun-15 21:36:02

I think you have to pick your battles. Figuring out where your personal line lies is really hard. And for me, my line depends on who I'm talking to. If I was talking to a parent there's almost nothing I would challenge. I wouldn't accept personal attacks on me, colleagues or students, but everything else I'd take with a pinch of salt. With family or close friends I don't let much slip.

laurierf Thu 25-Jun-15 22:24:58

Jessica - I think that's exactly the sort of thing that working in the service industry, not in a position to pick and choose and not on a great salary, makes hard for me… I was in a situation with a 9 year-old girl who was clearly a bit anxious about telling her dad that she'd 'only' come second in the (mental, not physical) activity. Her dad immediately asked who came top and when he heard the name he said "ok, well that's a boy so we don't mind about that." But he's a powerful person who does NOT take well to any dissent (to be fair neither does his wife) so I just let it pass… because I needed that family's endorsement for my livelihood.

So, yes, the personal line is really hard… do regular posters in FWR know/feel that sometimes they raise an issue (on MN and/or in RL) that crosses the boundary in the other way… (i.e. did that really warrant picking up on?… as opposed to, was I being weak to let that slide?)

Jessica2point0 Thu 25-Jun-15 22:39:51

If that was a parent saying it in front of a student I might say "I'm not sure that being a boy matters, I'm just so very pleased that X did her best and..." then change the subject. But I've never been in that situation so I don't know how I'd react if I actually was. And it's kinda easy for me cos I only work with boys, and when asked about how other students are doing I just say "we don't really compare students to each other, the only thing we consider if X is meeting his targets and..." The and... helps a lot because it distracts the attention of the vast majority of people.

For me, I had a massive problem when I started because i was literally told "the students give new women teachers a harder time than men, but once you're through the first year you'll be fine", and I didn't challenge it. Maybe I should have, but I didn't. I don't really regret not challenging it because it didn't feel like an appropriate time to get in to a sexism debate with an assistant head.

GirlSailor Thu 25-Jun-15 22:50:42

I think I probably take most things case by case. Sometimes a small thing will drive me crazy because it's the hundredth time it's happened over a short time as opposed to it being a massively important issue in isolation.

BertrandRussell Fri 26-Jun-15 11:08:50

It's difficult, isn't it? Obviously we ought to challenge everything- but pragmatically we can't.

purplemurple1 Fri 26-Jun-15 11:25:22

I'm in construction and am finding it more and more equal with no one commenting or caring if the road layer, site manager etc is female which is good. Although you do get - typical woman - comments sometimes, I often say are you sure its not because I'm black which I think makes the same point as pp that you wouldn't say it in a racist way so why is sexist ok. But I'm often one of only a few if not the only black person on site. (I'm not in the UK.)

My idle wondering is more to do with home life. I'm happy me and OH are equal, split housework, childcare, free time, house admin 50/50 but when it comes to 'man' jobs I don't want to do half. By man jobs I mean logging/chainsaw use/axe splitting wood, ploughing/planting potatoes/hay, shovelling out the fire pit, clearing lots of snow etc. Much of it I could do or learn to do all be it much slower than my partner. OH generally doesn't mind and does the worse and heaviest jobs on his own.
Does that mean I'm not truly a feminist?

I realise it prob makes me hypocritical / unreasonable either way.

laurierf Fri 26-Jun-15 12:23:35

Gosh purple - that's so interesting to hear that the construction industry is becoming more and more equal. When I used to work in an office environment (various industries), I had absolutely no hesitation about picking up on things and asking 'hang on, you can't possibly believe that, can you?', no matter who (age, gender, seniority) was doing the talking. In one office I became known as "Germaine" (as in Greer) but actually it was all done in a fairly light-hearted manner (we all still went off to the pub together after work and had a laugh), whilst we did discuss some fairly important things and people did acknowledge the injustice of some of the stereotypes and assumptions. My change in role to working in the service (hospitality) industry has not been easy because I can't just say things to people anymore.

Purple - with your list of 'man' jobs at home. I do half of the 'man' jobs but when it comes to the really heavy work I do let DH do more than me (and will therefore pick up the slack on the lighter work to make up for it) if it's something that involves strength - he's much bigger and stronger than me - and it would be pointless not to I think, as he can clear the driveway of heavy snow in a fraction of the time I can. However, I do make sure there's nothing I couldn't do if I wanted/needed to, but I think I do that for my own sake and independence, rather than to be a feminist (actually those two things are probably one and the same!)

purplemurple1 Fri 26-Jun-15 12:39:47

Yh I can use the chain saw for example but cant pick up the size of trees we are cutting atm. So in that case oh has to or we pay someone else. But clearing the fire pit would just take me longer.
The stuff i don't known at all like ploughing/prepping potato field, logging etc don't need to be done to survive in that you can pay someone else/buy your food/pre cut wood etc.

BreakingDad77 Fri 26-Jun-15 13:47:10

I dont get why some, it seems mostly young women seem to be getting behind meninism, it sounds like "how dare you tell me not to please the patriachy" shock

Feminism and beauty seems to be a frought subject with polar opinions?

Jessica2point0 Fri 26-Jun-15 14:30:20

breaking, I think that there's a lot of women (myself included) who are genuinely happy to get dressed up / wear make up when we feel like it. And I'm sure there are men who care deeply about their appearance too. I personally don't really care whether a person wears make up or not, I care that it is expected / required. I wouldn't dream of going to a job interview without make up, though I barely wear it on a normal day.

Laurie, I don't really think very often about "man jobs" in the home. I guess I would consider emptying bins a traditional man's role, but I can't really think of any other housework that I would apply that label to. If I listed all the housework that gets done in our home, it's all stuff that I'd say was traditionally women's work. Maybe it's because my mum did the vast majority of housework. Maybe it's cos here very few people have physical jobs to do at home.

I spend holidays working on a family farm and I find there are jobs I genuinely don't have the strength to do, even though my brother can. I suppose I could do exercises to get stronger, but I do think there must be something about men's hormones which means they have more upper body strength even if they do no exercise. I might be completely wrong of course!

BertrandRussell Fri 26-Jun-15 14:38:27

There are many myths about feminism- most started by the male dominated press of the '60s and '70s. Feminists aren't allowed to wear make up is one of them!

YonicScrewdriver Fri 26-Jun-15 14:52:36

Purple, you can still be a feminist whatever jobs you do or don't do at home! Glad construction is improving.

Jessica2point0 Fri 26-Jun-15 15:06:17

Thinking about it even more, purple, for me equality isn't necessarily about everyone doing their share of each task. Its about doing a fair share of all the tasks overall. For instance, in my house I do all the cooking, and most of the cleaning. But I don't think that's a problem because DP does other things (all the jobs I hate - bins, changing bedsheets, paperwork). We play to our strengths and sometimes my strengths align with traditional "women's work". I think that's a fairly normal part of life.

GirlSailor Fri 26-Jun-15 15:47:41

Purple, I don't work directly in construction, but do come into contact with it at work and on the one hand I would say that I find sexism there more overt - so I get a lot of sexist jokes and often when I am instructing a contractor he will then check with the nearest man - but I find it easier to call it out in this environment, as I can say 'excellent, I was just about to say if you have any questions, my assistant here can help you' or whatever, when if it's in the more service-type parts of the job I can find it really hard to know what to say if someone says something sexist or racist or generally mean about people. On the whole I feel construction is personally an easier environment to challenge things as I can see them clearly and I'm comfortable with a bit of

At home I'd say we try to share things equally, but it doesn't always work out perfectly.

Breaking, I always feel that the meninists are of the 'you know it's British people who are most discriminated against now... because Winterval' sort.

GirlSailor Fri 26-Jun-15 15:51:05

I deleted some sentences... I should have said"

On the whole I feel construction is personally an easier environment to challenge things as I can see them clearly and I'm comfortable with a bit of joking around and find the sometimes smaller seeming things when I have to be super polite harder (just for me personally), but I don't spend all my time in that industry so only have a limited perspective - your job sounds very interesting, purple!

Must learn how to use the internet.

purplemurple1 Fri 26-Jun-15 17:40:12

I guess I'm thinking about it more as I how have a dd and ds so am conscious of what they see us doing. Is me taking on the female jobs and oh doing the physical /dirty jobs teaching them more about gender roles than anything we say will? Or on the other hand is it teaching them that we are a team and it is stupid for me to spend an hour doing something oh can do in 20 min. confused
Idle wondering I expect they will be parents themselves before I come to any conclusion.smile

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