Response to Feminism in the mind of a college student

I’m currently taking a First-Year-Seminar class, focused on “discussing classics”. In this class, we read and discuss different reading every class, usually about different philosophies, news, historical events, etc. Tuesday, our readings to discuss were geared towards feminism. Before every class, we must have the texts read and discussion questions ready to discuss. I was disappointed, but not surprised, with what the questions were and how the conversation went. The two readings were “A Woman’s Philosophy of Woman” by Jenny d’Hericourt and “Women and Fiction” by Virginia Woolf. To summarize, the first reading is discussing how men and women have their differences, but how you perceive them is what influence it has in the world. It focuses on how women should be encouraged to take more authoritative roles in science, politics, etc. and have different qualities and skills to offer in those positions. In the second reading, to condense into one sentence, men and women have different values and qualities which produce different works, in this case it is poetry, criticism, and history. In our group of nine, there are seven guys and two girls, so the conversation was going to be a little biased. It was just surprising to see how many people still do not see faults in their ways or the general way of society. One question that stuck out to me was, “why do some women just naturally assume that all men hold some stereotypical viewpoint on women?” This was kind of frustrating to listen to, because the guys in our group were basically saying that it is all in women’s’ heads and women stretch to be more valuable than men. This is not the case, as generally, these stereotypes are strongly rooted in society and affect women in many aspects, such as jobs, sexual violence, physical abilities, family roles, etc. Another area of feminism we discussed was whether the increase of women going into the workforce rather than staying at home with the kids was taking away from the ‘importance of being a mother’. As expected, most of the discussion was sexist and degrading-with a majority of the guys in the group implying that all women are good for is reproducing. You would think with so many women making a difference in the world that the idea that being mothers is all women are good for would change.

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “Response to Feminism in the mind of a college student

  1. I do not believe that all men think they are better than women and thus deserve to be paid more or have special rights or liberties that us women do not have, but there are those men that are just ignorant to many facts. The question that I assume a male asked that was in this post was interesting to me and I feel that there are definitely women out there who think that way, but most do not. Yes, women want to rise up and level out with men on many different aspects, but we do not aspire to necessarily be more than men. All we want is equality, but I can see how males may feel threatened and even slightly afraid of women in power, or those who have authority over them, because it is not common but slowly women are proving that they can do more than birth children. Women are able to do things that a man can never experience, and that is also something that makes us stronger than them. As the years go on women are slowly gaining equality in other ways and I have hope for a future where we are complete equals to men.

    Like

  2. I found this post very interesting because I have often been frustrated with classics. The problem is that many classes and school curriculums keep classics and teach them to kids because they have been around for generations. However, the problem is that these classics retain many old values, including sexist ideas which cannot be changed without changing the texts that are taught. I even noticed many sexist themes when reading books such as Of Mice and Men in high school.

    Like

  3. I feel like like part of this is just men not wanting accept the fact that they have privilege, probably part of it is they do not feel like they are bad people so they do not want to think that they have an “typical wrong male behavior” I think men and others with privilege just need to understand that they do have it and that is not make them a bad person necessarily, its just how the system works. I feel like people in position of power can acknowledge their social advantages, and that would even be a good thing because it creates an awareness and they can address it accordingly.

    Like

    • I also believe that this is a big part of the problem. Privileged people not acknowledging their privilege is often the source of ignorance to oppressed peoples’ struggles.
      I often cringe when subjects like feminism and LGBT rights come up in conversation with people that I want to have a good relationship with because I am scared that they will say something blatantly ignorant or insulting to my identity. This also comes up in discussion sessions in seminar classes like you explained. However, I believe that as long as the environment is moderated, there is definitely room to talk with each other and try to convince others of the truly flawed systems and social constructs that harm our society.

      Like

  4. 1) It is crap to say that it is just how people perceive each other that causes inequality because it is also how people treat others and also the institutionalized beliefs that are in society that cause for women to be inferior.
    2) This is frustrating too because women also have to be given the opportunity to become equals and act as equals without being oppressed.

    Like

  5. I think men can sometimes feel attacked when feminist viewpoints are expressed. And when they do feel attacked there is usually someone in the room (our class included) who will use cliche, snarky terms like “toxic masculinity” or “cis-white-male” or “white privilege” which have developed from their original meanings into insults that can’t be returned.

    As I have often found, even if I am trying to have a calm conversation about some sort of social issue, I’ll be attacked with these terms. The real obnoxiousness of this is that by using these labels as insults, I feel pinned into a corner where I either have to argue or accept the insult, neither of which I want to do. So I think guys that have been exposed to these kind of insults seek solace in each other to, in a sense, validate that it’s okay to be white, or male, or republican. This is probably where some of the “us against them” mentality comes from the feminist movement. I feel attacked and a lot of my friends feel attacked, and it’s not because our ego’s are fragile it’s because we legitimately feel like people are trying to dehumanize our existence by labeling us if we disagree with anything about feminism politics.

    NOW- Men make fun of women about a million times more than women do to men so I’m not trying to play the role of the victim in the sense that men have it worse than women while engaging in arguments or whatever, but as always happens with these kinds of movements is that there are people going about it the right way and people going about it the wrong way. The wrong way would be fighting fire with fire (with insults/demeaning stuff) which just makes men feel attacked and prolongs the fight which I could go on and on about the real goal for a lot of feminists, or christians, or any follower of a political/social/religious movement is that at the heart of it the people are pissed off and want to win fights a little more than they want to end all fighting whatsoever. I’m sort of rambling…

    Like

  6. Honestly, when people start talking about the classics and how great and important they are, my first reaction is usually “OK but they’re probably full of racism, classism, homophobia, sexism, etc.” I recognize that classic pieces of literature are important, but I also wonder if there are any more modern examples of excellent literature that we could perhaps examine in greater detail that aren’t extremely dated with their ideas and content. Also, the content of your class discussion terrifies me. If those people actually hold those beliefs- Well that’s just repulsive. More and more things are happening on this campus that I never thought would in terms of ideologies and viewpoints on certain topics.

    Like

  7. “One question that stuck out to me was, “why do some women just naturally assume that all men hold some stereotypical viewpoint on women?” This was kind of frustrating to listen to, because the guys in our group were basically saying that it is all in women’s’ heads and women stretch to be more valuable than men.”

    There are women out there like that, because I was once that woman. Honestly, I thought that all men have a preconceived notion of a woman’s place in society, and I thought women believed that notion too. Of course, this is not true at all, and I eventually learned exactly what feminism was. I think that the guys in the group were addressing the piecemeal bit of feminism that unfortunately gets more attention–
    identifying the fact that women and minority groups are marginalized and downtrodden, without remembering the context of privilege.

    Like

  8. This is an interesting topic but let me just say kiddos to you for staying calm and collected in that moment of frustration towards those guys. I honestly probably would have been fed up and left the room or say what I have to say in an aggressive way and then either leave or say nothing more. The problem I believe is the old mindset that had been embedded into the minds of everyone but especially boys and men. And yes you would think with all the women doing things that typically wouldn’t be doing with jobs, politics or just living certain ways, that people would learn to be open to the idea of women being more than “baby incubators.” And the crazy thing to me is that everyone has a mom but a lot of men and women treat other women very terribly not thinking that someone could be treating their mother the same way. If I could ask someone who abuses women in anyway if they were seeing their mother would they stop or want to change, I wonder how they would answer the question.

    Like

  9. “why do some women just naturally assume that all men hold some stereotypical viewpoint on women?” He’s kidding… right?

    Seriously though, I’m getting real sick of the “not all men” argument. As long as men in positions of power continue to spout misogyny, we will have grounds to believe all men are misogynists. As long as we encounter man after man that treats as lesser, we will have grounds to believe all men are misogynists. And as long as the men arguing that they aren’t all misogynists are more bothered by the fact that we think they might think less of us than the fact that a significant portion of their gender has treated us as lesser, we will have grounds to believe all men are misogynists.

    Like

  10. In many situations conversations geared around the dominance of men within society in comparison to women produces hostile opinions from them because they are insistent on proving they individually are not a part of the problem. Many times if unequal pay is brought up, or gender inequality within the workforce, and/or relationships are brought to light all men in a room make it a point to specify they are separate from the majority. When the blame is not meant to be put on them individually, but it is more so a reveal of the privilege they were born into from boyhood to manhood.

    Like

  11. You are brave for sticking through that class and having to deal with the ignorance from your group members. In my Human Genetics class, when my professor split us into our groups at the beginning of the semester she made it so all different majors were in different groups so we could have different thought processes and contribute to the group with different ideas. Once the groups were made she stopped and made sure that in each group that had a woman in it, that they were not the only woman and that they were comfortable with the numbers in the groups because she didn’t want to isolate any girl in the class. As someone who identifies as a woman, I appreciate this a lot. As you mentioned in your post, there are plenty of experiences in classes or elsewhere where I feel either uncomfortable or outnumbered into silence when discussing important topics because I feel invalidated by the outspoken men. I hope that the people in your group learn a little bit more about feminism and understand their privileges as men. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Like

  12. This is a really interesting topic and I enjoyed reading your blog. I want to say that it must have been annoying to hear the comments, particularly in a group dominated by men…which ironically is usually the case. I just don’t understand how some men can’t empathize with women and understand why we feel the way we feel. And that comment of “why do some women just naturally assume that all men hold some stereotypical viewpoint on women?” is that because it typically is true. Anyway…I really enjoyed reading this and thanks for sharing.

    Like

  13. I think its utterly frustrating when men continue to jump to conclusions and say that women need to stop holding stereotypical viewpoints of men. However, they are the ones who continue to enforce these stereotypes and put us women in the same old traditional roles of staying at home and being a mother. These guys seem to be hypocrites in that they’re telling women to stop thinking all men hold sexist views when they later imply we are only good for reproducing.

    Like

  14. It’s always so interesting to see the perspectives of the dominant group whenever they’re in a situation that has them analyzing aspects of oppression. The responses always show exactly how these systems are upheld, and “why do some women just naturally assume that all men hold some stereotypical viewpoint on women?” does just that. We tangentially talked a lot about victim blaming in yesterday’s class, and it is clear that there is a strain of that in your class discussion. Your male classmates responded with incredulity to the readings and, just as Brandy mentioned, we see a lack of empathy on their part for the struggles brought up in the classics discussed. Rather than having the discussion you were expecting on the barriers women face, your mostly male classmates positioned all the women in the room on the defensive. In spite of this, I think the quality of your discussion still says a lot on the relevance of those classics today.

    Like

  15. i agree with the post completely. this is especially true because it remains an issue that means some people still believe and or think that way regardless of how insensible we might see it and how much of a joke we can see it to be others in other mindsets just are reinforced by thinking they arent the only ones who think this way

    Like

  16. I found this to be an interesting piece especially with the question that you found bothersome and interesting. My first thought is this is always such a big misconception that feminist are saying every man is evil, because we are aware everyone isn’t women hating (although I am sure there are some out there that may be that way). We just point out that there are many factors that are instilled in men from a young age which have made the ideas and things they do more common to have these attributes. We are not necessarily saying hey dude you are bad we are just saying things need to change in the way people are raised. My second thought really got me thinking though. My thought is how can they sit there and say well why do some women think this about men, and when women say well some men think this about women then they automatically take this “poor men being grouped together to look bad.” Yet women are grouped together constantly. Just because women were caretakers means that’s what they should always do, and because some women may not be the brightest all will be inferior in school or work. Women are grouped together and are constantly treated differently or seen as inferior (although it is lessening it’s still very prevalent), but when when men are treated this way, it’s “hey you are trying to group us all together and this is wrong.” They shouldn’t be grouping people and generalizing about other people when they don’t like it done to themselves. Maybe for a minute they will realizing how they feel when they are feeling attacked because they are a man is how some women feel all there lives (especially in school and work).

    Like

  17. i commented my wrong thoughts here. whoops but i think youre right and hit the nail right on the head. its super frustrating especially for me being a man who doesnt share the typical viewpoints and i have a hard time communicating the differences i see. frustration is an understatement

    Like

  18. I agree. It’s sad that despite the number of women that have attempted to pave a way for other women in society, people still fail to notice women’s worth. Many of the authors we’ve discussed in class would be disappointed but not necessarily shocked. Your class seems very interesting to me !

    Like

  19. It can be really hard to be faced with the fact that some people are ignorant of many aspects that make life difficult for people across all axis of oppression. Hearing what someone says in class and feeling silenced or invisible by their lack of consideration can easily make someone feel dejected, or angry, or even fearful. And even more, it is not the responsibility of an oppressed individual to speak for their community or to inform someone who makes insensitive remarks. However, I believe if nobody speaks up, and in a way that creates a conversation conducive to important questions, there is little chance that these people will come away being any less conscious than before they made the comment. I think Donald Trump got elected because prejudices and stereotypes were left to fester in the minds of people who had no incentive to inform themselves about the world around them. We need people who can bridge the gap. That responsibility doesn’t lie on any individual, but without effective communication between willing parties, we don’t stand a chance against the same forces that so viciously try to divide us.

    Like

  20. It’s sad that a lot of people do not even realize they’re being offensive to others. Also sad is that when a group is out numbered they tend to be quieted and taken less serious, while the majority dictates the conversation. Even if you were trying to correct the conversation, because there are more men, you probably would have never changed their minds. Attitudes will never change until given a fair and thorough thought and understanding.

    Like

  21. I agree that this kind of response revolves around privilege that men have but don’t recognize or don’t want to acknowledge. It isn’t until someone is put into someone else’s shoes that they can understand the implications of their words and actions. There is a workshop that Jane Elliot, an anti-racism activist, does called the blue eyed/brown eyed experiment in which she brings to the attention of her participants the prejudices that they have but may not acknowledge. She ultimately places those who have more privilege in the shoes of those who are thought of as “less privileged”. This sort of experiment might help those guys in your group understand the issues behind the ways in which they think about women.

    Like

  22. This post really demonstrated the deep rooted sexism within society, mainly because of how all the men had the same idea that women want to be valuable to men. There are a lot of unshakable prejudices it seems within the views of many with regards to different people. It’s going to take a long time to rehabilitate society to eliminate these discriminations

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s