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Aug 13 2012

Vocal and unabashed

PZ also did a post on Liberal Will, which has a squillion comments which include a sub-theme that Rebecca and I are not/are “radical feminists” and what is a radical feminist anyway.

The sub-theme starts with

although someone did allege Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson were “radical feminists” — they’re really not —

They may not be, but they sure give off that impression.

and continues with several people saying “under what definition?” Ibis gives the right answer.

When people call Ophelia or Rebecca “radical feminists” they are using the term as a slur* for “vocal, unabashed feminists”. Just like when people use the term “militant atheists” they are not using it for atheists who are running around with assault rifles and a plan to take over the government, but rather as a slur for “vocal, unabashed atheists”.

*mostly because they misunderstand the term entirely and think it refers to women who hate men and want to oppress them as some kind of revenge fantasy payback

Quite. It’s just clueless. “Radical feminist” has a meaning, and I don’t fit it at all. (Neither does Rebecca.) I’m a boringly normal liberal feminist.

Obviously the underlying assumption is that any kind of feminism that goes beyond suffrage and equal pay is “radical” and crazy.

The thing is, it’s possible to be boringly normal liberal feminist and still be the kind of feminist who really does think that feminism matters and that it hasn’t “won” yet, and that there still is a lot of stupid sexist shit embedded in the culture, in habits, in ways of talking and behaving, in the media, in sport – you name it. I’m absolutely that kind of feminist…and I do self-identify as a radical, broadly speaking. But “radical feminist” has a specific and rather narrow meaning, and I’m not one. But vocal and unabashed? Hell yes.

69 comments

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  1. 1
    Your Name's not Bruce?

    I figure this use of “radical feminist” just means “double plus bad.”

  2. 2
    Dylan

    “The thing is, it’s possible to be boringly normal liberal feminist and still be the kind of feminist who really does think that feminism matters and that it hasn’t “won” yet, and that there still is a lot of stupid sexist shit embedded in the culture, in habits, in ways of talking and behaving, in the media, in sport – you name it.”

    Please describe what feminist victory would look like in your opinion.
    What examples of “sexist shit embedded in the culture” can you give?
    What solutions do you see a viable to solve the problem of “sexist shit embedded in the culture?”

  3. 3
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    That whole thing is partly my fault. When I think “radical”, I think of “extreme”.

    I’ll repeat what I said on that thread:

    When I think “radical Christian”, I think of a homophobic, misogynistic, extremely conservative, Young-Earth Creationist Christian.

    So when I think of a “radical Feminist”, I’m thinking of the extremely rare (like, 1 in 100,000,000 or something like that) “Feminist” that actually, legitimately hates men… misandrists, basically… which would, as far as I know, disqualify every single Skepchick and Feminist posting here at FtB (including you, obviously).

    Apparently, that’s incorrect, so now I’m doing all this learning stuff to alleviate my ignorance, which I’m always happy to do (I hate ignorance enough to be quite proud to get my own ignorance alleviated). That may be how the MRAs and other dismissers are using it, too, but apparently it’s not the correct usage of the word “radical”, at least as it applies to Feminism.

    So…

    Yeah…

  4. 4
    davidmc

    “boringly normal liberal feminist” I have to contradict you, interestingly normal liberal feminist.

  5. 5
    Robert B.

    Hi, Dylan. You must be new here. I say that because the answer to your question is basically this whole blog (the majority of posts, anyway) and so by asking it you reveal that you need to lurk more. When you’ve done the basic diligence, at least enough to know who the heck you’re talking to, I’m sure someone will be happy to answer any questions you still have. Right now, I doubt anyone will be willing to write to you, when you haven’t shown that you’re willing to read.

  6. 6
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    What examples of “sexist shit embedded in the culture” can you give?

    Ophelia, do you know this person, or is this more “mommy, do my homework for me?” stuff?

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey, Dylan, if you want to comment here, do it without being bossy. Don’t just order me to tell you things.

    You should have been able to figure out that I don’t think there is such a thing as feminist “victory” just by noticing the scare quotes on “won.”

    You can find answers to your other two questions by looking around on the blog. I’m not going to spoon-feed you.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Ha. 5, 6, 7 – yes, that.

  9. 9
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Ophelia:

    But vocal and unabashed? Hell yes.

    I hope you continue being vocal and unabashed.
    Hmmm, that gives me an idea for a bumper sticker.

  10. 10
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Dylan:

    What examples of “sexist shit embedded in the culture” can you give?
    What solutions do you see a viable to solve the problem of “sexist shit embedded in the culture?”

    Lurk more.
    Read more.
    Speak less (at least until you are more knowledgeable about sexism).

  11. 11
    davidmc

    “Please describe what feminist victory would look like in your opinion.
    What examples of “sexist shit embedded in the culture” can you give?
    What solutions do you see a viable to solve the problem of “sexist shit embedded in the culture?””
    Can i have a go, please? bare in mind im only a junior member of the AMC

    1 Nicer , all round, for everyone except sexist blatherskites
    2 not sure , but i bet there are a few examples in Ophelias book, Does god hate women. why not buy it and see
    3, Education

  12. 12
    Frogmistress

    I’m surprised they have to use the “rad” prefix at all to show their disgust. So many people use the title of feminist as a slur all on its own.

  13. 13
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Dylan @ #2… just watch any commercial, especially beer commercials.

    There’s one (don’t remember the beer, though) that talks a lot about its brewmaster’s hands. Then it ends with “why do we focus so much on our brewmaster’s hands? Because she’s not an attractive woman.”

    There’s also that infamous Belvedere ad that depicted a man very obviously trying to rape a woman from behind who very clearly does not want it. And the tag line for the ad was “unlike some people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”

    Then consider other commercial tropes: only women like yogurt (I know quite a few women who hate yogurt, and I myself, a straight male, love yogurt). Only women do the cleaning (while I still live with my parents, cleaning the kitchen, my room, and the bathroom I use is my job… always). Only mothers cook (cooking, baking, grilling, frying… my dad, my brother, and I love to do all of it… Mom does her share of cooking, too, but it was never her “job”; it’s something we share as a family). Only women like chocolate, especially Three Musketeers and York Peppermint Patties (two of my personal favorite chocolate candies).

    All of these things seem innocuous, but they aren’t. They reinforce sexist stereotypes of women that simply aren’t universally true, and yes, even stupid commercials can influence a society.

    And of course there’s the flip-side. Single men are handsome, dashing, intriguing, and cool. But then, as soon as they get married, they become bumbling idiots who can’t do anything right.

    But these stereotypes of men are reinforced by the exact same culturally-embedded sexism that effects women.

    Then in society, you have assholes like Daniel Tosh wondering how funny it’d be if a woman got gang-raped at one of his shows, and people and other comedians defending him.

    You have a Football cheerleader in Texas being forced to cheer for her rapist during a Football game.

    You have the general fact that the first thing many, if not most, people think when they here about how a woman has been raped is “what was she wearing?”, “what was she doing?”, and/or “where was she and at what time” (and yes, we have the whole “men can’t be raped or sexually abused” trope, as well as this thing of “congratulating” young boys raped by older women… but, again, both of these are products of that exact same socially-embedded sexism that women face).

    There is still a wage-gap in most work-places between men and women.

    Then, of course, there’s the conservative War on Women.

    Really… if you look around, things haven’t really changed, they’ve just gotten a bit more subtle. Sexism still abounds, and it can all be blamed on patriarchy… and yes, patriarchy can, and does, hurt men, too (we can’t cook, we can’t clean, we can’t be raped, we can’t be abused, “big boys don’t cry”, husbands are nothing more than bumbling fools, etc).

    Yes, I’m a straight, white, cis-gendered male. But I’m also a 25-year-old virgin with some trouble controlling my emotions(mainly anger, but some things can make me cry, as well) and a rather severe phobia of social situations. I’m hurt by the patriarchy pretty badly for these three things alone because it insists on this image of men my age being tough, handsome, dashing, socially-confident, experienced playboys… and I’m basically none of those things.

  14. 14
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    just watch any commercial, especially beer commercials.

    Or household cleaning product commenrcials. Its amazing to me how, the only times I ever see a dude in those commericals is 1) doing something to have the woman clean up after him or 2) him being such a complete and utter moron that – of course- the woman has to clean up after him.

    And check out the “assvertizising” series on Shakesville. There’s some serious whoppers in there.

  15. 15
    Hayley Stevens

    Radical feminist, crazy, touchy, angry, emotional, reactionary.

    All terms used to dismiss valid arguments I have made in the past. It’s like people who oppose feminism and ignore blatantly sexist abuse aren’t even trying to pretend anymore.

  16. 16
    Pteryxx

    I posted a link to the handy Feminist Resource Wiki that Pharyngula folks assembled, but the spamtrap apparently ate it. It’s in the sidebar at Pharyngula, along with Commenting Rules, [Lounge] and [Thunderdome].

  17. 17
    Sarah Noble

    My personal definition of “radical feminist” is “feminist on a skateboard”.

  18. 18
    Drivebyposter

    @ Frogtmistress #12

    I think the use of radical in front of feminist is to give the illusion that they have no problem with “regular” feminism. And I suspect that they really don’t have a problem with regular feminism. As long as they get to define what “regular” is.

  19. 19
    Dylan

    NateHevens

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions. I do hope you will not be chastised for manspaining feminism to me.

    So commercials are overtly sexist in that they portray women as sexual objects good for nothing but breeding and housework? I do not think that is a completely accurate description of the depiction of women in the media, I will agree that many commercials do use overt gender stereotypes in their marketing.

    My third question is still how do propose this could be remedied. I worked in the advertising industry for years, and I assure you that these people could care less about ideology… they use whatever imagery sells their product.

  20. 20
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    @Frogmistress:

    I’m surprised they have to use the “rad” prefix at all to show their disgust. So many people use the title of feminist as a slur all on its own.

    That’s because “they” usually includes a token Chill Girl™ who identifies as “feminist,” totally doesn’t mind being objectified or even groped, and in any case isn’t one of those radical feminists that make such a big deal out of everything.

  21. 21
    Miles

    I’m sure it’s not what they meant, but when people talk about “Radical Feminists” it’s hard for me not to think of the word “radical” in (probably outdated) slang terms – particularly when they shorten it to “rad fem”.

    Feminists…. like, Totally Radical!

  22. 22
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I think the use of radical in front of feminist is to give the illusion that they have no problem with “regular” feminism. And I suspect that they really don’t have a problem with regular feminism. As long as they get to define what “regular” is.

    BINGO. And a ‘regular’ feminist to them is a mythical Hooter’s waitress whose greatest joys in life are blowjobs and scrubbing his toilet.

    ++
    ++

    I do hope you will not be chastised for manspaining feminism to me.

    Well, that was for nothing. It’s just another “sexism? what sexism?” troll. One that doesn’t understand what “mansplaining” is, though he surely about to engage in it.

  23. 23
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I worked in the advertising industry for years, and I assure you that these people could care less about ideology… they use whatever imagery sells their product.

    What race, gender and income bracket do they come from?

  24. 24
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Dylan @ #19:

    So commercials are overtly sexist in that they portray women as sexual objects good for nothing but breeding and housework? I do not think that is a completely accurate description of the depiction of women in the media, I will agree that many commercials do use overt gender stereotypes in their marketing.

    Can you point to examples where this is not the case? Can you show me commercials that defy those stereotypes?

    My third question is still how do propose this could be remedied.

    Education. It is my absolute favorite weapon. It may be slow, but it’s also quite powerful and quite dangerous to those who hate change.

  25. 25
    karmacat

    My favorite quote is from Rebecca West:
    “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.”
    The same could be said for “radical feminism.”

    I second the idea of redefining radical feminism as a female on a skateboard

  26. 26
    Neil Rickert

    Radical? No;
    blunt? Yes.

  27. 27
    EEB

    For the most part, I am a radical feminist. It does have a specific meaning, and it drives me nuts when people throw the term around without understanding it. Radical here does not mean “super extreme”, radical means “root” as in “the patriarchy is the root of oppression, and we won’t see real change unless we destroy it.” And that’s where I part ways with other feminist groups (like liberal feminists): I don’t think that working within the patriarchal system by focusing on changing laws and having more female representation will ever really change anything. We’ve seen recently how weak any laws and supposed gains are. Look how much we’ve lost this last year, from abortion restrictions (and outright bans), to the contraception restrictions and defunding family planning, to a refusal to enforce Equal Pay and the Violence Against Women Act. These were things that were supposed to be settled 40 years ago!

    Of course, I consider all feminists, whatever their philosophy, to be allies (well…maybe not difference feminists, that’s a bridge to far), and I appriciate many of the writings and work that comes from these various groups. It’s just that, personally, I’ve found that radical feminism makes the most sense, it fits my experience and understanding of the world. However, I have some serious issues with radical feminism (especially internet radfems), and I don’t agree at all with the stance that some radfems take on trans* issues, to the point that I’m starting to really re-evaluate whether I want to continue to identify with and support radical feminism anymore. (But, then, I’m having the same ambivilence towards atheism right now, too.)

    Anyway, whatever, I’m babbling. Just, thanks for pointing this out! Also:

    Obviously the underlying assumption is that any kind of feminism that goes beyond suffrage and equal pay is “radical” and crazy.

    Yup. Except, for a lot of people, “equal pay” is even debatable. *eyeroll*

  28. 28
    Smhll

    I think of myself as a fierce, committed feminist. I would almost embrace the word radical (like radish and radix!) only the radfems that are already using it don’t believe what I believe.

  29. 29
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Dylan:

    I do hope you will not be chastised for manspaining feminism to me.

    Nate was gracious enough to give you some answers to your questions. However, there is still quite a bit that you should read up on if you’re truly interested in feminism and the fight against sexism.
    I can’t say that he really mansplained feminism to you. He gave you examples of sexism in popular culture.
    Seriously, read up on the topic. Don’t approach it thinking you know anything about feminism. Click on links. The Pharyngula wiki that Pteryxx mentioned is a fantastic start.

  30. 30
    Ophelia Benson

    Well, I don’t want to keep no stinkin’ patriarchy. But I’m a liberal in the sense of being a defender of universal human rights. I’m sort of a radical-liberal feminist, maybe.

    But back in the stone age “radical feminism” was separatist and spelled “women” as “womyn.”

  31. 31
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I certainly hope that my initial response to Dylan didn’t come across as mansplaining. He asked for examples and I provided them. If something in there does cross that line, I apologize, because it wasn’t my intention.

  32. 32
    Dylan

    NateHevens
    “Can you point to examples where this is not the case?”

    Women are often, even disproportionately, represented as judges, leaders, heroes, generally powerful action figures,…usually in relation to intellectually and physically weaker and subordinate males… maybe not so much in the advertising world, but definitely in the spaces between the commercials.

    “Education. It is my absolute favorite weapon. It may be slow, but it’s also quite powerful and quite dangerous to those who hate change.”

    I’m not at all sure what specific changes one could implement to our educational system that would impact the effectiveness of sexual imagery in marketing? It seems to me that marketing is targeting a much more primitive evolutionarily determined response mechanism.

  33. 33
    Ophelia Benson

    omigod that’s hilarious.

  34. 34
    Dylan

    Princess Leia, Sarah Connor, Lt. Ripley, Dana Scully, Erica Evans, Olivia Dunham, Bionic Woman, Patty Hewes, Kate Beckett, Dr. Temperance Brennan, Liz Lemon, Ellen Parsons, Betty Suarez, Kate Austen, Dr. Miranda Bailey, Judge Judy, etc…

  35. 35
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Dylan…

    Women are often, even disproportionately, represented as judges, leaders, heroes, generally powerful action figures,…usually in relation to intellectually and physically weaker and subordinate males… maybe not so much in the advertising world, but definitely in the spaces between the commercials.

    Could you be more specific? I got pretty specific myself, so I was hoping for such in return.

    I’m not at all sure what specific changes one could implement to our educational system that would impact the effectiveness of sexual imagery in marketing? It seems to me that marketing is targeting a much more primitive evolutionarily determined response mechanism.

    Yeah… evolution is not an excuse. It seems pretty clear to me that there is an evolutionary drive to be religious, and yet a growing number of people are rejecting religion.

    Using education is not simple, but it is effective, and history has proven this.

  36. 36
    Dylan

    NateHevens

    “evolution is not an excuse.”

    I didn’t say it was an excuse I just don’t see how you could educate people to be less susceptible to sexual imagery in advertising. So long as it is effective in marketing… it is going to be used in marketing.

  37. 37
    Tom Foss

    Hayley @15: Yeah, and that concept shouldn’t be so unfamiliar to “shrill” “angry” “close-minded” “militant” “fundamentalist” atheists and skeptics. A label is not a rebuttal.

    NateHevens @13: I’m a little surprised you got through talking about sexist themes in commercials and didn’t link to this bit, which sums things up rather nicely.

  38. 38
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Thank you Tom Foss. That was brilliant.

    Never heard of Mitchell & Webb, but that may be because I’m an uncultured ‘Merican.

    I need to remedy this.

  39. 39
    EEB

    I hope I didn’t come off as condesending or insulting, Ms. Benson. I was born after the second wave and right in the middle of the 80s backlash, to a conservative mother who marched against the ERA and abortion rights and thought Phyllis Schlafly was inspiring and brilliant. To top it off, I was homeschooled for most of my education and got the rest in super-conservative redneck-ville. So all my education on feminist theory comes from books, blogs, the occasional lecture I can find on youtube. I probably get stuff wrong and I know I over-simplify. I do hope to be able to study feminist theory more in-depth at college, but the local community colleges don’t offer any women’s studies classes. However, a decent gender studies program is a requirement for any university I transfer to. :)

  40. 40
    Nepenthe

    @34

    Bwahahaha…. haha. hah. ha.

    Ooh, boy, just about pissed myself there.

    Shorter Dylan: “Pay no attention to the vast, vast majority of action flicks and man centered dramas and comedies behind the curtain! You’ve got Ellen Ripley, Liz Lemon, and Temperance Brennan, so stfu ladiez!”

  41. 41
    Josh Slocum

    Dylan you are too cute!

  42. 42
    Ophelia Benson

    EEB – no, not at all! I was agreeing with you about patriarchy, and just pinning myself down a bit further.

    And first names are fine. :- )

  43. 43
  44. 44
    Pteryxx

    oh, and how could I forget:

    http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thedudette/nostalgia-chick/16616-the-smurfette-principle

    The Smurfette Principle

  45. 45
    EEB

    @Tom Foss: Thanks, that was awesome!

    Have you guys ever seen the Target Women series? Sarah Haskins is the love of my life. (The Birth Control episode is probably my favorite.)

  46. 46
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Oooooooh Dylan:
    See those links above? Please check them out. Pteryxx is one amazing person who once again comes through with info to broaden ones’ horizon. Or you could read many of Ophelia’s wonderful posts. She is no slouch in providing evidence to support her beliefs.

  47. 47
    Ophelia Benson

    I did a post on the Smurfette Principle awhile back.

    Katha Pollitt rocks.

  48. 48
    Francisco Bacopa

    Quoth Dylan:

    What examples of “sexist shit embedded in the culture” can you give?

    I think all the nonsense that came after Elevat0rgate is enough. Or go read all those comments on Jen’s appearance over at Blag Hag. Or just look at yourself. I wasn’t raised in a particularly sexist household, and grew up in the 70′s and early 80′s in a fairly liberal area (WTF happened to the progressive Texas I grew up in?) but I still am occasionally sexist. If you even have to ask about “sexist shit embedded in our culture” I am sure you sometimes act it out. I act it out, and I ave made an effort to become more aware of this sort of thing.

    BTW, You might want to read “Copyranter” for some great examples of sexist advertising.

    And yes, sexism hurts men too, but that’s a secondary issue.

  49. 49
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I haven’t read all the comments but I want to add to this

    #14 @Illuminata

    just watch any commercial, especially beer commercials.

    Or household cleaning product commenrcials. Its amazing to me how, the only times I ever see a dude in those commericals is 1) doing something to have the woman clean up after him or 2) him being such a complete and utter moron that – of course- the woman has to clean up after him.

    You forgot about the experts. In any cleaning product commercial, there’s a very good chance that not only is it a woman doing the cleaning (& often parenting), but there’s a man who is the expert telling her what product works best and why.

    Oh, and if no one’s mentioned it yet, check out the Bechdel test, Dylan. I watch TV and read quite a bit of fiction. It’s rare for a show, movie, or book to pass.

    Boys and men are considered “default humans” in almost every context.

    When they’re not being considered the “pinacle of creation” that is. I tuned in to the Olympic Closing Ceremonies last night just in time to see the medal ceremony for….the men’s marathon. Okay. That’s tradition. But new traditions are started all the time. Why not the women’s marathon *and* the men’s marathon?

    Every day and in every sphere of life and culture, women are still second class. All you have to do is open your eyes.

  50. 50
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Okaay. I now realize, after #32 and #34 that Dylan can’t possibly be serious. I hope that at least someone else gets the benefit, Pteryxx et al.

  51. 51
    EEB

    Yeah, the Bechdel test is such a low, low bar, you’d think it would be harder to find movies that don’t pass than ones that do, but we don’t live in that world, yet.

    I told my dad about the test, and he thought it was stupidest thing he’d ever heard. “Almost every movie would pass,” he scoffed. “Okay, maybe there’s a couple blow-em-up action flicks like Rambo or something that fail, but come on.”

    “Uh-huh. So how many of your favorite movies pass?”

    “That’s not fair! I can’t remember all the dialouge!”

    So now, after pretty much every movie we rent or see in the theaters, I ask if the movie failed. (Sometimes, he brings it up; I think he gets more excited than I do when we see a movie that passes the test.) He’s long since conceeded the point.

  52. 52
    Barry Pearson

    Every day and in every sphere of life and culture, women are still second class. All you have to do is open your eyes.

    A problem with a generalisation like that is that it only needs an exception in some sphere to undermine your statement. And motivated people can easily find such exceptions.

    What we are seeing is “overlapping bell curves”. We typically don’t see a complete polarisation of opportunity or outcome in some sphere of life – we see a skewed distribution. The majority of one sex will be to one side of the mean for the other, but there will be outliers either way.

    It is hard to think of a woman Apache or Tornado pilot as second class in any useful sense. Or a woman Prime Minister of the UK or Commissioner of Police. While they may have faced obstacles that some men didn’t face, (although sometimes the women themselves deny it), most of us (men and women) are plausibly second or third class compared with those exceptions.

    What I am criticising here is (over) generalisation and polarisation, NOT the claim that many/most women face extra obstacles compared with many/most men. It is just as wrong as generalisations such as “men are stronger than women”, or “men run faster than women”.

    (When faced with something non-contentious, because it doesn’t really matter, we have less trouble seeing the mistake we are making. It is easier to see the problem with “men are taller than women” because we are not worried about the differences).

  53. 53
    Frogmistress

    @Improbable Joe, thanks. I get it now. I guess I’m not used to the critics being concerned about being seen as thinking any feminism is cool. :p

    And then I got distracted by the Target Women vids. I’m being especially amused by the commercials being shown in between. They suffer from all the issues Target Women is making fun of.

    I don’t know, Barry. I highly doubt the female Apache pilots are held to the same standards the males are. As a woman in that position, she will have to do twice the job any man does to be considered ‘worthy’ of her position.

  54. 54
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Oooooooh Dylan:
    See those links above? Please check them out.

    Its a good thing a man said this to him. Dylan doesn’t respond to us lowly wimminz.

  55. 55
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Question about the Bechdel test:

    As I understand it, it’s a conversation between two named female characters about something other than a man, right?

    Does it count if the man they’re talking about is a patient they both see? Or a criminal they’re both after? Is it confined to romantic/relationship conversations?

    I was watching an EP of ST:DS9 – watching Dax and Kira talk to each other about some random one-off dude character wondering about that.

  56. 56
    Frogmistress

    Illuminata, I would say, if that is the *only* conversation you have to go by, it fails the test.

  57. 57
    Tom Foss

    The Bechdel Test is a decent starting point, but often doesn’t quite work as a way of determining how gender-balanced a film is. Consider that “Die Hard” passes the Bechdel Test, but “Run, Lola, Run” doesn’t. It seems to function best as a consciousness-raising exercise, rather than an evaluation tool.

  58. 58
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Illuminata: yes, it fails the test. The point is that women generally only converse if there’s something important (i.e. a male) to talk about. Most of the time it’s a romantic prospect or a relationship partner, but it might be a boss, a son, a client, or a politician.

  59. 59
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    The Bechdel Test is a decent starting point, but often doesn’t quite work as a way of determining how gender-balanced a film is. Consider that “Die Hard” passes the Bechdel Test, but “Run, Lola, Run” doesn’t. It seems to function best as a consciousness-raising exercise, rather than an evaluation tool.

    It is an evaluation tool (as well as a consciousness-raising exercise), but you’re mistaking what it’s meant to measure. On the level of a single individual work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a film or book or whatever is sexist or biased against women or even that it doesn’t deal with “women’s issues”. It’s when you look at how well the entertainment industries do at passing the test, however, that’s where its utility as an evaluation tool really comes into play. Are women generally being treated as full human beings whose lives don’t necessarily revolve around men and their concerns? A single conversation in a book or show or movie is a very low bar indeed.

    Also, @Barry:

    I said “second class” i.e. as a group. The women who have succeeded as pilots or politicians are still treated by society as a whole as second class *as women*. The fact that these “successes” are still outliers is the first clue. Then, just take a closer look at how they are treated by their colleagues and superiors–chilly climate, pay gaps, glass ceilings, gendered slurs, sexual harassment, sexual objectification (including excessive attention paid to appearance and “fuckability” or lack thereof rather than character), being overlooked, ignored, and interrupted. Then they go home and have twice as much housework to do or parenting responsibilities as their male partners. Then sit down and watch a bit of telly where they’re being mocked, stereotyped, sexualized, objectified, condescended to, patronized, or subsumed by male needs or concerns. Being one of a very few women ever elected to be PM or President doesn’t erase all of that.

  60. 60
    Barry Pearson

    I said “second class” i.e. as a group. The women who have succeeded as pilots or politicians are still treated by society as a whole as second class *as women*.

    Uh? All of them? I would like to see evidence of that!

    Then extra generalisations follow. It is too easy to find exceptions to every one of them! For example:

    Then they go home and have twice as much housework to do or parenting responsibilities as their male partners.

    One of my friends and colleagues had a “house-husband” to look after their children because her career was taking off faster than his. Not common, but it contradicts the generalisation. (When I joined that company in 1968, my first manager was a woman. I had a number of other women managers later). I am single and childfree, by the way, so I am not trying to defend myself here.

    The reason I am emphasising all of this is that I have always been interested in solving problems, not just debating or moaning about them. That requires genuine understanding of them first. It is rarely possible to solve an over-generalised problem. But it might be illuminating to ask “Did the Apache pilots get discriminated against because of their sex? If so, how did they overcome it? If not, why not, and how can that become the norm?” Solving a problem can leave everyone concerned uncomfortable with what they come to realise about the true nature of the problem.

    The problem with treating women as a group is that a group doesn’t have consciousness, can’t feel pain, etc. I for one can’t empathise with a group for those reasons. (Can anyone?) I need to identify a real or hypothetical person and try to see things from that person’s point of view.

    For example, FGM isn’t done to a group. It is done to a woman who has the rest of the only life she will ever have screwed up. (And so on for lots of women). If 10% of women in a group have FGM, it isn’t 10% of FGM spread over every woman, it is 100% of FGM to some of those women. That 100% should motivate us to solve this problem, and the differences within the group may give us clues about how to go about it.

  61. 61
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    You can’t treat a systemic problem like it’s every individual woman’s problem.

  62. 62
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Uh? All of them? I would like to see evidence of that!

    You really don’t understand the topic, do you.

    One of my friends and colleagues had a “house-husband” to look after their children because her career was taking off faster than his. Not common, but it contradicts the generalisation

    So, what you’re saying is that your evidence-free assetion that a friend did something disproves decades of research?

    LOL O. M. F. G.

    I want to be a dude. Just imagine how easy life must be when you can just make shit up about everyone else and everything thing else and genuinely believe you’re right – despite having no actual fucking clue – because penis.

  63. 63
    Laurence

    The movie Miss Representation does a great job of showing how our media is skewed towards sexism.

  64. 64
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Barry:

    Every day and in every sphere of life and culture, women are still second class. All you have to do is open your eyes.

    A problem with a generalisation like that is that it only needs an exception in some sphere to undermine your statement.

    I’m not sure you understand what was said.
    In every sphere of life and culture, every day, WOMEN are still second class.
    Nowhere was it stated that *all* women are second class. There *are* outliers, of course. But by their very nature, outliers are rare.

  65. 65
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Illuminata:

    Its a good thing a man said this to him. Dylan doesn’t respond to us lowly wimminz.

    FWIW, he has yet to demonstrate that he’s responded to my request to click some links.

  66. 66
    John the Drunkard

    In use, I think ‘radical’ means: ‘saying or writing anything that I don’t want to think about.’

    How about those ‘radical’ abolitionists like Frederick Douglas or Sojourner Truth?

  67. 67
    dirigible

    “because penis”

    I think mine must be broken.

  68. 68
    Barry Pearson

    Nowhere was it stated that *all* women are second class. There *are* outliers, of course. But by their very nature, outliers are rare.

    Thank you for that! It is compatible with what I said:

    What we are seeing is “overlapping bell curves”. We typically don’t see a complete polarisation of opportunity or outcome in some sphere of life – we see a skewed distribution. The majority of one sex will be to one side of the mean for the other, but there will be outliers either way.

    For interest, I am persistently very critical of Islam, (check my blog), because in that case Islam defines that women are second class. For example: Sura 4:34; Sura 2:282 Sura 4:11 & 4:176. Not only would I not reject a generalisation in this case, I have often published, here and elsewhere, exactly this generalisation. It is a generalisation that stands up to scrutiny.

    I repeat what I said earlier:

    What I am criticising here is (over) generalisation and polarisation, NOT the claim that many/most women face extra obstacles compared with many/most men. It is just as wrong as generalisations such as “men are stronger than women”, or “men run faster than women”.

    Isn’t that compatible with other views here? Aren’t people actually talking about “many/most”, not “all”? Well, so am I!

    Perhaps I come across as unsympathetic because I am naturally analytical (and/or pedantic). My post A message of support for Rebecca Watson could be criticised on those grounds. Why do all that analysis? Because I want a deeper understanding of what is wrong with the world, and what a better world might be like. Follow the link to “Dimensions of Enlightenment” in that Rebecca post to see how I think about problems like this.

  69. 69
    Barry Pearson

    You can’t treat a systemic problem like it’s every individual woman’s problem.

    The trick is to find the right scope for the task at hand.

    Empathy appears to work at the individual level. It certainly does for me, and I think it does for many other people too. Wiktionary: “the intellectual identification of the thoughts, feelings, or state of another person” (etc).

    Rallying people to the cause, or marketing, needs something simple yet comprehensive. If you are selling the idea of “equality for women”, my analytical approach would confuse and dilute the message.

    If you are trying to solve a problem, whether technical or social, then a deeper understanding is necessary, and perhaps different solutions apply to different groups. (The current reasons why women don’t yet serve in submarines in the UK are different from the reasons women struggle to reach the boardroom. They may have similar historical roots, such as attitudes towards women’s capabilities, but the changes needed now are very different).

    I am an analyst and engineer, not a politician or marketer or campaign activist. (It takes all sorts). I use empathy to help me decide what problems I think are important, and analysis to identify the right scope to think about next steps.

    You can get a better view of how I think about problems from my blog (via my name above) than from the short comments here.

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