Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

This conversation is closed.

Our modern societies still need feminism

It is undeniable that the great feminist movements of the 20th century have come and gone and have left in their wake an impressive shift towards gender equality. But has it been enough? Are we really there yet or does the 21st century need to see more feminist movements in order to see gender equality become a tried and true facet of our societies.

Let's hear some arguments for or against the current proposition "Our modern societies still need feminism". Let's also hear arguments for what would and what wouldn't be appropriate for a 21st century feminism.

Closing Statement from Matthieu Miossec

Whether we agree that our modern societies still need feminism or not, it is clear that the issue is still a hot topic. I greatly encourage everyone to read some of the exchanges of this debate, particularly those which include Andrea Grazzini Walstrom's insight.

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    Jul 4 2011: I am a feminist by necessity. I would prefer to be a 'humanist' but the word has been co-opted. Each and every human being deserves the opportunity to become what ever the potential within them allows for without the interference of prejudices.
    I was the first woman to take a skilled trade with General Motors of Canada. That was long before I had my children, my degrees or my current cemented convictions. I needed a job and I wanted to make more money rather than less. I was not on any society changing platform. At that time, I had people determine what I could and could not do based on my female body. I looked into the eyes of people who felt justified in mistreating me because I was infringing on their male based role of provider (or some other equally erroneous mindset.) They touched my body in violent and unwelcome ways because I was suddenly not deserving of the same respect as their own wives and daughters.

    Now I have to endure a stage of history where my sons are judged ineligible because of the gender of their bodies. I can hardly wait for this era to be rebalanced and for all of us to wake up and insist on a better world.
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    Jul 10 2011: Jason,

    I think anyone who is passionate about their cause is at risk for going too far, and creating negative connotations for their movement.

    Sometimes this is purely tactical, a way to spark energies, attention and press. Similar to Matthieu's point. Gloria Allred would be versed in this. As these tactics mimic those litigators are trained to use.

    Sometimes leaders get carried off in the contagion effect that takes hold as their efforts build. In this case the success of their methods seems proven to them and others, and thus prudent as a strategy to build from. They might be willing to take hits to their reputation for the larger cause.

    And their sincere concern for women and heightened sensitivities from seeing so much destruction might be so vivid that in their despair they lash out in understandable anger.

    I imagine this is where feminists such as Steinem, Betty Friedan and Susan Faludi have come off to some people as accusatory.

    In my view the truth-test for any movement leader can be found at the intersection between drama and passion. When passion amounts to not much more than dramatics, is where we should question the depth of its impacts, both positive and negative.

    And the acid test is: Do they exhibit good measures and balances of insight?

    Faludi, for example, authored a pivotal feminist tome, "Backlash." Which she followed up with "Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Male." Which shows her effort to see the other side.

    And "Third Wave Feminists" like Rebecca Walker bring balancing voices to the movement. They, perhaps precisely because they've lived the feminist complexities (including as daughters of second-wave feminists) articulate a more nuanced contextual picture. Steinem supports their evolutions.

    My view is anger can be useful as fuel for noble passions, but that like any "chemicals," cautions should be taken so overreactions aren't set off.

    Humility, perhaps is the best neutralizer.

    Andrea
    • Jul 10 2011: Great reply and I can't find anything to disagree with.

      Do you feel we are in a situation in the USA where doing away with the "gender feminists" and adopting a 100% "equity feminist" approach would be beneficial?

      My thought is that in cases of more extreme oppression still found in many countries, the "gender feminist" is going to bring greater attention to the cause, rally a more aggressive following to fight blatant injustice, and has a greater chance of getting laws enacted to protect women in cases of sexual harassment, domestic violence, divorce proceedings, ethical employment practices, etc. I feel that this type movement can create a sense of pride, hope, power in being a woman to many who have been robbed of their self worth.

      I feel that the less extreme form is more effective once the equality gap has been sufficiently narrowed between the genders. Where is the point at which injustices toward women are the same as the ones men face? Can the more extreme feminism drive a wedge between men and women?

      Would Malcolm X's 1950's and 1960's style make for a good leader for the African American population of today?--I say no. Would Dr. Martin Luther King's style still fit the current state of affairs?--I think yes. I view the topics of bigotry based on race and bigotry based on gender as similar in this respect.

      Does Steinem support the evolution of the third-wave feminist in replacing the second-wave feminist or just in addition to?
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        Jul 11 2011: Jason,

        I like the distinctions you suggest. They echo patterns of leaders like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

        Though I'm not comfortable determining what methods would be best in cultures I'm less familiar with.

        Each context has its nuances. While full-on activism might be a good strategy in some; it might not be for others. It can often depend on communications and commerce modes. The former is the medium for consciousness raising; the latter is the pressure point distributive justice can tap into to elicit change in hierarchal structures.

        In other places, like Afghanistan, straight on activism often doesn't work. Places like it are so complicated and chaotic, strategies that work in other cultures may do more harm than help.

        It is important to understand and speak current cultural vernacular, preferably as a stakeholder. I imagine Steinem would say (and I'd agree), second-wave feminism was necessary in the 50s-60s and third-wave methods are necessary now.

        In fact, first-wave US feminism evolved in similar ways. Alice Paul built on the work of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, but ratcheted it it up to get the Wilson administrations attention.

        I'm not sure there isn't a need for more distributive justice in the U.S. Though I am uncertain if laws and legislation are effective in doing much more than offering a venue that endorses the concern. The fact is girls are still trafficked in the US, gender-based pay inequities remain, etc.

        What I'm convinced there's a need for is clear stakeholder engagement. To see not only the ethical, but also the economic and evolutionarily importance of equity. Solutions emerge when men and women (like you and I) have conversations like these. And intentionally invite others to join in.

        Here's the challenge: maximizing diverse energies. Some people are MLKish, others MalcolmX-ish. All are needed in contextually-sensititve proportions to navigate culturally shifting sands.

        Andrea
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        Jul 12 2011: This is great I just cam from a femmenist conference on the Waves, but I would also like to add that the strongest importance of the thrid wave is seperating the idea of sex and gender identity. You forgot to mention people like Sylvia Rivera and trans women who was a bit link between second and third wave. The thing that is most exciting is that we are learning form the thrid wave that the movement has become more inclusive. This movement is erasing the idea of gender roles which can free women and men. As we see more boys wanting to play with dolls and where dresses and more families being accepting to it (Look up the childrens book "my princess boy") and not think of there child any more or less because of it.
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    Jul 9 2011: I like Scott Armstrong's term: peopleist.

    When I was in my early teens, I used to think feminists were just a bunch of lesbians bitter with men. With the years, detached from the deeply religious and chauvinistic culture that, sadly, still remains in the most part of my country of origin, my views changed.

    And I have to say I am uncomfortable with the concept of feminism some people have. I don't see how feminism aims to deconstruct masculinity, nor view it as a self-righteous ideology of hatred against men. It saddens me that this is how it is now viewed, because the extraordinary work of people such as, for instance, the late Betty Ford, or Lucy Stone, Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Tubman, amongst many others, is poisoned with these truly unjust labels. I have never been in a position where I have been discriminated for being a woman, or at least that I am aware of, and maybe I don't feel as strong about feminism but, so long as we have cases like the one Debra described; we need feminism.

    I also don't understand what a real man or a real woman is. As far as I'm concerned, we are people who, yes, would benefit from practising more integrity, honesty and selflessness. However, I don't see why it should only be down to the man to emphasize those. And by no means I will surrender to anyone and do not wish anyone to surrender to me. I may have a completely different concept of what love is but surrendering is not a part of it.
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      Jul 10 2011: I don't understand what a real Man or a real Woman is either to be honest. I see a lot of unfortunate gender profiling in this thread which I cannot agree to. Particularly, I can't understand why a man can't be effeminate. I was fairly effeminate and extremely sensitive as a teenager. Am I less of a man for it? Must a human of the male sex really follow societal pressures to be a man? In my honest opinion, a man is man if he's got a dick. The rest is just societal expectation. Given that some of the societies we live in used to see Men as unworthy of being Men if they failed their military service, I couldn't care less what society expects.
      • Jul 10 2011: A lot of trans-gender people of the world may disagree with that last statement and I am not sure I would blame them. I am not arguing with you. I think I know exactly what you mean and I agree with it.

        I think the way to get past all of the unjust prejudice is to insist on tolerance of others. Bigotry is taught. It is not something we are born with. Why should we care how others think and act if it has no negative effect on anyone else?
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          Jul 10 2011: You have a point. I guess you get what I was trying to say though, mainly that societies' expectation of what a Man is, isn't what a Man is.
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          Jul 19 2011: Jason has raised an incredibly valuable point here. In a world where sexuality appears (according to science and not culture) to be on a continuum- the only appropriate response in my view is to adopt Scott's concept of being an advocate for 'peopleists'. (I was striving for a word when I realized that humanist had been co-opted.
      • Jul 10 2011: Dear Matthieu,

        There is nothing wrong in being sensitive and effeminate.
        The problem is that if people lose their polarity is makes them poorer and less alive. A man and woman experience themselves as such in the relationship to one another. If you want a big spark, you need to have opposite poles. But most of all, it is the power of love, that needs to be there for the spark to appear, and then not to let it die out, but keep the fire going. People need to love and care for one another, to discover the goodness of the other and in order to learn about oneself. If two people build a loving relationship, where there will be enough care and sensitivity for the other, it is a gold mine. There one can find the treasures of who we are as men and women. There is HUGE potential there. Dig love and you will find that out.
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          Jul 10 2011: I think I can agree with most of what you say here. I would just say that the opposite poles may not need be reflective of gender.
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          Jul 10 2011: Your opportunity to explain it to me.
        • Jul 10 2011: Luigi, personal attacks are unwarranted but I am sure that everyone welcomes your comments on whether or not feminism is still necessary in today's world. Cheers.
    • Jul 10 2011: Dear Helena,

      You are very right, Helena, it is not only the men who should practice honesty, selflessness, and integrity. ALL people need it, indeed. Most and for all. Most and for all people should live in integrity. It is in fact the lack of it that makes all the conflicts between people and between genders, injustice. People are failing to give to the others the right appreciation, the right recognition, the right support. People are failing to see and acknowledge the reality of others and that is the main problem.

      When I speak about surrender to men I mean surrendering to the needs of the men, supporting them, appreciating them, paying attention to them, being willing to give up on what you want, in order to fill the need of the other. There is a way a mother surrenders to the needs of her child. At work, one needs to surrender to the boss, in the sense of being willing to fulfill ones own responsibilities and being willing to do what one is asked to do. It doesn't mean that there is no place for consideration, discussion, creativity and ones own input. But basically surrender is the willingness to give up on ones own personal wants for the sake of the other, without putting up resistance. Without surrender nothing can work, either friendship, nor partnership.

      Surrender is not only for women. It is for all of the people. Men should surrender to the needs of the women too. See the true needs of the women and take on themselves the responsibility for their happiness. The reason why I pointed out that women need surrender in the first place, is because I see that the heritage of feminism, apart of the good things it brought, made a huge and successful campaign against it. Now, giving up on ones own is considered incorrect. If you are a woman you have a lot of "support" in the culture telling you not to do that. And under the same influences men nowadays tend to surrender to egotistical whims of the girls, which is not good either.
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        Jul 18 2011: Hi Eva,

        I totally missed this reply.
        While I think I understand where you're coming from when talking about surrendering, for me, it still has a negative connotation, however that's beside the point.

        I still very strongly disagree with your generalizations. You made some very strong statements which you would need to back up with very strong evidence. I second Jason Kather's reply to your previous comment.

        Let's stop the fallacies, the bigotry, the intolerance and continue to promote respect and tolerance.
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    Jul 7 2011: No, we don't need more feminism. We need more masculinism.

    Why are there no more feminists? Because men don't "discriminate" enough. The structures of discrimination have become much more subtle and invisible than, say, 30 years ago. A lot of the old forms of discrimination have been made "illegal", and so the persistent forms have gone "underground", so to speak.

    If men became more masculine (instead of metrosexual), women would have a mechanism that makes our current, subtle forms of sexism and discrimination more visible. And this would allow them to formulate what exactly they're fighting for. We need masculine bastards of men.

    The worst thing for the feminist movement is to have men who slavishly agree and struggle alongside the women; the metrosexual, effeminate intellectual who is in touch with his "female side" and who "understands" women.

    In short, to get (a)head, with a new Modernity, in which women stand up against subtle discrimination, we need more masculinism.


    [I thank G.W.F. Hegel for my flawed attempt at doing some dialectics here.]
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      Jul 8 2011: Laurens.

      I'd add:

      We need more masculine men beating the crap (rhetorically speaking, of course) out of the cowardly bastards who hide behind faux facades while manipulating women, societies and all the children caught in the chaotic crossed-signals.

      These discriminatory structures you describe have become so subtle and subversive that few men, women, girls or boys dare muster up the authentic strength and courage it takes to live up to their human capacities for insight and their abilities to do the right thing.

      Even as I write this, I imagine I'm risking some of my own professional and personal relationships for saying so. Which in honesty, feels a bit over-edgy even to me.

      And I know it's unfeminine of me to speak with such anger. But in spite of my tendencies towards idealism, and desires to be more delicate, I am utterly astonished at how increasingly fewer men and women are willing to hold up and shine lights as you do.

      You have my gratitude for demonstrating real manly-manishness. And giving me a momentary glimmer of much-needed hope.

      Thank you,

      Andrea
      • Jul 8 2011: Laurens and Andrea, the points you make about subtlety poignantly address one of the reasons why we have such difficulty in overcoming the biases. Overt comments or actions are easy to deal with because they are so obvious and undeniable. Subtle comments or actions are less easily defined or explained to someone else. Often, only the person affected truly understands the full effect. Usually an accumulation of these subtle biases occur before the affected person fully understands the undermining that is really taking place. It is unfortunate that this is still very commonplace.
        Andrea, I would say you are assertive, not unfeminine.
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        Jul 8 2011: Hurrah! Hurrah! and amen!
        Its nice to read such well stated and illuminating perspectives. Well done Laurens, Andrea and Julie Ann!
        Thank you!
  • Aug 3 2011: This topic seems to be a hot issue with many people, but there is one thing I would like to bring up (and I fear the response ha-ha).

    I've been reading the comments, and there have been some talking about women being objectified and the need to say no to how some of our culture displays us. Yes, vast improvements have happened with equality and such, but aesthetically, women are still being degraded. Even in subtle ways, like intense airbrushing used in magazines that just crush self esteem and drive women to become something that only a computer can create. Then there is the in your face degredation, seen most notably in some rap video/lyrics/etc. Half naked women walking around, dancing sexually, standing by men who sing about how they are going to take them home or just bang them where ever they please.

    Now I understand young adult/full grown women may be able to tell right from wrong and live their own productive lives, but my concern goes towards the younger generations who are oversaturated with an image of women being physically perfect, sexually pleasing, and being hardcore partyers. What we need are role models (successful business women, doctors, lawyers, etc) to be put in the spotlight as well as body images that allow younger childeren to see that all body types are acceptable and that what is seen in the magazines, music videos, movies isn't always true. (This is why I love the Dove commercials about beauty and body images).
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    Jul 4 2011: Considering the fact that women have been oppressed in this world for ages, we do need feminism in this century. But once we think we have attained gender equality, we must ditch feminism. As Mr. Walker pointed out the need for feminism is more in some countries than others.
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      Jul 4 2011: The idea that "women have been oppressed for ages" is a popular myth in the realm of sexism that is not supported by history at all.

      First, social class has always been much more important than the location of one's genitals. So one could just as well say that "men have been oppressed for ages by women". That would be absolutely correct and yet highly misleading, because there were also women oppressing women, and men oppressing men. It would probably be much more accurate to say that "Short people have been oppressed by tall people for ages", assuming a connection between to nutrition, wealth and power. If we only possessed that population data over the millenia, I wouldn't be suprised to find a much higher correlation between power and body height than between power and sex.

      Second, there were times when women enjoyed even more freedom and acceptance than they do nowadays. Today, most people fanatically defend the belief that females are significantly inferior in physical regards. You wouldn't expect this belief to have been much weaker in the far past, let alone the so-called "Dark Ages", right? And yet, this was the case. For economic and social reasons, female family members of a socially superior had more rights and duties than men of lower classes. Nowadays however I have a hard time to find a person who can merely *imagine* a woman working as a blacksmith. And even in the rare cases where I succeed I am told that such women must be fugly butches.

      Human progress isn't linear, and the motivations for irrational discriminations have never faded. Therefore, one has to pay attention that one doesn't make the mistake of generalizing and overstating the role of sex when criticizing the mistake of generalizing and overstating the role of sex...
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        Jul 4 2011: I do agree with you saying " men have been oppressed by men, women have been oppressed by women and all such combinations with different abilities" but your statement " "women have been oppressed for ages" is a popular myth"" is making the entire issue trivial. I do not know where you come from, coming from a third world country, I have seen how women have been treated over the years. I can say that in my own family while my father supported me till I got my Ph.D., when my sister was asked to get married when she was only 20. We both were toppers when we graduated from senior high school, yet my sister is looking after her family now and I enjoy all the privileges America provides. I am not saying my sister is not happy, but I do feel that she has the potential to contribute to the society other than just being a good wife and mother.

        Yes, you are right in saying there are times women enjoyed freedom, but what percentage of women have? I still believe that it is not an overstatement to say " Women have been oppressed for ages".
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          Jul 4 2011: "Yes, you are right in saying there are times women enjoyed freedom, but what percentage of women have?"

          What percentage of men have? How many males in the history of mankind were kings, and how many of them were peasants? I agree, it is correct to state that women have been oppressed for ages. Just as it is correct to state that men have been oppressed for ages. Furthermore, it is even correct to state that men have been oppressed *by women* for ages. However, it is completely wrong to derive the equation "Womanity = Wrongdoers, Manity = Victims" from that. And the same applies to reversed roles. Which is always intended with that statement, according to my experience. Or do you know of any other reason for such an unjustified generalization? No doubt there are strong incentives to to create such broad categories, crossing the borders of space and class and time, often transcending oneself into them. That is a common technique found in religious and political ideologies. But it isn't supported by the facts.

          On a related note, such generalizations are made in many other fields as well. Since you mentioned Third-World-Countries, Hans Rosling has to say one thing or two about that: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html .

          I don't deny that there is actual sexism in the present as well as in history; I even acknowledge that it also occurs against males. But that doesn't mean that sex is the defining characteristic in general. Social class is much more important than the sex, back then as well as now, and therefore women have been oppressed as well as oppressors. Provided we want to stick to this dichotomy at all. In my opinion, a more accurate way to view society is to recognize that (almost) everyone has people above and below oneself. And that one doesn't try everything to abolish the differences to those beneath one...does that make one an oppressor? Then we are all oppressors, I believe.
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          Jul 5 2011: Ray,

          I think you need to support your claims that men are oppressed by women. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. But you need to hold yourself to the standard you are holding Kiran to. What's your evidence?

          I'd further say there is quite a difference between economic and gender bias. Ie: a peasant oppressed by a king vs. a woman oppressed by her culture, religion, employer, etc.

          I'm unaware of a quantifiably representative time when woman prevailed as the gender-oppressing hierarchy. Notably, those societies like First Nation (aka Native American) cultures where feminine-strengths have been perceived as a good thing, have comparatively little gender-based bias one way or the other.

          But civilization has throughout the centuries been ruled by economic models. ie: Money has long equalled power. It is the rare society, if any, in history where women have ruled through economic power in any meaningfully sustained and socially prevailing way.

          Indeed, in the US, women PhDs and MDs with the same academic credentials, equal or better outcomes and sometimes more hours on the job, are paid less than their male colleagues. There is good evidence these pay inequities correlate to other sectors. Pay disparities have scarcely budged in decades.

          All this said, I believe the most critical way to change sexism is to understand how both sides both lose and win when evolutionary adjustments are attempted.

          Feminism has critically improved culture. Still, it has contributed to unintended impacts which due to complicated translations of its ideals have undermined some parts of it, too.

          Andrea
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          Jul 5 2011: You still stick to the fallacy of viewing the sex as the relevant characteristic from the beginning. That's nothing less than starting with a conclusion. It's impossible to refute that. Any argument, any observation that is based on that unjustified premise will only confirm it or not confirm it. But it will never be able to falsify it. In terms of epistemology, it's the dogmatic answer to the Münchhausen Trilemma. Or the Creationist Method, as I call it after this caricature: http://blog.cagle.com/2011/02/creationist-method/ .

          For comparison, you could just as well argue that Christian societies have always been more peaceful than any other, that they have never been violent or oppressing, that all their characteristics we consider to be good nowadays prove the glory of Christianity beyond doubt. Those actions which are morally wrong by today's standards? Economic, cultural, political reasons, everything but religious. And if the responsibility is undeniable, then the "interpretations" of the ideals have sometimes been unfortunate, with the "real" Christianity nonetheless being holy and just all the time.

          No amount of historical evidence - of which there is plenty - can refute this claimed superiority and benevolence of Christianity, because that position is already constructed unfalsifiably. One could also say fallaciously. So those who reject fallacies consider it refuted because of that already, and those who don't reject fallacies won't ever see the necessity to consider it refuted. No constructive discussion possible, sorry.
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        Jul 4 2011: Answering your question "How many males in the history of mankind were kings" , I do not think I am wrong in saying more than 95% of rulers are men. I agree to your point that social class is more important/equally important than/as sex. But even in the lower social class, lower class women have been oppressed by lower class men. You can not compare higher class women with lower class men (I see you are scientist, it is not appropriate control).

        I totally agree with you in saying " every one has people above and below oneself ". But as you see if the median of one sect is much lower than the other the other, then one must think about it and try to do some thing about it. In this case, we are talking about feminism, but same holds true for races that have been oppressed or untouchable casts in case of India, you can find many such examples.
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          Jul 4 2011: "You can not compare higher class women with lower class men"

          Of course I can. In fact, I even must. It would be willful ignorance to make only those comparison that confirm the preconceived conclusion which reads that women were oppressed and not oppressors. And before we start discussing how they were "less privileged oppressors", I want to ask three questions:

          1.) Is it important whether long-deceased members of a group have been oppressors at all?
          2.) Is it important to the oppressed whether their current oppressor is less privileged than other oppressors?
          3.) Is the unjustified categorization of people into "good" and "evil" groups based on a superficial characteristic really necessary, let alone a contribution to the fight against the unjustified categorization of people into "good" and "evil" groups based on a superficial characteristic?

          My answer to all of these questions is "No". And any attempt to merely change the group that is in charge of dominating the other ones is no real change at all. Take religious freedom, for example. In Germany, the debate is only about which religions should enjoy privileges. Should Christianity be dominant, with Islam playing second fiddle, or should it be the other way round? Conservatives demand the former, socialists go for the latter. And then they fight over which group fits the role of the evil wrongdoer and which group may pose as the innocent victim.

          Which is absurd in several ways. Apart from the fact that such a generalization stands in clear opposition to historical facts where Christians and Muslims were both victims and wrongdoers, this simplification doesn't serve any other purpose than creating the illusion of a homogenous ingroup and outgroup.

          The only way to overcome that eternal battle for dominance consists in abolishing these assumed roles completely, instead of merely assigning them to different groups from time to time.
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        Jul 4 2011: "The only way to overcome that system consists in abolishing these roles completely, instead of distributing them." Yes, but how do we do that? I think for that you need to bring every one to a common stage and ask them to be free. In that regard world must try to uplift the oppressed in what ever way it can and whoever the oppressed might be.
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          Jul 5 2011: Just for your information, I edited the posting a bit while you replied. That character limit is sometimes a challenge to me, forcing me to rethink where I want to put my emphasis on. Which isn't a bad thing, in fact.

          The main step towards abolishing oppression consists in the decision to let go of oversimplified, generalized categorizations of people. When one is able to refrain completely from viewing sexes/races/nationalities... as "good" or "evil", "victims" or "wrongdoers", "friends" or "foes", one has taken that step.

          In turn, a refusal means that moral orientation and simplification are more important to oneself than giving up discrimination. And assigning a single role to the entirety of people with a certain sex, race or nationality is such a refusal.
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        Jul 5 2011: There is no blame game going on here. It is not a problem if it were a problem, but it is a problem even now. So we need some solutions. It is not about what men had done to oppress women, it is all about what men and women can do to uplift women from the state they are living even now.
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          Jul 5 2011: That's exactly the problem: Focussing on uplifting only women. My suggestion is to abolish sexism entirely, but that requires to no longer practicing it. That means the question "Which sex should be targeted now with positive or negative measures?" will *never* abolish sexism, because that *is* sexism. Ask yourself, why are you insisting on keeping up sex discrimination instead of viewing people as humans, regardless of their sex?
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        Jul 5 2011: "Focussing on uplifting only women." I did not mean that. It is about uplifting of down trodden. Any sects could come under this category. Since we are talking about women in this debate, I am mentioning about uplifting women. I would very much want to live in a world where we see others as people but not men/women/gay/straight/lower-class/upperclass/white/black/brown/yellow. But to get there we should get rid of all inequalities.
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          Jul 5 2011: That will never happen as long as one insists on discrimination.

          There is a Monty Python Sketch illustrating the point I'm trying to make: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFBOQzSk14c . It dismisses it as absurd that the right to have babies should apply to people in general instead of only women (and it does so in a hilarious way). But actually, this *is* an act of sexism and oppression. There is no need to bind this right only to women, even if there were a 100% correlation between pregnancy and sex. Which does not exist, by the way, thanks to transsexuals. But even if there were no transsexuals, there would be no rational reason to do so. People always ask "Why shouldn't we discriminate if these sexual differences do exist?". Well, apart from the fact that these differences pretty much *never* exist consistently on the individual level - I won't even start with the many physical and psychological levels of sex/gender - there is no logical reason to take *another* characteristic than the relevant one to make the distinction. It simply doesn't make sense, unless one is motivated by sexism. The same applies to racism, nationalism and every other similar ideology, of course. Not even a 100% correlation changes that, so all discussions in that direction can be cut short.

          There are only two ways: Either we oppose sexism, or we don't. And if we oppose it, it means that we must *not* ask the question which sex should be targeted now with measures. And whether these measures are positive or negative doesn't make the question any more or less sexist. Currently, no society on this planet is willing to abandon sexism, and this is because their people are not willing to abandon sexism.

          Only when it seems wrong to one to write wrongfully generalized sentences like "That sex/race/nationality... has been the victim for ages", one can even think (literally!) of overcoming discrimination. Not one second earlier.
    • Jul 6 2011: I would argue that we need to hang on to feminism until we actually ACHIEVE gender equality! Yes, you could say that's just semantics, but many people already *think* that we've reached full equality. Susan J. Douglas does a great job of exploring this in Enlightened Sexism, a book I'd highly recommend!
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        Jul 6 2011: You are so very right Jane, we need to hang on to Feminism till we achieve equality.
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    Jul 18 2011: Before we begin this argument, we need to define what "feminism" means today. Without doing this, it can get really messy.
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    Jul 16 2011: As long as there exists a culture that is supposedly advanced in the field of gender equality and yet I can turn on MTV and see women being portrayed as objects we are blind to the fact that the movements of the past 100 years have changed very little and the current public view of women is still so much less than what they could be.
    • Jul 16 2011: Sex sells...there is no arguing that fact. Explain to me how marketing toward women does not include the portrayal of men as sex objects? Why is it that so many men on MTV run around with their shirts off? Why is it that romance novels often have good looking man on the cover? Why is it that the leading men of Hollywood are so predominantly attractive? Why is it that Brad Pitt gets different roles than Danny Devito?

      Current public view of people in general is less than what it could be. Both genders are judged on physical appearance, ethnicity, religious beliefs, family names, etc. How have the women's movements of the last 100 years not changed women's right to vote, issues of domestic violence, sexual harassment, ethical employment practices, divorce proceedings and many more areas in a great way from 100 years ago?

      Are women seen as sex objects by men?---Sure. Are men seen as sex objects by women?---sure. Does each gender have a portion that views the same gender as a sex object?--sure. That is in our DNA. To say that women's rights have not substantially improved in Western societies in the past 100 years is to say that basically no women in the workforce, women not having the right to vote, women being viewed as much less than man's equal is basically equivalent to the opposite. I strongly disagree with that.
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        Jul 18 2011: Jason,

        I agree with Dan's comment: "The public view of woman is still so much less than what it could be."

        Regards your comment about portions of each gender viewing the other as sex objects. The Q is what are the relative proportions?

        I imagine most people can agree the proportion of men who view women as little more than sexual objects is significantly greater than the proportion of women who view men as little more than sexual objects. Proportionate media images echo this. Even serious business journals exhibit lots of T&A. While women's magazines might have a few nude male chests mixed equally with other images of family, children, fashion, etc. you don't see too many bulges, er, peeking out of their pages.

        Good news is there are few images that imply violent sexual acts by women against men. Bad news is evidence that neanderthal-ism remains among our species. And endless images imply violent sexual acts by men against women remains in vogue.

        And, unless you can support with evidence that domestic violence against woman has been meaningfully reduced in the last 100 years, I beg to differ. Every evidence in media and research suggest violence against women remains at significant levels, across numerous sectors of society. Recent research shows that one of three woman US women reports having been sexually assaulted. From what I understand, the incidence is likely higher in US military.

        There is exceedingly little evidence that bare chested male images correlate to anything near these realities. Which, as Dan suggests, have remained statistically stable for years, if not centuries.

        I agree, as you say, sex sells. Revenues from erectile dysfunction medications have skyrocketed in less than a decade. Notably, ads for these typically run next to sexualized images of women. Meanwhile, you don't see ads for vibrators in mainstream media.

        Which leads to this Q. Which gender is buying more sex and sexually objectified images?

        Andrea
        • Jul 18 2011: Hi Andrea,

          As far as viewing opposite genders as sex objects, I feel that as long as there is an innate physical attraction there, this will happen. The question is: "where is the line between celebrating the human form and violating basic human rights?". Men are often said to be more visual than women, but I know plenty of straight women who enjoy looking at other beautiful women as well as attractive men. I completely agree without actual hard facts to back it up that men are more likely to view women as "little more than a sexual objects". I think part of this is due to evolution and part is due to social influences.

          The objectification of women as a feminist topic is much different than many of the equality of gender issues due to the subjective nature of the discussion. I feel that discussion would be better in its own dedicated conversation. Using MTV's portrayal of women as proof that the feminist movements have been completely unsuccessful left a bad taste in my mouth and I felt the need to provide a partial counter argument. I consider myself very pro-feminism, although I often try to look at topics from multiple angles including strange strange ones at times which makes me not quite mainstream in all of my "feminist" views.

          Domestic violence is a fairly new term because for so long, things like a man's rights over his wife in marriage, the "sanctity" of privacy of a person's home, No such idea of a man being able to rape his wife, the feeling of futility to change something that had always been, religion and other such ideas got in the way of addressing behavior between a man and his wife and kids. How much in-home abuse was actually reported 100 years ago?---Even 50 years ago? How was that report received by the law, community, family if someone was brave enough to speak out? Without hard evidence to back me up, I feel comfortable enough to say that the environment of 50-100 years ago was much more accommodating of domestic abuse.
        • Jul 18 2011: Numerous surveys show that around 22% of women in America are suffering from Domestic violence. A recent survey conducted in China by a private Chinese group showed 35-65% (urban vs. rural areas) of Chinese women were victims of domestic violence. There are no laws in China to protect women in cases of domestic violence. A large portion of the people surveyed said that it was not anyone's business what happened behind the closed doors of a man's home in China.---Sound familiar?

          From a website: http://www.dvrc-or.org/domestic/violence/resources/C61/
          "Nearly 2.2 million people called a domestic violence crisis or hot line in 2004 to escape crisis situations, seek advice, or assist someone they thought might be victims.(National Network to End Domestic Violence)

          Studies show that access to shelter services leads to a 60-70% reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the 3-12 months’ follow up period compared to women who did not access shelter. Shelter services led to greater reduction in severe re-assault than did seeking court or law enforcement protection, or moving to a new location.(Campbell, JC, PhD, RN, FAAN. Anna D. Wolf, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Protective Action and Re-assault: Findings from the RAVE study.)"

          Where would these people have gotten help 50 years ago? This small piece in itself has to be convincing evidence that measures to fight domestic violence are making a difference compared to not having any systems in place. When women don't have the right to vote and are subjected to many other basic injustices, I feel it goes without saying that they are viewed by society as property to treated by their husband as he wishes to a greater extent than when they are viewed as equals in the eye of the law.
        • Jul 18 2011: The Violence Against Women Act of 1994, The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act before that, the creation of the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and numerous single laws enacted to protect women (and men) in matters of domestic violence are having a positive effect on the overall problem.

          I have serious doubts as the the validity of the 1 in 3 women being sexually assaulted. The more accurate number is frightening enough on its own and there is no need to inflate it. Many respected surveys put the number of women who have been sexually or physically assaulted at 1 in 6. Gloria Steinem once wrote in one of her books that 150,000 American women a year died of Anorexia. I think the true number was around 60. I get frustrated when I see embellished statistics put out by large groups of so-called leaders of movements because it takes away from the credibility of such a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Like I said, the real numbers are scary enough to get the point across.
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          Jul 20 2011: Mens testosterone is released approximently every 15 min, opposed to females estrogen which is released once a day. since they are the sex hormones, you tell me who is buying more sex and sexually objectified images? silly question for you to ask and beside the point. but everything else you've said I have enjoyed, you make some great points.
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        Jul 18 2011: Jason,

        It is entirely reasonable of you to be frustrated with embellished statistics.

        But, with due respect, it is equally frustrating to see loose arguments like "men are sex objects because photos of their bare chests are in media" that imply clearly flawed correlations. The implication is that objectification of women is "equal" to that of men. Which, as you later note, is inaccurate.

        We could quibble about statistical nuances, but again: both research and reality is sexual images of men do not induce cultural oppression of men. While nearly all of many statistics point to hyper-sexualized images of women undermining them in various life realms. (I happen to think they undermine men, too. But that's another matter). This is why the images remain a gender-equity concern. As they should.

        I'd further argue there seems to be a converse relationship between gender gains feminism achieved due to distributive justice legislation you cite, and gender losses due to increasingly ubiquitous cultural images of women as either "Man-eaters" or "Tootsies."

        As for "men are visual" arguments I think this is tired. As you note, women are visual, too. Whether men are more visual than women isn't salient here. What is is that the claim is complicit with the "boys will boys" perspective and, too often, this leads to fulfillment of damaging prophecies.

        This creates not only a troublingly limited perception of what it means to be a man, but also abets continued problems for women. Including through anorexia: female abuse of body against self, informed by cultural ideals about what women should look like to be sexy. Namely: thin.

        While laws can and have helped US gender equity, emergent counter-energies that seek to protect male interests in courts and government undermine many. Why culture change is ever more critical.

        There are ways we can communicate sensuality to enhance fe/male relationships and abet positive expressions of gender.

        Andrea
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          Jul 18 2011: One of the most enlightening, confusing yet astounding books that I have read in a long time is called "Sex at Dawn' (I forget the authors at the moment). It is an utterly fascinating look at human sexuality from the perspective of collected research from the work with chimps and bonobos to the cultural anthropological studies to the medical evaluation of women as 'hysterics' a 'disease' certified by doctors from the time of the ancients. While utterly denying that women needed or wanted sexual pleasure the doctors found a role in aleviating this 'suffering'. The cure for female 'hysterics' was actually manual stimulation by doctors(!) until it was declassified as a disease well into the 1920's in America and Great Britian. (An amazing factoid is that the 5th certified electrical device in the USA after sewing machines, toasters, etc. were doctor designed vibrators for releiving 'HYSTERIA"!)My point is that a whole lot of our confusion as societies about women and feminism is based on erroneous and yet well accepted doctrines of what it means or should mean to be a woman. Time for better information, better discussion and more courage in facing the realities and TED is making a good start.


          Addition: The authors of the book are Ryan and Jetha. Andrew Weil (of wholistic health fame) endorses it on the back cover. When I say that the book is confusing it is because it flies in the face of most of what we have been taught about women and their sexuality over the years. It documents all of the research extensively. It was a very interesting- if personally challenging book.
        • Jul 19 2011: Debra,

          One of the co-authors of "Sex at Dawn" is Christopher Ryan, Ph. D. I linked one of his articles in a different discussion a couple weeks ago and it was deleted by the site administrator. I never received an e-mail as to why it was deleted. It is relevant to this discussion as well, so I will link it again. The article concerns sexual repression.

          http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201004/sexual-repression-the-malady-considers-itself-the-remedy

          I ask the question again...Where is the line at which celebrating the human form turns into violating basic human rights?

          The article posted begs the question...Is it healthy to not allow the "objectification" of humans as sexual objects to a certain degree?

          Andrea,

          You added the words "as little more" to the objectification of females as sexual objects. I agree that is an ignorant, dangerous, bigoted thing to do. I don't see why showing women in bikinis on MTV takes away from any other aspect of their character. In the same respect, I don't see how showing a man with his shirt off takes away from his intelligence, moral quotient, ability to function as a productive member of society, etc

          Too many times we make judgements based on the extremes or fringe elements of a group of individuals or an idea. Can we agree that a person can enjoy watching another person acting in a "stereotypically sexual" manner and still have respect for that person and their gender? By "stereotypically sexual" manner I am referring to anything that might be shown on MTV (since this is the original arena from which our discussion evolved).

          I propose that Dan Willis' comment is more about a symptom of a greater problem than the problem itself. The root of the problem lies in intolerance, lack of understanding, prejudice, jumping to conclusions without enough evidence of facts which leads to a lack of respect. I say this is more of a human issue than a feminist issue. Extreme cases lead to feminist issues.
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          Jul 22 2011: Jason, even your question shows something about our times. Why is it necessary to think that we objectify when we engage our sexual nature? Isn't that a symptom of the social malaise that we are talking about? When I feel attraction to someone they become more fully real, more fully present, more fully human to me not less.

          I am also not sure that sexual repression is the forebearer of societies' death knell as the article you posted suggests. It is clearly not ideal and it does bring about maladaption in some people but millions lived and survived and contributed to society in Victorian times, in religious communities and with strict parents. Human beings adapt to many cruelties in this world but the main point should be to ask 'how can we do it better?' Objectification is hardly the answer. Education, proven science which enlightens us all on what human sexuality really is can be a compelling force for good.
        • Jul 22 2011: Debra,

          Let's not get confused or try to confuse the issue at hand with semantics. I think I was clear in my statement with the use of quotation marks and the phrase "to a certain degree" so that you would know what I was getting at. If it is still not clear, I obviously failed in that attempt and will take a stab at a lengthy description of exactly what I was referring to.

          Obviously the article used as an example is on the extreme side, yet it illustrates the point quite well. Taboos in societies are often based on ignorant assumptions.

          Why is it that when I enjoy watching Rachel Maddow tear an ignorant politician a new one, I am respecting her intelligence? Why is it that when I enjoy watching women's beach volleyball in part because of the uniforms they wear, I am disrespecting women worldwide?
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          Jul 23 2011: Hi Jason, I always enjoy engaging you in discussion and I usually enjoy reading your posts because they are mostly sincere and well reasoned. Thanks for that. In this case, I realize that I did not directly address your question.
          It is my opinion that one of the major problems in the western world is the objectification of women. The Muslim Immams have it right in pointing to our salacious media and the issues of pornography as a symptom of how far we are from a healthy society.
          I brought up the topic of 'Sex at Dawn' as an intellectual and research heavy book designed to implode some of the foundational myths. I think we agree thus far.
          When I was the first woman to take a skilled trade with GM Canada- they tried to intimidate and 'keep me in my place' with the use of unwanted touching (haha- look what i got away with or 'oooops! was that your boob? I am so sorry? GRIN!' I was not just an object at that point I was a threat to their way of life. I just ignored the porn for almost 10 years.

          Another tactic was to post violent pornography at eye level on machines that I had to work on for 8 hours. Stilleto heels digging into women's breasts, women with dog collars and leashes, women with teeth marks on their bodies. My supervisors were no help. When I went to HR my supervisors even told them that I was lying- until I walked over to the machine, tore the pictures down and placed them inside a newspaper and marched them down to HR. Guess what happened then?
          Even man in my department, the great guys, the family men, the ones who had been kind to me - was marched into the office and threatened with suspension when they knew full well who it was. Guess how my life there was after that? I got the most miserable jobs. Few would talk to me because I was the one who threatened their livelihood.

          Objectification? How can anyone defend it or think it is harmless. Art has a positive contribution to make. The human form is beautiful. Love is too. Exploitation is NOT.
        • Jul 23 2011: Hi Debra. I enjoy your posts, your intellect, your kindness. I thank you for the compliment. I will choose to not take it as a backhanded compliment, even though the way you describe how you "usually" enjoy reading my posts because they are "mostly" sincere and well reasoned does tempt me to take a different outlook on your overall meaning.

          I would never attempt to justify the behaviors you were subjected to concerning harassment and mistreatment by men in your former workplace. Of course I would never defend such actions. I can only say that it sounds like a terrible thing to have to go through and i am the type to not stand idly by when such behavior is demonstrated.

          Having said that... I feel this is a different end of the spectrum from what I am trying to argue for. I am making the case for the "ART" aspect in relation to the viewing of the human form. The line between art and pornography is a fine one, but the extremes are easily recognized, In my opinion. The certain degree of "objectification" I keep referring to is one much closer to how an artist would view his subject than how an uneducated, bigoted man might view pornography. There are feminists out there who are 100% against Botticelli and his portrayal of women.

          To take this in a slightly different direction... I have an extremely intelligent friend who tried selling me on the idea that Shakespeare was a sexist and no woman should be morally comfortable with any of his plays. Her argument had something to do with the role of females in literature as not multi-faceted enough and only used to progress the roles of the male leads.

          ...I say this is just taking it too far. This reminds me of the needless posturing done by politicians instead of actually working together to address problems in a constructive way. At some point, people have to meet in the middle of the extremes.
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          Jul 25 2011: Hi Jason, Thanks for accepting my sincere compliment and my reservations without offense. Given the topic at hand and what some of us have actually experienced in this lifetime in our own person, I really think that you are arguing the minutia of the issue rather than the overall topic. I for one love many of the artistic representation of woman's bodies for I think we are beautiful. I am deeply impressed by Shakespeare's occassional brilliance in illuminating the role of woman and of other minorities in his plays but I am not always willing to accept the way the women of his time are formally represented. I hold that in most cased -just like TED conversations that you do not enjoy- just skip it and move on!

          We still need feminisim because we still have very many women being badly treated in our own societies. The most dangerous people in a woman's life are statistically still the men who are supposed to love them- the fathers and brothers who kill them in honour killings, the husbands who see them as property and kill them in domestic violence. Let's not fool ourselves- this is the tip of the iceberg. If men are killing the women they love, they cannot be treating them with equality in the workplace.

          My point is that we are discussing a serious issue which effects millions of lives and not just art here Jason. If some ladies' opinions are ticking you off, smile and move on to others with whom you are sympatico and do not diminish the seriousness of the issues that many of us are living with.
        • Jul 25 2011: Debra,

          "Given the topic at hand and what some of us have actually experienced in this lifetime in our own person, I really think that you are arguing the minutia of the issue rather than the overall topic"

          The topic at hand is "Let's hear some arguments for or against the current proposition "Our modern societies still need feminism". Let's also hear arguments for what would and what wouldn't be appropriate for a 21st century feminism."---Directly quoted from Matthieu's post.

          I have stated many times that I am for feminism. I believe there is much work to do before women are treated equally to men in Western societies. Have you read my posts? Where I have tried to take the debate is into the area of what would and wouldn't be appropriate for a 21st century feminism (what is the sense in a debate where everyone agrees?). I have argued against what I have termed "extremists" in the current state of American feminism.. I have argued for what have been called 3rd wave feminists or equity feminists. I have provided examples through personal opinions and facts to back up my stance in the debate. I have not been ticked off by anyone else's opinion...Although, I admittedly got frustrated when shady statistics were brought into question.

          This is going to sound much more disrespectful than it is intended, but this is a debate on TED, not a support group. IIf I have offended anyone by my questions, opinions, statements made, I apologize. That does not mean that I take any of my questions, opinions, statements back. Please believe me when I say that I did not intentionally try to inflame any topics. I only want to have an educated discussion about what would and wouldn't be appropriate for a 21st century feminism. If you have any doubts about this statement, please read through my posts again before you make up your mind. I do not know the situation in Canada. Is that leading to some of the miscommunication? Does your last comment to me deserve a thumbs up?
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          Jul 26 2011: Hi Jason, I repeat that I enjoy my dialogues with you and it is not now nor has it ever been my intension to offend you. I am not using semantics, I am not seeking a 'support group' and I am choosing not to be offended by that suggestion. Canada is at the same level or better than the USA in our legislation. The realities of life for women especially those of us who have been around awhile are not yet optimal. I think that sharing my life experience is a resource that I offer to everyone reading so that we can understand what people in the trenches have really experienced. While I do know why I am passionate about defending my stance on this issue, I am not sure why you are passionate about your point of view. I invite you to share what you feel feminism in this era and in your own country is costing or taking from you. Shalom!
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        Jul 19 2011: Jason,

        Absolutely I can agree we can, and should, appreciate another person expressing their sensuality while also respecting, and better yet, demonstrating our recognition that there is a whole complex person beyond their visual affect, whatever it is.

        I fear for our abilities to fully be ourselves, love and develop in healthy ways if we can't.

        A colleague of mine exemplifies this. He's taken delightful action to help young men develop this capacity.

        While teaching college in California he encouraged students to pick a topic for research they could be passionate about. When some of the young men jokingly replied they were only passionate about bikinis, he responded in all seriousness that they should go for it--research bikinis. Once they picked their jaws off the ground, he helped them navigate their topic.

        Their first stop was the beach to do "hands-off" observations on bikinis. They took notes on which they liked, patterns, social exchanges, including everything from appreciative looks to leering cat-calls. and trends like what time of the day bikini-wearers tended to come to beach, etc., how these correlated to when, say, muscle-men and young families tended to show up.

        Next came quantitative research on bikinis more economic-focused evolutions. Where they were invented, how sizes and shapes changed, how they are manufactured, of what materials, how they were marketed production and distribution impacts on economies and ocean environments, etc.

        Then came social science research looking at sexuality trends, objectification of women, parallels to economic factors, positive and negatives of free sex transformations happening while second wave feminist civil movements gained steam, relationships of media interpretations to bra-burnings, graphic sex and violence.

        Finally qualitative reflection had young men co-reflecting with young women, expressing new understandings of gender and sex complexities.

        How can we do more of this?

        Andrea
        • Jul 20 2011: Andrea,

          "How can we do more of this?"

          I will not pretend to be an expert here, but in my experience, one of the best ways to defeat prejudice and ignorance is to be exposed to a diversity of people often and from a young age. When our co-ed school systems are graduating boys and girls who are still uncomfortable even talking to the opposite gender, I feel that school system has failed. I think boys should be sat next girls and paired with girls for in-class projects from the time they start going to school, I think it is very important to make it mandatory for girls to take some "male" classes like welding or woodworking, etc and for boys to take some "female" classes like sewing, parenting, etc. If the goal of school is to prepare youth to be productive, high functioning members of society, I feel that teaching interpersonal relationships is more important than Algebra in most cases.

          It is often said that part of the reason we put so many people in jail is that the large groups of unionized employees who depend on having a huge prison population to maintain a job have a bigger influence than most people realize on the system. I say we should be using tax dollars to train and employ more guidance counselors, psychologists, and special needs teachers so that we don't need as many prison guards, but people can still find employment.

          Parenting, to me, is more important than schooling overall, but I feel that the two should be more closely intertwined. Parents should be getting more regular reports on their children and in a bigger variety of subjects than reading, writing, and math---maybe add social skills, tolerance and respect for others, and self-confidence...self-image...self-worth to the regular reports?
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        Jul 21 2011: Kodiak,

        Yes, my question was rhetorical. The answer, as yours, was implied.

        Andrea
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        Jul 25 2011: Jason, as far as marketing to women where men are sexually objectified, I really believe that this trend was manufactured by men. With an MBA in marketing, I bet if I had the time I could document when it arose and when it took hold and it had a lot to do with the rise in pornography and with the rise in gay rights.One societal trend that really, really worries me is that many women have decided to 'identify with their abusers' and they believe that the only way forward is to emulate the 'successful' (read dominant or dominating) behaviours of men. Many women think that they have to act like the boys to be accepted in the boys' club. I absolutely reject that notion. I want success based on my own authentice qualities which does not require me to leave my 'femaleness' at the door. Women have great additions to make and it is in surrendering and rejectiing all that is truly powerfully feminine that we as a world are losing all perspective.
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      Jul 20 2011: Just to throw into the pot: Some Native American tribes have spoken of five, not two, genders.

      A few years ago, Rodin's nude of Balzac got banned from display at Brigham Young University. No problem with the female nudes, but Balzac stayed in the closet as if he were a priapus.

      I despise the "men are more visual" argument. Men are not more visual. They have been allowed to look, and they have dictated what's to be on display because they have dominated women out of sheer brute force. Biologically, they tend to be physically bigger and stronger than women and therefore likelier candidates for perpetrating rapes, beatings, and other violations and usurpations of power. For millennia, that physical inequality translated into social inequality. Because over the last century or so, the use of brute force in any capacity has become less legal, women have more recourse than they used to, at least outside of a war zone, and men are freed up from much of that pressure to "prove" themselves.

      Gender roles are far less polarized than in the past. But two things work against a complete blurring: 1) societal "norms" linger so far back in the brain that it is difficult NOT to attribute a tendency to the genes or the y chromosome; 2) some tendencies MAY be biological: men have more of a hormone that tends to trigger aggression than women do, and less of one that tends to amplify emotions. How does one contextualize testosterone and estrogen for the future? Where do they fit in our ongoing struggle to evolve/progress?

      Gleaned from Herstory timeline: http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/herstory/herstory.html
      1882 Maryland passes law making wife-beating a crime, punishable by 40 lashes, or a year in jail.
      1890 North Carolina Supreme Court prohibits a husband from committing even a slight assault upon his wife.
      1895 The Married Women's Property Act (in England) makes conviction for assault grounds for divorce.
      The last "witch" in Germany was burned in 1775.
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        Jul 20 2011: Well said, Claudette.

        Would you happen to play basketball? I do. It's a mid-life energies outlet and exercise opportunity I've developed a habit for.

        Anyway, I ask, because if you did, I'd like to recruit you to my "team."

        Based on many years of playing sports with men, going back to my teens years as an unsuspecting beneficiary of Title IX of the US Civil Rights Act of 1964, my experience is that though men are often physically stronger than I am, I (and other women) can compete in stereotyped-as-masculine realms with them.

        Of course, I am not alone.

        One of my favorite examples of this is a young adolescent girl who plays with much larger men and boys at my YMCA, including her Dad and brother. She runs circles around them!

        What is so exciting to observe are these four things:
        1. The guys know better than to underestimate her, having learned the "hard way" via losing to her.
        2. They have enough ego-strength to see her as an equally capable player.
        3. They treat her as they would any male super-star. With respect and admiration.
        4. She is having an absolute blast and radiates confidence.

        So, anyway, wouldn't it be fun to put together a "both-genders" team that could build on each players strengths to kick a little butt?

        And dribble away a few -- but, good gosh, NOT all! -- of these both-gendered sexual frustrations we are weaving around here on this butt-spreading online forum about gender equity?

        Andrea
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        Jul 22 2011: Claudette,


        I appreciate First Nation/Native American gender expansiveness and linguistic sensitivities you allude to. I've heard this, as well.

        Many use a concept known as "two-spirit," to refer to a person exhibits both-gender identities. A both-gendered person might partake in "male" activities like sweat lodges and "female" activities like caring for children, for example. Regardless their sex, they might have spirit or animal guides and/or totems that represent male-strength-type characteristics, like the independent, decisive eagle, and female-strength-type characteristics, like the earthy wild horse, etc.

        Putting sexual preference aside, I think their understandings and traditions represent astute ways to understand any human. We all have a unique mix of feminine and masculine traits. Some expressed more visibly than others in those who embody more stereotypically sex-based behaviors. Some expressed more holistically in those who embody more intrinsically nuanced mixes of their DNA/chromosomal "assignments."

        To react to your Q how to contextualize testosterone and estrogen to evolve, I think it is to focus less on these to categorize and separate and construe them for what they are, delimited characteristics that combine with many endless characteristics that produce the "sum" of any one individual. That is, to see the individual first and most primary as above any one characteristic they exhibit or express.

        This requires many more inter-personal attempts to see two things: 1. how ones individuality is constructive to ones relationships, far and near. And, 2. how respecting and seeing the value of others' individuality is constructive to one's self interests.

        Andrea
  • Jul 5 2011: We both; women – and men – still need feminism in 21 century for globe. Why we aren't all (men & women) calling ourselves feminists?. "How stupid do we appear to say, 'I believe in gender inequality?'"
    • Jul 5 2011: Shokrullah, I fully agree with your sentiment, except five year olds are actually very clever:-)
      • Jul 6 2011: With respect to wonderful children rights and your good input, I have removed that part from my comment.

        Thank you
  • Jul 5 2011: I am against feminism not because I don't think women are equal to men. I am against it because it aims to deconstruct masculinity to make equals out of the sexes when they already are.
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    Jul 23 2011: There it is: "due to cultural norms..." There are remarkable exceptions to what I am about to write. However, by and large, this society raises boys to be, in essence, jerks--to compete instead of collaborate, to think another person's demise is funny, to objectify women, to play with horrifically violent and gruesome toys, to never cry or emote, to compartmentalize their feelings, to respond with thoughtless action instead of communication, to disassociate, to disengage in a crisis--the list goes on. To this day, one of the worst things you could call a boy is a girl. Still, men and boys have to negotiate an entire forest of BS that threatens to open them up to shame if they don't prove themselves "manly." So many these days suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. In addition, 2010 was the year when young women in all big cities were officially making more money than young men. A greater number of men are dropping out of college. Up to 80% of the unemployed are men. Men make up the majority of our military, and the rate of suicidal tendencies in the military has sky-rocketed to 7000%. The incidence of testicular cancer in young men has risen sharply, as have male genital deformities and reproductive complications; meanwhile, the sperm count has plummeted. The birthrate of boys is declining, with fewer males being conceived and more being lost to miscarriages, and more, once out of the womb, showing signs of biological feminization. The prime suspect is environmental estrogens. Whatever the cause, if it is not targeted and checked, then there may be far fewer men to bash, or love. Considering all this, if men were another species, they'd be on the endangered list. Past oppression and gender struggles shrink in the face of this health crisis, which is nothing to celebrate. Feminism was useful. Now we need to redefine cultural norms across the board and for heaven's sake to help men succeed as well.
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      Jul 24 2011: Claudette,

      I'm with you re: the problem of cultural norms. But regards sex-based birthrates, I want to point out a trend that needs to be kept in mind. Because boys are more valued, Asian countries disproportionately abort girls fetuses. It is expected this will lead in China and India alone to a "surplus" of 60 million adult men in 2020. Fewer available women correlates to higher rates of violence, sex-trade and trafficking.

      Factoring in the flat-world effect, particularly given these countries are economic forces in technology industries, one could conceive how misogyny and oppression could continue to be communicated via industry and internet realms in pervasive, hard to pinpoint and adjudicate or otherwise address.

      A relevant example is the success of video game "Duke Nukem Forever." It features strippers, aliens raping women, and the players' avatar, "Duke Nukem" throwing hysterical women over his shoulder and slapping them in the face and butt while "saving them." The smattering of dissent by women's groups, has apparently been to no avail. It was released in June and is already number two in sales.

      Regards your concerns. I, too am deeply troubled by things like the skyrocketing suicide rate in the military. My state has the highest of all. Notably these increases are seen not only in deployed soldiers, but also never-deployed military and, increasingly, women.

      A solution I favor for redefining norms are "stakeholder" dialogues to engage each gender work together to see how uplifting the other is more important than winning the battle of the sexes. This takes tremendous and sustained focus.

      And, funding. This latter part is trickiest. Few institutions like the US Military are willing to fund initiatives such as these. In part because they don't fit easily into -- go figure -- spreadsheet-able categories and measurement rubrics.

      The ROI is big-picture which requires withholding reactive impulses in favor of long-term outcomes.

      Andrea
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        Jul 24 2011: Excellent points, Andrea.

        I have noticed that often (though not always) when there is a debate, people are usually arguing from two sides of the same coin because they are standing and looking at the problem from different places. Neither place or perspective is right or wrong. To the contrary, that piece is true given where that person is standing. I'm always sad when such a debate deteriorates into personal jabs and happy when, as in this case, the picture of the issue gets fleshed out from contributions.

        In that spirit, I might add to the picture mention of some remarkable Chinese and Indian people working for change in their countries. I know The Hunger Project is quite involved in this area.

        The beauty of targeting cultural norms is that it tends to blame no one but rather to deem our ignorance an inheritance that can be disowned. Even those in China and India who sanction or commit female infanticide or wife burning or foot binding are simply practicing a cultural norm in ignorance. Those who make or use Duke Nukem are practicing a cultural norm in ignorance. The military is steeped in cultural norms that cripple their ability to prevent the suicides of their members.

        Cultural norms are unquestioned assumptions that use shame to stay in power. Our task is to question, question, question until that norm loses its power over people's minds. For example, when a group of Indian women came together and stepped forward about killing their baby girls, grieved together, and established an organization to end the practice, that was a mighty blow to that cultural norm.

        Funny how the countries you cite--China and India--are among countries lowest on the Environmental Performance Index. I wonder to what extent they are ironically being exposed to environmental estrogens.

        I really get much out of your insights, Andrea, and am grateful to TED for providing a place where minds can come together on these things.
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          Jul 25 2011: Your thoughts and expressions are impressive!
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    Jul 19 2011: Sometimes women seem to be their worse enemies when they cling to the clichés that they have been fed since they were born. As an educator, I keep hearing my female students hoping to find Mister Right and willing to put their studies on hold to have a baby and help their man get a career. We really need new role models, just seeing the world impact of the UK and Monaco recent weddings and comparing that to the popularity of leading female potiticians and scientists in the media and public opinion. It seems there is still a long way to go, when your hear no comment on a male politician about his physical appearance, but loads of nasty remarks (beauty-salon-gossip style) about the likes of Angela Merkel or Hilary Clinton that have nothing to do with their abilities and qualities to fullfill their role.
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    Jul 10 2011: It's sad to say but modern societies still need feminism as a means to enforce equal conditions for living to any person, no matter whether it's a male or female. The more male chauvinist a society is, the more necessary becomes the existence of feminist groups looking for claims of women to be heard. This is the natural way it must happen things. I mean, in order to balance this asymmetric world for women and men, it's a good idea that radical movements as feminists do their job. Otherwise, male-based societies risks of taking women not seriously as they deserve long. Usually, we people of Western countries look this phenomenon as some kind of outdated struggle. But, in Eastern countries like those under the Islam rule, there are lots of things yet to be done. I state that we, Western countries people, must enforce and collaborate with feminists and other people fighting for women rights there, where the only (original) sin a person has commited was to be born as a beautiful girl. Even here in West, labor is not over yet. The fight still remains, and I consider it must be this way.

    Frequently, we men don't think it is our problem. But the case it's that is a real big problem to the whole Humankind. If we permit that some human beings may treat others like animals, then we are commiting "hara-kiri" to ourselves. Any person around the world has to do something with at least one woman. Don't women indeed worth to Humankind? Is it fair that women give all they can to wellbeing of Humankind and, in return, they take only restrictions and heartache?
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    Jul 10 2011: Quite a discussion, Matthieu,

    I agree with Helena. Feminism's goals aren't aimed at deconstructing masculinity. But to construct scaffolding upon which woman and girls can achieve their human potentials.

    Many feminists (and others who support feminist ideals in quiet ways) through the years have had loving relationships and/or marriages with men. Others, like Alice Paul and Ella Baker, longed for more time with male companions.

    I second Helena's unwillingness to declare an absolute definition of what it means to be a man or a woman. And preference for all humans regardless of gender to practice integrity.

    And, I would add: love that sees "the Other" as equally human (for better or worse) and as critically important to Self as, well, Self.

    A good book, with an apropos backstory, is "Born for Liberty" by Sara Evans which covers the complexities of American feminism. Evans wrote it while her husband, Harry C. Boyte took extra work and parenting duties. Boyte is far from an emasculated metrosexual, which I know from working with him.

    What Boyte is, is a pragmatic humanitarian who has worked with leaders from all walks and stations of life. My understanding of his experience is that -isms, as Jaime suggests, can be destructive in institutionalized contexts, and as James suggests (farther down), can meanwhile be constructive in differently evolved cultural contexts.

    I'm grateful to Boyte for urging me to consider the implications of my ignoring the importance of womens causes.

    Another who did is a man I just finished co-authored research with. We found relational benefits in males and females dynamic engagement of their unique energies, together. When individual expression of them are primary over cultural definitions, they can be personally and professionally good for both.

    But we also were aware evolutions in communications methods, as Luigi says, can serve as both gender-abettors and gender-suppressors.

    Or, at least: sex "dullers."

    Andrea
    • Jul 10 2011: Andrea,

      Do you feel that the "Feminist extremists" such as Gloria Allred go too far and actually give a negative connotation to the movement?

      I see her and others as the proverbial boy who cried wolf. I respect Gloria Steinem much more, but feel that she has also gone too far in her generalizations and accusations at times and in doing so also given a poor reaction to the term feminist.
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        Jul 10 2011: It's a shame that movements must often be identified with their most extremist tenants. To borrow from another cause, I think a lot of us associate animal rights with the hysterical workings of P.E.T.A.

        I think it's a case of people who scream the loudest get heard the most, even if they may be a minority.
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    Jul 8 2011: Everything women do comes to us for free. In short, we live in a meritocracy. That is, we measure the merit of work based on the income that accrues to it. For instance, rearing your child at home has no value because there is no profit in it. However, speculating against currencies or selling insurance or some other racket is real work and we aught to remunerate that.
    That said, it should be reiterated that early feminists movements and most of them still today demonize those women who remain highly maternalistic and have not yet been corrupted by the ambitions of capitalism, that is, becoming the enjoyer of an independent income — chiefly in isolation of collaborating with a male partner.

    As for the feminists themselves. I think it can all be summed up with one quote from Dr. Tim Leary.

    "Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition."



    Best Regards,
    mhl
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    Jul 5 2011: Peopleism trumps both feminism and menimism. I'm a peopleist.
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      Jul 5 2011: "Peopleist" - that is just awesome :D When I google it though, I get results like:

      "Peopleist: one who believes there are crappy people among all races"
      "I Aint Racist I'm Peopleist I Don't Discriminate I Just Hate Every Fucker!!"

      Not sure if that's what you thought of ^^
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      Jul 5 2011: Jim,

      I agree our Western culture places considerable value on girls and women's looks. I also think our culture provides a very narrow view of what masculinity means. This was driven home for me by of all people, stars for the University of Minnesota football team in a small discussion with female athletes and scholars.

      They noted they are seen as thugs by society and feel like "prostitutes" for big-money institutions. One, like you, called himself a feminist. He noted mens teams have far better facilities and perks than women's teams do.

      Another, the quarterback, sat quiet for much of our discussion. By this time, the players had shared stories about concerns for their single mothers, sisters and younger men, and respect for fathers who remained with their families. They also demonstrated their intellectual capacities, speaking of degrees they were pursuing in science, etc.

      One of the scholars, a popular professor who has taught history for years said he had never heard football players speak with such candor. The quarterback looked him in the eye and said "You should have seen your face when we opened our mouths." His point was our society doesn't give "manly-men" the voice to be their full, nuanced selves. In other words, brutishness is given more applause (and ad-dollars) than well-roundedness.

      As a mother, I wish our culture would stop undermining both my daughter and my sons full potentials by imposing oppressive norms of what it means to be female or male on them.

      (Oh, and I wish manly-men like married governors and senators would manage their sexual impulses so my children and all those future football players and PhDs don't have to witness their bad-boy behaviors on the cover of every magazine in the grocery store.)

      I'd rather they learned the lovelier aspects of physical passion from real relationships they create with discretion and respect for themselves and their partners someday.

      Andrea
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    Jul 22 2011: I think that my answer is dependent on the type of feminism being discussed. If one is arguing for gender equality, for equal access and equal rights, then I definitely think that there is still a need for feminism in the Developing world. If, however, you are talking about the type of feminism that I have seen develop over the last decade or so, which provides greater opportunities to women than to men, provides access to more funding for women instead of men, and unequal treatment in the courts, then my opinion is different. Funding the development of gender equality in non-traditional roles is critical - but needs to be applied to men and to women. Gender equality in courts, which recognises that men and women can be violent repetitive criminals, or tender and caring parents - qualities which are not dependant upon the gender of the individual but rather on the choices an individual makes - is critical.
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      Jul 22 2011: Kriss,

      I absolutely agree with your point that gender equity must see both men and women as equally complicit in negatives and capable of positive.

      But I'm not sure women have, in balance, greater opportunities then men.

      Can you detail where you see unequal treatment of men, related to more funding and in judicial systems?

      Andrea
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        Jul 22 2011: No problem. I'm not sure where you are located, but I live in Montreal. There are many programmes which help fund single mothers in education and job hunting, but none that fund single fathers. As the issues of child care, and being a young parent are the same, funding should be made accessible to single parents who qualify regardless of gender. In the courst system here, while it is illegal to discriminate based on gender, child custody is systematically awarded to mothers (although there are, of course, exceptions). While there are many studies which show that men are frequently victims of domestic violence, there are no shelters for male victims of domestic voilence. Finally, subsidies to entice and encourage women to enrole in and practice careers in non-traditional fields (such as engineering, etc.) do not exist for men. Scholarships and subsidies to encourage men to enrole and practice non-traditional careers (such as nursing, child care, etc.) should be present. (Please note that I agree that work still needs to be done with regard to pay equity, etc., and that discrimination against women still exists - I just think that we should be moving beyond a single-gender focus at this point.)
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          Jul 23 2011: I'd go so far as to say that feminism cannot progress without help going to men who are trying to change the paradigm or who have primary custody. Pay inequality stems from a historical devaluing of traditionally feminine, nurturing roles. That viewpoint could stand to change for women and for men.
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      Jul 23 2011: Kriss,

      Some of your points about Montreal resonate as related to my state, Minnesota and the US and some don't.

      On one hand, we too, have many programs. But few for either gender are well-funded.

      Our state-funds are stalled out, due to politicians shutting down our government over budget disagreements. Conservative politicians want to cut social programs. Progressives want a 3% tax increase on people who make $1M or more per year.

      Lying in the balance are operations of places like a battered women's shelter and a jobs training program (that serves more men than women) in my community. (Our police-chaplains are now doing double-time+.)

      Meanwhile, I have friends who continue addressing single parent and jobs issues from both sides.

      One, Fr. Michael O'Connell, is the visionary behind a revered program called The Jeremiah Project, which supports single mothers in exchange for them achieving parenting and educational advancements. This program is a non-profit.

      Another, William J. Doherty, PhD heads up The Fatherhood Project which engages single-fathers to participate in constructive ways in their children's lives. There is no cost or exchange required by the men. This program is government funded.

      Another friend named Bill is a private investigator for custody issues for both mothers and fathers. He also supports and works for fair treatment of sex-offenders.

      Still another, Darlene, a CEO, is pushing hard against the current at the federal level for funding skills training in things like high-tech machine operation that appeal in greater numbers to men. But also volunteers at a local school to mentor girls.

      All this to say from what I see programs and funding in the U.S. don't favor women more than men.

      Those who work with mens programs indicate men seem less motivated to evolve and change, due to cultural norms that undermine both sexes.

      In any case, more focus is needed. In spite of tremendous efforts, sex-based problems remain.

      Andrea
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    Jul 22 2011: To be honest, I feel that there is little need for serious reform in many developed countries. There are many countries that have been unaffected by the feminist movements of the 20th century, and they still do require enormous changes, but on the topic of modern societies, there are only a few vestiges of old inequality. Besides removing those inequalities, any feminism or racial pride really just goes to emphasize differences between groups.
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    Jul 21 2011: I whole-heartedly agree, Andrea, that magic is in collaboration and unlocking potential. Cheers!
  • Jul 18 2011: Where i come from, companies tend to hire women just for the sake of it.

    I can see the lack of women in high rated jobs, but i also see a lack of education in those areas.
    Lets say, the IT industry, where i come from around 1-4 (out of 30) IT students are women at my local university, that sad, even if all those students get a job (which they probably will), women will be a minority in this case.

    There are some work sectors that are more appealing to women for some reason (i don't know why), the healthcare is dominated by women, the finansial sector is at the very least 50/50, the food industry is populated mainly by women and in shops/supermarkets the women tend to be highest in the ratings, also the cleaning industry there's a lot of women.

    But for some reason politicians complain about the lack of women in the IT sector, and they spend hughe ammount of money on campains to get more women into studying IT.. for what i ask?
    You can't force inwilling people and try to trick them into thinking IT is a good carrear because at the end of the day, you need to be genuinly interested in the work that you put in. Politicians have a way to twist words and put up fancy colors and what not just to get women interested, and sure it works, but how about when they start to work with the actual stuff? it's complex, not what they were promised and there will be 90% more guys in the sector that LOVES the whole idea behind IT and not just the front cover..

    Instead of trying to push women into the work areas that have a low rate of women.. why not raise girls to like computers instead for instance?

    I have a 6 year old sister, which thinks i'm her idol for some reason, and she picked up computer skills when she was 4-5, i started when i was 3, i can imagine that when she grows up she'll at least have a small interest in computers, she will not need polititians to like it..

    Either you like something, or you don't, the elephant will not become green cause you hate grey!
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    Jul 12 2011: I just want to make one general comment on us needing to make a CLEAR understanding on talking about "womens rights" and "feminist movement" because we automatically go toward womens history and current suffarage but some are not specifically speaking aobut feminism which in general has become the movement of gender equality which includes people borm male and female in this third wave more transgenders which is under a spectrum would see themselves a women or men in gender or "queer"as the more popular term. I think the lines will be blurred on the ideas of gender roles. Sexism is when we make the our decision based on SEX the biological apect as our conformity of gender roles. To be honest Gloria Steinam advance her "feminism belongs to the women" sexism when she began to see it wasn't as black and white as she thought it was and began to sepereate sex from gender.
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    Jul 11 2011: To be an effective oppressor, one must relinquish one’s humanity. Honor replaced humanity. It called into question one’s strength, ability. Such a system thrived on competition. Fear of losing power, strength, prestige, ownership, property, etc. constantly holds oppressors hostage. In such a system, humanity as a whole suffers.

    While liberating women is a key ingredient, the phenomenon that humankind is experiencing cannot be attributed to solely the term “feminism.” We are overthrowing oppression itself—making space for and giving a voice to all walks. We have discovered the benefits of collaboration. To “chat” with people across the world is possible now to an unprecedented extent. We see fewer differences between us. Our humanity is dawning.

    Biology enables women to give birth and lactate. (Actually men can lactate, too, but for some reason they’re not eager to breastfeed.) Women are built to be the primary caregiver, and hormonal gyrations from pregnancy reinforce that role. Motherly dads are heard of: seahorses, ostriches, several mouth-breeding fish, Emperor penguins… Some men do pull their weight around the house. Others appear on milk cartons--not supporting a family monetarily or domestically. Raising kids on one’s own is possible, but not easy.

    Paying for dinner was symbolic of the support a woman could expect to get from that potential partner in marriage. Bowerbirds do something similar. For the first time in history, Matthieu, your girlfriend stands a good chance at making more than you do. So the ritual makes little sense. The question is, to what extent would you share the house chores, keep the children, maintain a budget, do the grocery shopping, and how would you show her?

    Look at the suicides among servicemen, the incidence of testicular and prostate cancer, rate of male unemployment, drop in sperm count, stigma that gags male survivors of rape, drop in male infant births, and the increase in biological feminization. What's to envy?
  • Jul 11 2011: I think it is only right that women experience fairness in terms of being given non-accumulated, short term compensated absences for having children. The natural birthrates in some Western countries are atrocious. The middle class needs to be making more babies, not less. That won't happen without less discouragement from some employers.

    What's the point in nesting our grounds without being able to naturally generate our own baby chicks?

    Employers need to consider their agendas with an understanding of human nature, not a bias against it.
  • Jul 10 2011: Why there is un-necessary use classification of human into male and female?

    I have seen this in most of the documents that an individual should fill in. It is itself anti-humanism.

    To be feminist; it is not necessary to classify human into two groups and support women. The problem of gender inequality is created by both (men and women). So we have got to work both with men and women.

    Further, I agree with Debra's & Scott Armstrong's terms to be humanist and peopleist respectively rather feminist.

    3/3
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    Jul 9 2011: There's a tremendous disparity from culture to culture in terms of gender equality. I think the more "modern" a society the closer to being equal that society is in terms of gender. Still, even with all the advances that the feminist movement has produced in modern societies, women still, sadly, have a long way to go. It won't be an easy road because at the root of the issue is power.
    I do think there is a human evolutionary aspect to it that makes gender equality inevitable. But evolution is painfully slow!
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    Jul 6 2011: I think we've made substantial strides, but there is still things we can do. So to answer the question yes and no. We can, but I do think we have at least made enough of an impact for now.
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    Jul 5 2011: Mathieu from historical viewpoint it seems to me as a whole Modern Society (though not sure about specific defintion) still might need feminism , though I am not in favor of any "ISM" , rather biased to competency, capability, attitude, passion etc regardless of gender.

    Why I am feeling that is, if you look back in history of human civilisation to its dawn, you will find women were much more free and empowered right that time. Still now in many so called "unmodern" tribes the socitey is maternalistic where women are more free compared to our paternalistic so called Modern Society.
  • Jul 5 2011: I agree with much that has been said here. Feminism has brought about needed change and awareness to many injustices in our world. I am very encouraged when I now see that in many countries women are being liberated from their opressors.

    I think it is very important to note however that men are not the enemy here. It is an incorrect idealogy, and in some cases religion twisted for personal gain that is the problem. Along these lines, I believe that feminism was a byproduct of men who abused their God given responsibilities to protect and love selflessly. I think it can be easy to only focus on part of the issue with this topic, and it can become unbalanced. I would like to see more men act with integrity, honesty, and selflessness.
    • Jul 9 2011: "feminism was a byproduct of men who abused their God given responsibilities to protect and love selflessly" I agree!

      The thing is, apart from some positive achievements – like enabling women to vote, learn, work and divorce abusive husbands – it all went WAY too far. Feminism is a self-righteous ideology of hatred against men, an ideology to justify egotistical “I am my own person, and I will be doing what I want, and when I want” kind of thinking.

      In the western world majority of women became demanding and bossy. Under their influence men became wimpy. This is what "the modern women" want - a man she can easily manipulate. Woman made so much harm to the picture of man. Woman are able to abuse men easily without any consequences. It is a popular view that men are pigs, wimps, clumsy idiots. For God’s sake! I go to work and I hear my colleague complaining about her boyfriend: “Again, he didn’t do that. Well, he is of men.” How abusive! And she is not alone in her opinion. But I beg to differ.

      Real men are worthy of great desire and big love! Girls, have you ever felt seen through by a man of character? A real man triggers in a woman the passions that are her very core of being, huge emotions, huge energy, madness, wilderness, life. And also, desire to serve and take care of all his needs, and give herself away completely. Men need to be loved and supported to be strong and ready to meet the needs of women. We don’t need feminism anymore, we need women to revise their picture of men and heal them, strengthen them, love them, and love them more.

      We don’t need more girls to be dry like sticks, lifeless and professional. We don’t need more men turning into housewives. We need real men and women. Yes, men with integrity, honesty and selflessness, and women willing to surrender, love and give themselves to men.

      Mutual love and service is what people miss. More love and care, and no more feminism, please.
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        • Jul 10 2011: Thanks Jaime. I didn't expect to be applauded.

          I strongly believe that people should serve one another in all relationships, but I lose with the more popular approach to life: "I would rather rule in hell, than serve in heaven." Especially women react badly to the idea of serving men. This is FORBIDDEN to say. You will get eggs and tomatoes flying from both sides.

          The cold hell of power-tripping is up for grabs, if people like this perversion. I found freedom and happiness in love and service, so that is possible too. The choice is up to the people.
      • Jul 9 2011: Eva,

        "Yes, men with integrity, honesty and selflessness, and women willing to surrender, love and give themselves to men."

        As a man, I can tell you that I do not want a woman who will surrender to me. I want a woman who is my equal...A woman who can be my partner, not my property. If I am lucky enough to have a daughter, she will be raised knowing that she is to surrender to no man.

        Perpetuating the fallacy that man was created in God's image and should surrender to Him and that woman was created in man's image and therefore should surrender to him is to continue to teach a barbaric idea conceived in the dessert by MEN thousands of years ago. An idea that has far outlived its time.

        I don't agree with much of the feminist perspective. I feel that many statistics are quoted without much thought as to why the numbers are the way they are. There are logical answers to explain much of the disparity in employment figures between men and women in the Western societies. However, I do truly feel that woman's struggle to be accepted as man's equal is not over and should not end until the battle is won.

        "In the western world majority of women became demanding and bossy. Under their influence men became wimpy. "

        Can you show me some facts to back this claim up? Can you show how this is nothing more than an uneducated opinion?

        " Woman are able to abuse men easily without any consequences. It is a popular view that men are pigs, wimps, clumsy idiots"

        To your first point, I disagree. There are no consequences to abusing a man only if the man agrees for there to be no consequences. To your second point, I have to say that many men are pigs, wimps, clumsy idiots---just as many women are pigs, wimps, clumsy idiots. Let's not help the trend continue by teaching that women should surrender to men. Instead, let's stop teaching bigotry and intolerance. Let's stop teaching that any class of individual is below another.
        • Jul 10 2011: As a woman I would not want to be seen as a property either. But surrendering is not making anyone into a property, and does not make anyone inferior. It is a freely given love. It needs to be accepted as such, and not abused.

          I am absolutely standing for partnership. I think that both genders are glorious in themselves and perceiving them as unequal is insane to start with. There is beauty and potential in both, and to discover what it is, people would need to be willing to step into the dynamics between the two, and not try to erase the differences.

          Any sane woman would not be willing to surrender to a man who does not see her as who she is, and just as an object of some sort. Surrendering in an oppressive relationship is not a good idea. I don't advertise it. God forbid!

          But without being able to surrender, a woman will not find her full potential AS HERSELF. She thrives in a relationship where she can give herself fully in love, let go of reservations and jump. She is strong there, and powerful, not a victim. It takes risk to do it. And that's why she needs a man who will catch her when she jumps.

          A woman needs a man to hold a moral standard in life. This is the strength in men that she is looking for. I am not talking about brute muscle power, I am talking about the strength of character, integrity. She must feel that a man would do right by her, who would hold her and love her, who would lead her in this tango called life. That's what I am talking about.
          I am talking of a life of mutual devotion, not mutual exploitation.
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        Jul 10 2011: To be honest Eva, I think that's a problem that stems from the still prevailing gender inequalities. It takes root in the idea that women even now still need to be taken care of (the assumption behind this being that Men need to be in charge). The pressures to conform to this are immense because everyone buys into it. Some of my friends have tried to shame me for the fact that I don't systematically pay for everything my girlfriend and I do together. They all pay for their girlfriends every single time they have meals or go to the movies, and to them it's the natural thing to do.

        Of course, it's too easy to think that this is the culmination of feminism because of the fact that it's the woman in the relationship that reaps the benefits, but if you think about it, the underlining principles behind that behaviour is clearly this pervasive notion that Men need to take care of their Women because they are the stronger sex. I wouldn't say people who partake in this behaviour aren't consciously sexist, just blissfully unaware that they're perpetuating it a sexist tradition.
        • Jul 10 2011: I think that the problems stems from human selfishness and trying to reap the benefits from the other, and not do FOR the benefit of other.

          As you say, buying into social expectations is not the right thing to do. And we are all sensitive (both men and women) and KNOW when someone uses her/his position wrongly.

          There is a way in which a woman needs to be taken care of, but if she perceives herself as a weak and needy to get that care out of a man - (gimme that!) - that is WRONG. And what she really needs then is that she needs to get straight.
          By the way, there is also a way a man needs to be taken care of. And also men sometimes misuse this sound expectation, and tend to treat women as the tools for filling those needs, forgetting to notice the person.

          This is selfishness what is screwing things up, not the nature of the genders. Genders as themselves, and people as themselves are good and equal and nothing can change it. Genders and people can be misunderstood, misused, abused, but their fundamental quality and equality, even if suppressed, will not change.
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      Jul 10 2011: Yes, well I think we can agree that at the root of many problems lies our human selfishness.
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    Jul 5 2011: This is 21st century, We need something special to get this fixed now & immediatly. Maybe awakening like what we are seeing in middle east.

    (I,m not precise) but feminism started in 19th centruy. It is now 200 hundred years that still women havent been given thier rights on a world level. & we should not wait another two centuries to solve this.

    when something is wrong has to be stopped immediatly
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      Jul 5 2011: Who's doing the giving? Therein lies the answer..
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        Jul 6 2011: People like you & me. Along with all women.
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    Jul 5 2011: Does feminism have to be tied to women's oppression. Traditionally it has since many women were oppressed. Many still are today depending on their culture, economic status. Where this is true feminism should obviously exist to fight for women' s right. But as you point out many women are given as much opportunity as there male counterparts. I still think they can benefit from feminism. Feminism has to acknowledge where it has won battle, but I also feel even for the highest class of women there is something beneficial about acknowledging your gender and being proactive in creating a healthy identity for it. Often people have needs they have trouble identifying, which can be more easily recognized when looked through a collective group. Likewise I also feel men can gain from similar bond.
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      Jul 5 2011: Thanks for the crosslinking :)
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    Jul 4 2011: The very last thing that we need are sex-discriminating ideologies. Or race-discriminating ideologies, for that matter. There is a great YouTube video of less than one minute length that I can only recommend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3cGfrExozQ . Its title: "Morgan freeman solves the race problem." And that's no exaggeration. Here is a transcript:

    Mike Wallace: Black history month you find…
    Morgan Freeman: Ridiculous.
    Mike Wallace: Why?
    Morgan Freeman: You’re going to relegate my history to a month?
    Mike Wallace: Oh, come on.
    Morgan Freeman: What do you do with yours? Which month is white history month?
    Mike Wallace: (laughs)
    Morgan Freeman: Come on, tell me.
    Mike Wallace: (pause) Well, I’m Jewish.
    Morgan Freeman: Okay. Which month is Jewish history month?
    Mike Wallace: Now there isn’t one.
    Morgan Freeman: Oh! Oh. Why not? Do you want one?
    Mike Wallace: No.
    Morgan Freeman: No, I don’t either. I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.
    Mike Wallace: How are we going to get rid of racism on -?
    Morgan Freeman: Stop talking about it. (pause) I'm gonna stop calling you a white man. And I'm gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.

    Similarly, Feminism is not the solution, it is the problem. It's making the same irrational distinction, only under the opposite sign. The far too few people on this planet who are actually ready and willing to overcome sexism are those who abandon the categories entirely, at least when it comes to moral judgements and political measures.
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      Jul 4 2011: I agree with Morgan Freeman's sentiment, but I think you have to draw the line between positive discrimination (black history month, hiring quotas...); which we can both agree is at best only advantageous for a select few and at worse counterproductive, and movements like feminism which (apart maybe for some fringe sub-movements) advocates no such thing.
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        Jul 5 2011: [Part 1/2]

        The very term "Feminism" suggests that it favors women over men. People who advocate equal rights and duties for all people would not be feminists, but equalists, right? After all, it is logically impossible to insist on a discrimination and fight it at the same time. That would be like "Blond people against placing emphasis on hair color" - they inevitably betray their own cause. Doesn't one have to live up to the own standards before preaching them onto others?

        One may well argue about whether that the opposite extreme is a political necessity; whether revolutions can only succeed by striving for the opposite error instead for the right ideal in the first place. I don't have a definite answer on that. Maybe it is true that only the fallacious ideology of the same kind can mobilize the powers necessary to overcome the established structures. Is flaming hate or even violence against religion indispensable in order to wrench true religious freedom from the traditionalists?

        Another possibility consists in interpreting the term in the social context. Let's stay with religion as an analogy and take the word "A-Theist". It does not make much sense to define oneself over something one doesn't believe in, does it? No one calls himself an "A-Unicorn-ist" or "A-Leprechaun-ist", after all. However, there is not a widespread or politically influental belief in Unicorns and Leprechauns. So if Theism were as irrelevant as them, the term "A-Theist" would be as irrelevant too; however, while Theism is relevant, the term "A-Theist" will be either. Similarly, this might be the attitude of people who are Equalists, but call themselves Feminists: a motivation to express opposition being more dominant than everything else.
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          Jul 5 2011: Let's please not transform this into a debate about semantics. I have multiple times expressed my distaste for these kind of stale debates (coincidentally, mostly centered around the term 'atheist'). It is clear from your last paragraph that you know exactly what lies behind the term feminism and thus whatever the term might suggest to an ill-informed bystander is of no consequence whatsoever here.
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        Jul 5 2011: [Part 2/2]

        And yet, even then I disregard the label "A-Theist", for it doesn't make a relevant statement about content. It can be a scientist or an esoteric, a liberal or a fascist. The fierce defender of religious freedom can just as well be an atheist as the fanatic who wants to purge religious thinking from this planet. Claiming that all atheists were pluralistic pacifists would be just as wrong as denouncing them all as violent crusaders.
        So instead of declaring opposition or solidarity to single social groups, one should make a confession about one's ideas. "Humanist" or "Rationalist" are much more useful terms for that matter. What people would prefer to call themselves atheists in face of alternatives like these, and for what reason?

        My mindset towards the term "Feminism" is the same. A person who has an interest in communicating ideals should choose a more meaningful label, in my opinion. And those who don't do so still owe me a convincing justification for their refusal. Also, they have to take a stand towards the fact that they willingly share a label with rabid manhaters. Simply excusing themselves by stating "Oh, we are completely different, trust us" is not enough, I expect nothing less but a substantiated critique.
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        Jul 5 2011: PS: The idea that the opposite extreme is a political necessity reflects in the typical feminist argument that only the extremists allowed the women of the present to work in "male" fields. Humanists counter that the extremists on the contrary hindered advancements, pointing out that we would be much further if we had left hate, prejudice and violence entirely behind us from the beginning of the movement.

        This debate is far from being settled. In fact, it does also take place when it comes to animal rights. Are terror attacks and brutal assaults necessary actions towards a just goal, or are they the greatest possible drawback? The opinions are divided. And what about religious freedom? Are lawsuits, peaceful protests and tedious campaigns from an atheist perspective really the most promising path? Or is it long overdue to vandalize churches, blow up mosques and burn down synagogues? Pogroms have a long history and have been quite effective. But are they a logically possible method when it comes to liberal ideas? And even if not, couldn't it be that the end justifies the means?

        Whenever one is tempted to dismiss earlier generations and societes as primitive and uncivilized, only a look into a mirror is needed. Not much has changed since then, and it is exactly the self-righteousness, the conviction that the own beliefs and comrades are superior and enlightened compared to all others, which enables the atrocities in the first place. However, the most unsettling aspect may be that the extremists could be actually right about their necessity...
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      Jul 4 2011: Agree with Ray
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        Jul 5 2011: Thanks for the appreciation! *bows* :)
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      Jul 5 2011: Ray,

      Gender equity efforts, as any social change efforts do, require awareness efforts to succeed. Like Black History Month, distributive justice legislation, Earth Day, TEDTalks, etc..

      Without awareness campaigns, societies are at risk of remaining uninformed and/or repeating damaging mistakes. Without information, societal disparities don't tend to resolve themselves. No incentive to. Similarly, without orienting language social issues are at risk for being lost in the shuffle.

      On the surface, I like your thoughts re: "equalism." I'd suggest something like "equitablism" might be a more nuanced label for more evolved societies. Though again, this might be reaching too far into abstract semantics to be universally understood. Anti-sexism, Anti-discrimiation and other terms would also be apropos.

      Yet, as James notes, there are places where rights must clearly focus in on women's issues. A starkly visual example: places where gender mutilation and related obstruction of healthcare for women requires direct focus feminist thinking supports.

      In Sudan, for example, Muslim husbands sometimes forbid their wives from visiting gynecologists. Babies might be delivered on a dirty floor. Girls bleed to death because it is considered healthy and normal to cut off their clitoris.

      I'm reminded of an effort by American Refugee Committee, which gave video cameras to women in Guinea to record their views of gender issues. They were initially quite reluctant, due to fears of reprisals. But they gradually shared private horrors they endured.

      Their video was used to raise awareness. At a screening in the village center, one of the elders -- an old man -- stood up and sincerely acknowledged he had no idea how traumatic the practice was for women. None had ever spoken of it with men, let alone each other. He called a halt to it.

      If not for this awareness, female genital cutting would persist there. This, then, is an issue feminism helps address.

      Andrea
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        Jul 5 2011: Awareness is good to a point and then it becomes flag waving and that is not productive because it reduces these sorts of issues to sound-bytes and stereotypes. I thought that was what we were trying to avoid.
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        Jul 5 2011: Awareness is only desirable for the deficit, not the distinction itself, which on the contrary needs to be abolished. Teaching people to be aware of skin colors is the core of racism, not a measure against it.

        Earth Day is different because that's about *taking* active measures, while abolishing discrimination is about *stopping* active measures.

        The problem with "Anti-" terms is that their proponents are usually guilty of what follows after it. The most radical racists I've ever met called themselves "Anti-Racists", the most radical sexists "Anti-Sexist", the most radical fascists "Anti-Fascists"...you recognise the pattern. That isn't even strange if you consider that people define themselves over what is important to them. So if you rob an Anti-Sexist of Sexism, what is he left with? A favorite joke of mine goes:
        A priest asks: "What do you have to do first in order to have your sins forgiven?"
        A child replies: "Commit the sin!"
        There is actually a lot of truth in that joke. In Germany, it is not unusual that Child Protection organizations psychologically abuse little children to obtain "confessions" that can be used against one or both parents! In one case that even received comparably large news coverage, but with no effect on that practice. The worst child abusers are those who profit most from their suffering.

        If genital mutilation is the problem, then the focus needs to be set on genital mutilation. Unless one isn't opposed to genital mutilation in general, but only to specific forms because they target they "wrong" sex. So "feminist thinking" actually advocates genital mutilation!

        One avoids a whole lot of problems if one doesn't fight a deficit for a specific group, but a deficit in general. Everything else is just the attempt to privilege one group over another, which is actually the very mindset behind sexism, racism, nationalism etc. That way the problem can never be solved, it can only shift the power to dominate from one group to another.
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    Aug 1 2011: I think the women know about it. A section of women might fear using them. These crimes going unreported is a problem everywhere.

    Rampant misuse of law means, that women use these laws to harass people, put charges of sexual harassment, and by the time the person gets justice, he's already been harassed a lot.

    About foreigners, I wouldnt know, dont have enough knowledge on the topic. You being one, are in a better place to answer that. But i'd suppose an fir and reporting it to the news channels will bring light upon the issue.

    Childbrides are another question. There are laws against it. Its simply a matter of reporting.
    Same with honour killing. They are looked down upon. And courts are very harsh on the perpetrators. Any such matter reported is certainly taken up by society at large.
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    Jul 31 2011: Well the rape, sexual harassment laws etc are extremely in favour of women, and its a know fact. There are non bailable crimes.
    There is rampant mis use of these laws by women in so many ways. Giving you a balanced perspective not a skewed one. I know the rapes still happen and women are harassed and oppressed, but the laws are no where near fair.
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    Jul 25 2011: Thanks! :-)
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    Jul 22 2011: Matthieu--

    The comments of a Benjamin Jenkins have been replaced by a Benjamin Gallil which in turn have been replaced by a Benjamin Smith. It appears your thread has been infiltrated by a troll.

    Andrea
    • Jul 22 2011: Because I consistently change my last name? No. I think it's about time we stop communicating. My response actually WASN'T simply for Andrea Grazzini Walstrom. Take from it what you will, it's still true.

      *end of argument*

      PS: trying to get the OP against me. Mature!
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        Jul 22 2011: I think your main problem Benjamin is that you seem to think that there's, as you say, "skanks" on one side being treated as such and other women on the other being treated equally. That's a very embellished view of our modern societies. Not to mention that what would make a woman a "skank" is hihgly subjective (and probably the answer would lie rooted in the very problem we're trying to address here).
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        Jul 22 2011: Is it right for women to be objectified as a whole because some women act inappropriately? (or is that precisely the problem we're trying to fix) Should women be denied the right to act however they want, inappropriately or otherwise, just so that their sex can be seen better as a whole? Are all these women that act inappropriately necessarily in a position to act otherwise? Is the objectification of women as a whole excusable somehow because of the of the willing self-objectification of a few? If some men follow the same pattern of self-objectification (and there will be some examples) why are we not seeing a symmetry with Man objectification?

        If you feel like you're being misunderstood by everyone, then maybe you should be clear from the get go.

        "Pertaining to the view of women: Women in modern society are viewed as objects because they act like objects. "

        Do you think this does full justice to your view and if not why did you not elaborate?

        Harassment is a strong word. I don't remember writing anything to you yesterday or the day before. I invite you to count the number of comments I've written to you and dare tell me again that I'm harassing you. You can always just go away if you think that we're treating you unfairly.
        • Jul 22 2011: I'm going to respond to these in order of your questions.

          No, it's definitely not right for women to be objectified as a whole because some women act inappropriately. Did I say it was? No. But it happens.

          Should women be denied the right . . . No, they shouldn't be denied anything. HOWEVER, it should be known that if you consent to act inappropriately, you are contributing the the world view of the people you represent. Think about Islamic terrorists. A miniscule group of muslims decide to opt for terrorism. Now, in the US, it's hard to find someone who doesn't think the Qu'ran teaches murder.

          Any woman has the choice. You can't say "that pornstar had no choice but to objectify herself".

          Not at all. You keep alluding to the idea that I'm blaming the objectification of women on inappropriate behavior from some. I've explained this before. It's not an excuse, but you can't ignore it simply because some people find it offensive.

          We are seeing a symmetry with man objectification. Go into a mall, and enter any popular clothing store. It's a new issue, and so isn't as prevalent. But it's definitely is a problem.

          I will give you credit, my original statement could have been more elaborate. But, I discussed it with Andrea, and the point I wanted to explain was explained.

          Also, perhaps harassment was simply not the best word choice. Attack would have simply been better. You alluded to me having some sort of problem, when I clearly explained my idea. You try to debunk my ideas by discussing semantics, such as the implications of skanky or the definition of harassment. You posted nothing more than an assumption of my character. And attack. I'm not leaving, because every once in a while, one of you actually says something that relates to the debate, instead of insulting the character of SOMEONE YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.

          Debate my theory. Tell me I'm wrong. But don't be so conceited as to make judgements on me based on my vocabulary.
        • Jul 22 2011: This debate is turning too personal. I suggest removing yourself from it for enough time as to be able to argue points rationally rather than make insults or demand apologies. A debate is about the exchange of different ideas, viewpoints, etc.

          I actually welcome Ben and his comments to this conversation. These exchanges have been much more productive in my mind than the ones where people mostly agree. The (almost) only negative to Ben's points that I see is that they have been argued, in my opinion, very poorly. I don't agree with most of Ben's statements, but he has a right to make those assertions if that is what he wants to do. This is a perfect forum for him to make his case. It is up to others to prove his case wrong if they disagree.

          This is not to say that Ben has not thrown some personal attacks around too. I suggest to everyone to debate the ideas and not each other.
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          Jul 22 2011: Jason,

          I think you make a good point about needs for rationality and a break from insults and demands.

          I, too, early on welcomed Benjamin as a sincere debater. But I don't anymore.

          To explain why: after increasingly unproductive exchanges between us, he asked me two questions.

          I answered one of the two. In exchange for answering the other I asked him to apologize for what I and others viewed as his numerous insults against many people.

          He (accurately) responded that if I chose not to provide the answer he could find it. Which of course I knew when I sought his apology. He chose not to apologize, which is his choice.

          In my view, he chose to continually misappropriate others' words and continued to insult many. Again his choice.

          Indeed, he admitted as much, but made no attempt to edit or remove his "flounced" comments. Instead, numerous times he said he was removing himself from the conversation, only to return again under a different name.

          I asked nothing further of him. I did though make (accurate) observations that he continually changed his name.

          My personal take is his continual name changes, defensive postures and the proportionate number of personal insults he makes here (relative to others), nulls and voids my ability to perceive the total sum of his comments here as rational.

          There is a point where I lose trust in anothers intent in situations where the majority their comments seem inflammatory, inconsistent and/or unreasonably defensive.

          It is fair of you wonder if I also take to heart the effect of my own emotions, here, too. I do. Which is why I respected your request and removed one of my comments that it appears you perceived was unconstructive.

          I none-the-less standby the intent of my now-removed comment. Which was to head off what I personally view as Benjamin's manipulation of this forum.

          Methods like those he used here are well-documented in gender inequities. Why it's relevant to scrutinize them here.

          Andrea
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    Jul 21 2011: Women in most societies around the world are still considered inferior, less capable and below men. Misogyny was referred to in the News of the World disciplinary hearing yesterday in London, so it goes without saying that there is still work to be done. I say a whole lot.
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    Jul 20 2011: Andrea, whether a person is going to beat you at a game or beat you physically----well, there's a bit of a gap in context there. Sports have much to do with skill and endurance as well as strength, and in many sports brute force does not count for much. In other areas, like war and violent crime, it can factor in as a significant advantage. I challenge you to wrestle five randomly-chosen men (consecutively, please) and keep score. My guess is that biology will make a cogent argument in favor of men, but if you prove me wrong, I would love it. I sure would love to believe that GI Jane and Lara Croft could kick some serious butt, and it's popular to believe they could, but that's fiction. To battle an equally trained male would be markedly tough. Training can close the gap quite a bit by helping a potential victim outfox a perp if the perp is not trained as well. That is why self-defense training for women is vital. You don't need to use brute force to deflect an assault, but if you don't know what else to use, and you're smaller, good luck to you. I firmly believe that feminism is not about denying or wishing away the inconvenient truths about biology. A huge history of oppression stemmed from a biological inequality that is still with us. Not more intelligence, not more wit, not more feeling, not more spatio-temporal acumen, not more visual aptitude, not more endurance, not more logic, not more divinity, not more anything but sheer brute force. I say we take a real close look at that and how those forces are still at play today in our vocabulary, media, iconography, economics, culture. What do we value, still?
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      Jul 21 2011: Claudette --

      I see your point regards how gender-different physical strength, particularly "brute strength" can play out differently in things like violent crimes or war. And, maybe wrestling, too. And I agree gender-concerns shouldn't seek to wish any biology away.

      My comment was more about how men and woman can team up with each other in ways we haven't always seen as possible. Mostly by "seeing" the potentials of women and girls, like this one on my basketball court who put themselves into the thick of the action and show, more than tell, us what we can appreciate, share and value together.

      Andrea
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    Jul 19 2011: Does gender play a role? Some of my feminist friends would be dancing on their seats... The ones that do not discriminate because of gender, would think...what has this got to do with it....
    In my opinion diversity is the answer, the spice that drives original thinking.

    "People need to stick together to win, they simply need to identify their goals, pursue them with passion, and embrace the concept of community."
  • Jul 18 2011: Our modern societies still need feminism? No. Afghanistan needs feminism. Pakistan needs feminism. ________ needs feminism.

    Pertaining to the view of women: Women in modern society are viewed as objects because they act like objects.

    So... Modern societies doesn't need feminism in a revolutionary sense. It needs feminism as a maintenance system. Non-modern societies need revolutionary feminism.
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      Jul 18 2011: Benjamin,

      Please explain how women are viewed as objects by acting like objects.

      Andrea
      • Jul 19 2011: That does sound kinda snarky doesn't it? Ooops.

        What I mean is that many women (and men) use their bodies as a tool to gain fame or popularity or a voice. Look at music: how much of ________'s popularity stems from her voice, and how much stems from her cleavage?

        The idea does sound defensive, I know. But I don't mean to say "it's women's fauly men think they're objects". HOWEVER, when the main route for gaining a voice in our society is exposing yourself, then you are contributing to others' view of you being and "object"...

        Not all women do this, obviously, but I think the fact that many famous individuals who are female have gained some sort of following through inappropriateness should be abhorrent to women who want women's rights.. You can't ignore the impact of how you act on how people view you, even if it does sound slightly sexist. I think the best thing that could be done for equality (other than going to places that need more of it than developed countries do) wuould be to stop women from resorting to whorishness, and assert the idea that females can have a voice without having to appeal to the sexes.
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          Jul 19 2011: Benjamin,

          The question is, who defines the main route for gaining voice? And what is the foundation upon which the route of constructed?

          Western societies elevate economic wealth as primary over dignity. In the US hyper-consumerism is construed as a Constitutional right to happiness.

          ""He who has money is King" is deeply imbedded throughout both secular and faith-based rhetorics, including "prosperity gospel" preached in fundamental Christianity. Our children, both male and female, are being indoctrinated in this money is above-all doctrine wherever they turn.

          Professional sports provides an example which builds on your point about celebrity, of the ubiquity of this money+sexism messaging. As Jason says below in an exchange he and I shared responding to Dan: "sex-sells."

          So, more Qs:
          Who voices this economic model?
          Who consumes whorish images?
          How shall women assert the idea that females can have a voice in societies measured by primarily by money and marketed significantly via sexual imagery of women?
          How many male leaders would defend women's dignity by cutting all sexual image-generated revenue off their bottom line?
          How does male dignity, and/or lack thereof, impact sexism?

          And, a quandary I am faced with, related to your Q regards how much of women's success is predicated on ability and how much is predicated on push-up bra capacities:

          Would it be preferable for me to:
          A. Burn my push-up bras to assert my non-sexual abilities and insure others won't be distracted by my cleavage? If I did is that really all it would take to obtain equity?
          Or, B. Keep wearing my push-up bras with the knowledge that my cleavage impacts others so much as to imply I must lack cognitive, creative or corporate abilities?

          Andrea
      • Jul 20 2011: IMHO, it'd be best if you performed A. I know a Muslim woman, who wears a burka and full covering. She doesn't do it because her faith threatens hell, or because she is threatened by her husband. She does it because when people talk to her (once they get over their prejudice), they cannot make judgements of her based on her appearance, and so what she says is taken seriously.This is what I support. Many feminists would call me sexist, but that'd be ignorant. Of course it wouldn't create total equality :P But it's a predominantly large factor as to why men view women so horrendously. Back in the 30's, women acted in a respectable manner, and we had none of this "*** that hoe, bitches bitches, sexy thang" rap going on. It's up to society to create inequality. But it's also up to women to do their part.If I had diabetes, yet refused to eat a healthy diet, is it my doctor's fault because I am afflicted? Perhaps my doctor could be doing more, sure. But as a patient,if there are things I could adjust in my own activities, then I am just as at fault.

        EITHER WAY, I think there are much more pressing issues like poverty and genocide to consider, rather than debating the ethics of feminists... *flounce*
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          Jul 20 2011: Benjamin --

          You only answered one of my eight questions. What about the other seven?

          Andrea
        • Jul 20 2011: Ben,

          Don't you find it odd that your friend is willing to trade the lesser judgement of people judging her for her appearance for the greater judgement of being a Muslim in a Western society? By stating that people have to get over their prejudice to talk to her, I am assuming she is in a non-Islamic country.

          Could it be that she has been robbed of her individuality all of her life and doesn't know how to face the world as her true self? Could it be that her husband really is a little more self conscience than she is letting on and is influencing this decision more than she admits to? Could it be that she has had it pounded into her head since she was a baby that this is what Allah truly wants and has been brainwashed to a certain degree? Could she like the way it elevates her socially amongst her circle of friends, family, fellow Muslims who have also been brainwashed from the time they were born as to the need to hide a woman from men's eyes to keep her safe and please Allah?

          So it is easier for her to deal with Islamophobia and all that goes with it than to have people see her face because she is a woman? I just don't believe that and find it surprising that anyone else would. I also find it strange that anyone would think that trading in a person's individuality and the empowerment that goes along with it for a faceless existence that shows to the world that she is from a society where women are truly the property of their fathers until they are purchased by a husband in which she is nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold is a good thing.
      • Jul 21 2011: I flounced, so I shouldn't be answering. But it's alot more difficult to disable a TED account that it could be, so I didn't actually flounce...

        Andrea:
        1) I know very little about economics, I care very little about economics. Money is how we segregate (among other things). In fact, I'm not entirely sure what economic model means (especially in this circumstance)... could you elaborate?

        2) Teenagers consume whorish images. The ones given the task of righting the wrongs of the past. Yet teenagers are impressionable, therefore "Snooki" acting like a whore makes more children want to act like whores. I don't see the relevance to my original statement. No offense.

        3) The same way men do it. Achieve success, become important, do something good. Don't lie on the floor naked hoped for someone to cast a nice look at you.

        4) Again, with the males. It isn't up the males, women can't blame everything on males. It is up to women to NOT participate in things which disrespect them and further the idea that they are simply objects.

        5) Male dignity is a broad word, and I have only few characters remaining. If you mean the pride men take in "gettin' laid". Well sure, this furthers the idea that women are objects. It also furthers the female's desire to lay the male. But again, you can't blame men for wanting sex. It's biological. Women make choices too.

        No one person defines the route for gaining voice, nor is there one way. Individually, many people have gained voices through many different ways. Write a blog, get into politics, whatever. Just don't whore yourself out for attention, then blame everyone else for women being viewed as objects. I know that may sound offense, but it happens. Of course men influence female inequality. But so do women, and I find it entirely ignorant for anyone to say "women are perfect, men make our lives suck."

        In the end, I stand by my idea that If you have a computer, and are debating openly with a male, you have it much better than some.
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          Jul 21 2011: Mr. Gallil (aka Jenkins, aka Smith),

          As:
          1. The friend of Muslim women, some who spent most of their lives in Islamic countries and some who have not.

          2. A woman who has had the fortune of knowing and being in sustained personal, faith or professional relationships with many dignified men.

          3. A woman invited by men to partner with them in, a). academic, athletic, business and political realms, none of whom I've laid naked on floors, desks or other places for. And, b). personal realms, including by the father of my children, with whom I had sex.

          4. Co-founder of a technology company that sold for $78M. I'm no econometrician, but I know a bit about economics.

          5. Co-inventor of three technology patents. Possibly technologies you use to communicate are related to them.

          6. A person who's traveled with numerous men -- all adults, most in so-called monogamous and/or married relationships, and witnessed more than half consume from venues where sexual objectification of women was sold (what you'd call: whorish images and/or whores), while on the road.

          I find your comments immature, offensive, undignified, and, forgive me: ignorant.

          Re: can't blame men (or women) for "biological" wants to "get laid," true. Until they say things like:

          "Can't blame me for sending pictures of my penis around the internet."
          "Now that I'm done being Governor of California, I'll admit, I just couldn't help cheating on my wife throughout my term. And sorry kids. You have an 11-year-old sister from someone other than Mom."
          "How dare (male) lawyers from Minnesota and Germany sue the Vatican for concealing pedophilia? Can't blame the pontificate for its leaders sexual impulses. But do shuffle Denver bishop to Boston, because Cardinal Law didn't do well covering up (male) priests biological problems."

          I won't dignify your claim this is a debate. Your rhetoric is misinformed and your inability to show insight commensurate with this conversation disqualifies your claims.

          Andrea
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          Jul 21 2011: Hurrah! I am out of thumbs up but YOU GO GIRL!
      • Jul 21 2011: Jason,

        yeah, she's in a non-islamic country. No, I don't think it's weird. It's part of her religion, and it is what she believes is right. It's not about judging in a sense of "ooh, they'll think i'm ugly". It's that people will listen. Any psychologist will tell you that we trust attractive people more than unattractive people. Her desire to remove this type of judgment isn't weird at all.

        Nor is it any effect of trauma or some such. She's white. Her husband is white. She's not "brainwashed" (careful, you don't want to sound like an anti-muslim hick) She's not from any islamic country. She wears it, because she cares more about getting her word across than individuality. It doesn't matter if you think that's weird or unbelievable. There are actually people out there, who are different than you. :/ Furthermore, I'm not sure what the purpose is in assaulting a muslim whom you don't even know... do you have muslim angst? IS that why you think it's all a product of buying/selling/brainwashing? That sounds kinda ignorant to me. And not entirely related to the issue I've presented, other than you not believing that a muslim could cover themselves for any good reason. Don't hate just because you don't understand.

        On the actual topic: "...shows to the world that she is from a society where women are truly the property of their fathers until they are purchased by a husband in which she is nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold is a good thing"... This happens. Acid-burning happens. Rape happens. I'm sure any of you could come up with 200 different instances of "gender inequality" in developed society... Do they even compare to the issues in other parts of the world? Not in the least. If you've got the drive for femism, go use it for something that matters.
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          Jul 21 2011: Jason,

          I imagine you may know Muslim women, as well.

          And, as I, wouldn't presume to psychoanalyze or otherwise interpret the reasons they choose to wear the clothes of their Islamic faith. No one person can fully know any other one persons experience, spirituality, relationships or knowledge fully enough to lay claim to understanding every decision they make, including what they wear and why.

          That said, the Muslim women I know have shared with me they wear hajib, dresses and burka not, as you note, to escape judgement from Westerners. They wear them as an expression of their faith. Like all expressions, the reasons behind theirs are many.

          But the most powerful explanation I've heard came from my friend Halima, in one of our many discussions.

          She spoke of the complicated experience of being often overlooked and sometimes discriminated against because she is a women, a black, has a non-Western accent and is and a practicing Muslim.

          Still, as an individual, she refuses to deny the importance of any. She sees all important aspects of her self, and as inherently holy characteristics of her relationship with her God, Allah.

          Which, from what she has told me, is why she dresses as she does.

          Andrea
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          Jul 22 2011: Notably,

          Hagar the mother of Ishmael who she conceived with Abraham, the father of Christianity, Islam and Judiasm is known as the only person, male or female, who recognized the true essence of their God/Allah/YHWH. So much so as to be able to speak it directly to him naming and recognizing him as El-roi.

          This was the God they all shared, but that only she, a slave woman who was used to satisfy others' desires (including Abraham and his wife Sarah), could uniquely see and envision.

          To be clear, Hagar understood what no man (or woman) has been able to describe, and which hierarchies created by man often co-opt for both human and, too often, inhumane causes.

          The first feminist? I wouldn't be so bold as to assume what I don't know. Only Hagar would.

          Still, there is something powerful about this woman audacious and impressive enough to know, address and name the real source others couldn't or wouldn't have dared to do. Even after all she'd been through.

          Andrea
      • Jul 22 2011: Andrea: I've never heard of that. Could you give me the location of this? I'm tracking down all the names of God, and it'd be useful.

        But, was there something you posted before that? Or did you just use "notably" to make a point?

        And no offense, but what is the significance of this?
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          Jul 22 2011: Mr. Gallil (aka Mr. Jenkins, aka Mr. Smith),

          As-Salamu Alaykum and thank you for not assuming my reasons for making the comment I did.

          I'll supply you with both my source for this detail about Hagar and El-roi, as well as and the significance of my post. After you construct and deliver here on Matthieu's post (at least) a sincere and thoughtful apology to all you have offended with your comments.

          And, yes, I used "notably" to make a point.

          Andrea
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          Jul 22 2011: I second Andrea's request for a general apology.
      • Jul 22 2011: Salaikum as salaam. Please call me Benjamin, as I'll likely change my name again soon. to But I regret, I have no intention to apologize for anything. I don't mean to sound arrogant, you see, but I think that sometimes people getting offended is necessary.

        I knew someone would get offended on the idea that women contribute to their objectification, but it still needed to be mentioned. Should I have held back? Hardly. Should I have held back on saying modern feminism (in first-world countries) is ignorant? No. Could I have rephrased my arguments to make better sense? Sure. I tend to loop ideas when writing drafts. Could I have left out the words "whore" and "slutty"? Probably, but I live in a society where whore and slutty are perfectly acceptable words.

        I've re-read all my arguments, especially the one which lead you to call me " immature, offensive, undignified, and, forgive me: ignorant. " (in such a constructive manner.) My repeat statement was that women cannot blame EVERYTHING on men when it pertains to equality. Women also need to teach other women that showing themselves provocatively adds to the objectification. It was you who took this into context of pornography, affairs, and pedophilia. I commented on ONE reason for objectifcation, and I debated it. You took it to mean "he thinks women are to blame".

        I cannot apologize (other than for using the words whore and slut) for what I said, because offensive or not, it needs to be considered. I regret that you took it in such an offensive way.

        Lastly: You may supply me with . . . or not. I'm sure I can find it myself. Or, if you'd like to discuss my statement in a non-biased way, I'd love that. But please don't bother me with more insults.

        Respect,
        Benjamin _________
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      • Jul 23 2011: "Inflammatory words and personal attacks .... ouch!"

        "Where did you get such arrogant attitude?"

        "My sincere sympathy goes to your poor mother and any other female who might sadly be related to you ..."

        So, yeah. That point is null.

        I don't think women *become* lesbians. I have a lesbian friend, and she claims that isn't the case.

        I'm hardly angry or confused. It is you who is angry, understandably. But please don't fool yourself: I really have very little interest in modern feminism, so why would I be angry? Constant commenting indicates I have a hard head, or want to make sure my point get's across. Change of name indicates I really haven't found a suitable name for the person I want to portray. It has nothing to do with subconcious help-seeking. :) I'm hardly in any pain, either, and none of it I can attribute to this thread.

        If you'd like to reply again, telling me I'm disrespectful, etc. That's okay, but I doubt I'll read it. I've explained over and over again that i have great respect for women. But if women are to perfect equality, one of the things that is going to have to be done is stopping:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9tWZB7OUSU&feature=related

        http://thumbs.ifood.tv/files/images/Lady_Gaga_Meat_Dress.jpg

        These kinds of things. I don't care if you think I'm ignorant or feel sorry for the women in my life, because you simply will not accept the idea that there are things women have to change too, and so you vomit hate. But keep going, really. It's definitely an indicator of critical thought :)
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      Jul 19 2011: I think it's much more true to say: Women in modern society act like objects because they are viewed like objects.

      Even then, it just doesn't really ring true to me. I think in a lot of cases, women are objectified whether they chose to or not.

      It's easy to see how some societies need feminism and this is why I phrased my debate the way I did. I want to encourage people to see that just because there are worse crimes against women out there, doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement over here. We shouldn't grow idle just because there's much much worse out there.
      • Jul 22 2011: Maybe not grow idle. Maybe it'd be better to promote change in places that needed it more desperately than say, the US.
      • Jul 22 2011: I think. Maybe this wouldn't be the case if everyone contributed, but not everyone contributes. Perhaps that is wrong, but I've yet to be proven otherwise. The thing is, I see alot of feminists who just growl at modern countries for details, where other countries need alot of help. Concentrate your efforts somewhere important, then we (society, that is) can discuss perfection of our system.

        Maybe that's a little... unfaithful of the strength of humanity, but maybe not.

        PS: Women are definitely objectified whether they choose to be or not. I think people are reading what I said, and thinking I'm saying women are at fault. That's not the idea. The idea is that women, in the media, are usually portrayed in an objectifying way. It is up to a woman to say "no, I'm not going to do that, even if it does mean I don't get as much attention."
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          Jul 22 2011: Given that we have more control over our own societies than those other countries, as it should be, I find it highly unlikely that we are capable of promoting strong change in other societies whilst not being able to promote any in our own. Also you can't "be proven otherwise" until you've actually provided a strong case to be deconstructed.

          Often people will ask (and it has happened on TEDTalks a lot too) whether we should focus on entirely on this issue or that issue. As a computer scientist, I like to remind people that societies do not run like sequential machines, but in parallel. It would seem even logical for a local feminist movement to inscribe itself and a bigger, more global feminist effort.

          The main idea I take away from your conversations with Andrea and Jason is that you seem to think that because a select few women perpetuate objectification, other women should just take one for the team and accept the unfair treatment they get even if undeserved. You may go on and say that you're continually being misunderstood, but it all looks like shifting the goalposts to me.

          Attacking Jason Kather as being an Islamophobe is weak, you're going to have to do better than that. Jason is right to say that your argument defeats itself to be honest.
      • Jul 22 2011: *sigh* that's not at all what I think. What I think is that a) plenty of other places need feminism more than we do. You can say we're unable to promote strong change in our own countries, but that'd be wrong. We've given women voting rights. Job opportunities. The ability to be a single mother. If you look at countries which are suffering, they don't have that. So you can't say at all that we are "not able to promote any (change) in our own", without being totally ungrateful and ignorant of all the wonderful things that have been done for the sake of gender equality.

        b) I don't think they should accept unfair treatment. I think there's more pressing issues. That's a fact of life. If you want to however, perfect equality in modern societies, it's essential that you look at all the causes, not just the ones where you can say "men are pigs". Objectification of women via Media and such is one. Women need to step up, and say "no". This is what I have said from the beginning.

        Also, I wasn't attacking Jason. Jason very clearly went into a tirade about SOMEONE HE DOESN'T KNOW, and their REASONS FOR BEHAVING THE WAY THEY DID, including brainwashing. There's nothing weak about it, because i wasn't debating anything.

        Also, your "proven otherwise" comment is simply bait. I suggested that humans are incapable of doing both ends of the issue, unless we all contribute. Then I suggested that not everyone wants to contribute, so it forms a problem. I acknowledged that I could be wrong, and that it perhaps was possible for a small group to fix both ends of the problem. There was no need for a "strong case".
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    Jul 15 2011: Feminism will always be needed.

    In countries like India the laws are in extreme favour of women. What the movement needs is that women assert them selves and come forward instead of just nodding and going abck to the same stuff thats being going on since years.

    I frankly believe a woman is a woman's worst enemy. And they need to instil compassion for their own kind. For example when female infanticide occurs a woman is clearly as involved as the male partner.
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      Jul 10 2011: Go ahead and try to knock me out of my tower of self-importance then ;-)
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        Jul 10 2011: Matthieu,

        These exchanges you are having with some are undermining your question. And parallel the way divisions in our cultures, including between genders, begin to deteriorate. I'd be interested to see less personal shots between you and others and if favor of more constructive dialogue on your topic.

        Andrea
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    Jul 10 2011: Feminism in its core,, may not help you..
    But what we need is, a moderate way of behaviour... or approach..
    We need to respect them...
    thats all..
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    • Jul 10 2011: Jaime,

      What are your thoughts on the following excerpt from the link provided below?

      "Defending human rights can be a life-threatening job in Mexico. Scores of activists have suffered death threats, intimidation, and harassment in the last few years. Some of them have been killed for doing their job. The authorities have recognized that adopting and implementing an effective and comprehensive protection programme (mecanismo de protección), as requested by human rights defenders, is paramount. However, they are yet to fulfill their promise."

      http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/americas/mexico

      According to the tone of this article, it appears that human rights in general (including women's equality) is a subject that Mexico hasn't fully embraced.
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      Jul 8 2011: Signore Luigi Vampa,

      An interesting comment coming from you, given you share the same name as an early 19th-Century fictional character involved in subversive manipulation of corrupt hierarchies. The arts can powerfully depict and, indeed, inform social realities. The challenge is how, by whom and in what context they are interpreted.

      And, whether or not they come across as sincere and authentic.

      Andrea
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    Jul 5 2011: I believe that we still need feminism.Women are still oppressed in some parts of the world.If we could change our mindset towards gender equality,the world would be so much better for all.

    I live in a Muslim country where unlike other Muslim countries,we promote gender equality.But having been asked about gender equality in our culture,I sometimes can be ashamed by what are being practised by other Muslims in other countries.It saddens me to know that in the rural areas of Afghanistan, girls are deprived of education.Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi.People should do what they want to do.It's their right to do so.From a Muslim perspective, I see that the world still needs feminism.Gender equality should be promoted both in the Muslim world as well as the Non-Muslim world.
  • Jul 5 2011: True balance of numbers between men and women will never happen in free market system if not for any other reason than due to Men being less likely to leave the workforce to raise a family.

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2005/09/elite-universities-and-womens-careers--posner.html

    The following is an excerpt:
    "An article in the New York Times of September 20 by Louise Story, entitled "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood," reports the results of surveys and interviews concerning career plans of women at the nation's most prestigious colleges, law schools, and business schools. Although not rigorously empirical, the article confirms--what everyone associated with such institutions has long known--that a vastly higher percentage of female than of male students will drop out of the work force to take care of their children. Some will resume full-time work at some point in the children's maturation; some will work part time; some will not work at all after their children are born, instead devoting their time to family and to civic activities. One survey of Yale alumni found that 90 percent of the male alumni in their 40s were still working, but only 56 percent of the female. A survey of Harvard Business School alumni found that 31 percent of the women who had graduated between 10 and 20 years earlier were no longer working at all, and another 31 percent were working part time. What appears to be new is that these earlier vintages did not expect to drop out of the workforce at such a high rate (though they did), whereas current students do expect this. That is not surprising, since the current students observe the career paths of their predecessors."

    In my opinion, women are in need of a continued group effort to bring about overall perceived gender equality. But even once opinions are changed, the justified fear of losing quality women from the workforce at a higher rate than men will force the employment practices to be skewed.
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    Jul 4 2011: I suspect that feminism has, and will continue to be, present as an equal and opposing reaction to male domination as long as economic and market forces continue to favour acquisitive macho behaviour. Both male domination and feminism are seen by many as dysfunctional and ill-fitting in an idealised balanced society. The implied hope that some sort of middle ground will be achieved as a result of such opposing forces, is a hopeless ideal. The barriers between the two are too impregnable. The primary dysfunctional element, therefore, is capitalism - and the macho society that is required to run it, in the manner to which it has become very well accustomed. As long as oil revenues continue to distort the balance of human behaviour, I am afraid there will always be a male-dominated society - and tthere will always be feminism present as a force to counteract it.
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      Jul 4 2011: What if the technology reaches a state that only brain but not brawn matters. In that secnarion may be we can achieve a middle ground between these two sects.
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    Jul 4 2011: You pose the question in an interesting way - do Modern Societies need Feminism?
    I'm tempted to ask you to define the words Modern, Societies and Feminism!
    Isn't it a tautological question as by definition Modern would embrace gender equality?
    However.... Let me say that no, not Modern countries like let's say the Scandinavians, hell even the US, UK etc.
    But yes, some countries, most certainly do.
    But, it's always a bit arrogant to judge other countries and say they need a regime change, or hey I pity those poor women who can't drive in downtown Riyadh, bit condescending, no?
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      Jul 4 2011: I don't think it's a tautological question as a need for feminism implies that gender equality is a target that is yet to have been met. It seems that once feminism has played its part, we would not call its final product feminism. Rather, we call feminism the social movement.

      I specified 'our modern societies' to avoid this debate turning into a discussion about countries who blatantly treat women as 2nd class citizens. We are, for the most part, in agreement that this kind of discrimination is wrong. Yet, when it comes to our own societies, there might be radically differing opinions to be found. That conversation seems to me like the most interesting one to have.

      I'm not sure that I agree that it's condescending for me to judge the way women are treated in some other countries than my own. There are certain things that even cultural differences cannot excuse. But, this is not the scope of the present conversation.
    • Jul 4 2011: James, I can assure you, without hesitation, that sexism is alive and well in Canada, even in places one would least expect.
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        Jul 6 2011: Julie Ann, I am saddened to have you confirm my own experience. We live in Canada where there are laws that try to provide for equality and yet in my career it has been elusive. With more education and more relevant education, more time on the job, more responsibility and more success in my area, and greater revenue generation I am still being paid less than a male colleague who was hired 3 1/2 years after I was. They seem to get away with it by moving the requirements and by insisting that all pay issues are 'confidential'.
        • Jul 6 2011: Debra, I am sorry to hear about your experience and this is all too pervasive, unfortunately. Despite considerable progress, the attitudes are entrenched and as you say, even though there are laws and policies in place, it is difficult to break through. There are many facades to hide behind and the "old-boys-network" still exists in many places. With any luck, the next couple of generations will make more progress.
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        Jul 8 2011: Dear Luigi, Justice is an elusive thing. Corporations have a huge investment in ensuring that justice does not prevail. Consider the pharmaceutical industry for example. They allowed women in to the lucrative Sales Rep positions about 20-30 years ago but they had an agenda and a plan in doing so. They felt that the men were too highly paid so they introduced women to the positions as a way to reduce overall wage costs. Women who broke in (and felt lucky to do so) were paid substantially less and rather than allow the women to move into the higher paid category they reduced the men's wages graduallly over time to the level of the women's in the name of equality. This came at a time when north American corporations were 'disciplining labour.' It has been a hugely successful campaign which generally perpetuated the gender wars and yet was greatly to corporate advantage.