Dude Looks Like a Feminist!: Moral Concerns and Feminism among Men by Renee F. Precopio and Laura R. Ramsey

This study explored the connections between a man’s moral concerns and their feminist beliefs. Additional variables were included such as the connection these two variables had to a person’s political ideology and whether or not they supported, identified with, or collectively acted with the feminist movement. The moral concerns the researchers were analyzing came from the moral foundations theory which comprised of harm, fairness, ingroup, authority, and purity. The results were obtained through an online survey where participants were asked a series of questions.

The results were very similar to what was expected by the researchers. First, it was found that specific moral concerns were directly correlated to political ideologies. For conservative ideologies, participants had higher moral concerns for authority, ingroup, and purity. For participants with a liberal ideology, the moral concern that was highest was fairness. In relation to harm, there was not a significant enough correlation to either political ideology. The researchers believed harm did not fall into either political ideology because either the societal norm to be concerned for the well-being of others or that conservatives do not view sexism as harmful.

Second, it was found that political ideology and moral concerns were strongly correlated with feminist beliefs. The liberal leaning participants were more likely to identify with feminist beliefs and feminist action than their conservative counterparts. The conservative ideologies were more likely to be antifeminist and support benevolent and hostile sexism. Also, the researchers found two specific moral concerns that influenced whether a person identified as a feminist or not without including the political ideology. Fairness was a strong predictor of a participant identifying as a feminist whereas purity was an indicator that a participant was antifeminist.

The significance of this study is in explaining why men may not support feminism and how feminists could potentially change their ways to attract more men into the movement. One of the suggestions made by the researchers was looking at the moral concern harm. If feminists were to explain to nonfeminists how sexism and the patriarchy are harmful to everyone, not just women. Another suggestion was to emphasize or deemphasize certain types of feminism in order to attract men to the movement. I disagreed with this strongly since we should not change the movement to accommodate a man’s comfort level. Overall, this study gave insight into how morality plays into a man’s thinking when it comes to feminism and political ideology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Cans of Paint: A Transsexual Life Story, with Reflections on Gender Change and History by Raewyn Connell

At 67 years old, Robyn has had a fascinating life story full of challenges, heart aches, celebrations, and transformations. Robyn tells the interviewer and writer of the article, Raewyn Connell, about the journey she has gone through from being a man to a woman. Once Robyn tells her story, Raewyn analyzes it and comes to different conclusions based on what she says. An interesting anecdote about this article is that the author transitioned from male to female 15 years after doing this interview with Raewyn. While the author does not speak to their experience, mentioning their transition along with Robyn’s demonstrates transitioning does not only occur in young people.

The title was an interesting choice in that it is a prime metaphor for Robyn’s transition. “Two Cans of Paint…” eludes to the spilling of two cans of different colored paint where one color is darker than the other. When you spill a darker color into a lighter color, the darker color most often takes over. This is a metaphor for Robyn’s gender transition in that the maleness she felt was the lighter color and the femaleness she felt was the darker color. The female feelings inside her took over suddenly and dominated her identity and everyday life.

Robyn was a born in the 1920s with male genitals and identified as a cisgender male for most of her life. She went through a great number of traumatizing life events including her mother dying when she was two years old, her father putting her in foster care, a loveless marriage that ended in divorce, raising an adopted child with a serious brain disorder, and the difficulties of transitioning at an older age. All of these events and the time period in which she lived contributed to Robyn’s views of femininity and how to be a woman once she transitioned.

Some key phrases the interviewer expanded on in the article that I will mention here are noteworthy to her transition and viewpoints of the world. “All of a sudden” refers to the feelings Robyn felt before transitioning and of her desire to be a woman as sudden and demanding. Much of the research done on transgender and transsexual individuals points to signs of a desire to be the other gender at an early age; however, Robyn does not fit that mold. Her transition happened much later in life and she did not show signs or gradually come aware of her desire as research shows. Another key phrase is, “My body said” which refers to the role her body had in the transition process. Robyn had felt throughout the whole transition that her body was the motivator in wanting to transition. She says, “Physically I felt as though I had a girl in me and I had to show a woman exterior. It was demanding of me I had to get rid of the sexual organs. I tried every trick in the book. As a matter of fact if I could have cut if off, I would have cut it off.” (p.10). Robyn’s body was the sole purpose of Robyn’s transformation. She had stated that she was happy as a man; however, once her body determined that she wanted to be a woman, then she decided to listen to it. Robyn also says how her body was physically changing before the use of medical intervention. She talks about how her breasts were growing larger and her face was becoming more feminine.

The author makes some interesting analyses regarding Robyn’s story. First, Robyn had a very traditional, binary view of gender despite her experiences in the LGBTQIA+ community and her transition from male to female. The author talks about her lack of knowledge towards feminism and the fluidity of gender. Robyn was very set in her perspective on gender roles and appearances, she did not believe in anything in between. This surprised the author since they believed every transsexual woman should be a feminist. Another analyses the author made was the confidence Robyn had in herself. Many people who transition are constantly in flux and dealing with complex issues that relate with their identity; however, Robyn seemed confident and content in her identity and gender. Robyn says in the beginning of the interview how she would like people to understand that transsexual people are just normal people. This shows her transition is in a way complete given her perspective of herself being completely normal.

Gender transition is a sensitive topic for many people going through a transition. When a person lives in a culture that does not allow for gender deviance of any kind, it is difficult to understand and deal with feelings of gender nonconformity. Robyn was willing to share her story with another which sheds light on the reality of transitioning; however, not everyone is safe or free to share their story given the threat of violence and being cast out. We need more transvisibility in order to show the public that they do exist and that they are important. We thank Robyn for being brave and sharing her story with the world.

Masculinity, Bargaining, and Breadwinning: Understanding Men’s Housework in the Cultural Context of Paid Work by Sarah Thebaud

Does a man’s income earning status in relation to his wife’s earnings have an effect on the amount of housework he does per week? It depends, the study found that men who earn less of an income than their spouse will, on average, spend more time doing housework. However, there was a very important variable that indicated how much more housework a man would do if his income was less than their spouses. This variable was the cultural belief in whether work was highly valued in a person’s life.

Sarah Thebaud explored the expectations and beliefs in a culture that places a lot of emphasis on a person’s career. Thebaud says, “In capitalist societies, this link between masculinity and paid work is historically rooted in institutions built on the assumption that men would be the primary breadwinners” (p. 334). Breadwinning is the idea that a single person will support their family on their earnings from their job. Historically, breadwinning has been the man’s responsibility. This idea has been internalized by males in cultures where work is highly valued which has affected their views regarding the distribution of housework.

Historically, housework has been “women’s work”, but as women entered the labor force, family dynamics changed. However, the idea of housework being primarily a women’s job still remains. As Thebaud states, “That is, women still do the majority of housework, regardless of the level (and direction) of income inequity between men and women” (p. 333). This is the reality for many heterosexual families where the wife is expected to continue to do most of the housework and go to work each day. The term “supermom” has been coined to represent the women who can do it all. This perpetuates the unrealistic and sexist ideal that women must continue to uphold the household while earning an income.

In these cultures where work was highly valued, men did about the same amount of housework whether their income was higher, the same, or lower than their spouses. In cultures where work was not valued as highly, men who earned less than their spouses did much more housework than a man who earned more money than their spouse. Thebaud concluded, “…the extent to which cultural values reinforce the pressures on men to live up to the ideal provider role has the power to considerably restrict the degree to which they engage in unpaid work” (p. 349). This demonstrates the gender inequality that endures at the micro level despite the push towards a more egalitarian society. Gender norms and expectations are so ingrained in a person’s identity and way of life that a person may not recognize the inequality.

To relate this to my experiences, my parents started to teach my brother and me, at a young age, the different types of housework. We were equally expected to do our respective chores whether it be vacuuming, dishes, cleaning the bathroom, laundry, and trash. However, there was one chore my brother did that I did not do and that was mowing the lawn. I was never expected to mow the lawn, that was taught to my brother and he was the one who had to do it. I never complained because it was not a task I wanted to do; however, this does demonstrate the gender norm that men do the more laborious jobs because they are viewed as physically stronger. I was the first one, between my brother and me, to get a job. My workload of chores lightened because I had to manage both school and a job. This does not follow the traditional expectation of a woman to uphold both the housework duties and earn an income; however, this was not the same model as the study.

In reference to my parents, there was a pretty equal distribution of work from my perspective; however, the work they did respectively was gendered in some ways. My stepfather mowed the lawn, took care of repairs (his job was a handyman), and cooked most of the time whereas my mother did a lot of cleaning tasks like dishes, vacuuming, laundry, etc. This was before my brother and I did most of the chores, but I can see this play out again once I left for college and it was just my brother in the house. I would like to think I grew up in an egalitarian household, but I know that is not the whole truth. There were expectations for myself and my mother that were not the same for my brother and stepfather.

Moving forward, I plan to have an equal distribution and no gendered patterns of housework in my future family because of the education I have received throughout my post-secondary experience and the beliefs I hold that have come out of that education. I am optimistic that my generation overall is much more egalitarian in distribution in housework given the shifting norms and expectations of both men and women. This study did shed light on the gender inequities that continue to persist in terms of breadwinning and the domestic sphere; however, it is important to keep in mind that this study was done seven years ago and based its findings off of information that was much older than that. Thebaud suggests, “…increasing men’s involvement in household work may be the only effective way to increase the value societies place on activities that have traditionally been viewed as feminine” (p. 350). This is currently happening in my world; the evidence is seen from my own experiences of just my brother being taught every single type of housework. Men are involving themselves in housework and, as a result, we are moving towards a more equal distribution of housework.

 

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Maser’s House by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was a black, lesbian feminist who was invited to speak on a panel at a feminist conference. Her observations of the conference and her panel are what sparked this response. At the conference, she found that women of color were not present at many of the panels unless the topic pertained to race and ethnicity. Lorde, herself, was not an exception and participated on the only panel that pertained to black feminists and lesbians. There was the underlying message at the conference that lesbian women and women of color’s input was not valuable unless it pertained to their individual experiences. Through Lorde’s experience, she sought to shed light on the exclusive nature of feminism at the time.

The exclusiveness of feminism was very real for any person that was not white, heterosexual, or a woman. Lorde refers to these women as academic feminists, however, these ideas of white feminism were perpetuated by more than just women in academia. Lorde’s issues with academic feminists were their lack of awareness on the differences among women’s experiences and knowledge of other feminists works that did not include white women. Lorde attributes these issues to women being taught to ignore differences among women because it is the source of contention and division. However, Lorde argues that this has led to academic feminists forgetting that there are differences in experience. Also, it is important to note that it is not the job of the feminists of color to educate white women. It is a waste of time and energy to explain the importance of their experiences when there are more important struggles that need their attention.

Lorde believes that it is crucial to recognize and embrace the differences among feminist to enact serious change. The uniqueness that comes from a woman of color’s experience cannot be found elsewhere. Academic feminists must see each other’s differences as strengths and allow them to have a voice in feminist matters other than just race and ethnicity. Without acknowledgement of each other, some woman will be left out of the picture and that goes against feminist’s goal of equality.

Today, Lorde’s ideas have been defined under the term intersectionality which was coined by Kimberly Crenshaw ten years after Lorde published her piece. Intersectionality has a larger presence in the third wave than it did in the second wave. It is great to see that there has been noticeable change since Lorde spoke out about this issue. White feminism still exists, but it is cast down upon by the majority of feminists. I believe firmly in the idea of intersectionality and that feminism without intersectionality is not true feminism at all. We cannot exclude anyone from the feminist agenda and speak for other’s experiences. We must “pass the mic” and allow others to have a chance to tell their story. Lorde’s ideas helped pave the way for feminism to improve and transform our world into a better future that considers all people and their experiences important to the tackling the patriarchy.

Gendering the Arab Spring by Nadje Al-Ali

The focus of the chapter is to discuss the nature of activism and conflict in the middle through the lens of gender. Nadje Al-Ali looks at how women have both been involved in and afflicted by the political developments. She focuses on the violence against women and the marginalization of women’s rights in each of the political movements.

While women have always been involved in activist’s efforts, they have not always been represented in the media. For years, the fight was only presented as men which did not give the deserved credibility to women who dedicated their lives to produce necessary change. Women’s voices have also been marginalized when it comes to women’s rights. They have had to organize separately to meet their demands on gender related issues. As Al-Ali says, “Egyptian women who participated in demonstrations during International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2011 were harassed and accused of taking away attention from the main issues” (532). The issue here is that women’s rights are not considered human rights and any change in women’s status and position is a threat to the family and society.

Unfortunately, in some places, women’s rights are violated and violence ensues as an act to violate and humiliate the woman. Al-Ali talks about the military and police force being particularly brutal towards woman. The police are accused of strip-searching women and then taking pictures of them. Also, accusing them of prostitution which results in a virginity check. The military men are known to use rape as a weapon in order to hurt and violate women. Al-Ali talks about a specific woman, Iman al-Obeidi, who was raped by a group of military men. Instead of being silent as the honor code of society says, she brought her case to the international stage. A video is here that highlights her coming to the press. This video is graphic and difficult to watch and it may trigger some individuals. I caution all viewers towards this video, but it imperative for her story to be heard as it shines a light on all the atrocities going on in the world.

Libya Crisis / Eman al-Obeidi / Channel 4 News (UK) 2011-03-26

It is very sad and tears come to my eyes as I see this woman’s rights being violated. Fortunately, she was granted asylum by Hilary Clinton here in the US.  As the video shows, men were not the only perpetrators in trying to silence Iman al-Obeidi. Women were shaming her and calling her a traitor. As Al-Ali says, “sisterhood is not global. It might not even be local. Women do not necessarily act in solidarity with each other, just because they are women” (533). We can see this with the recent election cycle in the United States. Women did not support one another and did not unite as one to vote for the first female president or to rally against the sexist and misogynistic rhetoric of Donald Trump.  Women are not of one entity and we can see that throughout the world.

Al-Ali mentions something very important to consider, not just for this context, but for everything. She talks about the current situation of women’s rights ultimately determines how far along the state is in terms of progress. Peace and tranquility are unattainable without the progression of women’s rights. She says:

The various theoretical and political issues emerging in relation to recent processes and events in the Middle East illustrate what many of us have been narrating, documenting, and analyzing over the past decades but what often remains misunderstood: a gendered lens is not just about women, even though in some contexts that continues to be an important and necessary focus of inquiry, as women are still systematically absent from official accounts, analyses, and projected future scenarios. Yet zooming in on what happens to and is going on with femininities, masculinities, and sexualities; to gender norms, ideologies, and discourses as well as gender roles and relations and the various processes of gendering within all aspects of social, cultural, political, and economic lives tells us a great deal about the nature of and dynamics within the state, citizenship, civil society, the military, the economy, et cetera.

It is a great conclusion to this book in that women’s rights are human rights and will always be even if it is titled as women first.

women can not and will not be ignored

Identity, Activism, and Third Wave Feminism in the United States by Ashley Bourgeois continued

 

Third Wave Feminism has brought a lot of marginalized voices to the forefront. Kathleen Hanna is an example of someone who is full of passion and wanted her voice to be heard.

Her Riot Grrrl Manifesto is here presented by Kathleen Hanna herself.

Riot Grrrl Manifesto

This piece is about reclaiming the word girl to be about strength rather than the preconceived notions of what a girl should or should not be. The anger felt by Hanna is evident with her vulgar use of language and personal ties. She was in the band Bikini Kill and regularly spoke out against society’s ideas and beliefs. One of Bikini Kill’s most popular songs, Rebel Girl, emulate Hanna’s love for rebelling against society.

Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill

Hanna’s type of feminism was radical to most; however, it was her feminism. She used feminism to fit her lifestyle and sang it to her audiences that could relate to it as well. Hanna’s feminism proves that feminism is flexible.


 

Another example of a third wave feminist is Gwendolyn D. Pough.

Pough is an interesting feminist in that her feminism is specific to her world of hip-hop. How she weaves hip-hop and feminism is indeed very interesting. To start, Pough had a conflict between her feminist beliefs  and hip-hop’s sexist and harmful messages towards women. However, she loved hip-hop as it was a part of her identity so she set out to “…find ways both to be true to themselves and to listen to the music and participate in the culture that stimulates the very depth of their souls” (511).

Hip-hop has been known to be highly offensive and demeaning to women. However, as Pough says, “I take the stance that hip-hop is a cultural phenomenon that extends beyond rap music” (511). Hip-hop is more than just music, it guides the listeners lifestyle choices as well. Pough talks about how hip-hop was created around the same time the Black Power Movement was ending. Hip-hop has a connection to the Black Power Movement in that it projects political messages that promote unity and talk about the issues going on in their communities. Pough makes the connection to feminism through the second wave black feminists  starting out in the Black Power and Feminist movements. These women involved in the Black Power and Feminist movement saw how sexist and racist each movement was and began to take matters into their own hands. They developed a feminism that worked for them. Pough believes that her feminism, hip-hop feminism, grew out this Black feminism. So Pough’s connection of feminism to hip-hop is rooted in history.

While she has made the connection between the two, the negativity towards women still remains, but Pough has a solution for this. Pough believes hip-hop has the potential to give a voice to a portion of the population that has not had one before. Feminists must realize the potential hip-hop has to be an important tool to activism. There is power in hip-hop and by realizing this, the feminist movement would be validating and reaching a whole generation of women of color.


 

The last example I will use for third wave feminists is Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards. These two women also wrote a manifesto like Kathleen Hanna did, but there was addressed specifically for the third wave. The title of their text is Third Wave Manifesta: A Thirteen-Point Agenda. 

This piece lays out thirteen points that emulate what the third wave supports and is all about. Here I have the text laid out:

1. To out unacknowledged feminists, specifically those who are younger, so that Generation X can become a visible movement and, further, a voting block of eighteen to forty-year olds.

2. To safeguard a woman’s right to bear or not to bear a child, regardless of circumstances, including women who are younger than eighteen or impoverished. To preserve the right throughout her life and support the choice to be childless.

3. To make explicit that the fight for reproductive rights must include birth control; the right for poor women and lesbians to have children; partner adoption for gay couples; subsidized fertility treatments for all women who choose them; and freedom from sterilization abuse. Furthermore, to support the idea that sex can be – and usually is – for pleasure, not procreation.

4. To bring down the double standard in sex and sexual health, and foster male responsibility and assertiveness in the following areas: achieving freedom from STDs; more fairly dividing the burden of family planning as well as responsibilities such as child care; and eliminating violence against women.

5. To tap into and raise awareness of our revolutionary history, and the fact that almost all movements began as youth movements. To have access to our intellectual feminist legacy and women’s history; for the classics of radical feminism, womanism, mujeristas, women’s liberation, and all our roots to remain in print; and to have women’s history taught to men as well as women as a part of all curricula. 

6. To support and increase the visibility and power of lesbians and bisexual women in the feminist movement, in high schools, colleges, and the workplace. To recognize that queer women have always been at the forefront of the feminist movement, and that there is nothing to be gained – and much to be lost – by downplaying their history, whether inadvertently or actively.

7. To practice “autokeonony” (“self in community”): to see activism not as a choice between self and community but as a link between them that creates balance.

8. To have equal access to health care, regardless of income, which includes coverage equivalent to men’s and keeping in mind that women use the system more often than men do because of our reproductive capacity.

9. For women who so desire to participate in all reaches of the military, including combat, and to enjoy all the benefits (loans, health care, pensions) offered to its members for as long as we continue to have an active military. The largest expenditure of our national budget goes towards maintaining the welfare system, and feminists have a duty to make sure women have access to every echelon.

10. To liberate adolescents from slut-bashing, listless educators, sexual harassment, and bullying at school, as well as violence in all walks of life, and the silence that hangs over adolescents’ heads, often keeping them isolated, lonely, and indifferent to the world.

11. To make the workplace responsive to an individual’s wants, needs, and talents. This includes valuing (monetarily) stay-at-home parents, aiding employees who want to spend more time with family and continue to work, equalizing pay for jobs of comparable worth, enacting a minimum wage that would bring a full-time worker with two children over the poverty line, and providing employee benefits for freelance and part-time workers.

12. To acknowledge that, although feminists may have disparate values, we share the same goal of equality, and of supporting one another in our efforts to gain the power to make our own choices.

13. To pass the Equal Rights Amendment so that we can have a constitutional foundation of righteousness and equality upon which future women’s rights conventions will stand. 

 

I resonated with a lot of these principles which solidified my stance that I am a third wave feminist. The one principle that stood out to me was number 12. I believe this principle is the defining element to third wave feminism for it’s unity and inclusivity. Third wave feminism is flexible to anyone’s lifestyle because of it’s goal of equality for all.

 

 

 

Identity, Activism, and Third Wave Feminism in the United States by Ashley Bourgeois

The issues of the second wave became clear to many

And their voices demanded to be heard

Feminism without inclusion is not true Feminism

Third wavers had to right the wrongs of the first and second wave

White elitism and limited ideas of sisterhood were no more

A new kind of feminism was born

One that would

“Acknowledge and appreciate the differences among women” (502)

Intersectionality is the main ingredient

The face of a third wave feminist is unimaginable

There is no right or wrong way to be a feminist

While differences do exist,

The common goal of equality will always remain

The anger is real

It is felt in every person who has felt the sting and hurt of oppression

Action is the solution

By supporting one another,

All people will benefit and succeed

Third Wave feminism is a feminism for everyone

And that’s what makes me proud to be

A third wave feminist