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  • a post feminist world?

    So Wolfie sent me this rap version of the Rules, and after I finished laughing, the lyrics got me thinking about the discussion of feminism we were having in the context of firefly. The song - and so much of what we hear from society - is focused on helping women finding a man. In order to do so, she has to play a part, pretend to want less than she does, be less than she is. "and if he doesn't ask you out - get off your butt and go work out!"

    Now I doubt that the rules authors claim to be feminists, though I'm sure they claim they're empowering women. So I guess my question is - does society see finding a man as a woman's ultimate goal? In the context of the rules, and the perhaps updated version found in Sex and the City, politicians discussions of family values, Cosmo and chick lit and every other kind of media aimed at women...are we living in a post-feminist world?
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    http://buffysmom.wordpress.com/

  • #2
    Hmm, this is a hard question to answer, as (stating the obvious here) it's quite a subjective topic.

    I think there is a pressure on women to 'settle down', to start a family, but then I think this pressure is also exerted on men (in that it is generally expected that both men and women should get married and start a family, based on modern literature, film, TV, magazines, newspapers etc. basically the aspects of culture that reflect on our generation's majority consciousness/ideas about society/worldview/whatever you want to call it); however, not to the same extent as it is on women, in that some parts of the world remain highly patriachal, and though there is more equality in society, we still retain traces of male-dominated society - e.g. the large majority of famous characters in history are male, the connotations of language (e.g. promiscuous men are 'lads', promiscuous women are 'slappers'; single older men are 'bachelors', single older women are 'spinsters' etc.), traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity remain, and so on. Obviously things have advanced, say, in just the last 50 years, in that it is now seen by a large section of society (though sadly, not a majority what with, say, groups like the Taliban propagating that women are literally inferior to men, or old stereotypes remaining amongst the 'old school') for it to be just as acceptable for women to focus on their careers or to lead lifestyles away from the home enviroment as it is for men. This I would based on that while there is still to an extent a focus in the media on the 'traditional' lifestyle whereby men go out to work and women look after in the children, there are also now portrayals of gay couples, of women who choose to work rather than have children, of men who would rather be stay-at-home dads and so on, and these people (or if fictional, characters) are treated by their friends and colleagues (or on-screen/on-page/on-script/on-whatever-format characters and their audience) with as much respect and validation as their traditional counterparts. The lines between masculinity and femininity have also become much more blurred.* There have also been a wider range of role models in the last few years, take for example, Willow. She is clearly a role model to many people, and not just necessarily women, in that she empowers herself by choosing her own lifestyle, even without the approval of her traditional mum, by being comfortable in herself as a person, and for me, she embodies that which particularly endears to me in the Jossverse: how no-one sees her as a witch, as a lesbian, as a college graduate; she isn't labelled as such, she's "just Willow", whether dating Oz, Tara, whether high school nerd or confident college student, amateur spellcaster or veiny evil witch. And being able to transcend labels is to me what a large part of feminism is about, trying to stop treating men as men and women as women, and treat all of us as people, as equals! To use that cringe-worthy cliche, to have a look at what's similar about each other, rather than what's different. And surely that philosophy can be applied not just to combating sexism, but to every type of -ism: racism, ageism etc. I realise that sounds a bit simplistic, and there are obviously differences between men and women, but surely there are differences EVERYWHERE - amongst different countries, different cultures, different ages, different schools, different families, in short, everyone is different from one another, so trying to apply set values, qualities, roles in society etc. is pointless!


    *I even feel uncomfortable in saying that, as the 'traditional' qualities of masculinity are strength and resilience, and weaknesses being unfaithulness and 'bottling up' about emotions, and the 'traditional' qualities of femininity are kindness, warmth and the general 'maternal' instinct, and weaknesses being overanalysis of emotions and weakness in trying situations. Yet people are so much more complicated than classifying them into men having just male emotions and women having just female emotions, or even having a stronger masculine or feminine side - nearly everyone embodies some of the strengths AND weaknesses all listed above. I mean, just from the Buffyverse, look at Lilah; she's cold hearted, ruthless, intelligent, ambition-driven - all supposed masculine qualities - and then there's Wash; who in practically every way is weaker, more cowardly, and less emotionally robust than Zoe. So to use the words masculine and feminine to me are wrong, in that they imply a set behaviour, or set or qualities, or weaknesses, that we 'should' apply to men or to women.

    I'm not sure this answers any questions I'm afraid, more just bouncing ideas of what it means to be male or female in today's society.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by The_Narrator View Post
      Being able to transcend labels is to me what a large part of feminism is about, trying to stop treating men as men and women as women, and treat all of us as people, as equals!
      This is definitely a valid point and transcending labels is something I think feminism aspires to, but to me, feminism means more than just men and women being considered equal - it means not being judged for the choices you make in life. Women have fought so long and so hard for so many things - the right to vote, the right to have a career, equal pay for men and women (although this still isn't happening), that women nowadays are EXPECTED to be jet-setting career women (IMO). I think we will only reach true equality when a woman who owns her own company and a woman who has chosen to be a full-time mother can be seen as equals. Feminism has got a reputation for being a state of mind only butch dykes are 'allowed' to have - completely man-hating etc. In fact, putting men completely out of the equation, I believe feminism is more about women treating each other as equals. We all do it - I label myself as a feminist and yet I remember a time when a friend of mine expressed that she never wanted a proper job, just wanted to be a full-time housewife, and I was shocked and appalled, when in fact feminism is about fighting for that choice. Women had it difficult 'back in the day', being expected to be settling down and starting a family, but IMO women have it just as difficult today because we are expected to use every opportunity we have, even if it's not what makes us happy.

      As the excellent Ms Norbury says in Mean Girls:
      "You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores."
      If we want women to be treated right, we have to lead by example.

      Sorry I get very heated up when feminism is brought up, I start ranting and can't stop long enough to use paragraphs frequently!
      Last edited by Retrograde; 03-05-08, 09:17 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by The_Narrator View Post
        I think there is a pressure on women to 'settle down', to start a family, but then I think this pressure is also exerted on men (in that it is generally expected that both men and women should get married and start a family, based on modern literature, film, TV, magazines, newspapers etc. basically the aspects of culture that reflect on our generation's majority consciousness/ideas about society/worldview/whatever you want to call it); however, not to the same extent as it is on women
        I guess what I see is pressure on women to 'find a man' in order to be complete, happy, fulfilled, whatever. It kind of seems to me like it's structured (in the stereotype) as a battle, and women are trying to trick/force/convince men to settle down...sometimes against their natural, sowing of oats type of behaviour. To me, that seems like such a traditionalist or reactionary expectation...but then I guess the same is true of expecting men to sow oats, etc...but power is defined as male in society, as is kind of demonstrated by what you were saying here:
        (e.g. promiscuous men are 'lads', promiscuous women are 'slappers'; single older men are 'bachelors', single older women are 'spinsters' etc.)
        *I even feel uncomfortable in saying that, as the 'traditional' qualities of masculinity are strength and resilience, and weaknesses being unfaithulness and 'bottling up' about emotions, and the 'traditional' qualities of femininity are kindness, warmth and the general 'maternal' instinct, and weaknesses being overanalysis of emotions and weakness in trying situations. Yet people are so much more complicated than classifying them into men having just male emotions and women having just female emotions, or even having a stronger masculine or feminine side - nearly everyone embodies some of the strengths AND weaknesses all listed above.
        I mean, just from the Buffyverse, look at Lilah; she's cold hearted, ruthless, intelligent, ambition-driven - all supposed masculine qualities - and then there's Wash; who in practically every way is weaker, more cowardly, and less emotionally robust than Zoe. So to use the words masculine and feminine to me are wrong, in that they imply a set behaviour, or set or qualities, or weaknesses, that we 'should' apply to men or to women.
        I guess to me, this is not quite as straightforward as that. Obviously, we all have 'male' and 'female' qualities in us to at least a certain extent. But if Lilah, to take your example, were to exist in the real world, she would be regarded as a ballbreaker, and abitch...not that lilah would let that stop her, but...I read this study in my undergrad which had men and women in business dress and setting, read the same 'assertive' passage. And each reading was shown to a mixed audience, and they basically responded positively to the men (rating them as 'leaders', 'powerful', etc) and negatively to the women (labeling them 'shrill' 'pushy' etc). My mom, who's been in business for like 30 years, has talked about how she experiences this a lot still in the business world, I think because she's still dealing with an old guard, because the upper levels of business are still like that...

        But I'm losing my own point here, so...

        Originally posted by Retrograde View Post
        T that women nowadays are EXPECTED to be jet-setting career women (IMO). I think we will only reach true equality when a woman who owns her own company and a woman who has chosen to be a full-time mother can be seen as equals. Feminism has got a reputation for being a state of mind only butch dykes are 'allowed' to have - completely man-hating etc. In fact, putting men completely out of the equation, I believe feminism is more about women treating each other as equals. We all do it - I label myself as a feminist and yet I remember a time when a friend of mine expressed that she never wanted a proper job, just wanted to be a full-time housewife, and I was shocked and appalled, when in fact feminism is about fighting for that choice.
        Two things - first, I definitely have the same problem - my best friend from high school got married at 20 and chose to be a stay at home mom as soon as she graduated from college...and I always had an extremely hard time with that. I recently went out to visit her though, and she was so happy...and yet a small part of me is still like...but! but!

        And as for women being expected to be career women/have it all...I think there is definitely pressure to do that...but there's pressure to do both a career and a family, it's not just one way. A friend was saying how she's in her thirties with no children, and she's always having to justify that choice to people. I feel that a bit myself, when I say I'm not sure I want kids...I feel like people's reactions are a bit...but you're a girl!

        I guess it does all come down to respecting people's choices...but it also comes down to those choices perhaps not being so completely free as we would like, you know? Societal pressure does have an effect on the choices we make, whether we are aware of that or not.
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        http://buffysmom.wordpress.com/

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        • #5
          Not replying to anything, but I thought I'd share this poem from The Vagina Monologues, seeing as it seems to be very appropriate to the whole, men are called playas and women are called slappers. (I've put spoiler tags around it as it is a bit long and don't want to stretch the page!)

          Spoiler:
          My short skirt
          is not an invitation,
          a provocation,
          an indication
          that I want it,
          or give it,
          or that I hook.

          My short skirt
          is not begging for it.
          It does not want you
          to rip it off me
          or pull it down.

          My short skirt
          is not a legal reason
          for raping me,
          although it has been before,
          it will not hold up
          in the new court.

          My short skirt, believe it or not,
          has nothing to do with you.

          My short skirt
          is about discovering
          the power of my lower calves,
          about cool autumn air travelling
          up my inner thighs,
          about allowing everything I see
          or pass or feel to live inside.

          My short skirt is not proof
          that I am stupid
          or undecided
          or a malleable little girl.

          My short skirt is my defiance.
          I will not let you make me afraid.
          My short skirt is not showing off,
          this is who I am,
          before you made me cover it
          or tone it down.
          Get used to it.

          My short skirt is happiness.
          I can feel myself on the ground.
          I am here. I am hot.

          My short skirt is a liberation
          flag in the women's army.
          I declare these streets, any streets
          my vagina's country.

          My short skirt
          is turquoise water
          with swimming colored fish,
          a summer festival
          in the starry dark,
          a bird calling,
          a train arriving in a foreign town.
          my short skirt is a wild spin,
          a full breath,
          a tango dip.
          my short skirt is
          initiation
          appreciation
          excitation.

          But mainly my short skirt
          and everything under it
          is mine.
          mine.
          mine.





          I adore this poem! It makes me think of feminism in the way that it's doing things for yourself, not for other people, ie not conforming to expectations.

          Comment


          • #6
            The world is definitely post-rather-than-mid-feminist world when it comes to advertising. This is why mocking adverts is the duty of every feminist. Well, not the duty, but it's a lot of fun... and why shouldn't duty and fun be combined? Like Buffy patrolling in a halter top... sort of.

            The woman in this video is the funniest person I've seen doing anything in a long time...hee, loving her work:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffIo2VAi_qg

            Give her her own show! I don't know who she is...anyone recognise her?

            Originally posted by Retrograde View Post
            Not replying to anything, but I thought I'd share this poem from The Vagina Monologues, seeing as it seems to be very appropriate to the whole, men are called playas and women are called slappers. (I've put spoiler tags around it as it is a bit long and don't want to stretch the page!)

            Spoiler:
            My short skirt
            is not an invitation,
            a provocation,
            an indication
            that I want it,
            or give it,
            or that I hook.

            My short skirt
            is not begging for it.
            It does not want you
            to rip it off me
            or pull it down.

            My short skirt
            is not a legal reason
            for raping me,
            although it has been before,
            it will not hold up
            in the new court.

            My short skirt, believe it or not,
            has nothing to do with you.

            My short skirt
            is about discovering
            the power of my lower calves,
            about cool autumn air travelling
            up my inner thighs,
            about allowing everything I see
            or pass or feel to live inside.

            My short skirt is not proof
            that I am stupid
            or undecided
            or a malleable little girl.

            My short skirt is my defiance.
            I will not let you make me afraid.
            My short skirt is not showing off,
            this is who I am,
            before you made me cover it
            or tone it down.
            Get used to it.

            My short skirt is happiness.
            I can feel myself on the ground.
            I am here. I am hot.

            My short skirt is a liberation
            flag in the women’s army.
            I declare these streets, any streets
            my vagina’s country.

            My short skirt
            is turquoise water
            with swimming colored fish,
            a summer festival
            in the starry dark,
            a bird calling,
            a train arriving in a foreign town.
            my short skirt is a wild spin,
            a full breath,
            a tango dip.
            my short skirt is
            initiation
            appreciation
            excitation.

            But mainly my short skirt
            and everything under it
            is mine.
            mine.
            mine.





            I adore this poem! It makes me think of feminism in the way that it's doing things for yourself, not for other people, ie not conforming to expectations.
            I like! I didn't like the Vagina Monologues much when I saw it - not funny enough - but that poem's excellent.

            It is a real puzzler, the question of wearing "sexy" clothes: you know, self-consciously-sexy-fitting-into-society's-expectation-of-women clothes. On the one hand, it's not someone else's place to tell a woman what to wear - whether you object on a feminist basis or on the basis that women should cover themselves in big black tents because they are sent by the devil to tempt men - but at the same time... it's hard to wear that kind of stuff without feeling a little bit..I dunno. Co-opted by the Man? Wearing "slutty" clothes in an authentic way that's not about trying to fit into society's expectations... it's actually hard. Ok, not working down a mine hard.... but it's definitely not straightforward.

            But, until I find an answer to the condundrum...wearing whatever you feel like seems a good placeholder answer
            Last edited by Wolfie Gilmore; 22-05-08, 06:14 PM.


            -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --

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