Feminism - When does it get out of hand?

[deleted account] ( 10 moms have responded )

I or certain repliers may get shot for this topic, but I figured it's worth putting up here since there are a lot of women on this site...

First of all, what are your views on men vs. women? Not in society, but in personal relationships? Are men superior, or are women, or are they considered equal? Note I asked ARE they, not SHOULD they.

How thin is the line between a woman who believes she is independently successful because she is confident in her own intelligence and ambitions, and a woman who believes she is independently successful because she is superior in some way to the men she competes with in the workplace?

Do you think it is right for women to undermine men just because they are men, and vise versa? Do you think it is right for women to undermine men because they have undermined women, as in an eye for an eye?

Do you think there are differing degrees in feminism, and if so, what are they and why do you believe this?

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ME - posted on 10/25/2010

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I don't think it is acceptable for anyone to intentionally undermine anyone....Feminism isn't about undermining men. It's not about women simply demanding they be handed a career simply based on gender. In graduate school, women often had to try harder than men to get in, to get noticed once they were in, to get fellowships, to get into an academic relationship with a mentor, etc...A feminist wants to be treated like a human being, and not like a second class citizen...We are equal in our humanity...all of us, and that should be enough to grant us equal consideration...That being said, there are many different ways of personally expressing one's feminism, and most of those are equally valid!

Sara - posted on 10/25/2010

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There's absolutely different degrees of feminism, just as there are different degrees of any other philosophy, political or otherwise. There are women who call themselves feminists who want to be freed from "phallo-oppresion" and women who believe a woman's rightful place is in the home raising children. They all would self identify as feminists. To me, feminism is equal political, economic and social equality which lead to equal opportunities for women. I believe personally that men and women are equal intellectually and some even physically, though it depends on the person. But I do believe that on average a woman can do anything that a man can.



I don't think that in order to have equality, women have to believe they are better than or undermine men. Women who hate men aren't feminists, they're misandrists. People tend to think within normal gender/social values and mores, and sometimes that lends itself to women thinking a man can't do something because they're a man, and vice versa. Feminism gets a bad rap, but I consider myself a feminist. I'm proud of the history of feminism, and I'm proud that because of the hard work of others I have most the same rights and treatment as men do. What our foremothers started isn't finished either, we still have work to do to gain true equality with men in our society. I think that part of the reasons feminists may get a bad rap is because a lot of time they use shock-value to make you think. Here's an example, a piece I love, that doesn't seek to put men down but just make a very true and honest point about our society:



If Men Could Menstruate

by Gloria Steinem



Living in India made me understand that a white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking a white skin makes people superior, even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and wrinkles.



Reading Freud made me just as skeptical about penis envy. The power of giving birth makes "womb envy" more logical, and an organ as external and unprotected as the penis makes men very vulnerable indeed.



But listening recently to a woman describe the unexpected arrival of her menstrual period (a red stain had spread on her dress as she argued heatedly on the public stage) still made me cringe with embarrassment. That is, until she explained that, when finally informed in whispers of the obvious event, she said to the all-male audience, "and you should be proud to have a menstruating woman on your stage. It's probably the first real thing that's happened to this group in years."



Laughter. Relief. She had turned a negative into a positive. Somehow her story merged with India and Freud to make me finally understand the power of positive thinking. Whatever a "superior" group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever and "inferior" group has will be used to justify its plight. Black me were given poorly paid jobs because they were said to be "stronger" than white men, while all women were relegated to poorly paid jobs because they were said to be "weaker." As the little boy said when asked if he wanted to be a lawyer like his mother, "Oh no, that's women's work." Logic has nothing to do with oppression.



So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?



Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event:



Men would brag about how long and how much.



Young boys would talk about it as the envied beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day.



To prevent monthly work loss among the powerful, Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea. Doctors would research little about heart attacks, from which men would be hormonally protected, but everything about cramps.



Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of such commercial brands as Paul Newman Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-Dope Pads, John Wayne Maxi Pads, and Joe Namath Jock Shields- "For Those Light Bachelor Days."



Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods.



Generals, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve God and country in combat ("You have to give blood to take blood"), occupy high political office ("Can women be properly fierce without a monthly cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priests, ministers, God Himself ("He gave this blood for our sins"), or rabbis ("Without a monthly purge of impurities, women are unclean").



Male liberals and radicals, however, would insist that women are equal, just different; and that any woman could join their ranks if only she were willing to recognize the primacy of menstrual rights ("Everything else is a single issue") or self-inflict a major wound every month ("You must give blood for the revolution").



Street guys would invent slang ("He's a three-pad man") and "give fives" on the corner with some exchenge like, "Man you lookin' good!"



"Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!"



TV shows would treat the subject openly. (Happy Days: Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row. Hill Street Blues: The whole precinct hits the same cycle.) So would newspapers. (Summer Shark Scare Threatens Menstruating Men. Judge Cites Monthlies In Pardoning Rapist.) And so would movies. (Newman and Redford in Blood Brothers!)



Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself, though all they needed was a good menstruating man.



Medical schools would limit women's entry ("they might faint at the sight of blood").



Of course, intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguements. Without the biological gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets, how could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics-- or the ability to measure anything at all? In philosophy and religion, how could women compensate for being disconnected from the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death and resurrection every month?



Menopause would be celebrated as a positive event, the symbol that men had accumulated enough years of cyclical wisdom to need no more.



Liberal males in every field would try to be kind. The fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.



And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine right-wing women agreeing to all these arguements with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly)



In short, we would discover, as we should already, that logic is in the eye of the logician. (For instance, here's an idea for theorists and logicians: if women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long? I leave further improvisation up to you.)



The truth is that, if men could menstruate, the power justifications would go on and on.



If we let them.

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10 Comments

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Kimberly - posted on 10/25/2010

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Just open the dang door for me and show me some chivalry damn it!

Everyone is equal and it is crappy to undermine anyone.
I don't think my husband is superior just because he brings home the bacon. I could get bacon but I'm busy with the baby.

Jodi - posted on 10/25/2010

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In a personal relationship, it depends on each individual. I know some women who are in relationships who make themselves out to be inferior to their male counterpart, and others that make themselves out to be superior to them. I myself see my relationship with my husband as equal, my parents have what appears to be an equal relationship, my bestfriend, lots of people I know. But there are others who are different.

It is a VERY thin line in the workplace, and I think what comes into play is how jaded a woman may be. Not always, but if she's jaded about men or has been put down as a woman it seems those women are more likely to feel superior to, not only their male coworkers, but to women as well.

Nobody should undermine anybody for any reason. End of story.

There certainly are differing degrees of feminism! I get told allllll the time I'm anti-feminist because I chose to stay home with my children and not go to a workplace to make money, that I'm trying to put women back into the 17th century when we were subserviant to men. I'm also told I'm overly feminist because I didn't change my last name when I got married (my decision had *nothing* to do with feminism!). Women, like the ones who make those kinds of comments, seem to have lost sight that feminism means fighting for equality, so that women can make the *choice* to work or stay home with kids, to change her name or not, to wear a bra or go free! People like my aunt (70 something years old) are a bit anti-feminist, she likes the idea of feminism, but looks down on women who work or don't follow "the way" things are "supposed" to be. I guess I'm in the middle, I think equality is essential in today's society, for everyone, but that means letting people make their own choices on how they use that equality.

JuLeah - posted on 10/25/2010

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We are equal, but not the same. Women and men view the world in different ways. Part of that is genetic, and part is how we are socialized. Men, in general, are better with some things and women, in general, with others. I know many many exceptions on both sides.
We, and I mean women and well as men, raise our boys to believe they are better. I work with young people who simply call em as they see em, and they will tell you that boys are faster, stronger, better at math ..... When I asked him to name the fastest runners in class, he listed 5 girls. When I aksed him to name the kids best at math he named 3 girls and 2 boys .... but even when I pointed this out to him, he stuck with this views. All the kids have over the years I have been working with them.
I believe a woman, or a man, can be confident in their intelligence and not feel superior to anyone.

Sal - posted on 10/25/2010

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i think women had to fight to get equal and now it is swaying all over the shop, there is not one sex better than the other, but there is such a lot of man bashing and putting down of women that is it hard to see that we are really great teams, that like was mentoined by another post we do things differently and are better suited to different tasks occupations etc, that is one being better just utilising our strengths.....i was watching an interview with germain greer where someone said to her (this is only the general idea of...not the actual quote) do you feel guilty about telling women they could have it all- family, meaningful work life, happy marrige, travel- IT ALL , and now they realise they can't and are stressed trying, and she simple said "No, i never said they could do it all....i simple said they didn't have to do what their mums did, there was a choice now" and i really think that is it, was have a choice, but we put so much pressure on our selves we are overdoing it..

Dana - posted on 10/25/2010

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I think men and women are equal, I also think it's shitty if either gender thinks they are superior to the other.

Julie - posted on 10/25/2010

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I believe women have (and, to a degree, still have) to fight for being treated equally where it is due. I am probably a feminist, but I don't believe any PERSON should undermine any other PERSON for their own gain. It's not man vs. woman, it's not black vs. white, it's not left vs. right, etc ... not in my mind. PEOPLE are better in certain areas then other PEOPLE. We all have our different skills sets, strengths and weaknesses.

For the record, I don't think the presence or absence of a penis dictates superiority.

In personal relationships, I don't think there is a superior sex. I know plenty of relationships that are single-sex, so then how does one determine superiority? In a relationship, the two partners should complement each other, not compete with each other.

Jessica - posted on 10/25/2010

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I think there is totally a line that gets crossed with feminism, but it goes for most things. Feminism, Political Correctness, Religion, PETA...there will always be people who take a good idea or cause and destroy it by going to far.
As far and men and women roles..I think it's excellent that women are able to do so much more now, but I don't think men or women have the right to undermine the other sex in a work enviroment. I also do think that there are still things that men just do better then women and women do better then men because thats how we are instinctually made. Regardless of our clothes, jobs and other pretty things, we are still animals with basic instints that fall under male and female roles and I don't there is anything wrong with that. In turn if you are a man/women who happen to excel at something that is normally more an instinctual trait of the other sex, then good on ya..
I think i'm rambleing, haven't had much sleep...but you get the idea. Ps- Women body builders...creep me out! lol leave that to the men!

[deleted account]

I think women can be equal to men but it totally depends on the woman and man. I'm a stay at home mum and my husband works full-time, whilst we're equal in the decisions we make for the home, our children, I'd have to say I am not equal int he respects to work as he's the one who brings in the money to the household. But at the same time I am never undermined and shouldn't be either.

Whilst there are laws here in the UK so men and women have equal pay, some jobs I feel men or women are simply better than the other in doing those jobs.

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