Towards a Feminist Manifesto

Sometimes, you start answering a comment and end up writing something that deserves to be put up as a separate post. This is what I have written recently in response to a comment I got from a reader called Adi:

The initial stages of feminism (until the right to vote for women was won, I would say), indeed, relied on enumerating female grievances against men. This was an important stage in the development of feminism.

I believe that this stage in the development of feminism as a political and intellectual movement has served its purpose. Now it needs to end. For feminists, it is not leading in any productive direction any more. In my opinion, the only future for feminism is to arrive at the stage where we recognize that equal rights lead to equal responsibilities. In my view, the reason why feminism has stalled in the last couple of decades is not that any bad, horrible, patriarchal men have shut us up. The reason for feminism’s loss of popularity and prestige is that we have arrived at the stage where women have to assume equal responsibilities: equal contribution to the financial success of the family, equality in terms of child-rearing, being in favor of shared custody of children in case of divorce, being equally prepared to lose custody, accepting equal punishment for the same crimes as men do, preparing to pay alimony and child support equally with men, etc.

But this is where feminism stops dead in its tracks because equal rights are super cool but equal responsibilities are not. Equality means freedom but it always means a harsher burden of responsibility, too.

This is what my feminism is about. And if anybody thinks it’s easy to voice these ideas in feminist circles, believe me, it’s not.

What I want to make very clear is that I don’t defend these ideas because I want to be “nice to men”, as some people have suggested. I only defend these ideas because I am a feminist. I want full equality in EVERYTHING. Not just the good things but everything. When I hear of these court cases where women get much lighter sentences than any man would in the same circumstances, it makes my blood boil. Because I see myself as a complete human being who should be given equal punishment for the same crime.

Women don’t need condescension or handouts. We need equality and justice. In everything, bad things and good things.

87 thoughts on “Towards a Feminist Manifesto

  1. I agree (boring, I know :-)). I’m also going to recommend (again) the book Jade, by Sally Watson, which addresses many of these issues in a coming of age novel (I just re-read it this weekend and blogged about it so it is fresh in my mind). However, what I didn’t mention, that I will mention here, is that it also addresses the idea of equal punishment (which both happens and doesn’t happen in the plot) and in particular the fact that if women want the rights of men, they need to accept the punishments given to men as well without trying to get out of them for being women.

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  2. gotta say this is the one place you and I don’t agree (fond as I am of you). what makes you think feminists don’t believe in “equal responsibilities?” Or rather I’m never quite sure what “feminists” you are talking about. I’ve not seen feminists organizing to change joint custody or gender neutral support formulas. As a person who happily claims the feminist label I don’t necessarily agree with every word that comes out of the mouth of someone else who also claims the label, any more than I agree with every damn historian. Maybe you need to converse with some different feminists 🙂

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    1. I do want to converse with different feminists. 🙂 Since Gender Studies departments of the universities where I’ve worked don’t have any, I’ve been looking online. But every single post I have written about these issues has had no response from people on the feminist sites where I tried to promote them. None. My regular readers like these posts, men like them, but no feminists respond. The greatest response I ever got from feminist websites was when I blogged about women changing their name upon marriage and women becoming subservient to their male partners’ careers. In both cases I was vilified by readers from very popular sites where I promoted these posts.

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  3. What we need is a male equality manifesto. I have to say, what planet do you live on where men take equal responsibility for the child rearing, including the planning/scheduling, taking child to doctor’s appointment even if the boss wants him in a recently scheduled meeting, doing the laundry – and doing all without having to be specifically instructed each time, without expecting that the occasional “respite” care to allow the mother to go to a career-building conference equals the day to day work.

    Fathers higher up on the occupational status and pay scale, married to/ permanently living with mothers of equal educational and initial career attainment, are MORE likely to shift more and more domestic and child rearing responsibilities to the mother than are non-elite fathers. Mothers who make careers make them with the help of family support networks or nannies. Maybe it is different for liberal arts academics, but in the sciences, medicine, law, most women lose major ground in their careers when they become mothers.

    I am not so sure that much has changed since the 1970s.

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    1. “Fathers higher up on the occupational status and pay scale, married to/ permanently living with mothers of equal educational and initial career attainment, are MORE likely to shift more and more domestic and child rearing responsibilities to the mother than are non-elite fathers”

      -I agree with you completely. Why would you say this happens?

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    2. I would be cool with that. I was primary care giver of our son from 3 months until he left uni (kids seem to need extended looking after these days) simply because my wife could make more money. Being carer was easy and fun, fitting in 40 hours work around it was the hard bit.

      “Maybe it is different for liberal arts academics, but in the sciences, medicine, law, most women lose major ground in their careers when they become mothers.”

      Yes, I am a software developer turned mathematician and my wife a lawyer, so I have seen how much difference time to have children makes to women in the sciences and law.

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        1. I was very lucky. I was a software developer working with a couple of guys based in Europe ( I am in Australia) so I had some excuses with timezones etc to shift my work to nighttime and early morning. My boss was 1500km away and I worked from home (also the invention of the mobile phone was a life saver) I could basically lie about what I was doing and fix whatever the problem was over night. My life was pretty full of deception for a few years but I don’t see it being much different from what a lot of women must do to get by. I might add that I did not do any of the cooking on the weekend only during the week.

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          1. I hope that more employers will be shifting towards a less rigid model of employment. In many cases, the insistence that people be physically present in the office from 9 till 5 is not reasonable or necessary. Telecommuting, working from home should start becoming more popular.

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            1. It is still quite difficult to balance everything. Although if my wife could have spent even 0.5 days ever two weeks working from home it would have made a massive difference. We need flexible working conditions for both men and women. As I see it it is these desirable high powered corporate jobs that provide the least flexibility.

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              1. I made a decision a long time ago that, for me, having a lot of free time was much more important than making money. I couldn’t live an existence where you get 2 weeks vacation per year. I think that’s just insane. Now I have 4-month-long summer holidays where my time belongs only to me and that’s the best thing ever.

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              2. In Australia we all get 4 weeks leave a year plus 10 public holidays plus usually 10 days sick leave. The problem s the higher up the food chain you are it seems the less leave you can take. Also she is a woman (if you show any less commitment against that of a man it is held against you). But being an academic is one sure way of getting some reasonable working conditions but the pay is not so great.

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    3. Fathers higher up on the occupational status and pay scale, married to/ permanently living with mothers of equal educational and initial career attainment, are MORE likely to shift more and more domestic and child rearing responsibilities to the mother than are non-elite fathers.
      A lot of them do that shifting because of the expectation that a man is supposed to give up time with the family in order to be career oriented. The higher up the latter the more demand on his time the more shifting he does to compensate.

      So not only is there a need for men to stop doing the shifting there is also (a much bigger IMO) need to stop making this demand of men just as there is a need to stop making a demand of women to just drop their careers and devote their lives to working inside the home.

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  4. Well thanks for mentioning me 🙂

    @ feMOMhist

    I’m sure many feminists, when called out, will happily agree with equal responsibilities … right before going back to blogging about only women’s issues. Motivations are not declared, they are revealed. The collective actions of feminists, however many different kinds there are, definitely point towards a gynocentric worldview. This isn’t a bad thing in itself but it won’t lead to true equality.

    @ NancyP
    I’d love to hear what you think should belong in a male equality manifesto. But please remember that women aren’t the same thing as mothers just as men aren’t the same thing as fathers.
    As a straight male who would quite happily take on the stay at home dad role and marry up. For most men, giving up their careers is like giving up on what gives them any status or attractiveness and self esteem. Doing so puts you at the lower end of the food chain in many areas, in particular in dating. Asking this of the average man without an incentive is simply unreasonable. As long as men are so heavily judged by what they do career wise, they will naturally hold on to those careers – even if they’d prefer the other lifestyle like me.

    This is the male equivalent of the beauty role that women are forced into. I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t shave your head, stop using makeup and wear nothing but practical work clothes (not that I don’t like women with shaved heads). Well perhaps you would but the majority of women wouldn’t – not because they’re shallow but because doing so would be similar to men giving up their careers – perhaps worse. The incentive has to come first if you want a lasting change in collective behaviour.

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  5. “The reason for feminism’s loss of popularity and prestige is that we have arrived at the stage where women have to assume equal responsibilities”. I quote you because I’m rolling this idea around in my head. This never occurred to me. I thought feminism had a bad rep for other reasons…
    I believe that feminism hasn’t come far enough in the United States for women to assume these equal responsibilities. We may have the right to vote, to divorce and to own land. Yet we still are paid less than our male counterparts in business. Men aren’t expected to assume the responsibilities that women are expected to assume either. Why not ask the question but flip the genders?
    Why should we be expected to pay child support when in all likelihood we earn so much less?
    I personally feel that biologically, I have assumed more responsibilities for my offspring than my childrens’ father has- his support of these children, in financial terms, evens the field a bit for me.You seem to desire to raise the bar when we haven’t yet gained equal ground. Which comes first?

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    1. “Why should we be expected to pay child support when in all likelihood we earn so much less?”

      -If one partner is given custody, the other partner should pay the amount of child support that is a fixed percentage of his or her salary. This way there will be no unfairness based on how much anybody earns.

      ” Men aren’t expected to assume the responsibilities that women are expected to assume either. ”

      -Expected by whom? I expect the same responsibilities from men and women. What’s preventing you from doing so?

      “I personally feel that biologically, I have assumed more responsibilities for my offspring than my childrens’ father has”

      -I’m not sure what this means. How do you assume responsibilities biologically? If you are talking about carrying to term, giving birth and breastfeeding, those are, indeed, important obligations only a woman can perform. This seeming biological inequality is evened out by the woman’s exclusive right to decide whether the pregnancy will be terminated at all. (Of course, the erosion of abortion rights in this country aims to destroy this right, as we all know.)

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  6. Clarissa, I will differ, as I always have, from your readings of what feminism, equality and gender privilege is, so that is not I want to talk about here.

    I will merley say this. From his first comment on this blog, your new reader Adi strikes me as an oppurtunist commentator rather than someone with individual and independent opinions. Also, from his name, there is a possibility that he is Indian. If he is, and has been reared in India, then the point he made in that comment — about short men and glass ceilings — is absolute rubbish and playing to a peanut gallery that unfortunately can know no better.

    5’5″, far from being a crippling handicap for men in the corporate world, is the average height of most Indian males excluding the north-west tip of the country. And even that lie is irrelevant, since Indian masculinity is not structured along the height=dominance=high-level management logic. In fact, my West European friends tell me the male height obsession is peculiarly American.

    That’s just one instance where he invented instances of anti-male stigmas. I mention this because I am sorry to see you taken in by this probable-trickster. This does not detract, of course, from opinions you hold independent of Adi’s comment. Those, as I said before, I continue to disagree with 😉

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    1. Or, Adi could really turn out to be a Russian-speaking Jew, if we are to analyze names. Or a Latin American. 🙂 I really like his comments and find them very enlightening.

      I don’t know how men’s height affects or not their careers but there is no doubt that in terms of dating, their chances do diminish if men are short. (Height, of course, is very culture-specific.)

      “This does not detract, of course, from opinions you hold independent of Adi’s comment. Those, as I said before, I continue to disagree with”

      -Oh, I adore you. 🙂

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      1. Likewise 🙂

        You know, maybe you should do a post on what you can tell about a person from their names. In India, we can usually tell ethnicity, language group, and therefore which part of the country they’re from, caste and occasionally, physical features and social inclinations from names.

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        1. I read a post about this recently on a Nigerian blogger’s website: http://www.ktravula.com/2011/10/on-the-origin-of-names-iv/

          People in Nigeria have to coolest names in the world. They sound like little songs.

          In my country, people’s names were changed so much to avoid xenophobic persecutions that nobody can even figure out what their initial names were. All of my Jewish relatives had to change their names into more Russian-sounding versions. My Ukrainian relatives had to change their Ukrainian names to more Russian-sounding versions. It’s one huge mess. The last name I carry, for example, only vaguely sounds like that of my ancestors even from 1 generation back.

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    2. @Priyanka “In fact, my West European friends tell me the male height obsession is peculiarly American.”

      I can assure you height is an issue in the UK and Australia. I am 189cm (6″ 2″ I think) so it is not an issue for me but definitely being small and petite is considered unmanly.

      If you are only 5″ 5′ then many women will be as taller than you, when they put some heels on then you are going to be shorter than them. I get the feeling many women don’t like this.

      On top of that many women think some short men overcompensate by behaving in a particularly aggressive manner, google “short mans disease”

      I think it is also true in FSU countries given Clarissa’s blog on Putin a couple of weeks ago.

      BTW Ali’s real name may not be Ali, I can assure you my parents where not cruel enough to call me llama and my sister alpaca.

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      1. ‘I can assure you my parents where not cruel enough to call me llama and my sister alpaca”

        -:-) This is very comforting to hear. 🙂 In the USSR, it was fashionable at some point to give children names like Industrialization or Electrification. So you just never now. 🙂

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        1. My son has long had an interest in the USSR. So I have heard of such things. Not anywhere near as bad as the names some 70’s pop stars gave their children. Frank Zappa called one of his kids Moon Unit. Some countries only allow names from an official list or by permission.

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      2. So much for received wisdom, then.

        Height is an issue everywhere, Llama. It’s the degree and nature of it that matters, surely? You speak of dating, where I concede height might be a problem, but I speak of jobs and promotions. As an illustration, I remember an American interview by Russell Brand, who is quite remarkably tall — and also very determinedly flamboyant and odd — where the interviewer told him he would be a great corporate success because he was tall and a sharp dresser. That was the first time I’d ever heard of the connection between height and professional success, and Brand appeared confused himself.

        Of course, I notice you’ve bypassed my explicit mention of Indian average heights, and compared the dating disasters of 5’5″ men with women in your culture. Oh well.

        And after nearly a decade of using the internet, I am, amazingly enough, familiar with the concept of blog handles. I am also aware that *some* people, like me for instance, use their ‘real’ names on blogs. It’s a fifty-fifty, isn’t it?

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        1. “Of course, I notice you’ve bypassed my explicit mention of Indian average heights, and compared the dating disasters of 5’5″ men with women in your culture. Oh well.”

          Only because I can add nothing and not out of any disrespect. The only thought I had here is that genetic privilege probably still plays a role but in less obvious ways.

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        2. “You speak of dating, where I concede height might be a problem, but I speak of jobs and promotions. ”

          Red herring. We were talking specifically about dating. If you want to refute my point convincingly, you must do so on the terms upon which I made it and not on a new set of terms.

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          1. Adi, I shall desist from ‘attacking’ you — aren’t we fond of victimising words? — but I can’t help but laugh at your pathetic attempts to draw the limelight back on your self.

            I wasn’t speaking to you, love. I was speaking to Clarissa and Llama. There now. Don’t you feel all silly?

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            1. “aren’t we fond of victimising words?”

              You mean I should never protest when being subjected to name calling?

              I shall desist from ‘attacking’ you ”

              I take it you don’t agree that you were attacking me. Hence the quotes. Well then just say so instead of using cheap sarcasm. Or better still, try getting some manners and apologizing.

              “I wasn’t speaking to you, love. I was speaking to Clarissa and Llama. ”

              More bad manners: calling me “love” while displaying blatantly obvious hostility is dishonest. That was a thread which I started incidentally and you joined in by attempting to suppress my opinions with name calling and little else. Just because you didn’t address me directly does not mean that I somehow have to shut up and leave.

              “Don’t you feel all silly?”

              That just sounds desperate now.

              Yours truly.
              Opportunistic, victimizing, silly trickster without individual and independent opinions

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    3. Wow Priyanka,
      incidentally I’m not Indian but even if I was that shouldn’t matter. Attack my opinions please but not my person. I have no particular personal attachment to my opinions so go ahead and shred them.
      The 5’5 was just a number I pulled out that I considered well below average in developed countries. I thought that would be obvious but I must learn that, no matter how obvious, there’s always someone who refuses to get it. Feel free to go down to under 5 ft and try this again.

      The only point of mine you attempted to refute was the example about height. I made it with respect to dating – well just look at research into dating behavior and you’ll find a common requirement from women seeking men and you’ll find the typical minimum requirement is well above 5’5. I could go on to site studies about salary differences between tall and short men that show height is a plus on average.

      I can provide links if you want.

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  7. Equality and Fairness – are great ideals to strive for. Certainly we should not presume that a mother is a “better parent” than a father, but we should also not ignore the facts that we men tend to parent less than our female partners do, while oft times they work as many or more hours than we do. Certainly we should not presume that we are not good supporters of our aging parents, but statistically more women provide significantly more emotional support to their parents than we men do (while we try to financially help them and otherwise focus materially upon their needs). We live in a society where gender, race and class all persist as major issues, while plenty of people try to minimize their importance. We also need to be aware, as you point out, where our presumptions and prejudices may work against women in some situations and men in others.

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  8. I like the equal responsibilities idea. This is not just about legal penalties but more about societal expectations. For instance It is traditionally seen as the responsibility of the man to provide for his spouse and children. If societal expectations are changed such that both men and women are equally responsible then there can be no argument that they are not equally responsible for cooking, cleaning, etc.

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  9. Clarissa, perhaps you are diagnosing part of what has led to the crisis of the feminist movement, but I don’t think it’s the only cause. No, I agree it’s not as simple as “bad, horrible, patriarchal men have shut us up,” but it’s the larger system. The diffuse, always everywhere system of patriarchy in which girls learn that being a feminist is akin to being a man-hater (an idea promulgated by many types, from Rush Limbaugh’s ridiculing of femi-nazis to a few feminists whom the mainstream confuses with all feminism). The challenge for feminism today is: how do you change an entire system when we’re within it and can only speak from within it? How do you not only imagine an outside, an alternative world, but how do you bring it into being? In the 70s we were able to imagine that changing laws and practices would change the world, but today we see that even in areas where there has been change, we are stalled.

    It’s the system, this complex-beyond-imaging, diffuse system of ideologies, social mores, and cultural practices that makes it so that we assume that women are more responsible for childcare (which is why women faculty automatically get more maternity leave than men get paternity leave even in the case of adoptions at my university and why the female faculty email list is advertised, by women faculty themselves, as a place to get childcare recommendations).

    Finally, I don’t think feminists can afford to think of gender equality as independent of other issues of social equality, e.g. those related to race and class. For example, while I agree that if our justice system were fair, it would represent equality for men and women to receive equal treatment under the law, it’s not worthwhile having this discussion without taking into consideration that the legal system of punishment reproduces social inequality at every turn. It not only assumes women are inherently more innocent than men, but also applies the death penalty in a completely unfair fashion, given that rich people who can afford better consul have a much higher chance of getting off or receiving lighter punishment than poor people, who are often people of color, in large part as a result of the legacies of discrimination and the fact that not only women, but also people of color receive less pay for the same work. Given that police focus on the black population because of prejudice and therefore catch many more existing black drug dealers than existing white drug dealers, our legal system is anything but fair and impartial; prejudice of all kinds, and racism, affect the outcomes. In many ways, women of color DO already receive harsher punishment than white women for violent crime, closer to what men receive.

    So, in conclusion, we don’t have equality yet, not by a long shot. Yes, equal rights do imply equal responsibilities, but not all of us are privileged enough to have access to those responsibilities in the first place. A great deal must change, and I think that Gender Studies departments, accessible to only a small fraction of the world’s population, do have a crucial role to play in terms of disseminating information about the debates that shape feminism and fostering critical thinking skills.

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  10. -If one partner is given custody, the other partner should pay the amount of child support that is a fixed percentage of his or her salary. This way there will be no unfairness based on how much anybody earns.

    You’re ignoring that there is a blatant unfairness among what women and men earn: seventy eight cents to a dollar.

    -“Expected by whom? I expect the same responsibilities from men and women. What’s preventing you from doing so?”

    Expected by our culture, our society in general, expected by individuals within relationships. I expect more of my spouse than what my mother expected of hers. We are gaining in that it’s no longer completely ridiculous to expect a man to help in household chores and parenting duties. But it’s still not remotely even. Men are expected to go to work and when they come home many of them often feel entitled to lounge, while women may or may not work outside the home. Yet women often bear the brunt of household cleanings among other things regardless of their schedules.

    What prevents me from expecting the same responsibilities from men and women? Women are prevented access to these responsibilities you describe. It is an issue of privilege: access to education, care, employment, political empowerment. These things are made less available to me than they are made to others.

    -“I’m not sure what this means. How do you assume responsibilities biologically? If you are talking about carrying to term, giving birth and breastfeeding, those are, indeed, important obligations only a woman can perform. This seeming biological inequality is evened out by the woman’s exclusive right to decide whether the pregnancy will be terminated at all. (Of course, the erosion of abortion rights in this country aims to destroy this right, as we all know.)”

    I feel that simplifying the idea of any route to becoming a mother to a question of whether “To Abort, or Not to Abort” is unfair and absurd. Once again it’s a matter of privilege- and much more complicated than what you express. I don’t believe that the right to an abortion levels gender inequality completely. If only it did! I did not mean that women are unequal to men because we have the biological “obligations” of bringing life into the world. I would view it as an advantage, personally. But that does not detract from the fact that it is a painful, wearying process that for women does not necessarily, physically end even after weaning.

    You are railing against women receiving so called “hand outs”. I’d like to know what you mean. Our rights are disappearing as laws are passed that limit a woman’s choice. The programs in place that help women and children (ie WIC, and the like) are also being cut. I’m curious to know if you would classify those programs as being unfair hand outs?

    In close, I just feel as if you’re expressing all of these ideas in a hypothetical world, not reality.

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    1. “-If one partner is given custody, the other partner should pay the amount of child support that is a fixed percentage of his or her salary. This way there will be no unfairness based on how much anybody earns.

      You’re ignoring that there is a blatant unfairness among what women and men earn: seventy eight cents to a dollar.”

      -I’m not ignoring anything since I have been a victim of this kind of discrimination myself. However, what does this have to do with child support if a fixed percentage of an individual salary will be required, not a fixed sum?

      “Expected by our culture, our society in general, expected by individuals within relationships.”

      -Our culture and our society consist of us. Our relationships are also chosen and created by us. If somebody expects things from you that you don’t wish to provide in your relationship, my advice is: dump them.

      ‘Men are expected to go to work and when they come home many of them often feel entitled to lounge”

      -Once again, if a man does not do his 50% of household duties, dump him. Of course, if one becomes a housewife, one has only oneself to blame.

      “It is an issue of privilege: access to education, care, employment, political empowerment. ”

      -In terms of employment, men have suffered a lot more in the current recession than women, it’s a well-documented fact. In terms of education, last year women got more PhDs than men in all disciplines. PhDs, mind you. I’m not even talking about the high school graduation rates that are notoriously lower for men. As for “access to care”, I have no idea what this means. Women traditionally are a lot more likely consult a doctor than men. In all developed countries, female lifespan is significantly longer than the male lifespan.

      ” But that does not detract from the fact that it is a painful, wearying process that for women does not necessarily, physically end even after weaning”

      -I still have no idea, though, what you mean when you say that you have assumed a greater biological responsibility for the children. I also don’t understand how any biological factors can remain after weaning. Could you be more specific?

      “You are railing against women receiving so called “hand outs”. I’d like to know what you mean. Our rights are disappearing as laws are passed that limit a woman’s choice. ”

      -By handouts I was referring not to what women may or may not receive from the government. I was talking about all those many cases when women castrate themselves professionally and intellectually, turn into housewives, and start cajoling money for each purpose from their husbands.

      “In close, I just feel as if you’re expressing all of these ideas in a hypothetical world, not reality.”

      -Everybody’s reality, or perception thereof, is different.

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    2. You’re ignoring that there is a blatant unfairness among what women and men earn: seventy eight cents to a dollar.
      How so? If women are paid less then men when the percentages are brought up when it comes time to figure support then women would end up paying less and as women make their way to getting paid the same as men they would end up paying increasingly more until the numbers equal out. Unless of course you are trying to say that since women make 78% of what men do then they should have their payments reduced by more than the 22% difference…

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  11. “seventy eight cents to a dollar. ”

    For the same work? Surely nobody still believes that. Because if that is the case, then on average more than one in five women work entirely for free. Kind of hard to believe.

    And if not for the same work, then how can we know to what extent it’s systematic unfairness?

    Actually I do believe there is pay discrimination but it’s way more complicated and putting a usable number to it is virtually impossible.

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    1. “For the same work? Surely nobody still believes that.”

      -Yes, for the same work and even with higher qualifications. This is something that happened to me when I was first hired for the job I currently have and I blogged about it extensively.

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      1. Yes! definitely for the same work and with more experience and with better results.

        My wife has been a lawyer for 29 years she brings in more money to the firm than any of the male salaried partners. This is supposedly the only thing that matters. Clearly this is not the case when one of the male salaried partners earns more than her.

        For several years they dangled the carrot of equity partnership (long enough that moving to another job to achieve this end was no longer viable), at the point she reached all the goals set as hoops for her to jump through this carrot was withdrawn.

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        1. “For several years they dangled the carrot of equity partnership (long enough that moving to another job to achieve this end was no longer viable), at the point she reached all the goals set as hoops for her to jump through this carrot was withdrawn.”

          -I know many such stories, unfortunately.

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    2. I think what makes it hard to believe is that this number seems to vary depending on random variables like gravitational pull and what episode of NCIS (an American tv show) came on the night before. What I’m saying is I have seen this gap expressed from as low as 78% (and I think this is the highest I’ve ever seen) to as high as 70%. Sure if someone took the time to calculate this there is a solid number that everyone should be using rather then just rolling a 10 sided die and putting the number behind a 7 (using 0 if you get a 10) and calling it an average.

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      1. Danny, the exact figure is not that important. It is the fact there is a gap that is. I don’t know your personal situation but nearly anybody with a working female partner will be able to provide you with anecdotal evidence that this discrimination does exist.

        You don’t need to use statistics bandied about by people whose motives you may not trust, just talk to some of your friends about the experiences their loved ones have had. You might also ask them how it makes them feel not being able to protect there loved ones.

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        1. I agree its not the size of the gap that’s important but if that is the case why the inconsistency on the quoting of it? Yes its not fair but just like any other cause there are people who have doubt based on seeing multiple versions of how bad it is.

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  12. The heavily male skilled labor occupations involved in domicile, corporate, and public works construction accounted for a disproportionate amount of the recession job loss. These jobs can pay very well, and do not require a college education. The form of training is apprenticeship, during which the apprentice is paid. It is VERY difficult for women to obtain apprenticeships (which are often in effect passed from father to son), and the degree of acceptance (and likelihood of being hired on specific jobs) in the skilled labor occupation is low.

    Male-predominant higher level financial occupations also were over-represented in the recession job loss – of course some of those occupations created the conditions for the recession.

    Women have been concentrated in the service sector, which includes medical care, education, retail, etc. The AVERAGE salary for medical care and education jobs is lower and the educational requirements higher than for the male-dominated skilled labor occupations and the higher level (non-clerical) financial occupations. Women have to invest in education in order to get jobs that pay more than minimum wage. A woman high school graduate has markedly lower-paying options than the equivalent male H.S. graduate.

    The male high school graduation disparity is largely due to poor black male teenagers. Many see no real benefit in getting a high school degree, since black male HS graduates are last hired, first fired – when they are considered for the job in the first place. College seems unobtainable to many poor young black men – one reason why the military is seen as the only option with some hope of advancement.

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  13. So I take it you really believe that statistically, more than 1 in 5 women work completely for free? Now, obviously nobody would work for free so there must be a lot more than 1 in 5 who are affected. Even if it’s 2 in 5, they’d have to do the same work for half the salary which is still hard to imagine except in some rare exceptions. So for the 78% to add up, we’d have to have at least half of all women affected by this.

    And this ignores the possibility that men might earn less in some areas. I’ve come across such stories too – some were government sanctioned.

    I read the case you posted Clarissa and it seriously sucks but how can you be sure it’s like that for more than half the women in the US? Does your circle of acquaintances reflect this? Then try counting up their salaries, and their male coworkers’ salaries and see what the difference is. Or, if they don’t want to disclose their earnings, then simply ask how much less (or more) they earn than their equally qualified male coworkers. That would be an interesting experiment.

    Either way, as it stands, the 78% isn’t even remotely plausible. And for me to believe such a drastic difference, I will need something more concrete.

    Like

    1. Just checked out the following wiki article on it:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male%E2%80%93female_income_disparity_in_the_United_States

      As expected, the pay gap of, in this case 23%, constitutes what they call the unadjusted pay gap. It’s simply the average earnings of all women compared with those of all men in the US.
      Reading on, they find that the adjusted pay gap which takes differences of education, different fields etc into consideration, there is still a significant pay gap that remains “unexplained”. While unexplained almost certainly includes discrimination, how much exactly is going to be hard if not impossible to determine.

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  14. I take great, and slightly smug, pleasure in Adi’s true colours vis a vis gender equity being revealed to his feminist cheerleaders. One of the hallmarks of a dismissive feminism-detractor is refusing to admit blatant inequalities exist. If only denial could make, for instance, pay inequities go away, this would be a very happy world indeed.

    Also, Adi, my frosted cupcake, assuming English is your first or native language, you don’t speak it very well, do you? When I call you ‘love’, peaches, I don’t imply my heart thuds in my chest in anticipation of your thin-skinned hysterics. I imply casual condescension. And you, of course, roll out the red carpet for condescension with every new comment. You’re such an accomodative darling. So long, sugar plum.

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      1. Thanks, Llama. I don’t see why you should be on the end of it — you are articulate, direct, not a hypocrit, generous (re. donations for Leah Jane’s new laptop) and, from your comment above, a great person besides 🙂

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    1. @ Priyanka

      “Adi’s true colours vis a vis gender equity”

      and what would those “true colours” be?

      “One of the hallmarks of a dismissive feminism-detractor is refusing to admit blatant inequalities exist. ”

      Oh please! How and where am I denying the existence of inequalities? I explicitly stated that I believe there is significant gender discrimination in salaries. I gave good reason as to why the actual figure of 22% or 23% is implausible and backed it up with research. So if I’m wrong then why don’t you try showing me where instead of just squabbling like this?

      One of the purposes of this thread is to discuss the problem of fewer and fewer people identifying as feminists. I’m sure that using statistics erroneously or out of context isn’t helping and even less does it help to pretend that any scrutiny of such use is “denial”.

      “I imply casual condescension.”

      Call it condescension then. Either way it’s rude and it’s definitely not casual. Where exactly does all this hostility come from then? I mean, every criticism of my points you have sent me so far was completely groundless.

      Is there even a remote possibility that we could perhaps work this out?

      Like

    1. It looks great on me, Llama 😉 This, however, is not schadenfreude. This is the good old “I told you so”, which also looks spectacular on me. I have just the right nose for it.

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  15. Priyanka :

    revealed to his feminist cheerleaders.

    As we say in Spanish, I see myself as alluded to. 🙂

    Can I be a sugar plum instead? 🙂 I stayed up until 1 am eating them last night, so I think I qualify. 🙂 🙂

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  16. “-If one partner is given custody, the other partner should pay the amount of child support that is a fixed percentage of his or her salary. This way there will be no unfairness based on how much anybody earns.

    What if you have no salary to speak of?

    -I’m not ignoring anything since I have been a victim of this kind of discrimination myself. However, what does this have to do with child support if a fixed percentage of an individual salary will be required, not a fixed sum?

    “-Our culture and our society consist of us. Our relationships are also chosen and created by us. If somebody expects things from you that you don’t wish to provide in your relationship, my advice is: dump them.

    AND

    -Once again, if a man does not do his 50% of household duties, dump him. Of course, if one becomes a housewife, one has only oneself to blame.”

    Thank you, Dear Abby, for the unsolicited advice. I’m pleased to say, at this point in my life, that despite the economic crisis many are experiencing I am able to care for my children at home myself. I am a stay at home wife and mother- which entails for me many hats and duties that our culture as a whole often belittles and undervalues. However, I take myself and the future of my daughters seriously. I am not saying there is no drudgery in the role of housewife and mother- but it’s not without its rewards or glory. No, it isn’t the be all, end all of existence, but it’s where I am at now. I’m content for the moment.

    And I agree with you that if anyone is in a relationship in which they are expected to provide something they are not willing, the relationship should and probably will end.

    “-In terms of employment, men have suffered a lot more in the current recession than women, it’s a well-documented fact. In terms of education, last year women got more PhDs than men in all disciplines. PhDs, mind you. I’m not even talking about the high school graduation rates that are notoriously lower for men. As for “access to care”, I have no idea what this means. Women traditionally are a lot more likely consult a doctor than men. In all developed countries, female lifespan is significantly longer than the male lifespan.”

    Why do you think men have suffered more in the current recession? I have my own theories- one of them is that men are more expensive to employ. No wonder that businesses at this time appreciate the cheaper wages women accept. And yes, I know the recession affects manual labor jobs the most, jobs usually held more by men. What I’d like to point out is that right now it isn’t easy for anyone- whether you’re a man, a woman of any race of any class under the top 1%. What about the statistics of women living under poverty? Those have always been higher, still are higher.

    As far as women earning more PhD’s, I feel that these are baby steps. What percentage of the population does this speak for? A mere fraction?

    And if you are unaware of the disparity by gender in health insurance you are surely lucky. Educate yourself and google “gender disparity in insurance coverage” for more information.

    ” But that does not detract from the fact that it is a painful, wearying process that for women does not necessarily, physically end even after weaning”

    -I still have no idea, though, what you mean when you say that you have assumed a greater biological responsibility for the children. I also don’t understand how any biological factors can remain after weaning. Could you be more specific?

    I mean the physical toll of motherhood which you assumed correctly entitled carrying out a pregnancy, including labor, as well as (possible) breast feeding/weaning. Recovery from bearing children can take longer than 6 weeks. For some women who have had difficulty it can extend indefinitely. Perhaps their bodies will never be the same. There are common complications.

    No, the physical toll of motherhood does not end beyond weaning. You want me to be specific?

    For example, if one of my children were to be ill in the middle of the night I would be the one playing nursemaid through the night. I know the same is true of many households, whether one is a stay at home mother or a working mother.

    “-By handouts I was referring not to what women may or may not receive from the government. I was talking about all those many cases when women castrate themselves professionally and intellectually, turn into housewives, and start cajoling money for each purpose from their husbands.”

    You obviously have a low opinion of the role. Do you really think all housewives are lazy gold diggers? That’s an unfortunate opinion. Perhaps you’ve seen too many episodes of Desperate Housewives or an equivalent?

    “In close, I just feel as if you’re expressing all of these ideas in a hypothetical world, not reality.”

    -Everybody’s reality, or perception thereof, is different.

    So true. It’s my opinion that your suggestions for equalizing responsibilities between genders is not practical at this time, in most cases.

    It’s my experience that feminism is not popular now because their is no unity in movement. Politics, religion, class, and race divide us. Feminism means different things to different people. Women want different things. Until women from all different backgrounds can come together and converse about the issues, putting aside any divisive, isolating, accusatory language- we will progress, if at all, at snail pace. I would promote that conversation first. Though ultimately these conversations should include both (all) genders.

    Like

    1. @ Kelly
      “Until women from all different backgrounds can come together and converse about the issues, putting aside any divisive, isolating, accusatory language- we will progress, if at all, at snail pace. I would promote that conversation first. Though ultimately these conversations should include both (all) genders. ”

      Great! Then why don’t you start by calling people out when they use divisive, isolating, accusatory language on this blog for example.

      Like

    2. “What if you have no salary to speak of?

      -Then, obviously nobody will be able to get any child support from you.

      “I’m pleased to say, at this point in my life, that despite the economic crisis many are experiencing I am able to care for my children at home myself. I am a stay at home wife and mother”

      -OK, now I’m completely confused. If you made a choice to dedicate yourself full-time to housework and child-rearing, then how can you be upset that nobody is sharing your duties – that you assumed willingly, it seems – with you? I thought we were talking about the many cases where women work and contribute financially but still end up doing most of housework. This phenomenon exists, for sure, and I blogged about its reasons here:

      https://clarissasblog.com/2009/10/17/gender-and-housework/

      and here https://clarissasblog.com/2009/10/17/infantilizing-men/

      “As far as women earning more PhD’s, I feel that these are baby steps. What percentage of the population does this speak for? A mere fraction? ”

      -I also mentioned the fact that more women graduate from high school in the US and Canada than men. As for “baby steps”, I happen to think that access to higher education at all levels is a crucial thing.

      “For example, if one of my children were to be ill in the middle of the night I would be the one playing nursemaid through the night. I know the same is true of many households, whether one is a stay at home mother or a working mother. ”

      -I still fail to see what’s “biologically” predetermined about this. This is an individual choice people make irrespective of their gender. So I have to ask once again, how are you “more biologically responsible” for the children after weaning?

      “Do you really think all housewives are lazy gold diggers? ”

      -The only person who said this is you. I wonder why that is.

      “I would promote that conversation first. Though ultimately these conversations should include both (all) genders.”

      -What I find dificult to understand, in all honesty, is why you personally would have any interest in feminism at all. This is a movement that promotes the idea of women’s full humanity and believes that women deserve all kinds of professional, intellectual and social realization outside of the role of baby-making, cooking and cleaning machine whose only life takes place in the private sphere. I don’t go to “Patriarchy rules!” websites to discuss how patriarchy should develop. So I honestly don’t get why you would have any interest in feminism.

      Like

      1. “For example, if one of my children were to be ill in the middle of the night I would be the one playing nursemaid through the night. I know the same is true of many households, whether one is a stay at home mother or a working mother. ”

        Because I was the primary care giver it was always me that my son called for in the middle of the night. This was actually a great cause of anguish for my wife. As a result of societal pressures she was always thinking she must be a bad mother.

        It is in some part this kind of thinking that is put on to women that ends up getting in the way of more harmonious home lives.

        For instance my wife had this idea that using a nappy service was somehow evil and a dereliction of parental duties (same for paper nappies) this was because her mother didn’t think it was something a good mother would do.. We had some terrible arguments about it but I couldn’t shake her from the idea. So instead I washed and hung out nappies every day for 2 years when we could have easily afforded the service.

        Like

    3. What if you have no salary to speak of?
      Probably the same thing that happens to men with no salary. Be labeled deadbeats and hunted down while having your name tarnished regardless of why you have no salary to pay support with.

      Like

    4. “As far as women earning more PhD’s, I feel that these are baby steps. What percentage of the population does this speak for? A mere fraction? ”

      I agree these women do only represent a small fraction of the whole but a really important fraction. They are the leaders of tomorrow they are the ones that can change thinking from the top down.

      Having said that I always get annoyed with women that reach the top and then pull the ladder up behind themselves rather than assisting those behind them.

      Like

  17. @ Adi

    Thank you for the suggestion, but seeing as this is not my blog, I won’t be taking it upon myself to mediate comments. However, I’m willing to engage in conversation if it is both enlightening and worth my while. 🙂

    Like

  18. Fair enough.You’re definitely right about needing both (all) genders in the discussion. Either both will be liberated or neither will be liberated. Aside from that there’s plenty of mutual benefit. Unfortunately, there are still many networks structured around an adversarial mindset.

    So, getting back to the purpose of this post, how can we deal with this sort of problem? I’m open to suggestions.

    Like

    1. I think that maybe the first step for everybody would be to recognize that men / women are not the enemy. Gender stereotypes and gender-specific roles are. That would already be an achievement, I think.

      Like

  19. Re: Higher status / higher salary men married to similarly educated and employed professional women. tend to do less child rearing and household maintenance than do employed blue collar men married to employed pink collar women. Why? For the working class man, the job is a means to an end, and that end may be the family. For the elite white collar professional man, the job is a career, the core of his public identity and self-identity. His high salary represents not only ability to spend but a measure of status. Chances are good that he does not want his wife to out-earn him. Corporate and professional culture assumes that the high-level employee has no time-consuming responsibilities other than work, and that in all likelihood he has an unpaid full time personal assistant (aka “wife”). If the wife wants her own career, SHE is expected to hire surrogate “wives” in the form of nanny, housekeeper, etc

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    1. “For the elite white collar professional man, the job is a career, the core of his public identity and self-identity. His high salary represents not only ability to spend but a measure of status.”

      -A woman can feel this way, too. I know I do.

      Like

    2. “Higher status / higher salary men” It is this idea that reinforces the current system. While there is a concept of status then this will be traded upon and lead to inequities in other areas.

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  20. I made a conscious decision to postpone a career to have children. I’ve always wanted children. Just because I made my decisions doesn’t mean that I think ALL women should do likewise. I support your decision to be an academic.

    I am just as deserving and entitled to “all kinds of professional, intellectual and social realization outside of the role of baby-making, cooking and cleaning machine” as you.
    I’ve always identified as a feminist. I don’t see how my views are conflicting. Why say I should have no interest? I have arguably more interest. I am raising daughters. Why would I wish to disenfranchise them? You think I am less human because I am a mother?

    “Cajoling husbands out of money” Those were your words. What I stated was what was implied. You’ve written elsewhere about housewives (or was that just yourself?) eating bonbons and lounging. When I mentioned imbalance in @home duties I was not describing my personal relationship, as you must have assumed. My husband works and also does housework. We’ve found a way to share duties that works for us. I find it insulting the way you make personal judgments/assumptions in your language. The term “baby machine” is offensive.

    In spite of your attitude towards me in the personal nature of your comments, I enjoy your blog posts. I found you on feministblogs.com. You mentioned wanting more feminist discourse, and here I am.

    I agree that men vs. women is not a healthy attitude or an accurate survey of the problems we face. But that isn’t worth mentioning. You’re determined to disagree with whatever I have to say for some reason.

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    1. Kelly, fond as I am of Clarissa — and I mentioned right at the top of my comment sequence on this post that I disagree with her on this post — I find your contribution to this conversation very thoughtful, articulate, and rational. This isn’t my blog, but as a regular reader, I must say it’s a pleasure to have found you amongst us.

      Like

    2. “. I support your decision to be an academic.”

      -Please do not patronize me. I do not respond well to that.

      “I am just as deserving and entitled to “all kinds of professional, intellectual and social realization outside of the role of baby-making, cooking and cleaning machine” as you.”

      -Yes, my point is exactly that everybody is deserving of it. Not everybody chooses it, though.

      “You think I am less human because I am a mother?”

      -I am not going to participate in a discussion where you will be ascribing these outlandish statements to me. This is simply offensive.

      “You’ve written elsewhere about housewives (or was that just yourself?) eating bonbons and lounging. ”

      -Once again, you are being extremely careless with the text you are responding to. What I said was that I – I, me, myself, I – could make a choice to do that. I never said that all housewives do that. It is very frustrating to have discussions with people who assign their weird projections to you and then excoriate you for them.

      ” I find it insulting the way you make personal judgments/assumptions in your language. In spite of your attitude towards me in the personal nature of your comments”

      -I recently blogged about people who take every word written online personally and how strange I find their attitude. I can’t have any personal attitude towards you. I don’t know you. I can only have an attitude towards your texts.

      ‘You’re determined to disagree with whatever I have to say for some reason.”

      -You are trying to make this personal, which kind of freaks me out a little bit. This isn’t personal. I’m arguing with the ideas you express. I’m sure you are a lovely human being but, as I said many times, I’m not a choice feminist. I abhor choice feminism. Surely, I have a right to be against choice feminism quietly on my blog.

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      1. “Surely, I have a right to be against choice feminism quietly on my blog.”

        I would have thought a choice feminist would support that choice 😛

        Like

        1. Hee hee hee. 🙂 🙂

          As one of my favorite bloggers Echidne says, should I also respect a woman’s “choice” to get beaten up in an abusive relationship?

          This whole “how can’t you be critical of any choice a WOMAN makes” discourse annoys me.

          Like

  21. @ Priyanka
    You still owe me an answer as to how and where have I denied the existence of pay inequity? If you’re going to throw accusations around, you’d better make sure you can back them up. If you can’t see that then don’t bother answering and I suggest you do feminism a favour and stop writing altogether.

    And, as for my question as to whether it’s possible for us to resolve our differences, I take your silence as a clear and definite “no”. At least you’re not making a secret of your hatred. I suppose it’s pointless asking you what I’ve done to bring it about. I have a suspicion of course but will keep it to myself so as to drop to your standard of mud slinging.

    I can’t help but notice irony that this takes place unchallenged on a thread which basically advocates that men and women should stick together and not be enemies. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

    Like

    1. I don’t think Priyanka hates you, Adi. Just like I don’t hate people to whom I respond in a very harsh manner. This is a personal writing style that she and I have.

      Your contribution and presence here are highly appreciated (and not only by me, I’m sure.) So are Priyanka’s.

      I think we all have the same goal in mind but can disagree on how to get there best.

      Like

      1. Thanks Clarissa.
        I have no problem with harsh language. And even if I had, she didn’t use any – at least not by my standard.

        My problem is the attempt to suppress opinions with baseless accusations and name calling. It destroys open and honest debate reducing it to a squabble. I doubt that you want that here. And if I’m wrong about her hating me, it would be simple enough to clear it up. Instead she lets you come to her defense. How’s that for accountability?

        Anyway, that particular thread isn’t going anywhere so it’s time for me to drop it.

        Like

  22. bloggerclarissa :
    This whole “how can’t you be critical of any choice a WOMAN makes” discourse annoys me.

    Exactly, some choices don’t just effect that one woman, they have the potential to effect many women. It would be short sighted not to criticize choices that work in this way.

    Like

    1. You just touched upon an interesting problem. The confusing of individual choice and collective choice. Pickupartistry, for example, is basically a response to women’s collective choices in dating. However, it disregards individual choices that many women make. That’s why it’s very unfair towards those who don’t behave like the masses. There are plenty of them but they’re not the majority – the masses to which pickup caters. So it sucks for them.

      I suppose this is the way it always goes. Take the “male privilege” concept for example. It may apply to the majority of white hetero males but it is doubly unjust to those who are not like this – the progressive, sensitive and even feminine men for example. They not only don’t have those same privileges but at the same time, get it held against them that they are privileged. Similar problems arise with affirmative action and basically every policy that tries to segregate humanity into large groups. If you really want to be fair you must look at every case individually otherwise attempts to make things fair will result in them being even less fair.

      Like

  23. Clarissa,

    I didn’t mean my remarks in a “patronizing” manner. I meant it in all seriousness. I’m a fan of your blog and what you do. You don’t need my support- so perhaps that was the wrong word. I sincerely apologize for putting you off.

    In raising children, I have not chosen to be without intellect or without life outside of the private sphere. Perhaps temporarily less active- that is all. I choose the word feminist to describe myself. If I seem emotionally charged, it’s because I am passionate about women’s rights and about human rights. I am passionate about being a feminist, raising my daughters to be feminists as well.

    If I take your comments personally, and in doing so “freak you out”, again I apologize. It takes a lot of work in communicating on-line about politically and emotionally charged subjects in a thoughtful fashion. In some ways, it’s more difficult for me to read and write text about these topics. Without body language, without tone of voice, one is left trying to decipher the meaning or intention of written speech.There is a lot of room for miscommunication.

    I’ll try harder in the future.

    You are certainly more than within your right to express your thoughts and opinions on your blog. I’m only trying to understand them. I’d never heard of choice feminism before you mentioned it. I’m researching and looking into what you mention. Thank you for helping me to broaden my knowledge.

    Like

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