Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What does "post-feminist" mean anyway?

Is sexism a thing of the past? Are women still discriminated against? What does "post-feminist" mean anyway?

Unless you're drinking late in some biker bar, it can be hard to prove that sexism still exists these days, what with Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin and Oprah running the joint. So, I am after some clear-cut examples that can't be dismissed (other than the usual economic stats, which I think speak for themselves, but many Men's Rights bloggers ignore as biased).


I was getting ready to link to Questioning Transphobia when, damn, wouldn't ya know? I've been banned from that blog too, by Lisa Harney.[1] (Yeah, I know... the youngsters really hate grandma these days!) I think QT is an important blog, so not de-linking in return, unless they make a point of asking me to.

In any event, I do love Queen Emily and her writing. She linked the following on Questioning Transphobia (link in sidebar, not linking in post... they probably wouldn't want me to anyway): Transgender Academics and Sexism. Check it out!

I am always fascinated when transgendered people describe (witness!) the sexism they have encountered, and chronicle the differences in the ways they are treated after transitioning to man/woman. I don't think any better witnesses concerning the realities of sexism can be found, since they really have experienced it from both sides of the gender spectrum.

And they offer concrete examples.

Lucy Miller provides the tale of two Stanford biology professors, Joan Roughgarden and Ben Barres:

While living as a woman, Ben described the various ways in which his intelligence and opinions were devalued, including having a professor say “You must have had your boyfriend solve it” after correctly solving a particularly difficult computer problem in a class at MIT. After transitioning, Ben found that people now treat him with more respect; “I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”

Joan’s experience was, not surprisingly, almost the exact opposite. As a young male professor, “it felt as though tracks had been laid down; all Roughgarden had to do was stick to the tracks, and the high expectations that others had of the young biologist would do the rest.” After publishing a paper challenging the traditional view of the role of tide pools, she received harsh reviews but her “ideas were taken seriously.” After transitioning, Joan “said she no longer feels she has ‘the right to be wrong.’” She found the reception to be very different when she challenged Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. Instead of engaging with her about her theory, many scientists would yell at her and be physically intimidating. “At a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Minneapolis, Joan said, a prominent expert jumped up on the stage after her talk and started shouting at her.” When asked about interpersonal changes after transitioning, Joan said that “‘You get interrupted when you are talking, you can’t command attention, but above all you can’t frame the issues.’”[2]

I am writing that down, for my own ongoing edification: FRAME. THE. ISSUES.

Why are women unable to frame the issues? This is a HEAVY question, and until we answer it... well, we won't be able to frame the issues.

And this is the crux of the matter: who is doing the framing? For instance, in my comments on this thread, I was not able to make my point very well, since I didn't have the language. Now I do!: Women do not frame the issues. (Thank you Dr Roughgarden!)

Danny writes, on being a man:
What I think the hard part of this is going to be is how to get men to realize that we don’t have to suffer in silence and getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk. Now I know to some of you that last part may sound weird. It probably sounds weird because in your mind men don’t need help speaking up because of male privilege (and if you think male privilege mitigates away our harms and pain then to the devil with you). Well let me ask you something. If men are so privileged then why do people proceed to flip the fuck out when we say something that is real but not politically correct? If I talk about how attractive Julianna Margulies and Vivica Fox are and one bats an eye but if I start to go into how I was picked on by girls in school and people think something is wrong with me.
Does anybody think anything is wrong with Danny? I don't. Nobody I know would say that. (?) Who and what is he talking about?

I replied:
getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk.

(((blinks in amazement)))

Okay, results of random experiment. I just flipped the channels on my TV, about 30-40 channels. (I stopped at OXYGEN, Oprah’s network.) I saw: Men talking, talking, talking. Andy Cohen, Larry King, Dr Phil, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, hip-hop stars I don’t know the names of, athletes I don’t know the names of, country and western stars I don’t know the names of, various politicians, Barack Obama, some guy on the BBC, Charlie Rose, Rahm Emmanuel, Anderson Cooper, et. al.

I saw: Women acting, singing, posing, selling cleaning fluids and nylons, bitching to Dr Phil, but men are the ones doing the talking about the important stuff that runs the world and makes the bucks.

The only women I found voicing actual independent opinions were 1) Joy Behar and 2) The Real Housewives of D.C. (In another hour, Rachel Maddow will get re-broadcast, but this is a RANDOM experiment!)

So, when you make a statement like the one above? Most women just shake their heads and move on. My first reaction:
Danny, are you kidding?!?

How do you account for the difference in what you have said vs the results of my random media experiment? I could repeat it at virtually any hour of the day, and still get the same basic results.

So I am unsure of what you are talking about.
And a minor brawl ensues henceforth.

April comments that Danny should have said "let us emote" rather than "let us talk"... but see, I am not sure that is what he means. I think men often use TALKING as a way to AVOID emoting.

I think the problem is that women can not frame the issues, not that we need to be Anderson Cooper, et. al.

Comments welcome, particularly if you can say any of this better than I can!


[1] Lisa said "I'm banning you from my blog"--I had thought it was a group blog, but I guess it actually belongs to Lisa? I didn't realize this, since I rarely read her posts and usually just skip to Queen Emily's.

[2] Speaking of concrete examples, Danny's post about gender differences among kids being exhorted to fight (by their parents), is also good.


JoJo said...

My aren't we the rabble rouser! Getting banned on another blog! For speaking your mind and opinion! How DARE you! ;p

DaisyDeadhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donald said...

Well, private property, freedom to associate, yada yada yada You got your own blog, so there!

Sure, sexism still exists. And always will. As long as men and women are genetically wired differently, communicate differently, think differently. There is a male - female continuum and we do mix a bit in the middle, but the different modes of interactions lead us into different paths and careers. We see the differences; we learn to deal with this imperfect norm and then are told to erase all that expectation. Not easy.

Donald said...

Don't want to mislead you, this is Cathleen, but the google account shows Don's name on it. I am so not tech savy.

DaisyDeadhead said...

HI CATHLEEN!! WELCOME and its so great to see you here. :)

Jim said...

" I think men often use TALKING as a way to AVOID emoting."

God haven't we all seen this all our lives.

Thatw as an intereting thread, and you caught a weak place in his expression of his point. I think April got it right.

I once someone point out that since women often don't feel comfortable expressing anger, it comes out as sadness, and since men often don't feel comfortable expressing dsadness, it often comes out as anger. And most of the time both come out as pervarication and ego defense.

Danny said...

"I think men often use TALKING as a way to AVOID emoting."

I'm sure there are times when this true but I'm also sure there are times when that is false.

You see just as there are men who will go on verbal rants and not take the time to work through their feelings there are also men who do not talk about their feelings and only think about them. That can lead to festering I can promise you that that is rarely a good thing.

Talking helps, even if its to yourself. The voice is a valuable outlet for working through one's emotions and we all know how men are treated when it comes to talking about feelings that aren't lust and rage.

In short Daisy what good would it have done if I had never made that post over at ethcofem and fumed on those feelings? I don't know about you but think at least I am much better off having said something about it rather than festering on it.

Jim said...

"I think the problem is that women can not frame the issues, not that we need to be Anderson Cooper, et. al."

Yes, and this applies to everything.

I think women have had some sucess at framing the issues.

When it comes ot voting rights, women (white ones at least) had a lot more success at framing the issue that black people did.

DV and sexual harrassment have been framed almost entirely from women's perspective, and it was long overdue. That doesn't mena it's right yet, but it was a correction.

And then soem things have always been framed by women. Family issues have generally been on women's terms, at the deep level.

In recent generations manners have been defined by women in elite settings, the "parlor culture".