Category Archives: Feminism

Why Feminism Does Not Perpetuate Gender Categories

Many open-minded and freedom-loving young adults do not like the term feminism because they believe it perpetuates gender categories. Is the world not ready to move on?, they ask. Being ‘nice’ to women is ‘common sense’!

That is not the case – here we discuss why.

In a thoughtful post titled Feminism: A Male Anarchist’s Perspective, Pendleton Vandiver highlights how the attitude toward women has indeed changed for the better – not because humanity has slowly come to its senses; not because some vague sense of justice has cured bigotry – but only because of the ongoing struggle of feminism that has pushed through the past two centuries and still burns passionately today.

Vandiver writes:

To deny this struggle is to perpetuate a myth similar to that of the happy slave. Yet this is precisely what we do when we speak of feminism as somehow perpetuating a gender divide, or hindering our progress away from identity politics. Feminism did not create the conflict between genders: patriarchal society did. It is important not to forget that the aforementioned idea that women are fully human is not common sense but absolutely, emphatically, a feminist notion.

He goes on to discuss why many ‘freedom-for-all’ advocates, especially anarchists, have criticized feminism for being:

  • Essentialist (“believing that a woman is somehow truly, deep in her core, identifiable as a woman; being a woman is not simply the result of different attributes and behaviors.“)
  • A philosophy that asserts female superiority to men.
  • A perpetuation of gender categories.

Vandiver walks us through the arguments against these views. Here is a good snapshot:

Feminism can perhaps be best defined as the attempt to get beyond the state of affairs where people are oppressed because of gender. Thus, it is not possible to go beyond gender without feminism; the charge that feminism itself perpetuates gender categories is patently absurd.

The post is well worth a read. Check it out here.

So, what do you think – is the struggle perpetuating the problem?

A Pluralistic Feminism

A recent Jezebel article  showcases the fabulous Natalie Portman advocating for a pluralistic understanding of feminism in Hollywood. I’d go even further to say that movies and stories about cis-men, trans* folks, and all non-binary characters can be feminist works, so long as they maintain a particular respect and overarching consciousness.  Feminism for all!

“I want every version of a woman and a man to be possible. I want women and men to be able to be full-time parents or full-time working people or any combination of the two. I want both to be able to do whatever they want sexually without being called names. I want them to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad — human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”

I’m Back with Some Breasts in a Box!

Hoochies, I’m back!

I’m working on a longer post, but I actually just wanted to share with you a wonderful performance art piece from 1968. Valie Export, a Viennese artist, created what she called “Tap and Touch Cinema,” where she wore a box “theater” around her middle and invited passersby to reach in and touch her naked breasts… as she forced them into direct eye contact. I thought I’d draw this to your attention because I really think it confronted the objectification of women and was extremely socially provocative.  In a way she was saying, “you can fantasize about an anonymous body as much as you want, but can you look into a real woman’s eyes while you do it?” Incredible…

Matchmaker, Matchmaker… DON’T make me a match!

Hoochies, I really don’t want to admit this, but I will. I watch The Millionaire Matchmaker.  Now, on many counts, this show is pretty despicable. The premise is addictive: Patti Stanger, a 3rd generation matchmaker in LA, sets up rich men through her Millionaire’s Club, the website of which looks like an advertisement for a brothel. These millionaires are allowed to handpick women who are usually a) way too nice or b) way too young.  Criticizing this show is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I’ll give you the highlights:

1)  If you want to marry a millionaire, and you’re above a size 6, good luck. Patti reserves “bigger” (i.e. a size 10) women for her “chubby chasing” clients. Now, I take offense at this on a couple of levels. First, the idea that a woman should be telling other women that they are fat and unworthy to compete for male attention is disgraceful. This kind of attitude teaches men that only the slimmest of women are worthy of love, and it teaches women that in the competition for rich men, their bodies are the greatest weapons.  Insidious female on female attack is destructive and demeaning.  If we tell men that they should only be attracted to certain body types and that the rest are undesirable, it feeds right back into a damaging sizist cycle that we need to end.

2) I guess money trumps idiot? These men are often rude, strange, misogynistic, witless and boring. And yes, many of them are pretty ugly. But millions of dollars seems to give them a free pass on many qualities one might look for in a mate. However, the few woman millionaires on the show have no such luck. They are still judged for their looks and admonished to let the man take control. It would appear that money only makes things harder for women because they have to prove that they are still “feminine.” Hoochies, I ask you: why does “feminine” have to mean docile and simpering? Unfortunately, in the Millionaire’s Club, women do not have power unless expressly allowed. In her 10 Dating Rules for Single Ladies, Stanger writes, “do not offer to outright pay for something: once a woman touches money/credit card in front of a male she becomes masculine energy, which is undesirable.” Basically, according to this line of thought, men are not attracted to women who are remotely self-sufficient – in Patti’s words, the penis will definitely not get off the couch.

3) Patti Stanger gives matchmaking a bad name. The whole point of matchmaking should be to make a match, but these women are never asked what they want in a man. Granted, it’s their choice to turn up for the vomit inducing “casting sessions” (really an appropriate name when you think about it, eh?), but the only criteria on their lists is “loaded.”  The Millionaire’s Club does not take into account what both sides are looking for, or even considers that a woman might want more than a rich husband. It is merely a vehicle for spoiled, rich and awkward men to sample the never-ending bounty of the LA babe buffet, and perpetuates the ever gaping gender divide.

You’d prefer if they HATED Yale sluts?

I was reading the Hartford Courant, and I found out that some Yale frat boys went to a game and held up a sign: “WE LOVE YALE SLUTS.” Naturally, people are complaining about it.

What ever happened to free speech? These fraternity members shouldn’t be punished at all. If we start punishing people for being idiots 99% of the country would be in jail. It does not work both ways, women in general cannot ask to be placed on a pedestal and at the same time act like drunk sailors. Respect is something that is earned. What’s the big deal? Boys will be boys, especially in college. Look at the popular “role models”: Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, etc… no one seems to mind that THEY are sluts.

The women need to let it go, and not be some damn uptight over the situation. Get on with learning and doing something more productive. Going to college means getting an education. And these kids certainly have gotten one with their prank. The lesson learned is: If you are a man, you do not make jokes about women. You just don’t do it, no matter how funny or innocent or transient it may be.

When did everyone lose their sense of humor? Does Yale require you turn it in upon admission? I thought the PC craze disappeared years ago. These very same women are the one at the frat parties dropping there pants I’m sure. We are no longer allowed to joke or have a bit of silly fun. We must all keep our heads down, our mouths shut and our hands in our pockets, well except if you are a comedian of a certain race, then it’s “funny” when a joke is told about a person of another race. Tell the prissy pigs to bag it & grow up!

College boys can be crude and unruly any female who has higher education knows that! She usually also knows how to roll her eyes and move on! Stop sweating the small stuff sweeties!! Life can be a lot tougher than horny heckling from some fellow ivy leaguers! Frat pledges do something stupid and tasteless things. Is this news to anyone?

Some one needs to learn how to laugh at themselves… We are a society full of bleeding hearts who will grasp at any straw just to feel accepted. This is unbelievable. So what? Some kids had a sign that was stupid and crude… Please tell me why this is such an affront? They’re young and stupid, let them enjoy it while they can for heavens sake. Why have we raised children with such a critical lack of self esteem that some fools with a stupid sign who were probably drunk off their asses “hurts their feelings.” If the kids beat a feminist I could understand the outcry, but this is ridiculous.

The university is too worried about being politically correct than it is concerned with the perception of the average American who realizes this is JUST A JOKE! As a member of a national fraternity, I realize this isn’t the classiest thing to do. But lighten up! There are a lot bigger problems in our world than a blurry picture of a message some drunk 18yo scratched on a piece of paper! Step back and put this in perspective

A message for the women who are upset about this: Get back in the kitchen. Oh yeah, and dinner BETTER be on the table when I get home from work. Was it in poor taste? Sure. Nevertheless, how insecure are you to take it to this extreme? In addition, why would you project your own insecurities in crowds of people or “men” as you say on others?

Liberty is being able to say what you want to say even if no one likes it. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech did not say, “I have a dream that one day my children and women will be treated better than other children.” His dream was to be treated the same perhaps that should be all of our dreams. These women need to get over themselves. Women are now the majority on campus and men the minority, I say protect the minority’s right to expression! They should only get so worked up over honor killings. 95% of guys (who are not gay) would just laugh at this. I’m sure the bitches at the Yale Women’s Center will get over it. These sluts need to grow up.

… I hope that some readers were shocked by what is written above. I don’t have any defense for it, and I don’t need any. That’s because I didn’t write it (except for the first graf). Rather, this kettleful of testicular idiocy is a patchwork of readers’ comments posted after the article on the Courant website.

The Courant editors give the frat boys a pass right off the bat in the article title: “Pledges’ Prank Rankles At Yale”. See? Chill out, ladies! It’s just a prank, not a manifestation of an epidemic attitude of masculine superiority. Just a prank: not just an unusually visible example of the common, rampant hostility toward women.

It is staggering to me that so many men are willing to make excuses for anyone who derives amusement at the derogation of someone else. I’ll say here, as I have said elsewhere and will continue to say, loudly and to whomever is willing to hear it: we need to return to a culture of shame. Let’s not blame just the sign-maker, the sign-holder, and those in crowd who sniggered when they saw the sign. Our indignation needs to be directed at everyone around them who failed to decry this detestable behavior. And of course at the commentators whose words I stitched together for this blog post. So righteously they defend the right of man to derogate woman; so cowardly they hide their identity behind online anonymity.

For more about feminism at Yale: junior Jessica Svendsen argues coolly and cogently in the Yale Daily News that despite gender parity among the undergraduate population, the “paucity of female faculty” continues to send a message of feminine inferiority.

Abortion Registry in India

According to Reuters India plans to implement a registry for all abortions in order to cut down on abortions of female fetuses.  Apparently, many families choose to abort female babies despite the law against sex determination tests.  The registry will cut down on “mysterious” abortions and (hopefully) create a safer environment for women who actually would like an abortion for “an acceptable and valid reason.”

“An acceptable and valid reason,” huh?  What exactly does that mean?  When I first read this, I thought, Right on!  The fight against gender discrimination is taking another step forward.  But then I realized, Wait…what exactly is an “acceptable and valid reason”?  And who exactly makes that judgment call?  This same question is brought up on, and now I’d like to attempt to tackle it while proposing it to our beloved readers.

On the  one hand, this seems like a great step away from the preferential treatment of the male gender in India.  They are trying to eliminate the abortion of females strictly because of their gender.  That’s great.  The problem with this registry is, who is deciding what abortions are OK and what aren’t?  If the only criteria is that the abortion is not desired strictly for gender preferences, and if the register aides in providing safer options for women, then I don’t seem to have a problem with it.

I’m skeptical, though.  The patriarchy runs rampant in all parts of the world.  Gender discrimination is everywhere, and it seems that only in a perfect world would women have control of our own bodies and be able to decide what we can and cannot do with them.  I suppose we will just have to wait it out and see what happens.