T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 29978
posted 11-12-2006 11:04 PM
I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are very active in feminist and LGBT movements. It seems to me that they stick very rigidly to a party line that is big on equality and the freedom to make one's own choices and that sort of thing. However, this rigid code becomes very frustrating to me, because when I try to analyse a situation based on my own experiences instead of what I'm told is the enlightened view, I'm called prejudiced. I'm a bisexual girl - women's rights and LGBT rights are naturally very important to me, both from a personal standpoint and from an objective standard of equality and fairness - but I've begun to question whether my classmates' accusations don't have some sense.
For example: we were discussing a piece in English class wherein the author describes his experiences coming out as a teenager. I analysed what I saw as a fallacy in the writer's argument, and I was told I was homophobic. One time a girl told me that I shouldn't criticise women who choose to wear Playboy bunny costumes for Halloween, because I shouldn't impede a woman's personal choice, and yet she says that because I choose to dress androgynously and because I tend to hang out with guys, I am displaying sexist qualities - and here I was thinking that I was an empowered woman because I was taking advantage of my opportunities to dress how I like and associate with whom I choose. But I've begun to question a lot of the things I say, and I've stopped speaking up so much in class and in other situations because I'm concerned that from what I'm saying someone might think I'm sexist or homophobic. So who's right? Am I being sexist/homophobic? Should I be careful not to appear prejudiced, or should I speak my mind? Is what I'm experiencing a form of "silencing", or is that only a term that can be applied to people at a far greater disadvantage than me? If I'm to call myself a feminist, a progressive, etc, do I have to subscribe to the same ideals as my classmates do, or is it okay for me to create my own idea of what being feminist or being bisexual or being in favour of equality is? Apologies for the long-winded post. [ 11-12-2006, 11:17 PM: Message edited by: echomikeromeo ]
Member # 30201
posted 11-13-2006 09:30 AM
Well, it's a little difficult to tell from your post what precisely your positions on things are, that are offending other people.
I personally, am very much one for personal choice. So I'll talk about how culture can lead women to objectify themselves by wearing playboy bunny costumes, but I won't tell girls they don't have the right to do so, b/c I think that objectifies them too. It's true political positions are often more complicated than black or white. Just like "liberal" and "conservative" are fairly subjective/relative/meaningless terms once you start to break them down, "equal rights" can get a bit fuzzy too, with lots of different positions. I don't think what you're experiencing is a form of silencing. These girls sound very opinionated, but you too sound very opinionated. I think you could say "well, in my opinion, I'm not being at all sexist, and let me explain why..." That's how constructive debates and learning happen.
Member # 94
posted 11-13-2006 03:13 PM
Just on your heading-- we are all biased. It's impossible to approach any issues without some sort of ideological orientation. The best we can do, to avoid narrow mindedness, is attempt to look at how certain issues might look from a different ideological orientation than our own, as this can highlight flaws in our reasoning.
I don't think it sounds like you are being particularly narrow here, although you haven't given us all the details about your discussions. As iheartdc has suggested, maybe entering into a dialogue about these things is a good idea. By the way, you might be interested in checking out the and the The All Girl Army for some feminist discussion with young women. The AGA Forums [ 11-13-2006, 03:14 PM: Message edited by: Beppie ]
Member # 29978
posted 11-13-2006 05:03 PM
Thanks for your responses. I always try to keep an open mind and consider the multiple facets of a situation, but I also don't want to disagree with someone if it means that I will be called prejudiced.
A further example: today a mixed group of guys and girls was talking about single-sex colleges. I said that I wouldn't want to go to a single-sex college, listing various reasons (I would miss the opportunity to get to know both guys and girls, it would seem weird to have an all-female class taught by a male professor, it might not really be healthy to have an environment with just women in it, so that you aren't prepared for a real world in which there are guys, etc.). Some of the guys agreed that they wouldn't want to go to a single-sex college, but then one girl said that I was being unreasonable, that I would have plenty of opportunities to see men if I were at a women's college, and that it bothered her when I disregarded opportunities for women like that because it seemed sexist to her. There's another girl who's one of my few female friends, because I don't get along very well with the whole female "teen scene" and the commercialised aspects of it. I don't know very many girls who are able to exist outside of that media pressure, so most of my friends are guys. I would tell this girl that I was glad she wasn't like other girls in that regard, but she told me it seemed sexist to her that I didn't like girls. I don't know if that was the point, but I'm still concerned that I was behaving in a sexist manner, even though I don't really think so, rationally. I hope that's a bit more elaboration, then?
Member # 3
posted 11-13-2006 05:09 PM
quote: you aren't prepared for a real world in which there are guys This is a side comment, but I do think it's pretty unrealistic to think that women in one gender-limited environment don't have enough exposure to a world with men. After all, that's the whole rest of our world, even when we may have some women-only environments. Heck, even radical lesbian sepratists who earnestly TRY and separate from all men can rarely achieve it.
Saying women in women-only colleges won't get enough exposure to men is like saying that vegetarians may not be exposed to meat in the world: concern about SUCH pervasive influences that we really can't escape even when we want is often misplaced or just not really thought-through. That aside, look: you're having conversations about provocative topics, about sexism. If you're going to have them, then everyone is going to talk about those topics, and assess everyone's level of sexism in the course of those conversations. So, if someone says to you that something you say or do seems sexist, you get to ask why, and continue discussing it. Or not. You can also just say, "Okay, you think that's sexist of me, and I accept your opinion, though I'm not sure I agree with it." Point is, it's 100% up to you to participate in those discussions or not, and if you choose to, they don't have to come to a screeching halt when someone says something is sexist: anyone involved gets to ask why and incite further discussion. But if you don't want to deal with that, or can't deal with having what may be seen as some sexism or internalized sexism brought to the table, the simple answer is to not get involved in the first place, you know? [ 11-13-2006, 05:10 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]
Member # 29978
posted 11-13-2006 05:15 PM
Makes sense, Heather, and thanks for responding. Again, there's that "choice" thing - perhaps we underestimate how essential it is sometimes.