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  #1 Old 09-10-2011 Default Feminism

Hello all. In the spirit of the upcoming Women's Rights Week on LoyarBurok, I decided to start this topic, because feminism is just one of those little taboo topics that nobody seems to like talking about. It happens to be a highly misunderstood ideology and most people tend to have misconceptions about it which actually do not embody the true nature and spirit of feminism.

I wrote a blog post about feminism, so I'll post it here for people to read :


Chances are, you'll have heard of the word "feminist" or "feminism" some time in your life, and either you'd have sussed out the meaning yourself or someone would have told you - either way, feminism, in essence, is a movement that seeks to establish gender equality. It is NOT, as is the usual misconception, a movement that is anti-men in nature and is motivated to have men be the underclass of women, or enslave them to women, or *insert other wild misconception here*. What most people who think of feminism as anti-men don't realize is that feminism, despite its name, is not trying to bring men down - rather, it is trying to bring women up, to empower them, and have them on a platform of equal standing with men.

But this is not to say that feminism wants to make women more like men. This is not something that we wish to establish. Feminism isn't about being a tomboy, it isn't about being anti-feminine, it isn't about trying to copy men. True feminism acknowledges that, yes, the two basic genders of male and female do have their own unique features and differences, like men having inherently better physical strength. We are not denying the existence of such scientific differences, neither are we trying to prove that they don't exist or want to abolish them.

What we are aiming for is for women to be respected, and regarded as highly as men. To put it bluntly, we are anti-patriarchy, rather than anti-men. The patriarchy is something that, yes, we do want to abolish, as it has negative effects on both men and women. But, at the same time, we are NOT trying to establish a matriarchy - as stated above, the focus of feminism is to establish gender equality.

One of the most common criticisms that feminism receives is that it is no longer needed - the first wave of feminism, namely the earliest one that sought to allow women into the workforce and to obtain an education, has already achieved equality, in the sense that now both boys and girls can go to school, and both men and women are allowed to work. So everybody's happy now, right?

Wrong.

We live in a world that is predominantly patriarchal, and this patriarchy exists everywhere - not only in the Eastern countries, as people tend to believe, but also in the Western countries. Our opinions on the roles of men and women and what kind of behaviour is considered "appropriate" for them is very much shaped by our traditional views, views that, despite the rapid modernisation, continue to live on and exist in societies everywhere.

Feminism is still very much needed, and very much relevant - the goal has changed, but the movement is not yet ready to stop.

The issues that feminism addresses are, indeed, mostly related to women, although some feminists do also take part in defending men's rights - but this does not change the true motive of feminism, that is to establish gender equality. Many people forget that the world they live in is still dominated by men, and that society still gives men their male privileges - these male privileges are subtle and easily overlooked by society, but they do exist, and they do have profound effects on the fight to establish gender equality.
Among other things, a big concern of feminism is the existence of negative stereotypes and social stigmas that are clung on to society as truth, as facts of life that must be adhered to. Some of these stereotypes include :


1) That for a woman, their appearance is their most important asset. From a very young age, girls are taught that their looks are the most important thing (very subtly, subliminal messages are sent via dress-up dolls and princess movies), and boys are taught that this is the most important thing about girls. What this sets up is a culture where women are objectified, and there is a definite lack of appreciation for intellectual or athletic women. No matter what other achievements a woman has attained, no matter how significant and groundbreaking these achievements are, they will still be criticised for their appearance (should they *gasp* forget to put on their make up! Or gained a bit of weight!), and people will still judge them based on what they look like.

2) That a woman's job is to stay at home and do all the housework. I believe that this culture has its roots in religious texts, and it was held onto during the age before the first wave of feminism gave women the right to work, and for some reason continues to exist today. This line of belief has two versions - one, women shouldn't work, and two, women who do work are still responsible for all the housework. Again, this is something we want to dispel - women, especially working women, are some of the most under-appreciated people in the world. They, like their husbands, work full-time to earn money, and come home exhausted - but wait! They have to cook for their families! While the husband, people believe, has the right to flop on the old couch and watch TV while his dinner is brought to him by his wife.

We question why this belief exists. It's not as if women are actually scientifically more efficient/better at cooking/cleaning/housework. This theory was disproved long ago when people stopped thinking it was stupid for a guy to be a chef or a fashion designer - men proved a long time ago that they can be brilliant at cooking and sewing, which are tasks traditionally associated with women. So why then, is the onus of responsibility for the housework, still on the woman, working or otherwise? We want to remedy this issue by encouraging a culture of shared housework, where both the man and woman take responsibility for the daily house chores.

3) That a woman should not have authority over her husband, and is not in a position to give orders. Again, this has its roots in religious texts. If there is actually a rational and logical reason for this, then it wouldn't be an issue - but, as the only reasons people have been able to come up with are variations of, "The *insert holy book here* says the man is the leader", then we have a problem, and the only reason we believe this continues to exist is, among other things, to protect the perceived "higher authority" of men and preserve the patriarchy.

4) Rape, sexual rights, abortion rights. We still tend to have the culture of "Marital rape is ok", and "A woman who dressed 'inappropriately' deserved to be raped". There are two major problems with these - for one thing, saying "Marital rape is ok", is to say that once a woman is married, her husband owns her body and is entitled to have sex with her whether or not it receives the consent of the wife - just like the woman is the husband's own personal sex slave or sex toy. The culture of victim-blaming when it comes to rape cases is one that insults both men and women. It paints men as heartless, thoughtless barbarians who have little to no self-control, and it shifts the blame and responsibility on women, who are usually the victims (rape cases in which the victims are male are statistically far less than those where females are raped) and have been psychologically, emotionally and at times physically scarred by the experience.

And in regards to abortion rights (of which feminists are generally pro-choice), here is a quote shared by a lovely friend of mine that sums it up quite succinctly :

"When you peel back the layers of the anti-choice motivation, it always comes back to two things: What is the nature and purpose of human sexuality? And second, what is the role of women in the world? Sex and the role of women are inextricably linked, because if you can separate sex from procreation, you have given women the ability to participate in society on an equal basis with men."

GLORIA FELDT, attributed, Huffington Post


5) A woman is (rightfully) paid less for doing the exact some job as their male co-workers. This is another thing that we question - if there is real meritocracy in the workplace when it comes to the distribution of wages, why, then, do women always get the short end of the stick? We acknowledge that when it comes to jobs involving hard labour, work that includes having to do a significant amount of heavy-lifting, is more suited for men who inherently have more physical strength and subsequently in cases like these, men getting paid more is justified. However, in lines of work that have a relatively equal spread of men and women, and the job doesn't involve hard labour or
heavy-lifting, then both the men and women should have equal pay.

Some people try to shrug off this issue by saying "Oh, the pay gap isn't that big!" or "Women tend to get promoted more easily". The size of the pay gap does not matter, whether it is a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars - fact of the matter is, women receiving less wages for doing the exact same work as men, no matter how hard they work, clearly displays society's view that, despite having allowed women into the workforce and claimed that gender equality has already been achieved, a woman's status is still beneath that of a man. This is what we want to change.

6) Female abuse, often by their own partners. People who condone the patriarchy sometimes like to quote verses from the Bible or Quran about how men are granted more strength - but I'm very sure that God never meant for that inherently better strength to be used to physically abuse their partners. Men abusing their power to dominate over their female counterparts and keep their female partners in submission. While it is true that men can also become victims of abuse at the hands of their female partners, cases where the male is the victim are, like rape cases, statistically much less compared to cases involving female victims :

"According to a report by the United States Department of Justice, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.[104] A 2001 survey of over 22,000 residents of England and Wales by the UK Home Office showed four percent of women and two percent of men were victims of domestic violence in the last year. Of the most heavily abused group, 89 percent were women.[105]"
-Taken from Wikipedia.

That being said, our objective in this case is to cultivate and integrate the concept of mutual respect, co-dominance rather than one clear dominant in a relationship. We do not condone men physically abusing their female partners, neither do we condone women physically abusing their male partners - abuse is abuse, and under any circumstances, it should not be condoned at all.
So I hope this clearly defines the true nature and core of feminism, the issues that feminism is concerned with, and why it is still, indeed, quite relevant to modern society. We cannot deny that feminism has come very far by giving women the right to work and get an education, but there is still much work that needs to be done before true gender equality is achieved - and right now, we do not have true gender equality.

This is why we third-wave feminists still exist.
This is why we refuse to back down.



So - with that out of the way, let's start a discussion -

What is your opinion on feminism?
Have you had any experiences with feminists or feminism?
Do you believe that feminism is still relevant today?

Oh yeah. And just in case the blog post wasn't enough of a clue - yes, I am a feminist
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  #2 Old 09-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

Some of my male friends say they wouldn't marry a woman who is not a virgin .....
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  #3 Old 09-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

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Some of my male friends say they wouldn't marry a woman who is not a virgin .....
I've heard of this, too. It's a very odd thing though - and I often wonder why this even exists. Women who are raped are referred to as "used goods" and no longer desirable for other men. It's as if their virginity is the only attractive thing in a woman. I can only assume that this is a novelty sort of thing, where the guy wants to be the one to pop the cherry.

Either way, what's your take on it?
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  #4 Old 09-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

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Some of my male friends say they wouldn't marry a woman who is not a virgin .....
I have friends like that too. Wonder why they make such a big fuss about it. I couldn't care less if my future partner is a virgin or not, as long as he's a good person.
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  #5 Old 09-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

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Some of my male friends say they wouldn't marry a woman who is not a virgin .....
Judging a book based on it's cover, tsk tsk tsk
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  #6 Old 09-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

Another thing I've just thought of, in relation to the "wouldn't marry a non-virgin" thing - don't tell me they're going to ask the person if she's still a virgin, and then drop the relationship if she's not?

Because that just sounds ridiculous.
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  #7 Old 10-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

Well to be fair, I think getting to know about your partner's sexual history is something you'll have to do if you're seriously considering a future - not to ascertain virginity or anything, but because of possible sex-related issues. STDs and the like. So I believe that dropping the relationship if she's not a virgin - no. Not if you can (both) determine that there aren't any health-related problems that might complicate the future.

Hmm, maybe these people have religious leanings? I mean, for strict conservatives I suppose marrying a non-virgin may mean marrying someone who had sex out of wedlock, and that can be a big issue for many people. And I suppose that's up to them. It's a shame though for the victims of rape and such who may feel themselves rejected for something like this.
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  #8 Old 10-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

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Well to be fair, I think getting to know about your partner's sexual history is something you'll have to do if you're seriously considering a future - not to ascertain virginity or anything, but because of possible sex-related issues. STDs and the like. So I believe that dropping the relationship if she's not a virgin - no. Not if you can (both) determine that there aren't any health-related problems that might complicate the future.
You make a good point about the STDs.

Okay that aside, does anyone have anything else to bring up about feminism? I believe quite a lot of people get the wrong idea about what it's really about and have come into contact with the wrong kind of feminists (the extremist kind).
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  #9 Old 10-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

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Some of my male friends say they wouldn't marry a woman who is not a virgin .....
Uhuh... And yet they are part of the generation which made premarital sex acceptable.

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Originally Posted by joan2468 View Post
1) That for a woman, their appearance is their most important asset. From a very young age, girls are taught that their looks are the most important thing (very subtly, subliminal messages are sent via dress-up dolls and princess movies), and boys are taught that this is the most important thing about girls. What this sets up is a culture where women are objectified, and there is a definite lack of appreciation for intellectual or athletic women. No matter what other achievements a woman has attained, no matter how significant and groundbreaking these achievements are, they will still be criticised for their appearance (should they *gasp* forget to put on their make up! Or gained a bit of weight!), and people will still judge them based on what they look like.
I agree with you on this, though I wish to add that this (the bolded part) does happen to men too. Anyway, the media especially advertisements only further degrade women by implying that their ultimate goal is to make men want them. An extract of this article from http://www.media-awareness.ca/englis.../women_sex.cfm further explains this.

Quote:
Women as Sexual Objects

Provocative images of women's partly clothed or naked bodies are especially prevalent in advertising. Shari Graydon, former president of Canada?s Media Action M?dia, argues that women?s bodies are sexualized in ads in order to grab the viewer?s attention. Women become sexual objects when their bodies and their sexuality are linked to products that are bought and sold.

Media activist Jean Kilbourne agrees. She notes that women?s bodies are often dismembered into legs, breasts or thighs, reinforcing the message that women are objects rather than whole human beings.

Although women?s sexuality is no longer a taboo subject, many researchers question whether or not the blatant sexualization of women?s bodies in the media is liberating. Laurie Abraham, executive editor of Elle magazine, warns that the biggest problem with women?s magazines is "how much we lie about sex." Those "lies" continue to perpetuate the idea that women?s sexuality is subservient to men?s pleasure. In her study of Cosmopolitan and Playboy magazines, for example, Nicole Krassas found that both men and women?s magazines contain a single vision of female sexuality?that "women should primarily concern themselves with attracting and sexually satisfying men."

The presence of misinformation and media stereotypes is disturbing, given research that indicates young people often turn to media for information about sex and sexuality. In 2003, David Buckingham and Sara Bragg reported that two-thirds of young people turn to media when they want to learn about sex - the same percentage of kids who ask their mothers for information and advice.

How to Catch (and Keep) Your Man

Many researchers argue that the over-representation of thin women in mass media reinforces the conclusion that "physically attractive" and "sexually desirable" mean "thin." Amy Malkin?s study of magazine covers reveals that messages about weight loss are often placed next to messages about men and relationships. Some of her examples: "Get the Body You Really Want" beside "How to Get Your Husband to Really Listen," and "Stay Skinny" paired with "What Men Really Want."

The fascination with finding out what men really want also tends to keep female characters in film and television busy. Professor Nancy Signorielli reports that men are more likely than women to be shown "on the job" in movies and television shows. Female characters, on the other hand, are more likely to be seen dating, or talking about romance.

Sex and Violence

That romance often has a darker side. As Graydon notes, the media infantilize women, portraying them as child-like, innocent and vulnerable. Being vulnerable is often closely linked to being a potential victim of violence. Kilbourne argues that ads like the Fetish scent ad (right) imply "women don?t really mean 'no' when they say it, that women are only teasing when they resist men?s advances." The ad?s copy reads: "Apply generously to your neck so he can smell the scent as you shake your head 'no.'" The obvious implication here is, "he?ll understand that you don?t really mean it and he can respond to the scent like any other animal."
On another note, to give an example of just how ingrained the idea of good=beautiful is in our heads, the judges and the audience's negative impression on Susan Boyle before she started singing in the Britains Got Talent audition epitomises this problem.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk
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Last edited by yanno_yamster; 10-10-2011 at 11:51 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  #10 Old 11-10-2011 Default Re: Feminism

The STD thing is a fair point, yes, but to refuse to marry a woman whom one has spent years wooing and dating and developing profound feelings for simply because she isn't a virgin is downright ridiculous. The state of her virginity shouldn't matter. What if she's completely healthy? Actually, none of that should matter at all. What's important in a relationship isn't one's virginity, it's honesty. If both parties have disclosed their health status, sexual history and have gone for proper medical check-ups, all should be fine. Even if she does have an STD and has informed her partner about it, if her partner honestly loves her, how is that going to stop them from marrying her?

There is a stigma attached to this idea of a "loss of virginity". Why is it that the case is opposite with men? What makes a woman's virginity so special? Why does no one fret about men who are not virgins?

How does one even define a loss of virginity? Is it simply the absence of a hymen? Is it vaginal bleeding due to the tearing of the hymen? What about lesbians then, do they never lose their virginity? What about men? In fact, it's not actually definable in specific, concrete terms because it is a concept. It is a mere symbol of a woman's "purity" or "innocence" in the eyes of a patriarchal, heterosexist society. To reduce a woman's personhood down to an abstract notion is honestly very ludicrous to me.
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