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Defining Feminism
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 354
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:04 pm    Post subject: Defining Feminism Reply with quote

There has been a rather long discussion on feminism and its effects on society on one of the News Blogs. I think that feminism has multiple meanings and does not always mean the same thing to different people. Just as Christians can disagree but still fall under the same umbrella, I think the same holds true for feminism. A Southern Baptist is different from a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and they are different from Unitarians who are different from Catholics. At the center though, they all have something in common. I believe that the commonality among feminists is a belief that a person is not inherently superior or inferior due to their sex/gender.

Just as we have Christian scholars who are on opposite sides of different issues, the same holds true for feminist scholars. There is no ideology with any history behind it in which all members walk lockstep with one another. For example: some Christian factions were convinced that Harry Potter would lead children to Satan. Others were able to see the good messages of loyalty and friendship the books espoused. Does having different opinions make either side any less Christian?

There are some feminist scholars who think men are responsible for all of the world's ills. Others believe that men are just as damaged as women by a totally patriarchal system. Some are economic only feminists and some are cultural feminists. I call myself a feminist. I do not hate men. I do not believe in promiscuous sex. I think intact families are preferable to splintered families and that within that intact family I believe an egalitarian relationship between husband and wife is healthier for both the marriage and the children. I am curious about those of you who have both sons and daughters. What do you teach your children about their place in the world?
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Audrey



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 194
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught my children, two girls and one boy, that it's wrong to treat people a certain way because of any label. In case of a woman, it's wrong to think she won't be as good at a job as a man. In case of a man, it's wrong to think he is automatically solely responsible for the financial well-being of the family. Just try to be fair and treat people as you would like to be treated. This was a little difficult as they tended to expect other people to be fair and treat them nicely, and they got fairly indignant when they didn't. Smile

But in the day to day, just little things like teaching all of them to mow the lawn, cook, do laundry, that sort of thing. In the end, my son loves to cook, the girls both hate it, and none of them like to do laundry....

Your definition is what I define as feminism, too, just the basic belief that people shouldn't be defined or put in a certain role because of gender. What I think about men, sex, marriage, abortion, homosexuality, or any other subject has nothing to do with feminism, other than I suppose the tendency to approach the subject with the same sort of thought process - try to be fair and treat people as you would like to be treated.
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maryskl



Joined: 25 Apr 2009
Posts: 354
Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Audrey wrote:
I taught my children, two girls and one boy, that it's wrong to treat people a certain way because of any label. In case of a woman, it's wrong to think she won't be as good at a job as a man. In case of a man, it's wrong to think he is automatically solely responsible for the financial well-being of the family. Just try to be fair and treat people as you would like to be treated. This was a little difficult as they tended to expect other people to be fair and treat them nicely, and they got fairly indignant when they didn't. Smile

But in the day to day, just little things like teaching all of them to mow the lawn, cook, do laundry, that sort of thing. In the end, my son loves to cook, the girls both hate it, and none of them like to do laundry....


That is how I taught my children as well. I did not want them to think that any doors were closed to them because of their gender. Mine will do their own laundry, but getting them to load the dishwasher is like pulling teeth Very Happy
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1666

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maryskl wrote:

That is how I taught my children as well. I did not want them to think that any doors were closed to them because of their gender. Mine will do their own laundry, but getting them to load the dishwasher is like pulling teeth Very Happy


I have a greeting card that says "If you want to keep your children out of hot water, just put dirty dishes in it." I love that card.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1666

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

maryskl wrote:

That is how I taught my children as well. I did not want them to think that any doors were closed to them because of their gender. Mine will do their own laundry, but getting them to load the dishwasher is like pulling teeth Very Happy


I have a greeting card that says "If you want to keep your children out of hot water, just put dirty dishes in it." I love that card.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2508

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know, but the idea that men and women are completely equal in all things, isn't reasonable. That if they do the same job, they should be considered equals I can accept. At the same time, gender does impose some limitations.
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Audrey



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 194
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
I don't know, but the idea that men and women are completely equal in all things, isn't reasonable. That if they do the same job, they should be considered equals I can accept. At the same time, gender does impose some limitations.


I know what you mean, Dick. Men and women are not necessarily "equal" or "the same", and I didn't try to teach my children that they were. Like that Monty Python skit where the guy wants to be called Loretta and have a baby, and John Cleese says but where will the fetus gestate? In a box? and in the end they agree that he has the right to have a baby, even if it's physically impossible, it can get ridiculous when you carry it to the extremes.

But let's say you have an opening in your company for a truck driver, and two people apply. The woman has an exemplary record and is fully capable of doing the job, and the man has a spotty record. In the old days, the man would have automatically gotten the job because not only was it perceived to be a man's job, but also it would have been assumed that at some point, the woman would leave to get married and have babies. That's the kind of thing that I thought was unfair, and taught my children to try and judge what's best on a case by case basis. For me, being a feminist doesn't mean the woman should get a benefit, but that she shouldn't have a handicap either.
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Donna Lea Simpson



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 249
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only time 'equal' means 'same' is in Roget's, as far as I'm concerned. Equality isn't about being the same, because that's ridiculous. If you take a five-foot nothing man, he is equal to a seven-foot-tall man, but who would get the basketball scholarship?

I know, I know, who says the seven-foot guy can dunk, right? But you get my drift. Laughing
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Mark



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1391

PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My understanding of feminism is, obviously, an outsider’s, but I think the main thrust is to not accept arbitrary restrictions (equal opportunity, not necessarily equal outcome). The individual's capability will determine the outcome if society does not deny the opportunity.
As for doors (a hot-button for some people), I hold doors open for other people regardless of gender.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2508

PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But there is an element of desiring "sameness" in the idea of equality as the term is used when discussing equality between the sexes. Take the truck drivers in Audrey's post for example. Assume their qualifications are equal (the same). Their genders are different. And in my thinking, it's reasonable--on the assumption Audrey mentions--to take that difference into account, just as it's reasonable to take the differences in height of two males in Donna Lea Simpson's example into account. The assumption that the female truck driver, unless she's past the age, will marry and have children is relatively sound, isn't it? The assumption that the much taller male will be more readily able to make baskets is also, isn't it? Neither the female truck driver nor the shorter male can do anything about them, but is it reasonable to insist that others not take those differences and the possible results of them into account?
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1666

PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
But there is an element of desiring "sameness" in the idea of equality as the term is used when discussing equality between the sexes. Take the truck drivers in Audrey's post for example. Assume their qualifications are equal (the same). Their genders are different. And in my thinking, it's reasonable--on the assumption Audrey mentions--to take that difference into account, just as it's reasonable to take the differences in height of two males in Donna Lea Simpson's example into account. The assumption that the female truck driver, unless she's past the age, will marry and have children is relatively sound, isn't it? The assumption that the much taller male will be more readily able to make baskets is also, isn't it? Neither the female truck driver nor the shorter male can do anything about them, but is it reasonable to insist that others not take those differences and the possible results of them into account?


But then you are assuming that if the female truck driver marries and has children, she will quit. That assumption should play no part in the hiring decision, because you don't know what she will do. If anything, I seem to remember reading that, contrary to the stereotype, it's men who are more likely to quit and move on to other jobs, for a variety of reasons. Do you offer the job to the woman because she's likely to stay in the job longer? No, you offer it to the most qualified candidate, male or female.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2508

PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I was assuming that were she to marry and get pregnant the company would have to find a replacement driver while she delivered and recovered, would need to allow her possibly to take time off to care for sick children; would have to make sure their insurance covered women's health issues, and whatever other things having both women and men doing the same job would require. All I'm saying is that gender does make a difference; that taking that difference into account isn't unreasonable, any more than it's unreasonable to take other nature-determined differences into account, as in the case of the basketball players.
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Audrey



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 194
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But you're still assigning detriments to the woman that are used for an excuse not to hire a woman. So she needs time off to have a child and recover. Don't men ever have prostate surgery? Doesn't insurance have to cover men's health issues? And to say that she'll need more time off to care for a sick child is a great example of exactly what we're talking about. It's not automatically the woman anymore. When my daughter's children are sick, they choose who stays home based on who can get away from their job more easily at that time. Also, by using these same standards for men, wouldn't a childless man get the job over a man with children? Somehow, that never seems to get taken into account then.

When gender does make an actual difference, taking that difference into account wouldn't be unreasonable, but some people find it difficult to determine exactly when the difference is because of gender. And I don't just mean when it benefits the woman - like I said in my original post, assuming things based on gender sometimes harms the guys too.

I like Mark's definition. And, like Mark, I hold doors open for other people regardless of gender. Smile

Edited to add: As for the other example, thankfully not only really tall people are allowed to play basketball - my husband really enjoys watching Steve Nash.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2508

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

to Audrey: Please re-read the last sentence of my last post. I do not believe that women are less qualified or lesser in any way than men, simply that they are different, and at times, it's only reasonable to take that difference into account. We could continue to tamper with the circumstances of the example being discussed, but that won't make the difference disappear.


I'm late responding because the boards wouldn't allow me to post yesterday.
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
Posts: 798

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The assumption that the female truck driver, unless she's past the age, will marry and have children is relatively sound, isn't it?


Well, no, dick, it isn't. Women are the ones who can have children, and many of them do, but that generality tells you absolutely nothing about the particular woman applying for a particular job. You could equally well say that men of Northern European descent are more likely to become alcoholics than men of Southern European descent so given a choice you should hire an Italian truck driver rather than a Norwegian one.

The only reasonable thing to do is ignore generalities and stereotypes treat each individual as an individual.

As for feminism, I've thought of myself as a feminist for more than half a century, and I think many of the things that are proclaimed in the name of feminism are utter nonsense. Few things infuriate me more than politicians who claim to be champions of "women's issues." What, because I am female, I am not interested in international affairs? in economic issues and tax policy? It's the same old stereotypes dressed up in contemporary language. Crying or Very sad
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