Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

This conversation is closed.

Would you call yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Is there something about feminism you don't agree with?
Is the problem you perceive with the people in the movement or the idea behind feminism?
What are the most important priorities for feminism today, what are the least?
What would feminism be like if you had your way?
Is there something you'd like to propose instead that is altogether not feminism?

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    Sep 1 2012: A feminist is "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women". That being said I guess I am.

    However, I would rather consider myself a advocate of human / equal rights for all.

    The problem with movements is that they are totally focused on one issue. If I live my life with the intention of treating everyone with dignity I would not have to focus on one issue.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Sep 1 2012: I don't have anything against feminism, I think the fight for woman rights is supposed to continue. People don't realize that just because people are equal under law, social hierarchies still exist. There is evidence that women on average have lower incomes than men in western society or that women tend to get less prominent positions (women president for instance). Most of the time whether you move up in your work or whether you get hired for a job is solely at the discretion of managers and CEOs, so here personal bias and discrimination can influence choices. While I agree that feminism is necessary for women, I am still not concretely a feminist since I think feminism challenges tensions between male/femal domination instead of domination in general. Some feminists even buy into mainstream political ideology, they are just looking to establish an equal influence of both men and women within the confines of mainstream ideology. For me personally that's not enough since I don't follow a mainstream political ideology.
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      Sep 1 2012: "While I agree that feminism is necessary for women, I am still not concretely a feminist since I think feminism challenges tensions between male/femal domination instead of domination in general."

      Beautifully put. The only thing all humanity should be united against, is domination, in general.
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        Sep 1 2012: Except for the Dallas Mavericks, cuz that's what we do :P
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        Sep 2 2012: Thanks, I gave a thumbs up. The TEDs version of facebook's "like" icon.
  • Aug 31 2012: I disagree with much in the feminism movement, but I consider myself a believer in feminism for one reason:

    I want justice for everyone, and there is still much injustice done to women because they are women.
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      Aug 31 2012: As with all complex movements it's hard to agree with everything, a lot of views are offered on many subjects. I'm totally with you on this one, you have the right idea!
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      Sep 1 2012: Thanks Barry!
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    Sep 3 2012: I am a feminist because there should be no question of equality in society - the natural differences between male and female biology (any race for that matter) means nothing in the world we should be striving to build.

    The fact women have to fight for rights they already deserve is disturbing and really does shows how masculinity has supervened on many of the thoughts and behaviors in history... Even in scientific research.

    When it comes down to it, the movements and thoughts are feminism because masculinism is so predominant, otherwise it would just be practicing good humanism.
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      Sep 3 2012: Even more disturbing is that our era thinks that feminism in the west is all done and dusted.
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        Sep 3 2012: Hi Matthieu,
        This is common when we are trying to change a paradigm...sad but true!

        The first "modern movement for womens rights started in France in 1780-1790s.

        Womens suffrage movements started around the world in 1888, 1893/94, 1904.

        Women were not granted the right to vote in the US until 1920. New Zealand was the FIRST country to grant women the right to vote in 1893....HOORAY for NZ!

        A similar story happened with blacks....

        We had the Declaration of Independence (all men are created equal and free) adopted in 1776. OH...and most of the authors and signers of that document owned hundreds of slaves.

        Freedom for all people was reinforced again with the 15th amendment in 1870....100 yrs later!

        The Voting Rights Act gave blacks the right to vote in 1964....

        Of course there were lots of other laws and actions in between all this, but hey....look how long it took even AFTER our leaders decided that all people should be equal and free!

        So, now, some folks think this issue is all settled and ended, everybody is free and equal, when in fact it is still changing.....hopefully for the better.
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          Sep 3 2012: Nice to know the first modern feminist movement started in France...but France also didn't give the vote to women until after the 2nd world war, which is disgracefull!
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          Sep 4 2012: Hooray for NZ! I note NZ allowed Maori's to vote also a long time before other countries dropped racial barriers

          Australia, for example, only gave Aborigines the right to vote in the 1960's. Initially, they were treated as Fauna.
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        Sep 3 2012: Yeah....France...1944 right? At least they got in before Saudi Arabia....they are considering it for 2015!!!
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        Sep 8 2012: Hooray for NZ all right!!!

        Your comment caused me to do a little exploration Obey.....thanks:>)

        In the 1860s European politicians felt that the Maori should be assimilated into the main stream to ensure lasting peace. (This is interesting to think the Europeans wanted to "assimilate" the Maori, considering it was the Maori's home!!!). They also rewarded those Maori who fought alongside the crown. In 1867, Maori men (21yrs. of age) were elegible to vote.

        That, compared to what happened in the US is amazingly wonderful!!! Consider that some of the black people who served in the military in WWII were not even recognized as taking part until years later!!!

        The state I live in (Vermont) was the first state in the US to have a woman legislator, first woman judge, first women governor, first to legalize civil unions and same sex marriage, etc. It seems that Vermont has a different "group" of people than the rest of the country? It seems like NZ has a different "group" of people than other countries?

        My question is....what causes this difference? Why can people in some areas NOT see beyond their own limited beliefs, when others progrss in a more benificial way?
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    Sep 1 2012: I agree with you, Matthieu, that claiming that there are no physical differences between men and women is not reasonable, as there are obvious differences. What's more, there are obvious differences among men and among women, with lots of overlap in the distributions almost regardless of what attribute you measure.

    What is important in terms of opportunities for people is that teachers, parents, employers and so forth not draw invalid conclusions about what people are like or can do on the basis of gender or other broad category.

    Not only has there been plenty of evidence over time that humans do draw incorrect conclusions based on stereotypes of one kind or another, but even legitimate statements about what some category of person may be like "on average" tend to interfere with opportunities for people who may be not particularly like the average.
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      Sep 1 2012: Yes, I take particular offense to people who say that a woman doesn't belong somewhere because the average woman is this or that or the other. When considering if a woman is apt for something, only that woman should matter.
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        Sep 1 2012: Indeed- and the same for men, for youth, for older people, for American or French or Chinese or Kenyan, and so forth.
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          Sep 1 2012: Of course ;-)
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          Sep 1 2012: Hi Fritzie and Matthieu:>)
          I do not call myself a feminist because I do not like labels, and what you are both touching on in this part of the conversation is exactly why... stereotypes. I have a great deal of admiration for the women who sacrificed so much early in the feminist movement, and I believe an effort like that needed to happen for women to get basic rights.

          Now, however, the movement has taken on a life of its own for some people, in some respects, and sometimes, it feels like we're leaning too far in the other direction. I also know that sometimes happens before we find the balance.

          As you point out Fritzie, we are all people, and I believe all people should have the same rights without prejudice or violation of human rights.

          Nice to "see" you Matthieu:>)
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    Aug 31 2012: i do not agree with any quotas. i do not agree with anti-discrimination laws. i do not agree those who condemn any sort of difference between males and females. i do not agree with those that want to run other people's lives.

    i'd propose freedom and education as an alternative.
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    Sep 13 2012: Hello Matthiew, great question.

    I must say that i am a feminist.

    Not because i think women are weaker or because i think women in general need to be helped, or because they need more encouragement than men.

    Just with the fact that they can carry our species' offspring in their wombs for nine months and then deliver a brand new human (mind you, most of the time with minimal help from men), they command my deepest respect.

    However, this very fact of imbalance, where the brunt of the physical and emotional load of keeping our species going is carried by women, can create and perpetuate imbalances in many other spheres of our social interactions.

    Now, I do not think the feminism I advocate for is one that aims to reverse positions, to grant women the powers to impose back on men similar imbalances, as a "payback" or "revenge".

    Let me try an analogy: If i happen to hurt my arm and start bleeding, what is the first thing I do? Well, I could request a transfusion to give back to my body the same amount of blood i am losing... or I can just grab a piece of clean cloth and apply pressure to my wound until it stops bleeding.

    These imbalances i see in society, making some aspects of life more difficult for women are to me like those wounds. We don't need to simply compensate for those imbalances by giving something else in return. All we need to do is to stop the bleeding until the wound heals.

    Feminism as I see it is not a "men vs. women" issue. We must all be in this together. After all, I am thankful that it is not a "men vs. women" issue... if 99% of the us disappeared from the planet, women would have no trouble keeping our species going... but if 99% of the women disappeared from the planet, we would certainly be in deep trouble.

    cheers
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    Sep 4 2012: I'm for equal treatment, freedom, responsibility, an end to negative discrimination in general whether it is Race, Sex, Sexuality etc.

    In a previous role I corrected some pay inequalities where my predecessor had deliberately paid married men with kids more than single women for the same level role. Which just supports the argument that the journey/battle is still under way.

    I suggest one issue from the male perspective is confusion given not all women want the same thing. Some women want to be treated as equals. Others, sometimes due to cultural or religious perspectives prefer to submit to their husbands. Then just the general issues whereby one women gets angry if you try to pay for dinner, another thinks the man should pay.

    My current workplace has programmes to support more women in senior roles and flexibility etc and diversity in general. There is wide support for allowing Mothers to work part time, no sexist language or behaviour etc. But some dissatisfaction where women are promoted or protected and it seems their sex was a factor, rather than pure merit.

    I suggest we might benefit from focusing more on discussing and working through these complexities.
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      Sep 8 2012: I agree Obey, that it is sometimes difficult to understand what each and every person wants at any given time, even with relatively small issues like who is going to pay for a meal, or opening doors. There are women who get really upset when a man tries to open a door for her. I love it, IF the man get's to the door first and holds the door for me, it feels lovely. If I get to the door first, however, I do not stand there and wait...I open the door!

      I agree that we need to work through the complexities, and to do that effectively, we need to be clear as individuals in ourselves what is, and is not important. Is it important to get angry at a man because he wants to hold the door? Not in my perception! I like those kinds of gestures, and I do not depend on, or expect them. There are a lot of little things like that, which we act and react upon because of our own ingrained feelings and beliefs. We need to KNOW OURSELVES and be open to change....or not.....as we choose!
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    Sep 3 2012: Here's something someone should do : build women's pianos.
    There are numerous wonderful female pianists. But they either have large hands or have learned to adapt to an instrument designed for adult men.
    I play it, but I play the crap out of the keys. I don't do well with the pianissimos. Perhaps the keys are wide enough for women not to completely shame their male counterparts.
    Someone should build a woman's piano at once.
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    Sep 2 2012: Hi Colleen - I think it was called 'womens liberation' back then vs. feminist....whatever - equal pay was the key for me
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      Sep 3 2012: Oh Yes....that term slipped my mind...."women's lib"!

      I only had a challenge with equal pay one time in my life, and that was not about feminism or women's lib. It was more about having enough courage to speak up for myself. Maybe that's what Eduard (E G) means about powerful....have the courage and self-confidence to speak up for ourselves?

      I worked in a medical office owned and operated by two oral surgeons. I and another young woman worked as secretaries, book-keepers and surgical assistants. The practice expanded and another woman was brought in to share the work load. Everything was good. Then another young woman was brought in and she had just graduated from practical nursing school, and wanted more pay. Even though she had practical nursing education, we had to train her. When we (the 3 originals) found out she was getting paid more, we each went to the doctors and told them if our experience is not worth something to you, so long!!! We were all good at what we did, and had often been offered jobs in different medical practices, so we had a little bit of "power" as E G might say! OH MY....that was 45 years ago....another life time!

      Many woman literally fought for equality throughout history. We now have laws which require and encourage equality, things have changed a bit, and there is still room for change in some respects. Those who are not treated equal, need to be empowered to speak up for themselves with a little boost of encouragement from all of us.
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      Sep 2 2012: You should've gone into the lawn business.
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        Sep 2 2012: Who would watch the kids then? Do you want your kid falling and splitting his head open while no one is around to call the hospital? I guess that's not rimportant, as long as your lawn is freshly cut right?
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          Sep 2 2012: Girls and women have the ability to multi task.....we can watch the kids AND do the yard work AND fix the injuries!!! LOL:>)
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        Sep 2 2012: I wish I had this / your advice way back then Gerald! -
        I would have changed my part time career if I could have pushed the non-motorized lawn mower well enough !
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          Sep 3 2012: But then, you wouldn't have become the tough billionaire CEO you are today...
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      Sep 2 2012: Anne,
      Did you KNOW you were a feminist? Did you think about that as a young person? I'm just asking because I never thought about it when I was young, even though I witnessed my brothers making more money for less time committment.

      I also babysat for 50 cents an hour starting at age 11, and at age 13, was taking care of a family of 3 children under the age of 6, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for the whopping pay of $25.00 a week! That felt like a lot of money back then.

      12 hours later
      Oh...you deleted your comment Anne!
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      Sep 2 2012: Anne's pay should have been 3.50 X4/ (+ 5 for cutting the neighbors lawn)......AND if a man did that same thing he should be paid the same amount. However, a reason why women should always get higher pay than men is that women's hair cuts / grooming easily cost seven times that of men's............and we haven't even started dressing yet !! am I causing trouble here.
      ;-) :-)lol.
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        Sep 2 2012: LOL ! ... Right-on ( as we use to say in the 70's!) Julie !
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        Sep 3 2012: Juliette,
        I bet you are not old enough to remember when babysitters were paid 50 cents an hour.....right? It doesn't matter....it certainly was another time in history.

        I agree with you Juliette, if any person does the same job, s/he should be paid the same amount of money. That's why I didn't get flustered about what I got paid for babysitting as opposed to the pay my brothers got for mowing the lawn. I like kids, and the job was a pleasure for me. We're not talking about the same job, so it did not seem unusual to me that the pay would be different.

        Sure Juliette...gotta make sure the hair and clothing are "right" for the job....LOL....you are funny:>)
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          Sep 3 2012: What blessing for those children!! to have such wonderful contact in early life. I believe that makes ALL the difference.
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        Sep 3 2012: I agree Juliette....our childhood experiences definitely do impact our worldview....for the rest of our lives.....in one way or another.
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    Sep 1 2012: You, Mr. Miossec, have presented nine separate questions in one post! Add to this the fact that feminism is both a principle and a movement and you have not defined which you intend by the word "feminist". So, I can really only answer your first two questions: I support the principle that women should have the same social, economic, and political rights as men. I do not support the movement to win such rights for women because I consider it a battle already won (here in the USA). As evidence for the irrelevance of the feminist movement (here in the USA) I suggest reading the current Forbes article titled "The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World". 59 of the women are from the USA. They hold many of the highest level jobs in business; politics; media; entertainment; finance; humanitarian; philantropy; education; and art. I am sure this list was quite a bit shorter a couple of generation ago. The battle has been won (in the USA), all we need now is continuing vigilance.
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      Sep 1 2012: There's nothing like pointing at the greatest successess of a country to hide all its dirty laundry. We like to pretend America is the greatest country because of its impressive GDP when in fact the gap between rich and poor is shocking. I suppose you also think racial discrimination is a thing of the past with Obama at the head of the country?
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        Sep 1 2012: Mr. Miossec,
        Do you have anything to say which could be considered germane to any one of the 9 questions you posted? Also, which aspect of "feminism" do you intend, the principle, or the movement? Vive la France, and God bless America!! Thank you sir.
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          Sep 1 2012: I'll answer your second question first. I have intentionally not been specific with the word "feminism" because what I want to see people's own reaction and characterisations of feminism. If I narrowly define feminism, I risk to cut out some interesting conversation. Someone like you (and at times someone like me) will need some clarification about what is meant by this and that. It is understandable. For others, something like feminism means one specific thing. What? Well hopefully with a post like this we can find out just what.

          To me, feminism is a struggle for equal rights, which in its historicity and its balance has been mostly about women's rights. I would call myself a feminist, although I would distance myself from gender feminism which I've described as purposefully in denial of physical differences betweeen men and women. However I do share the concern of gender feminists that a use of actual physical differences between the sex may be used to defend all sorts of things that shouldn't be. Nevertheless, fear of distortion is never a good reason to deny biological facts. In that respect, I am more of an equity feminist, a more rational approach to feminism.
          I think neither the people in the movement or the idea are a problem, I think it is the modern perception of both that is all wrong and there be many reasons for that which we could explore.
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    Aug 31 2012: NOT! When I blame my circumstance on another segment of society, I can never be happy. I refuse to be that way. Does not matter if the blame is assigned to gender, race, wealth, age, etc.

    I tend to do what I want that fits into my values. Sometimes I can, and sometimes I cannot because of the color of my skin, sometime I cannot because of my gender, and sometimes I cannot because of money.

    I do not run around and scream 'injustice' and burn some bras. Like someone else should fix it or something. I think about the barrier and is it something worth overcoming or not. Then I act-or not.
    • Sep 3 2012: I completely respect your approach to these issues. You act independently and responsibly.

      I also respect others who see injustice and act to reduce or eliminate it. I also disagree with feminists who would blame another 'segment of society.' But where there is injustice, it is no fault to point the finger of blame at specific persons.
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    Aug 31 2012: non.....I propose the -ism and the -ist parts to be taken away.
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    Aug 31 2012: My favorite quote on feminism is Timothy Leary "Women who seek to be equal with men, lack ambition"

    I often believe that corporations used the glut in labor created by feminism to stagnate wages in general, thus enslaving both genders to a 50 hour work week. I also believe that the image of equality was dramatically misrepresented by feminists at the time it was constructed. When the feminist movement began, most men, still did manual labor, and got drafted into wars... That's not the equality anyone was looking for. Everyone wants to be the equal of people on Wall St. and in Washington. No one talks about how easy miners, and farmers have it... but there are way more of them.

    So I think, like with most movements from outside the majority, they painted a picture of the majority, that really represented the 1%... It's the same problem OWS has in trying to create a real movement, you can't run on "I hate the people in charge now, and they're evil", it's not a platform.

    On the other hand, I think the feminist movement made necessary steps in approaching fair and equitable treatment for women. I am actually more disappointed with the men of the time, especially blue collar guys, for not saying "The mine opens at 5 AM, and rents due Saturday, thanks honey, I love this equality stuff".
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    Sep 3 2012: I think ideas about feminism (women's roles in the social order) have changed a great deal since the 60's, due in part to my generation pursuing radical social change. First women wanted to vote. Now they want to know why they can't have a pink parachute in their combat, fighter aircraft when they are on mission.

    It must be mind blowing to play top gun training missions with a female fighter pilot then later see her in a cocktail gown at the lounge that same evening, especially if she shot you down in the training games.

    Perhaps a better way to look at feminism is to look at why men have staunchly pushed against women's role changes for so long. Today we see the remnants of the old ideas still at work in countries that, not so long, ago, were primitive cultures of a sort. What I mean, is, when I was a kid, the rain forest still existed. What we call third world countries today were still primitive village dwelling aborigines, natives or nomadic camel herders.

    When I was a young man, there were no computers or Internet. Rapid change in social orders have only been moving at the current rate since the early 90's, mostly due to the introduction and large scale implementation of the Internet.

    If you were born in 1990, today you would be 22 years old and grew up in a post computer culture. It wasn't until around 2000, that the internet really began to evolve into the complicated network it is today

    My grandmother was a feminist. After her husband died, she refused to remarry. She did a wonderful job of raising her kids on her own. When I was around 20 years old, the social gap between me, my parents and grandparents wasn't that great -- if you overlooked my long hair and social habits. :)

    Women's roles (Feminism), have undergone rapid change in the last 20 or so years if you overlook WWII.

    A famous Roman General said: "We rule the world while our women rule us". Maybe it's really not so much to do about being equals as it is about who's the boss.
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    Sep 3 2012: Hi Gerald - re your 'billionaire' comment = I wish! ..but it won't stop me from keeping those dreams ....
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    Sep 2 2012: Hi Gerald! LOL ! How True !
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    E G

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    Sep 2 2012: Well, first thing I've done after I read your question was to check what feminism means . I found out and I can say I'm not a feminist . In my opinion a powerful person succeeds regardless of sex , it is in their nature to succeed --- that's why I'm not for defending the women's equal rights , if they can't they can't , this is it .
    But if a woman is enough powerful to be my boss (it's just an example) , I'd be very glad to work with her .

    Why this need to defend the women's equal rights ? Isn't it because they are weaker (not all of them) ?
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      Sep 2 2012: Well E G, if they're not going places, is it truly because they're weaker or could it be a perception problem or disabling laws? 60 years ago, a black president in the US would have been pure fantansy, is that because black people were much weaker 60 years ago?
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        E G

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        Sep 2 2012: I didn't exactly say the women are weaker than the men , I asked a question there .

        So , what are you suggesting : that the women are not treated equally only because of some perception problem ? Then I have nothing against treating women equally with the others people thus solving the perception problem , but if they are weaker they are weaker and don't deserve equal treatment .

        By the way , why this perception problem ? Isn't it because of something real ? and think at the history of black people too .
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      Sep 2 2012: Good point Matthieu.

      Also....E G....
      What if a person is not particularly "powerful" but is equally skilled at certain jobs? What if a person is skilled in a certain way, and not assertive enough to be able to demonstrate that? Do you think it is helpful to try to defend that person's rights?

      BTW E G....we are similar in that we keep a dictionary close by for TED conversations!!! :>)
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        E G

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        Sep 2 2012: If a person is skilled then that person is powerful , if that person can't demonstrate his skills then let's say that person is a bit less powerful . Meritocracy is the word . If the person worth then he has rights .
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          Sep 3 2012: Eduard, (E G)
          If it is only the most talented and skilled who are always chosen, how do other people get a chance to prove themselves?
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        E G

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        Sep 4 2012: Following their nature .
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      Sep 3 2012: hi EG -
      This goes back to the 60's and 1970's ...when women we're not being paid equally - and many girls i went to school with became new Engineer employees, and received 1/2 the pay scale of a new male Engineer emloyee.... not fair
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        E G

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        Sep 3 2012: I guess that wasn't fair , why are you telling me this ? I am for fairness but not more than the person worth .
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          Sep 3 2012: We're all for that Eduard, but don't you think you're assuming a perfect world? Do you think there are no discrimination factors in employment, advertising and legislation that come into play?

          The past informs the future. Anne Thul is illustrating the lack of fairness that existed in the 60s and 70s. Wouldn't it be a mistake to assume it's gone now?
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        E G

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        Sep 4 2012: Of course there are discrimination factors in employment .... but what's the point of these regarding what we're talking about --- valuing the people according to their merits , according to what they are ? To value the people in that way doesn't require us to live in a perfect world, so no , I'm not assuming anything. If it doesn't happen now , or didn't happen in the past , let's try to make it happen in the future .
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    Sep 1 2012: I guess that makes me a feminist too

    I looovvve women,life would be so boring without them that i would probably kill myself even though they drive me crazy, it just wouldn't be the same, in fact it would be an offense against life if that were to happen.

    Not that this was meant to impact the seriousness of the Q Mat.
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    Aug 31 2012: Classical feminism calls for men and women to be considered as persons first and gendered beings second; Difference feminism holds that men and women possess fundamentally different qualities and that both genders should learn from each other.

    I agree with the above feminist ideas. I usually disagree with radical feminists with militant or extremist views.
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    Aug 31 2012: Denial of the fact that there are two human natures is not a solution.
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      Aug 31 2012: That is why there is such a thing as equity feminism which is rooted in a certain acceptance of biological differences. Gender feminism is what you're truly against (although there are some merits shared by feminists across all boards). I consider myself an equity feminist although I have to confess I have had a very gender feminist rhetoric in the past. Still, there are places where gender and equity feminism rejoin, some biological differences are overstated. I'd argue the difference in brain structure is one such area.
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    Aug 31 2012: I always felt like feminism was female's version of chauvinism lol
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      Aug 31 2012: This seems indeed to be a prevailing view, particularly today. Do you think that is mostly justified?
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        Aug 31 2012: I've never met any feminists before and I don't know what kind of people they are these days other than from what I've learned in history books.

        I would say it is justifiable just like all stereotypes that exist. While stereotypes and images are usually pretty inaccurate, they all still hold some truth and there's always a reasonable cause as to why they are branded the way they are. After all, all lies are born from truth.
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        Aug 31 2012: I mean there are a lot of Chinese stereotypes too like how we're all cheapass people, we are greedy, we get all A's and good at math and getting a B in class would be like failure/disownership from parents lol, and we suck at driving...
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          Aug 31 2012: Do you think that most or all Chinese fall into all these categories? If not, can the same not be said of feminism? Does the behavior of feminists invalidate the movement and ideas?
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        Aug 31 2012: I don't know the exact statistics, but there are definitely a lot of Chinese people who don't fall into that category of stereotype/label.

        The same can be said for feminism or any label/brand/stereotype really. But no matter what the truth is or what the generic label doesn't tell you, the image is still the image. There's a saying, you can never get a second chance at first impressions. So if you screw up a first impression, you would have to spend even more time/effort to change people's opinions based on their first impressions.