This will probably be my last contribution to this ongoing debate, at least for
some time. So, just a couple of points:
About the joke, Dad (Grandpa Andrew, my father-in-law): I understand your
point too I think but that's one of those jokes that I'm willing to bet women
never found amusing. I'm also willing to bet that when it was told in their
presence or even directly to them they most often smiled shyly and pretended to
enjoy it / see the "truth" in it as much as the men did. Why? Well, I leave
that to everyone else to explain but the reasons have already been illuminated
in many ways in this whole discussion and I agree with much of the social and
psychological explanations for women's deference to men, etc. Suffice it to
say that I've never found that joke entertaining but only somewhat enlightening
as to male attitudes and what males find entertaining. But I too admire your
gumption in presenting all of your views! And I certainly do not disagree with
all of them. This brings me to my next point.
Most of what everyone has said thus far has been valid in my opinion. I'm like
my daughter Melanie in this regard, that is, good at seeing others' views to
the point where I find it difficult at times to form a final opinion worth
One last clarification from me: I tend to approach life's problems in a
one-on-one fashion. I'm not a political activist, for example. But let me be
clear that I understand that women are still suffering, especially, and often
brutally, in other countries. Augie's few and terrible examples are, as she
says, just the tip of the iceberg. I applaud any efforts to ease and erase
these inequities. But as I just said, I tend to speak one-on-one to those in
my life. In this case, I believe my imagined audiance is the women (and of
course men) taking part in this discussion. So when I say, for example, "Any
misogyny left lurking in dark corners is of no concern to me," what I mean to
convey is that we women should adopt a more resilient mindset, one of
confidence, even indifference if necessary, in order to lead happy, productive
lives. Which one of you women was it that wrote on Sunday evening that all the
talk of women as victims was making you feel more like a victim? I
tried to find that again because I had that feeling myself so strongly on
Sunday evening. Focusing on how discrimination is so subtle, so all pervasive,
so insidious, had the effect of making me feel much less confident as a woman!
So, for me at least, it's better to keep a positive focus. Having said this,
if others feel the necessity to hear, read, and feel the injustice and pain in
order to be motivated to action, I admire and respect that. But take a careful
look at what you're doing with this information and these feelings. Are they
benefiting you and others? But before you condemn me as insensitive, lazy, or
what have you, remember that I said that I tend to work one-on-one with people
in life. I feel very strongly about helping to instill good self-esteem,
particularly in young people. Some of you may know that two of my nieces, both
age seventeen now, live with us. One has been with us for over two years now.
One has lost 80 lbs and the other (here since mi
d-summer, has lost 30 lbs. Grades are up, they will probably go to college
(whereas before they almost certainly would not have) etc. etc. The point is,
each has made huge inroads in their self-concepts due to their increased
control over their own destinies. These are the types of things I feel called
to do because they're what I do best and because I care very much. While I'm
tooting my own horn for a moment, I can't resist saying that our kids, so far,
turned out pretty damn good too! Danny, you're not gonna pull any bad
surprises on me at the age of 30, are you? :) And having said this about kids
turning out well, I wan't to hasten to add that they themselves deserve most of
the credit and luck is certainly an element as well because how children turn
out is not entirely in the hands of the parents.
Well, enough said from me now. Continue the fascinating discussion but my
(motherly?) advice is to think about what information you need to arm yourself
with in order to carry out the changes you'd like to see in your life or
others. If all of the research and studies, psychological and otherwise, help
you, then absorb them, act on them. If, on the other hand, they perhaps drain
you, immobilize you, make you bitter or depressed, be careful. Use what you
need and don't burden yourself with more. We women are always being told that
we try to do too much for others. We are also reminded to take care of
ourselves or we will be no good to others. All food for thought. Be selective
about the tools and information, in fact, the feelings that you decide to have
and nurture in yourself in regard to the whole feminist issue. That's my
advice for the day!
And one last thing. James' opinion about labels and their possible negative
impact made good sense to me. For the time being at least, I have removed
myself from the labels and put my name next to "choose not to deal with
labels." Carry on and have fun!
Laurie (Danny, Melanie, and Steven's mom, Grandpa Andrew's daughter-in-law,
aunt to my nieces, daughter to my aging parents, etc. etc. etc. you get the
----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Reeves
Date: Monday, November 7, 2005 11:36 pm
Subject: Re: Feminism debate
> That joke reflects deep misogyny. I'm glad you're only
> reproducing it as
> a pathological specimin from an earlier era. But we still have a
> long way
> to go and a lot to fight for, which is why I'll continue to
> proudly call
> myself a feminist.
> Like it says on my car,
> FEMINISM: The radical notion that women are people.
> PS: I have a lot to say to Melanie, but Augie has said much it.
> You rock,
> PPS: I'm updating your labels as people speak up. Could someone
> definitions on the whiteboard as well? Keep it concise though.
> --- \/ FROM Andrew Reeves AT 05.11.07 14:48 (Today) \/ ---
> > I apologize for any perceived personal insult in my last message.
> > There was no intent to offend Michelle personally; actually, I
> thought> that she was quoting some unidentified original source.
> On the other
> > hand, the valiant efforts of Victoria and others to portray this as
> > nothing but a deep psychoanalytic explanation for anorexia,
> bulimia and
> > other eating disorders is totally off base and flatly
> contradicts the
> > very wording of Michelle's remarks--"..yet another MEANS of
> encouraging> women to take up less space in the world" [emphasis
> added]. In other
> > words, female physical build and/or fashion trends, obviously
> dictated> or inspired by men, are a plot in the competition for
> cubic footage in
> > the increasingly crowded inhabitable sphere of the planet. This
> is how
> > I understood the remark and in this sense, and in this context,
> I am
> > afraid that I have to stand by my original opinion of this view.
> > To answer Victoria's question of whether I was ever "coerced" to
> > have sexual intercourse, the answer is not easy: certainly, in the
> > bland anatomic/physical sense, NO, but that is really obvious given
> > the physiologic realities of the male body. I was, a few times
> in my
> > life, placed in situations that amounted to virtual psychologic
> > coercion--and I successfully extricated myself every time. To
> tell you
> > quite frankly, extreme forwardness of women has (or had) an anti-
> > aphrodisiac effect on me and we European males of my generation were
> > quite accustomed to, and even learned to like, a certain bashfulness
> > in women. At the risk of being frivolous, let me quote an old joke
> > that illustrates the situation.
> > What is the difference between a DIPLOMAT and a LADY?
> > If a diplomat says YES, he means MAYBE. If he says MAYBE, he
> means NO.
> > If he says NO, he is no diplomat.
> > If a lady says NO, she means MAYBE. If she says MAYBE, she means
> YES.> If she says YES, she is no lady.
> > Perhaps a very poor joke, but a good indicator of the mentality
> > we grew up in, and perhaps it also gives a flicker of
> explanation for
> > the spurious McKinnon quote because a certain gentle but firm
> > determinedness on the part of the male in overcoming the probably
> > phoney female hesitation in the last phase of foreplay was not
> al all
> > considered bad form in that culture.
> > In closing, let me salute James Mickens whose comments were in my
> > view the best in the lot in this whole debate.
> > DANNY'S GRANDPA ANDREW
> http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/dreeves - - google://"Daniel Reeves"
> "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not
> tried it."
> -- Donald Knuth