Sunday, June 19, 2011

Feminists: cherishing women is sexist

Two academic feminists have come up with some interesting research. Julia Becker and Janet Swim believe that not enough attention is paid to the hidden sexism suffered by women. So they got their male and female students to keep a diary recording the daily incidents of sexism they observed.

The idea was that keeping a diary would help to make the students more aware of sexism in everyday life and to feel more empathy toward the female victims.

But what qualifies as sexism? This is where things get truly interesting. According to our two academic feminists all the incidents below are to be considered sexist. I have copied them directly from the diary list:
  • Heard paternalistic stereotypes about women (e.g., women should be cherished and protected by men).
  • Heard traditional beliefs about relationships (e.g., men are incomplete without women and that every man ought to have a woman whom he adores).
  • Heard complementary beliefs about women and men (e.g., men and women are different but complement each other).

The feminists call these traits "benevolent sexism". They want to abolish them by engaging in what they call "empathy manipulation" in which men are taught that women experience hurt feelings when they encounter such attitudes.

So there are no longer to be close, complementary, romantic relationships between men and women as these are thought of as being forms of hidden sexism.

What else gets judged as sexist in the diaries? Well, there's this:

  • Heard negative things about feminists

That's interesting. Feminists here are putting themselves beyond criticism, since such criticism is assumed to be sexist.

What's interesting too is that these feminists reject male protection of women as "paternalistic" but then attempt to set up their own kind of paternalistic shielding of women. All of these are considered sexist:

  • Heard comments about sexual behavior someone would like to engage in with you or another person.
  • Unwanted flirting.
  • Heard comments about parts of your or someone’s body or clothing.
  • Heard that women interpret innocent remarks as sexist.
  • Heard that women are not able to have a fair competition because when they lose, they typically complain about being discriminated against.

And on it goes. So it's not as if the researchers believe that women can stand robustly on their own two feet without special protection. They want special protection for women alright, but via speech and behaviour codes implemented by feminists. (Exactly how they imagine such codes would abolish unwanted flirting remains a mystery - are men supposed to know in advance if their flirting is going to be received positively or not?)

One other quick thought. The feminists are kidding themselves if they believe that the sexual polarity between men and women can be abolished. The polarity will always be there, what changes is how it's expressed. When I was quite young, it was expressed in everyday life (men giving up their seat etc) which favoured a "gentlemanly" (and gentlewomanly) expression of the polarity - one that tended to foster more refined forms of community life.

But with the decline of those everyday expressions of polarity (polarity in manners and mores), it seems to be expressed now more directly as a physical and sexual polarity. This means that men do well who are sporty and fit and who participate in masculine type sports; women are expected as part of the polarity to appear hot and to be relatively overtly sexual.

Maybe feminists like this shift in the expression of sexual polarity. But I think they'll have a hard time controlling it by "manipulating empathy". What's more likely is that the decline in manners and mores will reach a point that people find demoralising (as an example consider the ladette culture that is developing amongst women in England).

10 comments:

  1. "Unwanted flirting," I wonder who is going to protect my eyes and purty little soul from unwanted sexual expression?

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  2. Interesting website came up in advertising on a US news website confirming much of the discussion we often have on this blog:

    http://womensinfidelity.com/

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  3. George,

    That website is a bit of a tease. It lays out the problem of female infidelity and promises an easy solution without saying what it is.

    I don't claim to be an expert on the issue, but I expect part of the problem is that it's difficult for husbands to conform to the kind of images many women have of the sexy male: the untamed, complex, reckless, dangerous, solo man.

    Husbands share a domestic life with their wives and so can't easily live up to the sexy image. It's easy too for husbands to pair bond with their wives and to start to fall into the "friends" category that women have - a category that can be intimate but isn't usually sexual (think of the men who play the "friend" role in the romcoms).

    It helps, I think, if husbands have male friends they do male things with (e.g. drinks at the pub) - this hopefully sends a message to the wife that it's not her role to be the husband's "friend" as he has other men for this - but that he is looking for something different from her.

    It helps, too, I think if the man doesn't fall into too cosy a domesticity, but continues to present a masculine image of himself to his wife (e.g. play sports, surf, go to the rifle club, power tools in the shed, karate etc).

    It might help too if a man confronts the situation if he thinks he is slipping down into the friends category. He could make it clear that that's not a role he's going to play in the marriage - that it's not an option for him.

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  4. Every day, I hate feminists just a little bit more. What a bunch of nutters.

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  5. Maybe feminists like this shift in the expression of sexual polarity. But I think they'll have a hard time controlling it by "manipulating empathy".

    Pure sexual polarity without pairing itself with spiritual and mental polarity is poison. We end up with things like BDSM or evolution type reductionism.

    What's more likely is that the decline in manners and mores will reach a point that people find demoralising (as an example consider the ladette culture that is developing amongst women in England).

    Pretty much.

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  6. "All of these are considered sexist:

    Heard that women interpret innocent remarks as sexist."

    How wonderfully recursive.

    Re chivalry & offering seats - no one using the London Underground gives up their seat for a lady, unless they're aged/infirm/pregnant. I have a bad back and sometimes I need to bring a stick with me on the Underground. When I do, I notice that almost always the people who offer me seats are pretty young women. Men rarely do, and only if they overhear me talking with somebody about how I'm having difficulty standing. Older women never do. I wonder why this is - because young women are nicer? My situation kicks in some kind of maternal instinct? I'm guessing it's probably not flirtatious.

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  7. Mark:
    "It helps, too, I think if the man doesn't fall into too cosy a domesticity, but continues to present a masculine image of himself to his wife (e.g. play sports, surf, go to the rifle club, power tools in the shed, karate etc).

    It might help too if a man confronts the situation if he thinks he is slipping down into the friends category. He could make it clear that that's not a role he's going to play in the marriage - that it's not an option for him."

    On one level, I think it's ok to be friends with my wife. On the other hand, I agree that doing some macho stuff, keeping a macho side to your personality, doesn't hurt. I certainly found the couple years I spent in the part-time Territorial Army while doing my PhD to be helpful that way.

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  8. ""But I think they'll have a hard time controlling it by "manipulating empathy""

    The social engineering never seems to create the outcomes they want, even when it does.

    Human nature is too strong.

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  9. Funny. I read "not enough attention is paid to the hidden sexism suffered by women" as "not enough attention paid to women is sexist". And I found nothing strange about the statement.

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  10. Female offender registry:

    http://register-her.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

    This is true female behavior

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