Quick follow up on that Feminism-is-Doing post

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

A friend, Dara, politely disagreed with what I had to say on my Zombie Marie Curie post the other day. You can read her post here. Here’s an excerpt:

It never really makes sense to me when people say that the “hard battles” of feminism are the battles for legal equality, the ones that have already been won … By definition, if women have been fighting for equality for decades, and have achieved equality in some, mostly legal, regards, and have not achieved equality across the board, then the battles that haven’t been won yet are the hard battles.

We can argue over the “hard” battles being legal or cultural. I tend to think changing cultural norms just takes a lot of time, whereas changing the law, particularly when that legal system has historically enshrined and reinforced inequality, is definitionally going to be the harder fight. But I’m open to discussion on that point. Also, far from taking a “cheap shot” at social justice academics, I was directing my message towards today’s 20-year-olds who are interested in social justice. I’m saying: don’t graduate college and become just another freelance feminist writer, or a struggling, adjunct academic. Anyone can blog part-time. Become a biologist, or a nurse, or an educator, or a construction manager, whatever, and make feminism an avocation, a passion, a worldview. Don’t fall into the belief that, unless you have a fancy graduate degree, what you say and think and do won’t influence people. Embrace your ideals, be kind to others, live your life with passion, try to kick as much ass as possible in your career, (figuratively speaking!) and the people around you will take notice. (And if you happen to want to be a mathematician or a physicist, I support the HELL out of you, bad  post-doctoral job market notwithstanding).

[If you need a short break from reading, please enjoy this photo of otters holding hands.]

Now that that’s out of the way, the main point I want to make about this whole libertarian-feminism-fusion thing is this: I trust individuals to try to subvert, undermine, or beat an unjust system in their own  private ways. I trust this odd, endearing nature of humans – pursuing their self-interest, interacting when it’s mutually beneficial – to affect their neighbor’s hearts and minds much more than I trust the ability of an intellectual movement to somehow “win” a culture war. While organization is necessary to change a policy, merely changing a policy or a rule doesn’t change minds. Individuals doing their thing, normalizing taboos, that changes minds, albeit more slowly than I’d like.

That’s what I lean towards believing, anyway (I know the above was a little abstract, abstruse even). But obviously, it’s up for debate. I may just be an idealistic libertarian, here, too. Agitatortots, what say you? Do you think social change is best achieved through an organized movement, or through individuals going about their lives, privately subverting an “unjust” cultural norm? Are the two mutually exclusive? How much did Queer Studies help the gay rights movement over the last 30 years, versus gays just moving in next door and showing us that they were, in fact, pretty normal? Do libertarians have a chance at changing policy through the movement, or should we say screw it and become agorists?

[Libby]

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49 Responses to “Quick follow up on that Feminism-is-Doing post”

  1. #1 |  Scott | 

    I’m with you and think just going about one’s life is a better way than trying to create a movement. My limited exposure to Queer Studies made me think worse of gays than I had beforehand, while living with one in my fraternity who just went about his business as a normal guy did the exact opposite.

    Perhaps Queer or Women’s or African American or other (minority) group Studies serves the purpose of giving that group a voice and a chance to feel camraderie that helps them– I don’t know. Having a LABIA protester complaining that she could dorm with her same sex partner but not her opposite sex partner just made the group look silly.

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    Feminists did a lot to raise consciousness of inequality in education, career opportunities, salaries, marriage. I’m not saying that things could improve, but most of what I see see in the modern feminist movement is continuing to fight the same war even when they have won the battle in many ways, and a refusal to recognize that they may be wrong, at times.

    For example, there are more women in college than men, yet we have extensive programs to encourage women to go to college and less for men.

    Another: there are clear cases of salary discrimination. That said, not every difference in salaries are the result of discrimination. If a woman takes 5 years out of the work force to raise kids, they are going to be behind their childless colleagues who are more likely to be men.

  3. #3 |  SJE | 

    Sorry: “I’m not saying that things could NOT improve”…

  4. #4 |  Abersouth | 

    I prefer thinking of people as individuals. Movements be damned.

  5. #5 |  JS | 

    I liked the picture of the Otters.

  6. #6 |  Rhayader | 

    I think the distinction between an “organized movement” and “individuals going about their lives” rings a bit false to begin with. In other words, no, the two are not mutually exclusive. Presumably, people who get involved in any “movement” are doing so out of their own accord. It’s a decision driven by individual desire just like any other.

    Also, I guess I’m a little bit too Lebowski-like — sorry, Dude-like — to consider an impressive career to be the only (or even most important) measure of a successfully-led life. Plenty of people with decidedly mundane careers (or even no career at all!) have done amazing things to contribute to society. I’d shorten your advice to read “Embrace your ideals, be kind to others, live your life with passion.” Careers and “movements” and cultural shifts all follow from the same thing — personal effort and excellence. To force a choice is to put the cart before the horse.

  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    Only a fool would deny that there is no prejudice against women.

    There may be some legal barriers which still remain in western countries, although I am not aware of any.

    However, I am opposed to creation of any legislative solution to the former because I think it will prove in the long run to actually create the latter.

    I believe that the proper solution is to shame anyone who holds such a prejudice – including such ridiculous ones as “women are superior parents.”

  8. #8 |  Julie | 

    I don’t think the point is that you should be, say, a physicist instead of being a feminist, I think the point is that being a physicist can be a better way of being a feminist than being a women’s studies professor. But it doesn’t preclude being part of an (organized or not) movement.

  9. #9 |  OBTC | 

    [If you need a short break from reading, please enjoy this photo of otters holding hands.]

    The “otter intermission” Libby provided was both cute and hilarious.

    I think it should become a running theme here at The Agitator when the subject matter gets too OUTRAGE-ous and/or depressing – sort of an “Agitatortot time-out.”

  10. #10 |  ro | 

    I agree with you that it’s awesome and progressive for women to go into fields where they’re under-represented, and that there are probably enough feminist bloggers out there already.

    However, those feminist bloggers and women’s studies majors really are necessary. They completely changed the way I view the world and act. Reading that theory — and I came to it late — was what allowed me to recognize and pursue my own self-interest in the first place. Before that, I had a completely skewed vision of my opportunities, worth, and priorities.

    It’s all well and good to tell women, “if you like science, just go into science!” But they have a better chance of succeeding if they’re prepared for the reactions and situations they’ll face, and given tools to recognize and combat sexism.

  11. #11 |  OBTC | 

    US defends frisking of baby at airport

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20110512/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_baby_airport_pat_down;_ylt=AmTlXezSJfwKJoKrU2whTsKMwfIE;_ylu=X3oDMTQxbHJuM20xBGFzc2V0A2FwX3RyYXZlbC8yMDExMDUxMi91c190cmF2ZWxfYnJpZWZfYmFieV9haXJwb3J0X3BhdF9kb3duBGNjb2RlA29mZmdiZjUwa3J0BGNwb3MDOQRwb3MDOQRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3JpZXMEc2xrA3VzZGVmZW5kc2ZyaQ–

    This sneaky baby must have been wearing one of those dirty diaper bombs!

  12. #12 |  OBTC | 

    Otter intermission please!

  13. #13 |  Thoreau | 

    I find http://www.zooborns.com to be an excellent place to go for cute animal picture intermissions.

  14. #14 |  Thomas Paine's Goiter | 

    Where does feminism stand on women who wish prison beatings on young men?

  15. #15 |  maybelogics | 

    Alright, I’ll bite, dammit. Maybe we could start by asking ourselves some more productive questions, such as: Is “feminism” a useful term to use? and What sort of effect does calling myself a “feminist” have on my own relationships and interactions with people who believe differently than me? With people from a different social class or cultural circle? With people who associate that term with a certain historical and cultural context? One that they find unappealing? Does it do anything useful?

    I’m a woman, but I will never, ever–ever–call myself a “feminist”. I loathe the term. It repulses me. I will never support advocating that women “make feminism an avocation, a passion, a worldview”. In fact, that very suggestion makes me want to invite you down to the mudwrestling ring where we can hash this out like strong, independent women should. (What do you say, $50 a head? We’re worth that, right?)

    When you say this, you’re intending to inspire young women, right? That’s awesome. But are you not, in an indirect way, imposing upon these young women (likely middle/upper middle class college-educated [ and probably white] women) a pre-fab notion of how the world works for people like them (it’s war b/c you have a vajayjay), and an easy role to fill (fight on behalf of all vajayjays)? You say you “trust the individual” but does calling oneself a feminist and advocating feminist worldviews actually justify that claim? I have no political allegiance to women simply because they’re women. Why should I?

    I’ve become inclined to reject most “ism”s and labels and movements and reality tunnels altogether because I would like to figure things out for myself. This has made life exceedingly difficult at times. But I’d like to know what it means to become a real human being and to learn how to survive and maybe improve this stew of fuckedupedness I was born into. Seems to me, people have the hardest time becoming aware of and understanding themselves as human beings. That’s where I choose to start. If I run into issues because of my gender, well then we’ll go from there. I’ll look to history for tools and weapons to fit the task and won’t restrict myself to using only those fashioned by women.

    I have obviously never felt oppressed because I have a vajayjay. I have never felt that knowing how to cook in any way detracts from my carpentry skills. I have never felt I needed to perform an identity or choose an occupation just to show this culture that I (a lowly woman) could do it.

    Occasionally, however, my voice takes on a distinct Southern twang, and the reactions I’ve had to that raise all sorts of issues that are far more important to me than whether sorority sister social justice activists should aim for ambitious engineering jobs or merely blog part time. Issues related to a defiant spirit of survival and self-preservation that doesn’t have time to luxuriate in the wonderings of how to change the world for others less fortunate than themselves. But that’s neither here nor there…

    Libby, you cannot achieve the ends you desire with the means you have chosen. When you speak from a “feminist” worldview, you take inequality as a given. Every argument you make as a feminist presumes and preserves the very inequalities you want to dissolve because they inhere in the very definition of feminism. Those people motivated by and advocating a worldview that presumes *equality* and those who refuse to constitute any aspect of their identity with the very opposition they seek to overthrow are the only ones who will ever be successful in enacting the reality that is merely your ideal.

    So I guess I choose answer b. the stuff that happens slowly. It’s less annoying, more effective, and doesn’t make the boys erupt into all caps. Which is also annoying.

    Otters are rad.

    (#4. There are no such things as movements, only individuals, moving.)

  16. #16 |  SamK | 

    Oh, and grats on the intestinal fortitude and acumen required to post this subject in this way after the other day’s…entertaining…one. Unless I missed it there was no dodging, no bitching, no juvenile bullshit, and the next post covers a similar topic. Balls (or whatever passes for that colloquialism). I’m impressed.

  17. #17 |  kate | 

    I didn’t realize there were other libertarian/feminists out there. Hi :D

    I am a feminist because I am a human being, and most people, women included, do not treat me that way. Until that changes, I will continue to use the f-word.

  18. #18 |  qwints | 

    While I greatly appreciate the innate libertarian distrust of collectivism, refusing to analyze society at levels above the individual misses out on a lot of understanding. We can talk about Wal-Mart, feminism and the civil rights movement without discussing them in terms of individuals. As much as it is undeniably important to never subjugate real individual interests to constructed collective ones, there can be meaningful discussions of movements as representing multiple individual experiences.

    Although it is true that group rights are only important at the level of the individual, it is just as true that one can increase individual rights by paying attention to groups of disenfranchised individuals. The civil rights movement and feminists have greatly increased individual freedom in this country and around the world despite advocating for individual interests at a group level.

    @maybelogics,

    It’s clear that you have a distrust of the term feminist, perhaps rooted in your cultural background or perhaps based on your dislike for those who have embraced the term – I don’t know and won’t presume to say. But advocating for women’s rights is important, especially with people who have different beliefs. There really are people in the world who believe any woman should be subject to all men because their dad, their gut or their pastor tells them so. Such beliefs ought to be repudiated by anyone who believes in individual autonomy. (As should the belief that a woman is betraying her gender by choosing to leave the work force to raise children.)

    Furthermore, I take you at your word that you have never felt oppressed as a woman, but I can tell you that my mother, my wife and my sister all have. Whether it’s a contractor refusing to recognize a woman as a economic decision maker, an employee refusing to recognize a woman as a boss or a teacher refusing to believe a woman can excel in a given subject, there are plenty of men (and some women) who don’t fully recognize an individual’s autonomy if that individual is female. I, as an individual, choose to call myself a feminist and speak out against sexist language and behavior despite the social tension that might cause in order to improve the world for the women I care about and for myself. Government action (e.g. Title 9) is the wrong means, but increasing equality between the sexes is the right end.

  19. #19 |  Dave Krueger | 

    @maybelogics,

    Wow! Bravo!

    Of course, that I, a man, likes your statement is proof to any feminist that it must be wrong and should therefore be summarily dismissed.

  20. #20 |  Leah | 

    I totally agree with what #16 said. I am also uncomfortable with the term feminism because it is so loaded with statist assumptions, but I think saying it’s pointless or unnecessary anymore is incorrect as well. I think the big thing that feminism as a group needs to learn is the concept of unintended consequences, but because they are not up to speed on that point doesn’t necessarily mean they’re worthless.

    I am really surprised that any woman could not have ever felt gender discrimination. Never dealt with a car dealership that wouldn’t give you a straight answer until your husband called? Never gotten the “lady upcharge” when negotiating prices for anything? I mean, that’s awesome if you haven’t, maybelogics, but I am just surprised.

    Otter Intermission needs to be integrated into all of our everyday lives.

  21. #21 |  Leah | 

    D’oh, I meant I was agreeing with #17 qwints, though #16 is nice as well. :)

  22. #22 |  megs | 

    I think collective movements, and even those stupid awareness campaigns, have done a lot towards exposing a lot of people to what people other than themselves face in society. I myself place a lot more emphasis on the individual and I think feminism happens to people, just like libertarianism. If your gut reaction is to treat a group complaining about women’s rights as just bitchy women looking for an advantage, then these sort of mass movements aren’t going to do anything for you and may even cement your beliefs, just like someone who thinks criminals are just looking for a technical out when they are obviously guilty of /some/ crime when they’ve been browbeat into confessing or had a SWAT team brutalize their house looking for a couple ounces of weed.

    The more the discussion is out there in the public, the more it will change things one way or the other. Think of how great it would be to even get libertarian ideas in the public discussion more. Even if there isn’t a competitive national party or a perfect libertarian candidate for a major office.

    Feminism does have a lot of PETA-like groups that seem to want special treatment or militantly convert everyone to their ideas, which is why you hear the word “equalist” used in place of feminist. But the civil rights movement had their extreme fringe and today most people seem to agree that even minor social problems like how Hollywood only seems to cast black people as “Black best friend” or “magical negro” in movies not aimed specifically at the black community are worth discussion and calls to do better.

    I’d like to point out the excellent tumblr http://microaggressions.com/ that posts a lot of the little problems that build up for people who deviate from the cultural norm. It’s never the one thing someone says, it’s the lifetime of comments. This is what I consider the hardest war, because it is a little whiney and each individual instance is easy to brush off. Also, there’s no legislation that’s going to fix it, and that’s the liberal way to fight social wars. It’s good, though, because you shouldn’t be lobbying to the government to fix every little problem. People should be equal under the law and we can fix this ourselves. It’ll take some time and attention, is all.

  23. #23 |  Leah | 

    Thanks for that tumblr, megs, it’s good stuff.

  24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #19 Leah

    I am really surprised that any woman could not have ever felt gender discrimination. Never dealt with a car dealership that wouldn’t give you a straight answer until your husband called? Never gotten the “lady upcharge” when negotiating prices for anything? I mean, that’s awesome if you haven’t, maybelogics, but I am just surprised.

    You think those problems only happen to women? What you’re referring to happens to everyone and it has nothing to do with discrimination based on sex. It’s based on what you know (or what the other person thinks you know). It’s called asymmetrical information and it is simply what happens anytime a salesman senses that he knows more than the customer. And it certainly happens to men as often as women. Your lack of knowledge puts you at a disadvantage because you can’t tell when he’s lying, which gives him an incentive to lie. If you want that to go away when you go to the car repair shop, learn about cars.

  25. #25 |  Bronwyn | 

    Well now I’m stuck over at ZooBorns. Just what I need on a Staff Meeting Friday.

    I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

  26. #26 |  Leah | 

    #23, no. In the situations I’m specifically thinking of here, I had all the same information as my husband did and he was the only one who the dealership would work with. We voted with our dollars and went to a different dealer, but it was not the same thing as just not knowing enough about the situation.

  27. #27 |  hilzoy fangirl | 

    “Become a biologist, or a nurse, or an educator, or a construction manager, whatever, and make feminism an avocation, a passion, a worldview.”

    Alright ladies, if you want to be real feminists, you should get a job as a nurse or a teacher!

  28. #28 |  Sean L. | 

    “We voted with our dollars and went to a different dealer”

    See? Now you’re part of the solution.

  29. #29 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Yeah, sorry Dave, love your posts and comments but you’re wrong in this case. I happen to be the husband that the dealer wanted to talk to, and in that situation 1.) the only thing the dealership was doing at the time was appraising the trade-in value of our old car, and 2.) he had never met me and therefore had zero information about which of us knows more about cars or who had authority to make purchasing decisions.

    I agree that everybody has shit they have to deal with because of factors they don’t control, but I don’t see why that leads to the conclusion that we should all just deal with it.

  30. #30 |  ClubMedSux | 

    As to the more general theme of this post (and Libby’s last post), I think libertarians tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to issues like feminism. I think most of us would agree that modern, popular notions of feminism suck. I think most of us specifically have problems with the collectivist nature of modern feminism. But at some point, if a group of people perceive a common problem, what is un-libertarian about getting together as private individuals to try and facilitate change?

    I guess for me the two main points of the debate are 1.) whether there is a problem (and the extent of it), and 2.) what viable solutions are. If you honestly don’t think there’s any problem with women’s equality, then I guess you should be against anything remotely resembling feminism. But if there are problems (and I for one have observed some) then I don’t see why one person’s decision to “go it alone” is more worthy than somebody else getting together with other like-minded individuals to forge a common path. And if that common path starts to go astray, you jump ship (as has happened with modern feminism).

  31. #31 |  Friday Pot Stirring: Does the term “feminism” mean anything? | The Agitator | 

    […] issues (that was a joke, although those posts have been quite popular),  so after reading a comment posted by maybelogics I’ve decided to post one […]

  32. #32 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Leah and ClubMedSux, it doesn’t matter that you both had the same information. My point is that the dealer thought he could get away with different behavior with her. And, in the end, she had the power to walk out the door whether there was a man there or not.

    Of course, I wasn’t there so if you want to insist that he was discriminating simply because he had a lower regard for women, be my guest.

    My point is that a salesman isn’t motivated by his low regard for women, He is motivated by his wish to make a higher profit which he thinks is possible (and probably not without reason) with a woman.

  33. #33 |  M. Steve | 

    See, to me, calling yourself a feminist because you believe in gender equality is like calling yourself a conservative because you believe in limited government. Sure, the title and the belief are related, but they are not synonymous, and the titles are so loaded as to be counterproductive when using them as a self-descriptor.

    Sorry, but “Feminism” is way too steeped in Marxist/collectivist rhetoric for me to ever come close to identifying as a feminist.

    Do I believe in the legal and social equality of the genders (and those who fall somewhere in-between on the gender spectrum)? Of course.

    Do I want my future daughter(s) to have the freedom to choose their own life and career, even if that choice is to become a wife and mother, and even if they choose to be wives to other women? Abso-frackin-lutely.

    But labels mean something, in and of themselves. I choose not to wear the label “feminist” for the reason I choose not to wear the label “conservative”; both adequate describe some (many? most?) of my positions, but both are loaded with connotations with which I prefer not to associate.

  34. #34 |  ducey | 

    “Agitatortots, what say you? Do you think social change is best achieved through an organized movement, or through individuals going about their lives, privately subverting an “unjust” cultural norm?”

    I think you should go back to cooking and pushing out babies, and leave these intellectual pursuits to the men.

    Seriously, this site has turned into garbage lately. What a shame that is.

  35. #35 |  ducey | 

    @maybelogics,

    that was one tremendous post.

    @Leah everyone who can be taken advantage of due to inexperience or lack of understanding will be taken advantage of at some point. Man or woman, white or black. Salesmen will always be on the lookout for extra cashish.

  36. #36 |  maybelogics | 

    #16- So you think that other people don’t treat you as human because you’re a woman. Are you sure that’s it?

    #17- I know all these things. That there are woman who feel oppressed. I have no personal dislike for anyone who calls themselves feminists (even you!). But my whole point is that what if by calling yourself a feminist you’re doing more damage than good? The term is dried up, worn out. It’s been tied in the basement, whipped and f*ked by so many people for so many reasons that it’s useless as a unifying catalyst for attitudinal change. You say you treat the people you love the way they should be treated and when you see someone treating them or anyone else unfairly you speak out–these are good things. Keep doing those. But don’t believe that anyone else will be moved to do the same b/c an ideology says it’s the right thing to do. They won’t. They will only be moved by *you*.

    #18 I expect as much, Dave. Sigh…

    #19 Nah, I have never felt gender discrimination. I make it a point to be aware of what I should know, who I should know, and how to use what I know in every situation. When encountering situations similar to those in which other women have been discriminated against, I make it a point either to know more than the person in the position in power or to be able to convince him/her that I do. In a few generous moments, I have saved a few ex-boyfriends hundreds of dollars in car repair costs just by being a woman who knows how to talk to the people who can get stuff done.

    #23, 25, 28: I agree w/Dave but it’s also about knowing how to use what you know. There’s a difference between knowing about something and being able and willing to call people out on their shit when they try to rip you off. It’s a different sort of knowledge, I think, and often the most useful. Hustle or be hustled.

  37. #37 |  ClubMedSux | 

    Dave, I agree with your last comment. I was addressing your previous comment of: “If you want that to go away when you go to the car repair shop, learn about cars.” I think that’s the crux of the debate. He was acting that way because of his overall experience with women. Unfortunately, that means that Leah learning about cars won’t really do much. He would have to interact with MANY women who know about cars for his behaviors to change. And I think that’s where the hyper-individualist approach to women’s issues breaks down.

    Anyway, as is generally the case with discussions around here (save, perhaps this past week or so) I think we’re mostly in agreement. But even though most “discrimination” against women (sorry, not a good term but I can’t think of a better one offhand) may be rooted in empirical observations rather than misogyny, I think it’s entirely understandable for women to be upset by it and want to take steps toward changing such attitudes.

  38. #38 |  ducey | 

    “He would have to interact with MANY women who know about cars for his behaviors to change. And I think that’s where the hyper-individualist approach to women’s issues breaks down.”

    But, as you suggest when you offer that the salesman may have used empirical observation when forming his perspective, there aren’t many women who know about cars. Just like there aren’t many men who know about make-up or hair products. A guy could easily be duped by a salesperson in that area, it would have nothing to do with the salesperson being a She-Woman Man-Hater.

    So what is the point? What is the solution? If it is to encourage all humans, man, woman, boy, girl, black, white, etc, to learn as much as they can about everything the world has to offer, you won’t get much disagreement from the people here. And by “here” I mean the entire western world. Chicks are capable humans. Chicks do things on their own. They go to school. They have jobs, and for the most part they are viewed as equals in the workplace. ….now, that isn’t to say that most dudes consider women sane. But c’mon, do you think that stance will ever change? …. should it even change?? I’m not so sure. ;-)

  39. #39 |  Highway | 

    Well, even if it is rooted in misogyny, I think that it’s not nearly as ubiquitous as it was pre-feminism. Maybe I’m insulated in somewhat of an echo chamber, but it doesn’t seem that that kind of attitude is hand-waved away with “Well, that’s how you sell” or “Everyone acts like that.” Now it’s much more commonly recognized that “geez, this guy is a dinosaur who should be wearing a plaid jacket and a porn-stache.” It’s notable, because it’s so relatively rare, and you just encounter it at the used car lot, not at the grocery store, the appliance shop, the hot water heater repair guy, the folks down the aisle at work…

    Even as movements approach 100% ‘success’, there are going to be holdouts. There’s still a Klan. There are still drunk drivers. There are still xenophobes. But that doesn’t mean that the movements are unsuccessful. And the fact of a movement not recognizing those success is what causes other folks to start doubting the continuing purpose of the movement, like with Civil Rights or Feminism.

  40. #40 |  SamK | 

    My ex-wife called around to find a set of tires she wanted for her car. She knew cars and tires well. She found some in stock and the salesman refused to sell them to her, pointing out a different set he thought more appropriate for her because of the reduced friction and better gas mileage. She wanted sticky tires for her turbocharged leadfoot. I called five minutes later, gave the same car and tire information, he gave me the price and we went to pick them up. Less than five minutes on the phone.

    This is part of what feminists are upset about, and it’s part of the point you’re missing Dave (love you man, can’t remember the last time we disagreed). That doesn’t mean that it’s something that can or should be addressed through laws, regulation, or litigation. It doesn’t mean that all women should or will learn about tires and cars or guns or whatever the subject might be. It’s about being dismissed simply for being a woman instead of lack of knowledge. Yes, being dismissed or put into a particular class where no amount of knowledge or revealing of your soul will change some ass’ opinion of you can happen to anyone (blacks in the ‘burbs, whites in the inner city, young idiots or old fools, fat, skinny, felons, libertarians, Randians, man, republican, democrat, faggot, undergrad, whatever). The point of feminism in this application is to show that it is inappropriate to class women in such a manner and I agree with them there. I don’t support most feminist political agendas, but wanting to raise awareness and try to shift cultural mores in such a way that this type of dismissal is minimized? I’m cool with that.

  41. #41 |  kate | 

    @33, 16 here. Er…Based on context, yes. What else would it be, that I am actually not human? :P

  42. #42 |  Highway | 

    SamK, basically, your anecdote seems to be about validating the guy’s worldview. So what signals did the guy get that indicated that his refusal to sell performance tires to the lady was incorrect? None. He gets to be patronizing to a woman, gets her husband to call, and still makes the sale.

    If the point of feminism is to show that this is inappropriate behavior, and a goal is to *modify* that behavior, then is it better to have given into the salesman’s chauvinism, and then complain about it? And then use that complaint to further some activism? Or would it have been better to learn the guy right then and there that that sort of behavior is abhorrent and won’t be rewarded? I know you guys just wanted some tires. And they seem to have been more difficult to find than others. But it seems like it misses the point to not have said “Hey, thanks for giving me the price and the tires, but we’re not gonna buy them from you, cause you were an asshole in how you treated my wife. Next time show some respect.”

  43. #43 |  maybelogics | 

    #38 kate, I don’t know your specific context or story so I can’t evaluate what I think might be the motives of those people who wronged you or continue to wrong you. It very well may be that they’re doing it because you’re a woman. If you can give me an example of a time you weren’t treated like you should’ve been, I’ll be better able to understand where you’re coming from.

    My point is not that discrimination doesn’t exist, because it does. My point is that calling oneself a feminist and arguing from that position might not be the best way to go about changing people’s attitudes and behaviors. In other words, you’ll never get everyone to treat you or all other women *humanely* (ie. with respect) just by calling yourself a feminist. It may actually work against you. It’s because the word itself invites people to think certain things about you depending on how they’ve experienced and formed opinions about other feminists in cultural materials or in life. If we encouraged a habit of treating everyone humanely we wouldn’t have to mess all these nasty ideological subcategories that make us more aware of our collective differences than our individual similarities.

  44. #44 |  Rollory | 

    “We can argue over the “hard” battles being legal or cultural”

    Does it ever occur to you (I know it doesn’t to the feminists) that they are PHYSICAL and hard-coded into the genes and thus CAN NOT be “won” and that what feminists are actually doing is having the world’s biggest purple-faced temper tantrum and the longer you indulge them by pretending that there is any legitimacy whatsoever to this goal of “equality” the bigger an injustice you are committing?

  45. #45 |  JOR | 

    “Does it ever occur to you (I know it doesn’t to the feminists) that they are PHYSICAL and hard-coded into the genes…”

    Did it ever occur to you that what feminists are doing (agitating for their interests) is hardwired into their genes? Why are you whining?

    Everything humans do is physical, biologically programmed, whatever you want to call it. But you clearly think it’s productive to complain about some of the things that some humans do. So why shouldn’t feminists?

  46. #46 |  Kirsten | 

    #31: “My point is that a salesman isn’t motivated by his low regard for women, He is motivated by his wish to make a higher profit which he thinks is possible (and probably not without reason) with a woman.”

    If that were true, why was he dealing with the man and refusing to deal with the woman?

  47. #47 |  lunchstealer | 

    I think that it’s probably not an either/or situation.

    But the biggest changes in my life have been cultural, but I know some of the cultural influences on me have paid attention to academic and theoretical gender and ethnic studies in academy.

    But yeah, I think the biggest thing anyone can do is to do what they want, and not worry about whether other people will approve of it.

  48. #48 |  Tom | 

    Libertarianism and feminism and inherently opposed. It seems so clear that much of the encroach of totalitarianism is directly or indirectly due to the influence of feminism on our laws (VAWA, Bradley Amendment, Family Court). Feminists (women?) have always (and may always) vote for the expansion of government authority, in the interests of ‘safety.’

  49. #49 |  inIN | 

    Funny enough, my husband has me take the car to the shop because I sometimes get a discount. I know nothing about cars, but the guy who runs the shop seems to take pity on me…or something. I feel somewhat guilty, Hubby thinks it’s great, female friend says she’d be annoyed at having to pay more than I did for the same service just because I’m “cuter.”

    I ditched “feminist” long ago for “equal.” You can’t have babies and I can’t pee standing up. Oh well.

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