9 Comments

Feminism Friday on Tuesday: Echidne’s “Need For Feminism” series

I know the site’s been a bit quiet lately – other things in life have been keeping me busy. Luckily, there’s still plenty of other strong feminist writing around, including this great series from Echidne of the Snakes:

If you somehow missed my six-part (so far) series on the need for feminism, you can still read it!

1. The Right to Go Out

2. Planet of the Guys

3. Our Father Who Art in Heaven

4. The Invisible Women

5. The Female Body as Property

6. The Longest Revolution

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About tigtog

writer, singer, webwrangler, blogger, comedy tragic | about.me/vivsmythe

9 comments on “Feminism Friday on Tuesday: Echidne’s “Need For Feminism” series

  1. Question for you:When feminism states that men and women should have the same rights, do you also think they should share the same responsibilities that come along with those rights ?We do live in a patriarchal society and because of that men are expected a certain amount of chivalry towards women, for example giving your seat to a lady, letting her go through a door first, hold the door for her, be respectfull towards them, never phisically engage one etc etc etc.They are simply known as good manners.Such a procedure does not exist when a man is interacting with another, a lot of the time there’s even a certain competition among them.If women were to have the exact same rights as men ( which in western countries they do i think) do you still expect men to treat women with chivalry ?And is that fair ?In many ways that’s already happening today, you claim it’s harder for women to get high responsability job’s, but is it really ?All my life I seen men come down very hard on fellow men for mistakes at work and women get away with a little remark and a condescending smile in the end.Be carefull what you wish for.

  2. Jack, have you actually read about what most feminists think of chivalry? I suspect you haven’t done your research.

    It’s good manners for healthy, strong people to give up their seats and open doors for people who are either temporarily or permanently less strong or healthy – the frail aged, someone on crutches, a heavily pregnant woman. To treat average women as if they are weak or disabled is infantilising, condescending crap.

    Why is it, of all things, the creaky old opening doors argument that keeps on getting trotted out? I can open a door myself unless I’m injured, and it may be a bit trickier if I’m in the last few weeks of pregnancy, but otherwise unless I’m carrying stuff in both hands I can do it for myself. I also open doors for others if I’m the first one to reach the door, especially if their hands are full.

    As for workplace responsibilities, it is exactly those responsibilities being fulfilled that lead to promotion and pay rises, so yes I would indeed rather like them to be apportioned equally to women as well as men, thank you very much.

  3. I agree that those are problems, but I’m not convinced feminism is the solution.

    What I think is the problem is that feminism takes one sex and focuses all the attention on improving things for people of that sex – which would be fine if it was a rope-pulling competition, but I just don’t think it is quite that one-dimensional.

  4. I believe Jack’s problem is that he confuses good manners and chivalry.

    Good manners are what civilized human beings show to each other irrespective of gender.

    Good manners would be, for example, a man or woman not swearing or using obscene language in company whether that company consisted of men or women or both.

    Chivalry would be a man not swearing in front of women in company but feeling free to swear in front of men in company. Or you can have faux chivalry, where the men ‘accidentally’ lets slip a swear word in front of women and than exaggeratedly makes a point of saying “I do apologize ladies”.

    The first example shows that the person is thoughtful of everyone’s sensitivities. The second treats women as a different species. The third is worst of all because it is a blatant and deliberate example of trying to show what a man of the world he is and how fragile we females are – combining chivalry with hypocrisy.

    Chivalry is the patronizing of the (falsely perceived) weak by the (falsely perceived) strong. The effect, intended or not, is to underline male superiority and female inferiority for men who indulge in it.

  5. If women were to have the exact same rights as men ( which in western countries they do i think) do you still expect men to treat women with chivalry ?
    Whether said women call it chivalry or good manners I still hope they won’t still expect such treatment that is based on nothing more than gender.

    The effect, intended or not, is to underline male superiority and female inferiority for men who indulge in it.
    Not only that but chivalry also serves to the effect of having women who indulge in it think that they are owed something based on only their gender

  6. Danny, good manners consists (amongst other things) of refraining from imposing one’s will upon another person. That includes people with more muscular strength not imposing on those who are weaker, and that’s where it pertains to the (average) man’s relation to the (average woman). Since not all women are weaker than all men (would you fancy your chances against Grace Jones or Serena Williams or even petite taekwondo expert Sarah Michelle Gellar?) this is not a gender issue, this is a not-bullying issue.

    Either one respects others’ rights to not do what one wants them to do, or one doesn’t.

  7. Ok, let’s talk chivalry.

    Here is the relevant OED definition of chivalrous (the definition of chivalry is next to useless in this context): 3. Of, belonging to, or characteristic of the ideal knight; possessing all the virtues attributed to the Age of Chivalry; characterized by pure and noble gallantry, honour, courtesy, and disinterested devotion to the cause of the weak or oppressed. Sometimes, ‘gallant, or disinterestedly devoted in the service of the female sex’; sometimes, in ridicule = ‘quixotic’.

    There are three meanings wrapped up in this definition:

    (i) Of, belonging to, or characteristic of the ideal knight; possessing all the virtues attributed to the Age of Chivalry; characterized by pure and noble gallantry, honour, courtesy, and disinterested devotion to the cause of the weak or oppressed.

    (ii) Sometimes, ‘gallant, or disinterestedly devoted in the service of the female sex’;

    (iii) sometimes, in ridicule = ‘quixotic’.

    Treating the last first; the quixotic meaning isn’t relevant here.

    Now to number (ii). The examples of chivalry people (usually men) often pull out aren’t in fact chivalrous at all – quite the opposite in fact. The problem with opening doors and pulling out seats is that these actions are not actually chivalrous. They are not because as tigtog succinctly points out above they are condescending actions and therefore not of service to the female sex. On the other hand a male actively involved in the feminist movement could be considered chivalrous since he is acting out of devotion to the female sex, ostensibly without benefit to himself.

    Looking now at number (i). Both men and women are capable of chivalry in this sense. Both men and women are capable of honour, nobility and gallantry. In this sense tigtog’s action of opening the door for someone who has their hands full may be considered gallant, and so she is being chivalrous. It can be considered equally noble for a girl or a boy to buy/pick their date a rose. I’d quite like a flower from my date (if I had one). That’s an expression of affection.

    Chivalry is a good thing. People who abuse the name of chivalry to justify “benevolent sexism” are in fact the antithesis of the chivalrous.

  8. Christer: Given the state of women’s rights today, of crime against women, of inequal pay, is it not understandable that women want a focused, political response to these problems and that feminism had and does provide this?

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