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Feminism: Definitions and Opinions



 
 
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  #101  
Old December 22nd, 2010, 9:12 pm
NumberEight  Male.gif NumberEight is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by Muggle_Magic View Post
IMO, of course it would. How, as a man, would you like to be addressed as "Ma'am"?
I'm just checking to see if there's a double standard. To complain about "sir" in a television program that is inherently unrealistic and never strives to be the opposite just seems a bit strange.

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Originally Posted by Muggle_Magic View Post
You're stretching it here. But it's not for me to say, let the ladies respond to that.
I don't see how when people complain about the use of "actress". I think we should completely rewrite languages to get rid of that and languages that use a masculine and feminine form.



Last edited by NumberEight; December 22nd, 2010 at 10:46 pm.
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  #102  
Old December 22nd, 2010, 10:41 pm
Midnightsfire  Undisclosed.gif Midnightsfire is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

I like and appreciate the differences in language.


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  #103  
Old December 22nd, 2010, 10:58 pm
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by Muggle_Magic View Post
All of those options are good for an informal meeting, but not a formal one. You can't see a politician's speech on the senate floor or a high-level meeting starting with "Folks", "People", or "You all". At least I can't imagine it.
Good point, but then in formal situations people may ostensibly have specific titles, e.g. "citizens," "members of the board," "Senators," "trustees," etc. ...

I mean, also I think since speech is not quite as formal as writing in general, and I think regional and vernacular speech is becoming increasingly acceptable in public life, it wouldn't wholly surprise me to hear a CEO address a group as "folks."

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Originally Posted by Muggle_Magic View Post
I do, for the reasons Fleur and Pox stated earlier. It implies that calling them "Ma'am" would reduce them to the rank of "lowly females" (this is a quote, don't jump on me!!!)
I'm actually reading an interesting book on this subject, since it has been discussed here and I've never been able to do any formal research. (It's called Language and Woman's Place by Robin Lakoff, from 1975--evidently her best-known work.) She has several examples of this sort of disparity, but one I find particularly problematic is "master" versus "mistress." In the same way as "sir" and "ma'am," there seem to be some problems in usage in attributing either or both to a particular sex. We may comfortably refer to any male as "sir" or "[a] master," but Lakoff suggests that the specific terms for women are simultaneously euphemistic and derogatory (more on this later). I.e. "lady" is a substitute for "woman" in that being a woman is already acknowledged as a disadvantage, and that a lady is (in aristocratic and chivalric terms) something of an improvement, or in other words that the presence of a euphemism in the first place is proof that the status of the referent is already denigrated. To that end she also points out that many usages of "lady" can connote both frivolity and an ennobling of something that is distasteful: she feels that "lady doctor" is at best condescending, since a doctor (a male term, as evidenced by marking a "woman doctor") requires no such enhancement, and the more demeaning the subject, the more likely "lady" is to occur. But since the premise of the whole line of inquiry is that usages are reflective of existing norms, consequently, I think the usages she describes are symptoms of the original disparity, while they are not in themselves necessarily a mechanism for creating or sustaining that disparity.

This leads me down a path with any questions and no answers. While women may face a double-edged sword in the way they speak and are spoken about, men face a similar dilemma in how we speak about them. On the one hand I'm not sure that using originally male terms for women or mixed groups is always the best approach, but we have to acknowledge that usage can and does change. Lakoff's own example of "master" and "mistress" seems to fall into this category. Her claim is that "a master" can be used for men in a variety of situations, but that "a mistress" has now only a sexual connotation (still largely true). But I think she moves on to a tangent that I don't really understand... attempting to discuss how coining a corresponding term for men in the sexual connotation of "mistress" would improve the situation. What I think is left unmentioned is that "master" can and does refer to women as well, and when its meaning in the master-servant relationship started to disappear, I think its gender-specific content did as well (that is, did start to disappear, it hasn't yet). No, I mean, she is making a fairly complex assertion with this example, so I'm definitely not rejecting it out of hand, I just think there's a wealth of variation that is unaccounted for, since Lakoff admitted her own observation and usage are the primary data set.

Ultimately then, I wonder whether insisting on separate gender-based terms for male and female occupations or positions is really productive at all. Allow me to quote this book: "The very notion of womanhood, as opposed to manhood, requires ennobling since it lacks inherent dignity of its own." If this is categorically true, and can be distinguished by linguistic analysis, then neither calling everyone "sir" nor using "ma'am" can be realistically said to correct the problem. It's not about changing what we call men, thus calling men "ma'am" is an asburd counterexample, it's a matter of how women benefit if we change what we call them. Since there is a dicohotomy between derogatory (and therefore feminine, frivolous) and prestigious (that which is like a man) terms for women in many lexicons, I'm not sure how much they do benefit by "ma'am," since this could be seen as separating them into a class of officers that is not to be taken seriously. The sexism exists already, and it is reflected in the language in both ways, and therefore in neither way in particular. Thus soldiers responding to female officers with the same obedience and respect as male ones is massively more important than what they call them. Don't you think?

Anyway, I'm by no means finished with the book, but I have a lot to think about now.

ETA: I'd like to add the disclaimer that the observations of a woman in 1975 could differ significantly from those of a man in 2010 without either being inaccurate.



Last edited by canismajoris; December 22nd, 2010 at 11:13 pm.
  #104  
Old December 22nd, 2010, 10:59 pm
FleurduJardin  Female.gif FleurduJardin is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
I don't think there's anything wrong with a female officer in a television series being called "sir."
Let me remind you then of what you yourself wrote in the BSG thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
As for the gender-equality issue, well, I don't care about that. It doesn't bother me. I would be flattered if I was addressed as "Sir" if I was a female officer, as it would make me feel equal to my male counterparts.
THAT is what's wrong. That to you being addressed as "Ma'am" is inferior to being addressed as "Sir". Man's the superior part of the sex duality in a lot of people's minds.

So, whatever her accomplishments, a female officer is not "equal to her male counterparts" unless she's addressed with a male form of address?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
If reality was reversed, that women were considered superior and male officers were addressed as "ma'am," would the same opinion be held?

Seriously, I have to wonder if some of you think "woman" is a terrible word because the word contains "man" in it.
First question: Yes, the same opinion would be held.

Second comment: That's only true in the English language, and no one in here has spoken up against it.

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Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
I'm just checking to see if there's a double standard. To complain about "sir" in a television program that is inherently unrealistic and never strives to be the opposite just seems a bit strange.
TV shows are part of the popular culture, and reflects the mores of that culture. That this happens in a show where equality between the sexes is taken for granted makes it more shocking from a linguistic point of view. As someone pointed out before, in other, just as unrealistic TV shows or movies, women officers are addressed as "Ma'am".

The only exception I can think of is the Mountie in "Due South" who addresses his female superior officer as "Sir" - which actually shocked my husband and me at the time - but in his case, said superior had, ahem, designs on him, and it's possible that the "Sir" was meant as a subtle (or not so subtle) deterrent. In all other shows with military or military-type settings, female officers are always "Ma'am".

In BSG, to boot, the female Prez, Laura Roslin is "Ma'am" unless she gives a particularly harsh order, in which case it's a reluctant "Yes, Sir".

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I don't see how when people complain about the use of "actress". I think we should completely rewrite languages to get rid of that and languages that use a masculine and feminine form.
Well, in this case we agree since I'm among those who would like the feminine form used when the word does exist in the language. In English, "actress", "heroine", "goddess", "queen", "princess", "shepherdess", "heiress", "murderess" et al. all have my vote.

ETA - Yoana, that was a wonderful message. Thanks for sharing.

ETA 2 - Canis, we posted at about the same time, so I only saw your post after mine was up. I'll have to read it carefully before I respond, should I feel a response necessary. Very interesting, though.

At first sight, after just a brief perusal, I'd say it confirms what both Melanie and I say, that somehow the feminine form of a word has, or has taken on, a negative connotation. The thing she and I disagree about is the way to do away with that negative connotation.

Concerning how to address a mixed group of people - They may not all be senators, trustees, whatever... So I think that "Ladies and Gentlemen" - in French "Mesdames et Messieurs" is the best and "safest" way to go about it. Let's say a TV host greets his audience. In France, it would be "Mesdames et Messieurs". Though, in the US, things being generally informal, "Hi, folks" would be OK. In France, the newscasters always start with "Mesdames, Messieurs, bonjour/bonsoir". In the US, it's just "Good morning", "Good afternoon" or "Good evening". Melanie, how is it in the UK? MmeB, do they say "Señoras y Señores" in Spain?



Last edited by FleurduJardin; December 22nd, 2010 at 11:41 pm. Reason: ETAs
  #105  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 1:19 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by FleurduJardin View Post
So, whatever her accomplishments, a female officer is not "equal to her male counterparts" unless she's addressed with a male form of address?
Find a single post where I say or imply that. Unfortunately, females will never be considered equal to men. That's the reason I said what I did in the BSG post. This strawmanning makes me wonder why a lot of people hate feminists.


  #106  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 3:11 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by MmeBergerac View Post
I lke the formula "Ladies and Gentlemen", and I don't think it's wrong at all. It's, as you've posted, a corteous way of adressing a mixed group of adults. What I can't stand is the overuse of that and other formulas. If you hear a politician giving a speech in Spain you'll surely hear something like:

Amigos y amigas, os aseguro que todos y todas los diputados y diputadas y los ministros y ministras trabajamos para que todos y todas los ciudadanos y ciudadanas...
¿En serio? Your politicians talk like that? Wow. That's just... overboard. And here I thought ancient texts were repetitive.


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  #107  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 6:17 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by FleurduJardin View Post
ETA 2 - Canis, we posted at about the same time, so I only saw your post after mine was up. I'll have to read it carefully before I respond, should I feel a response necessary. Very interesting, though.

At first sight, after just a brief perusal, I'd say it confirms what both Melanie and I say, that somehow the feminine form of a word has, or has taken on, a negative connotation. The thing she and I disagree about is the way to do away with that negative connotation.

Concerning how to address a mixed group of people - They may not all be senators, trustees, whatever... So I think that "Ladies and Gentlemen" - in French "Mesdames et Messieurs" is the best and "safest" way to go about it. Let's say a TV host greets his audience. In France, it would be "Mesdames et Messieurs". Though, in the US, things being generally informal, "Hi, folks" would be OK. In France, the newscasters always start with "Mesdames, Messieurs, bonjour/bonsoir". In the US, it's just "Good morning", "Good afternoon" or "Good evening". Melanie, how is it in the UK? MmeB, do they say "Señoras y Señores" in Spain?
Yeah I mean, I can't deny that the disparity between women and men is reflected in certain sectors of language. But I'm just not convinced that this is a matter which can be corrected via language itself--if the vestigial conventions in language are even indicative of people's contemporary opinions, which I can't really confirm either. My problem is this: Though ample evidence exists in our various languages that men and women are regarded wholly differently, I don't see how addressing this manifestation in language gets at the heart of the matter. For one thing, if two assertive and intelligent women such as you and Melanie can't agree on the matter, then it makes me wonder if there is really a right answer rather than two or more competing preferences. On a more empirical level though, I think it can be demonstrated that efforts to neutralize language is not in itself an indicator of equalized gender relations.

I think Lakoff's seemingly underlying assertion has relevance here, that women are typically defined (conceptually, not just linguistically) by their relationships to men, while men are defined by their own agency. As a man, I have opportunistic biological and social agendas, and a woman's potential utility to me is of some importance, whether I am permitted to express it or not. Altering my mode of expression to shroud these agendas is not likely to alter these agendas--I will still desire sex and social prominence as much as I did whether I'm using gender neutral terms or not. At least I think so. Given that I do (according to this author) use a great deal more feminine speech than most men, perhaps my estimation of a womans' utility to me and her own autonomy are not really mutually exclusive. There is some consolation there, that everyone is a socially egotistical animal and gender distinctions are matters of biology rather than social value, but I can't suggest that this is universally true.

What I just can't wrap my mind around is that by using some of this language I'm upholding or advocating some form of latent sexism. Because I really don't subscribe to it. I may assume that doctors and layers and professors are men because most of the one I've known have been, and the language I use may favor this position--does this then suggest that I believe a woman can't or shouldn't be one? I don't think so. But there is certainly room for debate. I think this book presents somewhat dated evidence, but its core principles are still worth examining, namely that women are socialized to speak in such a way that they can't escape from being denigrated, that social conventions (which inform semantics) favor male autonomy only, and so on (I'm not finished yet ).


  #108  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 7:20 am
Muggle_Magic  Male.gif Muggle_Magic is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
Find a single post where I say or imply that.
Personally, that's what I understood when you said that if you were a woman and someone called you "sir", it would make you feel equal to men. In my mind, it implies that being called "ma'am" would make a woman feel inferior. Guess I misunderstood.

Quote:
Unfortunately, females will never be considered equal to men. That's the reason I said what I did in the BSG post. This strawmanning makes me wonder why a lot of people hate feminists.
Can you seriously say "females will never be considered equal to men"? Do you actually believe that? Oh, my! I can't wait for one of the women to come in on this.

I don't get the "strawmanning" thing here. Nor why (if it's true) "a lot of people hate feminists." Can't wait for a female voice to come in on this either.

I'm outta here before the storm hits!!!



Last edited by Muggle_Magic; December 23rd, 2010 at 7:33 am.
  #109  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 1:15 pm
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

PoxVoldius: the example was a bit exaggerated, but not too much. Our politicians usually suffer a severe case of fear to not to look politically correct enough, along with a general lack of knowledge and common sense. So they usually sound more or less as I wrote, and sometimes fall in complete nonsense while trying to be more Papist than the Pope, like that one (I don't remember who exactly, but it was a woman) who, trying not to use the word líder (leader), which is neutral but perceived as male for not ending on -a, "invented" the word lideresa.

Fleur: In Spain, TV shows, or at least the news, which are the most formal, usually begin with "buenas tardes, señoras y señores" (well, with the proper time of the day, of course). The formula "damas y caballeros" is more old-fashioned and, now I think of it, it is not usual to hear it outside a theatre.


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  #110  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 4:08 pm
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by Muggle_Magic View Post
Personally, that's what I understood when you said that if you were a woman and someone called you "sir", it would make you feel equal to men. In my mind, it implies that being called "ma'am" would make a woman feel inferior. Guess I misunderstood.
The keyword is "feel." As I said, females will never be considered equal in any society, especially in America. It's the sad truth. Our politicians just don't care. There still isn't an equal pay law, which is a downright shame. Religion also comes into the mix in regards to fundamentalists, who think women should submit to their husband's will. My stepfather is an example and it really, really upsets me.

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Originally Posted by Muggle_Magic View Post
I don't get the "strawmanning" thing here. Nor why (if it's true) "a lot of people hate feminists." Can't wait for a female voice to come in on this either.
The strawman is that I apparently said that no female officer can equal a man's accomplishments unless they are addressed as "sir." I said no such thing. I said I would "feel" equal and I put that comment into the context of what I was thinking at the time, that females will unfortunately never be considered equal.


  #111  
Old December 23rd, 2010, 8:48 pm
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
Find a single post where I say or imply that.
Let's review:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight
As for the gender-equality issue, well, I don't care about that. It doesn't bother me. I would be flattered if I was addressed as "Sir" if I was a female officer, as it would make me feel equal to my male counterparts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
Unfortunately, females will never be considered equal to men. That's the reason I said what I did in the BSG post. This strawmanning makes me wonder why a lot of people hate feminists.
The sum of these comments is not, as Fleur suggested, a mere implication that women can only feel equal to their male counterparts if addressed as "sir," it is an assertion that women will never be equal to their male counterparts under any circumstances. Is this really the position you wish to defend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
The strawman is that I apparently said that no female officer can equal a man's accomplishments unless they are addressed as "sir." I said no such thing. I said I would "feel" equal and I put that comment into the context of what I was thinking at the time, that females will unfortunately never be considered equal.
Actually I think a rather charitable inference was made compared to what you're actually saying. I don't agree with you at all. I feel men are equal to women in all reasonably possible ways, because my experience has taught me this. It's not just some ideology that I decided to adopt because it was trendy. I think it's extremely dangerous to follow your line of thinking that the goal is unattainable, because then what is the point of trying? How do these statements hit you?

Women will never be able to run businesses.
Women will never be able to own land.
Women will never be able to vote.
Women will never be able to make decisions about their own bodies.
Women will never be able to make the same salary as a man.

For every case where these have been proved false there are cases where they are still largely or entirely true. If you think that equality is a pipe dream, I wonder what you'd say to women in Uganda who are evicted from their rightful homes, or girls in Nepal who are sold into slavery, or women in Saudi Arabia who want to be politically involved but have no rights, or women in the U.S. who deserve higher wages but won't ever earn them? That there's no help for them because women will never be considered equal? Sorry, but I hope you're not right.

Significant ETA: I can't double-post, so please consider this bit separately: I want to post some additional quotes from this Lakoff book for further discussion:

pg 41My point is that linguistic and social change go hand in hand: one cannot, purely by changing language use, change social status.


pg 45I think one should force onself to be realistic: certain aspects of language are available to the native speaker for conscious analysis, and others are too common, too thoroughly mixed throughout the language, for the speaker to be aware each time he uses them.


pg 45Attempt to change only what can be changed, since this is hard enough.


pg 46[Regarding "herstory" and "himicanes"]: If this sort of stuff appears in print and in the popular media as often as it does, it becomes increasingly more difficult to persuade men that women are really rational beings.



Last edited by canismajoris; December 24th, 2010 at 2:56 am.
  #112  
Old December 24th, 2010, 5:44 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by canismajoris View Post
How do these statements hit you?

Women will never be able to run businesses.
Women will never be able to own land.
Women will never be able to vote.
Women will never be able to make decisions about their own bodies.
Women will never be able to make the same salary as a man.
Let me add:
Women's hands are not steady enough for them to be surgeons.
Women's hearts are too soft for them to be soldiers.
Women cannot be leaders, except of a group of women and/or children.
Women are not creative. There is no good woman composer, painter, writer, etc.
Women are too instable ("Frailty, thy name is woman") to be trustworthy.

For the second one of my examples above, let me just remind everyone of how, in Africa, when taken prisoners, black and white warriors alike prayed they would not be given over to the women, for they could be ten times crueller than the men. It also forgets all the famous woman warriors in history.

Back to BSG, I see Fleur's point. In that TV series, the society depicted is really a society where the two sexes are absolutely equal. Two of the best fighter pilots (Starbuck and Boomer) are women, and everyone acknowledges this. The most ruthless commander is a woman (Admiral Helena Cain.) Among civilians as among military personnel, there is no distinction between men and women. The distinction is either one of class (if you come from a rich planet, you're more likely to come up in life, nobody not named "Adama" will ever command Galactica, etc.) - And yet, in this ideal "equality of the sexes" society, a woman in command is still addressed as "Sir". IMO, that's a major flaw in the writing of the script. Because, as Bill Canis quoted:

Quote:
My point is that linguistic and social change go hand in hand: one cannot, purely by changing language use, change social status.
True. But in BSG's case, why didn't the language change to reflect the equal social status?

Quote:
I think one should force onself to be realistic: certain aspects of language are available to the native speaker for conscious analysis, and others are too common, too thoroughly mixed throughout the language, for the speaker to be aware each time he uses them.
Very accurate observation.

Quote:
[Regarding "herstory" and "himicanes"]: If this sort of stuff appears in print and in the popular media as often as it does, it becomes increasingly more difficult to persuade men that women are really rational beings.
I'd never seen "himicanes" but, for both,

I'd note, though, that for a long time (until the 1970's), hurricanes were given exclusively female names. It was only after feminists protested that they went to the system of alternating male and female names for tropical storms and hurricanes.

Unfortunately, people trying to change the language go to absurd lengths to do it, and it's counter-productive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight
females will unfortunately never be considered equal.
What a pessimistic view! They actually already are, though the countries or places where they are are few and far between. But it's coming.

We've come a long way since the 1970's. There's still a long way to go, but we're getting there.

ETA - It strikes me that the two posters who responded to NumberEight are men. The women are, for some reason, staying silent on this.

But that two men do stand up forcefully for the feminist point of view is, IMO, an encouraging sign. Both Bill Canis and I know that women are the equals of men, and that it's only a matter of time that they are universally considered so. I firmly believe this.



Last edited by Muggle_Magic; December 24th, 2010 at 6:02 am. Reason: Add emphasis
  #113  
Old December 24th, 2010, 6:14 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by canismajoris View Post
Is this really the position you wish to defend?

<snip>
Yes. I have a cynical outlook on life and that will never change. I don't ignore the accomplishments because they have indeed happened. Listing them won't change my mind, however. When you have a world where women are seen as inferior by millions, if not billions, that line of thinking won't be eradicated. What goes on in the middle East in regards to women will never change. Every church around the world allowing women to preach the gospel will never happen. Equal pay in America, even if a bill is signed into law, will not be followed by all employers. If you want to put words in my mouth and make it look like I think we should give up when striving for equality, that's your prerogative. Even though I think the goal for complete equality will never happen, at least trying increases the chances of attainability.



Last edited by NumberEight; December 24th, 2010 at 6:47 am.
  #114  
Old December 24th, 2010, 10:59 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

All of you please stop sniping at one another. Be careful not to put words people didn't actually say into their mouths. Equally, though, if someone misrepresents what you've said, 99 times out of 100 it's usually because they genuinely misunderstood you, not because they are trying to make out you said something you didn't. A polite "Sorry if I worded it confusingly, but that's not what I meant" is usually all it takes

Also, discussions about the concrete legal and social rights that women have achieved or seem likely to achieve in various societies belong better in this thread, not here



Last edited by Melaszka; December 24th, 2010 at 11:17 am.
  #115  
Old December 27th, 2010, 5:34 am
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

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Originally Posted by canismajoris View Post
My problem is this: Though ample evidence exists in our various languages that men and women are regarded wholly differently, I don't see how addressing this manifestation in language gets at the heart of the matter. For one thing, if two assertive and intelligent women such as you and Melanie can't agree on the matter, then it makes me wonder if there is really a right answer rather than two or more competing preferences. On a more empirical level though, I think it can be demonstrated that efforts to neutralize language is not in itself an indicator of equalized gender relations.
I think the disagreement between Melanie and me has roots both generational and linguistic.

Generational because I'm much older - I'm more than twice your age, Bill Canis, and it's possible I'm twice Melanie's age too*. I've seen the situation as it was in an era before you were born and Melanie was a toddler. The era when telling a woman "Hey, you're quite smart for a girl" was thought to be a compliment. The era when, a lot more than now, anyone in a position of power, or in a "prestigious" profession was automatically assumed to be a man. The younger generation kind of takes for granted (and minimizes the importance of) things we had to fight very hard for.

I was working for the UN as a translator, but when I said I worked for the UN, the question was usually "Are you a secretary?" or "Are you a guide?". A woman friend of mine, who was chief of her own department, was visited once, in her UN office, by FBI agents whose first question was, "Are you the chief's secretary?"

As to the UN itself, my friends and I were instrumental in changing the title of the leaflet for visitors which was called "Every Man's United Nations" to "Everyone's United Nations". That's rather illustrative, don't you think?

Though from the start, it was equal pay for equal work for both genders, there were glaring disparities in benefits (being met at arrival in NY, home leave benefits for spouses, security matters when working on the night shift, etc.), which we managed to correct in the late 1970's to early 1980's. The UN itself (I'm not talking about Member States) has, as much as possible, achieved gender equality. There's hope yet for the rest of the world.

The linguistic disagreement stems from the fact that my main language (French) doesn't have neutral articles, while English does. It makes a world of difference. I've already written at length about it and won't bore you all with a repetition.

ETA - Oh, and at the UN, no woman, in power or not, is ever addressed as "Sir". Even among the security officers, who are our police force and hold military ranks (sergeant, lieutenant, captain, etc.).

*ETA 2 - I just looked at Melanie's age and no, I'm not twice her age. I'm not quite THAT old. If I had had children early enough, I could still be her mother, though, so the generational gap is there.



Last edited by FleurduJardin; December 27th, 2010 at 5:53 am. Reason: ETAs
  #116  
Old December 27th, 2010, 10:13 am
DancingMaenid  Undisclosed.gif DancingMaenid is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melaszka View Post
My problems with -ess and -trix endings in English are:

(a) they are not a feminine equivalent of the -or or -er endings they replace (as is the case with -euse for -eur or -ienne for -ian in French), they are a suffix added to that ending and both etymologically and semantically, I feel they have a diminutive quality. NOT because they are feminine (like I said, I don't have that problem with -euse in French, because it's not a suffix added to the male title and it doesn't have a trivial sound to it - I can't explain this, -ess just sounds patronising to me.)
This is pretty much how I feel, and you put it better than I did.

I'm not inherently against gendered words, though they do make things more awkward for people like me who aren't comfortable applying them to ourselves. I don't really have a problem with languages like French and Spanish that have masculine and feminine endings for words.

But a lot of feminine words in English are altered versions of existing words. And while I can see the innocent and even positive reasons for wanting to differentiate between a male actor and a female actor, for example, I can also see the more sinister reasons why some people might care.

I find it kind of interesting that the word "authoress" is rarely used anymore. Today, women make up a large percentage of readers, and a respectable percentage of writers and editors are female. I don't know if the two trends are connected, but it does make me wonder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberEight View Post
When you have a world where women are seen as inferior by millions, if not billions, that line of thinking won't be eradicated. What goes on in the middle East in regards to women will never change. Every church around the world allowing women to preach the gospel will never happen.
Prejudice, in general, seems to be part of the human condition, unfortunately. So no, we may not eradicate it, or prejudice against women in particular, totally.

But I don't know that that's necessary. There will always be some people who cling to outdated and discriminatory beliefs. What's important is that they don't hold the rest of us back.


  #117  
Old January 5th, 2011, 5:25 am
FleurduJardin  Female.gif FleurduJardin is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

With all the current debates on, and re-reading of the US Constitution, I'm reminded of these famous words from the US Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

It seems evident to me that "all men" did not include either women, or men of colour. "Men" doesn't have the meaning of "mankind" here" (as in "Man is a mammal which suckles its young" )

Ditto for the French Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen) - women, though addressed as "citoyenne" - "citizeness" if you read Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel series, or other books set during the French Revolution - didn't have any civil rights. Certainly not the right to vote. However they certainly had the right to be beheaded.

Which is, once again, why I'm set against the "neutral" form (which is almost always the masculine form, as in "actor/actress", "hero/heroine") of a word because, whether we want it or not, it always has a gender connotation in languages where articles are neutral. In languages where articles have a gender, that problem is much less blatant. I'm not going into Asian languages because the article system there is a lot more complicated and outside the purview of this discussion.

ETA - Melanie, I forgot. Personally, I don't think "ess" or "ette" are patronizing. There's nothing patronizing in "Mistress", "actress" or "brunette" in my opinion. And I think that "bachelorette" actually has less negative and down-putting connotations than "spinster".



Last edited by FleurduJardin; January 5th, 2011 at 5:30 am. Reason: Typo
  #118  
Old January 7th, 2011, 7:36 pm
Muggle_Magic  Male.gif Muggle_Magic is offline
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

On the topic of addressing women in traditionally male positions. I don't remember where I read it, but it seems that the first two women to be elected at the Académie française were addressed as "Monsieur."

One new male member was berated because he made the mistake of starting his maiden speech with "Mesdames, Messieurs".

It struck me as I was typing it - the term "maiden speech" for the first speech of someone elected to a high position, whatever the person's gender.


  #119  
Old March 24th, 2011, 2:51 pm
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-12843948

The article speaks to the nature of gendered language and Mexico's attempts to reduce the amount of sexist language.

So this brings me to my question, are there things that a government can do to prevent sexist language? If so, do you think these types of measures would be effective?


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  #120  
Old March 24th, 2011, 5:30 pm
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Re: Feminism: Definitions and Opinions

1. How would you define feminism?

The fight for equality between genders.

2. Do you define yourself as a feminist? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes.

3. What positive things (if any) do you think the feminist movement has achieved?

Voting, being able to own and inherit property are pretty big ones, but countless smaller things too.

4. What (if anything) do you think the feminist movement should be working to achieve now? What methods do you think should be used to achieve those goals?

In the Western world the issues I have are equality in the work place- women are still earning less than men in the same positions. Also, I do not think girls are encouraged to pursue dominant job positions and still have the mindset that men are better at certain things than them. Even in typically female jobs it is often men taking the lead- for example, more women teach at a primary level than men but there are more male headmasters. More women are hairdressers than men but it seems all the household names are males. I think child support such as on site creches in large companies are something to encourage more women to take leading jobs.

In other parts of the world there are still huge amounts of things that need to be done, female genital mutilation being one of the more horrible things which I wish would be wiped out.

Education is the main way forwards- for both young girls and young boys.

5. What negative effects (if any) do you think the feminist movement has had?

I think most of the things feminism has changed have been good, but I do feel as though there is a lot of confusion with regards to working mothers. Personally I think everyone should have a choice about whether they return to work once they have had a child or not, but there seems to be bickering between either side. It seems as though some feminists don't like the idea of women being stay at home mothers, and some stay at home mothers think working mothers are not looking after their children properly. This is not really a major issue compared to the horrible abuse women have been through, but I think it is an issue that new mothers have to think about and it can be tough for them. I don't think stay at home mothers should be looked down upon- and I'm sure a lot more women would rather stay at home with their child if they could afford to give up work.

6. Have you had any negative experiences of feminists in RL?

Not personally, no.

7. Do you feel there are any common misconceptions about feminism and what would you say to someone who holds these misconceptions?

'Hairy legged man haters' spring to mind, as does the phrase 'militant feminist' which is just ridiculous (as ridiculous as the so called 'militant vegetarians') These kind of characters only seem to live in films and TV programmes but a lot of people assume that if you are a feminist you hate men or something ridiculous like that.


 
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