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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was asking myself this today. I see there are lots of feminists here and I was curious as to what that meant. Not that I don't know what feminism is, but really.. what is it?? sorry if this questions is completely stupid but I am wondering this, I don't know, is it that women are better than men?

please educate me!
 

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Feminism is a political movement to improve the status of women in society.

Some feminists believe that women are inherently different or better than men, and some believe that women and men are very similar and that differences are socially constructed. Both groups of feminists believe that their position is the key to the social advancement of women.

But really, in my opinion, it doesn't matter which you believe. The idea, for me, is to act in ways that will improve the lot of all women. For example, the movements for woman suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for parity in education, and for women's right to make decisions for their children on an equal footing with men--those are all feminist movements.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think men are different from women... biologically, I mean. Not better, just different. Is this anti-feminist? I just think men have different strengths that women do. I feel men can do certain things that women can't do and women can do certain things that men can't do (lactate, as an example)
 

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Feminism is about achieving social, political and economic equality of women.

There are many different theories on how that can best be achieved and many different groups within feminism. For example, Radical Feminist believe that sexism is the root of all our social ills. Eco-feminists believe that equality can only be achieved when we all committ to being good stewards of the Earth. And so on.
 

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I have taken Women's History Classes in the Universities since they were offered thirty years ago.

I used to subscribe to the idea that the differences between men and women were simple social and cultural constructs. However, then reality hit me when I had a daughter and a son! I realized how wrong I was and how very wrong those silly, overeducated professors were who espoused this nonsense. I was very niave' to believe them for a minute. My professors were very wrong to express these silly ideas as "gospel truths". These ideas were simply their educated opinions, nothing more.

I know that all children are different. My three sons are different from each other. However, my daughter is different from her three brothers in ways that society and culture simply cannot dictate.

What is feminism?

Feminism is "woman power" in the world. The most powerful statement one person, especially a woman, can make in this world is to bring into the world a child, raise that child properly so that the world can benefit from this person. This is the best way to change the world. Why let anyone else do it?
 

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Feminism is about listening to Other and making space for and the empowerment of that Other in a culture (to the status of full partner with the dominant group). "Other" can be defined as whomever is not in control, dominance, or power in a culture. Traditionally feminism has defined other as women/females but it has expanded to include race/ethnicity and gender/sexual differentiation as well.

That's kind of an egalitarian-esque definition paraphrased from my Cultural Anthro text.

Gender is nearly completely cultural and not biological. Beyond specific biological differences, I don't buy that women and men are just different so we don't need feminism. I'm a reconstructionist-social-feminist so I'd love for the genderization of "feminism" to be removed or supplanted by a gender-inclusive or neutral term, but perhaps that's best left for a more evolved era. Stepping off my
 

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Quote:
Gender is nearly completely cultural and not biological.
!!YOu mean DH could've gone through the 9 months of barfing and labor and the emergency surgical births instead of me!!! Damn! wish I'd known that 14 years ago.

Gender is both.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings too.

"I don't know what a feminist is, but I do know that I am called one every time I express a sentiment that differentiates me from a doormat." Mae West?
 

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Originally Posted by pugmadmama
Feminism is about achieving social, political and economic equality of women.

This does not say anything about achieving biological equality, loving-my-babies. Feminism was begun and continues today to achieve social, political and economic equality of women. To fight against those who would deny us equality and rights and freedoms because of biological differences .
 

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Originally Posted by applejuice
...The most powerful statement one person, especially a woman, can make in this world is to bring into the world a child, raise that child properly so that the world can benefit from this person. This is the best way to change the world....
I've seen this statement before.

I have a question about it, though: If a woman does nothing else but bring daughters into the world, then her daughters think their mission in life is to have and raise children and they also only have daughters and on and on ad infinitum -- then, when, exactly, are any of these people going to have any effect on the rest of the world outside their family?


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As far as a definition of feminism, I can give you this link to a post I made on a thread with a similar theme: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...%2A#post964425 and maybe also this one: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...%2A#post967432

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And that quote is Rebecca West, not Mae West. Mae West was also a feminist (of a totally different sort). I suppose you could call her the first Sex-Positive Feminist ... well, Victoria Woodhull probably was that.
But, Mae West had some great quotes, too: Like "Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution." and "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"

:LOL
 

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I thought feminism was trying to get the idea across that we are not better but: just as equal, valuable, smart, creative, important, trustworthy, responsible, dependable, intelligent, knowledgeable, fun, capable and deserving as our male counterparts.
 

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Full quote from Rebecca West in 1913, this is my all-time favorite:
Feminism: I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat!

Another couple of good ones are:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Eleanor Roosevelt

"A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."
Eleanor Roosevelt
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Meiri
!!YOu mean DH could've gone through the 9 months of barfing and labor and the emergency surgical births instead of me!!! Damn! wish I'd known that 14 years ago.

Gender is both.
Meiri, Don't be silly. Are you familiar with cultural anthropology? Gender is defined as related to but distinguishable from biology/sex. Gender is a cultural construct. Sex is biological. Sex/biology has no spectrum or range (per se, there are biological exceptions) but gender has a wide range across many different cultures. Gender being related to biology is not the same as saying gender is biology. There's an enormous amount of ethnographic evidence that proves that gender is related to but not the same as biological sex.

The entire point of feminism is that because gender is a cultural construct related to (but not identical to) biology, a culture would be wise to not base social policy or praxis on biological sex differences. In fact, it's wiser to empower those who are not member of the dominant, culturally constructed--or sex/biological homogenous--group because their voice is indeed of equal important in social discourse.

In other words, ignore those different from yourself at your peril. When Other is equal to self then all become wiser and life is more just and quitable.

Even more radical when Other is seen as--or given the weight of--Self, inequities dissolve regardless of cultural/gender or biology/sex. In such a society differences become celebratory gifts.
 

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Originally Posted by Dov
The entire point of feminism is that because gender is a cultural construct related to (but not identical to) biology, a culture would be wise to not base social policy or praxis on biological sex differences. In fact, it's wiser to empower those who are not member of the dominant, culturally constructed--or sex/biological homogenous--group because their voice is indeed of equal important in social discourse.
Dov, I don't think you can reasonably make the entire point of feminism a particular analysis of gender. (Even if it's one that I happen to share.) As I wrote, above, there are people who can work in coalition to improve women's lot without agreeing on the nature of woman. This has been true since the beginning of the 20th century.

In my reading of the history of feminism, I see many disagreements, and the nature of women is only one of those.
 

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Captain, well put. I should have said, "to me [as a biological and culturally defined male] the entire point of feminism..." The "I" statement would then impart a temporal and personal POV rather than a global analysis.

Of course my lengthy input was to point out a common mistake Americans often make, that I felt Meiri was making, and that is to think that gender and sex are identical or somehow one and the same. It was that notion I was obnoxiously trying to defend. (I say "Americans" only because I have not read or participated in anything from other cultures discussing feminism from a cultural anthro POV) Obviously I am doing a poor job of it.
:
 

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Yes, I see that you are coming from an sociological or anthropological viewpoint. I studied feminism as a historical movement. Here are some of the things that the first wave (19th and early 20th century feminists) disagreed on:

1. Whether women were essentially more like or more different from men
2. Whether the most important thing was for women to participate in political life (the woman suffrage movement) or whether issues around sexuality were more important
3. About sexuality: whether women needed to be liberated sexually (free love, birth control, destigmatization of unwed motherhood) or liberated from sexuality (the movement to abolish prostitution, campaigns for age of consent laws.)
4. About tactics to achieve equality: whether to ally with various other liberation movements, or whether to expediently use society's racism/fear of immigrants to achieve their goals.
5. About goals: sometimes, avowed feminists could not agree about whether a particular feminist goal would really improve women's condition. Feminists in different countries had different priorities. In Germany, it was fairly radical for women to discuss the right to vote, but the rights of mothers was a central issue for women's groups. In the US, any discussion of sexuality was taboo in the mainstream of the women's movement--but the movement for woman suffrage was the largest political coalition ever.

It wasn't only country to country. For example, there was a famous feminist family in New York. One sister, Maud Nathan, became a suffragist. She also campaigned for better conditions for working women. The other sister, Annie Nathan Meyer, the founder of Barnard College, was also a feminist but opposed the campaign for woman suffrage.

Nearly all of these were still at issue with the rise of second-wave feminism, starting in the 1960s, and are still controversial today! I'm sure I didn't hit all of them.

But think about this: feminists do share goals today, even when we don't share views of gender. (I've even met feminists who say that the truly feminist view is that even biological sex is completely constructed! yipes!) We have widespread agreement that women should be free from domestic violence. We have a women's health movement that has made tremendous strides in my lifetime. We have a shared view that women's experiences should be incorporated into school curricula, should be a standard part of history, literature, etc. In fact a lot of people agree with these goals who don't identify as feminists, which is I think a measure of the success of feminism.
 

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Good stuff, Capn'!

Much of the writing that I've been exposed to through cultural anthro (& sociology) have been derived from those important historical contexts. As a Green activist, I deal with third-wave feminist dis/agreement in addition to older second wavers, and pull it all together in a cultural context in order to propose or oppose public policy or to synthesize political expression into campaign messages. It's always valuable to know where one comes from; history is important too.

Despite historical and contemporary disagreement (more accurately implicit in them), feminism still can be distilled to a core element of empowering Other (or if one is female/feminine, then Self) in order to achieve equality. That too can constitute a broad continuum of definition depending on standpoint.
 

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Dov, my degree is in Anthropology, not that I use it for pay... I wasn't being silly, though perhaps I was reading too much into what I quoted. It just struck me as a silly statement to the effect of gender not being related to biology.

IMO gender is still related to biology in that biology is the starting point. In the online conversations I've had with NA, and in other random readings, I've seen gender defined in some native nations as: male living as male, female living as female, male living as female, female living as male, etc. I've read that some nations defined 6 genders. Even as the varying roles being filled by persons of whatever biological configuration was accepted, celebrated even, the starting point is still that biological form.

I agree that gender ROLES are social constructs, but they start from the biology of the being. Depending on the culture under discussion the expectation that one's role in society match one's biology vary greatly.

Sojh, Thank-you for correcting my citation!!! At least I got her last name correct.

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(I've even met feminists who say that the truly feminist view is that even biological sex is completely constructed! yipes!)
Yipes is right!!! I'll concede that point the day a man carries a baby to term with no scientific/medical intervention forcing such to happen. I'll waver the day one handles all the breastfeeding without medical intervention. I've read about men nursing, but only as a means of keeping baby content until momma and her milk arrive.
 
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