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Gender and Feminism

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Kate Moles

on 2 November 2015

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Transcript of Gender and Feminism

Dr Kate Moles

What about you?
Zimmerman and West (1987) distinction between sex and gender:
- Sex is biological
- Gender is performative, something omnipresent
- We are all, constantly, doing gender; it is made by us in everyday lives in our interactions with others and with things
- Doing gender thrives on continually establishing a dual order of two sexes
- We simplify the categories so that we can use them, so we can work them out together, so we can move on...
Gender and Classification
What else does it mean?
Social separation leads to hierarchy leads to INEQUALITY
What jobs can women do?
What are the issues here? What are the actions and what are the consequences?

Social Separation - hierarchy - unequal

We could remove the hierarchy - value all jobs equally? We could value the traits associated with women more? Why do we value bankers over teachers? Doctors over nurses? Childminders over engineers?

How can we change what we are facing?

“As all advocates of feminist politics know most people do not understand sexism or if they do they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.”
― bell hooks
C19th - early C20th
1960s - 1980s
1980s onwards
First Wave Feminism
'de jure' - primarily interested in woman's suffrage
Second Wave Feminism
Sexuality, family, the workplace, sexuality, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, official legal in equalities
Third Wave Feminism
What's going on here?
'I do not wish women to have power
over men, but over themselves'
'Taught from their infancy that beauty is a woman's spectre,
the mind shapes itself to the body and roaming around its gilt
cage, only seeks to adorn its prison'
Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759 -1797
British Suffragettes
'The conditions of our sex is so deplorable that it is our duty to break the law in order to call attention to the reasons why we do'
So how can we explain these things?
Patriarchy is the social system in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organisation, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority and control of property.
'Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, stopped for groceries, matched sleep over material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, lay beside her husband all night - she was afraid to ask the silent question - 'is this all?'
Betty Friedman, 1963, The Female Mystique
Reactions to Patriarchy: Feminisms through the Ages
“Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion. Males cannot love themselves in patriarchal culture if their very self-definition relies on submission to patriarchal rules. When men embrace feminist thinking and preactice, which emphasizes the value of mutual growth and self-actualization in all relationships, their emotional well-being will be enhanced. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving.”
― Bell Hooks
'No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor'
'One is not born a woman, but becomes one'
Simone du Beauvoir
“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself--on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”
non-essentialised identity, gender violence, reclaiming lanugage, rape, race and class
'I posit that we're free to seize a word that was kidnapped and co-opted in a pain-filled, distant, past, with a ransom that cost out grandmother's freedom, children, traditions, pride and land'
Caitlin Moran
“I have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge, when times is pressing and one needs to make a snap judgment, whether or not some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously, it’s not 100% infallible but by and large it definitely points you in the right direction and it's asking this question; are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men’s time? Are the men told not to do this, as it's letting the side down? Are the men having to write bloody books about this exasperating retarded, time-wasting, bullshit? Is this making Jeremy Clarkson feel insecure?

Almost always the answer is no. The boys are not being told they have to be a certain way, they are just getting on with stuff.”
Third wave feminism questions...
key things: the body, the patriarchy, how woman position themselves, how they are positioned, are we ever free from the way we are positioned in a patriarchal (capitalist) system?
marxist/ socialist feminism, radical feminism
Postmodern, poststructualist feminism
Liberal feminism
Women strategize within a set of concrete constraints, which I identify as patriarchal bargains. Different forms of patriarchy present women with distinct “rules of the game” and call for different strategies to maximize security and optimize life options with varying potential for active or passive resistance in the face of oppression.
Wade, 1988

“I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed … But given the game as it exists, women make decisions.”
"She exposes the puritanism and suffocating ideology of American feminism, which is stuck in an adolescent whining mode. Madonna has taught young women to be fully female and sexual while still exercising total control over their lives. She shows girls how to be attractive, sensual, energetic, ambitious, aggressive and funny — all at the same time."

“the real scandal was how atrocious Cyrus’ performance was in artistic terms.”

Both, Camile Paglia
I may be dressing like the typical bimbo, whatever, but I’m in charge. You know. I’m in charge of my fantasies. I put myself in these situations with men, you know, and… people don’t think of me as a person who’s not in charge of my career or my life, okay. And isn’t that what feminism is all about, you know, equality for men and women? And aren’t I in charge of my life, doing the things I want to do? Making my own decisions?

'Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression'
Imagine living in a world where there is no domination, where
females and males are not alike or even always equal, but where a vision
of mutuality is the ethos shaping our interaction. Imagine living
in a world where we can all be who we are, a world of peace and possibility.
Feminist revolution alone will not create such a world; we
need to end racism, class elitism, imperialism. But it will make it possible
for us to be fully self-actualized females and males able to create
beloved community, to live together, realizing our dreams of freedom
and justice, living the truth that we are all "created equal." Come
closer. See how feminism can touch and change your life and all our
lives. Come closer and know firsthand what feminist movement is all
about. Come closer and you will see: feminism is for everybody.

bell hooks
Reclaim the night - Cardiff!
A recent (2014) survey by the young women’s magazine More in 2005 found that 95% of women don’t feel safe on the streets at night, and 65% don’t even feel safe during the day. 73% worry about being raped and almost half say they sometimes don’t want to go out because they fear for their own safety.
Our Wales NUS President Beth Button has told as why Reclaim the Night ‪#‎RtNWales15‬ is so personally important to her. She isn't alone in these experiences and neither should any other woman feel alone:

I often struggle to explain to people just how much my feminism means to me, why attending marches like these have been so important over the past few years, and why this isn't just 'a walk around the streets talking about womens' stuff'.
I often don't try and explain, as I worry about making people feel uncomfortable, or being 'that girl'. But the last couple of years have really challenged me to feel proud of my politics, but also to recognise that if these stories stay behind closed doors, only the echo chamber in that room hears them, and the people who often need to hear these messages most never do.

So here's why I'll be out on the streets for reclaim the night tonight:
A few years ago, I was followed home, harassed and then attacked after a night out. It took me a few weeks to really come to terms with what had happened, I was wary of going to the police, and it was only after having a panic attack in the middle of the University library after someone tapped me on the shoulder that I finally approached my personal tutor for help.
I'd kept quiet as I was ashamed. I genuinely believed that by choosing to walk home by myself, I was to blame. That the dress I had been wearing meant I had somehow deserved it. That it was my fault because I'd drunk too much.
I had listened to the constant stream of messages that society throws at us which tell us that when we are harassed, when we are attacked, when we are raped, that it is somehow our fault.

As women we are taught tactics to help us avoid these attacks- how many times do we walk home with keys between our fingers, a lit cigarette, or our hair tucked under a hat so it can’t be grabbed.

It took me far too long to stop blaming myself, and to understand that what happened did so not because of what I was wearing or where I walked, but because the man who did it decided to.

And it was a reclaim the night march three years ago that truly helped me to challenge my own perceptions, to understand that no woman is to blame for actions against them, and that our right to be safe should not depend on what we are wearing, or where we are walking.

Reclaim the night marches began in the 1970’s, as a response to the police’s advice given during the sexual assaults and attacks of ‘The Yorkshire ripper’. As police advised women should stay at home, take care and avoid being attacked, women took to the streets to show that no woman should be restricted or blamed for the violence they face.

These marches have since evolved to be a public demonstration against violence against women, and we still march for the same reasons women did on the first march in 1977- because women are still being attacked, are still being blamed for what happened, and our streets are still not safe.

I’m so proud to be marching tonight, to reclaim our streets from violence, harassment and assault, to tackle sexism and the victim blaming culture we live in, and to reclaim the night.

So if you’re in the Cardiff area, I ask that you join us tonight in solidarity
with all of the women who have experienced street harassment and sexual violence, and to make sure their stories, and these issues, don’t simply stay behind closed doors.

Feminism is for everybody - bell hooks
pdf available online
‘Most of the debate about sex differences is angled at proving that women are or are not different from men, rather than proving that men are or are not different from women. If this fact needs explaining, it is enough to point out that the bias of our culture is still patriarchal…’ Sex, Gender and Society, 1972, p208.
‘...women and… men… are jointly locked in a culture which distorts the possibilities of humanness as an ethical project. Women are outsiders in a system which often appears to them to come from another planet. And so, indeed, it has been brought to them by men, whose alienation from the experiences of others is often so complete that they can’t even see their own will to power. These dual positions of aliens and outsides are the creation of a gendered division of labour inherited from the past. But that past… lives in the present through men’s understandable reluctance to give up their ownership and commodification of the world.’ Gender on Planet Earth, 2002, p3.
‘Universities are not comfortable sites of feminist struggle, and they remain relatively inhospitable to women and other outsiders. The fit between what is regarded as 'cutting edge' research and scholarship, on the one hand, and the products of masculine social science, on the other, remains uncomfortably close.’ The Ann Oakley Reader, 2005, p188.
‘The state is a masculine institution: men hold most of the top positions in government and its associated agencies…’ Gender on Planet Earth, 2002, p45.
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