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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Study finds that feminism improves relationships

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Author Topic: Study finds that feminism improves relationships
Heather
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quote:
It is generally perceived that feminism and romance are in direct conflict. Rudman and Phelan’s work challenges this perception. They carried out both a laboratory survey of 242 American undergraduates and an online survey including 289 older adults, more likely to have had longer relationships and greater life experience. They looked at men’s and women’s perception of their own feminism and its link to relationship health, measured by a combination of overall relationship quality, agreement about gender equality, relationship stability and sexual satisfaction.

They found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction. According to these results, feminism does not predict poor romantic relationships, in fact quite the opposite.

You can read the story here.

[ 10-27-2007, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Djuna
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I'd disagree... surely equality is most healthy for a relationship. Taken literally, feminism would be as bad as chauvinism, surely.
It's simply a sad fact that the nearest you tend to get to equality in a heterosexual relationship is when one or both partners is feminist.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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LilBlueSmurf
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Feminism is about equality ... It's not about thinking women are superior to men.

From dictionary.com, Feminism is ...

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.


I have NO idea where you could possibly see similarities between feminism and chauvinism.

My husband and I are both feminists. I wouldn't have it any other way.

[ 10-17-2007, 03:54 PM: Message edited by: LilBlueSmurf ]

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Heather
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quote:
It's simply a sad fact that the nearest you tend to get to equality in a heterosexual relationship is when one or both partners is feminist.
Hollie covered it, but really, I just don't think you understand what feminism is. (And next time? How about checking out some defintions/research before posting slurs, eh?)

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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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Djuna
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Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear. It's the word feminism I object to. Taken literally, it implies women are somehow more important than men. In my opinion, many (most) people who call themselves feminists probably aren't.
I'm not being picky here - calling what most of us reasonable people here believe in 'feminism' is, for me, the equivalent of calling Black Pride 'racism'. It's just the word I don't like, I've never held with it.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Heather
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No, it doesn't mean that taken literally, if you're talking etymology. Literally, per the root of the word, it once simply meant the state or practice of being feminine (not even female, and that's quite intentional, as the theory of feminism is about roles and status assigned to women, and about changing those roles and that social status to a state of equality, including the ability to choose and design our own roles, rather than having men or culture do it for us, and also including the right not to have men define/co-opt our own terms for ourselves and our political movements, thanks), but in 1851, it was very clearly defined as advocacy of women's rights. Literally, in theory or in practice, it has boo to do with some sort of female superiority or the desire to be so.

If you wanted a term that literally, per the root and construction of the word, mean "superiority of women," then the word you'd be looking for is either matriarchy (which differs from matrifocality, which does not imply domination) or gynocracy or even femdom, if you want a more pop-culture term. But feminism, per word construction -- the latin femina, meaning feminine, with ism, meaning practice or act of -- doesn't mean those things.

And speaking for "most" of us here isn't appropriate, FYI, especially for those of us who ARE feminist and are also female. It's also pretty beyond the place to state that most feminists don't advocate for women's rights: that is PRECISELY what most feminists do.

But really, I'll be frank and just ask that you please stop derailing threads like this, here. Let's keep to topic, please, on threads, rather that responding to them (as you recently did with another thread) in a way that shuts down any topical discussion before it can even start.

(And I cannot for the life of me figuring out what you're insinuating about black pride, but this isn't the thread to discuss it in.)

[ 10-18-2007, 03:35 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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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Leabug
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Well- to get things back on track here...

I actually have to agree with the study's results, based on my own personal experience. When I began dating my partner 5 years ago in grade 12, I had such skewed expectations of what the man and the woman were each "supposed to do" in a relationship, and boy, did we suffer the consequences of that. I stressed myself out and my partner as well by trying to force our relationship into gender-based stereotypes. (ie, forcing him to pay for everything even though he didn't have a job and I did, making myself more mild-mannered than I'd have liked because "women are suppposed to submit to their men", etc.)

Right around then, I found Scarleteen, and read so many posts and articles on feminism and relationships, and realised I had things way wrong. While I personally don't identify myself as a feminist, there sure is a heck of a lot in feminist theory that has really changed my perspective on what romance should be, and what our roles in our relationship should be. Things are far more equal now, and it's really turned it all around compared to that first really rough year.

Too, I found that adopting some feminist views really helped our sex life- while it's rather defunct now due to my illness, before I got sick things were making a huge turnaround. I stopped viewing sex as something I "owed" my partner, and began to see myself as an equal in the bedroom rather than someone who must submit. Equality in the bedroom is an amazing thing for the quality of a relationship, I found.

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Lea

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hunnybunny888
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There are alot of other factors and third variables that could have contributed to the results of the study. I don't think its true to say that feminism causes better relationships. I'm not going to get in to all the possibilities, but it is unfair to conclude that from one study (that is not published in a refeered source from what i could tell) feminists have better, more enjoyable, relationships.
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hunnybunny888
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sorry one more thing:

The authors also tested the validity of feminist stereotypical beliefs amongst their two samples, based on the hypothesis that if feminist stereotypes are accurate, then feminist women should be more likely to report themselves as being single, lesbian, or sexually unattractive, compared with non-feminist women.

I found this paragraph not only very offensive, but to take away from the validity of the results. It's like asking me to take a study seriously that concluded that alot of Jews don't have big noses, aren't rich, cheap, or greedy.

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Leabug
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quote:
I found this paragraph not only very offensive, but to take away from the validity of the results. It's like asking me to take a study seriously that concluded that alot of Jews don't have big noses, aren't rich, cheap, or greedy.
But you see, that's partially the point of the study- to call out stereotypes as baseless and inaccurate. So many people have a view of feminists as being incapable of having successful heterosexual relationships, and that's partially what they're trying to disprove. While most people [hopefully] can see that stereotypes about Jews are baseless, there unfortunately are still plenty of people who wholeheartedly believe in stereotypes about feminists.

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Lea

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Heather
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You know,m the thing is, it really shouldn't be a shocker that in couples where both couples are committed to equality between them, that that contributes to a healthy relationship.

So, given I'm scratching my head over here about two fairly hostile responses to a really benign topic (especially here, at Scarleteen, of all places), maybe we need to ask some more questions?

Like, why would we NOT expect to see gender equality or the aim of gender equality create healthier relationships? How DO we see -- even here at the boards -- a LACK of gender equality, or strong ideas that we are not all essentially equal do relationships or those in them harm? Or, if you really want to go there, how do you think the idea that women are NOT equal to men might make relationshyips between them better for both parties? And if you think that, how do you speak to scores and scores of women (and some men) who have voiced problems due to these roles? If everyone had been just fine with gender inequality, why would feminism have ever gotten started in the first place? What do you know about what women's lives and relationships were like before feminism?

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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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Ikeren
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Truth be told, I found the result rather expected. In any relationship where one party is feminist, it is likely the other party is open minded towards the subject and willing to comprimise - if you were closed minded to the roles of women and set in your ways, you wouldn't date a feminist to begin with. As a result, relationships with feminists tend to be better.

The interesting thing would be comparing it to relationships where one party is a feminist and the other is a chauvinist - except such a relationship would be too rare for studies to be conducted. But in the true vein of like attracting like, relationships with a feminist party are indeed stronger, because they attract a person interested in a better working partnership.

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Willowy Girl
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quote:
it really shouldn't be a shocker that in couples where both couples are committed to equality between them, that that contributes to a healthy relationship
Seems obvious, doesn't it? What's surprising to me is that anyone could believe inequality would make for a healthy relationship. [Frown]

Judging by some of the reactions to this study around the Internet there's still a fair amount of hostility attached to the concept of feminism - people not wanting to let go of traditional ideas about gender and power.

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hunnybunny888
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Sorry if i came across hostile. What I mean to say is that one study of this nature doesn't prove much. Perhaps if there were more details it might be more believable, but as it is now, it is not that the idea is unbelievable, but that the study is unreliable. For example, what other conotations come with feminism? Are people who identify as feminist more liberal? Do they have higher self esteem? Are they better educated? All those things could contribute to reporting higher relationship satisfaction.
As well, were both partners in the couple asked to participate? If not, it is not for sure that the feelings are mutual.

I could go on, but the point is, it is not unbelievable that feminism shows more satisfying relationships. But it is misleading to say that this study proves anything, or even implies that much until further studies are shown

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SFgrrrl
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Yes, hunnybunny,

Both partners in relationships were asked to participate. They looked at women and men who were both feminists and in a relationship together.

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hunnybunny888
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ah i see, but then we must ask if partners who had unsatisfying or disfunctional relationships would be just as likely to volunteer for the study. My guess would be no.
I just want to make it clear that i am not trying to say that unequality in relationships will promote a healthy relationship.
I am just trying to say that it is really unfair to take this article and present it as fact, or as super obvious, without either posting more studies that have found the same results, or studies that have found the opposite results, so as not to bias the opinions of people on this site.
I think the results of this study are very encouraging. I consider myself to be a feminist, and although my boyfriend will deny it to his death, he believes in equality between men and women. And it does work in the relationship. Logically for me it makes sense, but im sure for a lot of others it doesn't. Maybe an article posted of this sort with the opposite results would change my mind.
So please do not think I am trying to say feminism is unhealthy or bad or that men should be able to tell their girlfriends to do anyhting they want.
I am simply saying that it would be more beneficial to have a better supported basis of articles, seeing as people look to this site as an educational resource, and it would be a shame if a lot of extremely biased articles and such were posted by the admins without acknowledging the other side of the arguement or more evidence.

[ 10-24-2007, 11:34 PM: Message edited by: hunnybunny888 ]

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-Lauren-
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quote:
Logically for me it makes sense, but im sure for a lot of others it doesn't. Maybe an article posted of this sort with the opposite results would change my mind.
So.. what would this accomplish, for curiosity? The general consensus (as an offtopic example) is that gay parents raise developmentally normal children, and yet there's no shortage of "studies" attempting to prove otherwise.

I'm pretty confused, too, because you seem to be saying your "mind would be changed" (to believe feminism improves relationships) if you saw another study attempting to disprove such results, presumably to avoid bias.

Suggesting the administration, or any other user, is posting biased information (which is misinformation) is a pretty big call to make; would you care to elaborate on how you feel readers are being misinformed by being allowed to discuss a study published in most major scientific journals and newspapers, in which all are allowed to freely express their opinions and contrary views? Misinformed or biased information is something we strive to avoid and consider a big deal.

[ 10-24-2007, 11:52 PM: Message edited by: *Lauren* ]

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KittenGoddess
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Actually, people who are in dysfunctional relationships are just as likely as those in healthy relationships to agree to participate in research. Those individuals want their views seen as well. So quite honestly, there's nothing inherent in the research process generally that would lead to only the inclusion of "healthy" people unless the researchers somehow screened those people out.

Please remember that the article we are discussing here is actually a popular press interpretation of a scientific article. The actual study is published in Sex Roles -- a well-respected, peer reviewed, academic journal. As such, at the beginning of the article, the authors would have had to provide a literature review and rationale for their study talking about previous research that would lead them to ask the questions they are asking. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to get a copy of the article in question, I believe it must be coming out in the last volume of the journal for the year, so it's probably not printed yet. I wish I could speak specifically to the support the authors offer, but since I can't see the article yet, I cannot.

(I guess my point here is that while it's fine to criticize scientific research, it is preemptive to do so before you have actually read the research document yourself. Chances are they provide a very clear rationale for their argument and do present similar research that also provides support for their study.)

However, I do know that there is a fairly significant body of research available linking things like less traditional sex roles and relationship equality with positive relational outcomes. I don't have time this morning to pull together a reading list for you, but I'd be happy to do so later if you'd like. Personally, I am not surprised by these results at all based upon what other research has suggested.

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Sarah Liz

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Alice
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This article makes me happy. Of course sex is better in relationships where both people feel they bring an equal amount to the table, big happy duh.

I am not surprised by some of the responses, though, unfortunately. I've noticed lately how feminism is ridiculously misunderstood. I was actually told by a partner that it's okay if I read about the feminist movement and ideas, as long as I don't get those ideas in my head and start acting on them. Because that would be too much for him to handle, really. I thought that I'd stepped into a time machine to the '50's by mistake.

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Ikeren
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quote:
I'm pretty confused, too, because you seem to be saying your "mind would be changed" (to believe feminism improves relationships) if you saw another study attempting to disprove such results, presumably to avoid bias.
A student of David Hume, perhaps, who argued that scientific theory could not be accepted as true unless it had with-stood attempts to be disproven?

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-Lauren-
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I should have rephrased myself -- it was quite late at night. Hunnybunny wrote that she might believe the article if another study with an opposite outcome were posted.
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Heather
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Well, we certainly know that divorce rates are highest in the bible belt here in the states, where we also see some of the most traditional and binary of gender roles, and a lot of community opposition to feminism, and to women taking on anything but passive or untraditional roles in the family/relationships.

We also know that binary, traditional gender roles have a good deal to do with rape.

I don't know if this is the sort of thing you're asking for hunnybunny, but if it is, there is an awful, awful lot of it. Really, if there hadn't have been for a long time, we wouldn't have even seen the second wave of feminism, in which one of the largest parts of that movement were because of the unhappiness of "average" women in their homes and sexual/romantic/spousal partnerships due to a lack of feminism -- Betty Freidan was all about this, as was Germaine Greer.

And I assure you, I do not post anything here without considering bias. But I'm also not sure what the "opposite" side is you're talking about: studies which show that women being passive and not having equal rights makes everyone happier? I don't think we HAVE those studies, largely because women have been making clear, en masse, for some time that that does NOT make them happier.

But at the same time, at a site where we are all about equality and everyone being considered a whole, autonomous person, it'd be pretty dubious and odd for me to be posting research (were there any) which showed that women were happier when not given or considered worthy of equal human rights.

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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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hunnybunny888
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A student of David Hume, perhaps, who argued that scientific theory could not be accepted as true unless it had with-stood attempts to be disproven?

sorry I guessed I must have rephrased myself, that is what I was trying to say.

By opposing articles i don't mean women who were oppressed had good realtionships. For example, I came across a study showing that feminist women are more likely to have a more satisfying sex life, and also more likely to have less stable marriages,and multiple marriages. The reason for the unstability was not found. It could be for good reasons (women getting out of abusive relationships) or if could have been other things such as power struggles, need for more freedome sexually or emotionally. No one is really sure why.

Again, I am not saying oppressed women have better relationships. I am trying to say that feminism may be and probably is an important element of a healthy relationship. However, I could probably do very similar studies showing that people with the same religious practices or the same values have more satisfactory relationships. It makes sense, because they are looking for the same things.
SO as I said before, feminism MAY be correllated with healthy relationships. But there may be a stronger correlation with religious observation, liberalism, family centered values, etc.

I;m not saying in any way the study is wrong.And I can't say much more on their methods until I have read the actual report as mentioned above.
But just because Its not inaccurate that does not mean they have proved anything.

Which leads me to the point of bias. Posting something on here and presenting it as the obvious and it is certainly true that feminism causes healthy relationships creates a bias. I'm sure alot of people on this site either don't have the time, or don't have the interest to read the full article or any background reading. So even if you aren't coming out and saying this is absolute proof, it may seem presented that way by some posters who don't have access to other articles or aren't familiar with the scientific process. Which makes sense, because when people don't know something for themselves, one of the best places to learn is from authority (people who already know). After this long ramble and my other posts before, i guess the main idea I'm trying to get accross is that I don't think its fair to post something that could so easily be interpreted as absolute when it is not at all. I know the way I read it and the following posts it seemed as if many people we're trying to imply that it is proof for the theory. Maybe I'm the only one that interpreted it this way but if i did I'm sure at least a few others did

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Heather
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Aha! The basis of your complaint here wasn't at all clear, but now that I see what your issue is, this all meakes a lot more sense to me.

You're right: that was a leading opening statement, which I didn't even catch unto. I'll go ahead and edit the first line of the post now. Sorry about that!

One quickie, though:
quote:
SO as I said before, feminism MAY be correllated with healthy relationships. But there may be a stronger correlation with religious observation, liberalism, family centered values, etc.
None of those things are somehow the opposite of feminism. Many feminists are all about their families (in all the many ways we can define what family is), many feminists observe or practice some form of religion, many feminists also identify as liberals. Feminism isn't about opposing those things, it's about working for and espousing the equality of women in ALL things and all arenas.

And this study wasn't about looking for instabilities -- you're saying reasons for instabilities weren't found, but that's only so relevant with a study that wasn't ABOUT that. It was about examining the quality (or lack thereof, based on the findings, which the researchers would not have known before-the-fact)of interpersonal relationships between men and women who both identified as feminist/espoused women's equality. It was also about examining the sterotypes often held about feminist women, and seeing how much truth there was in them.

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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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PenguinBoy
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Feminism is really misunderstood, oh lordy lord.

The study's indications are actually a breath of fresh air, not necessarily to me, but as a piece of ammunition for counter arguments...

Someone only last night told me that he hated feminism and wished that the originator of it had never come up with it... I jumped down his throat... but then he told me that he believed in equality and levelled relationships and equal opportunity. And he failed to realise that those were the actual aims of feminism.

I know there is a culture of people who call themselves feminists who's view of male suppression extends almost to all individual men. And it is bordering on paranoid. A friend told me of a blog-ring she joined, only to realise, after an extended subscription, that the trivial posts were built on the most irrelevant details of normal days, such as an example where a blogger had been bumped into by a rude man on the way to work, and she concluded that it was because she was a woman and he was a sexist that it happened and continued with a rant, and comments all similarly condemning the events.

The same women seem to wrongly use sexism as a basis to dominate various unrelated arguments. It's almost paranoid... but it isn't feminism... and not the current consensus of feminism's aim.

But that's what soooo many people think feminism means post-"equal rights to vote" etc. There is a lack of acknowledgement of the active importance of feminism in terms of the media and social views. But it is completely unseen in comparison to resentment for "positive-discrimination" which is often mispercived as a product of feminism.

Anyway, the more publications of what feminism really means, and doesn't mean, the better. This seems to indicate the latter so I'm loving it!

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