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 Post subject: Ur Doing Feminism Wrong
 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:01 am 
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I just had a bizarre argument with someone. When I said that in Hong Kong, a woman is highly unlikely to get cat-called on the street (because our pervs follow different M.O.s*), she countered that I must either be lying, deluded, or willfully oblivious to sexism. Because street harassment is a pervasive worldwide issue and it's impossible for it to be rare in any location on earth. I might as well claim the sky is yellow and water isn't wet and unicorns live in Moscow. She has never been to Hong Kong, by the way.

I feel like I have been accused of the crime of Doing Feminism Wrong. As a woman, I'm not supposed to just casually walk down the street in the assumption that I will be safe from overt harassment. It seems that I must boldly stride down the street in proud defiance of pervs, real and imagined, to declare my intention of Taking Back the Night.

WTH??

* We have the subway gropers, the up-skirt photographers, the silent leerers, the workplace and school acquaintance harassers, and the candid photo pervs who apparently snap photos of friends and acquaintances just going about their daily lives and then sell them to weirdos who apparently like to jack off to pictures of normal women doing normal things. We don't have that many cat-callers. Just like we don't have many muggings. Even our street criminals prefer surreptitiousness to overt confrontation.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:21 am 
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Many people tend to assume that other people are Just Like Me. This leads to many results; the math professor who can't understand how a student can't solve a simple differential equation, for example; or the person who believes that every city is Just Like This City (which leads to different results depending on what is meant by 'this city').

I suspect that the person you argued with has only ever been in cities where street harassment is a problem. Therefore, she assumes that it is true of all cities. This is a logical fallacy; she is Doing Logic Wrong.

(Random Capital Letters are fun!)

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:33 am 
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That attitude has led to the effect that many very emancipated women (around here at least) get insulted if you call them feminist.

As i have already complained in in past threads, gender discussions often get dominated by dogmatics, with simple cocking recipies for what is right and wrong, and what needs to be done.

Like the people, who know that if a man says X to a woman, that is always sexual harrassment and if the woman likes it, she just suffers from Stockholm syndrome, or it always is a compliment and the woman should better be happy about it, dependent on which mud flinging team they are.

And Kea, i assume you'd also do it wrong if you boldly stide, i fear that is too much male behaviour and women taking over male behaviour is wrong and a bertayal of feminism too.

Proper women either suffer, or they seek protection, if they are traditional they seek a male protector, if they are feminists, they demand dedicated streets for females or something. Women who are not automatically cowed by men are faking it, or there is something wrong whith them or something.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:21 am 
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That attitude has led to the effect that many very emancipated women (around here at least) get insulted if you call them feminist.

I think this is sad. I am proud to call myself a feminist. I just don't like the nutters ruining the label for the rest of us.

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or the person who believes that every city is Just Like This City

It's more like the person thinks that refusing to believe that every city is alike in terms of male arseholishness is a betrayal of feminism. Reality must conform to ideology.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:29 am 
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I think your friend suffers from not enough exposer to other cultures. Pervs are everywhere, but it's the cultural nuances that make each perv special in his own way.

Also, I have learned new pervy things from this post, Kea. Goodness, those fellows who like to jerk it to women doing normal things must be sweating all the time, every day.

Don't let this clueless lady take away your feminist card.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:17 am 
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The first thought that comes into my head is that she's an idiot. But actually, that may be unfair.

Trouble is, there are lots of people who like to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that things aren't problematic when they clearly are, or that something doesn't happen as often as people make out. The number of people that insist that there isn't any sexism against women any more and that it's all a big fuss about nothing is vast. And so I can see it being very easy to get into the habit of assuming that when someone says 'actually, the problems over here are not quite the same as they are over there' that they're doing the same thing.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:43 am 
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weatherwax wrote:
Also, I have learned new pervy things from this post, Kea. Goodness, those fellows who like to jerk it to women doing normal things must be sweating all the time, every day.

That one's new to me too. I was just told about it by another woman who has also lived in Hong Kong for years. Maybe it's all about catering to odd fetishes. Woman eating lunch. Woman wearing pantyhose. Woman combing her hair.

AxelFendersson wrote:
Trouble is, there are lots of people who like to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that things aren't problematic when they clearly are, or that something doesn't happen as often as people make out. The number of people that insist that there isn't any sexism against women any more and that it's all a big fuss about nothing is vast. And so I can see it being very easy to get into the habit of assuming that when someone says 'actually, the problems over here are not quite the same as they are over there' that they're doing the same thing.

I think that's what's going on, but this person took it to such an extreme extent. She said I was a less reliable source than a US anti-cat-calling website, whose Hong Kong-dedicated spin-off blog proves that it must be a big problem here, despite the fact that the blog has no Chinese language content and contains only 2 posts, both of which were made 3 years ago, and has seen no activity since. She ignored 3 other women who have lived in Hong Kong for long periods of time and who also said that they have been rarely cat-called here. She then asserted that it was impossible for a patriarchal Asian society to have no cat-calling problem. That takes some serious...dedication.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:57 am 
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I think what's dangerous about this woman's behavior is that she's ignoring some major problems to prove her point. In the scheme of things, cat-calling - while certainly sexist and unpleasant - is like a drop in the sexist bucket compared to upskirt photos and gropers. One deigns to assume every woman is on earth for your visual pleasure, the other that every woman is on earth for immediate sexual fulfillment. That's awfully close to a straight up rape culture, and I think your friend is pointing at the dead birch when she should be watching for the redwood that's about to fall on her head.

Seriously, if she's gonna talk patriarchal societies, you've given her major examples for her to mull over.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:28 pm 
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Minor note - this person isn't a friend of mine, she's just someone who hangs out on the knitting social networking site I frequent. So I really don't have any insight into her thought processes.

You're certainly right - the existence of catcalling =/= the existence of sexism, and it's misguided to treat it that way when there are bigger fish to fry. However, I think it's also important to distinguish between different patriarchal cultures. They aren't equally bad, or at least, they aren't equally bad in the same ways. For example, I'd much rather live in Hong Kong where the worst I'll encounter is some occasional creep fake-accidentally brushing against my butt in a crowded subway car, to Delhi, where I was stared at constantly and verbally heckled more times in 1 afternoon than I have been in my whole life here in Hong Kong. While I can't find any stats to back me up (because how would you compile stats on gropers?), my general impression is that while groping is a problem here, it's not so big of a problem that we've felt the need to create female-only train cars. We haven't crossed the line from "Groping is a problem, report it if you see it," to "Groping is so commonplace and expected, we may as well segregate the women."

In terms of public safety, Hong Kong does very well. It is safe for a woman to go out for a late-night snack without a second thought, to ride the bus at 2 a.m., to walk alone in almost every part of the city at any time of night. In terms of the actual day-to-day control that gives women over their lives, that's huge. Can you say that of many American or European cities? We've achieved this despite the existence of entrenched sexism in other areas of life. Apparently, that is really hard for some people to believe.

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:11 pm 
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This has nothing to do with feminism per se. There are just some people out there who take it as a given that their opinions or knowledge or impressions of some foreign culture are more accurate than those of the people actually immersed in that culture. Sometimes they base it on actual study, or travel, or personal experience, but just as often not.

It's a pretty common phenomenon, actually, and while it's always intensely annoying, it doesn't necessarily have any deeper meaning or importance.

In terms of feminism in particular, however, it's worth asking whether "feminism" can be meaningfully defined cross-culture, and if so, how? Or is it best defined in relationship to the specific context of "western" culture?

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 Post Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:25 pm 
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Well if you don't have a one dimensional sliding scale from a misogynist harem, to a feminist nunnery, this is much to complicated and only a patriarchal smokescreen.

Regarding public savety, there sometimes is a discrepancy as to what people believe and what is really the case. Some women are afraid of walking at night in Vienna. Others consider that idea ridiculous. For all i know, the latters opinion seems to be closer to reality. Vienna is AFAIK a very safe city though. What i know that happens is groping, and it seems that women are more often targeted by pickpockets, both of which happens during busy hours, with many people around.

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 Post Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:34 am 
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arcosh wrote:
Well if you don't have a one dimensional sliding scale from a misogynist harem, to a feminist nunnery, this is much to complicated and only a patriarchal smokescreen.

Pfft, yeah. When she pointed to the Delhi gang rape as "evidence" of street harassment in Hong Kong, I replied that I have actually been to Delhi and it was completely different. I said something like "Whoah, cultural variation within Asia? What is this, extra hard mode?"

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 Post Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:30 am 
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kitoba wrote:
In terms of feminism in particular, however, it's worth asking whether "feminism" can be meaningfully defined cross-culture, and if so, how? Or is it best defined in relationship to the specific context of "western" culture?


Depends on how exactly you define feminism. The idea, that roles archetypes and behaviour codes should by default not have gender specific clauses, and exceptions should have reasons connected to properties, that really all persons of that sex have, can be applied to any culture, though there are some, where it fits better then others.Thats an idea i agree to BTW, but while it is traditionally feminist, it seems to loose traction among thoose, who call themself feminist around here.

Once you get to symbols, etiquette and such, you get culture specific.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:12 am 
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I've met my share of feminists who will regard you as a troglodyte if you don't agree with them about everything.

There are statistical differences between men and women that should not be used to judge or restrict any man or woman in any way shape or form. That is all.

If you are a hardcore feminist I may disagree with you about the statistical averages between gender. If you think that makes me a troglodyte, then 'GRRR'.

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