Donate Now
We've Moved! Check out our new boards.
  New Poll  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Is Feminism always good for an individual?

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Is Feminism always good for an individual?
000
Activist
Member # 30201

Icon 1 posted      Profile for 000     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So my cousin accused me a few weeks ago of becoming more angry and insecure, as manifested through caring and discussing a lot about feminist issues.

While I disagree with his personal solution to the problem (trying to believe in a polarity of traditional masculine/feminine traits) I do think he may have a point. I /am/ probably less optimistic and trusting of myself/men than I was two years ago, and that is probably related a lot to more purposeful rebellion against traditional gender stuff, as well as learning to see personal/family problems in terms of more national trends. It seems like people who look/act more femme have it easier. Heck, I /know/ they have it easier -guys seem way more interested in me when I act that way -except now, if I do that, I feel like I'm play-acting. I of course can't change my appearance /too/ much, even if I wanted too -but now, personally I think I look pretty with short hair, but I definitely don't receive interest from as many guys as when I had my hair long. Coincidence?

I /know/ I'm supposed to care about things other than attention from guys. But frankly, I just don't so much. After all, I've always taken a certain level of academic achievement/success in other work-oriented pursuits for granted.

I still could more easily see myself in a relationship with a girl, even though I'm more strongly attracted to some guys. This is just... not cool... you know? Maybe if I was someone who could simultaneously care about an issue and be active with it while keeping my personal life completely cheery and separate, it would be fine. I just, I always take things pretty seriously, and I don't know how to /not/ analyze what I'm doing, anyway. And frankly, if you aren't conventional in certain ways, it /is/ going to hurt your social life. I was odd to begin with, so I just feel like adding layers of complexity to how I saw myself and society maybe messed stuff up more.

I mean, I'm sure there have been certain benifits to this "raised feminist awareness" -what have you. I just feel like they haven't been directly to me or my happiness.

Posts: 443 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Beppie
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 94

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Beppie     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'll try to write a longer reply to this later on, when I'm not so tired, but in the meantime, why don't you consider posting this at the All Girl Army Forums.
Posts: 2710 | From: Australia | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
daerwater
Neophyte
Member # 32175

Icon 1 posted      Profile for daerwater         Edit/Delete Post 
I totally hear you, I'm the same way. In high school I went through an awkward I'd-rather-not-be-a-girl-thanks-very-much phase, but I grew out of it. I'm still the same short-haired layered-long-sleeved semi-nerd, but I realised that the most important thing was to be myself. I am fiercely independent and yes, guys don't really jump for the short hair, but I'd much rather be intimate with people that like me for who I am. (And short hair is so easy to take care of!) Most of my friends are guys - maybe I like that because once they get to know me, they find out what a firecracker I am! [Smile] or maybe it's because I feel less competitive around guys, I can just have a normal conversation.

Sometimes I see a girl and think "Wow! she's - she's gorgeous!" and I get a little nervous to talk to her.. Not that I'm tres femme and I want to be as gorgeous as she is, or that I'm uber-butch and I want to get her alone in a room... I'm somewhere in between. I am my own. I associate femininity with innocence, with helplessness - not in a bad way, just in the sense that those are traits I want to fight for and protect - but is that a maternal or masculine reaction? I think being feminine and being a woman are two very different things. I think femininity is part of a vague gender role that varies across time, culture, and race. Your identity depends on the pushes and pulls between those institutions and yourself as an individual. So be yourself. Don't be "the femininist," be whatever you think is right.

Posts: 4 | From: FL USA, someday New Zealand | Registered: Jan 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
000
Activist
Member # 30201

Icon 1 posted      Profile for 000     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, I know I should just try to "be myself". The problem is, I really have no idea what that is. I have gone through phases of experimenting with different personas, some of which I like better than others, but none of them /feel/ right. And then ever since I gained some knowledge through my personal life of sexual violence and other problems with sexism, I feel even less secure.

It's like, I was never girly-girl or at all popular to begin with, and I was never sure exactly why, and now it's maybe a little worse.

Say Heather, you seem to have a more abundant romantic life than most of us. How do you meet most of the people you wind up getting involved with? Are you a big flirter? Do people usually approach you? Are they usually feminists?

Posts: 443 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In your posts and dearwaters, what I'm hearing isn't really even about feminism.

In other words, femme presentation -- a lot of presentation, period -- and feminism are different things. They can be interrelated, sure, but there are a lot of feminists out there who present in what is commonly thought of as "femme." To name a couple very visible ones, Naomi Wolf, Gloria Steinem, Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Eve Ensler are a few off the top of my head.

And feminism is something WAY bigger than appearances, and in fact, looksism and hyper-focus on appearance is a problem some of feminism addresses, and per theory overall, the general answer is that that endless focus on appearance really stands in the way of feminism, NOT a given way of appearing or presenting. The point isn't that lipstick or long hair (lord, ALL the second-wave radfems had long, crazy hair) is a bad thing or somehow isn't feminist: the point with this stuff when it comes up in feminism is that women should be able to choose to present however they like to with it being about THEM and not how men think about it or based on how they look effects men. So, whether you paint your nails or leave'em ragged and bare, if you're doing either of those things not based in self-expression, but based on how they influence the opposite sex, you're not coming from a feminist place.

Make more sense?

Awareness of inequities -- no matter what form of oppression you're talking about -- will always create anger or confusion or upset in stages. Of course it will. This isn't just about feminism. This is the case with classism, racism, xenophobia, what have you.

quote:
And frankly, if you aren't conventional in certain ways, it /is/ going to hurt your social life.
Only if you want a conventional life or social life.

quote:
Say Heather, you seem to have a more abundant romantic life than most of us. How do you meet most of the people you wind up getting involved with? Are you a big flirter? Do people usually approach you? Are they usually feminists?
I gotta confess, I'm just not really in the mood for this kind of twenty questions today, in part because it feels particularly odd to talk about whether I'm a big flirter or not when you're asking about if feminism is good for a person. Whether or not feminism benefits you, me or anyone else being somehow related to how well someone flirts, or how abundant my romantic or sexual life may be just really rubs me the wrong way because they're so completely incongrous (especially the filrting bits and you tying this all into male sexual interest: how is flirting related to being a feminist -- why is this issue in with this, know what I mean?).

I guess what I'm saying is I get the impression you're very concerned with male sexual interest and how feminism might effect how much of that one gets or from whom one gets it. And flatly, my basic equities as a person, and those of more than half the populace of the globe, are a WAY bigger priority than that has ever been, so if by some chance or at some time working for women's equity meant men were less interested in me or sexually or romantically put off by me (and I'm sure there are plenty who are), I can't imagine that being anything I'd give any weight to whatsoever when it came to if feminism was "good for me."

I get that when you're a younger woman -- and heck, some older women feel that way -- it can seem like that's critically important, or something that gives you piles of benefits, but frankly, I don't buy that at all, nor do I ever seem to see those "benefits" pay out over time to women as a class or as individuals, UNLESS women tie their self-worth and validation into those things...

...which, even when men individually or as a class enable that, when you give it plenty of thought, it's usually pretty clear that women choosing to enable that too? That's not something men are doing to keep women down, it's something women are choosing to keep themselves down, and it's absolutely something most women (especially in the western world) have the agency to elect not to do to help themselves and other women both personally and per feminism.

[ 01-16-2007, 02:44 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
000
Activist
Member # 30201

Icon 1 posted      Profile for 000     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, I guess I'm coming more from a place where I feel striving towards "self expression" maybe doesn't make me very happy in and of itself. I'd say virtually all of my life I've been considered "different" on many levels but I went through a period of a few years where I was acting somewhat more conventional, less interested in radical viewpoints on life, and probably striving towards more of a feminine ideal, and I felt like during that time period I made friends more easily and had more attention from guys.

But it's just now, I feel a pretty strong dislike for certain means of acting "feminine" like having conventional, work-intensive appearance, or flirting by acting infantile or dumb. It's some stuff that for awhile I used to be able to put on and off, but now it just makes me resentful. I don't necessarily dislike the /people/ who do these "feminine" things, but I have disdain for the actions themselves.

Maybe if I had masculine role models who were sensitive and friendly, I would find an alternative way of expressing myself that wouldn't feel like I'm playing into a sexist role and that also wouldn't put people off. I just can't seem to flirt or act in a romantic manner with boys, without doing these behaviors that I don't like very well. And as it is, I feel like I have a very hard time finding romantic partners, and it may very well be that way my entire life. I'm sorry for asking personal questions. I'm just so -baffled. I don't think I know any girls who date a lot who aren't also very femme.

I would suggest that my family is more traditional than some of those out there, and that that skews my view of what is possible. But I've known some really liberal hippie boys, and the ones I've had crushes on have mostly not liked me back. I enjoy boys a lot -but well, I'm just not very good at picking them up. I also enjoy sex -I'm just not very good at it. All I want to do is have a functioning romantic life, and I'm afraid I never will. Nothing I do really makes me happy, and I think the happiest I've been was due to going farther to please other people, whether that be through acting "cute" or whatever.

I guess I've just wondered a lot over the years what this "being yourself" really means, and whether it's necessarily a good thing. I know it's impossible to play a role all the time, but maybe some people would be better off trying to do that most of the time -like me, for instance. I think when I do and say things spontaneously, things that /feel/ natural, it tends to put people off, and that's not necessarily about being "masculine" or "feminine". Maybe just what feels natural to me is not actually a very nice persona, in which case that's not what I want to be. I don't know what to do. I'm just afraid that feminism, which I've gotten more into in the past year or so, has enabled more insecurity and rudeness from me. I don't think this is true for everyone. I feel confused, and I want to figure out something better to do. I don't want to be like any of the older women in my family in their fears or their grouchiness about men or life in general. I don't know how similar I am to them now; I want to make friends and romantic interests more easily than I do right now. That's all I know.

Posts: 443 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
September
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 25425

Icon 1 posted      Profile for September     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You know, no offense, but it sounds to me like your problem isn't feminism, but the fact that you feel thoroughly insecure.

(And on a side note, I've never been conventional or 'femme', even before I got into feminism, and while I've never been Miss Popular by a seriously long shot, I've always managed to make friends just fine regardless. It's about feeling okay with yourself, not about whether or not you wear lipstick.)

I know it's been suggested to you before on these boards and you didn't like the idea, but I really think you'd benefit from some counseling. You seem to have really firm ideas of what is desirable and what isn't, and that you are absoloutely outside of the realm of the desirable. And we can't really say or do very much here that would change that.

--------------------
Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

Posts: 9192 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Beppie
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 94

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Beppie     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just want to clarify here September-- I assume you mean to suggest "you FEEL that you are outside of desirable."

However, having said that, I also think that the issues that iheartdc brings up here are issues that many feminists consider at one point or another-- personal insecurities do not mean that discussions like this can't be fruitful.

iheartdc-- I feel for what you've written here, I used to share a lot of the same insecurities myself, although I didn't express them a lot of the time. It can be hard when you know that you're a sexual person, when you know that you'd enjoy a repsectful relationship (whether casual or long term), but you can't seem to fit that sense of self-identity in with the people you interact with on a day-to-day basis.

It sounds to me that you have a pretty good idea of what makes you personally comfortable in terms of the way you present yourself to the world, but that this particular way of presenting is not rewarded by society in a way that a more traditionally feminine presentation would be-- and this hurts because that outside validation is good to have-- after all, just about everyone needs to form good relationships with others (whether romantic or platonic) to have a healthy inner life.

I would suggest, however, that seeking validation from people who don't react well to the way you are most comfortable presenting yourself is not going to provide you with the sort of positive relationships that can improve your inner life-- they may provide a superficial boost, but nothing solid.

I almost think here that you're being too introspective in terms of "being yourself". Don't get me wrong, I think introspection and self-reflection are really important things-- but they need to be balanced out by interactions with the world. It sounds like you're not having too many positive interactions with the world right now, so I'd suggest that you seek them out. I forget what your exact situation is right now, but if you're at college, you could seek out a feminist group on your campus-- you might find some people asking similar questions there. [Smile] Otherwise, you could choose to pursue other things you're interested in-- see if there are any local/college clubs for these things. Concentrate less on whether or not you're flirting with someone, and more on what you are actually saying to them, and what you personally feel you can bring to the conversation.

Posts: 2710 | From: Australia | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
September
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 25425

Icon 1 posted      Profile for September     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
(
quote:
Originally posted by Beppie:
Just want to clarify here September-- I assume you mean to suggest "you FEEL that you are outside of desirable."

Yeah, thanks, Beppie. I meant to say that she feels that she is outside of what she deems desirable.)

--------------------
Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

Posts: 9192 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
000
Activist
Member # 30201

Icon 1 posted      Profile for 000     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, Beppie. I guess it didn't help that I got the worst grades of my life this semester by a long shot, and I found out two days ago. Then I got in a fight with my little sister, with whom I often get along but I know she doesn't have respect for the ways that I'm "different". I thing all my insecurities just sort of bubbled over at once, b/c I'm feeling a bit better today. I do think I need to make more of an effort in social setting though. Not just monitoring how I act, but maybe also increasing those interactions. When I was having trouble in my classes, I just sort of became more and more of a hermit in my room, which didn't help any of my relationships I'm sure. I still sort of wish I could see myself from the outside though, like watching video tapes, so I could modify my actions if I felt I needed to. I want the people I like and respect to want to be around me, and the fear of that not being the case is not something counseling can do /much/ about.

[ 01-17-2007, 11:45 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

Posts: 443 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

  New Poll   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3