It seems the last few years feminism has made quite the comeback, but I also hear many negative things surrounding it, like claims of discrimination and housewife hating. What is the deal? If it were simply equal pay, rights, and authority; I don't see how it has gathered so much negativity, so why is it attracting so much criticism?

Isn't it time for a SERIOUS conversation about it? What are your thoughts and opinions on the issue?

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I do not believe that the contemporary feminist movement embodies the goal of gender equality, despite ideological claims to the contrary.

What and who are you concretely talking about?  Smearing feminists as a group is too general. 

Who are these "radical feminist ideologues" you don't like?  What did they say that constitutes "preying on women"??

Who are some contemporary feminists you DO like?

Who are some contemporary feminists you DO like?

Camille Paglia

I can state with clarity that I do not support the agenda of taking reproductive rights away from women. I can support equal rights, if men got pregnant, I would happily support theirs too. I am all for equality. That said, I would have to caution feminist groups to watch out for a movement within their own, one that seems determined to push men away from the movement.

From what I have seen there is a movement for equal rights, and a movement just against men in general. I see that as strange, because I see a great number of men supporting equal rights, and think that we should be considered potential allies until proven otherwise. Just a while ago I heard someone talking about "male privilege" and couldn't get them to elaborate on it, so I have to wonder if they really believe everything is "just easier" for men.

I once heard a story of a feminist that posed as a man for ten months, just to understand what it was like to be a man. In the end she determined that men and women all face difficulties, and that neither really has it "easier" than the other. I also worry about the complete destruction of gender, the differences between men and women should be celebrated, not swept under the rug and ignored.

My mother instilled in me a respect for everyone, no matter of gender, color, or preference. But she also said everyone had their own troubles, and not to assume someone had it easier than you, or that you had it harder than someone else. To blindly assert that I have some nebulous "privilege" someone else didn't, somewhat insults the YEARS of hard work, struggling, and study I had to do to get where I am today. I wouldn't just blindly assume something was simply handed THEM because of their gender or the color of THEIR skin.

I would really like to know what this "male privilege" stuff is about.

There's always part of any movement that needs to vent their frustrations; that's nothing to worry about. Back in the 80s I was told by feminists that I should kick the male oppressor from my house, or else I was no real feminist. I don't like to be told what to do by people who don't know me, so I went on as if I hadn't heard them. And I still live with the same ´male oppressor´ of course.

I find stories like this absolutely hilarious. I am not sure how  these "real feminists" think trying to goad you into something you don't want to do is empowering women, I would have to conclude that they are confused, perhaps?

I think a real feminist is worried not just about women's rights, but equal rights, for all people. Anyone who doesn't forgets that an infringement on ANYONE'S rights is a direct threat to ALL of our rights. Hence why I will fight for gay marriage, despite having to personal reason to do so. I see it as a human rights issue, not a gay issue.

I see a woman's rights as being a human rights issue, if you mess with one of us, you've messed with us ALL. Unless we learn to cooperate and push for every HUMANS rights, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our country.

I think the same way: up till today I haven't been gay, but I'll defend human rights. And I've been patient with the "real feminists"; most of them are frustrated and deeply hurt.

Just a while ago I heard someone talking about "male privilege" and couldn't get them to elaborate on it

But you can do the research for yourself. 

There are obvious gender roles everywhere, with men dominant and women submissive.

Do you really think nothing is done to enforce these gender roles? 

I would like to hear more on this. What, is my country doing to enforce these gender roles?

The US failed, despite 14-year window of opportunity, to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.  Congress has failed to guarantee women equal pay.  Congress has failed to pass the Violence Against Women Act because it extended protection to undocumented immigrant women and Native America women.  Members of Congress have little knowledge and less sympathy for women's issues.  The US celebrates religious faith in public life despite the fact that the major religions have always discriminated against women.  Our public schools seldom address women's issues, though a Women's Studies course or two in high school might do a world of good.  We don't provide birth control to women or even make it readily available.  Abused women often can't get legal protections, and nobody addresses the frightful statistics showing that violent crime comes chiefly from men and that women are in danger 24/7.  In court, female victims are often blamed for being attacked.  No one in power ever says "Boys will be boys until we teach them by word and deed to be real men."

There are fanatics in every movement, and no movement is a perfect monolith.  Debate moves society forward.

There is some wackaloonery in feminism (or call themselves feminists), though I suspect  these are the outliers. One area that this is common is to confuse equal rights with the belief that men and women are essentially identical. (This may be a by product of modelling women's rights on the civil rights movement, after all, if  civil rights was based on the concept that a white man and a black man are really the same underneath, the same concept was applied to gender relations, with a less accurate fit).

For example, I recently read a claim by a feminist that it's 'sexist' to assume women are more maternal. Sure. Ignore 60 millions years of mammalian evolution (where females generally provide nearly 100% of the care of the young) and replace it with ideology. Or to assume all differences in socialization are caused entirely by culture (just look at our close relatives, chimps and bonobos, and you will see the same patterns.

On one atheist discussion site, the subject of aggressiveness (constructive) in employment came up and person after person decided to cite some aggressive woman that they knew of that 'proved' this was not a factor. (What's that about anecdotes not being data?). Mathematically it's demonstrable that there is a bigger genetic payoff for aggression in mammalian males than aggression in females.

Some years ago it became a feminist mantra (again, I'm sure it was not every feminist) to fight against caesarian birth. True, there were a number performed for frivolous reasons (though the concept that this was a major problem was basically created, not scientifically established). Some hospitals aggressively tried to reduce the number of such births, only to increase the number of brain damaged babies. As evolutionary biologists have pointed out, the evolution of upright posture and large brain size has basically made human birth the most dangerous of all mammals. Evolution sometimes runs into dead ends.

Then there is feminist PoMo which is obsessed with finding male domination in everything. One of these was (embarrassingly) brought in where my wife works to to a training talk on Powerpoint. Her presentation consisted of Powerpoint slides about how male domination is reflected int he childbirth process because the mother is lying down and the doctor is standing above her.  Not just a mention, but her whole tirade for the session was that childbirth should be performed seated, which may or may not be a good idea, but her reasons were ideological nuttery, not medical.

Actually realizing the evolutionary component should make us MORE sensitive, should encourage people to try to think about the world as experienced by other genders. But the genders (as a whole) tend to be significantly different, based in biology, for good evolutionary reasons.

There have been many improvements over the years because of the feminist movement. One of the most important factors is that some women have stopped thinking in dependent, passive, subordinate terms. Many women can now speak their minds, take risks, think of themselves as something more than baby making machines and explore other options. A good many of them expect equal pay for equal work and don't expect favors because they are women. 

In my grandmothers' times, my grandmothers managed household allowances well, were excellent seamstresses and cooks, they took excellent care of the family health problems and recovered from deaths of children. They made do with what they had. One grandmother had to return a hand held mixer because a fork was good enough. They made all the clothes, one by hand. Another grew and canned everything they ate. If they disagreed with their husbands, they could not speak their truth for fear of being hit ... hard. They washed the laundry in huge tubs on top of wood burning stoves and hung clothes outside to dry. They had few options, paid work didn't support a woman, let alone a child. They had babies one after the other until their bodies wore out. The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than WW I. It tended to kill adults and both my grandparents took in whole families to raise.  

Those days are gone, thank goodness. A new generation coming along does not remember those conditions and many women tend to want to be stay-at-home moms. Most middle class families just can't afford only one wage earner. Bringing in money returns us to the old reality of man being a wage-slave and modern mothers do not have the dreadfully hard work that my grandmothers had to do.

So, we have new stressors put on men, and some women like being consumers. Without the extra money of women working, money is the top conflict I observed in my years of social work. Many couples still do not know the life-skills of problem solving, conflict resolution, negotiation, compromise and team work. Many men continue to use violence, especially when they feel helpless. Sadly, women, with their new power, have been more violent. Violence of girls in high school is changing.

"In 1983 and 1993, the ratios of male to female youths committing violent acts were 7.4 to 1 and 7.0 to 1, respectively. This means that for every violent act committed by female youths in these years, at least seven violent acts were committed by male youths. By 1998, this ratio had closed to 3.5 to 1, indicating that females are closing the gap. The difference in prevalence rates changed little over the same period, but at a ratio of 2 to 1, it was much smaller to begin with. Taken together, the trends show that the proportions of males and females involved in violence (the prevalence rate) have not changed but that the relative number of violent acts by males and females (the incident rate) has changed, with females committing more violent acts in 1998 than in earlier years."

Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General.Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General.

Another factor that continues to dumbfound me. Students still do not know the life-skills that reduce family violence. They enter adulthood without the life-skills they need to be good problem solvers and conflict resolvers. New focus on testing did not change that fact.  

So, the reality is, we need education that teaches students better life-skills. Having the focus on obedience, following direction, submitting to authority fail to teach self-responsibility, critical thinking, long term effects of short term thinking. In other words, we teach dependence, passivity, and submission. We need independence, action, and critical thinking. 

We treat men and women differently because they are different. There are behaviors that highlight certain values, such as male and female behavior have certain criteria that both should meet. Fairness, equal opportunity in education and jobs, testing done according to a standard common for both and a different standard if the gender difference makes a difference. A firefighter, for example, must be able to carry a certain amount of dead weight to qualify for a fire fighting job. Both male and female need to meet the criteria. 

We live during an era of basic changes taking place in attitudes, beliefs, customs, traditions and values. Home life is changing, as is work life, politics, economics and religion. Change creates conflict creates heat. The new turmoil you describe results from the heat and conflicts of change. 

If I am correct in this assessment, it means that conflict exists between tradition and modern needs. We cannot think in terms that our grandparents thought. We need skills to meet the challenges of modern life. Compounding the conflict is the international access to cheap labor and values of profit in the short term instead of values of care for people and the planet. Homo sapiens are the rats of plague fame. Modern humans need long term goals of flourishing for people and Earth. 

The immediate problem, domestically, is the conflict between conservative and liberal thinking. Some want us to go back to the good old days. Well, the good old days mean slavery and domination of women. Some want us to move into a new paradigm. Thomas Kuhn, in 1962, wrote of this in The Structure of Scientific Revolution





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