sexism

Fem v. Fem; What’s the Point? It’s ALL Female Oppression!

“Us and Them;” Culture and Female Oppression

By T.L. Dayen burka_muell_igfm

Oppression is the anti-thesis of liberty. Women all over the world enjoy different degrees of liberty, so you could say that women all over the world also suffer different degrees of oppression, from the right to equal pay to the right to not be burned alive in our own kitchen. Culture, perhaps more than anything else, is the lens through which these differing degrees of liberty and oppression are perceived. So when feminists attempt to assess and evaluate global female oppression outside the context of culture, conclusions will no doubt be skewed and ineffectual; skewed because conclusions have not allowed for “differing” cultural perspectives, and ineffectual because skewed conclusions are not taken seriously to effect change. Advancement in information and communication technologies have made the world a “smaller” and less unfamiliar place since the 2nd wave feminist movement of the mid-20th century here in the U.S., but unique and personal female experience (most often defined by culture) has been said by many to remain overlooked when assessing female oppression, and remains a source of contention within what has become a fragmented feminist movement. A truly empathetic understanding of Culture, which encompasses ones race, ethnicity, religion, class and even sexuality, seems to be the one factor that continues to divide women and prevent a unified approach to emancipation from female subordination and oppression. However, we cannot risk the danger of allowing culture to justify oppression. Culture explains social norms of female acquiescence, but cultural oppression reflects mandated social constructs that demand female capitulation often by threat of harm.

The Challenges of Cultural Divisions

As females, we need to understand that our everyday lives, responsibilities and personal experiences can be dramatically different from one another dependent upon the social norms of not only where we live, but by those defined by the culture within which we live; even in the same geographic location.   The need to recognize our cultural differences is real and pertinent to the feminist discourse. In this context, representations of all female voices are crucial within the movement to gain the trust and engagement of all women. The feminist perspective within the gay community will be dramatically different from that of the Latina community, and the Latina different from the African [American] community, and African American different from the Muslim community, and the Muslim different from white suburbia or Wall Street, etc. Female oppression is experienced on a level unique to each of our ‘cultures.’ Linda Alcoff writes of this dilemma; “the advocacy of the oppressed must be done by the oppressed themselves,” as it “will have a significant effect on the content [impact] of what is said.” She goes on to warn that the “practice of privileged persons speaking on behalf of less privileged persons has actually (in many cases) resulted in increasing or reinforcing the oppression of the group spoken for.” (Alcoff, 78-91). Although it is not always possible on every occasion the movement has a chance to be heard, whenever possible, the empowerment of oppressed voices to speak for themselves is always more potent (and valid). However, I would argue that for those whose voices are invalidated by their own cultural constructs, then sensitive, sensible and cognizant advocacy is not only legitimate but often necessary.

Is Oppression Culturally Justified?

Repression is synonymous with ‘oppression.’ According to the North American English Encarta Dictionary, repression is “being politically or socially kept down by force;” also a “psychological protective mechanism by which people protect themselves from threatening thoughts by blocking them out of the conscious mind.” When we speak of cultural oppression, we have to be mindful that from within an ‘oppressive culture’ there is not a collective sense of injustice, but rather a consensual social construct shared and enforced by the community.   When confronted by perceptions ‘outside’ the purview of those within the social construct, defense mechanisms may be necessary to protect oneself from facing what may otherwise be horrible truths. These can include justification involving explanations that account for history, tradition and religious beliefs, and/or projection, which entails transposition or false equivalents.  In other words, instead of facing a difficult truth we’re confronted with, we may instead choose to assert that the confronter’s situation is similar to our own to dilute or negate unpleasant realizations brought about through otherwise stark comparisons.

I believe that Uma Narayan is doing just that when she compares rampant “dowry deaths” in India to cases of domestic murder in the U.S. No murder should ever be considered “better” than another, but the circumstances surrounding the act can be deemed more or less egregious! Murder is not cultural. What is cultural is the uniformity of victim, motive and method, and of the collective social response. Narayan uses false equivalents between Indian dowry murder and U.S. domestic murder in the defense of her own culture when she says, “fatal forms of violence against mainstream Western women seem interestingly resistant to such ‘cultural explanations,’ leaving Western women seemingly more immune to ‘death by culture’” (Narayan, 62-77).  Domestic murder in the U.S. has no uniformity in method or motive. They are random acts of violence that are often not premeditated or intentional. They are often motivated by spontaneous moments of rage and often facilitated by substance abuse. They are committed by spouses and non-spouses alike who are often not cohabitating at the time of the act. In contrast, Indian dowry murder is a frequent (5,000 annually) act of premeditated murder for dowry profit, committed only by a husband against his wife by burning her to death in only one way that can also be culturally explained as an accident; “pressurized kerosene stoves [that] are in common use in [Indian] homes; a tin of fuel is ‘always kept in reserve’…. A highly flammable nylon sari easily catches fire…signs of struggle do not show up on bodies with 90 percent or more third degree burns.” (Narayan, 62-77). The victim, motive and method are the same in every case and specific to Indian culture.Dowry death

Social and community response is another factor that differentiates fundamental female subordination from ‘cultural’ female oppression. Women are not the only victims of violence; however when they are, they are nearly exclusively victim to men. This is globally consistent and not confined to the U.S. or India. What is not globally consistent is the customary response from local communities, authorities and governments, and that is reflective of culture. Culturally justified female oppression does not – cannot – occur in societies that, 1) have collectively established an infrastructure of support and safety nets for women in need which includes education, housing/shelter, economic, employment and legal assistance, and 2) have collectively recognized civilly, politically and legally, a woman’s autonomous right to liberty. These were once feminist issues in the U.S. and the world, but they are now woven within our collective cultural fabric as “civilly humane” issues. Narayan concedes to “the virtual absence in India of state-provided welfare, education, and medical care…legal services… that would enable Indian women to leave family contexts where they are victims of violence.” She also cites the powerful social “stigma” in India of “women living on their own” that deter even those with financial means to leave abusive situations (Narayan, 62-77). A lack of support structure to address social vulnerabilities specific to women fosters the cultural message to both men and women that these vulnerabilities are tolerable and acceptable and therefore ensuing consequences are ‘culturally justified.’ Even while Narayan admits that “feminist policies and solutions are dependent upon the background social, economic and institutional features of the national landscape,” she actually appears indignant when she says that “some Western feminists seem to have assumed that the Indian women’s movement is “less developed” (Narayan, 62-77). I say she is right, but taking a ‘personal’ offense to the Western observation of institutionalized female oppression in India is not only counterproductive it actually fuels the defensive narrative that female oppression and violence can be culturally justified.

This defensive position taken by women in the international feminist community is not uncommon. An incensed Chandra Mohanty-Talpade gave a seething indictment of Western feminist perspective when she said there are “issues around which apparently all women are expected to organize,” and that this “reinforces the assumption that people in the third world just have not evolved to the extent that the West has.” She asserts that the West has a “paternalistic attitude towards women” whose lives are constrained within the social constructs of “religion,” “domesticity,” “child marriages,” and “illiteracy” (Talpade-Mohanty). If the Western paternal or dominant perspective is the expectation that women should “organize” around the abolition of child marriage, female illiteracy and even forced child birth, than Chandra is correct in her assessment, but severely misguided in her scorn of such an expectation. True liberty allows for personal choice of religion and domestic ambitions such as motherhood. Children and illiterates are not equipped to exercise informed and unshackled personal ‘choice.’ Civically or religiously mandated female behavior under threat of harm or exile is nothing more than culturally justified oppression, whether its child marriage, female illiteracy, forced child birth or even veiling. This is not a matter of evolution, but one of dissolute cultural authority.

Prospects for UnificationChristian female oppression

The 3rd wave or “postmodern” feminist movement of the 21st century may hold the key to recognizing our differences without having to ‘reconcile’ them. Coming from the perspective that differences and even contradictions in the female experience should be welcomed and even expected, perhaps unification against female oppression does not require an objective consensus but rather a subjective coordinated effort. In other words, is it really so much about whom “we” are, as it is about what “oppression” is? Can we objectively define what we are fighting while subjectively maintaining why we are fighting it? Stephanie Riley quotes philosopher Paul Ricoeur when contemplating “bridging the gap” between the complexity of feminists and the simplicity of our cause, “a process of self-attestation takes place as a moment of constituting self-identity: we are, we act, and we suffer.” (Riley). From this approach, a multi-cultural feminist narrative is “free within a text to be appropriated not as an individual possession, but as a shared notion that contributes to change. Feminists reading each other… can share one another’s stories to shape and color their own existence.” (Riley). Part of the nature of our cause is the lack of empathy to our plight. I believe that if the feminist movement is mindful that we should expect of ourselves at least what we are expecting of others, that a balanced unification is possible.

Change is Always Evolutionary and Sometimes Revolutionary.

Evolution cannot occur without change. They are intrinsically intertwined. Change can come slow, as in ‘movement,’ or change can come fast, as in a ‘revolution.’ Regardless of how change comes about it is inevitable and constant. But how it comes about can determine the degree and pace of change. It is generally agreed that the feminist movement began during the Enlightenment Era of the 17th century, and more specifically during the French Revolution. Terms like “liberty” and “freedom” and “social justice” and “self-determination” sparked the courage and insight of an entire generation of women to embark on the long journey that is the struggle for female equality and emancipation from oppression known as the “feminist movement.” Its momentum has been marked in terms of “waves.” The 1st Wave was women’s suffrage (the right to vote). The 2nd Wave was equality and the end of sexism in the work place. It is said we are now in the 3rd Wave or post modernism. This reflects multi-cultural and multi-national feminist identities, issues of female oppression and violence, severe income inequality and women’s health issues. Given the history of the troublesome fragmentation of the movement and its inability to coalesce, this 3rd Wave feminist effort seems to recognize our need to ‘pull together’ the voices of ALL women to affect real, positive and lasting progress for women’s liberties.

The feminist movement is now global.

Groups like the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) that advocates for “equality around the world” and the National Organization for Women (NOW) that advocates for the diverse issues of women in a multi-cultural U.S. and uses the strength and influence of the U.S. within the United Nations (UN) to address multi-national women’s issues, are both organizations that reflect a renewed sense of urgency in the feminist movement to come together as a global force.

Using new networking technologies that can converge and rally millions of women all over the world, these groups focus on petitioning governments whose policies are oppressive to women, educating men to the benefits of a world of full equality, empowering and supporting women in their local communities, as well as staging and sponsoring protests, and national and international discussion forums.   There is also a renewed push to engage women in the political process and encourage women to run for political office. Both the FMF and NOW are educating and encouraging their members to urge their legislators to finally ratify CEDAW; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Adopted in 1979 by the UN, “187 countries have ratified the Convention, pledging to give women equal rights in all aspects of their lives including political, health, educational, social and legal.” (Global Women’s Rights: CEDAW). Shamefully, the United States is not on this list. In fact it is one of only seven countries including Iran and Somalia that have not ratified the only International Treaty that “comprehensively [addresses] women’s rights within political, cultural, economic, social, and family life.” The FMF justly contends that, “the United States compromises its credibility as a leader for either human rights or women’s rights.” (Global Women’s Rights: CEDAW). The feminist movement has yet to inspire a “revolution,” but it’s fair to say we may be closer to such an event then we have ever been.

Conclusion

There’s a term, “Think globally, but act locally.” Originally coined to support the environmental movement, I believe it is completely apropos to the feminist movement. While we all need to have a clear and empathetic understanding of the global challenges that women face in the 21st century, our individual focus needs to be in our own lives and our own communities. Whether you live in Alabama or Bangladesh; whether you’re gay or straight, black or Latina; by working within our own cultural infrastructures and addressing the issues unique to our own experiences, we will surely and steadily change the reality of female oppression on a global scale.

Riley reflects on the words of famous feminist literary icon, bell hooks, discussing our individual needs in relation to our common desires; “she [bell hooks] emphasizes the importance of a feminist theory that would offer everyone, men and women alike, a liberated vision of love and sexual expression. From what humanity is freed differs for each [person], but that something exists from which to be liberated, and that liberation involves love, remains a constant.” (Riley).

We must all be informed by our unique and personal experience, but I would suggest that if we have indeed made a personal commitment to the cause of female emancipation and equality, then we have indeed made that commitment to breach the cultural boundaries between us and them.

Bibliography

Alcoff, Linda. “The Problem with Speaking for Others.” Trans. Array Theorizing Feminisms.

New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 78-91. Print.

“Global Women’s Rights: CEDAW.” Feminsit Majority Foundation. Ms. Magazine. Web. 6 Dec 2013. <Feminist.org>.

Narayan, Uma. “Cross-cultural Connections, Border-Crossings and “Death by Culture”.” Trans.

Array Theorizing Feminisms. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 62-77. Print.      

           National Organization for Women (NOW). Web. 6 Dec 2013 <now.org>.

Riley, Stephanie. “”First” and “Third” World Feminism(s); Does Paul Ricoeur’s Philosophy

Offer a Way to Bridge the Gap?.” Ricoeur Studies. University of Pittsburg Press, 2013. Vol. 4, No.1 pg.

57-70. Web. 11 Nov 2013. <ricoeur.pitt.edu>. (Riley)

Talpade-Mohanty, Chandra. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial

Discourse.” On Humanism and the University I: The Discourse of Humanism. Duke

University Press, 1984.Vol.12, No.3 pg. 333-358. Web. 11 Nov 2013. <jstor.org>.

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After Women Took off Their Aprons, Advertisers Began Taking Off the Rest!

fem 17Once we won our equal liberty to choose our personal “place” in the world, the male ego swiftly began to make sure that women would never forget their universal “purpose” in the world.

By T.L.Dayen

They say “a picture paints a thousand words.” Imagery has the power to elicit emotion and provoke thought. It can also be used to subconsciously persuade or manipulate. Imagery has also historically been used to disseminate propaganda such as the iconic “Rosie the Riveter;” an animated image of a strong-armed woman in a factory uniform intended to convey that it was acceptable to see women; the majority of the domestic work force during the war effort of WWII, as strong and capable. Images can also portray social behavioral norms like iconic Norman Rockwell fem 15paintings depicting ‘normal’ life in middle and working class America from the early to mid 20th century. Culturally, our social norms are reflected through imagery in our media; movies (entertainment mostly) and advertising (expressly to persuade).

Imagery in advertising works to convince, confirm or inform viewers about what they should want, think, identify with or accept as good for them. When advertisers use sexually implicit images to sell a product, it is reaffirming stereotypes that objectify women’s bodies and marginalize their humanity.

Selling Sex

Exploiting sexuality to sell a product is, unfortunately, effective. The ‘sex kitten’ eating Doritos on T.V. prompts the dorritosman to buy the chips because he wants to “get the girl” in the ad, and the woman buys the chips because she wants to “be the girl” in the ad; “We’re a visually explicit culture that’s become comfortable with selling domain names and winter coats on the backs of pretty, naked people” (Thompson, 2011).

Using sex in advertising subliminally links our most primal motive of procreation to the impulse desire for that product/service. In other words, buy the product, get (feel) the sex.

Sell Sex; Buy Sexism

The problem with ‘selling sex’ is that it takes the elemental human drive to procreate (which requires dominant and pliant roles), and attaches it to everything in our lives from food to cars to clothing to cleaning products to insurance. fem 14The dominant/ pliant roles of our sex organs become the roles we identify with as represented subliminally by the products and services we need and use every day. By ascribing the yielding female sex organ to her overall nature and character (as subordinate), advertisers can use sexually explicit imagery to not only potently objectify women’s bodies, but also marginalize female humanity by transforming “actual women into [sexual] objects, devoid of individual will or subjectivity” (Benshoff and Griffin 238-256).

The female body, pliant in sex, becomes the objectified woman, subordinate in life.

Even while women have made stellar strides in education and work force parity since the blatantly sexist advertising of the 1950’s; “an era when women’s roles were confined to the corridor between the bedroom and the kitchen” (Thompson, 2011);

the ‘new sexism’ is simply explicitly sexist imagery without the explicitly sexist messaging. In the 21st century, the message of sexual servitude is “implied.”

“Having lost the argument that women are incompetent, American advertising has had to settle on the argument that fem 18women are [still] attractive” (Thompson, 2011). In other words the iconic domestic dependent ‘June Cleaver’ telling viewers something like, “Your husband will never complain about undercooked eggs again with this new and improved egg timer!” has been replaced with the sexually implicit ‘cleavage and stilettoes’ seductively and silently stepping out of a Lincoln Continental. I call this “objectified female imagery.” This more modern version of sexism has only fed new life into age old social constructs of female subordination, because “American women still develop a sense of self-worth based primarily on how they look, rather than how talented or intelligent they are” (Benshoff and Griffin 238-256).

Domestic dependent submissiveness has simply been replaced by sexual objectification; both are demeaning and subordinate positions of “service.”

What’s even more poignant is that some of worst offenders of this type of sexist advertising are ‘women on women.’ fem 19Women who appeared on a Phil Donahue Show “fashion segment,” un-apologetically defended their unusual preoccupation with ‘perfecting’ their hair, skin, eyes, clothing and bodies. Susan Bordo took note of their naiveté and that “putting on makeup, styling hair, and so forth are conceived of only as free play, fun, a matter of creative expression,” but in reality is, “also experienced by many women as ‘necessary’ before they show themselves to the world, even a quick trip to the corner mailbox.” Bordo expresses her concern that the true messages being sent by ‘fashion statements’ are merely “whimsical and politically neutral vicissitudes [that] supply endless amusement for women’s [apparent] eternally superficial values.” Bordo goes on to say in the context of the fashion and beauty industry, “the specific ideals that women are drawn to embody…are seen as arbitrary, without meaning [by society].”

In other words, obsession with fashion culturally indicates frivolous and superficial priorities.

Bordo’s trepidation with the multi-million dollar fashion and beauty industry is shared by Benshoff and Griffen who assert that this advertising strives to persuade women to “buy their [own] femininity;” be re-made into “some ideal fem 20form” as an “object of the male gaze (objectification).” This, alleges Benshoff and Griffen, actually convinces women “to be complicit in their own objectification.” A massive and still growing fashion and beauty industry in America may be evidence that many women have indeed “internalized the ideology that their self-worth is based upon their public image… that achieving total objectified desirability is the only thing that will give them happiness and fulfillment” and that, “this mythical ideal keeps patriarchal (male) domination in place” (Benshoff and Griffin 238-256). If women are buying sexism, then apparently sexist advertising is working.

Hijacked Sexuality

Full disclosure: as a woman myself, I am frustrated that an industry has “hijacked” my God given sexuality for their profits! Can a woman in the 21st century fully express her innate sexuality without the implication that she is consenting to, even encouraging the sexist messages sent by the objectified female imagery in media advertising? And what of those who feed into the ‘cultural messages’ that are fabricated from objectified female imagery in the media; that a woman’s sexuality is by its very nature literally “there for the taking?”fem 5

Can a woman in the 21st century fully express her innate sexuality personally without the implication that she is “asking for it” publically? I fear that the answer to these questions today is “no.”

Sharon Marcus writes of the misleading dialogue used when legislating rape laws or hearing rape cases; “The rape script describes female bodies as vulnerable, violable, penetrable, and wounded.” A website called “Controltonight.com” ran an ad showing a young woman’s legs with her panties around her ankles lying on what looks like a bathroom floor. The ad reads, “2:19 a.m. She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say NO.” The ad intends to warn against drinking and date rape, but the ‘message’ is that women’s bodies are simply up for grabs by anyone who may gain the advantage to take it – and that’s somehow a woman’s fault. Marcus purports, “the adherents of rape culture see female sexuality as a property which only men can truly own, which women often hoard, which can thus justifiably be wrested from us, which women themselves merely hold in trust for a lawful owner. Rape thus becomes the theft or violation of one man’s property rights by another.”

fem 8If women’s sexuality is not even seen in our law as our own rightful possession, it is no wonder it could be unabashedly exploited personally or commercially by whomever and however it serves to benefit.

Audrey Lorde writes of the uses and power of the ‘erotic’ – in this context, ones ‘passions;’ sexual or otherwise; “We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused and devalued within western society… the erotic has been encouraged as a sign of female inferiority.” So a woman’s capacity to “feel deeply” has been equated with weakness, and that “only by the suppression of the erotic within our lives and consciousness can women truly be strong. But this strength is illusory, for it is fashioned within the context of male models of power” (Lorde 188-192).

If we follow Lordes’ premise, then a woman’s capacity to feel her own sexuality is considered “suspect” and therefore only passably expressed within and through our patriarchal society’s consent and capacity to control it.

Conclusion

What came first, female objectification or female objectified imagery? The truth is not what you might think. While media imagery only began in the early 1900’s, female objectification is just one arm of female subordination that has fem 12stigmatized the male/female dynamic for thousands of years. However, in the 21st century human kind is capable of growing beyond our prejudices; capable of a much broader perspective of the male/female dynamic.

In the 21st century human kind is capable of recognizing our two species as ‘different in measure but equal in value.’

This is where the media continues to culturally perpetuate female objectification even as we are collectively capable of moving beyond it. Advertising media imagery is especially harmful because it is scrupulously knitted within the fabric of our consumer based culture. Every decade that passes, fem 4human kind becomes more familiar with women in leadership positions of authority in politics, more acceding to our dependability as an equal successful womanpartner within the home, and more reliant on our equally competent skills in the work place and industry. While this reality of the male/female dynamic may smack of truth, the false postulation of our disparity and subordination continues to be culturally projected before us as sexually objectified minions of the patriarchal social construct.

Women’s sexuality; our very autonomy is reduced to a collective cultural commodity, and only valid through its collective cultural usefulness to the patriarchal bedroom, boardroom or billboard.

If sex is selling, it’s only selling women out.

fem 16

 

References

Benshoff, Harry, and Sean Griffin. America On Film. 2nd. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

238-256. Print.

Bordo, Susan. “Material Girl: The Effacements of Post Modern Culture.” Trans. Array

Theorizing Feminisms. N.Y., New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 385-404. Print.

Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” Trans. Array Theorizing Feminisms.

N.Y., New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 188-192. Print.

Marcus, Sharon. “Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention.”

Trans. Array Theorizing Feminism. N.Y., New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 369-

  1. Print. (Marcus, 369-381)

Thompson, Derek. “Are T.V. Ads Getting More Sexist?.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly

Group, 31 Oct 2011. Web. 16 Oct 2013. <theatlantic.com>.

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A Feminist Critique

Sorry I’ve been MIA to my readers.  If you’ve read my bio, you know I’m a full time student in Political Science.  My schedule has been challenging, but I had an opportunity to write something for a political philosophy compulsory that I wanted to share with our TFI community.  Enjoy!

T's Toes

“On Susan Mendus and Heidi Hartmann”

By T.L. Dayen

We humans, for better or worse, categorize ourselves by color, ethnicity, religion and income, which are determined by our race, nationality and/or culture. These categories can also indicate our status, which is dependent upon geography. Where we live will largely define the status level of our color, ethnicity, religion and income: the value of our assets. However, there is one fundamental category that crosses all categorical barriers, and is not determined nor bound by geography. Our biological sex is the only human category and status determined by a chromosomal coin toss at conception. This “flip of the coin” will determine whether you are a man (superior) or a woman (subordinate). Only the degree of that superiority or subordination is determined by geography and/or culture. This chromosomal segregation is so entrenched, that it is considered literally, a “law of nature;” when in fact this “law” is only derived from our own definitions of our “natures,” and the values we have allotted to them. More specifically, the ensconced pillars of the social construct of male superiority and female subordination are founded upon the natures of men and women as defined and evaluated by men.

The differences of our sexes are both fundamental (physiological) and socially constructed, but the latter developed from the male perspective of the former; “We are born female and male, but we are created women and men, [by our] socially recognized genders” (Hartmann, H., p. 395).   Susan Mendus (2003), on the writings of Emanuel Kant (1781 – 1804), makes reference to Kant’s musings that a woman’s nature is “distinct and singular;” having to do with “the unit and coherence of the family;” that “woman relinquishes her equality and allows the man to dominate in political life in exchange for her own domination of domestic life;” and finally that men concede to this arrangement because “he loves domestic peace and readily submits to her regime” (p. 306 – 307). But why was/is domesticity considered the “regime” of women in the first place? The nature of a woman’s biology and the natural cycles that control it kept women physically vulnerable and immobile. This made women naturally adapted to the home front (hearth), while men were naturally unencumbered to defend, to govern, to provide (hunt). But this doesn’t explain why Kant also believed that “woman should reign and the man should rule; because inclination reigns and reason rules” (p. 307). Again, women’s bodies were at the mercy of natural cycles over which human kind had no control (menstrual; ovulation; breast milk; reproduction itself); hence naturally “inclined” or adapted to a specific purpose. While man, once again, was not encumbered by nature and had control over every facet of his own body including when, where, and with whom to plant his seed; hence free to “reason” or self-determine and collectively determine; “rule.”

The fact that our biology defines us as superior or subordinate was socially constructed from the male’s perspective that a mysterious and unpredictable natural world associated with females was something that needed to be controlled, conquered, and kept in check by men in order to survive; moreover that nature had intended it that way. But I would ask Kant today, how is the ability to achieve and provide “domestic peace” for a family considered subordinate “inclination,” while the inability, in fact failure, to achieve and provide “domestic peace” for human kind considered superior “reason?” Are we not one human family? Who is really better equipped to provide for the survival of our species?

Generally speaking, women tend toward inclusiveness, compromise, compassion and community; attributes that lend to social justice, equal opportunity and global prosperity. Heidi Hartman (2003), a “feminist socialist,” makes the connection between our “natures” and our economics; “If we examine the characteristics of men… – competitive, rationalistic, dominating – they are much like our description of the dominant values of capitalist society” (p. 401). Indeed one could even say that capitalism and socialism represent the Mars / Venus struggle between our Republican and Democratic political system. But why is one considered superior, while the other is considered weak and ineffective? Perhaps, as Hartmann (2003) posits, pure capitalism is actually a patriarchal system that perpetuates male domination (p. 398). Capitalism emphasizes independence, individualism and personal ambition; characteristics generally well-suited to men, and to a patriarchal society that supports female economic dependence and domestic servitude; as evidenced by the pathetic lack of females in the highest positions of government, industry and finance. A system that primarily increases the likelihood of success for men also increases the likelihood that men will hold the dominant positions of control in society, and as Hartmann (2003) states, “That control is maintained by excluding women from access to necessary resources and by restricting women’s sexuality” (p. 397). So once again, it is not our natures, but the male perspective of that nature that puts females in a position of disadvantage and subordination to the more advantaged and superior male; in this case, economically. I would add that women not only require equal access to necessary resources, but also equal determination as to what a “necessary resource” even is. Equal access to a set standard is one thing; an equal voice in setting that standard is quite another.

As Hartmann stated above, “restricting women’s sexuality” is a tool to maintain male dominance. This is perhaps the strongest connection between our natures and the male fallacy of female subordination: female sexuality. Referring back to our physiology, the female body is seen by man as a compulsory receptacle for his sexual drive, both physically and objectively. The female sexual biology is involuntary, and requires penetration of both her body and her egg by a man who is, by the way, biologically equipped with “choice;” and while a man can chose to ejaculate with or without a female partner, the female can only equate her sexual experience with receiving a man’s seed for reproduction. This is, I believe, the root of the male fallacy that the female is naturally subordinate to the male, without which, men could no longer support their claim of natural dominance. The advances in medical science, that gave women the same biological sexual “freedom,” “control” and “choice” as men had enjoyed since the dawn of time, was no less than a direct mortal threat to the male ego’s dominance over the female race. It is no coincidence that the Party who is fervently working toward eliminating a women’s ability to control her own reproductive process, is also the patriarchal faction of our two-Party system! Not all women need to be mothers neither to contribute to society nor to utilize our innate abilities and recognize “both human needs for nurturance, sharing and growth, and the potential for meeting those needs in a non-hierarchical and non-patriarchal society” (Hartmann, 2003, p. 403).

The origin of female oppression lies in the male perspective of our “purpose” as determined by our “physiology.” While much more could be said on this subject, especially in the context of religious doctrine, in short, the social construct stems not from whom or what woman are, what they do or how they think, but from the fundamental male perception of what women are for. Sexual objectification, divided labor and the resurgence of the effort to repeal women’s reproductive rights all support the archaic premise that the human female is for the purpose of sexual and domestic servitude to man. In other words, the female only exists as a reflection of what the male needs and desires. Mendus’ analysis of Kant’s meanderings on women as inherently incapable of civic authority, and Hartmann’s feminist socialist analysis of patriarchal capitalism as an effective means of maintaining female economic dependence, both indicate the elemental male presupposition that the human female cannot create, but only participate in what is only created by the male. A woman cannot be authentic (creational) when she is merely an image of what serves man, and so her voice can only represent the [male] consortium with which she has aligned. In closing, feminism cannot be about “equality.” It must be about “unity.” Male and female are not two equal wholes side by side; we are two halves of the one whole of humanity. Only through the unity of our consciousness, not the equality of our [socially constructed] roles, will we evolve past destructive and counterproductive socially, economically and religiously constructed gender division.

Resources

Hartmann, H. (2003). The Unhappy marriage between Marxism and feminism: Toward a more

progressive union. Social and political philosophy: Classical western texts in feminist and

              multicultural perspectives. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

 

Mendus, S. (2003). Kant: “An Honest but Narrow Minded Bourgeois?” Social and political

                philosophy: Classical western texts in feminist and multicultural perspectives. Belmont, CA:

Wadsworth  Cengage Learning. (Kant’s Original works published 1781 to 1804). “

Testosterone + Money; What Could Go Wrong?

The NFL is simply a microcosm of an ancient blueprint of our global society – male ego greed and power.

T's Toes

By T.L. Dayen

The NFL is a world in itself. It’s the least transparent but richest organization in the world, and it is completely self-contained. It has its own physical and mental medical team. It has its own family and marriage counseling and liaison team. It has its own investigative team, and it has its own disciplinary team, with successful players receiving criminal sentences based on how valuable you are to the NFL. In other words, the NFL is a place where nothing is more important than money; males make ALL the rules, and break them whenever it serves them, and women; their role and experiences are secondary, if not inconsequential. Sounds like planet Earth to me!!

NFL is the “No Females League.”

Abusing a woman gets you 2 games sitting on the bench;

But abusing dog’s gets you 2 years sitting behind bars.

After all, dogs are man’s best friend!

If you don’t think it’s a man’s world, just look at the NFL; what a place with literally zero female influence looks like: tolerance of violence and abuse; exploitation of skills and contribution even to the point of physical and/or mental injury; a hierarchy of powerful [male] individuals who have the final say on every and all issues; an environment where profit is the determining factor in every decision that is made; a culture much less interested in justice as it is in maintaining an “image;” a place where female sexual objectification is central to advertising dollars and brand image; and a place where ones value is equal only to the amount of money you can make for your superiors.

arrest

http://www.utsandiego.com/nfl/arrests-database/

There have been 724 arrest offenses since 2000 with charges overwhelmingly represented by three categories: violence, drugs and weapons charges. That’s an average of 52 per year for 14 years. The NFL is made up of approximately 1500 players. There’s been a lot of talk about the fact that the percentage of arrests within the NFL is way below the “national average.” Has no one considered how absurd that notion is as a defense of these men? These players are employees of an organization, no different from IBM or GE or Exxon-Mobil, all which employ at least, if not more than 1500 people. How would we be reacting if GE employees for example, were arrested for violence, weapons or drugs at an average of 52 per year over 14 years? Really?? It would be an unprecedented outrage; and one that would never be tolerated in any other industry other than, apparently, the NFL.

These men are not from the street. Their offenses cannot be held to the same standard as the “national average” which is represented overwhelmingly by low income and ill-educated men. No, NFL players are college educated millionaires! And most will enjoy continued financial success in other endeavors after their time in the NFL (if they manage to avoid brain damage). How and why can the NFL tolerate this behavior within their organization? Or is the NFL itself complicit in this behavior?

nfl

Believe it or not, while I’m not a sports fanatic, I actually LOVE FOOTBALL! I’ll gladly spend a few hours on a free Sunday to watch a good game! I don’t follow it closely, but I like to know just enough about the game, the players and the season to hold a decent convo with the “boys” at a spirited Super bowl party. In fact, I’ve always said that the “holiday season” isn’t officially over until after Super bowl! I like watching football for the same reason I would imagine everyone does, it’s exciting! Large men in tight pants and shiny helmet’s running, rushing and passing like bulls and gazelles on a large field performing amazing feats of strength, agility and endurance surrounded by a roaring crowd; devoted, frenzied and face painted. Can everyone say “gladiator?” Football is the other “America’s favorite pass time.” For most, football is a great game, and for many it’s a religion. More people watch football on Sunday in America than go to church.

But football is really a business. The wealth of the NFL is unsurpassed by any other national league. The NFL is not required to disclose its annual financial records to the public. But statistics can shed light on the NFL cash machine. The average cost of one NFL team is between 1.17 and 1.43 billion. NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, earned 44 million in just the 2012/13 season, and according to Forbes Magazine, the NFL takes in over 9 billion in total annual revenues. Commissioner Goodell told his owners he expects the League to gross 25 billion by 2027.

 goddell

How does it make its money? fans, advertisers, sponsors – and taxpayers!

The NFL is a NON-PROFT!

The richest organization in the nation pays no Federal taxes!

Yes, taxpayers are even forced to pay for the elaborate stadiums that lure tens of thousands of fans to fill their seats at an average of $84 a seat. With modern day high tech home media to watch your favorite team in HD with your buddies from the comfort of your Lazy Boy and an arm’s reach of a cooler full of brew, it’s become difficult to fill the seats of these stadiums on a regular basis. Team owners often threaten municipalities to leave their cities if they don’t invest their citizen’s tax dollars on bigger and more spectacular stadiums which now exceeds 700 million dollars.

A cities football team is a sense of national pride and identity, but team owners care little for their fans devotion and will pack it up and move to the location of the highest bidder all at the expense of the American taxpayer. And if they do “build it” and “they don’t come” they’ll leave as soon as a more lucrative location is found anyway.

God forbid the NFL should dip in to those billions they make from devoted fans and spend their own money to build their own fricken stadiums!

The NFL is subsidized by the American taxpayer.

 money

While team owners and the league are rolling in the dough, what about the players that the fans and municipalities are paying to see play? NFL player contract salaries ranged from 118 to 180 million in the 2013/14 season, but the average career for an NFL player is just 3.3 years, and just 6 if you’re a rookie good enough to make the cut for the opening game. Team owners however, change out very rarely and ownership is often passed down within families from generation to generation. There have been only 3 NFL commissioners since 1960 (54 years). The infrastructure of the league is a “good old boys club” while the players are commodities flying in and out of a revolving door; and as a player, if your brain or body happens to get injured while whipping through that revolving door of the harshest contact sport – that’s your problem. There’s hundreds of strapping young men waiting in the line outside for their turn at a chance for “fifteen minutes of fame!” Cheerleaders either work for “free” or are grossly underpaid (less than minimum wage). Their skill, tireless dedication and phenomenal efforts to keep their bodies in mint condition are rewarded simply by having the opportunity to expose their skin and shake their “pompoms” in the faces of millions of testosterone pumped men tuning in twice a week.

            girls 1

The NFL is a man’s game, and it should be. I get it! But what really pisses me and most of the country off right now is how that translates – what that actually means in the real world for the men, their families and loved ones who have entrusted their lives to the NFL for a few brief years of descent money for themselves, but decades of continued phenomenal wealth for those who exploit their dedication. Considering the average career of a player to be only 3.3 years and 6 if they’re exceptional who have no record of arrests before coming to the NFL, how does this organization justify over 720 arrests out of 1500 revolving players over 14 years?

Are 48% of NFL players over 14 years really monstrous thugs, or are they aspiring young college men who thought they were realizing their dreams when in reality they were being indoctrinated into both one of the most profit motivated and most chauvinistic industries in the world? Even the military gives women more respect and authority than the NFL, and with the rampant rape within the military industrial complex, that’s a pretty pathetic comparison.

girls 2

How can we expect NFL players to be model citizens in society and exemplary role models for fans when their own role models, the organization that demands complete dedication and absolute loyalty in exchange for seeing to star players and their family’s every need, teaches them that “money is GOD,” “might is right,” and “girls are only good for one thing?” In this light, on the most fundamental of levels outside of culture, is there that much difference between what motivates the N.F.L. and what motivates I.S.I.L.?

 

 

 

 

 

Dressing for Success or Suc-sex?

T's Toes

The trade-off for having to listen to us is getting to look at us!

By T.L. Dayen

Objectification…. That one “feminist” term that you’ll find in every feminist genre. We all know what it is, and most of us are complicit! Let’s face it; we have no choice. Either we look like “women” or we don’t. The truth is the majority of girls in the U.S. anyway, are concerned with their appearance on a scale that ranges from at least brushing one’s hair to spending 2 hours a day “prepping” before they leave the house. I’ve known many women who confess they never leave the house without make-up. They couldn’t imagine it. Don’t get me wrong; I know many girls that could care less about dressing or looking like a woman, but those are not the women I’m speaking to right now, and I’ll be addressing our gay and rebel sisters later on. But even those of us [females] who choose to not play the “lady” game will at least be color coordinated – hell, even Goth is just complimentary shades of black – with a pop of red.

All girls from a very young age are taught that their “appearance” is crucial to their “female” identity. We are taught that it is our female duty to let others know through our appearance that we know we’re a woman and we understand what that “looks like.”

make-up3

So what does “looking like a woman” really mean?
How are we complicit in our own objectification?

Female objectification or “treating a [female] merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure, making them a “sex object;” is the oldest tool in the shed of the dominant male ego for keeping gender division intact and the human female subordinated and marginalized. And when I say “oldest” I mean that female objectification is so resolutely entrenched within our global human social construct, that even women believe that this is “natural;” for the most part, we’ve accepted that women are expected to be pleasing to the eye of the human male. Women have internalized this socially constructed “rule” to the point that we compete with ourselves and one another as to how “pleasing” we are to “look” at. How many men stand in the front of the mirror trying on three different outfits until they’re satisfied that their “ass” or “waist line” doesn’t “look too big?” How many men claim to be having a “bad hair day?” Why are these things apparently so important to women? The animal mind of the male ego has conditioned the human female over tens of thousands of years to present ourselves to the world [men] in a manner that lets men know that we know we have a vagina and we know what that vagina is for – them! We “display” ourselves – in a sexually pleasing manner; and many of us pride ourselves on how well we do it!

successful woman

“Just because I look “sexy,” does NOT mean I think “ditsy!”

This is where things start to get complicated. This is where the female image of the social construct and reality begin to “butt heads;” because ladies, we have understandably invested in this socially constructed female image over thousands of years as a sense of pride and yes, even personal power. But it was the animal mind of the male ego that created this female image over thousands of years because of what this image really means to them, and how that manifests for us. I say “complicated,” because I’m not suggesting “unisex,” and so in that case, what are we really to do about female objectification? What we really need to do is take the sex out of the female body and put it in the bedroom between two consenting adults where it belongs!! It’s time that females stop taking responsibility for the oversexed, immature, one-tracked animal mind of the sexually controlling male ego that cannot gaze upon skin without seeing “sex.” And yes, ladies, it’s time that we start taking responsibility for the fact that we are more than our appearance. Women must stop associating sex with our own bodies if we are to break free from the dominant sexually controlling male ego global social construct of female objectification. We cannot have it both ways! But alas, the male ego is counting on us to continue to try and do just that!

You see, if we don’t look like “women” we’re socially chastised as too masculine (not “sex”y). If we do look like “women” we’re complicit in our own sexual objectification. This is simply fighting the male ego on its own turf within its own socially constructed image of the female – It’s a losing battle that we cannot win!

The Female Imperative is finally giving both men and women of “human mind” the permission to STEP OUTSIDE THE MALE EGO FEMALE IMAGE and to stop letting our “sex” determine our “consciousness;” our own or others. Sex is not our bodies. Sex is not our personalities. Sex is not our roles, our functions, our self-perceptions, our value, our worth. Sex is NOT our clothing or our accessories – or lack thereof. Sex is something we choose to do when, why, how and with whom we choose to do it. Our sex does NOT define us. Our consciousness defines us, and our consciousness is NOT our sex!

Consider that it is ONLY women who must bear the burden of this principle. In other words, the “sex is our bodies and therefore our purpose” principle according to the male ego image of the female is only displayed by the woman. Men do not hold themselves to the same standard. In fact, they can all look the same, and still be considered “virile.” The male uniform, or “suit,” simply says it all about their virility; “I wear a suite. I have a penis; period!”

men 1

But it goes further than that. The male uniform (suit or pants/shirt) doesn’t just indicate masculinity (virile penis) it also says, “Don’t look at me. Listen to me.” In other words, men do not want to draw attention to their bodies, because that would distract from the allure of their “intellect.” Men do not have to draw attention to their penis to be considered virile, and if they do, they are considered by their peers to be foolish, narcissistic and anything but intellectual. For women on the other hand, it’s just the opposite. If we are not drawing attention to our “femininity” through seeking attention to our appearance, then our self-awareness is questioned, and therefore so is our psychological “stability.” Our intellect doesn’t even factor into the equation. In fact, the further a woman climbs the ladder of authoritative success, the greater the pressure on her to inform the world (and her co-workers) through her appearance that she hasn’t forgotten she’s got a vagina.

men-women
From TFI:
“Girls are taught the female image seeks attention, but boys are taught the male image seeks respect. Respect is a suit and tie. Attention is a form fitting sleeveless V-neck that accentuates the hips and breasts; exposes skin; a pair of pumps that accentuate the legs and lifts a woman’s butt; earrings that draw attention to a woman’s cosmetically altered eyes and a necklace that draws attention to her cleavage and slender neck. I’ve just described to you two typical news anchors sitting side by side on a nightly broadcast. One image is saying, “Listen to me. I am [intelligent] man” while the other image is saying “Look at me. I am [sexual] female.”

“The civilized dominant male ego has cunningly constructed a modern society that maintains the appearance of social equality while still marginalizing a woman’s authority within that society to the presentation of her body parts. The more authority a woman has in the male ego dominated society, the more her sexuality is scrutinized, analyzed and objectified. This is the male ego rule; “If I have to listen to you, then you must remind me that you know you’re still a woman when I look at you.”

“I am speaking here only about women in positions of authority and leadership in finance, politics and the corporate world; where, by the way, the female perspective is so desperately needed in the 21st century. I am not speaking of women in research, medicine and academia. The very sectors of humanity where the male ego is doing the most damage to humanity and our world are the very sectors where female sexual objectification is the most rampant; marginalizing her contribution by objectifying her body.” (Excerpts from Chapter 26)

This was illustrated just recently when Senator Kristen Gillibrand confessed in her recent book that she, as a Senator from New York, has endured comments about her “body” and her “appearance” by her own Senate colleagues. This comes as no surprise to me, but what many don’t seem to acknowledge is that if Senator Gillibrand was a “secretary” or an “intern,” these “advances” would be considered completely inappropriate and possibly criminal sexual harassment in the workplace. But because she is a “colleague;” not in a position of servitude, she’s expected to just “suck it up;” “deal with it.”

gillabrand

The beltway press has been having a field day with Gillibrand’s refusal to “name names.” But many (especially women) are rightly pointing out that if she does name the offenders, then her career will forever be “defined” by the fact that she “couldn’t keep her mouth shut.” She will be seen as “weak.” Ironically however, if she were these men’s secretary, her revelations would be considered “courageous;” but as a supposed “equal” among the power brokers in D.C., she now has the obligation to play by the rules of women in positions of authority: that is if a woman is no longer in some kind of physical or domestic servitude, she is now in [sexually] visual servitude – that’s the trade-off! And as Stewart and I explain in TFI, this trade-off is the brilliant mechanism of the male ego to maintain the appearance of equality in the 21st century while still maintaining the female image of sexual purpose and servitude, which effectually negates the authenticity and originality of the intellectual contribution of the human female among male global power brokers.

TFI spends a great deal of time explaining not just blatant, but also nuanced female oppression and subordination in all its facets and phases. We spend a great deal of time explaining how and why the animal mind of the male ego uses female oppression and subordination to keep the male and female consciousness “separate” and how this effectually strengthens the male ego and feeds his need for battle and dominance. TFI explains how men and women of “human mind” are “going down with the ship.” TFI also explains how this can be corrected – and why it must.

We call on all of you to join in the EVOLUTION REVOLUTION!