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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Is Mother Nature a Feminist?

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Author Topic: Is Mother Nature a Feminist?
Gumdrop Girl
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I just want folks to take a minute to think about that question. Citing physical and biological evidence from the universe all around us, tell us what makes you think Mother Nature is or is not a feminist.

There is no right or wrong answer to this, and I encourage all answers whether facetious, intently deliberated, or smartassed (within bounds of he board guidelines). This is meant to be a fun topic.

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Heather
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You know, I thought on this, and I'm just earnestly uncertain if -- even in fun -- we can apply feminism, and the aims of feminism (or any political movement), to anything that isn't human.

I mean, I think we can safely say that nature isn't sexist -- the laws and actions of nature as they effect humanity tend to be pretty unilaterally applied to all genders, without bias or obvious agenda -- but I don't really know how one can evaluate if nature is working towards the emancipation and equality of women, and if so, how.

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cocopuff88
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Mother Nature can't be a feminist. She's a mother, and mothers are by default the anti-feminist. Perhaps if she were "Career-Woman Nature"...and not MOTHER Nature.

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Karybu
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Just to play devil's advocate: why can't mothers be feminists? I know several mothers who consider themselves feminists (including my own) and who I would definitely consider feminist.

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Gumdrop Girl
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Well my idea of feminism is a movement that pushes for equality.

Well, nature ain't equal on a lot of fronts. If there was biological equality in the sexes, then why bother with being dioecious? why have male and female when you could have just one sex and everyone would be the same and therefore equal? If sex and reproduction was about equality, we'd all be doing it by binary fission.

But instead, women are twice as susceptible to urogenital infection compared to men. Women's bodies are taxed and stressed and put under a lot od duress just to gestate and deliver offspring. I dunnoy about y'all, but this always struck as being a bit unfair.

But that's the way biology goes. There are things about it I like. There are things I'd prefer to engineer out of the system given the right technology.

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LilBlueSmurf
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Mother Nature can't be a feminist. She's a mother, and mothers are by default the anti-feminist. Perhaps if she were "Career-Woman Nature"...and not MOTHER Nature.

I HIGHLY disagree with this. I plan on being a mother, and am a feminist. I will not be giving up my 'feminist ways' once i become a mother. I don't even see who the two could be connected. Care to explain?

As for biology being unfair ... Men are at higher risk for a bunch of other stuff (heart attacks and such) and, at least here, live shorter lives.

I also don't see the ability to have babies as being unfair. Yes it stresses and taxes the body, but (in this country, at least ... for the most part) I can choose not to become pregnant or continue a pregnancy. Men cannot opt out of heart attacks and shorter lives.

Finally, are we looking to be equal or are we looking to be the same? Do we have to be the same to be equal?

I dont think we'll ever the be same. I don't want to be the same. I want to be equal. I think there's a difference.

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Beppie
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The thing is, even if by nature women have to put up with some disadvantages (and even calling them disadvantages really depends on your cultural standpoint), I don't think that translates into some sort of intrinsic ideological statement.

Saying something like "women can get pregnant therefore women must be a caregiver/give up her job/submit to her husband" is a bit like saying "men can't get pregnant therefore they must abandon all their children/ force women to have sex in order to procreate," (which is of course a steaming pile of bull-poo).

In order for these statements to have any sort of validity you need to acknowledge cultural coniditions: for instance, I do think it is fair to say "Women can get pregnant, which puts them at a cultural disadvantage unless they have complete reproductive control over their bodies. Since I do not want women to be disadvantaged, I believe that women should have complete reproductive control of their bodies."

(And I agree with Smurf and Karybu that you can totally be a mother and a feminist-- because you believe in choice about whether or not you have a child doesn't mean that you believe that every woman must choose not to).

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cocopuff88
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"I HIGHLY disagree with this. I plan on being a mother, and am a feminist. I will not be giving up my 'feminist ways' once i become a mother. I don't even see who the two could be connected. Care to explain?"

Sure. I was simply making fun of the common stereotype that stay-at-home moms and the like are less empowered than career women or 'independent' women. I was saying it in jest, and not serious at all.

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Heather
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(For future reference, since no one online can see a face or hear tone to know when someone is being sartcastic, it's helpful to add something like: "note sarcasm," when doing that.

That way, a whole topic doesn't end up derailed because of a comment without context which no one has any way of knowing -- especially from a barnd-new user -- it's anything but as it reads.)

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Heather
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Per the other conversation going on, I think it's tricky, at best, to guage whether or not "mother nature" is feminist if at the same time, you're also questioning the very nature of women, in the most basic ways.

(And, of course, some of this has also removed aspects which are not about nature. Women's additional rates of genital infections, for instance, have plenty to do with biology, but they also have plenty to do with lifestyle issues, with what has been DONE to the planet, with products women use, with how men treat women, etc.)

In other words, feminism is about empowering and emancipating women as they are, including things like becoming pregnant, like health issues. If one, for the sake of a discussion, is removing all of these aspects, one is essentially trying to have a discussion which is going to wind up circular, because the nature of women as they are is an assumed tenet of feminism. Without there being women -- in other words, without all of the things that make women women -- you really can't guage or discuss feminism in the first place.

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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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cocopuff88
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Miz Scarlet.

Sorry. I thought the comment was so ridiculous that people would obviously know I was not serious.

Anyway, I don't believe that Mother Nature is a feminist. Things would be more equal and balanced in nature if she were. In most animals, including humans, males have evolved to be physically 'superior'to their female counterparts (of course this all depends on how one defines superior). Male peacocks are more colorful than females so that they may attract the female, and male humans tend to be larger and have more muscles to attract the female. This isn't true across the board, of course.

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Heather
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quote:
I thought the comment was so ridiculous that people would obviously know I was not serious.
You clearly underestimate the level of ridiculous we've seen in some posts/comments here over the years.

[Big Grin]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet 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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Irm
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"...and male humans tend to be larger and have more muscles to attract the female."

Well, if we're going at it from that perspective, then I'd have to make the correction that muscles in men did not evolve as a means of attracting a mate. The muscles evolved as a means of fulfilling the successful persuit of resources. From that, you could say that muscles triggered attraction in some females, as they promised provision, but in-so-far as the physiology of the body evolving purely for purposes of attraction, the females take the cake for homo sapiens. (SP?!) Engorged breasts, for example, which are not in any way necessary for breast-feeding or other practical uses, evolved as a mimick of the once-flaunted buttocks to facilitate the two-legged mating game. Thicker, more shapely lips than men (in general) evolved as a sort of "genital echo" to advertise the lips hidden below. (When a woman becomes aroused, blood not only fills her genital areas, but her lips as well, reflecting the same change that is happening to her vulva.)

I absolutely love what LilBlueSmurf said in this thread, which is, "I dont think we'll ever the be same. I don't want to be the same. I want to be equal. I think there's a difference."

In-so-far as mother nature being a "feminist"... while a disembodied entity such as this cannot hold a political opinion and serves as a post-it board for euphemisms at best, I will say this: mother nature is one darn smart cookie, and all of the members of a species that she "creates" has a purpose in that species' continuation... beyond simple reproductive 1+1=2. Females tend to have strengths in certain skills or characteristics that men do not, and vica versa. By suppressing females, and thus the natural benefits she offers towards her species, the balance is upset and harm is bound to be done. (For example, I think that this world could use a GOOD dose of the insanely higher female tendancy towards pacifism and non-violence as compared to men. Whether that is a trait of "nature" or of cultural nurture could be another topic, I suppose, but I personally believe that through our more evolved social abilities [this has been neurologically proven, however little or much some may choose to take advantage of it in a responsible way] and less hunter-esque mentality, we mark our birth-given disposition towards more peaceful means. Again, in general: there are always exceptions.)

Is mother nature a feminist? Yes: I cannot see her going through millenia of evolutionary work to turn a polar-powered personality over to one solid half with regret to the other side.

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Beppie
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quote:
Originally posted by RedGoddess:

Well, if we're going at it from that perspective, then I'd have to make the correction that muscles in men did not evolve as a means of attracting a mate. The muscles evolved as a means of fulfilling the successful persuit of resources. From that, you could say that muscles triggered attraction in some females, as they promised provision, but in-so-far as the physiology of the body evolving purely for purposes of attraction, the females take the cake for homo sapiens. (SP?!) Engorged breasts, for example, which are not in any way necessary for breast-feeding or other practical uses, evolved as a mimick of the once-flaunted buttocks to facilitate the two-legged mating game. Thicker, more shapely lips than men (in general) evolved as a sort of "genital echo" to advertise the lips hidden below. (When a woman becomes aroused, blood not only fills her genital areas, but her lips as well, reflecting the same change that is happening to her vulva.)

I think it's important to remember that this is all highly speculative stuff. I personally don't see too much difference in the lip sizes between men and women, aside from those that we are taught to emphasise culturally, and any assertion that this is supposed to mimic our genitals seems to me to be more a speculative leap than anything you could ever state as fact-- same goes for the breasts. The fact is that we can't really know the whys and wherefores of all of our physical characteristics, and to make assumptions about it, in my opinion, says more about one's own cultural mindset than it does about evolutionary imperatives.
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logic_grrl
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I think it's also helpful to ask what we imagine any of this is supposed to tell us about how we should live our lives.

I mean, is anyone really going to go, "Men tend to have more muscle mass, so obviously women shouldn't have the vote", or "Women tend to be shorter, so therefore they don't have the right to say 'no' to sex"?

(Or, for that matter, "Women are less prone to heart disease and have greater flexibility, therefore they should rule the world with all men as their slaves"? [Big Grin] )

Nope, I don't think so. Biological facts and trends don't dictate anything about how we should or shouldn't behave, or what rights we have.

The fact that there are some biological differences between the sexes doesn't prove anything about people's rights and their capacities in un-related respects.

What we know indisputably is that both men and women are intelligent human beings who can behave rationally and have a full range of thoughts and emotions, and to me, that's all the "grounds" for feminism that are needed.

There are biological differences between people of different ethnicities, too (e.g. things like lactose intolerance, risk of sickle cell or Tay-Sachs disease), but we don't look to those as evidence that people of different races are naturally "unequal" or proof that "Mother Nature is a racist".

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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icygirl88
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Mother nature isn't a feminist because feminism isn't about male and female biology. It's about how people treat each other. Since we became "civilized" so long ago and separated ourselves from animals, our biology no longer has much bearing on how our society works.

Yes, we're different, but these differences just aren't all that important. Women have to deal with some issues that men don't... that's just the way it is. That doesn't say much of anything about whether men and women should be equal or not. I'm pretty sure that by "gender equality" we don't mean that everyone should just look like gray blobs and be exactly the same...

Also, I want to remind you all about transgender people, who are just as much a product of mother nature as anybody else, and don't necessarily fit into "male" or "female" categories. What could biology possibly have to say about transgender people's rights - people who have both male and female qualities? Answer: nothing. I'm going to have to go with Ms. Scarlet on this one, that discussing biology as a role in feminism is going to get very circular...

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kitka
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Is there a link between the general personification of the natural world as a woman and the subordinate status that women experience today? Does something about the combined aggression-passivity of nature have an impact on the way women were viewed historically?
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hunnybunny888
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In nature i don't think there is such a thing as feminism. I'm not saying men and women are equal, I'm saying they should not be equal. Yes, I think it is very good that in our society we now have equal rights between men and women because they should have equal oppurtunity. However, when it comes down to it men and women are different!! physically and mentally. Neither are better or worse than the other they are just differnt. In older societies men were the hunters, women were the gatherers. THere is nmothing derogatory about being a gatherer. you needed both for the society to exsist. Men were better at hunting because they have thicker skulls and naturally bigger muscles. Women are designed to have babies so it only made sense that they stayed home with them. THese things can't really be applied to todays society because everyhting in the business world can be relatively equal. although even the way men and women problem solve is different. Because of the amount of neurons connecting the left and right side of the brain, when probleming solving, men only use the logical side of their brain whereas women use both sides of their brain. depending on the career and task at hand the benefits of both ways can differ
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