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The F Word

There was a point last week at which the tone of some of the in one of my comment threads started to get a little heated.  There’s no point in rehashing the details, especially since it wasn’t the first time.  I’m not sure why people feel the need(or the right) to be nasty to complete strangers, but they do.

I want all of my readers to feel free to say whatever they want to say here.  This blog isn’t about one person being right and another person being wrong. I’m wrong a lot.  A lot.  And I wholeheartedly admit that.  I would hope that the people who read my blog and choose to comment could remember that they are frequently wrong too.  They are, after all, human.

Anyway, there was one thing about that (mean, heated) exchange that really did bother me.  The F word was used in a pejorative manner.  The F word being feminism.

I can think of several times in the life of this blog when male readers have used the words feminism or feminist in a very negative manner.  It’s usually something like, “you believe that stupid thing because you are a feminist” or “because of feminism..complaint.”

From what I can tell, most of the people (almost always men) using this phrase don’t seem to have any real sense of the meaning of the word.  And it’s not entirely their fault.  It’s one of those words, like liberal, that has been thrown around and misused so much that it’s become disconnected with its original meaning.

Feminism, at its core, is the belief that women should have equal rights to men.  That’s it.  Just equal rights.  Equal rights in every way – economically, politically, sexually.  It is not about man-hating or not wearing make-up or looking down on women who choose to stay home with their children or have large families or believe in a “traditional” value system.  It’s about equal rights.  Equal rights that would allow us equal opportunities and thus the right to live our lives however we choose (including the choice to be married with kids and not working outside the home if that’s what we wanted).

I know many women who strongly believe in all of that but who do not consider themselves feminists because of all of the nastiness around the word. OK, fine.  Everyone gets to define themselves however they see fit.

But no one is allowed to use the words feminist or feminism in an insulting manner on this blog any longer.  Not without getting called out for it.  It’s ignorant and hateful and smacks of the kind of double standard that we should have left in the last century.

And now for a bit of wonderful.  Thank you once again to Jezebel for the link.  Here they are, The Ladies of Sesame Street singing Women Can Be.

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50 to “The F Word”

  1. RVASarah says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about feminism.
    I also think some of the nastiness, in this and other forums, comes from those who use the anonymity of the internet as a crutch to act like complete jerks. Before I post anything, I stop and think, “Would I say this to someone’s face if we were having a real conversation?” It puts things in perspective.

  2. SINgleGIRL says:

    That’s an excellent standard to live/post by. I’d guess that some of the folks out here would soften their words if they had to look people in the eyes. And in regards to feminism – I’m prepared to go to war over that.

  3. PiscesInPurple says:

    Brava, Simone.

  4. starangel82 says:

    I think RVASarah is right. Too many people use the internet as something to hide behind to act like idiots and jerks. Hence the internet bullies and other scaries out there on the internet. I applaud you for taking a stand for what you will and will not tolerate on your blog. Of course, nothing is better than getting back to basics with Sesame Street. Good job.

  5. derek7272 says:

    I feel like modern feminism is rather more complex than just belief in equal rights. That is like saying that a liberal just someone who “cares about people” or a conservative is simply someone who “believes in freedom.” All three are actually rather complete philosophies, and as such are legitimate subjects for criticism.

    I mean feminism implies set of beliefs on variety of subjects including the “gender pay gap”; abortion, body image; “the male gaze”; political liberalism; that women are substantially oppressed or disadvantaged in Western countries; that many/most differences between men and women are the result of socialization and discrimination rather than biology; and so forth.

    Not that you have to be 100% in lockstep on every single issue to be considered a feminist — but still a general agreement on most is implied I think. Most self-described feminists I think would not consider the Independent Women’s Forum, Christina Hoff Summers, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese or Camille Paglia feminists, even though I’m sure they all would say they believe in equal rights for all.

  6. PiscesInPurple says:

    That’s interesting, Derek. I actually think calling oneself a feminist implies exactly the opposite -> That you’re pro-woman in whatever way that means to you. A conservative feminist, for example, would probably say that part of her feminism is her *opposition* to abortion. I don’t think that what you say is wrong, exactly. I just think that the reality, especially for my generation of women, is much more complex and nuanced. We assert our right not to be pigeon-holed. Once upon a time, feminism certainly meant (among other things) the right to work outside the home. As Simone mentions, these days it includes the right to devote oneself unflinchingly to motherhood, and not have suffer labels such as “only a housewife”.

  7. derek7272 says:

    But once you use such a sweeping definition, doesn’t the word become a little bit meaningless? I mean I don’t think there are any serious people out there who disagree that women should have equal opportunities or the right to live their lives in any way they choose. Maybe a few armchair Archie Bunkers, I guess. But a lot of people would disagree with the positions I mentioned above.
    You do see someone like Hoff Summers get routinely described as an anti-feminist even tho she calls herself an “equity feminist.”

  8. SINgleGIRL says:

    Thank you PiscesinPurple for jumping in. It really does sadden me that something so simple can be so difficult for some people to understand. But then, it’s convenient to not understand it, I guess.

    As I said in the original post Derek, it really is kind of last century to be holding onto divisive definitions of feminism. The only people who are making the kind of assumptions you’re making are the ones who want women to argue amongst ourselves, rather than take strong stands about the issues we strongly agree on. I know plenty of pro-life feminists (and sexually submissive feminists, and feminists who also happen to be moms and socialists – we come in all flavors), but according to your worldview they shouldn’t get to counted as feminists. I don’t think you’d want to tell them that to their faces.

    Feminism is about equal rights, pure and simple. In the early days of the feminist movement, there was a striking uniformity of views amongst many (but not all) of those active in seeking the kinds of social change that have lead to allowing for the freedoms that so many of the young(er) women today take for granted. That was then. This is now.

  9. PiscesInPurple says:

    I see your point. Which is honestly why I rarely describe myself as a feminist, because I think there’s still too much baggage attached to the word, a lot of which I don’t choose to identify with. For me, it’s complicated, it’s personal and I haven’t quite sorted it out in my own mind yet.

    But I must insist: There are PLENTY of serious people out there who don’t believe women are equal in any way. Especially outside the US. I could tell a ridiculous number of stories about the misogyny I encountered in the West Indies, but I won’t because it’s outside the scope of this conversation. But even here in the US, even in my own family, even from the mouths of my allegedly enlightened father and uncles, who adore me and think I’m smart and successful, there are criticisms, both spoken and unspoken, re: the choices I’ve made. Why aren’t I married to my child’s father? Why did I give my son MY last name? Why aren’t I a better housekeeper? Why don’t I wear more makeup? Why am I fantastic cook who refuses to bake and sew? Why aren’t I more like my mother, who’s more typically feminine? Why don’t I pursue a career better suited for a woman, like teaching? (That last one really bugs me. Not just on my behalf, but because of what it says our society thinks about teachers. It’s still a profoundly underpaid and under-appreciated profession, and I believe it’s because it’s been traditionally considered a “woman’s job”.)

    So no, I don’t think the word is meaningless. I think there still so many subtle (and not-so-subtle) messages out there telling women and girls that they’re inferior. I think that we don’t even necessarily see them clearly, because they’re so deeply buried/ingrained, we don’t even realize they’re there. (Incidentally, I’d assert something very similar about racism. We’ve come a long way, for sure, but I don’t think our evolution in this regard is complete.)

  10. SINgleGIRL says:

    Derek- as to your links (missed that in my last comment),
    All of that nonsense is very good for selling books, and tickets to lectures and getting/keeping university chairs but I’m pretty sure that most of us (women, esp the smartest of us) stopped really paying attention to academic infighting years ago. The only people who pay it the slightest bit of attention are those who live/work in academia.

  11. PiscesInPurple says:

    (My last comment was addressed to Derek, not Simone… just in case that wasn’t obvious.)

  12. PiscesInPurple says:

    I couldn’t possibly agree more with this:
    “Feminism is about equal rights, pure and simple. In the early days of the feminist movement, there was a striking uniformity of views amongst many (but not all) of those active in seeking the kinds of social change that have lead to allowing for the freedoms that so many of the young(er) women today take for granted. That was then. This is now.”

    That’s exactly the point I was trying to make. It’s a real luxury that I get to say, I usually choose not to label myself as a feminist.

    Also, what does it say about the world and our society that while I clearly AM a feminist, I resist calling myself one because of the reaction it gets?

  13. SINgleGIRL says:

    YES!!! Thank you, I meant to say that too. Multi-tasking is not all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s terribly naive to believe that women have earned equality. Or that there is no persistent sexism in our world. I have, in the past, faced MASSIVE discrimination in the workplace and have relatives who firmly believe that my place is a) having babies and serving a husband and b) if I had a job it should be as a teacher or a nurse because those are “appropriate” fields for women. I think it’s important that women become more vocal about our demands for equal rights and that we take back our word. Yes, there is baggage that comes with it. We’re strong. We’re smart. We can handle the baggage.

  14. derek7272 says:

    Simone, I have no complaint with anyone calling themselves a feminist. I think it’s generally self-described feminists who would call people like Hoff Summers, Katie Roiphe etc. “anti-feminists.”

    If you want to define feminism, broadly, as someone who agrees in equal rights, including, say, people who disagree with Title IX, are pro-life, disagree that women’s magazines promote eating disorders, are politically conservative … well, okay, sure.

    But how can you then take “strong stands about the issues we strongly agree on”? The definition of feminism becomes so inclusive that I’m not really sure you’d strongly agree on very much at all. I mean: not even abortion??

    Okay, PicesinPurple is probably right — there are more people out there with traditional/sexist views out there than I probably realize, just like there are some closet racists. But among serious intellectuals out there, is there really anyone out there writing op-eds or going on TV to demand why women aren’t better housekeepers, or refusing to bake and sew? These kind of views are completely outside mainstream discourse, I think.

    Honestly, I think even Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schafly would certainly agree that women should have equal opportunities and equal rights. Are they feminists too?

  15. aGirlNamedMe says:

    I was a young girl when I first heard the word. I honestly couldn’t tell at the time if it was a good thing or a bad thing consider yourself one or to be called one.

    I’m a bit older now, but no more wise on this topic. If feminism is about equal rights — sign me up! If it’s about some preconceived notion of what women (any woman) should be — I’ll pass.

    Where I think Derek is right is that the word has taken on such such a broad, confused meaning that it has become meaningless. Not that ideas are..but that perhaps the word itself is.

    Where I disagree with Derek is that it’s only few who discriminate against women. The ways may be much more subtle than they were 25 years ago, but it’s still there.

    Maybe we need a new word…maybe things need to be equal so we don’t need a word?

  16. SINgleGIRL says:

    Oh dear. I fear this is one of those cases where your mind is set to numb and you’re not particularly interested in what anyone is saying/writing. And that’s fine. I don’t particularly care. Just, as I said before, be careful how you use the F word on my blog. I’d hate to have to start deleting comments or blocking readers.

    In response to your last round of -Let me show you I can use google (Phyllis Schafly? Please! Are you really so bored that you have nothing better to do than be provocative. She has vocally opposed women playing an equal role in society amd so no I would not include her in my inclusive feminism – or did you know read that far) What the hell do op-ed writers or university professors or “serious intellectuals” have to do with the lives of real women? There is a small group of people who like/get to spend their time with mental masterbation, chewing over the same tired old arguements. The rest of us actually have to live and work and wrestle with gender equality as a practical reality.

    Let me spell this out to you in super-slow language. The problem with gender inequality is about how people act – not what people publish in papers or say on TV. Mainstream discourse may say it’s OK for a woman to be President of the US, but there are still lots of people have issues with that on a fundamental level. Mainstream discourse may say that boys and girls are equal, but many cultures consider a wife a failure unless she bears her husband a son. Mainstream discourse may say women and men are equal but you are willing to date down intellectually as long as a girl is pretty (as are most of your friends, I’d bet) because a woman’s looks are her most important asset.

    And yes, I would say this to your face. I’d probably be a lot ruder if this were in person, as I’m trying my best to be polite now (and failing, a bit, I realize).

    As I said in my post – I know some women who are uncomfortable with the F word because of the way it’s been used/abused. I think that’s a shame. It’s our word. I think we should take it back.

  17. derek7272 says:

    Umm. Sigh. I feel like I’m actually being pretty patient, polite and reasonable with you, Simone. Maybe I should try to put this another way. (Maybe I’ll try using that super-slow language of yours!). In my post dated 7:53am I gave what I felt like were a number of issues that pretty much define the modern feminist movement. Maybe it wasn’t an all-inclusive list, but I felt like it was pretty fair and reasonable. You seem to be saying no, that my list wasn’t correct. Well, what _are_ these core feminist issues that define modern feminism? These issues that feminists strongly agree on? If preserving access to abortion isn’t one, then what is? Seriously: this is an honest question, here.

    Also your snide remark on my dating preferences is pretty uncalled for. People can value whatever they want in a mate. That doesn’t mean they don’t believe in equality or think that such-and-such is someone’s “most important asset”; it’s just a question of what they personally want in a partner.

  18. PiscesInPurple says:

    OK, Derek. Here’s the thing:

    You ask what issues do feminists strongly agree on. I can see why one might think this is a valid question. But really, it gets us right to the heart of the issue, right to the center of why what you’re saying is so offensive (to some).

    You’re attempting to define feminism as if it were a political party. As if it were a set of beliefs about a wide range of social issues. What we’re trying to explain to you is so-called modern feminism is no longer about issues, per se.

    What is *IS* about is this:

    I am a woman. I have pride in myself and my choices. I resist, nay I reject(!), the attempt by anyone else to define who I am, what I want, what my goals and aspirations should be, what I should find fulfilling, what I need to do to be “attractive”. I ASSERT MY RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION… whatever that happens to mean… TO ME.

    I hope that makes some sense to you.

  19. derek7272 says:

    Also let me make one other point, because you seem to have misunderstand what I am saying: I am not saying anything bad about feminism. I am just curious about how you are defining it.

    I am interested in how you respond to my question, above, because yes, I am interested in what other people are saying/writing.

  20. derek7272 says:

    Ooops, that post (at 1:46) was meant for Simone.

    Pices, I actually think it’s pretty damn thin-skinned for anyone to be offended by what I’m saying. I admit that yes, I do think of feminism as a set of beliefs about a wide range of social issues. If I am wrong about that, then okay it wouldn’t be the first time I’m wrong about something, but I don’t see why that belief should be offensive. In general when I read self-defined feminist blogs, (feministing, jezebel, pandagon, etc.), talk to self-identified feminists, read the occasional magazine article by a feminist, look at the platform of groups such as NOW — they tend to have a pretty consistent point of view on a wide range of social issues, from access to abortion and women’s reproductive health to body image and objectification to gay and lesbian rights. It does tend to be more than just having self-esteem and wanting self-determination, IMHO.

    In any case, I think we should be able to argue about these things without people getting all upset or taking cracks at anyone…

  21. Joe Schmitt says:

    While I can empathize with the frustration my friend PiscesInPurple lists (and I think she makes many good points), I think the problem is that you’re defining feminism as merely anti-sexism. When you do that, it makes arguments and discussions a little tough because who really wants to get in an argument with someone who is pro-sexist? Surely such people exist, but I know I don’t want to pass an afternoon or evening over beers hearing their arguments.

  22. PiscesInPurple says:

    I realize I should have included an example.

    Let’s take abortion, because it’s important and polarizing. Also, you’ve mentioned it at least twice today.

    I’m about as pro-choice as it gets. I’m a liberal. I believe very very strongly in a woman’s right to choose. I believe that having access to birth control is one of the most important ways a woman can take control of her own life and destiny. I believe that abortion is NOT a GOOD thing (who does??), but I also believe that access to safe, dignified and inexpensive abortion should be available to any woman who wants one. I believe it’s not really anyone’s business why or how an individual woman might end up in that situation. I believe in personal responsibility, but I also believe that this is a public health issue upon which no person or group should be allowed to exercise their unilateral will. I believe it should be private and dignified (yes, I said dignified already, but it’s the most important point to me). In a perfect world, there would be no need for abortion and every pregnancy would be a joy. But the world is far from perfect.


    I know plenty of conservative women. Some of them I consider close friends. Many of them consider themselves feminists… Feminists who find abortion, under nearly any circumstances totally abhorrent. Why? Because, to them, abortion is a way for delinquent men to further shirk their responsibilities. They believe that abortion came about as part of the male-dominated medical establishment’s attempt to injure women when they are at their most vulnerable. They think that all human life, no matter how unconscious, is sacred. They fundamentally connect their love of unborn children with their love of themselves as conscious, thoughtful, righteous members of society. It’s a moral imperative. It’s part of their identity as women, and as feminists.

    Meanwhile, it’s part of MY identity as a woman and as a feminist that I believe in almost exactly the opposite thing.

    So, Derek. Which one of the two scenarios above is “wrong”? Which one of us should be denied the right to refer to herself as a feminist?

  23. PiscesInPurple says:

    Joe has a good point. I think it just further illustrates how sticky this issue is. How nebulous the definition of feminism is, and how careful we need to be with it. I need to think about this more. A lot more. Thanks, everyone, for listening while I hash out my thoughts/rant.

  24. derek7272 says:

    Hey Pices, as I told Simone before I’m not seeking to deny anyone the right to refer to herself as a feminist. But I do associate mainstream feminism much more strongly with the pro-choice position (duh).

    As I said in my very first post, I think there’s a number of feminist issues out there (I listed seven, but there are certainly more) … and while you don’t “have to be 100% in lockstep on every single issue to be considered a feminist …. a general agreement on most is implied I think.”

    So if your hypothetical pro-life woman also disagreed with the mainstream feminist position on say, whether women face widespread discrimination in the workplace; gay and lesbian rights; and objectification — then I’m not sure that many people would consider her a feminist. Certainly not a mainstream feminist.

    Sometimes people come up with other words to distinguish between various subtypes of feminism: radical feminism (espoused by MacKinnon/Dworkin); fat-positive feminism; difference feminism; libertarian feminism, second-wave feminism, third-wave feminism, sex-positive feminism … etc. So maybe this hypothetical person could invent her own “brand” of feminism.

  25. queenieNYC says:

    “I think the problem is that you’re defining feminism as merely anti-sexism.” – Yes. This.

    Feminism, in my opinion, is not just about what you believe, but about what you practice. You can believe all you want in equal rights and opportunities for women, but unless you actively, every single day, practice behaviors that nurture those equalities (or, perhaps, unless you actively fight for those activities to be embraced on an ever-wider scale), then you probably can’t call yourself a feminist. In my opinion.

    As for the always-polarizing, never-ending conversation about abortion – do I think you can be a feminist and be truly, vehemently anti-choice? Not really. But I DO think you can be a feminist and be very uncomfortable with abortion (but still pro-choice), and work instead to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. THAT’S the difference between lip service and action, in that particular case.

    I think this last is a very, very complicated conversation, and one that could go on for years. Jezebel actually had a really, really interesting thread on this exact question a while back – is there (or should there be) a pro-choice litmus test for feminists? Check it out…

    Finally, Derek, to your point: “I’m not sure that many people would consider her a feminist. Certainly not a mainstream feminist.”

    I think the point folks are trying to get across here is that your definition of feminist might be a bit out of date with the real, current incarnation of the feminist movement, and is instead rooted in exactly that – a “mainstream” definition. Pisces and Simone are talking about THEIR definitions of feminism, and you’re talking about the way Joe Schmoe on the street may or may not feel – very different things, IMO.

    That said, I do think you’ve nailed the idea that the current movement is far more fractured – and, I would argue, therefore more inclusive of non-white, non-upper-middle-class members – than in earlier days. Though I take issue with the effort to label the areas between the fault lines; doing so highlights their smaller differences rather than celebrating their far more significant commonalities.

    And focusing on their differences is just another way to try to prevent them from reaching their common goals.

  26. Paul Lasaro says:

    :) Interesting … in Europe people don’t speak a lot about feminism. Because equal rights is the best solutions. Allready made. Highest perecentage of womens in parliament and in goverment are in NorthEuropean countries. No surprise – in those countries are one of the highest life standard, best stabilitiy in this difficult times. But topic is interesting. I have some interestings facts about that. After some time prepare post. Promise.

    btw – please don’t click on my blog site, some popular american marketing blogger – women call my site a “semi-porno” who looks to traffic generation (not true – I don’t care). In Europe You can find that kind of pictures and texts in allmost every solid women magazine. I’m surprised for this attitude

  27. queenieNYC says:

    Oh, and – am I listening to the Indigo Girls right now? You bet your ass I am.

    That is all.

  28. derek7272 says:

    Also for the record in the post Simone mentions in her link, I was not using the word feminism in a pejorative way. I said that this one one particular claim (“how many sitcoms can you list where there is a hot wife and a chubby oafish husband”) was a “tired feminist argument,” which I do think it is — I have yet to hear anyone back it up with references to specific sitcoms, even though you’d think that’d be easy enough to do — but that doesn’t mean I agree or disagree with other feminist positions (to the extent they exist).

  29. derek7272 says:

    But queenie, even just talking about a feminist movement — doesn’t the very idea of a movement imply a “set of beliefs about a wide range of social issues”? Okay, maybe I’m wrong about what specific issues define the feminist movement. But what’s the saying? You gotta stand for something, or else you’ll fall for anything? if you define feminism in this mushy, feel-good way that no one can possibly disagree with, then what are you really standing for?

  30. queenieNYC says:

    “If you define feminism in this mushy, feel-good way that no one can possibly disagree with, then what are you really standing for? ”

    I didn’t. I actually said that you aren’t a feminist unless you work toward equality (hence my use of “movement” rather than “group of believers”); that you can’t just pay lip service to the core values. I would also argue that there are, in fact, core values. I said above that I DON’T think you can be working simultaneously against choice (note: I did not use the word abortion, since abortions are reduced by reducing the # of unwanted pregnancies, and not by taking away choice) and for feminist goals.

    The “mushiness” to which you refer comes from focusing on the differences, rather than the things that divide. I think you’ll find that if you re-focus, there’s more that unites feminists than divides them, just like there’s more that unites Republicans than divides them, and that’s why they’re still Republicans, even if they, say, hate a particular policy of a particular politician.

    Also, re: sitcoms (though I agree that it’s an over-used example, it’s definitely a fair one when it comes to the relative importance of looks for men and women):

    According to Jim
    King of Queens
    Still Standing

    None of these were ones I watched (or watch, in syndication or otherwise), but they DO exist. And it’s really, REALLY rare to see the reverse. I honestly can’t think of an example (though I’d love to be proven wrong on that front.

  31. queenieNYC says:

    Also, one last thing:

    I think it’s overreaching to claim that the exclamation “fat men have thin wives on TV!” is a feminist position. I think the “feminist position” here would probably go something more along these lines:

    It is far more acceptable, in our society, to be a physically unattractive man than it is to be an unattractive woman. Men are routinely valued far more for their brains, achievements and output than women are. Symptoms of this include unequal pay for equal work, and fat dudes married to thin chicks on TV.


  32. derek7272 says:

    Okay, that is basically fair enough Queenie. So basically you and I would agree — there are some core values that define feminism… some specific “feminist positions.” For you, it’s not merely believing in equality between the sexes, but a particular set of beliefs about a wide range of social issues … correct?

  33. Veka says:

    Pices, While I admire your posts (and I understand where everyone is coming from)… I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with your statement of, “Because, to them, abortion is a way for delinquent men to further shirk their responsibilities. They believe that abortion came about as part of the male-dominated medical establishment’s attempt to injure women when they are at their most vulnerable.” I have honestly never heard this particular argument before, and I can assure you that I know many pro-life women who are not anti-abortion for those reasons you listed.

    Just had to throw that out there–not wanting to add to the already drama-filled thread because I am neutral in the “F word” topic!! I just wanted to say, don’t generalize one belief of one pro-life person as a common belief for every pro-life person. I took a class in college called “Intro to Womens Studies” and have heard so many different perspectives, yet remain neutral. Peace and love!! :)

  34. iamalejandra says:

    Ok, I was not going to comment until Derek brought up his original comment which I *personally* found outrageous.

    I think that one of the things that feminists are trying to achieve is for females to be seen as equals by males, which often times, we are not.

    One VERY GOOD example to back this up (in my opinion) is the one that OneDateWonder brought up: the hot wife and the not-so-hot husband. You called this a “tired feminist argument”.
    Well, here are of the examples you have requested:
    3rd rock from the sun (Wayne Knight and Kristen Johnson, PLEASE!!)
    According to Jim (Both women are hot, the men are not)
    Alf (good looking woman with the nerdy dad)
    Family Guy & The Simpsons (IT EVEN COMES UP IN CARTOONS!!)
    Arrested Development (Portia De Rossi and David Cross)
    Big Bang Theory (again, hot girls and nerdy guys)
    The Cosby Show (she was prettier AND younger than he was)

    And you talk about Friends, well they are ALL hot, which is ALSO unlikely.
    And you mention “How I met your mother” in which Ted is an architect, Marshall is a lawyer, Barney is a corporate type guy … MEANWHILE Lilly is a kindergarten TEACHER ( I mean, come on they couldn’t even throw her a bone and make her a college professor) with a MAJOR addiction to name brands and Robin is a newscaster and makes her living out of being cute. Tell me that’s NOT stereotyping.
    “Everybody Loves Raymond”: even the show acknowledges the fact that Debra is better looking than Ray and how “lucky” he is to have a hot wife because he’s just a “big nose” (And this is stressed over and over the sitcom).

    George Lopez’s show features an incredibly hot wife, compared to him.
    Frasier has Niles and Daphne, the age ol tale of the wealthy prince coming to rescue the poor maid.
    King of Queens: the epitomy of hot wife and chubby oafish husband.

    Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: the husband was not oafish, but he was like 15 times the size of the wife!!
    Get Smart: he was not chubby, but he was goofy and she was hot


    Yes, I know I am “generalizing” looks and people’s tastes in the opposite sex, but there is a definite and clear image that these shows want to portray and they get away with it. So when women complain about the fact that they are being treated as objects in TV I don’t think you have grounds to argue that. And I definitely don’t think you can call that a “tired feminist argument”

  35. derek7272 says:

    Okay, I certainly disagree with some of your judgments on hotness. Cosby? Everybody Loves Raymond? Noooo, I think they are equally attractive — and if everyone is attractive on Friends, then where’s the sexism? And I thought on Big Bang Theory, they weren’t dating? The Simpsons? Do you really think Marge is that much more of a catch? Arrested Development? Don’t those two deserve each other? On Frasier, don’t you think Niles was hot? And you don’t think Jim Belushi is attractive? But hmmm, okay, I did check out the website for Still Standing, a sitcom I hadn’t heard of, and will have to concede that point. I would have to say you are right about king of queens as well. Hey — I admit at the time I wasn’t that knowledgeable about sitcoms.

    Anyway, my point in bringing it up again wasn’t to reopen this argument, just point out that I wasn’t using the word “feminism” in a pejorative or insulting way — just disagreeing with a specific feminist argument. I didn’t think that feminist positions should be like an edict from the pope, where no disagreement in countenanced or people get threatened with having their posts deleted. However, in this case I may even have to concede I *cough* *cough* perhaps overstated my case.

  36. SINgleGIRL says:

    I’m not going to bother diving back in now to reply to every comment – you all got along just fine without me. Thank you so much queenieNYC for essentially reading my mind and saying what I would’ve said (including the semi-snark last bit).
    Welcome to Joe Schmitt and Pau Lasaro. Joe, you’re right, I wouldn’t want to share a beer with any of the folks who can’t get on board with my core feminist/anti-sexist values.
    Paul, we here in the states are pretty far behind our sisters in N’ern Europe when in comes to achieving basic equalities under the law and in the workplace. And because of this it is still very much a hot topic of conversation. Maybe one day we’ll catch up.

  37. queenieNYC says:

    Derek – While I believe all feminists have something in common, I believe it is better defined as a set of goals, rather than as a set of beliefs. I don’t really care (on a macro level) what brings someone to agree with me about, say, keeping the government’s hands off my body or mandating the same health care coverage for birth control as is available for Viagra – what I care about is that they’re here now and are working with me toward a common goal.

    I also think that your earlier posts looked to dismantle arguments by looking for small inconsistencies, or indications that all people who define themselves as feminists might not think exactly the same way about every single issue – and I think this is counterproductive.

    Any movement is made up of individuals; what matters is not what divides them, but what unites them. Alone, they are always going to be unique, but, together, they are a force. Why should feminism be any different or more monolithic? Because the majority of us are in possession of the same genitalia? Please.

    I also think your posts seem concerned about putting a label on a movement – again, I could give a crap if someone “identifies” as feminist – it’s more important to me that we have common goals. While it makes me sad that ANYONE with those goals would disavow the word itself (since I think the bad connotations to it are just symptomatic of the kind of pick-pick-pick that I see on this thread), I don’t want to spend my energy convincing them of the word’s merits. I’d rather spend my time fighting for my goals.

    And, with that, it’s time for me to bow out – and to finish the dishes. (Yes, hardy har.)

  38. derek7272 says:

    But (unless I’m missing something) Queenie ultimately agreed with me, and disagreed with you and Pices, that there are certain core positions associated with feminism…. I’m disappointed you’re not going to answer my question about what specific things you think it should stand for!

  39. PiscesInPurple says:

    Wow! Really? You think Queenie agrees with you? That’s would be hilarious if it weren’t so unbelievably tragic.

    Derek… I spent a lot of time and energy attempting to respond to you in a civil and non-confrontational manner. I explained things to you that were deep and painful and very complicated. Clearly, it was a waste of time. If I had anything at all invested in this, I would be deeply wounded by your glib and superficial responses. You obviously haven’t paid careful attention to anything anyone has said here today. You can’t even be bothered to spell my name right.

    I wasn’t going to comment again, but this thing where you tell Queenie she agreed with you… it makes me sick. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  40. amberying says:

    You hit the nail right on its head, Simone. Feminism, at its core, is about equal rights and treatment. What else constitutes feminism is under discussion even by academics and feminists themselves, because – surprise, surprise – we’re all people and people are different and people disagree. Though every feminist strives towards equality, each one is still a person and limited by societal influences (e.g. the patriarchy) and personal experience and biases. Race, class, faith, generation, and privilege separate people and can cause plenty of infighting. But the fundamental belief that drives all these movements is equality between sexes and among women.

  41. derek7272 says:

    Did you read anything I wrote? Have you been following this discussion at all? I’m sorry that I spelled your name wrong, but wow, did you even realize what we were arguing about?
    You seem to define feminism as just a belief in self-determination. Simone sees it as simply belief in equal rights. I say that no, there’s more to it than that — that it implies (to quote you) a
    “set of beliefs about a wide range of social issues.” That’s exactly what Queenie says, too: She’s said that you can’t be a feminist and be “truly, vehemently anti-choice”; that feminists believe that society deems far more acceptable to “be a physically unattractive man than it is to be an unattractive woman”; that feminists believe men are “routinely valued far more for their brains, achievements and output than women are”; and that feminists believe women are currently not receiving equal pay for equal work.
    I’m not saying any of these beliefs are wrong. But they are certainly beliefs about a wide range of social issues.
    Tell me again, how I make you sick? Eeeesh.

  42. PiscesInPurple says:

    It makes me sick that you’re parsing our comments and attempting to pit us against each other. Queenie, Simone and I agree on this. OK? OK.

    Go ahead and write back with more senseless drivel where you tell me what I think, tell Queenie what she thinks and tell Simone what she thinks. Then go ahead and tell us that what what we said means. Then inform us we disagree with each other. Then, mention that we clearly weren’t paying attention if we dare to challenge you. Regardless, I won’t be responding again.

  43. SINgleGIRL says:

    Here’s the BIG THING that you are SO not getting. Me, Queenie, Pisces, Amberying – we fundamentally agree with one another. We may not agree on all of the details but we agree in spirit and in deed. You choose not to see that because you are choosing to look for an argument. One that for most of is seems kind of silly and dated. I wrote this post because your statement last week seemed kind of silly and dated and now, well…

  44. derek7272 says:


    I’m the one looking for an argument? OMG. You picked apart something I said and accused me, incorrectly, of using the word “feminism” in an insulting manner. You accuse me of using a “devisive,” last century definition. And then you spend all this time insulting me. But I’m the one looking for an argument. Umm, okay.

    You say that the four of you are in fundamental agreement but disagree on details. But here’s the BIG THING that YOU are SO not getting: It’s been the details we’ve been arguing about. I haven’t been arguing with you that feminism is bad or wrong or incorrect or whatever … I just disagree with you on the detail of how you define it. I’m not sure why that inspired such heated debate.

  45. queenieNYC says:

    I disagree, Derek. I think both Pisces and Simone do agree with me, overall. They’ve argued that feminism is about the fight for equality; what brought you to that or if you agree with every single last thing I’m fighting for is not important. What’s important is that we’re working together toward the things we have in common. I repeat: what unites us is more important (and, I would add, more powerful) than what divides us.

    We’ve tackled the big, glaring things. It’s now illegal to rape women, almost of the time (though I’m fairly sure marital rape is still legal in certain states). It’s now easier for women to obtain divorces when they want them. Women make up half the workforce and more than half the university student population. Men receive paternity and primary caregiver leave from their jobs. And so on.

    And so, our focus has of course become more diffuse, since the targets are less obvious and somewhat less pressing.

    As the goals of feminism become inherently more disparate and diverse, it becomes far less important to have a single, totally unified viewpoint. While the single mindedness of the early movement served many, and served some very well, it’s not necessarily the best thing for us in contemporary times. But, I’ll say it again: that which unites us is STILL more important than that which divides us.

    What you’ve done over the course of this thread is ignore every point where I disagreed with you or successfully parried your point, and have instead zeroed in on the one thing where we used similar words – though I believe the sentiment of my statements has been very far from that of your own. And then, oddly, you seem to be demanding that others acknowledge this whole thing as some sort of victory for you. It’s just…icky. I prefer to discuss, rather than to keep score. But that’s just me.

  46. queenieNYC says:

    But, I do agree with everyone on one point: I think this conversation has run its productive course. It’s been interesting, though, and definitely helped crystallize some stuff for me – thanks, all, and good night! (For real, this time.)

  47. derek7272 says:

    I agree, it has definitely run its productive course…

  48. alishad says:

    Oh my gosh, I literally wrote almost the EXACT same thing on your comments the other day, but it didn’t work. I’m SO glad you said it. People need to stop thinking feminists are man-haters or over-aggressive psychos or something. Really.

  49. derek7272 says:

    Queenie, I was re-reading this thread, and I do apologize. When I posted my 6:38 p.m. comment, I missed seeing the post you had written minutes earlier. and didn’t notice it until now. I didn’t mean to ignore the posts you raised and probably wouldn’t have said you agreed with me if I had read what you wrote.

  50. ColleenMWeldon says:

    Hey! I know this is an old post but I’m fairly new here and was just catching up on some light reading and this post appealed to me since I just finished one of my honors theses (in political science) on conservative feminism, something few people know even exists, but I assure you it does. I think the problem with modern day feminism is that radical liberal women leaders of the feminist movement have excluded the majority of women from the movement because it makes stipulations about how women have to live their lives if they want to call themselves “feminists.” For instance, I am ardently pro-life, with regards to BOTH abortion and the death penalty. I do not believe it is the business of a human being to end another human beings life. In any circumstance. With an exception made only if the life of a child during term endangers the life of a mother. As a result, I have had gay men come up to me on campus and yell at me that they are more “womanly” than I am since they are pro-choice. Now, I think a biologist would beg to differ with them, but I think this type of thinking by modern day feminist leaders is skewed and dangerous to the equal rights movement, which some would say is over, but I think it continually being fought. The term “feminist” has come to bear such a negative connotation because a few feminist leaders have defined women as a monolithic group. And there are feminist factions that believe men should be completely excluded from society. THESE ARE FACTIONS THAT EXIST WITH MINISCULE MEMBERSHIP. But these are the feminist stories and scenarios that are widely publicized. But another reason why feminism has grown old for younger, third wave feminists, is because we’re tired of being told we SHOULD be this way or SHOULD think that way. If I want to be pro-life, and I am, I can still be a feminist. If I am a Republican, and I am, it doesn’t mean I am anti-woman. Being a feminist means you believe you can have it all–a family and a career–or have a family and be a stay at home mom. And choosing either is okay. Women need to stop using the term “feminist” to draw lines between different kinds of women, because it hurts the movement and is completely counterproductive. It makes me sad people use the term in a pejorative way because it means so many different, valuable things to so many people. But unfortunately, I think the negativity and exclusionary nature of the movement (against other women of certain ideologies and even men in SOME RARE cases) has led to the rise of people using the word in such a manner, no matter how unacceptable it is. I’m not justifying it by any means, as I call myself a conservative feminist. This is just my take on why this misuse of the term occurs. What a great thread, so many thoughts and opinions, I enjoyed reading them!