Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Occasional Strawman?

I always find Occasional Superheroine an interesting read and today's no exception. In the entry that caught my eye today, OS points out that "Well, do you have a vagina? No? Then be quiet." is a bad way to have a feminist discourse with a man.

Which is of course true.

This is, however, in response to this post, and honestly, I don't think "Well, do you have a vagina? No? Then be quiet." is the argument that the original blogger is trying to make. I think OS is burning a strawman in effigy here, instead of responding to the actual argument.

"Take a step back" is not the same as "Be quiet."

Women and men are different. I know as a feminist hive-minder, I'm not supposed to say that. We are though. Society programs us differently, it tells us different things, it teaches us how to see ourselves in different ways.

What pings a woman as sexist may not always ping a man as sexist, and vice versa. This does not necessarily make either side wrong, but it does mean that people aren't going to see things the same way.

And the thing is, our society is still fairly patriarchal. It's still male dominated and male oriented. Everything from movies to books to television shows portrays a generally male point of view. (Even things like romance novels or "chick lit", it could be argued, portrays a masculine point of view because female writers are often bound to conventions based on a generally male publisher's idea of what women want to see. The really fascinating thing to do is to compare romance novels to fanfiction. As the latter tends to truly be a heavily female dominated genre without any sort of male publisher or editor quietly influencing the process, it makes for an interesting comparison.)

That means that in the argument about "who sees the other's point of view better", women have a bit of an "advantage". Of course, we'll never know truly what it's like to be a man any more than a man can know what it's like to be a woman.

But the fact that almost everything in our popular culture is expressed from a default male point of view helps.

Am I trying to argue that in a male versus female discussion about sexism, the female voice is always right? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. There are plenty of feminist complaints that I look at and go "...you know, I think this one's a stretch." I've even blogged about them.

But the thing is, since our society still defaults to a male point of view, that means that a man does not necessarily need to see sexism at all. (Similarly a white person does not necessarily need to see racism, or a straight person doesn't need to see homophobia.) This man isn't being obtuse, nor is he a misogynist, (an accusation that gets thrown around far too heartily for my taste) he is generally a well-meaning, fairly open-minded man who doesn't realize that sometimes a handi-cap is necessary because the other player doesn't have the same level of training or materials to be a true opponent in the game.

This guy is usually a feminist. If he understands where female complaints come from, he tends to be fairly sympathetic (though he may not always agree of course). But he doesn't realize that since he's in a position of power at the start, that HIS point of view is considered default, that others are being hurt by this.

It doesn't apply the same way in reverse. A ball-busting feminist doesn't have to understand where male complaints against accusations of feminism are coming from. We already know. Society shows us this every day, from the default comic book magazines highlighting T&A shots (and finally declaring themselves "for men") to the argument that a television show with a female lead is a risk because both men and women can identify with a male lead, but half the audience is lost with a female lead. (That argument STILL exists, which, after years of Alias and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, boggles the hell out of me.)

Saying that a woman shouldn't remark on what a guy considers/should consider sexy doesn't work the same way either. Because, again, our media is very very clear about what straight guys apparently consider sexy. (I would like to emphasize straight here, with a side comment that a gay man and a straight woman probably have about as equal a chance of actually understanding what a straight man finds sexy. And that both groups have, in their own ways, had the images shoved down our throats.)

The place where the situation is somewhat comparative though, is for men who veer away from the traditional masculine ideal. Men who are more emotional or sensitive. Men who are working in traditionally feminine jobs. Men who aren't 100% straight. Those voices tend to be neglected and ignored by mainstream entertainment as well.

At the same time though, the situations are somewhat different too. They both deal with sexism, but they deal with different branches. I don't understand what it is to be a male teacher and see implications that only damaged or sick men become teachers of small children, for example. I don't understand what it's like to watch television and see only caricatures of myself performed in some sort of modern day minstrel show like Will and Grace. If I'm in a conversation about this aspect of sexism, I have to keep in mind that my own experiences may not apply, and that I should acknowledge that there might be underlying factors that I'm not in position to see.

Likewise, in a discussion about sexism as it applies to women, even these men may not see all of the underlying elements.

Again, I reiterate, to the point of redundancy, this doesn't mean that a man shouldn't engage in debates about sexism. I certainly don't hesitate to weigh in on racism or homophobia, after all. I'm saying though that there needs to be the awareness that there may be problems under the surface, and that when we're in the dominant mindset of society (and we ALL are, at some point or another, there's nothing innately WRONG with being mainstream), it is our responsibility to show empathy to the person we're speaking to. Our voices are heard, theirs may not be.

We don't need to agree, but it's very possible to disagree while still displaying respect and empathy for another's specific circumstances. There are ways to say "I don't agree" without dismissing or trivializing another person's point of view. The key is to accept that not everyone's going to see things the same way. And ultimately, accept that very likely you will not be able to change the other person's mind. They've heard, and probably internalized, a lot of these arguments before. It doesn't mean that they're not worth expressing again, but it's usually NOT a new insight.

The issue isn't "Well, do you have a vagina? No? Then be quiet." it's "Do you have a vagina? No? Then please first think." Which, come to think about it, is very good advice for those of us who have vaginas as well.

48 Comments:

  • At October 30, 2007 4:16 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    You'r right :D Things are not equal and there are differences in the way society sees and treats men and women. :\ And b/c of the power inequality it's not fair to just take one standard and say "there" esp without context. :\

     
  • At October 30, 2007 4:58 AM, Blogger Mickle said…

    I read a similar response to this that I kept meaning to respond to, but I kept getting to incoherent every time I tried. (and now I can't find it)

    fer crissakes, she says "[if you aren't a woman] then perhaps you should take a step back."

    (emphasis mine)

    She also follows this up by giving an example of her acting like an ass herself when the topic was "men's issues."

    I don't understand why this common sense advice is so very shocking and irrational to so many people. (Oh, wait, I do, but it involves lots of words - like "privilege" and "patriarchy" - that tend to make such people's brains turn completely off.)

    The post I read complained she was trying to use her "authority" to silence debate...all while leading into her comments by making a crack about angry fangirls and then ending with some blah blah blah about how of course the other guy is an idiot too - which together smell to me like an attempt to set himself up as the "rational" person and therefore the authority on the subject.

    Sounds like OS and my guy both need to read this post of ami's.

    And speaking of absolutes, I can think of a few men that think that this is perfectly reasonable advice.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 6:23 AM, Blogger zhinxy said…

    That's the greatest part of what men take for granted, I believe.

    That girls, especially us READING gals, are trained from childhood to identify with a male protagonist, to see that male-ness as default humanity.

    Popular culture GIVES us the world through the eyes of the (straight, cisgendered) male far more often than it gives us any other view.

    We've gotta walk those miles in men's shoes to get just about anywhere in the world of fiction.

    So we often DO have an idea what it's "like" in a way that men don't.

    As much as I'm a critic of theories of "The male gaze" that often go too far - I feel - in throwing the spectre of a hovering, male Mal Ocho over every depiction of womankind, the male perspective IS pervasive. And women are forced to deal with it in a way that men are not.

    We're part of The Other, and that in itself means we're FORCED to look at things from other points of view. More often than many men can imagine...

    YEESH, gone on WAY long enough. Great Post, Kalinara! *scurries away*

     
  • At October 30, 2007 9:55 AM, Blogger Occasional Superheroine said…

    "A ball-busting feminist doesn't have to understand where male complaints against accusations of feminism are coming from. We already know. Society shows us this every day..."

    Stop blaming society and the media.

    The key is in the very phrase you used, "ball-busting."

    If you are a feminist and you are using an approach that you yourself recognize as "ball-busting," then maybe you ought to rethink your approach. Unless you enjoy preaching to the converted on a regular basis.

    And preaching to the converted using the same "ball-busting" (your phrase) techniques only pigeon-holes you, segregates you, keeps you at arm's length from the very people who are in the positions to help produce real changes in this industry for women.

    It's not about the media brainwashing men.

    From a real, primal, immediate level it's the fact that men don't react well to having their balls busted. Unless they are from the select few who rather enjoy that sort of thing.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 10:00 AM, Blogger Occasional Superheroine said…

    "We're part of The Other"

    ...oh Lord, I've been hearing that stuff since I was in college.

    We are who we choose to define ourselves. If you want to operate from the viewpoint of being The Other, that's how you will see the world & that is how the world is going to see you.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 10:27 AM, Blogger zhinxy said…

    ...oh Lord, I've been hearing that stuff since I was in college.

    We are who we choose to define ourselves. If you want to operate from the viewpoint of being The Other, that's how you will see the world & that is how the world is going to see you."

    *shrugs* I think I could have made myself more clear, there. I wasn't talking about how I define myself, or other women, but a certain bias toward the male perspective in popular culture.

    Yes, there are many feminist theorists that exaggerate the "othering" of women, just as there are far too many theorists who dismiss the diverse perspectives of many an important artist with the catch-all pejorative "The male gaze."

    But the tendency to see men as the default is present in society, to varying degrees. That's all I meant to say.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 10:28 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    From a real, primal, immediate level it's the fact that men don't react well to having their balls busted. Unless they are from the select few who rather enjoy that sort of thing.

    Good to know the importance of basing your arguments on how they'll make men feel. As a self-centered dude who borders on being solipsist I feel its important everyone ALWAYS thinks about how it might affect ME before they make an argument...

     
  • At October 30, 2007 10:51 AM, Blogger Tamora Pierce said…

    >>I think OS is burning a strawman in effigy here, instead of responding to the actual argument.<<

    She is. Burning the strawman, reconstructing Geek so Geek says something offensive is so much easier to go to town on, rather than deal with Geek asking her imagined auditor to think. Any exposition which requires its readers to think is more uncomfortable to consider than a discourse that orders them around, and it's easier to rank out on discourse that orders people around, even if you have to create it for yourself.

    It's an oratory/expository style I'm uncomfortable with, because it creates a strawman most rational people can't help but agree with, leading them to be more prone to agreeing with the rest of the expositor's agreements. These turn out to be more harangues on Not to Do This Because It's Bad and Alienating And Wrong. It doesn't take into account any of the discourse that may have driven the speaker to make such a statement, and it doesn't take into account the personal reason the speaker may have for having said something this extreme. It's a Big Government blanket solution which ignores whatever real issues are going on underneath.

    Don't worry. Now that I've thought this all out here, I'll go say it there as well!

     
  • At October 30, 2007 10:58 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Occasional Superheroine:

    Society and the media are very much at the crux of how women and men percieve themselves. We're not raised in a vacuum, we're raised with the indoctrination of generations before us. I'm sure most of us have anecdotal evidence of how we've been treated differently and exposed to different expectations because we're male or female. For example: boys shouldn't cry, girls shouldn't raise their voice, boys shouldn't engage in physical displays of friendships, girls should smile and avoid complaining, and so on and so forth. I'd imagine everyone, male and female, can think of some sort of example like this. Our parents and teachers and the like don't intend to hurt us through this teaching, and often don't even realize they're doing it, but the harm to both men and women because of this conditioning is undeniable.

    (If a woman's studies type example doesn't work for you, why not consider the male elementary school teacher, who constantly gets watched with suspicion or distrust, assumed to be a pedophile or pervert, merely because he wants to teach young children their ABCs. Ask HIM if there's no harm.)

    Besides, I only blame society in this essay, NOT the media. I argue that the media reflects a male perspective, NOT that it's the core of our problems. They're related arguments, yes, but not the same argument. Closer reading might be recommended.

    And did you miss the part where I said "even the most ball-busting feminist". The phrase "even the most" would imply that I'm using "ball-busting" to denote a particular extreme. I don't consider myself a "ball-buster" and I even make a point of mentioning my own moderate views. (If you have evidence of me engaging in "ball-busting" conduct or even being accused of doing so, do feel free to present it. Perhaps that would lend your argument more weight.)

    And whether or not I seriously mean the phrase to include myself has no effect on my argument which is that, since entertainment media is by and large written still by men (including a lot of feminist media, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer), there is a male perspective that women have to look through. This means, that in a sense, we do have a smidge better idea of what it's like to be men over what men know about being women, because we at least are familiar with images of men AS CREATED BY MEN. Where men are more familiar with images of women...created by men.

    The truth is, if we weren't at least somewhat "the other", we wouldn't hear such phrases like "men wouldn't identify with female protagonists", when the opposite is never considered. There'd be an androgynous or even non-male version of the phrase "John Everyman". There isn't.

    Also, YOU may have heard all this in college, but not all of us actually had courses centered in this material. My own education focused on Japanese culture and general anthropology. I wasn't aware of the concept of "the Other" until I got more involved in feminist practice relating to the blog. However, the concept itself put words to elements of my own individual experience.

    That would imply that, for at least one woman, this concept is alive and well. While I respect your right to disagree with me, I would highly appreciate if you made as much effort to not diminish my own experiences in the process as you do to be sure you do not offend men through "ball-busting", thanks.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I must admit that my skin lately is thin when it comes to guys telling me how I should argue or how I'm trying to take away their fun (i.e. teh sexy). I turn on the news and watch with my little girl and see people talk about "is America ready for a Woman President?" like we're aliens and then hear about women being denied birth control because they are single (yes in some places that is legal to do that because it violates the pharmacists or doctors religion). I hear about girls being taken out of classrooms to be asked if they were having their period (they were carrying purses) by security guards. When I open a comic book that is supposed to show people fighting injustice and being heroes to look up to, I get pissed when my heroes are stick figures there for wank fodder. Heroes should be people we look up to, no matter what sex, color or religion. And some major bad guy butt kicking doesn't hurt either. Sorry for the rant...

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:14 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    You are going to make a heck of a lawyer, my dear.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:16 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Aww, Sally! Thanks!

    The real question though is, of course, would you hire me? :-P

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow. Occasional Superheroine, Everybody! Give her a hand! Responds to the OP's use of "even the most ball-busting" With "ball busting (your phrase)."

    Responds to a commenter who just got done saying male gaze theories were too often overdone with a blah-blah-blah women's studies fed me that othering crap take responsibility for your own self image condescending brat argument.

    This woman was an assistant editor for DC, and she clearly has reading comprehension issues. Would it be amiss of this male to point out that she's one to talk about keeping the industry pros who can do something for women at arms length?

    That she wrote a longish, tell all blame game series about her experiences with those pros with very, very much TMI thrown in for good measure? And painted them in distinctly unflattering lights?

    so she ends up focusing her attention on comics blogging women when she couldn't have played the game shoulder to shoulder with those people in a position to do something.

    when she said herself that she couldn't deal with them.


    Wow. A whole lot of true colors just got shown here...

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:25 AM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    "But the fact that almost everything in our popular culture is expressed from a default male point of view helps."

    I think the notion of a "default male point of view" is just as fallacious as a "default female point of view".

    There's no one way "default mode" to think regardless of whether you're a male or female. That's been the unfortunate side effect of corralling everyone into conveniently balkanized grievance groups.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:31 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Very well, Mark, I agree that my wording was imprecise.

    In this case, I'm referring to the way in which entertainment media has traditionally been the province of a small subset of male (usually white and straight as well) controlling forces. Thus framing the results in a strictly male perspective.

    Default is meant to indicate that the "by default" voice of entertainment media (the nameless narrator or "John Everyman" if you will) is normally male.

    I don't mean to imply that there's one single male point of view though, since I'm trying to make the point that non-corresponding male voices are neglected too.

    Perhaps "assumed male point of view" would be a better way to express this concept?

     
  • At October 30, 2007 12:32 PM, Blogger M. said…

    Thank you. Thank you so much.

    I admit that I write in a very hyperbole-laden style, but I'm also very precise with what I actually say, or at least I try to be. One of my greatest weaknesses is that I'm incredibly easy to take out of context.

    Just, thanks for getting it,

    GeekGirlsRule

     
  • At October 30, 2007 12:32 PM, Anonymous david brothers said…

    Good to know the importance of basing your arguments on how they'll make men feel. As a self-centered dude who borders on being solipsist I feel its important everyone ALWAYS thinks about how it might affect ME before they make an argument...

    There is a tremendous difference between watering down your argument so as to not hurt someone's feelings and structuring your argument so that it will reach a possibly receptive audience.

    You're taking her idea to an absurd point to try and prove it wrong.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 12:49 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You're taking her idea to an absurd point to try and prove it wrong.

    There's a lot of that going around. ;-)

     
  • At October 30, 2007 1:51 PM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    The important thing is that everyone keep discussing how this affects me. Others were trying to derail that but discussing the original post or making slurs against OS or just talking about how Kalinara's post affected them. NOT IMPORTANT!

    ALL ME!

     
  • At October 30, 2007 2:24 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    "There's a lot of that going around. ;-)"

    True, but I think it's important to note that while OS is doing so in all seriousness, lurkerwithout is exaggerating for comedic effect.

    We aren't supposed to read "It's all about me!" literally, we are supposed to be able to make connections between the joke and the reality, and make up our own minds about how much the former reflects the latter.

    Certainly, the implication is that the real arguments approach the extreme that lurkerwithout is employing, but it's not like he's misquoting anyone specific and then taking his own misquote seriously.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 3:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    A very important distinction, I agree.

    The smiley face was meant to express that actually, but I guess it didn't quite work. :-)

     
  • At October 30, 2007 4:08 PM, Blogger Alexandra said…

    We are who we choose to define ourselves.

    No. You are the sum of your personality, your genetics, your learning, your environment, your expeiences, your relationships, and yes, your society. You are not a blank slate. You do not come with an eraser. You do not get to wake up one day and pick the pieces of your self from some cosmic checklist.

    This "choose to define" crap is right up there with "listen to your heart, not your head" when it comes to stupid aphorisms. It totally denies the complex reality of the human experience.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 4:13 PM, Blogger Tamora Pierce said…

    You do not get to wake up one day and pick the pieces of your self from some cosmic checklist.

    But oh, don't you wish you could?!

     
  • At October 30, 2007 5:24 PM, Blogger mordicai said…

    Cosmic check-list? Sign me up! Transhumanism, here I come!

     
  • At October 30, 2007 6:34 PM, Blogger zhinxy said…

    The checklist has wings, right? I want wings! :)

     
  • At October 30, 2007 9:52 PM, Blogger Alexandra said…

    But oh, don't you wish you could?!

    Totally. No more panic attacks at the shopping mall for me!

    The checklist has wings, right? I want wings! :)

    I, er, always wanted bug eyes myself. And scales. And gills, too, come to think of it. Oh, and gecko toes.

     
  • At October 30, 2007 10:13 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I was remiss in not saying this earlier, but anonymous, please refrain from using this blog's comments to attack another blogger. Thank you.

    And personally, I've always wanted gills. Gills are cool and I love swimming. :-) Hey, maybe for that matter I can get rid of my inconvenient unease about fish!

     
  • At October 30, 2007 11:50 PM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    May I just note, as I did in the original post's comments, that whether or not the post referred to used this argument, I have heard this argument used. Not in a "try to see the other side" kind of way. In a "shut up and don't contribute to this" kind of way. I happens. And to that extent I very much agree with OC's point.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 12:03 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't disagree with you there, Rocketlex. There's a difference between "Take a second to think" and "Shut up." And the latter is completely useless for any sort of discussion

     
  • At October 31, 2007 12:45 AM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    "It doesn't apply the same way in reverse. A ball-busting feminist doesn't have to understand where male complaints against accusations of feminism are coming from. We already know. Society shows us this every day, from the default comic book magazines highlighting T&A shots (and finally declaring themselves "for men") to the argument that a television show with a female lead is a risk because both men and women can identify with a male lead, but half the audience is lost with a female lead. (That argument STILL exists, which, after years of Alias and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, boggles the hell out of me.)

    Saying that a woman shouldn't remark on what a guy considers/should consider sexy doesn't work the same way either. Because, again, our media is very very clear about what straight guys apparently consider sexy."


    Okay, I didn't really see this part the first time through. This is one area I'm going to have to, as a guy, disagree. It's true the media shoves imagery of "sexy" women down the throats of society on a regular basis, but...this ultimately seems to give people as much understanding of what men find sexy as The Andy Griffith Show gives people an understanding of life in the 50s.

    Quite simply, you're getting the board-brush, dumbed-down Hollywood version and (it would seem) mistaking it for the genuine article. Male sexuality, contrary to what some jackass comedian might insinuate, is complicated and, more importantly, individual. It's not a...heh, oh God I'm going to have to say it...Male sexuality is not a hive mind.

    Why do you think models in men's magazines look alike? Is it because they're an ideal? No, at least not in my perception. They look the same because careful balancing is required to hit as many potential male sexual triggers as possible. Personally? I don't tend to find myself that turned on by magazine models, but that's how my sexuality works. I have other triggers. ("Triggers" seems as good a word as any for them.)

    Just...I think it causes more problems than it solves to a) judge male sexuality using men's magazines and such as artifacts and b) going on to shut out the potential that you might not understand it. I mean, this feels like exactly what you're arguing for men. Really try to understand the other side rather than judging based on sources with their own adgendas (money, mass appeal, etc). As much as you think the media's taught you about male sexuality, there's always a lot more it simply doesn't care to.

    PS: I'm not saying there aren't well done representations of true male sexuality in the media, just as there are well done representations of female sexuality. I'm just saying...well...you can read what I was saying.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 12:54 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Hi, again!

    I think I was a bit unclear in my presentation of that section, because I don't disagree that the presentation of what men consider/are supposed to consider sexy IS very Hollywoodized and caricatured and not applicable to everyone or most people even.

    It does tend to be more accurate than the other way around though. (The best example I can think of for this: Ask any straight female their feelings about Beauty and the Beast. Specifically the transformation at the end. :-))

    There's a difference between seeing oversimplified versions of what men supposedly consider sexy, as presented by men, and what women supposedly consider sexy...as presented by men.

    And since the discussion tends to be centered around comic book "sexiness", the comparison applies as it's yet another place with the same over-simplified presentation of what men supposedly consider sexy. Which is why the opposing argument of "Women shouldn't say anything about what men find sexy" specifically with regards to comic books, doesn't hold as much weight for me, in particular.

    Your mileage may vary, of course. :-)

     
  • At October 31, 2007 1:10 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh, quick addendum clarification:

    I'm specifically referring to the: "We're not trying to take away your sexy!!"/"You're a WOMAN, you don't know anything about what MEN find sexy!!!" debates we see in comic fandom occasionally. (Considering we see the talking points on blogs/message boards, read the T&A comics and most of us have read Wizard, we CAN actually draw some general conclusions to carry on this part of the discussion, even though we're certainly not trying to argue that our general conclusions are true for every single straight man reading comics.)

    That's specifically the context I am/was referring to, if that helps.

    Again though, your mileage may vary. :-)

     
  • At October 31, 2007 1:16 AM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    I think the point I'm trying to make about sexiness in media (mostly men's magazines, application to comics may vary), is that they aren't designed to dictate what men find sexy but rather reflect what men find sexy, which are two different things. Though it's possible to read them for clues as to what men are generally attracted to, remember that they aren't intended as...educational texts. They're targeted at men who...shall we say...already know the rest of the story.

    I'm just going to come right out and say about this...

    "we CAN actually draw some general conclusions to carry on this part of the discussion"

    I think you can draw hypotheses, but not conclusions, and to assume full understanding is, I feel dangerous. I wouldn't entertain a discussion of what women find sexy without an active female opinion any more than I would a discussion of what men find sexy without an active male opinion.

    I'm going to take the unpopular view and say that I feel that each is, on some level, unknowable to the other. Does this make discussion invalid? No. On the contrary it means that men and women need to remain actively engaged in this kind of discourse.

    I'm sorry I was rather roundabout, but I was very specifically criticizing your implication that women don't need an active male perspective in order to criticize these works. I am NOT saying these works are beyond critique by any means. I'm simply saying that all groups should be able to represent themselves in a discussion.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 1:23 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    :-) Really, it's a matter that I don't think you're wrong about. A straight guy's perspective is vital for this sort of discussion.

    And you're probably right that hypothesis is a better word than conclusion there.

    But I do think it's not precisely on the same level as asking a man to take a moment and think before jumping into a feminist debate. I've seen the two equated before, (specifically in the comments of GeekGirl's post), and I think there's a big difference because men, in general, can go through life with no exposure at all to the underlying factors that make these sorts of things hit hard for many women, through no fault or design of their own.

    You're not going to find a woman with NO exposure to what men supposedly find sexy. (Which again, admittedly, isn't necessarily true and IS more about what men are supposed to find sexy...but it's also designed by men. Which is what makes the issue a little more fuzzy. We're at least stuck being exposed to what a handful of really really vocal guys consider sexy, no matter how we try to get through life.)

    But definitely, a straight man's input should be involved in this sort of critique. It's just that those two specific situations don't really correspond well, in my opinion.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:13 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    "I think the point I'm trying to make about sexiness in media (mostly men's magazines, application to comics may vary), is that they aren't designed to dictate what men find sexy but rather reflect what men find sexy"

    show a man a picture of any runway model and I'd be surprised if he doesn't say something along the lines of "too skinny"

    Yes this may be anecdotal, and yes the image goals for the fashon industry may differ from the goals of the popular media and advertiser. But, I do believe that what men think is sexy IS constructed by these media images. Just look at the shifting scale of what men think a woman's healthy weight should be over the last 70 years. That massive difference didn't come out of nowhere.

    And anyone who doesn't think that a boy's first issue of Playboy didn't have an effect on what he idolizes in women, may just be living in a different culture than I am.

    Though I do tend to agree with your second point.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:19 AM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    Are you saying there's no such thing as inherent sexuality in men? Isn't it possible that these magazines are simply reflecting desires men/boys have prior? I seems to me you're suggesting it works kind of like imprinting, in that the first sexy thing you see will be what you define as sexy.

    I can't say that this at all jibes with my own experience.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:26 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I think I misread one of your previous posts, RocketLex, so I'll amend my own response here.

    If it reflects or dictates though, does it really change my point?

    I mean, ultimately more women see these magazines, for example, than men read romance novels (which are not really a good comparative example, since the folks who CHOOSE which romance novels get published are generally men, but it's probably the closest comparison we can find). You can't really escape seeing male desire either dicated or reflected by everyday media.

    That's really what I mean. You can go through life without ever encountering a glass ceiling or seeing the visible effects of sexual harrassment on a female colleague, but we can't really go through life without some exposure to material related to sexual desire by men, for men. That's the crux of why I think the two situations are incomparable.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:28 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    No, I'm not saying that, guys, regardless of background tend to want to sex something up.

    What I'm saying is the definition of a beutiful woman IS something that has been fed to them through media, the images that they see has an impact on what they want, plain and simple (I could go into how media also shows women in passive roles, but that's kind of off topic) Now I'm not blaming this soley on the media, because this is also society's problem. People are socialised into mindsets through those people around them as well as the media

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:43 AM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    Kalinara: I don't disagree with any of that. I was only taking issue with the idea that media artifacts, or even personal experience can tell you all you need to know about male sexuality. Because I feel unless you actively have a male perspective to discuss it with, you're only part of the way there.

    mike:

    "What I'm saying is the definition of a beutiful woman IS something that has been fed to them through media, the images that they see has an impact on what they want, plain and simple"

    Yes, and that's exactly what you said last time. And again I say that this statement seems to imply that sexual attraction, or at least sexual attraction to specific triggers (large breasts or whatever) is strictly a learned behavior. I know I was feeling attracted to my fellow classmates long before I was hunting down an issue of playboy or idolizing some television actress.

    Then again, this is a discussion which can easily get stuck in a continuous loop of "Well, you were conditioned to think that" which I don't think does anyone any good.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:44 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Rocketlex: Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification. :-)

     
  • At October 31, 2007 2:48 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    "Then again, this is a discussion which can easily get stuck in a continuous loop of "Well, you were conditioned to think that" which I don't think does anyone any good."

    Yes I think this is the best course of action. Perhaps cramming for my mass communication and Psych midterms at the same time may have influenced me a little ;)

     
  • At October 31, 2007 4:27 AM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    I'm just recalling an argument I had with a friend once for what must have been 3 hours about whether or not I actually liked Big Macs or was simply convinced I liked them by McDonald's advertising. XD

     
  • At October 31, 2007 4:29 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    And now I'm hungry. I hate both of you. :-P

     
  • At October 31, 2007 6:30 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    To get things back to me (where they belong), I just had a couple bagels with Philly cream cheese. Yummy!

     
  • At October 31, 2007 9:20 AM, Anonymous Thom said…

    But the real question is....do you truly *like* bagels with Philly cream cheese? Or have you simply been trained to believe you do by the media and cream cheese manufacturers? Oh the conundrums. :)

     
  • At October 31, 2007 1:01 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    No. You are the sum of your personality, your genetics, your learning, your environment, your expeiences, your relationships, and yes, your society. You are not a blank slate. You do not come with an eraser. You do not get to wake up one day and pick the pieces of your self from some cosmic checklist.

    This "choose to define" crap is right up there with "listen to your heart, not your head" when it comes to stupid aphorisms. It totally denies the complex reality of the human experience.


    A bit late, but: I totally disagree here. Indeed, I think that denying that you can actually influence your own life denies a lot more of humanity.

     
  • At October 31, 2007 4:27 PM, Blogger zhinxy said…

    A bit late, but: I totally disagree here. Indeed, I think that denying that you can actually influence your own life denies a lot more of humanity."

    I don't think the person that posted this was denying one can actually influence their own life. There are people that argue this - Susan Blackmore, for example - but I don't know many others that deterministic.

    Personally, I think an awareness of societal influences (And, for that matter, biological influences) and how they have shaped a person, can be one of the most important things a person can have when it comes to taking control of ones own life, and destiny.

    "Society has done this to me" isn't an excuse to sit around feeling like a victim, or a puppet. But it can give you a framework for understanding why you do/are certain things, and in that framework, you can have a better idea who YOU want to be, and what you want to accomplish with your life.

     
  • At November 01, 2007 11:52 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    (because I am an insanely literal and humourless person)

    "I'm just recalling an argument I had with a friend once for what must have been 3 hours about whether or not I actually liked Big Macs or was simply convinced I liked them by McDonald's advertising. XD"

    The two aren't mutually exclusive. You can genuinely like Big Macs, but like them better than you would otherwise, or not have been exposed to stuff you would like better, because of advertising. Plus, with food - and a lot of other things - certain things are an acquired taste. When you start eating certain foods when you are little, there's a better chance you will like eating them when you are older.




    and kalinara - it mostly did, I just always have this insane urge to spell things out. obviously :)

     

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