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livredor
Fledgling feminist
Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 08:06 pm
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Having decided I'm going to be a feminist, I should actually do something about it. I'm somewhat in trepidation about discussing directly feminist ideas in public like this, but I'd be pretty useless if I kept silent and never dared to say anything about my convictions. But I am certainly not claiming to be any kind of authority on this stuff.

Anyway, this post, such as it is, is dedicated to forestofglory, kaberett and atreic.

When I posted about taking a more active interest in feminism, forestofglory offered to lend me a collection of feminist essays by Ursula K Le Guin, Dancing at the edge of the world (copyright 1989, ISBN 0-8021-3529-3), and did so via cartesiandaemon. Well, books of feminist essays are not my number one favouring thing, but I definitely need more education in feminist issues, and I thought Le Guin's marvellous writing would go a long way to sweeten the pill.

I enjoyed many of the essays, and was infuriated by a few of them, but the combination of Le Guin's very persuasive prose and my determination to overturn the anti-feminist biases I'd acquired encouraged me to keep turning the ideas over in mind instead of throwing the book away in disgust. On reflection, I don't think the message is that success, leadership and rational investigation are inherently male qualities, more that a just and balanced society ought to value things like community, compromise, and kindness as well.

I was particularly impressed by the last essay in the book, The fisherwoman's daughter, from 1988. It's riffing on Virginia Woolf's room of one's own idea. She conveys the idea that most women historically have had to run households and fit creative endeavours around that; in recent decades, some women have been grudgingly allowed to pursue careers or artistic visions, but almost none of them get the kind of practical support that a man would have had in the pre-feminist era. A woman who wants to be the best in her field is expected to give up any sort of family or personal life, and essentially gets male disadvantages without most of the advantages. Le Guin argues that giving women the option to choose between motherhood and fame is an improvement on forcing everybody into the domestic sphere, but really we should be more ambitious than that, we should organize society so that mothers can also pursue their dreams. It's all concepts I've come across before but that essay draws them together very well indeed.

(That said, I'm still pretty incensed at the 1978 essay on abortion, Moral and ethical implications of family planning, which is not only gender-essentialist but argues that women are naturally predisposed to put immediate practical concerns over abstract moral principles. The most hair-raising parts seem to be quoted from one Irene Claremont de Castillejo, but Le Guin quotes her approvingly, describing as natural, unperverted feminine morality the view that the thalidomide tragedies...of course [should] be aborted! It is criminal to make a woman carry a deformed child! But then, in The Princess, Le Guin writes extremely movingly about her own experience of unwanted pregnancy and abortion, and I don't think she really means to imply that the feminist thing to do is to kill the weak to ensure group survival.)

Anyway, the very strong impression that I took away from the collection is that in Le Guin's eyes, I'm basically a man. I've always been encouraged to do whatever I want to do, and have picked an academic and technical path. I'm far more rational than intuitive, I expect to be taken seriously, I'm a capitalist at home with hierarchical systems, and I've always had as much freedom to follow my own desires (whether in life decisions or expressions of my sexuality) as economically feasible. I'm nobody's wife or mother and I don't intend to be. Now, Le Guin is aware that she herself is in a pretty masculine position; she describes herself as a princess precisely because she had a lot of opportunities in life that aren't available to most women, and she has plenty of recognition in the male world as a successful writer. But the point is that I had to be convinced by intellectual argument that there was a point to feminism, in the same way that most men have to be convinced rather than knowing all about sexism from their own personal experience.

It is by no means an insignificant achievement of the feminist movement that people like me have been able to live more or less as men, and encounter only a few dinosaurs who look at my breasts and conclude that I can't possibly be a man. It seems that feminism still has some ground to cover, and in two ways: firstly the obvious one, of making sure that all women have the freedom that I do, to live as men if they want to. But the second goal was not very clear to me before I read Le Guin's book: feminism needs to bring about a world where women who choose to live in a more feminine context are just as valued as those who are competitive and ambitious. I would add that if caring for others and doing practical but mundane work and so on were adequately valued, men who were temperamentally inclined to such roles would be able to take them up without losing status or being despised.

I find myself in an LJ discussion (mostly friends locked) where I am trying to explain why feminism is a matter of justice. atreic comes from a similar place to me and feels alienated by feminism telling her that she's a victim even when her life is in fact perfectly satisfactory. kaberett has a strong sense of the need to make the world a fairer and more welcoming place for women. And all three of us find ourselves in conversation with men who don't see why they should bother with feminism, because at least this part of the world is basically equal already, and there are feminists making sloppy, man-hating arguments all over the internet.

I am working on the basis that the men who don't see the point in this discussion and a whole lot of other similar are mostly coming from a position of good faith. (Not absolutely all of them; there are clearly some people who just like to disrupt feminist discussions because they feel threatened or just like the attention they get from literal trolling.) But it's perfectly possible to genuinely and sincerely care about women, and still not get it; I didn't for a long time, after all. At some level, I want to convince such well-meaning people, but at the same time I feel really, really uncomfortable with any kind of proselytizing.

I'm also all dewy-eyed and naive and actually taking an explicitly feminist position in a highly charged internet argument is a novelty to me. I can really see both sides of the argument so well it's almost dizzying. I can see the weary frustration of seasoned feminists who have to deal with a huge wall of denial every time they mention a sexist incident. I can see why many might not want to argue at all, or might not want to be polite and patient, with men who might possibly deign to care about injustices against women if they can be convinced that feminists have a cast-iron rational case that would stand up in the strictest court. Everybody who complains about sexism has to answer for every feminist who might ever have said something negative about men, or something more emotional or hyperbolic than rigorous. At the same time, I can completely see why feminism can look really alienating; it alienated me for a long time, and for exactly the same reasons being raised in this kind of conversation.

I am going to propose a theory about why it's extremely difficult to report sexism and systematic discrimination. This is probably obvious to experienced feminists, but it might be helpful to people who don't see the point. Anyway, it's a conclusion I've come to recently. If you talk about individual incidents, people can (and seem particularly inclined to) always propose reasons why that particular incident might not be sexist. Even if someone believes that the most likely reason why a woman was disadvantaged is sexism, she's still rather in a double bind: if the incident was minor, she's making a fuss about nothing, but if it was major, then it wasn't mere sexism, it was viciousness by someone so far beyond the pale of normal human behaviour that there's no hope for them.

To avoid this problem, you have to go to systematic analysis to look for overall trends. The problem with that is that it becomes very abstract, people don't relate emotionally. And it's a lot of work, so it ends up being its own academic discipline, with its own jargon and community that is not very accessible to outsiders and a sort of self-perpetuating orthodoxy. Like most complex subjects, feminist studies and positions get misquoted and over-simplified by ignorant internet people. At the same time, if someone posts to a blog complaining about an annoying sexist remark, they don't want to and quite likely can't justify their complaint by giving an overview of all the feminist studies and theory ever to have been performed on the topic.

So it's easy to get to a point where someone who has done a fair amount of reading and thinking about feminist issues is going to dismiss a well-meaning but relatively ignorant man out of hand, if he starts demanding detailed arguments why he should believe her complaint. This can end up looking a lot like telling him that his opinion is worthless just because he's male, which is not at all likely to encourage men to be sympathetic to feminism.

Obviously, the fact that something is hard to demonstrate doesn't make it true! But what I would like to see is a little less readiness to look for reasons why sexism might not be sexism. I want people to at least consider the possibility that something might be true, and realize that some of the apparent causes for scepticism would still apply even if it were true. Also, the fact that some people who consider themselves feminists say ridiculous things fairly obviously doesn't make every claim that might be interpreted as feminist prima facie ridiculous!


Whereaboooots: Älvsjö, Stockholm. Sweden
Moooood: thoughtfulthoughtful
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smhwpf: Giles party weasel
From:smhwpf
Date:August 24th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
59 minutes after journal entry, 10:31 pm (smhwpf's time)
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I am going to propose a theory about why it's extremely difficult to report sexism and systematic discrimination...

Your theory makes an enormous amount of sense. I could expand a lot more, but my brain is not working at the moment and I should sleep, so I'll stick with saying that!
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:August 24th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
(Link)
*hugs* That was interesting, (and AFAICT well thought out). I might have more comment later.
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pw201: default
From:pw201
Date:August 24th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry, 10:58 pm (pw201's time)
(Link)
I read a fair bit of feminist stuff on the friends-of-friends lists and feminist and so on, with two main conclusions. 1), yes, the sort of casual sexism libellum reports really does happen, and 2), Internet feminism has nothing to do with me, because it's a religion where I'm asked to accept stuff on faith and, unless I'm very careful about how I express any disagreement with the religion, I stand in the role of the unrepentant sinner until I do. amuchmoreexotic was undoubtedly feeling depressed and cynical when he wrote the first paragraph of this, but still, it rings true a little.

I believe 1) because I asked more than one woman about it, and read what women have written, and it seems more likely than not. I believe 2) because the presentation of the academic discipline on the internet is that it's an arts subject about critique of texts (mainly anything by Joss Whedon, for some reason) where the main thing is a community of interpretation where the evidence is arranged to fit the interpretation, which is what I recognise as a religion.

If I were a commenter doubting the sort of thing that libellum posted about was sexism (which I don't, but if I were), I'd be much more convinced by "this paper in this respected sociology journal showed that women reported statistically significant levels of these sorts of harassment compared to men, controlling for age and social class" than by "check your privilege/not feminism 101" responses.

References to papers sound a bit bloodless for a posting from someone who's angry about being Bluetoothed a picture of someone's penis, but I guess that's depends on what the posting is for. If the thing's for emotional support, the appropriate response from someone who has doubts about whether it's sexism is to post something supportive and move on. If the thing is part of an argument that this is a broader problem, evidence helps.

Evidence doesn't always convince people, because at some point we're down to trusting experts. sharp_blue's analogy to people misunderstanding of relativity was a good one (I can't read the comments on his excellent relativity posting without cringing). In those cases, I guess the problem is producing convincing experts. If anti-feminists are in some sense like creationists, what's the feminist Talk.Origins?
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2008 12:21 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 12:21 pm (livredor's time)
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I agree with you about the internet feminism as a religion thing. I think it's mainly a problem with the internet, rather than with feminism, but it definitely is a problem. (I suppose that makes me some kind of liberal Christian type, believing in the core message but being embarrassed by rude evangelistic types.) There is some element of Livejournal being a community of interpretation for people to analyse Joss Whedon; the people in that crowd who are feminists just happen to do their LJ thing in a feminist way.

I too am more likely to be convinced by a peer reviewed academic article than by people just counting me as the enemy if I don't agree with them. But there are problems with that approach. Sociology has an image problem; a study which shows something that seems plausible is decried as a waste of effort, and a study which shows something counterintuitive is dismissed because lay people don't understand it properly and assume it must be bullshit. Also, we can't assume that academia is totally objective; there is sexism in academia, which affects for example which topics are considered interesting or valuable to study. Also, there's a huge publication bias about anything related to gender, and I think that's true in the academic world as well as the popular press. It's far easier to publish something which shows major and preferably innate differences between men and women, than something which shows that men and women are innately similar but women suffer from vastly more sexism.

Further, I think there's (sometimes) a kind of meta-sexism here. A woman talking about her experiences is required to provide rigorous proof before anyone will believe it even happened, let alone that it was an example of sexism. There's a great resistance to believing in sexism; I think a relatively small proportion of that actually comes from "evil" men who consciously think, if people start noticing sexism I won't be able to get away with my misogynist ways any more, I'd better obfuscate. The majority of the resistance comes from well-meaning people who just find it difficult to deal with the idea that society systematically discriminates against women, and particularly that they may be complicit even if they think of themselves as not sexist. The minority of evil men are over-represented, because even a few people who devote their lives to shouting women down every time they try to say anything about feminism (or at all) on the internet can make women's experiences very trying, and make them less likely to take a random male commenter in good faith.

The responses to libellum's post are actually really instructive, and that is part of what set me thinking about what makes it hard to talk about sexism. I do believe that a lot of it was well-intentioned, but the overall effect was a lot of people not believing her, or saying that it was her fault for having insecure phone settings, or dismissing it as a minor issue, or randomly bringing up bad things that happen to men, or arguing that objecting to penis pictures was the same as making it impossible for men to flirt or give compliments without being accused of harassment, or, yes, asking for academic proof that this kind of thing goes on and disproportionately affects women. And then when some of the women in the discussion got annoyed by that response (particularly coming from male commenters), it became a general debate about the validity of feminism. I'm obviously not arguing that men never get subjected to internet pile-ons like that, but I think it's unacceptably common for that kind of thing to be the outcome when a woman posts about her experience of sexism.

A feminist talk.origins might actually be a useful project to put together; I think they were attempting to do that with Feminism 101, but it doesn't quite achieve its object because it gets too much caught up in jargon and condemning the heretics. I don't know if talk.origins has ever really convinced a creationist to stop being a creationist, though.
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pw201: default
From:pw201
Date:August 29th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 12:32 am (pw201's time)
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wrt Whedon, there's also the thing where he does write strong women, so if he's ever seen to deviate from the narrow way then people tend to notice more.

Sociology has an image problem to the extent that it's seen as waffle, which is what the xkcd cartoon is about (the artist has the Sokal hoax in mind, I think). But I doubt it's all waffle. If the rigorous stuff were talked about, people would find it harder to complain. The popular press are pretty bad at reporting any study on gender, which is why I think something equivalent to Talk.Origins would be good thing.

Partly the requests for proof are what you'll get when anyone says something that someone else finds unlikely. But there is a resistance, I agree. That's probably because talk of privilege comes across as accusatory, demanding the sort of ritual self-flagellation about how much privilege you have which is performed before you can speak to someone with less, the sort of thing that seems to be good form on feminist. I don't think of myself as complicit, except to the extent that in some people's eyes I'm already damned for not sharing their faith (but then, I don't take sins of omission that seriously: I've not sold everything I own to feed people in absolute poverty, for example, so I feel even less guilty about failing to rise up and smash the Patriarchy). I do believe that women are disadvantaged wrt comparable men, but I believe that because of the stuff I've read which has laid aside the jargon, flagellation etc. and spoken frankly about the evidence. What am I doing about it? Nothing I wouldn't have done anyway, I think, but I hope I'm better informed.

There were some stupid comments on the libellum posting, but also people trying to help and going about it in a way which didn't follow the ritual. Giving advice on how to avoid certain types of harassment (turning off Bluetooth) comes into the latter category, and the victim-blaming accusations that follow seem odd to me. The alternative is to assume that your opponent should suddenly start playing fair, when the point about the opponents is that they'll be as big a bastard as their resources allow them to be. Possibly I'm taking the security engineering metaphor and extending it too far, but I don't understand this aversion to solving the problem in front of you. It doesn't mean that the bigger problem isn't being dealt with: if you take away the low hanging fruit, the smaller bastards tend to give up, at which point, the bigger ones come into sharp focus.

I doubt many creationists have been convinced by Talk.Origins, because most of them probably haven't integrated their emotional and intellectual lives. Per Andrew Brown's excellent stuff on Freud and Religion, for most of them, it's all about being in a community defined by behaviours which include speech against evolution, not about intellectual assent to creationism. What Talk.Origins does do is get rid of the idea that, outside of that community, there's anything respectable about creationism, or any sense that it should be given equal air-time out of fairness. To do that, the evidence has to be totally rigorous and crystal clear. One thing about Talk.Origins: there isn't a place where their idiot opposition can make comments, get banned for breaking the language code, accuse the mods of censorship, etc. etc. ad nauseam (if they're anything like Infidels.org, they might link the web pages of serious opposition figures, but that's not quite the same thing). It's all about anticipating the questions and providing overwhelming evidence.
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friend_of_tofu: default
From:friend_of_tofu
Date:August 24th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry
(Link)
all three of us find ourselves in conversation with men who don't see why they should bother with feminism, because at least this part of the world is basically equal already, and there are feminists making sloppy, man-hating arguments all over the internet.

This is an unwillingness to examine one's own privilege, and this is the biggest part of the problem. There was a good essay on 'unpacking the privilege backpack', which was about being aware of the ways we are all variously privileged and disadvantaged, but I can't remember where it was!

I self-identify as a feminist and have since I was 8. feminist is often not a good representation of feminist thought outside US academia - I have come to blows there is the past over some of their more head-breaking definitions. But none of this should change the fact that feminism is about basic human rights, and denying its necessity is choosing to deny people those rights. Disagreeing on the finer details shouldn't distract from the essential core of the resistance.
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ewx: default
From:ewx
Date:August 24th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 11:41 pm (ewx's time)
(Link)
http://www.uakron.edu/centers/conflict/docs/whitepriv.pdf.
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friend_of_tofu: default
From:friend_of_tofu
Date:August 25th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry
(Link)
This actually wasn't the article I was thinking of - presumably it inspired the more recent one I read, which talked also about v privileged people having unseen disadvantages (eg learning disabilities), and the ways the various aspects of personal experience could be subjected to a raised consciousness.

However, ta v much for the link!
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 01:45 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
The thing is, if a person is unwilling to examine their privilege, then telling them so is entirely counterproductive. They don't believe they have privilege, so they're certainly not going to accept being told that their argument is wrong because of unexamined privilege.

It may well be that there's just no point in arguing with anyone who doesn't buy into feminism in the first place, but if everybody felt like that I would never have changed my own mind. It can be a waste of energy, but at the moment, I'm new to feminism, so I have energy, I'm not burned out on assuming good faith.

As for the basic human rights thing, I think it's fair to say that there is such a thing as a feminist movement which is more than just a group of people who agree that women and men should have equal rights. I want to draw a distinction between "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and "if you're not with us, you're against us". Those are extreme, but if your attitude is closer to the second, then anyone who isn't actively feminist must necessarily want to deny women basic human rights. If you start from a broad definition of feminist, then (almost) everybody counts, but then you have a problem trying to persuade people that they actually need to change their behaviour or agitate for social change.
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redbird: default
From:redbird
Date:August 24th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 06:41 pm (redbird's time)

connected to this, I think

(Link)
If a man claims I am responsible for anything anti-man, or anything he interprets as anti-man*, said by anyone on the internet who identifies as a feminist, I will feel free to hold him responsible for every anti-woman remark made by any man: the two are equally (un)fair. Humans are prone to overgeneralization and to rhetorical excess: feminists are not more prone to this than other groups.

*Pointing out sexism is not anti-male.

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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:August 25th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 10:20 pm (livredor's time)

Re: connected to this, I think

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Mm, I don't think your analogy quite holds; feminist is a political affiliation, not a gender. That makes it slightly more reasonable to associate one feminist with another feminist who happens to be an idiot.

But if I make a careful argument about why feminism is the most effective approach to the problem of rape and domestic violence, I don't think it's entirely reasonable to get the response, well, I admit you have a point but some feminists are idiots, so I'm not going to take you seriously. (That's an unfair paraphrase, but it's not totally pulled out of the air either.) So in general I entirely agree with this comment, and I appreciate the support very much.
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forestofglory: default
From:forestofglory
Date:August 25th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
22 hours after journal entry, 10:47 am (forestofglory's time)
(Link)
"feminism needs to bring about a world where women who choose to live in a more feminine context are just as valued as those who are competitive and ambitious. I would add that if caring for others and doing practical but mundane work and so on were adequately valued, men who were temperamentally inclined to such roles would be able to take them up without losing status or being despised."

Yes. That's what I meant about the book really effecting how I see women's issues. Also its effected how I feel about the domestic stuff I do -- mostly cooking, and gardening. I used to see that as short genertic stuff, and myself as not trandtionaly femmanine -not being intersted much in make-up and shopping and what not. But now I feel connected to my gender in a way I didn't before. Which I supose is odd.

Also I enjoy what Le Guin says about stories and what makes a story. (Though it may be over gendered)
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:August 25th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 09:32 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Thanks so much for lending me the book; it came at just the right time relative to where I was in my thinking about the topic. I think one of the things Le Guin does really well is describing a concept of the feminine sphere that is not superficial or childish.

Some of the stuff historically associated with women is really important, and I think it doesn't really belong in the same category as primping and adornment and pink frilly things. To some extent the latter are more a symptom of sexism, either in the form of the assumption that women's concerns are trivial, or in the form of vulnerable women getting what protection they can from exaggerating their dependence on men. (I don't have anything against makeup and pink frilliness as such, but making them the be-all and end-all of female identity is seriously unhelpful.)
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forestofglory: default
From:forestofglory
Date:August 25th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 03:03 pm (forestofglory's time)
(Link)
I'm really gald you enjoyed the the book. And I agree -- just oddly when you consider where I grew I hadn't framed it that way all through school.
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redbird: default
From:redbird
Date:August 25th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 06:49 pm (redbird's time)
(Link)
Yes. The traditional feminine sphere in western culture definitely includes raising children, preparing food, and making clothing. Anyone who thinks those are trivial is invited to try doing without food and clothing for a month. [Not "make their own food" or "buy no new clothes," but do without those things entirely.]
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From:redaloud
Date:August 26th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
(Link)
There is also the double edged sword (which worryingly I have seen happen in several places I've worked over the years), where a woman who decides to be a "good sport" -- i.e puts up with inappropriate touching (e.g being patted on the bottom, or hugs from male staff); sexist remarks like "what do you mean you're broke, love? You're sitting on a gold mine"; and simply laughs off things like the elephant trick (bloke pulls out his empty trouser pockets and threatens to open his fly) -- is immediately branded a slut and is gossiped about accordingly at the water cooler, by male and female staff alike. While a woman who complains about such behaviour is branded as a trouble maker by everyone in the office, with the onus on her to prove that these things are going on and the only real recourse a serious complaint/sexual harassment suit which brands her a trouble maker in everyone's eyes and makes it relatively difficult for her to get jobs in future.

Neither of these things have particularly happened to me, by the way, because I've always been the office lesbian, which gets you a whole different kind of crap, but I have observed such behaviours in the workplace.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:August 27th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 02:24 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Oh, good example. I wasn't thinking of the problems of complaining about sexism in the context where sexism is actually happening, obviously that brings a whole load of new issues.

I must admit I'm really naive about workplace sexual harassment; I've always been in academia, with occasional forays into pink collar temping. I can hardly imagine anyone being that blatantly inappropriate in a work context; even if they despise women surely they'd be scared of being fired if they started flashing people in the middle of work! But I know my sister gets a lot of this kind of thing, working in restaurant kitchens which are still a very macho environment; she seems to laugh it off, but I find some of her stories really hair-raising.
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synergetic: default
From:synergetic
Date:August 26th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry
(Link)
It is by no means an insignificant achievement of the feminist movement that people like me have been able to live more or less as men, and encounter only a few dinosaurs who look at my breasts and conclude that I can't possibly be a man. It seems that feminism still has some ground to cover, and in two ways: firstly the obvious one, of making sure that all women have the freedom that I do, to live as men if they want to. But the second goal was not very clear to me before I read Le Guin's book: feminism needs to bring about a world where women who choose to live in a more feminine context are just as valued as those who are competitive and ambitious. I would add that if caring for others and doing practical but mundane work and so on were adequately valued, men who were temperamentally inclined to such roles would be able to take them up without losing status or being despised.

I find it interesting that you picked up on this. In the past year, it started to occur to me that there are two very different sides to feminism: the side asking for equality for women as men and the side asking that feminine values be valued in society. I didn't know if anyone else saw this happening as well and I find it interesting that you mention it spontaneously.
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lavendersparkle: Reading
From:lavendersparkle
Date:September 23rd, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
29 days after journal entry, 10:49 am (lavendersparkle's time)
(Link)
http://lavendersparkle.livejournal.com/73714.html
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dampscribbler: default
From:dampscribbler
Date:August 28th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, August 27th, 2008 06:03 pm (dampscribbler's time)
(Link)
Have you written about your antifeminist biases before? I'm curious to hear about them, in your own words.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:August 28th, 2008 06:33 am (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 06:33 am (livredor's time)
(Link)
Sure, I wrote a big essay on the topic early in the history of this journal. I still hold many of those opinions, I just decided that it was more important to be a heterodox feminist than to dismiss the whole movement because I don't agree with some of its most commonly espoused views.
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dampscribbler: default
From:dampscribbler
Date:August 28th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 05:48 am (dampscribbler's time)
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Thanks, I'll go check it out!

I have lots of issues with the movement as well, but I've never considered myself anything but a feminist, but I know lots of people who go the other way -- dislike the movement and so self-identify as "not a feminist."

I'll try to comment more on these posts!
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(no subject) - miriammoules (8/29/08 06:46 pm)
cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:September 1st, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
7 days after journal entry
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If you talk about individual incidents, people can (and seem particularly inclined to) always propose reasons why that particular incident might not be sexist.

To use an analogy with a completely different topic, I've seen exactly the same sort of exchange play out on nearly half the posts on custmers_suck (or other internet forums).

Customer: *says something awful to Abi*
Abi: Rants to the internet
Bea: Automatically imagines herself in Abi's place, and sympathises.
Cara: Automatically imagines herself in the customer's place, and how in many contexts what the customer said is harmless, and says so.
Abi: *is insulted*

The problem being, the context wasn't explicitly conveyed in Abi's post, but rather assumed by the readers. Bea assumes Abi's subtext, that it was actually a bad thing, was correct, but Cara doesn't.

For that matter, the objection might well be to something which is usually, but not always, due to deliberate disregard, and Abi legitimately wants to say "eff off" to the customer, even if that's actually directed to the four out of five customers who did deliberately disregard her, but not necessarily the fifth who was just unlucky. But to Cara, it may seem Abi is jumping to conclusions.

If everyone is reading from the same page, it's all fine. But if Abi is in "sympathise with me" mode and Cara is in "conciliate" mode, there's a problem. And if there's legitimate doubt as to whether Abi was justified, there's a problem.

And most particularly, none of the participants may realise that. Abi might be able to make an unambiguous post, but she may well tire of doing so every time if she just wants to rant. Or she might have an intuitive grasp but not be able to verbalise it exactly enough for someone being pedantic, and find someone seeking a peer reviewed study dismissive and patronising.

Which I think is roughly what you said with "may not be a feminist thing, but an internet thing". But it does mean, even without the difficulties of a contentious subject, anyone talking about an offensive incident in public is likely to become controversial, and different things are convincing for "Hey look, there's a problem", and "Hey, you know that problem? Hey look, it's really big"...

I think that also ties in with the relativity example.
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:September 1st, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
7 days after journal entry
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To avoid this problem, you have to go to systematic analysis to look for overall trends.

I once was in the company of some women who used to be men, talking about the first time each was groped on the tube :( That sounded pretty convincing evidence of a systematic problem, even based on very few data points.
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one_in_progress: default
From:one_in_progress
Date:September 4th, 2008 01:30 pm (UTC)
10 days after journal entry
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I was searching for discussion about Le Guin's short piece on morality/ethics and abortion and came across your entry. I think you're right on on why people don't take accusations or experiences of sexism seriously (it also, I think, comes from the systemic problem of not taking women so seriously). Despite my tremendous advantages, being born when I was, to a family like mine, with so many opportunities for women already achieved, I don't think I'd go so far as to say that I'm basically a man, but I'm still so glad for the room and space I have!

Anyway, about the essay, in the edition I have there's a note after it where she mentions the essentializing issue, and says that's not her intention, and refers the reader to Carol Gilligan and discussions about the cultural inculcation of women in certain ways. I found the idea of a case by case experienced based morality, as opposed to an abstraction based ethics, very interesting. I think it's more reflective of what people actually do. It reminds me a bit of a teacher I had in high school who said that lying is always wrong, even in the extreme case of lying to the SS about whether or not you have Jews hiding in your attic. I also really liked the idea that choosing death *can* be choosing life. Anyway if you're up for more discussion, I'd love to, otherwise - thanks for your post!
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