Tuesday 27 April 2010

Feminism: Has It Gone Wrong? (1st Part)

Note: In order to understand the content of the following post you need to read the introductory one, here.

At no point, when I conceived this debate after reading Charlotte Raven's article in The Guardian (read the original text here), did I predict the amazing response I've had from both the five participants in the discussion and those who decided not to take part but still e-mailed their opinions through. As I mentioned in a message to one of the five bloggers whose comments you'll read in a minute, tonight's first part and next Thursday's second instalment of this discussion threw me a few years back when I used to organise a monthly off-the-cuff session at an arts centre where I was one of the project managers. From 2004 until 2008, when the company closed down, I brought a diverse bunch of artists (mainly performers) to one of the most deprived areas in London, where I've also happened to live for many years now. From those sessions it is the film-screenings that I always remember the best because they introduced both the audience and me to a cornucopia of independent directors and companies of which I had never heard. After each film we used to have a Q&A session with the producer and or director. I chaired these post-screening debates and besides having specialists on the panel I always invited other parties whose work was relevant to the topic addressed by the film.

And that was the same sentiment that overcame me as soon as I started getting your replies about feminism and its role in today's society. As I trudged through your answers, my dear fellow bloggers, I felt like a child in a sweet shop. Sometimes I nodded in agreement, occasionally I shook my head, but above all, you made me think and I hope readers will walk away tonight giving more thought to some of the issues you raised.

As promised all bloggers' biographies have been posted and you'll see that they all come from different walks of life. Some of you did not send any photos, so I've taken the liberty of using your blogs byline pictures and I hope that's OK. I've also linked all your blogs or websites.

What else can I add? Well, that I had a ball drafting the questions, receiving and reading your answers, preparing the posts (don't miss the second part on Thursday 29th April at 11:59pm GMT) and now I look forward to digesting your feedback. Without any further ado, let the debate commence.

Deborah (The Temptation of Words): Anglo-Canadian by birth and culture, I spend most of my time in the south of France with my favourite Belgian, and the rest in the shadow of the Rockies in the thoroughly enjoyable company of whichever of my three grown children happens to be there.

Hema (Wading Through Words): I currently live in the U.S, but I grew up in India; I draw inspiration for my writing from my rich and diverse cultural heritage. I am a software engineer by training and a writer by choice.

T. Allen Mercado (Tea and Honey Bread): mixed media artist, msn.com award winning essayist, wife and un/homeschooling mother of two. She concedes to a near unhealthy fascination with the human condition and writes about it often from the perspective of a neurotic humanist, womanist, pacifist, socialist. She is also an occasional pessimist.

Miriam Levine (Miriam Levine's website): Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Miriam Levine now divides her time between Florida and Massachusetts. Currently she is at work on a new novel and a poetry collection. She is Professor Emerita at Framingham State College, where she chaired the English Department and was Coordinator of the Arts and Humanities Program.
Catherine Smith (Jumbleberry Orchard): I am a postgraduate student in linguistics, currently living alone in a small flat in York. I grew up in an ex-mining town in West Yorkshire, with hardworking parents who have achieved a lot from very little. My parents always encouraged me to work hard and to be independent, and pushed me hard to achieve good results; getting a good education and an exciting career has always been their priority for me.

1- Feminism has often been accused of being a movement led by and directly benefiting middle-class, educated, western women, thus, overlooking the role played by many female activists on the frontline of social and political struggles, such as: domestic violence, pay inequity, restrictions on reproductive rights. What do you think about it?

Deborah: I do tend to agree that a form of two-tier feminism exists, although the feminist leaders of the 60s and 70s gave enormous impetus to what was a more isolated, under-the-radar struggle to bring greater freedom and equality to women. While the well-educated and articulate, high-profile and media-savvy principals of the feminist movement may have had greater appeal to an audience of their peers, the emergence of public debate and personal discourse fuelled a wave of awareness that gave front-line activists a support base and a credibility that might have otherwise been much longer to arrive – if ever. For the generation that followed the first major wave of contemporary feminists, however, the message and the movement have been diluted. My daughter’s generation has assumed the fact of both their equality and their right to access education, professional success and reproductive freedom but for many of them, feminism ends there. The activists who work in the ‘gritty’ areas—for the rights and betterment of the lives of sex-trade workers, immigrant child-care providers, native women (in Canada) and low-literate women, don’t get a lot of attention from those who have benefitted from the social change effected by their predecessors. For them—and even for many of us who came of age during the Golden Age of Feminism—the deal seems done. We got what we were after, didn’t we? Well, some of us did, and many more didn’t. In British Columbia, for instance, scores of women have disappeared off the streets of Vancouver in the last 15 years – and for much of that time, there was no reaction from the media or the police. It was only because of the constant efforts of family members and women’s activists that the magnitude of this loss was finally acknowledged and the push to open an investigation was resisted for far too long. It’s all too tempting to suspect that the victims’ public invisibility was due to their gender, their poverty and their line of work, which was in some cases was in fact the sex trade, but in many others was just incorrectly assumed to be the case. Ergo, they’re not that important, or they got what they were asking for. This is a case in point where the feminist movement has made very little difference, where—not unlike the economically comfortable middle classes of the West who remain largely uninvolved with the problems of the developing world—those who have reaped the incomplete rewards of contemporary feminism have taken what they needed to be comfortable, and left the rest.

Hema: I would agree with this assessment, only when it comes to feminism as an organized movement. As a teenager in India, in the 80s, I knew of a woman (as just one example) who used to buy school supplies every year for her neighbor’s daughter, so that that girl wouldn’t have to drop out of school for lack of money. So, that lady helped empower a girl-child by supporting her education. Did she do it keeping in mind the concept of ‘feminism’? Probably not. Just because she has not been part of the bigger movement, does that make her any less of a feminist? No.I think the basic philosophy behind feminism – struggle for gender equality - is practiced every day, either at grassroots level inside many homes, or on a bigger scale by female social activists and such all across the globe. However, feminism as an organized movement has been more or less a western concept (or restricted to cities, for the most part, elsewhere in the world). Overall, my take on feminism resonates very much with that of Sarojini Naidu – a poet and a prominent voice in the nationalist and women’s movements during India’s freedom struggle. She once said (I paraphrase) that she wouldn’t call herself a feminist because to do so would be to acknowledge that women are weak, and hence need an organized movement to uplift themselves.

T. Allen Mercado: Women of color who served on the front lines and fought for civil rights/human rights aren't lauded for their contributions to the feminist movement, this is clear and a topic of intensity. Part of me resents the "othering", while the other embraces the greater picture. I am not just a feminist. Feminism is but one link in the chain. This is exceptionally important to recognize as we encounter the complex subtleties of gender and how it is both defined, accepted and understood.

Miriam Levine: In America, in the nineteenth century, educated feminists were tremendously influential in the Abolitionist movement that helped end slavery. Feminists fought for the right to vote, a right that helped all women. More recently, feminists continue to struggle against domestic violence, which affects all classes! They are also in the forefront of efforts to guarantee reproductive rights, and access to birth control and abortion. In 1971 more than three hundred French women stood up and publicly stated that they had had an abortion. Following their example, in its first issue in 1972, Ms. Magazine published a petition “in which 53 well-known U.S. women declared that they had undergone abortions.”

Catherine: I agree that Western women are feeling most (if not all) of the benefits of the feminist movement, but then it was Western women who started and carried out the revolution in the first place. In Europe and America we are blessed with the overall freedom of our societies; the struggle for equal rights was always going to be easier in countries which prioritise democracy and human rights. The worldwide battle has a long way to go, but there is a strong movement of liberated women who are involved in struggling for those women who are still waiting for their freedom. I believe that these issues are being tackled, if very slowly. If a movement is going to be lead at all, it will always be those who feel they have a voice who will lead it; in this case, it is the educated middle-class women who can speak the loudest, possibly as a result of being the principle benefactors. However, it could be that these women don’t actually benefit from the feminist movement as they don’t actually need to; they are not the women suffering in social and political struggles. Many female activists living through real struggles may well see the Western idea of feminism in its stereotype: a plight to gain equality with men in terms of money, power and social respect. This stereotypical Western feminist is a far throw from the women suffering from circumcision, violence and forced pregnancy on every side of the globe; these issues go beyond feminism to fundamental human rights.

2- It seems that sometimes feminism is not compatible with women's freedom to choose, especially if that choice sometimes hinders their own progress. What are your thoughts on this issue?

Deborah: It’s difficult to address the issue of ‘feminism’ without a definition of what it was, and what it has become. As a woman who came of age in the early 70s, I now see some aspects of the feminism of that era as restrictive, in the sense that its philosophy was frequently oppositional. In the push for equity of pay, of opportunity, of power and control based solely on gender, there was little room for disagreement without appearing to be ‘unenlightened’ or ‘under the thumb’. There was a lot of pressure on women from each other to discard everything they had ever learned, accepted and even enjoyed about their female-ness, or how they related to men, in order to become New Women. Not a lot of tolerance for individual circumstances, preferences, or the potential for an attitude of entitlement to backfire both personally and professionally. Feminism has lightened up since then in some ways, but the debate that still rages on about ‘having it all’ and the ambivalence still widely expressed about professional women who maintain their careers while raising a family on the one hand, and the often disparaging depiction of women who elect to focus on their children on the other, clearly demonstrates that we haven’t come to terms with anybody’s freedom to choose.

Hema: At the height of the feminist movement (and by that I mean the 1960s and 70s), this may have been partly true. (I concede this point with some reluctance because my impressions are from having read books and watched television shows about that time period, for lack of a more objective data for myself – I was too young in the 70s to have had first-hand understanding of the movement’s ideology and workings.) During those days, if a woman chose of her own accord to give up a high-paying corporate job (for instance) to stay home and nurture her kids, then she’d have been labeled anti-feminist. I would like to believe (though I don’t have concrete data either way) that the feminist movement ideally did not begin this way, and that this kind of hindrance to a woman’s personal choice was a radical off-shoot of the original campaign, as it usually happens with organized movements over time. These days, I believe women definitely have more freedom (in view of feminism, at least) to make their own choices, based upon their own perception of progress, and not be tagged for it one way or the other.

T. Allen Mercado: Within the Black community this is a highly divisive topic. Freedom of choice is heavily slanted in favor of having children and marriage versus career advancement and activism. The church and family mores within our community are certainly foes of feminism. To that end, as stated in my answer to question one. Black feminism is so heavily shrouded under the umbrella of equality as a whole, that much of the detail is lost in the bigger picture.

Miriam Levine: It is hardly Feminism that restricts women’s right to choose. Think of the church, think of fundamentalist religions that often dictate dress, sexual relations, child-bearing, work life, domestic life, etc., etc. Women who break those rules sometimes risk death. In contrast, Feminism fights for individual freedom. While conditions have improved in the work place, the business world still restricts women. Can anyone cite important examples of Feminists speaking against women who choose to have children, not to work outside the home, etc.? As a feminist, I am horrified by those feet and back destroying spike heels so much in fashion and by so much of cosmetic surgery, but I wouldn’t take away women’s right to choose no matter how much the shoes hobble their steps, no matter how painful the surgery. I’m all for fashion that liberates the female body. Spike shoes restrict; cosmetic surgery is painful and not long lasting. The best thing women can do for themselves is to get an education and keep physically active. I believe it is economic and historical forces that influence progress for better or worse.

Catherine: As a woman with a good education, just about to start out in my first career, I feel incredible pressure to do what I’m capable of, and not necessarily what I actually want to do. I don’t know whether this stems from my position as a woman in a situation of potential success, or if this is an instinct general to men and women alike. I do know, however, that I want to bring up my own children, and in many ways, revert to that stereotypical domestic lifestyle that women fought so hard to free themselves from. I know I’m not alone in this choice, and I know that many women are unsure about giving up on their personal dreams to pursue a domestic lifestyle: does it mean we are giving ourselves away to our gender roles by fulfilling a basic human instinct to nurture our offspring? Even so, progress in terms of career only comes at the expense of this instinct, and choosing to stay at home and bring up a family comes at the expense of a successful career (at the extremes of the spectrum); at the end of the day, feminism has to stop somewhere and let nature take over. If women are to reproduce, then their babies need to be looked after; either way women must choose, and if that is not compatible with feminism then there must be limits to feminism’s compatibility with nature.

3- The author appears to believe that writers and journalists are the only 'thinking women'. What's your opinion about it?

Deborah: The author’s comparison sampling is a bit limited, confined as it seems to be to female celebrities and media personalities on the one hand, and intellectuals on the other. It has distinct echoes of the eternal (and absurd) conflict between brains and beauty (in whatever form you see it) with the supposition that women cannot be endowed with the one, and have any semblance of the other. Because the media, in its various forms, tends to reflect and define the most evident—or are they just the most entertaining?—attitudes and sociological trends, the error can be made to believe that what we read/hear/watch on television is true of a majority. It is not. There are thinking women a-plenty out here beyond the tabloids, the celebrity press, the sometimes limited research and accompanying dubious conclusions of serious writers and sociological commentators, who tell us how they think they see it

Hema: I would like to give the author the benefit of the doubt, since she’s not in front of me to defend her stance, that she used writers and journalists in that context as examples of ‘thinking women’, not as all-encompassing categories of the same. Even then she would have done better to include others from disparate walks of life.If I am being too generous and the author did mean it when she said that writers and journalists are the only thinking women, then she couldn’t be more off the mark. Let’s take a woman who does menial labor for daily wages as but one instance of women who couldn’t be any farther in the spectrum from the thinking women that the author has come up with. The woman in our example - who would often be considered uneducated in the traditional sense of the word - is usually wise and astute; and at most times she shoulders the burden of her whole – usually large – family. She may not be making momentous political and judicial decisions everyday that would make or break the country’s future, but she definitely is thinking about things that are far more important to her family’s survival. Just because her thoughts are more practical and immediate, do we have the right to trivialize them?

T. Allen Mercado: The author, as it appears to me discusses theories gleaned from several publications, hence her comment about writers and journalists in par. 2. I believe she was calling upon other writers and journalists-albeit after the fact -to counter the views expressed (successfully promoted and sold) by Price and others of the same vein. Exclusionary, perhaps-but it read to me that she was critiquing/admonishing a group of her peers.

Miriam Levine: I didn’t get that impression from the article.

Catherine: I can’t really say I have an opinion. I can only disagree! Since she is a journalist herself it seems reasonable that she would use this position as her viewpoint into other situations; I didn’t interpret any suggestion of thinking being exclusive to female writers and journalists, but if this is the case, well, I’m neither a writer nor a journalist, yet I would probably say I’m a ‘thinking woman’!

The 2nd Part will be published on Thursday 29th April at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. Very thought provoking, I equate today's feminism with today's take on racism. They say it is gone, it does not exist, the painful thing now it's that it is underground.


    Not a poet, not a writer, just a fencer.

  2. Thank you for providing this forum for thoughtful women to offer stimulating assessments of feminism then and now. Feminism is a pulsing, living entity always in process, and subject to personal perceptions resulting from diverse influences ... Looking forward to the next instalment!

  3. Thank you Cuban for putting this forum together. I am impressed by the views of your distinguished panel. Feminism is so subjective, it depends on the definition and source of the movement. I enjoyed reading the different responses to your questions and looking forward to the next installment.

  4. Very interesting and views here. I like to read all the different opinions and how they see it. How's your trip here btw?

  5. There is so much here that I'm a bit overwhelmed, Cuban! I am going to read a bit and then come back and perhaps back again. Thank you for "hosting" this interesting debate/discussion!

  6. Wow! Qué genial debate... me lo voy a leer de nuevo con mucha calma, porque hay muchísima información, y ya vuelvo con comentarios...

  7. Oh I bet you were like a kid in a candy store with this one. What an intriguing and thought-provoking post! I've always been a strong feminist, eventhough historically, as the article states, it hasn't benefitted all women. I do believe that race and class affect perceptions and benefits of feminism. Pula Giddings 'When and Where I Enter" has served as the foundation of my understanding of feminism history and what I think about it. I do think that feminist has become a dirty word and lots of women that qualify won't refer to themselves as such. i don't think that that lessens the impact of women around the world still striving for equality, though.

  8. The issues are very much alive, still!

  9. Thank you all very much for your comemnts. And thanks to all the five bloggers, once again.

    I'm just taking a small break from work and I'd like to explain briefly why I've organised this debate.

    It wasn't until I was in uni in Havana, Cuba, in the early to mid 90s that I came across the 'f' word. And even that was referential. My lecturers touched on it lightly when discussing literature, history or language. Since my degree was in English, the focus was on English-speaking countries. It fell to my post-graduate tutors (I was still an undergraduate back then, but due to my being quite advanced in my year, I was allowed to attend post-graduate courses, that's how I became an actor, too, Improvisational Theatre in English) to ease me into gender politcs. One of them, a Bostonian woman, was also in charge of our theatre group. She also taught a class where she mixed contemporary issues, linguistics and gender politcs. I used to sneak into her lessons and sit next to one of my lecturers. For Cuban people, starved of information because of the government's self-inflicted embargo, this class was manna from heaven.

    Slowly I began to read more literature about gender issues, and also fiction and non-fiction by female writers who strayed from the norm, i.e., Margaret Atwood and Alice Walker (in fact, I remember reading 'You Can't Put a Good Woman Down' by the latter when I was in my final year at uni and wanting to do a dissertation on it using black women as an example. I wasn't allowed). The result was that I found a whole world that was not just alien but also scary. And that pretty much sums up the privilege that a bloke enjoys in Cuba. I lived with four other women in my house until my late teens when one of them died. Along with me dad, we were the only two men in the household. And yet I'd never heard of the 'f' word before. Why? Partly because of what Hema mentions when talking about that Indian woman. Many women are doing more for feminism than feminism will ever be able to acknowledge. My grandma, my mother, my auntie and my cousin were far more active than the whole cabal of women acting on their behalf and appointed by the state.

    So, this forum is another stepping stone for me to dig into the reasons why women are less paid than men, why domestic violence often goes unacknowledged, why in the UK rape centres are fast disappearing, why certain cultural traditions are upheld even when the outcome is detrimental to a human being: that is a woman. It's just another facet of my blog, and its anti-Faustian nature.

    Thank you all for your feedback. It's nice to be back blogging.

    Greetings from London.

  10. Thanks for allowing me to express my opinions via this debate, Cuban!

    Even though I didn't expect it to be any different, I'm still amazed at how differently each of us took the same question.

    If only everyone would remember that each point of view is subjective and try not to project their opinions and beliefs upon others, there'd be fewer altercations and problems everywhere...

  11. This was a brilliant post on your part. Movements of freedom go on forever, I hope. The naysayers carry rude signs,put up walls, exercise what they think is ultimate control..but guess what..it never works in the long run.
    Live in fairness, folks..power egos are out of style!

  12. There is a lot to read and absorb here. I promise I'll be back. I especially appreciated your bio information.

  13. How sad that the art center closed in your community but how wonderful that you are keeping the conversation going on your blog, especially having it expand to a multinational/multiage discussion on feminism. It was interesting to read about your personal connection to feminism in your comment.

    I agree with Deborah’s point: “It’s difficult to address the issue of ‘feminism’ without a definition of what it was, and what it has become."

    I feel that in the US there has been a lot of progress in equality but with that comes complacency in the younger generation which may slow the momentum.

  14. This is such a great post, Cuban. You asked very thought provoking questionsa and ended up with fascinating answers.

    I found myself nodding, like you, at many of the answers.

    I agree with Deborah that many of the younger generation of women think that the battle is won and that since they have what they want it's not necessary to consider what conditions other women live in all over the world. This resonated with me because I see an unhealthy level of apathy with regards to this issue.

    At the same time I agree with Hema that simply because other women in other countries doing menial tasks do not call their activities feminism, that doesn't mean they are not feminist or that their tasks are trivial. (By the way, Hema, I'm glad you participated.)

    At the same time I that feminism has taken over as a concept rather than a way of life. That the idea of a feminist is one who is confrontational and reactionist as opposed to rational and compassionate activist of human rights. This can be a hindrance to the cause because in giving out an impression of confrontationalism we invite confrontation and that never reaps results.

    I agree with Catherine that in many instances I feel the fight is not about feminism but about human rights. I also agree with her about a woman's right to choose. Eventually, we have to stop thinking about the political implications of feminism and start paying attention to our biological instincts, which is to nurture our children. I feel that much in society has gone awry because for a few years we forgot about this fact.

    Great post, Cuban!


  15. May thanks for your kind comments.

    'I agree with Catherine that in many instances I feel the fight is not about feminism but about human rights.'

    Indeed, Jai, quite right. But if I was to play the devil's advocate and back when I used to chair those post-screenings Q&As I had to, if a person defines her/himself solely by race, colour, creed or gender, do you not think that he or she is forsaking a part of his or her humanity? He or she is forcing people (unconciously, mind) to regard them as an entity and that entity might be limiting their efforts in other areas. Obviously, there's a lot of politics involved in that process.

    Thanks for your feedback. It's great reading your comments.

    Greetings from London.

  16. Cuban - thanks for putting this together, and also for your comment on your own experiences of feminism. It's important to bear in mind that feminism differs in its role (and even in its existence) from society to society; it seems that it has 'gone wrong' in some parts of the world, possibly 'gone right' in others, and in some is only just starting to appear, or hasn't appeared at all yet. Such a huge concept, which surely could be discussed for eternity!!

    Jai Joshi - I find it interesting what you say about feminism now being a concept rather than a way of life. I agree that the real symbol of feminism, I suppose the revolution as it was, is now much more of a concept. But I do feel that women are still living feminism every day; maybe not as many as the active feminists of the 60s and 70s would have hoped, but I see women 'being feminists' every day - from simple choices they make about clothing and make-up, to the way they go about being in a family and having a career, to the women who do spend their lives fighting for women's freedom the world over. As I am at university, I suppose I am living in a hub of activism, which will eventually disperse into wider society. I do have high hopes for women's issues, though; I think people are still living feminism, though not en masse as they did in the past.

  17. Fascinating set of responses from such interesting people. A rare treat to read.

  18. This conversation is absolutely fantastic, Cuban! I came by yesterday, when you had first posted it, and I read it. I wanted to digest some of the info before replying or commenting. Feminism is one of those topics whose very definition has become something of an enigma in recent years, I think. It seems many are divided on what that word actually means. And I kind of saw that in the varied responses provided during the Q & A. There is definitely an evolution in the movement, and as that happens, the definition of what "feminism" is evolves as well. An excellent conversation, truly! Thank you, Cuban. And I look forward to Part 2.


  19. There are so many variables that influence how one feels about feminism: time period, age, race, geography, socioeconomic factors, religion, sexual orientation, parenthood, etc. etc. Yet, in essence, I believe, it is a question about the definition of dignity and the ability to act on one’s convictions about that definition. I think about my mother, who probably never heard the word feminist except as a pejorative. Yet, I would argue that she was a true feminist because the roles she played were true to her intention—to be a traditional God-fearing woman of service to her family and church. Hers, therefore, was a fully realized life, according to her standards. Where she and I got into trouble, of course, was that I didn’t accept those standards as my own. I now can accept, though, that she exercised her freedom of choice in a way acceptable to her; thereby, reaping dignity. In rejecting her standards, I was following in her example, albeit not in ways she recognized or condoned.

    As a humorous aside, I will never forget a trip a girlfriend and I made to Cancún after attending a female empowerment convention in the U.S. At that convention, Marge and I had picked up two pins which said, “Yo soy una feminista.” So there we sat at the restaurant table with a male friend, the two women wearing their convention feminist pins, and the Mexican waiter said in horror to our male friend, ¿Pero qué hace un *hombre* con dos feministas?”

  20. I guess I'm remembering a different feminism. In 1975, I was 18 years old and NEVER wanted to get married, was going to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. (A dream that was not entirely stupid because of feminism.) But even then, I thought the stridency of the feminists was too much. Why did they abandon the woman who wanted to raise her children and be married? Why was SHE the enemy? If they wanted to be real to a lot of women, I wish they had fought hard to stop ageism when those women re-entered the work force? Why alienate them? All men were not the enemy...sex in marriage was not rape. Why did loving high heels upset so many feminists? The suit look in fashion was simply that to me...fashion.

    I am glad for the many battles they fought to make sure colleges and the workplace were more open. As a second generation American, I know so many more avenues are available to me because of the battle they fought, but for some reason so many of their books and stories do not resonate.

    Sorry, Cuban, as always, I'm sure you are shaking your head again~! I appreciate the incredible passion you bring to so many subjects. Thank you.

  21. Whoa! I'm sure I'll keep coming back as parts of the debate bumble about in my head vying for clarification or simply to be read again and again.

    There is so much here and even though I participated, I find myself reading the others' answers and nodding emphatically, as if to say, "Yes! That too! I agree!" Many many thanks for sparking this lively discussion.

  22. Made me think, and so early in the morning, too.

    You've included one of my favorite bloggers, T. Allen-Mercado, in this post.

  23. Hi Cuban,
    I'm very glad that you're back.
    Thanks for this.
    I think that I found the questions a bit academic, so in light of that, I particularly liked that Deborah brought in the sex-trade in her first answer. (The sense of how much bendable gender has become part of our daily lives is another aspect --- the way someone teaching a class one year comes back the next as Sam rather than Sarah without undergoing any medical intervention and it's relatively easy.)
    again, thank you.

  24. Many thanks for your feedback.

    Throughout the thread the issue that pops up more often is that of choice. My own wife was in that predicament when our children were born. Even though she wouldn't call herself a feminist, her actions point at a valuable contribution to gender issues. She wanted to be there for both my son and daughter, she didn't want to miss those special moments and yet to some feminists her position would have been anathema to the cause they fought. Why? Let's analyse causes first, and individuals. What makes certain people behave in a certain way?

    Many thanks for your comments.

    Greetings from London.

  25. Jumbleberry Orchard,

    I agree with you that many women are feminist with the little choices they make every day. At the same time, I don't feel that they think of it as "feminism". It's more about them expressing themselves and being individuals. I believe this because that's what I've observed and that's how I live. Now, in many ways, this is a good thing because it means that the issue of women having to consciously fight to prove their equality to men is a moot point - at least in some countries. This is a cause for celebration.

    Have fun at university and enjoy the activist lifestyle! I loved it when I was a university. Once you graduate the desire to act will still be there but the ability and energy will disipate somewhat. I work hard to keep in touch with what's going on in the world.


  26. Cuban,

    thanks for playing devil's advocate!

    I don't think that if someone identifies with a particular demographic (race/gender/creed) then they are forsaking their humanity. I think that they are in fact enriching it because they are pointing out that humanity is composed of all these elements and groups. It makes the family of humanity greater in depth and texture and brings much culture and colour together.

    However, if by identifying themselves with a particular demographic someone's purpose is to belittle other demographics then that's a problem. They are, in a way, forsaking their humanity because they're making a part of humanity unimportant. Racists do this, and religious extremists. Extreme feminists also do this when they belittle men and say that men are unimportant in life. Obviously most feminists don't believe this because feminism is about equality but I've heard some of women talk like this - with hate - and that's when I switch off.


  27. Jai - surely having the freedom to express yourself as an individual lies right at the heart of feminism? I don't belive that feminism is purely an issue involving women, but men too, and all of the shades of gender between these two poles. Through becoming more than just their gender, women are being individual, on an 'equal footing' with the rest of society, whether male, female or anything else.

    I do think that this is the fight that every woman in every society is fighting for when they talk about for feminism - for the right to be more than their gender; a human, first and foremost, and a biological woman second.

  28. Many thanks j and j for your feedback.

    Greetings from London.

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