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Author Topic: to change society...
Nailo
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When I think of the sex trade, prostitution, women earning less money than men for the same job, rape, inability to chose your own reproductive options, and worst of all, the lack of voice women have to speak out about all of this, it all boils down to the same thing. Society. For centuries, we have been brought up to believe that women are objects, inferior, property. What's worse, many women accept these things; they say women really should accept anything the husband says, that men are smarter, that men should be more privileged.

In short, society, the way we think, has to change.

I gave myself a headache thinking about how, little by little, we can break this awful state of mind. I had a lot of trouble. It seemed a change so large, it's overwhelming.

How is it possible that, even in Sweden, a developed, otherwise gender-equal country, approved 43.6% of men's work-related disease claims from 1994-97, as compared to only 22.8% for women's claims? How is it possible that the indexes for rape have not decreased, after all this time?

Definitely, educating men on the topic is important; although many men do acknowledge women's equality, there are still so many more that feel superior. This starts from childhood. I once taught martial arts to some upper middle class boys, and there was one particular boy who refused to pay attention to me because I'm a woman; he said something about that the only woman who served any purpose was his mother. How is this possible, even in a well off society?

How can we stop this pandemic?

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"Love does not make itself in the desire for copulation, but in the desire for shared sleep." - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

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Queer Power
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I don't think this changes the thrust of what you're saying, but according to RAINN ( www.rainn.org ), "since 1993, rape/sexual assault has fallen by over 69%".
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Nailo
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Ok, pardon me on that one (are you sure those stats. are not just for the U.S.?)

There are still many other issues that need to be solved, and we, as society, need to think of some way to solve them...

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"Love does not make itself in the desire for copulation, but in the desire for shared sleep." - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

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Heather
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To my understanding, that statistic is only U.S. based, and even with that reduction, rape and sexual abuse remain at exceptionally high rates (you'll note the same page shows that in the U.S. alone, there were over 200,000 reported rapes): of course, really, we shouldn't EVER have these things happening, and given that the vast majority of sexual abusers and rapists are male, clearly that remains an issue of gender, of the way culture views and rears masculinity (as well as a cultural view of women, since the majority of victims also remain female), etc.

Plus, rape is stil highly underreported.

I haven't popped into this topic until now, nailo, because obviously, you're asking a mighty big question here, one all sorts of people -- from feminist scholars to police and law enforcement agencies to families to poets, you name it -- have grappled with, have explored, have suggested solutions to, and yet, here we remain. It perhaps goes without saying though, that something as huge as a gender equity problem that has been prevalent for thousands of years, worldwide, is going to take a lot of time to try and repait, and globally, at best, it's really only started to be addressed over the last 150 years, at best. [Frown]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Queer Power
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Heather, as I said, the thrust of the post remains the same, and of course I'm opposed to all rape and don't want to hide how widespread and normalized it is. At the same time, I think it's important to face the issue as it really exists.

quote:
Originally posted by Nailo:
Definitely, educating men on the topic is important; although many men do acknowledge women's equality, there are still so many more that feel superior. This starts from childhood. I once taught martial arts to some upper middle class boys, and there was one particular boy who refused to pay attention to me because I'm a woman; he said something about that the only woman who served any purpose was his mother. How is this possible, even in a well off society?

Historically, what is the correlation between economic prosperity and the oppression of women? Is there one? How do you judge being "well off"?

I think it's important to be critical of the idea of progress. Women in most pre-colonial indigenous cultures had far more autonomy, freedom, and power than in industrial societies. What has economic/technological progress given us? The rise of institutions like the medical industry - or the family! - were intimately tied to the destruction of female autonomy.. and in the case of the former to the mass genocide of women in europe during the witch trials.

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Nailo
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What I meant in this case as being "well off" is economically; these kids all went to private schools, their parents had nice cars and wore brand name clothes, to name a few things. So using this case, no, economic prosperity had nothing to do with the oppression of women. This kid was far from being on survival-mode, and he still thought women were worthless. And he was 7. Having a good economy doesn't guaranty women's rights.

With regard to the rise of the family, I agree with you. Would you think that maybe, a step in the right direction would be to release some of the pressure that's put on women to get married?

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"Love does not make itself in the desire for copulation, but in the desire for shared sleep." - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

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Heather
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(I think the point Queer Power was trying to make -- and obviously, he should correct me if I misinterpreted -- was exactly that. In other words, that we have no evidence that wealth and propsperity has ever made anything better for women in terms of equality or treatment.

You bring up sex trafficking, for instance, which in many ways depends on men having money and having more than women. Women not having equal pay also usually isn't about a nation or world not having enough money to pay women equally, but about the distribution of weath -- and male employers who hold it -- not extending itself to women.)

[ 04-16-2007, 07:58 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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peaceboy
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Hi,
Thought I'd add my perspective.

I understand that having been born a white male I've inherited certain privileges. Most white males (alright, I'll stay focused on gender) most males are unaware of this privilege which should be addressed in all our social constructs (elementary education, employment trainings, workshops, etc). There are a few organizations working towards this, but there are not enough. Part of the reason for this lack of education is the dominance of males in these institutions - and they are either ignorant (don't have this awareness) or defensive from some feminist theories that were co-opted and distorted as 'male bashing'. That aside feminism has made great strides, and as Heather pointed out it's in its infancy.

Okay here's where I'm going...
When speaking with my enlightened female friends we can agree on most inequalities, but when I bring up sexuality there's strong resistance to the supposition that males have a 'different' sex drive. I think that it's the awareness of this difference that can begin to unravel institutionalized and cultural sexism in the U.S.

Look at prostitution. Perhaps I'm not well informed about gender statistics, but I have a perception that prostitution is more readily available for males than for females. Part of this 'popularity' is driven specifically by culture, but it can't be just cultural. I believe it plays on an aspect of supply and demand tied to biologically driven male sexuality - and therefore has been perpetuated for, ummm... I don't know, perhaps the last 40,000 years.

Look at pornography, sexual predators, rape, pedophiles, etc. There's definitely something different about male sexuality that is not discussed and largely unexplored. If you consider that there is a difference, and it is not solely culturally driven, then as a society how do we become educated about and accommodate those differences. I say accommodate because although we want to be at point B, we're at point A and we need to ride out the transition. Point B is easy to define, it's how we get there that's tricky.

For what it's worth I believe the U.S. (maybe Canada) is at the forefront of gender equality. I don't see it blossoming in Latin America, China, Japan or any Moslem country.
Thoughts?

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selina
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its down to how individuals see it within the culture they are in. some women feel opressed by staying at home, some feel valued. i constantly rail againt men becuase where i am, there are loads of chauvenistic b*******. i also go on sites like the orkut where there are thousands of men like that and i have to fight against them all the time. the way i see men is shaped by my reaction to the society i am living in
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Nailo
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Selina: what's the orkut?

Peaceboy: while you make some interesting points that hadn't occurred to me before, I have to say I don't think that the U.S. is at the forefront of gender equality. I'm from Latin America, which you correctly assume to be a generally chauvinistic society (although the current president of Chile and the last president of Panama were women), but I think Europe is much more advanced when it comes to equality (you may want to correct me on that, Selina). I feel this because the U.S. is one of the only countries who is actually making abortion and reproductive choice more difficult instead of easier for women. In addition, sex toys for female masturbation have been made illegal in many states, and there has, up to now, never been a female president of the United States. Places like France are pro-choice, have legal abortion since 1975, give day after pills at schools when it's necessary, and have a female Prime Minister.

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"Love does not make itself in the desire for copulation, but in the desire for shared sleep." - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

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peaceboy
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Nailo: I'll admit I'm not too well versed on gender issues in Europe, but I think equality is more than just the few issues you've stated. You're right, there are regressive policies being thrown around in the U.S., but when I look at all the universities that offer Women's Studies programs, I get a sense that there's intellectual momentum rather than reactionary appeasement. Also, even though sexist in origin, the U.S. has less history than Europe which gives it an advantage of not being so shackled by centuries of oppression. Maybe I'm idealistic, but as the U.S. continues to struggle with its identity, that struggle keeps the door open for the complex diversity of the 'melting pot'.

As for female leadership in France, I found this article interesting:

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=881578

Parity/Disparity: Electoral Gender Inequality on the Tightrope of Liberal Constitutional Traditions

Abstract:
This piece examines Parity, France's requirement that political parties name women as half of all candidates for public office, both from a comparative and from a constitutional perspective. It engages the theoretical challenges of such quotas, both in terms of the essentialist/antiessentialist debates within feminist theory and in terms of the relationship of such group remedies to liberal constitutional law in France and the United States. The paper concludes that fluid provisions to remedy the gendered nature of political power would be consistent with current United States jurisprudence.

This has all the overtones of affirmative action in the U.S. A policy that on the surface seems right, but creates artificial equality and a negative backlash. I understand the motives and the need for minority empowerment, but this has to be implemented along with serious education. I think policies like these create a false sense of equality that allow people to feel like they're doing something, and in a sense rely on that as proof that "everything's equal". Real equality comes when we look at a woman and see a person.

I know I'm rambling... but just one more point.
Hillary Clinton has been our senator for over 6 years and I can't recall any initiatives that promote gender equality here in New York. So I'm not so sure that female politicians = gender equality, it just means that there are more women in power - which really doesn't mean more than that if they're not actively working towards change.

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Willowy Girl
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The Gender Empowerment Measure from the Human Development Report, 2006, considers three aspects of empowerment to come up with the below countries as the top fifteen.

GEM 2006

1.Norway
2.Sweden
3.Iceland
4.Denmark
5.Belgium
6.Finland
7.Netherlands
8.Australia
9.Germany
10.Austria
11.Canada
12.United States
13.New Zealand
14.Switzerland
15.Spain

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Heather
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You know, when something as simple and basic as the ERA can't pass here in the States, after 30+ years of trying to get a simple, bleedin' statement into our constitution that guarantees women the same rights and liberties as men, I'm not going to be applauding this country's place when it comes to gender equality.

The U.S. has, over the past handful of years, regressed when it comes to women's rights, and indexes like Willowy linked to above, have reflected that very clearly. And we didn't have room to regress in the first place. [Frown]

P.S. to peaceboy -- I find it pretty iffy to base ideas about equality and such on the fact that sex workers are more available to men and more used by men, and don't imagine that if we had gender equity, we'd see much of a change in that. Over the years, it's been shown pretty clearly that overall, women simply do not WANT that availbility and do not, in general, want to use those services.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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peaceboy
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Heather: You're right, but I wasn't trying to equate sex workers with gender equity, what I was trying to get at is that there's a difference in male sexuality vs. female sexuality. And by entertaining the idea that this may be true, we can then start to explore and understand male sexuality and its impact on society. Sometimes this statement gets contorted to mean "a difference in libido or sex drive". And I'm not saying that either. What I'm trying to get at is there's a difference - and I don't think that it's just culturally influenced. I think there are biological differences perhaps related to hormones, chemistry and the brain. We humans function on many levels and it's been stated that our sexual desires are derived from a blend of the neocortex, the cortex and the 'reptilian' parts of our brain. Could it be that there are a certain percentage of males who are influenced by these 'primal' brain functions and if so what do we know about this? Could it also be that there is no 'on or off', but a spectrum of this blending?

Maybe it's a stretch, but I think when we start to really understand male sexuality, we may be able to apply this information towards gender equality. And I'll even stick my neck out a little more (ouch!) Considering all the male-on-female abuse (sexual or otherwise) it seems irresponsible that any feminist theory wouldn't start with this premise.

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Heather
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You know, even considering the few biological/chemical variants we know they are (and really, there isn't much: from all we know thus far, it really is a nurture, not a nature, issue), I honestly don't see how differences in male/female sexuality have squat to do with all gender being given the same rights and treated as equal.

Really. And I don't see how it's sage that feminist theory about abuse -- which is about control, and also not really about sexuality at all -- should start with male sexuality. Even if it were so that males had some redically different sexual cemistry (which they don't), it still wouldn't excuse or rationalize oppressing another gender or sex.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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