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April 12, 2012

Well Done, Sister Suffra…whats?

Filed under: Feminism — Miss Plumcake @ 5:08 pm

Oof, your pal Miss Plumcake has been under the weather in a big way, and the novelty of being sick as an entire kennel worth of big dogs has seriously worn off.

My fascination with your Eureka responses, however, hasn’t.

I find it interesting some people –and I don’t mean anyone specifically, it’s just a general observation– who are by thought and deed feminists are still hesitant to saddle themselves with the label.

I can’t really judge them though, I was the same way…when I was twelve.

Whenever I brought up a bit of social injustice, my beloved, brilliant, Harvard-educated grandfather who truly did want me to be a huge success and thought I could do anything in the world, would sneeringly ask “Oh, are you a feminist now?”

The implication being that feminism was the same as man-hating. I didn’t hate men so I’d say “Of course not Dada!”

To many men of my grandfather’s generation, “feminist” became ill-informed shorthand for the type of woman who wanted a world where it was acceptable to treat men the way men were used to treating women. A horrifying thought, and as is so often the case, fear turned into disdain.

Feminism became a dirty word.

I’d like to think as a society we’re past the idea of feminists as braless bogeywomen coming to steal hardworking men’s titles and testicles. We just want equal treatment with our brothers, and the right to make decisions about our own bodies.

What’s so scary about that?

Also, and this is one of those things I care about that apparently no one else on the planet does, women who fought for the vote weren’t suffragettes: They were suffragists.

The word suffragette was originally used as an insult.

The newspapers –a boys club to this day– removed the gender-neutral -ist suffix and replaced it with the cutesy, diminutive, feminine-thus-powerless -ette to be dismissive of those “hysterical” women with all those silly ideas floating around in their tiny female brains who probably just needed a rest cure, ideally in a room with yellow wallpaper.

I know many of us learned the word either through Disney’s Mary Poppins and the sweet but daffy Mrs. Banks

…or through David Bowie’s 1972 scorcher, Suffragette City.

Both great songs, but let’s just agree they are not the most thoughtful exegeses of the suffrage movement.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. Next week it’ll be back to fun, frills and fatness, but feel free to keep commenting on these posts. I love the discussion.

(Wham! Bam! Thank you, Ma’am!)


  1. THANK YOU, Plummy! That always bugs me and I am the other person on the planet who cares.

    Next up: healthful versus healthy, dinner jackets versus tuxedos, and hieroglyphs versus hieroglyphics.

    Comment by harri p. — April 12, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

  2. When I was a senior in college, I was in the Vagina Monologues. It was an odd combination of women in the show: a handful of English and Women’s Studies majors, some bad ass lesbians and a large chunk of theater majors who were using it to take care of their performance requirement. We had talkbacks with the audience after each show and someone asked if we considered ourselves feminists. One of the theater majors said “Well, I don’t consider myself a feminist. I don’t hate men.”

    I was shocked, a few others looked shocked but what shocked me the most was how many of the actresses were nodding. I could not believe that the cast of the mother flipping Vagina Monologues would have such limited views of feminism. And that’s exactly what I said on stage.

    Speaking of theater, Mrs. Banks is one of my dream roles and that song is my go-to Karaoke song. (It’s an unexpected crowd favorite.)

    Comment by Kate K — April 12, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  3. To many men of my grandfather’s generation, “feminist” became ill-informed shorthand for the type of woman who wanted a world where it was acceptable to treat men the way men were used to treating women.

    Well put! I would say not only of your grandfather’s generation but of the generations since as well. Good for you, Kate K, for fighting this view!

    Comment by geekgirl99 — April 12, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  4. I am successful working in a male dominated field (manufacturing/engineering) and I am absolutely NOT a feminist. As a Roman Catholic who believes that life begins at conception it has been made very, very, very clear to me that I am NOT welcome in the feminist club.

    I have been on the receiving end of viciousness and disdain from feminists. Enough to know that I don’t ever want to be considered a feminist even if they would let me in.

    You comparing those of us who choose not to be associated with the term ‘feminist’ with a 12 year old just continues the trend.

    My feminist eureka moments are much more about how the self professed ‘feminists’ destroyed my property because I disagreed with them, or shouted me down in conversation because I was “Not a real woman”. In my experience ‘feminists’ have been far more demeaning to me than any man ever has been.

    I was lucky that I was raised in a family that deeply respected women and believed that we were capable of anything… without need for political labels. Both my grandmothers had graduate degrees before 1920, my mother had both an MA and a JD and they all had careers (by choice). I never thought that I needed some label in order to accomplish whatever I wanted.

    Self described feminists act as though they speak for all women… they most assuredly do not.

    (Note: Readers, tread very carefully while responding to this and all comments. There is room for everyone here at MftBG, so be respectful in your responses or risk the wrath of Moderation Doom. –Miss Plumcake)

    Comment by mary martha — April 12, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

  5. @Mary Martha: Well, I don’t speak on behalf of all feminists, but as long as you believe you ought to have the same rights and opportunities men do, then you’re more than welcome in my feminist club. I think whether you believe life begins at conception, which is perfectly valid to me for what it’s worth, or when you get your first Neiman Marcus catalog, the point (for me) is for women to have autonomy over their own bodies instead of the government telling them what to do. That being said, I completely empathize with women on both sides of the abortion debate (and it’s not a debate I’m willing to get into on this blog) and I think it’s a lot less simple than many women want to believe, especially as a woman of faith. I just don’t think hate should be paid back with hate. No one person speaks for all of feminism just like not one person speaks for any other civil rights movement. I’m truly sorry you’ve had such a negative experience, and I hope you’ll find it in your heart to pay back the vitriol you’ve felt over the years with compassion. It’s awfully hard to do (for me anyway), but I think we’ve all got to try to turn the other cheek.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — April 12, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  6. Mary Martha- I would like to add to the conversation that I am also Catholic, and I am happy to claim the title feminist, as my Catholic mom does. and was raised by a devoted Catholic mother who does the same. I am also happy to claim the identity of Catholic, but I find the relationship the Church has to women, gender, and sexuality to be very troubling.

    I am not trying to tell you that your experience isn’t true. I just want to say, that there isn’t a universal experience of the intersection of feminism and faith. It has lots of facets.

    The most important part feminism plays, for me, in faith related matters is tied up in social justice. I cherish the Catholic tradition of a preferential option for the poor. I think feminism offers a crucial route to providing desperately needed opportunities to the poorest women there are. The problems of global poverty are problems of women’s poverty. Access to health care, maternal and infant mortality reduction, and development resources, are the business of both church and feminism to me.

    I don’t see feminism as a political label, any more than I see Catholicism as a religious label. They are deep and abiding parts of my identity, and have formed my views on just about everything there is to have a view on.

    Like Miss Plumcake, I am sorry you’ve had a consistently bad experience with feminism.

    Comment by AnthroK8 — April 12, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  7. Oh goodness. Please excuse the proofing train wreck up there. So bad.

    Comment by AnthroK8 — April 12, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

  8. 8 years later, I still trot this link out, because the author Sars was awesome then and she is even more awesome now:

    Comment by rach3 — April 13, 2012 @ 5:38 am

  9. @Mary Martha:

    I totally agree with you. I’m an evangelical (hi!) and the viciousness I’ve received from feminists means that I will never identify as one. I’m not on the left hand side of the political spectrum, which gets a lot of aggression from the feminists I know.

    (I also have a grandmother who practised as a doctor throughout her life, another who ran a farm, great aunts who operated as scientists and businesswomen etc. No one has ever harrassed me, paid me less, bullied me or anything.)

    I try, as Miss Plumcake says, to show compassion and turn the other cheek. I avoid topics that bring out the Medusa in my feminist friends. But turning the other cheek does not have to mean joining in with them.

    Frankly, I think Miss Plumcake should not have compared “not wanting to identify as a feminist” with “her as a 12 y/o”. It’s not going to bring anyone into the fold – if anything, it makes me less likely to do so.

    Another pet peeve about the feminist movement is that any reluctance to identify with it seems to be taken as a sign that the woman in question is in the grip of Teh Patriarchy. We have legitimate complaints, and differing views on what needs to be done. That should be fine.

    Comment by Liz — April 13, 2012 @ 5:55 am

  10. Well said Miss Plummy.
    Great article Miss rach3.

    Speaking for myself, I am a feminist because I believe in equal pay for equal work, the right to make my own decisions about my own body, and equal rights under the law.

    I do not have the right to impose my view of morality on you just as you do not have the right to impose your morality views legally on me.

    I am a Christian fundamentalist and have problems with how some churches objectify me but I work within the structure to create/define another way. I would never demand others believe/worship as I do because that would mean I deem the faith of my Jewish, Buddhist, and other Christian friends to be less. I take very seriously the admonishment from Jesus to not judge unless you are perfect yourself. My life should be an example of my faith.

    I strongly believe in separation of church and state to protect all faiths.

    I am proud to call myself a feminist and have for over 40 yrs.

    Comment by txbunny — April 13, 2012 @ 11:23 am

  11. @Liz and @Mary Martha: I’m with you. I am a Roman Catholic, and while that is in itself permitted in feminist circles, being an orthodox, no-reservations Roman Catholic doesn’t seem to be so acceptable.

    I can only speak from my personal experience, of course, and don’t want to use too broad a brush. But I have found that avowed feminists don’t “hate men” — but sometimes they do seem to hate women.

    I am just old enough to remember “Women’s Lib,” and the endless contemptuous comments about how women could only work as “nurses, teachers, and secretaries.” There was back then — and still is, thought it’s been tempered somewhat — tremendous disrespect for traditional women’s work among avowed feminists, and for the women who did it and do it.

    When I worked as a secretary, I regularly got smirks and eyerolls from feminist acquaintances, and the occasional flat-out appalling response. As in “A secretary? Oh. Well, what did you WANT to do?”

    Some of the changes fostered by feminism were of course just and necessary. But what I find most disturbing about it is the notion that there is some monolithic Sisterhood to which I am expected to demonstrate loyalty in my politics, religion, and personal life.

    Women are individuals, to precisely the same degree that men are, and entitled to make decisions based on our own knowledge and experience and ethics, just like the boys. Feminists — again, speaking from my own experience only — seem to have a bit of trouble with that.

    It is only feminists who have ever suggested to me that I am obligated to support an idea or position or candidate just because I’m a girl and otherwise I’d be letting down the side. And nuts, I say, to that.

    Comment by catrandom — April 13, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  12. This, from that article rach3 linked to:

    “You are a feminist. If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. Period. It’s more complicated than that — of course it is. And yet…it’s exactly that simple.”


    Comment by Madame Suggia — April 13, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

  13. When I was young, I was proud to call myself a feminist. It meant I (generally*) agreed with the likes of Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, that it seemed completely illogical that a woman shouldn’t have equality under the law and the same rights to her body as a man. I knew what it was and that it was the right thing to do.

    Now…I don’t know what the hell the word means. In reading around the web I see that others have co-opted and redefined the word into this huge mess that makes no sense to me whatsoever. I still stand for equal rights under the law and bodily autonomy, but that doesn’t seem to be good enough anymore. So while my beliefs and political stance hasn’t changed, but I’m not sure “feminism” is still an accurate description.

    (*I say generally because I will never give up my right and responsibility to think for myself.)

    Comment by TropicalChrome — April 13, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  14. @ Liz, Mary Martha, and catrandom,

    I’m so sorry you’ve had such horrible experiences with women who were feminists.

    I ask you, as a Catholic feminist, to pelase reconsider identifying as a feminist- because otherwise the term will mean the vicious and inflexible, those who have so accepted the masculine=good feminine=bad values of dominant society that women who are happy in traditionally “women’s” roles are then devalued by not only patriachal society but the women who believe themselves to be working for the betterment of all women.

    Sadly, as Catholics we have a bit of experience having to remind people around us that a movement is made up of human beings who don’t always live up to the ideals expressed as the core beliefs of that movement. The question then becomes do you still believe those ideals and will you still try to live them? I do and I’m still a feminist and I’m still Catholic. One who seeths inside sometimes at comments made by each about each other and by outsiders of both, but I’m only human too and trying.

    Wow, I’m getting super emotional about this. Thankfully, easter candy is still on sale.

    Comment by Ellen W. — April 13, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

  15. I don’t actually think Plumcake was saying that women who don’t identify as feminist are s immature. I think she was reporting that she turned that page for herself a long time ago.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — April 13, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  16. Oh, and I am a confirmed atheist from way back in the day, one who has had miserable experiences with evangelicals. They think they are saving my soul. There’s only so mad you can get at that. People are imperfect and they don’t always express themselves the right way. Bullies come in all forms.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — April 13, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

  17. Thanks, all, for a thoughtful conversation. Like a few of the contributors above, I am also a Catholic. And a feminist. And while there are elements of both Catholic and feminist thought and practices that I don’t entirely agree with, I find their overlapping commitments on all the things that really matter — that is, equality and dignity for all animate beings — to be equally important goals and frameworks for my life.

    So I am interested in the relationship between individual experience and collective affiliation that a few commentators outline above. The privileges that I have benefited from in my life are hard to overestimate — I am a white North American who has access to education and healthcare, and a social structure that recognizes my humanity outside of a reproductive economy. There are many women around the world and in my own country for whom that is not the case. Just because I have not been discriminated against on an individual level should not mean that feminism and its global commitment to equality for women and men is anything less than urgent. As a person of faith, I feel a responsibility to try to make possible for other people the types of rights that I enjoy — and, too often, take for granted.

    It is this intersection of lived reality and communal identity that makes the matter of feminism so central to many of us, and so difficult to think through. I am very much enjoying reading the thoughtful responses of other readers, so thanks, y’all, for the good conversation.

    Comment by Alison — April 13, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  18. Just to make it clear, when I say “evangelical”, I mean Protestant. Some people seem to think I’m a Catholic.

    I shouldn’t mind, but I’ve met people who’ve had issues with that. There’s nothing like someone asking you if you feel like you’re really Irish, or telling you outright that you’re not (all these people have been Irish Americans), to make you antsy on the subject.

    Comment by Liz — April 13, 2012 @ 8:57 pm

  19. Gosh, I’ve written and deleted I don’t know how many responses here, trying to figure out the most relevant and concise way to say this…

    I, as a “feminist” (for the definition linked to by rach3) am getting tired of the feeling that there is a “right” way to do, think, or be in order to be a true feminist, and that those of us on the “wrong” side (Christian, pro-life, employed at traditional women’s work) are doing it wrong at best or dupes of the patriarchy at worst.

    There’s a woman in my husband’s department at graduate school whom I greatly admire and joke to my husband about her being the most feminist in the department. She is a converted Catholic, conservative in her worldview and politics, and I believe pro-life, but while all the other women in the department study “feminist [department field]” she, like all of the men in the department, has simply chosen the aspect of the field that appeals to her most and suits her best, without being concerned about whether it’s feminist enough. Not to downplay women who study women’s fill-in-the-blank (I find their work fascinating) but I really admire this particular woman’s refusal to follow the crowd into what seems like just another pigeonhole in academia and instead follow what is best for HER. Isn’t that what feminists are supposed to do?

    Comment by KESW — April 14, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  20. feminism n (1895) 1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes 2 : organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
    Pretty scary stuff huh?

    There are a lot of women and men who misconstrue and/or misuse the word feminism. They use it to bash or condescend other women – either because you are a bitter man hating lesbian, or a pathetic victim of the patriarchy – depending on which end of the political spectrum it comes from, I’ve been accused of both, neither side was correct because both were co-opting the term for their own purposes.

    So let’s take a different approach. For those of you who say that you are successful in male dominated fields and have never experienced discrimination a few questions for your consideration – with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy

    If you were fired on Monday solely because you were a woman, and replaced with a man, would that bother you? If so, you might wanna call yourself a feminist
    If you were told your pay was being reduced, solely because you were a woman, would that bother you? If so, you might wanna call yourself a feminist
    Do you want your daughters to have the same access to education, sports, and job opportunities as your son does? If so, you might wanna call yourself a feminist
    If you believe you should be able to open your own bank account, own your own business and your own property without a man’s name on the deed, You might wanna call yourself a feminist.
    If you work outside the home, and were able to utilize maternity leave. You might wanna thank a feminist
    If you were able to come back to work and pump breast milk in a clean comfortable space other than a stall in the lady’s room. You might wanna thank a feminist
    If you believe we should have battered women’s shelters, rape crisis centers and medical research that recognizes that women should be studied differently because women’s physiology is different and responds differently than mens in some areas. You might wanna thank a feminist

    None of the above just happened. It took women who were shamed, denied, humiliated, embarrassed, beated and raped – but stood up and kept standing up so that you could get a good education and succeed in a male dominated environment, be paid equal to men and take it for granted. At least acknowledge that.

    Dissing an entire belief system, whether it be a church or feminism because of a few who pervert or misuse it is simplistic and misses the beauty of both. When we live the true meaning of our beliefs – we show people their true meaning.

    Comment by Thea — April 15, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  21. @Thea. Yeah, I’ve been mulling this one over, and I am glad you pointed out that most of us have an easier time because women who came before us didn’t, and did something about it.

    None of us is the only woman on the planet. If we don’t have issues, we are very, very lucky. And, that doesn’t mean no other woman does. What about them? The system needs to support them, too, or be changed to support them.

    Also, I am very bothered at the idea that someone is More Feminist because she did what she wanted, and what she wanted wasn’t limited to Lady Scholarship. It’s presumptuous to assume that women study gender-things because it’s some kind of peer-pressure-ey issue. I mean, it’s good for her. But it’s not a sign that other people aren’t passionate about and suited to their topics.

    I also think EVERYONE in a field should have a working knowledge of gender-and-topic, as they do with theory-and-topic and history-of-and-topic and economics-of-topic. It’s part of a solid general knowledge.

    If that’s a joke, it’s not especially funny to me. If it’s a subtle criticism, it’s an unfair one.

    This, by the way, is coming from an explicitly liberal feminist scholar of Not-Ladies-And-Topic.

    Comment by AnthroK8 — April 15, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  22. THANK YOU, Thea!

    Comment by Sanaa — April 15, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

  23. Hi Liz, I’ll come out with out you. I’m also a conservative protestant evangelical (Lisa in SoCal, not everyone pushes by the way, thats a generalization).
    This feminism discussion enters my life often & it’s never easy. This will likely be rather disjointed, I apologize in advance.
    I work at a university & in EVERY conversation it is just assumed that I’m pro choice, democrat & left of central in general like every good university employee is supposed to be. As they point out, why wouldn’t I be, only idiots aren’t. Then they proceed to make disparaging comments, mock & offend pretty much every thing I believe. It’s like there is this club & it’s okay to discuss controversial subjects at work because we’re on the same side, wink wink, we’re all feminists & sisters. I’m fine with just being your neighbor by the way…
    To be clear, it’s fine if you want to be of one mind or persuasion, but I want to have my beliefs & decisions given if not respect then at least credence in a ‘polite’ discussion. Trust me, nothing freezes up a women’s studies professor more quickly than commenting that actually, I vote republican thank-you-very-much. It’s like they completely blank out the previous few years of polite, respectful & kind conversation, I’m the enemy now even though my actions haven’t changed. That I am tolerant of other people & their lifestyles makes no points. I really think politics are a personal decision & you shouldn’t just assume people are one or the other. Since my views are “so completely unacceptable”, as a rule I just mentally check out of the conversations I frequently encounter or physically find anywhere else to be, as trying to add my voice to the conversation would be pointless. Very few people know that I’m not one of “them”, mostly because of the vitriol I’ve received. It’s very intimidating & I am no shrinking violet.
    I’m also pretty darned tired of it being assumed I’m a halfwit because I went to a private religious school. I hate that people write my father off because he’s a white, Christian male. That man taught me more about being who I am & being a contributing PERSON (not just a woman or a man) in my community than is comprehendible. I abhor that every one has to have a side now.
    I swear, I need to have one of my equally open-minded gay friends write me some sort of kitchen pass… “it’s okay, she’s a bible believer, but she’s really very nice & doesn’t care what sex of consenting adult you smooch!” I MISS POLITENESS, does anyone else? It DOES have a place you know, it really does. Basic kindness & all that!
    No, I’m sorry, while I agree with some of the tenets of feminism, I find that there are some REALLY big ones that I don’t. You’d think that that would be okay, but despite you kind & generous few who have posted here, the overwhelming majority I have encountered insists that no, it is not enough. I’m not welcome as a feminist much less a woman. In fact, I’m a disappointment to women & blah, blah, blah. At this point I could receive an engraved invitation & I would have to just send my regrets. I am what I am & that’s what I’m going to be. Maybe in future years there will be less polarization & people can agree to disagree again. I can only hope so.

    Comment by Leah — April 16, 2012 @ 12:02 am

  24. @Thea:

    Let’s leave aside, for one second, the fact that I don’t agree with every action you put in your examples. For instance, I regard anti discrimination laws in private businesses as a violation of free assembly. Also, I’ve worked with mothers and I don’t want to repeat the experience.

    Believe it or not, it’s possible to be a female and not believe in leftist tenets.

    The fact remains that anything that the feminists achieved in the past does not obligate me to support them *now*. WW1 and WW2 did more for women’s rights, practically speaking, than anything before that, but that does not mean I have to support war. Does the eugenicist leanings of people like Margaret Sanger mean that you cannot support abortion rights in the here and now?

    Comment by Liz — April 16, 2012 @ 5:33 am

  25. It’s true that I can’t know what’s in the motivations of women who study women’s [topic], but I do sincerely believe that there’s still a prejudice to keep women out of “serious” academia by keeping them in women’s [topic]. Unfortunately, I have seen that at least in my husband’s department, there’s a very subtle difference in how the non-women’s studies scholar and the women’s studies scholars are talked and thought of.

    It’s a stickier issue as to who is to blame for these prejudices. Maybe I am to blame in part, or maybe it is the men. Maybe I am just being too critical of the times we live in, as my wish would be to see academic scholarship that is inclusive of women’s contribution without it being a pigeonhole. And maybe that is just my prejudice, seeing women’s-and as a pigeonhole… (or maybe I am secretly bitter because my husband is the one in grad school while I stay home with the kids? who knows!)

    I don’t mean to offend with these things, especially to you, AnthroK8. I’ll try to be more careful to arrange things to clarify the difference between my opinions-as-opinions and my reflections on what I see as more factual.

    Comment by KESW — April 16, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  26. Also, I still stand by my respect for the woman I mentioned before as an example of someone who is “doing it wrong”, but finding success and happiness in a traditional men’s field. And as for my joke, I did say that it was one that I specifically shared with my husband and if you don’t find it funny that’s fine by me.

    Comment by KESW — April 16, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

  27. Well said Thea.

    As for the problems various women have had in this forum, I see each and every one of you as an individual with the right to your own opinion and spirituality/faith/non-faith. Just as you each want to be seen as an individual I also want to be seen as an individual.

    To say all feminists are bad is to commit the same discrimination as what was shown to you.

    For me the only way to rise above all of this is to take each person as the unique individual they are.

    The term feminist represents as stated above:
    “If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. Period. It’s more complicated than that — of course it is. And yet…it’s exactly that simple.”

    For me what is important is how women and men are treated, not whether someone has hurt my feeling. I feel it is important to rise above this and instead focus on greater good.

    Comment by txbunny — April 16, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

  28. I think it is wonderful if each person is judged as an individual with all their qualities rather than being pigeon-holed based on gender, ethnicity, economic status or education level. But realistically, we are judged based on those other things.I catch myself making implicit associations.

    While I also agree that it is wonderful that all women have an opportunity to pursue what interests them, the odds of facing day-in and day-out discouragement, disrespect, blatant misogyny sometimes bordering on harassment,trivializing the work, PMSing jokes and general unfairness just because of one’s gender are far greater in male-dominated fields. That is why there is a smidgen more respect for women who hack it out against those greater odds. (one e.g., my undergrad institute in a male-dominated field had only one toilet for women for entire student population of more than 1000 – you are out of luck if your classes aren’t in that building)

    Does this mean there is no reverse gender stereotyping? No. But the power imbalance exists in the sense that a woman in a roomful of unknown men feels more likely physically threatened (especially when they exhibit misogyny) than a man in a roomful of unknown women.
    I think that’s the basic reason for me to be a feminist.

    On the other hand, I feel child-bearing and parenting are unevenly divided and are unfair to both the genders in different ways. There is a lot of variability and it is would be more unfair to make blanket statements about any family situation.

    Comment by Violet — April 16, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

  29. @Violet, excellent points, you are right, there is a subtle nuances (and not so subtle at times) that women still have to deal with every day.

    I read a quote recently that women’s worst fear was that they would be raped and murdered.

    Men’s worst fear was to be laughed at by women.

    Quite a telling difference there

    Comment by Thea — April 17, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  30. @KESW I do think it is an unfair bias for women-studying-women (or anything from a gender aware point of view) to be talked about/thought of differently than more traditional fields of study. Gender/feminist theory has been responsible for some of the most meaningful, powerful change in the way my field operates in the last 20 years. The scholarship is rigorous, sophisticated, and often methodologically innovative. And often, I find, it is also the most accessible to undergrad readers. There is little lightweight about it.

    It is not feminists who limit what feminist-perspective scholarship can contribute to a field, by and large.

    If it is considered to be pigeon-holed, second-best, stereotyped, unfairly imposed, or less-than, there is something seriously wrong with the way we see contemporary academia.

    Also, I think most feminists would see any woman studying Her Thing as a Good Thing. If said scholar isn’t feminist herself, that’s a different issue from whether or not she at least gets to choose for herself what she wants to do.

    If that is cast as Something Of Which Feminists Disapprove, my first inclination would be to look and see who, exactly is making that claim. It wouldn’t be me, nor would it be coming from my feminist colleagues.

    Comment by AnthroK8 — April 18, 2012 @ 12:16 am

  31. nothing freezes up a women’s studies professor more quickly than commenting that actually, I vote republican thank-you-very-much.

    My husband plans to run for state-level office. He is quite concerned that my having differing political opinions from his will be an issue, even though I have pointed out that surely, his tolerant side should not mind my views at all!

    Comment by The gold digger — April 20, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  32. I thought about this some more. I am a small government, free-market, pro-life libertarian. It feels like the term “feminist” has been defined by a group that doesn’t allow anyone who is pro-life.

    I read several feminist blogs because they are interesting, but I don’t necessarily agree with the views espoused there. Not that I expect to agree with someone just because she is a woman. But sometimes, there seems to be a “feminist” mindset that embraces more than just equal rights for all people.

    By the definition that men and women should have equal rights under the law, yes, I am a feminist. By some other definitions, I might or might not be. But I guess I don’t really care how other people define me.

    Comment by The gold digger — April 20, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

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