Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by jazzabel, Sep 26, 2014.
Beautifully eloquent, Emma Watson explains the realities of feminism and gender inequality.
I think the reason the word 'feminism' became such a dirty word was because, like all organizations of all types, some folks on the extreme side went all 'we hate men!' and society as a whole began to latch onto it and say that feminism meant exactly that.
I'm a man, but I identify myself as feminist. That doesn't mean I hate my own sex, it just means I believe women should expect to have the same respect and rights as I would expect. Sadly the word had become so corrupted into 'the group that hates men' that it'll take a long, long time for it to get back to the way it was before.
Speaking as a man, yes, we are taught by society that we are to be tough badasses, macho, etc. Why do you think shows like Dragonball Z was so popular with boys? The action scenes and everything else aside, it was the epitome of manliness: big burly guys with bulging biceps and pecs screaming their heads off while beating their enemies to a pulp. That said, she is correct. Men are taught to bottle up their emotions because to cry is a sign of weakness. I am reminded of the time we watched a movie in my high school class (it was movie day). A basketball player had recently lost his friend in a horrific plane crash and he broke into tears in front of his coach. One of the girls next to me said, "...What a baby." It occurred to me that if instead of a tall, masculine basketball player bawling his eyes out, it was a young cheerleader bawling her eyes out; or that basketball player instead stomped around angry, punching everything he saw or downing some liquor with hard rock music playing in the background to emphasize his rage, she would have said something different. It also brings up an interesting point. Women, from what I understand, want to feel like they can connect to their husband on an emotional level, but if they don't get that (because the husband is bottling it all up as society has taught him), that would produce even further issues down the line.
Now I admit, as a man, I don't have to worry about people thinking I'm naturally weak, vulnerable; don't have to worry about someone grabbing my ass or staring too long at my boobs. That said, society had taught me to only like guy things which is why I felt very odd and queasy about the idea that I'd actually like a chick-lit book a few months ago. I felt as if I were doing something...weird. But I've since concluded that if women can like 'guy' things, then guys can like 'women' things. So go watch some guy flick while I read Jane Austin.
Feminism just means gender equality. Both men and women should feel comfortable asserting themselves, being as sensitive or tough as they want without society looking down at them.
I was quite moved by this speech. Not particularly a Harry Potter fan, so I've never really cared for her, but this has turned that around. I was really impressed, especially with her attitude that men also suffer from gender inequality. Reminds me of a lot of conversations my literature class has.
I've never been a fan of the word feminism meaning gender equality. I wish there was a better word. Equalism almost, but then that goes toward anyone about anything, not just sexes.
Equalism sounds perfect. Equality no matter your sex, sexuality, race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
In a perfect world...
I must admit, I don't have much interest in feminism. I'm even unconcerned with it as a literary theory approach. When I say women getting unequal pay is bullshit I'm called a feminist. When I say it's bullshit men cannot cry in public I'm called something else. What I am is a humanist, what you have between your legs is almost irreverent to me. You are human, you are no different to me, and nor is anyone else.
Women have a shit time in today's society, yes, but I'm sorry, I don't see myself as a 'feminist'.
Oi! There is nothing wrong with reading Jane Austin, even if she is overrated.
@Lemex : You needn't apologise. Call yourself what you must, I'll consider you an 'incidental feminist' and a very decent human being, and that is what matters ultimately, not -isms of any kind.
@Link the Writer : Feminism was deliberately subverted by the very establishment it fought - patriarchy. You must remember that men were in charge of everything. Every single boss, up until even a few decades ago, was a man. That includes the media, politics, schools, religion, healthcare, everything. That establishment constituted male economic and social privilege. Men had to compete with only half the humanity before feminism. Many of them didn't want to lose those privileges, and they played and continue to play dirty, to either regain them or not lose any more. I call them 'old boys clubs'.
Their methods are the same from the very beginning - call all feminists nasty names and discredit the message by promoting the most extreme form of it, and in the absence of the extreme, lie that there is an extreme even if there isn't. The number of times people refer to these 'extreme feminists' outnumbers vastly actual instances of extreme feminism. So much so, that the work by one extreme feminist has been quoted time and again, through the decades, in order to blacken the entire goal and movement, whilst work of thousands of others remains ignored, especially by the media. Feminism and its consequences are all around us, and it's life-giving, equality promoting, nurturing, human rights above all. It's what they don't want men to connect with. And since they still own the media, the fight is ongoing.
@Chiv : Like any new way of looking at things, feminism has developed through time. Whilst early suffragettes fought for women to not be slaves anymore, now the same idea of freedom and equality means other things. But the equality is the basis of feminism, therefore, there is no need for a new term, feminism IS the term and it needs to be understood and de-villified, imo. Allowing the word 'feminism' to be removed as shameful constitutes victory for the oppressors. Next, they'll vilify the word 'equalism' and then what? New word still? So that each new incarnation is reborn in shame of its parent form, until they lose all strength and agency? They aren't vilifying the word, they are in fact vilifying the very idea.
(there's a few too many 'vilify's in that paragraph, sorry )
Some might make a chicken and egg argument as to what came first, the attacks on the feminists working for legitimate social change or the extremists. Being very familiar with the 60s-70s feminism movement, I can say the attacks came long before any extremist feminism emerged.
Exactly, I think Jazzabel has it right. When the women wanted to have equal rights, the men in power didn't like that and did everything they could to stamp it out.
As for the speech itself. It was a good one. It was a rather lazy and obvious Edmund Burke quotation if I was to criticize anything, but that's beside the point. I fully agree with her on that issue.
I couldn't help but imagine what I myself would have said if I was in her place. Knowing me I'd start ranting about the obscene number of nuclear weapons still around, and horror at the idea we are all still living in the shadow of the mushroom cloud, and then being dragged away by over-zealous security guards and ...
What was I saying?
Evolution solved that one, the egg came first.
@Lemex : I'd do the feminism thing too, and anti-war thing, they'd have to go together. Like Angelina and Emma in one I'm actually quite a good public speaker, I've done it loads of times and I come alive on stage, I become witty, profound, it's hard to live up to off stage actually...
Seriously, though, I thought of her shaky voice as one criticism, but now come think of it, she is an actress, maybe she played on the 'fragile' card to offset the 'offensiveness' of the message, since it was basically aimed at men. You know, fake submission, fragile egos, I'm probably overanalysing...
Haha, I must admit, I did think that too. I suppose, though, acting before a movie camera is one thing. A slip up just means you have to stay on set a bit more. But before the UN, it's going to make a small part of history. A slip there is something you just can't have.
But yeah, I imagine I'd become some sort of rabble-rousing demagogue, and I'd love every minute of it.
I wouldn't characterize it as "men in power". I would characterize it as the half of men and women who resist/fear social change. There were plenty of women who complained about the feminist movement mostly on the grounds it wasn't natural or Christian.
Phyllis Schlafly: Still Wrong (and Mean) After All These Years
Watson also discussed the fact that the word “feminism” has been distorted from its true meaning. See the link for Watson's comments. This is from the discussion:
The only problem with 'equalism' is that the term could be easily manipulated in the way that 'equality' has been in the US and elsewhere. Some people claim that equality means the ability to do whatever you want, but the problem is that the results will not be equal when groups already have advantages or disadvantages. It's like saying, "Okay, we're going to have a fair 100 m race here. Now, you start at the 0 m marker and you start at the 20 m marker."
Feminism may also be manipulated through 'feminazi' coinage as stated above, but I think that would be a problem for any ideology/movement that pushes for greater female equality AND equity.
I want to just say that I did join HeForShe afterwards, though I have mixed feelings about it afterwards.
But first let me talk about the speech itself.
I loved it. I don't know much about Emma Watson (other than the fact that she's an internet goddess and an actress) but I was moved by the speech. Women's rights does need to be a concern for men too because, well, we're 50% of the human population and you probably need us. Slacktivism on Tumblr and protests on the street corners only can do so much. So I'm happy that she said, "Hey, dudes, come on in, we want your help!"
So here's where the project lost me: the people themselves. Since the speech happened, I've seen multiple posts by otherwise moderate feminists bashing men.
That's one of the posts I'm talking about.
I'm completely for equal rights for men and women (call it equalism, call it feminism, it's just a word). But if you don't want my help, and you've got a problem with me trying to help, bye. Have fun with that on your own.
And I've seen facebook friends of mine link articles like that. So I'm not just pulling things out randomly, I've seen this and it's scary. This isn't a male only issue, nor is it a female only issue. Equalism or Feminism or whatever is EVERYONE'S concern.
@Ulramar : As long as you keep focusing on every single instance of something a feminist says that scares you or makes you uncomfortable, and use that as the reason to remain sceptical of entire movement, you have an issue that only you can resolve. Are we scared of football as a game, are we vilifying it constantly on the account of literally millions of drunken and violent football hooligans trashing entire cities every year? At football stadiums you can see overt racism, sexism, violence, nationalism...Are you scared of every single male who says he likes football, lest he be a monster in disguise? No. We call it a 'beautiful game' and men world wide are perfectly comfortable and un-scared of it. And then you get a few trash talking chicks on Tumblr and all of a sudden the entire male population is petrified. I'm not buying it
But this is rampant. This isn't isolated, as I said. I've seen it on my newsfeed on facebook, I've seen it on my Tumblr (where I only have GoT/ASOIAF blogs followed so I don't know how that even got there), I've seen people at school saying it. My friends who I thought were moderate feminists were saying it.
I support feminism. I argue with my more stereotyping friends who think every feminist is a 'feminazi' about it and I'll still defend equal rights for women and men together, but you've got to let us in and help. Because those posts, while maybe not 'scary', sure don't make me want to help. "She hates me, why am I willing to help get her equal rights?" I know that's a horrible mindset and the wrong way to think, but that's what keeps coming into my head.
@Ulramar : With all due respect, social media and your friends aren't the entire feminist movement. Don't mistake facebook flooding on your wall with the realities of feminism. As long as you cling to that tiny little biased window as the entire world, you'll get all kinds of skewed impressions, on many issues not just feminism.
Remember what I said about football
That's why I said it's the wrong way to think. It just turns me off from helping and I'm trying to fight that.
Meh, that's kind of a racist rant bemoaning the fact Watson's comments didn't apply to the blogger's own experience.
Instead of berating Watson, it's too bad the blogger didn't add her own comments to the mix.
She's a strong independent black woman who don't need no man
The fear and reluctance response you describe is a learned response. The role of demonising feminism is to portray it as 'wicked and threatening'. And that message targets young men most of all. It isn't easy to get away from it, and it doesn't happen overnight. Take your time and keep an open mind. The fact you want to help is enough
This isn't just a feminism thing. If you walked up to someone and asked "Do you need help?" And they responded with, in a aggressive attitude, "No, I don't need your help!" Would you want to? Doubt it.
The patriarchy is there, there's no doubt about it. But I don't believe that we're taught to hate feminists from a young age. I come from a very liberal family that supports all religion and race and gender and wants equal rights for all. 75% of my teachers have been female. There's been no brainwashing me to hate feminism. I'm not threatened by it at all.
I'd like to add to what @Ben414 said. Before I do, I'd like to clarify that I support ideas of equality; but, I find them, when taken for granted, to be too idealistic for the average person.
So, as always, I'm gonna reference the US, as it is where I live, and we have a very bloated common belief of rights and individualism. These ideas are nice and all, but as I said and am about to get to, they don't address anything realistically. I think realism (with reference to idealism) is what we ought pursue when running a society.
I'll start by looking at this sort of egalitarianism. I'm not knowledgeable regarding the applied definitions of egalitarianism, so if I overreach and straw man an argument, assume that I am speaking about a sort of Joe-average-American perspective regarding rights and equality. So we have these two notions in the States that are circulated and espoused without inspection: individual liberties/rights (Bill of Rights) and equality. I know there is obvious contention about how these two ideas are inherently conflictive. I don't care to address this. Instead, I say that these notions add superfluous feel-good notions about peoples and peoples' interactions with each other and their general society. One may say what follows is semantics; I disagree. Without explication, these ideas become unanalyzed in the unaware citizen's mind. These citizens affect things; so, for them to understand these ideas fully is important.
So, I can propose that all human beings ought be treated equal. This sounds wonderful; it is beautiful, inspiring -- and like Rights (capitalization for ease of singular reference) -- and fosters empowerment. This is important when rallying people for revolution, as when the U.S. constitution was written; however, in our modern times (again, this references the U.S. only) this idea becomes standard. This is an idea that standardization defeats. Everyone is blatantly not equal. Yes, on a basic "human" level, we ought strive to treat them with a certain equality. But, in a society, as a person, one cannot treat everyone equally. To exemplify with a slightly embarrassing fact about myself: I cannot treat women and men equally in my social interactions. Because of biological influences and my moderate loner sort of social-interaction style I am by default more anxious when directly speaking to women, mainly ones that I find attractive. This is rather obvious to explain. It is not due to some conscious effort that I make to treat women differently; but instead, it is an effect drawn about through a complex interaction of varying influences, most all entirely out of my control. Point is, equality is an idealistic notion. People are very different from one another. It is impossible to disregard those differences when interacting with others. Further, to disregard these differences actually reduces what an individual is. If everyone is treated equally, then everyone is treated outside of their individuality.
Now, I'm fairly certain that egalitarianism doesn't make this claim that people should be treated literally equally; instead, I'm sure that egalitarianism would suggest treating everyone equally in a basic human sense. However, even with this notion, there are instances in which we, because of practical reasons, do not treat human beings equally, even on a basic human level. For instance, we execute people and commit wars.
Beyond this, I think this idea of equality, like Rights, can be too easily miscommunicated; it gets too caught up in ideals. Instead of saying, "Everyone is equal," we could say, "If everyone acts in a societally beneficial way, then everyone is to be equal." With rights, instead of saying, "I have freedom of speech," instead say, "If I operate under the appropriate circumstances, I have freedom of speech." Society is an exchange. This reliance on idealistic absolutes dulls context over time. An average gun-toting American would suggest that they indeed to have a Right to own a gun no matter what. I think this sort of absolution works against society. I'm saying that someone shouldn't own guns. I merely want clarification of claims, something that forces people to truly acknowledge what the case is: I am allowed to own guns, so long that I don't use them in ways unproductive to the greater good of my society.
This may seem like a minor distinction, but again, I think this distinction, if stressed, would prevent some pointless rhetoric that occurs in the U.S. Instead of espousing an unthoughtful "I have the freedom of speech," we should address when someone ought not speak about something and when someone ought speak about something.
Separate names with a comma.