TED Conversations

Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

TEDCRED 100+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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.

+3
Share:

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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    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.
      • thumb
        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.
        • thumb
          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.
      • thumb
        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
        • thumb
          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.
        • thumb
          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?
        • thumb
          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.
        • thumb
          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?
        • thumb
          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!
      • thumb
        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?
      • thumb
        Jul 21 2011: Kodiak,

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

        Andrea
      • thumb
        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.
    • thumb
      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.
      • thumb
        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
      • thumb
        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

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.