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My sister is "not a feminist."

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My sister, who I love and get along with, told me today that she's not a feminist.  Let me clarify.  She told her entire class this on the first day of her Women in Literature class and was telling me about her frustration when the professor asked her to clarify her stance.  My sister, who is taking pre-med courses, using the GI Bill, after spending over a decade in the Army and has daughters sincerely believes she is not a feminist and doesn't believe in "feminist propaganda." Additionally, she sees no need for a Women in Literature class and feels there would be an uproar if she suggested a White Men in Literature class AND feels that white men are the most discriminated against group in America.  That's going to be one interesting classroom this semester!

 

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sorry I had to laugh at this  line  feels that white men are the most discriminated against group in America. 

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I'm not a feminist. If we parsed it out to its essence maybe I am, but the standard definition with all of its modern connotations? Nope.

She had balls* to say that to her Women's lit class. I just keep my mouth shut in my classes. 

I have to disagree with her on the white men comment, but I understand the sentiment.

 

 

*yes, I know...

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I am also not a feminist.  I have daughters; this doesn't, somehow, require me to hold any particular set of sociopolitical beliefs.  

Interesting that everyone assumes (and it's true, of course) that having conservative sociopolitical beliefs - and not even conservative in historical terms, but just conservative in today's western society terms - is out of place in a college classroom and/or would take courage to reveal or defend in that environment.  I don't disagree, I just think it's interesting.

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My main thought is, “Good for her!” That’s great that she has the courage to share her opinion, especially in a space where she knows it will not be popular.

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I think there is more than one definition of feminist and by my definition she is one.  Would she have accepted "women can't be in the army?" Or "women can't be doctors?".  Will she expect to get paid and respected as much as her male colleagues? Then she is a feminist. She wants equal rights and to be thought of as human first, women second.  But if she is a pre med and feels like that why on earth is she taking such a class?

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I suppose everyone has to define feminist.  Because on the one hand she very much is one...but perhaps on a different hand, she isn’t.  Depends on the definition.

Edited by Garga
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Why does everyone get to define feminism? It HAS a definition.  A nice, simple definition. I think she's conflating feminism and misandry. If she was a hyper-religious, my-husband-has-the-final-say type, I'd buy it.  Her husband was the stay-at-home dad for half their marriage!  He's very laid back.  She's a feminist poster girl.  She's raising feminist daughters. It's a bit surreal to me.  I'm completely fascinated by the disconnect and the hilarity that her SAHM sister is trying to explain this to her.  I'm sure there are people who believe the sexes aren't equal, but she's really not one of them. 

It's mostly fascinating. I know she sounds brave to speak out, but she really has no filter.  She's bright and has a big personality and is so much fun, but every now and then she throws a big curve ball like this.   I hope the professor handles it with finesse and it turns out to be a great discussion class for everyone.  She's in the class because it was the one that fit her schedule.  She's loaded with math and science and had to shoehorn this credit in at the last minute.

This all reminds me of the time my ds decided that plants weren't alive because he'd invented his own definition of "living" and would not be persuaded to use the actual definition.

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so what?  judge judy isn't a "feminist" either.  she will tell you she's a laywer, judge - who happens to be a woman.

I grew up in a liberal home, down the street from a feminist leader in our area.  I came to have contempt for that woman, the disrespect with which she treated other people when she thought no one else was looking *really* turned me off.  (especially the contempt directed at women, by "feminists", who didn't choose the message 1970's feminists pushed.)

I treat people with respect, and I expect people to treat others with respect - even when no one else is looking.

Edited by gardenmom5
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7 minutes ago, KungFuPanda said:

Why does everyone get to define feminism? It HAS a definition.  A nice, simple definition. I think she's conflating feminism and misandry. If she was a hyper-religious, my-husband-has-the-final-say type, I'd buy it.  Her husband was the stay-at-home dad for half their marriage!  He's very laid back.  She's a feminist poster girl.  She's raising feminist daughters. It's a bit surreal to me.  I'm completely fascinated by the disconnect and the hilarity that her SAHM sister is trying to explain this to her.  I'm sure there are people who believe the sexes aren't equal, but she's really not one of them. 

It's mostly fascinating. I know she sounds brave to speak out, but she really has no filter.  She's bright and has a big personality and is so much fun, but every now and then she throws a big curve ball like this.   I hope the professor handles it with finesse and it turns out to be a great discussion class for everyone.  She's in the class because it was the one that fit her schedule.  She's loaded with math and science and had to shoehorn this credit in at the last minute.

This all reminds me of the time my ds decided that plants weren't alive because he'd invented his own definition of "living" and would not be persuaded to use the actual definition.

It’s really not as clear cut as you think.  The differences between 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminism come to mind.  

Most of us believe women should be valued as equal human beings to men, and not the same inherently but their own equally valuable sex.  But there is a whole lot of baggage with feminist ideology in its various iterations and expressions that actually denigrates women and men for the sake of egalitarianism in a much more destructive way.  Being looked down upon for being ‘just’ a SAHM comes to mind.

Anyway, it’s actually a fairly nuanced discussion, no made up realities necessary.

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Language is a complicated thing; feminism doesn't always mean the same thing in every context or to every person.  Google says a feminist is someone who supports/defends feminism, which it says is "the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes."  But that's a pretty broad definition - what rights are we talking about, specifically?  The right to, well, what?  What do we mean by equality of the sexes - do we mean that there should be (or is?) no difference between men and women in terms of social treatment?  For example, one set of feminists might say women should be allowed to serve in the military, but would all feminism require that women enter for the draft? (that would be equal treatment, right?)

Or could you be a feminist who doesn't think women should have to serve in the military because there are some ways in which women are inherently different -and in that case, what does equality mean for that version of feminism?

Or could you even be a feminist who doesn't think women should be allowed to serve in the military, either for practical or philosophical reasons - maybe you think men and women should be broadly equal in society but there are some exceptions where pracitcality or physicality or something say that it should be possible or even desirable to limit access to something for one sex?

I don't think it's that simple, really.

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16 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

It’s really not as clear cut as you think.  The differences between 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminism come to mind.  

Most of us believe women should be valued as equal human beings to men, and not the same inherently but their own equally valuable sex.  But there is a whole lot of baggage with feminist ideology in its various iterations and expressions that actually denigrates women and men for the sake of egalitarianism in a much more destructive way.  Being looked down upon for being ‘just’ a SAHM comes to mind.

Anyway, it’s actually a fairly nuanced discussion, no made up realities necessary.

True, but she's not debating these nuances.  Right now, she's saying things like  "Why does a Women in Literature class even exist?" and "They'd be mad if a White Men in Literature class existed." It all just seems like an odd puzzle piece that you try to make fit, but  turns out to belong to a different puzzle.  If we were discussing different waves or types of feminism, it would make more sense.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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I never call myself a feminist.  It's bad enough that people assume I feel and vote a certain way because I am female.  Of course I believe in equal respect etc., but the modern feminist movement still considers me a disgrace because of what I don't believe in.

As for the "women in literature" comment, I think she's saying that the constant and intense focus on our differences just drives deeper wedges between groups.  I do think it can be a fascinating study, but why doesn't anyone have the same interest in men in literature?  As a lifelong reader, I can think of interesting observations on both sides.  But only women are sold these courses, at a cost of thousands of dollars, which goes to enrich someone for discriminating and not being particularly scholarly IMO.  In short, I think your sister asks a fair question.

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2 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

Why does everyone get to define feminism? It HAS a definition.  A nice, simple definition. I think she's conflating feminism and misandry. If she was a hyper-religious, my-husband-has-the-final-say type, I'd buy it.  Her husband was the stay-at-home dad for half their marriage!  He's very laid back.  She's a feminist poster girl.  She's raising feminist daughters. It's a bit surreal to me.  I'm completely fascinated by the disconnect and the hilarity that her SAHM sister is trying to explain this to her.  I'm sure there are people who believe the sexes aren't equal, but she's really not one of them. 

It's mostly fascinating. I know she sounds brave to speak out, but she really has no filter.  She's bright and has a big personality and is so much fun, but every now and then she throws a big curve ball like this.   I hope the professor handles it with finesse and it turns out to be a great discussion class for everyone.  She's in the class because it was the one that fit her schedule.  She's loaded with math and science and had to shoehorn this credit in at the last minute.

This all reminds me of the time my ds decided that plants weren't alive because he'd invented his own definition of "living" and would not be persuaded to use the actual definition.

 

There may have once been a definition of feminism that was universal and meant "equality", but feminism now has so much political baggage that I absolutely understand someone wanting to separate herself from that group.  I also do not identify as a feminist, despite having served in the military, gotten a STEM degree, etc.  I have been held up as a "poster child" for feminism in the past, and I have always found it incredibly annoying that others would attempt to put me in that box.  

Many of the ideas I hold are completely anti-feminist, and certainly my political stances are as well.  It is possible to not be a feminist AND believe in equal pay for equal work for example, 

But my experience with "militant feminists" is that any deviation from the narrative is seen as a betrayal, so I don't even attempt to claim membership in that group.  

 

 

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Hoo boy! I hope she has fun in her class!

I wouldn't have described myself as a feminist (for the liberation of women from under patriarchy) for a long time. I do now. How old are her kids?

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When I was in the military I most certainly did not consider myself a feminist. The feminism I was familiar with did not value the things I valued.

Of course I believed in the equal value of women and cared about the well-being of women but it took me a long time to determine that that too could be called feminism. 

I still reject a lot of the baggage that is associated with the word feminist.

 

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That's a good way to say it; I care about the well-being of women and the equal value of women, but most of the specific ways I see that working in society (in either ideal terms or more practical terms) are not ways that modern feminism seems to see it working in society.  

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Depends on how you define feminist. There are aspects of feminism I fully support. There are many seemingly required viewpoints that I soundly reject. As a result, I will not claim that label for myself because it's too fraught with the potential for misrepresenting my personal position on issues.

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The vibe I get from her tirade (when combined with the additional info) is that she doesn’t believe that women today are discriminated against for their gender. I can’t imagine how she comes to that conclusion, unless she’s been living in a bubble.

 I also don’t get the insistence on redefining feminism.   You can disagree with what individuals or subsets of a group do, and still find yourself a part of that group. I’m a mom and think some moms suck.  I’m a Gen X’er and think a chunk of Gen X’ers are losers.  I’m an atheist and think some atheist are crappy humans. But I still have kids, was born in the 70s, and don’t believe in a deity.  I meet the actual definitions of the groups, even though I’m opposed to the actions of some of the other “members”.

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48 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

The vibe I get from her tirade (when combined with the additional info) is that she doesn’t believe that women today are discriminated against for their gender. I can’t imagine how she comes to that conclusion, unless she’s been living in a bubble.

 I also don’t get the insistence on redefining feminism.   You can disagree with what individuals or subsets of a group do, and still find yourself a part of that group. I’m a mom and think some moms suck.  I’m a Gen X’er and think a chunk of Gen X’ers are losers.  I’m an atheist and think some atheist are crappy humans. But I still have kids, was born in the 70s, and don’t believe in a deity.  I meet the actual definitions of the groups, even though I’m opposed to the actions of some of the other “members”.

Words can have many meanings and associations and feminist is one of those words.

If, for example, the only people I know who use the title feminist are pro-choice and I am pro-life, I'm not going to feel like their title applies to me. Nor are they likely to want to include me under their umbrella.

Feminist gets used primarily in a political context and politics is polarizing by nature; when feminism becomes identified with particular political positions and parties its use for broader applications becomes muddied and unclear.

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I bet the professor appreciates her — it is boring when everybody agrees.  

She sounds like she is a little older and has more life experience and perspective than an 18-year-old would, too.  

I don’t agree with her views, but I have gotten into thinking that there is too much expectation lately to not get along with someone at all if views are different on some things.  I don’t care for that and I’m trying to avoid it as much as I can.  And I think a lot of other people are, too.  

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16 minutes ago, Lecka said:

I bet the professor appreciates her — it is boring when everybody agrees.  

She sounds like she is a little older and has more life experience and perspective than an 18-year-old would, too.  

I don’t agree with her views, but I have gotten into thinking that there is too much expectation lately to not get along with someone at all if views are different on some things.  I don’t care for that and I’m trying to avoid it as much as I can.  And I think a lot of other people are, too.  

What troubles me, particularly in the college setting, is the increasing inability of students, faculty, and administrators to have respectful discussions of conflicting ideas. I learned much in college from participating in discussions with people who held very different views than I did. It was enlightening and uplifting. The rabid shut-down of discourse today is the antithesis, in my mind, to real education.

ETA: I'm not trying to shift the discussion here. The OP's sister has opened what could be a great dialogue in that class. In some places, I'd wager such a conversation would be shut down. I sure hope that's not the case here.

Edited by Valley Girl
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Why on earth is she choosing to take this particular class? There must be other courses to satisfy her literature requirement, if she questions the value of this course.

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It probably has little to do with feminism and much to do with wanting/needing to stand out in an environment where her life experiences (military career vs. direct to college) are vastly different than those around her.  That was me in college.  While my mostly suburban, middle class college classmates were using their brain space to debate social issues and take up causes, I was working 2-3 jobs and majoring in something I sucked at so I could send money back home to stave off a foreclosure (even though there were mushrooms growing out of the bathroom carpet there). I was very, very different from my peers, in ways that I couldn’t describe, and the only way I could scream that difference was getting on the most out-there political train I could find.  I don’t know if I grew out of my defiance or my life stabilized.

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1 hour ago, maize said:

Words can have many meanings and associations and feminist is one of those words.

If, for example, the only people I know who use the title feminist are pro-choice and I am pro-life, I'm not going to feel like their title applies to me. Nor are they likely to want to include me under their umbrella.

Feminist gets used primarily in a political context and politics is polarizing by nature; when feminism becomes identified with particular political positions and parties its use for broader applications becomes muddied and unclear.

But feelings/associations don’t change the truth.  If people think of atheists as evil-doers and I know I don’t do evil, the definition of atheist doesn’t change, and I can’t pretend I’m no longer a part of that group.  Other people’s lack of understanding is irrelevant. 

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11 hours ago, KungFuPanda said:

My sister, who I love and get along with, told me today that she's not a feminist.  Let me clarify.  She told her entire class this on the first day of her Women in Literature class and was telling me about her frustration when the professor asked her to clarify her stance.  My sister, who is taking pre-med courses, using the GI Bill, after spending over a decade in the Army and has daughters sincerely believes she is not a feminist and doesn't believe in "feminist propaganda." Additionally, she sees no need for a Women in Literature class and feels there would be an uproar if she suggested a White Men in Literature class AND feels that white men are the most discriminated against group in America.  That's going to be one interesting classroom this semester!

 

I agree with your sister. I am not a feminist. I want things to be equal. I see people who would never let their daughter wear pink or play princess, but then be thrilled when their son wants that stuff. And there would be an uproar if there were a white history month or a men in literature class. I would love to see things like SAT's scored blind...with names, gender, and race hidden, and then the same happen with college admissions and financial aid.  I have never considered myself a feminist. I definitely consider myself an equalist. I think the best test of it something is okay to say or do is to swap the race or gender being said in a sentence or title and ask yourself if it is okay. I do agree this could be an interesting semester in that class. Sounds like your sister will want to look at things from multiple points of view. I just hope the professor is tolerant of people with different view points as many have one way, their way, the only way, or hit the high way. 

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6 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

But feelings/associations don’t change the truth.  If people think of atheists as evil-doers and I know I don’t do evil, the definition of atheist doesn’t change, and I can’t pretend I’m no longer a part of that group.  Other people’s lack of understanding is irrelevant. 

But the term atheist specifically has a dictionary definition of meaning belief in no god. It does not even mean belief in nothing, which many people think it does.  One can be very religious and their religion simply does not include the belief of gods of any sort and they would still be an atheist. However, the term "atheist" has been used a lot in modern society to mean belief in no religion (theist refers to gods, a refers to none, theist does not refer to theology or religion in general).  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist

The word feminist, however, can mean either supporting equal rights, or...organized activity on behalf of women's rights (not stating equal).  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminist

This is defined much like Republican or Democrat is defined which one subsection is defined as subscribing to that political party. When one says he or she is feminist, by definition, that can mean equal rights or it can mean belonging to the bigger political movement/group of today calling itself feminism.  Groups change. And the political group of feminism by standards of today, abortion is about equality. By many of us who believe in equality do not feel that things like abortion should be legal nor do they bring on equality. That means a huge set of us who seriously believe in equal rights for the genders has been left out and scorned by the feminist movement of today. Plus, the feminist movement makes it clear that it is all about female rights and not about gender equality. Many of us who may have once been called feminists would now be more of gender equalists. 

 

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Well she IS at least a 2nd wave feminist or she would have never joined the military.  I don't think I personally know anyone who isn't a feminist by the second wave definition. I've read some fundamentalist Christian blogs that state women shouldn't be educated, shouldn't vote, shouldn't be anything other than barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, but even then it always seemed more like a troll job than a real opinion.

As to the extreme 3rd & 4th wave stuff (men and heterosexuality are evil), I also don't personally know anyone who believes that either, but those ARE the things you can read in feminist literature & magazines written in the last 20 years.  When those are the women identifying as feminist in the media you're going to find a lot of women who will claim to not be feminist.  Some women who have made their living as feminists wouldn't identify with those definitions.

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24 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

But feelings/associations don’t change the truth.  If people think of atheists as evil-doers and I know I don’t do evil, the definition of atheist doesn’t change, and I can’t pretend I’m no longer a part of that group.  Other people’s lack of understanding is irrelevant. 

With words, associations absolutely do impact meaning. Words are nothing if not associations of concepts.

The associations that for many people attach to the term feminism go far beyond any dictionary definition and are part and parcel of the true meanings of the word.

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58 minutes ago, Janeway said:

 I would love to see things like SAT's scored blind...with names, gender, and race hidden,

Huh? It's multiple choice, so it is already scored blind.

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14 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Huh? It's multiple choice, so it is already scored blind.

And the free response part of AP exams have no names on them, only the AP number label so those are scored blind, too. 

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"Feminism" has a definition that has changed over time. One time in the much distant past, I could have been considered a feminist. However, these days there is no way, shape, or form, I would fit that definition, and I will 100% say that I am not a feminist under the current understanding of the word. I believe that all people should equal (women, men, white, black, Asian, Christian, Jewish, atheist, etc.). (I also do not believe that women are discriminated against generally in our culture these days but know how modern feminists feel about that.)

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I also have a sister who has tried to tell me I have to be a feminist if I believe in equal gender rights and opportunities.  If that were what the modern feminist movement were primarily advocating for in our country, I would be—but there is no way I’m associating myself with a political movement whose members have been the most rude and disparaging of my life choices of anyone I’ve ever met, which endorses social and political views I don’t share, and which has rejected my views on the most basic question of morality we face today.

https://womenintheworld.com/2017/01/17/organizers-of-the-womens-march-remove-pro-life-group-from-list-of-partners/

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3 hours ago, BarbecueMom said:

It probably has little to do with feminism and much to do with wanting/needing to stand out in an environment where her life experiences (military career vs. direct to college) are vastly different than those around her.  That was me in college.  While my mostly suburban, middle class college classmates were using their brain space to debate social issues and take up causes, I was working 2-3 jobs and majoring in something I sucked at so I could send money back home to stave off a foreclosure (even though there were mushrooms growing out of the bathroom carpet there). I was very, very different from my peers, in ways that I couldn’t describe, and the only way I could scream that difference was getting on the most out-there political train I could find.  I don’t know if I grew out of my defiance or my life stabilized.

This was my first thought when she was frustrated with being asked to clarify her stance by the professor. She said it for the shock value, but then was frustrated because she couldn’t really explain or defend her statement. Why else would she be frustrated by being asked to clarify a statement in a discussion class? That’s the very essence of what such classes are supposed to do, help you to think more clearly and analytically and be able to better able to communicate your ideas, both verbally and in writing. I’m sure her different life experiences and perspectives will add quite a bit to class discussions, and hopefully she will be willing to fully participate.

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3 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

But feelings/associations don’t change the truth.  If people think of atheists as evil-doers and I know I don’t do evil, the definition of atheist doesn’t change, and I can’t pretend I’m no longer a part of that group.  Other people’s lack of understanding is irrelevant. 

I'm not trying to start something here, but there was a time not so very long ago when people had a pretty clear definition of what the word woman meant. Try to use that same definition and see what happens. Meanings change (or people try to insist they change), so you can't guarantee every is on the same page anymore.

Edited by Valley Girl
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3 hours ago, Janeway said:

And there would be an uproar if there were a white history month or a men in literature class. 

 

I see this argument brought up a lot. And I think it’s only meant to rile people emotionally because it’s not logical or based in reality.

It took me until last year to realize that my son hadn’t read a book written by a woman or about women (or with women who were more than annoying stock characters who get in the man’s way and cause trouble, like the woman who tried to adopt Huck Finn or the woman that Lennie shook in Of Mice and Men), in 2 solid years, because so many of the traditional books studied in high school are written by men.

Per this list (and so many others—this is just the first one I googled), only 24 of the 100 titles are written by women, with the top 13 being male authors, except for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which tops everything.  

Last year, I purposely added books written by women and about women into his British Lit rotation because I was sending a message that only men wrote books and only men did anything of interest in books, without even realizing that’s what I was doing.  Female characters were few and far between.  I needed to purposely add balance to my son’s lessons because if I followed the recommended lists, there is no balance.

Same thing with history.  While there are women in history, there are very few compared to men.  Crack open a history book and look at the index.  Tally up the male names vs the female names.  You already know that there will be considerably more tallies in the male column.

So, yeah, I think it would be ridiculous to have a white history month or men in lit class.  Because we have 12 white history months every single year and all our lit classes are men in lit classes.  I’m not massaging numbers or trying to be tricky or even really invested in this.  It’s just fact that men in history and men in literature are the overwhelming majority and you can go years only reading books written by men and not even realize it’s happened.

Edited by Garga
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5 minutes ago, Garga said:

 

I see this argument brought up a lot. And I think it’s only meant to rile people emotionally because it’s not logical or based in reality.

It took me until last year to realize that my son hadn’t read a book written by a woman or about women (or with women who were more than annoying stock characters who get in the man’s way and cause trouble, like the woman who tried to adopt Huck Finn or the woman that Lennie shook in Of Mice and Men), in 2 solid years, because so many of the traditional books studied in high school are written by men (with the exception of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.)  

Per this list (and so many others—this is just the first one I googled), only 24 of the 100 titles are written by women, with the top 13 being male authors, except for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which tops everything.  

Last year, I purposely added books written by women and about women into his British Lit rotation because I was sending a message that only men wrote books and only men did anything of interest in books, without even realizing that’s what I was doing.  Female characters were few and far between.  I needed to purposely add balance to my son’s lessons because if I followed the recommended lists, there is no balance.

Same thing with history.  While there are women in history, there are very few compared to men.  Crack open a history book and look at the index.  Tally up the male names vs the female names.  You already know that there will be considerably more tallies in the male column.

So, yeah, I think it would be ridiculous to have a white history month or men in lit class.  Because we have 12 white history months every single year and all our lit classes are men in lit classes.  I’m not massaging numbers or trying to be tricky or even really invested in this.  It’s just fact that men in history and men in literature are the overwhelming majority and you can go years only reading books written by men and not even realize it’s happened.

while I agree with your point here, I am even more concerned that when women--historical, contemporary, or fictional --are portrayed as having interesting and meaningful lives it is almost never in the context of doing the things that have occupied and continue to occupy significant roles in most women's lives, including especially caregiving, nurturing, and community building roles. Women's lives are most often seen as interesting when they take on more traditionally male roles.

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2 hours ago, Michelle Conde said:

I also have a sister who has tried to tell me I have to be a feminist if I believe in equal gender rights and opportunities.  If that were what the modern feminist movement were primarily advocating for in our country, I would be—but there is no way I’m associating myself with a political movement whose members have been the most rude and disparaging of my life choices of anyone I’ve ever met, which endorses social and political views I don’t share, and which has rejected my views on the most basic question of morality we face today.

https://womenintheworld.com/2017/01/17/organizers-of-the-womens-march-remove-pro-life-group-from-list-of-partners/

Yes!  This is me exactly and may be what your sister meant.  In no way to I identify myself with the current feminist movement. 

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Perhaps she finds the extreme focus on "identity" in the humanities to be counterproductive and annoying. 

Edited by EKS
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7 minutes ago, maize said:

while I agree with your point here, I am even more concerned that when women--historical, contemporary, or fictional --are portrayed as having interesting and meaningful lives it is almost never in the context of doing the things that have occupied and continue to occupy significant roles in most women's lives, including especially caregiving, nurturing, and community building roles. Women's lives are most often seen as interesting when they take on more traditionally male roles.

That is also a very good point, and one I addressed with my son as we read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and books of that sort.  Women just living women’s lives and being concerned with marriage and family is OK and not less than.  It’s still valuable and important for all of us—especially since the men in those books were also concerned with love and marriage and family.  So it’s not like those are “woman” issues.  Those are human issues.  Sometimes that needs to be pointed out.

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17 minutes ago, Garga said:

 

I see this argument brought up a lot. And I think it’s only meant to rile people emotionally because it’s not logical or based in reality.

It took me until last year to realize that my son hadn’t read a book written by a woman or about women (or with women who were more than annoying stock characters who get in the man’s way and cause trouble, like the woman who tried to adopt Huck Finn or the woman that Lennie shook in Of Mice and Men), in 2 solid years, because so many of the traditional books studied in high school are written by men.

Per this list (and so many others—this is just the first one I googled), only 24 of the 100 titles are written by women, with the top 13 being male authors, except for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which tops everything.  

Last year, I purposely added books written by women and about women into his British Lit rotation because I was sending a message that only men wrote books and only men did anything of interest in books, without even realizing that’s what I was doing.  Female characters were few and far between.  I needed to purposely add balance to my son’s lessons because if I followed the recommended lists, there is no balance.

Same thing with history.  While there are women in history, there are very few compared to men.  Crack open a history book and look at the index.  Tally up the male names vs the female names.  You already know that there will be considerably more tallies in the male column.

So, yeah, I think it would be ridiculous to have a white history month or men in lit class.  Because we have 12 white history months every single year and all our lit classes are men in lit classes.  I’m not massaging numbers or trying to be tricky or even really invested in this.  It’s just fact that men in history and men in literature are the overwhelming majority and you can go years only reading books written by men and not even realize it’s happened.

I'm going to echo regentrude and wonder why she took the class in the first place. 

 

As to the bolded, I took a medieval class on medieval women and children last semester. As a medieval historian (in training), I knew that women were there in midst of everything in the middle ages, but didn't realize how much men, both medieval writers and early 19th & 20th century historians, tried to brush out women or ignore them. When you go back and read the primary sources, court records and letters (personal and public), women were everywhere. Common women were in the courts (lawyers were not a thing in the era I study), noble women were using their influence to maintain their own power or affect change. Even early 20th century translations of some of these records erase the women - the name might be listed in the source, but in the translation she's just listed as "wife," etc. Victorian sensibilities, romanticism, and early historians created this faulty persona of the damsel in distress. These women were not exceptional, they were just there. The church (ie: celibate men) seemed to be afraid of powerful women and tried to write them out of some events. The one exception would be Eleanor of Aquitaine, she was the pinnacle of female agency in the middle ages. When you dig into the secondary literature written by both male and female historians, you get a better sense of the medieval equality of women. The stereotype will take longer to die, however. 

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4 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

But feelings/associations don’t change the truth.  If people think of atheists as evil-doers and I know I don’t do evil, the definition of atheist doesn’t change, and I can’t pretend I’m no longer a part of that group.  Other people’s lack of understanding is irrelevant. 

The term feminist has changed so much that it's almost like the term gay.  A hundred years ago I could have said I was feeling gay at a party and it would have meant one thing.  Now it would mean something so different, I am literally not allowed to say it.

Right or wrong, folks are teaching young girls that, for example, feminists believe in the right to access abortion services.  OK then.  We are not feminists at my house.

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1 hour ago, Garga said:

 

I see this argument brought up a lot. And I think it’s only meant to rile people emotionally because it’s not logical or based in reality.

It took me until last year to realize that my son hadn’t read a book written by a woman or about women (or with women who were more than annoying stock characters who get in the man’s way and cause trouble, like the woman who tried to adopt Huck Finn or the woman that Lennie shook in Of Mice and Men), in 2 solid years, because so many of the traditional books studied in high school are written by men.

Per this list (and so many others—this is just the first one I googled), only 24 of the 100 titles are written by women, with the top 13 being male authors, except for Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which tops everything.  

Last year, I purposely added books written by women and about women into his British Lit rotation because I was sending a message that only men wrote books and only men did anything of interest in books, without even realizing that’s what I was doing.  Female characters were few and far between.  I needed to purposely add balance to my son’s lessons because if I followed the recommended lists, there is no balance.

Same thing with history.  While there are women in history, there are very few compared to men.  Crack open a history book and look at the index.  Tally up the male names vs the female names.  You already know that there will be considerably more tallies in the male column.

So, yeah, I think it would be ridiculous to have a white history month or men in lit class.  Because we have 12 white history months every single year and all our lit classes are men in lit classes.  I’m not massaging numbers or trying to be tricky or even really invested in this.  It’s just fact that men in history and men in literature are the overwhelming majority and you can go years only reading books written by men and not even realize it’s happened.

As a mom of girls, I disagree.  I think people tend to choose books for boys based on what they think will interest boys, and for girls based on what they think will interest girls, with a few exceptions that everyone should read.

Before I read your post, I kept thinking about Harper Lee because we're reading TKAM right now.  But there are so many books we've read written by females, going back over 150 years.

And the fact that we choose different books for boys and girls based on different interests is kind of the point.  Men read, write, and think differently from women.  Therefore I truly do not see the difference between "men in literature" and "women in literature" as far as being interesting to somebody.  Though, maybe men would not be interested in taking a Men in Literature course, because they are interested in other things.  Which raises another question - why are women more interested than men in studying and discussing what makes the [female/male] condition what it is?  And is this all good at this time in history?

100 years ago, I could agree that it's because men are not othered etc ... but for the past 150 years at least, girls/women have been well represented in literature; in recent years, maybe a bit over-represented.  (My Amazon suggestions keep showing me tween books about how girls should think in order to feel good enough ... thus implying that without a self-help book or 20 / a pile of biographies about "women who did great things," they should feel "not good enough.")

So ... I think it would be just as interesting to have a course called "Women in literature / Men in literature" that gives both equal time.

Unless the whole point of the course is to complain about the female condition - which it well may be.

Edited by SKL
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And also - in this day and age, why wouldn't the mere label "woman" indicate that we probably believe in fair treatment?  Is there anyone of sound mind currently thinking "women" means "people who don't want fair employment & political power and are OK with domestic violence"?

I am pretty sure my daughters consider it a given that fairness is expected regardless of gender.

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51 minutes ago, SKL said:

As a mom of girls, I disagree.  I think people tend to choose books for boys based on what they think will interest boys, and for girls based on what they think will interest girls, with a few exceptions that everyone should read.

Before I read your post, I kept thinking about Harper Lee because we're reading TKAM right now.  But there are so many books we've read written by females, going back over 150 years.

And the fact that we choose different books for boys and girls based on different interests is kind of the point.  Men read, write, and think differently from women.  Therefore I truly do not see the difference between "men in literature" and "women in literature" as far as being interesting to somebody.  Though, maybe men would not be interested in taking a Men in Literature course, because they are interested in other things.  Which raises another question - why are women more interested than men in studying and discussing what makes the [female/male] condition what it is?  And is this all good at this time in history?

100 years ago, I could agree that it's because men are not othered etc ... but for the past 150 years at least, girls/women have been well represented in literature; in recent years, maybe a bit over-represented.  (My Amazon suggestions keep showing me tween books about how girls should think in order to feel good enough ... thus implying that without a self-help book or 20 / a pile of biographies about "women who did great things," they should feel "not good enough.")

So ... I think it would be just as interesting to have a course called "Women in literature / Men in literature" that gives both equal time.

Unless the whole point of the course is to complain about the female condition - which it well may be.

 

I agree with you. Also, if we want to "normalize" (we read lots of books by and about women in school) women in literature, it would be better to have them throughout the year along with books by and about males. 

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58 minutes ago, SKL said:

As a mom of girls, I disagree.  I think people tend to choose books for boys based on what they think will interest boys, and for girls based on what they think will interest girls, with a few exceptions that everyone should read.

 

I think you’re comparing apples and oranges. If I’m just looking for books to suggest yes I think of what interests my son or daughters. If I’m designing a lit class for my child for the year I’m choosing commonly covered classics which inevitably leans towards male authors. That’s what Garga driving at. 

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1 hour ago, EKS said:

Possibly she finds the extreme focus on "identity" in the humanities to be counterproductive and annoying. 

She chose to take the class there’s no way this is the only option. My kids have loads of choices at their colleges to meet humanity requirements. If this is her attitude at the beginning of the class and assuming she’s being as disruptive as described in the op she’s doing a disservice to the rest of the students in the class who are there to exchange ideas and learn from the professor and other students. Going in stating that white males are the most discriminated against group in the US is silly. If she has actual points based on what they are reading and can make them thoughtfully great if she just wants to spout off her unfounded opinions she’s wasting everyone’s time.  

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5 hours ago, Janeway said:

But the term atheist specifically has a dictionary definition of meaning belief in no god. It does not even mean belief in nothing, which many people think it does.  One can be very religious and their religion simply does not include the belief of gods of any sort and they would still be an atheist. However, the term "atheist" has been used a lot in modern society to mean belief in no religion (theist refers to gods, a refers to none, theist does not refer to theology or religion in general).  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist

The word feminist, however, can mean either supporting equal rights, or...organized activity on behalf of women's rights (not stating equal).  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminist

This is defined much like Republican or Democrat is defined which one subsection is defined as subscribing to that political party. When one says he or she is feminist, by definition, that can mean equal rights or it can mean belonging to the bigger political movement/group of today calling itself feminism.  Groups change. And the political group of feminism by standards of today, abortion is about equality. By many of us who believe in equality do not feel that things like abortion should be legal nor do they bring on equality. That means a huge set of us who seriously believe in equal rights for the genders has been left out and scorned by the feminist movement of today. Plus, the feminist movement makes it clear that it is all about female rights and not about gender equality. Many of us who may have once been called feminists would now be more of gender equalists. 

 

 

I just have to ask - exactly how do you think the SAT is scored?

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Because of her schedule, this was the class that best fit.  All other classes were less convenient overall.  Also, thankfully, she didn't make the "white males are discriminated against" comment in class.  That came up when she was telling me about her experience.  I think the class can be good for her.  She tends to be impulsive and has knee-jerk reactions to things, but will often let new information sink in to process later.  She hasn't been a civilian for very long, so that's definitely an adjustment after spending most of her adult life in the Army.  She's also adjusting to full time college.  It's a lot of change all at once.  I'm excited for her and interested in further stories from this class.

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8 hours ago, Janeway said:

 I would love to see things like SAT's scored blind...with names, gender, and race hidden, and then the same happen with college admissions and financial aid.  

 

7 hours ago, regentrude said:

Huh? It's multiple choice, so it is already scored blind.

 

3 hours ago, ChocolateReignRemix said:

 

I just have to ask - exactly how do you think the SAT is scored?

 

 

Ok, I think Janeway didn’t actually mean SAT tests, but meant to say more subjective tests.  I’ve heard that there are some orchestras where the people judging a new musician will not see the musician.  They will only listen to the music the person creates.  When they do that, men and women are chosen equally, but when they can see the people auditioning, they choose men more often.  They aren’t even really aware they’re doing it, it’s just so culturally ingrained that man are seen as more competent than women.  

 

Edited by Garga
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