clarifying-concepts

Feminism Friday: Rape Jokes Aren’t Funny

Late, I know, and not much from me: I’m just pointing you at these three posts below from Melissa McEwan at Shakesville. Trauma-Trigger Alert: Melissa describes her own rape in harrowing detail in order to point out how rape is not funny, and although the discussion threads start out thoughtful and interesting, they end up […]

FAQ: But men and women are born different! Isn’t that obvious?

That idea is known as “essentialism”: the belief that there are uniquely feminine and uniquely masculine essences which exist independently of cultural conditioning. Both actual (minor) and alleged (major) differences between the sexes have been used to justify inequities and constraints which harm women emotionally, financially and physically. Even where (and if) such differences do […]

Feminism Friday: Safety vs. Patriarchal Overprotection

Reader Justin wrote and asked me for advice on an ethical balance problem, and with his permission I quote his email: I have a question which has been bothering me for some time, and which may/may not be worth addressing on the site. In any case, its something I don’t feel precisely comfortable asking my […]

FAQ: what do you mean by “Not my Nigel”? (feminist abbreviations/jargon)

[2013-01-10 Update: some broken links fixed to point to revised URLs - thanks to the reader who reported!] Like any other field of debate and controversy, a lot of issues and positions in feminism end up being discussed so often that they are abbreviated for convenience into acronyms, initialisms and shorthand phrases that make up […]

FAQ: I’ve got nothing against equal rights for women, but we’ve got that, so isn’t feminism nowadays just going too far ?

Simple, basic legal equality regarding the right to own property, sign contracts or vote does not always translate into social equality in work, the community or the home. Feminists who point out residual cultural traditions and reactionary business practises that disproportionately disadvantage women are not making it up…

FAQ: What is sexual objectification?

Sexual objectification is the viewing of people solely as de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities and desires/plans of their own. This is done by speaking/thinking of women especially as only their bodies, either the whole body, or as fetishised body parts. Sexual attraction is not the same as sexual objectification: […]

FAQ: Isn’t "the Patriarchy" just some conspiracy theory that blames all men, even decent men, for women’s woes?

Patriarchy: one of the most misunderstood critical-theory concepts ever, often wilfully misunderstood. Patriarchy is one form of social stratification via a power/dominance hierarchy – an ancient and ongoing social system based on traditions of elitism (a ranking of inferiorities) and its privileges. Societies can be (and usually are) patriarchal, oligarchal and plutocratic all at the same time, complicated by current and/or legacy features of sectarianism, imperialism and colonialism, so the gender hierarchy is only one source of social disparity. Because of the limited capacity of the word “patriarchy” to describe the full operation of intersecting oppressions, some now prefer to use the word “kyriarchy” instead, but it is not yet in common use.

Sexual Harassment

Haven’t put together an FAQ for SH yet, but I just found an excellent resource for anyone looking for clearly laid out material. From the Memorial University of Newfoundland: Sexual Harassment Information Site. Obviously, their definitions and referenced laws are specific to their own region, but the site offers more information about the conceptual and […]

FAQ: Can men be feminists?

(Updated with extra clarification in the clarifying concepts section)Many men are entirely comfortable with calling themselves feminists, and many feminist women are very happy to accept them as fellow feminists working for the end of sexist oppression. However, there are also men and women who are ideologically uncomfortable with men calling themselves feminists, because it […]

FAQ: What do feminists mean by "reproductive freedom"?

Reproductive freedom is so much more than merely being pro-choice. Without reproductive freedom, women’s rights to legal equality and social equity cannot be guaranteed. “Defined by feminists in the 1970s as a basic human right, it includes the right to abortion and birth control, but implies much more. To be realised, reproductive freedom must include […]

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